The DNC has begun -- and it's full of risotto!  You can read my blog entries on my Beantown Buddy experiences here, at BostonWorks.com.  Nice gig!  They gave me a "one-use" digital camera, too, so there'll be pictures on Tuesday and Thursday.  Must...sleep...now...


A Day in the Life of a Kerry Campaigner -- via the BBC, which shadowed J.B. Lawton around in Battleground Ohio.  I'm headed to a week of DNC madness -- and I'll blog what I can when I can.  Let the corporate-sponsored hors d'oeuvres flow!
Miss Kim has come up with a delightfully random Friday Five today, culled from the depths of last night's packing extravaganza:

If you didn't have scissors, what would you use to cut?  Hmmm...I think it depends what needs to be cut.  I usually attempt to use my teeth, not too smart but a hard habit to break.  If it's paper-ish, I try to score-and-tear.  If an implement is needed, one of my Cutco knives really will cut anything.

What is the farthest you have moved? I haven't moved very far, not more than 25 miles or so with my family.  I guess when I moved to Boston to start college counts, and when I lugged a summer's worth of clothes, books, art supplies, and junk to San Francisco every summer in horribly overstuffed duffel bags to work here.

What is the oldest food product in your house?  Judging by the detritus I threw out last night, I think it was a jar of onion powder from about 1995!  That pales in comparison to the six-years-expired jar of (unopened) mayo I found in the pantry about a year ago, though...

If you could only save one thing (pets excluded) from your house in a fire, what would it be?  The small, irreplaceable things, though they're not all in one place, would be hard to let go: my vintage cookbooks and china, handmade Christmas presents, jewelry.  Only one thing?  Maybe the plush dingo I got for Nat in Sydney -- it took forever to find one! 

What is your ideal indoor temperature?  I like it cool and breezy inside, even in the winter!  Well, then not breezy, but not overheated -- I like a cool bedroom with lots of warm blankets on the bed.  These days, there's a ceiling fan over the bed, but when there's a/c I like to do what my mom always railed against: take a shower and then lie with my wet head directly in front of the cold air...aaaahhhhhh!

Dropping by the Index today from sunny California, it's Aden SchwartzPosted by Hello   Poppa Marky (my suggested hip-hop mogul name for him, BTW)  sent some great photos, so I thought I'd play around with this so-called photoblogging...not like I've got a lot to do today, what with moving tomorrow and volunteering at the DNC next week...tra la!  I think he looks a lot like his mom, Claudia...if she looked a bit more like Mark.  But that's good!  OTOH, by the time he votes in a Presidential Election, in 2024, the Bush twins will be old enough to run.  Eeeeeeep.  Enjoy these placid years, Aden!


"Luxurious.  Decadent.  Like eating diamonds with Cuban cigars." -- Rob Cockerham, resident genius of Cockeyed.com, the man behind the ever-fascinating question How Much Is Inside?, spent the entire month of March eating out for every meal.  And of course, carefully photographing and recording each repast, from wild boar to KFC.  Nice!
It's time for a few Lunchtime Sightings:

1.  On the back of my snack cracker box, the following plaintive slogan: "Triscuit fills you.  But not with regret!"  Written by the Tennessee Williams of Nabisco, to highlight Reduced Fat Triscuits' lack of sugar, saturated fat and trans-fat, and wealth of "whole grain fiber."  Pure desperation.  They do get a point, however, for proper use of the "Triscuit" trademark -- they're not "Triscuits," they're Triscuit(R)  brand crackers.  Thus, "Triscuit fills you," not "Triscuits fill you."  Isn't I.P. grand?

2.  In the checkout line of the Bedford Stop & Shop, a full page tabloid headline shrieking, "Jennifer Aniston's Miscarriage!  The pain of loss -- How Brad comforted her."  Appalling.  If there's anything that's nobody's business, it's a couple's fertility status.  What possible purpose can it serve to publicly humiliate people like this?  I know that Hollywood is baby-crazy these days, but do the editors of the Enquirer really think it's OK to spy on every e.p.t. test stick in Tinseltown?  To me, this sinks even below the level of "Photos from Laci & Conner's autopsy report!" and "JonBenet's Dad Confesses in Secret Diary!"  I can't believe I'm writing this, but I feel sorry for Jennifer Aniston.

