Thursday, December 29, 2011

Link dump

Odds and ends I've linked to on Facebook lately, but not here:

I was pretty appalled at all the gullible news coverage of the death of the supposed Cheetah from the Tarzan movies. Of course, it's ridiculous.

You can buy Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 for your e-reader. At what temperature do Kindles burn?

Made a batch of fudge, but swapped in dried cherries for the chopped nuts. Oh my God!!

The Minnesota state senator who was leading an anti-same-sex amendment to the state constitution was, of course, having an affair with a staffer. Seems sort of inevitable, no?

If sock monkeys celebrated the nativity.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Postcard of the day

April 10, 1948

Dear Mother and Daddy:

We came out here for the week end to see if this desert air would cure our colds--or rather mine. I have another one.

It is sure pretty here--all the flowers, etc.

Will see you later.

Helen, Dan, Marilyn

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Quotation of the day

The two barely met [at Harvard], but if [Mitt] Romney had known where [George W.] Bush “was gonna go, I would have been on him like white on rice,” he later told The Atlantic. --The New York Times

Because if there's anything Mitt admires, it's white!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Velvet Poll

Gah! So, this stupid software doesn't list the questions in the order I wrote them. I thought I fixed it, but no. See below for intended order.

The Velvet Poll

1. Does "The Velvet Poll" sound dirty to you?

2. Did you ever notice The Velvet Blog's eyes are dreamy? Really, you could get lost in them, couldn't you?

3. Have you bought The Velvet Blog anything for Christmas yet?

4. If not, you do realize there are only a few shopping days left, right?

5. How many Republicans does it take to screw in a light bulb?

6. Wait--that isn't a yes-or-no question, is it?

7. Still, did you think, "None, because the Democrats are stealing our light bulbs"?

8. If so, and you're a member of my family, can you not sit next to me at Christmas?

9. Did you know you can add questions to this poll?

Just saw on Urtak site that there's no way to fix order--questions are in random order. WAY TO KILL A JOKE, URTAK!!! Also, that's pretty stupid. If you were doing a serious poll, you'd still want questions in a particular order, no?

Also, you have to sign up before you ask a question, and if you don't feel like doing that, leave it in comments, and I'll add.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

This just in: Colbert Report staff now directing Ron Paul's campaign

Emerging as a real Republican contender in Iowa, Representative Ron Paul of Texas is receiving new focus for decades-old unbylined columns in his political newsletters that included racist, anti-gay and anti-Israel passages that he has since disavowed. ...

Mr. Paul, who is a physician, had said his political persuasion as a libertarian precluded him from harboring such biased views because “I don’t see people in collective groups.”
--The New York Times

"Now, I don't see color. People tell me I'm white and I believe them because police officers call me 'sir.'" --Stephen Colbert

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Smackdown!: El Santo vs. Santa Claus vs. Claus von Bulow

Woo-hoo! A rerun from 2006. It's my Christmas gift to you.

You're welcome.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting El Santo

WHO?: Beefy Mexican wrestler/crime fighter, and star of hundreds of very cheap movies.

PROS: Fights evildoers. Brings joy to Spanish-speaking children and wrestling fans. Gives hope to the full-figured that they, too, can fight crime. Impressively fills out a Speedo.

CONS: Poor fashion sense. His films are boring and poorly made. What is he hiding with that mask, anyway?

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Santa Claus

WHO?: Jolly old elf and commercializer of Christmas. Subject of dozens of films, including Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.

PROS: Delivers presents. Brings joy to children. Gives hope to the full-figured that they, too, can look good in bright colors.

CONS: Nagging rumors about those creepy elves. Presents often turn out to be underwear. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians marked film debut of Pia Zadora. What is he hiding with that beard, anyway?

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingClaus von Bulow

WHO?: Husband of socialite Sunny von Bulow. Subject of film, Reversal of Fortune.

PROS: Generous in giving sweets to his wife. Role of von Bulow earned Jeremy Irons an Oscar. Gives hope to the psychopathologically social-climbing.

CONS: Wife was diabetic and went into a coma. Whatever happened to Jeremy Irons? Why did Irons believe starring in a film of Dungeons & Dragons was a good career move? Also, do you think Irons has had some work done? Last time I saw him, he looked a little weird. I mean, not Kenny Rogers weird or Burt Reynolds weird, but still.

WINNER: Claus von Bulow. I love getting candy.*

*I realize he was actually accused of giving his wife an overdose of insulin, but that's just not funny. Sickos.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Search term of the day

pride and prejudice socks

I can't decide if I want this to be an official Jane Austen product tie-in, or a great typo.

UPDATE: Concerned reader God Is My Codependent finds this is an actual thing.

A personal Christmas wish for you, from Phil Spector

This will have to reign as creepiest Christmas track until that long-suppressed "A Very Charlie Manson Christmas" album finally sees the light of day.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Loneliness makes us do strange things

Return of a favorite typo, this time from Mediaite, which is kind of like Gawker with a lobotomy:
During a recent holiday season, Master Sgt. Robert Allen was stationed in Iraq, far away from his wife back home. So, he wrote a song about how much he missed her and sent it to her on Christmas Eve. According to Allen, his wife Carla “balled her eyes out when she heard it.”

Note that a) the typo was not in the original material being quoted and b) it's been up since Dec. 5.

Satan ... Santa ... oh, whatever

Another repurposed post. 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--that's much more bearable than the original version.

TCM ran the un-MST3K'd version last year, and, let me tell you, it is virtually impossible to get through with sanity (and wakefulness) intact. There's a scene early on in which the children of the world greet Santa in sort of pageant of ethnic and racist cliches (here's the first 10 minutes of the original Spanish-language "Santa Claus"--check out the African children's presentation about 3 minutes in), and it's just endless. Truly, it hurts.

