Friday, December 29, 2006

Son of the Return to the Island of Lost Blogs

[Gartner] said that during the middle of next year the number of blogs will level out at about 100 million. The firm has said that 200 million people have already stopped writing their blogs. --BBC

I figure if I can outlast a couple hundred million more blogs, maybe TVB will finally gain some traction.

(via Wonkette)

Hereby resolved

A rerun from this time last year. I accomplished none of these (except for the cold fusion thing), so it's still relevant.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Thursday, December 28, 2006

If sock monkeys wrote "Auld Lang Syne"

sock monkey We twa hae run about the braes,
And pou'd the gowans fine,
But we've wander'd monie a weary fit,
Sin auld lang syne.
Now, gie* me that banana.


(Lyrics to "Auld Lang Syne" are here, along with a pronunciation guide.)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

"That Was the Worst Christmas Ever"

I really like this Sufjan Stevens song.

False History Lesson of the Day, #1

The late Gerald R. Ford is probably best known for issuing WIN buttons to every American man, woman, and child in 1974. WIN, of course, stood for "Wield Invincible Nunchucks," thereby starting the craze for martial arts films. President Ford, a third-degree black belt, was rewarded for his efforts with a cameo appearance in the classic film Enter the Dragon. Look for him in the famous subway chase scene as an L train conductor. Ford was able to ride his renown in popular culture to a record four terms as president.

Things that could result in justifiable homicide

--Putting up outside Christmas lights that, when plugged in, play non-stop carols in a beep-beep-beep greeting-card-like way.
--Leaving these lights on all night.
--Inventing said lights.

"Hark the Herald Angels Sing":
Beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep
Beep beep beep beep beep, beep beep beep beep.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


I was going to run down my fave songs of the year, which I'll probably get to eventually, but I stumbled over this Kirsty MacColl video on YouTube and decided to post it instead. Not sure what year this came out--probably around '90.

If you're not a Kirsty fan, well, you should be.

She died way too young.

Friday, December 22, 2006

New and improved?

Anyone switch to the new version of Blogger? If so, do you recommend it?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

UPDATE: Who knew monkey ornaments were so popular? This is a close-up I ran last year.

Trust an expert

The audiobook version of John Hodgman's wonderfully funny "The Areas of My Expertise" is free--all 7 or so hours of it--from iTunes, but only in the U.S. I think this is for a limited time only, so if you like Hodgman (a regular on "The Daily Show"), act fast. Go to the iTunes store, click on Audiobooks, then search for Hodgman.

Return to the Island of Lost Blogs

Some time ago, TVB investigated the phenomenon of the lost blog--that is, those abandoned after only one or two posts.

Why go through the bother of setting up a blog and then drop it immediately? TVB still wonders.

Last time, we checked up on people who listed the Fountains of Wayne as a fave band on their Blogger profile. This time, it's people who love the movie A Matter of Life and Death as much as I do.

Blog: Hello, Readers

First post: July 1, 2004

Last post: July 4, 2004

Total posts: 2

Entry: A blog! Now to fill it - bwaaaaha-ha-ha!

Blog: Random Musings of a Brails About Town

First post: July 14, 2004

Last post: July 14, 2004

Total posts: 1

Entry: My first attempt at keeping a blog to keep track of all the things floating through my head...

Blog: Italian Trip

First post: Sept. 27, 2004

Last post: Sept. 27, 2004

Total posts: 1

Entry: Where did I leave my passport?

Blog: Thoughts From A Desk

First post: Sept. 29, 2004

Last post: Sept. 30, 2004

Total posts: 2

Entry: Trouble is there's not a lot going on in my head right now so I won't bore you with any more. I'll save it for when time is behaving in a more orderly fashion and moving at a regular pace I can live with.

Blog: Why Should You Read This?

First post: Nov. 17, 2004

Last post: Nov. 17, 2004

Total posts: 1

Entry: Well, this might be it. After all, the point of this blog is to say "why are you reading my inane drivel?". If I had anything worthwhile to say, I'd be a novelist, a poet, or someone's whose living is made from expounding my views and opinions.

Go off and read books, watch films, make pots, appreciate buildings, make some more pots. Just don't feel that anyone give's a monkey's [sic] about your views on them.

Blog: Stevesblog

First post: April 10, 2005

Last post: April 10, 2005

Total posts: 1

Entry: Don't know what I'm doing. Just feeling my way.
Life's like that though isn't it?

Blog: Press Released

First post: April 2, 2005

Last post: April 2, 2005

Total posts: 1

Entry: ... I'll update during the week.

Blog: Who Am I?

First post: April 21, 2005

Last post: April 21, 2005

Total posts: 1

Entry: As this is my first post, I thought I would tell you a bit about my self. Firstly I am a mail [sic] in my thirties who is recently married (in first year) with a four year old child. My job as you can not call it a profession is working in one of the many call centers in the East Midlands of the United Kingdom. ... Well there are the basics everything else you will have to find out by reading the posts.

Blog: Captain Curmudgeon

First post: May 14, 2005

Last post: May 14, 2005

Total posts: 1

Entry: Topics winging their way to you soon will include: Litter...rudeness...transport...customer "service"...politics...idiots...oh you know, the usual suspects. Back soon.

I hope the Italian Trip guy found his passport.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Possible ways in which President Bush may announce Iraq plans

Press Secretary Tony Snow, last week:
I know a lot of you have been curious about when [the president] would be announcing or talking about the way forward. That is not going to happen until the New Year. We do not know when, so I can't give you a date, I can't give you a time, I can't give you a place, I can't give you the way in which it will happen, so all of those questions are yet to be answered.

--Interpretive dance
--Via a specially prepared Magic 8 Ball
--In the conservatory, by Col. Mustard, with a lead pipe

Personally, I'm hoping for the interpretive dance.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Fun with Google

Not that I'm getting deluged with visitors, but I find it pretty amusing that when you Google the phrase holiday tipping guide, my silly gag from a few days ago is actually on the first page of hits with the real tipping guides--just a few rungs down from Emily Post, for goodness' sake!

