And now, for the Halloween Geekfecta -- The Top 5 Worst "Lord of the Rings" Halloween Costumes, as listed on TheOneRing.net. That is, these are utter geeks advising other geeks on how to avoid looking too geeky. Eeek.
Microsoft likes Google, nyah nyah nyah nyah! Somewhat ridiculously under-sourced article on the coming Google IPO and how badly M'Soft wants in on the action.

In other odd technology news, a few minutes ago I was simultaneously using the computer and trying to navigate a phone menu system, and when the voice in my ear said "...press 8," I tapped the "8" on my keyboard. Not on the phone. And it took me more than a beat to realize why nothing was happening. I am now Unfrozen Cavegirl Lawyer!
Yes, yes, we all know what day it is......BOOOOO! Here's wishing everyone an overflowing bag of treats...especially KitKats. A full report on the 29 Whitfield festivities will be included on Monday.

To get us all in the spooky mood, here's the Halloween Friday Five:

1. What was your first Halloween costume? I was a super-70's orange burlap jack-o-lantern, with green felt cutout eyes and mouth, and a green turtleneck and tights underneath, circa 1978. Note that my sister Becca was an angel...still bitter! :P

2. What was your best costume and why? It's close, but in 8th grade I went to the Halloween dance as a cub reporter from the 1940's, complete with fedora, pad and pencil, trench coat, and my grandmother's brownie camera. It was unusual, uncomplicated and very comfortable -- the costume trifecta. I almost went as a flenser (a la Judy Blume's classic, "Blubber"), but correctly decided that would be too weird.

3. Did you ever play a trick on someone who didn't give you a treat? No...though I always rolled my eyes at the folks who gave out rolls of pennies -- is that just a Jersey thing?

4. Do you have any Halloween traditions? All the kids would trick or treat right after school, between 4 and 6, by ourselves -- nobody went around after dark, which I understand is anathema here in Massachusetts. At least I never had to wear a coat over my costume, heh. We would then drive over to a few key houses, like the mayor, who always gave out something good like potato chips from the local factory. Then we'd stop in at the grandparents for pictures and gobs of loot. By the time we got home, the Disney Halloween special would be on -- I still get freaked out by the animated "Legend of Sleepy Hollow"! We could eat as much candy as we liked that night, but on November 1 my mom poured everything into a big bowl and we had to share...sigh.

5. Share your favorite scary story...real or legend! I'll resist the urge to link to something about Iraq, the Congo, or some other global injustice...instead I'll relate the true life tale of Why I'm Scared of "The Blair Witch Project." Say what you like about the movie, I was one of the people terrified out of my wits by it -- not because it was such a successful film, but because it brought up memories of a certain family camping trip...circa 1987, in Wildwood NJ, summer vacation, and we were staying in three tents at our campsite. In the middle of the night, I decided I couldn't wait anymore and would walk down the road to the restroom/shower/laundry building. I tried in vain to get my sister to go with me, and instead just took my little flashlight. In flipflops and my favorite pajamas (from Camp Beverly Hills, i am not ashamed to admit), i scooted down the middle of the road, with the insect noises loud in my ears. I passed several other campsites, but it was pitch black out and I couldn't see or hear anyone. The bathroom was flooded with fluorescent light, and after a few minutes in there it seemed even darker outside. I stood in the doorway a minute to adjust my eyes, and then looked down at my flashlight -- and of course, the battery was dead. Hmmmmmmmm. I peered down the road into a complete blackness...I wasn't even sure how far down my tent was, and I knew I'd have to walk slowly so I wouldn't stumble. Well let me tell you, it was the longest couple hundred yards of my life -- entirely dark, hearing every rustling leaf, snapping twig, insect buzz, and each lonely little scuff of my flipflops, which sounded like they were carrying me to my doom. Just as I got to the edge of the fluorescent halo of the bathroom light, something small and fuzzy darted across the road! I nearly went back and waited out the night in a shower stall, but thought my sister would flip out if she awoke and I was gone. I steeled myself and stretched my hands out in front of me...I wandered into a shrub or two, and then almost opened someone else's tent! My heart was racing and by the time I found my own sleeping bag I was in a cold sweat, sure that someone or something was breathing down my neck the whole way. Rebecca, of course, woke up to note, "You didn't zip the tent and now there's mosquitoes in here." I couldn't sleep for the rest of the trip! Now whenever I go camping I have to bring headphones to block out the woodsy noises...It just goes to show that Stephen King is right, your brain is the most terrifying thing you own. BOOOOOO!


Enjoy some atrocious store-bought Halloween costumes of the 70's and 80's -- what little kid back then didn't want to dress up as Herve Villechaize? The Easy Reader/Morgan Freeman one (man I loved The Electric Company!) is too cool...but Jaws? No way -- you might as well dress up as a kid going to therapy for recurring nightmares.
The Daily Outrage takes on the budding "Mission Accomplished!" scandal, hot on the heels of last night's Daily Show. Remember President Maverick's fake-o aircraft carrier landing, and speech under a prominent banner emblazoned with a certain slogan conveying, shall we say, a sense of finality in re: Iraq? Well check out how that's being spun -- "The Navy put it up there!" What's next: "We didn't do it -- Iraq was a big mess like this when we got here"? Oh wait. Maureen Dowd has it right -- the Bush Administration "[does] not even understand the political utility of truth."
Howard Dean declares himself both "metrosexual" and "square" in Denver -- thus distinguishing himself even further from GWB, who is known to be both "antisexual" and "trapezoidal."
Save The Egg-O-Mat! Sometimes it's great to be from New Jersey...where else would an outdated egg-vending machine be sentimentally garaged, in hope of finding a permanent display spot? I've got a suggestion -- call the guys from Weird NJ.
"This Iraq adventure is a political, cultural, and moral disaster for the United States...I don't think this thing is worth one more American life." -- Wow, I completely agree with Camille Paglia...maybe the world really is coming to an end. She holds forth on Salon on a variety of topics, from Iraq to Madonna, including slagging John Kerry's hair, tee hee. Get the day pass to read the whole thing.

OK, upon reading the entire interview, let me clarify that I don't agree with everything Camille spouts...for example, she opines that "blogs are the decadence of the web" (!), and in a truly mind-boggling hyperbole claims that Madonna's video for "Vogue" is the greatest work of fine art from "the last decades of the twentieth century." Um, no. But she's still fun to read...spicy!
To update yesterday's "Aiieeee, here comes the sun!" post, check out this photo -- because of the wildfires in Southern California, it was hazy enough to photograph the sun and a few sunspots, which are unusually large because of the whole solar flare ion storm situation...eeeeep.
Memo to Fox Broadcasting: "D'oh!" Matt Groening revealed in an NPR interview this week that Fox almost sued itself over a "Simpsons" episode that parodies the Fox News Channel ticker at the bottom of the screen...hijinks ensue!


Oh indeed, my friends, there is sometimes sweet justice to be had in this world...see below:


On top of everything troubling George Steinbrenner, he's been slapped with a $65 million discrimination lawsuit. Juan Tapia, who worked several years as the chef in the Yankees' executive dining room, claims he was fired three years ago because he is Dominican, "Celebrity Justice" reports. Tapia says he was dumped over what management called "an unsatisfactory lobster meal," so maybe Steinbrenner just discriminates against bad shellfish. A Yankees spokesman pointed out that the team has no fewer than 16 Latin American players, and said, "George has never discriminated against anybody. It's outrageous."

That's from Page Six in the NY Post...you've got to love that "But I love Mariano Rivera!" defense...