And, yes, I saw this at a matinee when I was small. The mouth on Santa's Magic Teletalker--2 minutes and 15 seconds into this English-dubbed clip--was nightmare fuel:

Friday, December 09, 2011

Things I learned from the SkyMall catalog on my flight home

--There's nothing more frustrating than having your best bra ruined by a washing machine or dryer!
--Protein Ketchup is the world's first protein-fortified condiment.
--The patented menorahmentTM design of the Hanukkah Tree TopperTM makes a great gift for Hanukkah or Christmas traditions.
--With his characteristically big feet, our more than two-foot-tall Garden Yeti will have your guests doing a double take.
--The Porch Potty* includes plush synthetic grass, scented fire hydrant, and indoor/outdoor self drainage.

*Yes, if you're too lazy to let your dog out, he can pee in your house. The Premium Porch Potty offers an automated rinse and drain system that utilizes embedded sprinklers and an optional water timer to assure the cleanest environment possible.

Note: All copy verbatim from SkyMall catalog except for the sentence, "Yes, if you're too lazy to let your dog out, he can pee in your house."

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Just slightly passive-aggressive Christmas-themed postcard of the day

Dec. 15, 194[?]

Dear folks:

Look for a card or letter from you tomorrow?

Tonite Prescott has a blackout from 8 to 9. We sort of look for you folks next Sunday or Monday.

I want to wrap a few gifts this afternoon. Hope you don't go to a lot of work for us.

Ray has some tiny colored light on our Christmas trees outside. They are so pretty.

Much love,

Might as well face it--you're addicted to plagiarism

As noted a few posts ago, first-time novelist Quentin Rowan was caught plagiarizing 15-ish (the number keeps growing every time I read about what happened) spy novels to concoct a cut-and-paste novel of his own (or, as I guess I should put it, his "own"). His explanation of what happened has changed from that he "didn't feel capable" of handling requested revisions (scroll down to comments) to, now, his addiction made him do it. It's one of the weirdest nonapology apologies I've ever read.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Magic helicopter, my ass

It's December, meaning we're in for rerun season here at Casa Velvet. If the major TV networks can get away with it, why can't I? (Oh, I'll try to chime in with something new if I can, but busy, busy, busy.)

Expect lots of truly horrible Christmas-themed videos. Like a personal favorite, "A Trip to Santa":

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!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

But don't quote me on it

I came across this absolutely amazing story of plagiarism yesterday (part 2 of the story is here--be sure to scroll down for the admitted plagiarist's explanation). Short version: A debut novelist plagiarized his entire spy opus from around a dozen sources (including Robert Ludlum and post-Fleming James Bond novels), creating a "new" work by changing character names and that's about all. This inspired me to respond to IMs from concerned reader God Is My Codependent only in repurposed statements today. Given that I don't want to be accused of plagiarism, I'm fully annotating my responses.

Me: I think for the rest of the day, I'm only going to send you plagiarized IMs.

GIMC: Did you plagiarize that one?

Me: No. I haven't started yet.

GIMC: I've got plots for novels that I think are good, yet I don't think I am capable of writing them. Still, it never occurred to me to find bits and pieces of other novels and try to fit them into my plot.

Me: Most writers will have trouble with writer's block at some point in their lives. The possible reasons for writer's block are myriad: fear, anxiety, a life change, the end of a project, the beginning of a project . . . almost anything, it seems, can cause that debilitating feeling of fear and frustration. [1]

GIMC: I'd be more afraid of being caught as a plagiarist.

Me: Students who want to plagiarize can do so with little fear of getting caught. It is just a matter of increasing the effort put into it. However, with anti-plagiarism tools available, no student should want to plagiarize at all because the effort and time required to avoid detection is equal to or greater than the effort of creating an original work. [2]

GIMC: Where are you getting this?

Me: None of your questions are offending to us, in fact nothing is offending to us because every thing that happens is in the hukam of akal purakh, staying in puran hukam is the gurmat and fighting with the hukam is the munmat. [3]

GIMC: You should do a TVB post entitled, "Some thoughts on democracy" and just post the Declaration of Independence.

Me: It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known. [4]

GIMC: Small Change got rained on with his own thirty-eight and no one's gone over to close his eyes. [5]

Me: Small Change was recorded, direct to 2-track stereo tape, July 15, 19, 20, 21, and 29, 1976 at the Wally Heider Recording Studio, in Hollywood, USA under the production of Bones Howe. [6]

GIMC: But what's your opinion of it?

ME: The fourth release in Tom Waits' series of skid row travelogues, Small Change proves to be the archetypal album of his '70s work. [7]

GIMC: OK, plagiarize the answer to this: Are you off Friday?

Me: Oo-ooh-ooh, hoo yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yeah-ah-ah. Yeah-ah-ah. Yeah-ah-ah. Yeah-ah-ah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Partyin', partyin' (yeah). Partyin', partyin' (yeah). Fun, fun, fun, fun. Lookin' forward to the weekend. [8]

I think we can all agree that the experiment was a rousing success--you really can't tell that I reused earlier works!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Link dump

Odds and ends I posted on Facebook but not here:

Why is a faux Cookie Monster's explanation of Occupy--left in a comment at the AV Club, no less--the best one I've read so far?

Most embarrassing news error I've seen in ages--TV reporter accuses meat market of selling dog meat, but it's actually duck meat. (More info on how this happened here. The TV station has not, as far as I can tell, actually issued a correction on air.)

The wonderful Darlene Love on why she doesn't hate Phil Spector (though she certainly has good reason to). Bonus Darlene, singing "River Deep, Mountain High."

The Doors sing the theme to Reading Rainbow.

Donate to the USO so a soldier can get a phone card to call home for the holidays.