UPDATE: Not only is this no longer true, but that post no longer seems to show up in Google at all. Weird.

UPDATE UPDATE: Well, now it's back, but on the second page of Google hits. Yes, I have a lot of time on my hands this week.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Why the long, hairy face?

The problem with really bad movies and TV shows is that they're usually more fun to read about than actually see.

Therefore, I'm thrilled that some ambitious editor has posted on YouTube a five-minute distillation of the legendary "Star Wars Holiday Special."


Holy crap--what's that thing that Art Carney puts on Chewie? An Orgasmatron?

More lousy holiday productions here.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Holiday Tipping Guide

Nanny, au pair, or babysitter: No need to tip. She's stealing your jewelry and having an affair with your husband.

Teacher: Do you want that dopey kid of yours to get into college, or do you want him sleeping on the futon in the basement for the next 10 years? $1,000 per A given.

Hair stylist: Want to look like Bozo? The price of a haircut. Want to look like a human being? Just open your wallet and let her dig in.

Garbageman: Nothing. He's going through your trash and selling the good stuff on eBay. That painting from your attic you threw away? It was a Pollock.

Fitness trainer: Everyone knows you're sleeping with him.

Housekeeper: Please--she's in cahoots with the au pair.

Pool boy: Up to you. Depends on how good he looks in a Speedo.

Yard worker: Isn't keeping his secret from the immigration authorities enough?

Boss: An extra brown-nosing session.

Mail carrier: Unleash the hounds!

(There's real tipping advice here if you need it--and I surely do.)

UPDATE: Bleh. Gawker used basically the same gag on Dec. 4.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

She probably just couldn't face buying them all presents this year

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Elizabeth "Lizzie" Bolden, recognized as the world's oldest person, died Monday in a nursing home, the home's administrator said. She was 116. Bolden was born Aug. 15, 1890, according to the Gerontology Research Group, a Los Angeles organization that tracks the ages of the world's oldest people. ...

Family members said this year that Bolden had 40 grandchildren, 75 great-grandchildren, 150 great-great-grandchildren, 220 great-great-great grandchildren and 75 great-great-great-great grandchildren.
--The Associated Press

Monday, December 11, 2006

Photo of the day

I'm not sure what I find most disturbing about this creamer. Is it that the cow appears to be wearing lipstick? The druggy expression? The Penn Dutch couple living on its stomach?

Oh, what I'm I saying? It's the lipstick. Definitely.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

What I learned from my 40th viewing of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer last Friday

--Santa is really kind of a prick. Sure, kick out Rudolph when you think he's different, and beg him to come back the first sign of bad weather. Jerk.
--Reindeer games bring back way too many painful memories of jr. high gym class.
--The right-wing talking heads who are decrying the "hidden gay subtext" of Happy Feet obviously have never bothered watching Rudolph, because otherwise there'd be protesters circling CBS's headquarters. (Incidentally, the folks finding the gay subtext in Happy Feet are the same moral watchdogs who found gay subtext in Shark Tale. This seems like a very odd hobby. Perhaps they could take up whittling or origami or something.)

Bad Santa

Time for a rerun--

Image hosted by

An oldie but a goodie: Kids react to Santa.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Proof we are living in hell

James Blunt has been nominated for a Grammy as Best New Artist.

Further proof we are living in hell: James Blunt has also been nominated for Record of the Year.

How bad is James Blunt? This bad:

Notice that I did not link directly or embed the video, because I do not want rabid James Blunt fans following a link back here and writing JAMES BLUNT RULES AND YOU SUCK!!!! comments.

What's most annoying about him? That he sings like the lost Chimpmunk? That he makes the drippiest '70s singer-songwriter look like a member of the Sex Pistols by comparison? The way he pronounces "lover" as "luv-ah," not unlike Will Ferrell's obnoxious college prof character on SNL?

Oh, it is all those things, and more.

ADDENDUM: Comments left on that YouTube page, with my replies:

my sister in law's son picked this song out for his father's funeral. My brother. This song fit them beautifully.

Given that the song's refrain begins "Goodbye, my lover," that's really making me a little uncomfortable.

This song is so sad, and hes a guy how does he go that high????

Severe testicular injury.

u know he that he had an affair with someone else while he was in a relationship with PETRA NUMCOVA. His words may be beautiful, but he's an ass to go with someone else while he was with a super model.

Unless he had been dating Janice Dickinson. Then that would be understandable.

Jesus, this song is too much.

Amen, brother.

This song has the depth and sincerity of a hallmark card. Apparently, it's very popular at funerals. Beats listening to it when you're alive.

Hey, don't knock Hallmark cards.

wow amazing... first time I heard this song I was moving up to cleveland ohio 600 miles away from my year long relationship and burst out into tears...

Moving to Cleveland often has that effect.

OMG im like just crying rite now like... omg SO sad...

[Stunned silence]

Basic economic concept that the White House is not applying to Iraq

Sunk costs are unrecoverable past expenditures. These should not normally be taken into account when determining whether to continue a project or abandon it, because they cannot be recovered either way. It is a common instinct to count them, however.

ADDENDUM: I'm not the only one who's noticed this.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A heart needs a home


I've seen Richard Thompson live a few times, but only after he'd split from Linda. I have a bootleg of the last tour they did together--after they'd already agreed to divorce. Probably the most uncomfortable tour ever.

ADDENDUM: One of my favorite musical memories is standing outside a venue in Central Park, waiting for Richard Thompson to go on. As I stood in line, he did Goffin/King's "Goin' Back"--a favorite of mine, and a song he's never recorded--solo, as a sound check. Beautiful.