3.  Purchased at the Bedford Stop & Shop: one 2-liter bottle of something called Stop & Shop brand Dr. Bob soda.  I take it as a lame Dr. Pepper imitator...though who knows?  I recall Star Market used to carry a President's Choice store brand soda called Dr. Smooth -- I drank many bottles of it over ice during the sweltering summer of 1995.  Also witnessed in the Stop & Shop: Stouffer's frozen entree of Welsh Rarebit; SpongeBob Squarepants "Bubbleberry" flavored Pop Tarts, frosted with sickening blue icing and multicolored sugar shapes of SpongeBob and pals; and I noticed that right next to the salad bar, so close you have to squeeze by to get to the salad, they've placed a table full of mini-cupcakes and a small refrigerator unit with individual strawberry shortcakes.  So, so wrong.
"A drinkable version of the company's signature doughnut." -- Unless you're Homer Simpson, that should not sound appetizing...but the folks at Krispy Kreme are betting otherwise.  Over at Kimpossible I discovered these scale-dipping frozen concoctions; the 20oz. size are all 700+ calories, i.e. 1/3 of your TOTAL daily intake!  Oh Miss Kim, run, run away!
"Brother, Can You Spare a Job?" -- A "Best Animation" finalist in MoveOn.org's "Bush in 30 Seconds" ad contest (and you'll remember that Miss Mandy was a "Funniest" finalist too!), this scathing, now-7-minute animated movie says it all about life under President Oligarch.  Maybe soon to be a DVD!
"Margaret Thatcher showed a Goth side when wearing black." -- A shoutout to our George for sending me to the far-too-hilarious-for-its-own-good RightGoths.com.  Yup, conservative Goths.  Who knew?  As in all things musical and fashion-related, they have a political affinity for the U.K., so they're not really poster children for Bush and his christo-fascist minions.  Check out the FAQ, which describes the Goth foreign policy outlook thusly: "The world is a bleak place filled with suffering and death."  Mmm-kay.
Boston over a barrell -- In other irritating local news, the police union has not only set up this "parody" website that's nearly identical to the official DNC site to promote their headache-inducing non-strike, they insist that their protests will go on as planned next week whether or not they have a contract in hand after tomorrow's arbitration deadline passes.  Oh, that's classy -- even if you get what you want, you'll keep disrupting things to embarrass the Mayor?  This tells me several things:  one, they know their demands won't be met to their satisfaction -- and, um, could that possibly be because a 17% pay raise is not only impractical but outrageous?  Two, they don't care about the damage this stunt will do to the Democrats locally or nationally -- on NPR this morning a commentator noted that the image of the Democratic party to non-democrats is that we're beholden to special interests groups, i.e. powerful unions.  Do they think that the GOP will come to their aid or something?  Not too likely.  Three, they are out of touch with the many non-union workers in this community and across the country, who aren't eligible for the pay raises or other protections they're demanding.  Admittedly, we office drones don't put our lives on the line for public safety every day -- but we shouldn't be asked to bankroll unlimited overtime and hefty pensions at the expense of that safety either.  Not to mention, candidly, that we're in the middle of a wave of homicide and gang violence this summer and the police don't seem to have much of a handle on it.  It's a lose-lose situation.  On a happier note, the judge who caused Tommy Nee, the BPPA president, so much consternation by ordering a decision by tomorrow in the interests of having more cops on the streets during the DNC, is none other than the Hon. Margaret Hinkle, for whom I interned and learned much from back in the old Suffolk Superior Courthouse.  She is utterly unpersuaded by politics, which in this case goes in the Mayor's favor...not that his hands are entirely clean in this either.  Feh. 
Enter the "Free Speech Zone" -- Boston.com has a message board up for venting over the proposed "protest zone" outside the Fleet Center for next week's DNC.  There's already a federal lawsuit filed over the 8-foot chain link fence and plastic netting around the area, which would seem to put the protests out of "sight and hearing" of the delegates, that standard having been established after the L.A. convention/debacle in 2000.  There's an interesting range of responses, from die-hard First Amendment defenders to those of the "Why don't they just sit at home and complain like the rest of us?" school.


