Monday, February 28, 2005

This, on the other hand, is just plain old good-natured fun (techtelmizzle... ha!).

Here's an absurdly tragic accident for you to smile at momentarily before you guiltily realize that you're being amused by a dead child: a British boy has been crushed by a giant snowball.

Though I've enjoyed watching gymnastics on television since 1972, I’d never seen the sport in real life until this past Saturday, when I traveled out to Nassau Coliseum with reader Andrea B. to see the 2005 American Cup. The first thing that struck me was how tiny everything is in person, the mat for the floor exercise is about the size of a queen-sized mattress, the high bar the size of a portable clothes rack, and most of our fellow audience members the size of 10-year old girls (which they were). The reason of course, which was helpfully pointed out to me by my companion, is that the athletes are so miniscule that they could easily fit into your pocket. This observation was proven later that evening at a party I attended when I reached into my jacket to find some mints and instead pulled out Juan Liu of the Chinese team (who is now in training for my new Lil’ Rodeo venture in the corral out back of the Squirrel’s Nest, barrel racing around cans of pork’n’beans on one of my miniature goats).

Since the latest Olympic quadrennial just ended last summer and most of the competitors from Athens are now through with international competition, the meet gave us a chance to travel into the future and say “how do you do” to the heroes of 2008 in Beijing. There were some familiar faces off the floor, though – when we went to get beverages before the competition got underway we ran into Carly Patterson and Blaine Wilson signing autographs in the hallway near the restrooms (I really wanted to throw my Mt. Dew into Blaine’s face and yell “That’s for Raj Bhavsar, motherfucker!” but was restrained by Andrea). And when we got settled into our seats and surveyed the scene we realized that we were sitting right behind the NBC broadcast team of Tim Daggett, Elfi Schlegel, and the most awesomely infuriating imbecile in the history of sports journalism, AL TRAUTWIG. Unfortunately, the one small disappointment of the day was that my camera’s batteries started running out immediately, necessitating that I only turn it on right before I wanted to take a picture, and of course by the time it got aimed and focused the shot I’d wanted was already gone. Thus I missed the opportunity to capture Al yelling at some event representative directly in front of us and spent a lot of the early part of the meet waiting for him to turn Daggett-ward down at the broadcast table, which he eventually did:

The whole behind-the-scenes look at how they broadcast one of these events provided an interesting adjunct to the athletic action. They film the whole thing but don’t go on the air until it’s already been going on for an hour and a half, and one of the cameramen on the floor had his monitor turned toward us so we could see how they were switching back and forth between things that were actually happening live and past occurrences. Also, after a gymnast has completed their routine there is a hunched over cameraman shooting from approximately 6 inches in front of their face as they walk off and wait for their score, which must be a little unnerving given the fact that they are ¼ the size of the cameras and would get squashed like a bug if he happened to trip over a cable or something. And floor reporter Andrea Joyce kept latching onto somebody to interview but rarely seemed to be able to get a cameraman or director to give a shit and put her on the air – at one point both she and Blaine Wilson were jumping up and down waving their arms trying to get someone’s attention. There was a weird and somewhat distracting mix of classic rock and dance hits (i.e., The Cult followed by Destiny's Child) constantly playing in the background, even though the women’s floor routines are the only event set to music and that was the last event; making slightly more sense, the DJ also played the beginning of Seven Nation Army whenever a group of gymnasts marched over to a new event. Not being so gymnastics-mad as to actually read anything about the sport except maybe when an Olympics is coming up, neither of us had any idea who to watch as far as a potential America’s Next Sweetheart, but I’ve since found out that we saw the international competitive debut of the media’s pick: Nastia Liukin.

She was immediately noticeable, though, due to the contrast of her lithe leanness to the more traditional corn-fed bulk of the other American girls (of course, this stocky quality is just relative, none of them are anywhere near a normal weight). Our speculation about this was that she must have immigrated here from Russia, which proves to be the case. Here’s a snippet of commentary from the broadcast that just came up on a search for her: “>> Al: She reminds me of Svetlana Khorkina with those long, long legs and that line. >> Elfi: Could you take some still photos from this balance beam routine. >> Tim: That's exactly right. And you wouldn't get a bad shot. >> Elfi: Never.” Besides the fact that it oddly makes Trautwig seem like the sane commentator of the bunch, this also reminds me of the sad fact that Sveta has retired… I guess I haven’t heard Nastia speak yet, but somehow I doubt she’s really going to be able to fill those shoes no matter how long her legs are. Anyhow, this unexpected break from work I’ve been enjoying today appears to have ended, so if anyone’s interested in who actually won or anything you can just read this (with two events going at the same time and everything else to watch in the arena I wasn’t following the relative scores very closely while it was happening, everything out there was just so unbelievable and awe-inspiring that who got the medals seemed a little beside the point, and once we saw the first medal awarded and realized that they were going to play the winning country’s national anthem for each of the ten events we took off, so I wouldn’t really be much help there anyway).

