Saturday, December 31, 2005

Movies: One Word Summaries

The Sunday Times' TV listings magazine, "Culture", likes to finish its descriptions of films with a one word summary. The films for New Year's Eve:

A very Happy New Year to everyone, except those bastards at BT Ireland. I hope they choke on their noise-makers.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Sports: Football

  • From The Times, the Christmas message from the Lithuanian majority shareholder of Scottish team, Heart Of Midlothian:
    "...there are also those — be they agents, journalists, jealous hangers-on or other 'wunderkind' — who seek to ruin all that is good about the game. But it is the devil that is driving them forward, and they are not going to stop. All that will remain for me is to step aside and bid them farewell on their road to hell."

  • That's a funny name for a football club, isn't it? Named after the Walter Scott novel (which you can read online)?
  • There is a Welsh team called Airbus UK. Their grounds features retractable floodlights because they're beside a runway.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Lyrics Quiz: Christmas

Lyrics Quiz for Christmas.

  1. And there won't be snow in Africa this Christmas time.
  2. Did you ever see the faces Of the children? They get so excited. Waking up on Christmas morning, hours before the winter sun's ignited.
  3. They sold me a dream of Christmas, they sold me a silent night. They told me a fairy story, 'til I believed in the Israelite.
  4. Fah who for-aze! Dah who dor-aze! Welcome Christmas, come this way!
  5. Happy Christmas. I wrapped it up and sent it With a note saying "I love you". I meant it.
  6. And every day's like Christmas Day without you - it's cold and there's nothing to do.
  7. Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas! But I think I'll miss this one this year.
  8. Mom got drunk and Dad got drunk at our Christmas party. We were drinking champagne punch and homemade eggnog.
  9. Two years ago today I was arrested on Christmas Eve.

Bonus Christmas greeting from the Cardigans.

Bonus bonus: my favourite song of the season: "Christmas On Riverside Drive" by Kid Creole and the Coconuts (MP3 available here with a load of August Darnell songs).

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


The always amusing Caitlin Moran writes in The Times about, a website that is actually "Who Represents", not "Whore Presents". (It tells you which agency represents which entertainer - but don't bother going there as it requires a subscription.)

Monday, December 19, 2005

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Lookalikes: David Cameron

The Times points out the uncanny resemblance between new Tory leader David Cameron and Data from "Star Trek". They're right!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Politics: Bertie Ahern

If any Irish people try to give me guff about George W. Bush not being the sharpest sandwich in the picnic basket, I'll express my "sympaty" for their head of "goverment", for that is how Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern signed a book of condolences for George Best. This Irish Times article has more examples of Bertie-isms, like "Don't upset the apple tart."

Speaking of Best, the BBC has quotes by and about him, including the immortal "Where did it all go wrong?"

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Lookalikes: Salman Rushdie

Shell insists that Salman Rushdie looks like "Harry Potter" Daniel Radcliffe. Apparently, I lack "imagination" because I don't see the resemblance.

In this photo, I think he looks more like Channel 8 weatherman Troy Dungan - or his evil twin.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Music: Girl Groups

Gift idea for pop music lovers: "One Kiss Can Lead To Another: Girl Group Sounds Lost And Found", a box set of 4 CDs of girl groups. Mainly rarities, so if you want the classic songs, you'd be better off with a one disc "greatest hits" like this.

Some of the performers and producers featured on the box set: Sandie Shaw, Brenda Lee (with Jimmy Page on guitar), Twiggy, David Gates, Dolly Parton (produced by Ray Stevens), Toni Basil (song written by Graham Gouldman of 10CC)

There's also a group called The Girls, four sisters named Sandoval. Could they be related to Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star/Warm Inventions fame? The cheekbones look similar.

The CDs come packaged in a "hat box", which is a cute idea but takes up a lot of space.

If you hurry, you can download my favorite song from the set, "He Makes Me So Mad" by the Hollywood Jills, at Sound Bites. Like Sound Bites, I did a doubletake when I heard the start of a Dusty Springfield song and realised that it had been stolen wholesale by Saint Etienne.

Internet: Amazon Reviewer

Came across this review of a broadband router on
Even though Amazon states it requires a modem, I got it anyway as normally routers are built to elliminate the need for a modem in the first place. It DOES require a modem, and the connection is RJ45 so no just connecting to your DLS splitter. Been in IT for a good few years and for a top 5 router to have no modem is just pants. Returning for a Netgear. Bizarre.

Yes, as OMC said, how bizarre that Amazon should state it doesn't include a modem - and then it turns out that it doesn't include a modem!

"Pants", for non-Brits, is slang" for "not very good", deriving from "underpants". It was even used by a Home Office official rejecting an asylum seeker's case.

Do the British overuse catchphrases? I think they do. Every fifth review on uses the tired expression, "It does exactly what it says on the tin", which is the slogan for Ronseal woodcare products.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Lyrics Quiz: JFK

Lyrics Quiz for the day that's in it. You'll do well if you get more than three.

  1. I shouted out: "Who killed the Kennedys?", when, after all, it was you and me.
  2. Anybody here seen my old friend John? Can you tell me where he's gone? He freed a lot of people, but it seems the good die young.
  3. J.F.K. blown away. What else do I have to say?
  4. My mother cried when President Kennedy died. She said it was the communists but I knew better.
  5. Who's got the brain of JFK? What's it mean to us now...yeah?
  6. I was born the day they shot JFK. The way you look at me sucks me down the sidewalk. Somebody please tell this machine I'm not a machine.
  7. And then a guy in a Porsche with a radio hit his horn and told us the news. He said: "The president's dead, he was shot twice in the head in Dallas, and they don't know by whom."
  8. I wanna die just like JFK. I wanna die on a sunny day. I wanna die just like JFK. I wanna die in the USA.
  9. People got more baggage than JFK, yeah. And I'm talkin about the airport, man.

Oh, and that Dream Academy song from the other day.

One of the above songs is Lou Reed's "The Day John Kennedy Died" (yeah, right, like you would have got that one). Lou also sings:

The team from the University was playing football on TV."

JFK was shot on a Friday, early afternoon. It seems highly unlikely that any college team would be playing a game then. Lou's alma mater is Syracuse University, and their schedule for 1963 shows no game on 11/22.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Internet: Wikipedia

IBM's Research group provides a visualisation of Wikipedia page changes. Not sure what it means, but it's purty.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Lyrics Quiz: Beatles

Songs that mention the Beatles:

  1. He said "In winter 1963, it felt like the world would freeze. With John F. Kennedy. And the Beatles."
  2. All that phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust.
  3. "Lawrence of Arabia", British Beatlemania. Ole Miss, John Glenn, Liston beats Patterson.
  4. Why don't the Beatles get back together? Why don't nobody sing of romance?
  5. Fear in the air, tension everywhere. Unemployment rising fast, the Beatles new record's a gas.
  6. I asked Bobby Dylan, I asked the Beatles, I asked Timothy Leary, but he couldn't help me either.
  7. Johnny was a school boy when he heard his first Beatles song. `Love Me Do' I think it was, and from then it didn't take him long.

I had these two before:

  1. I don't believe in Zimmerman. I don't believe in Beatles. I just believe in me.
  2. Well, my brother's back at home with his Beatles and his Stones.

Music: Copyright Law

Contrary to common belief, there is no "four note" rule for music sampling.

List of famous copyright cases, including the Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony". (More info on that case.)

