Friday, April 29, 2005

Because I did not write much about airplanes today here is a plane that crashed into this house in Robbinsdale Minnesota in 1939. I am going home soon but before I do here is what I learned for Take Your Daughter To Work Day, number one I HATE WORK and number two I LOVE ZONKEYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Bye!!!!!
by Arabel.

When dad got back from "lunch" (hello, lunch does not take 4 HOURS and it does not smell like BEER) and read what I wrote before he said "I think somebody needs a nap" and now he is underneath the desk snoring and my feeeeet are on his faaaaace. So there is not going to be anything about the Aprentice today because excuse me but Donald Trump is just not interesting to me so I don't know what happened to the stupid aprentices. Dad said something when we were on the train this morning about how the rules changed but what he said would happen did anyway but I was trying to read my NEW book Keep Out, Pony! and didn't care. He will probably write about it later though.
by Arabel.

When my dad lived in San Francisco like I do now he was in bands with reader Andrew H. and this is one of the bands. He says the reason he left to live in New York was he was tired of San Francisco but my mom says it is because he did not want to pay for me and once she said too that he is the bastard not me when she thought I was outside but I wasn't. I listened to a tape of the germans once and if you taped somebody puking and then buried it in a big pile of turds while it was playing and then taped the buried puking noises through the turds it would sound 10000 times better. I think why he really left is probably because he was too embaresed at how his band sounded.
by Arabel.

by Arabel.

When I heard about the poor toads who are exploding in Germany and no one knew why I said “Duh, BOYS” like this boy at my school climbed into a tree and took baby birds from the nest and then he stuck a firecracker up their butt and blew them up and his friends just laughed like that was really funny even though it was stupid and sad and horrible? If boys would blow up a helpless baby bird then don't think they wouldn't blow up toads too, it is obvious I thought. But no! maybe it is EVIL CROWS who peck out the toads livers instead!
by Arabel.

OK I said that stewardess is the dumbest most boring job ever but now I know it IS NOT! What the dumbest most boring job is is powerpoint for consoletents who are a. GROSS and b. MEAN. If you would take a brick and hit yourself in the face with it and keep on doing it for an entire year until your face was nothing but mush it would still be more fun. Also purple is the most beautiful color and if you don’t want your graphs to be purple then you are RETARDED.
by Arabel.

[In honor of National Take Your Spawn To Work Day, today's posts will be written by my illegitimate daughter, Arabel. Good luck, kitten!]

Reader Andrew H. sent in a tip. His tip was dumb old books about stewardesss. My dad only ever gives me books to read that are one hundred million years old but he better not try to make me read these books because stewardess is only like the dumbest most boring job ever. And hello, old books smell really BAD and OLD? The best books are number three Detective Pony number two Give Me Back My Pony and number one The Saddest Pony and they smell NEW.
by Arabel.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

I thought I’d try to find out what reporting, if any, has been appearing in Hamburg itself concerning the Level 2 Exploding Toad Situation, which was not all that easy since none of the Hamburg news media websites are in English. After making the helpful discovery that the Germans, not so surprisingly, have a word for toad-death, Krötensterben, the search became easier and I have some more information to report. I’m having trouble getting a link to the translated site to work properly, so I’ll just transcribe the information for you.

Burst Toads - Far Mysteries Around Cause Of Death
Mystery rates around the cause of death of hundreds of earth toads in a pool at the Altonaer cemetery (we reported) continues. For well two weeks some the burst toads in Hygiene-Institut are examined, but the scientists grope still in the dark. Speculation, the toads were angepickt by birds, considers Institut like the nature protection federation improbable. "We held the animals, which were crawled ashore, in the hand. 15 minutes later blew themselves it up and exploded. Birds were not there ", say Werner Smolnik. He believes, by foreign horses on the trabrennbahn exciters arrived into the pool.

Wait, exciters arrived into the pool by foreign horses on the trabrennbahn? An intriguing theory, but one which needs elaboration. Which the next article helpfully provides.

Altona: Earth Toads Die Painful
The earth toad draws a deep breath only weakly, their body blows itself like a balloon, until their stomach finally out-pours. It is a schauriges play, which takes place at the pool at the Altonaer cemetery. More than 1000 toads are in the past week already at a mysterious illness painful end. On late Sunday past week Spaziergaenger had called evening with the nature protection federation (Nabu) in Altona. They had found hundreds of toads dead at the edge of the small pool. "I did not experience such a thing ever. We stand before a mystery", say Janne Kloepper (45), spokeswoman of the institute. The veterinarian Dr. Horst Siems (63), which with the investigations at the Instiut is entrusted, does not exclude also a Umweltdelikt. Werner Schmolnik (58) of the Nabu has already a suspicion, from where the pathogens could come: "similar incidents are well-known us from South America. On the close convenient trabrennbahn also running horses made of South America run. By their horse apples the exciters could arrive into the oberflaechenwasser and in such a way into the pool." So far only the toads are in the pool concerned, but as long as a danger for humans cannot be excluded, the area remains approximately locked around waters.

We stand before a mystery indeed, and can only hope and pray that this is not an Umweltdelikt we are facing. Keep checking this site for further Krötensterben updates, which we will pass along as soon as they come into our offices.

Now reader Mike A. would like some Southwest stewardess nostalgia. I wasn't really sure why until I did a search - I was either never aware or had forgotten that when Southwest was only flying in Texas the hostesses dressed as though they were working at Hooters, with orange hot pants and lace-up go-go boots. They also called the beverages "love potions", the peanuts "love bites", the planes "love jets" and the three airports they flew into "the Love Triangle". Mysteriously, so far I have only been able to find one photograph of the uniform from some retro SWA party in the 90s. Today their flight attendents are just known for telling stupid jokes all the time.

So, reader Andrew H. wants some Pan Am nostalgia, does he? Okay, here's a brief history of Pan Am, here's an old Pan Am filmstrip, here are some early photos of Pan Am passengers and accomodations (wicker chairs, sleeping berths!), here is a huge collection of air sickness bags including ones from Pan Am, and here is some art. I hadn't realized myself that Pan Am was among the many airlines which had gone under since my youth, but there were two others that I was planning on mentioning, and now I will do just that. Personally the most memorable defunct airline is Ozark Airlines, as the majority of trips I took growing up were on this carrier (also occasionally flew Frontier but I think they may still be around). And anyone who visited an airport in the late sixites through the seventies probably remembers the colorful planes (some by Alexander Calder) of Braniff International, home of the Pucci-clad stewardesses. I thought about listing all the other defunct airlines, but there are 214 companies that have folded just since 2000, so forget that.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

TOAD ALERT!!! Based on this report, the IAAFOTS Center for the Study of Short-lived Phenomena now believes we are in the midst of a Level 2 Exploding Toad Situation: "Hundreds of toads have begun to explode near a lake in the town of Låsby in Mid-Jutland (Denmark) ... A similar phenomenon has also been reported in the German city of Hamburg, where authorities report that over 1000 toads are dead."

