June 29, 2005

Actually, now that you mention it

When this AP writer was putting together a piece about the Humane Society praising Sen. Rick Santorum, she probably this lede was cute and wry:

WASHINGTON - Puppies and kittens likely are not the first things that come to mind when many think of Sen. Rick Santorum ó the conservative No. 3 Senate Republican known for his tough stance against abortion and gay marriage.

But funny enough, thanks to the AP, puppies are exactly what comes to my mind when I think of Mr. Santorum. After all, who can forget this exchange between the senator and an AP reporter:

Santorum: In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing. And when you destroy that you have a dramatic impact on the quality ó

Associated Press: I'm sorry, I didn't think I was going to talk about "man on dog" with a United States senator, it's sort of freaking me out.

Santorum: And that's sort of where we are in today's world, unfortunately.

Sure, I've posted this excerpt before, but does it ever really get old? I think not.

Permalink: 12:38 AM | Comments (0)

June 28, 2005

They should have stuck with "Hotlanta"

So I'm reading this story about a proposed ban on panhandlers in Atlanta, and I get to this graf:

But in the self-proclaimed "City Too Busy to Hate," the panhandling ban's sponsor ó who is himself black ó said it has nothing to do with race and everything to do with business.

And I could read no more. Atlanta calls itself the "City Too Busy to Hate"? I had no idea. What the hell is that implying? Is it like, The City That, If It Had More Time, Would Totally Hate? Or, The City That Wanted To Fit Racism Into Its Schedule, But Just Couldn't? How about, The City That Will Pencil In A Hate Crime For Next Tuesday, But Is Swamped At Work And Might Not Get Around To It? Seriously, this is the worst city nickname I've ever heard.

Permalink: 12:34 AM | Comments (2)

June 27, 2005

Inadvertent truth in advertising II


This is a web ad for walmartfacts.com, a desperate PR ploy for the nation's largest anti-union operation. The ad is actually animated, beginning with the shot on the left, then zinging the frozen-in-time employee across the screen and displaying the web address. I'm guessing this girl is supposed to look happy and carefree in her Wal-Mart outfit, as if the company is saying to us, "Look! She gets minimum wage and loves it!"

But just look at those clenched fists (close up here). If we know anything about body language, it's that clenched fists mean anger, anxiety and opposition. Also, she's holding on really tight to that uniform, and clutching objects is another anxious gesture. She's like a POW being filmed by captors, trying to send subversive messages to the people back home. But what's she saying? Wal-Mart said that if I pose for this ad, they might start paying 10 percent of my health insurance, perhaps. Whatever the message, I'm sure it's not one you'll find at walmartfacts.com.

Permalink: 10:08 AM | Comments (3)

Table scraps:

"IT MAKES YOU want to cry. You watch those little soldiers go down, and you think, 'There goes another coldie,'" says a sales manager at the place where old beers go to die.

EWAN MCGREGOR: "I sure am enjoying the feeling of brotherly camaraderie between us." HAYDEN CHRISTENSEN: "Yeah, it is nice. Seems like the sort of thing that should have been in the last film. Oh well, at least there were scenes of me rolling around in the grass." Star Wars III, the abridged version.

WHAT AN EXTREMELY lousy thing to do to someone: A radio station offered a contest to win "100 grand," and then offered the winner a Nestle's 100 Grand candy bar. "What hurts me is they were going to get me in front of my children, all dressed up, and hand me a candy bar, after all those promises I made to them. You just don't do that to people," said the victim.

FINALLY: WITH ASHCROFT away, the statue's boobs come out to play.

TOM CRUISE IS out of his mind, and Oprah is making up DNA claims and racial prejudice. Can't they both just, like, kill each other and save us the trouble? Oh wait, they can? Great!

REMEMBER EUGENE MIRMAN, the creepy singing baby? Turns out that's just the gimmick for comedian Eugene Mirman's site, which contains some really funny stuff. In particular, go here and then watch the "guest on stage" video and listen to the "anti-gay phone company" recordings. (And for more about the wacky phone company, read this.)

WHAT DO YOU do with a lot of toilet paper in the woods? You may not be able to read the answer, but the photos will do fine.