Perhaps the way out of our economic mess is to tax zombies at a higher rate.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

It's almost Thanksgiving

You know what that means: It's time to rerun the post on my Scottish grandma's oatmeal stuffing recipe:

My mom used to make her mom's oatmeal stuffing every Thanksgiving. Since my sister took over T-day duties and doesn't like the oatmeal stuffing (she makes the bread variety), well, I miss it a lot. The stuffing's not bad in a chicken--I've done it--but somehow it's tastier in a turkey.

The recipe is simplicity itself: 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 oatmeal gets 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.

Maybe you had to grow up with this to love it, but I do.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Five Stages of Incredulity as demonstrated through a series of illustrative rhetorical questions

Sometimes you start reading a news story and think it's odd, and you keep reading only to find it turning into a whole different level of weirdness, provoking the Five Stages of Incredulity.

And, yes, this is one of those stories:
Soy Diet Is Cruel and Unusual, Florida Inmate Claims

MIAMI — One too many bouts of flatulence and cramping has led a Florida inmate to sue the Department of Corrections, arguing that the prison’s soy-based turkey dogs and sloppy Joes amount to cruel and unusual punishment.

Stage 1: Surprise. A prisoner is suing because he farts too much?
Eric D. Harris, 34, who is serving a life sentence for sexual battery on a child, said the soy in his prison chow is threatening his health by endangering his thyroid and immune system. Florida prisons serve meals with 50 percent soy and 50 percent poultry three times a day, a mixture that costs half as much as using beef and pork, the Department of Corrections says. The cost per meal: $1.70 a day for each inmate. ...

Stage 2: Astonishment. It's possible to feed an adult for $1.70 a day? And couldn't the prison get it down to about 10 cents by just feeding bread and water, if that's it's aiming for, and I suspect it is? Or, you know, encourage cannibalism for those who really demand meat?
Gretl Plessinger, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Corrections, said inmates can choose an alternative vegan meal if they do not want soy. “We have a constitutional obligation to feed them healthy, nutritious food, but we don’t have an obligation to feed them beef,” she said.

Stage 3: Bafflement. It's better to have a prison full of hostile, half-starved prisoners than spring for a ham sandwich occasionally? And the spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Corrections is named Gretl? Also, could you please make this story weirder? And can I bold the weird part to make it stand out even more?
“Excessive soy can be toxic to the thyroid gland,” said Sally Fallon Morell, the president and treasurer of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a nonprofit group that advocates a diet of whole, largely unprocessed foods and food high in saturated fats, and is publicizing the lawsuit. “It can have hormonal effects.”

Stage 4: Disbelief. There's a nonprofit group devoted to eating gobs of butter? And it's suing on behalf of prisoners sick of eating soy dogs? You're not making this up?

No, indeed.

Knowing that Weston A. Price was a real person, you might suspect that he was a nutritionist. One that encourages you to put an extra pat of butter on your steak, but still a nutritionist of some sort. So, let's check his bio:
Dr. Weston A. Price (1870-1948), a Cleveland dentist, has been called the "Charles Darwin of Nutrition."

Slogan: Survival of the tastiest.

Here he is in action. Oh, and be prepared to cringe:

My favorite part is when he pats that "native" like a piece of meat and says, "You look as though you were a child! My, my!"

So, Weston A. Price Foundation, can you state your admiration for third world peoples in way that is strikingly creepy?
These primitives with their fine bodies, homogeneous reproduction, emotional stability and freedom from degenerative ills stand forth in sharp contrast to those subsisting on the impoverished foods of civilization-sugar, white flour, pasteurized milk and convenience foods filled with extenders and additives.

Oh, Dr. Price, you had me at "primitives with fine bodies." The "homogeneous reproduction" is just the lard-based icing on the beef-tallow cake.

Stage 5: Wonderment. Where did I put the vodka?

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Creative headline writing at the NY Post

I surreptitiously tore this out of the paper (on, I think, p. 5!) while waiting for a haircut this morning. I've had nightmares of letting a dummy headline through at the magazine where I work. But--yay!--it hasn't happened in waking life.

Also, it couldn't have happened to a nicer newspaper.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

False friends

I checked Facebook this morning and noticed a co-worker I'll call X--someone I interact with only via email and IM--posted that she'd been laid off. I was shocked--there haven't been any rumors of layoffs.

I asked a another co-worker, someone who works with X directly, and he was dumbfounded. He spotted her on IM and asked what's up. She hasn't been laid off.

Our first thought was that her account had been hacked--there's certainly a lot of that going around. But then I looked at X's account and noticed that it said she lived in California. "Where does X live?" I asked my co-worker. "South Carolina," he replied.

Yes, I am "friends" with someone who has the same name as my co-worker but is in fact a complete stranger. Furthermore, I've been "friends" with this person since spring of 2010. She never posts about work--till now--so I didn't suspect anything was amiss.

And the kicker: I have another co-worker who's a mutual Facebook friend of this Fake X. I have no clue who friended whom first.

I'm pretty sure there's a lesson here about friends and the cybersphere, but I'll let you draw your own.

PS: I'm now friends with the right person. Hello, X!

UPDATE: So it turns out that the Facebook friend that Fake X and I have in common actually knows two people by the name of X. I'm guessing I saw the wrong one on my friend's wall, assumed it was the one I knew, and made a friend request. And for some reason, Fake X accepted.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Currently trending on Yahoo

I'm going to guess Adolph is on the next season of Dancing with the Fascists. Marie probably has a new doll line. But that's just a guess.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Your social media at work

McDonald's is paying to have #McRib be a promoted hashtag at Twitter. Let's see what comments Mickey D's is paying for:
I have never and will never have a #McRib.

whoever actually goes to mickey d's and buys #McRib should kill der self cuz dat #McRib sure will

Let me know when McDonald's comes out with a McFilet Mignon. The #McRib doesn't even sound tasty!