Friday, February 25, 2005

I thought that maybe missing the show last week would lead to a renewed appreciation of it, sort of an absence makes the heart grow fonder situation, but it was just as non-compelling as before when I tuned back in last night. They had a pretty great task, too, going up to Harlem and spray-painting a mural to hawk Gran Turismo 4 for Sony, but the only exciting thing that really resulted from that was when Donald rode through Harlem in his limousine to view the teams' progress and there was a rap song playing in the background with a chorus of "Trump's rollin' up, Trump's rollin' up!" I'd like to think that he was actually listening to this on the stereo, but they probably just added it in post-production... well then again maybe not, the more I think about it the idea that Donald Trump might commission a library of truly magnificent jams with his name inserted into them and then listen to nothing else isn't all that far-fetched. The other bright spot of the episode was the fact that Craig "Peaceful Feet" Williams was finally allowed to speak on air, and he is now definitely my favorite character. Audrey Evans, however, is not such a huge fan, because she raised herself since she was 13 and doesn't need to listen to a guy with four kids, especially when he talks to her in a manner that is demeaningful. It looks like we'll be finding out more about this newly revealed troubled past next week, since they showed a scene of her screeching "I had everything taken from me - everything!" in the preview, and in case anyone still wants to know more after that I also see on her website that "Audrey is offering personalized private celebrity tours to Peru and Baja Mexico - both places she is intimately familiar with." Also from her bio we read that "My roots were one foot in Peru and another in a world disappointment" which didn't quite make sense to me until I visited the Mexican Tourism site and saw the "Baja Mexico: A World Disappointment" posters in their gallery. I don't think you'd be trying to get strangers to pay for your vacations if you'd won the game, but that insight is not exactly breaking news. The graffiti resulting from the teams' efforts was not very good on either side, though Net Worth's looked a little better, possibly because they didn't just start painting jungle vines and other random crap on the wall before deciding what their idea was going to be as Magna did. Something else that probably helped the street smart mural look slightly better was that their artist seemed to have stuck around for the project, while Magna's was hired and then never seen again (my theory is that Tana Goertz may have accidentally gnawed her to death in an effort to keep her big and constantly growing beaver teeth in check - and come to think of it, has anyone seen Kendra Todd recently?). Unfortunately, Tara Dowdell's concept for the Net Worth mural was surprisingly anti-Playstation - "It's about leaving escapism behind" - and taking all the credit for the entire project with a constant stream of "I, I, I, I" when he Sony folks showed up with their focus group didn't mkae her later claim that "I don't believe I own this" very convincing. Maybe the fact that she got her "street smarts" on the mean streets of the UVA campus was also a factor, though a similar background didn't seem to hurt the admittedly college-educated Alex, who was Magna's team leader this week. Since the fact that I've been trying to write this all day during brief lulls in my work has already made it even more of a disjointed and uninspired mess than usual I'll just go ahead and throw in something entirely unrelated to this week's episode: just in case anyone still needs further proof that Alex enjoys packin' a rod, here it is. Anyhow, I might as well just wrap this up now... the boardroom was completely lackluster, possibly due to the absence of sweet Caroline, and resulted in Mr. Trump half-heartedly firing Tara. He really didn't want to, but like everybody else on the show this season she seemed incapable of clearly and non-contradictorily explaining why Audrey or Craig should go instead (here's how it should be done: "You want another Enron on your hands, Mr. Trump? Here's Pamela.") Okay, I'm done here, hopefully next week I'll have more time to properly compose my thoughts concerning the candidates' attempts to terrify small children by dressing up as clowns that they showed in the previews, since I don't think my real wish (that they'll wise up and cancel this dreck in midseason before I have to watch anymore) is likely to come true.

