Tuesday, February 28, 2006

In related news, Osama bin Laden has been appointed the new head of FEMA

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush said his 2004 re-election victory over Sen. John Kerry was inadvertently aided by Osama bin Laden, who issued a taped diatribe against him the Friday before Americans went to the polls, The Examiner newspaper reported on Tuesday. ... "I thought it was going to help," Bush said. "I thought it would help remind people that if bin Laden doesn't want Bush to be the president, something must be right with Bush." --Yahoo News

Was that another chicken joke?

...Because nothing says "we're all going to die in a flu pandemic!" like stupid puns:

The flap over bird flu shouldn't turn us into headless chickens

Playing Chicken With Bird Flu

Disease takes wing

On a wing and a prayer

A Bird in The Head

A Killer Takes Wing

Flying the Coop for New Vaccine Technology

Are you a sitting duck for bird flu?

But my favorite headline on the topic is this one:

Andy Williams May Set Trend Amid Bird Flu

There's no pun, and not because it says anything worthwhile about bird flu, but for one reason only: I'd have sworn Andy Williams was dead. (If my suspicions were correct and you actually were dead, Andy, I have two words for you: Welcome back!)

My challenge for all (three) of you: Come up with the best/worst bird flu pun headline you can think of. First prize: A travel-size package of Kleenex.

How low can you go?

Bush falls to 34 percent favor in CBS poll

NEW YORK, Feb. 28 (UPI) -- U.S. President George Bush's overall job approval rating has fallen to 34 percent from 42 percent last month, a CBS poll published Tuesday said.

In a telephone poll of 1,018 people between Feb. 22-26, 59 percent said they disapprove of the job the president is doing, an all-time low in the news organization's polls.


Things that scored higher approval ratings than the president:
--Brussels sprouts
--Haggis
--Gout
--Human-animal hybrids
--Final Destination 3 (44% approval rating--really!)
--Pizza with anchovies
--The song stylings of William Hung
--Root canal

That's right: The president of the United States of America has a lower approval rating than Final Destination 3. Ouch!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Star light, star not so bright

Drew Lachey Wins 'Dancing With the Stars'

Note to the universe: Drew Lachey is not a star. He's the brother of someone who's not quite a star either, but who had the good fortune to marry someone who became a quasi-star (a quasar?). Since when did being the brother of someone who's not quite a star imbue you with star status?

I used to commute on the LIRR with someone who was featured in a movie with Kevin Bacon. That's a mere one degree of Baconhood. That alone makes me more of a star that Drew Lachey.

Image hosting by Photobucket True stars

Image hosting by Photobucket Black hole

Image hosted by Photobucket.com Bacon

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Beware: Free-roaming sausages seen in the vicinity

Image hosting by Photobucket

Image hosting by Photobucket

Authorities recommend that you grill onions and peppers and remain calm.

(I love how "grown without antibiotics" on the main label becomes simply "antibiotic" on the price tag.)

Friday, February 24, 2006

How much does that gorilla weigh, anyway?

Deadlines, schmeadlines. As I try to put out a weekly magazine in just four days, with a staff made up mostly of howler monkeys, please enjoy this entry from June 22, 2005. The links probably don't work anymore, so don't bother clicking on them.


An 800 pound gorilla came knocking on the door of Riverside City Hall this week, asking for water. --Kalona News

The South African Broadcasting Corporation is almost too bulky to run and now it’s going to get even bigger. The 900-pound gorilla gained formal approval from the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) last week to put on extra weight. --Mail and Guardian

"The 400-pound gorilla is North America. That's the big swing item and that's where they've got to cut costs," he said. --Reuters

Vonage, at least as of this writing, appears to be the 300-pound gorilla of VoIP companies, though they're also competing head to head with some Internet providers such as cable companies. --Canada Free Press

"Consumer spending is the 500-pound gorilla in the GDP account, so if consumer spending slows ... we'll have to accept growth will be a little weaker, it won't be the 4 percent plus that we had last year," said Chan. --Reuters

"This began as a 900-pound gorilla and is beginning to now look like a rhesus monkey," says Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University who has criticized the case in testimony before the Senate and the House of Representatives. --Business Week

"Hillary's the 800-pound gorilla in this race," Jarding said. --Delaware Online

The weakness is the same, and I say that because often times we're seen like the 900-pound gorilla. --Crain's Cleveland Business

"I would hope it would, but the thousand-pound gorilla is the Social Security issue. How you can tip the scales on that, I don't know." --Boston Globe

The spill happened early in the course and the two women found themselves upside down with a 400-pound gorilla on top of them, sliding along the ice and generating enough friction to create severe burns. --San Francisco Chronicle

