Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Quotation of the day


"I think the global kerfuffle has expanded into a universal brouhaha." --God Is My Codependent, concerned reader

Monday, March 30, 2009

Idea


You know what the problem with Twitter is? Posts are just too damned long-winded. It lets you post 140 characters! 140! Jeez, people, if I had that much time to read Twitter posts -- tweets, if you will, though I won't -- I'd finally finish reading Gravity's Rainbow.

Twitter bills itself as a microblogging service, but what we need is a micromicroblogging platform for really, really busy people like me. Here's the twist: Posts are limited to four characters. Yes, four characters. That's more than enough. Hell, Faulkner once had an entire chapter of one of his novels consist entirely of the sentence "My mother is a fish." And if Faulkner can clock in at five words, surely you can make do with four characters. Face it, you're no William Faulkner.

For example, if I were using Twitter, this post would consist entirely of the word "Idea." That's it. Really, that's enough. The post itself is just window dressing.

Well, enough of my yakking.

I'm also working on an antisocial networking site, one that absolutely no one can read.

Once I get that set up, you'll be the first not to read about it.


UPDATE: Britain's The Guardian will become the world's first all-Twitter newspaper, and will even revise all of its archives. The death of JFK will henceforward be recorded as: "JFK assassin8d @ Dallas, def. heard second gunshot from grassy knoll WTF?"

140 characters to report the news? Hell, they're not even trying.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Postcard of the day


Aug. 15, 1935

Dear Bobby:

The water is not as blue as in the postal.

Lots of love from Mimi


Friday, March 27, 2009

What can I say? Bananas are cheap.


From today's New York Times:
When Stars Twitter, a Ghost May Be Lurking

The rapper 50 Cent is among the legion of stars who have recently embraced Twitter to reach fans who crave near-continuous access to their lives and thoughts. On March 1, he shared this insight with the more than 200,000 people who follow him: "My ambition leads me through a tunnel that never ends."

Good Lord, that sounds awful. Thank heavens I'm not ambitious. Fiddy, take my advice: Party like it's your birthday. (And you know, we don't give a fudge it's not your birthday.)
Those were 50 Cent's words, but it was not exactly him tweeting. Rather, it was Chris Romero, known as Broadway, the director of the rapper's Web empire, who typed in those words after reading them in an interview.

"He doesn't actually use Twitter," Mr. Romero said of 50 Cent, whose real name is Curtis Jackson III, "but the energy of it is all him."

"The energy"? It's like he's a spirit not quite ready to leave this earth -- you know, like Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense (whoops, SPOILER ALERT!) -- but eager to impart his existentialist wisdom from beyond the grave.
In its short history, Twitter -- a microblogging tool that uses 140 characters in bursts of text -- has become an important marketing tool for celebrities, politicians and businesses, promising a level of intimacy never before approached online, as well as giving the public the ability to speak directly to people and institutions once comfortably on a pedestal.

But someone has to do all that writing, even if each entry is barely a sentence long. In many cases, celebrities and their handlers have turned to outside writers -- ghost Twitterers, if you will -- who keep fans updated on the latest twists and turns, often in the star's own voice.

First of all, I will not. And second, if you're about to tell me that Britney isn't doing her own tweeting, please stop now. I am willing to bet she tweets herself on a regular basis. Though I guess it's possible she has her staff do it from time to time.
Because Twitter is seen as an intimate link between celebrities and their fans, many performers are not willing to divulge the help they use to put their thoughts into cyberspace.

Britney Spears recently advertised for someone to help, among other things, create content for Twitter and Facebook. Kanye West recently told New York magazine that he has hired two people to update his blog. "It's just like how a designer would work," he said.

Oh, God. The secret is out.

Sure, I started writing The Velvet Blog myself. But after awhile ... Look, I have many demands on my time. Do you I think I have time to write this nonsense myself?

No, since sometime in mid-2005, TVB has been outsourced.

Please give a warm round of applause to this blog's real mastermind, Mr. Muggles.



OK, Mr. Muggles, back to work. Time is bananas, bub, and don't you forget it.

