Saturday, July 29, 2006

That's Your Horoscope For Today!

I'm not a Scorpio, but I loved this image. Some of this line are almost zodiacally impenetrable if you don't already know what's being depicted. Very subtle and stylish, though. If you have need of such fine illustration, please hire Istanbul and Berlin-based design team Wacker Eins so they don't sue me.

Not too much posting time today, because I think (woo-hoo!) that I'm getting off Trump island for a few hours.

If you ever read the comments here, you'll see that my friend April and I are not always in agreement. Policywise, hardly ever. Still, our minds do meet on some things and our most recent love-fest was over our shared soft spots for Weird Al Yankovic. Yes, this one.

In that spirit, and because it's my newest favorite thing, here's a very professional-looking fan-animated music video to Weird Al's song That's Your Horoscope For Today. This is multimedia flash that blasts off without capacity for pause or rewind, so be prepared. However, its fantastic images, snappy lyrics, and ska-flavored singalonginess have my toe tappin' and my heart croonin'. I'm playing it everyday, so do enjoy, will you?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Two of These Things Are Rather Like Each Other

See 4 and 5 for links to alderman and cyclical insect.
The alderman's in the glasses.

Some of these articles will soon disappear into the payhole, so link while ye may. It's a long buffet, but you won't like every dish.

1) First, there's the NJ stripper who was found with a human hand in a jar and 6 skulls at home. The basics are here, but the scene is really fleshed out in the NYT article where Ira Weiner, a lawyer for the strip club where she worked says: “She’s kind of an artistic person, with her own sense of aesthetics,” he said. “But she’s harmless. You know, what she collected was not a manifestation of her being vicious, it’s just simply what she thought was cool or had some artistic merits.”

2) Speaking of saturation of skull imagery: the NYT also sports this article on the new smiley-face, represented by the Garfield window-clinging ubiquity of skulls as product. As a person who's loved them dearly and will persist, I'll be happy when it's over, not because I'm any cooler than anyone else, but because the dilution of the image into something printed on kids' sparkle toothpaste flattens some of the more satisfying, intrinsic meaning. Hello, wine in the box.

3) Via Publisher's Lunch: Out of context, can you tell the difference between self-published and traditionally published fiction? Apparently editors and agents can. Well, 60-ish percent of the time. See how you'd do against the pros guarding the gates of prose at POD-dy Mouth. What's fascinating to me is that reading the out-of-context snippets, I wouldn't want to read any of it through. I am not cut out for the job or for bestsellers, plainly.

4) What a happy serendipity! I wrote about the narcissistic aldermaniacs just yesterday, and today I read in the WSJ (subscription only) that: Fat-lovers all over Chicago are quivering like jelly, from their 24-inch necks to their long-lost-from-view ankles. Why? Alderman Edward M. Burke has proposed an ordinance banning restaurant chains from cooking with oils containing trans fats. Windy City high-on-the-hoggers have already been hit with an aldermanic ordinance banning foie gras in restaurants. Now this.

Sure, because otherwise deep-fried goodies are well-known as health food. One of the images above is the picture I got of Ed Burke from the Sun-Times, denizen of the City Council for three decades. Of course, the pic is linked from a feature on the top-paid local corruptees in the awarding of commercial licenses to drivers unqualified by anything but having bribe money, one of whose incompetence resulted in the death of an entire family in their minivan. But okay, pushing that aside, can't you hear the recent conversation between flush-faced, late-50's Burke and his doctor?

- Ed, you've got to cut back on the fatty foods. Your cholesterol's going through the roof, and I don't mean the good kind. I know this scandal's been hard on you, but the nacho puffs aren't helping.

- Wait a minute, Doc. Let me see if I'm understanding you. Are you seriously telling me that high LDL cholesterol from a high-fat diet combined with a sedentary lifestyle can lead to heart disease among other indicators of overall poor health?


- Why wasn't I informed?! These death merchants who seek my destruction must be stopped!

- You could start talking walks after dinner. Do more than just look at vegetables.

- It's not enough. This is a city emergency! I WANT AN ORDINANCE!