UPDATE: It looks like Evil George may be adding a 17th Latino player to the Yankees roster soon. Oh SuperManny, we hardly knew ye...
We <3 Talking Points Memo -- in yet another example of synergy between the internet and the 2004 presidential campaign, it appears that celeb-blogger Josh Marshall "inadvertently" raised $5000 from his readers in less than 24 hours, to fund his travel to NH to cover the primary. Wow! Let the record reflect, by the way, that yours truly would be happy to do a week or two of blogging from, say, Australia sometime...operators are standing by...
Oh dear -- Way Too Personals. Not quite as fun as reading the "Casual Encounters" ads in Bay Windows, but close.
A pepper travelogue, and proof of R.W. Apple, Jr.'s status as one of my favorite writers -- he combines erudition, gustation, and wit in a way that makes me want to run off an become a traveling food writer for the NYTimes, just like him...though I think there's probably only one of those jobs, oh well. Mmmm, this article makes me want Singapore pepper crabs for lunch...
Intriguing interview with Berkeley professor George Lakoff, author of Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think, on how conservatives use language to [attempt to] dominate politics.
In the words of Lou Reed, "Who loves the sun?" Definitely not Jason Kottke -- beware the solar flares! Down with the Copernican regime!

And while we're at it, let's get rid of butterflies, too -- no more flapping those tiny wings and wrecking the climate. This is from The University of the Bleeding Obvious, which looks to be brimming with satirical treats...
The Commander-in-Grief is refusing to allow National Guard and Reserve members access to the Pentagon health care system, because it would be too costly -- we certainly don't have a couple hundred million dollars to spare these days, do we? Which leaves some service members waiting for weeks in squalid cement barracks, right here in the U.S., with no medical attention. So let me get this straight -- President Feelgood gets to start a war, send troops over to die in unchecked guerrilla attacks, and refuses them medical benefits for their troubles, while he -- who managed to skip out on National Guard duty altogether -- gets round the clock medical attention at Bethesda Naval Hospital and a lifetime pension with health coverage after leaving office? Yeah, this is a great country we're living in these days.
"No, you may not shoot a man in Reno just to watch him die!" -- the funniest mother in Brooklyn, Ayun Halliday, offers some suggestions for rockin' Halloween costumes for the little ones...or not so little...
Mmmmmmm, transfats -- since I care about everyone's arteries, including my own, here's an article from the Blue Cross site with the facts on this pesky fat. Some of you have heard me yammering about partially hydrogenated this and that -- and the tragedy of Nutella, the most delicious thing I should really never eat again, sigh. The trick with transfats is that there is no safe amount to eat -- that's why the FDA wouldn't set a Recommended Daily Allowance. Yet it's in almost every packaged baked good and snack item, and most fried things...all the tastiest morsels, sadly. Well, if you think these are tasty...*ahem.* I guess our grandmas were right after all...it doesn't pay to eat stuff that's "sweet enough to make your teeth crack."


Halloween Candy and Wine Pairings -- just in time for Friday's festivities. I'll be sure to pass the Courvoisier with the Butterfingers at our party...but the question remains, what the hell goes with Milk Duds? Allow me to make some additional beevo suggestions:

* Candy Corn with orange soda -- preferably one dissolved in the other
* Smarties with vanilla soymilk
* Bit O'Honey with green tea
* Charleston Chew with a pint of Guinness
* Disappointing apple with a pint carton of milk
* Tootsie Roll with YooHoo
* Tootsie Pop with Johnnie Walker Black
* Reese's Peanut Butter Cup with Fat Bastard Chardonnay
* Nostalgic Necco Wafers with Ultra-Trendy Sierra Mist -- see candy corn recipe above
* Junior Mints with cyanide, the only escape from the repulsive aftertaste
* Lifesavers with good old Diet Coke
* Mini Three Musketeers with Ovaltine
* Starburst with Nantucket Nectars P.O.G.
* Peppermint Patty with a Naked Marcy, I mean, smoothie
* By popular request, Skittles with SkittleBrau
* Milk Duds with turpentine
The Opt-Out Revolution -- this article from Sunday's NYTimes Magazine is generating a lot of heat, probably for both its unbelievably grating tone and its thesis that (horrors!) women are fleeing the workplace and all the gains of feminism to stay home and raise their children. Where should I start? First of all, the sample population in the article is uniformly white, wealthy, married, professional and highly educated -- I'd like to see the stats on the urban single mother feminists choosing not to work. Like so many other examples in American journalism, it is as if class privilege does not exist -- or more accurately, that we are all assumed to be of the same class and opinion about work, family, education, and of course the almighty dollar. Secondly, the author doesn't seem to realize that "women rejecting the workplace" might not be such a bad thing for women, men, families, and the workplace itself -- why does it have to mean that women are falling short, rather than the paradigm of work-family division being untenable? One of the interviewees suggests that contrary to the old saw that women are "weaker" than men for leaving the traditional workplace, they are "smarter" -- well duh! I think anybody, male or female, who scales back their work demands to have a more rewarding home life is smarter, and certainly more advantaged to have that option. Note that the women I know who are working full time while their husbands rear their small children at home are not exactly completely fulfilled, either -- why isn't there discussion of working parents who are unsatisfied with the system too? This choice quote -- "[T]o suggest that women work differently than men -- that they leave more easily and find other parts of life more fulfilling -- is a dangerous and loaded statement" -- just baffles me; are we still under such a tyranny of symmetrical equality that we must play that "Anything you can do, I can do better" game until everyone drops dead of a stroke three-quarters of the way up the corporate ladder? Get over it: women are different from men, but more importantly they are different from each other, and the more choices and flexibility we all have to tailor our lives and families to our desires, not the demands of consumer capitalism, the better for us all and the planet. There.
Who says great literature is inaccessible? I was talking just the other day with Angus -- the namesake himself -- about the ultracondensed plot of War and Peace...and today I've discovered its online brethren. Why take James Joyce at his word, when you can read Ulysses For Dummies? Who would waste hours with Oliver Twist when you can order it in daily five-minute email installments...for some bizarre reason?

I think the Book-A-Minute Classics are my favorite...check out their versions of Hamlet ["Whine whine whine...To be or not to be...I'm dead."], Catcher in the Rye, and Fellowship of the Ring...hee hee hee.
And for a little comic (or cosmic?) relief -- Wholesome Swimwear. Now, I for one have always liked this classic look, but a high-necked pastel "culotte swimmer"? Not a chance.
Then there's all the bad news: Southern California is aflame; coordinated carbombings are killing and wounding scores of people in Baghdad and Fallujah as the Pentagon struggles to reformulate tactics; and despite talk of the economy "turning the corner" it's still losing jobs and not adding new ones. But fear not, citizens -- a quick trip over to the White House website yields this reassuring quote from Paul Bremer: "Well, a lot of wonderful things have happened in Iraq since July." Hmmm, they must know some things we don't...or, more likely, vice versa.

Let's zero in on the Iraq situation -- did you know that Deputy Defense Secretary/Prince of Evil Paul Wolfowitz was nearly killed in one of the Baghdad bombings yesterday? Or that Iraqi civilians working in the new police stations and the Red Cross headquarters (the Red Cross, people!) were specifically targeted? Probably not -- but there's 24/7 news coverage of the fires in California -- not that they're unimportant, but where are all those "embedded" reporters these days? Guess they only like to burrow into good news. Eric Boehlert has a piece on Salon today on this -- get the day pass to read it all.

As for what to do about the wildfires, the ever-clever Mark "Bruckheimer" Schwartz has come up with a screen treatment/policy analysis that would be a perfect vehicle, er, initiative for Gov. Ahnald:

Imagine the state of Kal-ee-four-knee-iah being ravaged by wildfires and there’s no one to save us. BUT WAIT. There’s Gubernor Ahnald, and despite the fact that he lacks any political experience whatsoever, he HAS experience as a former fire fighter in ‘Collateral Damage’. So, I see Arnold in a suit behind his desk (we see the state flag in the lower right hand corner) watching CNN and getting the news that domestic terrorism (formerly known as arson) is threatening the entire state. He jumps up and exclaims, “Sum-ting mest be dun”. Fast forward to Arnold at 18,000 feet in a tight jumpsuit (with arms exposed and all lotioned up) about to jump out of a plane screaming (a la Bruce Willis in "Die Hard") and fighting the fires on his own. Of course, there will have to be ‘bad guy’ firefighters whose arms he’ll need to rip off and necks he’ll need to break. But, it’s a great story of this former fire fighter who gets a boring desk job as Governor and then when the state is threatened, he reverts back to his old self and kicks the fire’s ass when it threatens his various mansions and real estate holdings.