Free iPods for Duke Class of 2008 -- bought at a discount by the school, to be used for "academic enrichment" and listening to the school fight song, which comes pre-loaded.  I guess getting a free laptop (or in my sister's case at Drew Univ., being required to buy one from the school as a line item in your tuition bill) is no longer cutting-edge enough.  Next up: Harvard Class of 2019 to receive personal robot assistants...or maybe monkey butlers
"A couple of straight atheists can get married in a tank full of dolphins..." -- Everyone's favorite sex columnist Dan Savage writes brilliantly in Salon about what defines a marriage these days, which is, maybe, not very much.  With religion, children, and even monogamy no longer compulsory for wedded bliss, he pokes holes in the pro-marriage arguments of both sides of the same-sex marriage debate.  (Watch the ad to read the whole thing.)
"They look like the late Tony Randall, natty but distinctly of another time."  -- That would be men who -- gasp! -- tuck in their shirts these days, when the hipster tide has turned to the Untucked Look.  As a lifelong devotee, I can only say its time has finally come.  Tucking in my shirt gives me flashbacks of childhood snowsuits, turtlenecks, and scratchy dresses, outfits it was impossible to escape from easily.  I think the rule is a little different for women, anyway -- men who tuck in look neat, conservative, maybe a little uptight; when women tuck, there's a "prison matron" thing that happens...or a "1970's secretary" thing.  No thanks.


"An orange ruled the world." -- A delightful, strange, very short story.  The author is an up-and-comer in the world of speculative fiction (what used to be called sci-fi), but to me this is just good old fashioned surrealism.
Lisa Rein's Shrub Watch -- blogger Lisa keeps track of all things W. and creepy, like this week's Newsweek story on the Administrations "contingency" planning for postponing or cancelling the November election in case of terrorist attack.  Yikes.
"Top 10 Weapons of Mass Distraction" -- from celebrity trials to Ralph Nader's candidacy, NPR commentator Connie Rice sees a vast politico-media conspiracy of the stupid.  I can't disagree, really.  See some of her other lists at the bottom.  (Via Kottke.org)
"I am a 62 year old woman..." -- so writes Martha Stewart of all people, in a plaintive 4-page letter to federal Judge Miriam Cedarbaum, who sentenced Martha the next day to her 5-month prison term (suspended).  I guess citing the American Poultry Association wasn't very persuasive.  Question: how does The Smoking Gun get their hands on stuff like this?


"Cha-ching!  LOTR=$$$." -- Five reasons why "The Lord of the Rings" films will be re-made eventually...besides the almighty dollar. 
In other LOTR news, I just discovered that Karl "Eomer"Urban appears in "The Bourne Supremacy," and Orlando "Hottie Legolas McHotHot" Bloom is filming Cameron Crowe's new one, "Elizabethtown"!  That settles two future Ladies Movie Nights... 

Well done me!  I just scored 100% on this week's BBC News Quiz.  Time to do some actual work now...
"When we sling mud, it's probably in a workshop on making alien pottery." -- If you're looking for the upcoming Democratic National Convention's website, you'll probably come across Boston2004.com, which belongs instead to Noreascon 4, the world science fiction convention.  No, really.  They've come up with a clever list of reasons why one is not like the other.  Hee.
"We had a groupthink of our own." -- The NYTimes editorial page today apologized for "not questioning the President's assumptions" enough on the WMD issue before the war.  The page was against the invasion, but agreed at the time that Saddam was a threat -- and of course we all know better know.  Sigh.
On a (slightly) more uplifting note, find out about the 10 Stories The World Should Hear More About, from overfishing to child soldiers to women-led conflict resolultion, care of the U.N.  (Via Kottke.org)
Behold Miss Kim's Colorful Friday Five (in honor of the new color capacity of Blogger):

