Wednesday, December 30, 2009

If sock monkeys wrote "Auld Lang Syne"

A rerun from 2006. 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.)

Monday, December 28, 2009

I know you don't like to eat children, but it's that kind of talk and your cottage in the woods made of candy that keep those rumors alive

Reduced posting ahead. So, a Happy New Year to you all, in advance.

Meanwhile, have you been watching Better Off Ted? If not, do. Especially if you're a Nielsen family, 'cause I think it's on the verge of getting canceled.

Here's the second ep of season 2:

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A note from the Dept. of Obviousness

A friend, who asked to remain anonymous (definitely not Bob Johnson from the accounting department at Acme Tool and Die--hi, Bob!), received this e-mail message from the CEO of the company:
Best wishes to all for a very Merry Christmas.

For those who may not be familiar with this holiday, Christians throughout the world celebrate the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem on December 25th. Christians believe Jesus is the Son of God and that God is with us in the baby Jesus. Christians celebrate by attending church on Christmas Eve and singing Christmas Carols. It is a time to be with family and friends and to send cards with wishes for peace on earth and good will to all people.

Really. Swear to God. No, I am not kidding. This was an actual e-mail from the CEO.

Probably the last TVB post till after I celebrate by attending church tonight and singing Christmas carols. It's a Unitarian Universalist congregation, so it's quite possible we'll be singing "Let's Have a Patrick Swayze Christmas This Year":

It's our first post-Swayze Christmas, which is kind of bittersweet.

Happy holidays, all.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

All I can say is: "Amen."

If there's one affectation in writing that makes me insane it's the lack of quotation marks. Really, there's just no excuse for this. Nice article on the topic by Laura Miller over at Salon.

Choice paragraph:
Perhaps the most famous shunner of quotation marks is the novelist Cormac McCarthy, who told Oprah Winfrey that he preferred not to "block the page up with weird little marks. If you write properly, you shouldn't have to punctuate." (McCarthy also disdains the semicolon. And it should be added that the 18th century's most revered English stylist, Samuel Johnson, boasted of writing so cogently he never had to resort to parentheses.) There is a hauteur to such pronouncements; they amount to an assertion of the speaker's superiority. Lesser writers might have to resort to cluttering their prose with "weird little marks," but not a master such as moi.

This is why I have never read Cormac McCarthy and most probably never will.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Satan ... Santa ... oh, whatever

This excerpt from a 1959 Mexican documentary reveals that Satan and his imps really know how to cut a rug:

It may be true, as the saying goes, that the devil has all the best tunes. Now we know that he's also a Bob Fosse wannabe. (Jazz hands!)

It's possible that parts of this movie were ransacked as the frame story in that "Santa Claus and His Helpers" short I posted last week. According to descriptions, this film features Merlin, Stinky, and the rest of the beloved gang, too, and how many Christmas-themed movies could Stinky the Skunk have made? Also, I've yet to watch it, but there's a Mystery Science Theatre 3000 version -- part 1 is here. I'm sure this is much less painful than searching for the original feature, which is also cut up on YouTube. I'm saving this for when I've had too much eggnog (which should be any minute now, actually).

Stay classy, readers!

Odd Google searches that have stranded visitors on The Velvet Blog, with commentary:

pronunciation of stick
I'd go with "stik." But "kər-ˈfə-fəl" is acceptable in certain regional areas.

what ever happened to jim donahue winnipeg
He was run out of town. Some say a Ponzi scheme was involved.

tipping guide christmas pool boy
As previously noted, depends on how he fills out a Speedo.

will yogurt make you shit?
The preferred word around these parts is "poop." And, yes.

alaska whores
Hey, this isn't that kind of blog!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Note to self: Dolls must have heads and bodies

Time again for another low-rent Christmas classic, "A Visit to Santa."

I think Santa's been nipping at the Wild Turkey. (Magic Helicopter? Please. No such thing.)

Weirdly, the narrator sounds like David Sedaris doing his excited elf voice in "Santaland Diaries" (albeit in a slightly lower key).

Oh my God ... I just had a Christmas flashback.

When I was four or five-ish, my parents brought me to the parking lot of Billy Blake's department store (a now-long-defunct '60s discount chain) for the arrival of Santa -- in his decidedly unmagic helicopter. He began climbing down the rope ladder when ... the pillow under his coat fell out.

Cries of bafflement were heard from the wilds of suburban Long Island to the North Pole. Mom, thinking quickly, explained that it was not actually Santa, but one of his many helpers.

Confused, I went on believing until the year* I noticed the remnants of a price tag on the box of a board game. Santa, if he existed -- I reasoned -- would have his elf indentured servants make toys. He would not buy retail.

*2005, give or take.

PARENTHETICAL ADDENDUM: Punkinsmom's comment makes me want to point out that I wasn't kidding about the price tag on the board game -- that's really how I figured out I'd been the object of what amounts to a years-long practical joke (somewhat before 2005).

Flying reindeer? Fine! Fat man comes down the chimney? No problem!

Remnant of a price tag on supposedly elf-made game? Now hold one darn minute there, mister!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The devolution of our office Christmas party

Mid-'90s: Country club; open bar

Late '90s: Nightclub; orgy rooms featured gold tubs filled with champagne to soak in

Early '00s: Lower level 2 of the parking garage; punch

2009: No party, but there's a rumor we may get stockings filled with coal and sticks

CLARIFICATION: For satirical purposes, the excesses of the dot-com era have been exaggerated. The orgy-room tubs were merely gold-plated and filled with a (non-vintage) California sparkling wine.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

Name of the day

I passed a sign for:
Dr. Daniel Massiah

on the way to see my parents yesterday.