I smell a big opening weekend for this one!
For those following along at home with my David Foster Wallace obsession, here's The New Yorker's review of his book on infinity, Everything and More.
Ah, it's a brilliant Tuesday here in New England, after a decidedly wintry weekend...but as we look ahead to the most anticipated event of the holiday season, here's a piece on Peter Jackson and his high-profile hobbit ways. Does he ever not wear that polarfleece vest, by the way?


*tap tap* Hello? Is this thing on? It is I, blogmistress m., returning from a long, lost weekend to reclaim my post...and to congratulate the no-longer-neophyte Nat on an admirable sub job, as displayed below. Fine work, young blogger! :P

So I have to throw up a post on newly-former Red Sox manager Grady Little, who's being run out of town on a rail today, in the wake of the Yankees, uh, loss in the World Series. Hmmmm, I guess sometimes the universe just takes everyone down a peg...

In other news, I've updated the Links List again, on your right...more later, as my eyes uncross...
Remember Sunday's piece about Boris Bally's art in the Globe Magazine?
Well, I wrote Boris a complimentary message, and asked him where he gets his champagne corks from.
This morning, a response arrived:

Nathaniel, THANKS for your interest..sure, please SPREAD THE WORD!! see below for the cork source..i love this info-age...ha! i collect most of my materials with web-assist..can you help?? Many thanks...let me know if you are ever in Providence... Cheers! ~ boris

Subject: Desperately Seeking.....
Dear Friends,
I am seeking hundreds and thousands of used champagne corks to transform into the feet for my recycled traffic sign 'transit' furniture...If you have any of these lurking about already, or wish to begin collecting them, or know of someone who enjoys sipping 'the bubbly,' YOU can help me!

I will promptly refund your GROUND shipping expenses (either UPS or US Parcel Post) and also send a small 'art gift of appreciation' for your trouble...

Please remember, I specifically need Champagne, or sparkling wine, corks this for their perfect mushroom shape! (NO wine corks or bottlecaps needed!)

Interested? Here's what to do:

Start collecting the champagne corks in a box! When you get a small box of at least one-dozen, please send to me directly to:
Boris Bally, Atelier 789 Atwells Avenue, Providence, RI 02909
Be sure to insert a card with your return shipping address, and the amount it cost to ship the box. This will help me to send you a refund check and your gift.

Thanks you in advance, and remember, "it is more fun to raise a glass for Art's sake!"

-boris the junksmith www.BorisBally.com
As a visual learner, I was looking forward to testing my Visual IQ.
I did very well (119, the max is 140), even though I started making educated guesses about halfway through and making outright stabs in the dark for the last 10 (of 39 questions). The test allows 40 minutes, so sharpen your frontal lobe, and good luck!
The bad news is, the whole site is in a foreign language (Anyone know what nation is ".dk"? Denmark?) so the analysis of your results will be tough to interpret!
(thanks to MetaFilter)
In the last decade, Fleet Bank ate up Bank Of Boston, BayBank, and Shawmut. Now a bigger fish has come along: Fleet Swallowed By Bank Of America. The good news is, Bank Of America has virtually no presence in New England, so there isn't a lot of job duplication (i.e. large layoffs). The most pressing issue the Globe doesn't address is, of course, what will the FleetCenter and FleetBoston Pavilion be called?


The Boston Sunday Globe's Ideas section features an interview with one of Em's favorites, David Foster Wallace. The good news is, DFW has apparently broken his addictions to cigarettes, and footnotes: "I don't think any of [my new] stories have footnotes, which I'm rather proud of. Got that monkey off my back. I think one story maybe has a couple of asterisk footnotes. You know, there are so few of them that you can use asterisks."
Interviewer Caleb Crain (what a name for a writer!) notes DFW's Boston connection via a semester as a grad student at Harvard in 1989, but passes over DFW's brief stint as an Emerson College lit professor in the early Nineties. After Girl With Curious Hair and Broom Of The System, but before Infinite Jest, DFW taught Literature at Emerson. How do I know this? Yours truly was a student of his. I liked the stuff he made us read, specifically Don Delillo's Great Jones Street. At that time, in an interview with the Emerson student newspaper, DFW didn't pull any punches regarding his opinion of us Emerson students. He lamented that we were so absorbed in movies, TV, radio, and theater, that he assigned a book about a rock star (Great Jones Street) in the hope that we would actually read it. Worst part is, he was right.
I have had a hardcover copy of Infinite Jest on my shelf for years now, but it looks too daunting to start. I like his magazine pieces that Em makes me read, from A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, and a few pieces he wrote under a pseudonym for Premiere magazine. In the Globe interview, he mentions some of the magazine work he has published under a pseudonym will be published in a collection of his soon, so I'm hoping his piece about a pornography convention sees the light of day.
Good afternoon! I hope y'all remembered to fall back last night.
I spotted some neat furniture and bowls on the last page of the Boston Globe Magazine. It's the work of Providence-based artist Boris Bally. He uses champagne corks for feet, which is about the coolest idea ever. The chairs are $1,000 apiece and the bowls are $360, so I guess I'll have to wait for that unbought lottery ticket to pay off. Only slightly more affordable are the Reclaim Frames, at $100-$280 each. Be sure to check out his installations to see his work put to wonderful use in office spaces, including the coolest bathroom floor ever.


Whither The Monster Cereals? In the spirit of Halloween, I have been looking for The Monster Cereals at my local Super Stop & Shop stores without success. After visiting this kid's Web site, I learned more than I ever needed to know about this demented gang: Count Chocula, Frankenberry, and Boo Berry, I had heard of and seen on store shelves. Their less popular kin were Fruity Mummy Yummy and Fruit Brute, a cereal so cool Quentin Tarantino put it in both Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. If you have seen any of these cereals in your local market, please let me know- I'm nkwoodward@hotmail.com, your e'er hungry for marshmallow goodness, and faithful substiblogger, Nat Woodward
Yankees Completely Shut Out; Fans in Miami, Boston Rejoice

"Josh Beckett, pitching on short rest, pitched a complete-game shutout in Game 6 at Yankee Stadium to win the World Series for the Marlins. Beckett, who was named the Series MVP, struck out nine batters and scattered five hits en route to his first Series win." Read all about it at World Series.com or Boston.com.

Some fun facts:
The Marlins have now won the Series twice in seven seasons (1997, 2003)

The Yankees are now 4-2 in World Series since 1996:
>1996 Yankees defeat Braves
>1997 (Marlins defeat Indians)
>1998 Yankees defeat Padres
>1999 Yankees defeat Braves
>2000 Yankees defeat Mets
>2001 D'backs defeat Yankees
>2002 (Angels defeat Giants)
>2003 Marlins defeat Yankees
Before tonight, no National League team had won the World Series at Yankee Stadium since the Dodgers did it in 1981.

As advertised, I went to see Lost In Translation last night, then several Blue Moon Belgian Whites at the Coolidge Corner Clubhouse.

Let's tackle these in reverse order: The CCC is a great place for drinks and food. It's an authentic sports bar, not one of these soulless franchises that feel as if they come from an assembly line: "GO _insert_local_team_name_here_!"
CCC is very small, with TVs everywhere, so you can see the game wherever you are sitting or standing. I was glad to be there on a travel day for
The World Series. Like the rest of New England, I have been avoiding the Series. I am trying not to get too excited- How do New York fans get excited about a team which has been in 40% of all World Series since 1921, and won 72% of those? It's just depressing.

The Blue Moon Belgian was good- I just don't understand why bartenders try to put lemon in it- I only take citrus products in Corona beer, and that's strictly between Independence Day and Labor Day.

