Friday, December 31, 2010

You get the government you deserve, part MMXI

From The New York Times:
To warm up the Florida crowds for his inauguration as governor, Rick Scott has been flying around the state this week on a seven-city “appreciation” tour. For the main event on Tuesday, he will lead a parade featuring 26 marching bands, followed by a black-tie dinner for 2,100 people, with oysters Rockefeller and fried calamari served in mini-martini glasses. “Real classy,” said Christy Noftz, who is overseeing the catering.

"Real classy." Somehow when I replay the phrase in my mind, I can only hear it in the voice of, say, a cast member of Jersey Shore in reference a state-of-the-art tanning bed. I find that, in general, people who refer to their work as "real classy" are to be believed about as often as people who refer to themselves as "mavericks."
After their election night victory speeches, the nation’s 26 new governors have had to wrestle with a symbolically rich decision that could set the tone for their time in office: how big a party to give for themselves.

It is always a tricky call. ...

In Nevada, Brian Sandoval, a Republican, will host back-to-back $1,000-a-head V.I.P. receptions, one of them at the Wynn Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. ...

Others are embracing conspicuous frugality. In New York, Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, is having a small preinauguration dinner for close friends at the governor’s mansion, and has parceled out so few invitations to his no-frills swearing-in ceremony that even some top aides have not made the cut. ...

Oh, please, please, please, please let Cuomo's girlfriend Sandra Lee make a cake and cocktails. Please, please, please, please, please, please, please.*
Mark Dayton, the Democratic governor-elect in Minnesota, said he considered canceling his party, which is scheduled for Jan. 8. Instead, he has authorized a “Blue Jeans to Black Tie” ball with a loose dress code and a flexible ticket price. He plans to show up in jeans and an old hockey jersey.

Dude, we get it, we get it. But why not show up in t-shirt and sweat pants while holding a can of Miller High Life and really make a point?
Then there is Mr. Scott in Florida, whose multiday, multicity inauguration has become known wryly in political circles here as the “coronation.”

Preparations began shortly after Election Day with a prodigious fund-raising drive. Mr. Scott, a wealthy former health-care executive who dug into his own pocket to finance his campaign, received donations of $25,000 each from dozens of major state employers like Disney, Office Depot and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, collecting nearly $3 million. ...

Yeah, I see no possible conflict of interest there.
On Tuesday, for his official inauguration, Mr. Scott will hold a two-hour prayer breakfast with no fewer than 10 speakers; an afternoon concert featuring the country singers Lee Greenwood and Rockie Lynne; and a parade befitting Disney World’s home state. ...

Democrats, especially, detected hypocrisy, and pounced. Mr. Scott, after all, campaigned on a platform of fiscal restraint and small government. Businessmen like himself, he declared shortly after the election, “accept austerity as the price for dramatic turnarounds.”

Pressed about the scale of the festivities, Mr. Scott said: “It absolutely is fitting for these times. We need to celebrate how we are going to change this state.”

'Cause nothing says "we need to tighten our belts" quite like loosening your belt so far that your pants fall off.

Congrats, Florida voters!


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Oddly, I feel as if I need a cigarette, and I don't even smoke

Stumbled over a great book on Barnes & Noble's remainder table the other day, Bizarre Books: A Compendium of Classic Oddities by Russell Ash and Brian Lake. If you're in need of a stocking stuffer for a book lover, see if you can find it. It's an illustrated list of odd books published over the years, and those with weird titles (Handbook for the Limbless) or strangely appropriate authors (Raymond W. Dull's Mathematics for Engineers).

I, for one, will be searching out Christie's Old Organ by Mrs. O.F. Walton (Religious Tract Society, 1882):
But when he had eaten his cake, and had taken some tea which he had warmed over again, old Treffy felt rather better, and he turned as usual to his old organ to cheer his fainting spirits. For old Treffy knew nothing of a better Comforter. ...

"Shall I take the organ out?"

Old Treffy did not answer; a great struggle was going on in his mind. Could he let any one but himself touch his dear old organ? It would be hard to see it go out, and have to stay behind--very hard indeed.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mushrooms: Not always magic

It's been ages since we've explored the recipe files of Jeanne Metzger Feinberg. Let's see what's for dinner.


Hmm. Is that a bowl of eyes? Because I'm pretty sure it's staring at me.

I also give you one illustration of the fact that mushrooms go with everything, just for the halibut.


I'm not a big fan of fish, but is halibut really supposed to be that color?

Concerned reader Grammarian points me toward this article on "the doyenne of food writers" Elizabeth David. Her comments are quite funny, but, seriously, if she thought Italian Salad is the "most revolting dish ever devised," I beg to differ, and offer as evidence bologna wedgies, supper sandwiches, and meatza. If you have a favorite revolting dish, do share.

UPDATE: Punkinsmom offers a Scandinavian treat.

UPDATE UPDATE: I see your ancestors' jellied fish in tomato juice and raise you my Scottish grandmother's potted head. Um, not actually her potted head. But, still. (For the record, she hated haggis and was otherwise a marvelous cook.)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

So, how's that War on Christmas going?


Yeah, that's what I thought.

More uses of "Merry Christmas" than ever. Tiny uptick of "Happy Holidays," bringing it to 1950s levels. "Season's Greetings" is out of the running.

Note that the Ngram Viewer has its oddities--seems to make a difference whether you use capital letters or not. And "Season's Greetings," with apostrophe, wasn't coming up at all. Make of this what you will.

(Go to Friday's TVB entry for more on the Ngram Viewer, the fad that's sweeping the nation. I hope it gives the nation a thorough dusting, too.)

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Velvet Blog's influence on the national discourse, 1985-2008

Yes, it's the fad that's sweeping the globe: using Google's Ngram Viewer to chart the use of words or phrases over time. The New York Times story is here, and the tool itself is here.

I decided to track four stock TVB phrases--give me that banana, wacky high jinks ensue, garnish with fluffernutter, and barry manilow puts a sock in his pants--to see how they've made inroads into popular culture. Let's take a look:


Hmmm. Not so much, then.

Well, I take minor solace in noting that The Velvet Blog is the #1 Google hit for "wacky high jinks ensue," but it has dropped to #2 for "barry manilow puts a sock in his pants," (though the #1 hit is me complaining that I'm not the #1 hit on another site). You know, I should probably get some new hobbies.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Seriously? Seriously??? This is the argument???

The Marine Corps' top general suggested Tuesday that allowing gays to serve openly in the military could result in more casualties because their presence on the battlefield would pose "a distraction."

