"I don't like death either." -- Appalling interview of President One-Note by an actual journalist, not one of the trained seals in the White House Press Corps. Carole Coleman of Radio & Television Ireland tried to, well, interview the (shudder) Leader of the Free World rather than lob softballs for him to tap with his usual canned tidbits about how much he loves freedom. It goes something like this: "The Irish people are angry about Iraq." "Saddam was a bad man." "You never found the WMD's." "Saddam was a bad man." "Insurgents are killing scores a day in Iraq." "Sept. 11th was a bad day." And so forth. Ughh.
In other celebrity news, Nat and I saw the excellent Aimee Mann and her band last night in a fine-tuned, rockin' performance at Avalon. She was funny, self-deprecating, sang several of our favorite songs, and was dressed Bowie-esque in a skinny white blazer, striped shirt, and lovely baby blue necktie. And she's got more than just fashion sense: check out this blurb in the NYPost's gossip column:


Don't play "Ebony and Ivory" around singer/songwriter Aimee Mann and her band. They dubbed the Paul McCartney-Stevie Wonder tune the worst song ever. The Post's Kenneth Lovett reports Mann, who once fronted the '80s band 'Til Tuesday, told a Northampton, Mass., audience over the weekend that the title narrowly beat out prom standard "Lady in Red" by Chris DeBurgh during intense discussions on the tour van. "Those two should have known better," Mann said in citing the insipid lyrics of "Ebony and Ivory."
What Would [Celebrity of Your Choice] Do? -- Excerpts from a forthcoming book, edited by skeptical son Ron Reagan Jr., on what celebs would say to Prez Bush if they had five minutes with him...running from the patriotic to the New Age to the probing and hostile, yeah! I think Ashley Judd is on the right track...


Care for some glogg? An ammonia Coke? Or some seagull wine? -- Another weird destination via Bifurcated Rivets. I'm a little afraid to click on the other parts of this site, like "Bugs" and "Other"...but feel free.
Welcome to EuroBad -- a collection of awful 1970's furniture and home decor. Ah, it's nice to know I was born in an age of blinding greens, humble browns, and those furry round-the-toilet rugs...

For aesthetically pleasing retro fun, visit the Secret Fun Spot, a very cool gallery of toys, games, signs, decals, doodads, and other midcentury Americana. Keen!
Just rip one open, slip it on, and....brush. -- I admit, my mind's in the gutter (or at least the bedroom), but I saw a pop-up ad for these new "teeth wipes" and it struck me oddly. Um, do we really need this kind of detail in the product specs: "Material acts as moisture barrier between your finger and mouth"? Duhhh...
Wilco goes electric -- Salon has a long piece today on the new Wilco album (I give it 3 stars), and new Wilco/Tweedy book, and the whole new Wilco direction: more Radiohead, less Woody Guthrie. I for one might just keep listening to "Summerteeth" until they get this whole static thing out of their system. (Watch the ad to read the whole article.)


Dude, what a klloshar -- check out the Top Ten Untranslatable Foreign Words, according to this translation firm. There's a Top Ten English Words list also, and I for one would not like to have to define "whimsy" on the spot.
From "stanza" to "Orinoco" -- could you have passed this 8th grade final exam in Salina,KS in 1895? Good grief --eight essays in the U.S. history section, my favorite subject, in 45 minutes? Ouch! It's amazing how 20+ years of education has conditioned me to take tests: as I skimmed through the questions, my brain was automatically sorting them into "quick & easy," "medium," and "save for last" categories. I'm just glad I didn't have a whole separate class in orthography...though in 7th grade I did have a whole year of geography, apparently rare these days. (Via Kottke.org)
It's all Geek(TM) to me -- in a lawsuit after my own heart in so many ways, the owners of the Geek Squad, infamous Twin Cities-based computer, uh, experts who make housecalls, are suing the local firm Geek Housecalls for exploiting the term "geek." Are we in a knowledge economy or what? Incidentally, I'd say the defendant has a great case because he is a small local business, and GS is a large multi-state chain (and probably looking to expand into Boston) -- they should read the Victor's Little Secret case and get a new attorney.
The last line of a news article is often the most telling: "Talks with the firefighters are delayed until the union's lawyer returns from a vacation after the July 4 holiday, officials said." That says it all! Boston Mayor Tom Menino has some real trouble on his hands now that John Kerry and Ted Kennedy have dropped out of the U.S. Mayors Conference here today, because of the picketing (though not striking) police and firefighters, who are hoping to embarrass the city into a 17% raise. Hmmmmm...while I don't think it's fair for these city workers to continue for years without a contract, I'm not so crazy about unlimited overtime and a fraudulent higher education scheme for cops either -- not to mention last night's possible excessive force incident, and the plague of homicide and street violence breaking across the city (oops, I mean across certain parts of the city, where it doesn't even merit the front page). I'd say all sides need to clean up their act.