I've watched The Apprentice this week, and will be getting to that in a bit if time permits, but right now I'm just too sad after reading on Gothamist that one of my favorite buildings in the city is slated for destruction (or at least a massive redesign which will obliterate the current facade). My only hope now is that maybe they'll get rid of the scaffolding that's been covering up the bottom of it for he past several years for one last look before they do it in. You can view more photos and information here, here, and here. Also, I think it's a pretty doomed cause at this point, but since I've got a certain soft spot for doomed causes: Save 2 Columbus Circle!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Man oh man, have I come across something amazingly great today: french pop music videos from the sixties! They take awhile to download, but you have to at least check out the ones featuring Francoise Hardy (Tous Les Garcons Et Les Filles) and France Gall (Baby Pop). Posted by Hello

The Bat, Friend or Foe? Arguing on the pro side will be whoever's behind Incredible Bats: "Bats do not want to be in your hair! Dr. Tuttle of Bat Conservation International tried an experiment to test this fact, and could not get a bat to stay on the person's head even though he wrapped the hair around the bat. It flew off as soon as he took his hand away!" Additionally, "It is clear that bats confirm the literal interpretation of the creation account in Genesis." Offering an opposing viewpoint we have nine year old Shawnteria Dobbins, who awoke to find one of the flying rodents under her covers. "They are very scary. They fly around this whole house."

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

As an anonymous commenter to my celebrity death posting yesterday has astutely pointed out, Gregory Harrison may be too perfect a candidate to complete this trio (especially since he's not really all that old). Therefore, after due consideration I am switching my pick to Dr. George Nichopoulos.

After all the attention I've lavished on the Julia Roberts pregnancy here it was a real slap in the face to have her debut these photos of her twins in People rather than IAAFOTS, but I guess they probably paid her and lord knows twins ain't cheap (& I am). Anyway, I've gone ahead and purchased the magazine to scan it in for you. From left to right: Phinneas, Hazel (looks like someone's been visiting Matcheez). Posted by Hello

Haven't got a lot of time around here for any blogging foolishness today, but I do have this additional photo of my sister that I like a lot to share with you. Again, this isn't a particularly recent likeness, but I don't think she's much taller than this now (before she retired Beth used to work inside a hollow tree making cookies and crackers) so if you put her in a headdress and burlap buckskins she would probably look about the same. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Man, this is shaping up to be an exceptional celebrity death troika - hot on the heels of Dr. Hunter Thompson, #2 is the one and only Dr. Gene Scott. My pick to complete the trifecta: Gregory Harrison.

As I've mentioned, my mom and sister were in town from last Thursday until yesterday; this photo from around 25 years ago shows the way I picture them looking when they're not around, though it always turns out they are actually much older in person. I spent a lot of their visit being overly worried and stressed out about my mom's health - she had a series of strokes a few months back and got rushed into the emergency room again just before the trip due to some internal bleeding so I kept expecting her to keel over at any moment. This on top of work pressures on Thursday and Friday led to the lack of sleep, which just exacerbated the situation, and I feel so much more relaxed and happy now that they've departed that it's a little embarrassing. Still, they enjoyed their visit a lot (and so did I most of the time) and eating out every meal for days has led to the discovery of several really great restaurants to recommend, which I'll list in order of fanciness: Three Star Coffee Shop (Columbus/76th), Totonno's Pizza (2nd/27th), Frankie's 457 (Court St. in Carroll Gardens) and Gramercy Tavern (20th/Park Ave. South).Posted by Hello

 Posted by Hello

I think it may be required that all New York-based blogs at least mention The Gates, so on Sunday night I walked back to the E train at 53rd Street from the hotel my mom and sister were staying at on the Upper West Side in order to document the saffron curtains myself. I've never been the biggest Christo fan in the world, but having the park transformed for a few weeks is an interesting event. If it were going to up for longer I would switch my vote to anti-gates, though, since they are apparantly frightening to animals which frequent the area. Reader Andrea B. reported seeing a police horse very spooked and unwilling to approach a Gate this weekend, and some dogs feel the same way (though when trying to find that story I also came across the news that a Gates worker saved a couple of dogs from drowning last week, so maybe their impact on the canine set balances out). No word yet on the squirrels' opinion. Posted by Hello

Monday, February 21, 2005

In addition to the fact that I hadn't gotten more than a few hours of sleep each night since last Wednesday, I've also taken today off in solidarity with federal employees to celebrate Presidents Day (or as I like to call it, Washington's Birthday) in proper fashion. What is the proper fashion, you may ask? Well, besides sleeping most of the day I always try to honor our first president by painting children's arms brown and hands green, a tradition which dates back to the early 19th century. Then to give Mr. Lincoln his due I spend awhile flipping a penny and recording whether it comes up heads or tails (note: this activity is even more enjoyable and Lincolny if you and your guests split a few rails beforehand). Then bring on the crab soup and cherry pie!

I'm taking today off from work, but before continuing to catch up on some much needed sleep I must sadly note yesterday's suicide of Hunter Thompson. Forget about Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas and check out Hell's Angels, Fear & Loathing On The Campaign Trail '72 or his first collection of letters, Proud Highway, to get some idea of how great this man was before his writing descended into a weak parody of itself by the early eighties. He was one of my favorite authors in high school, I still go back to reread some of his stuff every few years, and even though it's really not all that good I think I'm going to watch Where The Buffalo Roam later this afternoon after a little more recuperative napping. R.I.P. HST.

