As I watch Bronson Arroyo lob very weak pitches at the Yankees...oops, and there he just hit Derek Jeter, nice one...I'll continue this weekend of blog relaxation with some Sox-related links: David Halberstam wrote a nice essay in yesterday's Globe on the scope of Red Sox Nation, and also Jackie Mullins' column was a paean to your favorite statuesque catcher and mine, Jason Varitek.

In other, somewhat Kerouackian news, it appears that Americans have now achieved the distinction of owning more cars that we have registered drivers to drive them, i.e. families with two parents and small children will have three or four cars, two for commuting, one for weekend trips, etc. While your brain throbs about that, note that this article takes the tone that this is a superlative, pleasurable, even patriotic thing...oh dear.

For a full-on migraine, check out this Times article, another triumph for compelling investigative journalism -- the Democrats are scared and confused about the 2004 election. DUH! "Uh-oh, the incumbent moron has lots of money!" "There are so many candidates -- could the electorate be alienated from the process? My goodness!" Grrrrrrrrrr.

OK, now to lighten things up -- check out this Law and Order Coloring Book! Complete with pitch-perfect dialogue, like Lenny Briscoe's signature deadpan zinger ("Talk about hitting a dead end," etc.) upon discovery of the corpse. S-w-e-e-t.


OK, in other signs of the apocalypse, this evening I was driving behind (actually, I was cut off by) a forest green BMW 525i...with a young jackass in a white baseball cap at the wheel...and the following license plate: PNKRCK. gaahhh.

Oooh, but on the upside, the Sox just beat the Yanks 10-5! yar! Tomorrow is Martinez v. Petitte, too...ehhxcellent.
Ohhhhh dear...well, thanks to Marky the Vigilant for alerting me to the great unpleasantness that was my link to the Kid Who Ate 20 Burgers at In-N-Out...still unclear why and how it got corrupted, since I and others had no problems with it earlier today...I will chalk it up to the popularity of the link, which I got from kottke.org. Sweet fancy Moses...I apologize to any loyal readers who got led astray into hardcore hell...bad Internet, bad!!!

To replace those truly mindboggling images of beef & cheese, I'll link to the three places in the Boston area where I'd consider eating 20 burgers...over about a year's time, I guess: Bartley's Burger Cottage in Harvard Square (mmmmm, the Ted Kennedy); R.F. O'Sullivan's in the liminal zone between Cambridge and Somerville (mmmmmm, unpeeled fries); and the fratty yet delicious Eagle's Deli out at B.C. in Brookline, home of the whopping Godzilla burger and other heart attacks waiting to happen. Let's all eat, drink, be merry, and forget all about yucky cyberporn trauma...
Be sure to read today's Daily Outrage, on the neverending black hole at Guantanamo we are all financing daily -- on the upside, the three teenagers held there since '01 may soon be released; on the downside, we still don't know exactly who is locked up there or why. Hmmmmmmm.
So, seeing as it's Friday and I've been posting a lot of hodgepodge today, it's as good a day as any (well, any Friday) to start answering the Friday Five -- five questions weblogged by scores of internet scribes each week. la de da. Here they are:

1. Are you going to school this year? technically, no.

2. If no, when did you graduate? from HS in '92, college in '96, and law school in '00.

3. What are/were your favorite school subjects? history, english, biology, French and Latin, constitutional law, blues and jazz with Michael Ullman, film theory.

4. What are/were your least favorite school subjects? after about 5th grade, math. also, driver's ed.

5. Have you ever had a favorite teacher? Why was he/she a favorite? Ray Aklonis, high school history teacher, stands out for his high expectations, engaging lecture style, and funky Guatemalan thread bracelets. For this man, I wrote 30-page papers on Social Darwinism and on the rise of British Naval Power in the 18th and 19th centuries -- and where, I ask, did all that knowledge go? I should also mention Dan Givelber, Evidence professor, who stood out for his cynically low expectations...first day of class, he imparted the Three Rules of Evidence: "The judge is not your friend; toothpaste does not go back in the tube; and the appellate judge is not your friend, either." Perfect.
In which level of hell do you belong? Take this simple, soul-searching quiz to find out...and see who you'll be sitting with for all eternity! I made it to Level 3: "amidst eternal rain and cold...Cerebus, a canine monster cruel and uncouth with his three heads and red eyes, dwells in this level. He growls and tears at the damned with his teeth and claws." Great.
Hi-tech Pakistani arranged marriages make the stakes on "Who Wants to Marry My Dad?" seem relatively low.
Just an editorial note: I know it's the "silly season" of non-news at this time of year and all, but does anyone else find it disturbing that the top news story everywhere is Madonna smooching Britney at the MTV Awards, not the massive carbombing in Najaf? Bleegghhhh...
Send a virtual vintage postcard from Austin, Texas -- this one goes out to Karen and Lee Ann, who will soon be there.
Friday is New Links Day -- well, this Friday, anyway. Check out the new additions on the righthand side...


