Monday, April 30, 2007

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Handy Visual Guide for distinguishing between lamb and poodles

Thousands of people have been 'fleeced' into buying neatly coiffured lambs they thought were poodles.

Entire flocks of lambs were shipped over from the UK and Australia to Japan by an internet company and marketed as the latest 'must have' accessory.

But the scam was only spotted after a leading Japanese actress said her 'poodle' didn't bark and refused to eat dog food.

For the record:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Lamb

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Freddie

(Snopes debunks the story. Seriously--what spoilsports they are!)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Oil industry news, in song

Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest publicly traded oil company, said Thursday its net income grew 10 percent in the first quarter, as higher refining, marketing and chemical profit margins overcame lower crude oil and natural gas prices from a year ago. --The Associated Press

We shall overcome. We shall overcome. We shall ovecome, some day.

"Everyone likes to hype $4 gasoline because it's sexy," says Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service, an energy consulting firm. "The reality is that we're nearing the highs of the year, and within 30 days there will be more gasoline on the market. You might see $4 in tony places such as Beacon Hill or Beverly Hills, where they wear the price as a badge of honor." --BusinessWeek Online

I'm too sexy for my car. Too sexy for my car. Too sexy by far.

Condoleezza the Scrivener

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday she has already answered the questions she has been subpoenaed to answer before a congressional committee and suggested she is not inclined to comply with the order. --The Associated Press


In this very attitude did I sit when I called to him, rapidly stating what it was I wanted him to do--namely, to examine a small paper with me. Imagine my surprise, nay, my consternation, when without moving from his privacy, Bartleby in a singularly mild, firm voice, replied, "I would prefer not to."

I sat awhile in perfect silence, rallying my stunned faculties. Immediately it occurred to me that my ears had deceived me, or Bartleby had entirely misunderstood my meaning. I repeated my request in the clearest tone I could assume. But in quite as clear a one came the previous reply, "I would prefer not to."

"Prefer not to," echoed I, rising in high excitement, and crossing the room with a stride. "What do you mean? Are you moon-struck? I want you to help me compare this sheet here--take it," and I thrust it towards him.

"I would prefer not to," said he.
--Herman Melville, "Bartleby the Scrivener"

For the record, Bartleby may be insane.

Google Search Term of the Day

how do you feel about the gherkin?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

No longer in limbo

Sometimes I feel as if I spend an inordinate amount of time in limbo--neither here nor there, neither heaven nor hell, neither rare nor well done.

But now the Pope has abolished limbo. I'm hoping this cuts down on, say, phone-message-menu limbo and traffic-delay limbo.

Still, I was kind of hoping he'd abolish Limbaugh. That would be sweet.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

If sock monkeys replaced Simon Cowell

I've been known to call someone the worst singer in the world ... but you by far are the worst singer in the universe. Did you really believe you could become the American Idol? Well, then, you're deaf. I never want to hear that song again. I cannot stand it. I'm allergic to it. I think it was a complete and utter mess. It didn't work -- it was all over the place. You were forgetting your words. I mean, it was "We Will Rock You Gently." I really, really, really hated that. I think you just booked your plane ticket home. If your lifeguard duties were as good as your singing, a lot of people would be drowning. My advice would be if you want to pursue a career in the music business, don't. That was terrible, I mean, just awful. You have to have a talent to progress it. This is a singing competition, not a dancing competition! You sing like Mickey Mouse on helium. You take singing lessons? Do you have a lawyer? Get a lawyer and sue your teacher. You and Latin music go together like chocolate ice cream and an onion. You are the worst singer in New York. You are the worst singer in America. You are the worst singer in the world. You are the worst singer I've ever heard in my life. You're useless, I'm bored -- yes or no? You can't sing; you can't dance; so what do you want me to say? You have just invented a new form of torture. You singing is like ordering a ferocious guard dog for your home and getting delivered a poodle in a leather jacket instead. You sung like you were on a dentist's chair. Hideous. Go home. You have no talent.

Now, give me that banana.

Oh, and a Coke.

(All quotes from here.)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Friday, April 13, 2007

Idea for a band name

The Velvet Kerfuffle

All I'm going to say on the Imus mess

"To not satirize someone just because of their race, I think that would be patronizing and racist in itself." --Bernard McGuirk, producer for Don Imus

Yes, that's right. Refraining from racist jokes is racist.

The mind reels.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Also, she's not actually perky. One of her assistants is.

"CBS Evening News" anchor Katie Couric may vividly recall her first library card, but the network says she was unaware that her online video essay about the virtues of libraries was largely a work of plagiarism.

CBS News said this week the April 4 installment of "Katie Couric's Notebook" consisted mostly of passages lifted verbatim from a Wall Street Journal column by Jeffrey Zaslow that was published in March.

What can we learn from this? A) If you're going to steal, take from something a tad more obscure than the WSJ, and B) something less recent than a month old. Oh, and C) sometimes first-person celebrity reminiscences aren't really first person.

This reminds me of when I wrote my first novel, How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life. It turned out that I swiped most of it from two novels by Megan McCafferty. Boy, did I get in trouble! The book got canceled, and I found myself excoriated by virtually everyone. But I learned my lesson.

UPDATE: Sorry, the entry above was written by Kaavya Viswanathan. I really have to stop contracting out these posts.

Thought for the Day (Updated)

True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country. --Kurt Vonnegut

Well, that's attributed to him, anyway. But there are a lot of fake Vonnegut quotes floating around out there. (If any fans out there can ID the source, I'd feel a lot better.)

