Monday, January 31, 2005

You mean they don't have to ask government approval already?

One in three U.S. high school students say the press ought to be more restricted, and even more say the government should approve newspaper stories before readers see them, according to a survey being released today.

The survey of 112,003 students finds that 36% believe newspapers should get "government approval" of stories before publishing; 51% say they should be able to publish freely; 13% have no opinion.
--USA Today

That's the most depressing thing I've heard all day. Of course, it's only 2:30 in the afternoon.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Ants in my pants

Overweight people have a tendency to sit, while lean ones have trouble holding still and spend two hours more a day on their feet, pacing around and fidgeting, researchers are reporting in findings published today.The difference translates into about 350 calories a day, enough to produce a weight loss of 30 to 40 pounds in one year without trips to the gym - if only heavy people could act more restless, like thin ones. --The New York Times

Ways to make me more likely to fidget:

--Massive doses of methamphetamine
--Being covered in fire ants
--Getting chased by flesh-eating zombies

Friday, January 28, 2005

In related news, a 60-year-old Somerset couple is expecting twins

A devout Baptist couple spoke today of their disgust after they claimed they bought a classic musical DVD featuring Doris Day from their local supermarket, only to discover it was an Italian porn film. Alan and Anne Leigh-Browne, from Wellington, Somerset, had been expecting to enjoy watching the Pajama Game, a romantic comedy featuring the Fifties' icon. Instead the shocked pensioners said they were confronted by raunchy sex film – Tettone che Passione, which roughly translates as Breasts of Passion.

Retired doctor Alan, 67, said he picked up the film ... for £2.99 from the bargain bin of a Safeway supermarket in nearby Taunton last Monday. On Thursday the couple, who are regular attenders of their local Baptist church, settled down with a cup of tea to watch the 1957 film.... Mr Leigh-Browne explained: "...Some topless young women appeared and started talking in Italian – we were horrified, it’s not what you expect from a Doris Day film. ... It was a pretty raunchy, explicit film, it certainly pulled no punches. My wife and I were very shocked but we watched it until the end because we couldn’t believe what we were seeing. ... The film became progressively more graphic, there was no plot to it, it was just sex."

Alan and his wife Anne, 60, a retired teacher, said they complained to Safeway the following day. A spokeswoman for Morrisons, who now run Safeway, said they would be willing to investigate the incident. She said: "Regrettably the customers involved would neither leave their contact details nor return the DVD to their nearest store or head office after being urged to do so on several occasions. We are anxious to undertake a thorough investigation into this isolated incident, however until we receive the product and proof of purchase this cannot take place."

OK, let's parse this:

"...Some topless young women appeared and started talking in Italian – we were horrified, it’s not what you expect from a Doris Day film."

True, I would never expect to hear anyone speaking in Italian in a Doris Day film. Still... horrifying? It's a beautiful language!

"My wife and I were very shocked but we watched it until the end because we couldn’t believe what we were seeing."

Uh huh.

"Regrettably the customers involved would neither leave their contact details nor return the DVD to their nearest store or head office after being urged to do so on several occasions."

Fortunately, they did have time to contact the media.

Link from Movie City News

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Dried plums: The whole sordid story

Apparently, the renaming of prunes dates back to 2001. A concerned reader sends this important news item:

The Prune Board's newest tactic is to rename the prune. This year, instead of a Prune Festival, there will be a Dried Plum Festival. The Sept. 8-9 gig in Yuba City will try to re-establish the prune as a healthy snack without the laxative connotation. "This is a change that is going on throughout the United States, so we felt we needed to follow suit," Bree Gianassi, managing director of the California Dried Plum Festival, told Reuters. --The Silicon Valley San Jose Business Journal, April 2001

Once your name has a "laxative connotation," it's hell to get rid of it. (See: Pauly Shore.)

"This is a change that is going on throughout the United States, so we felt we needed to follow suit."

What does this mean, exactly? Nationwide, the uncontrolled renaming of fruit was breaking out in the streets?


And what about hippies with psychedelic memories of The Electric Prunes? How are you supposed to tune in, turn on and drop out with the Electric Dried Plums?

That's right--The Silicon Valley San Jose Business Journal stole my Electric Dried Plums line four years before I wrote it.

Miserable bastards.

To start the morning: A high-fiber post

At what point in time did prunes...

They're not just prunes--they're fancy and evaporated, too!

...become "dried plums"?