Music: Amazon Customer Reviews

Read this Amazon customer review of the Cardigans' "Super Extra Gravity" for an example of bad writing style. Overwrought? Yes. Using long words when simple ones would be better? Yes. Ignoring basic rules of punctuation? Yes. Incomprehensible at times? Definitely. Take it away, C. Lynch:
I've never written a review before for a cd, but felt compelled as the latest work from The Cardigans struck me as something great and I feared they would be spoken of badly or misinterpreted by someone, hindering another from experiencing this revolution in music.

Their music seems to move with the general feeling of the musically inclined at that point and time, even so far as initiating the next wave of emotion.

But trusting them, I bought the cd and soon it took the reigns of my emotions that I'd unsuccessfully controlled, and steered me into a direction that I almost wasn't sure that I was allowed to feel.

By the way, you can see the video for "I need some fine wine and you, you need to be nicer" here. I know I blogged this before but RB hasn't seen it yet. Oh, it's in Real Player format, and he hates that as much as I hate QuickTime. Here's a Natalie Portman Japanese shampoo commercial instead.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Music: Best Non-Album Single

Eric extends the B-side discussion to this topic: what is the best song that was only issued on a single, not on an album (apart from compilations)?

He suggests the Led Zeppelin b-side "Hey, Hey What Can I Do" (which Shell mentioned today as the best b-side - although he may have referred to it as "Hey Hey My My").

I'll nominate two Roxy Music singles: their incredible debut "Virginia Plain", and "Pyjamarama".

Have to mention the Smiths - "Ask" and "Panic".

For nostalgia, how about ABBA's "Summer Night City" from 1978?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

TV: "Veronica Mars"

"Veronica Mars" is a fine TV show. Well-plotted, smart dialogue and a cast that is almost perfect - especially the charming Kristen Bell (yes, she likes dogs).

Excellent music too - very fond of Air. The creator of the show, Rob Thomas (not the Matchbox 20 guy), was in various bands in Austin, TX. One of his bands played support to Something Happens, which explains how they got to be on the soundtrack.

The only miscasting, to my mind, was Brandon Hillock as Deputy Sacks, as the mush-mouthed, sleepy cop who was one of Veronica's love interests in season one. He has no other credits on IMDb. I Googled him to see what could possibly be his claim to fame that got him this gig. Remember this story about costumed characters shaking down tourists on Hollywood Boulevard, and this photo of Elmo and Mr. Incredible being arrested? Well, the story says:

The hotly competitive environment underscores basic divisions among the characters. Some are weekend hobbyists who take their performance seriously and aren't so concerned about getting paid; others see the gig as a full-time job in which they must scramble for every dollar.

In the former camp are two very passable Johnny Depp impersonators -- Jim Calibur, who portrays Captain Jack Sparrow from "Pirates of the Caribbean" and Brandon Hillock, who plays Willy Wonka from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" -- who work together. They pool their resources and give tourists a double dose of Mr. Depp. Both men have spent more than $1,000 on their costumes.

Could it be the same guy?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Music: B-Sides

Stylus has a "Non-Definitive Guide To The B-Side". They omit the greatest B-side of all time (I don't think it meets their criteria), "The Sweetest Thing" by U2. Second greatest is "Lover" by Roxy Music (B-side of "Same Old Scene").

Here's an Australian list (that does include "The Sweetest Thing").

Retail: Best Buy

Overheard at the Best Buy in Grapevine, TX. (White) mother, confidently, to her pre-teen children: "R&B is the same as Hip-Hop." Then, less confidently: "Let's ask those black guys."

Best Buy's in-store radio has had a lone male DJ for a while. Over-earnest but not too objectionable. Now they've paired him with a female DJ, and they make inane, obviously scripted small talk between songs. Very objectionable.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Mish Mash

  • Pitchfork has The Worst Record Covers Of All Time. Some are very obscure but they are bad.
  • Eric suggests a "Separated At Birth": Eagles' owner Jeffrey Lurie and SNL head honcho Lorne Michaels. I see a resemblance.
  • Sports appropriate name: 49ers QB Cody Pickett - he'll be throwing a lot of picks. (And throwing off pickers.)
  • A piece of silk challenged some rough woollen fabric to a race. Not surpisingly, the silk won easily. It jeered the wool: "You're bested!" "No," said the wool, "I'm worsted."
  • Moroccan Role has very appealing tracks by Lawrence, KS band, OK Jones. Like a more tuneful, less freaky Wilco.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Music: Most Disappointing Albums

Great list of "100 MOST DISAPPOINTING ALBUMS" at Productshop NYC. I definitely agree with:
97. Suede – Dog Man Star
81. Paul Weller – Stanley Road (despite recent 10th anniversary celebrations)
64. U2 – Pop
61. Pixies – Bossonova
50. Air - 10,000 Hz
41. Blur – The Great Escape
18. Belle & Sebastian - Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant
2. Stone Roses – Second Coming (and I agree that it has improved with age)

Disagree with:
86. Lou Reed – Metal Machine Music (how can you be "disappointed" with a double album of noise?)
54. Pink Floyd - The Wall
36. Ryan Adams – Rock N Roll (great pastiches of 1980s music)

And I would have replaced De La Soul's "Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump" with "De La Soul Is Dead". And here are my suggestions:

  • The Waterboys - "Room To Roam" (what a let down after the mighty "Fisherman's Blues")
  • D'Angelo - "Brown Sugar" (the title track was great - the rest of the album was too smooth)
  • Prince - just about everything after "Sign O' The Times"

Friday, November 11, 2005

Internet: Pat Wants

(As seen around the Internet, with the words "needs" instead of "wants.) Google "-your name- wants" and list the top 10 results. What does Pat want?

  1. Pat wants to blow it up, real good.
  2. Pat wants Jared dead.
  3. Pat wants to meet Chris and greet him.
  4. Pat wants to transfer her policy to a charitable remainder trust.
  5. Pat wants to phone at the mall.
  6. Pat wants US jobs to stay in the US.
  7. Pat wants to fix fog_coord to apply the decision as to where the fog coord comes from at a per-vertex level - e.g. move the mux up to the RasterPos level.
  8. Pat wants his wife back to take care of the children and run the house.
  9. Pat wants to be perceived as playing off fear.
  10. Pat wants to send out a press release automatically.

So that's how Thom Yorke writes his lyrics!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Funny Names

The Chairman and CEO of ConocoPhillips? James Mulva.

Hoax: Ronaldinho Nike Commercial

Nike ad of Ronaldhino (the ugliest woman to ever play mens' football) trying some new boots. He hits the crossbar multiple times. Generally reckoned to be fake.

The pickup ad where it survives being hit by a meteor? Definitely real.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Blurry photo (or is it Art?) of a lizard with no tail. The tail has since grown back but the other lizards still shun him. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Politics: GOP Babes

Just saw Govindini Murty on C-SPAN. No surprise that she was the New Jersey GOP Babe Of The Week. (Full archive here. Surprising that it wasn't until Week 18 that they featured Michelle Malkin, who was raised in NJ.) Back to Murty. She co-created the Liberty Film Festival and is a protege of Michael Medved.

And the hottest babe in the Liberal Media? Still Lara Logan, now on "60 Minutes".

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Music: U2

U2 brings all-girl band on stage in LA. You can hear the girls' version of "Out Of Control" here - a little too faithful to the original.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Simpsons: Bands Named After...

Wikipedia lists bands named after "The Simpsons". I've seen Fallout Boy and Evergreen Terrace at Best Buy. Wikipedia doesn't have The Flaming Moes, an Australian cover band. There's an Irish cover band of the same name that performs on special occasions.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Politics: California

Political animation from some Democrat who wants to be Governor of California. Love the Cheney Monster.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

TV: Bad Dialogue Game

Which of this bad TV dialog(ue) is genuine, and which did I make up?