These are a few illustrations from my copy of Coffee, Tea, Or Me?, the best-selling 1967 inside peek at the life of a stewardess. Reader Andrew H. had put a link to it in the comments sometime during Canada Week, since my copy made a couple of rounds as our communal bathroom reading whilst we were roommates - this new reprinting appears to have one of the illustrations I picked here on the cover. A couple of the reviewers on Amazon have gotten all hot & bothered that it promotes a negative stereotype of "flight attendants", but none of them appear to have been working on an airplane in 1967, so what do they know? This book is great. Another look at the world of the stewardess which was obviously somewhat inspired by Coffee, Tea, Or Me? is the Gwyneth Paltrow film, View From The Top. Reviewers were very harsh on this film when it came out, and I can't claim that it's great or anything, but I like it a whole lot just the same. It's just sweet, stupid, untaxing fun... plus Ms. Paltrow and her co-stars (including Christina Applegate) spend almost the entire film in very, very tight outfits and there's a nice catfight where Gwyneth's face gets pushed into a large dinner roll. Recommended renting (or ask to borrow my copy since I own it on DVD). More stewardess links: here's a page on Canadian stewardesses of the '50s, here are some Pacific Southwest Airlines (since swallowed up by USAir) stewardesses - on top of these groovy photos there are tons of cool PSA memorabilia to be seen in the Gallery section of that page. And finally, here's some stew news from the Orient: "Stewardesses from more than 20 foreign airlines will vie for titles including best "beautiful angel" at a pageant being held in China."

I'm a little busy so far today, delaying a couple of aviation posts I was planning on putting together. There are a few aviation headlines in today's news, but they're not terribly exciting. There's been a successful flight of the new biggest jetliner in the world, the Airbus A380... it is double-deckered, but otherwise seems alot like any old jetliner, only bigger. Also, President Bush was briefly hustled into an underground shelter today on reports of an unidentified flying object entering the no-fly zone around the White House. There is this intriguing line at the very end of the report on that incident: "Vice President Dick Cheney was not at the White House at the time but arrived minutes after the scare ended." Sounds suspiciously Clark Kent-ish, no? Now if the world's largest passenger jet (and a french one, no less) had invaded the President's hairspace, that would have been a story.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Not much more has been learned about the mysterious exploding toads in Germany, though this article has a little more info than the previously posted one: Dogs and children have been warned away. The force of the explosions is impressive. “It’s like hitting a slightly rotten orange with a golf iron,” one Green activist explained yesterday. I was discussing the case with reader/rommmate Jay O. last night and he theorizes that teenagers may be involved, though if this case was shenanigan-related you think they would have quickly detected unusual Alka-Seltzer levels in the dead toads or something. I'm still going with sign of the end times until a better answer presents itself.

More aviation rememberies: how about D.B. Cooper, remember him? This lady in Florida thinks he was her husband: "May 1978, a sleep-talking Duane said he left his fingerprints on the 'aft stairs.' 'He woke up dripping sweat,' recalls his wife, Jo. Cooper had jumped from the plane's aft stairs." Meanwhile, this lady thinks she can do a wide variety of character voices ("I'll never forgive you for putting me in this wheelchair!") and bark like a dog.

Hey, remember that guy who strapped a bunch of weather balloons to a lawnchair?
"When Larry Walters was 13 years old, he went to a local Army-Navy surplus store and saw the weather balloons hanging from the ceiling. It was then he knew that some day he would be carried aloft by such balloons."

Monday, April 25, 2005

My 37th birthday is now little more than a month away, and I've got a new gift idea for readers who have not yet placed an order for my own personal robot: the very aptly named Air Scooter II. In order to help convince you of the desirability of presenting me with such a gift, I've compiled this list detailing what I will do when I receive my Air Scooter:
  1. Pika Heli-Shuttle Service (I am currently putting together a helpful diagram to explain this concept more fully; for now just be aware that it will be a godsend to pikas)
  2. Errands, both my own and perhaps some for you
  3. Heli-blogging
  4. Crazy shit

Last week I saw this very interesting documentary on Independent Lens about the legal battle surrounding the South African song Mbube, which was later turned into The Lion Sleeps Tonight. There's also a detailed story here if you're curious. Furthermore, while looking to see if it was going to be broadcast again I came upon the exciting news that End Of The Century: The Story of The Ramones is going to be shown on Independent Lens tomorrow night at 10pm (at least that's the time on Channel 13 in NYC, check those local listings elsewhere). I never got around to seeing it in the theater when it came out last year, so I'm looking forward to finally catching it. And speaking of the end of the century, or rather the end of life as we know it, those toady harbingers of the end times ought to have you scrambling to get Jesus into your life pronto, and reader Will H. has a link which can help you do just that. If you've seen my picture of Metal Squirrel, you know that I already have one of these sporty saviors atop my television (thanks to reader Teresa S.) to protect my soul from this approaching armageddon and can attest to the quality of the craftmanship involved. In short: recommended!

So, the new topic of the week is neither exploding toads nor goat spotting, but aviation (though those toads are a clear sign of the apocalypse and that story will definitely be tracked). Actually, it's starting to look as though I could have easily gone with the narrower topic of helicopters and had plenty of content to work with, but I've got some non-rotary air scans like this one to share, too, so aviation it is. To begin with, I've found this site which has many super cool pictures of helicopters of the future, as well as even cooler hovercraft of the future (floating 6 inches above the ground is still aviation in my book) and other crap of the future. Really, pretty much everything on this site is interesting to look at, airborne or not. I am so looking forward to the future.

"Eye-witnesses to the spontaneously combusting toads have described the traumatic events as being like something from a science fiction film."

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Montreal, October 1987.

