Thursday, June 30, 2005

Continuing with the annual fireworks roundup:
  1. I never meant 2 cause u any sorrow, I never meant 2 cause u any pain, I only wanted 2 shower u with flaming purple balls, I only wanted 2 singe ur eyebrows in the Purple Rain.
  2. Minuteman Fountain: this one's kinda lame, you light it up and then it just falls out of the back of the van and dies.
  3. A list of the most patriotic movie roles ever would include Henry Fonda in Young Mr. Lincoln, Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, John Wayne in The Sands of Iwo Jima, and topping the list, Stacy Keach in Nice Dreams. At least that's the only plausible reason I can think of for the existence of the Iguana Man Fountain.
  4. What's Up: I'd like to buy one of these and carry it around in my backpack all the time and then when someone asked me "what's up?" I'd light it and throw it at their feet and after the dozen shots of triple stage whistling silver crackling comets were finished I'd say "That's what's up, motherfucker".
  5. Mr. Turtle is quick to please the kids! He moves, sprays and surprise with his many antics. He also surprise with the fact that there is a fiery amphibian for sale and it's not an exploding toad. What's up with that?
  6. The only pyrotechnic display endorsed by Sir David Attenborough, Blue Planet.
  7. Rounding out the round-up: Monster Tractor Pull, Crazy Groundhog, Super Bullet Fountain, and - the irony is delicious - Fire Engine.

Reader Kirra B. has put forth an excellent idea in her commentary to yesterday's fireworks post: "I like the thrill scale, and think just about everything should have one. Forget thumbs up and thumbs down, how does it rate on a thrill scale?" You've got questions, we've got answers; for a frame of reference, you can view video of the Delirium 500 Gram Fountain Supremo here.
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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I just realized that this coming Monday is Independence Day! I haven't had the time to do a thorough fireworks search yet, but my results thus far are showing that most of the best fireworks were already covered during last year's fireworks recommendations, which you may want to reaquaint yourself with. There are a few notable newcomers being offered this year, though.
  1. You won't need a flare gun to be the stupid motherfucker who burns the place to the ground with Deep Purple shooting fire in the sky.
  2. Chernobyl? You'll be saying Cher-yes-byl to the three-mile meltdown of Nuke Power.
  3. Move over Swift Boat Veterans For Truth, and make way for the Swift Boat Exploders For Awesomeness.
  4. Bring a little potato famine, liver poisoning, and neverending bloody conflict into your backyard with the Luck Of The Irish.
  5. When it's time to engulf your home, trust the flammable agents of Century 21.
  6. Tankinator.

Like I say, this survey was not exhaustive, but so far it looks as though no one had the good sense to develop the fun and topical Exploding Toad this year. Also, I've never heard of this trend before, but most of the fireworks sites now have a "wedding sparklers" section. I haven't made up my mind whether I like or dislike this idea yet, but it is a lot less cruel to animals than releasing doves (which are domesticated and quickly die in the wild - most professional companies use homing pigeons, which return to their cage, but lots of people just buy their own doves). Throwing rice, by the way, is just fine for birds, that story that it will expand in their stomachs and kill them is a myth. It's just messy and people can slip on it, but that's also true of bubbles (and either doves or pigeons, probably, if you know what I mean). Oh, and finally, Cityrag has some good tips on where to buy yourself some patriotic pyrotechnics in the New York City area.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

This past Saturday I travelled down to the annual Coney Island Mermaid Parade with a gang of readers to enjoy the scantily-clad mermaids and get a dose of cooling sea breeze to combat the 90+ temperatures. In one of the photos at that Forgotten NY link you can see little Mango here running back and forth atop the truck pulling the pink Whalephant float - after the parade we discovered that the truck had been driven by our friend Stef and we followed them back to Red Hook, Brooklyn for some after-parade drinking at the Bait & Tackle. It's a great bar, neighborhoody, divey, and filled with taxidermy, and Mango is pretty much the optimal dog in my opinion - he's little, but strong and solid, and short hair is always a plus since it cuts down on the traditional doggie odor. When he first brought the hot dog over I assumed he was looking for some fetch, but I quickly discovered that Mango's amusement of choice is the old tug of war, and he's very good at it with his powerful little body and jaws of steel. Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrr...... If there had been a little more room in the bar I totally could have lifted him up via the frankfurter, spun him around and around my head, and gotten on AFV. Not long after I snapped these photos I was hanging out in front of the bar and Mango came out, trotted over to the chalkboard easel in front of the fancier-looking bar next door and pissed all over their specials. Good Mango!

I'm gonna be busy for awhile today, but I've got this joke for you to enjoy from the 1952 Parts Pups Jokebook.

Teacher: Johnny, why are you late?
Johnny: I had to wash the #$!!X dishes!
Teacher: Johnny! It's nice of you to help your mother, but that awful language is unnecessary. Let us continue our geography lesson. Johnny, where is the Mexican border?
Johnny: Upstairs with mama - that's why I had to wash the #$!!X dishes!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Ding dong dell.

My internet connection here today has been exceedingly flaky thus far, so I haven't been able to research this issue as fully as I would like, but I need to pass along the shocking news that the Pork Queen is in danger! The royalty I speak of is a long-standing Iowa tradition where young women with great knowledge of and love for pork and pork products are elected every year to serve as ambassadors for the Iowa Pork Council - there are county pork queens who then compete against each other at Pork Congress for the honor of becoming Iowa Pork Queen. I was hoping to find out if Dairy Queens are also imperiled, but they are more difficult to research due to the ice cream chain... for now all I have to add to those similar yet different articles are some photos of pork queens. Rest assured that as a native Iowan (albeit expatriated) I will be keeping an eye on this topic, though. [UPDATE: I've now found the homepage of the reigning Pork Queen, Cassidy Jean Greiman, which has a lot of great pictures of pigs and other livestock to see, as well as an article from the Iowa State Daily whose author has a problem with the WSJ article on the Pork Queen, believing it to perpetuate a sterotype of Iowans as pig-loving farm folk. While I agree that it's very annoying when people on the coasts have no idea that Iowa, Ohio, and Idaho are separate states, and that they generally see midwesterners as ignorant hicks, I also get the feeling that the author is a little embarrassed of her state... I mean, by and large Iowans are rural country folk who are found wearing bib overalls more often than most other places. The majority of residents aren't farmers, but unless you live in Des Moines or something you're in frequent contact with farmers and corn and pigs and cows. Most Texans aren't cowboys or ranchers, either, but they seem to embrace their agricultural heritage with pride, why's it a negative stereotype for Iowans to do so? To sum up: Shame bad, pork queen good.]