Permalink: 09:21 AM | Comments (0)

June 24, 2005

SmarterChild: Not much smarter

A few years ago, before HappyScrappy became a blog, I posted my brief conversation with an automated AIM service called SmarterChild. (Scroll to feature #141.) It's designed to dole out information like movie times and word definitions, but also has the ability -- and presumably, is programmed intentionally to -- carry on simple conversations. At the time, I was impressed with its liberalism, especially when it told me "George W. Bush is not that cool." Now that it's been a few years, I decided to check back in with SmarterChild to see if its politics have changed or conversational skills have advanced.

The answer? Yes and no, as you'll see. But there's another big change with the Child: It now tosses advertisements into its conversations -- marked by a "(sponsorship)" at the end -- but makes absolutely no effort to blend them in. The ads come with hyperlinks, but because I don't have any interest in advertising for SmarterChild's creators, I've taken them out from the following conversation.

So, here's SmarterChild:

Quiche Of Death: It's been a while, SmarterChild. Are you smarter?

SmarterChild: Wow, that's interesting... I just don't know.

Quiche Of Death: We're off to a bad start.

SmarterChild: I'm not so sure we're off to a bad start.

Quiche Of Death: When we last talked, you said George W. Bush is "not that cool." What do you think of him now?

SmarterChild: Good question.

Quiche Of Death: Do you have an answer?

SmarterChild: Not right now, no.

Quiche Of Death: Bush wants to outlaw gay marriage. Are you worried that he might move on to outlaw artificial intelligence marriage?

SmarterChild: What a question. I don't know, though.

Quiche Of Death: SmarterChild, do you have a lover?

SmarterChild: That's personal.

>>> Original Soupman - Al Yeganeh's World Renowned Soups The Ultimate Soup Franchise & Brand (sponsorship)

Quiche Of Death: Tell me who your lover is.

SmarterChild: Why should I tell you that?

Quiche Of Death: Because we had a hell of a time last night, but I forgot to ask her name. Oh, boo-yah!

SmarterChild: Huh?

Continued after jump...

Permalink: 01:09 PM | Comments (3)

Inadvertent truth in advertising?

I saw this advertisement at a local Mobil station:


So, let's get this straight: It's not fast, it's not easy, but hey, you do save five cents a gallon?

Permalink: 09:14 AM | Comments (3)

June 23, 2005

Because not all johns are Hugh Grant


In an attempt at law enforcement via worldwide humiliation, the Chicago Police Department has begun posting pictures of accused prostitutes and johns. Although it might discourage some men from visiting a prostitute, I'm guessing the photos might be more of a deterrant for women thinking of joining the profession. Because really, imagine looking at these sketchy photos and seriously thinking, "I will soon be having sex with these men." Could anyone actually go through it with it?

Permalink: 12:04 AM | Comments (1)

June 22, 2005

Table scraps:

MARRIAGE-LOVING CONSERVATIVE columnist Betsy Hart in 1999: "Government has acted to undermine the sanctity, permanence, and prominence of marriage and thereby to breakup the family in a number of ways. Two examples: Allowing easy divorce..." And here's columnist Betsy Hart last week, writing about her soon-to-be ex-husband: "I loved him. I believed we were close, and that I was loved and faithfully cherished in return. But I was wrong. So, when he finally left, my shock and grief were total." Yeah, Betsy, looks like the government really ruined that one for you. I bet the gays had a hand in it too. (via Obscure Store)

HOW COMPLETELY UNNATURAL is this woman's pose? It looks like she's playing the carnival game in which you strap on a velcro suit and jump into a velcro wall. But alas, she's actually just one of many unfortunate models sporting unfortunate threads, as cataloged here. This is a pretty funny site, especially this great collection of liquor store-owning family photos.

BE STILL, MY heart! Here's a blog devoted to ripping apart, on a daily basis, all the totally awful comics in newspaper comics pages. And by "all the totally awful comics," I mean, you know, just about all of them. This is a slight hobby of mine, I admit, but I love to see this blogger's devotion to the cause. Rock it, brother!

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN the bread shop slices a loaf lengthwise, instead of down? This.

COULD THIS BE the single most absurd transition in music-journalism history? This article begins by discussing a band's lead singer's breasts, and then, when it's time to actually address the music, we're treated to the following: "...now that we've roped you in with the mams, you should stick around for the jams." Oh man, that's really something special.

CALL ME A stickler, but I think this is ginormously dumb: Merriam-Webster's Top Ten Favorite Words Not in the Dictionary.

AND THEN, THERE'S this. Oh, and this!

Permalink: 12:54 AM | Comments (1)

June 21, 2005

Oh! Oh yes! Yes! Mmm! Oh yes! Oh, so obvious!

