Sunday, October 30, 2005

More Supreme Court Options

With Harriet Miers officially withdrawn from consideration for Supreme Court Justice, the selection process begins again. A few weeks ago I made some excellent suggestions for women more qualified than Harriet. Now many are calling for consideration of a minority person to fill the seat.

The nominee must be a judge with a strong reputaion and exemplary credentials. As a public service I have gathered several judges that meet this exacting standard. If you know George Bush or any of his cronies, please pass along these suggestions. They can't be any worse than the choice he made last time.

Judge Joe Brown
Minority: Daytime Television Celebrity
Advantages: Slogan "It's About Being A Man" would ring true.
Disadvantages: Only available for arguments at 4 pm on weekdays.
Judge Ito
Minority: Celebrity Trial Laughingstock
Advantages: High name recognition
Disadvantages: Jay Leno still has Dancing Itos on retainer.
Judge Dredd
Minority: Comic Book Character
Advantages:Law and order reputation makes Scalia look like a tree-hugger
Disadvantages: Weapons not allowed in court room.
Mike Judge
Minority: Comic Book Geek
Advantages: Fellow Texan to George Bush.
Disadvantages: Hearing Beavis constantly snickering, "He said 'penal'."

Update: I want to go on the record that this post complete with Judge Ito gag predates the nomination of Ale-ITO by at least twelve hours. Leno, Stewart, Conan, and you other guys that regularly steal my best bits can make a donation to the Planned Parenthood Going Out Of Business Fund in lieu of royalties.

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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Time Warp For Tots

The school where my wife works has a Fall Festival every year near the end of October. Fall Festival being the non-denominational, non-occult version of Halloween. As I walked through the halls I heard a vaguely familiar tune that I wouldn’t normally associate with a school environment. It was the Kidz Bop version of “Time Warp” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

This disturbed in a great number of ways. It’s just so wrong when that stuff filters sown to the elementary school set. The first time I saw a group of five year olds clamoring to be included in a YMCA line dance, I cringed and wondered what happened to all that was edgy and subversive from my younger days. Rocky Horror was a vital part of my youth that has now been co-opted as children’s entertainment. Not to mention the cloying children’s chorus arrangements that the succubae at Kidz Bop use to totally defang anything. I think they could do Iron Maiden Kidz Bob style and no one would object.

I was never a huge Rocky Horror aficionado, but went at least a half dozen times when in high school. I knew what to shout and when, but never went out of my way to bring props or show up in costume. A casual fan.

In college, my future wife and I were visiting an old junior high friend of hers that attended Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. Her friend, B., said he was a cast member of the local Rocky Horror troupe at the only Cineplex in the area and wanted to know if we wanted to go along. My wife is the only person I know that has fallen asleep at Rocky Horror and she begged off, but I was game.

B. warned me that the Saturday night performance was a little looser than their by-the-book show on Fridays and cast members frequently skipped out. B. played the monster and had the gold bikini shorts for the part. We got there and found out that the regular actor that played Brad had called in sick. B. asked me if I wanted to substitute. I tried to beg off by saying I didn’t know the movie well enough. He rightly said “What is there to know? The movie is right there on the screen and all you have to do is pantomime the action.”

Besides, the cast thought I was perfect for the part. I was tall, thin, wore glasses and had a dorky yellow Members Only jacket. Secretly indulging my deeply repressed thespian tendencies, I went on with the show.

It was easy and a great time. The cast was a lot of fun and everyone went out to Waffle House afterwards, where I found out that Columbia and Magenta stayed in character off stage, if you know what I mean. While the whole event seems pretty tame in retrospect, it was all wild and bacchanalian when set against the mores of the surrounding community. Greenville, after all, is also the home of Bob Jones University, but that is a whole ‘nuther culture clash.

So I did wear a yellow jacket while in college, but that is not why I am yellojkt. But if anyone needs a Brad for a Rocky Horror revival, I’ve got that on my resume.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Why yellojkt?

Whenever I am asked for a username/alias/handle I rely on the one I have had since I first started visiting computer bulletin boards back in the early 90s. This was way before the World Wide Web hit the mainstream and the internet meant e-mail or Usenet. Most bulletin board systems (BBS) were hobbyist things that a guy (and it was inevitably a guy) used his computer for after he got a modem.

My first modem was a US Robotics Sportster 19.2kbps v-something or other. In those days, the speed of the modem and the protocols it supported was a major marketing phenomena as each new standard would immediately render the other standards obsolete. Modem speed increased exponentially from 300 bps in days that predate me to 2400, then 9600, and 14.4k. Modem speeds eventually topped out at 56kbps, which was when I made the jump to broadband, never to turn back.

Using a modem was very high-geek. You needed to know a bunch of very obscure initialization string settings. The most important of which was how to silence the dial tone, dialing and answer squawk so that you wouldn’t wake up your wife while BBS’ing late at night. The word “surfing” didn’t even exist then.

The typical BBS sysop (system operator) was a guy with a computer he left on 24/7. As his BBS grew he would add modems so that more than one user could be on at a time. Large ones would charge membership and adult oriented ones often required proof of age (or so I heard). Widespread use of the WWW put most of these guys out of business. Some bigger commercial ones evolved into ISP’s, but the hobbyists all went onto other things. Like running fan-sites on the web.