5) I know how irate he must feel. I just found out another name for the Junebug as we call it, though their hordes arrive in May. (In the UK, they're more sensibly nicknamed Maybugs.) Anyhow, these annoying insect thwackers against screen doors and crunchers beneath flip-flops have another totally official name that I just learned: Cockchafers.

It's late July, way too late to apply my newfound knowledge this summer. The insects have gone to ground already. There'll be no catching a load of those cockchafers for me. I'd pass an ordinance about it if I could. I feel so ripped off.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Regulating Choice Among Aldermen and Aussies

Image sent via Bonnie's e-mail. No clue as to the source, but I feel sure Alderman Nataras wouldn't like it a bit. No, siree.

1) As Candy Sagan of the WaPo feels paralyzed by the guilty dilemmas of food choice, Felicity Lawrence of The Guardian wonders whether having soya proteins and related antinutrients in 60% of processed foods really represents a balanced, healthful diet. On a personal note: I recently increased markedly the amount of plant estrogens in my diet as a side effect of an increase in soy products for other reasons. Well, I was knocked silly by some dramatically negative hormonal effects which tapered as soon as I stopped the hyperconsumption. Mere anecdotal evidence, I know, but I usually eat food fairly close to its original form and prefer protein from meat and dairy. I think I'll be keeping on with that for my own little self, since I probably get enough soy and its effects from invisible add-ins to foods and condiments I consume already.

2) Oh sure, abandoning bastard children is old hat for the bluebonnets, but the connoiseur must admit not every international peacekeeping force (none of the Aussies, for example) can brag of soldiers sent home with injured penises from attempting to sex up goats.

3) Over the years I lived there, the aldermen of the Socialist Republic of Chicago were always getting overheated over personal gripes and using them to dictate narrow policy. I remember Burton Nataras' City Council rant about his sandwich man who spread the mayo real thin just like Burt liked it and how he didn't want to get, shouldn't have to get another sandwich man. Here's a recap of his greatest hits from B12 Partners which includes, among banning parasailing for thermal reasons, the following:

-Most famously, Natarus wanted to put diapers on Loop [carriage] horses, so as not to soil the city streets.
-Newspaper boxes, he said, should be limited in size to 26 inches wide and 50 inches tall and prohibited from carrying advertising.

-He has also proposed an ordinance to prohibit the “reckless operation of skates and skateboards on the streets and sidewalks” -- “rollerbladers and skateboarders have knocked people down,” he said.
-He wanted something done about the rudeness of film crews working in his ward, wanted a repeal of right turn on red, asked that car valets be city regulated, demanded that bicycle messengers be licensed, insured and labeled, calling them “hot-rodders.”
-In 1977, he proposed that, by law, dog walkers carry “a scooping device or other means.”
-With mixed emotions, he called for mobile food trucks to be kept out of downtown, noting morosely that the truck parked near the traffic court building supplied his favorite cheese sandwich.

Well, it ain't just Burt who's at it. I do enjoy the occasional fois gras, and mourned its recent banning from Chicago fine dining establishments as nanny-state provincialism. But what's the latest? Enforced microchipping. My pooches would've welcomed their new cyborg masters.

4) In a rare victory against PC revisionism, Penny Lane gets to keep its name.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Saintly Silence on Shows for Suckers and Spewers

This ride is fast, sweet and silent. Item 2 for image link.

1) On her saint's day, I always like to recognize the beatified one with the coolest name, St. Christina the Astonishing. If you don't recall from last time I mentioned this possibly epileptic or mad heroine of the holy: She exhibited both unusual traits and abilities. For example, she could not stand the odor of other people because she could smell the sin in them, and would climb trees or buildings, hide in ovens or cupboards, or simply levitate to avoid contact. She lived in a way that was considered poverty even in the 13th century, sleeping on rocks, wearing rags, begging, and eating what came to hand. She would roll in fire or handle it without harm, stand in freezing water in the winter for hours, spend long periods in tombs, or allow herself to be dragged under water by a mill wheel, though she never sustained injury. Given to ecstasies during which she led the souls of the recently dead to purgatory, and those in purgatory to paradise.

