Monday, December 31, 2007

If sock monkeys wrote "Auld Lang Syne"

A rerun from last year. Hey, I am nothing if not thrifty. I am, after all, one-quarter Scots.

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.)

(Oh, and if sock monkeys bought calendars, they'd buy this. Out of stock at Amazon, but I got a copy at Borders for half price this weekend. The photos are great.)

(Now, have a happy new year.)

Friday, December 28, 2007

Smackdown!: Tater Mitts vs. Mitt Romney

Tater Mitts

What: An amazing solution to potato-peeling drudgery.

Pros: Cheap. Unlikely to ruin the country.

Cons: Doesn't, you know, do what it's advertised to do (i.e.: peel potatoes). Surprisingly, has never renounced polygamy.


Mitt Romney

Who: Republican presidential hopeful.

Pros: Give me a minute.

Nope, I've got nothin'.

Cons: Full name, Willard Mitt Romney, is an anagram for Malted Twirly Minor, Treadmill Nit Wormy, and Maimed Wintry Troll, none of which make sense and all of which are vaguely disturbing for reasons that are hard to pin down. Though he was an English major in college, has named L. Ron Hubbard's Battlefield Earth as his favorite novel (really!). The fact that now you can't get that image of John Travolta as a Psychlo out of your head. Unable to do what he's advertised to do (i.e.: lead country without making it even worse). Grudging conclusion that Maimed Wintry Troll isn't a bad name for band. But what kind of music? Emo? You hate emo, although you do admire Emo Phillips. Realize that you've wasted the whole afternoon Googling Emo Phillips to find out what he's doing lately. Discover that Emo most recently did a voice on the animated show Slacker Cats, which, sadly, sounds awful.

Winner: Tater Mitts. At least, if elected president, the worst it would do is leave potato preparation to old-fashioned peeler.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

And a merry Enlightened Selfishness Day, too!

A "Prime" buyer in Virginia placed the last order on Dec. 23 through Amazon, receiving Futurama, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and Pulp Fiction DVDs, as well as Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead (paperback) and a Bridge Over Troubled Water CD, according to the company, which extended its one-day shipping this year. --InformationWeek

"[The individual] must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life."
--Ayn Rand

Anyone who would give Ayn Rand as a Christmas present must have either the most overdeveloped sense of irony in the world, or the most underdeveloped. I'm going to assume the latter.

Happy Boxing Day, everyone!

Whatever the hell that is.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

My Christmas gift for you

Because you've been very, very naughty this year, you must watch A Trip to Santa:


Other books that have been indefinitely postponed

A Christian publisher said on Wednesday it has called off a parenting book written by Lynne Spears -- the mother of troubled pop star Britney Spears and her pregnant 16-year-old sister, Jamie Lynn. --Reuters

--The Art of Diplomacy by George W. Bush
--Boy, Am I Heterosexual: Hey--Why Are You Laughing? by Sen. Larry Craig
--How to Win Friends and Influence People (revised) by Karl Rove
--Raising Ferrets for Dummies by Rudy Giuliani
--Secrets of Successful Blogging by The Velvet Blog

Friday, December 21, 2007

The countdown begins

In going over the year's posts, I see that I linked to this story in January:

US: Pat Robertson prophesies 'mass killing':

In what has become an annual tradition of prognostications, religious broadcaster Pat Robertson said Tuesday God has told him that a terrorist attack on the United States would result in "mass killing" late in 2007.

"I'm not necessarily saying it's going to be nuclear," he said during his news-and-talk television show "The 700 Club" on the Christian Broadcasting Network. "The Lord didn't say nuclear. But I do believe it will be something like that."

Robertson said God told him during a recent prayer retreat that major cities and possibly millions of people will be affected by the attack, which should take place sometime after September. ...

In 2005, Robertson predicted that Bush would have victory after victory in his second term. He said Social Security reform proposals would be approved. ...

In May, Robertson said God told him that storms and possibly a tsunami were to crash into America's coastline in 2006. Even though the US was not hit with a tsunami, Robertson on Tuesday cited last spring's heavy rains and flooding in New England as partly fulfilling the prediction.

Given the rather low bar Robertson uses to measure success, perhaps he was actually referring to this?

Oh, fudge!

A few years ago, my family decided it was time to cut down on Christmas gift-giving a bit, and we'd all pick one name and buy just for that person. Spouses excepted, of course--I'm mean, we're not Christmas jihadists. This was a relief, honestly, because I was feeling rather overwhelmed by the season.

Little by little, though, more exceptions were made. My mom bought a little something for everyone--which meant everyone really needed to get something for her. And the annual Baking and Exchanging of 1,000 Cookies went into effect. If I can't buy you a gift, at least I can spend the same amount of time in the kitchen slaving over a hot stove for you! OK, I exaggerate a little. But not much.

I realized earlier this week why I hate making Fannie Farmer's Peanut Butter Chewies, which have become kind of a tradition. Oh, they're yummy, but (ye gads!) they take forever to roll into little balls.

Then I discovered Ghiradelli's fudge recipe.

Folks, if you need to give a little something to someone this year and don't know what to buy and you don't feel like baking all afternoon, this is the answer. It doesn't take forever, and let me state this for posterity: It's the best fudge I ever ate. Er, tested. I mean, I had to test it, right?

I've tweaked it just a tad to make it a bit less sweet, and (I think) easier to make. So, here goes:

1 cup semi-sweet chips (that works out to exactly half a bag)
1 cup Ghiradelli bittersweet (60% cacao) chips
2 oz. of unsweetened baking chocolate (I recommend Ghiradelli's 100% cacao bar--it's better then the standard Baker's brand)
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk (that's one can)
2-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup pecans, chopped and toasted in the oven (very, very optional)

How I do it: Line an 8-inch square pan with waxed paper. Put all the chips and the unsweetened chocolate (chopped) into a Pyrex bowl. Pour the sweetened condensed milk over it and stir so all the chocolate is covered. Heat in the microwave for about 45 seconds at a bit less than half power (I did it at 40% power). Take out, stir well, repeat. Do this until all the chocolate is melted--probably three or four times (and you might go down to 30 seconds for the last round of heating). All microwaves are different, of course, so your mileage may vary--but remember: Just do this until everything is melted; you don't want to boil it. Stir in the vanilla and nuts, if you're using them. Spread into the waxed-paper-covered pan, and refrigerate until the fudge has set--a couple of hours. Then cut it into small squares. And your chocolate-loving family and friends will be devoted to you forever. This comes out more like a truffle than typical fudge and is super smooth.

If you don't like using a microwave, the original instructions call for melting the chocolate with the condensed milk in a double boiler over hot, but not boiling, water. And the original recipe calls for all semisweet chips instead of the half semisweet/half bittersweet.

Nuts or no nuts? I put in pecans for the first batch. But I'm not crazy about nuts in my candy, so I left them out for batch two. It's delicious either way.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


The very funny Jon Swift is asking for readers to send him links to what they believe to be their best post of the year.

This is a silly question, but if you have a fave TVB post for 2007, can you let me know in comments? Thanks.

I find owning them outright is more convenient

Sign in a local pet-supply store's window.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The customer reviews on Amazon are so amazingly helpful!

I was thinking of buying a cheap mandoline on Amazon. Maybe this one. Let's ask previous customers what they think:
Even when its new it works best on hard-ish vegetables like carrots or zucchini or potatos and less well on *juicy* veggies like onions or cucumbers. The more watery veggies tend to slice more unevenly and break apart.

Hard veggies only--no soft ones. That's good to know!

And what about you, ma'am?
... If you are cutting something even remotely hard (such as celeriac, or even an old big carrot) it will flex so much that your slices will not conform at all to the size you want them to be, ...

Hmm. Well, OK. Better use it on soft veggies only, then--no hard ones. And you?:
It really only works on hard vegetables...

Hard only? Point taken. What about you?:
Made the mistake of running a couple of sweet potatos on this. Now, it's a goner. Only made for softer veggies, ...