Woohoo, The Onion is in the black.
Jennifer Garner wants YOU to join the CIA. Spook Central has offered the star of "Alias" a role in their college recruitment video, "both in character, as Agent Sydney Bristow, or as herself" says Chase Brandon, a man who not only has what must be either a very weird or a very cool job (film industry liaison for the CIA), but whose name is also a command. But I digress -- are we talking here about spending federal dollars to promote the CIA by featuring a fictional (albeit attractive) slice of the corrupted liberal Hollywood pie? It's one thing to have Raymond Burr on a jury duty video, but how exactly would "Agent Bristow" represent a realistic view of CIA life? On a more litigious note, I wonder how Disney/ABC would feel about this character making an unlicensed appearance, even for Uncle Sam...

In the meantime, here are some other celebrity recruiter suggestions:

1. Mitch Pileggi for the FBI (clearly Duchovny wouldn't touch this)
2. Russell Crowe for the History Channel
3. Noah Wyle for Harvard Medical School
4. Sam Waterston for the Manhattan DA's office
5. Sarah Jessica Parker for F.I.T.
The Creation Science Fair -- warning, this link will get your blood boiling until it hits you that it *is* a parody...quite convincing portrayal of a low-budget, nutty Christian website though, bad layout and everything. My favorite "experiment" -- "Rocks can't evolve: Where did they come from, Mr. Darwin?" Witty as this may be, in the real world there is plenty of controversy over science curricula and the "Intelligent Design" notion, a supposedly secular adaptation of creationism that's roundly condemed by actual scientists and teachers.
Tomato orgy in Bunol, Spain -- The One and Only Mark Schwartz dubbed this link "Angus worthy." I can't decide if this would be really delicious to participate in, or really unpleasant...to say nothing of the ol' food-wasting guilt issue.
Bob's Eye for the Straight Guy, care of Tom the Dancing Bug. Hee.
Liberaloasis.com has a roundup of Howard Dean's surge in the polls, and the frustration this is causing the rest of the Dem pack. The site's pretty neat -- note in their manifesto that "LiberalOasis believes in winning, and that means convincing more of America than San Francisco and Northhampton, MA." some of the candidates ought to get that tattoed on their arms, methinks.
This Segway climbed Mt. Washington -- I guess they'll have to make a teeny bumper sticker for it.

UPDATE: Here's a comical photo.


It's not too late for Gen. Wesley Clark to jump into the Democratic presidential ring -- so says Amy Sullivan in Washington Monthly.
Not A Poem About Driving At Night, by Erica Meitner.
Jack Black makes a Dorito Burrito (Quick Time movie and recipe included) on thejenvilleshow.com, a site featuring indie rock stars cooking. Sort of. Note the Tenacious D link -- if you follow it, you will discover some of the coolest demon and flame .gif's ever...and some gossip on their upcoming movie, "The Pick of Destiny." Even a rabid fan like me cannot imagine the raw cinematic power that will be...the D on screen. "Be ye angels?" "Nay, we are but men -- rock on!"
Since I can't link to this directly, I'll just illicitly republish King Kaufman's meditation on Pedro and the shark pool that is Red Sox Nation, from Salon.com:

Why do we seem to have to like someone personally to root for them on the field?

Red Sox fans and Pedro Martinez just can't seem to get along. One could argue that they deserve each other, the unreasonably demanding New England hordes and the petulant ace. But if I'm choosing a dog in this fight, I'll take the guy that name-calling Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy calls "Diva Pedro," even if all the negative things anyone has ever said about him are true.

While Martinez was in the hospital for six hours last week being treated for pharyngitis, a severe throat inflammation that caused him to miss a start, Hub sports radio hosts and callers were accusing him of shirking, of faking his illness because he didn't want to pitch.

It was a dumb, nonsensical accusation that said more about the level of discourse on sports talk radio than about Martinez, but it represented the bleeding edge of the popularly held theory among Sox fans and media that Pedro is indeed a diva, a whiner who pitches brilliantly when he deems himself ready, but is so delicate, so not-tough, that he's just not worth the trouble and the money.

Martinez, who is a sensitive sort, reportedly lashed back over the weekend. The Globe reported that he told a radio host, "I will make $17.5 [million, what he'll make in 2004] and then I am out of here." The Sox say Martinez, who will be a free agent this year, denies making the comment.

Let's put aside Martinez's prickly personality for a moment, forget about trivia such as whether it means anything that he routinely skips the team photo or that he once said, in response to a question about the Curse of Babe Ruth that supposedly keeps the Red Sox from winning a championship, "Why don't we just wake up the Bambino and I'll have him face me and maybe I'll drill him in the ass."

Ha. That line really got under some people's skin but I laugh every time I read it. But anyway, let's forget about all that and his sometimes (but only sometimes) silly accusations of anti-Dominican prejudice at every slight and consider whether Pedro is worth all the tsoris. I'll give away my answer: I don't care what he says or does. He's so good, he's worth it all even if he only pitches about three-quarters of the innings a workhorse would.