News story of the day

Not sure whether to be amused or appalled at how bizarre things are. Can I be both? When a fart causes a Red Alert, things are seriously screwy.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Saturday, December 02, 2006

And remember, my friend--future events such as these will affect you in the future: A quiz

Don't worry, this is pretty easy, and you won't be graded.

Identify the predictions of 16th century prognosticator Nostradamus, insane 20th century bon vivant and Edward D. Wood star Criswell (left), and 21rst century humorist and Daily Show correspondent John Hodgman.


A) I predict an outburst of cannibalism that will terrorize the population of one of the industrial cites in the state of Pennsylvania--Pittsburgh. Mass mournings will be held for the victims. A smile will be unknown. The fate of this city of Pittsburgh will never be forgotten.

B) When the fish that travels over both land and sea
is cast up on to the shore by a great wave,
its shape foreign, smooth and frightful.
From the sea the enemies soon reach the walls.

C) Merman attacks on the transatlantic, suboceanic tunnel will increase.

D) Everyone will have a cotton candy machine installed in his or her car.

E) I predict a series of homosexual cities, small, compact, carefully planned areas, will soon be blatantly advertised and exist from coast to coast. These compact communities will be complete with stores, churches, bars, and restaurants which will put the olden Greeks or Romans to shame with their organized orgies. You will be able to find them near Boston, Des Moines, Columbus, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, St. Louis, New Orleans, Dallas, and Miami.

F) The motion of senses, heart, feet and hands
will be in agreement between Naples, Lyon and Sicily.
Swords fire, floods, then the noble Romans drowned,
killed or dead because of a weak brain.

G) I predict that Kansas will become the most important state in the United States, due to the moving of the Federal capital from Washington, D.C., to Wichita. The broad plains and prairies will be a roof above multi-story government buildings, constructed wholly underground. The largest airports in the world will be constructed in Kansas to serve the needs of the new capital of the United States.

H) Roving cocktail gangs will ravage American cities in search of vermouth.

I) Las Vegas, Nevada ... : The very first Interplanetary Convention will be held in the new Convention Center on the famed Strip with colony citizens of Mars, Venus, Neptune and the Moon in full representation; Governor Sawyer will make the opening welcome address.

J) So-called "altruism" will be abandoned in favor of a new policy of enlightened self-interest and orgies.

K) For forty years the rainbow will not be seen.
For forty years it will be seen every day.
The dry earth will grow more parched,
and there will be great floods when it is seen.

L) [The world will end by] a jet-black rainbow; an ebony rainbow; a black rainbow which will signify the coming suffocation of our world. This black rainbow will seemingly bring about, through some mysterious force beyond our comprehension, a lack of oxygen. It will draw the oxygen from our atmosphere, as a huge snake encircling the world and feeding upon the oxygen which we need to exist. Hour after hour, it will grow worse. And we will grow weaker. It is through this that we will be so weakened that when the final end arrives, we will go silently, we will go gasping for breath, and then there will be only silence on the earth.

M) I predict one of the most horrifying things to befall any woman. I regret to predict that women will lose their hair. I predict that scientists will try to prove that the cause of this falling out of the hair is due to the gaseous fumes polluting the city's air. This terrible affliction will have unbelievable effects on everyone concerned. It will lead to lawsuits, suicides, divorces, murders, desertions and even massacres. I predict this city will be placed under martial law.

N) Humans born with prehensile tails will no longer be immediately drafted into the secret army but allowed to live a normal life; they will, however, be declawed.

I'll let Criswell have the last word:

Sources (but don't go to links before you answer the quiz):

Most of the Criswell quotations come from this Onion AV Club article.

The Nostradamus prophecies come from here.

The John Hodgman predictions come from his book, The Areas of My Expertise, now in paperback, which would make a dandy stocking stuffer.

Answers forthcoming.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

If I knew you were coming, I'd have baked an overpriced, prefab cake

I was in Williams-Sonoma earlier tonight trying to spend a $50 gift certificate, which is trickier to do there than you might think. Oh, there's lots of good food and food-related products, but the prices are so high I couldn't see buying them, even with a gift certificate. Take the cake mix at left. Sure, it's a special cake mix, but it's $25. For $25, I want a French baker to come to my home, make it for me, feed it to me by hand, and clean up afterward. Is that asking so much?

I spotted a box of devil's food cake mix for $15. That's $15 for about $1 worth of flour and, maybe, $1 of cocoa. And you'd still have to buy your own eggs! Thanks, I'll pass. I make a hellishly good devil's food cake from scratch, if I do say so myself. And you're all invited the next time I make one, though you'll have to pay your own airfare.

Now, excuse me while I eat my $20 Williams-Sonoma marshmallow.*

*Kidding. Oh, it exists, mind you, but I didn't buy it. I settled for a gigantic reference book that should come in handy.

... And I don't feel so good myself

We really need to stop this phrase. How the hell did this become an overnight cliche?

I'm warning you: Don't use it.

Rejected slogans for the William Shatner-hosted game show, Show Me the Money

--You don't know Shat from Shinola!
--If you killed and ate the host of this show, you'd be full of Shat!
--I can't believe this Shat is on television!

Notice seen at Dunkin Donuts as I waited on line for coffee this morning

Try our promotional sausage

Mmmmmmm ... promotions ...

(Yes, on line. I'm from Long Island.)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Idea to file away for next Thanksgiving

Put on an all-turkey Ibsen production and retitle it Hedda Gobbler.

Sorry, that's all I have today, folks.

Monday, November 27, 2006

How the media outlets are describing what's going on in Iraq

For months, the media have been torn over use of the term "civil war" to describe the descent into outright murder and torture in Iraq. Apparently the utter chaos and carnage of the past week has finally convinced some to use "civil war" without apology -- with NBC News and MSNBC joining in today in a major way -- but many still hold back, an E&P survey today shows. --Editor & Publisher

NBC, The Los Angeles Times, MSNBC, CNN: "civil war"

The New York Times, The Washington Post: "sectarian conflict"

Fox News: "Super Happy Fun Time"

The new movie math

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting The Good German plus

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting The Good Shepherd equals

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Rin Tin Tin

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Random 10, with links

"Once In A Lifetime," Talking Heads: "Same as it ever was./Same as it ever was./Same as it ever was./Same as it ever was."