Once on a BBS, there was precious little to do except post on a message board or download files. Files tended to be of the variety favored by male technically enabled early adopters, warez and pr0n. There was a whole etiquette to downloading files that included uploading files as well. Since I didn’t have a stash of uploadable files and was a little squeamish about having that stuff on a family computer, I kept to the message boards or reading Fidonet threads.

Fidonet was the BBS users’ semaphore-flag-on-a-hill simulation of Usenet that ran in parallel to and in many ways was superior to the similar Usenet groups. The topic groups ran to the geek end of the spectrum. Star Trek was well represented.

Much of the jargon that still exists was coined by users of early BBS’s as well as the mainframe users of Usenet. There were “lurkers” and “trolls” and “doodz” and “file-leeches” and several other sub-species of anti-social specimens. Each BBS would develop its own little community of frequent users and hierarchies and feuds and flame-wars would ensue. Just like any decent blog or message board today. The more things change the more they stay the same.

And my point before I started geezing was…. Oh, yeah, most of these BBS’s were DOS based shareware platforms that created little files for each user on the host’s machine, so user names were limited to eight characters. I needed an eight character word to succinctly summarize me and my multi-faceted personality yet still remain anonymous, just in case.

I chose yellojkt.

Over the years this choice has served me well. There are very few places I go where I can’t get yellojkt as a username without having to resort to silly numerical suffixes. By now, nearly everybody everywhere allows names of nearly unlimited length. I hang onto yellojkt for sentimental and practical reasons. yellojkt is short, easy to type, and easy to remember. I have been yellojkt on Prodigy, AOL, Netcom, Earthlink, Comcast, and numerous chat-rooms, bulletin boards, blogging services, and other assorted members-only environments. I even now own, although all you will find is a redirect to my Blogger account. I just hated the thought that someone else might have grabbed that domain name when I get around to wanting to do something with it.

But why yellojkt, and not some other nonsensical eight letter combination?

That’s a different question altogether. It’s fairly easy to figure out phonetically that yellojkt is short for Yellow Jacket.

But why Yellow Jacket?

For one thing it’s a great conversation starter. It’s really not hard to figure out, but I’m going to give out some red herrings in further posts before I spill the beans. I have heard some wild guesses over the years and you are welcome to give it a try. The more outlandish the better.



Sunday, October 23, 2005

Quiz Roundup

My last round of quizzes was a big hit, particularly the Which Desparate Housewife one. So, I'm going to that well one more time. I'm not sure these are as amusing as the previous groups. Most I can't even remember where I found them. If you suspect I stole them from you, let me know in the comments and I will see if that triggers my memory. Without further ado, here's the latest batch of quizzes:

From trusty getto (a pretty old post):

You Are a Glam Rocker!

You put the "show" in rock show with your larger than life self.
No doubt, you are all about making good music...
But what really gets you going is having an over the top show.
Glitter, costumes, and wild hair are your thing - with some rock thrown in!

I think my classic rock leanings are influencing this one. I don't feel particularly glam.

Which Rock Chick Are You?

I am not sure I am Shirley, but I sure would like to be with Shirley, if you know what I mean.

From the Den Of Darkness

I am 24% Goth.
Wanna Be Goth.
I wanna be a GOTH. But I'm not. Smoking cloves and too much eyeliner a goth does not make. I'll go home and take your Cure CD's with me.

I really expected to be even less goth than this. I need a preppy test.

scoot jpeg
You are Scooter.
You are a loyal, hardworking person, better known
as a doormat.

Going for stuff.
"Go For Broke!"

"15 seconds to showtime."

"300 New Ways to Get Your Uncle to Get You a
Better Job "

Coffee, clipboard, and Very Special Guest Stars.

What Muppet are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

And this one has me nailed. I am SOOO Scooter.

Now here's the meta-quiz part. Which of these quizzes is the lamest and which quiz is the most accurate about you? Use the back of the test if you need more room.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Attack Of The Foobs

Part 3 of the History of the Foobiverse series.
Click this link for Part 1 or here for Part 2.
Or just join the party in progress.

The Foobiverse is a big place and rivals Yoknapatawpha County as a literary creation in breadth and scope. Centered largely in and around suburban Toronto, the Foobiverse is a mix of fictional and actual locations where the characters of For Better and For Worse live, work, and raise families without ever seeming to have any sex. Lynn Johnston’s web slaves have been kind enough to produce a map of the region, which includes such Foob-null locations as the actual studios of Foob Central in Corbeil.

The minor characters that merit mention on the obsessively detailed website number over 60, including the lost, and presumed floating in sewage, rubber figurine, Ned. Each character has a brief one-paragraph description on the FBorFW website so that you can tell them apart. The whole list is alphabetized by first name just in case your foob-induced autism can’t remember that Eric the Cheating Boyfriend’s last name is Chamberlain. Characters important enough, like Mike’s buddy and source Weed, get a bigger write-up and are linked to the main Patterson bios.

