Thursday, May 31, 2007

Return of the son of the link dump: Smackdown edition

The New York Times smacks down Lou Dobbs. smacks down Sam Brownback.

And, on a lighter note, The Onion smacks down death.

Most adorable abominations ever

As my eye swept by the promotional copy for this story [WARNING: Sad story] on Yahoo's main page, I misinterpreted it as "World's only human-panda hybrid released into wild dies." And I thought, wow, the Chinese are really way ahead of us.

Still, I have discovered evidence that Americans also are working on this. But the Chinese are obviously ahead, as they have already crowned a king, who appears to have recently celebrated a birthday.

Things that bug me, #1,253

When I tune in to a weather forecast on TV or radio, I want to know what the weather is going to be. I do not want five minutes of talk about fronts and low-pressure systems followed by a 10-second forecast.

Invariably, I go into a hypnotic trance midway during the preamble and don't wake up till after the forecast is over. Then I have to wait till the next weather report comes up.

Is it just me? (Don't answer that.)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Inexplicable Google Searches of the Day

haunted tree stump pork chop
donahue diaper episode
ronald reagan, aliens, strawberry ice cream
what do you do when you don't know what's making you sad

Regarding the last one, why, you put The Velvet Blog on your blogroll and recommend it to all your friends, silly! It's a surefire picker-upper! (And, really, isn't this good advice for us all?)

By the way, I have NO IDEA what "donahue diaper episode" refers to.

That's my story, and I'm sticking with it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Charles Nelson Reilly is [blank]

CNR on the Tonight Show, back when talk shows had amusing people on to talk, rather than to flog their movie opening on Friday. Note how Johnny lights up a cigarette towards the end. When was the last time you saw a TV host do that?

The theme to Lidsville. Jeez, it's ENDLESS!:

On Match Game:

From Millennium, an X-Files spin-off. He was terrific in the recurring part of Jose Chung. Look fast for a Neil Simon cameo:

Another Jose Chung clip, this one from X-Files:

Sunday, May 27, 2007

"Goodbye, friends, and happy motoring on the Freeway, which is already in progress ... !"

To make sure your Memorial Day travels are enjoyable, the New York Times reprints some advice from a 53-year-old how-to book distributed by Shell.

Some highlights:
We'll assume a total round trip of 1,500 miles, an average gas consumption of 15 miles to the gallon and an average gasoline price of 28 cents per gallon. In that case, the total cost of gasoline for the entire 1,500 miles will be about $28. ... The total car expense ... will be about $50 -- assuming a two-week vacation with about a 10-day stay at one place. ...

It’s helpful to think of "costumes" rather than "clothes." ... Women who travel a great deal have developed a four-costume, basic plan. With "extras," it's suitable for a two-week vacation to Anywhere, U.S.A. It fits into one 26-inch suitcase plus an overnight case.... Your travel suit.... Your two-piece after-driving dress.... A spectator sports ensemble.... The rugged-life costume.... In many resort areas, slacks are frowned upon -- more in the East than in the West, where they're quite generally accepted. ...

Dungarees shouldn't be worn in the car [by children]. While they're certainly comfortable enough, they're not suitable for wear even in a roadside restaurant.

P.S.: A gold star to anyone who IDs the source of the subject line. (Sorry, God Is My Codependent, this one's too easy for you.)

Friday, May 25, 2007

The War on Spelling

From an article on Yahoo this morning, on misspelled search terms:

What are the common words that vex our searchers? We applied our best spell checking skills to the data and came up with this list of the top 20 misspelled words in Search ...

Wallmart (Wal-Mart)
Rachel Ray (Rachael Ray)
Amtrack (Amtrak)
Hillary Duff (Hilary Duff)
Katherine McPhee (Katharine McPhee) ...

Ack! This means I've been misspelling Rachael Ray the entire time I've been writing this blog.

I am terribly, terribly embarrassed.

Don't worry, Rachael. I've gone back and corrected it in the haiku I wrote in your honor, although it's still wrong in the URL to that entry. (How come that doesn't change anymore when you fix a subject line? It used to.)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The War on Grammar

A sample from Newt Gingrich's new novel:
"James nodded his thanks, opened the wax paper and looked a bit suspiciously at the offering, it looked to be a day or two old and suddenly he had a real longing for the faculty dining room on campus, always a good selection of Western and Asian food to choose from, darn good conversations to be found, and here he now sat with a disheveled captain who, with the added realization, due to the direction of the wind, was in serious need of a good shower." --New York Times

A good shower? No, you're in serious need of some periods--I'd say at least two more than you have, and maybe a semi-colon for good luck.


Mental Hygiene All-Star Spectacular!

This is "Shy Guy," one of the more famous examples of the genre. Heck, it's almost an epic:

Yes, that's the original Darren from Bewitched in the title role, and 60 Minutes veteran Mike Wallace is the narrator.

