Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

To be fair, it's hard to cook an entire restaurant

From a story I edited this morning:
In 1993, hundreds of people were sickened and four children died after eating hamburgers at Jack in the Box restaurants that hadn't been fully cooked.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Photos of the Day

Found a cache of photos I never put in albums or identified in any way. And I mean a lot of photos. This was taken in the Hamptons, the beach at the far west end of Dune Road, whatever it's called. Probably the winter of '95 or '96.

Somewhere in Florida, but I can't tell from the context of the other photos where I took this. Probably from the early '90s.

Click to enlarge.

UPDATE: I guess that top one deserves an explanation, doesn't it? It's an open-air snack-bar area, with walls but no roof. The white things are tables, minus the umbrellas they have in season.

Friday, January 26, 2007


I was going to do a Smackdown! between biodiesel and Vin Diesel. But I'm just not up to it.

Still, I'm pretty sure biodiesel would have won. After all, it wasn't in The Pacifier.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Next, wrap a subtle, tasteful belt around neck as tightly as possible, tie to something sturdy attached to ceiling, and leap

I was deleting old e-mail and found this from a friend who, when she sent it, worked for a company where I had once been employed.

The company, a science publisher, was instituting a casual Friday policy and sent this around as a guide to every employee:

1. Aim for a classic and understated look. Subtle quality accessories (belts, jewelry, and scarves) coordinated with an outfit can show that you pay attention to important details.

2. Try wearing a button-down shirt with kahakis and loafers and a colorful tie. Ask yourself, "Am I successfully representing myself and my company?"

3. Casual business wear lasts longer and looks better with some special care.

4. Keep clothing colors muted and coordinated to help create a professional appearance.

5. Men's pants should break just above the shoe, sleeves should reach the base of your hand and show just a bit of the cuff if you are wearing a jacket, and shirt collars should button comfortably without pinching or leaving gaps.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Smackdown!: Stephen Colbert vs. Rich Little

Stephen Colbert

WHO?: Comedian, host of The Colbert Report, who did this routine at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner last year:

PROS: Often painfully funny.

CONS: Routine runs out of gas a bit early. (Clip above is only about half the speech--there's a filmed bit, not included, that's just so-so.)

Rich Little

WHO?: Comedian best known for his impressions of '60s political and entertainment figures. Will do the White House Correspondents' Association dinner this year.

PROS: Only person alive who still does impressions of Broderick Crawford, Maurice Chevalier, and Dwight Eisenhower.

CONS: Only person alive who remembers what Broderick Crawford, Maurice Chevalier, and Dwight Eisenhower sounded like, so quality of impressions is hard to judge. Has made these statements about his upcoming Correspondents' Association gig:
He promised to use mostly political material, though, along these lines: "They said we're going to send jets to Israel this year, but what the hell would they do with a bunch of football players?" Iraq jokes, however, are out. "I do have a funny line on that," he said, and he began to imitate the current President: "George W. Bush here. I tell you, I'm between I-raq and a hard place."

Little paused, and said, "That's funny. But, believe me, you won't hear the word 'Iraq' out of my mouth the whole evening. They know I'm a safe bet over there at the White House."
--The New Yorker

WINNER: Are you kidding me???

LOSER: Satire, which apparently still closes on Saturday night.

(Link to Little interview via

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Beauty ache: Take two Advil and call me in the morning

Amusing piece in the NY Times Book Review on cliches in book reviews--particularly, overuse of the word "astonishing."

But the cliche that gets me is "achingly beautiful":

But then, Craig Wright's "Pavilion" is a poetic, profane, achingly beautiful little "play about time" that revolves around the concept of wanting to change the ground rules. --Asbury Park Press, 1/23

In fact, the whole night was an adventure. The program included Olivier Messiaen's "Quartet for the End of Time," given an achingly beautiful performance... --Chicago Sun Times, 1/23

Yes, there are times when it feels pretentious, but this is magical filmmaking--achingly beautiful and impossible to get out of your head. --Real Movie News, 1/23

Dark, disturbing and yet achingly beautiful, "Pan's Labyrinth" is destined to be a classic, an adult fantasy that all but erases the line between the real and the imaginary. --Kansas City Star, 1/19

His solo introductions to tunes like The Dear Irish Boy were achingly beautiful--tenderness filled with a hint of melancholy. --The Age (Australia), 1/17

"Heart Food," released two years later, was, if anything, even better, with achingly beautiful melodies such as "The Kiss" and "The Phoenix." --Washington Post, 12/30