Friday, February 18, 2005

 Posted by Hello

My mom and sister are in town for a few days, so I did not see The Apprentice last night and don't know that I'm going to. I did flip on the Today show this morning in order to check out what the weather was going to be like and saw Michael Tarshi attempting to make love to Matt Lauer's stomach by slipping him a Tarshi Bar, so I'm guessing Michael got fired. Since I won't have much cause to use it in the future, let me take this opportunity to unload a story about Michael's brother that I came across last weekend, and now back to work...

Thursday, February 17, 2005

 Posted by Hello

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Work is seriously kicking my ass today, so for the time being all I can give you is this timely old-time internet favorite. Well, since my overclocked brain now seems to have gotten stuck on the word time, this too. And this. Ok, maybe I ought to stop drinking coffee and eat something now.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Another Christmas present, of sorts, arrived in the mail today! I say of sorts because I actually ordered it myself six weeks back with some of the money I received for a Christmas present from some of my clients at work. I feel just a little silly about it, but I've long harbored a secret admiration of these Neighborhoodies and when I saw that you can now get them to sew whatever you want onto a hoodie right after I'd gotten the xmas loot, well... anyhow, I wanted it, I like it (thumbs up on the way you decided to lay it out, btw, Neighborhoodies), and anyone who thinks it's stupid can just go to hell. Special thanks to my roommate Jay who's working the graveyard shift and was undoubtedly woken up by the delivery - sorry! Oh, and yes, I do have this exact same expression in almost every photo ever taken of me.

I was just sitting here wishing that someone would send in a tip or something since nothing I've come across myself has inspired me enough to post it today when what should appear but this squirrel photo courtesy of reader Jenn S. - very nice! Jenn also sent along a photo of a dog on a treadmill, but he is extremely thin and bony with crazy bugged out eyes and kind of creeps me out (in much the same way that Teri Hatcher does when I see ads for that Desperate Housewives). Posted by Hello

Reader Wendy J. has sent in a political tip for a little change of pace, specifically a website that shows which corporations contribute to which parties. Interesting to note that there are a good number of diamond and chocolate manufacturers on the red side, which makes yesterday seem like an even worse holiday than before (unless you opted to get your special lady some tacky lingerie, I guess).

Oh, damn it all to hell, someone else on some Apprentice message board has now posted my Bren Olswanger scoop as well, and has not credited IAAFOTS! Actually, they have a different source of the story, so I guess credit isn't really due, but still... at least no one else seems to have discovered that his grandfather was The Chicken Bone Man yet .

Monday, February 14, 2005

This one might not be quite as exciting, scoop-wise, but it does make me hopeful that I might finally be able to get somebody interested in the Life Stinks videogame I've been shopping around for the past few years: "We are thrilled to be working with a comic genius like Mel Brooks on what we're sure will be the highly successful translation of his classic film comedy to the medium of animation for TV ... We look forward to our collaboration with him and with MGM, and to bringing 'Spaceballs' to a new audience." (I'm also looking forward to another new series mentioned in the article, Sherm!, which follows the wacky misadventures of a joint that's been dipped in formaldehyde).

I just noticed that Gawker has also mentioned the Dove bootcamp story, so in order to stay ahead of the curve I am forced to trot out this IAAFOTS EXCLUSIVE (as far as I know) news that I was going to save for the next Apprentice report: Bren's real name is Berl Brendan Olswanger III and this news item makes it pretty clear that he is not going to win (especially since the item quickly vanished from the Memphis news site it was on): "February 6, 2005 - Berl 'Bren' Olswanger III, formerly an assistant district attorney for the 30th Judicial District of Tennessee, has joined The Hewgley Law Firm". Adjust your bets accordingly.

Next up, reader Mike A. has sent in two tips over the past few days. The first one showed up on Friday evening, but I thought I should wait awhile since it was a story tailor-made for some outstanding headline derby action. But in a baffling development the headline writers slept on this one, so I'll just post the original in case you aren't already aware that Actor Tom Sizemore Fails Drug Test with Fake Penis (the Sun did come up with a nice variation, but it is very disappointing that I've found no article saying anything like "police are saving Sizemore's privates" or something... maybe if anyone remembered this movie things would have turned out differently). Then today Mike emailed the tipline about yesterday's mall shooting, which is of some interest to the two of us, at least, because we used to work in the Hudson Valley Mall as short order cooks at Papa Gino's. The only inside dope on the place that I can think of, however, is that it used to be pretty easy to shoplift at the record store there, which I'm not sure is that relevant to the case. Remembering that the Kingston newspaper is the Daily Freeman did help me find detailed local coverage fairly quickly, though.