  1. Geena Davis on "Commander-In-Chief": "I'm not just the Commander, damn it - I'm the Commander-In-Chief".
  2. Summer on "The OC": "The more time I spend with Zack, the less I have to think about...ew...what's his face...built like a bean pole, curly hair, runs away like a little bitch on his sailboat, leaving nothing but a note for his girlfriend, who cried and cried over him until the 4th of July, when she decided she doesn't cry over bitches on boats."
  3. Red on "That 70s Show": "Who would want a phone without a cord? Son, you're wasting your time with that...cordless phone!"
  4. Samantha on "Sex And The City": "Don't move to the suburbs, Charlotte! No one ever talks about Sex and the Suburbs."
  5. Pat O'Brien on "The Insider": "And later in the show, we get an exclusive look at Nicole Richie's new fragrance - for pooches!"
  6. Dylan Walsh on "Nip/Tuck: "Wow! That girl is so ugly she needs a nip AMPERSAND tuck!"
  7. Emily Procter on "CSI:Miami": "You may be a lawyer, but I'm a CSI. A damn good one."

Monday, October 31, 2005

Movies: Mixing Up Titles

More fun with mixed-up movie titles.

  • "Capote Ugly" - A Southern would-be writer makes his way to New York City, where he gets a job dancing at a bar (and on the bar!) in skimpy outfits.
  • "North Country Forty" - As the first woman to play for the Dallas Cowboys, Charlize Theron faces sexual harassment until she fights back with a landmark lawsuit.
  • "Flightplanic Room" - Airplane designer Jodie Foster and her daughter must hide in the cargo hold when the flight attendants go on a rampage. Those damn dirty flight attendants.
  • "Good Night, Moon, And Good Luck" - In 1950s America, Sen. Joe McCarthy leads a witch-hunt that tries to say "Good Night" to everything visible from a child's bedroom. The only one who can stop him is a TV journalist - who's also a mouse!
  • "The Little Shopgirl Of Horrors" - A beautiful young shop assistant is pursued by a nerdy florist and a sadistic dentist (Steve Martin). But watch out for the man-eating plant!
  • "Kissy Kissy Bang Bang" - An eccentric professor invents a flying car. Then he's mistaken for an actor, and gets involved in a murder investigation. And that's all I've got for this one. Still, it's a good title.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Sports: Bad Football Jerseys

How dumb is it that Oklahoma State football jerseys just say "State" on the front? Can you be a little more specific, Cowboys? There are 49 states after all. (Grandpa Simpson: "I'll be deep in the cold, cold ground before I recognize Missourah!")

And we can all agree with Eric Moneypenny of FOX Sports that the Florida uniforms with the orange shoulders are ridiculous. It looked like all their players had their left arms in a sling.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Internet: Wikipedia

The Guardian asks, Can you trust Wikipedia?, and has experts grade some entries. (But can we trust the Guardian? No.)

A fellow called Matthew White maintains a WikiWatch. He mentions hoax articles (like the Vampire Watermelon, but has stopped giving the details so he can see how long they last.

Is this Jim-Jack-Paddy-Whack entry (about a purported Jack Daniels-Jimmy Dean sausage cocktail) a hoax? Google doesn't turn up any other reference.

Numbers: Roman Numerals

Why do movies and some TV programmes use Roman Numerals in the copyright notice at the end? The BBC specifically requires Roman Numerals when they commission shows. Wikipedia says this started as a way for film companies to distibute older films without their age being obvious.

Here's a Roman Numeral Converter that also allows you to test your conversion skills.

And Cecil Adams/Straight Dope explains why clock faces use "IIII" for 4 instead of "IV".

Friday, October 28, 2005

Shell: The Real Exorcist?

Fascinating story in the St. Louis version of the Dallas Observer. It discusses a house in St. Louis where the actual exorcism that inspired William Peter Blatty's book, and the subsequent movie, supposedly took place. What? You thought it happened in Washington? So did I, and in fact once took a leak at the foot of those famously steep outdoor steps. Got back into the car and discovered a freshly broken zipper. True story. But click here to see how this story ended up in Missouri.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Media: Private Eye

Lots of rude stuff in the latest Private Eye online, including this about an Austrian town with an unfortunate name.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Sports: Bud Selig

Selig orders the Astros to keep the roof open - maybe someone should tell Selig to keep his mouth shut. There, I said it.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Poem: "All About The Benjamin"

New Fed Chief Benjamin Bernanke
Promises that there will be neither hanke nor panke.

Music Quiz

  1. Who owned the goldfish that flopped around in Faith No More's video for "Epic"?
    (a) Madonna (b) Bjork (c) Flea (d) Cher

  2. Which star got married for the 7th time this summer?
    (a) Steve Earle (b) Billy Joe Shaver
    (c) David Allan Coe (d) Emmylou Harris

  3. When I was listening to Pink Floyd's "Breathe" today, what song did it remind me of (maybe it's the A chord they have in common)?
    (a) "Lay Lady Lay" by Bob Dylan
    (b) "Run Run Run" by the Velvet Underground
    (c) "Down By The River" by Neil Young
    (d) "21st Century Schizoid Man" by King Crimson

  4. Which of these was offered a job in Dire Straits?
    (a) Steve Wariner (b) Bruce Cockburn
    (c) Bruce Hornsby (d) Vince Gill

  5. Match the composer with the cause of his death:
    (a) Webern (b) Tchaikovsky
    (c) Chopin (d) Chausson

    (i) Tuberculosis
    (ii) Accidentally shot by an American soldier
    (iii) Bicycle accident
    (iv) Cholera or Suicide, depending on who you believe

  6. Which (plural) of these bands contained actual brothers?
    (a) The Righteous Brothers
    (b) The Everly Brothers
    (c) Was (Not Was)
    (d) The Ramones
    (e) Japan
    (f) Duran Duran
    (g) Spandau Ballet
    (h) The Velvet Underground

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Words: "Could Have"

Note to speakers of American-English. The word "have" may sound like "of" when it follows "could", "would" or "should", but the correct word is still "have". Lots of bloggers, for example, are writing "could of". (One blog even uses it in its title.) Same goes for "would of" and "should of".

TV: "Globe Trekker"

Channel-surfing between innings of the World Series, caught some of "Globe Trekker" on the Travel Channel (what a bad web site they have). The episode I saw was about China. I was lured in by the host, Megan McCormick strolling through a Shanghai market in a tight white top, "headlights full on". But then she opened her mouth. There's something very annoying about her voice - a quavery, whiny quality reminiscent of Sarah Jessica Parker.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Saturday Miscellany

  • Further to my "Wainwright" item, CA wonders if "Rufus Wainwright" means "someone who builds Little Red Wagons"?
  • Excel version of the boardgame "Black Box" is available here. There's also a link to the rules.
  • Like independent artists doing irony-filled cover versions of pop songs? Like podcasts? Then check out Coverville. (I like the version of "Sound Of The Underground" by Northern Ireland band, The 4 Of Us.)
  • What do you get for the man who owns Spencer Gifts?
  • Remember Heaven 17? They were an offshoot from the Human League. After their first flush of success, the band took a holiday together in Brazil. The highlight of the trip was supposed to be an expedition into the Amazon rainforest. The band hired a native guide for the trek. Everything went swimmingly until they strayed off course and ended up in a hidden city founded by Nazis who fled Germany after WWII. The Nazis, naturally, weren't happy that their hidden city had ben discovered. As they advanced meancingly upon the band, the guide whispered that the only thing that could save them now would be to play totalitarian dance music, as the Nazis were slaves to the rhythm. "Do you have some machine that could play such music?" asked the guide. The band members exchanged sheepish looks. "Um," said Martyn Ware meekly, "we did have a Fascist Groove Thang, but we didn't think we'd need it."