Between work and network difficulties this week I really wasn't able to devote as much attention to the Canadian topic as I would have liked, but c'est la blog. One thing I do feel the need to address before we leave the week of Canada is Canadian music. There will be three sections, first my favorite Canadian artists, then Canadian bands I'm not familiar enough with but think might become favorites if I heard more, and then some other Canadian music that I just feel like listing. First my favorites:
9) Death From Above 1979
It's getting harder and harder to keep up with the hip new music the kids are listening to these days, and most of the time I do hear something I find it sucks: The Liars, TV on the Radio, The Arcade Fire, Interpol, Fran Ferdinand, Bloc Party, The Bravery, etc. etc. etc. suck suck suck. This Canadian duo, however, are pretty great - they were getting compared to Lightning Bolt a lot for awhile, and as LB are a serious favorite of mine I downloaded some DFA79 tracks to check them out. Turns out they don't really sound like Lightning Bolt at all, the comparision is mostly just due to the fact that both duos are only drums and an overdistorted bass which functions in more of a guitar role - if this were early seventies metal we were talking about LB would be Black Sabbath with DFA79 as Bachman-Turner Overdrive.
8) Bachman-Turner Overdrive
In the first grade my parents bought a new stereo console for our living room and when we went down to Gamble's Hardware to pick it up I was allowed to choose an 8-track of my own to play on it (yes, the only place in Ackley, IA which sold music was the hardware store). I'd just become hip to rock and roll radio and liked You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet, so over some mild objection from my folks, who had assumed I was going to get a children's album by the Peter Pan Players or someone, I bought Not Fragile by BTO. Other than a single by Josie and the Pussycats (also still listened to with much enjoyment today) this was the first music purchase I ever made. The first four songs, Not Fragile, Rock Is My Life And This Is My Song, Roll On Down The Highway, and You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet are still one of the most solid Side Ones (or, since it was an 8-track, Programs 1 and 2) in hard rock history, and Rock Is My Life is the greatest "life on the road ain't easy but the fans make it all worthwhile" song ever.
7) Buffy Sainte-Marie
I became interested in Buffy Sainte-Marie after a number of indie pop artists kept praising her in various zines in the mid-90s; it took a little while to get into her powerful, vibrato-crazy vocals, but once I did I was hooked. She worked in a lot of different styles on her albums up through 1974 or so, but it all sounds like Buffy, and every album has at least a few songs that are simply amazing: Universal Soldier, Now That The Buffalo's Gone, He's An Indian Cowboy In The Rodeo, The Piney Wood Hills, Little Wheel Spin And Spin, Groundhog, Cod'ine, He's A Keeper Of The Fire... she wrote Up Where We Belong from An Officer And A Gentleman, too, but don't hold that against her.
6) Andy Kim
Co-wrote Sugar, Sugar, Jingle Jangle, and a lot of other Archies songs, and has some great solo hits, bubblegum and otherwise, too.
5) Neil Young
Just last weekend I was browsing through a record store here in Greenpoint and was very excited to come across Neil's weird early eighties Devo-influenced vocoder-vocaled Trans album, which often gets dismissed by fans (if they've heard of it at all) but from what I've heard in the past is actually pretty great, although it doesn't sound much like a Neil Young record. Unfortunately, it turned out that I had bought re-ac-tor instead, because I'd forgotten the name of Trans and the title and cover of re-ac-tor look like they would be Neil's weird electro new wave album... but there were still 2 or 3 really good songs on it. There are always at least a couple really good songs on every Neil Young album I've ever heard, which is pretty amazing considering how many albums he's put out over the years.
4) Joni Mitchell
I'd always been familiar with a few Joni Mitchell songs like Big Yellow Taxi and Help Me, but it wasn't until I was in college and really into Sign 'O The Times by Prince that I investigated any further than that (because she gets mentioned in The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker and he was also saying how much he liked her in interviews around that time). I got Blue, which is always proclaimed by critics as her masterpeice and one of the best albums of the rock era, and you know what, it's true. I'm not so into her work starting around Miles of Aisles, but the four or five albums before that are all great.
3) Gordon Lightfoot
The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald was on the radio all the time when I was in the second grade or so, and I both loved and was a little scared by it. While that's the only Lightfoot song many Americans think they're familiar with, you would probably recognize Sundown if you heard it, too (if you were around in the early seventies, anyway, it's Gordon's only American #1 single from 1974) and I hope you would also hear that insanely catchy bassline and also recognize that it is awesome. His earlier work was more folky and he has written many outstanding songs - and as an incentive to look further into his ouvre, his first four albums are all on a two-CD set which Amazon is selling for $7.99, though you'll also need a greatest hits collection to get the two songs mentioned above plus Cotton Jenny. Also, she's not at all Canadian, but Nico did an amazing cover of he Lightfoot song I'm Not Saying for her first single, before moving to New York and hooking up with the Velvet Underground, available on this compilation, which is highly recommended all around.
2) The Poppy Family / Terry Jacks
If the only things you've ever heard by Terry Jacks is his cover of Jacques Brel's Seasons In The Sun - and it probably is - you need to hear some more. It's not hard to find people singing the praises of his work with his wife Susan in The Poppy Family, but most make the same mistake as that first review I've linked to here and call his solo work complete and utter crap. This is untrue! I've only got the Seasons In The Sun album, but there are many great, odd, somewhat creepy/depressing pop masterieces contianed in its grooves, most notably I'm So Lonely Here Today, but also Pumpkin Eater, Again and Again, and a super groovy cover of the Everly Brothers' Since You Broke My Heart. And personally I like Seasons In The Sun itself (and its filthy double entendre B-side, Put The Bone In: "Put the bone in, she said at the store, cause my doggie's been hit by a car, and I do want to bring him home something, put the bone in, she asked him once more. ")
1) Cub
Cub always seemed to get written off a little even within the twee indie pop scene of the mid-90s as just being cutesy simplistic cuddlecore, but 1) perfect, hook-laden pop sings about chinchillas and kitties are still perfect, hook-laden pop songs and 2) listen to the lyrics of something like Make Tomorrow Go Away, a lot of their songs are really kinda dark. Buy Come Out, Come Out and Betti-Cola, listen to them a couple times, and tell me you don't have at least 3/4 of those songs permanently stuck in your head. That is why Cub is the best band ever to come out of Canada.

Now for the promising Canadian musical artists which require further research. Nick Gilder had a big hit with Hot Child In the City, which you should be familiar with, but I got a K-TEL compilation a few years back which contained his follow-up single Here Comes The Night, which made it to #44 on the Billboard charts, and that song is pretty amazing. Someday I need to find the album containing both those songs and see if he's got more. You know Echo Beach by Martha and the Muffins (right?), but I always hear that that entire first album is very nice. I recorded Echo Beach off reader Will H. in college, but I think he only had the single, so maybe I heard the B-side but nothing else. The few songs I've heard by Vancouver punk pioneers D.O.A. are good, and their first single Kill Kill This Is Pop is outstanding - once again, I ought to listen to more one of these days. The Hyped To Death compilation I've got that song on (by the way, get yourself some H2D comps already) also contains the great tune (Let's Go To Fucking) Hawaii by The Young Canadians... early 80's Canadian punk in general is a promising topic for further research.

And finally, a few Canadian bands I just feel like listing, either because I was not aware they were Canadian or just because the thought of them amuses me for some reason: Voivod, Rush, Loverboy, Men Without Hats, Corey Hart, Leonard Cohen, Frontline Assembly, NoMeansNo, Aldo Nova, April Wine, Chilliwack, Skinny Puppy, Gino Vanelli, Klaatu, Honeymoon Suite, Glass Tiger, Helix, Exciter, and Triumph.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Oh, I almost forgot - Happy Earth Day!

Now for the conclusion of our Apprentice 3 wrap-up. I was a little harsh on the show’s editors earlier this year, but they returned to my good graces last night by featuring a completely random shot of a squirrel at about this point in the proceedings. As I asked when they did the same thing last season: coincidence or secret IAAFOTS shout-out? Since the television often broadcasts coded messages just for me and I don’t know why this show should be any different, I choose the latter. The funniest part of this week’s episode occurred when the overly confident Alex and Bren were presenting their innovative “desk” idea to the Staples team and Alex told us in voiceover how excited and blown away the execs, George, Caroline, and focus group were when they saw this awesome product. How he managed to interpret the same look a person might have if they entered a cafeteria only to find a buffet table filled with trays of poop as “stoked” mystifies. Anyhow, Net Worth lost again, the Desk Apprentice is now on sale at Staples, and Magna’s reward was breakfast with George and Caroline at the Rainbow Room. Two things of note there: 1) George’s question about whether Craig had knocked over his pencils on purpose during the presentation, desperate attempt to find something to say to these people or just confirmation that he’s the stupid sidekick? 2) Anyone else notice that sweet Caroline was enjoying a tasty Scootosa with her meal? Predictably, the losers over at Net Worth had yet another ‘just us guys’ moment before the boardroom, and Bren was sick and tired of having his ass chewed (do you really need my help anymore?). “I don’t want my kids to see me roll over and be meek and quiet,” he proclaimed, he was gonna stand up to those impertinent Yankees and tell them that desk was awesome and Staples’ decision was simply wrong. When Alex told him that this was a great idea, he was going to say the same thing I was sure that we were about to see Bren go off and basically commit show suicide while Alex remained quiet and did not back him up at all. But no! Instead Alex really did back him up and say the same thing, while Bren shut up and showed his kids that when it comes time for action Daddy doesn’t deliver on his tough talk. Which was especially weird because when he was talking the talk in the coffee shop I started thinking that he was about to take a dive for his buddy, and it’s pretty clear that he did, just not in the blaze of glory he had been boasting about. Instead he decided to spotlight the fact that he was not a risk-taker, risks scare him but he is trying to get better at that – I think Bren has to be well aware that this is not a trait that is going to land you a job in the Trump organization. Like he said during his cab ride, he had found out that this world was not for him and he was ready to go home (again, the similarities between this and the scene where Count Cupcake pawns his tiny spurs and heads back to Transylvania to become a pastry chef are hard to overlook). Next week: the final four, and Craig and Alex get fired.