The twin knocks on Martinez as a pitcher are that he won't pitch if he has a hangnail and that when he does pitch, he's a "six-inning pitcher," a guy who doesn't go deep into games.

After beating Seattle Monday night, Martinez had made 23 starts. If he takes his regular turn the rest of the year he'll make about 29, which would be about two more than what he's averaged in his five previous years in Boston, and four to six starts fewer than a top starter makes in a typical injury-free season. Take out 2001, when he missed about half the year, and Martinez has averaged more like 30 starts, but yes, he's fragile. He's a regular on the disabled list, though he managed to stay off it in 2002, and that's not likely to change. His power pitching puts a lot of stress on a frame (5-foot-11, 180 pounds) that's significantly smaller than that of most fireballers. If you take Pedro on your team, you have to accept that you're getting a guy who's probably going to miss a half dozen starts, and calling him a pansy won't change that.

As for being a six-inning pitcher, I've never understood that complaint, which has also been made in the latter part of Greg Maddux's career. I'll take six great innings over seven or eight or even nine pretty good innings every time. That's why teams have bullpens, though the Red Sox's bullpen has had its problems this year.

And anyway, the difference between Martinez and a real innings eater is wildly overstated. Roy Halladay of the Blue Jays leads the American League in innings pitched with 207 and two-thirds. (All stats in this story are through Monday's games.) Tim Hudson of the A's is second, five and a third innings behind him. They both average a little over seven innings per start. Martinez averages 6.5. In a given game, the difference between the delicate Pedro and the league's two biggest workhorses is less than two outs. What's the big deal?

How valuable is Martinez? He's pitched 149 and two-thirds innings, 58 fewer than Halladay. Conveniently, there's a guy on the Red Sox who's thrown roughly the difference, 63 and two-thirds innings, and he's been horrible. It's Ramiro Mendoza, who is 3-5 with a 7.07 ERA, mostly in relief. Halladay, 17-5 with a 3.55 ERA, is a Cy Young candidate. So what happens if we combine Martinez (10-3, 2.29) with the awful Mendoza to create a pitcher who has thrown just five and two-thirds innings more than Halladay?

You get a pitcher who's a shade below Halladay, but compares favorably to Joel Piñeiro of the Mariners (13-9, 3.69). Our combined Martinez-Mendoza would be 14-8 with a 3.71 ERA. He would have allowed fewer base runners and home runs than Piñeiro, with a higher strikeout rate and some extra 40-plus innings pitched. Comparing Martinez and Mendoza with Halladay, they strike out more batters and allow fewer home runs than the Blue Jays ace, but they also walk more guys, and they give up an extra run every 54 innings or so -- about five runs over the course of a year.

The point is that even if Martinez pitched all of the innings he's missed because of injuries and his delicate constitution, and he pitched not like himself but like a guy who is a total disaster, he'd still be one of the better pitchers in the American League.

Is Martinez worth that $17.5 million option Boston picked up for 2004? Maybe not in the current market downturn, but it's not as though the Red Sox can't afford to spend a few extra million to keep their best pitcher around. As we've said before, it doesn't come out of the fans' pockets.

If I'm a Red Sox fan, I don't care if Pedro pees on Faneuil Hall and says Larry Bird can't carry his jock. I don't want to have dinner with him just because he can pitch. I just want to watch him pitch for my team.

Dark chocolate may lower blood pressure -- there really is a God.


Is ugliness a disease? To hear Big Cosmetic tell it, it is, just as shyness, grief, and anxiety are pathological to Big Pharm. Intriguing article from The Guardian on the medicalization of the pursuit of happiness -- thanks to Karen for sending it over. :)
"Getting around Boston is easy!" -- wow, we are in a lot of trouble if this page on "Exploring Boston" from the DNC'04 site remains in its current crappy state much longer. Aside from the punishingly dull design, it reads like it was written by a high school intern, and 99% of the links are to boston.com, i wonder if they know about this? Also, the BCA isn't a museum, and the ART and Harvard Museum are in Cambridge. Interesting how "Kenmore/Fenway" (?!) and Charlestown manage to get by with one restaurant apiece, and Centro in Cambridge has been closed for a year. I could go on. Sheesh.
Yay, Too Much Coffee Man has a website.
Despite the fact that they have shamelessly ripped off the design of The Believer, the guys behind notgeniuses.com have it going on in a big way. I like the feast o'links. Ha, I just noticed that they included a little ripoff-disclaimer, nice.
2-4-6-8, SUV's are really great -- Hummer fans rally at CA dealership vandalized by the ELF. Sadly this wire story only quotes the local pol who understandably spoke out against arson and property destruction...we can only imagine what some of the irate Hummer enthusiasts had to say. I know I'm a little late on this story, but the "healing" rally is far more interesting to me than the latest ELF felony. It's odd that torching a few $50K behemoths is what it takes to get people excited, as opposed to the ELF's earlier escapades of arson, sabotage, and mink liberation.
Shocker du Jour -- WorldCom and Enron execs will probably never be prosecuted. If anyone still cares, here's a little refresher on the whole Bush-Enron connection, and the Annals of Enron from mediawhoresonline.net. Sigh.
Howard Dean is the Mudhoney of the Democrats -- Seattle uber-blogster Clark Humphrey likens Dean to 1991-era Clinton in terms of grassroots chutzpah, and says he's a "DIY indie-rock purist" compared to corporate boy-band candidates like Kerry and Edwards (presumably not like Kucinich, who's more like the Sun-Ra candidate, goofy and random, yet somehow appealing). Nice photos, too.