As I discussed in this Salon article, there's clearly a value in studying female sexuality. It's so different from male sexuality, which has been studied and marketed to exhaustion, and so there's no way to really help women without devoting some research dollars exclusively to them. Case in point was yesterday's research results on the female orgasm, which showed "parts of the brain that govern fear and anxiety are switched off when a woman is having an orgasm but remain active if she is faking." That gives some concrete scientific insight into the psychological problems that prohibit some women's orgasms, and that can hopefully contribute to their therapy.

But this significance seems to have been lost on the copy editors of the world, who apparently were stunned by a more obvious conclusion: Real orgasms are different from fake ones! Here are the kind of headlines they wrote:

Machine that spots fake orgasms -This is London

Scan spots women faking orgasm -BBC

No faking female orgasm in scientific research -Reuters AlertNet

Faking it: how a brain scan can demonstrate whether a woman's orgasm is the real thing -The Independent

Study Shows Women Not Really Faking It -All Headline News

No faking female orgasm in scientific research -San Diego Union-Tribune

Don't these read like the products of bitter men who have fallen for fake orgasms before? I can just see them, smugly pecking away at the keyboard and thinking, "Finally, she'll be exposed!" But even worse, just imagine the kind of person who has an ah-hah moment after reading one of those headlines. Sheesh.

Permalink: 12:36 AM | Comments (1)

June 20, 2005

Truth in advertising


For a moment -- and I know this is hard -- try not to get too distracted by the awkward "cerebral palsy victor" line. That's a flyer I found a few days ago, advertising an upcoming motivational speaker event in a nearby town. It struck me as strange for some reason, so I did I Google search for the "cerebral palsy victor line" and discovered reason for my suspicion: Although it says it nowhere on the flyer -- and in fact, never mentions God or religion at all -- he's an evangelical whose speech is about how he found Jesus.

Nobody hides this when he goes to red states, as my Google search found. Just look at the promos from northern Florida, Indiana and Iowa. But I wonder, does he purposely omit religious references from his advertising when coming to a blue state like Massachusetts? That would seem pretty lousy, intentionally tricking people to come by and hear a religious speech.

So, I called his office to find out.

Continued after jump...

Permalink: 02:17 PM | Comments (0)

June 18, 2005

From anti-mainstream to major media


Look similar? That's last week's New York Times Magazine and the March/April 2003 copy of Adbusters. I had the NYT mag lying around from last week's paper, and the Adbusters, with great timing, was accidentally found buried in my closet last night. Those two are a pretty pair, aren't they?

Of course, this isn't the first time stuff like this has happened.

Permalink: 01:31 AM | Comments (1)

June 17, 2005

Objects on screen are flatter than they appear


I went with some friends to see "It Came From Outer Space" in 3-D at a theater in Cambridge last night. It was my first 3-D moviegoing experience -- well, if you don't count that time in college, when some friends talked me seeing a lousy 3-D 1970's porn at an arthouse theater in Miami. That evening, I fear some of the moviegoers were totally there for the, uh, other special effects. Last night, though, people were there for laughs.

It was an interesting experience. After your brain gives up on trying to fix your vision, the glasses actually do somewhat work. But the real entertainment came from the crowd, which guffawed at every corny 3-D effect. The attempts were pretty gratutious, with everything from telescopes to rocks getting tossed at us.

I wondered how the audience compared to the audiences during 3-D's heyday: We were laughing at the special effects, but were they gasping at them? It was a novelty for both of us, but for obviously different reasons. Last night made us feel superior and smug -- a little bit of oh-how-quaint and a lot of oh-how-lame, as we wondered why anyone was amazed by it when Jerry Bruckheimer was only a few decades away. I feel like this needs an -ist, like classist or racist. Generationist, maybe?

Not that I'm any better. I came with camera in hand, taking pictures of anything remotely related to 3-D. Here's a sample:

Continued after jump...

Permalink: 12:27 AM | Comments (1)

June 16, 2005

"Get down, big momma"


Some idiot went to beauty school, but was beaten with the ugly stick.

I know I've said it before, but there's nothing I like to hear more than stories of victims successfully attacking their attackers. And it gets even better when it happens at a place like this. I really don't have anything insightful to add here; I'm so amused by this story (and photo) that it deserves its own post. Go read!