(PS: An entire article about Twitter and celebs and no mention of Chris Walken???)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

If sock monkeys were called upon to answer the question: What are toxic assets?

sock monkeyThe Obama administration rolled out a plan Monday that could facilitate the purchase of up to $1 trillion worth of toxic assets bananas from struggling banks in an effort to clean up their balance sheets and get them to start lending again.

So what exactly are these toxic assets bananas, which have caused such huge problems in our financial system?

Every time you see foreclosure signs littering neighborhoods, you're probably looking at the makings of a toxic asset banana, reports CBS News correspondent Bianca Solorzano.

"Toxic assets bananas are the ones that nobody wants to touch because they're just considered too dangerous," Doug Rediker, of New America Foundation, told CBS News.



(Unbanana'd version here)

Friday, March 20, 2009

News story of the day


Oh, it's a terrible thing to make jokes when there's a dead guy involved. Terrible. But ... but ... Oh, I give up.

Is this not THE most amazing opening sentence of a news story you've ever read in your entire life?
CHARDON, Ohio – A transgender woman was sentenced Friday to four years in prison for killing her frail husband by forcing him to exercise.

I mean, this story has everything! Sex! Money (she did it for the insurance)! Murder by exercise! Celebrities (er, sort of)! Even the dateline is suggestive!

The details are what make this so perfect:
Chris Mason, 41, was sentenced in Geauga County Common Pleas Court for reckless homicide in the death of 73-year-old James Mason. She pleaded guilty earlier and could have gotten five years in prison.

Mason's voice quivered as she tearfully apologized for the June death of her husband, who had heart problems. A surveillance camera caught Mason forcing her husband around in the pool.

Chris Mason also goes by Christine Newton-John, the name she took after her 1993 sex change.

"I want to apologize to my former husband's half-sister for her loss as well as to my family and for my loss," she said in court in an emotional tone. "It's been very upsetting and devastating for our entire family."

Hey, hold on a minute ... did she just apologize to herself for her loss? Man, that's the most amazing nonapology apology I've ever seen! (Your Honor, I throw myself on the mercy of the court. After all, I am a widow.)

Oh, and for the record: The Velvet Blog predicts this story will form the basis of the plot of Law & Order's season finale, starring Drew Carey as Christine Newton-John and Abe Vigoda as James Mason.


NOTE: The AP story was completely rewritten around the time I posted this, so my quotations don't match up to the version in the link.

Spring to NY Metro Area: "Drop Dead"


Snow? Snow?? Yegads, enough already.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Get out of the office and into the springtime



Hmm. I think this is going to be a mostly-music blog for a while.

The song of the day is "Legal Man," a Belle & Sebastian B-side non-album single.


SeeqPod - Playable Search

I love that anthemic "get out of the office/get out of the city" bit at the end. I must have played this four times in a row yesterday.

Topic: Belle & Sebastian contains no band members named Belle or Sebastian.

Discuss.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

If we sing, are we nightingales? Shine, are we stars?


I've had this stuck in my head all day. It's a cover of a Prefab Sprout song, slightly reconfigured as bossa nova by Norwegian pop singer Sondre Lerche:


SeeqPod - Playable Search

Layoffs a-poppin' at my office. I'm spared, but lost a copyeditor.

I am really not happy right now.

Let me listen to that song again. Perhaps I'll calm down.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Random thought after viewing the ad for the Comedy Central roast of Larry the Cable Guy for the umpteenth time


At 17 minutes per pound and (I'm guessing) 250 pounds, it would take 70.83 hours to roast Larry the Cable Guy in a 325-degree oven.

Miss me all week?


Busy, busy.

Here, enjoy this instructional video from "Posh Nosh" on making bread and butter ... excuse me, bread and butter pudding.

Monday, March 09, 2009

At least, I think that's why they sat in my lap


The Onion AV Club has an amusing article on bad moviegoing experiences.

Here are a few of mine:

--Went to see a Russian kitchen-sink drama (I forget the name), and there was a guy sitting near me who READ ALL OF THE SUBTITLES OUT LOUD to his companion. Yes, the entire way through the movie. I assume his friend was either blind or couldn't read English. Perhaps seeing something that wasn't subtitled might have been a good idea.

--During a showing of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, there were three teens behind me who found everything about the movie absolutely hilarious. By midway through the film, I had a pounding headache. At that point, I turned around and screamed--yes, screamed like a crazy person--"WILL YOU SHUT UP?!?!?!" And they did, no doubt assuming that I'd kill them if they didn't. But the movie was ruined at that point.