Lost In Translation was exactly what I expected, and all I'd hoped for. It's a small, inconsequential movie, and I don't mean either of those adjectives in a bad way. Writer/director Sofia Coppola has captured a small, specific niche of human existence and made a thoughtful, heartfelt feature film about it. Past-peak movie star Bob Harris (Bill Murray) and just-graduated, and just-married Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) are stuck in Tokyo, and lost in their own lives. Bob knows what he wants to do with his life but doesn't know how, and Charlotte doesn't know what she wants and doesn't know what to do about it. Coppola very effectively uses this completely foreign city as a perfect metaphor for isolation and confusion. Bob and Charlotte both need a sympathetic presence in their lives for a few days, and Coppola describes and shows us this unique three-day relationship perfectly. There's no defining what they are for each other, and neither the characters nor Coppola try to. There is only the slightest hint of sexuality in their relationship (Johansson was born around the time Murray was getting slimed in Ghostbusters), and that hint is very tastefully done. A good ending is always important to me, and I appreciated the non-Hollywood resolution.


Well, it's Friday at 4:45, and I'm leaving in one hot minute to see Lost In Translation, the second movie directed by Sofia Coppola, whom critics seem to think is turning into a better director than her father is these days. She learned the hard way that she is not an actress like her cousins are.
I'll try to get a capsule review up for y'all tomorrow- toodles!
Y'er e'er peripatetic blogger-in-stead, Nat
We got some snow yesterday, the big, fat, wet, picturesque flakes. The Christmas and Halloween supplies are stocked side-by-side at my local Super Stop & Shop. It must be time to start thinking about Christmas!
Nat's All-Time Favorite Christmas Records:
"[Hazing] ranges from eating disgusting foods to being buried naked in the snow..." ...and don't let's forget dying in an SUV rollover. Six blindfolded pledges and four Sigma Kappa Omega sisters were stuffed into a Jeep Grand Cherokee (which seats five) when the driver, Sigma Kappa Omega sister Nicole Dalton, 20, allegedly jerked the steering wheel on a rainy road Monday night. Plymouth (N.H.) State University student (and pledge) Kelly Nester was thrown from the car and killed.
Your e'er faithful fill-in blogger, Nat Woodward, pledged a fraternity in college...for about an hour and a half. I took a blindfolded ride in the back of an Econoline cargo van and lived to tell the tale. Later that night I realized all this hazing was ridiculous, I was already going to all their frat parties anyway, I had a ton of friends without wearing a cool jacket, so why was I putting myself through this? Somehow I didn't feel as welcome at the frat parties after that night.
SIDE NOTE: In an unfortunate case of bad luck, when I first visited the Boston.com story, the pop-up advertisment was for a Jeep dealership. Fortunately for them, the ad reloads at random with other sponsors too...
The Doorstop Book of the Year Award goes to Gary Larson, who has released The Complete Far Side, a complete collection of his comics from 1980-1994, plus plenty of extras. My initial thought was "Hasn't he released every single Far Side comic in a book already?" I have a couple of his books, and I received his day-by-day calendars for Christmas regularly, so I would have guessed I'd seen them all. It turns out the book includes 4,000 comics on 1,250 pages, "with more than 1,100 that have never before appeared in a book". That's over 27% "new-to-book" material. Did I mention the $135 list price? That's less than 4c per comic. What a bargain!
The lead story on the BBC World Service this morning was today's final flight of the Concorde. The de facto UK space program, the Concorde has long been a proud symbol of British (and French) technological achievement, a piece of art created by engineers, not artists. However, it's also a technological dead end, and a cautionary tale. The Concorde was an (ultimately doomed) attempt to predict the future. The future of air travel turned out to be giant buses with wings, not 100-seat darts.


One more for today- I think Em sent me this site originally, so it's only apropriate I mention it on TAI.
Mark Simonson designs fonts for a living. He turned his own handwriting into a font, which is now immortalized as The Memento Font (see for yourself), and he's done a ton of graphic design work for Minnesota Public Radio.
What's most entertaining about this guy's Web site is his review of "The use (and misuse) of period typography in the movies": Typecasting
Speaking of handwriting turned into a font, check out this font based on George Harrison's handwriting.

Yesterday Kirk Jones made history by going over Niagra Falls with only the clothes on his back. Today, it turns out he's not a thrill-seeker, and wasn't looking to make history. Based on comments made outside an Ontario courthouse today, and the picture on Boston.com, Kirk Jones was merely a drunk loser who got lucky. Of course, Boston.com doesn't come out and say that in so many words, but you have to learn to read between the lines...
Hidely hodely, blog-erinos, it's Nat Woodward, filling in for the Divine Miss Em, who's going to a wedding in Maine. She may call it the Pine Tree State (see below), but that's one of those nicknames which only out-of-staters use. Kinda like calling Boston "Beantown". And don't even get me started on the Maine license plates- I am a former five year resident of Maine, and the new license plates were quite controversial. I guess excitement is hard to come by in Maine?
I always found the Duck plate to be one of the most attractive license plates I'd seen. I wonder how many Pearl Harbor Survivors there are in Maine, never mind Pearl Harbor Survivors Who Want It Advertised On The Back Of Their Car?
If you visit the State of Maine License Plate Page, you may agree with me: Americans take their tags too seriously. Isn't it just a numeric code which allows the government to track our movements?
OK, I am off to the Pine Tree State for the weekend -- congratulations to the couple of the moment, Marc & Sharon...and also, while I'm handing out the "mazel tov"s, to Mark & Claudia, they of the Australian wedding and very, very big news today. Sigh. :) Enough news, now it's all Nat...
McSweeney's New Food Reviews -- not to be confused with this. Note the Deep-Fried Twinkie On A Stick review from the almighty Minnesota State Fair! I have just sent in my own review of the McDonald's "Premium" Salads, of which I have sampled all three. In the words of Linda Richman, "It wasn't good!"
Pay no attention to the dead American soldier behind the curtain -- The Bush administration hits a new low by banning photographs of the flag-draped coffins of American casualties returning home for burial...gee, then it will be like it's not even happening! President See-No-Evil takes it a step further by not attending any funerals for servicemen...out of "respect"! Absolutely repugnant.
It's the 40th Anniversary of the New York Review of Books, and there's a plethora of juicy things to read, including Margaret Atwood on Studs Terkel (!), and John Updike on El Greco, who is having a big retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum...on my list for Christmas week.
Hail to W.G. Snuffy Walden -- an article on theme song composers.
How Pencils Are Made -- brevity is good design. That goes for the web and for pencils.
The decline of formality, yo -- a review of a very provocative...or possibly not at all provocative, depending on your temperament...book, "The Degradation of Language and Music and Why We Should, Like, Care" by John McWhorter. He seems to be upset about people choosing 50 Cent over Gustav Mahler...why not have both?
Always Low Prices...and undocumented workers! There was a huge raid on Wal-Mart stores in 21 states earlier today, arresting hundreds of illegal workers on the cleaning crews that work the graveyard shift. The world's largest retailer kept a straight (smiley) face and noted, "They're all independent contractors." Oh, OK then.
Well people, it is all happening -- here's a little taste of tomorrow's TAI while I'm on hiatus:

Greetings! Just a quick test run from tomorrow's Guest blogger, Nat Woodward.
In the spirit of the Halloween season, here's a piece I wrote on Scary Scenes in Scary Movies. I don't think it's coincidence that five of the films which scare me, I first saw when I was a kid. I'm sure someone has written a thesis on this topic. I am thrilled that Alien is returning to theaters for Halloween- I have never seen it on the big screen, so I am digging out my Spaceship Nostromo cap and eating dinner before the film, not after...

Nat has the helm from 5pm today through the weekend, so play, little mice, play!
I think I might officially become a celebrity blogger tomorrow, as I am attempting to schedule a Guest Blogger for the day, oo la la, while I am running around in the woods of Maine...stay tuned, dear readers...