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Friday, June 24, 2005

Man, it seems like there's new craziness to report on the PeeWinkle front almost every day now. Mr. Winkle appeared on this morning's Today Show on NBC to promote his latest calendar release, but the exchange soon turned heated when Matt Lauer asked the star to clarify his recent remarks on the evils of psychiatric drugs. Why anybody cares what a freaky little dog thinks about anything is beyond me, but here's a partial transcript:

MATT LAUER: But-- but Mr. Winkle, if she said that this particular thing helped her feel better, whether it was the antidepressant or going to a counselor or psychiatrist, isn't that enough?
MR. WINKLE: Yap, yap, yap, yap, yap. Yap, Yap. Yap, yap, yap.
MATT LAUER: The difference is--
MR. WINKLE: Yap, yap.
MATT LAUER: This wasn't against her will, though.
MR. WINKLE: Yap… yap, yap, yap--
MATT LAUER: But this wasn't against her will.
MR. WINKLE: Yap… yap, yap, yap, yap.
MATT LAUER: I understand there's abuse of all of these things.
MR. WINKLE: Yap. Yap, yap, yap, yap. Yap.
MATT LAUER: Aren't there examples, and might not Gimmel, the Fancy Feast cat, be an example, of someone who benefited from one of those drugs?
MR. WINKLE: Yap, yap, yap, yap. Yap, yap, yap. Yap, yap, yap. Yap, yap.
MATT LAUER: So, postpartum depression to you is--
MATT LAUER: --kind of a--
MR. WINKLE: --yap--
MATT LAUER: --little psychological gook--
MATT LAUER: --googley-gook?
MR. WINKLE: --yap. Yap. Yap, yap. Yap.
MATT LAUER: I'm just asking what you-- what would you call it?
MR. WINKLE: Yap. Yap. Ya– yap, yap-- yap-- yap-- yap– yap, yap, yap, yap.
MATT LAUER: But that's what she went on the--
MATT LAUER: --antidepressant for.
MR. WINKLE: Yap yap yap yap yap. Yap yap. Yap yap yap yap yap yap yap. Yap yap yap. Yap. Yap.
MATT LAUER: But a little bit what you're saying, Winkle, is, you say you want people to do well. But you want them do to well by taking the road that you approve of, as opposed to a road that may work for them.
MR. WINKLE: Yap, yap yap.
MATT LAUER: Well, if antidepressants work for Gimmel, why isn't that okay?
MR. WINKLE: Y– yap.. Yap yap yap.. Yap yap?
MATT LAUER: No. You absolutely can.
MR. WINKLE: Yap. Yap– yap yap yap-- yap.
MATT LAUER: I'm only asking, isn't there a possibility that-- do-- do you examine the possibility that these things do work for some people? That yes, there are abuses. And yes, maybe they've gone too far in certain areas. Maybe there are too many kids on Ritalin. Maybe electric shock--
MR. WINKLE: Yap? Yap...
MATT LAUER: I'm just saying. But-- but aren't there--
MR. WINKLE: Yap...
MATT LAUER: --examples where it works?
MR. WINKLE: Yap yap yap yap yap.
MATT LAUER: And-- and--
MR. WINKLE: Yap yap yap.
MR. WINKLE: Yap, yap yap, yap. Yap, yap, yap--
MATT LAUER: I'm not prescribing Ritalin, Mr. Winkle. And I'm not asking--
MATT LAUER: --anyone else to do it. I'm simply saying--
MR. WINKLE: Yap yap. Yap--
MATT LAUER: I would agree.
MR. WINKLE: Yap. Yap yap yap– yap yap. Y– yap yap yap yap, yap? Yap, yap.
MATT LAUER: Let me take this more general, 'cause I think you and I can go around in circles on this for awhile. And I respect your opinion ...
MATT LAUER: Do you want more people to understand Rosicrucianism? Is that-- would that be a goal of yours?
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There were 61,618 goats in Kentucky in 2002, up from 13,037 in 2000, according to statistics posted on the U.S. Department of Agriculture website. So what have all these Kentucky goats been up to recently? Well, I've got some good news and I've got some bad news. First the sweet and heartwarming good news of a boy who cares for differently-abled goats: Clark has other difficulties with the little blind goat."Ray Charles gets very scared when he bumps into something," said Lori. "But Clark is so good with him. The goat hears his voice and follows after him like a dog, or he follows the sounds Clark makes just for him." Now the bad news: The goats "have been infected with a bio-agent. ... Then, the infected goats are at the show and you have people come and look at the goats and pet the goats and then they go home," Cline said, summarizing the day's scenario.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

When I showed up at my office building this morning, workers were beginning to construct what appeared to be some sort of shantytown along the length of the building's south side, but when I finally got a brief break to go grab some lunch just now and went downstairs it had become clear that this was not a shantytown at all but a tunnel completely enclosed by War Of The Worlds banners leading up to the entrance to the Ziegfeld theater. So anyone wanting to stand in the vicinity of TomKat, or maybe just get indoctrinated into the Church of Scientology, should head over to 54th between 6th and 7th, because it looks like the east coast premiere's going down tonight. They have most of the big premieres here by my building, but this is the only time I've ever seen them completely enclose the red carpet, though during inclement weather they often erect a roof over it; I guess they don't want any copycat water squirters dampening the festivities this time. I'm not positive, since I only glanced down that way before taking off in the opposite direction for my sandwich-fetching, but I believe I saw what looked like a Scientology information hut in operation, too, which would make sense given the fact that space aliens and movie premieres are right at the heart of their philosophy: Scientologists believe that 75 million years ago an evil galactic ruler, named Xenu, solved overpopulation by bringing trillions of people to Earth in DC-8 space planes, stacking them around volcanoes and nuking them. Then the souls of these dead space aliens were captured and boxed up and taken to cinemas where they were shown films of what life should be like, false ideas containing God, the devil and Christ and told to get ill. After that they supposedly clustered together and now inhabit our bodies. Scientologists believe that if they rid themselves of these body thetans then they will be healthier and will gain special powers like mind-over-matter. [UPDATE: I thought for the purposes of journalistic integrity I should run back downstairs to take a closer look, and I can now confirm that yes, there are indeed Scientologists down there, plus there is a police barricade covering both sides of the street and tons of touristy folks are already packed in behind them, even though these things never start until around 8pm. So if this engagement foofaraw is a publicity stunt, it's totally working, this is already the craziest I've ever seen it down there.]

7 years, 1 month 4 days
Originally uploaded by

It's been a long time since we've had the regular Thursday squirrel feature, but this Thursday one of my Flickr contacts has sent in a link to this excellent graverobbing squirrel - as you might already know, Victorian children were usually buried with their toys to ensure a fun-filled afterlife, and before the advent of marbles these toys often consisted of a sack of acorns, possibly along with a few corn husks and a lump of coal if the child came from a particularly well-to-do family.

By the by, have I ever mentioned the fact that I was a production assistant on the movie Graverobbers (AKA Dead Mate)? As a matter of fact, reader Mike A. just alluded to the production a day or two back in his comment to the chocolate factory worker squirrels post, since he worked as a rat wrangler on the set. From the sole review on IMDb it seems like this classic is improbably out on DVD, I'm going to have to see if I can find it - as you can also see from that review, the production values are quite noteworthy, plus it has my other friend Syd B. playing an ambulance driver who molests a dead cheerleader in it. [UPDATE: ok, it is not the sole review, and I guess IMDb rotates which one they show on the first page... the review I refer to is the "check the double bill" one.]

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Site of Icky Mess
(Smith, Dickinson, IAAFOTS)

As the dawn breaks
Above the ground
A popsicle lies in the square
As the ground warms
To the first rays of light
Wendy the Snapple Lady
Is there!
Her eyes
Are ablaze
See the cold treat
In her gaze

On your crane
Frozen Snapple
Rise as high
The sun
On your crane
Frozen Snapple
Touch the sun

Mmm mmm...

Now the crowd breaks
And a young boy appears
Looks Wendy straight
In the eye (eye)
As he points to the ground
And shouts at the crowd
"In the name of God,
oh please tell me why!"
His shoes
Seem so glazed
As he stands
In a lake
Of kiwi
Now he knows
Wendy betrayed
Now the ice
Turns all slushy
All slushy
His grave

On your crane
Frozen Snapple
Rise as high
The sun
On your crane
Frozen Snapple
Touch the sun.