@McRibSandwich <<< The filthiest sandwich you need to follow on Twitter.

My dog doesnt even like the #McRib

The McRib Is Back—Dear God, Why?!

The return of the #McRib always reminds me of the Krusty Burger Ribwich jingle: "I don't mind the taste!"

The infamous #McRib is back. The same #McRib made from hobbit shavings and moldy bread.

And, my personal favorite, from @ApexToApex:
It's interesting how #McRib and #LindsayLohanPosingNudeinPlayboy are both trending, because they're pretty much the same thing.

UPDATE: Concerned reader God Is My Codependent shares this McRib McInformation:
Restructured meat products are commonly manufactured by using lower-valued meat trimmings reduced in size by comminution (flaking, chunking, grinding, chopping or slicing). The comminuted meat mixture is mixed with salt and water to extract salt-soluble proteins. These extracted proteins are critical to produce a “glue” which binds muscle pieces together. These muscle pieces may then be reformed to produce a “meat log” of specific form or shape. The log is then cut into steaks or chops which, when cooked, are similar in appearance and texture to their intact muscle counterparts.

Mmmmmm... meat log...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Camping, out

Well, I thought I was Raptured, but it turned out I merely had too many Raptures.

So, what's the fallout from the latest nonevent? From the (really quite lousy, and I can't figure out why it seems to do so well in Google rankings) International Business Times:
"The Bible says that if someone makes a prophecy that doesn't come true he is to be considered a false prophet and stoned to death," Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of Dallas First Baptist Church, told The Christian Post. "Harold Camping has made at least three false prophecies about the day of the Rapture. And so, if he's not going to be stoned to death, he at least needs to be muzzled."

Is it just me, or do you sense some rather great ambivalence in that final "if"?
Family Radio has been broadcasting a message to supporters on Saturday, a day after Camping's third prediction, encouraging them to keep making donations.

Or, to save time, just set your cash on fire.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Don't get left behind

As noted in the post below, the rapture, as predicted by Harold Camping, has been rescheduled.

On the date of the last, sadly postponed rapture, I created a cocktail to celebrate--called, of course, The Rapture. As the new date grows closer, I now share it with you.

The Rapture

1-1/2 ounce vodka
1 ounce Cointreau (or triple sec)
1 ounce grapefruit-pomegranate juice blend
3/4 ounce lemon juice

Shake with ice and strain. Enjoy. (Incidentally, Ralph and Charlie's makes a nice pomegranate-grapefruit juice blend.)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Link dump

Remember the rapture that didn't happen in May? Now it's scheduled for Oct. 21.

Kinder Morgan should really buy Gentler Industrial to form Kinder, Gentler Morgan. Because that would be funny.

Dogs in motion. (Via Biomes.)

Do androids dream of electric authors? I don't care if these fake books are priced as high as $80, how many could the publisher possibly sell? Where's the profit?

This book on the sorts of products that get sold in comic books looks fun. (I had that hovercraft. And Sea Monkeys, of course.)

And may I just add: Hahahahaha.

I hate to break this to you, but you missed National Chocolate Covered Insects Day.

Prepare to have your mind blown.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The apostrophe must be cherished

I was investigating a rather expensive local restaurant online, and when I spotted "Fire Roasted Tomato's" (sic) on the menu, I decided I didn't want to eat there. Is that unfair? If it were a cheapo local joint, it wouldn't bother me so much.

This is not a joke--it was one of those Groupon-type deals, I had my cursor heading toward the Buy Now button, and I lost my appetite.

Yes, I realize this is completely unreasonable. But standards are standards.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Look away, or, The Velvet Blog continues to not understand the South

I was shopping for a new wallet on Amazon when I discovered ... this: Southern Confederacy Rebel Pride Leather Wallet: Pride Of The South by The Bradford Exchange.
Let's take a look at the details:
Rebel Pride!

We're two words into the description, and already I'm flummoxed. Might was well keep going, though.
Exclusive Southern Confederacy Pride Leather Wallet Features Stirring Artwork of General Lee on the March - Renowned artist John Paul Strain's portraiture of the revered General Lee captures a glorious moment in Civil War history.

I have to be honest--I don't remember all that much about the Civil War from my high school studies, and I haven't read much about it since then. I do know Lee marched into Pennsylvania to attack Union forces and suffered a terrible defeat. Is that the march that's a glorious moment in Civil War history? I don't get why that would be celebrated. But, hey, let's move on.
Now, a Southern Confederacy pride leather wallet lets you carry memories of Lee with you wherever you go. This custom-designed wallet is crafted of genuine, hand-tooled black leather for long-lasting wear. Open the wallet to discover the words "Pride of the South" embossed into the leather alongside the CSA insignia and colorful Confederate flag art. Nothing says Rebel like this Southern Confederacy pride leather wallet, only from The Bradford Exchange.

Well, "KKK" might say something like it.
Ample pockets inside allow room for cash and cards.

Oh, I do hope you're carrying Confederate cash in that wallet. Please, please.
A clear pocket window provides convenient ID access. This Rebel pride gift is likely to generate unprecedented demand, and you won't want to miss out. Order now!

Yes, I demand ... that you not buy me this for Christmas. Demand, I tell you.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Postcard of the day

July 6 [1928]

Dear Lempe [sp?]:

I had a nice trip and found everything fine. My father is feeling better. Hope you and [??] have a nice vacation.

Love to all-
Alice May

I could use some help on this one. I'd swear I'd posted another card to this same recipient, but now I can't find. Lempe?? And the other name is a complete mystery. Looks like Loodles. (Click to embiggen.)

Tuesday, October 04, 2011


A rerun from October 2009. Why? Because I can. And it's timely.

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.

Monday, October 03, 2011

It's so watery ... yet there's a smack of ham to it!