Just ask the horse who helped me get rid of the 1,000-pound gorilla who resided on my spine for the past 36 months and overcame near disaster at the top of the Pimlico stretch in order to make us both winners. --News Herald

All good things must come to an end, and Best Buy is facing not increasing competition--it is the 300-pound gorilla of discount consumer electronics--but economic uncertainty. --Reuters

And if that scene (complete with the sort of gross-out corpse re-creation CSI has made all but obligatory) doesn't establish that Johnson is an unapologetic 500-pound gorilla, her boss, Assistant Police Chief Henry Pope (J.K. Simmons of Law & Order and Oz renown), casually mentions that she's a "CIA-trained interrogator" and that, while "no Miss Congeniality, she is a closer." --Houston Chronicle

"We knew Fry's is the 500-pound gorilla in sales tax revenue as far as electronics," Gittings said. "And if you listen to Fry's, they say this will be the only North County store." --North County Times

I believe this whole netted environment begins with somebody defining the architecture, building a consensus on interface and data standards, and somebody has to be the 600-pound gorilla governing them. --Military Information Technology

There are a lot of screamers that work in government, but you don't pull somebody so low down in the bureaucracy that they're completely defenseless. It's an 800-pound gorilla devouring a banana. --NPR

"Given the fact we are seen as a 500-pound gorilla that can push its weight around, I think with the Mexican government, because of immigration issues and other items with the U.S. government, we have a great deal of clout," said Ved Nanda with the University of Denver law department. --The Denver Channel

"Aren't they the 600-pound gorilla that we're not talking much about," said John Heddle of Winona. --Winona Daily News

United is just the first of the big boys to go under. In the wings are Delta, Continental and Northwest airlines. Then there is the 8,000-pound gorilla: GM. --Fauquier Times Democrat


Congratulations, General Motors--you are by far the biggest gorilla!

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

If sock monkeys wrote haiku

i will throw my poop
if you don't listen; now give
me that banana



Please note that A) sock monkeys do not actually poop, and B) they are lousy poets.

Headline of the day

White House to Issue Own Katrina Report

'Cause you know, the one released by the House last week was filled with icky facts 'n' stuff.

Cooking with wingnuts

This made me laugh while simultaneously making me feel a bit nauseous. (You'll have to scroll up to top of page.)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Smackdown!: Devo vs. Il Divo

Image hosting by Photobucket Devo

Who?: Five wacky guys who turned punk, pop, and dance music upside down.

Pros: Made great videos. Best slogan a band ever had ("Are we not men? No, we are Devo."). Founding member went on to score Pee-Wee's Playhouse. Funny. Looked smashing with upside-down plastic flowerpots on their heads.

Cons: Not terribly listenable, at least while sober. Sort of one-joke funny.


Image hosting by Photobucket Il Divo

Who?: Four guys who turned the idea of classical pop upside ... Er, no. Four guys who took the idea of classical pop and ... um. Let's just make it "four guys" and leave it at that.

Pros: Second album debuted at the top of the Billboard pop chart. Members wear suits well.

Cons: Produced by American Idol's Simon Cowell. Worst slogan ever ("Il Divo: We look good in suits."). Makes Josh Groban look edgy. Takes most insufferable parts of pop and puts them together with the most boring parts of classical.

Winner: Devo, by a landslide. Gotta love those flowerpot hats.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

What's on your mind? (with commentary)

Recent searches that have stranded vistors on TVB:

experiment to compare the power of radio and television strawberry river of cream
--Ummmm. I have no clue. None.

joke from the aristocats
--Way back when, I wrote that I hoped some clueless parent would walk into a video store and pick up The Aristocrats for his kid by mistake. It never dawned on me that someone might look for a movie about a dirty joke and take home an animated flick about cats. But I guess anything is possible.

bush licks balls
--Sometimes you find political commentary when you least expect it.

half human half monkey abomination
--Oh, enough about Bush already!

katie holmes elron hubbard baby
--Tom, I know you have dyslexia, but I'm reasonably sure you were trying to think of "L. Ron." Or, if you're a LOTR fan, Elrond.

ben stiller ice cream flavors
--What would Zoolander taste like, exactly?

Ugh

A blog I have never seen before today has accused me of plagiarism, over a post I made last June.

Let me state here for the record: I have been blogging for going on two years. In that time, I have made around 500 posts. I have never plagiarized another site. If I reprint anything, it's with an acknowledgement and a link.