"When your life hangs on the line," said Gen. James F. Amos, the commandant of the Marine Corps, "you don't want anything distracting. . . . Mistakes and inattention or distractions cost Marines' lives."
--Washington Post

I didn't realize Marines are such pussies.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Satan ... Santa ... oh, whatever

Another repurposed post from last year. Woo-hoo!

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!)

There's a Mystery Science Theater 3000 version -- part 1 is here -- but if you want to see all of the original, it's on TCM at 2:00 a.m. (That is, early Saturday morning.)

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

I predict these plucky kids will one day be bright and shining lights of the Republican party

Found this over at Regret the Error, which compiles news corrections:
Julie Bailey was featured in a Nov. 25 Crossroads story and photo about a T-shirt drive at Glasgow High School organized by her friend Ashley Green to support her. Contrary to the story, her parents, Kirk and Peggy Bailey, said their daughter does not have a brain tumor and has not been admitted to Alfred I. du Pont Hospital for Children during the past year.

Well, that's odd, I thought, so I tried to read the original story, only to find it had been deleted from its source, a site called Delaware Online. But I managed to find a cached version with a little inventive Googling.

(I'll pause now while you click the link above and read that bogus story in amazement. And, really, read the whole thing--there's a break in the middle, so scroll down.)

So many unanswered questions! Were the girls pranking the reporter, or did they scam the school? How did the reporter--oh, I don't know--decide not to interview Julie's parents?

I smell a TV movie.

And how has this not gone viral yet? This story seems to be an exclusive of The Velvet Blog, previously best known for posts about how Activia helps you poop.

UPDATE: My friend Denise points out the resemblance to the plot of Ferris Beuller's Day Off. So, just big John Hughes fans with a misguided tribute to the late director? If it turns out the girls also crashed the Von Steuben Day Parade and lip synced "Twist and Shout," that will settle the matter.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Note to self: Dolls must have heads and bodies

Kind of busy the next few weeks, so new posts will be minimal. Pardon me while I rerun a bunch of Christmas-themed posts from past years.

Time for a 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: I'm not 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 on one darn minute there, mister!!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Quotations of the day

Nothing had been so hateful in the sight of these mobs as the man of learning, at first because they had served the princes, but then later because they refused to join in the bloodletting and tried to oppose the mobs, calling the crowds "bloodthirsty simpletons."

Joyfully the mobs accepted the name, took up the cry: Simpletons! Yes, yes! I'm a simpleton! Are you a simpleton? We'll build a town and we'll name it Simple Town, because by then all the smart bastards that caused all this, they'll be dead! Simpletons! Let's go! This ought to show 'em! Anybody here not a simpleton? Get the bastard, if there is!
--Walter M. Miller, Jr., A Canticle for Leibowitz

I hope [the committees] will reconsider funding [of the Smithsonian Institution]. After all, why should the working class pay for the leisure, e.g., going to museums, of the upper class? We don't subsidize professional wrestling, yet the working class has to pay for the leisure of the rich. --William Donohue, Catholic League president

Donohue (no relation!) pushed the point further in an NPR interview that I'm trying to find a transcript of, in which he states baldly that only "elites" visit museums. "Regular" people simply prefer professional wrestling and shun museums. He himself never visits them, he says.

That may come as surprise to my father, who grew up on a farm, and my mother, who worked part-time in the local town hall and was otherwise a full-time mom. Neither attended college, though my mom went to secretarial school. (Does that make her an elite? I'm not sure where the lines are drawn these days.) They drove me down to Washington, D.C., and we saw the Capitol, the U.S. Mint, and, yes, the Smithsonian. I loved, loved, loved the Air and Space Museum, and that trip was one of the highlights of my youth. I remember it vividly, decades later.

Does Donohue even believe the crap he spouts? Does he really think schoolkids don't get inspired by seeing Betsy Ross' flag or the lunar module and would be better off seeing an exhibit of Randy Savage's singlets? I suspect it's just condescending bullshit to get donations from the rubes, but what do I know? (I do believe him, though, when he says he never visits museums.)

I despair. Truly.

UPDATE: Here is the quote from NPR:
"Why should the working class pay for the leisure of the elite when in fact one of the things the working class likes to do for leisure is to go to professional wrestling? And if I suggested we should have federal funds for professional wrestling to lower the cost of the ticket, people would think I'm insane. I don't go to museums any more than any Americans do," Donohue said. --NPR

Emphasis mine. (Way to recycle a quote, Bill.)

UPDATE UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan on the exhibit in question. He describes the item that offended Donohue toward the bottom.

Monday, November 29, 2010

But most of all, I'm thankful that I'm not related to Elextra

The day before Thanksgiving, The New York Times ran a collection of reader comments on their worst T-day experiences.

Please settle in and let Elextra tell you her tale of woe:
I went to my mother’s house for dinner (she was a professional caterer and an excellent cook). She never liked me; she was very jealous of my media and modeling career, as was most of my family. They’d called me the “Queen Bee” when I’d come to visit.

I would take it in stride but this Thanksgiving I was sitting at the extended table in the family room, my uncle’s wife across from me. She looked at me and said, “Every time you come into a room you always make me feel so ugly and insignificant.” I think I had had it and I replied, “maybe if you went on a diet and lost 50 pounds, visited a dermatologist for your severe acne and had plastic surgery, you’d feel better about yourself, and stop targeting people who have nothing to do with your insecurities.”

Needless to say, my mother asked me to leave for insulting her “guests.” I did, and visited friends who had invited me to join them for Thanksgiving. The food was awful but the welcome was delicious.

The food was awful? No, actually, your friends were trying to poison you, and I wish them better luck at Christmas.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Guess the fake restaurant review

Three of these excerpts from restaurant reviews ran in The New Yorker. (Yes, The New Yorker.) One's fake. Which?

A) At night, red lights line the ceiling and the restaurant is packed. So is the bar, where the Italian mixologist Christina Bini tests the limits of potable weirdness with cocktails like the Zucchidorini (green apple, green squash, and Midori) and the Buffalo 66 (rosemary vodka, Worcestershire sauce, and beet juice); a dry Martini arrives with a vermouth-soaked black stone from Mongolia. (White Ligurian pebbles would make the drink sweet, the waitress explained to a puzzled diner: "they're more porous, so they hold more vermouth.")