Back to the Apprentice. What is Kendra’s problem with Craig exactly? Later in the episode he was being rather condescending to her when she would not give up on trying to jam horizontal file folders into the vertical organizer, but most of the time it just seems like he asks some ordinary question and she starts going off on how he’s “pushing her buttons”. I have been predicting a Kendra win for awhile now, but she’s begun to annoy me so much that I’m edging closer to choosing Tana instead. I still find myself liking Craig, I think he’s pretty bright and gets good ideas but just works in a different way from the other contestants and doesn’t articulate his thought processes well. Like when Magna went to Staples, Kendra and Tana started interviewing customers – or at least looking into one customer’s shopping cart – while Craig wandered around staring at products and opening desk drawers. This irritated Kendra, who “had no clue – no clue” what Craig was doing and wanted him to be next to them because obviously asking a customer what he’s buying and what he’d like to buy is a job that requires three people. My thought is that maybe Craig was envisioning the office their product would be ending up in, checking out desks and drawers to see what sort of space to house an organizer they would be working with, etc. Then when he goes with her “idea” – though I’m not sure that looking into someone’s shopping cart and saying the name of the existing product they see there can quite be called an idea – she gripes that “Craig took my idea because that’s just who Craig is.” You mean the project manager? The alternative to him taking her idea would have been him rejecting her idea, right? Not to mention the fact that Craig actually turned it into something other than a pre-existing product. And by they way, when they explained their idea to George why was he all dubious, saying “It sounds like a great idea, but that’s going to be a lot of work, do you really think you can get that done in time?” Am I just not appreciating the difficulties presented by turning four stackables on their sides and gluing them together to form a square or does George just enjoy being dubious? Over on the all-booksmart Net Worth side, Alex demonstrated why Trump later told him, “You’re not a star, you’re not a star” with his decision not to meet in person with the people who were going to be judging them but instead calling them. Not just calling them, either, calling them on a cell phone. And just in case the low quality and instability of a cell connection was not enough of a fuck you to the people he was calling, he also put them on speakerphone. What is it with business jerks and speakerphones anyway? If you’ve got a conference table full of people listening to a call it can make sense, but usually it is just a way of telling people, “I am very busy and you are far too insignificant for me to bother picking up a handset so we can have a clear conversation without a bunch of echo and the beginning of all my sentences cutting out.” Bren’s attempt to conduct his market research was also speakerphone-based, even though he was all alone and doing nothing other than talking on the phone. Here’s the IAAFOTS etiquette lesson for today, readers: if you are in a situation where a landline is available, using a cell phone instead is rude, and putting someone on speakerphone is always rude unless you only have one phone and a group people who need to hear the call. Another indication that Alex is not a star came when he unveiled his groundbreaking invention to eliminate desk clutter: the desk. A desk where instead of drawers that pull out you have drawers that you need to remove the top of the desk to access, but basically a desk. It really surprised me that Alex’s solution was so uncreative, since he’s clearly used to thinking outside the box (sorry, had to take that one myself). As soon as they saw the completed design and started going off on what a Magna-crushing home run it was, any fears I may have had that my prediction of another Net Worth loss might not come true disappeared. I’ll be back with the conclusion after taking a moment to earn my keep here.

In an attempt to save time and make sure that I finish with my Apprentice commentary this afternoon I'm going to adopt the following convention: instances which I think might provide the slightest basis for insinuating that Alex Thomason has a taste for cock meat will simply be highlighted and you can provide your own quip if you so choose. It was interesting at the top of the show to notice that Tana Goertz and the others seemed to think that Chris Shelton would not be the one fired last week. "Bren, he's a big zero," opined Tana. Since no one had ever said anything negative concerning Mr. Olswanger previously as far as I can recall, this immediately started me thinking that it might be Bren rather than Alex getting canned this week. Though he hadn't seemed to have gotten attacked particularly hard in last week's boardroom it was also a bit of a surprise to hear that Bren himself felt he was now on thin ice. "I'm lower than whale crap at the bottom of the ocean," he told us in what may have been attempt to multi-task and audition for a job anchoring the CBS Evening News in addition to the Trump gig. His next words totally threw me for a loop, "I'm tired of the blood in my mouth; then again, maybe the blood in my mouth is making me thirsty for more." I have no idea how my firewall was breached, but someone has clearly hacked into my computer and read the draft of my new children's book Count Cupcake, The Littlest Vampire, the tale of a diminutive undead misfit who wishes he were a cowboy, because that is a verbatim quote from the scene right before Cupcake pawns his tiny cape and heads west. Alex doesn't think Bren is a zero, though. "Bren is my oasis in this vast imbecilic land," he says before heading out for another boys' night out like the one they had before Chris' departure last week, this time at a cigar bar - Alex is into that male bonding, huh? "Tomorrow let's go balls to the wall." Stay tuned, the analysis will continue after this brief break for tunafish.

Ok, the network here is currently functional, Blogger is letting me in, and at the moment I have no work to do. Accordingly, I would expect that this will be the only thing you hear from me today (Murphy's law!). Hopefully not, though. While I try to get some of the usual Friday material whipped into shape, I would suggest taking a moment to check out some of the new commentary, as reader Andrew H. has provided a number of interesting links to enjoy. Also, here is a link to a story on the Canadian prime minister's television address last night just in case anyone cares to try to figure out what's going on up there with this possible collapse of their current Liberal government. Oh, and word has just come in that reader Andrea B. spotted the carrot this morning, so he is ok (or perhaps they just have an endless supply of carrot fodder waiting to replace the inevitable casualties).

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Meanwhile, in Halifax headlines: Miracle Puppy Finds a Home.