UPDATE: Well, he's posted a sort-of apology, but just accusing me of stealing from him, on his (apparently much-more-popular-than-mine) site--without contacting me directly--literally made me want to throw up yesterday.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Seriously, we get it now: You really, really, really don't like the cartoons

Cartoon Protests Leave 15 Dead in Nigeria

And I hate Mallard Fillmore, but this is just freaking crazy.

Thank you for riding The Velvet Blog

No one taller than 4' 5" or shorter than 5' 10" should ride The Velvet Blog.

If you have heart problems, back pain, severe head trauma, gastrointestinal distress, vertigo, monkey pox, ebola virus, anthrax, vague ennui, altitude sickness, colic, sleep disorders, chronic dandruff, gingivitis, varicose veins, schadenfreude, or the heartbreak of psoriasis, you should not ride The Velvet Blog within 12 hours before eating, or within 12 hours after eating.

Pregnant women, women who might become pregnant, men or women who have had mothers who have ever been pregnant, and those who have ever seen a pregnant woman should refrain from riding The Velvet Blog unless they wear chemical-resistant gloves.

Please lower the safety bar in front of you. Then make sure your safety belt is fastened. Then put the padlock on the safety bar. Good. Now, use the rope you'll find on the floor of the cabin to tie the safety bar to the safety belt. Look under your seat for the foam-rubber padding, and wrap it around your extremities. That's it; very good.

Don't worry, it's perfectly safe.

Please enjoy your ride, and come again soon. But if you do return, please note that we cannot be held legally responsible.

Thank you.

Friday, February 17, 2006

How not to write a headline

Is it just me, or do both headlines make it sound as if the Veep has struck again?
Man Shot by Cheney Leaving Hospital

Hospital Discharging Man Shot by Cheney

First one says Cheney was leaving the hospital and shot a man. The second implies that Cheney took a shot at the building itself. "Man Shot By Cheney Discharged from Hospital" would have worked. I guess writers didn't want passive voice, but those headlines are just awful. (Both heads via Yahoo.)

That's D list, not D cup, buddy

Interesting story on blogging in the new issue of New York.

I had no idea how much money there was to be made. I am seriously missing out.

I guess that judging by New York standards, TVB is on the D list (like Kathy Griffin, only less annoying).

How I plan on celebrating Presidents' Day

--Tap next-door neighbor's phone and open his mail
--Depose family across the street and install a new family there
--Accuse critics of playing "blame game" when new family blows up a car
--Clear brush
--Choke on a pretzel
--Shred pictures of myself with Jack Abramoff

Oh, how I wish there were a Vice Presidents' Day! There are so many people I'd like to shoot.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

News headline on Yahoo I'd rather not have seen

Madonna on Mend from Grammy Hernia

Other headlines I expect to see in the near future:
Robert Plant Says: "Please, for the Love of God, Stop Squeezing My Lemon"

Mick Jagger Gets up Twice During the Night to Pee

Paul McCartney Hazy on Where He Left the Car Keys

Johnny Rotten: Somewhat Mellower Since the Dementia Set In

Tommy Lee Resting Comfortably After 23rd Battle With the Clap

Bob Dylan Babbles Incoherently--Either Has Alzheimer's or is Singing

Smackdown!: Karl Rove vs. Dr. Mabuse

Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines... As I try to get the magazine to the printer on time, sit back, relax, and enjoy this post from July 13, 2005. Hey, as NBC used to say of its reruns: "It's new to you." If, um, you haven't read it already.


As a longtime film buff, all the recent descriptions of Karl Rove kept reminding me of something, but I couldn't quite figure out what.

Today, I realized the answer: Karl Rove is Dr. Mabuse.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comKarl Rove
Image hosted by Photobucket.comDr. Mabuse

Mabuse was the antihero of several films made by Fritz Lang, in the 1920s, '30s, and '60s (and thereafter by other directors).

Here's a description (from here):

Driven by his insatiable lust for power and destruction...

Rove: Check!


he sets out to amass an illicit fortune...

Rove: Check!

take over Berlin, and destroy society en route to total world domination.

Rove: Well, I don't know about Berlin, but otherwise: Check!

Dr. Mabuse has all of the requisite traits for this ambitious career path: a brilliant, relentless criminal mind...

Rove: Check!

superhuman powers of mind-reading, hypnotism, and will-bending...

Rove: I assume so. I mean, it would explain a lot. So, check!

the savoir faire to operate smoothly amongst the social elite...

Rove: Savoir faire? Ok, this one doesn't fit.

the remorseless heart of a cold-blooded multiple murderer...

Rove: Check!

and balls of ice-cold steel.