2) I love this new Tesla from Volvo, because if you get companies making high-end new products and rich people buying hot-performing electric cars, the technology eventually filters down. Something over 90% of the benefits from private investment gradually find their way to the public sphere. This and private space travel are the way to go.

3) I know you likely know that "reality shows" are as ironically named as the U.N. Peacekeepers, but if you weren't sure, here are the uncredited writers of America's Top Model protesting because the lack of formal writing credit means they don't get the usual benefits.

4) The classical Greeks thought so many things first. No surprise that Athens gives us supermosquitoes.

5) If you're not freaked out enough about the chance of being bashed by an asteroid, what about being expoded from within by a supervolcano?

Yeah, but there isn't a single fiery supermosquito breeding in the ashy lava swamp of any supervolcano, so don't tell me there aren't any cheery stories.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Laugh is at the Bottom of the Gutter

See image link to kitlers below.

Warning: Temporary storm of geopolitical ire ahead.

There are things going on in the world today (I'm tipping my head toward the east) that we may have strongly differing views upon. However, I'd hope we could all now acknowledge that the name U.N. Peacekeepers must've been assigned with the dryest wit that only gets more arid with time. I used to frequently bother posting about the plentiful sex scandals that victimize hungry refugees, the rife internal corruption and obfuscation, Oil-For-Food with the crowning glory of being the most expensive con job in history to deprive the needy of aid. I mean, overseeing the theft of billions in food and medicine and Kofi keeps his gig! You've got to be impressed. Ken Lay, who didn't pilfer nearly that much, had to at least quit and go on trial. But that's here, of course, not the International Criminal Court at The Hague latest known for the four year-long trial of butcher Slobodan Milosevic that ended with him being bored to death long before the verdict.

Sure, I knew that the Peacekeepers (I'm chuckling as I write the word, how amusing) had a tendency to go rapidly small and distant on the horizon once the ugliness heated up, I mean, any ugliness they didn't cause. And I knew that the boys in blue stationed in Lebanon seemed, somehow, to end up within visible range of known, banner-waving Hezbollah outposts. All the better for thugs to hide behind the matching blue skirts and avoid explosive retribution for attacks, despite the pesky U.N. resolution 1559 passed 2 years ago to disarm the sociopaths.

Nonetheless, there just didn't seem any point to saying it anymore, not even about the excrable and soul-dead Human Rights Commission, another droll name for as concentrated a stew of hypocritical, institutional offenders as you could hope to assemble outside a sale on snuff videos and cattle prods. But of course, just when I was successfully ignoring them and hoping they'd fade away, a new outrage. Oh, U.N., you had me at "terrorist ambush". So what about the bluebonnets loitering with hands in pockets, idle spectators to murderous ambushes and kidnappings by terrorist imposters in stolen U.N. uniforms? To be fair, a couple of blues might not have drawn their weapons, but they did shoot souvenir videos, evidence which was later ordered destroyed by the Turtle Bay types in between manicures. Is that a special kind of new low, or haven't I been paying enough attention? It's that old U.N. magic, but it feels fresh and new. I'm hooked again.

For those who care not, courtesy of the essential April: Cats That Look Like Hitler.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Recap: The Bloggers Who Brunched

Contributing a frosty gold eye pencil to the goodie bag was Bourjois. The lovely Diane told me about the history of her firm which began making blush for Parisian can-can dancers. She says their mascaras are also a specialty, but the niftiest thing I saw in her own purse (available at Sephora) were the mini-glosses looped by cords to her cell phone for the times you're carrying the absolute minimum. She had a nice nude and pink shade attached which would probably work for 90% of the summertime. She says they're suprisingly long-lasting for the size, so there's my adorable girlfriend tip for you.

Back from Bloggers Who Brunch (BWB). The venue was a very cute, mod restaurant, Counter. The featured cocktail was less sticky than I'd imagined, but hazardous in its liquor-camoflaging properties. The noshes were nice, buffet style. The hummus was reported as life-changing, but I only had a string bean's worth, and I have a large life to change. I did enjoy eating it, though. I learned later that everything served is organic/vegetarian, so my crab cake tropicale on a dollop of dilly mayo in an endive spoon might've been soycrab with non-egg emulsified dressing. But tasty. After these things (I say these things as if I'm attending one a week, though it reminded me of the Pajamas Media launch last fall), I'm always impressed with the bright and winning people I meet, I'm thoughtful as forecasts are spun which we hope are strong enough to lasso the future, and I'm profoundly discouraged about my own energies as compared to the opportunity.