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Comedy: Sarah Silverman

Heeb magazine has Sarah Silverman on the cover of their "sex" issue. There's a short excerpt of the feature story at their web site. Check out the trailer for her upcoming movie "Jesus Is Magic", sure to offend everyone. She sure is cute. Oh, a New Yorker interview, in full. Good piece. Guess she's offended Joe Franklin.

Lyrics Quiz: Wonder

Some very easy ones, here.

  1. Ooh, it makes me wonder. Ooh, it really makes me wonder.
  2. Wonder how you manage to make ends meet. Who finds the money when you pay the rent?
  3. It ain't no use to sit and wonder why, babe. It don't matter, anyhow.
  4. If you're wondering why all the love that you long for eludes you, and people are rude and cruel to you. I'll tell you why.
  5. Is it any wonder I reject you first?
  6. ...I wonder if you can. No need for greed or hunger. A brotherhood of man.
  7. Every day I wake up and it's Sunday. Whatever's in my head won't go away. The radio is playing all the usual. And what's a "wonderwall" anyway?
  8. 'Cause I wonder where you are, and I wonder what you do. Are you somewhere feeling lonely or is someone loving you?
  9. They say I must be one of the wonders of God's own creation. And as far as they can see, they can offer no explanation.
  10. When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school, it’s a wonder I can think at all.
  11. Over forty pointed people in the perfect pointed steeple looked to see the lucky number. Yes, the wonder of the tundra.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Internet: Onion AV Club

The Onion AV Club has a feature this week called The Underrated List. Underrated actor is Kurt Russell. Underrated guilty pleasure: user comments at IMDb ("uninformed, semi-literate"). Underrated defunct band: The Feelies. I was just thinking about them recently. One of the better Velvet Underground pastiches. Too bad their albums are unavailable on CD.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Go this guy's (Jonathan Coulton) page of songs and vote in the upper right corner for the best solo.

Sports: Appropriate Names

Shell emailed me a story about Southern Illinois football coach Jerry Kill and his medical problems. I think Shell was bringing this sports-appropriate name to my attention, but since there were no comments on the email, it's hard to tell.

I did see Texas Tech safety Dwayne Slay unloading a "frightening shot" on the Kansas State QB. Tech has another safety called Vincent Meeks - not such an intimidating name.

If Sports = War, then the most appropriate name of all time was baseball great Enos Slaughter.

Least attractive name: Albert Pujols, which sounds like "Poo holes". Great home run, though.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Movies: Mixing Up Titles

Here's a fun way to annoy your cinephile friends: confuse similar titles. Shell likes to refer to "Finding Captain Nemo", and he calls that dirty-joke movie "The Aristocats". Here are my offerings.

  • "Run Logan Run" - A futuristic policeman tries to escape his mandatory death at age 30. The story is told three times, with small twists of fate leading to three different outcomes.
  • "Cold Back Mountain" - Two gay Civil War soldiers make their way home after violating the Confederacy's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
  • "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Horses, Could They?" - A bumbling gang of Italian-American hoods enters a dance marathon.
  • "Pale Whale Rider" - A Maori girl and her squinting preacher father protect a mining community from a white whale.
  • "History Of The Violence, Part I" - Mel Brooks plays French king Louis XVI, but menacing thugs come to Versailles and insist that he's really Moses.
  • "Run Soylent, Run Green" - A US submarine commander discovers the terrible secret about the food on board.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Words: Wainwright

What exactly is a Wainwright? Someone who makes wains. And what is a Wain? A horse-drawn wagon.
As in this poem by Robert Bridges:
The hazy darkness deepens,
And up the lane
You may hear, but cannot see,
The homing wain.

Here's an interesting article on the origin of Wainwright ("wright", like "wrought", comes from "work") that also explains the derivation of Smith.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Mathematics: 7-Up Trick

Number trick sponsored by 7-Up. (Click on the guy in the lower right corner to move to the next step.) I'll post my explanation in the Comments later. (Hint: most number puzzles I've seen revolve around a special property of 9.)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Lookalikes: Arte Moreno

You don't think that Walt Disney has been unfrozen, and given a new identity as owner of the Anaheim Angels, do you? This supposed "billboard billionaire" comes out of nowhere to buy a sports team from the Disney company? Whoa, dude - I'm freaking myself out.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Words: Kudos

Kudos is a singular noun (from the Greek) - there is no such thing as a "kudo", DrWeb. Nor is there an apostrophe, Savvy Chick.

What is the opposite of "kudos"? May I suggest "menudos"? As in, "Kudos to Spoon for their angular yet melodic pop-rock. Menudos to Robbers On High Street for sounding so much like Spoon.

There's always "brickbat". Is it a bat made out bricks, or a bat designed for hitting bricks? No, just a piece of brick. (From the Middle English sense of "bat", meaning a "chunk".)

This article on legal language quotes a case from 1631, when English was slowly replacing French:

(The accused) ject un brickbat a le dit justice, que narrowly mist.

Kudos is also the brand name of a granola bar that is very close to being a candy bar.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Sports: A-Rod

Alex Rodriguez - what a putz. He's quoted as saying, "I played great baseball all year...and I played like a dog the last five days."

Yeah, his numbers were pretty good this year but he shouldn't be the one to say it. Zero class. How great was it to see him ground into a double play last night and suck all the air out of the Yankees' rally?

Monday, October 10, 2005

Lyrics Quiz: Secrets

  1. It's a little secret, just the Robinsons' affair. Most of all, you've got to hide it from the kids.
  2. If I were to say to you, "Can you keep a secret?" Would you know just what to do, or where to keep it?
  3. You reached for the secret too soon, you cried for the moon.
  4. Turning and returning to some secret place inside. Watching in slow motion as you turn around and say...
  5. It's no secret that a conscience can sometimes be a pest. It's no secret ambition bites the nails of success.
  6. They say you have a secret life. Made sacrifice your key to paradise.
  7. And ev'ryone will know, because you told the blabbering trees. Yes, you told them once before, and it's no secret any more.
  8. I'll tell you all my secrets, but I lie about my past. And send me off to bed for evermore.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Sunday Miscellany

  • Chromewaves has an MP3 of My Morning Jacket covering "Suspicious Minds".
  • Robb has uncovered a rock feud - 16 years after the fact. In their 1989 song, "Regina", the Sugarcubes sing, "I really don't like lobster!". Obviously a jibe at the B-52's, says Robb, and their 1978 song "Rock Lobster". Robb is researching his next rock feud - looks like there may be trouble between Blur and Oasis.
  • Would you trust your teeth to someone who can't spell "orthodontics"? No wonder they filed for bankruptcy.
  • Did I hear Joe Buck say last week that a baseball manager would "have to take another tact"? He wouldn't be the only one.
  • Another word-substitution I've seen lately: "tenant" for "tenet". This blogger asserts that "Compassion is apparently not a tenant of radical Islam". This one "would like to point out a fundamental tenant of our judicial system: innocent until proven guilty." This one believes in "small government, the smaller the better, which has always been an important tenant of Conservative ideology."
  • It even happens for George Tenet.
  • As suggested by Eric, anagrams of "Gloria Steinem", including "Male? Ignores it!" and "On girlie teams". And check out these enormous anagrams by Mike Keith. Jeremy's iron, indeed!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Cryptogram: Food

The return of the Cryptogram. This one contains a proper noun, and uses American English spelling.





