Thursday, June 30, 2005

Entertainment news update!

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Aflac marries Garner!

I may have gotten the details wrong, 'cause I heard Garner was pregnant, and he's way too old.

What the hell do these two talk about?

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It's the dog food Paul Newman eats!*

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OK, I cracked up when I saw this on the shelf, but I bought one and now it's Freddie's favorite.

In a comment about the mad-cow post below, the Fanactic Cook asks: "And did I hear said this mad cow was sold as pet food?"

Yes, says the New York Times.

Freddie, it looks like you'll be eating organic dog food from now on.

*There's a very indirect Firesign Theatre reference here. Anyone who gets it will be awarded my undying admiration.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

It's not the meat; it's the stupidity

God, I'm hungry. Know what I could really go for right now? A nice juicy burger.

You got a problem with that?

Although the Agriculture Department confirmed Friday that a cow that died last year was infected with mad cow disease, a test the agency conducted seven months ago indicated that the animal had the disease. The result was never publicly disclosed. ...

What??? Well, I'm sure there was a very good reason.

Oh, and make that a veggie burger.

Until Friday, it was not public knowledge that an "experimental" test had been performed last November by an Agriculture Department laboratory on the brain of a cow suspected of having mad cow disease, and that the test had come up positive. For seven months, all that was known was that a test on the same cow done at the same laboratory at roughly the same time had come up negative. ...

I'm still waiting for that good reason. Is it coming up soon? Please?

The explanation that the department gave late Friday, when the positive test result came to light, was that there was no bad intention or cover-up, and that the test in question was only experimental. "The laboratory folks just never mentioned it to anyone higher up," said Ed Loyd, an Agriculture Department spokesman. "They didn't know if it was valid or not, so they didn't report it."

[insert sound of eerie quiet with crickets chirping here]

On hearing that Friday night, Dr. Michael K. Hansen, a senior research associate at Consumers Union and frequent department critic, reacted skeptically.

Hmm. Wonder why.

"That seems hard to fathom," he said. "If it's true, we have a serious communication problem at the Department of Agriculture. How can we be confident of anything they're saying?"

Mr. Loyd, reacting to a reporter's question about the Agriculture Department's handling of the issue, said, "In hindsight, reporting it would have been the thing to do."
--The New York Times

Oh, Mr. Loyd. Hindsight is a beautiful thing, isn't it?

Monday, June 27, 2005

Calling Page Six...

At first I was annoyed by such press creations as:

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But then I realized how useful this shorthand can be, so I came up with a few of my own:

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Friday, June 24, 2005

"Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight?"

The Brain, a.k.a. Karl Rove

"The same thing we do every night, Pinky... Try to take over the world."

Scariest e-mail I've received in a long time

From the office manager, in its entirety:

The large knife is missing again; if anyone has seen it please let me know!

This can't be good.


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Swiped from the consistently amusing Mr. Sun.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

How much does that gorilla weigh, anyway?

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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Guest blogger

Too busy to post, so I'm turning to a automatic blog-generating program you can find here.

Regarding Mother

What would you say if I told you that we all ought to join together to struggle to be the best? Why am I talking about Mother, you probably wonder... The answer is here. Right here. When the grass was still green and the sky still blue I trembled. Nevermind about the details, but... OK, but back to the story. And still, it was strange. I dreamt of my ex. Which would be nothing special but...

Man, that was lousy. Sorry.


Tuesday, June 21, 2005

"You're toast."

So, what happens when you're accused multiple times of molestation, most of the world thinks you're a freak, and your career's on the skids? (I should point out right now that this is not an autobiographical question.)

In a sane world, if all three of those things happen and you see this headline:

'You're toast,' fans tell Michael Jackson following acquittal

...well, then you should start worrying. I mean--whatever the outcome of the trial, you're a pariah, no?

Not in certain circles, it seems. That headline above? Well, here's the story:

A novel range of memorabilia celebrating Michael Jackson's acquittal on child sex charges is popping up on the Internet: slices of toast bearing the embattled superstar's spectral image.

Fans toasting a jury's decision to find the "King of Pop" not guilty say the grilled bread, which is going for up to 300 dollars per slice, magically popped out of their toasters at the exact moment Jackson was acquitted a week ago.

