Matchstick Rockets! -- Not a bad band name, an actual science project! Dude! I am going to try this at home...tonight! I need to extend my repertoire beyond teabag rockets...
"That baseball has got to go." -- Cubs fans will try anything, I guess.
"Although it displays a solid vocabulary, Mr. Hemingway's essay lacks specific examples and clear topic sentences." -- How would Shakespeare, Gertrude Stein, and other literary giants do on the SAT essay section? (If you, like me, matriculated college before the mid-90's, you were mercifully exempt from this, heh heh.) Probably not too well -- more proof that genius is essentially anti-authoritarian, or that Americans are slavishly teaching to the test?
There's no Friday Five today, folks, so instead I'm poaching an Oscars Weekend concept from Nat's blog -- let's call it, Name That Generically Encapsulated Movie! Those who have digital cable will recognize the stilted grammar and bizarre plot abbreviations from the on-screen viewing guide. See if you can guess which movies I'm referring to here -- post your guesses in the comments, and I'll put up the answers on Monday. :-) UPDATE: Answers Below!
1. World-weary bartender follows her old flame to N.Africa, after he borrows her inheritance.
Raiders of the Lost Ark

2. Newly divorced mom worries when her young son disappears with a strange new friend on Halloween.

3. Whimsical adventures of homebodies on a European road trip.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

4. Family tale of elementary teacher whose most timid student flees the school and is kidnapped.
Finding Nemo

5. Story of difficult father and his son, who rebels by destroying home and car with help from wacky friends.
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Behold, the Oscars gift bags -- the secret economy of deluxe party favors, exposed. Whether you win or not, it seems everyone's lining up to shower you with baubles you should pretty much be able to afford yourself, movie stars...
It's not every day you get two happy endings -- here's a tale from the NYC subway, involving a woman who was pushed onto the tracks (!), but managed to jump out before a train came with the help of another passenger (!!), while dozens of other commuters stood by and watched (!!!). Today, rescuee and rescuer were reunited, thanks to the Daily News. And the rest of Gotham just wonders, how could people stand by and not move to help this woman? It's the Kitty Genovese and the bystander effect all over again. (Via Gothamist)
I'm going to combine two days' worth of gay marriage updates -- starting with the 26-year-old, Green Party mayor of New Paltz, NY who has decided to follow his "moral obligation" and hand out marriage licenses to all comers starting today. Way to go, Mayor West -- promoting civil rights and dooming the local Green Party all at once! :P In yesterday's news, fellow New Yorker Rosie O'Donnell headed to San Francisco to marry her partner Kelli -- now if only she could get more celebs to do the same, we might win some supporters among the People Magazine bloc.
OK, I have left the domestic sphere, and I'm wearing one of these to get me through the day sitting on my totally non-ergonomic office chair. I have to say, it feels a bit naughty to be walking around the office with all this heat under my clothes. Or that's just Friday talking. And maybe I should've eaten breakfast...


Greetings from the home front -- I am lying on the floor in my living room, carefully supporting those tricky vertebrae. Ouch. Until tomorrow...


Is salt the new olive oil? -- Mmmmm, salt and olive oil... *Blinks* That is, are chefs and foodies embracing varietal salts in the same manner they did artisanal and flavored oils ten years ago? Let's hope so. I for one can't get enough of the ol' NaCl...I'd even like to get a salt pig.
Two papal thumbs up -- McSweeney's imagines movie reviews by His Holiness. Funny? Is the Pope...well, you know.
"What The World Thinks of God" -- another excellent BBC project, on the world's religions and how they affect ethics, government, and daily life. Including introductions to the main faiths (I always wondered about Baha'i myself), a hilariously biased piece on religion in America by a Southern Baptist minister, and some trippy imagery, it's another example of the Beebe's willingness to take on big, abstract subjects. Over here in the land of the First Amendment, we've got non-stop Ken Burns and pledge drives on PBS, and on broadcast TV...I mean, let's not kid ourselves.
I knew I could count on Choire Sicha, he of Gawker fame (?), to nail down the exact irritating nature of these t-shirts I saw in Urban Outfitters on Sunday morning (just before visiting a seedy erotic toy store to buy a chocolate penis-shaped lollipop, but that's another story). The shirts say, "Voting Is For Old People." Ho ho. Keep it up, disengaged slackers, and you'll be living in the United States of Viacom by the time you're 40. And that day will come, oh yes it will.

On a fashion fairness note, let me point out that some of the UO shirts are more entertaining -- whether regional, music-oriented, or just plain odd (including this one, which I actually own).
U.S Constitution: Do Not Fold, Spindle or Mutilate -- read the NYTimes editorial blasting President Candidate for his support of a marriage amendment, for your daily same-sex marriage update. You might also read Nat's succinct thoughts on this contentious issue, from yesterday. And speaking of succinct, how about a refresher on just what is "traditional marriage" anyway? Note to conservatives: the Good Ol' Testament defines it as polygamy, oops! Finally, Dan Savage himself weighs in on this whole marriage fetish.
Here's my anti-boomer rant du jour -- not only can they no longer remember where they parked their non-descript cars, they're living much longer and demanding better health care for themselves, thus they will be bossing us around for decades to come. Gaaah.
Route 128, we hardly knew ye -- For once, the Commonwealth's roadways may become less puzzling, as they're considering retirement for the name "Rt. 128" in the Boston vicinity, where the road overlaps with I-95 and I-93. Not only will this eliminate the mind-boggling experience of traveling northbound on one road and southbound on another at the same time, it will tighten up some of our notoriously poor road signage. I'm all for it -- though I've lived here for so long I rarely look at the signs anyway.


Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable? -- The eternal question...settled definitively. Find out just what plant parts you're eating -- dude, ginger is a rhizome! Thanks again, Bifurcated Rivets.
Way to go, "some activist judges"! -- Today President Nuptial took aim at the Massachusetts courts, the mayor of San Francisco, and proud secularists everywhere by throwing his support behind a proposed federal constitutional amendment on marriage. GOP poster girl Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO) has introduced the amendment, and it's already drawn criticism from both liberal and conservative quarters. Let the games begin! And there's a robust MetaFilter thread on this as well -- always good to get the geek perspective on this sort of thing. This concludes today's same-sex marriage update.
Is Gilberto Gil the future of copyright? -- a WSJ piece on how the Creative Commons license might solve the problems of DJ DangerMouse and his ilk; that is, unrepentant music samplers. Supporters of DJDM have proclaimed today to be Grey Tuesday, a day to support smashing the corporate stranglehold of copyright. I think the CC might be a more comfortable middle road.
A "perfect storm" of trauma -- a NY Review of Books article on two new tomes addressing the controversial "repressed memory" syndrome, leftover psychological fad of the 80's. I did a long paper in law school on the day care abuse scandal and the issue of children's unreliability under questioning...very juicy stuff.