Soft only. Great!

Well, thanks for clearing that up, everyone!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

I'm The Velvet Blog, and I approved this message

Nowadays Huckabee has more policy positions, but his campaign is really all about his Christian character. His slogan is "Faith, Family, Freedom," which Huckabee, who was once a public-relations man for the Texas televangelist James Robison, wrote himself. ...

In late November, Huckabee began running a short television ad called "Believe." It starts with the candidate declaring, "Faith doesn’t just influence me, it really defines me." As he speaks, the words "Christian Leader" flash across the screen.
--Profile of Mike Huckabee in tomorrow's New York Times

"I've been under that microscope for quite some time, and it's certainly intensifying. All the sharp knives in the kitchen have been brought out of the drawers now that we're leading in polls all over the country. The interesting thing is that there seems to be a great deal more attention on … really, an intense scrutiny on the details of my faith, than there is on anybody else's, including Mitt Romney's. Every day there is some new nuance about the Baptist faith, some statement I made 15, 20, 25 years ago that gets a lot of attention." --Mike Huckabee, in an NPR interview

As a general rule of thumb, if talking about your religion is inappropriate, then PLEASE STOP TALKING ABOUT YOUR RELIGION.

That goes for you, too, Romney.

Oh, and Rudy? If questions about your family are inappropriate, stop staging events where you take cell phone calls from your wife.

Thank you.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Glow, little glow-cat, glimmer, glimmer

Finally, to get a cat that glows in the dark, you no longer have to hollow one out and stick a candle in it.

(Apologies in advance to Fermicat.)

(Oh, but I'd rather have a glow-in-the-dark cat than a spider-goat.)

My personal trial

The publisher where I work is moving to an "open floor plan" next year, meaning no more offices--all cubicles and a big open space.

I think I'm developing a touch of social phobia. (Oh, who am I kidding? I've always had it.)

(Gold star for anyone who IDs that film still. There is a rather heavy-handed clue in here.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


My friends Pete and Joe have started a business selling homemade doggie treats. Freddie has tasted-tested their wares, and recommends them highly. And they make dandy Christmas gifts!

Shipwrecked on The Velvet Blog

Unusual searches that have brought visitors here recently:

--christmas songs written by jews
--oranges smoranges
--why two birds suddenly appear
--you've just invented a new form of torture
--picture the mongolian cow
--is a paintball safe to eat
--what makes you poop
--had to, dead you know
--gay subtext in rudolph the red nosed reindeer
--what does sex panther mens perfume smell like?
--egg salad sandwiches in orlando
--hemoroidal creams
--i feel like a pickle
--how to make dog poop in rain
--douchebag diagram
--poop throwing machines

The number of poop-related searches is starting to disturb me.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Name that tune

Music meme picked up from TwoBusy:

How many songs on your iPod?
Roughly 870 (it's an old-school 4-gbyte nano, so fits about 1,000). But that counts some podcasts, old radio dramas, etc.

Sort by song title, first and last
First: The cover of "... Baby, One More Time" by Fountains of Wayne. Punctuation comes before the letter A, apparently.

Last: "Youth and Age," by that favorite, Various Artists. It was from a Peter Gabriel-sponsored project called Arcane, which featured ... well, a bunch of various artists, and no one is credited for particular tracks. This one was based on a poem by Yeats, and is rather lovely.

Sort by time, first and last
Shortest, at 6 seconds: "One Last 'Whoo-Hoo!' for the Pullman," by Sufjan Stevens. Not really a standalone track, but a coda from the song before it. Annoying, actually, as when I burned a CD of the album, downloaded from iTunes, there's a space between the two tracks, and I can't figure out how to join them when making a disk. They play without a gap on my iPod.

Longest, at 12:30, "Bros," by Panda Bear. A hypnotic drone, this is sort of a love-it-or-hate-it track, and I fall into the former camp. (That's the longest single song on my iPod, but there are longer podcasts, etc.)

Sort by album title, first and last
First: 1, by the Beatles. Numbers come before A in iTunes, too.

Last: Yours, Mine & Ours, by the Pernice Brothers.

Sort by artist, first and last
First: A Fine Frenzy. Kind of Tori Amos-y or maybe Regina Spektor-ish. The song "You Picked Me" was an iTunes freebie. I liked it enough to keep, but not enough to buy anything more.

Last: The Zombies, for their Odessey [sic] & Oracle album.

Top five most-played songs
Well, the top players are tracks I tend to put on repeat when trying to fall asleep or work, so they play endlessly till I wake up (or stop working, which ever comes first), which doesn't seem quite fair. For the record, they're tracks from Dr. Harry Henshaw's "Music for Sleep" and Gregorian chant by Hildegard of Bingen. As far as songs I listen to while, you know, listening, they would be:

"Cada Beijo," by Bebel Gilberto, as remixed by the Thievery Corporation, at 23 spins. While I do love this track, I was surprised to see it at #1.

"Fotheringay," by Fairport Convention, vocal by Sandy Denny, 17 plays.

"All My Little Words," by Magnetic Fields, 16. Another surprise.

"Acoustic Guitar," by Magnetic Fields, 16. And another.

"At the Chime of a City Clock," by Nick Drake, 15.

Find how many times the following words turn up
Sex: 0

Death: 12, mostly because of a bunch of Death Cab for Cutie tracks.

Love: 83, but the presence of many tracks from Magnetic Fields' 69 Love Songs set kind of skews this.

You: 98

Boy: 10

Girl: 33 (My iPod is straight? How'd that happen?)

First five songs in shuffle
"Come Back from San Francisco," Magnetic Fields

"Hackensack," Fountains of Wayne

"Goin' Back," Dusty Springfield

"(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding," Elvis Costello & the Attractions

"Amplifier," the dB's

Unintentional truths

There was a story floating around last week that short-fingered vulgarian Donald Trump left a $10,000 tip at a restaurant.

It soon trickled out that the whole thing was made up, and Snopes has the story, as usual.

What made me laugh was not the hoax itself, but an off-hand comment by John Resig, the guy behind it. According to The Los Angeles Times:
Reached by phone, Derober's John Resig, 29, spilled the beans and laughingly marveled at the hoax's success. "How many people get on the front page of Fox News with a story that doesn't contain one single ounce of truth?" he wondered in amazement.

Oh, Mr. Resig. Don't get me started. We'll be here all day.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Sign you may be hungry and should really stop for lunch

When you go by a movie theater with Fred Claus on the marquee, but you read it as Fried Clams.

It's funny because it's true.

(BTW, if you're ever on L.I. and want chowder or fried clams, Bigelow's is the place to go.)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I'm pretty sure dew tastes like water

Sometimes, it becomes clear that I could focus exclusively on insane reviews to fill this blog. I won't, but this New Yorker restaurant review is vintage food-critic nuttiness. It's so crazy, I won't even interupt the flow with any snarky comments, though I will highlight a few of the odder turns of phrase--and keep in mind that this is a positive review.
A simple apéritif of shochu, garnished with tiny morsels of pear cut in leaf and star shapes, tastes the way you imagine dew might. Monkfish liver is presented in a vase of pebbles, abalone on a cushion of salt; you get to sear small rectangles of beef on a terrifyingly hot shiny stone. Dried mullet roe (which you grill over an open flame) looks like carrot, has the consistency of bean curd, and tastes like anchovy, only more so. Coupled with a rectangular tablet of daikon radish, it looks uncannily like a mah-jongg tile. Aigamo duck comes with a cake of mochi—a kind of rice polenta with a texture between dough and string cheese but stickier than either. (In Japan, people occasionally suffocate while eating it.) The kaiseki meal culminates in a dish that might seem plain: steamed rice. But the silvery Koshihikari rice from Uonuma is highly prized, and here it is served with condiments including twice-grilled salmon as light and brittle as a cracker and as salty and desiccated as jerky.

I just love how the writer throws into a parenthetical aside the fact that a rice dish served here has actually, you know, killed people. But, mangia!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Santa kicks Martian ass

Gold star for Punkinsmom for identifying the source of the quote, "Dropo, you are the laziest man on Mars."

