Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Feeble Attempt At Humour

While I was out doing my Christmas shopping tonight, a woman pressed a glass of wine into my hands and asked, "Can you make a seasonal drink out of this?" I said nothing. "Well," she said, "can you?" "Hmmm," I replied, "I'll have to mull it over."

A Very Merry Christmas/Chanukah from Patanoia to all our loyal readers.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Cryptic Crossword: Christmas Clues

Cryptic Christmas clues:

  1. Glittery material, partly satin? Seldom. (6)
  2. French Santa according to English? No! The Spanish! (4,4)
  3. I meet lots around here for kisses. (9)
  4. He sounds like Carole King. (9)
  5. Decipher Eastern riddle: what gets spun for the holidays? (7)
  6. Back in hostel, Big Bird's edible organs. (7)
  7. Goose Catholic cooked for miser. (7)
  8. Steal from baby's bed. (4)
  9. Childbirth: it goes both ways in Navy. (8)

Music: Swedish

Free & legal Jens Lekman songs. I would compare him to Jonathan Richman, Morrissey and Frank Sinatra. You might not.

Music Quiz: The Replacements

Eric had some interesting points that follow on from the discussion of musicians doing songs from their old bands. He mentions bands that replaced an original member with someone as good if not better. Can you name the originals?

1. Ringo Starr in the Beatles.
2. Neal Peart in Rush.
3. Brian Johnson in AC/DC.
4. Rick Wakeman in Yes.
5. Trevor Rabin in Yes.
6. Joe Walsh in The Eagles.
7. Leslie Dowdall in In Tua Nua.

Had to throw in an obscure Irish one. A very young Sinead O'Connor was the original vocalist for the band (she co-wrote their first single).

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Music: Saint Etienne

It's always fun to make fun of Sting, isn't it? Turquoise Days has an obscure (fanclub-only?) track by St. Etienne called "Message In A Bottle". You can find the lyrics here (need to scroll down, obviously). (Here's a photo of Sarah Cracknell in an Ireland shirt - why, I do not know.)

Saturday, December 11, 2004


Inappropriate quote. In the Dallas Morning News today, they have the results of their annual Holiday Cookie Contest. The winner of the "Decadent" category eschewed the usual "sweet, buttery, gooey, toffee-nut, fudgy" route, and instead submitted Key Lime Sables.

"That's kinda ballsy," said judge and pastry chef Tsuki Caspary-Brooks from Sur La Table.

Does she mean Schwetty balls?

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Music: Former Band's Songs

One of my friends (probably best that he remain nameless) was moved by the shooting of "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott to wonder: (a) was he shot for covering a Pantera song? (b) what other performers should be shot for performing songs by their former bands? This friend offers up Dave Gilmour - he should be shot if he does Pink Floyd. Whoops - he does.

My friend, when will you ever learn that violence solves NOTHING?

Still, I suppose you could slap Art Garfunkel in the face with a hefty haddock for doing Simon & Garfunkel songs in his solo concerts. And save a flounder for Creedence Clearwater Revisited - CCR without John Fogerty. Doug Yule is still making the most of his 15 minutes as John Cale's replacement in the Velvet Underground, so he should definitely face the scales of justice.

Feeble Attempt At Humour

It's that time of year again - Barbara Walters' 10 Most Wiveting People of 2004.

#10 - Tewesa Heinz Kewwy. She didn't get to be our next First Lady, because of a wule that pwohibits foweigners fwom that position, but the Ketchup Girl, as she is known, stole our hearts completely. Amewica finds her accent WIVETING!!!

#9 - Donald Twump. The bankwupt pwoperty developer is twying to build up his business again - and TV camewas are there to wecord evewy moment. He may not be the easiest person to get along with (he seems to fire another employee evewy week) but his ambition (and his hair!) is WIVETING!!!

#8 - Opwah. I thought I'd seen it all on her daytime show (fighting Klansmen, paternity tests, fighting stwippers) but this year she outdid herself - she gave away a car to a lucky audience member! Tears flowed and it was WIVETING!!!

#7 - Janet Jackson. As her ex-husband Michael deals with his legal twoubles, Janet got in some hot water of her own. Acting on a dare from her fiance, Justin Timberlake, she streaked onto the field in the middle of the Superbowl! CBS and the FAA had a heart-attack, but we were WIVETED!!!

#6 - Michael Moore. His documentawy "Fahwenheit 101" was the biggest movie of the year. Not bad for a guy who worked in an automobile factowy in Detwoit! Check out his first movie - "Bowling With Woger" - it's WIVETING!!!

#5 - Luke Pewwy. He heated up our scweens this year with his smoldering bad-boy looks as the title chawacter on "The O.C." (Officer in Command). How long can TV hold on to Luke before he gwaduates to movies? Those movies are sure to be...WIVETING!!!

#4 - Mia Hamm. This plucky gymnast had to overcome a twisted ankle and some judge-bwibing by the North Koweans, but in the end she won her gold medal. Yes, she sounds like she just inhaled helium but her Olympics performance was WIVETING!!!

#3 - Mel Gibson. Evewyone in Hollywood said he was cwazy to make a movie about Jesus, that he was too old to play the lead wole. Mel showed them! "The Passion Of Chwist" turned out to be the biggest movie of the year! Some found it to be too violent, but I thought the cwucifixion was WIVETING!!!

#2 - The Goggle Guys. They didn't invent the internet - they just awwanged evewything on it so that you can find it more easily. is a big hit with "surfers" and will be even bigger when it's finished (a few pictures would be nice). But it's still WIVETING!!!

#1 - Pawis Hilton. She's an heiwess, a weality TV star, a witer, and a fashion model. And, oh yes, that sex tape. Unbeknownst to Ms Hilton, her amowous activities were secwetly taped by Special Forces twoops with night-vision goggles. Embawwassing for Pawis but for evewyone else? WIVETING!!!

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Movies: Nepotism

Continuing the movie theme. The challenge is to cast a film called "I (Heart) Nepotism" with people who only seem to get work from one director. The female love interest in this film will be played by Maxine Bahns who hasn't done much since then-boyfriend Ed Burns cast her in "The Brothers McMullen" and "She's The One". Her best friend will be played by Joie Lee, Spike's little sister.

Any suggestions for the male lead? The best I can do is Jason Lee, but he has had other roles apart from Kevin Smith movies.

Special appearance by Catherine Scorsese (Marty's mom) as her Granny. (Okay, she passed away in '97 but we'll bring her back digitally.) Sondra Locke (ex-partner of Clint Eastwood) as her mother.

Comic relief will be provided by Jason Mewes, who usually plays Laurel to Kevin Smith's Hardy.

Supporting roles for Clint Howard (Opie's brother), Frank Stallone (in the first three "Rocky" movies), and Tony Roberts (Woody Allen's best friend).

The score will be composed (posthumously) by Carmine Coppola, father of Francis Ford.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Movies: Cheesy Lines

Cheesy movie lines. Can't argue with their choices. Can argue with the fact that I went to the web site of the sponsors of the list, Warburtons, and I couldn't see any reference to the list. Maybe you'll have better luck than me.
I'll add one of my favourite cheesy lines, from "Some Kind Of Wonderful", uttered by Mary Stuart Masterson's tomboy character: "Break his heart, I'll break your face."
Cheesiest TV line? How about "Welcome to the O.C., bitch."

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Book Reviews: Prank?

I need your opinion. Click here to see a book at and scroll down to the Customer Reviews. There are three reviews by "A reader" from three different towns. All three are in a similar style (possibly fitting the description Pooterish). I suspect that the three reviews were all written by the same person and are tongue-in-cheek. Or do English people really, seriously write things like "My family know me as a man of few words and modest means", "they had given the Germans what they deserved having started the war in the first place" and "Imagine the authors implore us, you are over the Third Reich, land of evil, and it is dark" ?

Music: MP3 Blogs

Aren't Open Directories marvelous? It's like looking through someone's medicine cabinet - who knows what you'll find?
Open Dir Festival links to directories that contain MP3s. (Found via MP3Blogs Aggregator.) Often the directories will have photos too. Here's a great photo of a pretty face.
Totally Fuzzy also links to Open Directories. You might even find Avril Lavigne's version of "Knocking On Heaven's Door". Don't think it'll make anyone's Top 50 of cover versions.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Song List: Covers

The Daily Telegraph published its list of the Top 50 Cover Versions, reprinted here. Some of the covers we discussed here made the list. Jeff Buckley, "Hallelujah" at 4. Cowboy Junkies, "Sweet Jane" at 19. (Those two suggested by Robb.) Flying Lizards, "Money" at 33. John Cale. "Heartbreak Hotel" at 37. Bangles, "Hazy Shade Of Winter" at 41. That was from Shell. Sadly, Shell's Lemonheads didn't make the list.