The most recent expansion of the Foobiverse was when Liz took a job as a teacher in the First Nation (non-Canadians should read “Native American” or any other choice of politically correct euphemisms for genocidally marginalized descendants of pre-Columbian western hemisphere inhabitants) tribal village of Mtigwaki. The village is one of Lynn Johnston’s annoying stabs at relevance and serious issues. Like a 1950’s filmstrip on other cultures, it comes off as insulting and patronizing. The intentionally and occasionally comically misspelled Mtigwackawacka is full of enough noble savages and colorful characters to make F-Troop look like Dances With Wolves.

In addition to stock aboriginal peoples caricatures, several of the other minor characters have rather uplifting traits that make them and by association, the Pattersons, better people. Liz’s inspiration to become a teacher was the wheelchair bound Sharon Taylor (nee Edwards). Shannon is the friend of April with ‘Special Needs.” Mike and Deanna’s landlady Lovey is a Polish Jew who may be a Holocaust survivor. Gordon survived child abuse at the hands of his alcoholic father to become a leading entrepreneur in Milborough.

There is no Aftershool Special trauma too obscure to not to have touched the Pattersons at one point or another. When Liz’s friend Candace gets hit on by her mom’s boyfriend, it’s the Pattersons she seeks solace from. Most famously, when Lawrence came out of the closet, Mike Patterson was the only person there for his childhood friend. This sequence has its own section of the FBoFW website where Lynn Johnston talks about her courageous stand in running the series in the face of literally dozens of complaints. Courageous meaning about 1 percent or the papers carrying her strip cancelled it at least temporarily.

In a strip that used to focus on the positive, an alarming number of recent characters are dishonest, mercenary, conniving, annoying and outright criminal. It started when Elly in her good-heartedness refused to believe that Kortney was stealing from the toy shop. Eric taught Liz the sins of pre-marital pseudo-cohabitation when he started cheating on her. As Mike and Deanna grew closer, Deanna’s mother Mira turned from supportive parent to Momzilla-In-Law.

Anthony Caine, after dumping Liz, unwisely chose on the rebound the career driven Thérèse whose mercenary baby shower and justifiable jealousy of Liz is so un-nuanced that Anthony comes off as one of the most spineless jellyfish in all foobdom. The evil character trend hit rock bottom when Howard Erk was introduced solely to stalk and assault Liz so that Anthony could make one last desperate pathetic play for Liz.

While the strip jumped the shark in the maudlin department when Farley the sheep dog died rescuing little April, this latest descent into melodrama is betraying the warm and cozy slice-of-life roots of the strip. The Pattersons may not have super powers, but they have been a force of goodness and justice for over a quarter century and have left a littered field of minor throw-away characters behind as proof.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Esquire Gets It Wrong

A hot weekend night in the yellojkt household usually includes a late night trip to Borders. More than once we have shut the place down. Wohoo!

After browsing the new releases and checking out what’s on sale in the music department, we settle in for the evening. I treat the café like a library with a two drink minimum. The wife and I will grab a couple of magazines we want to read, but not necessarily buy, and snag a table in the café and read while drinking coffee drinks.

Esquire magazine which I used to subscribe to but don’t anymore has their annual Women We Love issue on the stands now, so I decided to give it a glance through. This year’s “Sexiest Woman Alive” is some starlet named Jessica Biel that I have never heard of. Since I never watch "Seventh Heaven" and haven’t seen the couple of bad movies she has been in, this is not a shock.

What is a shock is how bad Esquire can miss this call after being so right last year. Just mouse over the photo of Jessica below to get a picture of last year’s pick.

I'm sure the selection of Sexiest Woman has a lot to do with the willingness of the candidate to do a wet bikini photo spread in Esquire. They should have retired the category until they could have come up with someone more talented and better looking than the B-list Maxim cover reject they had to settle for. The only redeeming factor of the issue is that in a complicit admission of their mistake, they have a double page pull-out of last year’s cover without all the annoying article blurbs. That’s worth the price of the magazine, not the eight pages wasted on future Where Are They Now subject Jessica Biel.

Yes I know that this is the third time in the last month I have featured a picture of Angelina Jolie on my blog. But when faced with major public institutions making wrong-headed decisions based on availability and expediency rather than true qualifications and merit, I feel I must make a stand. That goes for Supreme Court Justices as well as for Sexiest Woman Alive. Maybe now that Angelina Jolie has been stripped of her Sexiest Woman duties, she has time to be a Supreme Court Justice. I'll add her to the short list.

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Sunday, October 16, 2005

Fine 70s Cheese

Update (6/19/06): This page has been the subject of intense Google®Searching for "subtitle of a rupert holmes hit with the" today. If somebody would please explain why everyone needs to know this and how you have never heard of "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)" before. Thanks. Feel free to read the entire post and leave a comment. I'm just intensely curious about this Blogstorm.

Last week, trusty had a post on guilty music pleasures. I didn’t make a big deal because I don’t consider my musical pleasures guilty. Then Ces at Drink At Work declared his bad taste in music for all to ridicule. The gauntlet was thrown.

Back in the early days of file sharing, before Napster brought it to the masses, I would create themed mix CD’s from music I “borrowed” from Internet Relay Chat. Part of the challenge was to come up with a playlist and then hunt down the songs. One of my proudest achievements was a CD I made called “CHEESE – The Worst #1 Hits Of The ‘70’s”.