Oh, damn this "work" all to hell... you're cutting into my blogging time, you stupid clients. Anyhow, first up today we've got a headline derby on our hands:
British Motorist Hurt in Drive-by Sausage Strike - Chicago Sun-Times, Drive-by Porking -, Motorist Battered by Sausage - Scotland on Sunday, Motorist's Nose Broken by Sausage - BBC News, Motorist Injured by Flying Frozen Sausage - Newsday, 'Offending' Sausage Breaks Driver's Nose - India, Driver Tells of Hurled Banger Horror - East Anglian Daily Times, and our winner, Case of Banger and Smash For Motorist - Guardian UK.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

"These lovely pigs are of a special species that is good at sports by nature," said Yang Ying, "They started receiving training soon after they were born and became professional athletes one year later." And now they are competing in the Pig Olympics! Video here! Itius-cay, Altius-yay, Ortius-fay!

I also just read that the IOC is going to vote on whether to keep all of its current sports. While this may mean that Sabre Hermes will need to work on his putting before the 2012 Games in Paris (I take my desires for reality because I believe in the reality of my desires) at least it doesn't look like they're talking about the superior Winter Olympics, because if they were voting on that I might be slightly afraid for that Canadian-beloved sport which I have a real fondness for myself, curling. Yeah, the only sport where actual sweeping, with a broom, enters into the competition always gets mocked a little down here every four years, but on the rare occasions I've actually gotten to watch some (even during the Olympics they only show a brief highlight package during the primetime coverage) I have found it to be hypnotically fascinating. Well, fascinating may not be exactly the right word... hypnotically pleasant maybe, but the match I saw on NBC a year or two ago where the US women, led by skip Debbie McCormick, beat the Canadian women for what I believe was the first time ever, was exciting. Unfortunately for Debbie's Team Lucky Monkey, they lost to skip Cassie Johnson's curlers at the Olympic Curling Trials which were just held in Wisconsin, so Team USA in Torino will be Team Johnson. Whoever's going, I'm sure all can agree that this is an attractive hoodie.

The subject of Canadian sports reminds me that there is one other thing I knew about Ottawa that I forgot to mention on Monday - it's the home of the first place Baltimore Orioles' triple-A farm team, the Ottawa Lynx. Bruce Chen, who will be heading out to face fat old David Wells of the Boston Red Sox this evening, was up there last season and our top prospect John Maine is up there right now. I'm sure few, if any, of you care about Orioles pitching prospects, but even if you don't maybe you can help me figure this out: on the Lynx homepage, their mascot is clearly the lynx pictured over on the right of the top banner, right? So what in holy hell is that spike-headed monster lurking to the left of their logo?

Blogger's in the clear this time, but network problems are hampering my action today. It's just popped back up, catching me unprepared, but here's some quick Canadian news to sneak in while I can: happy 4/20!

Hey, another Canadian has commented, this time from Montreal. The only time I've actually been to Canada, I should now admit, was a few days in Montreal back in 1987 (Canadians should not feel too slighted, as the only other time I've been outside of the U.S.A. was a week in Dublin a few years ago). I will have to scan in a few of my photos and relate the story of that trip sometime before the week is through, but not now. I took a moment to look at the website Wren left a link to, which is a message board kinda thing, and as luck would have it the current topic in their Animals section is squirrels. This got me to thinking about searching for Canadian squirrels and other wildlife, but really that whole country is overrun with squirrels, pikas, beavers, otters, raccoons, marmots, rabbits, lemmings, and the rest, so I'll just stick with squirrels in the Canadian news, which narrows things down to Sabrina the Flying Squirrel. And since that search got a bit narrower than I expected, I will also include this news about Britney Spears' beaver.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

In addition to the log skyscraper, Whitehorse is also home to the world's youngest high schoolers. Now for some of those tips I mentioned earlier. Reader Mike A. found this recipe while looking for Canadian cupcakes - I did that same search yesterday and oddly this recipe comes up a lot. Going forward these meaty treats will be known as Canadian Cupcakes (ala French Fries or Rocky Mountain Oysters), though in truth our northern neighbors seem to be quite familiar with the traditional cupcake, too. Next, reader Andrew H. has gotten a headstart on my trademark Google video search feature; I'm planning on composing a CanuckTV post myself before the week is out, but this one's good so I'm going to go ahead and use it right now. Judge Hatchett: "Mary said Phillip is a no good deadbeat Dad who was only using her as his Canadian sex Toy." AND reader Kirra B. has the link you need if you want to immigrate northward (in addition to that skilled worker route, I see that you can also apply to become a provincial nominee, which I'm thinking might be a quicker way to go if you were looking to settle in one of your more drab provinces that wanted some immigrants).

Whitehorse, Capital of the Yukon. Here is a nice story about a Yukon resident who lives in a garage, and I need to see if I can find a photo of this "log skyscraper".

I should take a moment to mention one thing currently going on up in Canada which I am decidedly against, the big seal hunt. Having grown up in Iowa, I have seen many a pig and cow slaughtered in my day, and there is no moral distinction between a cow and a seal (or a dog for that matter) in my mind, but few of those cows or pigs were less than 3 months old. Also, it was done somewhat humanely - the basic procedure in a slaughterhouse for example, is that the animals are led into the first room of the plant, given a strong electric shock to stun them, and then get a high-powered bolt through their skull, quickly and definitely killing them. This is not the case with the seals. Further information can be found here and here, and though I don't expect many of you are buying a lot of Prada or Louis Vuitton products anyway, they do use the seal skin so if you don't like the seal clubbing you ought not patronize them.

Man, there have been all sorts of tips and comments generated after day one of Canada Week, I wish I had the time to deal with it all in as thorough a manner as it deserves. To start off with, I did a little research on this Rideau Canal that SOH mentions (which is in Ottawa, not Dawson, I've just run out of Ottawa scans). Two items of particular interest I found at that link: 1) These houseboat photographs are really cool, and 2) There seems to be a Canadian version of the Loch Ness monster living in the canal, Ottie The Otter. Take some time to learn more about Ottie and his canal, catch up on the commentary to yesterday's posts, and I will return shortly with more hot Canadian action.

Monday, April 18, 2005

I'm being kept too busy today to talk at length about Canada - in a nutshell, my opinion of the country has long been that it's pretty much just like the United States, except a little better. Thankfully, reader Andrew H.'s suggestion that we also look at famous Canadians (or, as the website I found listing some charmingly calls them, 'well-known people who happen to be Canadian') is an idea which does not take much time to implement. Let's begin with actors who happen to be Canadian; obviously this is far from an exhaustive list, it's just a few that I liked the sound of:
  1. Conrad Bain
  2. Tommy Chong
  3. Hume Cronyn
  4. Matt Frewer
  5. Howie Mandel
  6. Jason Priestly
  7. Jay Silverheels
  8. John Vernon

I realize that it’s going to take a little while for you to assimilate all the many Canadian facts I’ve already presented this morning, so let me take a break from the weekly topic for a moment to fill you in on some recent changes to the links section. First, Transparent Smile has moved over to LiveJournal… this is not so much a change to the links I guess, since I have not yet changed the link over there to reflect this move. My reasoning is that Andrew already has a link to the new site on the old site, and since he says this move may be temporary – and I myself have not been having trouble posting to Blogger over the past week or so – I’m going to wait just a bit and see if he stays before altering his link. Next, there are two additions to the list besides the afore-mentioned Someoneouthere, Mostly Mom’s and one I found all by myself without the author leaving a comment here, Cupcakes Take The Cake. The best part about the latter is that it is based in NYC, so there are many links to area cupcake resources provided, such as Cupcake Café – look at that cupcake! The café is on 9th at 39th, and this cupcake described on Epinions sounds like a delicious option for Canadian visitors (or anyone): “A regular sized cupcake is $2.50, and $1.50 for a half-sized version. I liked their maple walnut with maple butter frosting. It was moist on the inside with the right balance of maple and walnuts, and not excessively sweet. The maple frosting was simply delectable, and had a cute flower decorated on top.” Unfortunately, the most delectable link I’ve looked into so far is for Citizen Cupcake in San Francisco, which is almost enough to make me want to visit my former home for the first time in five years – gaze in wonderment at the parade of astonishing cupcakes displayed on their website. Okay, I need to go get some lunch now, where might I find a cupcake in midtown...