"Everything All the Time" is achingly beautiful from end-to-end. --Orange County Weekly, 12/28

When tunes settle down, things can get downright lovely. Jon co-wrote "Yesterdays" with his brother and fellow bandmate Tim, and it's an achingly beautiful meditation on the death of a loved one, pointing to a future beyond the grave as he sings, "until I'm with you, I'll carry on". --The Trades, 12/24

But my favorite from the Achingly Beautiful Sweepstakes:
The show isn't without its Cirque-like components: gymnasts, trapeze artists, clowns. But Latourelle effectively integrates those elements with the horses. There's a romantic and achingly beautiful routine that features two female acrobats on bungee cords and a pair of partners on slowly loping steeds. Choreographers Brad Denys and Alain Gauthier manage to meld the worlds of horse and circus without making anything look awkward or forced. --OC Register, 1/5

Wow, that sounds astonishing!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Any flavor you want, as long as it's deep fried

Some months ago, the company instituted a "Healthy Living" newsletter.

Now they've overhauled the cafeteria and done away with hot entrees other than things that are fried. Last Thursday, options included fried macaroni and cheese (which sounds like a bad joke) and fried ravioli (which is, I guess, OK as an appetizer if you're also drinking beer, but that's it). Today we had fried cod, fried chicken, and fried onion rings. And fried french fries (fried). There are also burgers (fried) and sandwiches (not fried--yet, but give them time). Bleh.

As one of my friends here remarked, it's like eating at a carnival. There are also scary clowns here, but that's another story.

News quiz

Who said this?:
I think I'm a flexible, open-minded person. I really do.

Hint: Think of the least flexible, least open-minded person in the world.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

This brings me one step closer to my dream of opening a nationwide string of Monkey Maids franchises

Escaped Chimp Gets Snack, Cleans Bathroom

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- An escaped chimpanzee at the Little Rock Zoo raided a kitchen cupboard and did a little cleaning with a toilet brush before sedatives knocked her out on top of a refrigerator.

I'd have thrown her a banana and pointed out where I keep the Swiffer. But perhaps that's just me.
The 120-pound primate, Judy, escaped yesterday into a service area when a zookeeper opened a door to her sleeping quarters, unaware the animal was still inside.

As keepers tried to woo Judy back into her cage, she rummaged through a refrigerator where chimp snacks are stored. She opened kitchen cupboards, pulled out juice and soft drinks and took a swig from bottles she managed to open.

Note to self: Lock liquor cabinet before inviting potential employees over for Monkey Maids interviews.
Keeper Ann Rademacher says Judy went into the bathroom, picked up a toilet brush and cleaned the toilet. Rademacher says the 37-year-old Judy was a house pet before the zoo acquired her in 1988, so she may have been familiar with housekeeping chores. Judy wrung out a sponge and scrubbed down the fridge.

Scrubbed down the fridge? Scrubbed down the fridge??? I think I'm in love.
It took a couple of tries, but the zoo sedated the chimp, who fell asleep on top of the refrigerator with half a loaf of cinnamon-raisin bread she had pulled out of the freezer.

The zoo veterinarian gave Judy a drug to bring her around. Rademacher says Judy was groggy but fine after the episode.
--The Associated Press

I know it's only mid-January, but this is already officially my Favorite News Story of the Year.

For your viewing pleasure

Via, which has many odd clips--like Dali doing an airline commercial.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

24: TVB Edition: Hour 1

The following takes place between 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m.

6:00 to 6:40--Sleep.

6:40--Alarm goes off; Jim hits snooze button.

6:49--Alarm goes off again. Jim wonders why the snooze function is 9 minutes instead of something symmetrical like, oh, 10. Could this be terrorist-related??? Then he hits snooze button.

6:58--Alarm goes off again; Jim hits snooze button.

To be continued.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Sign art education isn't all it could be

Searches that stranded visitors on The Velvet Blog:
"the thinker" rodan
rodin godzilla


Coming soon to a coffee mug and placemat near you

Amazing--apparently, some art experts believe there's a lost Leonardo da Vinci painting behind a wall of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.

They haven't broken down the wall yet, but using state-of-the-art techniques--CAT scans and the like--these experts have made their best guess as to what it looks like. Odd. CAT scans have a way of making everything look the same.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Friday, January 12, 2007

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Smokes, shoots, and leaves

Creepy. I just found out that a senior editor at another tech magazine--not unlike the one where I work--was killed, and the police allege a drug connection.