At the Pajamas Party (my previous recaps here), participants were strongly concentrated in the arena of political opinion/news blogging with some lifestyle and miscellaneous sites (Hello! That's me waving!) around the fringes. However, today's group is particularly involved in fashion and beauty, gossip and culture, and anything to which the suffix "ista" can be added. Would you be surprised to know that these stylish and trend-conscious purveyors of content had similar concerns as the occasionally rumple-suited political types? Well, they do.

Briefly reappearing from last fall's event was also Kim of I Am Pretty NYC with her professional make-up wheelie as she stopped by on her way to a job. But the other notable deja vu was a concern for legitimacy with the mainstream media. I'm down with the need to "monetize", but I think "legitimizing" is the natural result when the content and audience demand it. Pajamas Media orignally launched with a VC's idea of a good name, Open Source Media (OSM), bowing to staid business advice to evolve as a more serious, scalable-sounding entity. Well, that petered away the spirit of the thing, squandering the cheerful unorthodoxy and goodwill of the working label. (The informal PJ monikker was itself a defense against an MSM journo who attacked the arguments of bloggers with nothing more convincing than a put-down of them as muddle-headed, slack-jawed, nightwear-clad sloths in their basements.) I'm pleased PJ Media showed the moxy to return to their roots and fix the error. The point was then-- as it remains now-- that if the content is appealing, it doesn't matter if you leave your PJ's less than Balzac left his dressing gown. And it may even be more memorable if you don't.

There are widely divergent paths, even in the uncharted Wild West of the internet. Some sites are going to be gonzo blockbusters and some are part of the long tail. (That's me waving again.) If we were traveling the graphical slope of all the websites you could visit, from most online traffic to least, after you slalom (most adroitly, may I add?) the towering mountains of viewership for the top sites, there's a sheer cliff drop followed by the teeming masses of smaller sites which appear as mere rubble by comparison. However, because modern technology allows efficent small-scale production with customized service, and because easy shipping and communication allow discriminating consumers to locate and comfortably use distant marketplaces, a niche enterprise can survive and even thrive servicing a few devotees. People with specialized interests can find sellers or advisers with "vertical knowledge," which is marketing-speak for deep expertise in a subject, and these sellers don't need to be geographically convenient or even exist as a public retail outlet. For a pithy further discussion of the long tail phenomenon, read the latest TCS article by Glenn Reynolds. Bonus topic: How to put yourself through college on diaper fetishists.

I mention the long tail, because the focus today was primarily the other end of the continuum. That is, focus on becoming influential heavy-hitters, countwise, which makes sense in that many of these sites are dealing with mass-produced articles (and celebrities) of popular culture. Part of what BWB is also doing is trying to establish their reputations for expertise in various areas- handbags, makeup, fashion design- which will allow them to promote their own content and sell ad space, to participate as resources for traditional media, even to integrate with traditional media outlets. Some of these are pure bloggers, some podcasters, but they are industry professionals and passionate pro-ams who have tons to share about the objects of their desire. A couple of our speakers have already gotten book deals on the strength of their blogging such as Meghan Cleary's The Perfect Fit: What Your Shoes Say About You and Kathryn Finney's How To Be A Budget Fashionista: The Ultimate Guide to Looking Fabulous For Less. By the way, whatever happened to short names? Without colons? Like my friend's dad, Bob?

I may have more theoretical hype to spew tomorrow, but for now, I'd like to note that the charm of the room was exceptional and aesthetic regard was evident. There was tremendous enthusiasm and conceptual innovation flying around. Perhaps, they'll remember me and let me wash their cars someday. I'd like to thank hostesses and organizers Lesley of FashionTribes and Pamela of BagTrends, whose sister-partner Michelle and mom were there, too. The event was sponsored by Glam (and the Glam network of sites) whose CEO Samir Arora spoke about his storied experiences from the misty beginnings of the internet phenomenon and his optimism for the newest growth spurts. Also sponsoring were Bust magazine, and Bacardi (look them up yourself if you're legal).