I know doctors think they're God, but puh-leeze.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Warning: If you love your children, keep them away from your computer monitor for the next 20 minutes

Christmas is all about traditions. In order for the holiday to make sense, mom must make the same cookies with the same cookie cutter, dad must fall off the ladder while hanging the lights, grandma must make you an itchy sweater. And, of course, you must watch really atrocious Christmas-themed videos with The Velvet Blog.

Lots of bad goodies ahead for you. But let's start the season with this K. Gordon Murray masterpiece I just discovered. It's called "Santa Claus and His Helpers," and features all the beloved Christmas characters from your youth--you know, Merlin the Magician, Stinky the Skunk, and Ferocious Wolf.

So put on your Snuggie, grab that cup of hot cocoa (with a shot of Kahlua), and get ready for meeting the Magic Teletalker a little over 2 minutes into this video, an image that will haunt your nightmares for years to come. (Really. I'm not kidding.)

Mr. Murray, who appears to have a hatred not only for children, but indeed for all mankind, is also responsible for the previously mentioned Little Red Riding Hood and the Monsters (which also features Stinky the Skunk and Ferocious Wolf) and Puss N' Boots.

He has much to answer for.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Internet Trolling Sucks: The Cabling

A few months ago, I noted that Cablevision sucks. That post gets quite a few hits, on account of the fact it's true, and people often search on that phrase.

This evening, it garnered this rather odd response (which I deleted at that post, for parsing here):
You're an idiot.

Howdy, stranger! Welcome to my blog!
There are no more analog broadcasts going on. Cablevision is doing it's customer's a favor...

Oh, you had me had two incorrect apostrophes in a row!
Cablevision is doing it's customer's a favor by taking the digital feed and converting it back to analog so people can still get some channels without a converter box.

And FAIL and FAIL again. First off, Cablevision is not doing any of its customers any "favors." Rates are high. And--oh, in the name of all that is holy, must I explain this again?--converter boxes are for over-the-air transmission of digital signals. No cables of any kind involved. Cable companies do not traffic in converter boxes. Why would they? Let's look at this mathematically: Over-the-air transmission + digital converter box = no money for cable company. Cable companies + cable from the street to your home + cable box = money for cable company every month. See?
The only reason they don't rebroadcast all of the channels is because of bandwidth constraints.

If so, why doesn't the company explain that? Why, in the run-up to the digital transition, did it lie in its advertising?
If you want all the channels you have to have a digital converter...

...from Cablevision. Any other TV provider requires a converter box...

...on any TV in the house to receive channels. Everyone should know what they are talking about before they start ranting like fools.

True, that.
What else can you expect from a liberal lunatic?


Oh, and "Rob" signed off with the a link to a nonexistent Blogspot ID page, so no way to thank him for his friendly comment in person.

I admit I originally thought it was someone within Cablevision--my stats showed the visit came from Lindenhurst where, well whaddya know?, there's a Cablevision customer service office. And I could see it came from someone using Cablevision's Internet service. But while I assumed the visit came from a search for "cablevision sucks," and therefore I figured it was a company employee with time on his hands, the search actually was for something like "when will cablevision get new converter boxes" (and FAIL! again).

Sorry, Cablevision. I still think you suck. But I doubt anyone in the company is that stupid.

"Christmas Is Pain"

Roy Zimmerman, with his Dylan takeoff, "Christmas Is Pain":

If only Bob D. had covered this on his own Christmas album.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Surprising things I have in common with Gwyneth Paltrow

--1996: Confirmed as the next Calvin Klein model.

--Met with James Cameron for the role of Rose in "Titanic" (1997).

--Spends Thanksgiving every year with Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw at their home in the Hamptons.

--Name can be heard over the P.A. system in many episodes of the medical drama "St. Elsewhere" (1982).

--Has been friends with Maya Rudolph (of "Saturday Night Live" fame) since the age of seven.

--2002: TV commercials and print ads for Spain's department store chain El Corte Inglés' spring line.

--Is a close friend of Madonna.

--Favorite alcoholic drinks are Guinness and red wine.

--Earns $3 million per year endorsing Estée Lauder on television and in print advertisements.

--Was hospitalized and then released (14 January 2008).

--Attended the 55th Tony Awards. Can be seen dancing with the revival cast of "The Rocky Horror Show" during "The Time Warp".

--Auditioned for "Vickie" in "Reality Bites" (1994), but lost out to Janeane Garofalo.

--Born at 5:25 PM (PDT).

--Said upon breaking up with Brad Pitt: "It really changed my life. When we split up, something changed, permanently, in me. My heart sort of broke that day, and it will never be the same."

--Friend of Cameron Diaz.


(Information from IMDb. Yes, a repurposed version of the Cameron Diaz gag. Sue me.)

Monday, December 07, 2009

Quotation of the day

Efforts to reach Christ for comment were unsuccessful.

Runner-up, from same story:
Christ didn't try to get out of jury duty and was "perfectly happy to serve."

(hat tip: God Is My Codependent)

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Warning: Do not read this post if you're hung over (or feel like eating for the next 24 hours, at least)

Presenting another entry in an ongoing series of clippings from the recipe files of Jeanne Metzger Feinberg.

If you're feeling up to it, click to enlarge, then meet me on the other side.

I admire the psychedelic properties and symmetry of these illustrations--it's like a Busby Berkeley number on your plate!--but Velveeta on shrimp? Oh, my. That is wrong on too many levels to even count.

Also, for those of you too chicken to look at the full glory of this, let me present the ingredient list of the Supper Sandwiches: Toast. Peanut butter. Sweet pickle relish. Velveeta sauce.

