Monday, March 31, 2008

And what do I hear for The Velvet Blog?

This is how it happens.

A guy starts a clever blog in January and calls it Stuff White People Like. The site contains a list of cultural totems, including gifted children, marathons and writers’ workshops, that a certain type of moneyed and liberal American might be expected to like.

“The No. 1 reason why white people like not having a TV,” reads the explanation under entry No. 28, Not Having a TV, “is so that they can tell you that they don’t have a TV.”

Readers discover, like it and forward links to their friends, who forward them to lots more friends. Newspaper columnists mention it, stealing — er, quoting — some of the better jokes. By the end of February, the NPR program “Talk of the Nation” runs a report on it, debating whether the site is racist or satire.

And then on March 20 Random House announces that it has purchased the rights to a book by the blog’s founder, Christian Lander, an Internet copy writer. The price, according to a source familiar with the deal but not authorized to discuss the total, was about $300,000, a sum that many in the publishing and blogging communities believe is an astronomical amount for a book spawned from a blog, written by a previously unpublished author.
--The New York Times

A hundred bucks? Fifty? A cup of coffee? A shiny Susan B. Anthony dollar?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Why are you here, again?

Recent searches that stranded visitors on The Velvet Blog:

--picture of man with toe stuck in faucet
--von bulow wrestling
--freddie mercury bulge pics
--soylent green recipes
--beauty pageant for monkeys

Soylent Green recipes??? It's people! It's people!

Photos of the Day

From an ongoing series, entitled "Office Life."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

If sock monkeys ran for president

sock monkey"Today in Iraq, our supermarket produce departments, America and our allies monkeys and banana lovers everywhere stand on the precipice of winning a major victory against radical Islamic extremism mushy bananas. The security gains rise in the level of produce freshness over the past year have has been dramatic and undeniable. Al Qaeda and Shia extremists Rotten bananas -- with support from external powers such as Iran substandard banana growers, including Acme Banana -- are on the run but not defeated."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Phrase I never want to hear again

Unless you're speaking or writing about someone tossing, say, Lou Dobbs in front of a Greyhound, please never use the words "thrown under the bus" or its variants again.

Thank you.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Must be a slow news day

Yahoo has "'Punky Brewster' gives birth to baby" on its front page.

I love the qualifier at the end. Like otherwise we'd assume "to puppies."

The tale of the Lycra sniffer

Time once again for us to examine the Chandler Burr's New York Times perfume reviews. Got your smelling salts ready? Good.

From Sunday's paper:
In 1999, the perfumer Michel Almairac produced a perfume for Gucci that was -- and remains -- virtually perfect.

Not literally perfect, mind you.
Its scent is marvelously, explicitly unnatural, as if one were smelling a coat made of the most expensive Lycra.

Couldn't you just wear biking shorts? Er, the world's finest, most expensive biking shorts?
But beneath the surface, Gucci Rush runs on lactones, marvelous synthetic molecules that give off the fresh-chilled aspect of yogurt, with a hint of the plastic container it comes in.

Activia: Yogurt that makes you poop. Just dab a little on your pulse points and ...
The genius of Rush is clarity without cleanliness. ...

It's like the world's smartest hobo!
Its architectural cognate is the Bank of America Tower, now rising at Sixth Avenue and 42nd Street. The skyscraper's guts are advanced materials like slag-mixed concrete, but its facade even more closely reflects the perfume.

But have you tried spritzing an office building? It cannot be done.

Really. I've tried.
This box is angled, complex, multifaceted. Its clear glass skin is washed in a milky, pearly whiteness, keeping it both warm and cool.

It is both up and down. Night and day. Pastrami, and yet roast beef.


Friday, March 14, 2008

Sympathy for the crevices

Mysterious Craters Seen On Mercury

Craters come in all shapes and sizes, some more bizarre than others. Recent photos of Mercury have revealed two new categories of crater that scientists are puzzling over how to explain.

When NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft flew by the planet Jan. 14 it snapped pictures of several craters with strange dark halos and one crater with a spectacularly shiny bottom.

"The halos are really exceptional," said MESSENGER science team member Clark Chapman of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. "We've never seen anything like them on Mercury before and their formation is a mystery."

The Velvet Blog is proud to host several exclusive examples of these important, historic photos.


Well, I definitely see the craters. They look almost unimaginably deep! I bet you could get lost in one of those, and never get out. No halo, though, and no shiny bottom. Could we pull back just a little so we can get a better look?


Hey, wait a minute ... pull back a little more, please.


Well, that's just ... freaky.

Eventually, Chapman said, "we'll get to the bottom of this mystery," and probably many more mysteries yet to be revealed.

Perhaps. One day. But I doubt it.

And, in retrospect, it's probably best we can't see the shiny bottom.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Pick Flick

While I listened to Sen. Clinton explain in an NPR interview this morning why the Michigan primary results should stand even though all the other Dems had taken their names off the ballot, I realized that she was the Reese Witherspoon character from Election all grown up. Then I realized I was perhaps the 1 millionth person to make that connection.

And yes, if she somehow gets the nomination, I'd still vote for her, if more grudgingly than I would have a couple of months ago. (And if you've never seen Election, it's well worth a rental.)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Writer's block

I've felt particularly uninspired blog-wise of late, so I thought I'd turn to the Internet for help. Maybe an expert's blog post called "101 Great Posting Ideas That Will Make Your Blog Sizzle" will help. Better get your oven mitts ready, and we'll take a look at some suggestions:
Write a post by examining the pros and cons of an issue.

Pros: It's easy. Cons: It's boring.
Do an interview with key people in your niche.

While I did once find some key people in my niche, I notified the authorities and they're currently serving seven to 10 with no chance of parole.
Take an alternate position.

That won't work.
Review your statistics to see what keywords referred your visitors to your site and post about those.

Activia yogurt continues to make you poop. And Deborah Norville's eyes look freaky.
Make a post that is inspirational.

The sun'll come out tomorrow, so ya gotta hang on till tomorrow, come what may. Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love ya, tomorrow! You're always a daaaaaaaaaay aaaaaaawaaaaaaay!
Write a funny post.

Mom's on the roof, and we can't get her down.
Browse through a thesaurus and see if synonyms help spark ideas for your posts.

I would, but that suggestion is full of dung, guano, manure, or, if you will, excreta.
Pose a rhetorical question in your post.

Is that really a good idea?
Make a post about how things have changed from the past.

It's like the time I caught the ferry over to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for my shoe, so I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry costs a nickel, and in those days nickels had pictures of bumblebees on them. "Give me five bees for a quarter," you'd say. Now, where were we? Oh, yeah. The important thing was that I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time. They didn't have white onions because of the war. The only thing you could get were those big, yellow ones ...
Create a post that has a cliffhanger to be answered in a later post.

Well, I'm not sure ... Sorry, there's someone at the door. I'll be right back.

Hold on, hold on, I'll be right there.

Oh, it's you. I thought you were doing seven to 10 without chance of parole. Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me? Errr ... I guess you're definitely not glad to see me. Now, put down that gun. I'm warning you, put down that gu

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Quotation of the Day

"You know, they call Ohio a bellwether state. It's a battleground state. It's a state that knows how to pick a president." --Hillary Clinton

Yeah, great job in the last couple general elections, Ohio.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Fakery in four easy lessons, or: Could I get that with a side of Freys?

1) The heartwarming tale of a Margaret B. Jones, a young woman who escaped the mean streets of L.A.

2) Um, not so fast.

3) Signs that Margaret Jones' Seltzer's story should have been vetted a bit more closely. Seriously, that sounds like a transcript of a satirical skit.

4) Meanwhile...

I suppose I ought to tell you at this point that I'm not really the king of Liechtenstein.

UPDATE: If you're interested in the topic, this New York Times op-ed piece, "Stolen Suffering," is worth a read.