Following are the rest of the luminaries who came and chatted with the (unintended?) side effect of crippling my self-confidence by their prodigious efforts. I may have missed or mistaken a couple, and I apologize in advance. Please e-mail me any fixes.

Additionally speaking to the group were Constance White, Ebay style director and blogger for Splendora, and Najwa Moses, bold videoblogger and Styleaholic. Also present were Lauren from Second City Style e-zine, fresh from my old home town; Karen, champion of independent designers from Clothes-Pin; Emily, the newest Fashion Tribe member; Linda LaSala of Girlawhirl; Phil, the Millionaire Socialite from Coutorture; Tia of The Quest For It; professional make-up artist Elke from The Beauty Newsletter who says Wet-n-Wild lip gloss actually rocks like MAC; Patrice from Boo, You Whore!; The Nichelle of Nichelle Newsletter and Cupcakes Take the Cake, which is as narrow and delicious a niche as it sounds; either Dennis or Bennett (sorry, transcription cramp) from Open All Night; Vera of I'm Not Obsessed; Liza of Culture Kitchen; Danielle of Celebrity Baby Blog , whose 9 month-old daughter was quite bubbly and easygoing as I can vouch as her left-hand neighbor; and Tara of When Tara Met Blog. Update: I'm Not Obsessed and Nichelle Newsletter have also posted reports from today, with pics.

My personal feeling is that for a wide-ranging, inconsistent type like myself, what probably makes the most sense is not necessarily being part of a themed stable to which I won't regularly contribute, but being able somehow to highlight among my piles of ridiculousness those lengthier essays or more originally-interpreted topics which might be of interest for syndication or reprint. I'm going to look further into Nightcap Syndication to see if that's their notion. I know that doing more of that may require migrating from the beloved freebie tools I'm using to add tags. But I might need to do that anyway if I want to add multimedia, which I do want a bit. I firmly believe that while few of you (if any) are interested in everything I post, some of you must find the variety diverting, and on any topic, I might have a few hundred good words to share in my lifetime, and I'd like to find a way to maximize the use of those meager scraps.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Divinely Animal, Vegemelon, or Mickeral.

Playing image roulette with "rat small ham" yields the following surprisingly magisiterial image of Hamburg's capitol building, the Rat House. Enjoy the edumication.

Walking my dogs today, I saw a rat the size of a small ham- in daylight- scooting its bulk across the sidewalk and into some bushes just beside the stoop of a sweet brownstone which had its front and interior doors propped wide open. Eeek, and look out for disappearances among the resident Yorkies.

1) It is no longer fresh news that hard-boiled author Mickey Spillane has passed away. However, perhaps it's eerier that I was writing about him less than a month ago and visited his home town. For the record, I accept NO culpability in hatching any scheme helping hurry him across the flesh-cursed threshold in order to strongarm local pols into giving him his highway. None.

2) I don't know why I was saving this so long before posting, but Pigeon Weather pointed us all toward the handy pan to press Jesus' divine countenance onto our every ho'cake or Monte Cristo.

3) Silly Dusenberys, no matter what Regis and Kelly said, that cuculoupe's no vegemelon. Recognize!

Tomorrow, I'll be attending the inaugural repast of NYC's Bloggers who Brunch for fashion/lifestyle types. I do occasionally remark upon clothes and have a life with some kind of style even if it's all bad, so I was invited during what must have been an administrative seizure. However, for your entertainment, I'll report what happens when they realize, grab back my signature Bacardi Fashion Blogger cocktail, and bounce my shabby heiny to the curb.

Monday, July 17, 2006

I Perceive a Badly Regurgitated Balrog

I can't read the image source page, but I know this ain't Jesus facing 40 days and nights of temptation.

Do I think a single, original thought? Hardly, if I can avoid it. I didn't make up any of these words I'm using either, because you'd get things like mumphlibcshidullenx, which I find visually majestic and deserving of an equally impressive definition, but also difficult to break into pronounciation emphases for spelling bees. Also unfortunately, I don't know how to make umlauts in this font, because there are three.