"And before we knew it, they were lying dead." -- Salon interviews Bill Clinton, not so much about his book (you can probably dig up a review or two online somewhere about that if you're interested) as on his presidency and the current one. His greatest regret? Not acting sooner on the Rwandan genocide. Memo to Bush: don't make the same mistake...
Lots going on in the real world this week...and I'm off to NJ for the weekend, how about that? I think I'd have more free time if I watched fewer movies: according to the NYTimes, I've seen 347 of the 1000 Best Movies Ever Made. Oh...my. Overall the list is good, including many goofy 80's favorites (Beetlejuice finally gets the recognition it deserves!), with the inevitable missteps: Robocop? Pretty Baby? Married to the Mob (hey, I liked it, but...)? 10? Hmmmmmm...


"Where fun, mischief and mayhem astrologically collide!" -- Call me crochety, but something about these Zodiac Girls dolls, website, and Yahooligans tie-in really irk me. Bratz and Barbie aren't bad enough, now we have to get little girls worrying about how compatible they are with their crushes? Isn't that what your 20's are for? Sheesh.
A whiteboard with a clock in the center -- countdown to me figuring out how to make one of these from craft store parts in 5...4...3...
From pork rinds to owl puke -- a list of the 25 weirdest things for sale on Amazon, via Kottke.org. All I have to say is, #25 fully explains Morgan Fairchild. See also the other weirdo lists in the righthand sidebar, like this one of toys that shouldn't be, which leads to this one of loud toys to buy for revenge against your family!
Hooray for Bloggywood -- From, of course, The Onion, a rundown of the lamest B-lebrity blogs, recording the every thought, move, and plastic surgery of the "stars." Ah, a masterstroke, referring to Al Roker as "weathermannish." This brings the inevitable question, where are the quality celebrity blogs? Forbes magazine has tackled it here, with a Top Five of Wil Wheaton, Moby, William Gibson, Barbara Streisand (!), and Dave Barry...I personally would replace Babs with J.K. Rowling.


"What have either of you done for us lately?" -- Feisty Village Voice piece on the 22 million single women who skipped voting in the 2000 election, and how both Kerry and Bush are out to woo them...often to no avail. Hmmm, let's see: half this cohort make less than $31,000 per year, are more likely to work in marginal jobs and support families alone than their male peers, and are near-uniformly pissed about the Iraq debacle. No wonder Bush polls so poorly -- thought Kerry is not lighting many fires himself. Find out more at Women's Voices, Women Vote, a get-out-the-vote-ladies group.
I guess these Lunchtime Sightings are becoming a daily occurence:

1. On Middlesex Turnpike, a cheery yellow delivery van emblazoned, "Grab A Peggy Lawton!" The Peggies in question are cookies and brownies baked by right here in East Walpole, MA -- they're sold for like $0.99 at every checkout lane around, but I didn't know they even had a brand identity. This delivery truck looked to be vintage...I wonder if it's the only one?

2. As I walked past the twin water fountains in my office, I noticed a banana sitting on one of them, as if someone had put it down while taking a drink and then forgotten it. Will it be claimed? Tune in tomorrow...

3. This isn't a sighting so much as a discovery: inside the liner notes to the new Wilco record, which I bought today, are some very funky drawings by one Gladys Nilsson, a Chicago artist who was part of "The Hairy Who," aka the Chicago Imagist school of painting, back in the 60's. Neato.
Worth a thousand words, and they're all "Aiiieeee!!!" -- A Redmond, WA man accidentally took this incredible photo of lightning striking a tree...in his backyard. Wow!
"They need to eat." -- NYTimes discovers a hidden micro-economy in the suburbs: immigrant women who work as in-home caterers (and mother figures) to day laborers from their hometowns, working for cash and providing a taste of home. Somehow this is a little sad and inspiring all at once...maybe it's because I'm almost done with this excellent book on the history of women in America.

UPDATE: And speaking of inspiring women, the BBC interviews two Afghan Olympic hopefuls, one in judo and one in track & field -- who will have to wear a tracksuit to satisfy the mullahs, but still.


Because I love them so, here are some more Lunchtime Sightings:

1. As I was pulling out of the CVS parking lot in Bedford, I noticed the purple minivan in front of me had a little white bird on the roof -- not just any bird, but a pure white dove, it looked like it flew off a greeting card or something. As the car drove slowly ahead, the bird sat calmly above the open driver window -- in fact, I wondered if it was a pet bird for a minute, it seemed unfazed by this arrangement. Then, as I noticed the government plates on the minivan (likely from nearby Hanscom AFB), the dove flew off into the trees. Woah!

2. A few minutes later, I was going along a twisty stretch of Rt. 62 -- one of these suburban roads with blind turns and lots of driveways that people drive way too fast on because it's the unofficial thoroughfare through town. As the car ahead of me headed left around a turn, I stopped short: a black Audi station wagon on an intersecting road blew right through a stop sign and was headed straight for me, not to mention the cars behind me and the cars in oncoming traffic. I honked and shouted out the window, "Stop sign, STOP SIGN!" The woman (and her teenage daughter and their dog, come to think of it) all looked at me with the same slack-jawed, clueless expression -- she lookd where I was pointing, but had pulled so far past the stop sign she couldn't see it. Gahh!! Massachusetts is thinking of changing the regulations for teenage drivers -- maybe they should throw in yearly IQ testing for suburban luxury motorists too.