As if Gothamist and Gawker weren't cool enough, I've discovered a counterpart NYC blog, Low Culture. Bringing such treats as juvenilia from the women of Sex and the City, who could resist? Not I. And it's both pop and politically minded -- observe this screed on the continued Boomer whining over Vietnam, the presidential candidates, and themselves. Right on!
"The Mantra is simply, 'We don't support that.'" -- This explains a great deal. Salon blows the lid off the "tech support" call industry, which is not peopled by competent geeks but by nearly untrained losers. Or so says this guy...one of the losers.
"How about we privatize privacy?" -- For today's same-sex marriage update, I'll throw back to this Valentine's Day editorial by Bill Maher, who in his own special way castigates anti-equal-marriage Democrats for their hypocrisy. Sweet! Meanwhile, in California there's celebrating and some bad Governatoring, as Ahhnold babbles about "riots and civil unrest." Um, no.
Darth Nader -- here's my obligatory post on Ralph "Ostrich Boy" Nader's cowardly entry to the presidential race. Someone please tell me that Nader's getting duffel bags full of cash from Karl Rove, or something...that would make more sense.
"But I don't have time to draw." -- P'shaw, says Danny Gregory, my new arts & letters hero. He's calculated all the creativity that could be packed into mundane downtime during the day. Just replace "draw" with "write," and this is my new mantra.
Caviar and white chocolate, mmmmmmm -- welcome to the world of molecular gastronomy, the science of cuisine. Not, as it might seem, the practice of eating molecules. This reminds me of the good people at Cook's Illustrated, the not-quite-as-scientific but far more anal band of food sleuths. And here's their king.


And of course the Friday Five:

When was the last time you...

1. ...went to the doctor? Last week to Dr. Munson, next week to Dr. Brown. And tomorrow, 3 hours of lab work. Thank you, PCOS.

2. ...went to the dentist? Almost six months ago -- next checkup, March 3rd.

3. ...filled your gas tank? On Sunday -- just under half a tank left. Thank you, Honda!

4. ...got enough sleep? Not really last night, but the night before that, definitely. >;-)

5. ...backed up your computer? I quote Carrie Bradshaw: "Uh, I don't do that."

Today's same-sex marriage update comes to us from the great state of New Mexico, "Land of Enchantment." Following San Francisco's lead, Sandoval County has started handing out marriage licenses to all comers. In the words of President Sanctity, "Bring it on!"

While we're at it, let's have a little fun at the expense of the more traditional brides-to-be, shall we? Filene's department store in downtown Boston had its annual Bridal Gown Sale today, featuring fancy designer gowns at David's Bridal prices, and hordes of women literally trampling each other to get to them. What a lovely way to celebrate your committment, ladies.
"She doesn’t want to leave that magic island when she was the ripening teenager. . . Move on! Move on! Get on to menopause next!" -- That would be none other than Camille Paglia on Naomi Wolf, her former arch-nemesis and current accuser of Harold Bloom, Curmudgeon Extraordinaire. Wolf alleges that back in her Yale undergrad years 80's Bloom sexually harrassed her -- before writing her a recommendation for the Rhodes Scholarship. Paglia, a Bloom disciple and no slouch in the kulturkampf department, is unsurprisingly disgusted with the whole thing. To me it's like a bad Godzilla movie: Attack of Mecha-AgingBoomer!
Next diocese at the whipping post: Springfield. -- It appears that the Bishop of Springfield, who resigned last week amid accusations of sexual abuse, may have inadvertently caused his own accusers to come forward after decades of silence. Why? They read about his fervent sermons railing against gay marriage in Massachusetts, and were outraged at his hypocrisy. Good for them. And lest you think me completely embittered of my faith of origin, this brings to mind Ecclesiastes 3:3 -- "A time to tear down and a time to rebuild."
"The Final Decline and Total Collapse of the American Magazine Cover" -- while the industry can still sometimes strike a chord (as the Natster pointed out this week), and some old favorites stick to what works, overall the popular mag these days looks like it's designed for people who can't even read. I quote Egon Spengler: "Print is dead."
Yet another reason to be thankful you're not in middle school anymore -- this NJ township (way to go, home state) has limited to 15 the number of times per month students can leave class to go to the bathroom. For "security reasons," of course. Countdown to lawsuit in 10...9...8... I must add that I sympathize a little with the administrators here -- in my junior high, there was a small band of class-cutters who made life hell for all of us. One guy in particular would roam the halls, stand outside an open classroom door and flash the kids inside! Eventually they got roving hall monitors -- i.e., teachers during their prep period. Yeah, they weren't too happy about that.
King Kaufman goes off in Salon today about the University of Colorado's unfolding football scandal: "The whole edifice of big-time college sports sits on the foundation of a big lie -- that revenue-producing sports are not a multibillion-dollar business built in part on the backs of free labor, but rather a part of the educational experience for the "student athletes." Once you start with that whopper, there is no ethical barrier that won't be crossed."
"Republicans Waiting For Bush to Sharpen His Focus." -- It's gonna be a long wait, fellas. This might be the best news of the week...these enlightening poll results give a nice fuzzy feeling...but of course it's a long, Rove-ridden road ahead.


"What we would like in the future is a Star Trek-style phaser that, perfectly safely, temporarily switches someone's brain off so that officers move in." -- Coming right up! And while we're on the subject, don't make the mistake I made and resist seeing the movie "GalaxyQuest" for years, until your boyfriend literally plants you in front of it. It's brilliant.
Congratulations! Love, Anonymous -- Here's a fine meme for today's same-sex marriage update. This LiveJournal'er had a brilliant idea -- get a florist in San Francisco to deliver flowers to a random couple waiting to marry at City Hall, as a gesture of support and congratulations. Signed simply, "With love, from Minneapolis, MN." I did a little digging: here's a florist a block from City Hall...why not? You know what they say, in the end the love you take...

Here's a little comic relief from Mark Fiore. And just for "parity," here's another kooky protester. Oh my...
Coming soon: scented e-mail. -- This would give a vile new meaning to "spam."
A gallery of romance novel cover art...and the beefcake hunks who pose for them. :-0 This one goes out to Mr. "Treasures of Lust"...I think "Saddled" is my favorite of the bunch. Hee!

UPDATE: Thanks to Jenny, founding member of the Angus/Kitchen Mutual Admiration Society, we've also got this kool vintage romance comics archive! Love...them. I was in Maine a few weeks ago, at an antiques store, and I saw one of these, named "Southern Deb" or something, and it was totally bizarre and engrossing. Enjoy!

On a related (maybe...) note, I have to steal this Viagra prank link from Jason Kottke, because it is indeed truly LOL funny...it's straight out of "Letters From A Nut." Double Hee!
With only three days left til the last episode of "Sex and the City," it's time to reminisce -- or skip to the next post if you don't care about the show...you monster. Over at Salon, Stephanie Zacharek writes a paean to Charlotte York Goldenblatt, aka Kristin Davis, the perky one, who may be the most likable ("and most orgasmic"?!) of all the girls. I always liked Charlotte despite her naivete and prissiness...to me, she's the most realistic of the four. Unfortunately I have some Miranda-esque qualities myself...besides the law degree...and you can find out, of course, which SATC lady you are here -- thank you, internet! I came up 40% Charlotte, 30% Miranda, 20% Carrie (ack!), and 10% Samantha. Siiiigh.
"The president’s culture war is little more than breasts and circuses." -- Ah, doesn't Arianna have a way with words?