NOTE: Will asks me to point out that his mother was a huge Julia Child fan and he has NO IDEA why these culinary monstrosities were in her recipe file.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Thanks for clearing that up

Anyone who works in journalism will tell you: There is nothing more frustrating than the style guidelines of The Associated Press. To say they are often maddeningly vague would be an understatement.

I was trying find something on AP's Web site this morning and happened upon a Q&A page. It features this helpful hint:

Got it.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Paul Theroux was robbed

Yay--the annual Bad Sex Awards, for terrible smutty writing, are in!

The winner is Jonathan Littell, from his novel The Kindly Ones:
"I came suddenly, a jolt that emptied my head like a spoon scraping the inside of a soft-boiled egg."

Remind me not to have breakfast at his house.

But I'd say Paul Theroux should have won for this passage from A Dead Hand:
"She took my head in both hands and guided it downward, between her fragrant thighs. 'Yoni puja--pray, pray at my portal.'"

Remind me never to cross Theroux's portal. Or pray, ever again.

(Hat tip: Idle Musings)

Quotation of the day

"What if one of them were a ninja? Obama could have been killed." --Ed Schultz, MSNBC, on the Salahis

I have two words for you: Garden hose.

Monday, November 30, 2009

They relaxed the requirements this year

Classic Bob and Ray:

Interesting article on the whole funny Elliott clan in yesterday's Times, here (which is why I spent most of yesterday evening trolling YouTube for Bob and Ray clips).

Could someone please put Get a Life--featuring Bob and starring his son Chris--back in print on DVD? Sealed copies of the long-since-discontinued Vol. 1, released in 2000, are going for as much as $282 on Amazon, and it has only four episodes!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

And you can quote me on that

Wow. You know, it's difficult to live your life in public the way I do--constantly being followed by spotlights and paparazzi and police dogs and ninjas.

But every once in a while, I stumble across some bit of information online that takes even a media-savvy person such as myself by surprise.

It turns out that an organization that calls itself Thinkexist has been collecting a list of quotations by me and posting them online without my permission! Let's take a look and try to place them in context, because without that, they simply don't make any sense:
"This is a better time of year to get a late-model car, ... and that will be reflected in the online price."

Hm. I can't exactly remember saying this, but I'm going to guess it's when I was interviewed by Vroooom!: The Cheapskate Late-Model Car Enthusiast With Internet Access, which, in all honesty, has a very limited circulation.
"It's very popular with the people who use it."

Odd, I don't remember saying this, either. Given the fact the The Velvet Blog currently holds the No. 1 Google ranking for the phrase "yogurt poop," I'm going to guess this quotation had something to do with Activia customers.
"More than 95 percent of MBNA customers always pay more than the minimum every month. Of those who do pay the minimum, very few do so for more than two months in a row."

Oh, that one I dimly remember--I was going through Benadryl withdrawal. Damned allergies.

Well, I see the ninjas are outside on the lawn again. Pardon me while I go spray them with the garden hose.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Something to be thankful for

You know, I can be a bit of a brooder. A Gloomy Gus. A picklepuss.

But then I see all the headlines about the Food Network's Paula Deen being hit in the face by a ham, and suddenly the sun comes out, at least metaphorically. It's even difficult for me to pick a favorite. "Chef Paula Deen Accidentally Hit by Charity Ham"? "Paula Deen's Hamtastrophy"? "Swine Flew: Paula Deen Struck By Errant Ham"? Don't make me choose, people.

Thank you, God. And thank you, ham.

Happy Thanksgiving, all! (Except for those of you in Canada. You had your shot last month--don't be greedy.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

That's what she said

The Daily News ponders the root of the universe:

Given the phrasing of the question, I'd say it's a toss-up between the first two choices.

UPDATE: 24 hours later, and the Daily News' poll "Hardon" remains up. Someone should really call a doctor.

(Note: A cross-post with Do stop by if you haven't already.)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Found in "draft" status in my Blogger account but, fortunately, never posted

No one will ever remember that Woodstock thing that's going on

Why Jimmy Carter will win a second term this November

Leisure suits are so much classier than tuxedos

(Note: This post was written and put into draft status back in August. In retrospect, I should have left it there.)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Real ghostwriter of Sarah Palin's book: Edward Bulwer-Lytton

The evidence? Feast your eyes, my friends, on this actual sentence from the book-like thingee she's selling:
"As the soles of my shoes hit the soft ground, I pushed past the tall cottonwood trees in a euphoric cadence, and meandered through willow branches that the moose munched on."

But I have to admit: I got punked. A Slate reader posted the following sentence, implying it was from Palin's book, and I fell for it:
"The apartment was small, with slanting floors and irregular heat and a buzzer downstairs that didn't work, so that visitors had to call ahead from a pay phone at the corner gas station, where a black Doberman the size of a wolf paced through the night in vigilant patrol, its jaws clamped around an empty beer bottle."

That is one terrible sentence. What's the subject? Is there a subject? Could it possibly be diagrammed? If so, would it look like the web of a spider on acid? Probably.

But it's not by Palin. It's from Barack Obama's Dreams of My Father.

Wow. Back to your day job, mister. (That horrible sentence aside, I enjoyed Obama's book--it's quite moving.)

(Palin sentence from Slate.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

When Geraldo Rivera is the voice of reason ...

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Law & Order: KSM
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Shouldn't "real" news shows be comparing Rudy Giuliani's realistic past statements with his current fear-mongering, nonsensical ones? Why the hell is it left to a comedy show to do journalists' work?

Also, someone please remind me--should I be laughing or crying? I can never remember.

It's almost Thanksgiving ...