UPDATE: Scroll down to August 25 for the Dean report -- note that since then Clark responded to a reader email on his take on Dean.
"As goes New Jersey, so goes the world" -- very interesting article from Mother Jones on what "smart growth" means these days, in a world of both anti-sprawl and anti-smart-growth activism. Yes, there are apparently people (mostly mall developers and spittle-flecked libertarians, it seems) who think traffic calming and planned growth are "not the American way." Uh, just because that's true, doesn't make it a good idea. Having recently driven through some seriously dispiriting sprawl in the heartland, I feel compelled to link to "Patio Man and the Sprawl People," a great piece by David Brooks on this very phenomenon.
Here's one for all you lawyers out there -- Judge Richard Posner, founder of the Law and Economics movement and all-around curmudgeon of the appellate circuit, wrote a book review for the NYTimes on Sunday. Lincoln's Constitution, the book, is a mind-bogglingly arcane, yet intriguing, investigation of whether President Lincoln had Constitutional authority to prosecute the Civil War in the ways he did, which included suspending habeas corpus (the determination of whether one has been lawfully imprisoned by the state) -- something more than a little relevant these days.


"And the Anagrammy goes to..." -- enter your best anagrams for a chance to win. And you thought I couldn't get any nerdier than the Scrabble club...for procrastination value (or cheating in the anagram contest, come to think of it), few links top The Internet Anagram Server. Note that "best anagrams" anagrams to SATAN GRABS EM. Lovely.
Wisconsin family asks for donations to help impeach Bush in their mom's obituary -- it's what she would have wanted. This is actually a touching little local story, too, but way to go, Mrs. Baron -- hopefully she can help the effort along from the beyond.
"Success has many fathers, but failure has Project Greenlight" -- ouch! Elvis Mitchell carves up "The Battle of Shaker Heights" in the NYTimes, the "winning" screenplay from this year's PG contest. Interestingly (or not), the real Shaker Heights, OH has little to do with the film...perhaps disappointing my several friends who grew up there...and went to school there (note the somewhat Orwellian school district motto!).
IKEA is getting closer and yet farther away -- now that the Assembly Square, Somerville site is tied up in mediation hell, making it an even ten years the project has been stymied there, there may be plans for a second site in Avon, in Jordan's country. All I care about is getting the cheapest candles in the universe closer than 235 miles away...also the meatballs. Note that a New Haven, CT location will break ground on my birthday...it's fate.


Jessica Stern in the International Herald Tribune: "Chaos in Iraq is breeding support for terrorists...America has created - not through malevolence but through negligence - precisely the situation the Bush administration has described as a breeding ground for terrorists: a state unable to control its borders or provide for its citizens' rudimentary needs." What a mess.
Al Franken goes too far? Yep, I'd say so -- check out this item from the NYPost's Page Six:


COMEDIAN Al Franken has penned an apology to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft for trying to trick him into telling "his personal story about remaining abstinent before marriage," Foxnews.com reports. Franken, who used stationery from the Harvard University Shorenstein Center, falsely claimed he already had testimonies from other conservative leaders for a book titled "Savin' It." "Don't be afraid to share a moment when you were tempted to have sex, but were able to overcome your urges through willpower and strength of character. Be funny!" Franken urged. In his apology, Franken confessed: "The letter was sent as part of a satirical book I'm working on, which will contain only one or two chapters dealing with abstinence-only sex education . . . My biggest regret is sending the letter on Shorenstein Center stationery . . . no one at the Shorenstein Center had knowledge of the letter before I sent it . . . I am very embarrassed to have put them in this awkward and difficult position, and I ask you not to hold this against the Center, the Kennedy School, or Harvard in general."

Tip: if you're going to become a Lying Liar who tells Lies, at least don't get caught...and be forced to grovel to the Prince of Darkness.
You've probably already noticed that Harvey Pekar and "American Splendor" are all over the place this week...it's opening in Harvard and Coolidge Corner tomorrow, yay. But take the time to check out the actual Harvey's site...and also Fantagraphics Books, an endangered indie graphics press that puts out the work of other geniuses too, like Dan Clowes and Chris Ware. Just for kicks, see also Adrian Tomine.
Oompa loompa doompateedee...I was having a pretty rotten day today...until...that's right, I hit the pop culture trifecta -- Johnny Depp, Tim Burton, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Need I say more?