B) An amuse-bouche of hen-liver mousse on a rye crisp, presented on a shard of slate, immediately signals a seriousness of intent. The rest of the menu follows through, and is full of unusual combinations that delight more often than they offend. A witty salad features pickled green strawberries with red Russian kale. A sea-urchin bisque comes in a cup and saucer, with the velvety richness of a refined hot chocolate. Lamb sweetbreads sit alongside Concord grapes, a twist on turkey and cranberry sauce. ... An otherwise forgettable entrée of braised lamb riblets is garnished with desiccated slices of cauliflower resembling tiny leafless trees in a stark wintry landscape.

C) The squid-ink fondue is more daunting than chef Auguste Grandvilliers intends. The tenderloins of farm-raised albatross coated in a black viscous gunk conjure up memories of the Exxon Valdez and the recent oil spill in the Gulf--exactly the point, of course, but the gamey flavors of the seabird and juniper-scented fondue simply don't coöperate with each other, and eventually the metaphor collapses upon itself.

D) A simple apéritif of shochu, garnished with tiny morsels of pear cut in leaf and star shapes, tastes the way you imagine dew might. Monkfish liver is presented in a vase of pebbles, abalone on a cushion of salt; you get to sear small rectangles of beef on a terrifyingly hot shiny stone. Dried mullet roe (which you grill over an open flame) looks like carrot, has the consistency of bean curd, and tastes like anchovy, only more so. Coupled with a rectangular tablet of daikon radish, it looks uncannily like a mah-jongg tile. Aigamo duck comes with a cake of mochi--a kind of rice polenta with a texture between dough and string cheese but stickier than either. (In Japan, people occasionally suffocate while eating it.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Velvet Blog in 3D

It's been ages, but The Velvet Blog occasionally likes to soften the blow of particularly harsh film reviews by appending the phrase "Garnish with Fluffernutter."

Why? Because we can.

Today's poorly received film is Andrei Konchalovsky's The Nutcracker. Er, no, actually, it's The Nutcracker in 3D. Really, that's the official title. (I think it's a pretty solid rule of thumb that any movie that includes 3D as part of its official title is going to be rough going.)

Roger Ebert is somewhat taken aback:
From what dark night of the soul emerged the wretched idea for “The Nutcracker in 3D”? Who considered it even remotely a plausible idea for a movie? It begins with an awkward approximation of the story behind the Tchaikovsky ballet, and then turns it into a war by the Nutcracker Prince against the Holocaust.

Am I exaggerating? At one point, the evil Rat King (John Turturro) has his troopers snatch toys from the hands of children so they can be tossed into furnaces, and the smoke will emerge from high chimneys to blot out the sun.

Yes. And the rats are dressed in fascistic uniforms. Against them stand our heroine Mary (Elle Fanning) and her Christmas present, a nutcracker (voice of Shirley Henderson) that has imprisoned a handsome prince (Charlie Rowe). And two-legged helicopters swoop low over screaming children, and the city is laid waste, and the rats dream of world domination.

You may be in disbelief. I was. “The Nutcracker in 3D” is one of those rare holiday movies that may send children screaming under their seats. ...

Only one thing could have made this film worse, and they haven’t neglected it. That would be to present it in 3-D. They have.

Garnish with Fluffernutter.

Ouch. Not even my addition of Fluffernutter will help.

I leave you with The New York Times' explanation of the film's PG rating:
“The Nutcracker in 3D” is rated PG (Parental guidance suggested). No blood but quite a bit of suspense and violence, including an electrocuted shark and a decapitation.

Because nothing says Happy Holidays quite like an electrocuted shark. (Which, oddly, I don't remember from the stage production.)

In all fairness, Scrooge, the 1970 musical version of A Christmas Carol, scared the crap out of me when I was a kid.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bad ideas for Thanksgiving dinner

--Turschmucken: Loser stuffed inside a chicken stuffed inside a turkey.
--Tursnooken: The Jersey Shore's Snooki stuffed inside a chicken stuffed inside a turkey.
--Turtoblerucken: Toblerone stuffed inside a turtle stuffed inside a chicken stuffed inside a turkey.
--Tofucken: Tofu stuffed inside a chicken. (Pronounced toe-FOO-kin.)
--Turantidisestablishmentarianistucken: 19th-century Briton in opposition to proposals for the disestablishment of the Church of England stuffed inside a chicken stuffed inside a turkey.

UPDATE from JohnnyB, in comments -- Turkmenistan: Stanley stuffed inside some men stuffed inside a turkey.

UPDATE UPDATE from Grammarian --Turgoospignutt: a goose, stuffed inside a turkey, stuffed inside a pig, roasted on a spit, and garnished with Fluffernutter.

Also, behold the cherpumple, the turducken of desserts.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Song of the day

Saw Richard Shindell perform last night--terrific voice, great guitarist, fine songwriter. This video is from a couple of years ago, from an appearance in the Netherlands.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Three food-based puns I promise never to use in a blog post

--The sheep's milk cheese? I already used it, so it's a feta accompli.
--I had some really bad Mediterranean food. It made me falafel.
--Operator, give me long distance. Long distance? I want to talk to the Consolidated Coffee Company in Brazil. Hello, Brazil? Oh, is this you, Joe? This is Bill. How's the coffee business? Just a grind, eh?*

*Abbott and Costello, Who Done It? (Thanks, Grammarian.)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fun with numbers

There's a big sticker on the front of my dog Freddie's dry food that reads:
Dogs prefer our new formula by 2-1/2:1!

That half a dog really worries me.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

This makes me hate her all over again for the first time

OK, I was really too young to give a crap about Yoko breaking up the Beatles, but this quote from her on the occasion of iTunes getting the band's catalog is jaw-dropping:
“In the joyful spirit of 'Give Peace A Chance,' I think it is so appropriate that we are doing this on John’s 70th birthday year,” said Yoko Ono Lennon. --CNN

Yes, if there's anything John Lennon stood for, it was the right to download "Revolution" to your iPod for $1.29. I'm sure he's very, very pleased.

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.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cartoon cat walks back anti-veteran stance, remains staunchly pro-lasagna

We are in uncharted territory here, folks: The public apology apology. A Lexis-Nexis search turns up no others in the history of recorded media. (Earlier investigations into nonapology apologies are here.)

First, the background, via the AP:
Cartoonist Jim Davis apologized Thursday for a Garfield strip that some veterans may have found offensive.

Not a promising start, I'll admit--did he apologize for the strip or because veterans may have found it offensive? But we'll blame the reporter, not Davis.
The strip ran on Veterans Day in newspapers across the country. It shows a spider daring the pudgy orange cat to squash it. The spider tells Garfield that if he is killed, "they will hold an annual day of remembrance in my honor."

The final panel shows a spider-teacher asking its students if they know why spiders celebrate "National Stupid Day."