Time to rerun my grandmother's oatmeal stuffing recipe:

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 rolled oats or quick-cooking oats and continue sauteing until the oats get 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.

I'll have that with extra heart attack, please

Oh, it's so hard being a busy mom! Kids can be such picky eaters, and, let's face it, that new-fangled "pizza" the little tykes are going mad for these days just doesn't have enough meat in it.

What to do ... what to do ...

Hmmm. Maybe this sounds crazy, but what if we took a pizza, removed the crust, replaced it with meat, and added soup? Would that work?

Presenting ... the meat-za!

(Click image twice to embiggen to all its meaty glory.)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A matter of life and death

Or, rather, A Matter of Life and Death: My all-time fave film, which I've plugged on this blog a few times before, will be on Turner Classic Movies in the middle of the night tonight--3 a.m. Monday, to be exact, though check your listings if you're not on the East Coast. Set those DVRs or VCRs.

Here's that remarkable opening scene again:

Also, I'm going to assume TCM's programmers have a sense of humor. A Matter of Life and Death is followed by The Age of Consent, the name of the last film directed by Michael Powell, half the team behind AMOLAD. Only it's not Powell's Age of Consent, but a movie with the same title from 1932. That couldn't possibly be a coincidence, could it? The odds seem pretty much astronomical.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants

David Lloyd, the comedy maestro behind the classic Mary Tyler Moore episode "Chuckles Bites the Dust," died this week.

Someone has uploaded the episode to YouTube. I'm sure it'll come down soon, but for the moment:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sounds like something that would happen in a junior high locker room

Presenting the first in an occasional series of scans from the recipe files of my partner's mother, the late Jeanne Feinberg. She was a gourmet cook--really!--but, let's face it, the 1950s-1970s era was an odd one when it came to American cookery.

Brace yourselves, people. I'm starting you off easy. There's some weird stuff coming up.

Click to embiggen ... if you dare.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

First step toward world domination

I'll be making the occasional post over at, and I hope you'll follow me over there. (The proprietor, writer Daniel Radosh, was recently hired by The Daily Show and turned his site into a ménage à blog, if you will, asking frequent commenters to contribute.)

My first post is here. (There will be an "About Us" page over there soonish, with a link back here.)

Please don't heckle me.

Still waiting for the future

The vision of the future on these 1939 World's Fair postcards is much more interesting than our dreary reality. What the heck went wrong?

As usual, click to embiggen.

World's Fair Station
May 25, 1939
9:30 PM

Mrs. C. Morbus
1038 Jackson Ave.

2nd time here thought I would run in to you like our cemetary [?] place is too big for me to get around have book of 20 admissions so can come often

Mrs. Mackey
Tina Schulenberg

Sounds like our correspondent may have had a fondness for amphetamines.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Room spinning ... must sit down ...

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — In a heated race for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination, Gov. Charlie Crist keeps moving away from his support of President Barack Obama's stimulus package that the governor called "fantastic" and "remarkable" when lobbying for its passage.

Faced with an increasingly difficult primary challenge from former House Speaker Marco Rubio of West Miami, the governor now claims he didn't endorse the $787 billion economic stimulus that included a generous contribution for Florida.

"It seems to be the president's answer to almost every challenge that's facing our country is to spend more money," Crist said Thursday.

Ah, yes. As a result of Tuesday's mixed election results, federal stimulus money is toxic! Toxic, I tell you!
He commented in response to a question while on his way back to his office where he planned to work on putting together a special legislative session to get more stimulus money for a high speed rail system in the state.

That's right! Can't accept those federal stimulus dollars ... wait, what did you just say?
He commented in response to a question while on his way back to his office where he planned to work on putting together a special legislative session to get more stimulus money for a high speed rail system in the state.

Um. I thought that's what you said.

Do go on.
But on a national cable news show Wednesday night, Crist said he saw the stimulus more as Florida taxpayers' dollars coming back to the state and that he didn't endorse the Obama plan. ...

Ah, yes. And if instead of calling it "stimulus" money we called it "Viagra," then everyone in Florida would have a boner. If the stimulus lasts longer than four hours, please call your doctor.
Crist conceded Thursday the stimulus money has been good for Florida.

"The opportunity, as I understand the numbers, to have about, more than 20,000 teachers not lose their jobs because of it, construction continuing to go forward, I want to talk about more," Crist said. "It'll help Florida."

Well, hard to argue with that. Jobs is jobs, am I right or am I right?
Rubio's campaign released a video with excerpts showing several examples of Crist praising the president's stimulus plan.

"Unfortunately for Charlie Crist, the evidence of his stimulus support is on video," Rubio campaign spokesman Alex Burgos said Thursday. "By denying he infamously supported the stimulus, Charlie Crist is hoping he can reinvent his record and that voters forget he once embraced it."
--The Associated Press

Because people working is just what this economy doesn't need.

Well played, Republicans! Well played!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Smackdown!: Serial killers vs. serial commas

PhotobucketSerial killers

WHO?: Insane people who, to paraphrase an old Lay's commercial, can't kill just one.

PROS: Umm ... they cull the herd?

CONS: Crazy. Stabbingy. Shooty. Poisony.

PhotobucketSerial commas

WHAT?: That comma used between the last two items in a series of three or more. In "A, B, and C," it's the comma between "B" and "and."

PROS: In complicated sentences, can help avoid confusion.

CONS: I've got nothing.

WINNER: I know people who hate the serial comma. At least once a year, I have to defend its use in the pages of our magazine. "We don't like it! This other magazine I'm pointing to right now doesn't use it!" a few editors will say. That's all they've got. "It can add clarity in complex sentences--and we often use complex, tech-heavy sentences," I inevitably point out. And we keep using it.

