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.