So, instead I piggyback on the efforts of those more diligent, clearthinking, and expressive than myself, serving up the retreads with (at most) a pithy tip-in. I should be ashamed, except I am as vigilant as a flibbertigibbet can be about attribution so you can read this good stuff first-hand and know whom to thank. Today, it's Grumpy Old Bookman mostly. However, I do experience a certain twinkling joy in combining relevant and/or grossly unrelated items together in what is to me pleasing assemblage. On with the leftover slop:

1) From GOB, Galleycat covers two of my fave subjects: fake psychics and fake writers, and in this case- Oh, rapture!- they're the same person!

2) It also took Grumpy Old Bookman to notice that bad writing's World Series, the 2006 Bulwer-Lytton contest results are in.

Winner: Detective Bart Lasiter was in his office studying the light from his one small window falling on his super burrito when the door swung open to reveal a woman whose body said you've had your last burrito for a while, whose face said angels did exist, and whose eyes said she could make you dig your own grave and lick the shovel clean.

Read all the best/worst entries here.

3) This item I found on my own, sort of. Well, Steve posted a link to it in the FBS forums, so ha! In one of those ignore-real-stuff 06/06/06 idiot-news stories, Colbert recognized that CNN had used artwork of a Tolkien-world denizen, the balrog, misidentifying it as Satan. Colbert said:
Now devils and balrogs are totally different. Devils are angels who refused to serve God and instead followed Satan into Hell. Balrogs are Maiar who refused to serve Eru and instead followed Morgoth into Thangorodrim.

Yea, but. As Tensor points out: The Thangorodrim were the mountains Morgoth raised above his underground fortress north of Beleriand, not the fortress itself, which was known as Angband...If we can't trust you to know Utumno from the Thangorodrim, why should we trust you any more than the MSM? Oooooh- Burn!

Update: Colbert makes the correction on Conan, but still doesn't give props to the peeps.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Allergic to La Dolce Judd

Like so many of my fave online oases, Your Daily Art is also slacking. This Hopper's supposed to tide me over. It might, rabbit, it might.

1) Read this highly entertaining journal of a YouthAIDS philanthropy/publicity trip with Ashley Judd who talked a lot about her constipation and drinking lukewarm water while on a mission our blogger thought best designed to ease the celebrity conscience rather than yielding results. Money quote for me: "Church and religion are SO important to me. The God thing, the Jesus thing, the Buddha thing, so important to me."

2) Could we really defeat allergies in 5 years? This would be a biggie for quality-of-life.

3) Considering la dolce vita, I must be born to be Italian. I'm going to work on that.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Summer Slacks

See item 1 for image link.

Not effortless gauze/linen in a wide sailor's pantaloon. No. I mean I've been slacking off on posting, and you've probably been slacking, too. It's that time of year when I feel muggily overheated and congealed at the same time, like an unhappy head cheese thrown into a bamboo steamer, oozing with putrid waft all down the insides. This isn't even bad yet, I know. August and September will be far worse, but my blood's not yet thinned to the consistency of a melted popsicle, so until I get my summer truly on, I'm logey.

1) However, I have been accomplishing a few little things. One is this review of Charles Vess' outstanding graphic novel (of sorts), The Book of Ballads. I worked on this review and think it's thoughtful, comprehensive, and accurate, but no one else has said a peep. Goes to show what my opinion's worth.

As bloggy Vess bonuses: A Suicide Girls interview where he discusses TBOB among other things, an impressive pile of doings from Wikipedia, his personal views on Growing Up Interstitial, and the link to New Light Gallery which has some of his work for sale, including the image above.

2) If you haven't followed the amazing journey of this blogger who, over one year and 17 barters encompassing Alice Cooper and Corbin Bernson, traded a red paper clip for a house, the summary's here.

3) Slate wonders if a push into pricey U.S. markets can save a once-august line from the tacky British yobs who've adopted Burberry as their calling card. But once it went onto bikinis, big-selling though it was, there was only so much class left in the leaded-crystal pickle jar. And the people who bedeck themselves in it here (and I disagree with the article's author as I know wealthy Midwesterners who happily overpay for status brands) ,well, I think the two words most apropos might be HOOD RATS. You slum your brand, you don't wake up tony. Britney can't marry Prince William after K-Fed.