Their #1 is Jimi Hendrix doing "All Along The Watchtower".

Tuesday, November 30, 2004


Don't get me started on those Greeks. There's the ongoing row over Macedonia, of course. And then some Greek lawyers threatened to sue the producers of "Alexander" because it depicted him as bisexual (which most historians think was pretty likely). The lawyers have now suspended their suit until they see the film.
What happened you, Greece? You used to be cool and hip. Now look at you. All you've given us in the last thousand years is Nana Mouskouri (planning her farewell tour next year).

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Advertising: AOL Voiceover

Yes, that is Julia Roberts doing the voiceover on AOL's commercials.

Peeves: "Not In My House"

Another abhorrent sports cliche: "Not in my house!"
First off, it's not your house. It's a sports stadium. Your house is that building where you sleep at night and where your children keep their toys.
And secondly, are you implying that it would be okay for your opponents to score against you on their home turf?
Now get out of here before I throw a beer at you.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Sports: Roger Clemens

As Kevin Costner says in "Bull Durham", "Strikeouts are boring. Besides that, they're fascist."

Does anyone embody this dictum more than Roger Clemens? He named his four sons Koby, Kory, Kasy and Kody, because "K" is the symbol for Strikeout. You never caught Nolan Ryan pulling that sort of rubbish. (Why does the White House web site have a bio of Ryan?) So, yes, Clemens is annoying.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

TV: "The Amazing Race 6"

The best looking woman on TV at the moment? (Ignore any other names I might have suggested for this title in the past.) Kristy on The Amazing Race. (Her sister Lena ain't bad either.) I read on the CBS site that Kristy has moved to Denmark. Well, here's her modelling page. The photos really don't do justice to her. Oh look, she has a personal web site. Oh-oh, she's shilling her own protein powder. And the site has unnecessary Flash animation. But better photos of her in the Gallery. Love the wedding dress photo.
I listened to the new U2 album today, and was going to post what I see as their biggest flaw: Bono's bloody rhyming couplets. Then I came across this quote at U2EXIT:

"Looking back, I see a lot of unfinished songs. It annoys me sometimes that I look back and see a sort of inane couplet. I have to live with it."

-- Bono, 2001, on his lyrics

Among the gems on the new record:

"Don't look before you laugh/Look ugly in a photograph"

"You don't have to put up a fight/You don't have to always be right."

"I like the sound of my own voice/I didn't give anyone else a choice/An intellectual tortoise."

Okay, that last one's a rhyming triplet. But it begs the question: if Bono knows he's prone to "inane couplets", why doesn't he apply a little Quality Control? At least there's no "Miami, my Mammy" on this one.
Parody of by those jokers at They have other fakes to enjoy.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

TV: "The Munsters"

Flipping through the channels last night, caught some of a Munsters episode where Herman tries out for the Dodgers. Click the link to read Leo Durocher's line.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Lyrics Quiz: Birds 2

Eric prefers a lyrics quiz to have the theme in the title (Shell agrees with him, even though they don't know each other.) Over to Eric:

Songs with Bird in the title:

1) Take these broken wings, and learn to fly.
2) Late at night, when the wind is still, I'll come flying through your door, and you'll know what love is for.
3) If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me? (love using the same one twice)
4) Feed the babies, who don't have enough to eat. Shoe the children, with no shoes on their feet. House the people, living in the street.

Songs with titles about flying (famous bands, but somewhat obscure songs)

5) Sammy was low, just watching the show, over and over again.
6) Daddy says I'm lazy, he don't understand, never saw inside my head. People think I'm crazy, but I'm in demand, never heard a thing I said.
7) Moon rise, thoughtful eyes, staring back at me from the window beside. No fright or hindsight,
leaving behind that empty feeling inside.

Bonus - Record label that references a bird - only 2 groups used it. Bad Company, and a super famous group.

(Back to me. I only know 1 and 3.)

Sports: Appropriate Names

More appropriate athlete names. The Patriots have a player called Patrick Pass - but sadly he's a Running Back.

The Indiana Pacers have a player called Jonathan Bender, which is only appropriate because he injured his knee. (He missed the brawl.)

Wonderfully sarky review of music magazines. Here's Part 2.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Optical illusions, ahoy! Watch the dragon video here. Funny how something so low-tech can be so amazing.

Media: "Private Eye"

Private Eye is online with some of their content. Colemanballs is always good for a laugh. And the Lookalikes. (Spy Magazine stole their "Separated At Birth" from this.) They also have a very rude Cryptic Crossword. (Hint for 28 Across in Crossword #274: "Brenda" is their nickname for the Queen, also known as "E.R.".)

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Lyrics Quiz: Birds

The next lyrics quiz - lyrics that reference birds.

1. "I don't mean to suggest that I loved you the best, I can't keep track of each fallen robin."
2. "You wave your hand and they scatter like crows. They have nothing that will ever capture your heart."
3. "Back to the howling old owl in the woods."
4. "There's a rose in a fisted glove, and the eagle flies with the dove."
5. "When your rooster crows at the break of dawn, look out your window and I'll be gone."

Lyrics Quiz: Free 3

In case you missed it, Shell posted some more "Free" lyrics in the comments section:

1. Home
Home and dry
Like a homing bird I fly,
As a bird on wing

2. Calling on in transit, calling on in transit.

Christmas: Early Lights

Glad to see the Dallas Morning News give a "Thumbs Down" today to people who have turned on their Christmas lights already. I have some neighbours who fall into that category.

Friday, November 19, 2004


Stupidest invention of all time? The cone-shaped water cup, dispensed beside water coolers. (It can't stand up!) The best invention of all time? USB Mince Pies.
I can't tell - is this photo of a Chilean protester comical or sad?

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Music: Morrissey

I haven't heard it yet, but Morrissey has a b-side with the funniest title I've seen in a long time: "Don't Make Fun Of Daddy's Voice". You can read the lyrics here. I see he sings some lines in Spanish, appealing to his huge Latino fanbase. Sadly, Morrissey is engaging in that despicable record industry sport of re-releasing a recent album with bonus material. As my friend Lori said after a very short Morrissey concert in Dallas some years back, "Not even a kiss before he screwed me."

Media: Unflattering Descriptions

Another gratuitous attack on someone's physical appearance. The Associated Press reviews an album by a renowned flat-chested singer under the headline "Gwen Stefani's Solo Debut a Bust". Disgraceful. Here's a small breast support group with the slogan "I need it even if they don't".

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Lyrics Quiz: Free 2

Another lyrics quiz, this time from Eric, related to yesterday's. All of these songs have the word "Free" in the title.

  1. Each of us, a cell of awareness, imperfect and incomplete.
  2. So I come here to give you a hand, and lead you into the promised land.
  3. Well I've been lying in this dungeon, since I was 18; ten lonely years of my life taken.
  4. If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me?
  5. And freedom tastes of reality.

Thanks, Eric, for giving back to the community.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

In this Reuters story about Richard Armitage resigning, there occurs this bizarre and completely unnecessary description:
"Armitage, a barrel-chested former Navy officer who closely managed the day-to-day operations..."

What next? "Rice, a buck-toothed former pianist.." ? "Cheney, known for his heart two sizes too small.." ? "Barbara Bush, the President's pert daughter.." ?

Lyrics Quiz: Free 1

Lyrics quiz. The subject is Freedom.

  1. And I'm free to be who I choose, to get my booze any old time.
  2. And freedom, oh freedom, well, that's just some people talkin'.
  3. Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose.
  4. Now that you've got your freedom, you wanna still hold on to me.
  5. I can see it in your eyes. How proud you were to fight for freedom in this land.
  6. Then you discover... what you thought was freedom was just greed.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Words: Neologisms

An amusing list of neologisms from Daily Candy. They also have a guide to Dallas. I guess it's some kind of fashion web site.
Did you see Pat Robertson's "Bushism" last week? Asked who he'd like to see on the Supreme Court, he said:
"I tell you, I think the most wonderful, delicious irony would be if Erik Estrada, who has been abused so badly by the Democrats on the Judiciary Commission--Committee, was picked and went onto the court. He's a superb candidate, brilliant guy. An immigrant from down in Central America, a Hispanic, I mean, it'd be marvelous to see him on the Court."