What color are the walls of you bedroom?  White.  Aaah, soothing.  I grew up in a room with weird, nubbly wallpaper, with a repeating paisley and stripe pattern that drove me insane.  Thus, white.
What was your favorite color in fourth grade?  My favorite color's always been blue, but in the mid-80's I went through a power-purple/hot pink/fuschia phase (like many, many other little girls, I'd like to note).  Ah, I still remember my favorite purple polo shirt, w/pink and white stripes around the collar!
What color are your undies today?  Grey, and they are the second-most comfy pair I own, which is to me the most important factor.
What color is your natural hair color?  It's black...with encroaching greys!  Damn you, genes.
What color pen do you prefer to write with?  I used to be all about the black ink, but now I use blue all the time for contrast on my yellow legal pads, and to highlight my signature on things...how lawyerly.  Here's my choice pen of the moment.

Spiderman 9/11 -- Today's "Tom The Dancing Bug" is...just...awesome.  Watch the Salon ad to see the whole thing, it's worth it.  "My calculations are flawless -- start the war!"


The lobstah life -- Trevor Corson, author of The Secret Life of Lobsters, interviewed in The Atlantic Monthly on what these crawly crustaceans really do under the sea (they're serial monogamists!) and how humans wine, dine, and trap them. I quote Homer Simpson: "We're not eating Pinchy, he's part of the family now."
Maximus Libris! -- Salon has a piece today on the 'maximalist' trend in contemporary fiction (that's 'maximalist' as opposed to 'minimalist'), which irritates critics no end despite the fact that most of the alleged practitioners are critically praised -- including some of my favorites, like Jeffrey Eugenides, Zadie Smith, Dave Eggers, of course DFW, the brilliant Jonathan Lethem, and the loathsome yet talented Jonathan Franzen. Hmm, maybe it should be called 'Jonathanism'...


Braille t-shirts -- yes, it's come to this, fashion that sounds like a bad 6th grade joke.

And for more brain-bending fun, check out this optical illusion -- the almonds, man, they're swaying in the breeze! If you like that, there's lots more to see here. Enjoy a spaced-out afternoon in front of your monitor...
"Bring on the ambulance chaser." -- So said Ari Fleischer of John Edwards, and now we may have a plaintiff's attorney in the White House, much to the chagrin of the pro-business GOP. For you non-legal types, Edwards specialized in suing companies whose products injured people, and when GWB mouths off about "tort reform" he means that the injured people shouldn't be allowed to do that. Just think about that the next time you watch Erin Brockovich. Salon has a long article on some of Edwards' clients, what it means that Edwards has gotten quite rich from these cases, and why he makes GOP blood boil so (watch the ad to read the whole thing).
"The Grand Canyon is an awesome display of God's creation" -- so says the National Park Service! They approved sale of a creationist tract on the Canyon at the gift shops there, and re-installed several plaques bearing Bible verse around the Park. Surely the Bush Administration won't mind if the United Atheists of America put up a few signs that say: "It's just geology -- get over it," right?
The blogging's getting kinda slow around here -- is it the midsummer torpor? Not a chance, in rainy, 65 degree Boston (no complaints from me!). It's my impending move, and the long hours of packing, shuttling back and forth, collecting boxes, etc. The summer's half over, and I've still got so much to do...there's the DNC, a couple of weddings, and some major preparation for my class this fall...eeeeeeeep. Stay strong, readers -- and in the meantime, check this out.


"Is it Christian to cut money for Head Start?" -- big thanks to Ms. Karen who sent this link direct from Texas! The ever-clever Molly Ivins points out the hypocrisy of mixing church and state. Best line: "As regular readers know, I call upon the Lord rather frequently myself, often for patience in dealing with those who presume to speak in his name." That's our motto around here, too!
It's time once again for Miss Kim's Friday Five -- this week's theme, "50 Nifty United States...":

What was the last state you visited?
I was in NJ a few weeks ago for my sister's housewarming party.

What state were you born in?
Yup, NJ again, St. Michael's Medical Center in lovely Newark.

What state would you like to visit next?
I'll interpret this question as meaning the next state I have not yet visited, which would be Wisconsin. Or Hawaii -- everybody wants to go to Hawaii!

If we were to have only 49 states, which one would you eliminate?
Honestly, I think California should be spun off into its own nation-state...same for NYC. I don't think the framers had in mind that two of the states would have economies the size of foreign countries, and take in federal appropriations to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.