3. One more driving note: a woman behind me at a stoplight this morning had a full-size wall calendar open on the steering wheel, with pictures of puppies on it. She was flipping through it madly and, of course, talking on a cellphone. Sigh.

"Somewhere in the quest for ultimate coolness, we forgot how to have a good time." -- This is utterly hilarious: a flamewar of comments from those who saw this week's white-hot neo-80s rock band Franz Ferdinand in NYC, split into the usual two camps -- those who want to listen to the music, and those who want to rock out. I'm usually in the former camp, I'll admit, although there's a time and place for everything. What really irritates me is that the "rock out" types never self-select into like one corner of the club where they can fling their elbows, sing along, and just annoy each other -- no, they're usually right in front of me, blissfully unaware of how they're sucking the fun (and my overpriced ticket's worth) out of the show. Grrrrr! (via Gothamist)
"This Vegas showgirl costume is made entirely of human hair." -- Wow. Read all about Detroit's Hair Wars, the SuperBowl of hair shows, where stylists create insane, towering, interactive hairstyles and go on tour to throngs of adoring fans. Sounds like the next Ben Stiller movie, sure, but it's already been done.
"Heh heh! Maybe I should declare John Kerry an enemy combatant!" -- Today's Tom Tomorrow, and it's totally brilliant. This is the Salon version: watch the ad to see the entire cartoon. Tomorrow I'll post a different link -- but it's worth it.
New York apologizes to Boston -- In other news, hell freezes over. >:P Looks like that whole kerfluffle about the NY delegation not wanting to have their DNC welcome party at the Curley Community Center, a lovely waterside venue on Dorchester Bay otherwise known as the L Street Bathhouse, has been resolved. Whether you believe the story in the NYPost (that the word "bathhouse" was some sort of dig at Giuliani, who closed many gay bathhouses in NYC and is of course a Republican, hello) or in the NYTimes (that South Boston is too loaded with its history of racial strife to host the event...of course, by that logic you'd have to wonder about hosting the RNC in New York, right?), it's all behind them now, pass the hors d'oeuvres! Just don't leave your drinks unattended, folks.
"Position Bush comfortably between Ronald Reagan and God." -- Roger Ebert writes smartly on why documentaries, including Fahrenheit 9/11, have an editorial point of view and why that's OK.
M.C.A.S. at any cost -- what a rotten way to kick off summer vacation, with a grade-school cheating scandal, allegedly instigated by the school principal. A group of Boston 4th graders say they were told to correct their answers on the statewide test by the principal, who had sent their teacher on a short break during the exam. The kids were upset and told their teacher, who blew the whistle through the teacher's union -- and was then fired by the principal! Methinks this is just getting started...


EXP-0079, that's me -- another little tootle on my own horn here, it's the blurb for the intellectual property class I'm teaching at Tufts this fall, along with the others on offer...looks like I'm in some good pedagogical company! Gullllllppppp...now where did I put those lesson plans?!
"My country is the moon." -- Yeah, that'll come in handy! Learn some "useful" Japanese phrases, a la the 1953 guide "Japanese in a Hurry."
My Mom, Employee of the Month! -- OK, she was EOTM in May, but this just came online. As you can see, my mom has some unusually deep ties to her place of employment; she was literally born there, 50 years ago. Yay Mom!
Miss Kim comes through again today with a "Wishful Thinking Friday Five":

If you could be guaranteed one thing in life other than money, what would it be?
Aside from world peace, yada yada yada, I'd say good health.

If you could ensure that your children had one of your personality traits, what would it be?
My ability to make friends -- I feel like I wouldn't know how to help my kid if s/he turned out to be painfully anti-social.

If you could hop on a plane today and fly somewhere for the weekend, but had to be back a work on Monday, where would you go?
Definitely L.A. -- I'd get to meet Aden Schwartz and visit with his mom & pop, see Paul and Judi, mix with the celebs, fantastic! :P

If you had $1000 to spend at one store, where would you go?
Ooooh, this is a tough one! Does Amazon count as "one store"? Actually, I think I'll say Target -- very square, but I could get all sorts of useful things for my upcoming move, like new towels, woo woo!

If you could have any job, for which you are qualified, what would you want to be doing?
Charter school principal by day, novelist by night.
"What's up with my cat? She looks at me strangely when I sing and dance for her." -- Check out the weirdest customer service calls fielded by the people at Iams pet foods. Yikes.
"That shameful failue must not be repeated." -- That is, the 1994 Rwandan genocide, where, as this NYTimes editorial says, "both the United States and the Security Council found excuses to stand aside while 800,000 died." Right now in Darfur, Sudan, hundreds of thousands of refugees are camped in the harsh desert, driven out of their land by Arab militas supported by the Sudanese government. Mass rape, pillage, starvation, scorched earth -- it's all happening, and while the U.S. and the U.N. quibble over whether it meets the legal definition of "genocide" it's only getting worse. Do something -- at least with your wallet.
"A playbook Republican, a paint-by-numbers partisan" -- That's our man Mitt! Globe columnist Brian McGrory goes after the Romney crew, including mousy henchwoman Kerry Healy, for all their lowdown tactics and thumb-twiddling. Yes!


