Friday, June 22, 2007

Gone fishin'

Ways I plan to spend my upcoming week off:

--Not working
--Not blogging

Have a good week, all.

Ways I plan to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Roswell incident (Updated)

--Inexplicably lose an hour after seeing bright lights in the sky
--Sculpt mashed potatoes into a replica of the Devil's Tower
--Discover the book "To Serve Man" isn't what I thought it was

(Officially sanctioned ways to celebrate are here.)

UPDATE: Most of the gazillion fan-made music videos on YouTube are beyond dire, but this one, for Sufjan Stevens' "Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Ill." is effectively eerie. It's worth a look. (Last time I checked, the album this is taken from, Come On, Feel the Illinoise!, was only $7.99 on iTunes. As it's really good and pushes 80 minutes long, that's a real bargain. Jim says: Buy it!)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A handy visual guide for distinguishing between bacon, Canadian bacon, and Canadian ham

Image hosted by Photobucket.comBacon

Image hosted by Photobucket.comCanadian bacon

Image hosted by Photobucket.comCanadian ham

Another rerun in honor of the third supercalifragilisticexpialidocious blogoversary extravaganza fiesta, this one from April 29, 2005. My fave from the Handy Visual Guide series.

Photo of the Day

Reminds me of an Escher drawing, a little.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Name of the Day

Steve Starlust, head of Paragon Advertising in Bay Shore.

Which is quite a coincidence, because that's my science-fiction porn name.

The Velvet Blog's All-Time Greatest Comments

--Shove it.
(From a fan of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth)

--[TVB is] fun to read, even if it's basically crap wrapped in shiny tin-foil.
(I'm still not sure what brought that on, actually.)

And the third supercalifragilisticexpialidocious blogoversary extravaganza spectacular rolls on!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

When publishing trends collide

This story on young-adult publishing...

Weetzie Bat wears vintage clothes decorated with sparkles. She has a boyfriend she calls "My Secret Agent Lover Man." They live with Dirk, Weetzie's gay best friend, his lover, Duck, and Weetzie's daughter, Cherokee, possibly conceived during group sex with Dirk and Duck. There is also Witch Baby, Lover Man's child with a witch. The family works in the movie business. And they become involved with seamier elements of Los Angeles: rough sex, pimps and drugs.

This may not seem like a conventional young-adult book or something to be promoted by your local library. But in January, the Young Adult Library Services Association of the American Library Association announced that Ms. Block was being given the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement, sponsored by School Library Journal. The award's web site ( says it "recognizes an author's work in helping adolescents become aware of themselves and addressing questions about their role" in society.
--The New York Times

...was soon followed by this story on the upcoming "Peter Pan" sequel:

Children's author Geraldine McCaughrean has been chosen to write the official sequel to J.M. Barrie's "Peter Pan," the London hospital that holds the copyright to the classic work said Sunday. ... It has stipulated that the new work, titled "Captain Pan," must feature the original characters: the boy who never grew up along with his pals Wendy, fairy Tinkerbell and the Lost Boys--as well as the fearsome pirate Hook. ... The judges said McCaughrean's entry “captured the elusive spirit of the original whilst offering a fresh and astounding creative response and will appeal to both children and adults." --MSNBC

Please don't ask me how, but I've been able to find McCaughrean's winning story outline:
Peter "Captain" Pan is a helpless alcoholic who lives with his pre-op transexual girlfriend, Tinkerbell. Tink denies she's turning tricks, but somehow she's able to bring home enough bucks to keep the couple supplied with ramen noodles. In past-life regression therapy, Peter realizes he was molested by Hookmaster D., a fading pop star who was never the same after accidentally grabbing his crotch with his prosthetic hook while shooting a music video. Peter returns to Hookmaster's armed compound, Neverwhere, in order to free the Lost Boys, a boy band being held captive there. Unfortunately, Hookmaster's henchman, Smee, sees Peter coming and the Lost Boys are handed soda cans filled with poisoned "Jesus Juice"-brand wine cooler. The end.

I smell a best seller!

The third supercalifragilisticexpialidocious blogoversary extravaganza continues! This post dates from March 15, 2005. I don't know why they didn't just let me write the "Peter Pan" sequel. Fools!

