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.)