You can sell out your fusty old moneybagged customers, but when you sell them for the celebretante youth, who are invariably faddish, in time you've lost them all, with no farm team of developing tastemakers to save you. A pattern that knocked-off pimpensteins wear on their flip-flops is not one I want on my car seats or even inside my clothes where the shame is private. Welcome, Burberry, to the hell of Cristal.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Obese Pelican Knot Afraid of Lightning

That's Ernest T. Bass as loaded with love as I am with links. See last item.

You may not be able to hear the thunder coming with your mad tunes blastin', but try to take off the iPod and put down the cell when there's lightning if you don't want blown eardrums and singed hair (or worse still, a headstone) like this guy.

Not sure how domoic acid got into the Pacific coastal waters near Laguna Beach -- look out for your karma, someone -- but it makes the pelicans drunk and disorderly.

I'm not shocked that a 440-pound man wasn't much hurt when struck by a Volkswagen Polo. I'm flabbergasted that the man was reportedly riding a bicycle when it happened.

Wild Al Barger really gets our dearly departed brother, and delightfully analyses the genius of this comedic master in Don Knotts Is Beautiful. Never forget.

Friday, July 07, 2006

On 7/7, We Refresh the Paint on the Bullseye

Image via Plan 59. Notice the Pepsi on the nightstand, asserting as they did back in the day, that soda pop conveyed many healthful benefits, not least weight-loss. Scroll down this page for links to lots of swanky Pepsi ads which were part of a campaign called The Sociables.

1) Plot foiled to blow up the Holland Tunnel using finances with international tentacles (thanks again, NYT, for making that harder to track going forward, thumbs up). Sincere thanks to Lebanon for helping with intelligence. And so, on these numerically resonant anniversaries, we like to practice our duck-and-covers, check the expiration dates of emergency items in our "go bags," and freshen the circles on the bullseye marking NYC.

2) Driving like highway lightning is safer than ever before, even safer than when we had a national speed limit of 55 ten years ago, partially because automotive technology's improved. Take that, you double-nickel lovers! But, if our cars eventually drive themselves like this VW Golf prototype, will it beubercool liberation or more oppressive because all traffic will be real-time regulated and monitored? I read a scifi story once where the high speed magnetic highways were all master-controlled, and suicidally oppressed citizens would scale the walls and jump into traffic to off themselves. Gee, I'm thinking cheery thoughts today. Perhaps a refreshing cola would perk me up while simultaneously slimming my hips. You know, like gin does.

3) In other foiled plots and good ethics news, it was Pepsi officials who notified Coke and the FBI when they were approached with stolen trade secrets.

4) I recall relentlessly mocking New Jersey's recent expensive and stupid marketing slogan hunt. They never even seriously considered my submission, "New Jersey: Whatever."
Well, just for fun, the Las Vegas Review Journal asked people to come up with backup phrases for "What happens here, stays here." They got a bunch of decent entries. Perhaps they just have better material to work with.

"Seven deadly sins, one convenient location."
"Where memories are made that may be difficult to remember."
"You can't take it with you ... so spend it here."

- and my favorite -

"Come with luggage, leave with baggage."

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Hutch My Mustard, Kitty

See item 2 for image link.

1) In an update to my previous competitive eating post, by now you've probably heard that Kobayashi, fired up by serious competition, reached a new personal best and retained the mustard belt, setting a new record for the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.

2) To quote April, the bummedest Bummer Girl, upon sending me the link to the cat tailor, "Jebus H. Chriminy." Indeed, pal, and you can sew one yourself. Scroll down the page for more freaked-looking cats and their refreshing lace collars here. Am I sick for really enjoying the nefariously upbeat tone of the descriptions? It's authoritatively perky but weird, like Betty White playing "Happy Homemaker" Sue Anne Nivens after a peyote binge.