These films I've been posting lately, BTW, come from the extensive collection of the AV Geeks. There's also an interesting book on the subject.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Some of them want to abuse you. Some of them want to be abused.

So, professional scold "Dr."* Laura Schlessinger's son is--how do I put this?--a bit of a scumbag. And it's well known she's been estranged from her mother for years. So why do people listen to her for family advice?

With a record like hers, I'm a bit suprised she's not head of the Department of Health and Human Services by now.

*She has a doctorate in physiology, not social work or counseling or something that might give her credence as an advice-giver. But then doesn't "Dr." Phil have a degree in phys ed? (Would you take advice from your high school gym teacher?) I guess you get advice from the advice-givers you have, not the advice-givers you wish you had. Or something. I don't know what Cary Tennis' background is, but I rather enjoy his column over at Salon. Oh, he does go on a bit, but his heart (and head) are generally in the right place.

(Via Crooks & Liars.)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Get your mitts off my taters

While I have mixed feelings about the concept of a "guilty pleasure," I admit to a bit of sheepishness over my great fondness for infomercials.

There's just something about the cheesy come-ons, bad acting, and fake problems that I find downright hypnotic. Spray-on hair? You bet! In-shell egg scrambler? But of course!

My new favorite is the Tater Mitt. Please: Watch and enjoy.

Irresistible, no?

Sadly, they don't work very well.

A TV infomercial that oversells its product. Who'd have believed that?

I predict, however, that an entire fetish subculture will build up around this product. Just you wait.

Friday, May 18, 2007

A face like a foot

I've twice recently come across people using "toe-headed" when they mean "towheaded." I'll grant you, "towheaded" is an odd-sounding word. But "toe-headed"? Really? What do people think that even means?*

*Warning: The image this links to is a little disturbing.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

If only the whole world would take a pee break and stock up on batteries, perhaps we could banish homophobia

Expanding on his reason for saying at a debate that an employer should be allowed to fire someone for being gay, Tommy Thompson has blamed a dead hearing aid and his need to use the bathroom. --Associated Press

It's Greek to me

Absolutely fascinating story in last week's New Yorker about the Antikythera Mechanism--a device thought to be an ancient computer. It's long, but worth your time.

(BTW, aren't you glad I've finally given up putting "Yes, the New Yorker" after every mention of the magazine? Boy, that was annoying.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

On the border

I posted the following excerpt from Jerry Falwell's autobiography a couple of years ago, after it got quoted by The New Yorker, but given the eulogizing that's bound to go on over the next couple of days, it's worth repeating.
There were times that Dad's pranks bordered on cruelty. One of his oil-company workers, a one-legged man he nicknamed "Crip" Smith, complained about everything. Dad and Crip's co-workers got tired of the old man's bellyaching and decided to take revenge. One morning Crip called in sick and Dad volunteered to send by lunch to his grateful but suspicious employee. Dad and his chums caught Crip's old black tomcat, killed it, skinned it, and cooked it in the kitchen of one of Dad’s little restaurants. They called it squirrel meat and delivered it to Crip on a linen-covered tray. When Crip returned to work the next morning, Dad and his co-conspirators asked him how he liked his meal. They knew he would complain even about a free home-cooked lunch, and when Crip called it "the toughest squirrel meat" he had ever eaten, they were glad to tell him why.

Really, it's just like a parable.

Yet another sign of the coming apocalypse

Sentence from an Associated Press story on the fall TV season:
ABC also gave the go-ahead to "Cavemen," a comedy adapted from the Geico insurance commercials.

Coming soon to Fox: A series based on the current Charmin ads about animated bears pooping in the woods. It should pair well with Family Guy.

Pick the fake Lifetime movie: A quiz

One is fake; the rest are real (descriptions taken directly from Lifetime's Web site--no editing by me). No cheating.

About Sarah: Lifetime's sweetheart Kellie Martin plays a med student who suddenly must look after her mentally handicapped mom. She struggles to help her mother be self-sufficient, keep her aunt from butting in and hold onto her dreams of being a doctor. It's a very sweet story -- but expect this family to have some really dirty laundry that'll be exposed too.

