Thursday, March 31, 2005

Do the math

4,388: Number of stories listed on the Google News page about death of Terri Schiavo at 1:30 p.m.

749: Number of stories on presidential commission's report detailing how poor our country's intelligence-gathering capabilities were pre-9/11 and--worse--still are today

3,369: Number of times I hit my head against the wall after noticing this great disparity


Hmmm. What can the administration come up with to distract us from this?

Report Calls U.S. Intelligence 'Dead Wrong' on Iraq Weapons

WASHINGTON, March 31 - A report on United States intelligence made public this morning concludes that the American intelligence community was "dead wrong" in almost all of its pre-war assessments about the state of unconventional weapons in Iraq and that on issues of this importance "we simply cannot afford failures of this magnitude."

The report concludes that while many other nations believed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, "In the end, it was the United States that put its credibility on the line, making this one of the most public, and most damaging, intelligence failures in recent American history."

It also contends that the government has failed to respond to the dire threat posed by unconventional weapons with the urgency and national purpose displayed after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
--The New York Times

The secular gay Wiccan abortionists are ... um ... taking over our schools. You heard me--the secular gay Wiccan abortionsists are taking over our schools! We must drop everything else we're doing and stop this from happening! Everyone, hide in your basements and turn off all electrical appliances until we get this taken of!


Whatever you do, don't show this to Lynne Truss

I was flipping through some LPs in my basement last night, and noticed this:

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No, I can't believe my eyes. What's with those unneeded apostrophes??? I can expect that from a sign in a supermarket window, but, yeesh, this was a major record label.

OK, so I'm 38 years too late...

(In case you don't get the Lynne Truss reference, go here.)


Tuesday, March 29, 2005

I'm feeling a mite peckish...

Is there anything to eat? Oh, there's this…

Burger King Monday introduced the Enormous Omelet Sandwich, a 730-calorie breakfast product that slaps two omelet eggs, a sausage patty, three strips of bacon and two slices of cheese into a bun. The sandwich comes with a price tag of about $3 and 47 grams of fat. News of the sandwich raised the ire of nutrition experts. --Newsday

Hmm. Not really what I had in mind. Anything else?

Ask Andy Puzder. He's CEO of Hardee's and Carl's Jr., home of the 1,420-calorie Monster Thickburger. One year after the giant burger rolled out, same store sales at the chain were up more than 7%, he says. Why would anyone buy such a behemoth burger? That's easy, Puzder says: "Because they're good." --USA Today

Gosh, that sounds a little heavy. Got something a little lighter? Say, finger food?

California (Reuters) -- A diner at a Wendy's fast food restaurant in San Jose, California, found a human finger in a bowl of chili prepared by the chain, local officials said Wednesday.

"This individual apparently did take a spoonful, did have a finger in their mouth and then, you know, spit it out and recognized it," said Ben Gale, director of the department of environmental health for Santa Clara County. "Then they had some kind of emotional reaction and vomited."

Local officials launched an investigation after the incident Tuesday night and the medical examiner determined Wednesday that the object was a human finger.

That's odd--I've lost my appetite.

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Photo of a 9-pound hamburger from Junk Food News, but a visit to the site is for strong stomachs only.

(If you’re looking for something that's tasty and won't kill you, try The Fanatic Cook.)


Monday, March 28, 2005

Holly Gofugly

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Audrey, Audrey, Audrey. We haven't talked in what seems like years. How have you been?

Really? Oh. Sorry to hear that.

Well, being dead for a decade is really no excuse for going out in public like this. Really, Audrey, what were you thinking?

First of all, what's with the bling-bling? Are you trying to establish your hip-hop street cred? Sorry, darling. It's just not working. You're about as "street" as one of the Olsen twins. The "serious" one, not the party girl. She might be passable.

And what's the story behind that cigarette holder? What exactly are you smoking? No, wait--judging by how you're dressed, I think I know. Shhhh--it'll be our little secret.

Now, on to the gloves. Are they your little tribute to Michael Jackson? That's in poor taste, Audrey. Really not funny. Take them off. Good. Now put them in the drawer. That's right. And now, set the drawer on fire. That's it--good girl.

And who's doing your makeup these days? Trowel Masters? Honestly, Audrey, how are you going to get that off tonight? An industrial-size drum of Ponds Cold Cream?

Well, Audrey, I'm truly glad we had this little talk, and I hope you've learned something. Oh, and that guy you're seeing? In the book, he's gay.