So, obviously, Davis has deep-seated issues with stupid spiders that have enlisted in the armed forces.
Davis, of Muncie, Ind., said in a statement posted on his website that he didn't know the strip would appear on Veterans Day. He said it was written nearly a year ago and called the publication Thursday "the worst timing ever."

Nearly a year ago? Lots of cartoons work in comments on the news--the dreaded, laughter-destroying Mallard Fillmore just did some strips on last week's brief sacking of Keith Olbermann. Lasagna-eating cats, however, are forever. It is quite possible that a nuclear bomb will drop tomorrow and new, banked Garfield strips will run in The Cockroach Times for another decade or two.
"It absolutely, positively has nothing to do with this important day of remembrance," Davis said. ...

Davis said his brother served in Vietnam, and his son is a Marine who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said he is grateful for the service of veterans, and called any offense "unintentional and regrettable."

So he wrote a strip a year ago that coincidentally fell on Veterans Day thereby creating the illusion of anti-vet sentiment. He could have issued a PR statement saying, "Um, it's Garfield, people. I make millions in mugs and calendars every day. You think I'm going to jeopardize that by doing anti-veteran gags? Don't be crazy!"

But he didn't. He apologized--with a real apology.

Why, it's almost quaint! And it'll never catch on.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Smile and say, "I've got a burning sensation in my chest and I can't feel my left arm"

There was a story in the Times on Sunday about how Dairy Management, part of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, is working with restaurants to encourage more sales of cheese. The results are rather alarming as well as somewhat puzzling:
...In a series of confidential agreements approved by agriculture secretaries in both the Bush and Obama administrations, Dairy Management has worked with restaurants to expand their menus with cheese-laden products.

Consider the Taco Bell steak quesadilla, with cheddar, pepper jack, mozzarella and a creamy sauce. “The item used an average of eight times more cheese than other items on their menu,” the Agriculture Department said in a report, extolling Dairy Management’s work — without mentioning that the quesadilla has more than three-quarters of the daily recommended level of saturated fat and sodium. ...

On Oct. 13, Domino’s announced the latest in its Legends line of cheesier pizza, which Dairy Management is promoting with the $12 million marketing effort.

Called the Wisconsin, the new pie has six cheeses on top and two more in the crust.

Just eight cheeses in the pizza? Pikers. They need to think bigger--really go all in. Remove the tomato sauce--it's just taking up valuable real estate on the crust--and replace it with a nice Velveeta sauce. Perhaps take an extra step to support our farmers and replace the crust with meat.

In short, I'm concerned that the Dairy Management folks just aren't thinking big enough:
“More cheese on pizza equals more cheese sales,” [Thomas] Gallagher, the Dairy Management chief executive, wrote in a guest column in a trade publication last year. “In fact, if every pizza included one more ounce of cheese, we would sell an additional 250 million pounds of cheese annually.”

True, Mr. Gallagher, but why stop there? If every pizza had a pound more of cheese, you could sell 4 trillion more pounds a year.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Quotation of the day

We may please ourselves with the prospect of free and popular governments. But there is great danger that those governments will not make us happy. God grant they may. But I fear that in every assembly, members will obtain an influence by noise not sense. By meanness, not greatness. By ignorance, not learning. By contracted hearts, not large souls ... —John Adams, from a letter dated April 22, 1776, while serving in the First Continental Congress

(Source: John Adams by David McCullough, here. As mentioned in a letter to the editor in the Times this morning. )

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Do you want fries with that gross, deformed pork patty?

Color me puzzled over the hoopla regarding the return of the McRib, but this Yahoo News story does give me these two Quotations of the Day:
Why is it so popular? An excellent article from Sharon Bernstein quotes one Brian Goodman, 27, of Grand Forks, N.D., talking about his devotion to the sandwich: "I am a huge fan of the McRib, and I am glad to have it back," he said. "I just happen to find this really gross, deformed pork patty to be delicious."

Mmmmmm ... deformity ...
McDonald's spokeswoman Tara Hayes told AFP that the McRib's limited availability "helps to keep fans passionate about the product." Only a sandwich "so delicious, so special, so elusive, and so legendary could create such a widespread affection among its fans," Hayes said. ...

It must take a special kind of person to be a spokesperson and not want to kill yourself on a daily basis.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The nonapology apology is dead--long live the nonapology nonapology!

The Velvet Blog has been following the nonapology apology trend--that is, wishy-washy attempts at sounding like you're apologizing when you really aren't--in public discourse for a while now. But I'm here to declare that those days are over. Now, being a totally unapologetic asshat is all the rage.

Let's start with a master: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The unholy combination of Rupert Murdoch, Hugh Hefner, and an unneutered feral tomcat made headlines recently (well, in the only two Italian news outlets he doesn't own, apparently) after it came to light that he had sprung from police custody a 17-year-old Moroccan runaway who previously had spent time at his villa.

From the AP report:
"I've got nothing to clarify," Mr. Berlusconi said Friday. "I'm a playful person, full of life. I love life, I love women. ... Nobody can make me, at my age, change my lifestyle, of which I am absolutely proud."

Forget even a weasely, Clintonian "It depends on what your definition of 'is' is" for this guy. (I hope, by the way, that there's no truth to the rumor he'll be starring in a Jersey Shore: The Geriatric Years spin-off soon.)

A Rand Paul volunteer shows how the new nonapology nonapology is done on these shores--but, I have to say, with a lot less verve and a lot more self-pity. Last week, Tim Profitt stomped the head of a MoveOn activist outside a Paul appearance. After being identified, Profitt had this to say:
I don't think it's that big of a deal. I would like for her to apologize to me, to be honest with you.

That would have been a perfect nonapology nonapology if only he had stopped there.

But he didn't:
I put my foot on her, and I did push her down at the very end, and I told her to stay down. I actually put my foot on her to--I couldn't bend over because I have issues with my back.

Oooo, and there we just have serious overreach. Being a violent, unrepentant douchebag is one thing, but asking for sympathy, too? Serious miscalculation.

So, there you have it--two recent, inarguable examples showing that nonapology apologies are out and nonapology nonapologies are in. All we need is one more, and this will be picked up as a New York Times trend piece in the Sunday Styles section.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Smackdown!: Serial killers vs. serial commas

This story seems to be going viral, so let me just add: Amen. Also, since I'll be busy-busy the next few days, I'll rerun this entry from Nov. 3 of last year.

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.

There comes a time when even I must say "no"

Netflix makes recommendations based on what you've been watching. There's an upside and a downside to that. If you've been watching good movies, you're probably going to have other, similar movies recommended. If, on the other hand, you've been watching The Apple ... well, all bets are off. What I'm trying to say is, Netflix thinks the Village People musical Can't Stop the Music and I were made for each other.