Monday, June 18, 2007

The soundtrack of our lives

I don't usually participate in blog memes--I like reading them others' blogs, but never get around to joining in--but this one, which I spotted on Fermicat's blog, looked like fun, and it's a twist on the recurring Random 10 feature. It's sort of a musical I Ching.


Here's how it works:
1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc)
2. Put it on shuffle
3. Press play
4. For every item, type the song that's playing.
5. When you go to a new item, press the "next" button
6. Don't lie and try to pretend you're cool...

Opening Credits: "One Big Love," Patty Griffin ("Let's take a ride to the seaside/We can go out swimming in the high tide/Just wear your shorts and your long hair/Don't forget the lawn chair")

--Well, that's a promising start! I guess my life will be a fun summer romp ...

Waking Up: "Leave the Biker," Fountains of Wayne ("Please leave the biker/Leave the biker/Break his heart")

--... though not without some bumps in the road.

First Day at School: "La La La," The Bird and the Bee ("If there's someone you don't like/You don't have to say hello/There's no reason you should leave/There's no reason you should go")

--Sounds like good enough advice, though the guidance office probably wouldn't like the "there's no reason you should go" part.

Falling in Love: "She Loves You," K.J. Denhert ("She says she loves you/And you know that can't be bad/Yes, she loves you/And you know you should be glad")

--Apparently, in my biopic, I'm heterosexual, rather like Cole Porter in "Night and Day."

Fight Song: "Greenman," XTC ("Please to dance round for the one called the Greenman/He wants to make you his bride")

--Would only be a good choice for a fight song if they set my biopic in pagan England.

Breaking Up: "She's Leaving Home," Harry Nilsson ("Quietly turning the backdoor key/Stepping outside she is free")

--We gave her everything money could buy!

Prom: "Mermaids," Swan Dive ("It was over the waves we go/Diving for coral down below/Love was the undertow/When we were mermaids")

--I was kind of hoping for Fountains of Wayne's "Prom Theme" here, but this one works, actually.

Mental Breakdown: "That Teenage Feeling," Neko Case ("Now that we've met/We can only laugh at these regrets")

--Regrets, I've had a few.

Driving: "Kid Gloves," Fountains of Wayne ("Here is what I've found/New York just gets me down/When the going got tough/I got a bus ticket/Back to my home town")

Flashback: "Girl on a Wire," Swan Dive ("Higher and higher/Girl on a wire/Don't look down")

Getting Back Together: "Sleep Late, My Lady Friend," Harry Nilsson ("Sleep late, my lady friend/Let the warm summer breeze/Drift through your window")

--Let me amend my previous comment. I am relentlessly hetero in my biopic.

Wedding: "In the Name of Love," Kenny Rankin ("What burns and glows without flame?/What lives and grows without rain?/What brings a smile that lasts for a little while/Then makes me cry without shame?/How can you please me then and torture and tease me/And do it in the name of love?")

Birth of Child: "Down From Dover," Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra ("My body aches, the time is here, it's lonely in this place where I'm lyin'/Our baby has been born, but something's wrong, it's much too still, I hear no cryin'/I guess in some strange way she knew she'd never have a father's arms to hold her/So dying was her way of telling me he wasn't coming down from Dover")

--Yes, that's right, my iPod picked the one song I own that's explicitly about the death of a child. I thought Lee Hazlewood wrote it, but apparently it was Dolly Parton, though I've never heard her version. It's quite a tear jerker.

Final Battle: "Like Lovers Do," Lloyd Cole ("Everyday you're so sad to see me/And I'm so glad to take the blame/It's always going to be that way")

Death Scene: "My Finest Hour," Paula Kelley ("I want my finest hour to be/When everything's a part of you's a part of me")

Funeral Song: "Writers Are a Funny Breed," Jane Siberry ("You said someday when we're pure and high/We won't need to capture and describe/The things we see or don't see/We'll let things be/Let things be/That's when you'd leave")

End Credits: "Back to Even," Bill Lloyd ("I've been in the red and I've been in the black/It's good to be back to even.")

--And I guess that's a good enough place to end up.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

If sock monkeys were hypnotists

Look into my eyes. You are getting sleepy, very sleepy ... Your eyelids are getting heavy, so heavy you cannot keep your eyes open. You try to get up from your chair, but you can't. You feel heavy, heavy, as if you can't move, like you just ate combo meal #5 at Taco Bell.