As the self-explanatory subtitle reveals, the key for inclusion was that each song had to have been a number 1 Billboard Hit during the 1970s. The definitive source is Joel Whitburn’s Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, which has an appendix that lists every number one hit of the rock era. Not only did it have to be popular it had to be bad. Bad in the “not good” sense, not the “cool” sense. These songs are truly awful.

The real trouble was limiting to what would fit on a single CD. I finally narrowed it down to 22 songs that could easily be the playlist for WHLL-AM. My only regret is that nothing Dr. Hook released made number one. "Sylvia’s Mother Said" belongs in this collection so bad.

So here is the definitive list, no argument allowed, of the worst hit songs of the 1970s.

Artist – Title, Year, Weeks at #1
Blue Suede – “Hooked On A Feeling”, 1974, 1
Paper Lace – “The Night Chicago Died” 1974, 1
Bay City Rollers – “Saturday Night” 1975, 1
Carl Douglas – “Kung Fu Fighting” 1974, 2
Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods – “Billy, Don’t Be A Hero” 1974, 2
The Raiders – “Indian Reservation” 1971, 1
Cher – “Gypsies, Tramps, & Thieves” 1971, 2
Helen Reddy – “Delta Dawn” 1973, 1
Maureen McGovern – “The Morning After” 1973, 2
Starland Vocal Band – “Afternoon Delight” 1974, 3
Paul Anka – “You’re Having My Baby” 1974, 3
Mary MacGregor – “Torn Between Two Lovers” 1977, 2
Debby Boone – “You Light Up My Life” 1977, 10
Vicki Lawrence – “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia” 1973, 2
BJ Thomas – “Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” 1975, 1
Captain & Tenille – “Love Will Keep Us Together” 1975, 4
Three Dog Night – “Joy To The World” 1971, 6
Dawn – “Knock Three Times” 1971, 3
A Taste of Honey – “Boogie Oogie Oogie” 1978, 3
Chic – “La Freak” 1978, 6
Rupert Holmes – “Escape (The Pina Colada Song) ” 1979, 3
CW McCall – “Convoy” 1976, 1

The truly sad thing is that I have this CD on shuffle play as I am posting this and I am grooving to every tune. The power of nostalgia.

I am open to nominations for Volume II. The criteria are the same. It must be a number one hit from the 70s. If you aren’t sure, nominate it and I will post in the comments where the song peaked if it doesn’t qualify.

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Thursday, October 13, 2005

I Gotta Peeve

I was trying to avoid National Pet Peeve Week (Here's a peeve: Who thinks up this things anyways?) but then something happened at the grocery store that set me off.

It started at the mall where I had taken my family for a no expenses spared dinner. We splurged. I lost both a Jefferson and a Hamilton in the feeding frenzy. Then my teenage son with the hollow leg wanted to go to Maggie Moo's for dessert. For those of you unfamilar with this place, it serves ice cream with "mix-ins" custom spread into your ice cream by high school kids wearing the same clothes they had on at lacrosse practice earlier that day while constantly wiping their septums that are still sore from their newest Hot Topic nose jewelry.

The ice cream cones come in three sizes: humongous, ginormous, and oughtta-come-with-free-liposuction. These places are usually situated in the mall next to a home equity lender in case you want to buy more than one cone at a time.

In a fit of uncharacteristic frugalness that only proves you do eventually turn into your father, I said, "For the price of one cone, we can get two half gallons on sale at Food Lion." So we stop by the grocery store and that's when I notice that "half gallon" was a quaint nominal term. Like a 2 by 4 is actually a 1-½" x 3-½". The actual capacity was 1.75 quarts. And the pacakage screamed:

NOW 16% MORE!!!!!!!

which meant they used to be 1.5 quart cartons, so we're still 12.5% smaller than what a carton of ice cream was a few years ago. Now I try to stay up on consumer news, but I missed the hue and cry over two whole quarts just being too much ice cream to store all at once.

I first encountered this phenomena when my son was in diapers and they always came in a pack that cost $9.99 before coupons. Except that between the time he came home from the hospital and he was finally potty-trained, the quantity in the pack had shrunk from 22 to 8. Even accounting for larger diapers, the size of the ten dollar diaper pack was shrinking quicker a two dollar tee shirt all alone in a laundromat drier.

Are we stupid? Are we not supposed to notice this stuff? What marketing genius decided smaller and smaller packaging was more effective than changing the price? When do they stop shrinking stuff? When it's too small to actually use?

There would be no need for double and quadruple rolls of toilet paper if a standard "roll" didn't shrink every time the paper company wants to boost dividends 5%. A snack bag of chips has at best five chips in it nowadays, so you have to buy the Big Grab™ to actually get enough to eat. Keep the sizes the same so I at least know I am getting the same amount I bought the last time.

There! That's my peeve as petty as it is, but then that's what pet peeves are supposed to be. What's yours?

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Vonnegut Without A Country

Kurt Vonnegut's new book, A Man Without A Country, is the kick-off point for a very good retrospective essay in the Washington Post by Bob Thompson. The essay is very complimentary, but also fair and balanced (in the literal, not the FoxNews, way) about Kurt's entire body of work. The one new great insight is that Vonnegut's World War II novel Slaughterhouse-Five pointed out at the height of the Vietnam War that even in the good wars, we are capable of inhuman attrocities. Maybe the current world situation is part of the reason behind a minor Vonnegut revival.