I'd never seen it--it's reputation is tough to get by.* But, what the heck ... I made it through The Apple and After Last Season, so I can watch anything, right?

Well, no. No, I can't. I tried--really, I tried. But it was just so, so painful.

You win, movie.

*The Newsweek review, per Wikipedia: "Can't Stop the Music ushers in a whole new concept in entertainment--it's the first all-singing, all-dancing horror film; the Dawn of the Dead of the disco era."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A smart-shopping tip from The Velvet Blog

Never take the first offer a company makes.

Case in point: I decided to renew my membership to Bally's and went to the health-club chain's site to check pricing--which turned out to be $198 a year! No way, José!* The TVB strategy: Be patient and look for special offers.

I double-checked the site this morning and hit pay dirt. The first special is:
Renew for 0 months $15.99 Savings: $0.00

Woo hoo!

*Bally's was founded by noted fitness expert José Bally.**

**Not really.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

If sock monkeys drunk dialed

sock monkeyGood morning, Anita Hill, it's Ginni Thomas S. Monkey. I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband dared challenge the silverback. So give it some thought and certainly pray about this and come to understand why you did what you did. OK, have a good day and realize that if you don't do this, I'll throw poop at you.

Now, give me that banana.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Should I call the cops?

My neighbor apparently has buried six people in his front yard. He's so brazen and sick that the graves actually have joke epitaphs, like "Rest in Pieces," and there's one skeleton that's poking half out of the ground. Oddly, the gravestones look flimsy, as if they may be made out of styrofoam. He's not only a maniac, but the worst kind of maniac--one who just doesn't sweat the details.

Meanwhile, on another neighbor's lawn, a large cat appears to be #&$@ing a pumpkin.

Surely, these are the end times.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Shooting some random dude in the face means never having to send a fruit basket

When Dick Cheney shot Harry Whittington in the face a few years ago while hunting--as I recall, the game was hoboes let loose on a desert island--we were told A) that the injuries were not serious and B) that the two were good friends and old hunting buddies. Actually, the injuries were quite serious and the two were acquaintances at best. Also, Whittington won't come out and say it, but Cheney obviously never apologized.

What the hell??

The original Washington Post story is behind a pay wall, but Salon quotes this:
Four days after being hit, the birdshot near his heart prompted it to beat erratically, forcing him back into the intensive care unit. Doctors said Whittington suffered a mild heart attack; he thinks it was something less, a heart "event."

Still, the injuries were more dire than previously disclosed. Whittington suffered a collapsed lung. He underwent invasive exploratory surgery, as doctors probed his vital organs for signs of damage. The load from Cheney's gun came close to, but didn't damage, the carotid artery in his neck.

Another excerpt:
Every so often, for months afterward, some of the lead in Whittington's body worked its way to the surface. But many pieces remain too deeply embedded to remove, including one near his heart. At 82, Whittington knows he will live the rest of his days with about 30 pieces of shot inside him. Somehow, he jokes, he can get through a metal detector without causing a commotion.

Tell me again that story about the liberal media ...

When W. moseyed off to the ranch for good, I predicted that there would be a flood of jaw-dropping information about the administration coming out. I was wrong--that didn't happen. Reporters obviously are still afraid Cheney will shoot them.

Oh, and c'mon, Dick, it's not really too late.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Yeah, well, that happens the first time

Ugh. This is what the race for New York's governor's office has sunk to:

--Republican Carl Paladino sends out racist and porn-filled e-mails to pals with approving messages.

--He has a 10-year-old daughter from an affair with a staffer, which he kept secret from his family for many years. Then he told his other children, but made them not tell their mother. Finally, he told his wife.

--He also makes comments along the lines of "Welfare recipients should be made to live in prison-like dorms and forced to take hygiene classes."

--He made accusations that Andrew Cuomo cheated on his wife. Then he took them back. Then he trotted them out again. Then he made a video in which he said his private life should be off limits, but that "Andrew's prowess is legendary."

--Last weekend, he gave a speech in front of orthodox rabbis in Brooklyn that included hateful passages on gays.

--He spent two days defending those remarks, and calling himself the "family values candidate."

--Suggested campaign slogan for Paladino, and, really, I want credit for this if he starts using it: Carl Paladino: His family values are so strong that he actually has two of them.

--Finally, he walked the anti-gay comments back ... a little, and very half-heartedly.

Now, via the Times, comes word that the orthodox rabbis he spoke in front of are not happy:
Rabbi Levin said he was especially upset that Mr. Paladino gave him no notice that he planned to back away from the comments.

"I was in the middle of eating a kosher pastrami sandwich," Rabbi Levin said. "While I was eating it, they come running and they say, 'Paladino became gay!' I said, 'What?' And then they showed me the statement. I almost choked on the kosher salami."

Oy. Well, at least I get a Quote of the Day out of it.

PS: The world has become so topsy-turvy that pastrami is turning into salami before choking you. I believe this is among the signs of the apocalypse listed in the Book of Revelation.

Is Freedom just another word for nothing left to lose?

Sunk costs are unrecoverable past expenditures. These should not normally be taken into account when determining whether to continue a project or abandon it, because they cannot be recovered either way. It is a common instinct to count them, however.

At what point do you stop reading a book you're not enjoying?

I find it easy to not finish a book I find boring. It's not a conscious decision--I simply stop picking it up and, after a while, realize I'm never going to pick it up again. I stopped reading Interview With the Vampire about five pages from the end. I just didn't care about it one way or another. I didn't stop reading it on purpose--I just stopped reading it.

But books I don't find boring but take an active dislike to? I'm not sure what to do.

I'm about two-thirds through Jonathan Franzen's much-praised Freedom, and quite honestly, I hate it. Not in the way I disliked, say, The DaVinci Code. To me, DaVinci just seemed like a penny dreadful that somehow went viral, infecting everyone except me. I easily finished DaVinci--in two sittings, as I remember--because it was so eager to be read that it was difficult to stop even when I liked virtually nothing about it.

Freedom is a different beast. It's a quote-unquote literary novel, praised by just about everyone, written by a novelist whose last book was praised by just about everyone. (That would be The Corrections, which I haven't read.)