For those who have never seen Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, prepare to marvel:

I dare you to get that fiendish theme song out of your head.

I saw this at a Saturday matinee as a kid, and I'm still feeling the effects.

(And yes, the Martian girl is Pia Zadora in her film debut.)

UPDATE: The video above is of fairly poor quality--it looks like it's being broadcast from Mars. There's a somewhat more watchable, 6-minute abridged version of the movie here, though with inexplicable bleeps on the sound track. And there's the first chapter of the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 version here. I love MST3K, but I can't say this is one of its funniest episodes. It's a little dull--though we watch it every Christmas season. Traditions are traditions, after all.

Monday, December 03, 2007

They blinded me ... with science!

I recently became a huge fan of the National Public Radio show Radio Lab, a popular-science program that makes really quite heady scientific concepts (say, the theory of relativity) understandable without dumbing them down.

If it's not on in your area, you can either stream it or download episodes from Radio Lab here. Scroll down that page a little and you'll see links to the three seasons that have aired so far. Season four begins next month.

Listen to one episode, and you'll be hooked. Season two's "Detective Stories" had me ignoring urgent business (well, eating dinner) to find out the end of the tale that begins with two people motoring down a highway in California when they spy a goat standing on the back of a cow at the side of the road. Yes, you read that correctly--and after that, it gets weird.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Quelque chose à ce sujet sent la merde

Third in an occasional series in which we gaze, shielding our eyes, at the intense light given off by the perfume reviews in The New York Times. From today's Style magazine:
I must admit, with some unease, my initial obtuseness toward Comme des Garçons 2 Man, one of the 10 greatest works of perfumery art in the world.

Just slightly above Axe body spray and Jean Naté and below Old Spice.
The perfumer Mark Buxton built the upper decks of this sleekest of vessels out of C11 ISO, a synthetic molecule that smells of clean pressed fire, if you can imagine such a thing; ...

... the pine-scented synthetic C12 MNA; ...

A smidge of Pine-Sol.
... and a high-quality natural Haitian vetiver that smells like dust on jungle trees.

I repeat: No.
But the hull is frankincense from Oman, an incense cool as cream, warm as onion-skin stationery, glossy and slick as a traffic light in the rain.

As strong as a Gauloise, as chewy as an economy-size box of Jujubes, and as furry as ferret.
This technically flawless perfume (it diffuses like radium) ...

So, that's what Madame Curie was working on.
... smells more beautiful than one can say, like a perfect chord in an empty echo chamber.

Is that a koan? Like, what is the sound of one hand holding one's nose?
Herodotus warned that frankincense was dangerous to harvest because poisonous snakes lived in the Arabian trees that contained it, and I do believe my first reaction to 2 Man was, in part, fear.

Much like my reaction to this review. And, to be fair, I suspect that Herodotus was nipping at the absinthe.
This perfume is not just extraordinary. It is perfect.

I am now officially out of snark.

(PS: That subject line translated by the Google language tool. God knows if it's good French, because I certainly don't.)

Friday, November 30, 2007

Titles that Gabriel García Márquez rejected

--1,200 Months of Monkey Pox
--Ten Decades of Cerebrotendinous Xanthomatosis
--A Century of Genital Warts

UPDATE: Several hours after posting this, I realized I'd killed the gag by conflating two of the author's titles, One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera, in my feverish brain. Somehow, I thought one of the titles was One Hundred Years of Cholera. Really. So, please ignore this post.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

UPDATE UPDATE: God Is My Codependent points out that Love in the Time of Genital Warts would have worked.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Forget the third man--perhaps the 23rd?

A few months ago, I pointed out the seemed to be deliberately hiding recognizable names in the cast lists of Albert Brooks movies, among some other films.

Apparently, others have noticed. Check out the complete title of The Third Man as it appears on this Amazon page.

(Whoever vandalized that page, however, would appear to be technically wrong. Those actors do appear, according to the IMDb listing, though they're not credited in the film.)

UPDATE: I see Amazon page got fixed. For a while there, the title read: "The Third Man -- You got the cast list completely wrong."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Just shoot me

My digital camera died on me recently, and with a purchase of a new new one, I've found they've become more feature-filled--that means complicated--in the last couple of years. Just reading the instruction manual is giving me a headache.

It has a button marked MF. Really, that can't be good--it won't even disguise its contempt toward me.

I'm on vacation this week, and took a few photos at the Fire Island Lighthouse today. Last one is an old lens from the lighthouse, which was built in the mid-1800s.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Vanity of vanities

Second in an occasional series in which we improve depressing (or odd) descriptions of vanity press books advertised in The New York Times Book Review by adding the phrase "Wacky high jinks ensue" at the end of them. All ad copy verbatim (except for the high jinks) from the Nov. 25 issue.

Overcoming George. My depression era family was dominated by my stepfather, George the womanizer, who drank and swore too much and was obsessed with sex. Dad committed suicide, mom was an alcoholic, and the struggle to overcome this situation took effort and perseverance. Wacky high jinks ensue.

A Time of My Life. Norene grew up on a Texas farm during the Great Depression. She went to college--then became a school teacher, dance teacher, television and night club performer, all at the same time. With many pictures included, this book shows Norene truly had the time of her life! Wacky high jinks ensue.

Surviving General Motors With Multiple Sclerosis. [The author] was a proud employee of GM, but when she was harassed and threatened by racist, sexist co-workers, GM failed to respond. Wacky high jinks ensue.

Things You Should Know About Teeth. The book summarizes the key-points about teeth that everyone should know as good general knowledge which vitally forms the first-step toward dental prevention. Wacky high jinks ensue.

Dental prevention? Sounds like a thoughtful Christmas gift.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Suggestion for Hollywood

Given my great recent success coming up with concepts for TV shows, I've decided to branch out into film.

Here's my first idea: Denzel Washington should change the name of his new film, The Great Debaters, to The Master Debaters.

I'm not exactly sure why--I just can't quite put my finger on it. But it sounds like the kind of film that I might watch. Late at night. Maybe on cable.

Hmmm. My subconcious is obviously making some sort of connection here, God only knows what. But I have to learn to trust my instincts if I'm going to make it in Tinseltown.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Book 'em

Concerned reader God Is My Codependent and I have been discussing the new Amazon Kindle, a pricey new e-book device.

I like the idea of an e-book. But this isn't gonna fly.

An e-book that can display PDFs--say, copyright-free books from Project Gutenberg and Wowio and the like--as well as downloaded purchased books from any source would be wonderful. (Can my eyes read books purchased from Amazon as well as the used book store two towns over? Last time I checked, yes. And and an e-book should do likewise.) Picture something like an iPod that you could easily sync up to your computer and move books and periodicals on and off. That would be cool. But $400 for a device that only displays proprietary works protected by digital rights management (meaning I can't give or loan purchased e-books to anyone)? They've got to be kidding me.

Here's a good look at the issues involved in e-books. (Via Pharyngula.)

Three rules

--Do not go out of your way to make a pun, and then follow it up with "No pun intended."

You've created a pun--you even might say you have a pun in the oven*--so own up to it.

*Pun intended.

--Do not invent tortured acronyms. Also, do not use as the first word of your acronym the word that the acronym spells out. This was in a news story I read recently: "Smart Antenna RF Test Alliance (SMART)."

No, that's not SMART. It's SARFTA. And it's STUPID (Stupid Tortured Unhelpful Piddly Initials are Dumb).

--Don't say "No offense, but" just before you say something that's obviously intended to offend. For example, "No offense, but screw you."

If you do that, well, no offense, but screw you.

Wait ... actually, that one's sort of satisfying. Never mind.

Monday, November 19, 2007

What's wrong with this picture?

I took my dog, Freddie, to the N.Y. Tech campus nearby to run around and chase squirrels the other day. I snapped a picture of the trees with their vivid autumn foliage and thought it would be perfect for enlarging and framing.