This is a prime example of what happens when I'm forced to spend the day performing my real job rather than leisurely prowling the Cookie-hatted Bunny Superhighway for hours on end: I completely miss hearing about a giant Snapple popsicle melting and flooding Union Square with sticky goo. "What was unsettling was that the fluid just kept coming," Stuart Claxton of the Guinness Book of World Records told the Daily News. "It was quite a lot of fluid. On a hot day like this, you have to move fast." Gothamist has posts on the publicity stunt gone awry here and here, and a thorough rundown of media coverage can be found here. A number of the stories do compare the popsicle to Icarus, but stop short of actually accusing it of hubris. I was planning to say that this never would have happened if they'd run the cockamamy scheme past Wendy the Snapple Lady first, since she seems like a woman possessing good common sense to me, but the 2nd page here (found via the "More Multimedia" link) shows that Wendy was, in fact, right there at the scene of the slush. Perhaps it was a case of Snapp-otage? Or maybe this was the plan all along, check out this press release from the day prior to the event: New Yorkers and tourists alike will be overwhelmed by the immense "ice scraper" ... "We're thrilled to be offering our Snapple fans the chance to enjoy their favorite Snapple and Diet Snapple flavors, now all over their shoes." Okay, I added those last four words, but that talk of "overwhelming" onlookers does sound rather ominous, huh? Odds are Sen. Charles Schumer is already having a press conference about this as we speak, and I join him in demanding answers as to the cause of this meltdown so whatever changes are necessary can be implemented before it happens again.

While doing some looking around for a review of the latest Ellery Eskelin CD last night (have I previously mentioned Mr. Eskelin? I don't normally go in for the avant jazz so much, but his trio with Andrea Parkins and Jim Black is consistently amazing... however, he is not the subject of this post so let's get back to the matter at hand by closing this parenthesis) I happened upon this astoundingly wonderful review of the latest Jim Belushi CD from back on April 1st instead: “Cigars, cigars, I enjoy them,” howls actor-turned-free jazz vocalist Jim Belushi atonally on the song “C/Garz/Garz/Attenuation3,” at eighteen minutes the shortest of the tracks on his new four-CD album Has Never Eaten of the Whimpering Kiss My Only Dog’s Collar Return. Belushi’s vocal improvisations are supported by the drums and percussion of Han Bennink and, surprisingly, the soprano sax of Kenny G.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Those moviestar squirrels have inspired me to do one of our periodic squirrel news searches to see if there are any other new sciurid scoops of note, and there are two. Story #1: She said they heard Kaleb screaming and looked up to see the squirrel chasing him as he rode toward their car. "It chased me 50 or 60 yards and jumped up on my tire a few times, and whenever I got off I kicked it, and it bit me," Kaleb said. "They told me to get in the car.… I watched it, and it was attacking my bike." Which leads me to question how good this news in Story #2 really is: Good News from Bhimashankar: Giant Squirrels Thrive.

I really like the original Willy Wonka and am not entirely fond of Tim Burton's ouvre (I liked Edward Scissorhands and Beetlejuice was okay... that's about the extent of my fondness) so I have not been looking forward to this new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and hadn't had any interest in reading anything about it up until now. However, reader Andrea B. sent me a production still of squirrel workers in the Wonka factory this morning (the photo on the upper left of this page) and that has spurred me to get all Paul Harvey and find out the rest of the story on these furry little thespians.

"Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory" undeniably left a fair amount of its source material behind. There is neither a visit to the book's whangdoodle-infested jungles of Loompaland, nor a glimpse of Prince Pondicherry's melting chocolate palace. With only $3 million to spend, Stuart also ditched Roald's nut-cracking squirrels, opting instead for a golden egg-laying goose. Without the financial constraints faced by Stuart (thanks to European production credits, the film's net budget is about $150 million), Burton and his production team not only visited Loompaland and Pondicherry but also taught each of 40 squirrels how to sit upon a little blue bar stool, tap and then open a walnut, and deposit its meat onto a conveyor belt. In a regimen that would exhaust even Hilary Swank, the squirrels trained every day for 10 weeks before filming commenced. They began their coaching while newborns, fed by bottles to form relationships with human trainers."When we first read the script, we had our doubts, as Tim was very specific about what he wanted the squirrels to do," says animal trainer Michael Alexander. As Alexander speaks, several dozen of the film's squirrels jump somersaults in their cages. "They're not really good at taking verbal commands. And you have to acclimate them to a stage, and lights, and hearing things. They tend to panic."

I did see a bus shelter poster of Veruca Salt a few weeks ago with a squirrel perched on her head, which got my attention for a moment, but I figured any rodents in the film would be CGI and digital squirrels are not enough to sway me from my mild aversion to Tim Burton movies. Real live squirrels acting on the big screen, however, are another story entirely, and I think I may end up seeing this project after all. In addition to the story featured on the page I linked to above, there's also this interview with an assistant squirrel wrangler from the production for further information.

Welcome to summer! I'm not sure if saying "rabbit rabbit" first thing in the morning on the summer solstice makes for good luck for the entire season or whether that's strictly a first of tha month thing... I do know that leading off the day with news of a freak wombat accident is a tried and true method of bringing at least 24 hours of good luck, unless you happen to be a wombat. I've linked to two stories not to double up on the luck, because that never works, but just because one story has a photo while the other has this sentence, "I found bits of white sliced bread about 30 feet up another tree, so that supports their story that they flipped over".

Monday, June 20, 2005

After happening upon that Nick Alexander site I've been doing a little looking for other song parodists on the internet, and the first one I've found is Larry Weaver. "Whether you like rappin’ grandpas, outhouse humor or just plain ole goofin’ around, you’ll love Larry “The Dream” Weaver." Now I like all three of those things, both seperately and in combination, but the Weaver material I've exposed myself to so far is leaving me somewhat cold. Maybe it's that they don't really seem to be parodies of popular songs but just novelty tunes, or maybe it's that they don't seem to be teaching me anything about the Catholic Church, but something is missing. However, Larry also runs his own talent agency, and a couple of his other acts have piqued my interest. First, I may like rappin' grandpas, outhouse humor, and plain ole goofin' around, but the three things I love are puppets, magic and laughter, and Larry has an entertainer on his roster tailor-made for folks like me, magician-ventriloquist Ron Johnson. Ron doesn't have sound and video clips available, but he is recommended to fans of Willie Tyler and Lester (and Jeff Dunham... you know, Jeff Dunham) and as many readers are already aware, I am such a fan. In fact, ten years or so ago some friends bought me my own Lester for Christmas and he has provided me with countless hours of joy... so very much joy that it wasn't until this past December that I finally had the time to take a break and write my customer review of Lester on Amazon. The other act in the Larry Weaver stable to arouse my curiousity: Giant Robot and Giant Elvis. These roving characters do have a video sample available and c'mon, you gotta kick that.

Prank Against Mr. Winkle Leads to Four Arrests

London (IAAFOTS) - Mr. Winkle wasn't laughing after a prankster at the London premiere of his latest calendar, What Is Mr. Winkle?, turned the hose on him.

Winkle, 42, was on the red carpet prior to the unveiling of his calendar in London's Leicester Square on Sunday when a man pretending to be an area homeowner shouted "Oi, get out of me yard," and doused the diminutive pup. The prankster tried walking away but Winkle held his trouser cuff.

"Yap! Yap yap yap. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr… yap yap," Winkle told the man.

The prankster and his three-man camera crew were arrested by British police. The four were released on bail several hours later and were told to return later Monday to be interviewed by police officers. They could face assault charges. The cheeky yobbos had been filming a sketch for a new entertainment show on Britain's Channel 4. Channel 4 apologized for the incident.

Sugarbush Squirrel, the wife of Ronnie James Dio, was the target of a similar stunt last month. That outcome was much different. She ended up biting the prankster and infecting him with rabies, the Daily Mirror newspaper reported.