Apparently, he meant Miguel Estrada.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Observer interview with the White Stripes.

Movies: "Alexander"

Has there ever been a dumber quote in a movie trailer than this one? (I'll let you guess the name of the film.)
"Never will there be an Alexander like you, Alexander the Great!"

If you know of a dumber quote, let me know.

Beauty: Sabine Ehrenfeld

Here's another beauty - the model/actress in the commercial. ("It's all about the O.") Here's a photo gallery of Sabine Ehrenfeld. There's even a "naughty librarian" look for those who like that sort of thing. But no shot of her inner thigh, as seen in the commercial when she's in her tennis outfit. Wait, here are some stills from the ad, along with some completely unrelated screenshots.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Music: U2

On their forthcoming album, U2 pay tribute to Britvic Orange with a song called "Original Of The Species".

Friday, November 12, 2004


Check out the back page of the Dallas Morning News Northeast Tarrant section for Friday, November 12. Now find the photo in the top left, taken at the Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering in the Stockyards. The caption reads "Mary Lou Najera" but it should really say, "The Most Beautiful Woman In The World". An internet search only finds a Mary Lou Najera who wrote to Salon saying that Elian Gonzalez should be returned to Cuba.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Words: Euphemisms

Lovely euphemism in this news story:
A spokesman for the National Air Traffic Services (NATS) said on Thursday that her plane suffered "a loss of separation" over Morecambe Bay -- meaning that it came too close to another jet.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Words: "LOL" alternatives

Eric suggests an alternative to "LOL", based on the type of food/drink that one would spit, if one were to be consuming that substance while laughing. "Coke-spitter", "Yogurt-spitter", "Manwich-spitter" etc. That's okay so long as your computer screen is really pebble-dashed by the foodstuff.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Feeble Attempt At Humour

So there I was, walking down Euless Main Street, minding no one's business, not even my own.

I heard a clip-clop approaching. I looked around and saw a pony trotting in the same direction, pulling a simple two-wheeled open carriage behind it. The carriage was empty. "That's odd," I thought, and carried on walking.

The pony caught up with me, and stopped slightly ahead. He turned his head, as if to invite me aboard. No, I imagined that. I started walking again. The pony pulled ahead, stopped again. I wasn't imagining it. He whinnied and gestured again with his head for me to climb on the carriage.

I stood there and thought about it. The pony gave me a threatening look. "Begod, I'd better do it," I thought.

Just as I was about to step up onto the carriage, a man came running from the other side of the road.

"Don't do it!" he cried. "It's a trap!"

Monday, November 08, 2004

Cliches: That's What I'm Talkin' About!

Can you please stop saying, "That's what I'm talkin' about!" - unless you really were, honest to God, right there and then, talking about it? It's okay to say "That's what I'm talkin' about!" when your team scores a touchdown if you have just concluded a lengthy discourse about your team's need to put more points on the board. But if you have been eating Cheetos and trying to remember the name of the kid everyone hated in the 4th Grade, then please refrain from saying it.

And while we're at it, don't type "LOL" unless you really did laugh out loud. Please include contact details for someone who can confirm your audible laughter.

Let's have a contest to find the lamest use of "LOL" on the internet. Here's my submission:

I think Bush will win my homestate of KY but my homestate don't really matter much in the election! lol. Overall I think Kerry is going pull it off by a slim margin. I can't wait to watch it all unfold tomorrow, very exciting stuff. Just hope the best man wins, whoever that is! lol.
Lip for Prez in 08 baby! lol.


Sunday, November 07, 2004

Words: David Shulman

New York Times obituary for lexicographer David Shulman contains this line:
Mr. Shulman avoided excessive modesty, letting it drop that he was at least temporarily the last word on words that included "The Great White Way," "Big Apple," "doozy," "hoochie-coochie."

Some other good stories in the obit, including one about an eccentric at the New York Public Library.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Punk Rock For Pussies - nice mix of post-punk and golden oldies. I'm listening to the July 22nd show.

Music: Flying Lizards

Controversy over the Flying Lizards cover of "Money (That's What I Want)". We all agreed it's an excellent cover. The disagreement arises over the lead "vocalist". Is she Asian? Trying to sound Asian? I never heard her accent as being anything other than English. But an internet search finds this: Some people thought they were a new wave band lead by a Japanese lady who "...sang poorly.". And this: "Money" is a classic New Wave Dance from The Flying Lizards circa 1979 that sounds as though Yoko Ono is on vocals..

Must be a cultural thing - Yanks can't identify accents for shit.

Guardian article about One Hit Wonders (including the Flying Lizards).

Song List: Covers

Robb the Troglodyte writes:

I guess you can't put comments in without signing up.
I didn't want to sign up.

Great ones:
Jeff Buckley doing Hallelujah by Cohen
Cowboy junkies doing Sweet Jane by The Velvet
Take Me to the River Talking Heads by Al Green
Walk This Way Run DMC
Love and Rockets Ball of Confusion

Not so Great:
Bauhaus doing Ziggy Stardust
Guns 'n Roses Live or Let Die and Knocking on Heaven's
Door (anything covered by GNR)
I have No Doubt that It's My Life shouldn't be covered
Johnny Cash doing Nine Inch Nails - puleez

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Jesus and Mary Chain rip-off. (Turn your speakers down before playing their MP3s.)

Music: Covers

Follow-up to Shell's thoughts on cover versions. Yes, definitely has to be very different from the original. The one that comes to mind is John Cale's slowed-down, intense version of "Heartbreak Hotel". On the lighter side, Aztec Camera's version of Van Halen's "Jump".

Men covering a song previously sung by a woman is usually campy fun (like Travis doing "Baby One More Time"). An exception is Danny Wilson singing "Knowing Me, Knowing You" - but that's because it's such a great song.

Eric speaks up for "I Heard It Through The Grapevine", preferring CCR to Marvin Gaye. Also done by Joe Cocker, Average White Band, the Dead Milkmen and the Slits.

Law: Funny Names

Do lawyers have funnier names than the general population? Some of the people who just passed the Texas Bar Examination: Matthew Acock, Bobby Bui (Baba booey?), Keisha Dicks, Elizabeth Justice, Nora Law, Chase Laws, Liberty Lay, Margaret Lecocke, Carnegie Harvard Mims III, Griselda Ponce, Melissa Schwaller, Tan My Tang, Hugo Teste and Equator Turner.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Music: Covers

Shell writes:

Music Remakes
1. Cover Band Bad
These unfortunately-too-faithful note-by-note, karaoke winner remakes don't make one say "What or Who is That?" The actual question is "Why bother?"
Examples: Lemonheads cover of "Mrs Robinson" or ??? cover of "Boys of Summer."
2. Vocal Gender Change
What keeps these covers from falling into category number 1 is the vocal gender change,
usually when a woman vocalist covers a song originally crooned by a male.
Examples: Bangles cover of "Hazy Shade of Winter", Bananarama cover of "Venus",
Can't think of a man covers woman song at this moment.
3. Reinvented Greatness
These covers are different enough from the original they aren't immediately recognizeable. Even a bad result is better than the awful category 1 clunker.
Examples: The Cure's wonderful cover of Hendrix' "Purple Haze"
Manfred Mann cover of Springsteen's "Blinded By the Light"

Politics: Democratic Party

Whither the Democratic Party? Will it move to the center to attract an increasingly conservative electorate? Will it move to the left to energise its more radical base?

Here's my suggestion, free of charge. Split into two separate (but affiliated) parties: Vanilla Democrats and Xtreme Democrats.

The Vanilla (moderate) Democrats would run in rural or suburban areas.

The Xtreme (activist) party would run in the cities.

The moderates would be free of the "Liberal" tag that is used so effectively against them in the South. The radicals wouldn't have to watch what they say.

The two parties would field a joint "United Democrat" candidate for the Presidential election (a moderate, of course). Xtremists would be rewarded with cabinet posts in areas like the Environment and Health and Social Services.

Ideally, the Republicans would do something similar, and before too long, the moderate Republicans and moderate Democrats could form a new centrist party that would force the extremists on both sides into the margins of history. Or something like that.

Media: Peter Jennings

Why I hate Peter Jennings. Last night, George Will mentioned that Abraham Lincoln rushed Nevada to statehood to get extra Electoral College votes. Jennings nodded smugly, "I remember that incident well." No, he wasn't claiming that he was alive in 1864 - he wanted us to know that his knowledge of U.S. history is just as deep as George's.

