Papa? Posted by Picasa That's Bob Doughty, winner of the annual Hemingway Lookalike Contest in Key West -- on his 13th try! He appears to be holding the winner of the My Cat Lookalike Contest, by the way.
Beethoven beats Bono and Sgt. Pepper -- in dowloading, no less. Go Ludwig! Go Ludwig!
"I'm Lance! Let's go out!" -- So have you heard about the 31-year-old Mormon bachelor (I know, it's like a paradox or something) whose face is on a billboard in SLC to find a date? Well, actually, he's a marketing director and his coworkers decided to "surprise him" and throw the company logo on there, how's that for synergy? Dooce is on the scene, of course, and actually met the guy in his youth. Hmm, maybe mentioning how many kids he would like is off-putting in a public personal ad? Then again, maybe not. You know, I feel kinda sorry for this guy...and he may have a "hostile work environment" claim against his colleagues, I mean, sheesh, butt out!


For the mediocre golfer and/or superhero in your life -- a pair of trippy Golf-Ball Finding Sunglasses makes a great gift. Considering the ludicrous things for sale in this catalog, it's a bargain.
Homemade 13-pound GummiBear -- I don't know why, but this made me laugh for a long time.
Kim's answered her Thursday Five with great brevity -- I'll try to do the same:

1) What is your favorite movie? If I had to pick one all-around fave movie to get stranded with on a desert island (uh, with a TV) it would be Raiders of the Lost Ark.
2) What movie have you seen the most times? See above. I've seen Four Weddings and A Funeral nearly as often...for some reason.
3) If someone made a movie about your life, what would it be called? Since Cameron Crowe has already stolen the original name of my hometown, and this has been done to death, how about an homage: Dial Em for Laughter or From Em to Eternity? :P
4) Who would you want to play the role of "you"? Cher -- why the hell not?
5) Who would be on the soundtrack? Man, who wouldn't be on it? How about Ben Folds writing his first film score -- yes!
"But by then the conspirators, drunk with the hubris characteristic of this administration, had already been quite careless." -- Frank Rich strikes again, with yet more rumination on the evil deeds of Rove & Co.


Harry Potter and the Old-Growth Forests -- apparently the Canadian edition of HP#6 is printed entirely on recycled paper, thus Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, et al. are urging a boycott of the American version. Hmmm, my copy says at the back it "contains no fibers from ancient forests," doesn't that count for something? Next time I'll go for the pirated e-version instead.

Incidentally, I finished the book on Tuesday morning, and it was brilliant. J.K.R. finessed the plot and tightened up the dialogue to near-Austenesque levels. I was laughing and gasping out loud at various parts...now I'm waiting for the other half of my "book club" to get it done already!


Behold -- one man's brave struggle to Bring Back the Couch on the new Daily Show set. Right on!


Harrison Ford, that brown shirt looks great on you -- check this out, celebs delivering packages for Amazon.com during their 10 year anniversary week. Dang, why couldn't this be the week I ordered something with John Cusack in it?
Kimpossible does indeed strike again -- with a body-conscious Friday Five:

1) What is your favorite part of your body? Since "brain" sounds like such a grimly feminist cop-out, I'll say my decolletage -- I inherited it from my Grandma, way to go Latina genes!
2) What is your least favorite part of your body? My round, cheeky, lunar face.
3) What is your favorite part of your partner’s body? I'll choose the twinkling, mineral green eyes -- narrowly beating out the Varitekian thighs, of course.
4) What part of your body causes you the most pain? My feet: plantar fasciitis sucks.
5) On what part of your body have/would you pierce(d) or tattoo(ed)? I had the creative earholes of the 80's and 90's (3 and 2) but now only the standard 2 remain. Boring! I'm wary of tattooing, but this is what I would get, maybe on my ankle?


OK, OK, I can take a hint... Posted by Picasa These Cancun tourists have a droll message for my hurricane namesake -- but really, who goes to Cancun in July?
Hollywood: the next Detroit? -- Intriguing post on the great movie slump of '05, and some hypotheses on where Tinseltown has gone astray. I like the Motor City metaphor: let the marketing geniuses get a clue and come up with some streamlined, efficient offerings to replace the bloated gas-guzzlers of yore. I foresee a "return to content" ahead, just like network TV did after HBO blew up, just like post-bust internet biz, and so on -- bring on another 1970's of the big screen!
A persistent muddler, writing and saying the opposite of what he means. Fails to correct this by real revision or thought. Has possibilities.” -- That's a blurb from the 1930 report card of one Roald Dahl, alternately beloved and reviled children's author. This New Yorker piece is a sort of survey of all the reasons adults don't seem to like him. Bah! What's not to like?
Four words, people: The Smiths, The Musical! Can you imagine? Oh, I can indeed.