Also, when I was a lowly editorial assistant at William Morrow, a novelist once a wrote a note to his editor: "I loathe the serial comma."

Really? I envy the leisure time you use to develop loathing for helpful punctuation. Perhaps you could use that time for something more useful--say, extra whacking-off time.

This is just a long way of crowning the serial comma the winner of this Smackdown! You kick serial-killer butt, dude. The forces of copyediting darkness will have to pry you out of my cold, dead sentences.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Good dog

More pics from the trip. (The last, I swear. But if you're dying to see more, contact me via e-mail, and I'll send you an online link.)

These, too, are from Stephen Huneck's art gallery/Dog Chapel in Vermont. People place notes devoted to their pets on the walls--those are the notes in closeups here. (Click to embiggen, and they're readable.)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Quotation of the day

The Connecticut Independent [Sen. Joe Lieberman] told ABC News that he'll likely campaign for some Republican candidates in next year's midterm elections.

"I probably will support some Republican candidates for Congress or Senate in the election in 2010. I'm going to call them as I see them," he said, adding that "sometimes, the better choice is not somebody who's not a Democrat."
--The Wall Street Journal

Hmm. Am I reading this correctly? Let's parse. Sometimes, the better choice is not someone who's not a Democrat? That means that sometimes the better choice is a Democrat.

See that, Democrats, fed up with this member of the Democratic caucus? He does give grudging respect for you! Or, wait ... do you think he just doesn't know how a double negative works?

Democrats should not be incapable of not allowing him to stay in the caucus. Hey, that's a triple negative! I need to lie down.

They're tapping the wires

Recently discovered the CBC radio show WireTap, with Jonathan Goldstein. Funny stuff. It's available as a podcast, and it gets The Velvet Blog Official Seal of Approval.


(If you want your own seal, you can create one here. Be warned, though, the site is buggy and you may need to try over and over before it works.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Photobucket - Video and Image HostingMommy, why is the kitty #&$@ing a pumpkin?

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingMommy, the patients from the burn unit at the hospital are here.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingMommy, there's something about the shape of the tombstone that's making me extremely uncomfortable.

Quotation of the day

Other than being arrested at 18 for burglarizing the home of an ex-girlfriend, George P. Bush appears to have all the right credentials to carry the Bush legacy well into the future. --Yahoo News

Other than? Other than?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Quotation of the day

I have trouble listening to what [Cheney] says sometimes because of the blood that drips from his teeth while he's talking. But my response is this: He's just angry because the president doesn't shoot old men in the face. But by the way, when he was done speaking, did he just then turn into a bat and fly away? --Rep. Alan Grayson

I'll be appearing here all week. Don't forget to tip your waitress!

(If you gave me the quote and asked me to guess who said it, I probably would have said Hugo Chavez.)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Happy Mole Day

So psyched to find out that today is Mole Day! Who among us doesn't love that deep, dark, velvety chocolate sauce, the secret weapon of fine Mexican cooks? Yum!

What, not that mole?

Oh, well, who among us doesn't love the sweet little vermin that burrows under our front lawns, making them all bumpy? Adorable!

Not that mole, either?

Hmmm. You mean, there's a holiday celebrating Cindy Crawford's beauty mark?


Well, then I guess there's a holiday derived from the Avogadro constant, defining the number of particles in a mole, one of the seven base SI units? Seriously?

Well, fine, but now I'm in the mood for mole sauce on an avocado, served by supermodel being chased by vermin. I'm funny that way.

UPDATE: Mole Day activities! (Wait ... why won't he return my mole? That's so unfair.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Due to overwhelming demand,* here are a few sheep pics from vacation.

More pics to come.

*Note: sarcasm.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Well, that's one way of dealing with the problem

I'm surprised the conspiracy theorists aren't grabbing this and running with it. You know those FEMA camps we're told don't exist? They do -- and they're being used for the extermination of children with swine flu! Really! It was in The New York Times! Buried on an inside page! First, pigs were discovered with swine flu at the Minnesota State Fair. Then it was theorized they caught it from 4-H kids. Then ... well, it's just too horrible to contemplate:
A veterinarian for the Minnesota State Fair, Dr. Tom Hagerty, was traveling on the East Coast late Friday and said he had not heard of the test findings. Dr. Hagerty sounded surprised at the news but not alarmed, because most of the pigs, or perhaps all, that were at the state fair at the same time as a group of 4-H children who became ill were to be sent to the slaughterhouse shortly afterward. --The New York Times

If they were turned into bacon, I hope the children were at least free-range.

Yes, The Velvet Blog has returned from vacation. Shall I bore you with vacation photos? There are sheep, goats, and dogs involved. Not, as far as I am aware, pigs or 4-H kids being led away to be aged in a smokehouse.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Radio silence

The Velvet Blog will be going dark for for a week or so.

As usual, I must beg you: Don't miss me too much. You know, the normal amount is fine.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Random 10

Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey, "Here and Now"
Sufjan Stevens, "Prairie Fire That Wanders About"
k.d. lang, "The Consequences of Falling"
World Party, "Vanity Fair"
Nellie McKay, "Baby, Watch Your Back"
Rilo Kiley, "Does He Love You?"
R.E.M., "Stand" (from Green)
Elvis Costello, "A Man Out of Time"
The Knickerbockers, "Sweet Green Fields"
Fleet Foxes, "Oliver James"

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Look around you!

The "Look Around You" shorts, originally aired on the BBC, are very funny and pitch-perfect.