At first glance, when I looked at the resulting shot on my computer screen, it was quite beautiful. Orange and yellow leaves clinging to half-bare branches, and a thick carpet of them on the ground.

Then I took a closer look and realized I had also taken a picture of Freddie in the middle of pooping.

It's almost Thanksgiving ...

You know what that means: It's time to rerun the post on my Scottish grandma's oatmeal stuffing recipe:

My mom used to make her mom'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 oatmeal rolled oats or quick-cooking oats and continue sauteing until the oatmeal gets 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.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

News quiz

Who said the following? Whoever would say something like this would obviously make a better president than Constitution-trampling W!
When the Founders drafted the Constitution, they had a clear understanding of tyranny. They also had a clear idea about how to prevent it from ever taking root in America. Their solution was to separate the government's powers into three co-equal branches: the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary. Each of these branches plays a vital role in our free society. Each serves as a check on the others. And to preserve our liberty, each must meet its responsibilities -- and resist the temptation to encroach on the powers the Constitution accords to others. ... The President's oath of office commits him to do his best to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States." I take these words seriously.


Wait .... the president said that? Embarking on a comedy tour, I guess, and working on new material.

(I saw the quote on another blog today, but darned if I can remember which. I thought it was T-bogg and was going to link, but nope. So, a hat tip to whomever. UPDATE: It was Greenwald.)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Quotation of the Day

I get my hair cut every two days. After all, your hair is your head suit. --Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) on 30 Rock

Funny, funny episode last night. You can watch full eps of 30 Rock online. Last night's is a good place to start--probably the best of the season so far.

UPDATE: It's been pointed out to me that I'm not supporting the writers strike by linking to NBC's site.

So go download it illegally instead.

You go, writers!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A fine dive

Hey, I have a couple readers around Nashville, right?

The wonderful, Nashville-based pop duo Swan Dive is doing a free show at the Nashville Public Library this Saturday. Expect lots of bossa nova--the band's most recent album, Until, is all Brazilian-inspired.

Tell them The Velvet Blog sent you. They won't know what that means, but tell them anyway. Oh, and ask that they play "One Sided."

Monday, November 12, 2007

Name of the Day

From a front-page New York Times story, so, no, this isn't like Liz Onya or Heywood Jablowme*:
Peter B. Teets, the new head of the nation’s spy satellite agency, appointed a panel of experts to examine the secret project, telling them, according to one member, “Find out what’s going on, find the terrible truth I suspect is out there.”

The terrible truth, sir, is that your name seems to be sending a seriously mixed message.

*Which, yes, actually made it into a New York Daily News "Voice of the People" piece.

Cheers and Jeers Bouquets and Brickbats for The New York Times

Cheers Bouquets for The New York Times for yesterday's editorial:
It is extraordinary how President Bush has streamlined the Senate confirmation process. As we have seen most recently with the vote to confirm Michael Mukasey as attorney general, about all that is left of "advice and consent" is the "consent" part. ...

It's worth reading the whole thing. Except ...

Jeers Brickbats for The New York Times for this part of that same editorial:
On Thursday, the Senate voted by 53 to 40 to confirm Mr. Mukasey even though he would not answer a simple question: does he think waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning used to extract information from a prisoner, is torture and therefore illegal?

This is how the Times always refers to waterboarding.

To me, "simulated drowning" would involve, oh, 3-D goggles and an Imax screen and someone throwing buckets of water at you.

Waterboarding is real drowning just short of actually, you know, killing you.

The NPR program On the Media discusses use of the term.

Frank Rich's column from yesterday is also worth a read.

Note to God Is My Codependent: Let it not be said I don't listen to my audience.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Well, I guess Celebrity Paintball Challenge is next, then

Remember when I invited you to take a quiz and guess the real reality show? The real one was the (yawn) celebrity cooking show, which was quickly canceled.

One of the fake ones was Celebrity Rap-Off which later actually made it on the air, if under a different name and on a different network.

One of the other fake ones was Celebrity Garage Sale. Well, guess what? A&E just announced a new show, and it's called ... Celebrity Garage Sale:
The cable network has shot a pilot for the project, titled "Celebrity Garage Sale," in which [Illeana] Douglas tries to help her famous friends get rid of their unwanted junk, personal items and dusty memorabilia by having their own garage sale. ... The pilot features Tom Arnold, whose garage sale is said to have raised $5,000 for Camp del Corazon, a summer camp for children with heart disease.

OK, I got the host wrong, but still.

I ... I ... Why the hell am I not working in television? I mean, other than the fact that it's soul sucking and all that.

WTF?: Bacon Edition

I was in the supermarket the other day and saw this:

Now, I like bacon. I really, really like bacon. I don't eat it a lot, but once in a while, I'll splurge and get Applegate Farms' Sunday bacon. It's pretty damned amazing--what all bacon should aspire to taste like.

I also like beef. A nice steak? Mmmmmmmmmmm, yes, please.

But beef bacon? Beef?? There's just something inherently wrong with that.

I'm going to take a leap here and guess this is a Southern thing. As The Velvet Blog has a few readers down South, I'm going to ask you chime in here. Have you had this? Is it as odd as it sounds?

I mean ... turkey bacon is understandable. I don't particularly like it, but I understand it. It's for people who like bacon but for health or religious reasons avoid it. (Tofu bacon and the like, though, please take the next train out of town. Soybeans should not pretend they're meat.) But for some reason, the idea of beef bacon makes me feel mildly ill.

UPDATE: Hmm. More investigation on this serious matter is warranted. The brand of beef bacon in my local Stop & Shop is made in .... Brooklyn!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Your moment of Zen

Do you miss The Daily Show as much as I do? (In case you missed the news, the TV writers' union is out on strike. Dramas and sitcoms have episodes in the can, but the strike affected nightly shows like this and Letterman and Colbert right out of the gate. Still, if the strike drags on, expect Celeberity Garage Sale to make it on sooner or later. "Reality" shows are not affected.)

Here's a clip from the very first TDS episode Jon Stewart ever hosted, on Jan. 11, 1999:

Did you know that all Stewart-hosted episodes are now online? Well, they are!

Go here and search by date or topic.

TVB predicts a really awkward Thanksgiving

Sister Beats Brother in Ohio Mayor Race

MONTEZUMA, Ohio -- Score one for the big sister: The mayor of this Ohio village held off a challenge from her younger brother and kept her office.

Daniel Huffman was hoping to unseat his sister, Charlotte Garman, in Tuesday's election. However, residents of the village, with only 138 registered voters, stuck with Garman, who has been mayor for eight years.

Garman, also the postmaster in this western Ohio community, landed 43 votes; her brother had 24.

Huffman, a carpenter and electrician, has said his decision to challenge his sister for the seat probably didn't sit well with her.

"I really don't believe she's tickled about it," said Huffman, 45.

Huffman said before the election that his sister, who is four years older, had done a tremendous job as mayor.

"Mom! Charlotte kicked me under the table and won't pass the mashed potatoes!"

Monday, November 05, 2007

What The Velvet Blog's declaration of martial law means to you, the TVB reader

--Those who leave comments I disagree with will be jailed without hope of trial.
--Option of ground pepper on dinner entrees replaced with mandatory pepper spray in face.
--A complimentary coupon book with discounts to local businesses for TVB visitors named "Marshall."

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Postcard of the Day

Skyline of lower Manhattan at night from under the Brooklyn Bridge, New York.

Click to enlarge (and you should).

Compare with this.

And click on the "postcards" link below for more.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Name of the Day

Apple France's marketing director, Hugues Asseman.

UPDATE: Somehow, The Velvet Blog is now the fourth second hit on Google for "Hugues Asseman"--just for making fun of the guy's name. I kind of feel like a huge ass, man.

Handy Visual Guide for distinguishing between a ... um ...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Maureen O'Hara

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Rita Moreno

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Merino sheep

I've had this Handy Visual Guide in my queue for months. I could never think of a punch line to tie it together. I'm pretty sure there's a gag in there somewhere.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Photo of the Day

Taken a couple of weeks ago, at dusk. I really like the colors and the shallow focus.