Sadly, I blew my toast budget on Jennifer Wilbanks. But why would anyone want such a piece of bread?

"This is a wonderful memento of this historic day that you will cherish for years to come," boasted one seller on the eBay online auction site.

Yes, cherish the toast.

One slice of toast, bearing an elaborate image of the singer's face, complete with trademark hairstyle and round glasses, has fetched 300 dollars in offers.

Another slice, from the same toaster in the midwestern state of Illinois, had notched up 200 dollars in bids after the seller urged buyers to "Bid Now To Have This Holy Toast!"

Holy toast? Holy shit!

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I've got to get in on this toast business. Think anyone would buy a piece of charred bread with Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes on it? Donald Rumsfeld? Terri Shiavo?


Monday, June 20, 2005

The Job Interview

Here's the text to a spoken-word track on Meryn Cadell's debut CD from a little over a decade ago. The artist's deadpan delivery is kind of what makes the track work, so you may have to just trust me--it's both very funny and very, very sad at the same time. (You may remember Cadell's "The Sweater," if you were listening to college radio circa 1993.)

I'd like to apply for a job
Yes, the job you have available
My manner is most saleable,
And I hope you'll find me suitable for $5.15 an hour.

I really have the skills, you see,
I've been to university
And though I studied history
I've found my heart to truly be
In mens ties and socks, glass figurines, the discount shoe industry.

What makes me think I'd be good for this job?
Well, I love working with people
And I love riding the subway an hour and a half each way,
Let's see, add those hours to my day
And I'll be making a whopping... $3.75 an hour!

No, sir--I do, I do want the job. Can't you tell by my suit?
No, actually, I don't own a dress.
I don't feel comfortable, I confess.
But, hell, for $5.15 an hour,
I'll endeavour to wear some colours other than black.

I enjoy working with the public, and I'm good with money ...
Oh yes, you're right, all us girls are good with money,
Yes that's charming, yes how funny.
I like a good work atmosphere where the boss says whatever he wants and the rest of us just listen.
I'm a very fast learner and I promise that if you give me this job
I'll be the perfect subhuman and never let my contempt shine
in my worshipping eyes...

I love working with people and, let's see, what else was I going to tell you...
No, I don't expect vacation pay
And yes I'm available every day
And though I don't like the evil way you're looking at me,
I've got rent to pay.
And, yes, I can start on Saturday.

There just something about the line "I like a good work atmosphere where the boss says whatever he wants and the rest of us just listen" that kills me every time.


Friday, June 17, 2005

The Labors of Hercules, Nos. 13-17, Circa 2005

13. Finding an Edible Bagel Outside of New York
14. Uncovering Evidence That Bill O'Reilly Is Not Psychotic, 'Cause It Seems Pretty Obvious to Me, Judging by the Videotapes, Not That I Should Be Basing a Medical Diagnosis on That, As It Wouldn't Be Professional
15. Explaining the Overwhelming Popularity of Astoundingly Mediocre Potboiler The DaVinci Code
16. Sitting Through One Episode of Chaotic: Britney and Kevin Without Gouging Out Your Eyes
17. Discovering More Than Two Listenable Radio Stations In NYC, The Most Diverse City in the World, Which Really Ought to Have at Least a Dozen, Don't You Think?

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I've been working out lately. Can you tell?

(If you care, the original 12 labors are here.)



Yes, I made up that word. I can do that. I'm a professional. Please don't try this at home.

Anyway, as a followup to yesterday's post, read this.


Thursday, June 16, 2005


Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), a renowned heart surgeon before becoming Senate majority leader, went to the floor late Thursday night for the second time in 12 hours to argue that Florida doctors had erred in saying Terri Schiavo is in a "persistent vegetative state."

"I question it based on a review of the video footage which I spent an hour or so looking at last night in my office," he said in a lengthy speech in which he quoted medical texts and standards. "She certainly seems to respond to visual stimuli."
--The Washinton Post, March 19

"I never made the diagnosis, I wouldn't even attempt to make a diagnosis from a videotape," said Frist, a heart surgeon. --The Washington Post, June 16

I guess he's no longer "renowned."


Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Cruel TV

My jaw hit the floor the other day when I chanced upon an Animal Planet series called Who Gets the Dog? Here's the setup: A dog from a shelter spends one day with each of three families. In that time, the families try to bond with dog as much as possible and teach it some simple commands. After the day is up, the dog is yanked from the family in a tearful good-bye. Then a panel of three "experts"--including one vet (who, judging by her accent, comes from the same country as Balki on Perfect Strangers), David Letterman's ex-girlfriend, and another guy I couldn't quite figure out--determine who gets the dog. It was painful. Really painful.

In related news, Fox will soon be using the same setup in a show called Who Gets the Kid? starring an adorable orphan from Kazakhstan. It will be airing after that other hot new reality show, Who Wants to Hump My Mom?


Monday, June 13, 2005

The many moods of Dick Cheney

Note; Yes, this is a lot like a 2004 post on a blog called Rising Hegemon. No, I had not seen that post--or, indeed, that blog--before putting this up. Yes, sometimes different people come up with the same (rather obvious) gag.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comHappy

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Image hosted by Photobucket.comSassy

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Image hosted by Photobucket.comCheeky

Image hosted by Photobucket.comPassionate

Image hosted by Photobucket.comDismissive

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Image hosted by Photobucket.comOutraged

Image hosted by Photobucket.comWistful

The Velvet Blog: Year One: A Look Back: With Too Many Colons In The Subject Line

What a year it's been! A crazy roller-coaster ride into a whirlwind of excitement! An avalanche of mystery and intrigue! A cornucopia of mirth and merriment! A plethora of hyperbole and overstatement!

Oh, screw it--who am I kidding? I started this blog for two reasons: 1) It was free. And 2) I was bored. Those motivating factors are still in place.

Permit me some self-indulgence by linking to a few entries that, for one reason or another, I like. It's a good thing I crack myself up.


Suggestions for celebrity baby names

Real BlogSpot blog names, with commentary

I'm writing a review of Catwoman...

The only plausible reason for John McCain's speech at the Republican convention

The Rise and Fall of Freddie the Dog (after a link on to my dog Freddie's blog resulted in something like 18,000 hits there in a week)

The Seven Less-Deadly Sins

Innovative idea for election reform

Thoughts on the election, the day after

Who am us, anyway?

Proposal for Social Security reform

When publishing trends collide

Spoiler alert! (The last one was supposed to be a Passion of the Christ spoiler, BTW.)

Odds on the next Pope

Frank Perdue: Rest in pieces

Benedict, Benedict, Benedict

Barely comprehensible

I know, I know, linking to myself is ridiculously vain.

So, here is the lamest TVB post ever: The Velvet Blog: Year One: A Look Back


Thursday, June 09, 2005


Given the post below, I thought it was appropriate to rerun this item from April.

These things are only fun if a lot of people get involved, so E-mail this to all of your friends!

--Go to your nearest bookshelf. Now go to the second book on the second shelf. What is it?

--Go to page 22. What is the second full sentence on the page?

--What is your checking account number?

--Can the words in the sentence be rearranged to form a double entendre?

--What is your bank's routing number?

--Call up your local deli. Tell the guy behind the counter your double entendre. What does he say? If he doesn't react, ask if he has Prince Albert in a can. Giggle and hang up.

--What's your PIN? Is your password your mother's maiden name? If so, what is your mother's maiden name? Why? Um. I think she and I went to high school together. How's she doing? Really? Oh, that's too bad. Give her my regards.

--Now go to page 222 in the book. On average, is $222 more or less than the amount you usually leave in your checking account? Do you have overdraft protection? How much?

--Put book back on shelf. Do the hokey-pokey. Turn yourself around.

--Seriously, what's your PIN? I don't know why you're being so weird about this.

Well, that's about it. Instead of posting this on your blog, could you just E-mail me your answers?


Full shelves

Got tagged by Mark of the Biomes Blog for the book meme that's going around. (I think I got the nod from someone else when TVB was on hiatus. Jovi, was that you? Sorry!)

Number of books I own: Oh, boy. Hard to estimate. Approaching 1,000, but that's a wild guess.

Last book I bought: Bought these three at the same time:

>>Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex, an epic novel about a Greek immigrant family's experience in the United States; sprawling and fascinating. Here's the first sentence: "I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974." How can you not keep reading after a sentence like that? The first page is here.