For more, search on the phrase "look around you" on YouTube.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Question for the teabaggers on Main Street in Sayville on Saturday

Before the question, a complaint. When you put up signs around town with "TEA PARTY" on them, the first thing I think of -- indeed the first thing anyone other than inveterate Fox News viewers think of -- is orange pekoe and crumpets, not 50-year-olds dressed up like George Washington railing about health care. And who knew the Boston tea party was organized to protest against universal health care? I, for one, did not.

Don't get me thinking of crumpets and then renege. It's just not fair.

But I digress.

Among the "patriotic" songs you were playing was "Sweet Home Alabama." So, at last, my question to you is, what the hell???

Sunday, October 04, 2009

I still haven't been to the main market

10/4/14: Hey, I'm putting this update at the top because my Cashiers du Cinemart article on After Last Season is now online

I've taken down my review of After Last Season, because a much-expanded version--featuring original interviews with three of the actors--will be published in issue 17 of Cashiers du Cinemart, slated to be published in November.

More info forthcoming.

UPDATE: Issue #17 of Cashiers du Cinemart, featuring my article on After Last Season, is now available in a number of formats. Here's a link to the Kindle version, and here's a link to the print version. (The issue also features articles on Bloodsucking Freaks and the Findlays' Flesh trilogy, so it also makes a great Christmas gift. The print version has illustrations that the Kindle doesn't have, so I think it's worth the extra $3.)

UPDATE UPDATE: Other posts on the movie: On initially discovering the trailer. The reviews are in.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I haven't been to that town, but I've been through it

Remember After Last Season, the most peculiar film I wrote about a few months ago? (What, you don't memorize this blog? Go watch the trailer--it's oddly mesmerizing.)

Supposedly, it's out on DVD tomorrow--only the film's official Web site has no link to buy it (and no e-mail address to write to), and it's not for sale on Amazon.

The mysteries continue.

I must see this movie. I must.

UPDATE: Now available on Amazon! Yes, I've ordered, and paid for rush delivery so I can watch this weekend. And yes, I'm insane.

Beatles songs appropriate for my morning

"The Long and Winding Road (That I Can't Drive Because My Car Won't Start)"
"Baby, You Can't Drive My Car"
"I Want to Hold Your Hand (In the Front Seat of My Car, Only It's in the Shop, So I Can't)"
"Komm Gib Mir Deine Hand (auf dem Vordersitz meines Autos, nur ist es in der Werkstatt ist, so kann ich nicht)"
"Ticket to Ride"

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Also, I tried substituting Pearl Bailey for the pearl barley, but it really didn't work

Dunno about where you live, but here on the Island of Long, it feels like fall. And you know what that means: I want soup. (Well, maybe you didn't know that, but you do now.)

Here's an easy one with an incredible depth of flavor: Mark Bittmann's mushroom barley soup.

I swapped out the soy sauce for Worcestershire sauce, and used chicken stock instead of the water. But the real flavor comes from the dried porcini mushrooms. Yum. And even with prep time and cook time combined, you can be eating this about an hour.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Reply to none

Last week, someone added my name, and a whole bunch of other names, to some spammy e-mail list. I know because I got notified via e-mail. Other than that, I've had no contact with the spammers.

I have, however, gotten what seems to be a gazillion e-mails from other people who also got added to the list and reply to all with "TAKE ME OFF THIS LIST!" and "STOP FILLING UP MY IN-BOX!!!!" messages. And don't forget the "Don't reply to all on this list, even though I'm obviously doing that right now" messages.

Ugh. People are stupid. It's almost like a performance art piece, carried out over e-mail, trying to prove just that. In fact, excuse me a moment while I go reply to all to point that out ...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

You asked for it: The "It Stinks" edition

Recent searches that have stranded visitors on The Velvet Blog:

--velvet hairy video
--tears from a glass eye with a tongue of madness
--zombie farrah fawcett
--what is the relationship between eggs benedict and benedict arnold
--inevitableness vs inevitability
--bad food smells like onions or corn chips
--yogurt helps you poo
--dog smells like rotten cheese
--my dog smells like fish

Geez, people, you know dog shampoo exists, right?

Monday, September 21, 2009

How much would you pay to not have dinner with Sarah Palin?

Concerned reader Nick is trying to find out. (Shipping is free!)

UPDATE: Apparently, no one is willing to pay to not have dinner with Sarah Palin.

Shocking, I know.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Mooseburgers at 8

Oh my God oh my God oh my God oh my God! As I type these words, there's less than four hours left before the auction for the dinner -- excuse me, dinner experience -- with Sarah Palin draws to a close! Bidding is up to $60,000!!! Oh my God oh my God oh my God oh my God! How am I going to raise enough money to place my $60,001 bid by then?!?!?! I so would pay that much to give her a piece of mind!

Oh, wait ...
A background check for all attendees is mandatory. Failure to pass the background check will result in the winner forfeiting the experience and a refund given.

I guess membership in my high school's Che Guevara Club might be held against me?
The dinner experience with Sarah Palin will take place at a site to be determined ...

I'm torn between Chepo's Mexican Restaurant, the Peking Chinese Restaurant, or Picollino's (right next to Shop-Rite, so that's convenient). Who knew Wasilla was such a hotbed of international cuisine? There's even an IHOP!
... and at a mutually agreed upon time and date to be determined by Ms. Palin and the winning bidder. Ms Palin may bring up to three guests of her own.

Joe the Plumber (America's Plumber!), Joe Wilson (America's Congressman!), and Joe Six Pack (America's alcoholic!)?
The dinner will be paid for by the seller.

Now hold on one rooty-tooty-fresh-and-fruity minute. After spending $60,001 for this, I have to treat you and Joe the Plumber, Joe Wilson, and Joe Six Pack to pancakes at IHOP? (Yes, obviously, I've decided on IHOP. The "I" may stand for International, but it's still the most American.)