It's time for Lunchtime Sightings, all things strange and wonderful encountered while crisscrossing Middlesex County during the workday:

1. This morning alongside Mystic Lake, a large and spry racoon loped across the road, at 8:30am, broad daylight. That whole stretch of Mystic Valley Parkway is rife with (usually) noctural critters: I once saw a huge possum standing over a storm drain there, its eye glinting red in the headlights!

2. I will give an honorary shoutout to Mama Wild Turkey and her brood of chicks, who live in the woods at Nat's office park in Westford -- he's spotted them several times in the last week, more updates as events warrant.

3. Similarly, I spotted a family of geese, with near-fullgrown goslings, on Rt. 2 the other day -- and I committed the Massachusetts sin of stopping on an onramp to let them skitter across the road. They seemed very conditioned to dealing with traffic -- I guess when you subsist on median-strip grass you have to stay pretty alert. I literally waved at them, as if they were human pedestrians, to let them know it was OK to cross! They got the message: one parent in the lead, one parent behind the line of chicks hissing and flapping to get them to hurry up. No wonder this book is set in Boston...

4. Now for human exploits: at the Roche Brothers supermarket, a large green SUV stopped dead in front of me, blocking the way forward and to turn right. The driver then opened her door, stuck out her hand to wave me around, and simultaneously began rolling forward...hmmmm. I turned right, parked, and then saw the same woman zoom into a handicapped space, still with the driver door open, hop out and run inside the store. You guessed it: no handicapped plate or placard. Nice.

5. To make up for this weirdness, I had a Perfect Radio Moment on the way back to the office: the ever-trusty Julie Kramer on WFNX's Leftover Lunch played this list back to back: "The Girl With the Curious Hand," "Boys Don't Cry," and one of my favorite Replacements songs, "Merry Go Round." Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhh...
"Are you sad we didn't get a limo?" -- Slate writer David Amsden's 3-part report from a high school prom in Rockville, MD he attended, semi-incognito, a few weeks ago. It's both much tamer and just as sleazy as you might imagine at today's high school social event of the year...but mostly it will just make you glad your prom is a decade or more in your past. Don't go back to Rockville, indeed...
"He orders shrimp cocktail as 'a starter'...Eventually, he winds up 'in hospital.'" -- Delicious piece on America's adoption of Briticisms, a trend that's potentially as irksome as that one friend who adopts a hint of an accent after returning from study abroad in London. Yeeesh.
"Despite what George W. Bush might think, God does not want him to be president...At least, my God doesn't." -- Reliable curmudgeon Neal Pollack in Seattle's The Stranger on the "lunatic Christian cult" that's taken over America via the Bush Administration. This sounds like a pretty good slogan to me: "Heaven help me, I'm an American, not a Christian...this is a secular country." He runs through the seen and unseen hand of the Christian Right in W.'s White House...you might want to open up the Rolaids before reading about the Presidential Prayer Team and the Apostolic Congress influencing government policy. :-0 Afterwards, stop by PrayForReason.org and sign on to Pollack's nice, ecumenical exhortation to your "Higher Power of Choice" to swiftly remove GWB from office -- amen!
O.J. +10 -- It seems that 2004 is ten years after a lot of things, from Kurt Cobain's suicide to "Reality Bites" to Nat graduating from Emerson. But I'd literally not thought about O.J. Simpson in years when I saw this ESPN piece on the fact that the entire under-21 cohort doesn't remember much of that whole disaster. Sigh.


I'm an Honorary Amateur Gourmet! -- My favorite food blog has opened its hallowed halls to me any my Hail, Caesar! Salad recipe, woohoo! Welcome, fellow Amateur Gourmet fans...ehhhxcellent.
"So, the possibility of sending yourself instead of an e-mail to someone is limited." -- BBC interview with Dr. Ping Koy Lam, Australian physicist, worm farmer, and pioneer of...teleportation. Really! He predicts quantum computers a few atoms wide will be developed in the next decades: um, let me take a minute (or six) for my brain to contemplate this...
"I decided nobody is going to do this on my watch." -- Globe profile (in the Sports section, kudos!) on Katy Redmond, founder of the National Coalition Against Violent Athletes. Redmond, a former cheerleading captain at Littleton High School, was raped by a football player (and serial sexual abuser) at the University of Nebraska -- and years later sued the university, then became angry enough over the exploits of professional players and the Air Force Academy cadets to start NCAVA. Right on!
Stoppin' by "the apple dumplin' shop" -- from The Obscure Store, an odd Wall Street Journal Article on the long, purple history of profanity, and its genteel substitutes in literature (though not on HBO). For more foul-mouthed fun, try the Shakespearean Insult Generator, or learn some Latin insults courtesy of the Univ. of Oklahoma!
"The most capacious day in literature." -- Today is Bloomsday, the 100th Bloomsday, to be exact, and if you've no idea to whom or what I'm referring, then you're no English major: even Google's getting in on the action. A century ago, James Joyce took a stroll with his future wife, Nora, and later set his quotidian epic, "Ulysses," on this same day. Over in Dublin, it's a fine reason to "Rejoyce": stroll, drink, and talk...very Joycean, indeed.

UPDATE: Here's a little writeup, featuring facts like the 307,000 approximate word count, and the novel's famous last line.