Here's how I envision the events leading up to this frame: these four elves marching under the clover banner showed up in Washington looking for Uncle Sam. "Say, Uncle Sam, we was thinkin'... since we got them injuns fairly licked, maybe we oughtta go and fight Canada for a spell." "Why, I think that's a fine idea, boys," said Uncle Sam, "And I am certain you can best them, too, for you've got the manifest destiny, see?" Then in this panel the elves are saying, "Aw, gee! But our uncle said we was gonna whup you," while Uncle Sam chuckles at them behind their elfin backs. By the way, can anyone explain to me why the U.S. is represented by elves flying a four-leaf clover flag in this Canadian cartoon? I like it a lot, but it makes absolutely no sense to me. Was there some thwarted 4-H invasion plot which has been covered up by our government but is well known to Canadian schoolchildren?

The first thing we learn about Canadians during this IAAFOTS Week Of Canada - they're quick! Just a little over an hour after I announced this week's topic we already had our first commentary from north of the border. The commentator's own blog, Someoneouthere, is well worth checking out, too, I find. My main impetus for deciding to focus on Canada was remembering that I have a bunch of Canadian educational filmstrips from the 50's and 60's in my filmstrip collection, and the above frames are taken from Ottawa, Canada's Capital. Here's what I can tell you about Ottawa: it is the capital of Canada, is located in the province of Ontario, the weather can get cold there, they have a city hall, the commission's floral displays attract attention, and they traditionally fire a noon gun. That's about it, though I have just taken the virtual tour over at the Ottawa Tourism website, and can also confirm their claim that it is a very attractive city. Oh, and the Canadian National Spelling bee was just held there, and Finola Hackett won. Stay tuned for more informative Canadian coverage shortly.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Just in case this is my only opportunity to do so during the 2005 season, let me give a big IAAFOTS salute to the first-place Baltimore Orioles! They've still got the offensive power this year, and some of these young pitchers really seem to be coming into their own, at least so far. I ponied up $14 to get the MLB Gameday Audio package this year and have listened to most of their games, so I have to think that my increased fan support might be helping out just a little, too. They've taken 5 out of 6 from the Yankees this season, including a 3 game sweep which was completed this afternoon, and Boston comes to Camden Yards for their first meeting this Thursday... Go O's! By the by, the team whom they knocked out of first today was neither the Yankees nor Red Sox, but the Toronto Blue Jays, which I'm just mentioning as a way to transition into our new topic of the week: Canada.

Ok, let's finish up pt. 4 of this week's Apprentice recap. As reader Mike A. has helpfully commented, Mother I'd Like to Flee Tana Goertz was originally on the Street Smarts team along with Craig, so half of my theory as to why Craig ought to be making the final four is now gone (her husband, who mystifyingly spells his last name differently, graduated magna cum laude, though). I'm still leaning toward the remainder of this game playing out the way I outlined in pt. 1, but if not maybe Craig will lose next week... even though he's still the only player that I think I might like in real life, he certainly did not add any value to his team this week, constantly griping that Kendra had no overriding concept, then going to bed early and waking up to find that Kendra had completed the brochure that she had been describing from the start all by herself, which he now loved. Of course, the same could be said for Tana - you know, I am all for their wish to go to bed at a decent hour, but I also think it's very unrealistic to think that they aren't going to have to stay up all night on occasion if they were working in the Trump organization. Oh, and as long as I'm the subject of sleeping, this week's second best quote occurred after Kendra woke Tana up to say that she was like a girl who'd just had sex and Tana grabbed some metal object, possibly her clock, and said, "What the hell's this doin' in my bed?" The main point about Tana from this episode, though, is that after letting Kendra complete their project entirely on her own she then took a page out of the Jennifer Massey playbook and tried to present it as her idea in the meeting with the Pontiac executives. She had a real twitchy "I would like to smack Kendra upside the head" look about her after Kendra finally wrestled control of the presentation back from her, too. Of course, in the Massey Levi's Wheel-O-Jeans example, Jenn actually got the credit from the Levi's team for Ivana's idea, which may have been the final straw that pushed Ivana over the brink into her Massey-obsessed psychosis, while Tana's move was not nearly as successful, and Kendra ended up swinging from a basketball rim gleefully proclaiming herself a force to be reckoned with. Now that I find myself on the basketball court, two points about this week's reward: 1) How many shots did Trump really take before he sank that free throw? and 2) Either the definition of "successful team" has changed recently, or Trump calling Isiah Thomas of the last place, eliminated from the playoffs Knicks a successful team leader is his ballsiest bald-faced lie since telling us that the people really want cheeseburger pizza. Alright, all I have left to do is review the demise of chaw-dipping Lil' Trump, Chris "Tabitha" Shelton, and I will be done with this uninsightful mess. First off, I found out a few other tidbits about his arrest last week. Trump was asked about it in an interview and said "I will be there for Chris if he needs help. He's a good guy, (but) he's got an anger-management problem. We talk about it in the show - he truly is an angry guy." Also, if you were like me, you may have been wondering why someone who lives in Las Vegas was at an indian casino in Tampa anyway; the answer is that he was at John Gafford's birthday party. Maybe Gafford really is Shelton's bro, but he is sadly mistaken if he still believes that Bren and Alex are, too, because they totally played him this week. Of course, in the best quote of the episode, he also said "I perceive myself as somewhat of a brilliant young man," so his perception is clearly faulty. I got the sense that Trump may have smelled a rat in the Magna expatriates' sudden lameness, but he really couldn't justify letting Chris hang around any longer and even went so far as to fire him twice, "You're fired. Seven weeks in a row, you are fired." But then Chris started crying and in the most touching boardroom scene ever Mr. Trump called him back in and gave him a little fatherly talk before sending him on to the cab. "He's a good kid," opined the Donald after a tearful Tabitha finally left the building. Caroline smiled and replied, "He's a great kid." And I never imagined that I would be using this word to describe Chris Shelton, but when he thanked not only Trump but also George and Caroline for the opportunity during his cab speech: class. Alright, this Thursday will be the last episode before the final four, will it be another Net Worth loss as I've predicted, or will Craig William's Peaceful Feet be traipsing lazily back toward Atlanta come Friday? And I've just read in today's Newsday that The Apprentice IV will begin shooting within days, so NYC residents should keep their eyes peeled for corporate types running around town acting like retarded assholes (to make that slightly less of a needle in a haystack, also look for a pack of cameramen following them).