I enjoyed his testy exchange with their reporter with the Kerry campaign, who offhandedly referred to the belief in the Kerry camp that Bush had won Ohio. At that stage, I believe only NBC had called Ohio for Bush. I forget the exact words, but Jennings sharply squelched any suggestion that Ohio was decided.

Dan Ratherisms from last night (and 2002 and 2000).

Monday, November 01, 2004

Music: The Boss

Caught a bit of Bruce Springsteen performing on behalf of Kerry on C-SPAN. Saw the end of one murky dirge - a song where Bruce plays the common man and addresses someone as "Mister". Then he started another identical dirge that turned out to be "Thunder Road". Sad, very sad. He had the words written out in a booklet but the wind turned the pages. This can't be helping.

Politics: Sideshow Bob

Savvy political analysis from Sideshow Bob, when asked why he rigged the mayoral election:
Because you need me, Springfield. Your guilty conscience may force you to vote Democratic, but deep down inside you secretly long for a cold-hearted Republican to lower taxes, brutalize criminals, and rule you like a king. That's why I did this: to protect you from yourselves. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a city to run.

Sundance is running some anti-Bush programs tonight. I'll be tuning in for "Bush's Brain" tonight at 9:10pm, all about Karl Rove.
In non-political viewing, I recommend "The Young Visiters" on BBC America on Wednesday night. It's based on a story written by a 9-year-old girl in 1890 (hence the misspelling). Very charming.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

People: Sad Fat Kids

My favorite part of Fox's post-season baseball coverage?
The sad fat kids.
Late in a game, with the home team losing, they'd always show a sad fat kid sitting in the stands. (R. says all fat kids are sad but I'm not sure this is true.)

Tonight (Hallowe'en) a sad fat kid came trick-or-treating to my door. Only he didn't say "Trick or treat". He was borderline too-old-for-Hallowe'en and had made minimum effort on his costume - dressed in black with a mask handing around his neck. (I let the age slide because he had his younger sister with him. Maybe he had to accompany her around the neighbourhood. At least she had gone to the trouble of painting her face a skeletal white.) And they didn't say 'Trick or treat". So I called him on it. "You're not going to say Trick or Treat?" "No," he sighed, "we're not in the mood." He then pointed out the flashes of lightning in the distance. "There's a storm coming." He was a sad fat kid. I gave him candy.

I did have a skinny happy kid who complimented me on the cactus beside my front door. "Cool cactus!" he said, more interested in that than the candy.

It is a cool cactus. I've had since I moved into my house in 1998. I rarely water it - maybe every six weeks. I think it's still alive.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Feeble Attempt At Humour

I was going to build my own abacus, but I thought it would be counter-productive.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Music: Bad Band Names

Great bands with horrible names:
Name:Possum Dixon
Why it's bad: Inappropriate for their style of music. You expect Southern Boogie, you get angular pop-punk.
How they got the name: From a criminal on "America's Most Wanted".
Outlook: They seem to have broken up. Too bad. Their 80s-influenced music would fit right in with Franz Ferdinand and Interpol.

Name:The Anomoanon
Why it's bad: Difficult to spell, impossible to pronounce.
How they got the name: From the top of a dictionary page, "Anomo-Anon".
Outlook: Doomed to be a footnote to big brother Will Oldham (Palace, Bonnie "Prince" Billy).

Name:Scud Mountain Boys
Why it's bad: "Scud" is such an ugly word.
How they got the name: Apparently, they started as a punk band called The Scuds. I would guess that they modified it to pay tribute to the Foggy Mountain Boys when they "went country".
Outlook: Sadly, new band the Pernice Brothers is just as overlooked.

Any suggestions?

Music: MP3 Blogs

While searching for something else, came across this blog post. (Note to Robb: this guy posts a Patty Griffin MP3. I think you'd have a lot in common with him.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Music: MP3 Blogs

For a shameless Smiths ripoff/homage, go here and listen to track 5 on both the A and B sides, by Math & Physics Club. I also recommend this by Edith Frost. And it's all legal.
Frank recommends this Election site to keep tabs on the Electoral College vote (according to the latest polls). Slate has something similar.

Sports: Baseball

Baseball Notes.

  • Three people in a booth is one too many. Fox seems to have realised this for the World Series. Unfortunately, they've kept Tim "You can't see the wind" McCarver.
  • ESPN Radio in Dallas (103.3) is carrying a Mavericks pre-season game tonight instead of Game 3. Plonkers.
  • What the hell happened before Game 3 of the ALCS? Boston had the Cowsills come on to sing the National Anthem, but first, the PA played what seemed like Side 1 of their Greatest Hits.
  • That is some bad hair on the Red Sox. Worst of all - Bronson Arroyo's cornrows.
  • Idea to improve Baseball. Once per game, a manager can send up two batters at the same time: one left-handed, one right-handed. Either or both can swing at the pitches. (They need to coordinate between themselves who will take which part of the plate.) If one gets a hit, both must run and make it at least as far as First Base safely. At that point, one batter is given second base. If four balls are thrown, the batters are awarded First and Second. If an Out is recorded, both batters are out but it only counts as one Out.
  • Glen raises the interesting question - what if one of the batters is hit by a pitch? Now one batter can charge the mound while the other grapples with the catcher.
John Peel, RIP. Good interview from Yugoslavian radio.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Media: The Guardian

Self-serving piffle in the Guardian, trying to defend their unwise Clark County letter-writing campaign. Excerpt:
"Then came the backlash. We had expected it, of course. Fox-viewing America was never going to embrace our modest sortie into US politics and we knew full well that any individual voter might take exception to the idea of a foreigner writing to offer some advice on how they should vote..."

"Fox-viewing America" ? I don't think ABC-viewing America and UPN-viewing America were any keener on the idea.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Media: Jon Stewart on "Crossfire"

Transcript of Jon Stewart's appearance on "Crossfire", when he mixed it up with Tucker Carlson. A tip of the hat to CNN for including this quote in the transcript:
"You're as big a dick on your show as you are on any show."

Movies: "The Third Man"

Interesting articles about "The Third Man" at the British Film Institute's web site.

Quotes: HL Mencken

In Hugh Leonard's column today in the Sunday Independent (registration required), he quotes HL Mencken:
"When women kiss, it always reminds one of prizefighters shaking hands."

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Movie Quiz: Double Features 4

Double Feature mania is sweeping the nation! Here's an entry from Eric:

Two young Irish immigrants struggle in America, fall in love, and join the Oklahoma land rush. Then they're sent on a doomed mission to Nazi-occupied Holland to seize a key position on the Rhine.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Summary of Presidential polls. It also includes a link to Harry Shearer's song "Hard Work", which liberally samples President Bush.

Movie Quiz: Double Features 3

Another installment of everyone's favourite: Double Features. There's a theme to these three. Answers in the Comments section.

  1. A quadriplegic is born to a poor Irish family. Not only does he overcome his disabilities to become a talented painter and writer, he also leads the youth of a small town against the local ban on dancing.
  2. An Irishman living in England is falsely implicated in an IRA bombing and sent to prison. He shares a cell with his Dad, who has to arrange an extravagant wedding for his daughter.
  3. Warfare erupts between rival bands of criminals in 1860s Manhattan. In the midst of this violence, the Olsen Twins scheme to win a college scholarship and sneak onto the set of a music video.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Song List: Born To...

"Born To Run" - sure. A mite melodramatic and self-mythologising but it makes sense.
"Born To Be Wild" - I can dig that, even if it is irresponsible.
"Born To Lose" - defeatist and fatalistic but some people feel that way, I suppose.
But "Born To Be Alive" ? That's where I draw the line. Isn't that redundant? Damn catchy tune, though.

Feeble Attempt At Humour

Bumper sticker seen on the back of an Amish buggy:
"I'd rather be a Baby-shaker than a Shaker baby."

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Movies: "Betty Blue"

"Betty Blue" is finally released on DVD today in the USA. It has one of my favourite opening lines. As we watch a very naked couple making love, the voiceover narration says:

“I had known Betty for a week. We made love every night. The forecast was for storms.”

(But apparently the author of the book upon which it is based doesn't like the movie.)

Movie Quiz: Double Features 2

More Double Features.

  1. An African-American woman on the lam from prison cons the Iranian immigrants who now own her house. Hilarity and tragedy ensue as she wins justice for herself and teaches them to loosen up at the same time.
  2. A mischievous boy wreaks havoc on his elderly neighbour in the "projects" of Watts, while trying to avoid a violent death like his father or a drug-related death like his mother.
  3. An innocent Scottish teen deals with his first crush - on an aspiring actress who is forced to work as a phone-sex operator.