It's link dump time--odds and ends I've posted on Facebook, but not here because I didn't really have anything to add:

Mitch Hurwitz says there's a new limited-run series of Arrested Development episodes AND a movie in the works, though there are some rights issues to clear up.

I'm seriously loving the new Pugwash album.

I just discovered the Third Coast Festival podcast. It's really good--sort of like This American Life, but with an international scope.

Stumbled over this 2005 New York Times story about the movie theater in Riverhead, N.Y, the town where I grew up. It's one of those old art deco theaters you rarely see anymore--it never got chopped up into a multiplex, but it's been closed since the '80s. The article mentions that renovation is under way, but guess what? It's still closed. I have no idea what happened. I'm posting this because of the photos--just look at that tile work. If the renovation ever happens, it will be a stunner.

When you need cheering up, go to this photo of sleeping pandas.

An interview with The Daily Show's John Oliver.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I suspect the little red-haired girl was involved

In the news:
The head of Office Depot Inc.'s international division was fired, effective Monday, for having an "improper relationship" with a co-worker, the company said.

Office Depot said the fired executive was Charlie Brown. It did not identify the other employee or describe that person's job title or fate.

What a blockhead.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Kindle, the great leveler, or: The Velvet Blog goes NSFW

While I always peruse the New York Times Book Review best-seller list on Sundays, I never really paid much attention to the Kindle best-seller list until I got a Kindle. Now I do, and, boy, is it odd.

I'm not entirely clear on what's involved, but I gather that anyone can post a book for downloading to Kindles and charge what he or she wants--many of these self-published e-books are 99 cents. This leads to some truly bizarre pairings of items on the list.

What inspired this post was the juxtaposition last night of the much-hyped Ron Suskind book Confidence Men at #38 and something called Bent Over, by Gia Blue, at #39.

Suskind's book, about the Obama administration, has been unavoidable of late--discussion of it has been on op-ed pages everywhere, and the author himself has been flogging it indefatigably on TV.

Oh, and speaking of flogging, what exactly is Bent Over?

Let's turn to the description on Amazon's page:
Preacher’s kid Becca Naughton has done it now, she’s been called down to the dean’s office for yet another meeting about her lack of focus in class and her obsession with sex. What-ever.

Of course, Dean Turner’s solution seems involves a ruler, oral sex and a round of fucking she’ll never forget. Well, at least, not until her next appointment...

Hm. Is is just me, or does that sound a little porny?

Oh, I bet it's just like a Nicholson Baker book--a serious look at sex using porn tropes.

I see Bent Over has received two reader reviews, both five stars! That's promising. I'm sure they'll clue us in:
Most stories I have read here get me wet, true, but this one had my hips swaying until I came along with the female character. My boyfriend wondered why I had such a smirk on my face all day. Wonderful work. I also recommend Daddy's Horny Girl

I truly enjoyed this book. It got me so hot and wet I was lying on the bed reading and cumming hard. I did not want this book to end. I enjoy reading GiaBlue's book... I just enjoy cumming!

Ah, so definitely Nicholson Baker territory, then.

Twelve hours later, Confidence Men has risen two spots to #36. Bent Over is up 12 spots to #27.

Just wait till Chris Matthews has her on Hardball.

9/26 UPDATE: Confidence Men sinks to #44; Bent Over continues its firm, throbbing ride to the top, rising to #24. Clearly, Ms. Blue is beating the pants off of Suskind.

9/27 UPDATE: Blue continues to beat off Suskind, #27 to #54.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Momento mori

Sunday night's Emmy telecast was, on the whole, an above-average awards ceremony. Maybe I just love Jane Lynch (from the Christopher Guest movies and, currently, Glee, which I have mixed feelings about, at best), but I thought she made a dandy host.

But, seriously, can we please, please, please stop abusing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah"? I've complained about this before, but who the hell thought that song was appropriate for an "In Memoriam" segment honoring TV folks who'd died in the past year? Did anyone bother listening to the lyrics? Here are the second and fourth verses:
Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty in the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

There was a time when you let me know
What's really going on below
But now you never show it to me, do you?
And remember when I moved in you
The holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

Does that sound In Memoriam-ish to you? (I was equally puzzled by k.d. lang's rendition at the Canadian Olympic Games, as lovely as it was.) Cohen's meanings can be a bit hard to suss out, but the song would seem to be about a failed love affair, if I'm reading it correctly. Just because it contains the word "hallelujah" doesn't automatically make it appropriate to honor the dead.

Instead, might I suggest Jim Carroll's "People Who Died"? I think it just works better:
Teddy sniffing glue he was 12 years old
Fell from the roof on East Two-nine
Cathy was 11 when she pulled the plug
On 26 reds and a bottle of wine
Bobby got leukemia, 14 years old
He looked like 65 when he died
He was a friend of mine

Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
They were all my friends, and they died

Now, that makes an In Memoriam statement. Perhaps Rob Lowe could do an interpretive dance to it.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Expect this to be a talking point at the next Republican debate

I was flipping channels the other day and stopped on the Fox Business Channel for a moment. Some talking head said, quite heatedly, that if the minimum wage were cut in half, business owners would hire twice as many people. And he was serious.

Using that logic, if business owners didn't have to pay at all, they could hire an infinity of people. If they charged workers to work, they could earn extra income. Problem solved, America!

The one in which The Velvet Blog returns to junior high

An NPR reporter on "All Things Considered" last night:
[Rick] Perry is not a master debater.

Well, OK, but is he a cunning ling... NO!!! Must resist cheap gags ... must resist cheap gags ...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Is that a rack of ribs in your pants or are you just glad to see me? It's a rack of ribs? Oh.

News story of the day:
Thief caught stuffing ribs in pants again

CARLISLE, Pa. - A central Pennsylvania man has been charged for a second time with trying to steal a rack of ribs by shoving them down his pants.