"Goodbye Lucille #1 (Johnny, Johnny), Prefab Sprout: "Why don't you join the foreign legion?/You're still in love with Hayley Mills."

"Brakhage," Stereolab: "We need so damn many things/To keep our dazed lives going/Many things, to keep our lives/Lives going, so many things..."

"Eleanor Rigby," The Beatles: "Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been."

"Mr. Richland's Favorite Song," Harry Nilsson: "Well the calendar changed, and the pages fell off, but the singer remained the same./And he never grew tired of singing his song, and the fans still called his name./They'd leave at the end of the second show, go home to talk of the fun/For most of his fans were married by then/So they had to be in by 1."

"Tears for Affairs," Camera Obscura: "Can you handle one more dirty secret, one more dirty night?/Is it true what they say?/Will it make us go blind?"

"Rise and Shine," The Cardigans: "See the waves go down/See the moon alone/See the world unshown/I raise my head and whisper/Rise and shine/Rise and shine, my sister/Rise and shine."

"Fotheringay," Fairport Convention, "The evening hour is fading within the dwindling sun/And in a lonely moment, those embers will be gone/And the last of all the young birds flown."

"No More I Love You's," Annie Lennox: "No more I love you's/The language is leaving me/No more I love you's/Changes are shifting/Outside the words." (The original version, by The Lover Speaks, is here. Odd, but I remember this being better.)

"Oh No the Radio," Owsley: "I wish I could forget the day when/We heard our record playing/We sang the words into your hairbrush/And gave Donnie and Marie the bum's rush/When the fat lady started singing/It was over and my ears were ringing/Our song, a favorite dedication/Is going number one across the nation."

Friday, November 24, 2006

Our overinventive critics

With each tour Madonna has embarked on in recent years, her deltoids appear to have grown more regally expansive, robust and winglike. Toward the end of the Wembley show, part of a worldwide tour pegged to her album "Confessions on a Dance Floor," Madonna sings one of the hits from it, "Hung Up," a song about a woman who migrates between boredom and agony as she waits for a man to call. But who could this man possibly be? Unless Madonna is expecting a call from Wladimir Klitschko about meeting him in the ring, the sight of her singing a song like this, in a leotard no less, leaves you feeling as you might if you were forced to watch Ethel Merman trying to impersonate Chet Baker. --The New York Times

While I admit this made me laugh, I also suspect that it makes nearly no sense whatsoever. Wladimir Klitschko? (That could be Madonna's drag name.) Ethel Merman impersonating Chet Baker? Huh???

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Oh, one more thing ...

Some choice dialogue from the 1973 special A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving:

Charlie Brown: Holidays always depress me.

Sally Brown: I know what you mean. I went down to buy a turkey tree and all they have are things for Christmas.

Charlie Brown: For Christmas? Already?

Imagine! Christmas items available at Thanksgiving!!

Happy turkey day

My mom used to make her Scottish grandmother's oatmeal stuffing every Thanksgiving. Since my sister took over T-day duties and doesn't like the oatmeal stuffing (she makes the bread variety), well, I miss it a lot. The stuffing's not bad in a chicken--I've done it--but somehow it's tastier in a turkey.

The recipe is simplicity itself: Saute a chopped medium onion (or, if you're feeling fancy, a big shallot) and rib of celery in oil. Add salt and pepper and two cups of oats and continue sauteing until the oats get toasty. Then stuff the turkey. (Obviously, you can cut this in half for a chicken. Or bake it in a covered dish alongside the bird with some chicken stock to keep it moist.)

That's it.

Maybe you had to grow up with this to love it, but I do.

Have a good long weekend, all.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Random thoughts on "turducken" in this Thanksgiving season

--Food combinations really shouldn't start out with the word "turd."
--Would a tofu and chicken combo be called "tofucken*"?

The Velvet Blog seems to be working blue today.

*Pronounced toe-FOO-kin.

(FYI on turducken.)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Baking tip

When reaching for the cinnamon while making banana-pecan muffins on Sunday morning, CHECK THE LABEL TO MAKE SURE YOU'RE NOT ACTUALLY ABOUT TO ADD CURRY TO THE BATTER INSTEAD. This is important for the ulitmate success of your banana-pecan muffins.

Fairway Cinnamon

Fairway Curry

The dog-toy series, #4


Friday, November 17, 2006

Follow me

For years, I've wanted a minion. It would be great to have a minion. "Hey, minion, I said I wanted half and half in my coffee--this is skim! Be gone with you!"

Then, recently, I thought ... maybe it would be better to have an acolyte. But, mulling it over, I realized what I really wanted was a sycophant. Or maybe an idolator. Or, perhaps, one lackey, a couple of toadies, and a flunky to be named later.

I don't think that's asking so much.

UPDATE: I've decided to hold out for a lickspittle.

Sadness, anger, anger, sadness, anger ...

Colbert's bit on Limbaugh the other night was great.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Unhappy birthday, Brother Theodore

Professional crank-philosopher Brother Theodore would have turned 100 a few days ago. If he weren't dead, that is.

A few pearls of wisdom from the man, via Wikipedia:

"I've gazed into the abyss and the abyss gazed into me, and neither of us liked what we saw."

"What do we know about the beyond? Do we know what's behind the beyond? I'm afraid some of us hardly know what's beyond the behind."

"I am what you call a 'controversial figure.' People either hate me or they despise me."

"The only thing that keeps me alive is the hope of dying young."