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Friday, April 15, 2005

Now part 3; I'm not going to be able to get through everything before end of day, it appears, so let me begin with the continuing fishy behavior from the Magna 3 Alliance (or at least Alex). To get anyone who doesn't know what I'm talking about up to speed, before the pizza task Bren, Alex, and Kendra were seen secretly huddling and making an "all for one, one for all, go us" pact of some sort, and then Alex went over to the other team and just stood around not answering the phone and chatting up spokesmodels, helping lead them to a loss which got Stephanie Myers fired. This week Net Worth again got to pick someone from Magna and they went with Bren, leading to a very excited Chris Shelton to go on about how he couldn't believe that it was the three guys together at last, while Bren and Alex evilly chuckled along, knowing that as soon as they returned to the boardroom Chris would be getting canned, and they were going to make sure they would be seeing that boardroom (and Net Worth losing would also mean Kendra making the final four; if this is a grand conspiracy then the plan would now be for Net Worth to win next week which would leave only one non-alliance member of the final four, but as explained in pt. 1, I don't see that happening). Here's what went down: Alex was put in charge of the interior shots of the car, and was given specific instructions for a few details that they really wanted to have for their brochure. Bren, on his way out to research the car in order to write their copy, even tells Chris, "He's got this, don't even worry about him". Then Chris gets back after the shoot and asks if he got ANY of these must-have shots. "Oh, no, there wasn't time, I was too busy getting these really awful shots of this cheesy-cake model sitting on the hood to do any of that." Based on his lackadaisical attitude here and two weeks back, either Alex is a lazy moron or he's sandbagging - clearly I choose the latter. Bren also wrote some obviously bad copy, but lawyers do write in a really boring technical manner, so I'm not sure if that is proof that he wasn't trying. Ok, I must flee this office in 8 minutes, so I will post this now and the fourth and final installment will have to be completed at home (and it will be, either tonight or this weekend, no joke).

Continuing now with part 2: I’m just going to throw a few observations about last week’s episode in with this week’s review, since I never bothered to post those observations even though I did write them last Friday – my only explanation for that is that sometimes I just get this perverse urge not to do something even though it would be very easy and I have no reason at all for such refusal. Ah Bartleby! Ah humanity! First amongst these observations is the special message about the pizza task that was overdubbed at the end of the explanation of the task last week: “If you had done your market research, you would have discovered that they don’t want meatball pizza, they want cheeseburger pizza”. Did no one tell the editors that Domino’s wasn’t going to be marketing the Manga Meatball after all before they showed Trump telling Magna the week before that they were going to use it? I’d speculate that they pulled the idea at the last second once they found out that Papa John’s was offering a meatball pizza, too, but they were showing ads for the Cheeseburger pizza featuring Trump, so that isn’t it. In any case, it is clearly a lie, I cannot imagine people saying that they would much prefer a cheeseburger pizza to a meatball one. While I’m on last week’s episode let me also mention the prime quotation, uttered by Tana while she was interviewing customers in an American Eagle outlet to find out their very luxury wearable technology clothing preferences, “Would you, as a man, ever want anything in the bottom?” Would that she had asked that of Alex Thomason. And, making for a smooth segue, I’ll now mention the hint that Alex is gay from last night’s show, which occurred during the boardroom when they asked him what his initial impressions of the Pontiac Solstice: “When I saw this back portion, I knew it was something I wanted.” NOW back to the top of the episode. As is often the case, we saw Mr. Trump talking with the representatives of the placed product before the teams show up to get their marching orders, a conversation that always goes the same, “So how are you doing over at X? I hear you’re doing very well. I am so rich, please note this example of my wealth.” This week he must have felt that the Pontiac representatives had not sufficiently appreciated his affluence, because he also led off the meeting with the teams by telling them “Pontiac makes a lot of money. Oh, and by the way, so do I.” I am paraphrasing here, but barely. Ok, I’m getting pulled off this review again, back ASAP with further musings on the marketing of the sexy, gorgeous two-seat roadster, including "Alex Continues Sandbagging" and "Tana Pulls a Massey"...

I'm not sure if my repeated whining that I've been having to do actual work this week has sunk in yet, so I'll repeat it again, as it may be affecting the composition of my Apprentice thoughts this afternoon. I'll get down to business now, but just be warned that this will be coming in spurts (whoa, serious déjà vu there, I said the exact same thing to your grandma last night). The show continues to unfold pretty much just as I've been predicting for weeks, and here's how the remainder of the season is going to play out. I don't think they brought this up at all last night, but obviously Kendra has now definitely made the final four with her immunity next week, and now that Craig is the sole street smart survivor (and lone contestant of color) it would be surprising to see him go before it's down to four. No such guarantees for Tana, but especially after her 2nd win as PM last week I continue to feel strongly that she will be making the finals. Therefore, Net Worth must lose again next week, eliminating either Bren or Alex; since we know that Bren has already joined the Hewgley Law Firm down in Memphis, the assumption is that he is not making the final two. BUT last night Trump finally snapped at Alex a little once he learned that he had taken a nap rather than review the text for the brochure, not to mention that the previous week he said, "You hang out with losers, you become a loser, and that's what happened to Alex", so I'm leaning toward a surprising Thomason firing next week (but am not at all sure). Since the lesson imparted by the Donald this week was, "If you can't stay up all night you ought to be doing something else", one could also speculate that Tana and Craig should be doing something else, too, but whether or not their drowsiness ever comes up again I am now 100% convinced that Kendra is going to be winning this thing, defeating Tana in the final two showdown. Well, maybe 95%, but pretty certain. Alright, now that I've told you what to expect for the remainder of this show, let me now tell you what you saw last night, or rather, let me tell you once I finish constructing these bar charts and have more free time...

AGAIN there is way too much work for me to do today, as has been the case all week... I am quite stressed, tired, and grumpy. You know, I also realized this morning that I haven't been out to have a cocktail since before cocktail week, or to put it in layman's terms, a month. I can't help but think that this omission may be negatively impacting my mood as well. It is unfair. However, reader Wendy J. has sent me a link to this brainteaser that is supposed to be suprisingly relaxing and rewarding - you just gaze at these two photos and try to spot the difference between them. Let's give it a try, hopefully it might help chill me out a little here...

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Several former dirt eaters described the taste, once acquired, as a craving. "I used to tear up a bank," Webb said. "When I used it regular, I don't care what it done. I went wild over it, I ate so much. I was killin' that dirt."

Oh man, did you ever notice that hygiene has the word high in it? Seriously, check it out! And Gene, too... like, if your name was Gene and you were high right now, that would be a total mindfuck, right? Luckily my name's Paul. Um, what was I saying again? Oh yeah, reader Teresa S. has sent in another weed-related tip, this one about a twister and a guy named Crook (it's the pigs that are the crooks here, though, ripping off dude's kind buds like that - you know they're totally blazing that shit up right now). Crook looks a lot like clean Pigpen too, and his attorney's name is Steve Casanova... names are weird.