Mass. Gov. Romney wants Kerry to resign his Senate seat. -- This is so deeply lame. Our esteemed Governor has the time to blow raspberries at the Convention, at Mayor Menino, at the Democrats in general, all while scheming to squelch gay marriage rights, push through tax cuts and slash the budget -- no wonder he had to send his trusty Girl Friday, Kerry Healy, to make a stink about Sen. Kerry in the press. It seems to me that the voters who overwhelmingly re-elected Kerry to his seat in the first place aren't rallying in the streets trying to get him to show up in Washington more often. And speaking of absentee federal government figures, do we even have a Vice President anymore? As for President Candidate himself, well, I don't see John Kerry scheduling "Senate business" in battleground states and taping campaign commercial shots while on his way to roll call. Ahem. If Romney's so hell-bent on spoiling the Convention, the nomination, and the election, and winning himself an ambassadorship, can we expect him not to attend any swanky functions during the big party? Yeah, I thought not.
"Imagine Lake Michigan brimming with paint thinner." -- The Cassini space probe is on its way to Saturn, my favorite planet, and its mysterious moon, Titan. Carolyn Porco, the imaging team leader, has a real way with words...for a Trekkie rocket scientist!
You're listening to WIPD -- this is a silly, subversive idea: crack open your iPod, fiddle with the iTrip FM transmitter accessory, have your friends do the same, and voila, your own portable pirate radio station. Hmmmm, maybe I do need one of these...
He manages a Krispy Kreme, if you know what I mean -- check out the A to Z list of occupations for those gay and lesbian Massachusetans (!) who've applied for marriage licenses lately. Sure, there are florists, flight attendants and choreographers -- but also police, firefighters, teachers, clergy, investment bankers, locksmiths, truck drivers, and my favorite, a violin maker. What a cool job!
Let's start off this steamy Tuesday with some Kite Aerial Photography -- amazing photos from a kite's eye view! Via Kottke.org.


Lithuanian cockroach racing -- well, actually, giant Madagascar hissing cockroach racing in Lithuania, for fun at your next party! I swell with Lithuanian-American pride at the thought of the entrepreneurial spirit this venture represents...
Clinton's (sort of) back on the scene -- his official Presidential portrait was unveiled today, and he's about to launch on a media blitz book tour for "My Life," his $10 million autobiography. Find out more on the portrait artist, Simmie Knox.
Kerry Rocks in '64 and '04 -- Candidate Kerry's old garage band, The Electras, have their record re-released on CD. Kerry played bass, alongside fellow preppies in skinny ties. Order yours today!
Signal Orange -- a collective art and protest action for the election season, consisting of bright orange t-shirts emblazoned with the names of each American service member killed in Iraq, and how they died, and the note, "They can't vote anymore." This could be very interesting -- they're meant to be worn en masse and in front of the media at the Conventions, etc.
"Food writing is a really hard job." -- Yeah, boo hoo, buddy.
"WOOT!" -- For those of you who haven't yet succumbed to the delights of "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" on the big screen, you can read it in 15 minutes instead. Here, eat this chocolate.
"To the Yankees' health!" -- Fascinating NYTimes piece on two recently discovered autobiographical narratives of former slaves, John Washington and Wallace Turnage. In an Antiques Roadshow-esque twist, one turned up in a closet in Connecticut. There are also excerpts here.


Sasquatch sighted! -- What could be more Friday than this? This quote from the local ranger is so Fox Mulder: "Just because you can't prove something was there, does not mean it was not there." Woah!
Miss Kim has taken up the baton of the defunct Friday Five, and she's got a reflective set of questions for today:

Who is the oldest person you know? My Grandma Laly passed away 2 years ago at 83, so I've run out of older relatives, really...though her father, and my mother's grandfather too, lived to be 93 or 94, perhaps a sign of potential longevity?

Who is the wisest person you know/knew? I think my parents are both wise beyond their years; they'd have to be, to get married and have 4 kids in their early 20's and still be married 30 years later! My Constitutional Law professor, Wendy Parmet, is certainly the most erudite person I know...and then there's Jerry Remy, the wisest of all baseball commentators.

When are you "old"? Age is all in your mind -- I know plenty of world-weary teenagers and sprightly retirees who don't "act their age" much. The frustration of not being "old enough" to do things in childhood can quickly flip over to the great Baby Boomer phobia, getting "too old" to do what you like. I personally have always felt my "inner age" to be about 38, so once I catch up to that (in 8 years!) I should be all set.

Would you attend your 60th college reunion? Of course -- we had so much fun at our 5th reunion, I can only imagine how crazy it will be in 2056!

Are you scared of dying? In terms of "ceasing to exist," no. In terms of pain, suffering, decline, unexpected tragedy, polar bear attack, bioterrorism, etc., yes. I guess that's sort of semi-Zen.