Thompson sums up Vonnegut's career with this synopsis:
He's seen "Slaughterhouse-Five" get the Hollywood treatment. He's seen it selected No. 18 on the Modern Library's list of the hundred best English-language novels of the 20th century and "Cat's Cradle" anointed by Yale critic Harold Bloom as part of the "Western canon." And he's written more than a dozen additional books, among them "Breakfast of Champions," "Slapstick," "Galapagos," "Hocus Pocus" and "Timequake," which have been published -- this is putting it gently -- to diminishing critical acclaim.
As reporting, this accurate. Slapstick in particular unleashed an enormous critical backlash against Vonnegut by the literati. Vonnegut himself admits that Slapstick was at best a D- effort. Some of the later works have been very unfairly ignored. Galapagos is very interesting and ahead of its time with evolution in the hot seat as it is. And Bluebeard is one of the most under-rated works of the last 25 year.

My love of Vonnegut has been mentioned on this blog before, and I have been avoiding a real review of A Man Without A Country because it is a collection of essays that have been told better in other places. The Post article states:
He has also said he did his best work before he was 55, and "my life is essentially a garage sale now of stuff I wrote a long time ago." This is an accurate assessment.
If Vonnegut were a rock star, Cat's Cradle would have been his indie label masterpiece, Slaughterhouse Five his mainstream breakthrough, and Breakfast of Champions the big selling hit that has all the early fans say, "Well I have been reading him since Mother Night."

Unfortunately, the metaphor can be stretched to the breaking point. Slapstick was a near career ending mess that nearly made the label drop him. Bagombo Snuff Box was the collection of demo's and outtakes. Timequake was released with too much filler, and A Man Without A Country is an EP of live acoustic remakes. Most of the riffs have been done better earlier, but it's good to hear the melodies again.

However, even in this uneven mix he does throw off some great lines as sharp and insightful as anything he produced earlier. My favorite completely new line is
I think novels that leave out technololgy misrepresent life as badly as Victorians misrepresented life by leaving out sex.
No one could have said it better, Kurt.

Karen at Read-Think-Live has also weighed in on the new book.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

True False Meme Answers

This meme was actually a lot of fun. Here are the answers to the true/false game I posted. Any links are to the previous blog post that confirms or refutes the answer.

1. I am married. True
2. I have a teen-aged daughter. False. I have a son.
3. I live in Maryland. (prety easy so far, huh?) True. The first three were in the blog profile immediately right of the post.
4. I coined the phrase “Alligator Mouth, Hummingbird Rump.” False. The infinite monkeys that write the very bad comic strip Gil Thorp coined this euphumism. I am merely trying to spread it throughout blogdom and then the world. Unsuccessfully, I might add.
5. I have never been to California. False. That's where I saw Angelina Jolie.
6. I visited Vietnam this summer. True. I have a whole blog about just that trip.
7. I have been married for nineteen years. True. Hopefull for many many more.
8. My dog is a springer spaniel. False. Trick question. He is an English cocker spaniel which is smaller than a springer spaniel.
9. My dog likes to lick my legs. Unfortunately true.
10. I have been to over a dozen science fiction conventions. False. I have only been to four science fiction conventions and one anime convention. Like that makes me any less of a geek.
11. I collect Kurt Vonnegut books. True. I even have a signed letter from him, but that's a post for another day.
12. My house was damaged by Hurricane Andrew. False. I was living in West Palm Peach which escaped the brunt of Andrew.
13. My kid had an emergency appendectomy this summer. True. He also developed an ilius and was hospitalized for two weeks. He is fully recovered now.
14. My kid has a Xanga site. True. I also found out he has a LiveJournal page. You're on own to find them.
15. I saw the David Lee Roth version of Van Halen in concert. True. Sammy Hagar is a poseur.
16. I subscribe to the Baltimore Sun. True. Even if the canned Jules Whitcover and don't carry Maureen Dowd or Thomas Friedman.
17. I got thirteen bucks from a CD price fixing class action lawsuit. True. It's the movie reviewer class action suit I missed out on.
18. I am a regular reader of Gene Weingarten’s Chatological Humor chat. True. I just want an excuse to say "chatalogical".
19. I am bisexual. False. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
20. Angelina Jolie is hot. ABSOLUTELY FRICKIN'-A TRUE.

I recieved an impressive ten serious entries. I scored 1 point for each right answer and took off half a point for wrong guesses. The winner is dawn who only missed one item. jean-luc and angela also did very well. The decision of the judge is final.

Items 2 and 19 were gimmes. 17 was the item that got missed the most. That was a real laswsuit and all you had to do was claim you had bought a CD over some 5 year period. I know at least one other person that sent in for it. 13, 15, and 16 also drew a lot of wrong guesses.

Thanks for playing and the winners can come by any time and claim their official Stan Lee NoPrize® anytime they want.

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Sunday, October 09, 2005

Hunkiest. Nutjob. Ever.

My wife has enjoyed watching Tom Cruise take his shirt off since All The Right Moves way back in 1983. The volleyball scene in Top Gun has been the cause of more worn out pause buttons than anything this side of Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct.