First off, I've got a few addenda to Friday's Apprentice commentary: the task rules pictured above, the news that Dove is offering to send Kristen to marketing bootcamp, and there was also a great video of Kristen bitching out some guy in L.A. that I found through Defamer, but today the site appears to have been taken down so you're out of luck there. Posted by Hello

Friday, February 11, 2005

Ok, let’s get this over with. The action opened with Bren chewing out Michael good for his performance last week, and instead of threatening the southern gentleman with defenestration like he did Danny he meekly promised to straighten up and fly right from now on, saying , “It’s good to get steamrollered sometimes”… Bren would have flown out a window so much easier than that lanky hippie, too. Trump didn’t even bother to show up in person to tell them that they would be working with the lovable new leiderhosen-clad mascot for the German Tourism Bureau, Donny Deutsch (no, I know he’s really the asshole ad exec that’s on every season, I’m just scrambling to find something funny to say here). By the way, something I just read in that linked article might be a fun thing for Donald to try if this show gets any more dull: “Taking off his shirt is a Donny thing. At company parties, for instance. Or, once, on a video conference call. ‘We’re the fucking-A greatest,’ he told employees, and then, shirtless, rolled onto his desk and did twenty push-ups.” Anyway, this week’s product to push was Dove Cool Moisture Body Wash, but it soon became apparent that neither team had any clue what the purpose of a body wash might be, despite the helpful hints contained within its name. Net Worth showed that in their case “street smarts” means “ideas that a crazy street person might have” and decided that it was something you smear on your face in public and don’t wash off. The Magna team did have someone who had previously encountered a body wash, but unfortunately that encounter was an impromptu shower handjob from his wife two years ago that Bren’s been hoping to recreate ever since, leading him to propose using a sexy lady chef crudely stroking a cucumber for their pitch. Possibly in order to get Alex on board with this perplexing vision he also threw in the additional selling point that using Dove turns you gay. With an idea this good there seemed to be no reason to arrive at the shoot on time, so they rolled in 2 hours late to find an actress who was very pissed off at their unprofessionalism and 90% sure that she was going to walk because of it. Luckily, however, the 10% which was just going to kick up a fuss for awhile to get more airtime won out after Bren did some sweet-talking and let her know that she was their first and only choice, the perfect embodiment of a vegetable masturbator, and absolutely critical to the project. Over on the other team, Kristen Kirchner was shrill and abrasive bitch to all and sundry, pretty much a carbon copy of Maria Boren from last season when she took over the Levi’s shoot. But with Maria there was at least the distraction of trying to figure out how much her blinking could accelerate before her eyelids took flight and began buzzing around the room like little hummingbirds. The only distraction offered by Kristen was wondering if anyone would ever bring up the fact that she was already on another reality show a few years ago – you know, one of the big problems with these shows is that everyone now knows how performers on a reality show are supposed to act, and casting someone with previous experience just makes it that much worse, so what the hell were the people behind this crap thinking when they decided to cast her? As for what the hell Kristen was thinking when she decided to wear that horrible white cap she had on, my only guess is that she has a soft spot for the 1986 film My Chauffeur and did not stop to consider the fact that this was the movie which effectively ended Deborah Foreman’s career (before: Valley Girl and Real Genius, after: Lobster Man From Mars and Sundown: The Vampire In Retreat). Sadly for her but happily for everyone else, donning the chauffeur cap also marked the end of Kristen’s career on The Apprentice, another obvious choice which even the unprecedented fact that both teams were rightfully declared the losers and six people went into the final boardroom could not make suspenseful. It may be true that she wasn’t used to the words “loser” and “suck” coming out of someone’s mouth in reference to her before, as she said, but I have a feeling she’ll be getting used to it before too long. Let’s see, is there anybody else… I’m still waiting to get some idea of what Craig “Peaceful Feet” Williams is really like, since he didn’t speak at all again this week, but the fact that most shots showed him looking very bored and embarrassed to be associated with the show in any way did make him the most empathetic candidate, and picking out his afro to maximum fluffiness before the boardroom met with my approval as well. On the opposite end of the likeability spectrum, young Chris Shelton had to be goaded into his trademark unmodulated yelping by George this week, but once he got going he came through with the episode’s choice quote: “No sir, I am NOT A HOMOSEXUAL!” Oh, and I almost forgot about the saddest spectacle of all, which occurred when Donald Trump and Caroline Kepcher were forced to bookend the real Dove commercial that the ad agency came up with to make up for the damage done to the brand’s reputation by the Magna and Net Worth efforts. At the end, Caroline urged viewers to visit to register for tickets to the Apprentice 3 finale, and now I am urging you to heed her advice and then take me with you when you win. With that, I will wrap things up here and venture out to face three more days of the silently taunting cupids with attendant hearts and flowers which blanket the city to remind scrawny little socially awkward misfits of their deep and abiding undesirability (perhaps some bitter self-pity might make me more attractive, though, hmm?)