Hello, Go Fug Yourself visitors!: Please go here.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Not the brightest bulb in the low-wattage-bulb box; or: Sometimes an idiot is just an idiot

From last Sunday's New York Times magazine, an interview with Jim Guckert/Jeff Gannon, hypocritical White House shill:

Times: Scott McClellan, the press secretary to President Bush, called on you and allowed you to ask questions on a nearly daily basis. What, exactly, is your relationship with him?

Gannon/Guckert: I was just another guy in the press room. Did I try to curry favor with him? Sure. When he got married, I left a wedding card for him in the press office. People are saying this proves there is some link. But as Einstein said, "Sometimes a wedding card is just a wedding card."

Times: You mean like "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar"? That wasn't Einstein. That was Freud.

Gannon/Guckert: Oh, Freud. O.K. I got my old Jewish men confused.

Times: You should learn the difference between them if you want to work in journalism.

Oy vey.


Thursday, March 24, 2005

Can anyone explain to me the great appeal of the Peep?

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It's just a marshmallow--and not an especially tasty one. Is it just the seasonal availability? The "cute" factor?

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If the latter, why not take a real chick and roll it in sugar?


Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Geez, if Fox can manage a revote, why couldn't all the ballots in Ohio be counted last November?

Error leads to revote on American Idol


Pop quiz

Pick the real pop-star quote--it's fun and educational!

Choice A:

Interviewer: Well, where does obscenity begin?

Pop star: It's all in the delivery. I think everyone of age, and even those who are not of age, are enjoying sex. But when I say "Lick the lollipop," I'm trying to make a reference to the male organ that's not disrespectful. People are offended by who says something, not by what they say. When I made "Candy Shop," I thought about how my grandmother might interpret that song. I thought about how my grandchildren might hear it. Little kids think I'm actually talking about candy. When I say, "I'll let you lick the lollipop," they think it's literally a lollipop.

Interviewer: So you wanted to write a song about sex that would be accessible to children, based on the premise that children wouldn't understand what it's about?

Pop star: Yeah. That's exactly what I'm doing.

Choice B:

Interviewer: It's pretty.

Pop star: Yeah, I like it, just been fooling about with it for a few months now, very delicate...

Interviewer: It's a, it's a bit of a departure from the kind of thing you normally play.

Pop star: Yeah, it's part of a...trilogy, really, a musical trilogy I'm doing... in...D minor, which I always find is really the saddest of all keys, really. I don't know why, but it makes people weep instantly. You play a...baaaaa...baaaaaa... it's the horn part.

Interviewer: It's very pretty.

Pop star: ...baaaa, baaaaa, yeah, just simple lines intertwining, you know very much like... I'm really influenced by Mozart and Bach. It's sort of in between those, really. It's like a Mach piece really, it's...

Pop star: What do you call this?

Pop star: Well, this piece is called "Lick My Love Pump".

Interviewer: Hmm.

Scroll down for answers.

That was pretty easy, wasn't it? Choice B is, of course, dialog from the classic mock documentary ... the, if you will, mockumentary, This Is Spinal Tap. Choice A is hip-hop star 50 Cent, in the new issue of Spin. And why does a 42-year-old suburban gay white guy such as myself, whose taste runs more toward Belle and Sebastian and Nick Drake, read interviews with 50 Cent? I have no answer to that question.


Tuesday, March 22, 2005

[Insert sound of Jim banging head against wall here]

I'm the copy chief for a business-technology magazine that shall remain nameless.

Yesterday, while editing some copy, I found this little nugget in a chart:

What factors or potential benefits are driving deployment of radio-frequency identification*?

16% Protection against counter-fitting

I immediately assumed that "counter-fitting" was some piece of jargon that I hadn't yet run across.

But I just realized that whoever wrote this meant "counterfeiting." A writer, an editor, and at least two researchers read over this text before it reached my desk.

Pardon me a moment while I go weep.

*RFID: those chips that retailers are putting on products in order to track inventory, and the government will soon be inserting under your armpit to track your every move and read your thoughts, unless you wear a shiny hat made out of aluminum foil.


A few of my favorite things

--Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens

--Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens

--Cheez Waffies


Monday, March 21, 2005

A public service to the dozen people who come here every day searching for "Young Jezzy":

You should be looking for "Young Jeezy." Really.


Spoiler alert!

He's dead. They're the same guy. He's an android. It's his sled. The planet is really Earth. She's a man. It's made from people! He's his father. She's her mother and her sister. It's Kevin Spacey. It was all a dream. They all die. She slips from the bell tower. He likes to dress up like mom. It's not the animal-rights group that destroys the world. They're all afraid of Virgina Woolf. He stops the wedding. So it turns out Quinlan was right after all. It's inner beauty that counts. This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. The butler didn't do it. The ship sinks. He dies--but two days later, he comes back.