You are under my control. You will do anything I say.

Now, give me that banana.

This rerun, part of the third blogoversary extravaganza, was the first of TVB's many sock monkey posts, from Jan. 10, 2006. The world was so much simpler then! Gasoline powered most of our light bulbs. The horse and buggy were just beginning to make way for the robot horse and nanobuggy. Genetically modified schnauzers had not yet mutated into the genetically modified schnauzer overlords that rule our nation today. Hm. Maybe this has something to do with the vicodin.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

You know you want it

I got an e-mail today with the subject line: Vicodin: you know you want it.

And I thought, brother, you don't know the half of it.

A rerun of the first post on The Velvet Blog, from June 14, 2004. If you look back over that first month's worth of posts, I think you'll notice one thing: I've shown remarkably little growth in my blogging skills since then. You've gotta give me points for consistency!

I think I'm going to be lazy over the next week or two and do a lot of reruns. Bear with me. Either it will all be new to you or a trip down memory lane.

Oh, and this first post? It still feels remarkably current. The publisher where I work laid off 200 people yesterday. I was spared, but if you have any painkillers, please contact me. Thanks.

Is that a gay bomb in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?

News of a Pentagon-proposed "gay bomb" seems to have been all over the Internet the last couple of days. Salon. CBS. Huffington. It's a wild story and certainly news.

But here's the thing: It's not. Well, I guess you could say it's old news.

The story was all over the Web in January 2005. I know because I posted about it at the time, and linked to the BBC story.

As someone in the news business--oh, OK, OK, it's technology news not news news--I wonder how this made a comeback. It wasn't exactly obscure at the time. I If I posted about the gay bomb back then, it's because it was widely linked to. How did the idea disappear down the memory hole? How'd it spring back as "news"? When you Google the phrase gay bomb, that BBC January 2005 story is the first hit, so it's hardly obscure.

And yes, my subject line makes no sense.

UPDATE: I'm not the only one who noticed and is puzzled (scroll down).

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Velvet Blog prepares for its third blogoversary

Well, this snuck up on me, but I just realized that on June 14, 2004, I made my first blog post.

According to the traditional scheme, that calls for a gift of leather. Hm. Well, I'll leave it up to you. Seriously, no pressure.

I'm thinking of renting the Javits Center for a meet-and-greet. I figure about $300,000 for the hall, but perhaps I can bargain down to $250,000. I have around a dozen readers these days. Hey, I know this is short notice, so I don't expect more than six of you to show up.

Let's see ... that's $41,666.66 per person. Oh, did I mention we're going dutch?

So, meet me outside the main entrance tomorrow, and have a certified check made out to me. This is very important, and there will be no admission to the Javits Center without a certified check in the amount of $41,666.66. Light refreshments will be served. I'm making my famous Chex Mix. (Secret: Extra Worcestershire sauce! Shhh--don't tell anyone!)

Looking ahead to The Velvet Blog's series finale

I'm not planning on shutting down anytime soon, but it's become obvious in the wake of the final episode of The Sopranos that such things must be planned carefully and plotted out years in advance. Some possibilities:

--The Velvet Blog wakes up in bed with Bob Newhart.
ADVANTAGE: TVB is a big Newhart fan.
DISADVANTAGE: We had a bit of a falling out after a Vegas gig. Hey, how was I supposed to know that was his plate of chicken wings? Was his name on it? Well, yes, but I didn't see it.

--The Velvet Blog forms a group hug with everyone on its blogroll and shuffles out the door singing "It's a Long Way to Tipperary."
ADVANTAGE: Sure to get people weepy.
DISADVANTAGE: Music rights.

--The Velvet Blog limps to a conclusion no one cares about, two years after David Duchovny leaves the cast.
ADVANTAGE: No one will be reading TVB at that point.
DISADVANTAGE: No one will be reading TVB at that point.

--The Velvet Blog finds itself trapped in the Black Lodge, while its body is inhabited by the spirit of Bob. Also, items on blogroll appear to be caught inside the knobs on a dresser drawer.
DISADVANTAGE: Makes no fucking sense whatsoever.