>>Erik Larsen's Devil in the White City, a nonfiction account of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, which, believe it or not, was plagued by a serial killer. Reads like a novel. The first page is here.

>>Ian McEwen's Atonement (a novel; haven't read it yet).

Last book I read (for the first time): Middlesex.

Comfort reading: I don't know how "comforting" it is, but the book I find myself rereading the most would be Walter M. Miller Jr.'s A Canticle for Leibowitz, a bleak yet somehow hopeful science-fiction classic I first read in high school. It still holds up. Please don't read the sequel. Ugh.

Five books that mean a lot to me:

>>Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop. Simple, and very moving. The first page is here.

>>Other than Middlesex, the one book that just knocked me for a loop in the last few years would be Nicholas Christopher's A Trip to the Stars. It's hard to describe, so read the Publishers Weekly write-up on the Amazon page linked here. It's about identity, and fate, and coincidence, and features some of the most poetic writing I've read in a long time.

>>Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth. This was probably most responsible for getting me hooked on reading when I was a kid. I kept taking it out of the library over and over.

>>Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles. Bradbury's writing hasn't aged terribly well, IMO, but he was my favorite writer when I was a teen. I read everything of his I could get my hands on.

>>Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book. Why? Because it's 90 freaking degrees out, that's why.

I'm supposed to pass this on to other people, but I think I'm the last person to do this, and Freddie the Dog isn't much of a reader.


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

When the moon is in the seventh house, and Jupiter aligns with Mars

The Velvet Blog is dangerously close to having its 10,000th hit, and its first anniversary is next week. Which would be much more impressive if the Britney Spears Is A Skanky Ho Blog didn't get 10,000 hits per day.

In case you're wondering if gifts are appropriate, the answer is yes, of course they are. The Velvet Blog wears a large shirt and likes dark chocolate (which would explain the large shirt). Oh, and green really brings out the color in The Velvet Blog's eyes. Really, they're dreamy.


Tuesday, June 07, 2005

"Moxie CrimeFighter? The therapist will see you now."

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[Comedian-magician Penn] Jillette, 50, and his wife Emily, 39, welcomed 6-pound, 6-ounce Moxie CrimeFighter Jillette on Friday, according to publicist Glenn Schwartz. It was the first child for the couple, who married last year. "We chose her middle name because when she's pulled over for speeding she can say, 'But officer, we're on the same side,'" Jillette explained. "'My middle name is CrimeFighter.'" --The Associated Press

I guess it's time to update this old post.

Oh, and to give credit where it's due, that illustration is from here.


All is vanity

Driving to work on the Long Island Expressway this morning, I saw a Hummer with this vanity license plate:

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This really pissed me off. It's bad enough you're driving this 20-ton beast in order to commute to work on one of the most congested roads in the nation. It's worse that you're getting 3 miles per gallon, forcing up gas prices for the rest of us. Do you really have to make a joke about how humble you are? Or aren't? Or whatever? What an asshole.


I flipped him the bird, but I don't think he saw me.

Which, in retrospect, was a good thing, because I drive a Saturn that weighs about 20 pounds, and it can probably be demolished by the force of the Hummer's wake.

This gave me an idea for a vanity license plate of my own:

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It's a big plate, so I'll have to buy a bigger a car. Hey, maybe I'll get a Hummer... nah.

If you'd like to, you can create your own vanity plate here.

Addendum: A faithful reader sends this:

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Thanks, Grammarian.


Monday, June 06, 2005

Every cliche in the book

These sentences all come from one story I edited today, on older tech workers staying competitive by getting certified in various skills:

>> Coming to the table not just with a certificate in hand, but proving you can use those skills may give you a leg up.

>> "IT has a leg up in contract work," says Sedlar.

>> "When my generation gets up and leaves the table, it'll be a bumpy ride," says Hal Weiss...

That's probably because you have your leg up on the table, Mr. Weiss. Now, is that polite?


In related news, watching Joey actually makes you gain 10 pounds

If you want to burn a few extra calories, laugh.