3) If fanfiction weren't enough of an odd phenomenon (full disclosure: in junior-high, I wrote Battlestar Galactica fanfic, but a friend made me do it), what about fetishist fanfic? Lee Goldberg -- accidentally and innocently, I'm sure-- discovered the hurt/comfort brand of S&M prose where pain is snuggled away. But in this case, it's Starsky kissing Hutch's tears. You must read the excerpts. Full-body shakedowns guaranteed to be necessary. But I cannot and will not Huggy Bear this alone.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy J4! Garfield's Fruity Asteroid Sucks Brains!

I was going to post a link to a fun asteroid site, but they quickly go all doomsday, live-underneath-the-Sahara-ey, so here's a tiny planetary Garfield and Odie.. Don't sue me, Davis.

Looky me, all backwards. When the rest are resting, I'm posting to give you the novelty that your leisure-bound backsides crave. So, stuff....

1) Anchoress knows what's wrong with the world, and it's the seduction of fresh fruit. Struorberrrrrries, screamed in greedy panic by people who've lost their shorts in ecstasy at just seeing the pyramids of plastic pints. Try her pronounciations out loud. They're dead on in the part of the planet where I reside.

2) We've known about Asteroid 2004 XP14 for two years, and knew it wouldn't impact Earth. Whew. Still, the predictions about what would happen in a straight-on smacking made me feel a little queasy about the near miss. Time to get those asteroid-busting nuclear armaments prepped and a bunch of photogenic astronaut-types trained. Preferably an international squad of men and women with at least one comic relief character and some romantic complications.

3) Paranormal plots now compose 20% of romance novels. I got sort of bored with the standard-issue bloodsucking a while back, but when romance readers like a thing, they really like it. Over and Over, ad infinitum, do it again, yes....yes....

4) After 19 years where he was comatose after a crash, a man's brain gradually rewired and regrew itself enough to bring him back around to speaking and moving. I hope we can learn how to help trigger this process for other brain injuries.

5) This article by Slate examines the James Patterson of comics, Garfield's calculating creatorJim Davis who spends several times the hours (and staff) marketing as he does writing the ha-ha. He's got a formula and a plan. And it works. I don't even hate him for understanding his audience so well, especially since he knew enough to stop selling those plushy window suckers for 5 years and giving us all a hiatus.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Competitive Eating: Back to the Buns

Image from Nathan's Famous where they report that on May 18, Chestnut set the new record by eating 50 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes, besting adorable Black Widow Sonya Thomas' record of last summer. Note: this record is a separate achievement from winning the contest, but proves Joey's bona fides.

Long-time readers know that SOS (that's Sense of Soot, ya'll) has been since last year's coverage the (undeniably capricious and inconsistent) blogging headquarters for competitive eating stories where summer comes in with a bang and a burp.

In that spirit, check this one about the upcoming famous Nathan's July 4th Hot Dog Eating contest held annually in Coney Island and sanctioned by the International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE).

This year, young up-and-chucker Joey Chestnut is seen as a serious contender against sylphlike phenom Takeru Kobayashi of Japan who's outdistanced the competitition by many, many foot-longs for the last four years, although Chestnut almost ate TK's lunch at a recent Krystal hamburgers challenge. Additional info redacted from the AP report by Larry Mc Shane:

The 6-foot-1, 230-pound Chestnut is warming up for his East Coast showdown by downing 40 hot dogs or more in a single sitting, twice a week.

Chestnut, of San Jose, Calif., is the great American hope at reclaiming the mustard yellow belt symbolic of gastronomic greatness (or sheer gluttony). Since July 4, 2001, the belt - presented annually at the original Nathan's hot dog stand - has remained wrapped around Kobayashi's incredibly thin waist.

Frankly, there's no questioning Kobayashi's credentials. He remains the Nathan's hot dog record holder, with 53 1/2 franks on July 4, 2004 - one frank every 13.45 seconds.

Last year, in his Coney Island debut, an admittedly unfocused Chestnut finished in third place with 32 hot dogs. It was a good experience for several reasons, but particularly because it offered him a close-up look at Kobayashi.

"He's a real humble guy," Chestnut said. "He's a sportsman, and he treats it like sport. He's a good guy, and I love competing against him."

Truly, this is a sport of kingly appetites and noble hearts.