PC World editor slain at California home

I hope it's not a serial editor killer. I guess we won't know for sure till he kills at least three and puts a comma between the last two.

Was last night's speech the most important of Bush's presidency?

Probably. Aren't they all?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Are you a zombie? Take this quiz!

--Do you blindly take quizzes when directed to do so?
--Do you like to eat brains?
--Are you dead, yet ambulatory?
--Do you walk in a slow, strangely shuffling gait?
--Do you trust Fox News as your primary source of information?
--When appearing in a George Romero film, do you forgo makeup?
--Do you prefer to socialize with zombies rather than the living?
--Are you related to Rob Zombie?

SCORING: If you answered any of these questions "yes," you are probably a zombie.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Important update

As of this writing, The Velvet Blog has become the No. 1 Google hit for barry manilow puts a sock in his pants.

Thank you for your support.

Smackdown!: Rodin vs. Rodan

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Rodin

WHO?: French sculptor, best known for "The Thinker" and "The Kiss."

PROS: Naturalistic style has aged well. His sculptures have become iconic. Never destroyed a city.

CONS: "The Thinker" and "The Kiss" are so ubiquitous that they can feel a bit cliched. No superpowers, and therefore unable to destroy a city.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Rodan

WHO?: Japanese reptilian monster.

PROS: Highly agile; can create hurricane-speed winds by flapping wings. In one film, sacrificed own life to save Godzilla. Able to destroy cities.

CONS: City he destroyed was only Sasebo. Extremely inconsistent; sometimes good (helped Godzilla and Mothra defeat King Gidorah), sometimes bad (that whole city-destroying thing), sometimes downright inexplicable (a dead Rodan is revived by a psychic singing plant in one film). Caves easily to peer pressure (the Kilaaks were able to control his mind to do their bidding in one movie; the Xilians did the same in another). Very bad breath, which is sometimes radioactive.

WINNER: While no Godzilla, Rodan could still kick Rodin's ass.

(Some basic Rodan info here; Rodin info and images here.)

Photo of the Day

It's too soft-focus (low light, no flash, and no tripod), but there's something about this photo that I like a lot. The hard horizontal and vertical lines, the color of the wall, the placement of the painting ... it all kinda works together. Taken Christmas Eve at a friend's (amazing) house.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

All hail the Comics Curmudgeon

I've become completely addicted to reading the Comics Curmudgeon, a blog that dissects the daily comics. If you have any interest, I highly recommend it. It's turned me into a daily reader of Mary Worth, which is quite possibly the most demented strip ever, one that hides as a conventional soap opera about a nosy busybody. In the last few months, there's been a stalker who was a dead ringer for Capt. Kangaroo, an intervention, the drunken death of said stalker, busybody rivalries, prophetic dreams, and ... an examination of condo regulations. Really, who could possibly resist?

Also, the CC runs strip art like this, from Mark Trail:

Which really brings back fond memories of dinnertime with my family, talking about not killing beavers.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Welcome to The 700 Club Horror Chiller Theater

VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia (AP) -- Evangelical broadcaster Pat Robertson said Tuesday that God has told him that a terrorist attack on the United States would cause a "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."

It might be a rain of canned hams. Or perhaps an infestation of rabid garden gnomes. The Lord works in mysterious ways--and He can be maddeningly vague.
Robertson said God told him about the impending tragedy during a recent prayer retreat. ...

How do you even slip that into a conversation? "Could you pass the milk? Oh, by the way, Pat, you know your gym membership that comes due in September? Don't bother re-upping. I'm not going to say something nuclear's going to happen. Hey, I'm not even going to say rabid garden gnomes are involved. Just save your money."
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 U.S. 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.
--The Associated Press

What??? Man, using criteria like that, even Criswell would have a more accurate record.

I'm not shaving till there are 10 blades on my razor

Perhaps I'm a bit out of the loop, as I've had a beard pretty much for the past 20 years. But I just got a free sample of the Gillette five-blade Fusion model in the mail, and I have to wonder ... was the four-blade Schick Quattro simply not meeting consumer needs?

I remember when I was but a small child and had to walk to school for 10 miles without shoes in a blinding snowstorm, and make do with just one blade on my disposable Bic.

How far we have come.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

It's 2007 ...

Where is our Moon colony? Where is my jet pack? Where is my transporter beam? WHERE ARE MY BENEVOLENT MONKEY OVERLORDS?

I'm beginning to think that all the science fiction I read growing up was lying to me.