It's no match for running, cycling or pumping iron but scientists said Saturday laughing out loud for 10-15 minutes a day burns 10-40 calories, the amount in a small piece of chocolate, depending on a person's body weight.

"We calculated that this is equal to 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) a year if you do it every day," Dr Maciej Buchowski, of Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, told an obesity conference Saturday.

Breakdown of current sitcoms and how much they fat they will burn off:

Arrested Development: Entire box of Godiva chocolates

Scrubs: Extra-large bar of Hershey Special Dark

According to Jim: One Raisinette

The George Lopez Show: One sour ball

Two and a Half Men: No calories burned. Instead, watch Charlie Sheen's (ex?) wife, Denise Richards, try to play scientist Dr. Christmas Jones in the Bond film The World Is Not Enough. Now that's comedy gold!

Rodney: Scientists have been unable to measure the fat-burning potential of this program, as no one has ever watched it


Friday, June 03, 2005

The sound of silence

To buy a CD anywhere in Europe, you bring the empty case up to the counter, the clerk finds the disk in a file and puts it in the case, and you walk off happy.

Last night, on the recommendation of my friend Miriam, I bought the new CD by Ben Folds.

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This morning at the office, I found something sharp and sliced off the outside wrapping. Then I had to remove the plastic slipcover that told me I was actually buying something called a DualDisc (couldn't they have put a small sticker on it instead)? Then I had to find that knife again, and peel off the seal across the top of the case. This took a couple of attempts. Then I put it in my PC ... and nothing happened. My computer won't read it.

Should listening to a CD really be so labor-intensive?


Wednesday, June 01, 2005

There's a lot of disassembling of the truth going on these days

"It seemed to me they based some of their decisions on the word of--and the allegations--by people who were held in detention, people who hate America, people that had been trained in some instances to disassemble--that means not tell the truth," Bush said. He appeared to have intended to use the word "dissemble." --The Associated Press

The problem is, once you disassemble the truth, it's so hard to put it back together. You always wind up with a few extra pieces left over, like that time my grandfather disassembled the toaster. Never made a decent piece of toast after that.

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Open wide

Speaking last night on MSNBC's "Hardball," former Nixon speechwriter Pat Buchanan labeled [newly unveiled Deep Throat, Mark] Felt a "traitor" for having worked with reporters on stories that did severe damage to the administration. --Seattle Times

Pat's just mad because he's never officially had a nickname that was also a sex act.

I'm not that familiar with Pat's ramblings, so I thought I'd read his recent column, "Was World War II Worth It?"*

The answer, apparently, is no, because it led directly to Communism's rise in Europe.

But here's the odd thing--he goes on for several hundred words explaining why World War II was bad, without using any of the following words: Jew. Holocaust. Death camps. Auschwitz.

Guess they just cloud the issue.

Pat, I don't have a sex-act nickname for you. Is it all right if I just call you "The Asshole"?

*I was going to link to it, but ... ick! ... I just couldn't link to a Pat Buchanan column.


You can even eat the dishes

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A real breakthrough--news service Reuters says eating crap is good for you!!!
Candy is dandy for North Korean children trying to grow tall, strong and smart in a country battling chronic food shortages. North Korea has developed a candy it claims is good for children and will help them increase their height, weight and IQ, a pro-North Korea newspaper published in Japan said on Friday.

Yay!!! You hear that, Mom? Gumdrops and chocolate and peanut-butter cups all around! They make you grow tall, strong, and smart!

"Unlike medications that help growth by clinical methods or hormonal effects, the growth nutritional candy has no negative side effects," the Choson Sinbo said, based on an interview with the head of a nutritional research center in the North.

Still, be prudent. If your sugar rush lasts more than four hours, call a doctor.

Unlike sugar-packed and chocolate-covered sweets...

Ummm... what??? What kind of candy isn't sugar packed and covered in chocolate, as God intended?
...the North is hoping that children in the reclusive state will enjoy munching on their nutritional candy made of seaweed, beans, carrots and sesame seeds, the newspaper said. --Reuters

Beans? Carrots?? Seaweed??? What the hell kind of candy is that?

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Well, I say it's spinach, and I say the hell with it.

PS: Is it just me, or does the Oompa-Loompa in the lower right-hand corner look ready to bolt? Or does he just have a hangover?