Prunes, dammit

If this had happened in the 1960s, would we have had the Electric Dried Plums? I think not.

Electric Dried Plums?

Friday, January 21, 2005

Fair and bal ... ah, screw it.

Most amusing video of the meltdown of Fox News anchor Bridgitte Quinn when faced with Vanity Fair's Judy Bachrach explaining why the $40 million spent on the inaugration might not have been the best use of that money.

It starts out:

Bridgitte Quinn: ...Judy, welcome to you. We were noticing all the snow in Washington. It's really coming down. I hope it doesn't put a crimp in anybody's plans...

Judy Bachrach: Well, I think it should put a crimp, or something should put a crimp in the plans of White House to have such a lavish inaugural in a time of war.

Quinn: Reeeeally? Huh. Oooh-kaaaay...

Bachrach: What I've noticed is the worse a war is going, the more lavish the inaugural festivities. When Franklin D. Roosevelt was president during a time of war ... he had a very modest inauguration and a very tiny party at which he served chicken salad ... and that was when we were winning a war.

Quinn: Well, no, I ... Look, the president has addressed this, hasn't he? He said ... we're celebrating democracy, we're celebrating the peaceful transfer of democracy. What's wrong with that?

Bachrach: Have you noticed any peace or any transfer of democracy in Iraq? If you have, you're the first person to have seen it.

But watch the whole thing. It's priceless.

(One note: Video played fine on my Mac but wouldn't play on my PC--I guess it depends on what video software you have loaded.)

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Does it have anything to do with the economy-size package of chocolate-covered pork rinds I just bought? has been surprisingly unerring in its recommendations. I rate items--books, CDs, and DVDs, mostly--after I buy them, and based on this information, the site suggests other things I might like.

Which is why I was unnerved today to find the HeartStart Defibrillator prominently featured on my welcome page.

What does Amazon know that it's not telling me???

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Or you could just send them all to a British boarding school

News story of the day:

US military pondered love not war

The US military investigated building a "gay bomb", which would make enemy soldiers "sexually irresistible" to each other, government papers say. --BBC news

As if a spiffy uniform wasn't enough of an aphrodisiac!

It's not the lack of heat.

It's the absence of humidity.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Oh, how grand!

I finagled my way to a postponement of grand jury service last summer. In Suffolk County, this lasts four weeks. Let me write that one more time: FOUR WEEKS. (Whole weeks, too. Not wait-for-lawyers-to-settle-and-go-home weeks.)

Supposedly, my new period of service would be in January. In December, as I had not received anything in the mail, I called the Department of Jurors and was told I'd begin Jan. 31. (Um, service that starts Jan. 31 and runs for four weeks could hardly be said to be "in January," but, OK.)

It's now Jan. 13. I still haven't gotten notice in the mail, so I called again this morning.

Three times, I sat through a recorded message that lasted about five minutes, then I got cut off.

Fourth try, I reached a drone.

Me: I'm supposed to be called for grand jury service this month, but I haven't received anything in the mail.

Drone [voice dripping with sarcasm]: I don't know what you mean. You're not called to grand jury service. You come.

What. Fucking. Ever.

Sure, someone calls the Dept. of Jurors and says he's "called" to service and you have no idea what he's talking about.


Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Search me (again)

By far, my favorite Google search that brought a visitor here:

the Velvet Cucumber billing department

It brought them to the June archive, because of this entry.

For the life of me, I can't figure out what this person was really searching for. What is the Velvet Cucumber??? Does it really have a billing department?

Come to think of it, that would make a great name for a band.

The ways of Google are indeed mysterious.

Monday, January 10, 2005

The Inauguration of the Damned: Brought to you by ... me?!?

From The Associated Press:

The team collecting private donations to finance President Bush's inaugural festivities has taken in $18 million, putting it nearly halfway to its goal of at least $40 million. ...

Those donating $250,000 become inaugural "underwriters" and receive tickets to inaugural week events featuring the president and Laura Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne.

The new underwriters include AT&T; Bank of America; the pharmaceutical manufacturer Bristol-Myers Squibb; the energy company Cinergy; United Parcel Service; Alex G. Spanos, the owner of the San Diego Chargers; the American Financial Group of Cincinnati and one of its top executives, Carl H. Lindner; the New Energy Corporation, of South Bend, Ind.; Thomas Stephenson, a partner in Sequoia Capital in Atherton, Calif.; and the Strongbow Technologies Corporation, based in Maryland.