Today is a very bold-faced day around TAI...and with good reason: Miss Kathy Thielke passed the Washington State bar exam! In the words (and arm-flailing) of Kermit the Frog, "YAAAAAAAYYYYYYY!" :D

Now that Kathy can earn her bread the legitimate way as a lawyer, yuk yuk, she will be forever saved from becoming a pay-per-view webcam skank...whew! But just in case you're looking to make a quick buck and shed those last few pounds of dignity yourself, here are some tips...care of a certain reader who must know a lot about webcam skanks. >:P
Google saves the day -- that would be my day! I want to record a testimonial to the benevolent power of the Google Language Tools...how could something so great be free? Besides translating any web pages that appear in its search engine into English, if need be, it turns out Google also provides a cut-n-paste translation feature. Thus if you're desperate to translate complicated French patent claims into English, like me, you can copy them in there, click "Translate," and voila, it's done. Merci beaucoup, Google!
Here's a very interesting tidbit from Page Six -- a rare moment of GOP criticism from the conservative NYPost, even if it's in the gossip column:


The GOP may be taking its effort to reach out to minorities a tad too far. Senate Republicans zipped out an e-mail this week inviting "black journalists and reporters" to join in on a conference call to talk about the nomination of a black judge. It left a lot of reporters of all colors, including The Post's Vince Morris, scratching their heads: Would those pesky Republicans ask us to state our race before taking our questions? Possibly thinking better of it, a second e-mail came shooting out to scores of reporters 30 minutes later with a slightly different word choice: "Please note this conference call tomorrow is open to key reporters on the judicial nominees beat on this e-mail as well as African-American journalists." The conference call was intended to stir up interest in the nomination of a California judge, Janice Brown, who is black, to a federal court in D.C. She's got a confirmation hearing scheduled for today.
Since Salon.com is fair game, I figured, why not crib stuff from The Onion, too? :P

Alderman Has That Zoning Dream Again

AMES, IA—Fourth District Alderman Frank Pelson, 47, awoke with a start Monday night, interrupting his recurring zoning dream. "It was the third night in a row," Pelson said. "I'm sitting at my desk, drafting my proposal for the construction of a municipal pool near Franklin Park, when my inbox is besieged with angry petitions from residents who object to the traffic that the public recreational facility would generate." Pelson said the dream always ends the same way, with him experiencing the sensation of falling out of his office chair into a 60 percent business, 40 percent residential abyss.

This one goes out to PSD, in the hopes of making at least one day at Planning School more pleasant. :)
I quote "Catch-22" -- "Oh, my liver!" Check out Ruben Bolling's sizzling satire down on The Humane Foie Gras Farm. And in other gut-clutching comic news, Keith "K Chronicles" Knight offers his thoughts on Those Damn Yankees.
Tokyo On One Cliché A Day -- as I said to Peter while watching "Lost in Translation," "This makes me want to go to Japan! NOW!" Be sure to click on the photo gallery...is it me, or does the sign in photo #20 show a frat boy being attacked by a monkey?
Oh no -- in utterly not lighthearted news, it appears Elliott Smith has committed suicide. That's just awful...and it makes the scene in "The Royal Tennenbaums" where Luke Wilson slits his wrists to the tune of "Needle In the Hay" unbearably creepy. :(
And in more lighthearted news of judicial irregularities, check out the Detroit judge who rapped part of her decision dismissing a defamation claim against Eminem...of course.
I think we can safely say that today's Hot Seat In Hell Award goes to Gov. John Ellis Bush and the entire Florida legistature, for hustling through a bill to restore the feeding tube of Terry Schiavo, the woman in a persistent vegetative state who was removed from this support last week. That's right folks -- as a political response to this contentious case, the state government created a law narrowly applicable to this case (it is limited to patients with no living will, in a persistent vegetative state, where nutrition and hydration tubes are removed and a family member has challenged the removal) essentially overruling a court order to allow the patient's guardian to carry out the patient's wishes, as determined by the court. To me, this is a constitutional and moral outrage without equal, even as the federal government is poised to pass another unconstitutional haymaker of a law on "partial birth abortion" today. i'm moving to Saturn.


Mannergarten -- that's right, "day care" for men...and the ladies who want to spend the day shopping, etc. without them whining and dragging their feet. Isn't it funny how there's no equivalent for women -- we find it pretty easy to say, "No thanks, I'll just stay at home to drink and hang out with my friends while you do your thing, honey." Must be those elusive communication skills...
"If this fails, we all fail" -- a glimmer of good news from Congo, where the "African WWI" is perhaps finally winding down. Over the last five years, three million people were killed in the war; now most of the rebels are part of the government. Of course, as hopeful news comes in from one corner, another is going up in flames -- Robert Mugabe and his fellow thieves are literally running Zimbabwe into the ground.
"He and I share a scandalous theory on the relativity of words in language" -- I almost can't believe I'm typing this, but this link is a meditation on Gabriel Garcia Marquez written by...Fidel Castro. Let's see President C+ try this.

And speaking of scandalous...OK, this is basically unrelated, although it does have a Marquezian flavor -- middle-aged NJ couple arrested for sex romp in the woods. The whole thing reads like the quirkiest police blotter blurb of all time...ah, an "unspecified sex toy," the best kind!
Cinematic Disasters: The 50 Worst Films of the 90's -- I just saw part of #8 on cable the other day, and it's still awful. But I have a soft spot for #26...and "My Own Private Idaho"? Hello! I don't think so! Plus, where is "Meet Joe Black," the only movie I've ever fallen asleep at?
"Parallel diaristic concerns"? Give me a fucking break -- and I say that as an art history major. It's unbearable hipsters like this guy giving art a bad name these days. Oh how I wish this was from The Onion...but it's real. :-o
The New York Times gets a wee typographical facelift -- but what will become of Times New Roman? Oops, that's from the Times of London.
"By the year 2015, all 191 United Nations Member States have pledged to meet the above goals" -- the UN Millenium Development Goals include universal primary education, environmental sustainability, and eliminating extreme hunger and poverty. I was somehow simultaneously filled with great hope and bitterness when I read this.
Truly amazing -- The Wooden Mirror Project.
Jesus is my policy analyst -- in a nice, chilling footnote to the story of Lt. Gen. William Boykin, Pentagon honcho who likes to badmouth Allah, it seems the White House counsel and press offices deleted key points in Boykin's apology re: his Christo-Military Complex saber-rattling speeches. If President Born-Again himself hadn't already been yammering on about God testing him with this whole Iraq thing, I'd be mildly surprised by this episode. On a more thoughtful note, James Carroll has a reasoned opinion piece on this issue of religious pluralism in government in today's Globe.
In the slowly receding wake of the Red Sox tragedy, Brian McGrory asks, "Why is Boston so damned mean?" Ah, a question I've long pondered...of course, he's talking about the sports fans, but still. I like a columnist who every once in a while exhorts us to get over it -- which should be like the required t-shirt/bumper sticker slogan of New England.