Friday, October 07, 2005

Repeated Words in Song/Album Titles

An album from 1980 contains a word three non-consecutive times. What is this album, and can you think of other album/song titles with multiple, non-consecutive words? For example, "Hey Hey, My My" does not count. But if a song was titled "My Oh My", it would count.

These words, and those like them, obviously do not count: a, an, and, the.

Here's a starter: "It Ain't Over Til It's Over" by Lenny Kravitz.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Sports: Appropriate Names

Atlanta Braves outfielder Ryan Langerhans. "Langer" is Irish slang for an idiot (or the male member), and "hans" sounds like "hands" - so he's Ryan Idiot-Hands.

The Islets of Langerhans are cells in the pancreas, named after the German scientist Paul Langerhans.

What's that other body part (something in the ear?) that sounds like a geographical feature?

The Braves also have a third baseman called Wilson Betemit, which may or may not be pronounced like "Better Mitt".

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Celebrities: Nicolas Cage

In a skit on SNL in 1992, Nicolas Cage played a father-to-be, shooting down all his wife's suggestions for baby names as being too easy for other kids to make fun of. (Punchline: his own name is Asswipe, pronounced "Os-wee-pay".) Well, now he's called his own baby Kal-el, which was Superman's baby name.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Music: My Morning Jacket

  • The new My Morning Jacket CD, "Z", is only $7.99 at Best Buy this week. Come on, $7.99 - how can you go wrong?
  • Opening track "Wordless Chorus" has a dub vibe without quite being reggae. Very summery.
  • Most memorable lyrics on "Z"? "A good showerhead and my right hand. The two best lovers that I ever had."
  • This is the sound of a band having fun. Is that the "Hawaii 5-0" theme creeping into "Off The Record"?
  • Robb advises that MMJ's concert at Washington DC's 9:30 Club will be streamed live by on October 10th.
  • Chromewaves is also talking about My Morning Jacket today.
  • Here's how to make a Sextant from a CD.
  • And, finally, my rant. Those stupid stickers along the top edge of CDs. Anti-theft, presumably. Allow easy browsing in record store. That's fine. But why do they have to use such gummy glue? It seems to be getting worse. Three of my recent purchases ("Z", Neil Young's "Prairie Wind", the Dandy Warhols' "Odditorium") have left most of the glue on the CD case. I'll never chastise my illegal-music-downloading friends again. Sock it to The Man, my brother. They don't care about us.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Music Video: OK Go

Well worth your time: the video for OK Go's "A Million Ways".

Feeble Attempt At Humour

I told my therapist about my recurring nightmare.

"There's a large grey bird sitting on my head. I try to shoo it away but it just stays there. Then I start to shrink - I get smaller and smaller but the bird stays the same size. Now I'm standing between the bird's legs - and then it sits down, forcing me up its arse. That's when I wake up in a cold sweat."

My therapist nodded slowly. "You're afraid of being pigeonholed."

Saturday, October 01, 2005


Overheard at the Ballpark In Arlington, during the fireworks show set to Beatles songs:
You don't like the Beatles? That's un-American!

Here's what's really American: all the people around me taking photos of the fireworks with their digital cameras and camera phones, then admiring their photos.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Music: "White Lines"

George W. Bush performing updated version of "White Lines".

TV: Singers In Series

Name these singers who played recurring characters on TV dramas or sitcoms.

  1. This head of a musical dynasty played Capt. Calvin Spalding on "M*A*S*H".
  2. This chap appears as the town troubadour on "Gilmore Girls". (I think he only sings, so this doesn't really count.)
  3. This rock chick was Leather Tuscadero on "Happy Days".
  4. This '80s singer thought it was hip to be seen on "One Tree Hill". That's news to me.
  5. This '80s Scottish singer says she could be happy appearing on "EastEnders".
  6. Nickelodeon's "The Adventures Of Pete & Pete" had a lot of rock & roll guest stars (Debbie Harry, Gordon Gano, Juliana Hatfield, Kate Pierson, Michael Stipe), and this punk godfather played someone's father in two episodes.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Cryptic Football Players

Can you guess these American Football players from the cryptic clues?

  1. Sketched a light wind.
  2. Sticky liquid from a rabbit hole.
  3. Chauffeur for Trump.
  4. One who conceals a deceased talk show host in his hand.
  5. Big room for Italian poet.
  6. Arrow-maker from English city.
  7. German dark beer.

And one very cryptic player:

  • July through November starters meet male Running Back.

Sports: Appropriate Names

Raiders' Defensive Back Stanford Routt. Pity he went to college in Houston instead of Stanford. And he doesn't run routes. But I'm sure he's been involved in some one-sided games.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Movies: William Fichtner

Pity poor William Fichtner. Usually cast as the creepy cop, the sleazy husband or the violent co-worker. Now he's the (probably) evil Sheriff on ABC's "Invasion". (Show seems okay - could do with more main characters.) How does it feel when your agent tells you, "Sorry, Bill, but they don't want you for the hero. They think you'd make the perfect baddie."

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

TV: Pot Pourri

  • Is there any better feeling than when "The Daily Show" begins with today's date, so you know it's not a repeat?
  • What's up with the sound of the theme music when "The Daily Show" comes back from a commercial break? Is it "phasing" or "flanging"? I'm not the only one who noticed this.
  • "The Amazing Race: Family Edition" looks pretty good so far. Amish buggy accident! Woman who said Pennsylvania "might be a state"! Little girl calling her older brother a dork! Edith Bunker dropping the clue, then having a meltdown!
  • Norm Chad is supposed to be the funny one on ESPN's World Series Of Poker, but Lon McEachern had the best line tonight. When the camera showed Chris Grigorian's girlfriend cheering him on, Lon said she was "leading the Grigorian chant".

Monday, September 26, 2005

TV: Dylan On PBS

  • I watched the first part of the Dylan documentary on PBS. Favourite quote: "Bob Dylan was a bastard in the second half." (Unhappy English fan, talking about the "electric" part of Dylan's concert.)
  • For commercial-free TV, there sure are a lot of commercials on PBS.
  • Worth it for the clips of Odetta and John Jacob Niles. Go to his page to hear his "bone chilling soprano voice". Freaky!
  • Part 2 tomorrow unfortunately coincides with the season premiere of "The Amazing Race". I'll be pulling for the Bransen girls.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Movie Quiz: Names

In which movies do you find these names? They're not necessarily the names of characters. (The year the movie was released is given in parentheses.)

  1. Keyser Soze (1995)
  2. Dapper Dan (2000)
  3. Bingo Crepuscule (2004)
  4. Trudy Kockenlocker (1944)
  5. Citizen Dick (1992)

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Cookies: Morelianas

Is there a more delicious bilingual cookie than Nabisco's Morelianas? The box says "Sandwich Cookies - Galletas Sandwich" and "Orange Flavor - Sabor Naranja". They're made in Mexico, then shipped to the US. Part of a trend of foods targeted at the Hispanic market. Named after a town in Mexico, they seem to be quite different from the original Morelianas - "flat caramel-like disks of burnt milk and sugar"

Words: Fr-

Words that start with "fr-".