Carlisle police tell The Sentinel newspaper that 65-year-old Donald Noone tried to hide about $20 worth of ribs in his pants on Sunday. Police say he attempted to pull the same stunt on May 22 at a supermarket and pleaded guilty to retail theft and public drunkenness.

Police say that since this is a second offense, the theft charge will be considered a more serious second-degree misdemeanor.

There was not a listed telephone number for Donald Noone in Carlisle.

I'm going to give this fellow the benefit of the doubt and assume it's a low-tech attempt at sous vide.

Monday, August 29, 2011

You asked for it! Again!

Odd Google searches that have brought visitors to the shores of The Velvet Blog, with commentary:

harry potter how to summon tiny lizards
"Hey, you--tiny lizards!"

claus von bulow is he still alive
You have no idea. (OK, that's just Jeremy Irons' last line in Reversal of Fortune. But it's true.)

benedict arnold coloring pages
Next up: The Alger Hiss Coloring Book.

my aunt disney world fanny pack
As it turns out, search technology does not, at this point in time, allow you to type in "my aunt disney world fanny pack" and get a picture of the fanny pack your aunt bought at Disney. Soon, though. Soon.

santa claus headshot
Auditioning for a modeling job in the off season? I'm going to suggest: blue steel.

I believe the search term you were looking for is "Chevy Nova."

opening banana
"There is a train everyday leaving either way/There is a world, you know/And there is a way to go/And we'll soon be gone, it's just as well/This is my opening banana." This answers the age-old question, what if Jackson Browne had written "My Opening Banana" instead of "My Opening Farewell"?

birthday quotes for brother WITH PANDA
"Happy birthday, brother ... WITH PANDA!!"

how about dinner? I know this great Vietnamese restaurant
"If I could afford it, I'd have 10 cats."

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Weekend weather report

A rerun, from September 2005, because it seemed appropriate.

Folks in the Northeast should expect rivers turning to blood and a plague of frogs this weekend. Bad combination--get out those wading boots! Better yet, stay indoors, as these are mutant killer frogs that shoot laser beams out of their eyes. Whatever you do, don't say "ribbit, ribbit" at them--they hate that.

Farther down the coast, stock up on the Rid and Raid, because Doppler 3000 Color Radar is showing huge clouds of lice and flies. Really, it's not looking good, so stay inside and think about cutting off your hair and wearing lots of layers. Did I mention these are biting flies? Well, they are.

Cattle will be falling over dead in the Midwest today, and it looks like anthrax. Get those windows sealed, OK? And remember: Shallow breaths mean the spores don't go too deeply into your lungs.

Southern California should expect a plague of boils. Man, that couldn't be a worse place, could it? Expect slowdowns in the entire entertainment industry throughout the region.

Folks in Texas and New Mexico need to stock up on rock salt, because a massive hailstorm will be coming their way. Better yet, stay in the basement, because these babies will be as big as canned hams.

The Pacific Northwest can count on a constant stream of giant locusts this weekend. Make sure you have large pots of grain--I hear you can appease the Locust God that way.

Folks in Alaska endure awfully long nights for most of the year. Well, they better get used to it, because there will be no light in the state at all from now on. Have lots of candles ready. Those scented ones are great, aren't they? They really set a mood. Autumn Pumpkin Spice from Ye Olde Yankee Candle Shoppe is especially nice.

And last, it looks like firstborns will be dying off just about everywhere. My advice? Duct tape, and lots of it.

Well, that's about all for the weather. Steve, over to you for sports.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

It moved

The earth, that is. Never felt an earthquake before.

Weird. Felt like a truck hit the building.

Yeah, it was just a tiny wee quake here on L.I., and it got me out of the office for half an hour, so I'm not complaining.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pop quiz

Who wrote this, and to whom? (Some items redacted by me. Also, I've already spoiled this on Facebook, so no fair cheating.)

UPDATE: We have a winner, so I've unredacted the text.

Dear Mr. President.

First, I would like to introduce myself. I am Elvis Presley and admire you and have great respect for your office. I talked to Vice President Agnew in Palm Springs three weeks ago and expressed my concern for our country. The drug culture, the hippie elements, the SDS, Black Panthers, etc. do not consider me as their enemy or as they call it the establishment. I call it America and I love it. Sir, I can and will be of any service that I can to help the country out. I have no concern or motives other than helping the country out.

So I wish not to be given a title or an appointed position. I can and will do more good if I were made a Federal Agent at Large and I will help out by doing it my way through my communications with people of all ages. First and foremost, I am an entertainer, but all I need is the Federal credentials. I am on this plane with Senator George Murphy and we have been discussing the problems that our country is faced with.

Sir, I am staying at the Washington Hotel, Room 505-506-507. I have two men who work with me by the name of Jerry Schilling and Sonny West. I am registered under the name of Jon Burrows. I will be here for as long as long as it takes to get the credentials of a Federal Agent. I have done an in-depth study of drug abuse and Communist brainwashing techniques and I am right in the middle of the whole thing where I can and will do the most good.

I am Glad to help just so long as it is kept very private. You can have your staff or whomever call me anytime today, tonight, or tomorrow. I was nominated this coming year one of America's Ten Most Outstanding Young Men. That will be in January 18 in my home town of Memphis, Tennessee. I am sending you the short autobiography about myself so you can better understand this approach. I would love to meet you just to say hello if you're not too busy.


Elvis Presley

P. S. I believe that you, Sir, were one of the Top Ten Outstanding Men of America also.

I have a personal gift for you which I would like to present to you and you can accept it or I will keep it for you until you can take it.

The "personal gift" was a Colt 45!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Postcard of the day

My Dear Darling Albie.

Honey do you remember this place.