Still haven't managed to compose the Apprentice write-up... it's partly because I'm busy, but the overall suckulence of the show this season isn't helping matters any. I did take a moment to check in with The Herald of Everett to see what's been going down in Snohomish County as of late, though: While recently talking to a friend, Sylvia Hecker spotted the holy face above the microwave oven. "I screamed," she said. "The face of Jesus is looking at me."

While I see what can be done about the Apprentice coverage today, here is an interesting article from the LA Times to keep you occupied.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Given my admiration of both miniature horses and goats, the fact that I hadn't thought to search for miniature goats before today is completely inexcusable. There seem to be two primary strains of tiny goat, Nigerian Dwarf Goats and Pygmy Goats (formerly called Cameroon Dwarf Goats), with the difference being: who the hell cares they are both very small goats. Given the gingham angel teddy bear aesthetic of most miniature farm animal websites it was a nice change of pace to notice that the little goats at Amber Waves have names like Under Heavy Fire, Exit Wounds, Extreme Justice, and Domestic Disturbance, which are made only slightly less unsettling when you see Kangaroo Jack and American Wedding and realize that the theme is not acts of violence but just shitty movies.

When I was looking for a link to Mindy's grandmother on Mork & Mindy last week I also found the website of Conrad Janis, who played her father. From Love American Style to the unfathomably unfilmed Dorg, this is your one-stop shop for everything Janis both past and present, so get shopping.

Here's a quick tip sent in by reader Will H. from Gawker to let us know that the kids really are alright (third one down).

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

You may have already guessed that I am once again bundled up sickly on my couch today, but it's going to take more than a little influenza to keep me down offa this internet entirely. I discovered this link on 'Buked and Scorned last month (at least that's where I think I found it), an entire page of science songs for children from the 50s which are really great - Eohippus from the More Nature Songs LP is a good place to get an idea of what they sound like (and to learn about the early evolutionary history of the horse). And, as if that is not already more than enough distraction from whatever you're supposed to be doing today, you can also go here to make your own church signs. As for myself, I'll be getting back to my juice and Popular DVDs now.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Since there turns out to be no compelling business reason for me to have forced myself out from under the covers and into Manhattan today I'm going to see if I can manage to get last week's episode of The Apprentice out of the way before this brain tumor finally does me in. To no one's surprise, the contestant who quit for the first time ever for the second time turned out to be Verna Felton, who was really not feeling very well (to quote Erin, "A lot of us aren't feeling well", but unlike Verna I am used to the "fast-paced business environment" that Michael Tarshi mentioned about 20 times in the space of a minute and am going to gut it out until I "just get fired with some dignity"). Danny "Asscot" Kastner tried to organize a Verna support group and told her that all the book-learnin' folks would be happy to let her lie in bed while they took care of the task, but when no one else seemed to share his peaceful easy feeling Verna took the hint and took off (and this time Caroline, perhaps having listened to some Sting since the motel incident, allowed her to escape). Danny was heartbroken by Verna's decision and appeared to be on the verge of tears as the group assembled to meet Mr. Trump out in front of the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. in Times Square, but the real tragedy of the episode was revealed when Donald began explaining this week's task and it had absolutely nothing to do with the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.! Instead this week's product was some truly magnificent instant coffee from Nescafe, and when the teams settled down to strategize their marketing of the beverage Bren swiftly managed to name Danny the Magna team manager before Danny or anyone else had a chance to realize what he was doing. My own first thought when this happened was that Bren was a moron to say that Danny should be the leader because of his great marketing skills after seeing clips of his "toss a ping pong ball at this cardboard box while I sing a little song" Burger King campaign, but now I think he was really just setting him up so they would not have to spend another week with that fucking guitar in the suite. With this unnoticed trickiness Bren leaps into the ranks of my final four picks, with Alex, Stephanie, and John keeping him company. Stephanie makes the cut after showing she has what it takes to be a real corporate leader by coming up with the idea to outsource the entire task to an event planner, not to mention getting some effusive praise from the Donald in the boardroom. Michael, meanwhile, proved not to at all deserving of my less-effusive praise for him last week, spending the entire episode either pouting or threatening physical violence after no one liked his idea to use sexy eurobabes and a moped giveaway to entice customers to their crapalicious coffee - Erin says, "It alienates women", Michael says, "But we'll double up on the men!", and Alex has this combination spit-take / ears perking up reaction which is unaccountably not filmed. Something else that was unaccountably missing during this episode was anyone mentioning in the boardroom that one of the reasons they were trying to get Michael fired even though he had an exemption was that he repeatedly threatened his team leader with bodily harm (not to mention his tendency to inflict the English language with bodily harm: "The last person you want to fuster is me", "mediocracy", "My ideas were not reciprocated", and since I didn't write down who said "a collegick education" I'm going to pin that one on Tarshi as well). As a quick side note, I'm also confused by the fact that after all his talk about beating the crap out of Danny and all Erin's talk about how much he sucks, Michael says "You gotta love DannyK!" when linking to him on his website plus calls Erin Ellmore "My favorite brunette from Philly!" and is pictured hanging out with her on Brian O'Goomba's site... which is the real reality here? Anyhow, I'm running out of steam, so let me quickly dump the rest of my notes. Best quote was from Audrey: "I'm sweating balls - hoo!", Chris still has no control over the volume of his voice, Angie the fitness badger was either snorting cocaine onboard the Trumpicopter or the show's editors really wanted to make it look as though she was, and repeated viewing on the TiVO confirmed that in Danny's farewell show of solidarity with the working man he was not giving the doorman a thumbs up, but rather the old shaka bra. I am in no condition to discuss his goodbye song from the cab ride, so that will have to do for week 3.