I was looking at my bookshelves last night to see if I could find something different to scan in for hygiene week, and when my eye fell upon the shelves housing my 50 bajillion Peanuts books I immediately thought of Pigpen. The only problem is that I never find the strips with Pigpen to be very funny - there are basically only two scenarios that he appears in, either Violet and Patty (non-peppermint) are discussing how dirty he is and then he says something like "At least my conscience is clean" or he's digging dirty candy or something out of his pocket and making Charlie Brown feel ill. Charles Schultz didn't really find him funny either: "Pig Pen is kind of a nuisance. Everybody kind of likes Pig Pen. I don't like to draw him. He's only useful if you have him involved in dust and being dirty. I don't have many ideas on that; I ran out of these. And I don't even enjoy them. Now and then I think I ought to draw him, but my mind doesn't work in that vein, but people are always saying, 'Why don't you draw Pig Pen?'" While flipping through my books, though, I found this strip which makes up for not being particularly humorous with its historical uniqueness - which you would find very interesting if you were as lamely into Peanuts minutia as I am, let me tell you. To the best of my knowledge this is the only time that Pigpen was ever shown clean. [UPDATE: Okay, now the I have finished reading the first three volumes of The Complete Peanuts my knowledge has improved to the point that I am aware Pigpen was shown clean numerous times. Live and learn.]

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

It's a tip avalanche today, which is timely because I am mad busy, yo. This one comes from reader Mike A. (note: this is a different and more lengthy version of the story Mike sent, which I mention in case the tipster himself is reading and wants some further details of this tale).
''(Martha) said he was in the bed and she gave him Sudafed, gave him Aleve or Advil, gave him something I had never heard of,'' Hazel Freeman said in a telephone interview yesterday from her home in Bristol, Tenn. Yesterday morning, two days after that phone call, Hazel Freeman learned that her son had been beaten to death inside his home by a man police said had been in a romantic relationship with Martha Freeman. In fact, Rafael DeJesus Rocha-Perez — who has been jailed on murder charges — had been secretly living in the Freeman couple's closet for a month...

Of course, tips do not have to have anything to do with the current topic to be of interest, though the story that reader Teresa A. just sent in is pretty unhygenic, amongst other things: Vermont Teen Steals Corpse's Head To Make Bong.

When I first introduced the new concept of weekly topics here, I'll admit that I was concerned that my regular readers might become spooked at the unfamiliar newness of it all, and in fact early on there was at least one reader who expressed some reservations about the topic system. But then Cityrag linked to one of the cocktail-centric posts, which resulted in around 275 hits as opposed to the 80 or so I'd been averaging before. I assumed this would be a short-lived upsurge in readership, but the hitcount stayed above 200 for the rest of the week, didn't drop down nearly as much as usual over the weekend, and the next week it was consistently over 300. And it keeps on rising, with all-time high totals of 420 and 415 the past two days; I don't know how much of a connection there is, but I do know that the statistics show a five-fold increase in readership since the introduction of the weekly topic. And as far as the regular readers, Andrew H. at least is very pro-topic, and to back up his effusive praise of the concept he's sent in a few hygienic tips. The first is a collection of American Social Hygiene posters from 1910-1970, which contain many important lessons which are just as applicable today, such as Be Clean, Bathe Often, and Women Are Dirty. The second tip concerns Tooth Tunes, a rockin' new toothbrush which Hasbro plans to introduce. Funny little aside about this story - when I first read the shorter link that Andrew sent in, which had said something like 'I wonder what artists are going to want to be involved with this', my first thought was the Black-eyed Peas (even though this product is aimed at kids and I always think of the BEP as something that 40 year olds listen to as a funky change of pace from all the Norah Jones and Sting); then when I found this more complete story I read that Hasbro is currently in negotiations with said Peas. No mention of Smash Mouth or Moby, but those two might just go without saying.

I'm not sure how much readers enjoy the recurring Google video search feature, but I can say for a fact that I like it a whole lot, and that's what's really important. So here's the latest installment, HygieneTV:

Primetime Live: "And what germs are lurking in your gym? Our hidden cameras are everywhere. On weights, bikes, workout balls. Even Showers. And we found big germs, gross germs. And even a Strain of deadly germs.”

Live With Regis & Kelly: “Kelly: I think all the fecal matter was from the men. We'll take responsibility for some of the germs.”

Judge Hatchett: “Judge: Hush! You are eating off the dishes. >> It's her job. It ain't my job. >> Judge: you are eating off the dishes? >> So I will break them and throw them in the trash so I ain't got to wash them.”

The Jane Pauley Show: “I'm really like into oral hygiene. Hygiene in general. Jane: I think Chicago is probably the most romantic city in America. If you haven't been there lately.

Fox New Live: “Bring a change of clothing. If they get dirty after pelting the animals have them get changed. Ask about hygiene. Make sure the animals are kept clean and well kept. If not, perhaps go elsewhere.”

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

"After elimination, it is impossible to cleanse the rectal/vaginal areas with dry toilet paper. Warm water is obviously a better cleansing agent than the softest, prettiest or costliest toilet paper available. Any family laundress or personal valet can testify to this statement. Toilet paper has been perfumed, decorated in color, sterilized and made antiseptic, but nevertheless, it is still dry paper and only a step better in evolutionary improvement than the pages of the mail order catalogue or the barbaric plantain leaf. It appears incredible that the modern American who spends so many billions of dollars on cosmetics, drugs, and various other personal care preparations annually, as compared to similar expenditures for physicians' services, should be so concerned about fastidious daintiness and well being for 98% of his body, when for the better part of each 24 hours he blissfully ignores his invisible but nevertheless soiled derriere. The same American who employs the tooth brush and "Water Pik" 1-2- or 3 times daily, should not retain the antiquated habit of relying on toilet paper to achieve cleanliness. A syringe attachment for Douche, Enema, Colonic is also included. Liberated women… enjoy the luxurious continental touch when using the unique syringe douche attachments. Here is a simple safe method… a pleasure to use any time - Truly the ultimate in comfort and convenience." Take a trip over to and meet Mr. Bidet, American bidet prostheletizer and friend of celebrities such as Regis Philbin, Barry Gibb, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Gavin MacLeod, and Miss Universe. Read the many glowing testimonials, and once they have you convinced of the hygenic necessity of the bidet (which, by the way, is French for pony), purchase one of Mr. Bidet's many bidetastic products, such as the Bidematic [IMPORTANT NOTICE: CAUTION - ILLEGAL; Bidematic Products, including Models with cold water, and hot and cold water - are not approved by any Plumbing Code in any of the 50 United States of America (as required by Law)].

One benefit of this weekly topic concept is that I've been discovering some really great topic-related things that I would probably not have come across otherwise, i.e., catfish grabblin'. Though it is still relatively early in hygiene week, I think this may be that standout item for the current topic. "The HYGIENE SYSTEM enables persons to have their needs for personal hygiene satisfied." After reading all about the HYGIENE SYSTEM you can play "Music for Hygiene System" while looking at the photos on the bottom of the page and pretend that you're at a crazy hygiene party. What really makes this find outstanding, though, is that the Danish art/design collective who created the HYGIENE SYSTEM, N55, have tons of other projects, most of which are equally as interesting. Examples include SMALL TRUCK, SMALL FISHFARM, and my favorite of all, SNAIL SHELL SYSTEM (be sure to view all 3 pages for the SSS, p. 3 in particular has some excellent pictures of the SSS in various situations). And all of their projects have been put together into a book, which is available in a PDF for free download (though it would be nice to have the physical book to flip through, too...)