(No, I didn't grow them--they're from the supermarket, and I'm holding them up in the air, my hand just out of frame.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Short story

A friend (hi, Miriam) recommended Brandi Carlisle's album The Story last week, and I've been playing it over and over since I got it.

Here's the title track:

Her voice is an unusual mix of strength and vulnerability. When her voice cracks going into the chorus about two-thirds of he way through, it just kills me.

(Album was produced by the always-dependable T-Bone Burnett, by the way.)

Monday, October 29, 2007

I hope this doesn't make you think any less of me, but ...

I find it impossible to read headlines like this one and not think of ... well, you know.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

(What's that you say? You couldn't possibly think any less of me? Thanks!)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Letter to the Editor

From today's New York Times letters section:
To the Editor:

It was evening of the third day of fires whipped by the infamous Santa Ana winds. It felt like sunset on another planet as I saw a truck drive slowly by with a driver staring up at the palm tree in our front yard.

Later, there was a knock on the door. I answered. It was the truck driver. He offered to buy the palm tree in our front yard.

There was an eerie silence as I stood there in the orange smoky haze, ashes falling like snow on Mercury, and blinked two or maybe three times.

By motivation, this had absolutely nothing to do with the fire -- it just seemed like something that would happen in Southern California.

As I quietly closed the door, I thought about Joan Didion; she would understand this.

Tom Impelluso

Good for Joan, because I certainly don't. Anyone here have a clue?

Is this an actual letter to the editor or an entry in the Raymond Carver lookalike contest?

Style revision

I've decided to change every instance of the word "senior" to "señor." Henceforward, all uses of "senior VP," "senior editor," etc., will be "señor VP," "señor editor," and so on.

Please mark your stylebook. Thank you for your cooperation.

Random Thought for the Day

All of the good animal names for cars have been taken already, and there will never by a Chevy Lemur.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Also, throwing things helps

According to an AFP story, swearing at work is a good thing:
LONDON (AFP) - Regular swearing at work can help boost team spirit among staff, allowing them to express better their feelings as well as develop social relationships, according to a study by researchers.

I know I have a tendency to say the word @#$*# at work when I get frustrated. Sometimes, &#@!!. Also, %!*$@, but not often.
Yehuda Baruch, a professor of management at the University of East Anglia, and graduate Stuart Jenkins studied the use of profanity in the workplace and assessed its implications for managers.

But I would never say ^!($@!* while at the office. That would be inappropriate.
They assessed that swearing would become more common as traditional taboos are broken down, but the key appeared to be knowing when such language was appropriate and when to turn to blind eye.

Taboos breaking down in the office? You mean like #*%&@ing a +!$*@% while @*$#ing a )!#*@#? I walked in on that in the coffee-break room the other day. Things are really going to !($*@($ ... er, I mean heck.
The pair said swearing in front of senior staff or customers should be seriously discouraged or banned, but in other circumstances it helped foster solidarity among employees and express frustration, stress or other feelings.

But what about @*)#_!ing a ^&#*!%(? Call me old fashioned, but I think that will always remain inappropriate at the office.
"Employees use swearing on a continuous basis, but not necessarily in a negative, abusive manner," said Baruch, who works in the university's business school in Norwich.

Banning swear words and reprimanding staff might represent strong leadership, but could remove key links between staff and impact on morale and motivation, he said.

Oh, go @#$*#* a &($*@($, you @#*$%@.
"We hope that this study will serve not only to acknowledge the part that swearing plays in our work and our lives, but also to indicate that leaders sometimes need to 'think differently' and be open to intriguing ideas.

This is starting to sound like academic #$*#&@ to me. So %@&#@ that #$*#&@. In fact, @#$&%& a @#*%(! you !@*$%$s.

Wow. Actually, that does feel good.
"Managers need to understand how their staff feel about swearing. The challenge is to master the 'art' of knowing when to turn a blind eye to communication that does not meet their own standards."

The study, "Swearing at work and permissive leadership culture: when anti-social becomes social and incivility is acceptable", is published in the latest issue of the Leadership and Organisational Development Journal.

In conclusion, #@%*#@/.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Humor is where you find it

Bringing the funny is fickle.

For me, this line from Alessandra Stanley's Mad Men review in the Times the other day falls with a big thud because it just tries too hard:
"Mad Men," a drama about the advertising business in 1960, is a period piece in the style of "Masterpiece Theater," only the pivotal setting isn't a genteel drawing room in the heyday of the British Empire; it's the booze-spiked office water cooler at the beginning of the end of the American Century. (Not "Brideshead Revisited," but "Brylcreem Revisited.")

It's like she's saying to her readers: "Get it? Huh? Get it?" Not that it would have been a great gag anyway, but she might have gotten a smile out of me if she'd simply written, "... at the end of the American Century. Think 'Brylcreem Revisited.'"

Likewise, I couldn't even read the first few paragraphs of today's Maureen Dowd column without my eyes glazing over. Truly: Ugh.

On the other hand, the Times's perfume reviews? Comedy gold!:
Use civet or a synthetic facsimile up front, and you get Yves Saint Laurent’s Kouros. ... The problem is that this strength, clarity, persistence and depth are applied to the hot, ripe smell of a French trucker’s Jockey shorts after a muggy day on the A51. Which illustrates the difference between being great and being wearable. This perfume is fecal. Technical excellence must count: thus two stars, for solid construction. But an era’s aesthetic must count as well, and despite its molecular wizardry, Kouros is as wearable in the 21st century as 19th-century spats. ...

Civet can also act as a support for another material. In the case of Rose Poivrée (introduced in 2000), that would be rose absolute, never a lovely scent and certainly not by today’s standards. ... Here, Jean-Claude Ellena uses civet to amend rose absolute, and the overall effect is akin to breathing in the warm, slightly fetid breath of some immense, fur-covered animal. It is that moment in an Indian spice market when a surge of sweltering, humid air, as if from the lungs of some morose god, drowns you in spice and car exhaust. But if you have the skin for it, this perfume is mesmerizing, even today.

But that's just the setup. Then comes the punchline: The perfume that smells like a furry animal's fetid breath, morose god exhalations, and car exhaust gets five out of five stars. And to smell that way will set you back about $140 for three ounces.

Now, that, ladies and gentlemen of the comedy jury, is funny!

PS: Oh, that and the fact that "civet" is the secretion of the civet cat's anal gland.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

One way to get me to watch a TV show in which I otherwise would have had no interest

I had no intention to watch Viva Laughlin, the new musical drama-comedy on CBS tonight.

But then I read the New York Times review:
"Viva Laughlin" on CBS may well be the worst new show of the season, but is it the worst show in the history of television? ...

"Viva Laughlin" is not even in the same league as "Cop Rock," a 1990 experimental series created by Steven Bochco that leavened a gritty police drama with Broadway musical moments: cops and criminals breaking into song and dance. "Viva Laughlin" also features musical outbursts and is far worse. ...

Hugh Jackman's in it. He's a Broadway musical song-and-dance veteran. Surely he's good, right?
Ripley's nemesis, Nicky Fontana, is played by Hugh Jackman, who is also an executive producer, and his signature song is the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil," which Mr. Jackman lip-syncs, even though he is a successful Broadway singer and dancer. Actually it's not quite lip-synching: the actors sing, softly, along with the original performer, a little like commuters mumbling along with oldie hits on the car radio.

Isn't that the basis for that other new show, Carpoolers?
There has never been a better time for offbeat manipulations of music on television dramas, yet "Viva Laughlin" isn't even a near miss.

I should say at this point that I watched Cop Rock on its original airing--well, at least the first episode or two--and while it was not great, you had to give it points for trying. And, hey, the music was by Randy Newman (for the first ep, anyway.) And the actors actually sang.