Anti-cellulite jeans -- couldn't I just make these myself by smearing my existing jeans with some of this? That is, if I gave a damn about altering my thigh skin, given the fact that "90% of women over 30" have this "condition." I'm sure this company will be selling men's jeans smeared with Viagra Creme next...
Elect Bush and Zombie Reagan in '04! -- This is pretty good.
Let's go Tort Sox -- thanks to the Natster for sending me this local legal/baseball story. Six years ago, a woman was hit in the face with a foul ball at Fenway Park, estimated to be traveling 90mph off the bat of Darren Lewis. She suffered serious facial injuries, pain and headaches, lost work -- and it was only the second time in her life she'd been to a ballgame. Yesterday, a panel ruled her suit against the Sox should not go forward, because it's an "obvious danger" that foul balls can come rocketing into the seats.

Now, this is a particularly interesting scenario, given that the Red Sox had a pitcher, Bryce Florie, hit in the face with a line drive not to long ago -- severely injuring him and ending his career. Of course, Florie was an employee (or at least an independent contractor), and the fan is merely a licensee to a seat in the park. Maybe it's not "fair" in the broad, schoolyard sense that this woman gets no compensation, but if the Sox were liable for continually warning all 35,000 fans at every game against all the possible dangers of the ballpark -- from flying balls and bats to drunken fans falling and brawling to pigeon poop to slipping on a peanut shell -- they'd go out of business in a week from all the lawsuits. I know that at LeLacheur Park in Lowell, where many if not most fans are little kids and the park is very small, there are announcements throughout the game for people to watch out for foul balls -- and still people let their kids horse around and don't watch the game for long periods. Hello, it's called baseBALL for a reason! Caveat spectator, I say.


"I, too, am an unimaginative American." -- But I like her anyway. The mistress of the always entertaining Dooce.com, famed for having been fired for her blog (!) and these days usually writing about "the maternal inferno" of raising an infant, waxes on about Smarty Jones and the "Merkin people." Nice.
"Massachusettans"? -- I don't think so. I think "Bay Stater" is the standard, sort of like "Hoosier;" even "Masshole" is better than "Massachusettan." I also take issue with "New Jerseyite," it should be "Jerseyan." Duh.
"The best that can be said for Ronald Reagan is that, if George W. Bush gets re-elected, we may yet end up missing him." -- Yeouch. The Village Voice's scorching obit for Reagan calls him "the real successor to John Wilkes Booth," an actor who "destroyed America's sense of reality" and believed he ruled "an entirely fictional United States." Yeah, that's pretty much how I remember it.

UPDATE: Clark Humphrey has many choice reality check links in his two-part "Reagan Without Tears" roundup, check it out. (Scroll down a bit.)
"iCon: The Constitution Of the United States on your iPod" -- cool! Of course, I don't have/need/want an iPod, but it's still cool. Brought to you by the progressive American Constitution Society for Law & Policy.
"It's pseudoscience, right up there with colonic irrigation." -- Hmmm, perhaps a poor choice of words, but the point is, Scientologists have been giving anti-drug presentations in unwitting San Francisco public schools! Just ponder that for a moment. Narconon, the drug-treatment arm of L. Ron Hubbard's "religion," has been quietly going into classrooms for years to teach that drugs are poison (OK...) and all about the "serenity of beingness" (uh-oh...).
"If guns are outlawed, how can we shoot the liberals?" -- Salon has a tasty excerpt from "Take Them at Their Words: Shocking, Amusing and Baffling Quotations From the GOP and Their Friends 1994-2004," a collection of quotes from all your favorite right-wingnuts over the years. Here's a particularly interesting one from Bill "Shut up!" O'Reilly: "If the Americans go in and overthrow Saddam Hussein and it's clean, he has nothing, I will apologize to the nation, and I will not trust the Bush administration again." Still waitin' on that one, Bill...

UPDATE: Once you get all in a froth reading these quotes, take a look at E.J. Dionne's new book, "Stand Up, Fight Back : Republican Toughs, Democratic Wimps, and the Politics of Revenge," a call for Dems to wake up and own their identity as "progressive patriots," not just lame-o liberal milquetoasts. Yar!

"I don't think anyone watched it for sex and nudity" -- so says the VP of TBS, the cable channel editing down "Sex and the City" for prime time reruns. Hmmmmm...did he buy the right show?


"Hoochie mama" is so 2003 -- looks like the scantily clad clothing trend might be on its way out...if the NYTimes is to be trusted as a teen fashion arbiter, that is. Hallelujah: I've said it before and I'll say it again, bring back the oversized knits of the 80s!
"Do you believe in UFOs, astral projections, mental telepathy, ESP, clairvoyance, spirit photography, telekinetic movement, full trance mediums, the Loch Ness monster and the theory of Atlantis?" -- Looks like that last one might have to be crossed off the list! A German professor thinks he may have located the ancient flooded island off the coast of Spain. Hmmm, first those Mexican UFOs, then Reagan dies...are the end times upon us?!! Whew, what a relief.
"Whatever you say, Mr. Billboard!" -- Watch clips of our beloved Simpsons doing Japanese CC Lemon soda commercials. Note that CC Lemon is a Suntory product, and you know how tempting it is for American stars to shill Suntory products in Japan...Oh how the mighty have fallen -- Bart and Homer appear in the nude! D'oh!
"The Future of Marriage" -- the venerable (not to be confused with venereal) online "literate smut" site Nerve has conducted a poll of mostly 30ish types on wedded bliss...yielding some surprising stats. 80% are pro-monogamy, but equal numbers answered "Yes," "No" and "Undecided" to "Is the institution of marriage successful?" Hmmmm...as I head to my second wedding in a month this weekend, I'll keep this in mind.
Starbucks: not so evil after all? -- A big shoutout to PSD, our man on the Coast, for forwarding this refutation of crusty anti-Starbucks arguments. Mmmmmmm, I feel like an iced caramel macchiato right about now...