Saturday, March 19, 2005

They also won't sell maps in the gift shop, because, goshdarn it, they show the world is round

The fight over evolution has reached the big, big screen.

Several Imax theaters, including some in science museums, are refusing to show movies that mention the subject - or the Big Bang or the geology of the earth - fearing protests from people who object to films that contradict biblical descriptions of the origin of Earth and its creatures. ...

"Volcanoes," released in 2003 and sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and Rutgers University, has been turned down at about a dozen science centers, mostly in the South, said Dr. Richard Lutz, the Rutgers oceanographer who was chief scientist for the film. He said theater officials rejected the film because of its brief references to evolution, in particular to the possibility that life on Earth originated at the undersea vents.

Carol Murray, director of marketing for the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, said the museum decided not to offer the movie after showing it to a sample audience, a practice often followed by managers of Imax theaters. Ms. Murray said 137 people participated in the survey, and while some thought it was well done, "some people said it was blasphemous."

In their written comments, she explained, they made statements like "I really hate it when the theory of evolution is presented as fact," or "I don't agree with their presentation of human existence." ...

[Producer Stephen] Low said that arguments over religion and science disturbed him because of his own religious faith. In his view, he said, science is "a celebration of what nature or God has done. So for me, there's no conflict."

Dr. Lutz, the Rutgers oceanographer, recalled a showing of "Volcanoes" he and Mr. Low attended at the New England Aquarium. When the movie ended, a little girl stood in the audience to challenge Mr. Low on the film's suggestion that Earth might have formed billions of years ago in the explosion of a star. "I thought God created the Earth," she said.

He replied, "Maybe that's how God did it."
--The New York Times

I hate it when gravity is referred to as fact. The earth sucks--doesn't everybody know that?


Friday, March 18, 2005

Wishin' and hopin'

My goal is to become so famous that after I'm dead, someone will think enough of my legacy to drag me out of my grave and make my rotting corpse shill for some large corporation.

Yes, that would be sweet.


Thursday, March 17, 2005

My vow to you, valued reader

You know, I look around at a lot of other blogs, and they just seem so commercial. Ad banners. Links to stuff you can buy. Appeals for money. It's just unseemly, and I want you to know I will never sink to those depths. As I lounged in Starbucks this morning for my piping-hot Chantico (which is yummy, by the way--like drinking a melted Hershey bar!) and mulled over using the shop's unbelievably convenient T-Mobile remote access on my blazingly swift Hewlett-Packard laptop, I vowed to maintain TVB's purity. No links to my Amazon Wish List asking for gifts. No shameless plugs for my (highly amusing) dog's blog just to pump up its statistics.

No, my hands are clean.


Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Why I've decided to drop out of the American Idol competition

I just couldn't take it anymore. I mean, the constant attention. The terrible contract. Being called a "dawg." Paula's stalking problem. Simon's innate Simonness. Ryan's "Seacrest... out!" sign-off. It was all just too much.

Plus, that porn video I made a few years ago is about to surface, so it just seemed like the right time.


Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Mad as hell...

... well, as heck, anyway. Amusing story in the Times today about life's petty annoyances.

Here's one petty annoyance: Web sites that make you register--like The New York Times's site! Easy way to fight back: Bug Me Not. Stick in the URL of the Web site you want to visit but which demands registration, and Bug Me Not will supply you with a fake user name and password.


When publishing trends collide

This story on young-adult publishing...

Weetzie Bat wears vintage clothes decorated with sparkles. She has a boyfriend she calls "My Secret Agent Lover Man." They live with Dirk, Weetzie's gay best friend, his lover, Duck, and Weetzie's daughter, Cherokee, possibly conceived during group sex with Dirk and Duck. There is also Witch Baby, Lover Man's child with a witch. The family works in the movie business. And they become involved with seamier elements of Los Angeles: rough sex, pimps and drugs.