Salon adds for good measure:
Tea time. Plaid skirts on grown men. Bangers and mash. There are just some things that Brits can pull off that we Americans can't, and now we can safely add made-for-TV musicals to that list. The BBC's "Viva Blackpool" was a reasonably amusing tribute to the far more breathtaking "Singing Detective" miniseries. Does that mean it belongs on American TV? Hell, no, but if you don't see it with your own eyes, you won't believe it.

Oddly, the last sentence of Salon piece is like a paraphrase of the Times:
What in the world were they thinking? Don't get us wrong: Nothing could be better than a fun, imaginative, well-produced musical comedy on TV. Sadly, "Viva Laughlin" doesn't even come close.

I am so there.

Oh, and if you've never The Singing Detective, starring the current Prof. Dumbledore, do rent it. It's bloody brilliant. (But very dark, so consider yourself warned. And don't rent the American movie remake with Robert Downey by mistake.)

This mysterious and faraway world

Concerned reader Will sends me this news story:

Suspended Vatican Official Insists He Was Only Pretending to Be Gay

A Vatican official suspended after being caught on hidden camera making advances to a young man says he is not gay and was only pretending to be gay as part of his work.

Well, at least he doesn't claim he has a "wide stance" and was picking up some toilet paper. At least there's that.
In an interview published Sunday, Monsignor Tommaso Stenico told La Repubblica daily he frequented online gay chat rooms and met with gay men as part of his work as a psychoanalyst. He said he pretended to be gay in order to gather information about "those who damage the image of the church with homosexual activity."

Vatican teaching holds that gays and lesbians should be treated with compassion and dignity but that homosexual acts are "intrinsically disordered."

Seriously, you should see my office--talk about intrinsically disordered!

God, I crack myself up.
The Vatican said Saturday it was suspending Stenico after he was secretly filmed making advances to a young man and asserting that gay sex is not sinful during a television program on gay priests broadcast October 1 on La7, a private Italian television network.

While Stenico's face was blurred in the footage, church officials recognized his Vatican office in the background and suspended him pending a church investigation.

What was the tipoff? The "Judy At Carnegie Hall" poster?
There have long been reports that there are gays in the Roman Catholic priesthood...

Really? Really?
... but the Stenico case is unusual because he is a relatively high-ranking Vatican official. He heads an office in the Vatican's Congregation for Clergy -- the main office overseeing all the world's priests. ...

"It's all false; it was a trap. I was a victim of my own attempts to contribute to cleaning up the church with my psychoanalyst work," La Repubblica quoted Stenico as saying.

It was just another long, hard, throbbing day at the orifice. I mean office! Office!! A long, hard ... ah, screw it.
Stenico said he had met with the young man and pretended to talk about homosexuality "to better understand this mysterious and faraway world ...

Are there flying ponies? Please say there are flying ponies!
... which, by the fault of a few people -- among them some priests -- is doing so much harm to the church," La Repubblica quoted him as saying.

Italy's Sky TG24 said Stenico had written a letter to his superiors with a similar defense.

Calls placed to Stenico's home and office went unanswered Sunday.

In 2006 the Vatican denied Italian newspaper reports that an official in the office of the Secretary of State had been involved in a fight with police after he was stopped in a neighborhood frequented by transvestites and male prostitutes.

Wait ... Eddie Murphy works for the Vatican?
In 2002 a former official in the papal household, Archbishop Juliusz Paetz, resigned as archbishop of the Polish city of Poznan over accusations that he had made sexual advances toward young clerics. He denied the accusations. (Nicole Winfield, AP)

Oh, just spend a couple days in rehab. That can cure anything these days.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Please shoot me

I went to Target at lunchtime to buy a few necessities. When I passed by the doggie Halloween costumes ... well, for a few seconds there, I seriously considered buying one.

Sorry, Freddie. (But you would look adorable, though unnatural this is).

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Random Thought for the Day

Conspiracy theorists are out to get me.

Name of the Day

Pamela Balls Organista

Not to be a putz about this, but it takes a lot of huevos to go around with a name like Balls Organista.

(Sent in by concerned reader God Is My Codependent.)

Friday, October 12, 2007

Word of the Day


Used in a sentence: "A few drops of rain, and everything on the roads goes kerflooey."

(It took me 2-1/2 hours to drive home last night. I live 35 miles away from the office. Ugh.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Warm and fuzzy

Why doesn't Rudy just reuse this ad for his presidential bid?

Oh, right, because he let his wife know he was divorcing her via a press conference and the kids now barely speak to him. I forgot.

(Video via Sadly, No!)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Actual names I have run across over the last few days

--Preserved Fish (pronounced pre ZER ved, and apparently a not uncommon Dutch name a couple of centuries ago; he's buried in an old NYC cemetery)
--Crystal Fish (no relation to the above, as far as I can tell)
--Gabriel De Cunto (you know I don't usually work blue, but ... yikes, high school must have been hell)

News Story of the Day

Via The Associated Press:
Man jailed for trying to pass $1M bill

PITTSBURGH - Change for a million? That's what a man was seeking Saturday when he handed a $1 million bill to a cashier at a Pittsburgh supermarket. But when the Giant Eagle employee refused and a manager confiscated the bogus bill, the man flew into a rage, police said.

Jerk. I bet he just bought a pack of Doublemint, too. If he had tried to buy, say, a house, he probably would have gotten away with it. Be realistic, people!
The man slammed an electronic funds-transfer machine into the counter and reached for a scanner gun, police said.

Not the scanner gun! Everyone, down on the floor--he's got a scanner gun!!
Police arrested the man, who was not carrying identification and has refused to give his name to authorities. He is being held in the Allegheny County Jail.

Hey, has anyone seen Karl Rove lately?
Since 1969, the $100 bill is the largest note in circulation.

I did not know that.
Police believe the $1 million note seized at the supermarket may have originated at a Dallas-based ministry. Last year, the ministry distributed thousands of religious pamphlets with a picture of President Grover Cleveland on a $1 million bill.

That probably should have been a tip-off. I don't think Grover Cleveland would be on the $1 million bill.

But I'm open to suggestions on who should be.

Friday, October 05, 2007

And I suspect Celebrity Garage Sale will be a midseason replacement

In March 2006, I challenged you in a quiz to find the real reality show. One of the fake answers was: "Celebrity Rap-off: Celebs not known for their hustle or their flow are paired with former rap stars in a weekly elimination rap-off. Confirmed so far: Deborah Gibson, Young MC, Rick Springfield, Damon Wibley (from the Fat Boys). Produced by Robert "Vanilla Ice" Van Winkle. On VH1."

It has recently come to my attention that MTV is now broadcasting what is, in essence (albeit with different D-list celebs), that show.

I'm frightened. Hold me.

UPDATE: And Celebrity Garage Sale becomes a reality.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Things The Velvet Blog has secretly endorsed

Secret U.S. Endorsement of Severe Interrogations
WASHINGTON, Oct. 3 -- When the Justice Department publicly declared torture "abhorrent" in a legal opinion in December 2004, the Bush administration appeared to have abandoned its assertion of nearly unlimited presidential authority to order brutal interrogations. But soon after Alberto R. Gonzales's arrival as attorney general in February 2005, the Justice Department issued another opinion, this one in secret. ...

It's time for The Velvet Blog to come clean, exposing everything it has secretly endorsed:

--Adorable puppies
--George Clooney
--Sock monkey slippers
--Stirrings Bloody Mary Mix (especially after reading the newspaper)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

What does a spinal chord sound like? (Or, why I hate homonyms)

It's inevitable: Mistakes get into print. (Also into blogs, but that's a whole nother ... I mean, that's another story.)

I confessed here some time ago that I read over the phrase "marshal law" (instead of "martial"), which got into my editor-in-chief's column. And that was bad. Very, very bad.

But it's hard not to gloat when the phrase "spinal chord injury" turns up in The New York Times--and, two days later, it remains in the online version, in the third paragraph.

Monday, October 01, 2007

News quiz

Who said this?:
"I think the number one issue people should make [in the] selection of the president of the United States is, 'Will this person carry on in the Judeo Christian principled tradition that has made this nation the greatest experiment in the history of mankind?'"