A Killer Upstairs: When a rich businesswoman is murdered, all fingers point to Sandra's son Matthew. This overprotective mom sets out to prove her boy's innocence, but she begins to uncover evidence that links him to the crime. Against the odds, Sandra will risk life and limb to clear Matthew's name. Will she do it? Tune in and find out! Stars: Bruce Boxleitner and Tracy Nelson

Baby Monitor: Sound of Fear: Matt cheats on his wife, Ann, with their son's baby-sitter. When Ann discovers that the girl is pregnant, she secretly plots her death. Stars: Josie Bissett, Jason Beghe

Sex, Lies & Obsession: Based on a true story. A happily married mother of two sons seems to have the perfect life, but her world is shattered when she discovers that her husband is a sex addict. Stars: Lisa Rinna, Harry Hamlin

Sex, Love & Lies: Can a man and a woman ever just be friends? For this social circle, adding a little sex and romance into the mix throws their entire group out of whack. It all starts when a faithful hubby finds his wife in bed with their mutual pal -- who just so happens to be a she! Get ready for the laughs in this funny flick, which gives a whole new twist to the notion of "friends with benefits." Stars: John Stamos, Tara Reid, Annabeth Gish and Paulina Porizkova

Lies, Sex & Babysitters: When Joanie agrees to become the babysitter for heiress Rita Franklin, she has no idea how much trouble awaits. She overhears a plot between Rita and the gardener, Matty, to knock off Rita's ailing husband, Stephen, a sleazy Internet millionaire with ties to underage porn. Can Joanie prevent the murder from happening while saving her own cousin from a life of degradation? Stars: Alexis Bledel, Corbin Bernsen, Lisa Rinna and John Rhys-Davies

Small hint: I suspect one of the real ones wasn't a made-for-Lifetime flick but something it picked up.

Oh, and a confession: I've fallen into the habit of watching reruns of The Nanny on Lifetime while having breakfast, which is why I've become all too familiar with Lifetime movie promos. They're pretty amazing.

UPDATE: Punkinsmom is the winner. Your prize? My hearty congratulations.

Tipoffs? The casting of Gilmore Girls cast member Alexis Bledel, who was also in my last pick-the-fake-movie quiz (although I misspelled her name) and John Rhys-Davies, who only stars in bad Sci-Fi Channel movies.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Sign o' the times

I needed to get a new set of tires, so, good neighbor that I am, I decided to go to a locally owned place not far from my house. Oh, I had noticed the "God Bless Our Troops" sign in the yard before, but who can quarrel with that? When I pulled into the lot, though, I read the other sign with smaller print next to it. I'm paraphrasing, but this is pretty close: "To all those rat bastards who protest the war: Go take your business somewhere else."

So I spent my $400 (I needed an alignment, too) at Sears Auto instead.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Can anyone recommend a reliable hit counter?

SiteMeter keeps crapping out for days at a time and the folks who run it never get back to me.

Oh, and free is good, because I'm very cheap.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Friday, May 11, 2007

Cell phones stink

Last month, Motorola received a patent for a "Communication device having a scent release feature and method thereof."

The phone becomes what amounts to a wireless-capable Glade PlugIn. It uses the phone's battery to heat a replaceable scent pack to 54 degrees Celsius, which releases the fragrance.

The unit is designed to have a stronger smell than other local odors. "Plug-in units typically provide a stronger scent over a broader area than non-plug-in scented items, given that the scents are activated by the heat energy in the plug-in devices," the patent explains.

Is there a need for a scent-generating phone? Motorola believes so. "Some cellular telephone users are the same individuals who enjoy having plug-in scent units located around their homes, and may miss not having a nice smelling fragrance while they are on the go," the patent states. "Therefore, a need exists for a communication device such as a cellular telephone that can address some of the above-mentioned problems."

Most fragrant ... er, flagrant misuse of the word "need" ever?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Things that are probably still safe to eat

--A bowl of steam

Actually ... that's about it, no?

(The Fanatic Cook has a lot of info on food safety. Stop by when you have time for some serious reading.)

Wikipedia Sentence of the Day

It was at Middlesex that [Alison Goldfrapp] was discovered by Orbital during a now infamous show in which she milked a cow while yodelling.

Anyone who can yodel while milking a cow and yet still isn't Jewel is OK in my book.

Most Disturbing Google Search Resulting in a Hit for TVB of the Day:

fannie flagg topless

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Monday, May 07, 2007

Arrested Development Dialogue of the Day

Michael: It's like we finish each other's ...

Lindsay: Sandwiches?

Michael: Sentences. Why would I say ...

Lindsay: Sandwiches?

Michael: That time I was going to say sandwiches.

The quotations in my header lately have come from Arrested Development, but this exchange was just too good to pass up.

(There's a collection of quotations here.)

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Or--and this is just a thought--you could serve cake and ice cream, maybe rent a pony

As Lila del Corte Hirschfeld was about to turn 1, her mother was feeling slightly frantic. Like many New York parents, Jenny 8 del Corte Hirschfeld (the numeral is her middle name) had a vision for her daughter's birthday party, though hers was more Dali than Disney. In place of balloons and goody bags, this one had a working title--"El Ataque de los Trapos" ("The Attack of the Cleaning Cloths")--and would be filmed using seven movie cameras, all borrowed for the occasion.