--The Velvet Blog turns out to be the reveries of an autistic boy gazing into a snow globe.
ADVANTAGE: This is, in fact, true.
DISADVANTAGE: This tends to freak people out.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Monday, June 11, 2007

Photo of the Day

It's like a mini Stonehenge.

If sock monkeys appointed by the Bush administration headed NASA

I have no doubt that … a trend of global banana warming exists. I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with. To assume that it is a problem is to assume that the state of Earth's climate banana today is the optimal climate banana, the best climate banana that we could have or ever have had and that we need to take steps to make sure that it doesn't change. First of all, I don't think it's within the power of human beings sock monkeys to assure that the climate banana does not change, as millions of years of history have shown. And second of all, I guess I would ask which human beings sock monkeys--where and when--are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate banana that we have right here today, right now is the best climate banana for all other human beings sock monkeys. I think that's a rather arrogant position for people sock monkeys to take.

Now, give me that banana.

(For the interview in which NASA chief Michael Griffin implies that not wanting the ice caps to melt is arrogant, go to this NPR page.)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Amazon's petty vendetta against Albert Brooks

I was thinking of getting an Albert Brooks DVD or two and checked Amazon for prices. Instead, I was struck by the stars Amazon promotes next to the titles. What I found follows, with the unnoted actors that might have been featured instead, within brackets.

Defending Your Life: Starring Wil Albert, Sage Allen, Gary Beach, and Roger Behr [Could have noted: Albert Brooks, Meryl Streep, Rip Torn, Shirley MacLain (cameo), Lee Grant]

Mother: Richard Assad, Paul Collins, Kimiko Gelman, Isabel Glasser [Albert Brooks, Debbie Reynolds, Lisa Kudrow, Rob Morrow]

Real Life:: James L. Brooks*, Barbara DeZonia, Dudley DeZonia, and Clifford Einstein [Albert Brooks, Charles Grodin]

The Muse: Jamie Alexis, Ange Billman, Jeff Bridges (hey--how did he get in there??), and Aude Charles [Albert Brooks, Sharon Stone, Andie MacDowell, Cybill Shepherd, Steven Wright, Jennifer Tilly, Rob Reiner, James Cameron (cameos)]

Still, I can see where Amazon would want to reach out to all those Kimiko Gelman fans.

*Yes, the director, who acts in a few of Brooks's films.

UPDATE: Looks like this goes further than Brooks. According to Amazon, the stars of Citizen Kane are George Backus and the lovely and talented Fortunio Bonanova--no sign of Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, or Agnes Morehead.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

I'd like a salad, blue cheese dressing. Oh, and leave out the tomato and radish, please.

An actual letter to the New York Times Magazine this morning, in response to a profile that ran in a recent issue on "living green":
Ed Begley Jr. says he’s "just kidding" about being composted in his backyard (Domains: "Hollywood and Green"). Well, I have it in my will that my cremains will become part of the compost heap in the backyard of my son, who is a serious composter and gardener. What better way to stick around than as a part of a living, vital process? No jar on a mantel, thank you, or scattering on some remote site. I'd rather become part of a radish or tomato.

Barbara L. Handler
Evanston, Ill.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Who am us, anyway?

A fine Glenn Greenwald column today, as usual. I rarely read the reader comments but did this morning, and ... yikes:
It's too bad that the state of our country isn't as bad as you want it to be. If it was I could happily reflect on you staying in a secret prison having your flesh burned and your eyes poked out.

The U.S. public has been continually subjected to complimentary coverage of Al Qa'ida by the U.S. mainstream media. Where is the TV news program that would dare describe Al Qa'ida as "terrorists", or the movie which portrays Al Qa'ida members as anything less noble than human rights observers in benighted African nations?

It's time to break the positive PR spin on Al Qa'ida which fills U.S. mainstream discussion.

I'm curious what media that person is watching. Perhaps his tin-foil hat is picking up signals, because I watch/read a lot of news and I don't recall a single "Al Qa'ida is nifty!" story. Also missed the Al Qa'ida movie that cast the group as human-rights observers. Was Brad Pitt in that? I'll have to check Netflix.

These are, of course, the audience that the Republican presidential hopefuls are pitching to.

Hold me. I'm frightened.