"The best thing is not to be born. But who is as lucky as that? To whom does it happen? Not to one among millions and millions of people."

"Ladies and gentlemen, it is my sincere wish that immediately after my death, my head be severed from my body, and that it be replaced by a bouquet of broccoli. It's the artist in me."

"You can train a rat. Yes, if you work for hours and days and months and years, you can train a rat. But when you're done, all you'll have is a trained rat!"

"What this country needs, and I'm not joking, is a dictator. I feel the time is right, and the place congenial, and I am ready. I will be strict but just. Heads will roll, and corpses will swing from every lamppost."

"My name, as you may have guessed, is Theodore. I come from a strange stock. The members of my family were mostly epileptics, vegetarians, stutterers, triplets, nailbiters. But we've always been happy."

Of course, the source of these quotes being Wikipedia, I can't swear by the authenticity of them all, but they do ring true. (I'm a little suspicious of the broccoli one, though.)

He's probably best known for his frequent appearances on Letterman, but he had a long-running show in a small theater in NYC, not far from where I used to work. Unfortunately, I never went.

My friend Kim met him at a party a couple of years before he died. He was drawn to her and said he wanted her to star in a movie he was planning in which she would play a woman who goes mad and starts killing people.

Kim didn't quite know how to react to that. (I can't remember if she knew who he was when they met of if she found out afterwards.)

On Letterman, found on YouTube:

I have the feeling that frequent TVB visitor God Is My Codependent might have something to add.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Guiding principle behind my writing

Some writers are drawn to cliches like moths to a flame, but I avoid them like the plague.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Waaaah! Waaaaaah! Why won't you tolerate my intolerance? Waaaaaaahhh!

In the news:

Last month, a local landscaping firm prompted a furor here by telling a gay couple in an e-mail message, "We choose not to work for homosexuals."

Which is funny, 'cause I've been looking to hire a landscaper, but I don't hire a-holes.
The message quickly made its way around the Internet, and the company, Garden Guy Inc., was bombarded with threats and hate mail. But since then, the company’s owners say they have gained far more business than they have lost.

In an interview Friday, Sabrina Farber, 34, co-owner of the company with her husband, Todd, 37, said the company had picked up $40,000 in new business in the past two weeks, while losing only two clients worth about $500 each a year.

"I'm not saying that to gloat," said Mrs. Farber...

Translation: I'm saying this to gloat.

... who described the frenzy as ugly and emotionally draining. But she said they would not do it differently and deserved credit for not masking their refusal with excuses.

"Why can’t people handle it when you say the truth?" she said. ...

Truthfully, you're an a-hole.

In addition to the criticism of the Farbers, there was also widespread support. Mrs. Farber cited one e-mail message from "Eric in St. Louis," who wrote: "Life to the Farbers who have planted themselves like solid oak trees against these strong winds of perversion."

We're expecting gusts of perversion overnight at speeds up to 60 mph. Better tie down the patio furniture.

Mrs. Farber said she and her husband never claimed to be perfect.

"We're sinners, Todd and I," Mrs. Farber said.

I'm reasonably sure it falls under this.

But she added: "My husband made a personal choice, according to something he felt in his heart. It was never a judgmental choice or a hating choice or even a choice that said, 'Well, we're better than them.'" --The New York Times

No, it seems more a "I won't deal with you on even the most basic levels of decency" level.

Things better elsewhere?

After Supreme Court rulings, several nights of rioting and criticism from the Vatican, Jerusalem’s gay community staged a small, orderly rally today under heavy police guard.

The police contingent of 3,000 was nearly as large as a crowd that cheered speeches and danced to music coming from a stage draped in rainbow banners at Hebrew University’s sports stadium.

... [A] local march was held last year, and an ultra-Orthodox man stabbed and wounded three participants.

I'm pretty sure that's not a mitzvah.
"They are making a statement against God himself," said Rabbi Levin, of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada. "They are creating bad feelings. They are not being tolerant of our feelings."

Also, police ... held five ultra-Orthodox men in the same area who were found with knives, police said.
--The New York Times

Well, to be fair, their feelings were hurt.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Graduate of the Handsome Dog Modeling School

Freddie begins his new career as a male model--watch out Marcus Schenkenberg!--with his appearance on page 15 in the new book, The Dog Ate It. I for one do not plan on adding kelp to my bread pudding, but perhaps I'm funny that way.

It's a book of recipes for food that you can share with your dog. Whether I'm now obliged to try his Paul Newman Dog Food is still up in the air.

(Full disclosure: My friend Sabrina is a book designer and needed some dog photos for this project, out from Gotham Books, a Penguin subsidiary. Freddie did not need to withstand any withering comments from Janice Dickinson to get the gig.)

Monday, November 06, 2006

It's funny because it's true

The office administrator for the magazine where I work sent this to me:

I got a call from legal dept. because one of our subscribers was rather upset about his subscription renewal. He had been in the army but was retired. It came in a plain envelope addressed to him at the US Army with the word "reactivation" on it.


Oh, and I probably don't need to add this, but I will anyway: Vote early and vote often.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Be my guest

Amy Sedaris is one funny lady, as is her brother, David. Hmmm. I phrased that badly. Well, you know what I mean.

Anyway, Amy has a new book, called I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence, which is filled with all sorts of helpful advice on entertaining, like:
A good trick is to fill your medicine cabinet with marbles. Nothing announces a nosy guest better than an avalanche of marbles hitting a porcelain sink. Plus you'll know which guest is a junkie whore or gutter hype, and you'll know what else to hide. Count your stash or remove the labels from your prescription bottles.

There's also recipes. I've been reading it all morning, and I highly recommend for the upcoming holiday-party season.