(Answers posted in the Comments section.)

Monday, October 11, 2004

Movie Quiz: Double Features 1

Double Feature (combining two movie titles). This movie is about a teenage girl who magically swaps bodies with her father, a High School Football coach. Dad has to deal with the pressures of being a teen while the daughter has to lead the football team to the State Championship.

Here's another one. A young boy in modern-day Philadelphia has a strange gift: he can see 19th Century English ladies. He overcomes his fears and helps two sisters to find suitable husbands.


The best Beethoven symphonies are the odd-numbered ones.
The best Star Trek films are the even-numbered ones.
The best Police Academy films are the prime numbers.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Sports: Overlapping Names

I've improved on the original "Overlapping Sports Names" entry. It now has 7 overlapping names. Had to use two Rugby players.
Eddie George Brett Kenny Logan Tom Gordan Banks
Breaking that down:

Sports: Appropriate Names

Another sports-appropriate name: Minnesota Twins relief pitcher (and Australian) Grant Balfour. Here's a website devoted to Australians who have made it big in US sports.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Words: "Internets"

Bushism at the Debate: "I hear these rumours on the internets..."
The "Guest Book" for the Ukraina Hotel Complex in Moscow. So don't email them with your request for "female companionship" if you don't want it posted for all to see.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Sports: Overlapping Names

New game - link as many sports names together like this:

Eddie George Brett Hull

Overlap must be the last name of one person, first name of the next. Same spelling. Must be major league player in their sport (or coach). Use the "Comments" to add your own.

Music: Opening Lines 7

A belated entry for the Opening Lyrics discussion from someone who wants to remain anonymous. I'll just say it's not this ice skater, nor this writer (who can't use the word "entrepreneur" in his business name), nor is it this guy who posts evidence that Dick Cheney had, in fact, met John Edwards before their debate.
"Well, the Devil went down to Georgia."

Frankly, I'm not too impressed. Where else would you expect the Devil to go? For me, the best diabolical opening lyrics remain:
"Please allow me to introduce myself. I'm a man of wealth and taste."

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Internet: Websters Online Dictionary

I like this online dictionary/meta search engine for the variety of results it returns: Definition, Synonyms, Internet Frequency, Translations, Rhymes, Anagrams, Usage in Screenplays and Song Lyrics, Images, Amazon and E-Bay items...maybe TMI.

Words: Towards

"Toward" v. "Towards"
Bill Bryson says that "toward" is the preferred form in America, "towards" in Britain, but either is correct.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Politics: Tom DeLay

We all knew that Tom DeLay was evil but he's apparently not very smart. In the official House Ethics Committe report, he admits that he offered to endorse Rep. Nick Smith's son in return for his vote on the Medicare Bill. Slate says that may be illegal.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Words: Funeralize

Listening to the Texas Rangers on KRLD the other night, a "tease" for the news referred to plans to "funeralize" a college student. Googled this non-word - found this Delaware story that quotes a local pastor using it. This excerpt from "The American Language" by H.L. Mencken lists it among "contributions from the backwoods pulpit".

Here's a list of other words turned into verbs. It doesn't include the one that annoys me most, "burglarize". (There's already a perfectly good verb, "burgle".)

Music: Opening Lines 4

Some good opening line suggestions from Shell. These are all from the same band - a skiffle combo from Liverpool.

"I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me."

A classic beginning this, almost "Once upon a time..", except it's a confession of adultery, not a fairy tale.

"Picture yourself in a boat on a river with tangerine trees and marmalade skies."

Another great opening, "Picture yourself", asking the listener to imagine the psychedelic scene that follows. And it's a fitting start since the song was inspired by a picture (seen here).

Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away."

Well, maybe this one isn't so good. The "Yesterday" part is effective, but then it gets a bit spongey. Paul might have been better off sticking with the original lyrics.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Music: Opening Lines 3

Let me talk some more about Opening Lines. Some people who shell remain nameless think that means great lyrics that just happen to be at the start of a song. No.

A good opening lyric should, like a good opening line in a novel, grab our attention. It should be funny or moving or clever or intriguing or shocking or all of these.

It should also set up the rest of the song, so we know (roughly) what to expect. That is, it should introduce the tone and the attitude of the song.

If the song is going to tell a story, then the opening line should tell us the beginning of the story. And what better beginning than a birth? "A child arrived just the other day..." That's an odd way of putting it. "Came to the world in the usual way." A dispassionate, business-like description, so we're surprised to learn that the narrator is the child's father. "But there were planes to catch, and bills to pay. He learned to walk while I was away." Now the opening makes perfect sense, and we follow the story to its inevitable conclusion: "My boy was just like me."

More songs that start with birth:

We start each day by waking up, so that makes for a natural opening. "Wake up, Maggie..." "Wake up, Little Susie, wake up." "Wake me up, before you go-go." And Eric suggests:

"I woke up in a Soho doorway, a policeman knew my name."

(OK, as Eric acknowledges, the song actually starts with the hooting "Who are you? Who who, who who?") It probably helps to know that the song is autobiographical and that Soho is a sleazy part of London. So here's a famous rock musician waking up and bottoming out. Who doesn't want to hear how this turns out?

If the song is about a relationship, why not start by telling us how it started?

"I met her in a club down in old Soho where they drink champagne and it tastes just like Coca Cola."

(There's Soho again!) Ray Davies may have just been trying to find a rhyme for Lola, but a drink that isn't what it seems to be craftily foreshadows the "Crying Game" twist.

More meetings:

Maybe your song doesn't tell a story. Maybe it's just a mishmash of pretentious gibberish. Why not announce that fact from the git-go?

"I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together."

Yes, "Let the f*ckers work that one out" indeed.

More later.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Music: Opening Lines 2

Robb contributes to the Opening Lines discussion:

Here's a lyrics quiz that has one of these songs.

Music: Opening Lines 1

What are the best opening lines in a song? Here are three that come to mind:

(Here's a BBC Radio 2 list of Best Opening Lines. Can't say I'm too impressed.)

Sports: Baseball

Incredible comeback by the Texas Rangers. Perhaps the Oakland Athletics should institute a "Don't ask Dotel" policy. Just two games back, baby.

Sports: Appropriate Names

Remember that list of sports people with appropriate names? (See July's archive.) Forgot MLB umpire Fieldin Culbreth. He played baseball in college until an arm injury, it says.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Poem: Hearing Test

Can you hear "Snow Falling On Cedars" ?
No, but I can hear "Cannonball" by The Breeders.

TV: "Veronica Mars", "Lost"

TV review. Enjoyed the premiere of "Veronica Mars" on the UPN. Star Kristen Bell reminds me of a young Tea Leoni. Next Tuesday's episode will feature the strangely fascinating Paris Hilton.

Also watched "Lost". Not bad, but could have done without the monster subplot. That strains credulity on its own. But when three castaways have a close encounter with the "thing", yet not one of them gets a good look at it - well, that's when I tore my Anterior Credulity Ligament.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Cryptic Baseball Players

Cryptic baseball players (all Hall Of Famers):

  • Sorrow of a hot chick.
  • Corn from Bangkok.
  • Mafia boss towels off chipmunk.
  • Exhale audibly: "Immature!"
  • The width of a rabbit hole.
  • College head - with a spinning head.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Sports: Harringtons

The amazing Harrington family - golfer Padraig (part of the victorious Ryder Cup team), Lions quarterback Joey, and poker champion Dan.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Internet: Blogshares, A9

According to Blogshares, Patanoia is worth $1,357.22, but I'm not sure what that means. Market share is given as 0.00006 %, which seems a little high. I found this link using Amazon's new search engine, A9. But be warned - A9 returns images with its searches and some of these are decidedly adult. (You can turn Images off.)

Here's some British daytime TV nostalgia. I was searching for information about Nancy Kominsky, and her "Paint Along With Nancy" show.

Friday, September 17, 2004

BBC News story about the guy who wrote the theme tune for "The Addams Family".

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Music: MP3 Blogs

(Thanks to Robb...) Our President singing "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "Dick Is A Killer"

And if you like the Velvet Underground and Christina Aguilera but always wished you could listen to both at the same time, try this mash-up from Go Home Productions.

Dan Rather satire. My theory is that Karl Rove forged the memos, knowing that the argument about their authenticity would distract attention away from the real story of GWB's National Guard service. (I'm not the only one.) More about Rove.