In addition to my will to write and inclination to move, this illness is also sapping my sense of smell. Coincidentally, I also recently had a conversation about this state which led to a little research into what I've discovered is called anosmia (really I think it's probably only called that if you never have a sense of smell and not just if a respiratory infection has caused the sense to take a brief vacation, although it does say in this article that the condition sometimes begins this way...) There was a girl in my dormitory during freshman year of college who had no sense of smell, but this interesting trait was overshadowed by the fact that she had also gone to Concord High School, where doomed astronaut Christa McAuliffe had taught, so finding out more about what it's like not to smell always took a back seat to finding out what it's like to watch one of your teachers blow up (the answer, as I recall: not so great).

Hey all, sorry for any inconvenience that the lack of new badger facts and Apprentice jibber-jabber may be causing you, but I have become very very ill...I was all run down and headachy for a few days towards the end of last week, but Sunday night things really started to blossom into something special. But I do want to let you know that our friend Jason V. has sent word that Stale Popcorn has been put out of its misery after going on the fritz recently and the new internet in-spot is now Left Hand Pathos. Looking through the new set-up quickly I notice that Jason has linked to this shoelacing site that my roommate was just looking at the other day, and here's a question which arose when Jay was showing it to me: how can you patent a shoe-lacing method?

Saturday, February 05, 2005

So I've received another squirrelly Christmas gift (finally) from reader Will H. to complement my acorn... "a handsome young squirrel detailed in cast aluminum. Happily he will crack any nut you put in his mouth... pecans, almonds, and walnuts are only a few! A delightful character eager to please and a squirrel who prefers to share his nuts rather than bury them in the yard." That description from the box really says it all, but predictably I've also been moved to compose a song about him (or to be more accurate, change a couple of words that Rob Halford had already written):

We’d taken too much for granted
And all the time it had grown
From techno acorns first planted
Evolved a mind of it’s own

Marching in the streets
Dragging iron feet
Laser beaming heart
Ripping men apart

Metal squirrel
Metal squirrel

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Sorry, I've been a little uninspired and worn out today after the big groundhog hullabaloo. Similarly uninspired seem to be countless Americans around the country who have decided to get in on the big scrapbooking trend that's sweeping the nation only to find that even once they have taken a class to teach them the correct way to paste photos and objects onto pieces of paper there is still the daunting task of properly describing what they have pasted. That's where comes in. Whether you're staring at a sadly captionless photo of a haircut (wish you were hair!), funky fashion (bandana-rama!), spelunking (hey, it's dark in here!), or even scrapbooking itself (scrappily ever after!) this is the place to go in order to make certain that no "scrap" of creativity inadvertantly slips in to your creation.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Posted by Hello

Reader Andrea B. has sent in this awesome tip concerning Brooklynites and their awesomely cliched ways of expressing both their robotphobia and general retardation. It's only available as a PDF which I can't extract the text out of and I haven't managed to track down an online copy anywhere, so let's see if it is at all readable just posted as a picture... which it is, click to enlarge and then revel in the enjoyment of trying to decide which hipster is the most idiotic (my own vote goes to Stephen Vesecky with his sexy train suggestions.) Posted by Hello