I'm on vacation this week, and probably won't be posting much. Though I may have something to say after the elections are over. We'll see. I plan on going out to dinner that evening and will be drinking heavily in either celebration or despair, depending on how things are going.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The dog-toy series, #1

For some reason, I got inspired to photograph Freddie's toys in close-up this morning, and I love the way they came out. So, this inaugurates a new occasional The Velvet Blog recurring feature.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Feeling a bit squirrelly

You're a headline writer. Here's the set-up: Postal worker attacked by squirrel. How do you play it?

Squirrel Attacks Local Mail Carrier
The local angle. Or as The Onion would put it: "Area Squirrel Attacks Area Mail Carrier." Zzzzz.

Mail lady shaken after squirrel attack
Shaken? A rodent attacks and, what? She gets the vapors? C'mon. Bor-ing.

Mean Squirrel Attacks Mail Carrier
Mean squirrel? How do we know the postal worker didn't start it? This is biased reporting at its worst. C'mon, MSM!

Postal Worker Attacked by Raging Rodent
The alliteration is nice. We're on the right track, but try a little harder.

Mail carrier mauled by deranged squirrel
Now we're getting there. "Deranged" is a great adjective. For some reason, I'm picturing Ann Coulter. Attacked by a squirrel. God, that's a great image.

Squirrel goes postal

In the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that I had a bit of an incident with a squirrel, when I was around 9 or so. My father used to work for the N.Y. Dept. of Conservation. For some reason that escapes me now, someone left a semi-tame squirrel on the grounds where Dad worked, and he decided to bring it home and let it loose in the backyard. My brother and I volunteered to do the honors. My brother opened the cage--and the squirrel jumped out, made a beeline for me, and ran up the inside of my pants.

That's when I started screaming. Somehow, my brother grabbed my leg and got the squirrel to turn around. I doubt the little guy was in there for more than a few seconds, but it was pretty scary.

Please, in comments, no jokes about searching for nuts.

Thank you.

(More headline advice here.)

(When you have time, listen to this This American Life episode for the "Squirrel Cop" segment. Very funny.)

Monday, October 30, 2006

Random 10, with notes

I just got an iPod. Loving it, but filling the thing up is time consuming, as I don't have a habit of saving music to my computer, so I'm kind of starting from scratch.

Anyway, here's a random 10 in shuffle mode:

"Underachiever": Jill Sobule: "She's an underachiever/She only passed Spanish and gym/She's not bad at essays/She can bullshit her way though them." Jill's Web site is here.

"Aguas de Marco": Elis Regina: "A stick, a stone/It's the end of the road/It's the rest of a stump/It's a little alone/It's a sliver of glass/It is life, it's the sun/It is night, it is death/It's a trap, it's a gun." (In Portuguese, by Antonio Carlos Jobim, but that's a not-very-literal translation. Still, in whatever language, this is one of the best songs ever written, IMO. Title means "Waters of March.")

"Traffic Light": Snow Machine: "I wait for you every night/Underneath the moon and the traffic light/But you're late or your car won't start/Or you lost your way or you lost your heart."

"Summer Snow": Snow Machine: "You'll come around some day, like summer snow/Just when I expect you least and need you most."

"Que Negra e Essa": Trio Mocoto (In Portuguese; couldn't find the lyrics. From a great album called Samba Soul '70!, which will have you dancing around the living room.)

"We Are Two": Swan Dive: "But you know what happens over time ... /Empty chairs, broken cup/Stupid fights, splitting up."

"She's the One": World Party: "I was her, she was me/We were one, we were free/and if there's somebody calling me on/She's the one."

"Shooting Stars": Mosquitos: "La fora, estrelas cadentes/E agora, fortes correntes/Voce e seus sonhos/suas luas, oceanos."

Call Me Up: World Party: "Whatever happened to those bits in the middle?/You know, those crazy piano bits/I used to think it went like that/When it really went like this ..."

"The Sound of Crying": Prefab Sprout: "Well who am I to tell you how to run your business/When you could strike me blind?/What kind of noise we gotta make down here/Before we destroy your peace of mind?"

Yeah, I've been listening to a lot of Brazilian music lately.

Push poll for The Velvet Blog

__ Do you like baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet? The Velvet Blog does! The Velvet Blog loves each and every one!
__ Were you aware that The Velvet Blog's adversary prefers midget wrestling, haggis, mincemeat pie, and Yugos? Do you even know what's in haggis? And don't even get me started on mincemeat!
__ Did you ever hear the rumor that The Velvet Blog's opponent once killed and ate a baby? And he wasn't even particularly hungry? Just slightly peckish.
__ If not, would you be willing to start this rumor?
__ Did you ever notice that The Velvet Blog's eyes are dreamy? Really, you could get lost in them, couldn't you?

Read this if you're not familiar with the push poll technique.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Further proof Martha Stewart has lost her marbles

I can't remember why I signed up to get Martha's newsletter, but now that I'm on the list, I can't get off it, despite numerous requests. Maybe I'll just give up and keep getting the damned thing, as it's often good for a laugh.

For instance, here's what I'm not going as for Halloween. I particularly won't be going as the jellyfish.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Queen Elizabeth has 10 times the lifespan of workers and lays up to 2,000 eggs a day

Regret the Error has the goods on the most entertaining news mistake in recent memory. (Via Gawker)

UPDATE: I see that link no longer works. The story is also here.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Bad ideas for titles of Capra-esque movies

--It's a Wonderful Knife
--Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Cruises for Interns
--Pocketful of Miracle Whip

Monday, October 23, 2006

Boo, humbug

This photo of a neighbor's yard is little hard to read, so let me interpret. The wire things in front? Reindeer, never taken down after Christmas. The white things in back? Ghosts, just put up for Halloween. Surely a giant inflatable turkey will join them soon.

To be fair, the rest of the Christmas decorations came down in May.


Saturday, October 21, 2006

A not entirely successful experiment

Postcard from the 1960s brought back to its place of origin, Brightwaters, N.Y.

(Card courtesy of God Is My Codependent.)