Support the Runaway Texas Democrats with MoveOn.org's Defending Democracy campaign...the Republicans in the Texas legislature are at it again, scheming to gerrymander up to 7 Dems out of office. Democratic leaders are hiding out across state lines, facing possible arrest. And I thought we had problems here in Massachusetts...
Call me Itarildë Súrion -- that's my Elvish name, apparently, courtesy of the Elvish Name Generator...cool! In one week the Two Towers DVD comes out...and let's not forget only 118 days remain til the Return o' Viggo...
Thanks to a certain L.B. Jeffries, I've discovered a new procrast-o-site, AllMusic.com. Have I never seen this before, or did it used to have a bad design or something? It is brimming with cross-referenced factoids on all your favorite bands and their influences, and includes colorful descriptors like "organic," "wistful," and "summery" about the music. Neat-o.
The time has come to wade into the ridiculous fray in Alabama and the Ten Commandments monument in the state courthouse. Chief Justice Roy Moore has refused to move the 5,300-pound granite slab from the rotunda of the building, claiming to remove it would "disestablish the system of justice of this state." Aside from the fact that that might not be a bad idea, there's also the matter of the campaign promise Moore made to "restore the moral foundation of law" in Alabama. Note that on the monument it reads, "LAWS OF NATURE, AND OF NATURE'S GOD." If there's one thing I remember from law school, it's that the whole "natural law" business, let alone establishment of religion by a secular government, is something the Framers were not too keen on. It's appalling and all that, given that we're talking about the most powerful jurist in the state and let's just imagine for a moment how successful he'd be if he wanted to put up a sukkah or a mandala or a Koranic inscription...however, the case has been appealed to Justice Kennedy at the Supreme Court, the man who just turned out the Lawrence v. Texas decision, so i think this will all blow over. Joe Loconte had an interesting commentary on this whole kerfluffle yesterday on All Things Considered, pointing out that evangelical protestants (like Moore, et al.) are supposed to be more interested in living their faith than on enshrining symbols of it. Touche.
Here are two nifty sites on the whole digital music revolution thing -- the Future of Music Foundation, founded by the lovely and talented Jenny Toomey of Tsunami and Simple Machines Records fame, and the Electronic Freedom Foundation. Downloaders, know thy rights.
Next time you're in Paris, take a tour of La Cite de la Lumiere on a Segway -- bonne chance!


What kinds of weird things did you believe when you were a kid? Well, here's where to post them...these food ones are hilarious, but the other categories are good, too, like Marriage, Police, and Monsters. As for me, I once swallowed about fifty pieces of chewing gum (that's a whole other story), and of course got really sick, and my mom told me the Precocious Kid version of the "chewing gum takes seven years to digest in your stomach" story. She told me that gum gets lodged in your appendix, and if you swallow too much of it your appendix bursts, and that's why people get appendectomies. I never swallowed a piece of gum again!
The NYTimes has a profile on Arianna (Stassinopoulos) Huffington today, a candidate for CA governor who might actually be worth voting for...uh, in a real election, that is. She's had an interesting political history, having turned into a pro-environment, anti-corporate liberal after her divorce from Michael Huffington, newly-outed zillionaire sometime Republican senator. Here are her column site, campaign site, and her new book, "Pigs at the Trough."
Paul Newman weighs in on the vagaries of trademarks and FoxNews politics...mmmmm, Paul Newman.


Because I can, I am posting an update of my two favorite writers named Dave/id. first Dave Eggers -- here are his current top ten favorite records, as told to Dusted magazine, and here is an excerpt from a forthcoming work, entitled Something Might Plummet, Something Might Soar. yay. then David Sedaris -- here's his piece on The Girl Next Door from The New Yorker. double yay.
Here's some new bad news -- last month Bush signed an executive order giving U.S. oil interests total immunity if they become involved in Iraqi oil production, from drilling to shipping to gasoline sales. Did I totally miss this story, or was there no story? Sigh. One silver lining is the website this appears on, the Sustainable Energy & Economy Network, worth a look.
While I've been on my Coast to Coast...Almost Tour these past five days, it appears Howard Dean has been rolling on the Sleepless Summer Tour..."People-Powered Howard," that's pretty catchy...for somebody named Howard, anyway. I drove all the way across Iowa last week, and I am here to tell you that Dean's got it sewn up, he's the only candidate whose signs are evident and he has big, visible offices in Davenport and Des Moines...more on my roadtrip once I sort through my million emails...


Somebody pinch me -- the ultimate craptacular synthesis of pop culture and politics has arrived, in the form of Terry Tate, Office Linebacker. Remember the Reebok Superbowl ad? Well, they're extending the brand by running a fictional character in the California recall election. As a joke. Ha ha, electoral democracy, what a hoot! I actually used to work in the legal department at Reebok, and I remember the futility of trying to rein in the marketing department...but this is ridiculous. Isn't it? Isn't it?!!