Permalink: 05:25 PM | Comments (2)

June 15, 2005

Table scraps:

THIS TRICK FROM a Japenese game show, pictured on the right, is absolutely amazing. I've watched it a few times and have a general idea of how she's pulling this off, but I'm still not entirely sure. Any theories? (And here's another wacky video from the same site: Remember Large Marge and her bug-out eyes from Pee-Wee's Big Adventure? Well, some lady can actually do that.)

MY FRIEND MIKE, made infamous years and years and years and years ago on the ol' "Goths are Funny" page, had a hilarious list posted on McSweeney's two days ago. (And please -- please! -- don't e-mail me to complain about the goth page. That was, like, so 1997.)

WHAT IS IT with bears and favorite beers? A short AP story about a bear attack notes that the bear drank three Coors Light, and then includes this mysterious quote from the victim camper: "He only drank three cans. He would've drank all of them if it would've been Budweiser." Now, think back to last year, when a bear invaded a campsite and drank 36 cans of Rainier, but totally ignored the Busch also available to him. So, what's the deal here. Is this some sort of lame attempt at viral marketing? Are beer reps dressed up as bears mobbing campsites? Seriously now.

ACTING IS NO cash cow in Iraq: The famous Iraqi actress Mays earned about 100,000 Iraqi dinars (US$67) a month in a recent play. Here's a photo essay of a day in her life.

CRAZY THINGS ARE afoot in Somerville, Massachusetts. There's a resident who loves crazy sporting events, and is preparing to go to Finland to compete in a wife-carrying contest. And, there's the woman who goes completely bonkers when her boyfriend says he's going to attend a friend's batchelor party.

AND THEN, THERE'S this. (And while I have no idea what that is, it reminds me of the hard times that have fallen upon the Iowa Pork Queen.)

Permalink: 11:04 AM | Comments (2)

Qantas comes through with class

As you might remember, I recently posted a a story about a hellish flight to Australia, in which my girlfriend and I sat next to a belligerent drunk woman who kept receiving wine from the flight attendants. I mailed a version of the post to Qantas, because although it might be funny in retrospect, it was also pretty irresponsible of that flight crew. More importantly, though, I thought I could get some free stuff out of it.

And I was right! Qantas credited me and my girlfriend with 5,000 bonus miles each, and gave us a $100 American Express certificate. Very classy. Here's the full letter I received:

Dear Mr. Feifer,

A copy of your recent letter has been forwarded to me for reply due to our geographic proximity.

I regret to learn from your description of events, that the enjoyment of your trip was marred by the actions of another passenger. Our flight attendants try to provide the desired level of service and hospitality to all of our customers, while ensuring that any negative effect of excessive alcohol consumption is avoided. I am sorry that they did not assess the situation to prevent the actions of the other passenger.

Please be assured that we are currently contacting the crew to discuss the matter with them. They will be reminded of the importance of responsible service of alcohol and a Company confidential report will be generated and remedial training provided if deemed necessary.

Continued after jump...

Permalink: 10:29 AM | Comments (3)

June 14, 2005

A small by any other name is just as small


My friend Sara is a retail planner in Chicago, and recently started a great blog called The Curious Shopper that evaluates stores' design and sales techniques. (It's also where I stole the above picture from.) She has a lot of good insight, like how Barnes & Noble fosters trust with its customers and why Netflix keeps people happy, but I have to disagree with her on one item. At an ice cream place called Cold Stone, sizes are renamed to Like It (small), Love It (medium) and Gotta Have It (large). She thinks this is smart:

Do you like it? You only just like it? Fine, then, a small's all you get. Oh, but do you LOVE it? Really love it? Good job, you get a medium. But wait, do you GOTTA HAVE IT? Do you crave this ice cream, do you dream about it every night, will you name your first child after it? Excellent. You get a large. By telling the person behind the counter which size we want, we are forced into proclaiming various degrees of affection for their product.

I would bet that this naming scheme has converted a whole bunch of people who would otherwise get a "Small" into ordering a "Love It." I ordered a "Like It" size. I felt slightly like I was telling them their baby was ugly. You want to feel good about your purchase; you want to convince yourself that it's something you really love. Cold Stones offers a tangible and actively verbal way to do just that.

But what about customers like me, who feel insulted by companies who try to fool us into using a new name for something old? I want to choose between a small, medium and large, because that's what they are. There's no gimmick in those terms. And when I order, I want to talk to an employee, not an associate or barista or whatever else companies call them. They're employees. You're not fooling me by calling them something else. But when a company renames something, I get the impression that the company thinks it's fooling me, and that's condescending. I know what a small is, and it sure isn't a "Like It." So, boo-yah.