This may not seem like a conventional young-adult book or something to be promoted by your local library. But in January, the Young Adult Library Services Association of the American Library Association announced that Ms. Block was being given the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement, sponsored by School Library Journal. The award's web site ( says it "recognizes an author's work in helping adolescents become aware of themselves and addressing questions about their role" in society.
--The New York Times

...was soon followed by this story on the upcoming "Peter Pan" sequel:

Children's author Geraldine McCaughrean has been chosen to write the official sequel to J.M. Barrie's "Peter Pan," the London hospital that holds the copyright to the classic work said Sunday. ... It has stipulated that the new work, titled "Captain Pan," must feature the original characters: the boy who never grew up along with his pals Wendy, fairy Tinkerbell and the Lost Boys--as well as the fearsome pirate Hook. ... The judges said McCaughrean's entry “captured the elusive spirit of the original whilst offering a fresh and astounding creative response and will appeal to both children and adults." --MSNBC

Please don't ask me how, but I've been able to find McCaughrean's winning story outline:
Peter "Captain" Pan is a helpless alcoholic who lives with his pre-op transexual girlfriend, Tinkerbell. Tink denies she's turning tricks, but somehow she's able to bring home enough bucks to keep the couple supplied with ramen noodles. In past-life regression therapy, Peter realizes he was molested by Hookmaster D., a fading pop star who was never the same after accidentally grabbing his crotch with his prosthetic hook while shooting a music video. Peter returns to Hookmaster's armed compound, Neverwhere, in order to free the Lost Boys, a boy band being held captive there. Unfortunately, Hookmaster's henchman, Smee, sees Peter coming and the Lost Boys are handed soda cans filled with poisoned "Jesus Juice"-brand wine cooler. The end.

I smell a best seller!


Sunday, March 13, 2005

Double plus ungood

Fascinating story in The New York Times (free registration required) today about government-sponsored propaganda being passed off as news.

Favorite passage:

On Sept. 11, 2002, WHBQ, the Fox affiliate in Memphis, marked the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks with an uplifting report on how assistance from the United States was helping to liberate the women of Afghanistan.

Tish Clark, a reporter for WHBQ, described how Afghan women, once barred from schools and jobs, were at last emerging from their burkas, taking up jobs as seamstresses and bakers, sending daughters off to new schools, receiving decent medical care for the first time and even participating in a fledgling democracy. Her segment included an interview with an Afghan teacher who recounted how the Taliban only allowed boys to attend school. An Afghan doctor described how the Taliban refused to let male physicians treat women.

All good so far!
In short, Ms. Clark's report seemed to corroborate, however modestly, a central argument of the Bush foreign policy, that forceful American intervention abroad was spreading freedom, improving lives and winning friends.

Hey, I don't agree with the administration, but good news is good news!

What the people of Memphis were not told, though, was that the interviews used by WHBQ were actually conducted by State Department contractors.

Uh ... what?
The contractors also selected the quotes used from those interviews and shot the video that went with the narration. They also wrote the narration, much of which Ms. Clark repeated with only minor changes.

Like swapping in "y'all" from time to time?

As it happens, the viewers of WHBQ were not the only ones in the dark. Ms. Clark, now Tish Clark Dunning, said in an interview that she, too, had no idea the report originated at the State Department. "If that's true, I'm very shocked that anyone would false report on anything like that," she said. …

[Insert stunned silence here.]

Kenneth W. Jobe, vice president for news at WHBQ in Memphis, said he could not explain how his station came to broadcast the State Department's segment on Afghan women. "It's the same piece, there's no mistaking it," he said in an interview, insisting that it would not happen again.

Mr. Jobe, who was not with WHBQ in 2002, said the station's script for the segment has no notes explaining its origin. But Tish Clark Dunning said it was her impression at the time that the Afghan segment was her station's version of one done first by network correspondents at either Fox News or CNN. It is not unusual, she said, for a local station to take network reports and then give them a hometown look.

OK, get ready for the money quote:

"I didn't actually go to Afghanistan," she said. "I took that story and reworked it. I had to do some research on my own. I remember looking on the Internet and finding out how it all started as far as women covering their faces and everything."

Sakes alive, it's like those people have all sorts of different customs! According to what I've uncovered online, they even speak a different language!!!

Is it any wonder a lot of people say they get their news from The Daily Show?


Friday, March 11, 2005

Three blog subject lines that I will never use

--The subject was noses

--Isn't it Byronic? Don't you think? A little too Byronic?

--Makes me wanna challah

Nope. I will never use those.

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Thursday, March 10, 2005

Still, that 30 Odd Foot of Grunts DVD you picked up as a joke is now going for $500 on eBay, so there is an upside

Russell Crowe says Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network wanted to kidnap him as part of a "cultural destabilization plot," according to an Australian magazine. In an interview published in the March edition of Australia's GQ magazine, Crowe said FBI agents told him of the threat in 2001, in the months before he won a best actor Oscar for his role as Maximus in "Gladiator." "That was the first (time) I'd ever heard the phrase 'al-Qaida,'" Crowe said. "It was about and here's another little touch of irony taking iconographic Americans out of the picture as sort of a cultural destabilization plot," he added.--The Associated Press

Yup, yup, yup. I can see it now. Russell Crowe is kidnapped, and millions take the streets, rending their garments in grief.