Rove: Double check!
Rounding out his résumé, he is also a master of disguise...
Rove: Check!

To prove this point, here is Rove dressed up like his hero, The Brain:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

an accomplished speculator able to manipulate the economy...

Rove: Check!

and a man who–-like all would-be world dominators worth their salt–-will stop at nothing to achieve his nefarious ends.

Rove: Check!

Oh, Karl. If only you had a little more savoir faire, you coulda been a movie star... in Germany... in the 1930s.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Mr. Frey, have you met Grandpa Munster?

Damn you, Times Select! The ridiculous firewall around columns in The New York Times prevents me from linking to Dan Barry's piece today about the many fibs told by Al Lewis, who died last week. The actor, best known for playing the grandfather on The Munsters, was listed in obituaries as 95.

But he wasn't--he was 82. That's just the beginning, though. Here's an excerpt from the story:
"When Lewis talked about the 1930's, he described himself not as a boy growing into long pants, but as an adventurous man, always in the mix of history. He said that he worked as a radio actor, circus clown, trapeze artist, medicine show 'professor,' and union organizer in the South." Other jobs he claimed to have had included working "on the defense committee for Sacco and Venzetti, two Italian anarchists who were executed in 1927," when Lewis was 4-years-old. He also claimed to have appeared in "Olsen and Johnson's Hellzapoppin', the Broadway hit of 1938. Not to mention that time he got a doctorate in child psychology from Columbia University in 1941. Or was maybe 1949? Columbia certainly has no record of it.

So, why would a working actor actually want to be 13 years older than he really was? The theory is that he first fudged his age to get the part on The Munsters--he was a couple years younger than the actress who would play his daughter. But the rest of his embellishments? Pure storytelling.

So, here's the question: Why do I find this completely hilarious but the lies of James Frey to be totally contemptible? Somehow, Lewis's lies make him a quote-unquote character. Frey's lies make him (no quotes here) an asshole. And the lies coming from the White House? Ah, don't get me started...

Friday, February 10, 2006

Hackery 2,342, Insanity ... priceless

Man, this crazy-lying-White-House-appointee-to-NASA story just keeps getting better and better! From the New York Times this morning:
The Times reported on Wednesday that contrary to his résumé on file with NASA, Mr. Deutsch, who is 24, never graduated from Texas A&M. Yesterday, in an interview with The Times, Mr. Deutsch said he had written the résumé in anticipation of graduating.

"When I left college," he said, "I did not properly update my résumé. As a result, it may appear misleading to some. However, I was up front with NASA about my undergraduate status when they hired me."

What a great idea!

I'm going to update my resume in anticipation of graduating from Harvard and running a Fortune 500 company.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

A second open letter to the producers of Lost

Last May, I appealed to you, the producers of Lost, a show I like a lot, not to use the they-don't-know-they're-dead twist from "The Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge," et al. Last night, one of the characters on your show was seen holding a copy of ... "The Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge."

You are teasing us, but be warned: I am on to you.


(I completely forgot I wrote that post, by the way. I was looking over my SiteMeter statistics this morning and noticed someone found TVB by seaching for Lost and "Owl Creek Bridge.")

Yet another sign of the coming apocalypse

Barry Manilow has scored his first No. 1 album in 29 years with "The Greatest Songs of the 50's" (Arista)--featuring tunes like "Unchained Melody" and "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing"--which sold 156,000 copies in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan. His last album to reach the peak position on the Billboard chart was "Live" in 1977. --The New York Times

Oh, please. The next thing you'll try to tell me is that the guy who sang "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" will have three hit albums singing the "American songbook." It'll be a cold day in hell before that happens.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

E-mail I received today from Brian Jackson

Do You have enough pwoer to provide your patrner high quality SE-X on St. Valentine day? Get a MONSTTER pwoer, nothing can bring your ererction down! Show your partner the PWOER of your LOEV and she will always remember You. Loev will ALWAYS be associated with YOU! Your order will be PRIVATE, nobody will know what You use.

Follow this link and get SSPECIAL DISSCOOUNT for that period:
http://xxx.lurkydl.com/

Isumxcng Eudoxmpzjpmc


Dear Brian:

How are you? I am fine.

Thanks so much for your note, though I found it a little puzzling. What would I do with MONSTTER pwoer? It sounds a little scary, to be honest. And that bit about nothing bringing my ererction down? Yikes. If my ererction never came down, I'd have to go see the dcotor! Boy, that would be embarrassing!!!

And just what is the PWOER of LOEV, anyway? That great philospher Huey Lewis once said that it would make one man weep, but another man sing. So maybe it's like too much alcohol at a karaoke bar. But he also said that it would change a hawk into a little white dove, so perhaps it's more like a cut-rate Siegfried and Roy show. Maybe it's just a mystery.