Every character in Freedom is either a jerk, a whiner, or a whiny jerk. There are pages of dialog at a time that consist of two characters bitching at each other--plot is not advanced, theme is (to my mind, anyway) not developed coherently. Shouldn't I have a good idea what the book is about by page 352? I actually found myself getting angry at the book itself last night as I read before going to sleep. WHY AM I READING YOU WHEN I HATE YOU SO VERY, VERY MUCH? (As I posted on Facebook before turning out the light: "Am on page 352 (of 562) of Jonathan Franzen's Freedom and want to punch every single character in the face. Hard.")

I think I'm hung up on sunk costs. I've devoted this much time and energy to Freedom, so I feel like it's all a waste if I don't finish. If I were bored by it, I'd just put it down and never think about it again, like Interview With the Vampire. But somehow, I'll feel defeated by this damned thing if I don't plow through.

Incidentally, Freedom has not been nominated for a National Book Award, which everyone seemed to think was a given. Hmmm. Maybe I'm not the only one who doesn't get it.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

From the ridiculous to the sublime

So sorry to have haunted your dreams with scenes from The Apple. To make up for it, here's the opening scene from my favorite great movie, Powell and Pressburger's A Matter of Life and Death:

I know I've run this clip before, but I'm posting again because AMOLAD was one of the topics under discussion in last week's Filmspotting podcast. (Thanks to TVB reader Posol'stvo for tipping me off to Filmspotting's P&P marathon.) If you won't take my advice, perhaps you'll listen to two guys with a podcast.

I'm always looking to add a good podcast into my rotation. Do recommend any off-the-beaten-track ones you listen to in comments. Thanks!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Bite me

The '70s have much to answer for: Disco. The Partridge Family. Watergate. Leisure suits. Etc., etc.

To that list I would add The Apple, although it didn't open until 1980. What is The Apple? According to the trailer, it is special experience in movie-going entertainment.

But I guess that depends on how you define "special."

Filmed in West Germany in 1979 by an international crew and cast, and released the next year, The Apple was intended to be a musical for the youth market, a la Grease and Saturday Night Fever. Rocky Horror Picture Show had become a "midnight movie" favorite in the U.S. by then, and I'd bet that was in the producers' minds, too. I've been unable to dig up any accounts of its Teutonic reception, but given David Hasselhoff's success there the following decade, I'm going to assume it was a huge hit.

The U.S. market, however, turned out to be tougher nut to crack. The film was previewed disastrously--some accounts have audiences hurling free copies of the soundtrack LP at the screen--and got re-edited. If you ever decide to take the plunge and watch this, you'll notice a number of scenes in the preview above are nowhere to be found in the finished product. It played on only a handful of screens here in 1980, and disappeared in a week. Then it started appearing on late night TV and a cult began to form. I can't remember exactly when I first heard about The Apple but, as an aficionado of truly bad cinema, it's been on my must-see list for years. Then, as I cruised through Netflix's listings the other day ... there it was. I sat down yesterday morning with a large cup of coffee and slice of chocolate babka and let the whole thing wash over me.

Let's begin at the beginning:

It's the crazy, far-off world of 1994. New York--which looks oddly like an unused West Berlin shopping mall, as that's where it was shot--is home to Worldvision, a worldwide music competition modeled after the real-world Eurovision contest. Dandi and Pandi (Sandi and Mandi? Schmandi and Candi? Well, one of those must be right.) are singing their contest entry, "Do the BIM."

A word to future movie moguls: If you make up a word for a movie musical, it's probably best not to introduce that word in a wretched song. I honestly had no freaking clue what the characters were supposed to be singing. I realize now that it's a chant of "B!" "I M!" but it sounded more like "Be!" "I am!" A repeated refrain, which could be either "Hey, hey, hey, BIM's on the way!" or maybe "Hey, hey, hey, BIMs are the way!," wasn't a lot of help in puzzling it out.

You're probably wondering what a BIM is. Good question! As someone who watched this movie, I can tell you with absolute certainty that BIM is ... um ... that is, it's ... oh, hell, I'm not completely sure. At first, I thought it was the name of the group backing up Gandi and Wandi. As the movie progresses, it appears to be an acronym for the name of the record company. But, later, BIM the record company appears also to be the name of third party that got elected running on a platform of enforced calisthenics. So, your guess is as good as mine.

Tandi and Fandi achieve a phenomenally high score in the contest, much to the satisfaction of their manager and president of the record company, Mr. Boogalow.

Oh, another note to prospective movie moguls: If you name a character something like "Mr. Boogalow," decide on one pronunciation that the entire cast uses. Characters call him Mr. Booga-loo, Booga-loh, Bugga-loo, Bugga-low, and probably a few other variations.

Handi and Vandi are followed in the contest by the two characters who will become our hero and heroine, Alphie and Bibi, who sing a romantic ballad that goes: "We belong to one another/We share each other's destiny/United by our love, we're all children of/The universal family/And we are everybody's brother/We share the birthright to be free/And deep within our heart/There beats the song of the ages/Love: The universal melody!"

Of course, with such deep lyrics, Aphie and Bibi are a huge hit--until Mr. Boogalow sabotages their performance.

Still, Mr. B. recognizes their huge talent and summons them to his office for a meeting:

I should also point out that if there's a song you don't like, just hold tight--there's another song you won't like coming up in five minutes, complete with hundreds of extras wearing insane costumes. What this film lacks in competence, it makes up for in ambition.

Mr. Boogalow offers them a record contract. This provokes a series of hallucinations on the part of Alphie:

"It's a natural, natural, natural desire," Xandi explains in song to Bibi. "Meet an actual, actual, actual vampire!"

Who could resist? That may be my favorite couplet of all time. Bibi takes a bite of the gigantic plastic forbidden fruit, but Alphie declines. As a reward for signing a contract, Bibi is whisked off on a West Coast tour, where she gets to perform this salute to patriotism and amphetamines night after night:

"America, the land of the free/Is shooting up with pure energy!/And every day she has to take more/Speeeeeeeeeed!/America, the home of the brave/Is poppin' pills to keep up the pace/Speeeeeeeeeed!"

Obviously, she's a huge hit. And, yes, I suspect drugs were ingested in the making of this special movie-going experience.

Alphie, meanwhile, is living in a crappy apartment and writing earnest ballads that he can't sell. BIM, which heretofore has been presented as only a record label, is now revealed to be behind a Big Brotherish political regime that tickets you for not wearing BIM marks--stickers that look like something your little sister would put on her Trapper Keeper--on your forehead and forces you to do dance aerobics routines. Sadly, I wasn't able to find a clip of this sequence, but some of it is in the trailer.