World’s smallest cat Mr. Peebles, who is newly engaged to Winkle, was at the premiere but not by the canine's side at the time of the incident.

Question: What do you get when you cross authentic Catholic teaching with "Weird Al" Yankovic? Answer: Nick Alexander. Nick Alexander is the top Catholic parodyist working today. He takes standard secular pop songs, and rewrites them so that they are devoutly Catholic and laugh-out-loud funny. His release, "A Time to Laugh," works as one of the lightest, most engaging evangelistic tools for Catholics ever made. How did this happen? ... It was after-hours at a Pizza Hut that Nick was handed a guitar and pushed to play his silly songs. The crowd was stunned with delight.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Friday, June 17, 2005

Paris (IAAFOTS) - Calendar star Mr. Winkle is engaged to world’s smallest cat Mr. Peebles, he announced on Friday, ending weeks of speculation over whether the short-time couple would wed. Appearing with Peebles at a Paris news conference, the 42-year-old explained how he had chosen the Arch de Triomphe in the city of romance to make his move. "Yap yap yap yap yap ... yap yap yap," Winkle said, clarifying later that the engagement had actually begun in the early hours of Friday.

Media attention on the couple has been intense since they revealed their relationship in April, and both have been prepared to discuss it openly in interviews and on red carpets. That openness has led to speculation that the relationship is a stunt to promote their careers, a notion that both have been swift to dismiss. Mr. Winkle's effusive display of affection during a recent interview with chat show host Oprah Winfrey, when he urinated on the sofa as he declared his love for Peebles, only fuelled the gossip.

"Mew," Peebles told IAAFOTS after the conference when asked for comment. No date has been announced for the wedding.

I might not have the time available to post much today, but reader Mike A. continues to pick up the slack with two new San Diego Chicken tips, an informative Q&A and a top-notch photograph. Now I realize that's not a whole lot of content, informative and top-notch as those links are, but I've got one other mascot link for you to chew on for awhile: Costumes 101, Acting 101, the Prop Shop, this site is heavily laden with insider info. Here's a brief taste from the Mascot Skit Tank section: I tend to wander off with women's purses, or at least take something from them. I started running off with purses, then a few steps away, I'd pause, look inside, and act like I saw something "shocking" in there, and then hand it back to the woman, touching it as little as possible, usually dangling from two fingers. I was wondering about plants, I mean pretending to pull out item from a woman's purse that I actually planted in there. Problem is, I can't think of anything that would be appropriate (if you think of some if the toilet humor items...heheheh I'd be fired). So what "embarassing" or weird items can I pull out of the purses, that are still in the realms of good taste? Naturally I want to get a woman to agree to be my plant for the game, and pull something really weird out, and then have her bash me on the head with her purse, and chase me away. - PK

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Avoid the Noid! And you might want to avoid Haunted-ween while you're at it.

More mascot odds and ends: Reader Andrea B. sent this image in to the tipline, which isn't a mascot per se, but I do like to imagine him flying around the Earth at supersonic speeds to reverse time in order to figure out exactly where it was he hid that acorn. From the Mike A. tipstack comes this site featuring perhaps the highest quality mascot costumes we've seen yet - I think my favorites are the bunnies on this page, or maybe Hedgie Hedgehog - and the homepage of Critters By The Bay, with the "Uncover" section particularly recommended by our tipper. I found that last one vaguely off-putting for some reason, which I think has to do with the fact that they look and sound a lot like furries, particularly Gill Wichi's section. Though it's clearly related to this week's topic, the whole furry scene really creeps me out so I'll just link to this page that seems to have a lot of information and links if you're curious or don't know what I'm talking about... it looks like it hasn't been updated in 2 1/2 years but I doubt things have changed all that much since then and I don't especially want to look at anymore furry sites to find something more recent. The Vanity Fair article posted there seems to be a fine overview of this dark and seedy corner of the mascot universe. And wrapping up the odds and ends, an article about a controversial New Zealand rugby mascot named Hori Bop: He is banned from the field after the Bay of Plenty Rugby Union dumped him as official mascot last year. Speaking to the Herald in between whipping a volunteer in a lion suit and screaming "Get a move on, you big flaming pussy" at a team practice this week, he said the union also took away his changing room. "I've been reduced to getting changed in the toilets."

I've already stated my position that all naming contests are rigged scams, but the possibility always exists that I could be wrong about something one of these days. So just in case you might want to head over to the Wisconsin State Fair website and Name That Creampuff. The best name I've been able to come up with during the 30 seconds I've been thinking about it is Puff Laddie, but I think you'll have to think of something much worse than that in order to win the 66 cream puffs a year for life prize... maybe W.S.F. Creamy or something. To really get involved in the mascot fun, though, you should move to Danbury, CT, where they're practically begging someone to frolic and cavort in the guise of Westy, the baseball-headed mascot of the Danbury Westerners who looks like the cowpoke cousin of Mr. Met. And speaking of costumed characters at minor league baseball parks, I've also found the fascinating diary of a girl whose dream of becoming Relish, the Brooklyn Cyclones racing hot dog who almost always loses (except at the game I attended last season with readers Mike A., Andrea B. and Jay O.) came true.

At this point, I think it goes without saying who sent in this mascot link, and he really deserves a gold star for being a very good helper this week. The link in question directs us to the page of Eddie The Eagle, mascot for the NRA. One generally thinks of the NRA as an organization somewhat antipathetic to regulations, but at least when it comes to Eddie this is decidedly not so, because this costume comes bundled with a laundry list of rules and regulations. A lot of them are basic mascot common sense, like change into your costume in private, stay in character, try not to terrify children, etc., and most of them make sense, but at least one of them seems fundamentally impossible for Eddie to follow: "Eddie Eagle may never be associated with violent activity". Now I'm not anti-gun by any means, but guns are inherently violent - they're designed to produce an explosion which sends projectiles flying at great speeds to tear through whatever is in their path, right? That's a violent activity, and unless Eddie disassociates himself from the National Rifle Association he will never be able to obey that rule. By the way, he wouldn't be so good at teaching kids firearm safety, but you know who would make an excellent mascot for the NRA to promote the general joy of shooting things is Titus the Bear of the Insurgents Wilderness Gruppo (as well as Affonso the Rhino and Astrid the Jaguar... there's also a fun Flash game to be played by clicking on the pile of human skulls on that page).

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Belly-aching about today's series of minor irritations seems to have done the trick, for the day has now picked up a bit. The annoying young consultant whom I suspected of swiping my chair went into a meeting and I switched the seats back (telltale mint milano residue on the side of the cushioning, not to mention my regained comfort, show that my suspicions were correct), no more work has shown up for the late afternoon, the stifling heatwave outside has finally broken, and best of all the next in Mike's series of mascot tips had led me to a wonderful new world of British mascoting. Mike's tip was the website for The Mascot Grand National, an annual mascot race in the UK, and from some of the mascot names listed on their honour roll I was able to uncover much more of topical interest, including coverage with photos of the 2003 Grand National (which was enlivened by a female streaker) and 2004 Grand National (which features a photo of one of my favorite new mascots, AFC Telford's Benny The Box, who used to be Benny The Buck until his head was stolen). I sadly haven't been able to find much on another intriguing mascot listed as a participant, Spike McPrickle the Safety Hedgehog, but most if not all of the football mascots from across the pond are pictured on this page, including the non-costumed (well, non-big-furry-costumed) Mr. Posh of Peterborough United and my very favorite of them all, Lincoln City's Poacher the Imp. The Lincoln City site, Planet Imp, has many a mascot article to enjoy, mostly concerning Poacher but there's also a story about another mascot competition, the Mascot Olympics (which was where Benny the Buck's head was stolen), and "a look at how pre match entertainment from mascots quickly turned into police investigations for Chaddy the Owl and Bloomfield Bear".