"Everything and More" -- David Foster Wallace writes a book about the nature of infinity. Swoon swoon swoon!
"The only lady I've kissed is my mom" -- oh dear, Washington couple plans their first kiss...at the altar on their wedding day. There's something creepy but also something profound about this...I just hope they don't have an Onion-esque experience.
In other, more troubling legal defense news, here's the story of a Trojan horse virus getting an innocent man in a lot of trouble -- is digital security so poor that we'll see more of these Internet Fugitive cases in the future? Probably.
DUI of Burritos -- a man in North Platte, NE convinces a judge that his alcohol test results came from a tequila-soaked burrito (!) he ate, not from imbibing. and why is this an interesting news item today? because i will be driving through North Platte, NE myself (along with Paul, actually) in about four days, and i intend to seek out these tipsy burritos for sure...for those not in the know, i'm taking a wee road trip starting wedesday with Paul "Tommy Trojan" Dell'Aquila, who's starting grad school in urban planning at USC in a few weeks...flying back from Albuquerque on Sunday, woohoo!


Agro-techno-wizardry! Look at all the web-cams at the Illinois State Fair, including the amazing Butter Cow Cam! It's just like being there...if I was at my computer with a corn dog and a Scotch egg on a stick, that is...
President Calgon sez Schwarzenegger would make a good governor for California. Wow. Particularly if Arnie follows W.'s "Three Easy Steps to Governor-ing in A Big State" -- 1. Be Really Rich. 2. Pretend to Care. 3. Speak in a Garbled, Halting Monotone, then Smile Creepily. Candidate Ahnold also reveals he's not worried about his lack of political savvy -- "It's leadership, not experience, that counts." Uh-huh...see above.
"With the government's Microsoft Corp. antitrust trial completed and the war on terrorism well underway, pornography has worked its way to the top of Ashcroft's agenda." -- Rest easy, citizens, the Justice Department has its priorities in order!
Chino, CA : not in "The O.C." and apparently not where chinos come from. Mandy, George and I watched the premiere episode of what Fox is billing as the new "90210" the other night, "The O.C.," which turned out to be a mildly enjoyable teenage "Less than Zero" crossed with TRL, a dash of "The Outsiders," and lots of low-rise pants. I found it was not quite bad enough to be fun, at least, not yet. In any event, residents of the real life city of Chino are apparently very pissed that the fictional kids of Newport Beach continually malign their town on the show. Ouch.
Most excellent -- Steve Martin weighs in on the epistemology of the Iraqi WMD's (yes, i know that acronym shouldn't be a possessive, but tough). Check out the topics in the Times News Tracker over on the right side, too...very odd.
Well friends, I am here to tell you that if you have broken your glasses, and have only one remaining pair of your disposable contact lenses, and you are putting off making that appointment with your eye doctor, DON'T. The karma goddess will pay you a visit, at 8am in your bathroom, by making sure one of those lenses falls into the sink and down the drain. Oops. Then you will have to crawl around fruitlessly on the floor for 20 minutes, in a towel. Next, you will stalk off with vision in only your right eye to find and then repair your old glasses from circa 1994, and put them on while you call the eye doctor, who will not be able to see (ha!) you until Tuesday. Then you will call into the office, get dressed, and go to Target Optical, where you will discover that eyewear fashion changes with lightning speed and the frames you bought only 18 months ago are now so hopelessly out of style that they have no replacements for you. Same deal at Lenscrafters. You will then have to call your eye doctor and plead for mercy, for deliverance from the fate of wearing nine-year-old Coke bottles on your face all weekend. This will be granted, but somewhat grudgingly, and for the bargain price of $183 (that's with the HMO co-pay, mind you) you will get an eye exam, contact fitting, eight new pairs of fancy astigmatic lenses, and the dreaded dilation drops placed in your eyes, which make you look like a drug addict and drive like a vampire at noon. It won't stop you from turning the brightness on your computer monitor way down so you can update your blog, though. fyi. :P


"Fully Poseable" -- that's for damn sure! Yes friends, it's a George W. Bush Action Figure, dressed in a Navy flight suit, no less! Push a button on his back and he speaks: "Bring 'em on!" "Don't misunderestimate me!" and all your other favorites...the sabotage possibilities of this toy are endless.