[Editor's note: Obviously, I wrote this quickly -- as usual -- and confused seller and bidder. I'm leaving it, though, because I so rarely have the opportunity to use the phrase "rooty-tooty-fresh-and-fruity."]
Winner may take personal photos and allowed [sic] to bring one item of reasonable size i.e. no larger than what can be carried by hand (t-shirts, books, magazines, etc.) The decision to sign the item will ultimately be up to Ms. Palin.

Reasonable size? Carry by hand? Crap, I'll never get her to sign Michael Moore, then.
Respect for Ms. Palin and her guest(s) is expected at all times. Inappropriate behavior will result in the conclusion of the experience with no refund.

That's Miss Palin, if you're nasty.
Dinner shall last no more than four hours, but could be less, in the sole discretion of Sarah Palin.

Note: Dinner may last four hours, but will seem like a minimum of 16.
Governor Palin reserves the right to refuse dinner with a winning bidder if, in her sole discretion, the winning bidder is not a suitable bidder based on her subjective standards of suitability, professionalism, background and other factors.

No shirt, no shoes, no service.
In the event the high bidder is rejected for this reason, the high bidder's bid will be refunded, if paid, and the next highest bidder shall be notified, and thereafter, until a suitable match is determined.

A suitable match? Hm. I'm thinking someone who's a cross between Bullwinkle and Joe McCarthy.

So, who wants to chip in on this with me? (And shipping is free!)

Hurry -- we don't have much time!

UPDATE: It went for $63,500, no thanks to you.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Postcard of the day

Feb. 9, 1942

Thanks for the nice L.L. The Sacramento one I have has No. 43890 on the back. Is yours different? If so please send it.

Yo' Pal,
Emaline Koslik

I know it sounds like they're writing in code, but I figured it out. Ms. Koslik and Mr. Arp were postcard collectors. "L.L." is postcard lingo for "large letter," as in "large letters with pictures in them," like the top card here. How meta--a postcard message about postcards.

Babylon is about 15 minutes away from where I live, BTW.

As usual, click to embiggen.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Quotation of the day

Meandering through our letters-to-the-editor mailbox, I found this winner:
The local AT&T stores, here, and I called to verify this, says they have 3G locally, and it is a ball faced lie.

Well, that conjures up an image I won't soon be able to erase from my brain.

And I should point out that I used to work with someone who thought the old expression was "Nip it in the butt."

Friday, September 11, 2009

Please, no autographs

The Onion AV Club has a fun piece about encounters with celebrities. Since The Velvet Blog is starved for comments, I'll open up the topic here. Any celebrity run-ins you'd like to share?

When I was fresh out of college, my first job was as an editorial assistant at publisher William Morrow. I met quite a few writers and celebs peddling books there. In passing: Roddy McDowall (tiny!), Barbara Mandrell (hey, it was the '80s -- and, also tiny!), John Irving (very nice, and he signed The Cider House Rules!), Eva Gabor and Zsa Zsa Gabor (separately!), that guy who wrote Jonathan Livingston Seagull, and his wife, who was in The Manchurian Candidate and The Giant Spider Invasion (annoying!)!

The only one I had a real conversation with was actress/comedian/Madonna canoodler Sandra Bernhard. She was surprisingly nice, not at all like her prickly public persona. I knew she had just finished doing a film with director Nic Roeg, so I asked her about that. (It was enjoyable!)

I can't help thinking, though, that celebrities you meet in your office don't really count, somehow. I mean, they're in your place of work for a reason.

So, outside of those, I think I've only really had two celebrity encounters.

The first was actually William Morrow-related, but not explicitly, so it still counts. It was also a little weird.

We were publishing a book by some big writer. I'm drawing a blank on exactly who, but a safe bet is James Clavell. (Oh, BTW, you can also read this old entry on how I schooled the author of Shogun and King Rat, etc., etc., on basic grammar.) The owner of Morrow in the late '80s was Hearst Corp. That's Hearst as in newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst, fictionalized by Orson Welles in Citizen Kane. Long dead, of course, but one of his sons -- William Randolph Hearst Jr., I'm pretty sure -- headed the company at the time. He wanted a copy of the manuscript we had just paid multimillions for, and he didn't trust couriers. (The disgustingly rich -- so eccentric!) I was handed a Xerox of the ms. and told to take a cab to Hearst's office off Times Square and plop it into his cold, slightly moist hands.

Which I did. I don't remember much about him other than he was old. But, oddly enough, this isn't a story about meeting William Randolph Heart's progeny.

Rather than take another cab, I decided to ride the subway back to work. And as I sat down on the NYC subway system's gloriously uncomfortable seats, I looked over to my left and realized I was perched next to Phillip Glass, perhaps the most famous of the late 20th century's serious composers. It was really hot that day, more so down in the subway, and I thought at first I might be imagining things. But no, it was definitely Glass. I was struck with the compulsion to hum circular rhythmic patterns under my breath, but somehow fought off the urge.

The other non-work celeb encounter, also from the late '80s:

I met a bunch of friends for dinner in New York one Saturday. Kim worked in midtown and recommended an inexpensive Italian joint around the corner from her office. Midway through the meal, Lee (hi, Lee, who reads this blog but never comments!) leaned over the table and whispered in my ear: "Don't say anything, but Shirley MacLaine is sitting over there."

I turned around and looked at the woman sitting with a South American-looking fellow at the table diagonally across from ours, and there indeed was Warren Beatty's sister eating pasta. And I blurted out, in a voice much, much louder than I had intended: "OH MY GOD! IT'S SHIRLEY MACLAINE!!!" She flinched a little.