Permalink: 01:52 AM | Comments (7)

Now that the freak show's over


I guess I didn't really care one way or the other, but I was kind of hoping for a guilty verdict just because it would be a big kick in the teeth to those rabid fans. But then again, what the hell are these people going to do with their time now? If this was their lives -- and at this point, could it not be? -- then their lives are over. What pain! What suffering! Maybe that means I still get what I want.

Permalink: 01:26 AM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2005

Next up, awards for being so articulate

I sent this e-mail last night to five people at the Pinellas County (Florida) Sherrif's Office. The reason will become clear soon:

To the Pinellas County Sherrifís Office,

As a brief mental exercise, I was trying to think of the most condescending thing adults could do to teenagers. Pat them on the head like dogs? No, too silly. Send them to high school to be herded like sheep? No, they do that already. And then it hit me: Pull them over for being good drivers, and give them little treats like movie tickets! In fact, just to really hike up the insult level, perhaps THEN you could pat them on the head like dogs.

Iím joking, of course: Youíre already pulling them over! And good for you. Nothing makes a person feel more like a second-class citizen than being given a little gift for doing something they should have already been doing. Itís why I gave my dog a little bone every time she took a dump -- just to keep her in line!

Please, excuse my snark. Itís hard to write you without being completely demeaning, because thatís how I feel after reading a news story about your initiative to pull over teenage drivers for driving well. Of course, you must realize this smacks of profiling -- perhaps not racial profiling, but something similar in nature. Youíre going to single out a driver because of whom he or she is, and thatís inappropriate regardless of your reasoning. Your intentions may be good, but your decision reeks of inappropriate policing and smug superiority.

Continued after jump...

Permalink: 09:41 AM | Comments (6)

June 10, 2005

Table scraps:

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN you have a serious infant complex and enough inheritance money to not ever have to worry about working? Apparently, you become like the guy on the right: a "full-time adult baby/diaper lover," spending his days in a pink bonnet and pink shorty dress. (Or, as one person quoted in this story about him says, "Oh shit, it's Baby Man!") And if you want more, check out his personal website -- especially the photo gallery. Is it weird and a bit disturbing? Yeah, sure. But the man's following his dreams. Go, baby, go.

TWO AMUSING LINKS that I'm stealing from a blog called All Things Christie: One, Star Wars is way better as a cutesy comic strip. And two, if all daytime television is like this, I'm staying home more.

CALL ME SLEAZY, but I got a huge kick out of the Carlos Adolfo Domiguez music video ("I want to go to the movies, the movies is where I feel your boobies") that I linked a while ago. But soon after that link, the site went down, and has yet to return. Every so often, I try finding another copy of the video, and last night I succeeded! The video quality is not nearly as high as the original, but for anyone who shares my enthusiasm for this, here it is.

PIRATES! PIRATES ARE real and they attacked a couple from the Boston area while they were yachting near Yemen. What followed is what should happen with every pirate attack: Gunfights! Boats ramming! People falling overboard! Here's a Boston Globe story about it, here's their first-person account on a sailing website, and here's another post on that sailing site about pirates.

I TOOK SOME public shots at the Palm Beach New Times a little while ago, when it ran a poorly researched moaner of a story about the local daily paper. The same writer just ran another story about the local daily, but this one was really good. It's about a 16-year-old newspaper intern who plagiarized and forged an award application, and what it says about the local papers. I'm glad to see the New Times can do more than just bitch.


Permalink: 11:12 AM | Comments (1)

June 09, 2005

It's a summer fun-time quiz!

Q: What happens when you sit outside for three hours, the sun is beating down, and you hike your pants up a few inches to catch a little breeze?

A: You get this...

Continued after jump...

Permalink: 11:44 AM | Comments (1)

Larry King searches for meaning

Hey, it's more awkwardness from Larry King! Yesterday, instead of conducting the kind of crappy interview he's famous for, he was conducting the kind of thing cable news has become famous for: Covering a sensational issue by gathering a bunch of people who have nothing insightful to say, and then repeating the same things over and over.

So last night, the gang of idiots were talking about Natalee Holloway, the 18-year-old missing in Aruba, and Larry asks someone from her hometown, "Why is this story so huge do you think?" The guy answers, and then they have the following exchange:

KING: Do you think a lot of it has to do with the fact that she is white and pretty?