"If at the end of this exercise, you still don’t believe that the mainstream media is 100% biased against liberals, then you can no longer make any claim to be a rational person." -- Well, that sounds a wee bit...irrational to me, but Cenk Uygur of The Huffington Post has still got a point. He compares the scandals of the Clinton era with those of the current regime, and wonders, like so many of us, what the hell's going on in the newsrooms of America. Whitewater v. the Downing Street Memos, hmmm, which is more treasonous and unconstitutional? Oooh, it's a real toss-up.
Bats and aliens and witches, oh my! It's time for a Ticket Stub update around here --

* Batman Begins: The best summer movie since Pirates of the Caribbean, and maybe my favorite of 2005 to date (though that's faint praise). Christian Bale is low key, earnest, and most of all hot, hottie, McHott as the caped crusader -- throw in a decent script, excellent f/x, and Gary Oldman (aka Dracula!) as a nascent Commissioner Gordon and I can't wait for the next installment. It's moody, but not pretentious, a fine line in today's Hollywood. Katie Holmes was disappointingly dull (where was her usual charm?) but this kid is like the next Willem Dafoe, he'll be playing creepy villains for decades. Extra points for gracefully aging badasses Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine! (B+)

* War of the Worlds: Well, it's no Saving Private Ryan, and it even has a hard time meeting the B-movie standards of The Day The Earth Stood Still. It's a genre piece (i.e. lower your expectations), and yet Spielberg only has fun with about half the genre conventions: big bad monsters, check; sketchy back story, check; crowds fleeing in terror, check. But aside from Dakota Fanning, there's nobody to care about even in a cursory way -- Tim Robbins and Miranda Otto embarass themselves in cardboard supporting roles, and the angry teenage son was so generic I didn't even catch his name. Tom Cruise has ceased to be believable as an "everyman," just like Jack Nicholson -- he should stick to playing himself onscreen, that is, a narcissistic sociopath and/or robot. Despite these glaring flaws, it can be a fun flick if you pry off the big serious post-9/11 filter many critics have slapped on it -- we saw it at a drive-in, highly recommended! It's just a monster movie, take it or leave it. Points off for folksy Morgan Freeman voiceover. (C)

* Bewitched: If you like Will Ferrell's shtick, and you either do or you don't, you'll enjoy this -- he's the highlight. Nicole Kidman is cute, but needs something darker to bring out her comic side (Stepford Wives wasn't quite it either). It's a fairy tale set on a sitcom soundstage, and Nora Ephron lards on the industry jokes, hitting the mark only about 33% of the time. It drags in places, but the wacky comedy set pieces (featuring a potpourri of SNL and Comedy Central regulars) make up for it. Michael Caine's flannel pants alone make his bit part worthwhile, while Shirley MacLaine may in fact not be acting at all, and that's spooky. Extra points for a soundtrack that must have cost a fortune: Sinatra, Ella, Talking Heads! (C+)
In honor of no-longer-just-a-tropical-storm but a full-on Category 4 Hurricane Emily, here's an unusual ode to another big deal Emily. Who is also not me.

Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes

First, her tippet made of tulle,
easily lifted off her shoulders and laid on
the back of a wooden chair.
And her bonnet,
the bow undone with a light forward pull.
Then the long white dress, a more
complicated matter with mother-of-pearl
buttons down the back,
so tiny and numerous that it takes forever
before my hands can part the fabric,
like a swimmer's dividing water,
and slip inside.
You will want to know
that she was standing
by an open window in an upstairs bedroom,
motionless, a little wide-eyed,
looking out at the orchard below,
the white dress puddled at her feet
on the wide-board, hardwood floor.
The complexity of women's undergarments
in nineteenth-century America
is not to be waved off,
and I proceeded like a polar explorer
through clips, clasps, and moorings,
catches, straps, and whalebone stays,
sailing toward the iceberg of her nakedness.
Later, I wrote in a notebook
it was like riding a swan into the night,
but, of course, I cannot tell you everything -
the way she closed her eyes to the orchard,
how her hair tumbled free of its pins,
how there were sudden dashes
whenever we spoke.
What I can tell you is
it was terribly quiet in Amherst
that Sabbath afternoon,
nothing but a carriage passing the house,
a fly buzzing in a windowpane.
So I could plainly hear her inhale
when I undid the very top
hook-and-eye fastener of her corset
and I could hear her sigh when finally it was unloosed,
the way some readers sigh when they realize
that Hope has feathers,
that reason is a plank,
that life is a loaded gun
that looks right at you with a yellow eye.

--Billy Collins, from Picnic, Lightning


I'm packing sustained 60mph winds, baby. Posted by Picasa Well, Tropical Storm Emily is, anyway. I'm headed towards Barbados, watch out.