Longing for his true love, Alphie tracks down Bibi to Mr. Boogalow's home, only to be seduced by Jandi with this single-entendre song about orgasms:

Unable to find Bibi, Alphie goes off to live with hippies in the park. Bibi eventually sees the error of her ways, finds Alphie, marries him, and has a child who appears to be about two years old, even though only a few months have passed. (I guess people age differently in the crazy, far-off world of 1994.) It takes the better part of a year, but Mr. Boogalow tracks them down and attempts to arrest them. In a literal deus ex machina, God drives down from heaven in a Rolls Royce and leads Alphie, Bibi, and the rest of the hippies to the Planet of the Hippies.

The end.

The Apple was directed by Menahem Golan, better known for Charles Bronson and Chuck Norris flicks. He had a long, lucrative career in B (and C and D and F) movies. The cast is very much a mixed bag. The heroine is played by Catherine Mary Stewart, who went on to a successful career on TV. The actor who played Alphie either never worked again or perhaps died of shame. There are some well-known or semi-well-known faces popping up here and there--the God character is Joss Ackland, whose face you'll remember from character roles; Mr. Boogalow was a bad guy in From Russia With Love and has an IMDb page full of credits; and Alphie's landlady is Miriam Margolyes, from the Blackadder series, The Age of Innocence, and Babe, among many others. From what I gather, the actor who played Dandi blamed this film for the death of his career, overlooking his own innate lack of talent. The choreography can be pinned on Nigel Lythgoe, currently a snide judge on the popular So You Think You Can Dance competition as well as a producer of American Idol. When Mr. Lythgoe is featured on So You Think You Can Choreograph, he'd better lose.

The Apple is available for streaming from Netflix. A lot of bad movies are sadly boring. This, however, had me laughing for pretty much its entire running time.

UPDATE: I am not alone in my love for this movie.

UPDATE #2: The Apple is no longer on Netflix, but it is on Amazon Prime.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

If sock monkeys made campaign ads

sock monkeyI'm not a witch one of those know-it-all great apes with their fancy-schmancy sign language. I'm nothing you've heard. I'm you, if you were made out of socks. None of us are perfect. But none of us can be happy with what we see all around us--politicians who think spending, trading favors, and backroom deals are the ways to stay in office leopards, hyenas, large birds of prey.

I'll go to Washington and do what you'd do--throw poop. I'm Christine O'Donnell S. Monkey, and I approved this message.

I'm you. If you were made out of socks. Now, give me that banana.


Quotation of the day

From The Associated Press:
PARIS – Former Societe Generale SA trader Jerome Kerviel was convicted on all counts Tuesday in one of history's biggest trading frauds, sentenced to three years in jail and ordered to pay the bank a mind-numbing euro4.9 billion ($6.7 billion) in damages.

Needless to say, Monsieur Kerviel is not too happy about this. Which leads to our quotation of the day, from his lawyer:
"I hope you all will donate a euro to Jerome Kerviel," the lawyer told TV cameras and reporters.

What's French for "chutzpah"?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

In an alternate universe, however, this would have been funny to at least four or five people

I heard on the radio this morning that Tony Curtis died. As Eddie Fisher passed away just the other day, I came up with what I thought was a pretty funny line: "If I had ever slept with Debbie Reynolds, I'd be really, really concerned right now." Because Reynolds had been married to Fisher and, I thought, Curtis--or that they had at least been a couple. But when I looked it up to confirm, I found out I was wrong: Not only were Reynolds and Curtis never married, they were never even involved.

So, basically, I've got nothing.

Also, for the record, I have never slept with Debbie Reynolds. Or Tony Curtis.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dept. of corrections

Looking over the vast archives of this blog, I realized that I made a mistake back in this 2004 entry, entitled "Innovative idea for election reform":
Each state picks an official Election Monkey. All 50 Election Monkeys are locked in a room with jumbo-size photos of the candidates. Winner is the candidate whose photo has the least poop thrown at it after a set time period (say, one hour).

First of all, we should have the actual candidates--not photos--in the room with the monkeys. And, second, the winner is the candidate who has the most poop thrown at him or her.

The Velvet Blog regrets the error.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Go fly a kite

From the Times:
KABUL, Afghanistan — It was an engaging idea.

Hundreds of children would gather on the iconic Nader Khan Hill in the capital, Kabul, on a gorgeous Friday in September and fly kites emblazoned with slogans lauding the rule of law and equality for women. The kites, along with copies of the Afghan Constitution and justice-themed comic books, would be gifts of the United States, part of a $35 million effort “to promote the use of Afghanistan’s formal justice system.”

What could possibly go wrong?
What could possibly go wrong?

I just said that.
... For starters, Afghan policemen hijacked the event, stealing dozens of kites for themselves and beating children with sticks when they crowded too close to the kite distribution tent. To be fair, the children were a little unruly, but they were also small.

Ha, ha! Because it's fun to get snarky when discussing the beating of children by police. New York Times, can I remind you that you're not a blog?
... Asked why one of his officers was loading his truck with kites, Maj. Farouk Wardak, head of the criminal investigation division of the 16th Police District, said, “It’s okay, he’s not just a policeman, he’s my bodyguard.”

Glad to see the American influence is truly rubbing off in Afghanistan.
The District 16 police chief, Col. Haji Ahmad Fazli, insisted on taking over from the American contractors the job of passing out the kites. He denied that his men were kite thieves. “We are not taking them,” he said. “We are flying them ourselves.”

At least he had not lost sight of the event’s goal. “It is so people can understand the rule of law, and it lets the kids get together instead of wandering on the streets,” he said.

This is reminding me more and more of the midterm electons.
... Most [kites] bore messages about the importance of gender equality, but there was hardly a girl with a kite, although plenty of girls were around. One DPK [the contractor handling the event] staff member pushed through the crowd to give 10-year-old Shaqila Nabi a kite; her sister Farzana, 8, had wanted one, too, but a policeman had just swung at her with a stick and she had darted out of harm’s way, and out of sight.

Shaqila raced back to her father, Gul Nabi, a horse wrangler peddling rides. He promptly took the kite and gave it to a boy.

“He is my son and he should get the kite,” he said.

In other words, the event was a success.
... Mike Sheppard, the DPK project head, pronounced the event a success.

I just said that.
“We just gave out a thousand kites in 20 minutes,” he said.

Which is kind of like saying a hot-tub party on the set of Jersey Shore was a success because they passed out a thousand STDs.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cocktail of the day

I don't know about you, but I'm in the mood for a Monkey Gland.

Suggestions for David Fincher's next movie

--A look into the origin of LOLcats
--Three-hour biopic of that "Leave Britney alone!" guy
--Musical based on "Chocolate Rain"
--Or, perhaps, something more serious

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Rubber, glue, etc., etc.