Music: Ernie Ball

On his new album "Age Of Miracles", the credits say, "Chuck Prophet breaks Ernie Ball strings on a Fender Squire guitar." As it happens, Ernie Ball just passed away last week. (P.S. Chuck loves the new Loretta Lynn CD.)

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Politics: Spreadsheet v Paragraph

According to David Brooks, "there are two sorts of people...spreadsheet people and paragraph people". Spreadsheet people, he says, are more likely to be Republican and to back Bush. Paragraph people are more likely to lean Democratic and support Kerry. Well, I think Bush loses the word-lovers as soon as he opens his mouth. And the number-crunchers can't be too happy with theU.S Budget deficit.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Art: Oil Paint Colours

The best thing about oil painting is the names of the colours. Alizarin Crimson ("An orange-red crystalline compound, C14H6O2(OH)2, used in making dyes"), Burnt Umber ("French (terre d') ombre or Italian (terra di) ombra, shadow (earth), both possibly from alteration (influenced by French ombre and Italian ombra, shadow) of Latin Umbria, a region of ancient Italy"), Cadmium Orange ("Cadmos was a Phoenician prince who killed a dragon and sowed its teeth, from which sprang up an army of men who fought one another until only five survived. With these five men Cadmus founded the city of Thebes"), and Naples Yellow ("Since the use of lead-based pigments has been practically prohibited, industrial production of Naples yellow has been terminated for all hues but the reddish. As a substitute, we are offering a chemically modified bismuth yellow, which we call Bristol yellow").

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Quotations: Insensitive

News story from earlier this month about someone's cremated remains crashing through a woman's roof. Her last comment seems a mite insensitive.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Internet: French Opinion Polls

Now we know why the French invented the phrase "Je ne sais quoi" (not to be confused with the Swedish band Je Ne Sais Quoi). The opinion polls at Le Monde regularly have 'No Opinion' votes of 6% or higher. Today's question currently has "Sans Opinion" at 9.9%. Let me know if you see an English-speaking poll where that many "Don't Knows" bothered to click on a link.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Nancy Sinatra and friends. See Nancy with Morrissey, Billy Idol, Roseanne, Patti Smith, Liza Minelli - and is that Grizzly Adams? There's also a Playboy picture. She has a new album due September 28th.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Cryptic Football Players: Answers

Answers to the football player quiz:

  1. Priest Holmes
  2. Tiki Barber
  3. Junior Seau
  4. Randy Moss
  5. Joe Horn
  6. Hines Ward
  7. Shannon Sharpe
  8. Bubba Franks

Friday, September 03, 2004

Cryptic Football Players

In time for Football season, can you decipher these cryptic players?

  1. Habitats for the clergy.
  2. Polynesian figurine who cuts hair.
  3. How you tell your son to make the sound associated with a boo-boo.
  4. Plant that grows on rocks, with high libido.
  5. Erection from drinking coffee.
  6. Section of hospital for Kerry's wife.
  7. Irish river that could cut you.
  8. Southern hotdogs.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Excellent piece at Slate demolishing the lies in Zell Miller and Dick Cheney's speeches last night. (By the way, why does Miller want a "War on Terra" ?)
If Jim Lehrer should ever lose an eye (God forbid), he can just replace it with a shiny black button.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Politics: RNC Podium

Check out the podium at the Republican National Convention. (This is the best photo I could find. ) My first reaction was, "Well, they're trying something different. Using wood, all natural, got to like that. But it looks like someone just grabbed some leftover lumber and slapped it together." Then I noticed the subliminal crosses. Most obvious in the section on the left. I wonder how non-Christian Republicans feel about that...?


More about the priest who attacked the Brazilian runner. (Apparently, he is not "defrocked" but he is currently facing charges of gross indecency with a child. What do you have to do to be defrocked these days?)

The article ends by stating:

Central to his beliefs is that Jesus Christ will return as an Israeli army officer who will lead the chosen through Armageddon and they will live for a 1,000 years on this Earth.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Politics: Henry Bonilla

As reported by the Dallas Morning News, Rep. Henry Bonilla describes the New York experience ahead of the Republican Convention. Be sure to read his favourite New York memory.
To all my Brazilian friends, so sorry about my Uncle Cornelius. (When I went to the ABC News page, it had an ad for their "Person Of The Week". He's a fine, devout man, but surely not?)

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Gossipy article about the Bush twins. Their Secret Service nicknames are Twinkle and Turquoise.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Advertising: Midas

Nominee for "Creepiest Guy On TV": the polygraph operator in those Midas commercials. At the end of each commercial, he turns to the camera and sings their jingle. You could imagine checking on your kids at night and finding him sitting beside their bed, singing softly.
Genuine Quentin Tarantino blog or not?

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Words: Neologisms

Some neologisms (original, I hope):

  • Nespot - A dictator who inherited his position (for example, Baby Doc Duvalier).
  • Matrimoney - A dowry; fee paid to a mail-order bride.
  • Gnomad - A very small wanderer.
  • Perpspiration - The sweat of a guilty criminal in a police line-up.
  • Sellabit - Abstaining from sex, except when prostituting oneself.
  • Hummerrhoids - Extremely painful lumps in the rectum that are wished upon the owners of large SUVs.
  • Parisite - Freeloader who attaches himself or herself to a wealthy hotel heiress.
  • Hilton Head - Sexual favour received from a wealthy hotel heiress.

Okay, it looks like I was beaten to Parisite. And Hilton Head. And Gnomad. And maybe Sellabit.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

TV: "Wacky Races"

Eagerly anticipated DVD: "Wacky Races - The Complete Series". Here's an artistic rendition of Penelope Pitstop and her Compact Pussycat. You can buy a limited edition cel from the Cartoon Network that shows Penelope and 'The Hooded Claw' engaging in some light bondage. Just $1025.00. (The Hooded Claw is mentioned in Frankie Goes To Hollywood's "The Power Of Love".)

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Words: Wordcount

WORDCOUNT - interactive display of the most common words in the English language (that's English English - not American English). Which is more common - "mucous" or "phlegm"? (Mucous wins, 28384 to 37936.) "Karate" or "Judo" ? (Karate, 15172 to 24663.) What is that word after "Apt" and "Gandhi" ? Find fun accidental phrases like "Inevitably, loose employee falls" (3110 through 3113), or "Bush, admit specifically agents smell" (2629-2633). And then, there's always the dirty words to look up. Hmm, are "Cock" (10870) and "Penis" (10871) really used the same number of times? I'm beginning to wonder about the trustworthiness of their counts - "Donegal" (16313) used slightly less than "Vagina"(16307) and "Condoms" (16309) ? It's a lovely county, and a nice tweed, but really? This may all be some arty put-on.

The Simpsons: Milhouse In Lego

Milhouse in Lego. And which Simpsons character will turn out to be gay next season? (Groundskeeper Willie would be my guess too.) Here's a random image.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Cryptic Crossword: No Grid

More cryptic crossword clues, but without the tedious crossword part.

  1. Syrup used to flavour drinks is endearing mixture (9)
  2. Stand-in for two chromosomes (5)
  3. Disease found during colonic: hole rash (7)
  4. Group of college girls sorry about ring - it got swallowed! (8)
  5. Abuse rum, rinse Able-Bodied seaman (10)
  6. Determined poodle, for example, gets educational certificate (6)
(#4 was corrected after Eric spotted my mistake.)

Monday, August 09, 2004

Please - no more Japanese movie titles ending in "u". "Ringu", "Gozu", "Kikoku" - it's been done. Get over it.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Movies: The Last -

Another movie title formula that has grown stale: "The Last (something)". IMDB lists "The Last Samurai", "The Last Emperor", "The Last Picture Show", "The Last Castle", "The Last Boy Scout", "The Last Seduction", "The Last Detail", "The Last Starfighter", "The Last Waltz", "The Last Cigarette", "The Last Cowboy", "The Last Marshal", "The Last Customer", "The Last Ride", "The Last Valley", "The Last Producer", "The Last Bomb", "The Last Bullet", "The Last Song", "The Last Movie", and the forthcoming "The Last Shot". (This one is based on a true story, which was included in an episode of 'This American Life'. Listen here.)

Friday, August 06, 2004

A list from McSweeneys.

Food: Eating On Subway; Rocky Road

Firstly, kudos to Eric for being the only person to solve all cryptograms so far, except for the last one. But I'm sure the solution to that will be coming very soon - now that I've given Eric the credit he so richly demands.

Robb, meanwhile, pointed me to this story about a poster urging Londoners not to eat smelly food on the Underground. In Robb's words, "Life must be good in England if smelly food is all they have to worry about."