Here's a mascot costume site that I found all by myself (though I'm not positive that it isn't amongst the many tips of reader Mike A. as well). A few of my favorites from their numerous offerings, along with some made-up teams that they could cheer on to victory: the Mansfield Burgers, Burlington Scary Clowns, Westphalia Chefs, Cedar Valley Surly Irishmen, and Parkersburg Mexicans.

When I was a kid I had these great Peanuts sheets on my bed (which reader Jenn S. actually gave me again for my birthday or Christmas a number of years back) that had the characters saying various bed-related quotes from the strip. Mostly it was stuff like "Happiness is a sleeping bag" or "Dogs were born to sleep in the sun", but a few of them were depressed Charlie Brown quotes, including one which said something like, "I want to go home and go to bed but it's only noon". Which I'm bringing up because my day is really not going very well so far, both workwise and otherwise... first there was a delivery notice on the front door this morning from FedEx saying that they had attempted to deliver a package this morning but the doorbell woke neither I nor my roommate up, which isn't that big a deal exept that they claim it was their third and final attempt even though this is the first notice they've left. Then when I got to work I found out I'd left my building pass at home, which again wouldn't have been a big deal except I'd also left my wallet with identification at home, so it took me almost half an hour of security calling around to various people before finally someone claimed to know who I was and they let me in. Then when I finally got to my desk the entire surrounding area was filled with new consultants or interns or some form of annoying early-20-something loud-talking idiots, and one of them had stolen my chair, which had all the 2 billion little ergonomic adjustments perfectly adjusted for me and now I'm stuck with a hard and crappy replacement which doesn't stay up high enough and may now have given me carpal body syndrome. And, of course, my lateness caused what should have been a normal pain in the ass workload to become a crazed deadline rush with the client frantically calling me every 5 minutes to see if I'm done yet (I can never figure out how people cannot comprehend that constantly stopping to answer the phone only makes the work take twice as long to complete). That's all I can think of to whine about for now, but I'm sure there's more... ANYhow, I've now finished that, got someone to loan me $10 so I could get something to eat (forgotten wallet again) and should have some free time now to put together a mascot post or two, assuming the ceiling doesn't collapse as soon as I'm done typing this and crush my head. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Once again this comes in from tipper/guest blogger Mike A.: The dubious emotional climate within the NHL's mascot community turned stormy Dec. 20 in Calgary, when Harvey, the big white husky-looking cur, celebrated the exceedingly rare occurrence of the Flames taking a four-goal lead by leaning over the glass behind the Edmonton team bench and taunting the Oilers. Oilers coach Craig MacTavish, thinking that perhaps Harvey had gone too far, calmly ripped his tongue out and threw it into the seats.

This story leads me to recall a hockey mascot anecdote that also centers on reader Mike A. (well, it's not quite an anecdote, more of a reminiscence, really). When Mike was my roommate in San Francisco back in the 90's, nearby San Jose got themselves a hockey team, the Sharks, and they sponsored a contest to name their new mascot. Mike came up with what I think is obviously the best possible nickname for a shark who loves hockey, Puck Finn, but for some reason (possibly the fear that fans or opponents might reverse the inital consonants of his moniker and shout out something dirty) the eventual winner was the horrendously lame S.J. Sharkey. And that now reminds me of a similar incident from a few years earlier, which doesn't have anything to do with mascots, but as long as I'm-a typing... when I lived in Minneapolis in 1991 the local Fina gas stations introduced hot dogs to their line-up of products and had a contest to name the hot dogs. I came up with the unbelievably awesome Fina Weinas and entered it at various Twin Cities-area Fina Stations approximately 6 or 7 times, only to lose out to Fina Pups, which is just as lame as S.J. Sharkey, if not more so... come on, at least Fina Franks, right? The lesson to be learned from these two reminiscences: all naming contests are bullshit.

Continuing to mine Mike's tips, we now turn our attention to the beloved racing sausages of Milwaukee. As some readers may recall, I have covered these wursts before, but Mike has come across a previously unseen article giving the professional mascot's perspective on the assault, as well as other incidents and injuries which have occured in the profession over the years. His find spurred me to do another round of research for 2005, turning up this great profile of the sausages written by a woman who has previously worked as a largemouth bass that fans try to hit with squishy baseballs at the Metrodome and a student interview with Mandy Block, the stricken Italian sausage, which contains one fact I don't think I've seen anywhere else (not even on the Brewers' official sausage site): its name is Guido. AND as long as I was at the Brewers' site anyway, here's the lowdown on their real mascot, Bernie Brewer, who lives in a beer barrel chalet and slides down into a mug of beer after every Brewers home run.

Next up from reader Mike A.'s big stack o' tips is this supplier of fine mascot costumes, whose not entirely fine website always seems to have the same link no matter what page you're on. This fact precludes me from linking to Mike's favorite costume, the BLT (if anyone knows what school's teams are called the Fighting BLT's, Lady BLT's, etc. let me know) but you can track it down in the Food section. Another mascot which you can find in the Food section is one of my personal favorites pictured above, the Torah. This may seem odd to the non-Jewish readership out there, since like most Christians you've probably tried to eat a Bible before and found it not so delectable. Here's the trick, though: next time, try eating only the first five books, Genesis through Deuteronomy, discarding the rest, kinda like how you'd eat an artichoke. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.Posted by Hello

Monday, June 13, 2005

Whoa, reader Mike A., in addition to providing this week's topic, has just provided a crapload of mascot tips. I'll be saving most of them for later, after I get a chance to look at them myself, but this one goes well with the previous post, as it contains an anti-mascot rebuttal to the first piece below. By the way, I'm not entirely clear on one of the pro-mascot author's points. Once the cheerleaders are no longer intact, can the mascot programs be reinstated, or are they just gone forever?

Okay, I've got two high school mascot-related links to get us started with mascot week. The first is an op-ed piece written by a high school mascot, who unsuprisingly argues the pro-mascot position: Unfortunately, some colleges have been forced to cut their mascot programs while cheerleaders remain intact. Some say cheerleaders are enough to pump up the crowd but they aren’t as comical and that takes away from the experience. Mascots dissipate tension.

The second article was not written by a mascot, but whatever the author's occupation, she sure wrote the fuck out of it: A young man wearing leather boots, a flowing cape, blue cargo pants, musketeer hat and a huge belt wields an intimidating sword while yelling at a crowd of onlookers. Typically, a scene like this is not associated with school spirit ... He contributes the "cavalier" attitude to a simple combination of qualities."You need to stand out in a crowd, not be afraid to yell at the top of your lungs, not be afraid to try stupid stuff to make someone in the crowd happy and have caffeine."

As mentioned last week, this week sees the return of the weekly topic here at IAAFOTS, with that topic being mascots, as suggested by reader Mike A. Unfortunately I'm still crazy busy so far today so I haven't had time to find any mascot-centric links to share, but I do hope to soon. In the meantime, please feel free to send along any mascot tips, anecdotes, thoughts, etc. in to the tipline. Also, I heard on the t.v. last night that there will be an encore presentation of Hit Me Baby 1 More Time tomorrow evening, and to celebrate I have added two hilarious new quips to Friday's review of the show, which can be found in the first-round paragraphs on Tommy Tutone and Vanilla Ice. Even if you have already read the review, I encourage you to reread those paragraphs, for as I say, these new quips are hilarious. Oh, and this photo is of me getting dressed up as our opponent's mascot (the Eldora Tiger) for my high school's 1986 homecoming parade.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Oh crap... I knew that sooner or later someone I wrote a snarky quip about would actually read it, and I think that has now happened. Could be an imposter, of course, but I'm fairly sure that Nat Finkelstein just commented on my post about his recent fall into a Greenpoint manhole with his dog, Bling. I feel like a total asshole now! Particularly since I soon realized that I know and admire his work as a photographer. Well, I guess they may have made a snide comment or two around the Factory back in the day, too, and... whatcha gonna do. Anyway, I do sincerely hope that Nat and Bling are ok, and highly recommend the readership go check out his current show, which is at The Gallery at SohoGrandHotel, 310 West Broadway, through August 17th.