  • Frass: (noun) Insect excrement.
  • Fribbler: (noun) A trifler. "One who professes rapture for the woman, and dreads her consent."
  • Froward: (adjective) Stubbornly contrary, obstinate.
  • Fraktur: A Germanic typeface.
  • Frist: (verb) to sell stock from a "blind" trust before it takes a nose-dive (stock from your family's company).

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Appropriate Names: Movies

Stunt man Stuart Fell - as mentioned by Michael Palin on the commentary track for "Ripping Yarns". There is also a stunt man called Chester Tripp

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Facial Hair

You know who'd look good with a chin puff (like the Chef Sauce chef)? Joe Lieberman.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Lyrics Quiz: Mystery Theme

  • 'Steada treated - We get tricked! 'Steada kisses - We get kicked!
  • Like the mountains in springtime. Like a walk in the rain. Like a storm in the desert. Like a sleepy blue ocean.
  • She goes for her medical. She’s passed, it’s a miracle. She’s up over the moon. She whistles nonsense tunes.
  • Heading out this morning into the sun, riding on the diamond waves, little darlin' one.
  • They say that all is fair in love and war, and child, believe it. When mama stayed in Saint Tropez, she had a fall or two.
  • Annie, are you okay? Are you okay, Annie?
  • I tell myself too many times, Why don't you ever learn to keep your big mouth shut? That's why it hurts so bad to hear the words tThat keep on falling from your mouth.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Advertising: Budweiser

That August Busch IV - what a stiff. Is he really the best person for their TV commercials?

He "has a reputation as a party boy" - could have fooled me. Maybe they should show him whooping it up like a drunken frat boy. (Other choice quote: ""Wall Street doesn't know how bright he is.")

Apparently, the Busch family has supported the Demmy-crats ever since FDR repealed Prohibition.

That still doesn't change the fact that so many people compare Bud unfavourably to urine.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Song List: Borrowed Lyrics

Songs that borrow from other songs. It can be a straight quote, with proper attribution, like Prince in "The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker":
"Oh, my favorite song" she said.
And it was Joni singing "Help me I think I'm falling".

It can be the ironic use of pop lyrics, like The Brunettes quoting the Spice Girls in "Leonard Says":

Please don't scare me like that ever again.
I won't be an audience for your self-aggression.
And if you wanna be my lover,
You've gotta get with my friends.

It can be a slight variation on the original, like The Silent League borrowing a melody from George Michael in "The Catbird Seat":

You're never gonna wanna dance again.

It can be hero-worship that crosses over into spooky "SWF" territory, as when Ian McNabb of The Icicle Works tries to become Neil Young in "A Factory In The Desert":

Dream up, dream up,
Let me fill your cup.

If you count psalms as songs, there's U2 in (Psalm) "40":

I waited patiently for the Lord.
He inclined and heard my cry.
He brought me up out of the pit,
Out of the miry clay.

And finally, there's the full-blown appropriation of someone else's lyrics, put to a different tune, like Spiritualized using JJ Cale's words in "Run":

They call me the breeze.
I keep rollin’ down the road.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Sudoku: Software

For Sudoku solvers, I recommend Simple Sudoku, a freeware Sudoku generator/solver. The website also contains a page of Hints, with some advanced techniques. (While I was running Simple Sudoku for the first time, I heard my hard drive grinding away big time. Turns out the program generates a respository of puzzles in the background the first time it's run, so don't panic.)

More Sudoku techniques.

Evolution: Darwin Not A Racist

The Dallas Morning News' Religion section has a letter today from a Wylie creationist. He writes:
That full title of Darwin's book is: The Origin Of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.
For anyone who has read Darwin, there can be no doubt that he was an outspoken racist. Anyone with black skin, according to him, represented a lower, less advanced form of civilization.

The writer goes on to infer that Evolutionists must welcome Hurricane Katrina as "a good and natural thing".

Talk.Origins debunks that canard, pointing out that Darwin used "Races" in his title to refer to varieties within a species. It also links to Darwin's writings, where it is clear that Darwin held advanced views for his time. He describes convicts from India as "noble-looking figures", and compares them favourably ("from their outward conduct, their cleanliness and faithful observance of their strange religious rites") to British convicts sent to Australia. (Although he does make reference to "the disagreeable expression of a mulatto".)

Darwin also writes of the only time on his trip when he encountered "a want of politeness":

I feel glad that this happened in the land of the Brazilians, for I bear them no good will — a land also of slavery, and therefore of moral debasement.

There is more, if you're interested, at the EvoWiki.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Feeble Attempt At Humour

Apple has announced its latest winner: the iPod nana. Measuring just 4" x 2.5" and weighing less than an ounce, it smells of cat pee, squeezes your cheeks and tells you that you look just like her cousin who died in 1928 when he fell through the ice on a frozen lake.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Music: Country

Country Music Round-up.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Sports: Appropriate Names

More sports people with names appropriate to their sport.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Office Pools: Emmys

Enterpool has added a pool for the primetime Emmy awards, being held next Sunday. There's a public group anyone can join, "A Lifetime Achievement Award For Screech".

Having "Desperate Housewives" in the comedy category makes it difficult to pick, especially when it's up against the last season of "Everybody Loves Raymond". In the Reality category, look for "The Amazing Race" to repeat. And you'd expect "The Daily Show" to win again in the oddly named "Variety, Music Or Comedy Series" category.

Music: Classical

Dallas Morning News article about a piano concerto by George Tsontakis being premiered by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra next weekend. Pianist Stephen Hough is quoted as saying:
"There's no soft center to this music. It is very muscular, and dare I say masculine? He's a Greek-American. He's got a mustache."

"He's got a mustache"? Several members of the Village People also had mustaches.

In the same article, the composer says:

"Yesterday I went to take a quiet walk, and there was a guy on the other side on a cellphone, just yelling into a cellphone. I couldn't get away from him. There's no contemplation left. That's worse to me than the wars that are happening."

I'm no fan of cellphones but I think I'd rank them below wars in my list of irritants.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Lyrics Quiz: Tell

Here's a great songwriting tip. Add an extra dimension to a conversational song by telling the listener to tell someone else.

  1. And you can tell your friend there with you, he'll have to go.
  2. Tell him that you're never gonna leave him.
  3. So say hey Willie, tell Ty Cobb and Joe Dimaggio.
  4. ...And tell Tchaikovsky the news.
  5. Tell my wife I love her very much. She knows.
  6. Tell her I'm sorry, tell her I need my baby. Oh, won't you tell her that I love her?
  7. You better tell that girl I'm gonna beat her up.
  8. Please tell my mother I miss her the most.
  9. Tell those girls with rifles for minds that their jokes don't make me laugh.
  10. So tell my baby I said so long. Tell my mother I did no wrong. Tell my brother to watch his own. And tell my friends to mourn me none.

Words: Antivenin

Memo to Shell: Yes, Antivenom and Antivenin are both correct. I'd never heard of Antivenin before. "Venin" is the French word for "venom".

Movies: Miscasting

Creepy Elijah Wood has been quoted recently as saying about his role in "Green Street Hooligans" that the plot is "pretty far-fetched", and ""I just played the character I was meant to play and make that transition as believable as I possibly could in the context of the story." Sounds like someone is trying to distance himself from his film.

The Daily Telegraph calls it, "a lager-lout melodrama so consummately rubbish it's impossible to take seriously." Zap2It makes fun of the marketing of the film as "The movie Hollywood doesn't want you to see." (Roger Ebert (who has gone soft) gives it a much kinder review.) See summaries of more reviews at Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic.

The residents of the real Green Street are upset at the portrayal of their neighbourhood. Among those quoted: the owners of a cafe called "Pie, Mash and Eels". Hmmmmm, eels!