A) Someone so desperate to become president that he'd bit the head off a chicken on live TV if he thought that would do the trick
B) A crazy person who lives on a bus, touring aimlessly, with little money
C) John McCain

The answer is, of course, all of the above.

Analysis here.

("The Islam"??? Wow.)

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Block that metaphor!

Devendra Banhart, in the New York Times, on the new R. Kelly album:
This album makes me feel like I’m driving a turquoise Hummer over a rainbow made of distilled euphoria.

Methinks Mr. Banhart is hiding an illegal euphoria distillery in his basement.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Smackdown!: Sylvia's Mother vs. Stacy's Mom

Sylvia's Mother

Who: Subject of song written by Shel Silverstein and recorded by Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show.

Pros: Is good about answering the phone and passing along information. Forecasts the weather and suggests rain gear, as approprate. Extremely polite.

Cons: Rather passive-aggressive.

Stacy's Mom

Who: Subject of song by Fountains of Wayne.

Pros: Has got it goin' on. Has a pool. Hires local teens to do lawn work. Is often betoweled.

Cons: May be giving the slip to love-struck teen. Daughter is complicating factor. Somewhat picky about quality of the lawn work.

Winner: Stacy's Mom does, after all, have it goin' on.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Blood and treasure, blood and treasure/Go together like a horse and carriage

This I'll tell you, brother: You can't have one without the other.

Can anyone explain where this currently inescapable phrase came from and why it caught on in such a big way the last couple of weeks? I find its repetition, on both sides of the political divide, to be puzzling.

Update: Daniel Radosh points out in comments that the phrase has a longer history than I would have guessed.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Random 10, with lyrics and links, some more appropriate than others

"I Want to Break Your Heart," Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey: "I know that we just met/And nothing's happened yet/But I can promise you/Before the night is through/I want to break your your heart"

"The Underdog," Spoon: "I want to forget how conviction fits/But can I get out from under it?"

"The Big Sky," Kate Bush: "That cloud, that cloud/Looks like Ireland/C'mon and blow it a kiss now/But quick/'Cause it's changing in the big sky"

"Tears for Affairs," Camera Obscura: "Can you handle one more dirty secret?/One more dirty night?"

"Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference," Todd Rundgren: "You just did not love me enough to believe me/Enough not to leave me/Enough not to look for a reason to be unhappy with me/And make me regret ever wanting you"

"Bros," Panda Bear: "Hey, man, what's your problem?/Don't you know I don't belong to you?"

"The Needle Touched Down," Neko Case: "An eagle swooped down from a semitrailer/Took the name of your town from a sharp-toothed freighter"

"Winona," Matthew Sweet: "Could you be my little movie star?/Could you be my long lost girl?"

"November/December," The Brother Kite: [instrumental]

"Care of Cell 44," The Zombies: "Saved you the room you used to stay in every Sunday/The one that is warmed by sunshine every day/And we'll get to know each other for a second time/And then you can tell me 'bout your prison stay"

Thursday, September 20, 2007

What's on your mind, America?

Recent searches that have stranded visitors on The Velvet Blog:

rachael ray junk trunk
michael smith cheats on wife
owl makes whimpering noise
what's wrong with deborah norville's eye
debra norville's eyes
800 pound gorilla without so much as a banana
dannon activia makes you poop
deborah norville's eyes
wanking yourself into a coma
debra norville's weird eyes
ed norton is gay
things that frighten a baby
nymphomania or narcolepsy
what should breath smell like
dog modeling blog
david niven penis
id like a large pizza, please
had to. dead you know
rexella van impe insane
is that a sock in your shorts or glad to see me
this blog isn't really interesting
bite the head off a chicken
deborah norville left eye
toe stuck in faucet
explosions in the head syndrome

America, might I suggest therapy? Say, twice a week?

PS: What the hell is wrong with Deborah Norville's eyes, anyway???

Update: I'm thinking that any number of these would make a fine slogan for the top of the page. Which do you think is best? I'm leaning toward: "Dannon Activia makes you poop" or maybe "An 800-pound gorilla without so much as a banana."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Word of the Day


I've long liked the way it sounded (try saying it out loud), but I never knew what it meant till I finally looked it up. It's also the name of a song on an out-of-print Ian/Iain Matthews LP that I have around here somewhere. What a great voice.

(Update/clarification: It's a cover of a Michael Nesmith song.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The forgotten Baldwin brothers

--Bilbo Baldwin
--Zeppo Baldwin
--George W. Baldwin
--Shemp Baldwin
--Daniel Baldwin

(OK, well, back to posting, if not as frequently as in the past.)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

So, Led Zep is having a reunion show

Good, because I'm curious how John Bonham is looking these days. My prediction: Somewhat better than Keith Richards.

(Back into hiatus mode for another week or two.)

Friday, September 07, 2007

While the hiatus continues...

...for another couple of weeks, enjoy this song by Peggy Lee.

I had no idea she was so lovely when she was young. The image I have in my head is of her wearing an enormous muumuu and a bad wig, circa the '80s. There's a documentary about her airing on PBS that's worth catching.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

And on that note ...

The Velvet Blog will be going on hiatus for a bit.

If sock monkeys entered teen beauty pageants

I personally believe that U.S. Monkey-Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some people out there in our nation don't have maps bananas, and, uh, I believe that our education banana trees like such as in South Africa and the Iraq everywhere like such as and I believe that they should our education bananas over here in the U.S. should help the U.S. or should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future for.

Now, give me that banana liqueur.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Yeah, I'd like a large pizza, half sausage, half consecrated hosts

Domino's Pizza founder converts Florida wilderness to "Ave Maria," an 11,000-home community

I simply don't get the urge to self-segregate like that, though I guess it's pretty much like the NY towns that are mostly Orthodox. And some of the towns that built near those megachurches out west that are mostly fundamentalist. But I can't help but think this is a bad idea. (And yes, Sunnis and Shias, I'm also looking at you.)

Aside from that, I also wanted to point out this truly bizarre bit of writing on the second page of the story:

The boy who once had holes in his socks could now afford diamonds on the soles of his shoes.

Wha?? Other than the writer being a big fan of Paul Simon's Graceland album, that's just inexplicable, and it really shouldn't have gotten by an editor.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

If sock monkeys posted random 10 lists from their iPods

"Mellow Yellow," Donovan

"Vem a Baiana/Boogie Woogi," Milton Banana Trio

"Feel Good Inc.," Gorillaz

"I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor," Arctic Monkeys

"Theme from the Banana Splits," The Banana Splits

"Todo el Mundo Come Banana!" Charlotte Diamond

"(Theme from) The Monkees," The Monkees

"Digging Your Scene," Blow Monkeys

"Danananana," Rainbow Butt Monkeys

"Gorilla," James Taylor

"Bananas," Deep Purple

Now, give me that iPod.

(Editor's Note: Sock monkeys are lousy at counting. And I cannot vouch for their musical taste.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Improving the World's "Funniest" Joke

Concerned reader God Is My Codependent points out this CNN story from 2002:

In an experiment conducted in Britain, people around the world were invited to judge jokes on an Internet site as well as contribute their own.

The LaughLab research, carried out by psychologist Dr. Richard Wiseman, from the University of Hertfordshire, attracted more than 40,000 jokes and almost two million ratings.

And here it is...

Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy takes out his phone and calls the emergency services.

He gasps: "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator says: "Calm down, I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." There is a silence, then a gunshot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says: "OK, now what?"

Wiseman said the joke worked across many different countries and appealed to men and women and young and old alike.

Well, that didn't make me laugh.

Let's try some different punchlines:

"No soap, radio!"

"Yes, but it's pronounced 'Throat-Warbler Mangrove!'"

"If I could walk that way, I wouldn't need the talcum powder!"

"I know, and such small portions!"

"Mom's on the roof, and we can't get her down!"

"I love my cigar, too, but I take it out of my mouth once in a while!"