This week's Entertainment Weekly irn thei Super Special Size Double Photo Issue™, now on sale, runs a remaindered photo of Tom soaking wet which leaves little of his physique to the imagination. My wife duly and respectfully noted that he has managed to stay a pretty fine prime A grade hunk of well muscled beefcake. This is over twenty years after he started out as a dumb but hunky dreamboat teen movie star. Personally, I think he looks like he’s auditioning for wet t-shirt night at the Hippo (just kidding, Mr. Tom’s Lawyer), but I’m not a good judge of these things.

Tom’s management of his career up to now has been astutely calculated to maximize both his box-office clout and serious actor cred. He typically alternates matinee brain candy movies with edgier and more artistic fare. No current actor, other than maybe his War of the Worlds co-star Dakota Fanning, has worked with a wider range of A+ costars and directors. In fact, co-starring with Tom Cruise is a great Oscar-bait tactic, especially since great actors look even more talented in comparison.

Then he fired his long-time publicist and hired his fellow Scientologist sister and the wheels fell of the gravy train. He is not going to be standing in a soup kitchen line anytime soon, but you have to think his latest couch jumping antics have hurt his merchantability. Let’s compare Tom to another well-known hot, but completely nuts, celebrity, Angelia Jolie:

Angelina JolieTom Cruise
Marries costars (Billy Bob Thorton)Marries costars (Nicole Kidman)
Undocumented rumors of flexible sexuality.Legally refuted rumors of flexible sexuality.
Adopts orphaned Africans.Adopts unwanted Floridians.
Kisses her brother.Kisses girls young enough to be his daughter.
Wears vials of blood.Played a vampire.
Looks weird blonde.
Looks great gray.

Tom has vociferously fought any allegations of homosexuality. I have always contended that Nicole Kidman is many things, but a Rock Hudson-era beard is not one of them. The guy just gets too many hot women for to play for the other team.

However, I have always thought his virility may be a little suspect. His first marriage to Mimi Rodgers was childless. Nicole and he adopted two children, proving they did want a family. His sudden and unexpected divorce from her was right around the time that Nicole admitted to miscarrying. I have never heard of any quote specifically naming Tom (or anyone else for that matter) as the father. All these facts would be consistent with a famous defensive and hyper-masculine man that just happens to be shooting blanks.

If, as current celebrity gossip holds, Katie Holmes is pregnant, and the child is born with caterpillar bushy eyebrows and a hawk nose, any rumors of impotence will be thoroughly reputed. It seems like a lot of trouble on his part just to prove a point. I just feel sorry for little Joey Potter and her future child being dragged into this endgame of watching the greatest movie star of our era self-destruct.

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Friday, October 07, 2005

Blog Scavenger Hunt Meme

I wasn't watching where I was going and got tagged by Blond Girl with a true/false meme. I actually did pretty well on her test just by reading context clues and using my finely honed test-taking-without-a-clue skills. Since nearly no one that reads this blog knows me in real life (Hi, Dad!), it would be unfair to make the quiz a measure of your clairvoyance skills. All the statements below can be either confirmed or refuted from the contents of this blog. This puts everybody on equal footing.

If you want to play, the rules are that you have to state in the comments which seven items you think are false. And if you are keb, mean girl, or wickwire I would like to see you give this a try. Of course anyone else that want to have a quiz of their own is perfectly free to do so.

1. I am married.
2. I have a teen-aged daughter.
3. I live in Maryland. (prety easy so far, huh?)
4. I coined the phrase “Alligator Mouth, Hummingbird Rump.”
5. I have never been to California.
6. I visited Vietnam this summer.
7. I have been married for nineteen years.
8. My dog is a springer spaniel.
9. My dog likes to lick my legs.
10. I have been to over a dozen science fiction conventions.
11. I collect Kurt Vonnegut books.
12. My house was damaged by Hurricane Andrew.
13. My kid had an emergency appendectomy this summer.
14. My kid has a Xanga site.
15. I saw the David Lee Roth version of Van Halen in concert.
16. I subscribe to the Baltimore Sun.
17. I got thirteen bucks from a CD price fixing class action lawsuit.
18. I am a regular reader of Gene Weingarten’s Chatological Humor chat.
19. I am bisexual.
20. Angelina Jolie is hot.

Update: The answers are here.

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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Meet The Foobs

Part 2 of the History of the Foobiverse series.
Click this link for Part 1. Or not.

The internationally syndicated comic strip For Better or For Worse features the lives, loves, and travails of a family so good-natured, wholesome, moral, and above all, nice, they could only be Canadian. This ur-family from the Great White North makes the family from Father Know Best look like Satan-worshipping polyamorists. In the comics world, the Patterson’s only competition for Whitest Family Ever is the oval headed munchkins over at Family Circus. And they don’t count because they never get older.

Since the Patterson family has been sharing our breakfast table for over 25 years, I thought I would share some insights into the personalities of the major characters. Now in the vast enterprise that is Foob Central, full bios of all the cast members are available. These read like Playboy Playmate stat sheets run though a Wonder Bread plant (Liz loves holidays, but hates thong underwear). Instead I want to look behind the official story and take a deeper look. So let’s meet the Foobs.