Shirley left before we did, and we asked the waiter about her. He said she seemed pissed off and tipped poorly.

Hmm. I wonder why.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Coochy? Cuchi? Coochi? (Now with bonus Charo! And Carol Burnett!)

Kinda busy. Here, this video of Charo on the Jerry Lewis Labor Day telethon should hold you over for a while:

(via The Onion AV Club)

UPDATE: Vintage Charo:

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Onion or no Onion?: A news headline quiz

Which of these are real headlines, found on the front page of Yahoo, and which are fakes?

--No thumbprint, no money, Florida bank tells armless man
--European man invents 'cash for clunkers' board game
--Thai man shares his home with thousands of scorpions
--Germany's new AIDS-awareness ad starring Hitler draws fire
--Online doggy dating: Owner posts personal ad for his dog

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Improving headlines

Sorry, this just won't do:
Surviving Bee Gees say to reunite for live shows

First of all, "Bee Gees say to reunite"? I don't get the verb at all. Second, just the surviving members? Live shows? Yawn. Let's fix this sucker!:
Surviving Bee Gees said to reunite for live shows; those not surviving will reunite for undead shows

There. Much better.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Unfortunate typo of the day

Drat! It's been fixed. However, a Google search will confirm that a sentence in this story originally appeared online as:
Days after, I remember taking a bath and balling my eyes out.

We all deal with our grief in highly personal ways.

h/t: God Is My Codependent

Friday, September 04, 2009

Flogging, dead, horse, shooting, fish, barrel, lather, rinse, repeat

Yeah, yeah, yeah, pointing out just how truly insane the spittle-flingers have become is sort of a gimme at this point. And cherry-picking comments is highly unfair. But still, I feel compelled to point out that the comments at the end of this Atlantic blog post about how odd the protests are over Obama's upcoming stay-in-school-rah-rah-rah speech are priceless:
...There is no way that we are going to allow this lier to get to our kid's head's using the excuse that he (WANT'S TO ENCOURAGE THEM TO DO GOOD ECT.) There is some thing hidden in it for him. If he would run this country as much as he just want's to always be on the news camerias and air time, then maybe we would actually get some where.

Laugh? Cry? I can't decide anymore.

Perhaps, as Dolly Parton said so memorably in Steel Magnolias (Or was it Sylvester Stallone in Stop or My Mom Will Shoot? No, definitely Parton/Magnolias), laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.

Headline of the day

Pentagon to send unmanned Reaper drones to fight pirates

What year is this? 2525 or 1750?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Name of the day

Dan Nutkis, CEO of the Health Information Trust Alliance.


If sock monkeys were Alaskan fame whores

sock monkeySarah Crazy Monkey Matriarch kept mentioning this plan. She was nagging -- she wouldn't give it up. She would say, "So, are you gonna let me adopt him have your banana?" We both kept telling her we were definitely not going to let her adopt the baby have our banana.

Update: Alaska's former First Impregnator, Levi Johnston, is, according to news reports, considering an offer to pose for Playgirl. This is surprising for a couple reasons. First, proud redneck posing for a magazine whose readership is made up of gay men pretending to be straight women? Second ... wait ... Playgirl still exists????

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Return to the valley of nonapologies

There are nonapology apologies, and then there are just plain old nonapologies. This is the latter:
[GOP gubernatorial candidate Rex] Rammell made the comment Tuesday at a Republican barbecue in Twin Falls during talk about Idaho selling its first $11.50 hunting tags for wolves this fall. Someone shouted "Obama tags," and Rammell said, "The Obama tags? We'd buy some of those."

On Friday, he said in a news release and on Twitter: "Anyone who understands the law, knows I was just joking, because Idaho has no jurisdiction to issue hunting tags in Washington, D.C."

Coincidentally, Rex Rammell is my porn name.

Great. Now I have to change it. Thanks loads, douchebag.

(Note: At least other top Idaho Republicans are condemning the remark, and Rammell is seen as a quote-unquote fringe candidate.)

Repeat: We did NOT use griffins

Is Using A Minotaur To Gore Detainees A Form Of Torture?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Random 10 with selected lyrics

Nilsson, "Living Without You," Nilsson Sings Newman: Milk truck hauls the sun up/And the paper hits my door/The subway shakes my floor/And I think about you

Thomas Dolby, "She Blinded Me With Science," Retrospectacle: Good heavens, Miss Sakamoto -- you're beautiful!

Rilo Kiley, "More Adventurous," More Adventurous: And it's only doubts that we're counting/On fingers broken long ago/I read with every broken heart we should become/More adventurous

Richard X. Heyman, "Cornerstone," Cornerstone

Jane Siberry, "Waitress," No Borders Here: And I'd probably be famous now/If I wasn't such a good waitress

Marshall Crenshaw, "You're My Favorite Waste of Time," This Is Easy

Death Cab for Cute, "Your Heart Is an Empty Room," Plans

Nick Lowe, "All Men Are Liars," Party of One: Do you remember Rick Astley?/He had a big fat hit/It was ghastly

Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, "Perfect Skin," Rattlesnakes: Shame on you/You've got no sense of grace/Shame on me/Ah, just in case

Serge Gainsbourg, "L'Hotel Particulier," Histoire de Melody Nelson

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Correction of the day

Trust me, magazines and newspapers do NOT like to print corrections. Whenever we have to print one, there's much discussion and we always try to figure out what went wrong.

I, for one, would love to hear how this choice error happened. (The theory of the person who comments at bottom of page sounds very plausible. But really ... how did someone not check this?)

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.

Note: A rerun of the first sock monkey post, from January 2006.