What is your state of being right now?
Very excited -- not only did I have a 2-day work week, I just got some exciting news from the Natster, about a potential canine friend for us...Keep your fingers crossed, people...


"Hey kids! Be sure to pick up Untitled Inspirational Memoir by American (White) Idol Clay Aiken today, at Wal-Mart!" -- This says it all about the publishing industry these days. Ugh.
Choose Your 'Do 2004 -- Boston.com analyzes the matchup between Kerry-Edwards and Bush-Cheney at the roots, coif vs. coif. It's a little childish and stupid, but then, so is politics.
Citizen Flynt -- Salon has an interview with Larry Flynt, "adult" entrepreneur and longtime gadfly to conservatives and decent folks everywhere, on everything from his book to the free (?) press to our current Prez and his possibly even-more-sordid past. Flynt's life is so twisted and eventful it seems like a movie...oh, wait.
I'll have a double scoop of seawater and silk, please -- I think I may have posted on this before, but check out this Gallery of Wacky Japanese Ice Creams, from whale to spinach to red wine. No, really. I think my favorite (at least for package design, anyway) is the "Dracula Premium," garlic flavor! I've actually tasted garlic ice cream at this place, not as awful as you might think but not an everyday treat, like, say, this.
Brown Equals Terrorist.com -- read about Seattle web designer and photography student Ian Spiers, who was harrassed by Homeland Security agents "for taking photos of federal property in violation of the Patriot Act" -- that is, for photographing the Hiram Chittenden Locks, a tourist attraction in his neighborhood, with permission from the park rangers and alongside dozens of other amateur shutterbugs...who happened to be non-brown. Grrrrrrrr...
"Yes, Bush is dumb. Now, excuse me, will you let me through so I can microwave my burrito?" -- The Onion does it again...aaahhhhhhh.

And in other comic relief news, check out this week's This Modern World: "Senator Kerry, is light a wave or a particle?" Hee hee.
No serifs or spurs, barbs or beaks -- on July 4th, the cornerstone was laid for the Freedom Tower in Manhattan, on the former WTC site. And which font was chosen to inscribe the 20-ton stone block? Why, Gotham of course -- fascinating background on the font and its inspiration in no-nonsense 1930's signage around NYC.


Miss Kim kicks off the July 4th weekend with her Friday Five of Fours:

What four celebrities would you invite over for a dinner party?
Mario Batali (would it be impolite to make him cook?), Michael Stipe, Madeleine Albright, and Janeane Garofalo.

What are your four pet peeves?
Traffic, inconsiderate people, leaky pens, and inane movie trailers.

What four words would you use to describe your job?
easy, static, and "mildly interesting."

What are your four favorite foods?
chocolate, feta cheese, pork & cabbage dumplings at Wang's, and the table-side Caesar salad at Piccola Italia.

What four life experiences have most shaped who you are?
My family & 3 siblings, speaking and performing in front of an audience (starting at age 5 as Gretl Von Trapp), going away to college, living "on my own" and with friends.


"The future of nail art is here!" -- Now this is technology in action, a nail-polish-jet printer. Right. [Insert your own diatribe on global poverty/famine/disease here.] Now, if you want real nail art, you can go with the timelessly tacky, or look to Flo Jo, who truly knew how to work it.

In other news of technology ill-applied, it appears that roses now come in blue, too. Question: why is beverage giant Suntory behind this transgenic madness? Hmmmmm...
McDonalds: I'm lovin' it. Croak. -- I just love these "there's a _______ in my food!" stories, and this one is not only local, it features a strange twist. The poor woman who found a live, 2-inch toad in her McD's salad was asked by the health department to keep the salad and the toad for a week until the health inspector came back from vacation. They kept the toad alive in a plastic container in their yard! Don't they have a lab or something for things like this? I think this might pose a problem for the ol' chain of evidence. Sheesh.
"From Shock and Awe to Sneak and Shirk" -- Maureen Dowd puts the shame on Bremer, Bush & Co. for skipping out of Iraq this week while our troops are spending Independence Day (and the foreseeable future) under the gun.