Hey! -- The rumors are true, The Pixies really are getting back together! The mind reels at the thought of them playing in Boston again...
"West Wing staffers call Bush and Ashcroft 'the Blues Brothers' because 'they’re on a mission from God.'" -- Scary, scary article (not a parody...right?) from CapitolHillBlue on George W.'s mental state, which has slid from "troubled" to "Nixonian" lately. Uh-oh.
"...even if they don't want to talk to you." -- ExBack.com: what in the hell is this? A simple scam that exploits the broken-hearted, or Stalking 101? Sheesh.
It's Monday, and a very social weekend has just drawn to a close -- two movies, two birthday parties, one lavish dinner, and many hours of sleeping in, aaaaaahhhhhh! If only they were all like this...sigh. The cinematic highlight was absolutely "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," four stars! Okay, maybe half of one star is attributable to the screening environment: Nat booked us into the Framingham Premium Cinema, a leather-upholstered, 21+ pub and screening room, totally worth the double-the-usual ticket price. The movie was utterly brilliant -- finally a director who made the beloved story into a movie, not a wax museum piece! The young actors held their own as the narrative flew along, chopping through the plot twists so they made more sense and were more satisfying than in the book. After literally the first minute of film, before the title card came up, we agreed the first two films had been trounced. Even if you're not on the Harry Express yet, go see it, it's a real summer blockbuster, and those are few and far between these days...


It's Friday, and that means it's time for...The Double Yolker! -- Thanks to Bifurcated Rivets, once again providing stuff that's merrily inexplicable. See also here.
How To Save the World. -- No, really. Read more about the Copenhagen Consensus project here.
"It was the porn that made them do it." -- I finally got around to reading this Frank Rich piece from the Sunday NYTimes last night, and it's very incisive. He rails at the hypocritical religious conservatives (like, say, our President) who lay easy blame for the Abu Ghraib torture on America's "corrupt popular culture," pointing out that these same pundits heartily embraced "The Passion of the Christ," arguably one of the most sadistic films ever made: "Mel Gibson's relentlessly violent, distinctly American take on Jesus' martyrdom is a more exact fit for what's been acted out in Abu Ghraib than the flouncings of any cheesy porn-video dominatrix." Ouch.
"She was born in Asbury Park. Close enough." -- Salon features a long rumination on New Jersey and all its tawdry glory today. As a native daughter, I can attest to both the perverse pride and the inherent listlessness NJ elicits in its citizens...but hey, it could be worse. I quote John Gorka: "I'm from New Jersey...if the world ended today, I would adjust."


A bathhouse by any other name -- a truly ridiculous tidbit from the NYPost today:


THE New York delegation heading to Boston for the Democratic convention next month has a problem. Every state has a welcoming reception the night before the convention starts. The Boston host committee placed the New York party at a waterfront venue called the L Street Bathhouse. Even though it's a perfectly wholesome facility on a beach, sources say, the Empire State Dems don't like the fact that the name evokes the gay bathhouses Mayor Giuliani closed down at the height of the AIDS scare. "The New York delegation is demanding a new location," said our source.

You have GOT to be kidding me! A city that hosts sporting events in Flushing Meadows is going to complain about the name of a local swim club, also known as the Curley Community Center? Puh-lease. NY should be thankful they're not the Texas delegation, which is being put up at the Logan Airport Hilton for the Convention -- enjoy the trip through the closed Sumner Tunnel to get in and out of downtown, cowboys!
"Teaching as a part-time gig, the day job for the guy who sells Game Boys at Circuit City." -- none other than Dave Eggers writes in Mother Jones on the disgrace of how little we pay teachers in America. Four teachers are interviewed about their part-time work, from cutting lawns to scrubbing toilets. Grrrrrrrrrr...
Grip The Ball! -- my coworker Debbie just handed me the greatest pen I've ever received free from my place of work, a Pilot VBall Grip, in blue, fine point. Wow! I said something last week about rollerball and gel pens being far superior to our usual crappy ballpoints, and voila, the man from Office Max delivered these beauties today. OK, so it's one of Life's Little Victories, what can I say? I like pens.
Oh dear god. -- via Kottke.org.
"How do I know how to be a man?" -- artist Mark Newport if crafty in more ways than one. He hand knits and embroiders and beads superhero costumes, comic book covers, sports and military (!) trading cards, and some NSFW pinup images, too. Like they say, gender is as gender does...
"He died trying to prevent the theft of nine tubes of toothpaste." -- an interview in today's Globe with the mother of Christian Giambrone, an 18-year-old CVS worker who was stabbed to death while confronting a shoplifter outside the store, right in the middle of the Longwood medical campus. His mom has become an activist to promote better training and workplace safety for the teens and recent immigrants who work in many retail and fast food jobs in Mass. Sigh.
West Side Jazz Story -- a little Slate article on Leonard Bernstein's "daunting and impenetrable" score to the Broadway classic, and how jazz musicians are just starting to explore it. Amazingly, "WSS" has its own website, with fantastic photos from the original production and the movie. Cool!
David Lynch meets Garrison Keillor -- I've heard Kevin Kling tell his stories on NPR several times, and always came close to veering off the road because I was chuckling heartily. He has a rambling, vivid style, and his crazy tales of Minnesota childhood or taking the bus make great listening...I think one of his CD's will be heading out on my Midwest Road Trip this summer...and note also, he has a wiener dog named Fafnir!