And I can't forget today's same-sex marriage update -- check out this photo from San Francisco. Those counter-protesters have some real problems. On a related note, I took the time today to write to my Mass. representatives and to Senate President Travaglini about last week's debates -- an actual paper card, not an email. Travaligni and Senator Shannon I congratulated; Rep. Vinnie Ciampa needs some work. If you'd like to find out who your reps are and how they voted, click over to MassEquality.org. This has been a public service message of The Angus Index.
"A Ghost Is Born" -- on June 8...the new Wilco record cometh. You've been warned.
"Waaaahhh, I want my giant microbe!" -- Behold the purveyors of germs and pests, in a rainbow of colors and a million times their actual size. And made out of plush. And they have eyes. But otherwise, totally realistic and wicked cute -- if you like snuggling up to the Black Death, bedbugs, and athlete's foot, that is. Hmm, and I thought my Plush Cthulhu (thanks again, Peter!) was odd...
It's official, Dean is done. -- Oh Howard, we hardly knew ye. I'm very curious to see how his minions spread out across the landscape -- it's nothing for Kerry to sneeze at, were Dean to throw 600,000 supporters behind the proto-nominee. Sigh, looks like I'll have to replace my "Install DEAN.exe" bumper sticker with something new...maybe this one?

UPDATE: The NYTimes weighs in on "Dean's legacy," written by my fellow Jumbo Matt Bai, who writes: "By engaging new voters and reigniting passion among his rivals, something he undisputedly achieved, Dr. Dean will leave a tyrannosaur-like footprint on the Democratic Party and the political system as a whole." Ooh, tyrannosaur...ARRRRRRRR!
"In a peculiarly American way, Whole Foods subscribes to a religion that might be called moralistic hedonism." -- Whole Foods has opened the largest supermarket in Manhattan, and the locals are stymied. Having just eaten my organic chicken stew and risotto lunch from that very establishment, I have to rally to their defense...though it is too damn expensive.
Now this is what I call leveraging your personal brand -- NYC mayor (and Medford, MA native) Michael Bloomberg has bought scores of internet domain names relating to himself, from ihatebloomberg.com to bloomberg2005.com, that being his reelection year. Here's the Gothamist post on same. I used to work for a big business and hi-tech publisher doing just this -- registering every possible web domain we could think of in every country and extension, including misspelled versions and "I hate ____.com" versions too. I guess the Mayor is doing his bit to boost the Network Solutions stock profile...
Who has the last word on the Constitution? -- Despite Justice Scalia's wildest fantasies, the people of the United States are actually the arbiters of our Constitution, or so argues this NYU law professor. This sounds thrillingly populist -- but also troublingly political. We're in the midst of a constitutional crisis here in Massachusetts right now, and should we punish the SJC for interpreting the law in a way that chafes some of the populace? As many have noted, if civil rights decisions were left to the popular vote, we'd probably still be in the Jim Crow era today.
Is this the Oscar Mafia -- or just some nice old folks who retired from showbiz? I guess we'll find out in two weeks...
Hold on to your googly eyes -- Disney bought The Muppets as insurance against the buy-out by Comcast. It's not easy making green, I guess. The upside could include a MuppetLand theme park and associated tchochkes...the downside would be any tweaking of funky Muppet content in favor of narcotized Disney bliss.


Carlo on Paco -- OK, this is possibly the most obscure observation I've ever posted, but here goes. I just read this book review in the Globe, for Paco Underhill's (the Latino hobbit?) new book "The Call of the Mall." Being from Jersey, this of course caught my eye -- but it turned out to be one of the shoddiest book reviews I've ever read. It reads like it was generated by a software script that sticks random adjectives ("zestfully"?) into fifth-grade level expository writing, and then edited by a chimp. Writer Carlo Wolff is a "Globe correspondent" freelancer from Cleveland...let me count the things wrong with that sentence. And speaking of which, the book itself gets an honorary dope-slap for its stilted official title: "The Call of the Mall: The Author of 'Why We Buy' on the Geography of Shopping." This is akin to subtitling "Emma" with "From the Makers of 'Sense and Sensibility.'" Sheesh.
"Your left hand says 'We.' Your right hand says 'Me.'" -- What a bunch of bullshit: a new ad campaign targets those women with a few thousand dollars to spend on blood-soaked chunks of carbon, exhorting them to add another bauble to the newly mandatory suite of diamonds (solitaire necklace, stud earrings, three-stone engagement ring, etc etc etc). Here's a smart editorial from Alternet that zaps the bottomless greed of DeBeers and its powerful sway over American women.
Over in the "Yeah, whatever happened with that whole thing?" File, the Daily Outrage gives an overview of the latest in the SenateGate scandal, i.e. the theft of Democratic strategy memos by Republican staffers of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Despite the shrugging response this incident received from the White House, and the rank hypocrisy generated by shameless conservative pundits, as Matt Bivens points out, "Theft is still a crime in the U.S.A."
Several residents of Zanesville, OH recently upgraded to new in-home technology -- tap water. After a long dispute with the city, black residents have been hooked up to municipal water service, after decades of using cisterns, rainwater, and snow to bathe and make coffee. Unbelievable -- and for more in that vein, see these 2000 Census figures on plumbing.
"Butter – the everlasting delight of the gourmand, the faithful ally of the culinary arts, the constant symbol of good living." Mmmmmmmm, butter. Hey, give me a break, it's lunchtime. And a wee bit of butter is way better than transfats any day, right? :P TTBR.
"When you catch an adjective, kill it." -- Mark Twain. Woah! That sounds drastic, yet irresistible...but maybe adjecticide isn't the answer, maybe it's improving our collective choice of words. Let's ban very, really, cute, fun, pretty, interesting, and even cool in favor of some of these gems: capacious, nugatory, tensile, panoptic, bumptious. Bumptious!
Gay wedding bells continue to ring at San Francisco City Hall -- but today hearings will be held on two separate injunction petitions to stop Mayor Newsom's rebellion. The rising tide of married bliss (more than 2,400 couples and counting) is, I think, going to ripple outward in an unstoppable wave, no matter if the courts stop the issuance of new licenses immediately. Most of these couples were from the Bay Area, but not all -- some will return to their home states, and say to the local authorities, "This is my spouse, I want joint health coverage." Or to the federal government: "We're married, here's the certificate, we want to file a joint tax return next year." The repercussions will just keep on coming...give it up, fundies, just hang on and enjoy the ride!

UPDATE: Alternet has a nice opinion piece on the faces of the SF wedding weekend -- and a link to an incredible photo essay on same. If you don't get teary-eyed with joy looking at these pictures, what's wrong with you?! :P
WARNING: Listening to Outkast will void the warranty on your Polaroid Instamatic film -- despite the unbearable catchiness of the lyric, you should not in fact "Shake it like a Polaroid picture." Once again, Nat: 1, Rest of the Universe: 0. ;-P By the way, this is the best closing sentence of an AP article...ever.
"I have a question, Professor Mix-A-Lot..." -- Students at the Berklee School of Music here in Boston can sign up for the nation's first college course in DJing (of the non-radio variety, that is -- clearly other area schools have cornered that market already). Having dated a Berklee student, let me assure you that they are all just that weird.