And in D.C. too, where a woman was arrested for eating a Payday bar.

After 16 years in the USA, I've finally discovered the Rocky Road bar, but I'm making up for lost time. I see it's also available in Dark Chocolate and Mint.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Symbols: Play, Pause, Stop etc.

Who designed those familiar icons for "Play", "Pause", "Stop", "Fast Forward" and "Reverse"? Do they pre-date the cassette tape?

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Useful Glossary of Irish slang - here's the entry for 'G'. (I was looking up "GUBU".)

Saturday, July 31, 2004

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Language: Latin

Who says Latin is a dead language? Why not bring it back as a trans-European language ?

Movies: "-ing" Titles

Eric adds another "-ing"/Name movie title: "Raising Arizona".

Celebrities: Stephen Bing

Interesting story on ABC News about Stephen Bing. It's bad enough that he shagged Liz Hurley. Then he behaved like a cad when he got her preggers. He has given $16 million of his own money to Democratic Party candidates - fair enough, I suppose. Now it turns out that his "business partner" is a former Mob hitman. The article says Bing "declined to answer questions". I saw this on TV yesterday and Bing actually just stood staring blank-faced when confronted by the reporter - not even a "No comment". Creepy.

Here are his credits on IMDB, including "Kangaroo Jack" and "Married..With Children".

Cryptogram: Fashion

The always popular Cryptogram:





Advertising: Sara Lee

OK, Sara Lee introduced their slogan in 1968 so this is a wee bit late to complain, but really: "Nobody doesn't like Sara Lee" ? I suppose Little Debbie was already using "It doesn't make anybody puke their ring up."
But here's a surprising result from a British ad agency where an even worse slogan, "Nobody needs Sara Lee", tested better than a positive slogan.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Politics: "Deep Throat"

Is "Deep Throat" dead ?

Movies: "-ing" Titles

There's a coming attraction called "Being Julia". Please, no more films with a title formed by a verb ending in "-ing" and a person's name. We've already had "Being John Malkovich", "Eating Raoul", "Driving Miss Daisy", "Saving Private Ryan", "Saving Silverman", "Serving Sara", "Teaching Mrs. Tingle" (originally "Killing Mrs. Tingle"), "Killing Zoe", "Drowning Mona", "Finding Forrester", "Finding Nemo", "Chasing Amy" and "Chasing Papi".

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Peeves: Politicians Pointing & Waving

Annoying tradition at Political Conventions: when the candidate and his wife (or VP), in the midst of a standing ovation, pretend to point out somebody in the crowd and wave at this phantom person.
The first candidate I saw doing this was Bill Clinton, but here's a photo of George Bush pointing someone out to the late lamented Ronald Reagan.
Bob Dole would have pointed if it wasn't for his gimpy hand.
Here, Ted Kennedy tells his niece that Balwant Singh is in the house.
Laura Bush demonstrates the move flawlessly.
The Bush Twins spot a beer vendor who isn't checking IDs.

If you would like to have your own balloon and confetti celebration with your spouse, while waving and pointing at your neighbours, order here.
(By the way, here's the best 404 File Not Found page I've ever seen.)

Celebrities: Charlize Theron

Dodging a bullet: Charlize Theron auditioned for "Showgirls".

Monday, July 26, 2004

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Movies: MGM Lion

Did you know that the original MGM lion lived at Dublin Zoo ?

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Cryptic Crossword: No Grid

Cryptic crossword clues:

  1. Entrance chamber, very badly-built in this direction. (9)
  2. No room at the poker table ? (4, 5)
  3. These men remain partially fluid. (5)
  4. In school band, I am on drums. Rock! (7)
  5. Gents leery on mixture - it's people! (7,5)

Bonus clue from Eric: Daniel wrecked SUV. (6)

Here's a guide to solving this kind of clue.

Brand & Band Names Combined

Final Brand/Band name from Robert L:

Derek And The Domino's Pizza

This contest is now closed.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Brand & Band Names Combined

Proudly announcing the birth of my Sextuplet:

S Club 7 Up With PeopleSoft Cell C

Breaking that down:

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Baseball: Dominican Republic

I've wondered lately why the Dominican Republic has produced so many baseball players (Alfonso Soriano, Miguel Tejada, Pedro Martinez, Albert Pujols, David Ortiz, Raul Mondesi, Sammy Sosa, Julio Franco) but I can't think of any from Haiti, even though they share the island of Hispaniola. (According to this article, about one in seven current Major League players were born in the D.R.) The beginning of this book review offers a clue. And here's an article about the Dominican dictator who brought in players from the Negro Leagues, including Satchel Paige. (Be sure to read Satchel's "Rules For Staying Young".)

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Brand & Band Names Combined

Much controversy about Robb's quadruple entry. Shell tried to disallow it, since the brand name (Rockport) was entirely contained in the band names (Kid Rock and Portishead). A compromise was reached: when the overlap uses just part of one word, the rest of the word must be used in another overlapping name. Therefore, Robb's record stands.

I thought I had a quintuple entry with "Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers Mark Almond Joy Division", but on further review, the Soft Cell singer spells his name "Marc". He would, wouldn't he?

Meanwhile, Packwood enters the fray with:

  • Iggy Pop Tarts
  • Hapag Lloyd Cole and the Commotions
  • Mr. Mister Clean
  • 38 Special K

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Combos: Product & Musical Act

More band-product names. Robb is miffed that I left out Midnight Oil of Olay. He then came up with a quadruple combo:
Kid Rock Portishead and Shoulders

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Combos: Product & Musical Act

New game from Shell. Combine the names of a well-known product and a musical group/artist. Shell, Robb and I have come up with:

  • No More Tears For Fears
  • Fatboy Slimjim
  • Fun Boy Three Musketeers
  • Simply Red Bull
  • Selsun Blue Oyster Cult
  • G.I. Joe Jackson
  • Formula 409 Inch Nails (controversial)
  • Dinosaur Junior Mints
  • Great White Out
  • Modest Mouse Trap
  • Old Spice Girls
  • The Sweet Tarts

And Robb is very proud of his "triple play": Clairol Nice 'n Easy E-Loan.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Sports: Appropriate Names

More apt sports names. Robb reminds me I forgot the name that gave him the idea: Jeff Bagwell. And let me add Johnny Bench to the list.

Eric expands the idea to other sports. Tim Duncan for basketball. Tiger Woods for golf. (I'll add Stewart Cink, as in "sink this putt").

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Movies: Turkey Quotes

How to guarantee risible movie dialogue with just one word.

Exhibit A: Gigli:

RICKI (Lopez): It's time to baste the turkey

GIGLI (Affleck): Huh?

RICKI: You heard me.

GIGLI: Gobble Gobble.

RICKI: Gobble Gobble.

Exhibit B: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me:

LAURA: James, you don't know what you are talking about. Quit trying to hold on so tight. I'm gone ... long gone like a turkey through the corn.

JAMES: You're not a turkey. A turkey is one of the dumbest birds on earth.

LAURA: Gobble, gobble, gobble.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Sports: Appropriate Names

Robb suggests a topic: baseball players whose names refer to the sport. (He should really have his own Blog.) We came up with Cecil Fielder, Todd Walker, Chan Ho Park, Billy Bean, Art Fowler, and (blame Robb for this one) Joaquin Benoit. (Walk-een, get it?) Any others?

Cryptogram: Current Events

A topical Cryptogram:






Sunday, July 04, 2004

Military: German Helmets

Everything you ever wanted to know about German Helmets of WWII. I was actually searching for information about the earlier German helmets - why did they have a spike? (Robb's question.) Apparently, these are called Pickelhaube Helmets. The spike is purely ornamental.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Music: The Fighting Cocks

The Fighting Cocks - a band with a rude slogan. "Love Somebody, Yes I Do" is worth a listen.

Comic Strips: "The Duplex"

I'm upset that the Dallas Morning News has dropped my favourite strip, "The Duplex", after their reader survey. I was going to ask you to vote for a reprieve but now I find that "The Duplex" is online. (Thanks to Jill for the suggestion.)