Well, happy St. Valentine's, Brian, and thanks for the offer of the sspecial disscoount. It's always nice to save a few bucks while experiencing high-quality SE-X!

Isumxcng Eudoxmpzjpmc,
Jim

Science 1, Hackery 2,342

OK, the hackery score is just an estimate, but it used to be at least 2,343.

You know that story I linked to the other day about the White House appointee to NASA who didn't think very highly of science? Well, he's out of a job. Seems he lied on his resume. A blogger looked into his background and found out that the guy never graduated from college. (Don't you think the Times would have looked into this joker's background before the original story ran last weekend? Odd.)

And I thought he was doing a heckuva job, too.

(Via ... well, just about everyone, but I felt it was worth repeating.)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Human-animal hybrids I'd favor

Human-elephant: C'mon, having a trunk like that would be wicked cool.

Human-giraffe: For better viewing at the movies.

Human-koala: Because koalas are adorable.

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Monday, February 06, 2006

And now the story of a great show that got canceled...

Fox is flushing away the last four (I think) episodes of the wonderfully twisted Arrested Development on Friday.

Very few comedies have made me laugh as much as this one.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Perhaps not the best place to live if you like opera ... or have a brain larger than a pea

'Faust' Opera Video Stirs Angry Parents

BENNETT, Colo. - Some parents in this prairie town are angry with an elementary school music teacher for showing pupils a video about the opera "Faust," whose title character sells his soul to the devil in exchange for being young again.

"Any adult with common sense would not think that video was appropriate for a young person to see. I'm not sure it's appropriate for a high school student," Robby Warner said after two of her children saw the video.

Another parent, Casey Goodwin, said, "I think it glorifies Satan in some way."

Tresa Waggoner showed approximately 250 first-, second- and third-graders at Bennett Elementary portions of a 33-year-old series titled "Who's Afraid of Opera" a few weeks ago.

The video features the soprano Dame Joan Sutherland and three puppet friends discussing Gounod's "Faust." Waggoner thought it would be a good introduction to opera. ...

"I was definitely not sensitive to the conservative nature of the community, and I've learned that," Waggoner said in Sunday's editions of The Denver Post. "However, from what has been said about me, that I'm a Satan worshipper, my character, I can't believe all of this. My intention was just to expose the kids to opera."

Waggoner, who is in her first year teaching vocal music in Bennett, said she doesn't expect to stay in town.

"I know I'm not accepted here, that I'm not welcome here by the parents," she said. "It's a very uncomfortable position."
--The Associated Press

Guess she shoulda stayed with "What's Opera, Doc?" through at least grade 10. (Seriously, do the have televisions in this town?)

Perhaps not the best way of expressing your opinion of science if you've been appointed to a science agency

The Big Bang is "not proven fact; it is opinion," [24-year-old presidential appointee to NASA] Mr. Deutsch wrote, adding, "It is not NASA's place, nor should it be to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator." --The New York Times

Perhaps not the best way of expressing your displeasure over a satirical cartoon that portrays you as violent

"We will not accept less than severing the heads of those responsible," one preacher at Al Omari mosque in Gaza told worshipers during Friday Prayer, according to Reuters. Other demonstrators called for amputating the hands of the cartoonists who drew the pictures. --The New York Times

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Can anyone explain this?

How is possible that when you run a Google search on the phrase Freudian psychoanalysts (with or without quotation marks), the first hit is this?

I don't know a lot about the way Web searches work ... but that's just plain odd.

My new second-favorite place name: Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

Congratulations, residents of Rancho Cucamonga! I love saying your town's name out loud. Cucamonga! Cucamonga!! Cucamonga!!!

Note to my legions of readers in Peru: Lake Titicaca will always be my #1 favorite place name.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

...Which, come to think of it, sounds like a pretty good idea

[Lawyer Michael] Ramsey described [disgraced Enron head Ken] Lay as "bone-solid, churchbound all his life," and highlighted his millions of dollars in philanthropy. While Lay accepts responsibility for the bankruptcy of Enron, Ramsey said, "Failure is not a crime. Bankruptcy is not a crime. If it were, we would have to turn Oklahoma back into a penal colony." --The Associated Press

And, of course, people who are "churchbound" never commit any crimes, right?

UPDATE: God Is My Codependent notes that Ramsey seems to be confusing Oklahoma with Australia. A quick search turns up no info on Oklahoma ever being used as a penal colony, but speak up if I'm wrong.