UPDATE: Vonnegut reads from Slaughterhouse Five.

Random 10, without links

Jill Sobule, "One of These Days": "One of these days/And it'll be real soon/I'm gonna kick some ass/Gonna clean my room/Sometime soon"

Magnetic Fields, "All My Little Words": "Now that you've made me want to die/You tell me that you're unboyfriendable"*

The Citadels, "Like the World Never Ended": "I dreamt to myself/I dreamt to myself/Being with you's like the world never ended/Never ended"

Fountains of Wayne, "Red Dragon Tattoo": "I brought a .38 Special CD collection/Some Bactine to prevent infection"

Harry Nilsson, "Gotta Get Up": "Down by the sea she knew a sailor who had been to war/She never even knew a sailor before/She never even knew his name/He'd come to town and he would pound her for a couple of days/And then he'd sail across the bubbling waves/And those were happier days/But now ..."

Elivs Costello and the Attractions, "Pump It Up": "I've been on tenterhooks/Ending in dirty looks/Listening to the Muzak/Thinking 'bout this 'n' that"

XTC, "Harvest Festival": "Harvest festival/Harvest festival/What was best of all/Was the longing look you gave me/That longing look/More than enough to keep me fed all year"

The Beatles, "Hard Day's Night": "It's been a hard day's night, and I've been working like a dog/It's been a hard day's night, I should be sleeping like a log/But when I get home to you, I'll find the things that you do/Will make me feel all right"

Death Cab for Cutie, "Soul Meets Body": "I want to live where soul meets body/And let the sun wrap its arms around me/And bathe my skin in water cool and cleansing/And feel, feel what it's like to be new"

Matthew Sweet and Susannah Hoffs, "She May Call You Up Tonight": "I've been telling lines I never knew/All to keep that girl away from you"

*Really, if "unboyfriendable" isn't the best made-up word of all time, then I don't know what is.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Monday, April 09, 2007

Appropriate Name of the Day

From a news story last week:
Patricia Feral, president of the Connecticut-based Friends of Animals

Gotta be an assumed name ... right?

Friday, April 06, 2007

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Less obsolete than warships in the Baltic

It was 1985. I was working as an editorial assistant at William Morrow in NYC, earning slightly less than a pittance, and renting the upper floor of someone's house on Long Island. I didn't exactly have a lot of money to spare, but I'd still take a chance on music that I read about if it sounded interesting based on reviews, even if I hadn't actually heard it. Oh, I'd wind up with the occasional clunker that I'd regret (a Dutch group called Won Ton Ton comes to mind, though perhaps the band name should have been a tip-off), but I also found a lot of artists that I still love. The Blue Nile. Jane Siberry. And Prefab Sprout.

Two Wheels Good, the American name for the Prefab Sprout album known as Steve McQueen in the U.K. (the McQueen estate protested, hence the name change) became an instant favorite. I dubbed the LP onto a cassette and it rarely left my Walkman during my Long Island Railroad commute for the next few months.

I can't even explain why this become such a favorite so fast. Some combination of the melodies (hummable, yes, but not in a stick-in-your-head-till-you-go-crazy way), the ambience of the recording (an amazing job by producer Thomas Dolby), and those lyrics, hardly standard-issue pop.

A few favorites--

From "Moving the River": "You surely are/A truly gifted kid/But you're only as good as/The last great thing you did/And where've you been since then?/Did the schedule get you down?/I hear you got a new girlfriend/How's the wife taking it?"

From "Appetite," about an unwed mother: "Here she is with/Two small problems/And the best part of the blame/She's wishing she could/Call him 'Heartache'/But it's not a boy's name."

And from "Horsin' Around": "I was a fool who always presumed that/I'd wear the shoes and you'd be the doormat/You wonder why my hands are still shakin'/In need of a cry, the shoulders were taken/I/Deserve/To be/Kicked/So/Badly."

It was announced a while ago that Sony U.K. would be releasing a spiffed-up 20th anniversary edition (yes, two years too late, but it's the thought that counts), with newly recorded acoustic versions of most of the songs. I was a little dubious, to be honest. Part of the album's appeal is its luster. But I just got the CD from Amazon U.K., and boy do these songs hold up.

What I'm saying is... Trust me. Buy it. It's cheaper to look it up on Amazon U.K. and buy it from there than to get the import from Amazon U.S. (no, that doesn't make sense to me, either). But it's even cheaper to get it from iTunes--a steal at $9.99 for the original album plus the eight acoustic do-overs. (Search for the British title, Steve McQueen or you'll end up with the unspiffy U.S. version.) If you just want to sample a couple tracks, make them the acoustic versions of "Faron Young," "Bonny," and "Appetite."

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

My pledge to you, dear TVB reader

I promise never to not link to things that don't turn out not to be not wrong.

Random Video of the Day: "Let's Make a Sandwich"

Winner of The Velvet Blog Award for the Greatest Sentence Ever Written: "Mother is a great believer in the aesthetic value of parsley."

Monday, April 02, 2007

Depends which side you're on

I was flipping channels while eating lunch and noticed that Fox News was referring in the bottom-of-the-screen crawl to the "so-called confessions" of the British sailors captured by Iran.

Interesting that the U.S. uses, um, "coercive techniques" and gets valuable information while Iran does likewise and gets "so-called confessions."