Nope, it's hopeless.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Monday, August 20, 2007


As I've mentioned before, I often dream of celebrities. Last night, they were Michael Cera and Jonah Hill from the movie Superbad. They gave me tickets to the film, but the screening was in New York City so I said to myself, "I'm not going all the way into New York just to see a free movie!" (Don't worry, though--I was polite to them. I mean, it was the No. 1 movie over the weekend, so it was a nice gesture on their part.)

No, I don't know what this means, either, especially as I don't intend to see Superbad.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The one about the odd Google searches that stranded visitors on The Velvet Blog (with commentary)

why does 9 year old throw poop in closet
--Because he can.

baseball hot dogs apple pie chevrolet piano
--Leave out the Chevy, and you've got a deal.

cookie puss accessories
--Does Cookie Puss really need accessories?

two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed blog
--Surprisingly, TVB would appear to be the only place this phrase appears. Well, maybe not that surprisingly. (Stranger still, two people searched with the phrase minutes apart, on opposite sides of the country.)

mallard fillmore isn't funny
--Amen, brother.

are sock monkeys racist

things to frighten cats
--Um... large dogs? Catnip blight? Nancy Grace? (Works for me.)

become a male escort in santa clarita
--Is there a shortage? Definitely go where the market is.

pickle stepping into history
--Oh, we've all felt that way from time to time.

I've protested the use of the ubiquitous phrase "I threw up in my mouth a little." But sometimes, really, it's just pure reportage.

Closing words between Rush Limbaugh and Karl Rove, from Rush's radio show (quoted by The Washington Post's Dan Froomkin today):

RUSH: I received a bunch of e-mails from people when I said you were going to be on, who wanted me to pass on to you that they love you.

KARL ROVE: Oh, thanks, Rush.

RUSH: We all do.

KARL ROVE: Thanks, buddy.

Geez, you two. Get a room.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Great (and/or popular) movies I've never seen

I've long considered myself a bit of a movie geek. But looking at the American Film Institute's 100 Films ... 100 Movies list makes me realize how many notable films I've never seen. (Note: These are all American films. I'm probably even more behind on foreign releases.)

2. The Godfather. Yes, The Godfather. I was too young for it when it first came out, and ... I dunno, I never got around to renting it. I have, however, seen a good chunk of that re-edited-for-TV cut that puts Godfather and Godfather II scenes in chronological order. But not the whole thing, and, purist that I am, that just doesn't count. It's been on AMC lately, but I hate watching serious films with commercials these days.

11. City Lights. I have seen quite a bit of Charlie Chaplin, but never got to this one.

12. The Searchers. I'm not big on Westerns.

32. The Godfather, Part II. But here's the odd thing. I have seen Godfather III, I think because I was working through a crush on Andy Garcia.

36. Bridge on the River Kwai. Though I could hum the "Col. Bogie March" for you.

37. The Best Years of Our Lives. I probably saw pieces of this on TV when I was a kid, but not the whole thing, and I don't remember it at all.

38. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Same as above.

49. Intolerance. Oh, I get why it's important, but does anyone really want to sit through this?

59. Nashville. In general, I don't like Altman. But I did enjoy the first half of this. Still, I didn't have time to watch the whole thing and it was due back at Blockbuster, so I can't count it.

67. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? But I've read the play.

79. The Wild Bunch.

82. Sunrise. Another silent film--one I'd really like to see.

90. Swingtime. Musicals don't do much for me, even of the Rogers/Astaire variety.

98. Yankee Doodle Dandy.

There are a few others--In the Heat of the Night, The French Connection, The Apartment--that I'm pretty sure I saw all of, but a long time ago, and I really don't remember them. And if I don't remember them, do they count?

So, what haven't you seen? TVB regular God Is My Codependent has never seen Star Wars or any--that's right any--Bond film.

And for the record, of all the ones on the list that I've seen, the only one I've taken an active dislike to is Pulp Fiction. I hereby nominate it as most overrated of all time.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Besides spending time with family, three reasons Karl Rove is resigning

--President's nickname for him, "Turdblossom,"* eventually rankled
--Frustration with the agonizingly slow pace at which everything is going to hell in a handbasket
--Plenty of evil to do in the private sector

*Yes, really.

Put your pants on, Spartacus

I've been rotating quotes from Billy Wilder films at the top of the page lately (just one of the many 'value adds" you get with The Velvet Blog!). The one there now is from his Cold War comedy, One, Two, Three--notable not only as a funny film but for the last role Jimmy Cagney would have for 20 years (till Ragtime).

Here's the trailer:

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Some Velvet Morning

Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood - Some Velvet Morning

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Singer-songwriter Lee Hazlewood died earlier this week. He's best known for the songs he wrote for Nancy Sinatra, including a number of duets, such as "Some Velvet Morning." (Here's who the mythological Phaedra was, BTW.)

It's probably easy to dismiss this as kitsch, and on a certain level, I'd be forced to agree. But somehow ... there's something about these songs (others include "Sand," "Summer Wine," "Sundown, Sundown"--and yes, "These Boots Were Made for Walkin'") I find fascinating and oddly beautiful.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

It must be five o'clock somewhere

There's something about this headline that cracks me up:

Adult binge drinkers prefer beer

It's like: "Choosy mothers choose Jif" or "Four out of five dentists recommend Dentyne for their patients who chew gum."

Perhaps it could be the new slogan for Budweiser.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Monkey business

Rented the Christopher Guest comedy For Your Consideration this weekend. Funny, if not quite up to the standard set by the Waiting for Guffman et al.

Some of the out-and-out funniest bits come from a British comedian/actress/ventriloquist I'd never seen before, Nina Conti. Here are some scenes and a long outtake I found on YouTube:

I've never seen a ventriloquist react so naturally with a puppet before--she seems genuinely surprised by what comes out of his mouth.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Oh, Hopsy!

Moving into a busy time at the magazine, so expect lots of cheap postings of things I found on YouTube.

Here's one of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite movies, The Lady Eve. You may need to crank the volume, as it's rather low:

Sadly, I think they clipped off the last line of the scene, at least as I remember it. I stand corrected--it's intact.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

How I would get to work if I were the mayor of New York

--Segway to hovercar
--Hovercar to helicopter
--Helicopter to jet pack
--Jet pack to monster truck
--Monster truck to dogsled
--Dogsled to City Hall

The current mayor simply takes an SUV guarded by a police convoy 20-something blocks to the express stop of the subway, bypassing the two locals along the way.


UPDATE: Transporter beam! I forgot transporter beam!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Forget about as an intelligent person. What about as a minion of the Forces of Darkness?

Quotation of the Day:
Larry King: Do you ever, as an intelligent person, look in the mirror and say, maybe I'm wrong?

Dick Cheney: No.

And more here, from Grampa Cheney. Yikes.

And now, mellow out

The Long Cut reviews the new Josh Rouse CD here. I haven't heard it yet, but I'm a big fan of his songwriting, arrangements, and voice.

Here are a few videos I found on YouTube.

"Quiet Town," from last year's Subtitulo:

This video quality on this concert appearance is extremely dark, but the sound is fine and the performance is a good one. Live string quartet--yay!

From 2005's Nashville, my fave album of his so far. The video's not great, but I really like this song, "Winter in the Hamptons":

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Please get up and dance around the room

TVB mainstay God Is My Codependent passed along this 1977 clip of Belgian/French pop star Plastic Bertrand:

Don't bother trying to puzzle out the lyrics--they're nonsense, basically. But I dare you to dislodge that tune from your head the rest of the day. (It's actually a note-for-note cover of an British punk song, "Jet Boy, Jet Girl," whose lyrics are more than a tad smutty. I like this French version a lot better.)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Nurse! NURSE! Get that $#&@% cat out of my $#&@% room!

Oscar the cat predicts patients' deaths

Another reason why dogs are better than cats. Dogs would chase Death out of your room. Cats say, "Hey, come on in!"

(I once had a dream that a cat was trying to suffocate me, but that's between me and my therapist.)