It's time for a few Gratuitous Media Recommendations (*cue Letterman-style theme music here*)...besides my plug for "Kill Bill" earlier today. Which reminds me, I finally saw "School of Rock" too, which was hi-la-ri-ous and fully showcased the musical and comic stylings (not to mention well-toned calves) of the adorable Jack Black. Anyway, on to Calexico, whose latest CD "Feast of Wire" was on heavy rotation in my kitchen yesterday (while I was cooking up some delicious Chicken Varitek...but that's another story). It's sort of...Cake meets Wilco and forms a mariachi band. Good stuff. Over in TV Land, I am now hooked on the BBC show "The Office," a very black comedy that sort of takes off from "Office Space," with a dash of Kafka. Sadly it will soon join "Coupling," "Faking It" and "Changing Rooms" in the pantheon of BBC hits that NBC will water down and pawn off in a flimsy American version, feh.
Puttin' some cheese in the wheelhouse -- a truly puzzling glossary of "baseball lingo" from the MLB.com site. Even growing up listening to the rambling color commentary of Phil Rizzuto, I've never heard half of these. They don't mention the difference between a sinker, a splitter, and a cutter, nor the baffling (to the novice) scoring shorthand of a "6-4-3" double play...yet they elaborate on "utility player"? I quote "Bull Durham" -- "He's pretty smart, for a ballplayer. I even saw him read a book without pictures once."
Quote of the day from a fantastic writer, Colson Whitehead: "You become a New Yorker when what was there before is more real and solid than what is there now." So true of New York, but probably anywhere else too. His new book comes out tomorrow.
"It's all about the low-hanging fruit" -- Ezra from NotGeniuses shares his first column for the UC Santa Cruz paper, a rundown and E-Z handicapping of the 2004 Dem candidates. Note his precognition of angry emails re: his blurb on Kucinich. Ouch.
Which is scarier -- that there's an elaborate cyberspace home for those "For Dummies" books, or that there's an "Origins of Tolkien's Middle-Earth For Dummies" book? It includes a "tear-out cheat sheet." WTF?! Forthcoming titles in this series include "Sesame Street for Dummies -- The Inside Story on Numbers, Letters and Colors" and the much-anticipated "M. Night Shyalaman for Dummies -- Deciphering those Pesky Plot-Twists."
Neato -- translate your name into Egyptian heiroglyphics.
When a cult film's not a cult film -- BBC article on why calling "Kill Bill" a cult film would be like calling Radiohead an indie band. Um, who would say either of those things in the first place, really? In any case, "Kill Bill" was most excellent -- what better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than to watch a blood-spattered Uma Thurman wield a samurai sword?
(Linguistic) anarchy in the UK -- the sad, abused state of the English language.
In the classic American tradition of breaking all the rules when you're on vacation, the Bush Administration decided to back off the whole "Iraq is mine, mine, mine!" business while the Prez is traveling in Asia this week -- they announced plans for a new agency, run by the UN and the World Bank, to direct the flow of reconstruction cash. Er, that is, any cash beyond those lucrative Pentagon contracts for GOP-friendly American companies. Some things, as they say, never change -- like another Bush predilection, comprehensive muffling of any sounds of protest. Here's an article from the Sydney Morning Herald on the ridiculous protocols for public protest at the upcoming address to the Australian parliament by GWB and Hu Jintao -- no public folk allowed in the gallery, or outside, and down the street at the protest area any amplification must be pointed away from the sensitive leaders' ears!
On this crisp October morning -- okay, more than crisp, I actually had to scrape frost from my windshield this morning -- what is making headlines in greater Boston? That would be "The Kevin Doherty Show," a cable access "variety show" out of Marshfield (!) featuring teenagers running around in costumes, beating each other up, setting fires, making date rape jokes, etc. etc. etc. I saw a clip on the news this morning, at it looked to be an unholy blend of "Jackass," G.W.A.R. and Battle Bots...ah, the young people today! In even more depressing youth news, check out this story from Florida on those trendy jelly bracelets from the 80's -- now used as "sex bracelets" in some kind of weird game. Hmmm, I wore a whole wristful of black ones when I was that age, I wonder what that means?


No joy in Mudville today, friends...no joy at all. The universal constant of disappointment that's part of Red Sox Universe once again served up a heartbreaker last night, as Pedro the Ace unraveled the tantalizing lead in an almost Nixonian moment of hubris against the gods of fatigue, fate, and fingernails. You know that old line, "a taste of honey's worse than none at all?" Even worse is the promise of a taste. Sigh.

At the very least, let me do the Friday Five...

1. Name five things in your refrigerator: capers, iced tea, pumpkin cheesecake, Bass ale, grape tomatoes.

2. Name five things in your freezer: Trader Joe's chicken biryani, coffee beans, several gel ice packs, cherries, peas.

3. Name five things under your kitchen sink: Fantastick, Windex, GooGone, DranO, Nature's Miracle.

4. Name five things around your computer: Lego Paul Pierce action figure, bottle of vitamins, The Onion tear-off calendar, Hoberman sphere, small Australian flag.

5. Name five things in your medicine cabinet: Neosporin, Harry Potter Band-Aids, the old showerhead, seven different kinds of OTC allergy-sinus medicine, possibly expired condoms.


My God can beat up your God -- so says Army Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, who's made speeches at a number of evangelical churches casting the "War on Terror" as a religious battle of true believers vs. infidels. And we're not the infidels. Response from Rumsfeld: "We're a free people." Sigh.
"Whaddya think I am, dumb or somethin'?" For all you Lina Lamonts out there (that would be a "Singin' in the Rain" reference, if you're still confused), here's a flashback item from the New Yorker, written in 1928 at the dawn of talking pictures.
Speaking of curses, Maureen Dowd's column addresses the Bush Curse -- and in response to GWB's whining about the "filter" of the news media, she acidly points out, "[I]t isn't the press. It's an administration that comically thinks when it hauls out Dick Cheney to say in his condescending high school principal voice that 2 + 2 = 5, we'll buy it." Yeowch.
Tonight brings us Game Seven Armageddon, friends -- Red Sox v. Yankees in a final showdown for a trip to the World Series, unfortunately to be played against the Marlins, boooooooooooo. As this ESPN writer asks, "Is anyone going to be watching 'Friends' tonight?"

After the rollercoaster drama of last night's Sox win, now I can tell the tale of my brush with The Duke yesterday, and I don't mean John Wayne. At lunchtime I went over to the Bedford post office, and who did I encounter there, idly filling out a Priority Mail form? None other than the despised Dan Duquette, former Sox GM! i was stunned -- was this a good sign, a bad sign, a really bad sign? Apparently, any bad vibes from that encounter blew away on the spooky winds of change that were blowing last night...

And as for spooky, read Jason's comical account of the perils of watching the Sox game on a TiVo-delay.


Smothering the "scout" out of "Girl Scout" -- since today's 'tween girls think Girl Scouts are uncool, the national organization has a new pilot program called Studio 2B. What do the girls do there -- make stuff, cook, camp, volunteer in their community? Of course not! "Its content is the stuff found in teen magazines: advice columns, polls, guides to good skin care and planning for the future...[One] launch event was a night at swank salon where the girls learned about nail, skin and hair care." GRRRR! Now, to be fair, when I was a Girl Scout we did plenty of girly things too...but part of the point of the program is to try new things, many of which (business skills, different sports and careers) may not cross a girl's mind just by flipping through Cosmo Girl (the latest issue of which, I note, bears this headline: "Get Him To Ask You Out." Welcome to 1963!). My time at GS camp, in particular, was all about testing yourself and not thinking for a second about how your nails looked around the campfire. Does anyone think the Boy Scouts should have a group that does nothing but play Nintendo and punch each other on the arm? >:X
15 Days of Bliss -- a compelling article from the Times on Luis Castillo, a soldier on a short furlough home from Iraq. Be sure to click on the photo gallery too.
The Matrix, then Seinfeld, The Simpsons, and Buffy...now The Onion meets philosophy! Scroll down to the ongoing submissions -- the makers of the Popular Culture and Philosophy Series are soliciting papers from the American Philosophical Association. If I could pre-order this book right now, I would...says area woman.
"The New Stop-Dean Candidate: Howard Dean" -- William Saletan's clever Slate satire on the terrible wonderful candidate.
"Soviet Texas" -- Matt Bivens at The Daily Outrage provides a thoroughly disgusted wrap-up of the GOP pistol-whipping of Texas and the nation, now that the Congressional districts have been redrawn to DeLay's liking.
"But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?" Try your Elizabethan hand at the Shakespeare Starters Quiz, by identifying the opening line to ten of his plays. I got a 90% -- not bragging, just trying to marshal some evidence that the $100,000 English degree has yielded fruit...score!
Some of you know I had a go with NaNoWriMo...heh, sorry, couldn't help myself. National Novel Writing Month is an online project where people try to write a 50,000-word novel during the month of November...even if it's crappy, and it will be. This year it seems there's some competition, in the form of The Metamorphosis Challenge, which urges participants to complete two 50,000-word novels instead. For kicks. I think I'll be sticking to my plan, which is cheating and rewriting the stuff I wrote last year. :P
The Periodic Table of Me, Baby -- this may be the most enticing personal ad of all time. Well...the layout, anyway, not the guy.
Here's one of those wacky "deer in a clothing store" stories -- but this one happened right down the road from my parents' house...not the most unspoiled, sylvan, deer-populated place.
Well, the week and the month and the ALCS series are all going by in a blur...so let me make the obligatory link to the now-beleaguered Red Sox, who need some serious voodoo on their side this afternoon against Andy Pettite & Co. in New York. I don't know if there's schadenfreude in baseball, but let's take heart in the fact that even if the Sox are out of it tomorrow, at least we didn't get utterly punked like the Cubs...five outs away from the pennant, leading 3-0, and then the loathsome Marlins score EIGHT runs?! Ouch. If we're cursed, then they're...doomed.