UPDATE: Okay, after writing the previous, I also wrote a short apology to Nat himself via the contact info on his website, and have received a reply in which he's very cool about the snarkiness. So all's good, and I recommend his show even more highly.

At a little after ten p.m. last night, while watching Game 1 of the NBA Finals, it suddenly hit me that I had missed the second episode of Hit Me Baby 1 More Time. For myself this mildly sucked, since you really don't need to watch a basketball game until the fourth quarter anyway and I was sort of looking forward to seeing Vanilla Ice perform. While Robert Van Winkle is largely a talentless fool, I really do like "Ice Ice Baby", and given the performer's long-time disavowal of his early image, including his hit, seeing him rappin' it onstage would have been a rare and exciting event, akin to seeing Jonathan Richman perform "Roadrunner". But as far as writing a review of the show goes, I don't think not seeing it should make a whole lot of difference, unless it became a whole lot more spontaneous and dramatic than the first episode was. Especially since NBC has the real behind-the-scenes lowdown on last night's contest posted at the Hit Me Baby website for me to copy (any original content of my own will appear unitalicized):

You could feel the excitement as this week's first performer took to the stage. The Knack bopped out on stage looking like the other "Fab Four" in dark suits and skinny ties. Their rendition of "My Sharona" rocked the house. I'm assuming that they're referring to the WB11 news team of Mr. G, Sal Marciano, Jim Watkins, and Kaity Tong there, though I don't quite see it myself... wait, okay, maybe a little.

Good girls don't... but Kaity does.

What is love? That's the burning question we all want the answer to…and it's also Haddaway's hit dance track. Hundreds of audience members simultaneously moved their heads from side-to-side as Haddaway belted it out.

Oh, my neck. Don't hurt me, don't hurt me no more.

Tommy Tutone was next, performing the song that had to have inspired the most crank calls in the eighties, other than "Prince Albert (In The Can)" by Bronski Beat. The audience definitely dialed in for the rousing rendition of "867-5309/Jenny".

The NBC recap mysteriously skips over The Motels' first performance of the evening, so I'll have to wing that part: Next up for the roused audience were The Motels, who hit the stage and launched into the opening verse of "Harden My Heart". After 8 bars they realized that was, in fact, a Quarterflash hit, and following a brief group huddle they began again, this time playing "The Warrior". Soon this too ground to a halt when scattered audiences members began shouting "That's Scandal!" and "You know, with Patty Smyth!" The group then finished up their set with a tentative rendition of the beginning to "A Girl In Trouble (Is A Temporary Thing)" before looking at each other questioningly, shrugging their shoulders, and walking offstage.

Holla! It was time to chill with Vanilla Ice. The crowd literally went wild when "Ice" launched into the familiar "Ice, Ice Baby" riff. Vernon later asked what happened to his "parachute trousers". Ice said he burned them when the bowl fell off his crack pipe last week.

When The Knack returned to the stage they tackled the Jet song "Are You Gonna Be My Girl." They killed it! "I had no idea that songs were even living organisms before tonight," said host Vernon Kay after the show, "The paramedics did everything they could but the tune had lost so much blood that it was hopeless... sadly we had to declare the song legally dead and wheel it off the stage before a stunned and silent audience to make way for Haddaway." Haddaway went Britney with his version of "Toxic", complete with crawling seductively along the floor.

Tommy Tutone covered Blink 182's "All The Small Things." They slowed the hardcore, fast-paced anthem down a bit, which gave the song a ‘70s retro feel. On the flip side, The Motels performed a hyper-speed version of Norah Jones' melodic ballad "Don't Know Why."

The twists kept coming. Ice was back next with a totally new version of Destiny's Child "Survivor." In fact, it seemed like the only words from Destiny's version in Ice's version were "I'm a survivor." Everything else was a new rap, complete with coordinated dance moves.

When the final audience vote was announced, Vanilla Ice had won! $20,000 will be donated to Ice's charity, the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Then, Ice performed "Ice, Ice, Baby" again – this time spraying the crowd with ice water as he sang.

Killin' your brain like a poisonous mushroom

So there you go, rap artists from the 90s are two for two so far, but spoiling dreams of a three-peat is next week's line-up: Cameo, Howard Jones, Irene Cara, Sophie B. Hawkins, and Wang Chung. I'll be back with my post-show commentary, perhaps after actually viewing the show, next Friday.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Scamp and Paul Drew, 1404 Main Street, Ackley, IA, June 1974

The updates keep on coming in. I've just learned that the Prototype Robot Exhibition kicked off today at the best expo in the world which I told you about back during Robot Week. Both Yahoo and MSNBC feature a photo which they identify as 'Optical-Tongue Robot', though IAAFOTS readers will recognize that he is, in fact, PaPeRo with an optical-tongue attachment and a hat. Other highlights mentioned in that MSNBC article include Cooper, who draws the faces of visitors on large cookies, and "a model called InterAnimal is a teddy bear about four feet tall that moves its arms and nods in synch to the sound the human voice. Developers claim it helps children who have problems talking with adults." There may have been some translation issues with that last sentence, I believe that the Japanese words for "helps" and "accidentally pummels then smothers" sound very similar. Meanwhile CNN just concentrates on the ugly ballroom dancing robot (UgBaDaRo). There's also a baseball hitting robot mentioned, which has reminded me of something I found out about while listening to the Orioles-Pirates game on Tuesday night and promptly forgot - it was Robotics Night in Pittsburgh and a robot threw out the first pitch. Would've been cool if he'd gone berserk and robo-beaned the entire Pirate line-up, as the 3 game series that just wrapped up last night turned out a lot like the last time the Orioles played in Pittsburgh back in 1979... but we're still in first place, 3 games ahead of the Red Sox, so I can't complain too much. Other than to complain that I'm not in Aichi, Japan hobnobbing with the robots of tomorrow, today, of course.

There are developments to report in the Lancaster Squirrel Bombing Case: the culprits have been apprehended, or at least identified by school officials, who evidently had not yet informed police of this identification at the time the article was written. Also, the spray-painting kids behind the non-squirrel senior pranking have turned themselves in. In further squirrel news updates, one of the British restaurants I had previously reported as having squirrel on its menu (unless I just dreamed about posting that link, because I can't seem to find it now... I hope not, because that would be a huge waste of my limited dreaming time) no longer does. AND as long as I'm here and the subject is squirrels, here are a couple photos of an 8 ft. tall squirrel in Alberta as well.

You may or may not be interested to learn that I plan to have a weekly topic once again next week. Reader Mike A. actually sent in a good topic tip last week but I remain too overloaded here at work to be able to study the topic in sufficient depth right at the moment. Until then our focus will continue to roam randomly, beginning today with a photo set I happened upon on Flickr that would have fit in well with the pink squirrel post I put up during cocktail week... well, except I guess he's orange.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Oh right... after doing a little more research on Nat Finkelstein here at home I realize that I am familiar with his work. And it's no wonder he was able to snag himself a lady 42 years his junior, as remarkably well-preserved as he is.