Elly Patterson is the slightly befuddled and frequently overwhelmed matriarchal heroine of the strip. As Lynn Johnston's alter ego, Elly is frequently the subject of self-depracating observations, many involving the ruder bodily functions. Her continued sense of exasperation only masks an inner goodness that seems to permeate everyone she touches in life. She never breaks out into life-meddling platitudes like Mary Worth, but like Roma Downey, she always seems to be nearby when someone needs some positive karma. Known as Saint Elly of Milborough, the only hurdle in her canonization is that real saints are dead.

John Patterson is about as necessary to this strip as a spoiler on a Bushwhacker. His function is completely vestigial. The only reason he’s around is so that Ellie doesn’t look completely bonkers whining and bitching to herself. He’s a successful dentist with a personality so mild he could be the spokesman for Black Diamond processed cheese. He does play with toy trains and buys a mid-life crisis car about once a decade. Other than that he might as well be wallpaper.

Michael Patterson is the good eldest kid. While he went through a surly teen-age phase, he has never done anything to besmirch the House of Patterson. An aspiring writer, he works hard, is a loving husband and devoted dad and boring beyond belief. His biggest burdens in life are a meddling mother-in-law and cranky downstair neighbors. He is now holding the gee-kids-do-the-darndest things baton that passed onto him when Ellie started having hot flashes and April got too big to be cute. If Mike has a dark side it’s pretty well hidden, but then those are the guys that end up shooting up the entire Tim Hortons in rage when they finally snap.

Deanna Patterson
, neé Sobinski, is one of the charter supporting cast members in the Foobiverse. She was the object/victim of Mike’s schoolyard crush only to disappear for several years. They reunited later when Mike as an aspiring ambulance chasing tabloid writer finds Deanna at a car wreck in a meet-cute set-up that makes most Reese Witherspoon comedies seem plausible. They dump their respective fiancés and secretly get married rather than live together because she’s “not that kind of girl”. Deanna is a trained pharmacist with a rather poor understanding of family planning methods, since they managed to have two kids anyways.

Elizabeth Patterson, aka Liz, aka Lizard-breath, is the current fulcrum of the strip as most storylines eventually lead back to her. While still as squeaky clean as Mike, she has not fallen into married domestic bliss, yet. Since this strip rarely ventures into PG territory, let alone up to 14A, Liz’s sexual history is largely speculative. Her first real boyfriend, Anthony, is now married to a career driven shrew. Other high school crushes are just deep FBOFW trivia.

Her college “longterm serious boyfriend” Eric was put-off when she wouldn’t put-out. She was completely caught by surprise with the concept that sharing an apartment with a boyfriend also meant sharing a bedroom. Naiveté like this cannot be faked, it can only be congenital. Those Pattersons obviously never spent much time watching Degrassi Junior High. Eric eventually moved onto greener pastures causing indignation when Liz found out he was burning the candle, if not at both ends, at least on the other end from hers.

A brief flirtation with Warren, a rugged yet sensitive helicopter pilot, showed promise but fizzled as well. And pickings are pretty slim for eligible bachelors up in the First Nation village of Mtigwaki where Liz is currently a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse. In the past few months Liz has been the victim of an attempted sexual assault, the subject of a married man’s crush, and the yet to be realized beneficiary of her Mom’s yenta-like pimping at a remote police outpost. I may not like the direction of Liz’s story arc, but at least it moves.

April Patterson proves that bad sitcoms aren’t the only art form that needs a steady influx of cute kids. Started as an “Oh shit! I can’t be pregnant!” storyline, April is now a teenager with all the baggage that ensues. April and her friends speak in a teen Canuck patois that makes Full House seem hip and happening. The members of the now defunct garage pop band 4-Evah coined the iconic word “foob” which is a cross between “fool” and “boob”. The cut-ups on Mount Foob have created an entire etymology of this faux-slang. I don’t think they realize we are laughing at them and not with them.

Just in case the doctor won’t renew your Halcion prescription anymore or your blood sugar is a little low, all the main characters including Grandpa Jim (and/or Step-Grandma Iris) as well as the family pets “write” monthly letters about all the stuff that happens when the bright lights of the comics spotlight aren’t on them. As examples of backstory earnestness, they manage to stay in character and are as boring, meandering, and inconclusive as anything else about the foobs we love to hate.

This series continues with Part 3: Attack Of The Foobs

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Attention Mt. Foob lawyers: The very small illustration is copyright by Lynn Johnston and I know that. I am using it under my "fair use" rights for review and criticism. Go ahead and send me a nasty "cease and desist" letter. I could use the the street cred around my fellow comics geeks.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Supreme Court Options

President Bush’s nomination of Harriet Miers to replace Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court is proving controversial. One problem is the perceived lack of legal experience on the part of Harriet Miers. George Will contends that she would not make the the top 100 list of any of the top 100 constitutional thinkers. Charles Krauthammer wonders what distinguishes her from the other one million lawyers in the country, other than that she knows W. As a public service, I have compiled a list of prestigious female lawyers that are more qualified to sit on the Supreme Court.