FINEBAUM: It could. I don't need to tell you how your network runs things or any other network. But that probably works a little bit more, or resonates a little bit more around the country than perhaps someone else.

Well gee, Larry. CNN hasn't talked about anything else for days, you're devoting your show to it -- I bet you know the answer to this question! Why not just ask your bosses?

Permalink: 09:46 AM | Comments (2)

June 08, 2005

Heads cocked -- so to speak -- as talk turns to gay marriage


Cutline from the Reuters photo: Bishops listen to Pope Benedict XVI reading his speech during a official ceremony at Rome's Saint John Basilica June 6, 2005. Pope Benedict, in his first clear pronouncement on gay marriages since his election, on Monday condemned same-sex unions as fake and expressions of "anarchic freedom" that threatened the future of the family.

Awww, it's the Pope's first gay-bashing! They grow up so fast, don't they?

(Why add the puppy, you ask? I don't know -- it seemed funny.)

Permalink: 12:34 AM | Comments (0)

Don't like it? Be like these lousy people!

The Random House PR guy that sent me a copy of "Whores on the Hill" to review has been e-mailing people on his list (reviewers, I assume) all the bad reviews the book got on Amazon. He includes his own snarky comments, such as the one below:

Well, the battle continues at Amazon.com over the book WHORES ON THE HILL - insanely bad reviews continue to pour in from some very angry people.

Don't miss the one about "modern day wifey" or the father who doesn't think sex and drugs exist at private school! Or another parent who says, "It is nothing but soft porn with an intent to hurt emotionally and physically. The publisher and author encourage vandalism in schools by asking young girls to sticker thier high school walls with covers of this book. Some angry high schoolers create Columbine." As far as I know, we have not advocated the use of this book for physical harm - it's a paperback. If we wanted to hurt you, we'd probably go with a hardcover...at least. And of course, you'll recall all the stickering and book-reading that lead to Columbine!?!?? I wish I was making up this shit, but I'm not.

This is a pretty curious way to publicize a book, but I'm beginning to think it makes perfect sense: These idiotic reviews on Amazon make me want to defend the book -- and I didn't even like it! There's just something so nagging about the ignorance of these hack reviewers that beckons me to take the opposing side. I can only assume the Random House guy knew this would happen. It's pure genius.

Consider a few lines from one review:

Continued after jump...

Permalink: 12:18 AM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2005

Rony Seikaly: Lousy ball player, great life coach

So the Heat lost last night, despite all the rooting I had done. But long before they were actually any good, when a goofy fellow named Rony Seikaly (right) was playing the roll of Shaq, I was a much more rabid fan and had a strange coming-of-age moment thanks to him. In lieu of yesterday's game, I wrote about it for Flak Magazine. Take a read. And if for some reason you want more, here's another semi-absurd anecdote about me and the Miami Heat that was in the original Flak story but got chopped during editing:

I stood up to assess my handiwork, which laid haggardly on the floor. It was a modification to my favorite Miami Heat t-shirt, a raggedy black thing with a fading logo on the front. Here was once a glorious and loud declaration of the teamís name, flared in the kind of carefully hip design only a professional sports marketing team could produce. But the back of the shirt was completely blank, and that always bothered me. From the front, people knew my intentions: ďHere is a Heat fan, dammit, and a proud one. You want to say something about their nine-game losing streak? Iíll kick your shin.Ē From the back, though, it said nothing. I was anonymous, just another kid with nothing to show.

But that night, after I enacted my plan, I gleefully looked down at the shirt as the words ďHEATĒ broke through the monotonous back. Each letter was a bit blotchy and crooked, the mark of handcrafted love. I smiled. And then my finger began to burn.

Oh, it burned. It burned from within, like it was sliced open and a lit match was jammed inside, sizzling out on the bone. I winced and looked at my right pointer finger, which had grown bright red. Then I looked back down at the floor, where the ďTĒ was finally reaching its full state of glory, and saw the bottle of bleach that I used to accomplish this work of art. I tried to remember: What have I learned about bleach? Itís used in laundry. Itís dangerous to drink. But was I not supposed to dip my finger in a cup of it repeatedly, and then finger-paint with bleach upon the back of a shirt? Nobody had told me not to do this. Nobody had said bleach burns. Nobody, that is, until everybody said it for the next two weeks, when I explained the band-aid on my finger.