--Then there was the fellow who sat near me during a showing of Crimes and Misdemeanors and thought it was Woody Allen's funniest comedy ever. He laughed nonstop. (In case you missed this one, it's one of Woody's darkest dramas.)

--OK, this was completely my fault. I went to see Dangerous Liaisons under the mistaken impression that it was short--say, 90 minutes. Not sure where I got that idea. I got to the theater pretty early and sat in the middle of the auditorium. Then the seats filled up, and I had no easy exit. And I drank a large Coke. By an hour and a quarter in, I was dying because I had to pee so desperately. But I figured that the movie was over soon, and I didn't want to climb over the 20 little old ladies who flanked me on either side. 90 minutes passed. 100. 110. (Ohmygod!! Why won't this stupid movie end?!) Finally, at the two-hour mark, I dashed from the theater with only minor kidney damage.

--I saw My Beautiful Laundrette in a small theater with absolutely no lighting along its walls. (You may not notice, but there are usually small lights either along the walls or along the aisle.) The auditorium was pitch dark, and it's not exactly a brightly lit movie. So, at two points during the film, latecomers stumbled down the aisle ... and sat in my lap.

--I went to see Transylvania 6-5000. That's it--I went to Transylvania 6-5000.

Please share yours in comments.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Amen


Part of an occasional series in which try to soften the sting of particularly harsh reviews by appending the phrase: "Garnish with Fluffernutter." Why? Because we can. Today's entry comes from the review of Watchmen in The New York Times:
Speaking of acts of congress, "Watchmen" features this year's hands-down winner of the bad movie sex award, superhero division: a moment of bliss that takes place on board Nite Owl's nifty little airship, accompanied by Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." (By the way, can we please have a moratorium on the use of this song in movies? Yes, I too have heard there was a secret chord that David played, and blah blah blah, but I don't want to hear it again. Do you?) Garnish with Fluffernutter.

I blame Shrek for this, BTW. The song has been around a long time, but Shrek was the first big Hollywood movie to use it in an emotional scene (actually, the John Cale cover, not the Leonard Cohen original). Since then, it's been used over and over and over and over. I don't think subtlety is at the top of the to-do list for Watchmen's makers. To indicate the passing of time during a montage they use ... wait for it! ... "The Times They Are a-Changin'."

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Ghost malls!


Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have been amazing of late.

I'm going to be lazy and let them do the heavy lifting today.





"I have to say, I find cheap populism oddly arousing." Hahahahahahaha.

This is the first time I'm seeing Santelli's rant, much talked about and lauded on the right. His words have actually become a rallying cry for right-wing groups, which are holding "tea parties" to protest the White House's economic plans. And now that I've seen it ... wow. I mean, words fail.

And what can one say about Glenn Beck that hasn't been said countless times about those who have suffered serious brain injury? I don't mean to put down those with serious brain injuries. It's horrible. (I just finished reading Forever Today, BTW, which I heard about on Radiolab and I recommend it highly. Sad, but deeply moving.) But there's just something totally unnerving about Beck's affect. It's just not right. If I'd never seen him on TV and you showed me a videotape of him speaking, I'd assume you were showing me footage of some deranged street-corner screamer who's been off his meds. And he has a TV show.

Here's the thing. My brother has always been to the right of me politically. Always. But it only dawned on me recently--it was when we were sitting around his dining room table at Christmas--that he's been completely, totally sucked in by this Fox News madness. He went off on a tear about subjects that he has no firsthand knowledge of, and ticking off every Fox News talking point he's memorized.

To give one example, The New York Times is a left-wing propaganda tool, and The Washington Post used to be a great paper, but has flushed its reputation down the toilet.

I can guarantee you two things: He has picked up The New York Times no more that twice in his entire life. If that. And he has never, never in his life read a copy of The Washington Post. Yet there he sat, getting angry and worked-up about them, his voice getting louder and his face turning red. I was shocked, actually.

Now, every time I go by Fox News and I see Hannity and O'Reilly and Beck spouting their deranged fantasies, I know my brother is soaking in every word. And that scares the shit out of me.