Well, I was unable to find out about that, but I was able to find a half-finished mug of anti-freeze someone had left in the FoxNewsLounge... just be thankful it wasn't full or you'd be getting the lyrics to Misty Marmot Hop right now, too. Posted by Hello

Whoa, wait a minute, now that I start delving a little further into the world of weather predicting groundhogs I'm finding that they are in disagreement about the length of this winter. That first story just took the word of traditional favorite Punxutawney Phil, a verdict which was backed up by Shubenacadie Sam and French Creek Freddie, but contested by Wiarton Willie. Siding with Willie are the aged and less-alliterative Gen. Beauregard Lee of Georgia and Jimmy the Groundhog, who makes up for his lame name with a website full of fun. But hold on, Pee Wee of Vermont comes down (or, I guess, up) on the six more weeks side and Holland Huckleberry... okay, it turns out there are far too many groundhogs around the contry vying for meteorogical glory today to list them all, especially since someone else has already done so here, so I'm going to spend my time more productively by trying to find out whatever happened to that marmot who got drunk on antifreeze and ended up in San Mateo last fall.

It will predictably be all about the marmots (aka woodchucks, aka groundhogs) here today, but I've got a work deadline to meet first we'll just be starting off with this quick link to alert you that there are going to be six more weeks of winter to look forward to. More marmots momentarily!

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The site which was selling those Garden Swingers I wrote about a few weeks ago has countless other whimsical collectibles to offer as well, and today I'd like to direct your attention to some figurines of the elderly. There are two lines of these competing for the non-prescription drug portion of grandma's Social Security check, Coots and Biddies and You're Never Too Old. The latter I actually find semi-sweet, but the former strays into the same bothersome territory inhabited by Mindy's grandmother (Cora the Hudson) on Mork & Mindy, with her habit of roller-skating around wearing radio headphones while wearing a glitter transfer t-shirt that says something like "Sexy Roller Disco Grandma". Now don't get me wrong, I don't find anything at all wrong with anybody of any age doing whatever they want, it's the act of proclaiming that you are a hip and with-it old biddy (or coot) that I find off-putting. Anyhow, I seem to have gotten side-tracked from my original purpose with this post, which was to point out that one of these collectible artisans has ripped off the other one, and I fear we may see a return to the dark days of the tchotske wars of the late seventies which ultimately led to the grisly discovery of Russ Berrie's lifeless body lying in the driveway of his Palisades Park home, impaled by a giant screw.

TV Alert - Set Your VCRs! With the return of The Apprentice commentary and a general rebrightening of my attitude over the past few weeks it has been feeling a whole lot like autumn around here recently, and now to top it all off comes word that the quintessential episode of According To Jim, which I wrote about back in September, will be re-airing tonight. It is quite possibly the most horrendously disturbing episode of a sitcom ever, so you really don't want to miss it.

Reader Will H. has sent in a great and terrible tip to lead off this Tuesday. Let me repeat the heads up given at the top of this linked page, however - Warning: photos of dead squirrel. Canary's final position also reminds me a little of a less tragic anecdote from a few years ago. I had recently moved to Brooklyn and purchased a carpet-covered kitty tower with pussy penthouse for Cassius The Cat Clay to hang out in. Now the pussy penthouse is a cube at the top of the tower with a round hole cut in the front that a smaller cat might enjoy hiding inside, but Cassius, at least at the time, was a very large and in charge feline. So a day or two after installing the tower in the living room section of my apartment I went out to wander around my new neighborhood for awhile, and when I returned around 4 hours later I stayed in the kitchen putting away some groceries I had bought and organizing things. I'd gotten some cat food, too, but when I poured some into Cassius's bowl he hadn't come sprinting into the kitchen as usual, which seemed strange. So after a little time had passed I headed back toward the living room to look for him and as I got closer I started to hear a very muffled mewing... apparently Cassius had decided to investigate the pussy penthouse but after bounding up the ledge beneath it and hurling himself inside had discovered that he did not quite fit, but he had lodged himself far enough in that his hind legs no longer reached the lower ledge, and I guess with being unable to feel anything to land on behind him he had been afraid to just wriggle back out. So, possibly for almost four hours, he had been stuck there with his big fat ass sticking out of the hole and his legs pedaling beneath him trying to gain traction on something to shove himself the rest of the way in so he could turn around and leap back out. Fortunately he hadn't died, though, and no tongs were necessary to pull him out; unfortunately my oven doesn't work so I was unable to make cake.