This one goes out to Paul "Red Sox Nation West" Dell'Aquila, who gave the quote of the day today with: "My brain is, like, on fire." I guess Planning School will do that to you...but wait 'til he reads about Prince going door to door as a Jehovah's Witness! :D
In the words of my friend Jim Romenesko, "Is there anyone who isn't addicted to internet porn?" Uh, yes. *raises hand*
"President Bush, annoyed by what he considers the "filter" of news reporting, will seek to go around the press on Monday through television outlets that do not routinely cover the White House." Um, what? Who the hell is he going to talk to, Nickelodeon? UPN? The Style Network? E!? This whole article is so weird you can hear the 'Twilight Zone' theme in the background...
"The (Agri)Cultural Contradictions of Obesity" -- an excellent article from yesterdays NYTMagazine on how Nixon-era farm subsidies create massive overproduction of corn in the US, which directly contributes to the obesity epidemic in the form of cheap corn syrup and cheap beef, i.e. Kraft, McDonalds, Applebees et al. Scary as it is, this political twist on the fast food nation phenomenon sheds a lot of light on the myth of simple overindulgence -- it's not just that people are eating more junk and exercising less, it's that "Big Food" is playing a pat hand dealt by our government and literally cramming surplus calories into our diets, since it's cheaper to produce a 20oz Coke today than it was to produce an 8oz one in 1975. Note also that third world farmers are undermined by the tide of cheap American grain, as it depresses worldwide prices...so we don't need it, yet we overproduce it, and we're killing ourselves with it while millions around the globe starve to death. Mmmmmmm, mmmmmm. There's a very similar article in my beloved Believer this month, but they don't put a lot of content online...perhaps you'd like to borrow my (preciousssss) copy? Actual text on paper...horrors! :P
"'Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadeness' -- yes!" The Album Cover Challenge -- thank god for the internet, this is just what I need on my non-Columbus Day at the office...it's tricky, though, I only got about 20 off the top of my head...#48 is my favorite. Here's the MetaFilter thread on this, with nearly all the answers.
The Social Justice Trifecta is, I think, hit by the Stone Soup Project up in Ontario -- training homeless youth in a food distribution program which uses surplus and needlessly wasted perishable produce. Cool! I guess the upmarket version of this is Jamie "The Naked Chef" Oliver's Fifteen restaurant...hmmmmmmm.
To paraphrase Dr. Peter Venkman, I'm going to take back some of the things I said about the Democratic National Committee. They had the sense to hire Jesse Berney to run Kicking Ass, the amazingly official DNC blog...now if only all their content was this lively...and speaking of which, I just have to note that Ghostbusters.net is one heck of a fansite. That is all.
Apparently the campaign staffers of Kerry and Gephardt are not-so-secretly sharing information to help both against Howard Dean...awww, isn't that cute? They're sharing! Meanwhile, Wesley Clark has been taking some heat from his fellow military brass, who seem to think he's less than trustworthy...uh-oh, when Pentagon bigwigs are saying that about you, it's time for a little spin...or maybe a big fake aircraft carrier landing.
Jason and Jake went to Radiohead in NYC the other night and took fantastic pictures.
"Pedro still undefeated in playoff fights with old men" -- read some of the headlines sent in to Boston.com for Saturday's Game 3 fracas in the Fens. Baseball -- it's the new blood sport...unless you're Medford native and mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg, in which case it's all about the sox, literally.

See also Dan Shaughnessy's column on why Pedro's a big baby for pointing to his head, though not a punk for tossing Zimmer. And via Blogless Nat, here's a very entertaining ESPN column on the divergent Sox and Yanks perspectives on what happened: "According to the Red Sox, the Yankees' relievers tied a homeless Salvation Army Santa to the back of their bullpen cart and dragged him down Lansdowne Street until his flesh had been ripped from his back. Jeff Nelson, meanwhile, maintains that he and the rest of the New York relievers were sitting in the bullpen reading the Bible when a drunk Ted Kennedy unleashed six hungry Doberman Pinschers on them." Heh. And here's a gem on the Sox fans deepest fear -- what if we beat the Yanks and then...lose to the Cubs? :-o


Cool, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) is asking for Karl Rove's resignation, with a none-too-subtle reference to the Nixon era. Go, Karl, go.

Also, I went back and did my due diligence reading on President Half-Wit's assertion this week that he has "no idea" whether the Valerie Plame name-leaker would ever be found: "I don't know if we're going to find out the senior administration official ... Now, this is a large administration, and there's a lot of senior officials. I don't have any idea." In a word: priceless. It's also one of the more accurate things Bush has ever said -- I have total confidence that he does not, in fact, have any idea what is going on around him or in his name. Gah! I did receive a comical email from MoveOn.org urging me to sign an affidavit that *I* didn't leak Plame's name to Novak, thus if everyone but the leaker sends one of these to Bush he'll be able to figure it out by process of elimination (after a simple explanation of how that works from Condoleezza Rice, of course). Seeing as how the Prez has not even pretended to start investigating this internally, I'm sure we'll be getting to the bottom of this real soon. Year Three of GWB is starting to look a lot like Britain under Disraeli: Never apologize, never explain.
Matt Bivens over at The Daily Outrage is the consummate weary liberal...but some issues drive him over the edge into full-on cynicism! Here's his blurb on Orrin Hatch's Candidate Schwarzen-groper hypocrisy, "Arnold Schwarzenegger should not be judged on past improper advances towards women but as the devoted husband he is today." Which constituency is Orrin courting here, the League of Reformed Fratboys or the Wife Batterers Union?
My lackadaisical attention to the Friday Five has yielded a very timely set of questions today:

1. Do you watch sports? If so, which ones? Indeed yes. Baseball above all, then basketball -- but only the Final Four, and the Celtics because of Paul Pierce. Next would be the classic chick choices of gymnastics and figure skating, followed by Iron Chef.

2. Who are your favorite sports teams or favorite athletes? I think my passion for Jason Varitek and the Red Sox have been clearly established, so I'll skip over to their minor league brethren, the Lowell Spinners. I always liked the Orioles, and I still loathe the A's...but my greatest fanatic moment probably occurred in 1988 with the US Olympic Men's Volleyball team -- Steve Timmons, Karch Kiraly, sigh.

3. Are there any sports you hate? I have zero interest in football, and NASCAR to me represents the final death throes of Western civilization.

4. Have you ever been to a sports event? Um, yes. Most memorable -- played the national anthem on the field before a Yankees game with HS band. Also, once in college I got into a screaming match with an entire fraternity at a basketball game...NESCAC, baby!