"Truth in Fudginess" -- my man Mark Bittman, author of the truthfully named "How To Cook Everything," rails against the brownie imitators of the world. His recipe here is highly reminiscent of my favorite, the so-called "Katharine Hepburn brownies." Mmmmmmmmmmmmm.
"Godzilla: the A-bomb made flesh" -- intriguing article on the original "Godzilla," aka "Gojira," a parable of nihilism for the post-atomic age. The film comes to the Brattle Theater in Cambridge later this month; need I even add that I will be there? Take note also of The Revealer, a daily online review of religion and the media, out of NYU. Interesting...have they intentionally cribbed their design from The Believer, or what?
Awful Plastic Surgery -- the tagline says it all: "The good, the bad, and the ugly of celebrity plastic surgery." Ah, the blogosphere has it all...and I happen to agree with their admonishment of Lindsay Lohan, for shame!

Once again, the question is begged: what would qualify as "non-awful" plastic surgery? I submit SmileTrain, the organization that provides cleft palate surgery for needy children around the world. Nice! Imagine if some of these plasticated celebs donated the cost of one round of Botox to this group...
"To the Bostonians, the idea of hosting a convention without a nomination is akin to celebrating St. Patrick's Day without beer." -- Um, yeah. Democratic consultant Ken Baer in The American Prospect on why political conventions these days are pointless, outmoded and, well, sort of corny.
Bob the Builder's rampage of destruction -- two 10-year-old boys in Minneapolis lived out a childhood fantasy, and caused half a million dollars in damage. Ouch. Be sure to click on the photo!
"Let's Not Get It On" -- You can always count on The Onion A.V. Club; this week's issue features a rundown of the Least Erotic Moments in Cinema, in other words, bad sex scenes. They picked a number of great ones, especially "The Ice Storm" and "The Cooler," which Nat fully explicated to me after he saw it (*shudder*). I would add to this list:

1. "Breaking The Waves" -- The entire film. Twisted, tragic tale of mentally challenged wife forced to prostitute herself by alcoholic, paraplegic husband. Oh yeah, that's hot.

2. "The Sweet Hereafter" -- The candlelit hayloft seduction scene between teenaged Sarah Polley and the older guy we soon come to realize is in fact her father. :-0

3. "Mission Impossible 2" -- Tom Cruise is revealed as the sun-spotted, wrinkly 40-something he truly is next to Thandie Newton's nubile form. Sad.

Hmmm, this whole enterprise begs the question, what are the Most Erotic scenes? I'd vote for Chloe Sevigny and Hilary Swank in "Boys Don't Cry," and maybe the pantry scene in "The English Patient." Mmmmm, pantry.


The Big Soy Lie -- turns out that soybeans are a multibillion dollar business here in the U.S., and that's why we're being urged to eat more of them, not because they're so great for you. I do like to eat those raw edamame in the salad bar, but I don't need to eat tofu like ever again, so this sounds good to me.
Who will be Kerry's running mate? -- "Pin the tail on the donkey," I get it. As I suspected, John McCain is filed under "In your dreams," and Dick Gephardt is a top contender. Only 7 weeks until the DNC...
How geeky are you? -- Hint: if you're reading this blog, you're not exactly going to fail. I am 32.7% geek, or a "Total Geek," not bad...I knew knowing Latin would come in handy!
"America, Recuse Thyself!" -- P.J. O'Rourke argues for total American withdrawal from everywhere. Hmmm, I think he might have something there...
Harry Potter and the Ushers of Copyright -- as the new HP movie opens in Britain, movie theater ushers will be equipped with night-vision scopes to ferret out anyone illicitly recording the movie in the theaters. All this, and they still can't get people to shut off their cellphones?!

UPDATE: Get ready for the movie by taking the BBC's Harry Potter Quiz! I got 9 right...wait, is that a good thing?
Summer is nearly here, folks -- or it would be if we could shake off the rainy, 50-degree weather around Boston. My sunburned shoulders are living proof that the sun still shines elsewhere! Other than that, I had a great getaway weekend in Cape May -- and there was big news here at home, as Jack and Mary welcomed baby boy Isaac Grady in the wee hours of Sunday morning, congratulations! The baby boomlet continues...

...and speaking of new babies, and their names, how is it that people choose unusual names for their offspring: fashion trends or random chance? According to this Economist article, there aren't as many offbeat names as it seems, but more girls have them than boys. The latest example, of course, is little Apple Blythe Alison Martin, daughter of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris "Coldplay" Martin -- who received some sage advice from handling her fruity moniker from Strawberry Saroyan, granddaughter of another hippified celebrity.