UPDATE: Emily blamed for one death in Grenada, aims for Jamaica. Oh dear.
"New Jersey was made for the blogosphere" -- and since it's my home state, I guess I was too. Check out the Carnival of New Jersey Bloggers for a roundup of mostly conservative local bloggers -- and there are a lot, for such a small state I think you'll agree it's got a lot of, shall we say, personality. My personal faves run more toward the state's essential oddness: the history of the Turnpike online, NJ Guido, and of course Weird NJ.
"US Representative Barney Frank, a Newton Democrat, called Santorum 'a jerk'" -- yeah! Come on, Kerry, and Uncle Ted, get your licks in! Rick Santorum, the troglodyte Senator from Pennsylvania, stands behind his 2002 online blurb that Boston's "liberalism" and atmosphere of "sexual freedom" are responsible for clergy sex abuse in the Catholic church. To this, what can be said but....GUHHH?? First of all, he IS a Catholic -- have they not had any problems down his way? He also thinks "radical feminists" are encouraging women to "selfishly" work outside the home and ruin their families, he thought Terri Schiavo was "executed" by the state, and he says gay marriages "absolutely" threaten his own marriage (he has 6 kids, by the way). Brian McGrory pours on the sarcasm for us all -- and the locals are restless on Boston.com. Man, what a tool.


Top Ten favorite movies of movie directors -- interesting to see which films pop up (Citizen Kane several times, Groundhog Day only once), and that only one film (I think) was directed by a woman, you can probably guess it, and it was not cited by either woman director. On a related note, Newsweek asks, is anyone in Hollywood making movies worth watching in the future? Take the poll and find out.
Kim revives the Friday Five -- and it's a good one, on everyone's favorite abstract concept that's taken over our society, money!

1. How much money is in your wallet right now? US$10.16, plus AU$0.20.
2. How much money would you need in the bank to feel secure? Rich? I would need to pay off my student loans to feel secure -- after that, $1000 in the bank would feel good. "Rich" would be, I don't know, $250K? "Rich" is relative.
3. If someone gave you $100, no strings attached, what would you do with it? God help me, I'd spend it -- probably on this or these. Or here!
4. If someone gave you $1 Million, no strings attached, what would you do with it? I'd skim off about $250K to square debts for myself and my family, and for a down payment on a house, then create a trust with the rest. I'd use the proceeds for challenge grants to get more professionals to teach in the public schools, restore programs for gifted students, and get school capital improvements and supplies partly financed by local business. Then I'd run for office. ;)
5. How much does something have to cost before it starts counting as "real" money, as a purchase to be considered and evaluated, but below which you'll buy without really thinking about it? In general, I'd say around $10, but it depends on what it is -- I'll buy a book or a shirt for $10, but it kills me to spend that on a movie ticket, on lunch, or my favorite face lotion.
"Do you have questions on another topic?" "No, no, no, no." -- Observe the White House press corps grows a spine and attacks Scott "Broken Record" McClellan as he tries to stay mum about Karl Rove and the reinflamed Plame scandal. I can only hope this thing will reach critical mass soon, although since Bush is a lame duck what does he need Rove for anymore? Sigh. I think back on Ken Starr this morning and laugh, darkly.


"If you can't stand the sight of lopped-off digits and the smell of your own flesh burning, get out of the kitchen." -- Good advice from those in the unglamorous trenches of the restaurant industry, who say it takes ten years to see if you've got what it takes to be a chef. Maybe a tattoo featuring your chef-idol, or your favorite fat? Maybe a new TV show, like righteous veteran Anthony Bourdain? I'd like one of these, myself.


Comment here would be superfluous. Posted by Picasa I'll let Laid-Off Dad take care of that! Enjoy the ? du Jour, and the holiday -- I am off for a week in NH, praise Jebus.
The Independence Day holiday is a time for Americans to do what we do best -- laze around, eat grilled meats, go to the movies, and shop. And it looks like some of our big retailers have a funny grasp of the "America" concept -- here's Target's inventory (Foo Fighters? All right!), WalMart of course, and good old Sears. Rock on, America. Rock. On.
I'd heard about this, and thought it must be a hoax. But no, David Lynch, yes, that David Lynch, reads the weather report daily on his website! *whistles Twin Peaks dwarf song here*
Heigh ho, SilverBat, awayyyy! -- Chuckleworthy collection of goofy knockoff toys. The aforementioned is basically Batman sitting on the Lone Ranger's horse. Hiyaa!
"That wave of compassion did not stop millions voting for right wingers like Thatcher, Bush and Kohl in subsequent elections. Today, Africa is, if anything, worse off." -- One BBC music critic will not be watching the Live 8 concerts tomorrow. What might they accomplish? Check it out for yourself; see also The One Campaign, the J8 initiative, and the official G8 Summit site. And take a stroll down memory lane with some "Then and Now" comparisons of the big Live Aid stars -- oh Bono, how your fashion sense has evolved.
"What are we to make of this phenomenon of our times? All of us dressing, it appears, as teenagers; all of us, apparently, sounding like them too." -- Interesting article on our adolescent-obsessed music culture, i.e. breathy teenagers but no Frank Sinatra.