Was Robert Palmer right after all -- are we all just addicted to love? Reducing romantic attraction to percolating brain chemicals is just so...humorless, don't you think? My brother just reported to me he had the best Valentine's Day ever, because he's single and was hanging out with a bunch of other single people: no pressure, no roses and chocolate, just a good time. He also said he read that "scientists have proven" that after four years in a monogamous relationship the chemical triggers between you that create an endorphin rush fade away completely, thus "after that it's all willpower." Uh, OK -- that must explain why our parents have been married for 30 years? Hmmmm, on second thought... ;-P

And speaking of deflating the myths of romance, check out this righteous diatribe on men's poor choices in V-Day lingerie -- guess what, fellas, Victoria's real secret is that nobody looks like those models with the fake boobs except those models, no matter what kind of bra you buy your sweetie. Having just kicked a ten-year underwire habit myself and embraced the old-school look (and skyrocketing comfort level), I have to agree.
"I give my book, uh, I mean this book, five stars!" -- Oh what a tangled web the literati weave...last week, Amazon.com's Canadian site revealed the true identities of anonymous reader-reviewers, and lo, it appears some authors wrote glowing reviews of their own books. Others, like my boy Dave Eggers, spoke glowingly of their special friends...and not so glowingly of their enemies. Thus the whole nerdy war between "elites" like Eggers and the truly insufferable Jonathan Franzen and the comrades of the Underground Literary Alliance is back on.
"The most alien and inhospitable place of all ... the city of Sydney." -- Sydney is in fact a beautiful, welcoming place...but not so perhaps for the Aboriginal people of Australia, of whom the author of this article is a member. Last night there was a riot in Sydney's Redfern neighborhood, after an Aboriginal teen died falling from his bike, allegedly chased to death by the police. The mob violence reflects long-standing tension between the Aboriginal community and the Sydney police...and here I thought this only happened in LA or New York.
For curly girls in a stick-straight world, there's Devachan -- finally, a high-end hair salon for those of us with naturally curly hair! I'm kidding a little, as one who won't pay more than $20 for a haircut, and hey, maybe it shows. But after a lifetime of fascist hairdressers and the lack of federally subsidized leave-in conditioner, my long-tormented curls are boinging with glee at this stylist's mantra -- "No more bad cuts, generic shampoo, and blowdrying." Maybe I'll save my pennies and make a pilgrimage...or just order some goop online.
Behold the Book-a Sutra, as envisioned by Danny Gregory -- his witty and naughty design for the publishing outfit Bookslut just makes my day...it's just too easy to daydream about which books would best fit with each other in the "Recumbent Anteater" position...maybe "Jane Eyre" and "Portnoy's Complaint"? The list is endless...
"Summer or Winter, the Yankees Show the Red Sox How to Win" -- a comically over-the-top sports editorial from the NYTimes, braying about the A-Rod deal as if it somehow makes up for, oh, let's see -- the Yankees losing their last two World Series appearances; the Yankees losing most of their pitching staff over the winter; the Yankees trading away an All-Star for an overpaid backup shortstop, etc. My $0.02 on this -- when time reveals how this move will screw up the Yankees staff, the Sox will be glad their deal fell through. Rodriguez is the epitome of putting all the eggs in one basket -- enjoy him, Pinstripes.
Perhaps Massachusetts' new traffic safety slogan should be "Ticket? We'll Fix it," not "Click It or Ticket." It looks like the state's police departments have been flouting the "no fix" law, which prohibits cops from throwing away or dismissing traffic tickets as a favor, for a payoff, etc. They're required by law to account for each ticket -- and for years, the audit reports have been mailed to a DMV warehouse and never reviewed. One word for this: classic.
Tony Kushner, genius playwright and all-around gadfly, has a work in progress entitled "Only We Who Guard the Mystery Shall Be Unhappy" -- that link is an excerpt from the first scene, from The Nation. It involves Laura Bush reading "The Brothers Karamazov" to a group of dead Iraqi children in their pajamas. I'll say this, the man has conviction. There's a reading of it tonight at the A.R.T. in Cambridge...unless John Ashcroft finds out about it, presumably.


And now for today's gay marriage update -- so far, so good, but it's not over yet. Last night's legislative debate devolved into a filibuster by pro-marriage speakers, who read lengthy opinion pieces into the record until midnight, to prevent a vote on another proposed amendment. You can imagine the irritation of the opposition...hee hee. So now the whole thing is postponed until next month, when surely the frenzy will be even greater. Interesting to note: according to the Globe, the typical Massachusetts legislator is a 50-year-old, white, male, Roman Catholic, Massachusetts-born, married Democrat with two children and a graduate degree (about half are law degrees) who ran unopposed in the last election. Mmmmmm-kay, that explains a lot.

In related news, San Francisco made a bold thunder-stealing move yesterday by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, in defiance of California law and Governor Terminator -- it should be an even crazier fight out there. It's such an exciting time, though, to see these civil rights battles played out...when I heard about the SF thing on the radio, the image that popped into my mind was from "The Return of the King," when the mountaintop bonfire beacons were lit, one after another...equality now, baby!
Today's Friday Five is, appropriately for Friday the 13th, about supersitions [*cue Stevie Wonder*]:

1. Are you superstitious? I'm not one for weird rituals and bad omens, but (or maybe because) I have a strong belief in karma. I think most traditional superstitions are self-fulfilling: if it weren't for black cats and cracks in the sidewalk, where would we displace our anxiety over the essential randomness of the universe and our own certain pain and death? Like I said, karma.

2. What extremes have you heard of someone going to in the name of superstition? I like the athletes who wear the same stinky socks or sweat-stained hat (Tim Wakefield, anyone?) all season to bring luck.

3. Believer or not, what's your favorite superstition? Throwing a pinch of spilled salt over your left shoulder, to blind the devil to your misfortune! The Catholic in me likes the spooky, thrifty, smugly self-righteous, and delusional aspects of this one.

4. Do you believe in luck? If yes, do you have a lucky number/article of clothing/ritual? I like the positive vibrations some things give off, like the number 8, new pennies, certain items of clothing. That's probably based on past good experiences associated with those items, though, and I don't really believe you can invoke more good feelings by trying to replicate the old ones, and that's what lucky charms are supposed to do. "Luck" to me is just random good fortune, through no act of your own. If you're trying to get lucky, maybe you're doing things in a more proactive or creative way than usual, and that's bringing you better opportunities. Am I sounding like a hard-headed rationalist yet?

5. Do you believe in astrology? Why or why not? Speaking of rationalism...or not, I have to say I am persuaded by the astrological personality profiles (though not usually the future-predicting part of it) in the same way I am persuaded by the argument that birth order shapes your personality. In my experience, I am not only a classic oldest kid, I am a classic Virgo in many, many ways. Let me quote another Virgo, who noted after hearing a list of Virgo qualities, "You forgot critical."
What's even cooler than a thesaurus? Besides leafing through the dictionary with your boyfriend while eating pizza and trying to guess all nine definitions for the word "bridge," of course. That'd be a history of Roget's thesaurus -- and here's a book review of that very thing. Excellent. That is, superior, outstanding, and top-notch.
Meet the Sex Bombs of Seattle -- I'd just like to point out that we could never, ever have a contest like this in Boston. Or at least, we wouldn't call these people the "sexiest"...possibly "hottest," but more likely "cutest." We're Puritans, people.
Watch out for bedbugs -- yuck. This pretty much sums up my day so far.