Thursday, October 19, 2006


I'm wondering if Bush didn't know what the Tet offensive was, and thought instead it had something to do with Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction at the Super Bowl.

How to spot a maverick (or not)

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Maverick

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Maverick

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Not a maverick

Still, Chafee is running a campaign that, like Whitehouse's, emphasizes his independence from Bush. Earlier this month, he campaigned in Rhode Island alongside the Republican Party's most famous maverick: Senator John McCain of Arizona, a frequent critic of the Bush administration. --Boston Globe

Other senators are wary of butting heads with the media-savvy McCain. Not McConnell. When McCain's reform proposals displease Republican Party donors, McConnell outmaneuvers the maverick. --San Jose Mercury News

"[McCain] is trying to balance his real nature as a maverick with what is needed to get nominated," Sabato said. --Daily News

Sen. Lincoln Chafee introduced Arizona Sen. John McCain to a dining room full of supporters as "a like-minded Republican." He said later they are both mavericks -- a term he said refers to "an unbranded calf" -- meaning both are independent-minded and not necessarily bound by party loyalty. --Kent County Daily Times

The rift among Republicans over the treatment of terrorism detainees appears to have closed, with maverick GOP Sen. John McCain telling NBC News on Friday that a deal reached with President Bush will lead to fair trials and interrogations but not torture. --MSNBC

Those comments supported maverick Republican Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham and John Warner, whose opposition forced the administration to alter its proposal before a deal was reached. --KARE

McCain's maverick style has long been popular with GOP voters in New Hampshire... --Washington Post

Enough already! McCain is a conservative Republican who, in some ways, has disagreed with the White House but will do and say anything to become president in 2008. After he cast some harsh criticism Bush's way in the first term, McCain kissed W.'s ass at the last Repub convention and killed any way to justify calling him a maverick. Oh, and no matter how he wants to spin it, he caved on Bush's demand for extraordinary powers. Not very mavericky.

So let's stop playing along.

Oh, and if you call yourself a maverick? Sorry, that disqualifies you automatically, even if you're worth a gazillion dollars. Sorry, Mark Cuban.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Greetings from nowhere in particular

Oddly, there's nothing on this one, front or back, to indicate a location.

Pretty, though.

Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Reg Kehoe and His Marimba Queens

I guess this is circumnavigating the Internet, but if you haven't seen it yet:

That's entertainment!

"Saucer-eyed tot ingratiates self with shiny-domed war profiteer"

I love The New Yorker. Well, I love the nonfiction, the commentary, and the cartoons. The fiction? Eh, not so much.

Emdashes, your blog guide to all things New Yorker, pointed me to the Cartoon Bank, where you can buy prints (or very pricey originals) of NYer cartoons.

What I find amusing and odd--I'm sure there's an explanation for this, but I can't figure it out on my own--are the descriptions that accompany each cartoon: "Doorman talking to call girl as he prepares to announce her arrival." "Samson holding back the doors as he exits the elevator." Etc.) Visual descriptions for the blind??? I'm not sure they're big cartoon fans, in general.

I'm assuming my subject-line reference is obvious enough--how's 'bout you write the gags today and leave other deadpan descriptions for famous cartoon strips in comments?

One more: Prematurely bald, fashion-challenged child relates poorly to peers, especially while trying to kick footballs or direct Christmas pageants.

(For more cartoony fun, visit The Comics Curmudgeon.)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

How to use coupons: A four-step process

1. Check the local newspaper for coupons from manufacturers and supermarkets. You can save lots of money on your food budget this way!

2. Clip coupons and put them somewhere you're not going to miss--on the fridge, held up by magnets, is a good place. You're not going to forget them in an obvious place like that!

3. Go to supermarket. While there, realize you've left coupons hanging on the refrigerator. Swear quietly under breath.

3. Wait until expiration dates on coupons pass.

4. Throw away coupons.

Pushin' up daisies

I have mixed feelings about Montauk daisies. Yeah, they're pretty when they're in bloom. But the plant itself, when not in flower, is rangy and rather ugly. And when you trim it back, it stinks.

No, I didn't notice the bee on the lower right flower when I took this close-up, despite being inches away.

Click to enlarge.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Rejected slogans for The Velvet Blog

--Quality is Job 2
--Snap! Crackle! Flop!
--We will serve no whine before its time
--The Velvet Blog: We try ... well, not that hard, actually
--Melts in your mouth, not in your ... you know, this sounds a lot dirtier than I intended
--The King of Sneers
--Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed blog
--Dude, you're getting a blog!
--A day without The Velvet Blog is like a day without orange juice, which, in turn, is like a day without sunshine
--Aren't you glad you use The Velvet Blog? Don't you wish everybody did?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Smackdown!: El Santo vs. Santa Claus vs. Claus von Bulow

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting El Santo

WHO?: Beefy Mexican wrestler/crime fighter, and star of hundreds of very cheap movies.

PROS: Fights evildoers. Brings joy to Spanish-speaking children and wrestling fans. Gives hope to the full-figured that they, too, can fight crime. Impressively fills out a Speedo.

CONS: Poor fashion sense. His films are boring and poorly made. What is he hiding with that mask, anyway?

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Santa Claus

WHO?: Jolly old elf and commercializer of Christmas. Subject of dozens of films, including Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.

PROS: Delivers presents. Brings joy to children. Gives hope to the full-figured that they, too, can look good in bright colors.

CONS: Nagging rumors about those creepy elves. Presents often turn out to be underwear. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians marked film debut of Pia Zadora. What is he hiding with that beard, anyway?

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingClaus von Bulow

WHO?: Husband of socialite Sunny von Bulow. Subject of film, Reversal of Fortune.

PROS: Generous in giving sweets to his wife. Role of von Bulow earned Jeremy Irons an Oscar. Gives hope to the psychopathologically social-climbing.