Now Ezekiel Wood says he's nervous about playing Iggy Pop. As well he should. He looks nothing like young Iggy and lacks his dangerous charisma. So why doesn't Zephaniah just back out of this project quietly and let a more suitable actor take over?

Friday, September 09, 2005

Music: Swedish

New Cardigans video for their next single, "I need some fine wine and you, you need to be nicer". That's a long title. The new album, "Super Extra Gravity", comes out in the US on October 25th. In the meantime, buy "Long Gone Before Daylight". You won't be sorry.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

TV: Fall 2005 Guide

Your guide to the new shows on Fall TV.
  • "Commander In Chief" (ABC) - Remember how great it was for liberals when Martin Sheen was pretend-President? Well, now Geena Davis is pretend-President! A woman! Can you believe it? (But don't worry - she's not elected President: she's Veep when the real President dies.)
  • "The War At Home" (FOX) - Michael Rapaport has made a career out of playing tough guys. I'm sure he really is a tough guy. Now we're supposed to buy him as a lovable father? The studio audience will laugh for fear he'll come after them with a baseball bat.
  • "Night Stalker" (ABC) - This remake stars Stuart Townsend. Stuart Townsend can't act. His only notable achievement is bagging Charlize Theron. (Why is his character called the Night Stalker? Because he "stalks the night".)
  • "How I Met Your Mother" (CBS) - Doogie Hauser is about as funny as Michael Rapaport (although far less threatening).
  • "Ghost Whisperer" (CBS) - Jennifer Love Hewitt in tight white t-shirts.
  • "Eggz Benedict" (MTV) - The last remnants of the "Jackass" crew travel to the Vatican, where they try to evade the Swiss Guard and pelt the Pope. "You've been Eggz'd, Benedict!"
  • "Whipper & Snapper" (NBC) - A Dominatrix and a tabloid photographer become unlikely roommates after a mix-up by their zany realtor. The two join together to solve crimes, run a Montessori school and play Cupid to the ghosts who live in their basement. Sounds like another winner for NBC!

Music: Indie

Some crazy Italians have made a list of the top 100 "indiepop" albums. They write: "Many of enclosed discs are collections of single: it is not strange, in a kind that has been above all issue of seven inches and 45 turns, to find therefore many late collections or esumazioni posthumous; the riscoperta one is in the game of the indiepop." There are many artists here that I have never heard of (Biff Bang Pow?). Note that the list is in alphabetical order. (Found via Indie MP3.)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Cryptic Crossword: 7x5

The whales are starting to learn new tricks - but they still can't solve Cryptic Crosswords. That's what separates us from the animals. If you don't solve these clues, it means the filthy beasts have won.

1  2 3  4


1. American car for esteemed French lady, we hear. (5,2)
5. Gold found by FBI agents. Treasury starts to increase. (7)
6. Football player wrapped in sheet makes frozen dessert. (7)


1. Aquatic bird rises against gravity and bites. (5)
2. Debate Republican caught in fever. (5)
3. Database shelters itty-bitty nerd. (5)
4. Salute to music includes sacred choral work, played backwards. (5)

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Automobiles: Safety

Toyota is introducing a safety system to ensure that drivers keep their eyes on the road. Three cheers for Toyota! Jeers to those drivers who think that they have to maintain eye contact with their passengers while they chat, even if the passenger is in the back seat or strapped to the roof rack.

The Simpsons: Curse

The Curse Of The Simpsons strikes again - Bob Denver i dead. He played himself on the episode where Homer joined the Naval Reserve. Guess we'll never be able to say "Hey, little buddy!" and hit him over the head with a hat ever again.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Office Pools: Supreme Court

The following anecdote appeared in an article about judges' instructions to juries.
The case was a murder trial in which jurors had to decide whether the defendant killed his victim with "malice," which has a complex definition involving an intentional act performed with conscious disregard for human life. After a couple of days of deliberations, Corrigan said, the jurors approached the judge in bewilderment, pointed out that the trial involved a fatal shooting, and asked, "What's this mallet you keep talking about?"

Speaking of judicial matters, those crazy cats over at Enterpool have set up a pool to pick President Bush's next Supreme Court nominee. It's a public contest, so just sign up, join the group and make your pick. They have helpfully provided links to Wikipedia articles on all the likely nominees. The deadline to make your pick is Midnight on Sunday, September 11. My prediction: it's going to be a woman.

Words: Furphy

A headline at Google News caught my eye: Fling 'a furphy'. The brief excerpt at Google began: "HOLLYWOOD beauty Kirsten Dunst has denied she and Orlando Bloom had a fling..."

So what is a "furphy"? I clicked on the story at this Australian website (part of Rupert Murdoch's (spit) News Corp) but the word is never used in the body.

The word turns out to be Australian slang for a false rumour, deriving from the water-carts made by J. Furphy which were used in World War I. (Soldiers would gather by these tanks and gossip - or perhaps the drivers of the carts brought rumours with them. The article points out that scuttlebutt has a similar origin.) J. Furphy & Sons are still in business.

Feeble Attempt At Humour

Tinactin may act tough, but it's really a pussy-cat.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Office Pools: American Football

(American) Football season starts on Thursday. Enterpool has upgraded its site to help manage your office Football pool. You can now create your own group and invite friends to play - automatically. Best of all, it's free. Sign up today.

Music: Opera

From the New York Times, Garry Marshall is directing an opera in L.A.

Saturday, September 03, 2005


Poor old King Carl Gustaf of Sweden. Yes, he has a lovely wife (Abba sang "Dancing Queen" the night before the wedding), but some religious nutjob in Topeka, Kansas has included Sweden and its monarch in his anti-"fag" railings. Unsurprisingly, this "church" thanks God for Hurricane Katrina.

Good old King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great of Thailand, the world's longest-reigning head of state. Not only did he help shepherd Thailand to democracy, he translated "A Man Called Intrepid" to Thai and holds several patents for rainmaking.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Pot Pourri

  • If Nancy Grace is not the most despised woman on TV, she's certainly the most despicable.
  • Quite frankly, I think there's not enough monkey business.
  • Most delicious apple: Royal Gala. Good old 4174.
  • And who assigns those 4-digit produce numbers? The International Federation for Produce Coding.
  • The DVD release of "Leonard, Part 6" has 4 stars from Amazon customers. "Overlooked gem", "stroke of genius", "Best Movie Ever!"
  • A lovely photo of a wrecked Hummer H2.
  • What do Gary Glitter and Stevie Wonder have in common? (There's a hint in one of the items above.)

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Poem: Nigel Mansell


You can't make plans for Nigel Mansell.
At the last minute, he'll call to cancel.

Current Events: Hurricane Katrina

This BBC report has a good cross-section diagram of New Orleans at the bottom of the page.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Peeves: Office Etiquette

  • Today (Wednesday) I heard someone ask a co-worker, "How was your weekend?" This question may only be posed on a Monday (or Tuesday if Monday was a public holiday).
  • I got a business email today with a blank Subject line. There is no excuse for this.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


The Dallas Morning News featured art gallery director Ashley Tatum in their Sunday "High Profile" feature. She looked very cute so I thought I'd try a little cyber-stalking. And here she is at the bottom of the page for this personal trainer, where she's described as " Fine Art Gallery Director/Model". Some interesting quotes from the other clients. She's also in a photo with Carolyn Farb (self-styled "First Lady of Philanthropy") and Caroline Hunt. How Texas is that? I love how Farb has the same superior smirk in every photo.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Music: MP3 Blogs - another MP3 Blog aggregator. I like it better than Web Nymph because they show which files are available. (For evaluation purposes only, naturally.)