Might you be a Quirkyalone? -- To stem the tide of V-Day treacle, and to rival Metrosexuals as the next great urban demographic trend, spend some time amongst the quirkyalones, those who are "deeply single" and loving it, not as a stepping stone on the way to marriage or a tormented limbo in between breakups. The site is chock full of suggestions for celebrating life on your own time -- and what better day to do that that International Quirkyalone Day, Feb. 14th of course. Allow me to quote Bridget Fonda in "Singles" (perhaps the official QA movie?) -- "Being alone...there's a certain dignity to it."
Can't start a fire without a spark...and a tinder ball -- the folks at Paleotechnics can teach you the "arts and technologies of early peoples," like making shelter, clothing, food, and tools out of the raw wilderness. A bizarrely appealing Valentine story...if you like buckskin pants, I guess.
"Barbie and Ken Split After 43 Years" -- apparently, even plastic dolls can get divorced. This is the creepiest AP article ever: I think it's tongue-in-cheek, but you could read it as though these were actual people, let alone celebs. The big remaining question: who gets to keep the Dream House?
Happy Darwin Day! -- Who knew, but today is Charles Darwin's birthday, and across the globe events are held to celebrate his work. Presumably not in too many red states, but still. Here's an excerpt from the Guardian on Darwin's prescient scientific findings...and don't forget the Darwin Awards, posthumously (and facetiously) awarded to those who improve the gene pool by removing themselves from it. Just what Chuck had in mind, surely...
Last night I caught the end of "The Straight Story" on cable...it has such an amazing ending, it inspired me to list my Top Five Favorite Movie Endings:

1. "Say Anything" -- "Where's the ding?" "It's comin.'" [Pause.] *Ding!* The perfect touch of hopeful ambiguity. This is probably the only movie without a sequel that could use one...yet it, like "Casablanca," might be better left alone.
2. "Being John Malkovich" -- "Hot lesbian witches" in a swimming pool with their mysterious little daughter: neato!
3. "Big Night" -- This famous sequence, almost an epilogue, is an improvised, real-time silent breakfast. Beautiful and moving.
4. "The Usual Suspects" -- "And then, poof! He's gone." WOW!
5. "Some Like It Hot" -- My favorite comedy bubbles over with madcap, gender-bending glee as Jack Lemmon pulls off his wig and announces to his unsuspecting (?) fiance, "I'm a man!" His poised reply? "[*Shrug*] Nobody's perfect."

Honorable Mention goes to "Raiders of the Lost Ark," the final clip of which is a great visual zinger -- but the last scene with dialogue isn't so hot, so it doesn't quite make the cut. Sorry, Indy.
All hell's breaking loose on Beacon Hill, as the Massachusetts legislature meets in constitutional convention over the "hot button gay marriage issue," as I heard it called on the news this morning. There was not only much wrangling and impassioned speechmaking from the legislators themselves (along with a signature slimy move by Speaker Finneran), but out in the hallways there were literally thousands of protesters chanting, shoving, lobbying, and falling to their knees in prayer. I find the number of out-of-state anti-gay activists appalling -- yet I can't believe thoughts like "Those outside agitators should mind their own business" popped into my mind in response. Day 2 should be even crazier...stay tuned...


Chuck Williams, the man who launched my dream store. He was quietly being Martha about 40 years before Martha herself. Siiigh.
It's a Bush-Bash-o-Palooza over at the New York Review of Books, but really, would we have it any other way? I think not. Paul Krugman, NYTimes columnist and all-around W. hater, reviews two new books on the Bush dynasty, including the Paul O'Neill one. Turn, worm...turn.
This is the most beautiful blog I've ever seen -- it's like my old spiral notebook/sketchbook/scrapbook jumped up onto the web. Hmmmm...maybe it's time to shell out to host graphics on TAI...or maybe I already spend too much time on this! :P
What if poor nations actually caught up with rich ones? -- Imagine the U.S. dollar as a "boutique currency," a billion Chinese people driving cars instead of riding bikes to work, and a global tide of cheap consumer goods: eco-nightmare or capitalist fantasia? Interestingly, the author's point is to promote foreign aid, since the amount of money spent could be tripled without this scenario coming to pass...though I think in the long run it's a question of when, not if, we run out of gas and goods as a planet. I also think this first world insecurity is a direct cause of our unquenchable lust for luxury goods. Just take a trip to Target and look around: the discount version of the good life looks pretty much identical to the actual good life, doesn't it? The "middle class" (whatever that is these days) feels it has to spend more to distinguish itself from the hoi polloi -- and on a global scale, the hoi polloi is getting more educated, mobile, and commercial every second. It should make for an interesting century.
"The tradition of candidates for county sheriff or President of the United States visiting black churches has become a parody, an insult to the intelligence of black voters, and an activity of questionable political value." -- A scathing piece from The Black Commentator on this hoary stump tactic. Hmm, makes me think of the opening scene of "Bonfire of the Vanities"...
"If it comes with a bleep, we are all losers." -- In the continuing aftermath of TeatGate at the SuperBowl, the Oscars telecast will be placed on a 5-second delay by ABC, to the consternation of Oscars execs. Given the wide expanses of flesh usually on display, perhaps not a bad idea...but what about the political speechifying? Does that pass muster?


Here's one for the Fool's Progress file -- Jayson Blair, the infamously mendacious former NYTimes reporter, is publishing a book next month on the whole fiasco, entitled...wait for it..."Burning Down My Master's House: My Life at the New York Times." Somewhere Ralph Ellison and Richard Wright are clenching their fists in rage and waiting for their chance to throttle this punk in the afterlife...in the meantime, can we at least point out that this is the latest example of our culture's complete perversion of the "cheaters never prosper" adage? How is it that a man who admits to shirking his obligations at a prestigious job, misleading the public, and spending his work hours loafing in bars and making up extravagant lies achieves celebrity? Is it the race factor alone? In my view, if he were a white, well-connected young man screwing up repeatedly, he might just as easily have been given all those second chances -- look at our Commander in Chief for a prime example of that phenomenon.

UPDATE: Here's a gem of an item from the Washington Post on Mr. Blair, would-be philanthropist:

The Jayson Blair Journalism Scholarship: What a concept.

Michael Viner, who published Blair's new book, "Burning Down My Master's House," told Editor & Publisher that the lying plagiarist -- booted from the New York Times last year -- would give a portion of his advance to charity, maybe setting up a scholarship at the University of Maryland, which he attended.

"It will be up to him what the amount will be," Viner said. "But it will be enough for more than one scholarship. He did not want to promote that and make it a promotional device, he just wanted to do it."

No thanks, says Tom Kunkel, dean of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism.