CONS: Wife was diabetic and went into a coma. Whatever happened to Jeremy Irons? Why did Irons believe starring in a film of Dungeons & Dragons was a good career move? Also, do you think Irons has had some work done? Last time I saw him, he looked a little weird. I mean, not Kenny Rogers weird or Burt Reynolds weird, but still.

WINNER: Claus von Bulow. I love getting candy.*

*I realize he was actually accused of giving his wife an overdose of insulin, but that's just not funny. Sickos.

I believe he may be telling a serving wench not to put on the red dress tonight, but that's really just a guess

Wondering what Sting is up to lately?

I like early music, but this strikes me as silly. Is it just me?

(I can't understand a word he's singing, BTW, but the speakers on my PC are not great.)

Looks like the stream of this show will be up till the weekend, so if you're a lute aficionado--or a fan of absurdist comedy--move quickly.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

What the ...

Anyone know what the story is with this? Yes, it's TVB, but with a different URL:

If you go to, it appears as if this is supposedly a way around censorship in some countries ... but a) who would bother censoring this silly little blog that five people read? and b) is it legal to just grab someone's blog and give it a new URL without even asking?

Oh, and this works with all (or most?) Blogspot blogs--try your own (i.e., or


Monday, October 09, 2006

Odds that my toilet will overflow at the EXACT MOMENT the furnace-repair guy rings the doorbell

Apparently, 100%.

BTW, does the word "thermocouple" sound vaugely dirty to you?


Oh. It's just me, then.

Trust the experts

I've said it before, but it bears repeating: John Hodgman's The Areas of My Expertise is a very funny book. And now it's out in paperback.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Greetings from Dub's hernia

Sept. 6, 1960

Hello Mary & Rudy & All

Dub had a hernia (No. 4) this pass Wed. (removed or repaired). He is doing fine, hopes to get to go home Sat. I am at the hospital now, he is taking a nap. The hernia gave him trouble all summer so soon as we got our garden work and the house painted, he decided to have it fixed. Hope you all are in good health and things going fine. Give our regards to all we know. I think I'll get Dub a playtex to wear!

Dub & Gladys

Thanks to God Is My Codependent for sending this to me.

If sock monkeys sent incriminating IMs

[You can pretty much put any text you want right here.]

sockmonkey2000: Now, give me that banana.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The mystery of the human mind

Re: the latest poll numbers
Moreover, an eye-popping 41 percent say that the things they have seen and heard over the last few weeks have given them a less favorable impression of Republicans holding onto control of Congress. Just 18 percent say they have a more favorable impression. --MSNBC

Note to the 18% who have a better impression: WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?????

Greetings from Bayshore, L.I.

Actually, it's Bay Shore, though it's wrong on about half the signs in town. If you can't trust a postcard to get the facts right ...

Aug. 8, 1946

Dear Geanie,

Myrna told me you just had your appendics out. It must be awful hard to stay in bed. Please write.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Words online Merriam-Webster dictionary wondered if I meant when I checked if "widescreen" was a word

1. wide-screen
2. wiedersehen
3. widdershins
4. white cedar
5. white sucker
6. wood-carver
7. wide-spreading
8. widow's walk
9. wood-carvers
10. widow's peak

Wiedersehen?? Widdershins???

Still, the online Merriam-Webster's is very handy.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

In the clouds

Friends from church invited me to fly with them to Block Island yesterday in their Beechcraft four-seater. I'd never been in a small plane before, so it was really exciting--and beautiful.

The plane
Shortly after takeoff from the airport in Islip
Montauk Point
Block Island
On Block Island

It's pretty loud in there, so we had to wear these.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

My new favorite song

Camera Obscura's "Lloyd, I'm Ready to Be Heartbroken." (It might help if you know the song it's in answer to, Lloyd Cole's "Are You Ready to Be Heartbroken?" but it's not necessary.)

I Heart Froomkin

Dan Froomkin's online-only column for the Washington Post is must-reading. He also does a once-a-week chat with readers, from which this wonderful exchange comes:

Beafort, S.C.: Mr. Froomkin --

The "compromise" on detainee rights/suspected terrorist treatment sure looks to me like [the president] got what he wanted, while the McCain/Warner/Graham trio pretty much caved.

Assuming this take on the situation is correct -- how does Bush still weld so much power when he is so wildly unpopular?

Dan Froomkin: That is a great question. It deserves attention.

Off the top of my head, I think it has a lot to do with intimidation by Karl Rove and Dick Cheney. One scares them about losing; the other scares them about dying.

That made me laugh out loud. Then I shivered a little. 'Cause it's true.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Way in which The Velvet Blog is like Spinal Tap

Marty: The last time Tap toured America, they where, uh, booked into 10,000-seat arenas, and 15,000-seat venues, and it seems that now, on their current tour they're being booked into 1,200-seat arenas, 1,500-seat arenas, and uh I was just wondering, does this mean, uh ... the popularity of the group is waning?

Ian: Oh, no, no, no, no, no,, no, not at all. I, I, I just think that the ... uh ... their appeal is becoming more selective.

Only, of course, TVB never filled 15,000-seat venues.

A Mel Gibson quiz: What mask did Mel wear to his recent "Apocalypto" screenings to avoid attention?

GOLDSBY, Okla. Sep 24, 2006 (AP)— Actor and director Mel Gibson visited two Oklahoma towns this week to attend screenings of his new movie, "Apocalypto."

Gibson did not make a public appearance during screenings held at the Riverwind Casino in Goldsby and Cameron University in Lawton. At the entrance of the casino where the film was shown Friday to a mostly American Indian audience reporters were kept behind partitions.

He arrived at Cameron on Thursday morning wearing a mask and wig so he wouldn't be noticed, university spokeswoman Amber McNeil said.
--The Associated Press

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting V for Vendetta

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Gorilla

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Alien

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Owen Wilson

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Israeli PM Ehud Olmert