5. Did you play any sports in school? I took my turn at gymnastics, ice skating, swimming, softball, volleyball, horseback riding, marching band (yes, it's a sport), and ultimate frisbee.
What's that warm, cinnamon aroma? Perhaps it's emanating from Oc-Toaster-Fest in South Carolina this weekend. I wonder if there will be any toaster-shaped salt & pepper shakers for sale there -- why collect actual toasters when you can have these instead? *ahem*
This is brilliant -- conceptual artist copyrights his brain as a sculpture, since he "created" it by thinking his thoughts and assembling his neural net over the course of his life. This being America, he's now created a holding company for himself, and wants to sell futures in his neurons so he can sort of live forever. :0
Here's a question -- how does Pamela Mackey sleep at night? She's Kobe Bryant's defense lawyer, the one who trampled over the Colorado rape shield law yesterday by using the victim's name in court and directly implying the woman had multiple sex partners in the days before the incident. Mackey and her partners have handled some high-profile defendants, from John and Patsy Ramsey to Hunter S. Thompson...I guess she follows the Rainier Wolfcastle sleep regimen -- "On top of a pile of money, with many beautiful ladies."
In other Bizarro World news, the $368 Billion defense spending bill approved last month included funding for Shakespeare performances for military personnel. Wow.
So the Sox dropped Game 2, blah-bitty-blah, as Amy and Mandy would say...but here is some excellent news on this dreary Friday -- an Iranian human rights lawyer, Shirin Ebadi, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize! She works tirelessly and under constant death threats to bring democratic government and women's rights to Iran...Iran!! Plus, she scooped the Pope, who was the heavy favorite to win (can you believe people make book on things like this?). Only 11 women have won the NPP, out of 111 awarded...and for those scoring at home, Jody Williams, Rigoberta Menchu, and Aung San Suu Kyi were the most recent three. Woo, hoo!


All gender and no design makes for some really poor, uh, design. Please tell me that the macho stereo design featured here will only be sold at WalMart...it looks like the grille of one of those Dodge trucks...or possibly a Transformer.
Vatican outrage du jour -- "Condoms don't prevent HIV transmission, they encourage it," say highly knowledgeable, sex-positive, cloistered celibate cardinals. Christ, if the Sox-Cubs thing does trigger the end times, let's hope these jabeeps are the first ones sucked into the flames.
Circling 30, professional, technologically advanced, politically motivated, socially adept, and looking at spending another ten years hanging around with your friends rather than getting hitched and moving to the 'burbs? Urban Tribes -- the phenomenon is now a book.
Here's the NYTimes obit for celebrity Vermonter Fred Tuttle, he of cinematic and real-life political fame resulting from his star turn in "Man With A Plan," the film most likely to be mistaken for a Christopher Guest project. Thanks to semi-Vermonter Justin for sending this in. :P
Guess who secured four tickets to Lord of the Rings Trilogy Tuesday in Worcester? In the words of Tenacious D, "Me, baby, meeeeeee!" Applications, oaths of fealty, bribes, and abject begging will now be considered if you want one of the remaining seats...mua-ha-ha-haaaaaa...


The thighs have it -- Jason Varitek is "the most important human being" on the Red Sox. No arguments from me...but how about a few of those Sox hugs?

And to get you in full "Yankees Suck" mode for tonight's game, thanks to Kim we have this totally weird and hilarious Sox fan-imation...watch out for the volume and the puerile humor, but the talking Pedro, the crudely drawn Green Line trolley, and Jerry Remy with the AFLAC duck are worth it...GO SOX!
Salon has a hilarious piece today on dating dealbreakers...I had to post this anecdote...R.I.P. Jeff Buckley! :P

My deal breaker occurred about three years ago during a first date with a co-worker I'd had a crush on for a while. She was a tall beautiful African-American woman and I was a lanky tow-headed Caucasian. At the very least, I thought we looked good together -- like a Gap ad or something. Things had been going well. We'd already kissed and that was pretty nice and I was trying to move things forward into full-on make-out abandon. I've found that the best way to do this, especially after a few drinks, is with the right music. In hindsight I now realize that maybe Jeff Buckley's "Grace" -- beautiful, romantic and haunting as it is -- isn't necessarily prime music for sweaty fumblings on my futon (I promise that I've since got a clue and now reach for Peaches or the Faint). Alcohol had loosened her lips in all the wrong ways and after only a few bars of Track 1, she broke a kiss to pull back and say: "What the hell is this shit?" "Well, this is Jeff ... um ... what?" I was speechless. Then I was heartbroken. Then I was angry. Then I asked to take her home. I mean, the man is dead for Chrissake. OK, maybe she didn't know that, but still -- who attacks a clear attempt at setting a mood with such caustic behavior? And on a first date? -- Will Nepper
As an update to yesterday's post on GWB's personal news embargo, here's an article from AlterNet on the hazards of watching FOXNews...there are more than you thought.
Politics and grammar, together at last! Check out The Progressive Review's Cliche Challenge...there's a sense of palpable excitement in the air...
Extreme Pumpkins -- the name says it all. And if that's not sufficiently weird for you, how about a cut-n-fold, DIY paper iPod? fun city. but if you're still bored, try destroying your Euro-Shark vacuum cleaner -- i wish i had seen this before i chucked mine...what can one say about a vacuum cleaner that doesn't suck?
Now that You Know Who is governor of California, maybe he can use his bully fitness pulpit to do something about the XXL frozen dinner - XXL casket connection...blegh. In the meantime, perhaps trimming down the ballot, or at least making it more legible, is in order.


Now this is applied science -- the mathematically perfect cheese sandwich. Next up on BBC News, Wallace and Gromit's trip to the moon, which is in fact made of Wensleydale.
Two lonely (I'm assuming) guys have created the definitive Map of Springfield, as in where the Simpsons live. Now if only we knew what state it's in...
"Pirates are the new black" -- or is it bobby pins? Clark Humphrey knows how much fun Google can be, check out his results (scroll to Oct. 3).
Emperor George has no clothes, nor cerebral cortex -- a recent AP article (headline: "Bush 'not paying attention' to Democratic race") noted that GWB likes to skim headlines rather than read the news, and likes his news briefings even better. And why shouldn't he? I quote the man himself: "The best way to get the news is from objective sources, and the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what’s happening in the world." While we giggle and/or weep in disbelief at this, and wait for Tom Tomorrow to jump on the story, check out this New Yorker satire on same (yes, it's New Yorker Day around here). As Jason Kottke said of our "Frozen Caveman President," "I think in order to find someone with less perspective on the world, you'd have to look to Papua New Guinea for a member of one of the last remaining Stone Age tribes." Yarr!
Josh Marshall interviews Wesley Clark...and does it well. And speaking of the general, the Not Geniuses guys are mixing it up over Dean's comment that "Clark was a Republican 25 days ago"....hmmmmm.....
The Tough Democrat takes on David "Bobos in Paradise" Brooks, who's still a pompous jerk even when he talks politics (scroll down to Sept. 30th).
"There is a fatal gandeur to the place" -- that would be the Golden Gate Bridge, the world's leading suicide location. Who knew (besides The New Yorker)?
Well well well, if it isn't the end of the world...I quote Matt Singer over at Not Geniuses: "Cubs and the Red Sox are each in their respective championship series. The Chiefs are undefeated. Israel is bombing its neighbors. The Pope is nearing his death." Throw in the full moon and soon-to-be-Governor Schwarzenegger, and I'd say the rain of fire and toads will begin any minute now. As if I didn't have enough going on to blog about, I'm on very little sleep today and probably for the foreseeable future...sweet, sweet October.

Note that Neal Pollack has a terrific suggestion today for combining baseball and politics in one strong statement: vote for Oakland A's pitcher Barry Zito for California governor today, for his efforts in helping the Red Sox win -- "I think it was obvious that Boston didn't really want to win, but Zito's commitment to Boston's victory is commendable." Indeed!


Whatever becomes of Howard Dean, we can say for sure that he has a damn fine graphic designer on his campaign staff -- today he kicks off the Raise the 'Roots Tour, brought to you by Generation Dean (for the young 'uns) and with a logo that's a stirring tribute to "The Battle of Los Angeles" cover art. These mini-tours are such a good idea -- they keep momentum up, they can be endlessly specialized to different constituencies, and they completely transcend the dull, bunting-draped, whistlestop tour feeling of the more traditional candidates. On the substantive side, Dean also released today his Bill of Rights for A New Generation, which is pretty cool...altough hardly an effort to reach out for the fogey vote. I guess he'll get to the assisted living centers eventually...
"Unless you are Matt Groening, it's hard to make piles of cash when you are a clever cynic" -- words to live by, or at least to fake being an indie rock expert by. This is dead on...except for the part about not making up bands, hello, that's the best part.