And speaking of sabotage, prepare yourself for the spot-on satire that is GWBush04.com...I especially like the rotating nonsenical Bush quote at the top. And don't forget to visit the Shop for your Bush/Orwell '04 merch -- brilliant.
A spoonful of sugar makes the reality check go down -- The Lazy Girl's Guide to Budgeting, fyi. Advice for us all. Ok, maybe just for me. :P And check out the Motley Fool's Spending Patch -- it's a little credit/debit card sleeve you print out and fold up, very crafty-like, and then you write down every single thing you use the card for...brilliant/scary.
To follow up on Gary Coleman's incipient gubernatorial run in California, it now seems he would be the all-too-perfect opponent for Arnold "Rainier Wolfcastle" Schwarzenegger...if those two are in the race, I bet voter turnout will be higher than it's ever been. Ugh.
One of the great things about going to work late is discovering new cartoons on PBS...like, for example, George Shrinks! It's about a miniature boy and his wacky, full-sized family....um, sort of like Stuart Little except he's not a mouse. It's based on the book by one of my favorite illustrators, William Joyce. Yay! Now if only I could watch it at 9am every day....oh well.
Leave it to Marky to find a connection between the embattled Kobe Bryant and the Fab 5 of Queer Eye For the Straight Guy! And in more political QEFTSG news, check out this page of letters to the editor in the Idaho Statesman, re: the local NBC affiliate pre-empting "Queer Eye" with an old episode of "Pyramid" with Donny Osmond...I ask you, which of those two shows is more of a crime against nature? It ain't "Queer Eye," that's for sure...


California Random Gubernatorial Weirdo Update -- Gary Coleman (yes, that Gary Coleman) is running, and here are ten reasons why...not including the fact that he's a few prawns short of a galaxy. Do I even need to add the inevitable campaign slogan: "Whatchoo talkin' bout, Davis?"
Here an ear, there an ear, somebody call David Lynch -- the Extra Ear Project, part of the Tissue & Culture Art Project at the University of Western Australia. not that this isn't pretty weird, but this would never get funded at a state university in the US...they have enough problems with state legislators already.
"A foreigner judging the United States by its movies would conclude that Americans spend more time running away from fireballs than having sex." -- Elvis Mitchell on what's happened to sex in the movies.
OK folks, there is an awful lot of news happening out there today...Bulger to resign, NH gay bishop confirmed, Kobe in court, yada yada yada...here is the story you need to see -- Larry Flynt is a) running for governor in California, along with a lot of other random weirdos, and b) being sued for harrassment by a former employee who found sex toys in the office dishwasher. Forget California, I think Larry should just run for President...anyone who can out-Clinton Bill Clinton these days would be a relief.


Note to aspiring children's book authors everywhere -- being the New J.K. Rowling is the new black.
Wake Up is a nifty political blog -- scroll down to July 30th for a lovely picture of President Red-White-And-D'oh! actually *autographing* a small American flag with a Sharpie...like it's his headshot or something. uggghhhhh....
Megalithomania -- this guy likes big Irish rocks.
Hmmm, Cameron Crowe's next movie is titled "Elizabethtown"...the original name of my own hometown. C-o-i-n-c-i-d-e-n-c-e?!!? Of course not. And for the geek auteur completists, here's the scoop on Wes Anderson's next one, "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou." siiiiiigh, Wes Anderson.
If you love me, you'll get me a subscription to Paste for my birthday. ok, just check out the site, it's amazing, it's what music media should be.
Lay the groundwork against the backdrop, please -- a list of the top 100 "groaners," or cliches in news writing. Looks like we're in for some more white stuff throughout the nation's midsection...back to you, Steve.
Because it's Tuesday and I'm feeling oddly generous, I will share one of my favorite Tuesday links, Strange But True. :)
Two words, people: mullet wigs. Who are the entrepreneurial geniuses behind this? Some guys from (south) Jersey, of course.
Spit, please -- Natalie Angier on the perils of dentistry.
Memo to President Griswold -- remember what I said yesterday about Rome burning and all?
Wow, a link by popular demand -- both Mark and Yuval sent me this story on local immigration judge Thomas Ragno, who's been placed on leave after making Tarzan jokes at a Ugandan refugee's hearing. Yes, that's a FoxNews link, but they had the most complete article -- Ragno has been cited for "injudicial" conduct before. From the little I've seen of the courts in this town, it's sadly not suprising that someone could remain on the bench with an attitude like this.

In other semi-shocking local bureaucracy news, it looks like Wilfredo Laboy, superintendent of the troubled Lawrence public schools, has gotten some support despite failing the state writing test for teachers...the same test failed by 20 teachers in his district last year whom he then placed on unpaid leave. interestingly, the portion he failed involves transcribing a passage from an audiotape...is that relevant or fair for instructors who are not native English speakers, like Laboy? Hmmmmmm...