According to the plan, little Lila (pronounced LEE-lah) and her friends would be dressed in tiny, doll-size sombreros and ponchos that Ms. del Corte Hirschfeld was planning to sew from bolts of Mexican dish-towel fabric. They would then crawl around the apartment, swabbing the floors as they went. At the climactic moment, the babies would devour a vegetable terrine (also made by Ms. del Corte Hirschfeld--Ai, so much to do!). Finally, Marron, the dachshund, would be set loose to lick up the mess.

With only a week to go, Ms. del Corte Hirschfeld had not even finished gluing together the invitations, sets of four cards that she had designed and illustrated with mariachi mushrooms on one side and the party details on the other. The fact that the date printed on the invitations was wrong didn’t faze her--the date had been wrong on Lila's birth announcement, too.

"Next year," Ms. del Corte Hirschfeld said, "I will dress them as Shaker brothers and sisters, and they can make brooms and weave their little chairs."
--The New York Times

Some people are so silly. I mean, what kind of name for a dachshund is "Marron"?

Oh, and this appeared in the real estate section.

(Note: Lest anyone think I swiped this from Gawker, note that I posted this a full day before that site, 'k?)

Friday, May 04, 2007


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
You know what I hate about those packets that come with eating utensils, salt and pepper, and a napkin? The napkin ends up reeking of pepper. It's just wrong.

Photo of the Day

Why do people throw sneakers over power wires? (Is this just a NY metro area thing?)

Thursday, May 03, 2007

In case you're keeping track

The Velvet Blog is currently ranked No. 5 in Google searches for barry manilow puts a sock in his pants.

Return to the Link Dump

I know, I know, yesterday's link dumpage was mostly depressing, except for those adorable kittens.

So here are some funny, satirical folk songs by Roy Zimmerman:

"Ted Haggard Is Completely Heterosexual"

"Dick Cheney"

"Abstain With Me"

I hope he posts "Christmas Is Pain" in time for the holidays.

Oh, and here's Roy's site.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Link dump

Kinda busy. Here, have some links:

--This American Life's Peabody Award-winning "Habeas Schmabeas" is now updated. Must listening. (You can stream it or download as an MP3.)

--Yeah, this guy was a total asshole on a plane. But did he deserve what happened to him in a British prison? Scary stuff.

--Glenn Beck is certifiably insane. Remember when people this crazy stood on streetcorners and raved with a bullhorn and you crossed the street to avoid them? Now they come into your lving room via CNN Headline News and ABC. The mind reels.

--And since all of that is mind-spinningly depressing, please visit Cute Little Kittens when you're done.

UPDATE: And one more--Welcome to Big Brother's Used CD Emporium and Head Shop.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

I don't wanna sail on this ship of fools

Avarice and greed are gonna drive you over the endless sea
They will leave you drifting in the shallows
Drowning in the oceans of history
Travellin' the world, you're in search of no good
But I'm sure you're philosophic like I knew you would
Using all the good people for your galley slaves
As your little boat struggles through the the warning waves

Somehow, this seemed appropriate to mark the anniversary of W's "Mission Accomplished" speech.

(It's World Party's "Ship of Fools," from 1986. The video fairly screams 1980s--in a bad way--but I've always loved that song. Frequent TVB visitor Chef Nick used to have the band's leader, Karl Wallinger, as a flatmate, so we have only two degrees of separation!)

Perhaps you've noticed ...

I have a thing for music featuring whispy female vocals. And now I'm digging the songs streaming on Charlotte Gainsbourg's MySpace page. (BTW, she's the daughter of French pop icon Serge Gainsbourg and British actress Jane Birkin.) The album's been out in Europe for ages but just hit iTunes here.

The tyranny of the encore

I went to see singer-songwriter Michael Smith (not the "contemporary Christian" singer of the same name--this Smith is probably best known for writing "The Dutchman," covered by Steve Goodman and many others) over the weekend. He put on a great show; his funny songs ("Dead Egyptian Blues" and a terrific one, the title of which I can't remember, from an adaptaion he wrote of "The Snow Goose") are very funny, and the serious songs ("The Dutchman" being among them) are truly moving.

He concluded the show by saying something like, "This is the last song. And then I'll do an encore." And everyone laughed, as he intended, but all I can say is: Amen.

I hate encores. They are the least spontaneous "spontaneous" act i can possibly think of. I've been to too many solid two-hour shows that turned into endless endurance tests when the encores just wouldn't stop. I'm thinking in particular here of k.d. lang--I actually had to leave during her third (yes, third) encore or I was going to be waiting at Penn Station the whole night. And I've been to too many mediocre shows that became worse when the audience felt it simply had to clap till the artist came back, as if it were rude not to demand an encore.

I like the Michael Smith method. Plan the show. Do the songs you want to do. And leave before the audience is sick of you.