Ellenor Frutt
(Camryn Manheim)
Advantages: Kick-ass lawyer for seven seasons. Knows how to get her way.
Disadvantages: Liberal stance on in-vitro fertilization hurts support among pro-lifers.
Amy Brenneman
(Amy Gray)
Advantages: Actual judicial experience.
Disadvantages: Has to check with Tyne Daly on all her decisions.
Grace Van Owen
(Susan Dey)
Advantages: Would be hottest Supreme Court Justice ever.
Disadvantages: Partridge Family fan lawyers seeking autographs would be very distracting during oral arguments.

OK, those are fictional characters. But if we think outside the box, we can come up with some real-life candidates that haven’t made anybody elses short list.

Katherine Harris
Advantages: Proven Bush loyalty.
Disadvantages: Not real good at counting.
“Judge Judy” Sheindin
Advantages: Actual judicial experience.
Disadvantages: Unlikely to take paycut.
Hillary Clinton
Advantages: Graduated from a more prestigious law school. Would take her out of running for 2008 Presidential race.
Disadvantages: Unlikely to overturn Roe v. Wade until Chelsea hits menopause.

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Sunday, October 02, 2005

Testing. Testing. Testing.

I keep running across all these cute little quizzes that tell me who I am and why. I like to play along as much as the next guy, but let me clue you in. They are making these quizzes faster than we can play them and most of them are kinda dopey. Do I really need to know what kind of breakfast cereal I am? In the spirit of fair play, these are the better one's I have run across on recently visited blogs. No ringers I got from the home page of these demonic quiz writers.

And these little cut and paste code snippets they give you play hell on your blogger stylesheets. I apologize to the IExplorer users out there. I'm still trying to trouble shoot the shattered swans of a page something is giving me.
So, let's just get these out of the way all at once.

From mean girl:

I am 20% Idiot.
Friggin Genius
I am not annoying at all. In fact most people come to me for advice. Of course they annoy the hell out of me. But what can I do? I am smarter than most people.
I am 17% Promiscuous.
Complete And Total Prude!
There is a good chance I am still a virgin. I am not certain because I haven't even bothered to figure out what sexual intercourse actually is. But whatever it is I want nothing to do with it. There

I always knew I was a brilliant eunuch but now I have the evidence. I guess I am as un-promiscuous as I can and still have a kid. I would have done better on the Genius Test except I am too dumb to cheat.

From lish:

Congratulations! You are Lynette Scavo, the
ex-career woman who traded the boardroom for
boredom, mixed with moments of sheer panic as
the mother of four unmanageable kids.

Which Desperate Housewife are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

I LOVE Felicity Huffman and I am so honored to be named as her. I watched her in Sports Night which was one of the great unwatched shows of the last ten years.

From trusty getto:

You scored as Armand. You're the mysterious type.
Only those close to you know the truth about who you really are



Deacon Frost


















Whose your Vampire personality? (images)
created with

I don't even know who Armand is, but at least I like the description.

From November Rain

The Hierophant Card
You are the the Hierophant card. The Hierophant,
called The Pope in some decks, is the preserver
of cultural traditions. After entering The
Emperor's society, The Hierophant teaches us
its wisdom. The Hierophant learns and teaches
our cultural traditions. The discoveries our
ancestors have made influence the present.
Without forces such as The Hierophant who are
able to interpret and communicate traditional
lore, each generation would have to begin to
learn anew. As a force that is concentrated on
our past and our culture, The Hierophant can
sometimes be stubborn and set in his ways. This
is a negative trait he shares with his zodiac
sign, Taurus. But like Taurus he is productive.
His traditional lore can provide a source of
inspiration for the creatively inclined, and
his knowledge provides an excellent foundation
for those who come into their own in the
business world. Image from: Morgan E. Cauthers-Knox.
Which Tarot Card Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

I don't believe in Tarot and have no clue what any of this means.

From Keb:

Raw evil score: 46.67%

I cant possibly be this evil. BWAHAHAHAHA!
Even my evil laugh is lame.

From Geekwif

You Are 72% American
Most times you are proud to be an American.
Though sometimes the good ole US of A makes you cringe
Still, you know there's no place better suited to be your home.
You love your freedom and no one's going to take it away from you!

I am 100% American and take exception to the bias in this test.

I forgot who I got this from, but if you think I got it from you let me know and I will credit you.
You Are A: Duck!

duckFound in many lakes and ponds, ducks are a common site the world over. Known for their famous quack, ducks tend to congregate in flocks or go off on their own in pairs. As a duck, you may seem friendly at times but will not hesitate to bite if someone is bothering you. Your love for travel and your ability to swim are some reasons why you are a duck.

You were almost a: Parakeet or a Monkey
You are least like a: Groundhog or a LambCute Animals Quiz

I'm not sure a duck qualifies as a cute animal, although I often say I act like a duct. I am calm looking from above, but underneath I am treading water as fast as I can just to stay afloat.

You scored as Vanilla Shake.
Your perfect dessert is a Vanilla Shake!
You are fun to be around and
always have fun with your many friends!

Vanilla Shake


Chocolate chip cookie


Bananna Bread


Chocolate cake..mmm






Strawberry Shortcake


::.what dessert are you?.::
created with

Finally! Here's something I can sink my teeth into. 100% accurate!

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