Several new contributors gave $100,000 to become inaugural "sponsors," a level of giving that also includes tickets to events leading up to and including the inauguration at the Capitol on Jan. 20. Those include Pepsi-Cola; Tyson Foods; the Goldman-Sachs Group; the California Farm Bureau Federation; Titus Electrical Contracting, of Austin, Tex.; the Hunting Engineering Company, of Bridgeton, Mo.; Intervest Construction, of Daytona Beach, Fla.; and Computer Associates International, of Islandia, N.Y.

Mr. Bush's inaugural committee can accept contributions in any amount and from almost any source, including corporations. Only foreign money is prohibited.

So, AT&T, my phone carrier, and Bank of America, which currently holds the mortgage on my house, both have donated a quarter of a million dollars to this party, to which I wouldn't be welcome? Wonderful. Bank of America I can't do much about. (When my partner and I bought our house two years ago, the mortgage was held by Fleet. Fleet sold it to Washington Mutual. Washington Mutual sold it back to Fleet. Fleet has now sold it to BoA. I never dreamed my dance card would be so full!) But it will be easy to replace AT&T with a company that spends my $$$ a bit more wisely.

UPDATE: Goodbye AT&T, hello Working Assets!

Remember that scene in The Pink Panther...

... in which David Niven skis down the Alps with his dick out?

Funny, I don't either.

From a New York Times book review of a new biography of actor David Niven:

The subject's own memoirs aren't particularly reliable; he was, as [biographer Graham] Lord puts it nicely, a "delightfully engaging fantasist and fibber." Lord struggles to put the record straight, although there is still room for scholarly debate. One example: While Niven was in the Italian Alps filming a skiing sequence for "The Pink Panther" in subzero weather, his penis became frostbitten. He was advised to soak it in alcohol as a first-aid treatment, and, quickly returning to his hotel, went to the bar, asked for a brandy glass full of whiskey and took it to the men's room. Question: When another patron walked in, saw Niven with his penis in a snifter and gasped, "What are you doing?" did the actor quip that he was urinating "in a brandy glass. I always do" (Niven's account in [his memoir] "The Moon's a Balloon") or "I always give it a drink now and then" (Lord's account, based on an interview with Robert Wagner)?

Stars back then were so much classier!

Friday, January 07, 2005

Which is odd, because I have the same reaction when I see Donald Trump

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Watching contestants eat dead rats on NBC's gross-out stunt show "Fear Factor" so disgusted a Cleveland man that he has sued NBC for $2.5 million, saying he could not stomach what he saw. In a handwritten four-page lawsuit filed in federal court in Cleveland on Tuesday, paralegal Austin Aitken said, "To have the individuals on the show eat (yes) and drink dead rats was crazy and from a viewer's point of view made me throw-up as well an another in the house at the same time." ... He said the show caused his blood pressure to rise so high that he became dizzy and light-headed, and when he ran away to his room, he bumped his head into the doorway.

I saw an episode of "Fear Factor" yesterday, in which this guy defended the use of torture on people who hadn't been charged with any crime. It was sickening.

No, wait... that was on C-SPAN. Never mind.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Blah blah blog

Two surveys by the Pew Internet & American Life Project in November established new contours for the blogosphere: 8 million American adults say they have created blogs; blog readership jumped 58% in 2004 and now stands at 27% of internet users; 5% of internet users say they use RSS aggregators or XML readers to get the news and other information delivered from blogs and content-rich Web sites as it is posted online; and 12% of internet users have posted comments or other material on blogs. Still, 62% of internet users do not know what a blog is. --Pew Internet and American Life Project

The unreported figures:

--Percentage of unreadable blogs written in text-messaging lingo by teenage girls in Hong Kong: 92%
--Percentage of those unreadable blogs written in text-messaging lingo by teenage girls in Hong Kong that have pink backgrounds: 100%
--Percentage of blogs abandoned after three postings along the lines of "Well, I've got one of those blog thingees everyone's talking about! I don't know what I'm going to do with it, but you'll be granted a peek inside my mind and be treated with rants about my ex!": 78%
--Percentage of useful blogs: 0.1%
--Percentage of useful material found on this blog: 0.01%

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Barbra Streisand Is Mother Focker

Is it just me, or is the title of the (heavy sigh) No. 1 film in America completely beyond tacky? It's about as clever as the huge FCUK signs at the mall.

What's the next sequel? Meet the Kuntz?