"Obviously we'd never take such ill-gotten money; no journalism school would ever be interested in profiting from such crimes against journalism. We didn't appreciate the suggestion, and we've made that position very clear to the publisher."

"Why, the taxation on Jay Leno alone could pay for universal health care." -- Hmmm, interesting...check out The Sandbox column at LiberalOasis ("Where the Left is right and the Right is wrong"), for a proposal to raise taxes...on celebrities.
"On the Implausibility of the Death Star's Trash Compactor" -- thus McSweeney's showcases the very best in what passes for philosophy in the pop culture universe. I always hated that scene, anyway...eeewwwwwwwww.
Am I a Music Nerd? -- Looks like I'm in fact a "Super Music Nerd," scoring 53.7%. This is really long, but funny and totally worth it...especially for someone I know who's going to get about a 99.4% on this... ;-) Thanks to Bifurcated Rivets, once again.
One more childhood myth exploded -- cracking your knuckles is "not dangerous at all"!!! Sweet justice! I'm cracking mine right now! :D
Why does art, especially film, deal with sex in such an uneasy way? -- I'm not sure, but this article provides much food for thought...as Love Day approaches!
"Back when we knew our proverbs and weren't misusing the word 'proverbial'" -- ah, simpler times. John Powers goes off in the Globe on our national penchant for mangled figurative language. You know what they say, it's easier to get a stitch in time through the eye of a needle than to...uh...prosper with a bird in the...um...soup. Or something.
Living in NYC on $206 a week -- one Daily News reporter tried it, and the results are positively Ehrenreichian. I'd like to see Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Romney, and Governor Terminator (all of whom are multimillionaires and, to their credit, take only $1 in salary per year) try this for a day.
Matt Bivens over at The Daily Outrage has a nice bit on President Smirkyface's pathetic performance on Meet The Press on Sunday morning -- he focuses on W.'s seeming nonchalance about the future of democracy in Iraq. If you didn't catch the show, or read the reeking press coverage, you can read the transcript for yourself and laugh/cry with disbelief. Here's my personal favorite whopper:

"The thing about the Vietnam War that troubles me as I look back was it was a political war. We had politicians making military decisions, and it is lessons that any president must learn, and that is to the set the goal and the objective and allow the military to come up with the plans to achieve that objective. And those are essential lessons to be learned from the Vietnam War."

:-o Can't...breathe...too much...irony...This one quote alone is enough to get me behind Kerry -- who will hopefully administer a Presidential ass-whomping on behalf of all veterans at the first debate.

And if you need just a little more disbelief, check out David Brooks' attempt to put words in W.'s mouth after the fact. Hee.

Then, for a refreshing chaser, read the Center for American Progress' point-for-point rebuttal of W.'s Sunday sermon...aaahhhh, relief.
Behold the finalists in the David Foster Wallace parody contest -- it's just too easy. My favorite is No.7. I'm hoping Nat will blog this and throw in some kooky superscript footnotes, as I don't know how to do that. I'm that lame.
Boston's black clergy come out against gay marriage -- a very disappointing article on a joint statement issued by prominent ministers (like Eugene Rivers of the Ten Point Coalition, whom I held in very high esteem until this moment) stating that the gay marriage issue is not a civil rights issue. Christian conservatives across MA rejoice. Ugh. Tomorrow is the constitutional convention on this, folks -- call and email your legistlators today, or sit back and watch the state try to force people to divorce in two years.


What'sTheDownload.com -- as touted on the Grammy broadcast last night, the recording industry's new, horribly named anti-piracy site is slick and crammed with apostrophes: see the reader poll, entitled "Whatcha'Thinkin'?" It tries to boil down the thorny issues of digital copyright into youth-oriented kibble: "If we download from one of the many cool legal sites no problem. But if we share or swap music files on non-licensed Internet sites, or burn music onto blank CDs and give them away or sell them, then as a rule of thumb - it's not legal." Hmmm, I see a potential problem with the accepted "one copy" rule, i.e. that you can make one copy of, say, a CD you purchased, for personal use. They claim giving that copy away isn't "personal." Uh, whatever. Or, as Snoop Dogg said last night, "I feel you, nephew."
Red Sox tickets went on sale this weekend -- wake up, Sox Nation! Hmm, I need to get more on the ball...of course, I'm hoping to visit the Green Monster seats this year, but one trip up there is worth 3 trips to LeLacheur Park...decisions, decisions...
Let's Talk, Boston! -- if you, unlike me, live within the Boston city limits, you can participate in this upcoming series of city-wide dialogues on diversity. With an eye to this summer's Democratic National Convention, Mayor Menino is hoping for the "New Boston" to shine, and these neighborhood outreach efforts could be a real asset to the city in the future.
As the Count would say, "Greetings! Ah, ah, aahhh..." I am back from an unintentional hiatus -- I spent Friday morning at the Brazilian consulate in Boston, on behalf of my boss, and by the time I got back to Somerville on the T a) the roads were slick with slush and snow, and b) the power had gone out at my office, so I was offline for the rest of the day. Bureaucratic institutions being what they are, I had to return to the consulate this morning...sigh. But now I know how to say "window three" in Portuguese, very helpful.

The theme of my weekend was rock music -- Nathaniel convinced me to watch the Grammy Awards last night, and I have to say the show was really entertaining. I don't think I've ever watched them -- I think I'm expecting lots of long rambling speeches. Au contraire -- it was packed with slightly odd but successful performances, like Beyonce and Prince, Justin Timberlake and Arturo Sandoval, Sting and Dave Matthews pretending to be the Beatles, Foo Fighters and Chick Corea, and two mindboggling numbers with Outkast, including a "Universal Church of Funk" segment emceed by Samuel L. Jackson, and featuring Earth, Wind and Fire and George Clinton too -- yeow! Overall the most electrifying bit of the evening had to be The White Stripes -- and I'm not just saying that because I dressed up as (half of) them on Saturday night for Marc & Sharon's "Pairs Party." They were introduced by Beck (Beck!), who gave a spacey monologue about their music "resonating across America with the sound of empty school buses" or something...woah.


And in a disturbing sequel to this Onion story, scientists have discovered that pigeons can follow human roads from the air, like maps, to navigate. As any MeFite would, I for one welcome our navigating pigeon overlords.
Dean's Last Stand to be...Wisconsin -- this Tuesday's primary will make or break my man Dean. He's asking for contributions, a last-ditch $700,000 before then. Sigh. Where did all the love/momentum/money go, Howard? I think our ADHD democracy will quickly consign him to the scrap-heap, but there's no denying that he's the one who lit the burners under this race...at least make him Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kerry, you magnificent bastard! *Pant pant* Good thing the other Dr. Dean's been hard at work back in VT all this time...double sigh.
Clark Humphrey on the "right-wing sleaze machine" -- his post on the StupidBowl, its awful conflation of money, sex, and violence as entertainment, and the attendant hang-wringing over our lowest-common-denominator culture is one of the best I've seen on this already tattered topic (scroll to Wed. 2/4, "The Real Boobs").
Charlie Brown, the Existential Blockhead -- what would Jean-Paul Sartre say about Peanuts? Better question: who would think to ask? It's unclear whether Sartre ever read the comics page, but he did have a culinary streak: "I want to create an omelet that expresses the meaninglessness of existence, and instead they taste like cheese."
And now, because it's been that kind of Thursday already around here, a bulletin from the Ministry of Who Cares?...thanks to Jen and the good old internet for this...feel free to answer for yourself in the Comments:

1. Full Name: Emily Katherine Durand
2. Were you named after anyone?: "Emily" for a woman my parents met while doing volunteer work in Appalachia in college; I'm the 5th generation "Katherine" (or variation: Ekaterina, Catherine, Mary Katherine, Kathleen) on my mom's side.
5. When did you last cry?: On Thursday January 29th.
3. Do you like your handwriting?: Yes...though I use it disturbingly seldom these days.
4. What is your favorite lunch meat?: The roast turkey breast from the Portuguese deli near my parents' house.
5. Any bad habits?: Compulsive cuticle destruction.
6. What is your most embarrassing CD on the shelf?: Michael McDonald's Motown -- thanks, Amy! :D
7. If you were another person, would YOU be friends with you?: Absolutely -- everybody's doing it.
8. Have you ever told a secret you swore not to tell?: Oh yeah. I'm like a sieve.
9. Do looks matter? Against all my protestations, yes, they do.
10. How do you release anger? Snapping at those I love, unfortunately.
11. Where is your second home? 831 Myrtle Street, Elizabeth NJ.
12. Do you trust others easily? All too easily, I think.
13. What class in school do you think is totally useless?: I think pretty much the whole traditional public school curriculum is presented in an ineffective, un-engaging way...but just on substance, I'd say math, and not just because I'm a mathophobe.
14. Do you keep a journal?: Only when I travel. Uh, unless this blog counts.
15. Do you use sarcasm a lot?: Who me? Use sarcasm? Who am I, Dennis Miller? Give me a break...psshhhh.
16. Have you ever been in a mosh pit?: Indeed, several. Most memorable was a Fishbone show at Tufts, the lead singer guy stepped on my head as he crowd-surfed back to the stage, ouch! I think those days might be gone, though...sigh.
17. What are your nicknames?: The Empress. And for some reason my dad calls me "Ahh-mo-lee."
18. Would you bungee jump?: Noooooooooo.
19. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?: I'll take them off without untying, but I have a high arch, so I can't get them back on without re-tying them. Gaahhh!
20. Do you think that you are strong?: Yes...yes, I do.
21. How many wisdom teeth do you have?: Uh, I think zero.
22. How many people have a crush on you right now?: As far as I know, one. But I've found out in the past that friends have been crushed out on me for a long time and I had no idea. Ooops.
23. Favorite ice cream flavor?: Burnt sugar ice cream from Christina's in Cambridge.
24. What color pants are you wearing?: Black -- it's a work day.
25. What are you listening to right now?: Other people in my office talking -- sorry, no music capability on my computer! :(
25. Last thing you ate?: Lunch -- leftovers, yogurt, seltzer. Soon will have a square of incredible Scharffen-Berger chocolate for dessert...mmmmmmmm.
26. Last person you talked to on the phone?: Paul Teng, one of my company's attorneys in NYC.
27. The first thing you notice about the opposite sex?: Height, smile, and thighs, in that order.
28. Do you like the person who sent you this?: Yup. :)
29. Favorite Drink?: I'll say Thai iced tea.
30. Do you wear contacts?: Yup.
31. Siblings?: three: Rebecca, Josh, and Sara.
32. Favorite Month?: October...though spring has grown on me since I moved to New England.
33. Are you too shy to ask someone out?: Hells no.
34. Hugs or kisses?: Definitely kisses.
35. Living Arrangements?: Two housemates, Mandy and Amy; one kitty, Minerva.
36. What books are you reading?: Way, way too many books on the nightstand these days.
37. What's on your mouse pad?: A blob of wrist-supporting gel.
38. What did you watch on TV last night?: "American Idol," baby! OK, also "Law & Order."
39. What's the first thing you think when you wake up in the morning?: "Just ten more minutes..."
40. Favorite place: bed. Or, a movie theater. Or, Australia.
Check out the front page of the Globe -- the world has not ceased to spin on its axis now that same-sex couples will be issued marriage licenses in Massachusetts. In the rather unscientific Globe online poll, 66% of respondents support the ruling...though it looks like the SJC itself is all torn up over this. It seems the dissenting justices feel the "squabbling" over the name of the institution (i.e. "marriage" vs. "civil union") is trivial, and not a constitutional issue. Hmm, I wonder if the parties in the Dred Scott case thought the question of whether black people were "citizens" or not was trivial? Imagine if the state decided to hand out "marriage licenses" only to people who were able to bear children (procreation being the point of marriage, according to one argument), and created a "parallel" system for the older and/or infertile people whereby they were issued "partnership licenses." Don't you think that "semantic" distinction would enrage some people? Imagine if on "Sex and the City" Miranda and Steve were able to get married, but Charlotte and Harry had to get "partnered." Or on "Friends," same deal -- Ross and Rachel (those libertine co-parents) could tie the knot traditionally, but Chandler and Monica, being barren, are only "life partners," even if they adopt a baby. I can hear the whining already...

But seriously, people are clinging to this "Just don't call it a marriage" argument, as if all marriages were not civil unions too. That's right, married folks -- your marriage license (not the ceremony) is a civil privilege, no more sanctified than a hunting license or a parking sticker. John Kerry himself said last night, "I think marriage is what is sanctified between a man and a woman by God." Um, that's great -- but the last time I checked, God didn't have anything to do with handing out state licenses. I think there is a real need for a basic public education campaign on this issue -- I think many people don't understand (and surely the Catholic church isn't going to correct them) that this ruling does not tell any religious organizations whom they must marry in their services. Perhaps we can ask Dick Wolf to head this campaign -- last night's episode of "Law & Order" was eerily topical, it not only dealt with a lesbian custody dispute, they actually talked about the SJC's ruling! DUN-DUN!!!


Hello Kitty is turning 30 this year -- aaaiiieee! Wait a second, I'm turning 30 this year. AAAIIIEEE!!! Well, at least I'm in love with a younger Sanrio character...he's only 11.
Viva Buick Libre -- or not-so-libre. Cubans attempting to sail a car to the United States. Again. What's wrong with this picture?
"Boys Are Stupid, Throw Rocks At Them" -- hello, no! In the latest battle over crude teen fashion, some folks are (quite rightly) up in arms over supposedly "girl power" shirts with anti-boy slogans. Something tells me the parents who let their 12 year old daughters wear thongs, belly shirts, and body glitter aren't going to be too concerned about this one, though...sigh.
Is Avian Flu the real WMD we should be worried about? -- very, very scary article on the bio-threats not about to be unleashed by rogue states, but from the "biological reservoir" of the animal kingdom, and helped along by "concentrated poverty" in the world's slums. If anybody needs me, I'll be hiding under my bed.