More from the ongoing Gagnon postcard saga here, here, and (probably, based on the location) here.

(Click to embiggen.)

Sunday, August 07, 2011

I'd guesstimate we're at approximately Fahrenheit 450 these days

I was a bookish kid. (Big surprise, right?) I remember getting rather pissed off at my mom--herself a big reader, I must point out--for saying at one point that I "read too much." I found that very offensive, though it's possible that she may have had a point. (I didn't exactly get out a lot.)

I'd tend to find a writer I like, then read everything I could get my hands on by that person. Around junior high, that writer was Ray Bradbury. The Martian Chronicles led to Something Wicked This Way Comes which led to Fahrenheit 451. In high school, it was, among a handful of others, Kurt Vonnegut.

So when I read the other day that a college professor (!) spearheaded a successful drive to get Slaughterhouse Five and other books removed from the classrooms and shelves of a high school in Republic, Mo.--a school in which the professor has no children enrolled because, of course, he home-schools them (sigh)--I was really saddened.

My HS library had all of Vonnegut's books, and I read every single one then on its shelves. And while it's true that in my 20s I felt I kind of outgrew his books and probably haven't read one since then, they were a big part of my realization that there was a big, crazy world out there outside of my small-ish town. For that, I'm still grateful to whoever was picking the books to stock.

And, therefore, I've made a small donation to the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, which is soliciting funds to put copies of Slaughterhouse Five into the hands of any Republic High School student who requests one. Maybe you'll be inspired to do so, too.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Quote of the day

Little more than a year ago, most Americans did not know enough about the Tea Party to have an opinion. Now, more people have opinions, and they are hardly positive.

The percentage of people with an unfavorable view of the Tea Party in a New York Times/CBS News Poll this week was higher than it has been since the first time the question was asked, in April 2010. Forty percent of those polled this week characterized their view as “not favorable,” compared with 18 percent in the first poll. ...

Matt Kibbe, the president of FreedomWorks, the libertarian advocacy group that has encouraged the growth of the Tea Party movement, said he was not surprised that the negative views had grown, and blamed that change on attacks from Democrats during the debt-ceiling debate.

“It’s almost a mantra with Democrats,” he said, “ ‘Call them Tea Party extremists.’ It’s the inevitable price you pay for having an impact.” --
The New York Times

Also the inevitable price for, you know, being extremists.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Busy, busy

This is the busiest time of the year for me at work. I'd apologize for lack of posting through mid-Septemberish, but given my readership has dwindled to people doing Google searches on variations of "yogurt poop," I doubt that's going to be much of a problem.

I'll post the occasional link or YouTube video. How's that?

Here's Amy Rigby singing a song she co-wrote with Bill DeMain (of Swan Dive).

And here's a rather odd, lounge-singer-style cover I recently came across, by Laura Ainsworth:

I can't decide if I like this or not.

Sunday, July 31, 2011


Me, 1997, in a performance of Christopher Durang's "The Actor's Nightmare."

I'd only acted once before--a rather snooty butler in Lord Dunsunay's "The Jest of Hahalaba," directed by concerned TVB reader God Is My Codependent--and got the lead in this sort of as a fluke. I was thrilled--it's a very funny one-act comedy, usually performed as half of a double bill with Durang's "Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You"--but as opening night grew closer, there was one problem. Memorizing dialogue I didn't find very hard. But a 6-minute monologue consisting mostly of non sequiturs? Hard, and I do mean hard.

The setup of the play: The lead character finds himself in a theater, not knowing how he got there. He's pushed on stage, unfamiliar with any lines he supposedly has, and tries to fake his way through. The play he's the star of starts out as a Noel Coward takeoff, then, just when the character starts to get comfortable, turns into Shakespeare. Then he finds himself totally alone and has to make do by reciting bits and pieces of classic theater that he only half remembers, plus fragments from his biography, until another character turns up. This happens after 6 excruciating minutes. After that, the play takes a turn toward Samuel Beckett, then "A Man for All Seasons." And--SPOILER ALERT!!!--he ends up executed. (Wacky high jinks!)

Anyway, a few days before opening night, I still hadn't nailed that monologue. I guess it was two days before opening that I finally made it through the rehearsal without blanking on that speech or skipping parts of it. It just clicked, and I thought, hey, maybe I can actually do this.

A couple of hours before going out on stage on the opening night of my first (and, as it turns out, only) Big! Lead! Role!, I called my parents from the office. I don't want to get overly personal here, so let's just say I got some bad news. I spent the next 20 minutes or so weeping uncontrollably. By that I mean: I could not stop crying and had trouble breathing successfully.

And, after that, I had to dry my eyes and drive to the theater. I sort of got myself together and prepared to be pushed out in front of the audience.

Then, problem No. 2: In the opening scene, the actress playing the stage manager skipped, oh, about a page of dialogue.

I stood there, surrounded on three sides by the audience--we acted this part of the play sort of in the round, before the action moved to the stage--not knowing what to do. At all. This was not only the first time I had a lead role, it was also only the second time I had acted, and I had never taken an acting lesson. Do I give the cue to her again? Proceed with my line as if nothing had happened? Skip ahead to where she'd skipped? I didn't know, so I just stood there. I entertained the idea of saying, "Um, can we start over?" and prayed for the floor to open up. After a good long time, the actress remembered where we were, came up with the right line, and we continued. I somehow got through the rest of the show, including that monologue, hopped in my car, drove back to my apartment, closed the door, and proceeded to pick where I had left off on weeping.

The next night's show went better, if not brilliantly. We did six shows all told, and I'd say one was transcendently amazing, one excellent, two middlin' (the video above is from one of the middlin' ones--the only tape I have), and two horrible.

About the transcendent one: One of the most amazing moments of my life. Everything went perfectly, and the audience totally got every single joke--and some of them are pretty obscure gags that depend on a knowledge of theater. I have never felt so high in my life.