BullFighter is free software that flags corporate jargon, like "value-added synergy outsourcing," etc., in Word documents. Best of all, it was developed by Deloitte, one of the biggest management consulting firms. Self-policing, or just making themselves look good? I'd say both -- here's my MetaFilter post on this, fyi.
Pods Unite -- buy a VW Beetle and get a free iPod. Act now and they'll book you onto Queer Eye For the Straight Guy so your transformation from backward schlub to scorching hipster will be complete.
What privacy? I somehow think the Kobe Bryant scandal is a bigger story out on the west coast, but then again the United States of Online Chat-Poll Cable McNews (TM) is a somewhat borderless place these days. Is the policy of "legitimate" news media to withold Bryant's accuser's name a quaint and pointless nicety, given that every other detail about her is readily available online, on the radio, and on TV thanks to less scrupulous journos and the woman's every childhood acquaintance and ex-boyfriend? What of the judge in the criminal case -- is his threat to the media (reveal her name and be barred from the courtroom) a constitutional problem, or just lame? There are a lot of moaning academics interviewed in this Times article, including one from NYU who uttered this gem: "With all due respect to Kobe Bryant, it is not a major news story." Um, I think he means, with all due respect to the woman pressing the charges, right? Or should we all be apologizing to Kobe for covering this little incident at all? Surely that's the attitude the defense lawyers would like to see. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr. In other news, sweet sweet Nutella will not renew its endorsement deal with Kobe...I wonder if he got all the Nutella he wanted...i guess even alleged crime doesn't pay.
Clutch Performances...brought to you by Viagra! i just got this spam email from MLB.com...this is the thanks i get for voting Jason Varitek into the All-Star Game, i guess. the pun potential of this cannot be underestimated.
The Book of the Future -- an interesting BBC project that's a sort of interactive soothsaying forum on life in 2020.
In case you missed the Tale of the Thieving Pie Man on the Vineyard in yesterday's Globe...read this story while picturing in your mind the scene in "O Brother Where Art Thou" when the guys steal a cooling peach pie from a windowsill and Delmer leaves a few dollars pinned under a rock as payment...or, uh, anyway, that's what I did.
Read the message board from Boston.com's discussion of gay marriage -- some suprisingly civil and reasonable discussion points, besides the usual yahoos. and then, to continue the Summer of Gay Pride, Maureen Dowd explains it all for you: Bush = Butch.
As if I even need to ask, what is the deal with W. and the brush-clearing? Call me crazy, but if I were the multimillionaire president of the US and decided to take a month of vacation while Rome burns, oops, I mean while business as usual continues in Washington and abroad, I would not be out playing in the dirt. Someone sign Bush up for Netflix, quick.
For those following the meteoric fall of "Gigli," here's the bad news -- it only grossed $3.8 million this weekend (it cost $54 mil to make) and looks to be headed straight to "HBO filler" land...all together now, Boo Hoo Hoo. as if that wasn't schadenfreude enough, check out this tidbit from gossip central, The NY Post's Page Six: "Sightings: Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez in a roped-off area at a Red Lobster in Savannah, Ga., where they recently bought a mansion." oh dear god. what more needs to be said?
Religion and politics separate, baseball and politics together -- Mayor Menino requests MLB schedule Sox day games during the Democratic National Convention in Boston next summer...or even a Yankees-Sox daytime matchup. Would anyone be left on the convention floor?


beyond the DTD -- must remember to stop in at The Friendly Toast when next in Portsmouth. mmmmmm, diners.
A NYTimes review of the newly renovated Peabody Essex Museum in Salem -- who'd like to go with me?
oooh, Nick Hornby is bald.
Here come some more old favorites...TGIF, they're all choice procrastination vehicles:

Virtual Sand Art

Click + Color-By-Number

Television Without Pity

The "What Would Jeff Tweedy Do?" Magic 8-Ball

The LEGO Church of Christ

Inconspicuous Consumption

Bad Band Photo Hall of Fame


The Condiment Packet Museum

Stories About Ticketstubs

Very Cool British Milk Bottles

These Guys Made an Old Saab into a Sauna

The Coolest Nerdy Dad Ever Makes Trilobite Cookies
The New Yorker...not just for rich, educated theater-goers anymore. Oh wait, yes it is -- check out their subscriber demographics.
NJ teen foils kidnap attempt with cellphone camera -- disturbing story, though with a good ending. Will parents now rush out to supply their children with this until-now-totally-useless technology?
These survey results make my brain hurt -- the First Amendment goes "too far" in protecting basic rights? Huhhhh??? Do you know anyone who answers telephone surveys? I don't, and what I think this means is that polling statistics are culled from the demographic that doesn't have CallerID, and they are very confused about basic constitutional law. America has "too much" freedom of the press (?!), but we need more coverage of the government's suspect War on Terror? uh, how are we supposed to get that coverage then, from those ultra-informative White House Press Briefings, or god forbid a Presidential press conference? Let me not even get into the whole "under God"-in-the-Pledge-of-Allegiance thing...what portion of that 68% who think it doesn't violate the establishment clause know that the phrase was added in the 1950's after a lobbying effort by the Knights of Columbus (a kooky Catholic men's group, for those who don't know)? and how comfortable would they be if, say, the Nation of Islam similarly lobbied for a change to "under Allah"? yeah, that'll be constitutional, sure it will.
Ding dong, the witch is dead -- Poindexter to resign from the Pentagon. Next time they need a trusty footsoldier, maybe they should pick one who wasn't convicted of lying to Congress in the Iran-Contra scandal. Just a suggestion.
"A special badness all its own" -- let's all enjoy some of the really really bad reviews for Gigli, the J.Lo/Ben "Potatohead" Affleck flicks that starts losing money tonight. as i said last night to Amy when she asked how to pronounce the title, "Who cares? It's gonna suck.'