OK, I'll post something light to dispel the gloom: how about AlterNet's "Trail Mix," some comical moments from the campaign trail? Sorry, but Kucinich using a pie chart as a prop in an NPR-only debate takes the cake...well, except for the "President Governor" bit.
Civil Unions: Just not good enough for Massachusetts -- today the SJC gave its advisory opinion to the Legislature, and one more blow was struck against "separate but equal" marriage, woohoo! Seems like the perfect plug for the upcoming Boston Commitment Faire, for all the wedding vendor needs of all those premarital same-sex couples out there...In related news, Memo to Ohio: get with the program!
Top Ten Modern Delusions -- "God is on our side" tops the list, so it sounds about right to me. If you're not convinced, buy the book. Or...make up some of your own:

1. Movies, TV, and popular culture are just "harmless entertainment."
2. Weight loss is possible without eating less and exercising more.
3. Celebrity matters.
4. The Earth will forever remain just as it is now.
5. Toothpaste does not go back in the tube. (Dedicated to Dan Givelber.)

"Elitist: someone who knows more than I do." -- ouch! Behold the Fashionable Dictionary, a repository of embittered definitions of academic terms from Butterflies and Wheels, a site dedicated to debunking pseudoscience and puncturing self-important relativism, i.e. "defending the Left from a trendy segment of itself." Ouch again!
"That wasn't so bad after all!" -- who knew the Princeton Review people were so culturally sensitive! Check out these guidelines for writing sample test prep questions: topics to avoid include lice, sex stereotypes, Johnny Appleseed, questioning authority, and rap music. Great.


How To Know If You're Marrying a Total Nerd -- for starters, does he customize your computer case with a wedding theme to propose to you? I can't decide if this guy is adorable or nuts...ok, adorable: that tiered satin "cake" is nicely done!

But then consider the Skirt o' Cake Barbie -- happy birthday, Dr. Freud! If you've got the stomach, this lady also makes some...interesting wedding cakes. Now that's creative icing.
I've been looking up my old IQ and Myers-Briggs personality profiles today -- it seems like everyone I know has been doing testing like this, and hey, Tuesday is a good day for self-reflection. I'll keep my IQ score to myself, since I don't understand how it's calculated and it seems like a scam. But as for my personality, I think we can all rest easy in the knowledge that I'm smack in the middle of ENFP. Shocking! :) If you're interested in your own profile, you can take this online Jung-For-Dummies version in about two minutes.
"The right to become educated has been long sought after by women" -- and some of them even learn to avoid the passive voice! This site is a collaboration by students in a University of Texas class entitled "Rhetoric of Anglo-American Feminism." OK. It's well-designed and even somewhat informative -- and I say "somewhat" because the writing quality is so embarassingly poor I have to wonder what happened to the core curriculum. On the "Girlhood" page, we get this gem of an opener: "Girlhood represents a state of being a girl between the ages of 4 -16." Um...what? Over on the "Men" page, there's some competition from this punctuationally challenged whopper: "Fear; that is driving force behind many of the ills patriarchal society has placed upon women." :-0

It then devolves into shameless padding for length, using tried and true methods like repetition ("All of us have certain ideas about ourselves, and our basic worth as a person. This is called self-image. Your self-image is your picture of yourself.") and plagiarizing run-on sentences ("As in today’s society culturally held beliefs of idealized family life and structured gender roles worked against Victorian feminists’ desire to change the way women were defined in society, especially according to law dealing with the relations between husband and wife in the domestic sphere of the family.") And for the final kicker, stop by the Women and Footwear page ("One Step At A Time" -- I get it!) for this boggler: "Inevitably, the path towards equality will always be arduous, but today no woman has to take another step in that path and face the world in bad shoes again."

I know it's an overview, it's not a Women's Studies class (it's a rhetorical reasoning class, yikes), it's just student work product, and I don't want to discourage young feminist inquiry or an improvement in writing skills...but come on! I wrote better stuff than this in high school -- and my parents had to study Latin, Greek, and declamation, for Pete's sake. I weep for the future -- oh god, I'm starting to sound like Harold Bloom!
TeatGate UPDATE: In case you care about the possible legal aftermath of Janet Jackson's de-bustier-ing at the Superbowl, Slate has all your answers.
Which Greek Goddess are you? -- Thanks to Jen for inspiring this one; I'd say she's a sort of Artemis meets Gaia type. I am...as if you have to ask...Athena -- thus complementing my kitty, Minerva.
"President Kerry" is starting to ring more and more plausibly -- and that's good news, even for a bitter Deaniac like myself. Over the weekend in a CNN poll, Kerry polled slightly ahead of Bush in a one-on-one matchup -- gee, how come Scott McClellan isn't spinning that to death? True, Bush is loaded with campaign money, but he's just not going to get very far criticizing Kerry on military service or on spending -- what with W. thunking down a half-trillion-dollar deficit "budget" proposal this week. Dare we hope? Dare we?!

Or maybe we'll just wait for the HBO original series -- a goofy Salon article on the spicy Heinz-Kerry clan, i.e. wife Teresa and kids from their first marriages, whose antics are tabloid-y enough to provide a little juice to the somber Senator. (Get the day pass to read the whole thing.)
"What makes Oklahoma so desperate to touch New Mexico?" -- I've often wondered the same thing myself. Many of you know my deep loathing for anthropomorphized animals in advertising...but anthropomorphized states? No problem there -- in fact, allow me to add some of my own observations:

* New Hampshire and Vermont, do I need to separate you two?
* When New Jersey and Maryland grow up, they hope to look like Florida.
* Watch out Wyoming, Utah's about to take a bite of your southwest flank!
* Does anyone else think Maine looks like Dr. Zoidberg from "Futurama"?
* Hmm, I never noticed how Massachusetts is openly flirting with Nova Scotia...
But it's not all bad news -- for example, Norah Jones' new record comes out next week, yay. And check out these kooky photographs from the video for the first single, "Sunrise" -- if they don't cheer you, I can't help you! :P
Tuesday brings gloomy weather and news, despite the big Superbowl victory parade scheduled for downtown Boston today...down in Washington, it's the Return of the Biohazard Powders -- three Senate office buildings are closed after ricin poison was discovered in a mailroom. There's also some in Connecticut, apparently -- both places were part of the anthrax mailings in 2001. Memo to President Imbecile: maybe we need a little more security around the homeland, doncha think?


Mmmmmmmmm, artisanal cured pork in all its glory. What can I say, I have a weakness for strange Italian meats.
Once again the BBC proves it's an ironically excellent source for American election news and information -- check out their Q&A on why tomorrow's Super 7 primaries are so important to the Democrats.
The Physics of Society -- could this explain the current state of the Democratic field, and the trend of "electability chic"?
Skeptics unite!
"I think she is a very attractive woman, and I find drawing someone attractive difficult" -- no wonder the sketches of acne-pitted mob bosses come across so well! Apparently the court sketch artists at the Martha Stewart trial say she's too pretty to sketch well. Hmmmmm...


Superbowl, blah blah, Patriots, blah blah -- the (admittedly awesome) game is over, and let's face it, people: the thing we're all talking about is Janet Jackson's right breast. Unreal!

And of course, on CBS the cheesy halftime show and the totally tasteless beer commercials are "family friendly," but the MoveOn ad is "too controversial." Whatever.