Quotation of the day, on the attempt to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell":
"This is a blatant political ploy in order to try to galvanize the political base of the other side, which is facing a losing election." --Sen. John McCain

Quotation of the day, corrected to refer to the filibuster of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell":
"This is a blatant political ploy in order to try to galvanize the political base of the other side, which is facing a losing election." --Sen. John McCain

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What's on your mind, America?

It's been so, so long since we last went wading in the search keyword swimming hole for The Velvet Blog. Let's get our feet wet, shall we?

how much does 800 lb gorilla weigh
I'm bad with numbers, but I'm going to guess 900 pounds. You know, give or take.

young cheery
Boy, have you come to the wrong place. Try old and crabby.

what is that velvet blog
A riddle wrapped inside an enigma, deep fried in canola oil till the enigma is golden brown.

paul potts killed
Was it the atrocities in Cambodia or his classical crossover album?

deborah norville's dirty secret
She killed Paul Potts.

how long after activia will i poop?

we will drink no wine before its time
It's time, people. It's time.

Friday, September 17, 2010

I, for one, welcome our new teabag overlords

Election Day is weeks away, but while the primary wins by far-right nutjobs gave me a momentary glimmer of hope that the teabag-associated candidates will be unelectable in the general election, this small flame was snuffed out this morning by Andrew Cuomo, the Democrat running for governor in New York.

The Republican candidate, Carl Paladino, is ... oh, how do I say this? ... oh, right, insane.

Cuomo, rather than pointing out that Paladino is a resident of Crazytown, has decided to suspend his campaign, apparently. From the New York Times this morning:
"I don't know Mr. Paladino, and I don't think my characterization is all that relevant or appropriate, you know? ... That's why we have a democracy. That's why we have elections. And the people of the state are going to tell you what they think. And they'll listen to positions and they'll read words and then they'll render a judgment. ..."

No. No, they won't. They will turn on the Fox Propaganda Network and listen to Paladino expound on why New York's Welfare recipients should live in prison dorms and be taught personal hygiene and think, "Well, that makes sense."
Mr. Cuomo would not venture an opinion on racist and pornographic e-mails that Mr. Paladino had forwarded to friends, which led a parade of his fellow Democrats, including Gov. David A. Paterson, to denounce Mr. Paladino as unfit for office.

"'Racist' and 'bigoted' are loaded concepts and loaded words," Mr. Cuomo said, noting that Mr. Paladino had described the messages later as inappropriate. "They're his e-mails. I'll leave them to his characterization, and for other people to make."

Earth to Cuomo: You ARE "other people."
Even seemingly mundane questions elicited elliptical responses.

Should voters see Mr. Cuomo as the head of his party's ticket?

"What does the head of a ticket look like?" Mr. Cuomo mused, taking the question literally.

"The door is a jar?" he added. "Is it a door or a jar? Do I walk through it or spoon out its contents for toast? That's not rhetorical--I really don't know."
Should people view Mr. Cuomo, an incumbent state official and the son of a former governor, as the true outsider?

"Inside, outside, upside down," Mr. Cuomo said in his trademark singsong. "You know, I don't know what that means."

I'll tell you what it means: You've already lost.

PS: Am I blogging again? What is a blog? Blog. Blog. Blog, blog, blog. I don't know what that means. What a funny word! Blog! Hahahahaha!

UPDATE: The Times is reading The Velvet Blog.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Death at a funeral

It all started after a really bad breakup. I moved to Minneapolis to get away and clear my head and, by a total fluke, got a job as an associate news producer at a local TV station. My boss was a lovable lug and the anchorman a blowhard and my upstairs neighbor a weight-obsessed Brooklynite and ... well, here I am blathering on and getting away from my point.

So, there was this clown, Knuckles, who hosted a children's show at the station, and, during a public appearance at a circus while dressed as a peanut, a rogue elephant tried to shell him. I know, crazy, right? Anyway, he was totally killed, and it was really sad, and I got mad at my co-workers when they started giggling at the absurdity of it. It was super inappropriate.

Then, at the funeral, the strangest thing happened--during the eulogy, I couldn't stop laughing. Uncontrollably. Seriously, I was shaking. And when the minister pointed out that Knuckles would have wanted it that way, well, then I couldn't stop sobbing, because Knuckles was dead, struck down by an elephant who thought that poor clown was a huge, mutant legume, and, man, that's just so sad.

And speaking of dead, it's been kind of creeping up on me that, after going on six years, The Velvet Blog is dressed as a peanut and there's a rogue elephant here. Oh, it could be worse. The blog could be dressed as a banana and be peeled by a gorilla--that would be worse. Still, though, this blog is dead. And I'd like to think that somewhere up there tonight, behind those pearly gates ... in the Great Beyond, where someday all must go ... somewhere up there tonight, in honor of The Velvet Blog, a celestial choir of angels is sitting on whoopie cushions.

P.S.: I assume that at some point I'll get the urge to do something online, but it will be in some form other than The Velvet Blog. If that happens, I'll post a link here.

Meanwhile, if you'd like to stay in touch, my e-mail address is on my profile page. I'm also on Facebook--go on and friend me, why don't you? (I mostly just post links to music and news stories there. I guarantee you will never get updates on Farmville or Mafia Wars.)

Now, won't you join me in a chorus of "It's a Long Way to Tipperary"?


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Keep looking--I'm sure it's in there somewhere

From The Colbert Report last week, with the Bush administration's Mary Matalin as guest:
Colbert: First question: Why are you wearing a cross? You know Jesus preached social justice. Makes you look like a commie.

Matalin: Yes, he did. He also preached, teach them how to fish. Not give them a fish, right? You don't work, you don't eat.

Colbert: He said, "I will make you fishers of men." I don't think Jesus said, "If you don't work, you don't eat." I think that was Cool Hand Luke.

Rather than Cool Hand Luke, methinks the crazy lady with the huge cross is getting Jesus mixed up with Confucius--though the old adage "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime" is more likely a generic proverb than anything Confucius said.

Poking around the Net leads me to conclude that lots of people think it comes from the New Testament, though that saying is pretty darned un-Jesusy.

Take this Yahoo query:
What verse in the bible says this:?

Give a man to fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime

I know its in there. I need it for my bible study group.

Likewise here. And a bunch of people arguing over it here. And a few people here.

As the Bible says, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing." Or, wait ... was it Samuel Butler? Albert Einstein? Ben Franklin? George Carlin? Pogo?

Oh, never mind--someone said it, and that's what counts.