About the other terrible one: It was the night after the amazing show. I think everyone in the cast gave pretty much the exact same performance--but the audience would not laugh. Absolutely refused. In the second scene, where we had gotten the previous night's first big laugh, we were greeted not with a small laugh, but none whatsoever. I looked over at the actress on stage with me, and her eyes got really big, and I knew she was thinking exactly what I was thinking: Uh oh. It went on that way for the play's duration, about 35 minutes or so. As soon as I could, I fled.

And as I left the theater, I overheard two old ladies discussing what they had just seen. One of them glanced down at the playbill, saw the play's title as if for the first time, and said to her companion: "Oooooh. It was an actor's nightmare."

Yup, pretty much.

(Many thanks to my friend Carl for posting this clip to YouTube.)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Shock and awful

Hey, Birdemic: Shock and Terror is on Netflix streaming!

Let's see what we're in for, and then liveblog watching this sucker!

This may be difficult. Well, here goes, as marked by time code.

00:01:30: Lots of driving. Lots and lots of driving. Perhaps a homage to the opening scenes of Manos: The Hands of Fate?

00:03:00: You know, if you're going to do a multiminute credit sequence, get enough score. The same complete piece has now played three times.

00:04:15: The lead actor cannot even walk convincingly. Has he ever walked before?

00:05:00: Oh, great, he's a stalker. And he's WAY out of his league. And he speaks worse than he walks.

00:07:15: Please tell me the fashion model he's hitting on has given him a fake phone number.

00:7:45: Is there an all-An Inconvenient Truth channel? All global warming news?

00:08:45: The score is now ripping off the theme to Chariots of Fire for another driving sequence.

00:11:00: "What does it take to win your business? I'll give you that AND 50% off!" I'm only vaguely acquainted with business, but if you meet what consumers want and knock 50% off, isn't that cutting into your profit margin?

00:11:30: The professional fashion model our hero has his eye on is having audition photos taken at a one-hour photo store. She should probably get her passport photo while she's there.

00:14:00: He: "How about dinner? I know a great Vietnamese restaurant."

She: "Great, I'll see you there." [Click!]

I'm hoping that she just blew him off, as she doesn't know the name of the restaurant, where it is, or when they're meeting. But I have the feeling the writer/director has never had a conversation before and doesn't know how they work.

00:16:00: More all-green news. On the stock footage, you can see a huge Getty Image watermark. Were these clips not paid for?

00:18:00: Natalie, the fashion model, has somehow been able to correctly guess the time and location of dinner.

00:19:00: "Why did you get into sales?" Worst conversation starter ever.

00:20:00: I cannot wait for the birds to show up and kill these two. Where the hell are they?

00:22:00: "If I could afford it, I'd have 10 cats." Now I don't know which character to feel sorrier for.

00:27:00: Do couples generally have sex while wearing bathing suits?

00:28:00ish: "We're going to be acquired by Oracle... for $1 billion!" Or Dr. Evil. Yeah, probably Dr. Evil.

00:29:00: How many takes were spliced together to form this endless clapping scene? And, why?

00:35:45: Upon seeing a painting:

He: "Oh, lovers on the moon."

She: "Yeah."

This has been your Art Criticism Minute of the Day.

00:37:35: The sound seems to have been recorded with the built-in mic on a home camera. I can't hear the dialogue over the ocean waves. Not that I'm complaining.

00:38:45: "Don't touch it--it might be infectious!" A useful sentence in many ways. The dead bird on the beach appears to be clip art.

00:40:00: Shorter mother's monolog: "My biggest hobby is interfering in my daughter's life."

00:42:15: Ooooo, he dances worse than walks. This song is really ratcheting up the tension.

00:44:00: Make it stop. Please make it stop.

00:45:00: When I said "Please make it stop," I didn't mean end that scene so that we could start a love scene instead.

00:47:15: At last, birdemic has begun! Birds have evidently gained the ability to blow up on impact.

00:48:30: And the ability to hover in midair.

00:49:30: And hide car keys?

00:51:00: Methinks coat hangers are not the best weapon against exploding birds.

00:52:15: Did I miss something? Are our heroes' new friends survivalist maniacs? Why do they have a machine gun and various other guns?

00:55:15: "I'm hungry! I've been under the car for a long time."

00:59:00: A picnic? Birds are diving bombing people and exploding on impact, and you're having picnic?

00:59:30: "Hey, look, it's an old guy on a bridge!" Does bird flu make birds explosive?

01:03ish: "Why can't we just give peace a chance?" BECAUSE BIRDS ARE ATTACKING US!!!!

01:04ish: If a film script asked me to die of bird attack while taking a dump, I'd pass.

01:07: "No, I don't want to get off this bus and be in your stupid movie! No!"

01:08: What was that? Now the birds kill by throwing up?

O1:09: Dead extras, we hardly knew ye.

01:11: Even when their parents have just recently been killed and birds are exploding all around them, kids still love candy.

01:13: If that's all it takes to die, I'd have killed myself while shaving.

01:18: "I hear a mountain lion! I'd better get back to my house. Nice meeting you!" Except for the killer birds, I mean.

O1:19: Only you can prevent terrible CGI forest fires.

01:21: Music now blatantly ripping off "Imagine" while a dead character sports an "Imagine peace" t-shirt. Just a little too on the nose. And plagiarismy.

01:24: She: "I've got some seaweed!"

[Pinteresque pause]

He: "Good!"

Seriously, you could have driven a truck through that pause.

01:27: Dialogue now completely inaudible. Brechtian device?

01:29: The birds have given up for some reason.

01:30: Last line completely indecipherable. Q: Why did the birds give up? A: The movie was over.

Tippi Hedren was in this somewhere?!

Wow... that was... wow.