A quick glance at the Daily News just now has turned up news of a mastiff manhole mishap in my neighborhood of Ponta Verde/the GPT/Garden Spot of the Universe. At the beginning of my reading I was curious as to why a 72 year old man's dog was named Bling, but by the end that question had been supplanted by a curiousity as to how a 72 year old man got himself a 30 year old wife. Not that I have a problem with it, she does display a touching concern for her spouse's well-being in the article, plus it makes me hopeful that perhaps the reason I haven't been able to track down a soulmate for myself is that she isn't born yet.

On top of the relaxing atmosphere, natural beauty, and tasty clams, the east end of Long Island has another attraction in the East Hampton Star, a local newspaper's local newspaper which I probably mentioned after I went out there last summer. Only a portion of the paper's content appears online, but thanks to my OCR scanner, it requires little effort to share some of the highlights from this week's police log with you.

When wood chips fell into the engine of Philip A. Berg's car last Thursday morning, a fire broke out under the hood. The fire ignited as Mr. Berg was driving along Alewife Brook Road.

On Saturday morning, Eileen Wicke of Yew Street discovered that someone had emptied the water from her hot tub and placed seven sprinkler heads on the patio around her pool, damaging it.

On the morning of May 23, Florence Simms of Springs-Fireplace Road called police after she saw a man place a bag of trash in a garbage receptacle outside Calypso, a clothing store on Newtown Lane. She recorded his license plate number as he drove away.

Kevin Ackerly of Meadow Way alerted police after he noticed a man trying to enter a neighbor's house on the afternoon of May 25. It turned out to be the caretaker, Sherrill Webb.

On the night of May 25, Judy Delia Femina reported a suspicious car on Drew Lane that police later found parked at Main Beach. The driver told police that she was waiting to pick up a friend.

Noah Perlman of Georgica Road put his dog inside on Sunday evening after police informed him that a neighbor had complained of barking.

Four patrons who had been asked to leave Bamboo restaurant on Montauk Highway at midnight on Sunday caused a ruckus in the parking lot before departing in a cab.

Alexandra Yates of New Haven and a friend were surprised when an elderly man they met at Wiborg's Beach on Friday showed up at their bed-and-breakfast on Montauk Highway later that afternoon. They asked him to leave and called police.

When Robert Schienberg's landscapers accidentally cut the lawn on a property adjoining his on Buell Lane, Mr. Schienberg's neighbor allegedly threatened to kill him, and told police that Mr. Schienberg has trespassed repeatedly.

On the afternoon of May 23, one teenager allegedly punched another teenager on Park Place, then hit him again in Herrick Park. The victim told police that the aggressor's father and uncle prevented him from escaping the blows.

Kenneth Boyd, who lives near the Sun and Sound motel on Soundview Drive, advised a naked man he spotted standing on a motel balcony on Saturday to put on some clothes. The man "mooned" Mr. Boyd, but assured police he would not do so again.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

I was already very happy that it was not raining on Long Island when I was out there this weekend, but I'm even happier now that I realize the full extent of what I avoided. Today the weather has shifted from clear and mild to raining body parts.

Time for some squirrel news, as there are two separate incidents involving squirrels, schools, and hazmat teams that I've come across today. First a short one: A teacher at Chesterbrook Academy noticed a squirrel eating a white powdery substance. Soon after, the squirrel got sick. That's almost the entire article right there, but you'll have to read the remainder to discover the full extent of this mystery. The second incident has received much more extensive coverage, with two detailed articles in the Lancaster New Era, starting with this one: Officials have confirmed that neither the jar nor the squirrel came from inside the school ... But exactly who brought the jar to school remains a mystery.'That,' said spokeswoman Kelly Herr, 'is the million-dollar question.' The reader commentary down below this first article is also of interest, particularly as the readers appear to have figured out the answer to the million-dollar question: a gothic kid. And the follow-up article lets this alleged gothic know that he is not all that with this disparaging headline: Squirrel Incident Not Very Original. Which is true; while I've never encountered this specific prank before myself, I can recall several involving dead animals from high school. The first involved some senior throwing a dead beaver through the glass front doors of the school when I was a freshman (wheher the beaver was frozen solid or the glass was first broken with some other implement was never determined), which I think is better than this gothic's lame stunt to begin with, but the second was so much more weird and disgusting and I was unfortunately tangentially involved. On the day before the last day of school, most of the seniors would generally stay up all night drinking and partying at various spots around town, and as the sun was coming up the group I was driving around the countryside with met up with some other classmates driving around in a pickup and I talked us all into going back to the school for some kind of senior prank/vandalism, which I was thinking would involve getting up onto the roof and draping some amusing banner across the front of the building or something. But on our way back into town the guys in the truck, which was following us, came upon a road-killed deer on the side of the road and threw it into the back of their vehicle. In front of our high school was a large silver victory bell (rung when one of our teams won) and it was decided by the drunks with the deer to slice open the carcass and drape it over the bell. This was nasty enough, but it became so much worse when it turned out that the doe was pregnant. I'll just leave it at that, suffice to say that bell looked like the scene of some bizarre and bloody pagan ritual when the final day of school began. I'm not exactly proud of even being in the vicinity when that went down, but you have to admit it puts that gothic squirrel jar to shame.

Monday, June 06, 2005

I've tracked down some more information on the pig racing industry if you're interested (and why would you not be). This visitor to the San Mateo County Fair has some great photos of the pigs competing, specifically the All Alaskan Racing Pigs, who appear to be the leading exponent of this artform on the west coast. There's another company which offers two kinds of pig racing but specializes in the seemingly unique pursuit of skunk racing... they also feature "rock fountain carving shows", which is incongruous, but I guess this variety is what allows them to guarantee that "whether you like to watch, or participate, our shows are bound to have everything you could want, expect, and dream of!" Across the pond, the BBC has a video report on the state of the sport in Southhampton, England, where they jolly well spray-paint the numbers onto the contestants. And before wrapping things up it's only fair to include an opposing viewpoint, provided by PETA, who surprisingly enough do not care for pig racing.

One of the many highlights of the Dutchess County Fair every year is catching the blazing porcine action over at the Rosaires Racing Pigs oval. This weekend the devious Russians held a similar event but added a little something extra: "Besides the races for the carrot prize, the swine will play pigball. 'We failed to train them how to kick goal, and one team will have just to drive the ball into the territory of another team, like in rugby,' said Sergei Knyazev, the vice-president of the Federation of Sportive Pig-breeding". You will now want to be watching the video here.

Now on to non-beach matters, though the subject of this link does have a beach-flavored moniker. Meet Gidget, an Australian cat who helps train guide dogs.

For the past several years various friends of mine have rented a cottage in Amagansett, Long Island (actually it's not in town proper, but within the non-green area above Napeague State Park on this map) for the summer, and last Thursday I received word that all of the people renting it would be otherwise occupied this past weekend and was asked if I might want to go out there. And you know what, I did. Saying that you're spending the weekend in the Hamptons can conjure up images of fancy parties with P.Diddy and Issac Mizrahi followed by running down locals in your SUV, but my experiences have always been just going to the beach, then getting some food at a local clam shack or grilling something and then drinking and listening to music at the house, lying out and looking up at the stars, basic vacation stuff. And perfect. Here is a short photo essay detailing a typical day from daytime through bedtime (with beachtime pictured in the photo I posted last night).