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Alliteration: Tennis Players

Great male tennis players. Great female tennis players. Note how many have alliterative names: Arthur Ashe, Andre Agassi, Boris Becker, Bill Bowrey, Dorothea Douglass, Henner Henkel, Kim Clijsters, Magdalena and Manuela Maleeva, Margaret Molesworth, Stan Smith, Ted Tilden, Tony Trabert

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Politics: Moonies

That "Peace Awards Banquet" held in the U.S. Senate Building in March was pretty bizarre. Attended by "multi-faith religious leaders" and a dozen Congressmen, the event honoured the Rev. Sun Myung Moon with a "Crown Of Peace". Some Utahns distance themselves from the event, where Moon "told the dinner audience that in the spirit world, Marx, Lenin, Hitler and Stalin found strength in his teachings and have been reborn." Here's the blogger, John Gorenfeld who first exposed the event. He questions the credentials and motives of those "religious leaders". But what's truly bizarre is that Moon owns the Washington Post. I had forgotten that.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

TV: "Joe Schmo 2"

I like that Ingrid Weiss on "Joe Schmo 2", but they made a big mistake in picking her as the female dupe. (She has a bachelor's in Political Science from University of Washington and a master's in International Relations from Syracuse University.) She has quickly picked up on the ridiculousness of the show, with its "Pearl Necklace" eviction ceremony and a challenge involving eating from the contestants' "boxes" and "sacks". Plus they brought back the same actor to play the Host. I hope they put her out of her misery soon - or bring her in as part of the joke.

TV: "Crossballs"

MSNBC reviews "Crossballs" - a show that debuts on Comedy Central on July 6th. I had an idea for a show like this about 15 years ago but no one listened to me. The fools. (The official site.)

Monday, June 28, 2004

Alliteration: Texas Rangers

Irish Web site for Bus Enthusiasts. Be sure to check out the latest news from Dromoland Castle and the Dublin Bus Fleet Pie Chart. (Thanks to Jim for the link.) What sad, sad people with their meaningless obsessions.

Anyway, here are alliterative Texas Rangers players and coaches:
Alvin Airoso (minor leagues only), Buddy Bell, Cris Carpenter, Danny Darwin, EE, Frank Francisco, Gary Gray, HH, II, Jonathon Johnson, Kevin Kennedy, LL, Mark McLemore, Nelson Norman, Omar Ortiz (minors), Pat Putnam, QQ, Rick Reed, Scott Sheldon, TT, Ugueth Urbina, VV, Wilbur Washington (minors), XX, YY, ZZ.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Alliteration: TV Actors

Alliterative TV actors: Alan Alda, Bruce Boxleitner, Chuck Connors, Dustin Diamond, Erik Estrada, Fyvush Finkel, Grant Goodeve, Harry Hamlin, II, Joshua Jackson, Ken Kercheval, Lorenzo Lamas, Martin Mull, Nick Nolte*, OO, Paul Petersen, QQ, Robert Reed, Scott Speedman, Tom Tully, UU, VV, Wil Wheaton, XX, YY, ZZ.

*Nick Nolte was in the mini-series "Rich Man, Poor Man".

Alliterative TV actresses: AA, Barbara Bain, Charisma Carpenter, Dana Delaney, Erika Eleniak, Faith Ford, GG, Helen Hunt, II, Janet Jackson, Kitty Kelly, Lucy Lawless, Megan Mullaly, Nanette Newman, OO, Pat Priest, QQ, RR, Suzanne Somers, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, UU, Vivian Vance, WW, Xuxa, YY, ZZ.

Can you help fill the gaps? Coming next: football (soccer) and baseball players.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Sports: Baseball Double Entendres

Heard on the Texas Rangers warm-up show tonight: Victor Rojas was interviewing Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. At the end of the piece, Evan said, "Next time we do this, let's stay out of reach of Steve Smith's balls." Victor replied, "I'm not touching that."

There's plenty of double entendres in Baseball. "Low and inside". "Down in the dirt". "Choking up on his bat." "Mickey Mantle".

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Words: OED In Limerick Form

This chap is trying to rewrite the Oxford English Dictionary in Limerick form. Good luck to him.

TV: "Beat The Nation"

Shame! Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graeme Garden are doing a quiz show on Channel 4 (Beat The Nation) without Bill Oddie. (But you can play online.)
Demo from Austin band Spoon. (More Spoon mp3s here.)

Monday, June 21, 2004

Cryptogram: Current Events

Fairly topical cryptogram:





Politics: Hitchens v Moore

Christopher Hitchens lays into Michael Moore on Slate. Sample excerpt: "I never quite know whether Moore is as ignorant as he looks, or even if that would be humanly possible."

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Proverbs: Guests And Fish...

Who first said that guests and fish stink after three days? A Google search shows it claimed (variously) as a French/Dutch/Danish/Spanish/Portuguese Proverb. Other sites attribute it to Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Johnson and John Lyly. Lyly lived the earliest (1554-1606) so we'll give him the credit for writing down the proverb first.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

The best dimples in Rock? Nina Persson out of The Cardigans.
(I highly recommend their latest CD, "Long Gone Before Daylight", which has just been released in the US with a bonus DVD.)

Words: Malapropism

I'm sure you know what a malapropism is, and that it derives from the character Mrs. Malaprop in "The Rivals" by Richard Brinsley Sheridan. But I didn't know until recently that Richard stole the character from his mother, Frances Chamberlaine Sheridan. Her play, "A Trip To Bath", has a character called Mrs. Tryfort who also mangles the English language.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Combos: Supreme Court Justice & Baseball Player

Here's a fun game to while away those long family road trips. Combine the names of U.S. Supreme Court Justices and Major League Baseball players. I'll start you off with two: Babe Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Earl Warren Spahn.

Hot Babes

Yes, I've already blogged it at Jigglefest, but here's a direct link. Could be used as an ad for Coke's new "C2" beverage.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Advertising: Web Ads

Did you see the news story about a lobster in England that was found guarding a barnacle-encrusted watch? When Robb read it on the Dallas Morning News web site, the story was accompanied by an ad for Red Lobster. I can't find it there, but this Seattle Post-Intelligencer version has mini-ads for Maine Lobster. gives me an ad for Microsoft's fancy watch.

Sports: Ballpark Jerks

Eric points out that this article about the "Foul Ball Jerk" refers to him as "a married, 28-year-old landscaper and former youth minister", and goes on to say "The man and a woman with him left before the game was over." Are they implying he was with someone other than his wife? Wouldn't that be a funny way to get caught cheating?

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Lyrics Quiz: Cars

Which songs mention these cars?
You thought my criticism of Reagan was harsh? Try this. (Thanks Robert!)

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Monday, June 14, 2004

Misleading photo of Jennifer Connelly (thanks Robb).

Sports: Ballpark Jerks

Helpful diagram from the Dallas Morning News that shows the jerk at the Texas Rangers game yesterday. Robb thinks there should also be arrows for "The Wimpy Dad Who Did Nothing" and "The Cruel Girlfriend Who Wouldn't Let The Jerk Give The Ball To The Kid".

Celebrities: Paris Hilton

Don't forget - Paris Hilton is on the Late Show with David Letterman tonight.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Football: France v England

Incroyable! Translated by Babelfish:

Incredible scenario this Sunday evening enters France and England. Whereas the Blue ones were impaled irremediably in the wall drawn up by the British, a player named Zidane spouted out. The tricolour leader offered to his formation the victory by transforming in the stops of play an honest blow and a penalty. Unimaginable!

English and French could not thus be satisfied with a null match this Sunday and did not imagine a second an unspecified forgery not at the time of the match at the top of the Group B. Like often, a confrontation between Britanniques and Tricolour the chronicle during last days had enormously defrayed. The daily newspapers on the other side of the channel had broken out often showing a humour very "british". Of what to launch the hostilities!

Launched in-depth, the attacker high-speed motorboat of Everton (Rooney) sowed the disorder in the rows tricolour and Woodland (Silvestre) was obliged to make the irrevocable one: fault, yellow paperboard and especially penalty. Barthez gave again hope with the supporters blue, white, reds while leaving striking Beckham but the end of meeting showed sorrow. The Blue ones did not find any solution and fell into a play typically british. The long balloons rained and the defense of on the other side of the channel was regaled. Incompetents to pack the meeting, the Blue ones ran towards an inescapable defeat.

France however has in its rows a player of exception, a leader of play which makes dream all planet. Large Zinedine Zidane equalized of a superb honest blow of 25 meters with starts stops of play (91e, 1-1). James was going to seek depity the balloon at the bottom of his nets but the gatekeeper of the English could not imagine that the conclusion was going to prove even more terrible. On engagement, Steven Gerrard, feverish, tried to prolong towards its guard and Henry benefitted from the offering. The star of Arsenal was mown in surface and Zidane offered on penalty an unhoped-for victory (93e, 2-1). A true exploit, an unimaginable performance which launches the Tricolour ones ideally.