Note that Aquarium Drunk has a couple of tracks from the forthcoming Ryan Adams & The Cardinals honkytonk album. (And a slogan taken from "The Simpsons".)

And, in case you're wondering, the ".ws" suffix is for Samoa (some say Western Samoa). Someone already has

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Simpsons: Charles Nelson Reilly

My least favourite recurring gag on "The Simpsons" is when a character, after making a mistake or getting in a bad situation, tugs at their collar and makes a strangulated "Euuawwww" noise (impossible to spell). From a commentary on the Season 6 DVD, I learn that this is based on Charles Nelson Reilly in the TV version of "The Ghost And Mrs. Muir". Interesting that Reilly's most recent credits include a short film called "Gaydar" and "SpongeBob SquarePants".

Words: Bully

The Word Detective says that the positive meaning of "bully" (as in Theodore Roosevelt exclaiming "Bully!", meaning "Splendid!") is older than the negative sense of "thug". It comes from the Dutch word for "lover" or "brother". (The Dutch use the same word for both? That's a trifle unseemly.) Ink magazine agrees, and suggests (plausibly) that Roosevelt's Dutch ancestry explains his usage of the word. Therefore, when Roosevelt spoke of the Presidency as a "bully pulpit", he meant it was a splendid platform.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Band List: 3-Letter Acronyms

An alphabet of 3-letter band acronyms. Rules: (1) The band must have started with a non-acronym name (so REM is out, but Public Image Ltd is okay). (2) The acronym must be used by fans of the band. (3) The band may have adopted the acronym later (like ELO). So how many of these acronyms do you recognise?

Religion: Ayatollah Sistani

Official web site of Grand Ayatullah Sistani (thanks Robb). Some doubt its authenticity, but only a true holy man could have this many scrolling windows on one web page. Also, the web site is linked from Wikipedia and the Whois lookup checks out.

The Ayatollah answers questions from the faithful on many interesting topics. No shaking hands with girls, "temporary marriages" are okay, and no, Imam Hussain did not combine the prayers of zuhr and `asr on the day of `Ashura.

Of course, you're going to head straight to the questions about sex. Just notice the repetition of questions in each topic - very strange.

You will need the Glossary, but good luck scrolling to a letter (at least in Firefox).

In the interests of equal time, here's an American Catholic Q & A, and the official Catechism from the Vatican. Also, a bonus anti-Scientology website, which is redundant now that Tom Cruise is running around like a crazy man.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Current Events: George W. Bush

Let's honour our Veterans - starting with this one.

Song List: Cannonballs

Topic suggested by Shell: has there ever been a song that mentioned cannonballs in a meaningfulway?

The greatest "Cannonball" song ever is the one by the Breeders, but Shell's right. What the hell does this mean?

Hey now, hey now, Want you, Koo Koo, Cannonball [2x] In the shade [4x]. I know you, little libertine. I know you're a cannonball. I'll be your whatever you want. The bong in this Reggae Song.

Supertramp's "Cannonball" is not as great as I remembered it being. And "cannonball" seems to be chosen for its rhyme alone.

I paid the price, for taking your advice. I felt it all, just like a cannonball.

And as for "Champagne Supernova" by Oasis, yes, it's nonsensical (but defended by some). Noel admits that he couldn't think of anything else that rhymed with "hall".

Slowly walking down the hall. Faster than a cannonball

The brass ring goes to Ryan Adams for mentioning cannonballs in two songs: "Cannonball Days" and "English Girls Approximately". Must be part of his Oasis fixation.

I'll miss you but go on, goodbye. I feel like a straight from his cannonball days, When all of your roses were mine.

Tall drink of water, she's a Norfolk waterfall. Little daybreaker, she's a shootin' like a cannonball.

Damien Rice seems to be the only one who uses it thoughtfully. Well, he is Irish. Would you call "float like a cannonball" a simile, a contradiction in terms, or an oxymoron?

Stones taught me to fly. Love taught me to lie. Life, it taught me to die. So it's not hard to fall when you float like a cannonball.

I'll also cut Van Morrison a break for his "(Straight To Your Heart) Like A Cannonball", which is probably so named in tribute to Cannonball Adderley.

We move along. Keep singing our song. Straight to your heart like a cannonball.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Music: MP3 Blogs

Music blog Turquoise Days is posting cover versions from an NME 1992 compilation, and taking requests. He has fulfilled half of my request (so far) - Suede doing "Brass In Pocket".

Apples v Oranges: Christie

Who is the greatest Christie of all time?

  • NBA player Doug Christie, known for his uxoriousness. Also, repeatedly used the phrase "That's the just of it" when interviewed on The Ticket (thanks Robb and Shell). Maybe his version is an improvement on the more usual "That's the gist of it". According to the Word Detective, the word "gist" is itself taken from the wrong part of a French phrase.
  • Doug's wife Jackie Christie, who has a clothing and home decor business when she's not whipping her husband.
  • Yorkshire singer Tony Christie. Tony's specialty was songs that mentioned US cities: "Is This The Way To Amarillo?", "Las Vegas", "Don't Go Down To Reno". He's back in the spotlight in Britain thanks to Peter Kay. He even toured with Anastacia, which seems an odd pairing.
  • Mystery writer Agatha Christie. Creator of Miss Marple (transparent attempt to get more visitors from Germany.
  • British sprinter Linford Christie, tainted by drug scandals, famous for his "lunchbox".
  • Auction house Christie's, founded by James Christie in 1766. Both Christie's and Sotheby's were indicted in 2001 in a price-fixing conspiracy.
  • Sixties singer Lou Christie. Born Lugee Alfredo Giovanni Sacco. His web site requires QuickTime, so he's automatically on my Enemies List.
  • Serial killer John Reginald Halliday Christie.
  • Wisconsin ski resort Christie Mountain.

I've got to go with the mountain.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Lyrics Quiz: Tomorrow

Lyrics Quiz all about Tomorrow. (I woke up with Song #1 in my head.)

  1. Maybe tomorrow, maybe someday. Maybe tomorrow, maybe someday. You've changed your place in this world. You've changed your place in this world.
  2. If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me?
  3. Let the devil take tomorrow ’cause tonight I need a friend.
  4. I'm feeling good, I'm feeling oh so fine. Until tomorrow, but that's just some other time.
  5. Learn to love me. Assemble the ways. Now, today, tomorrow and always.
  6. If your life was bad to you, just think what tomorrow will do.
  7. There’s a man I’ve found could remove his sorrow. He lives in this town, let’s see him tomorrow.
  8. But how beautiful it was - ’tomorrow’. We’ll never have a day of sorrow. We got through the ’30s, but our belts were tight. We conceived of a future with no hope in sight.
  9. And if it’s the price I pay. Some say, tomorrow’s another day. You’ll stay. I may as well play.
  10. Tomorrow we can drive around this town and let the cops chase us around. The past is gone but something might be found to take its place.
  11. If you feel like leaving, you know you can go. But why don't you stay until tomorrow. If you want to be free, you know, all you got to do is say so.
  12. Well let the boys all sing and the boys all shout for tomorrow.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Automobiles: Hybrids

Here's a bumper sticker idea for someone to make a fortune off: "My next car will be a hybrid". A Google search shows it's a popular sentiment. A sticker like that would look great on the back of a Hummer. Wait, they've had a hybrid Hummer in the military since 1998.