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Friday, June 03, 2005

So, the new NBC summer reality series Hit Me Baby 1 More Time premiered last night, and though the work continues fast and furious, I thought I'd try to offer at least a brief opinion on the proceedings. I enjoyed it and will watch again, but it really could've been better if they'd put forth just a little effort. The basic set-up, if you didn't see it, is they take five former pop stars and have them compete against each other, singing "their biggest hit" and then their interpretation of some recent hit. In between they have a little filmed segment for each star showing what they have been up to since their days on top, and that part is where I think some extra effort could have best been directed. Because for everyone they just showed where they live now and had a few shots of them them walking around, maybe laying down some tracks in the studio, and then quickly flipped back to show them performing their second song of the evening. I know they aren't going to be doing some in-depth Behind The Music style dirt digging here, but maybe cut the contestants each week down to four and tell us SOMEthing about how they fell out of the spotlight, what that was like, what they've actually been doing (it was abundantly obvious that Tiffany has had breast augmentation and you could probably guess that she was in Playboy a few years ago if you weren't already aware, but that is the sort of fun fact that audiences are going to be curious to learn more about, and such curiosity was not satisfied last night). Also a little more about how they got started maybe, some backstage action, their thoughts about the competition... it wouldn't be hard to spruce this thing up into something semi-fascinating instead of mildly entertaining. BUT as things stand it was at least mildly entertaining, which is much better than decidedly off-putting, as I find the majority of these shows to be. Last night's former stars were Loverboy, A Flock of Seagulls, CeCe Peniston, Arrested Development, and Tiffany. I'd heard that Tiffany won the first week on the British version of this show, which only started in April, beating out Howard Jones, Gloria Gaynor, The Honeyz, and Limahl, though it appears that when all seven winners battled it out in the finals Shakin' Stevens took the crown. They just win a donation to their favorite charity, too, which might be ok for Loverboy, who probably still make off royalities and going on Styx/REO Speedwagon/April Wine package tours, but I have a feeling Tiffany might be a worthy charity all on her own... I guess they get exposure, but they all get that whether they win or not. Anyhow, I missed most of Loverboy performing Working For The Weekend, and found their cover choice of Hero by Enrique Iglesias to be a very lame pick. I don't have my Billboard Top Pop Hits book with me here at work, but I'm fairly certain that none of Loveboy's many hits was a ballad, and if one was it was at least a power ballad (also, this is the act that caused me to put "their biggest hit" in quotes earlier, because Working For The Weekend was far from Loverboy's biggest hit, it only peaked at #29 - I believe Lovin' Every Minute Of It, Hot Girls In Love, When It's Over and possibly more made the top ten (AND, to get doubly parenthetical, I see I've listed a power ballad right there)). They did not do much of a unique Loverboy-style interpretation of the song either, though it was entirely competent and showed that their vocalist can still sing pretty well. The same could not be said for A Flock Of Seagulls, though honestly that guy could never sing very well. I liked plenty of fruity new wave and synth pop back when I Ran came out, and still do, but A Flock Of Seagulls always seemed like crap to me and they continue to seem so today. They did some recent hit that I'd never heard of, so perhaps they did make it their own or maybe it was just that horrible in the first place, I cannot say. My thoughts about CeCe Peniston are few, other than to note that the British show had Rozalla on one week and that would have been a slightly more interesting early 90's pop house diva to see in my opinion. I also think she may have missed a couple notes on her Faith Hill cover, but again I am not familiar with the original. Tiffany did a good job on I Think We're Alone Now, which I think was her biggest hit - interestingly I don't think it was ever mentioned that it's a Tommy James and the Shondells song - but she dropped the ball on her cover choice. Kelly Clarkson was a shrewd pick since most of the audience for this show are probably the same folks who love American Idol, but Tiffany really has a Stevie Nicksy voice which would be well-suited to rocking (yes, I do own the first two Tiffany albums, and some of the non-hit tracks showed that off better than the singles) and that recent Clarkson hit Since You've Been Gone would've been great, especially since that is the only American Idol spawned hit that shockingly did not suck ass in my opinion. But she picked some boring ballad, which appeared to be the personal theme song of some middle-aged middle-manager lady who was singing along in the audience. And finally Arrested Development, who always got on my nerves during their brief stay at the top but were clearly the cream of the crop here. This is also the group that I most would've liked to seen a real "what have you been up to and what the fuck happened to your career?" piece on, because their sudden drop-off has always confused me. My first thought is that they hit right at the end of the late-80's/early 90's afro-centric tribal hippie wave of hip-hop which was totally eclipsed when The Chronic came out in between their first and second album, but on further reflection their was still plenty of NPR-friendly crap after that, like The Fugees for instance, or The Roots, or Blackeyed Peas... I was going to add Digable Planets, but I think they also largely disappeared after 1993. My second thought was that the old grey-bearded man who was always in the group but never did anything at all except sway a little and clap his hands (taking the title of world's least-useful band member from that guy in Frankie Goes to Hollywood who only played the tambourine in the process) had died and they couldn't go on without him, but he there he was swaying and clapping last night so that's not it either. What happened, Speech? Anyhow, they're still as good as they ever were, and though I was yet again unfamiliar with the recent hit, it ended up sounding like an Arrested Development song so I think they were they only group to really offer a uniquely personal interpretation of their cover all evening. And the audience rightfully picked them as the winner and now UNICEF is getting $20,000 for Sudanese relief. Next week it'll be The Knack vs. The Motels vs. Vanilla Ice vs. Tommy Tutone vs. Haddaway... wait vs. who now? Oh right, what is love don't hurt me don't hurt me no more, he's this week's CeCe Peniston. The interesting thing will be to see Vanilla Ice because he's obviously going to have to do Ice Ice Baby and I thought he was violently opposed to being associated with that song anymore (though I have no idea why, I think Ice Ice Baby is really good, and it's not just the Under Pressure sample because I much prefer it to the Queen/Bowie original source). But what's he gonna do, Play That Funky Music? Also, I really wish the Knack would do Good Girls Don't instead of My Sharona, but that won't happen either. In any case, I will be watching and getting mildly entertained again next week, and I'll keep you posted on what I find.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

It continues to be busy here, but I have found a few stories of interesting doings in the Cincinnati area for you to enjoy. First, a local doctor is retiring, which has promted him to say the darndest things. Among them: "Mostly, kids are kids. If you gain their confidence, they'll let you do almost anything … A lot of funny things happen. Kids swallow the darndest things. They get the darndest things caught in various body apertures ... And every pediatrician has to have a great wife." Next up, it seems that Neil Armstrong's barber has been stealing his hair and selling it to the highest bidder. And finally: ...when [Lori Myers] pulled into her drive Tuesday afternoon, she was floored. "I said 'Hey, someone kicked the head off my duck!'"

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

I am just not getting any time to blog today, though I also don't have much to say so it kinda all works out. I do have another Viewmaster scan that I can show you, this time from White Sands Mational Mounment in New Mexico. And somebody else has actually created a funny/interesting/something remix of that Paris Hilton Carl's Jr. ad that you might want to look at if you haven't already. Now I work more.

The Re-education of Glenn Close: Day Two
Other outlets were slow to pick up on this latest scandalous scoop from IAAFOTS, possibly due to its underlying falsity, but it was just too hot to ignore, and now we have a headline derby on our hands.
Respected Actress Suffers Reversal Of Fortune – Deutsche Welle, Cops: Johns Turned To Close For Comfort – Daily News, Illegal Attraction – Saipan Tribune, Hanoi Rocked by Actress Allegations – Washington Post, Close Call Girl – WCCO, MN, Dangerous Liaisons Indeed – Guardian UK, The Chumscrubber – NY Post, Call Girl According To Cops – MSNBC, 101 Donations (Of Money, in Exchange For Sex) – Portsmouth Herald News, Glenn’s Big Commish-take – ABC News, and Harlot, Plain and Tall – The Scotsman.
Those are all I've come across so far, but if any readers see one I've missed, be sure to let me know.
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