It was not clear if there were other targets in the plot.

Al-Qaida, if you're reading this, could I suggest Stephen Baldwin instead? He really bugs the shit out of me.


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

TV highlights

Judging by the listings in today's Newsday, the show to watch this evening:

"According to Jim": Jim grows a mustache

Or you could just poke your eyes out. Or read a book. But make sure you flip the order.


Monday, March 07, 2005

And the Brave Journalist of the Year award goes to...

Deborah Norville will anchor Monday's program of "Inside Edition" from her home on Long Island, N.Y., to try to give viewers a taste of what Martha Stewart's home confinement is like. Norville will be fitted with the same type of ankle bracelet that is being used to monitor Stewart's location now that she has been released from prison. Over a 24-hour period, Norville will keep a record of everything she does and report on what the experience is like, the show said.--Associated Press

In related news, next Monday, I'll be working in my office while chained to my desk. As usual.


That BTK guy may have been a top-notch serial killer, but he's a lousy poet

And in 1979, after B.T.K. apparently broke into a widow's home and waited - without success - for her to come home, he sent a poem to the woman who never arrived: "Oh, Anna Why Didn't You Appear." In part, the poem read: "Alone again I trod in pass memory of mirrors, and ponder why fornumber eight was not." --The New York Times

I mean, that's just bad. Pretentious, obscure, oddly spelled--all the hallmarks of bad serial-killer poetry. Really, if you want to do this, go take a course or something first.


Friday, March 04, 2005

Sound, reasoned proposal for Social Security reform

This may sound radical, but trust me. I'm sure this will work.

First, implant red crystals in the palm of everyone's left hand. Trigger the crystal to blink whenever the person it's attached to turns 30.


Next, clad all 30-year-olds in white robes and grotesque masks.


Gather everyone in a circle inside a large auditorium.


Begin Carrousel: Have everyone in the circle explode in midair.


And voila! No need for Social Security benefits.

Oh, it may work better if you come up with some cover story, like the land outside your domed city (e.g., Canada) is uninhabitable, so people won't try to escape.


Thursday, March 03, 2005

Search me (yet again)

Recent Google and Yahoo searches that have stranded visitors on The Velvet Blog:

-over-developed sense of irony: OK, that one I get.
-zoolander blue ice: Loser! Everyone knows that Zoolander's patented look is known as Blue Steel!
-my dog's blog: That one's pretty obvious.
-kuntz Cincinnati Hyde's: A little puzzling, but OK.
-"jim donahue" +escort: Hmmmmm.

It's this last one that has me a little freaked out. If someone is trying to out me as some sort of Jeff Gannon wannabe, I'm telling you: Go ahead! I'm hiding in plain sight.


Wednesday, March 02, 2005


I'm sad to report that my mentor, 50 Cent, and I have had a falling out. There was a whole nasty scene in front of a radio station the other night, and, well, the upshot is that I've been kicked out of G Unit. Look, 50's beef with Ludacris is none of my business, you know what I'm sayin'?


Decongestant that sounds more like a poorly named sandwich spread

"Yeah, I'll have roast beef on a roll with lettuce and tomato. Oh, and put some Flonase on it."

Late-afternoon update with explanation

That was gross. Sorry. But Flonase has been on my mind lately.

Last week, I awoke with a cold one morning. By Saturday, I could hardly walk and talk, and my left eye was bloodshot. A trip to a doc-in-the-box revealed sinusitis and conjunctivitis. So now I'm on antibiotics, antibiotic eyedrops, and Flonase.

And the great thing about Flonase is... is... well, nothing, actually. The eyedrops make my eye sting like hell, but at least appear to be working. The antibiotic pills seem to be doing their job, too. But inhaling Flonase is like breathing in lighter fluid, only without the pleasant aftereffects. It stings like anything, and doesn't seem to do much at all. I've still got mucus dripping down my throat, making my voice sound slightly less robust than Camille's on her deathbed.

Hmm. Maybe I'm using it wrong? Perhaps it really is a sandwich spread.


Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Quote of the day

"Thought: Why does man kill? He kills for food. But not only food: frequently, there must be a beverage." --Woody Allen