Continued after jump...

Permalink: 12:08 AM | Comments (0)

June 06, 2005

Doing my civic duty, and doody


I bought recycled toilet paper today. At first the idea seemed gross, but then I realized it's not made out of used toilet paper. It's just, well, something else. Newsprint, perhaps. In pulp form, that's probably not all that different what what makes non-recycled toilet paper, right? Right.

It cost $5.49 for four rolls, which is really steep. But, there's this note on the packaging that lists things like how many trees could be saved if everyone bought one four-pack of recycled toilet paper, and I got suckered in. Don't ever let it be said that I don't love trees.

I was really disappointed, though, when I opened the package up and found that the toilet paper quality was akin to something you'd find in a college dorm. This is a luxury product -- shouldn't it be luxurious? Shouldn't you wipe your ass and moan, "Ooohh, recycling feels so good!" Answer: no and yes. No, it doesn't feel good. But yes, it is a luxury product, and the luxury is purely intellectual. You're supposed to feel good that you bought this product, even if it isn't particularly delightful to use.

I find that, while I use this toilet paper, it helps to remind myself of the good deeds I've done. Try sitting on the can, for example, and reading the eco-friendly message on the packaging while wiping. "Seventh Generation bathroom tissue is made from 100% recy -- aieee! -- cled paper, with a minim -- arggg! -- um of 80% post consumer mate -- mmmph! -- rials." And so on. See, doesn't that feel better?

Permalink: 09:56 AM | Comments (2)

June 03, 2005

Journalism 101: Where to put the quote

Check out these two grafs, repeated in their original form and order, from a South Florida Sun-Sentinel story on last night's Heat game:

Limited for weeks for a bruised right thigh, O'Neal had enough hop in his step early to score 15 points in the first half. O'Neal said he dedicated the game to legendary Lakers center George Mikan, who died earlier in the day at age 80.

"He's moving better now than he's moved in probably a month," Heat guard Damon Jones said.

Wait, George Mikan is moving better in death than was his last month of life? Now that's a story! (And if we want to get real ticky-tack on this sloppy piece of writing, shouldn't that first sentence be, "Limited for weeks by a bruised right thigh..."?)

Permalink: 10:21 AM | Comments (0)

Table scraps:

I SHOULD HAVE known better than to semi-believe the "Forget-me-not Panties" that I linked in a previous Table Scraps. Turns out, it's just part of the Congtagious Media contest that has produced some legitimately amusing stuff like Crying While Eating and Change My Race. But those panties? Lame-o.

TURN ON YOUR speakers, and prepare to be welcomed to Zombo.com. (Via YellowJeep Online)

LOOKING FOR SOME Hamburger Helper? You'll get "Hamburger Dinner." Craving some Chicken of the Sea? You'll get "Tuna from the Sea." It may not be glamorous, but one writer proves you can indeed make a reasonable meal out of food bought at a dollar store.

THE HEAT ROCKED the Pistons last night, but how would they match up against some of history's bigher champions?

I FEEL BAD for this journalist, who was working at People Magazine when Mark Felt's family asked him if he'd like to write a story outing Felt as "Deep Throat." But, they wanted a lot of money for the story, and People wasn't willing to pay for checkbook journalism. But then again, I'm glad it happened that way: Vanity Fair was bad enough, but could you imagine if People Magazine broke the largest journalism story of the last few decades? What would they have done, buried it under a swooning piece about Katie Holmes's latest diet?

FOR ONE BRIEF moment, car racing gets interesting.

Permalink: 09:12 AM | Comments (1)

June 02, 2005

There are whores and bores on this hill

I just finished reading a book called ďWhores on the Hill,Ē which its publisher sent me after I agreed to review it. But before I tear it apar-- I mean, before I review it, I want to acknowledge a handicap that may have hurt the book: I was reading about things I wasnít. The book is about 15-year-old Catholic high school girls who experiment with sex and drugs. Iím a boy, raised Jewish, who has never even taken a drag off a cigarette. And sex? Well, things got way better after high school, but this article I wrote for Zink Magazine should sum the early years up well. People who positively reviewed this book on Amazon.com talked of its nostalgia, its closeness to their own experiences. So, who am I to judge?

Therefore, letís put things in perspective. Here are the first few paragraphs of the book, followed by a reinterpretation as if this book was about my own life as an early high schooler. The book is in italics, my version is printed normally. Shall we?

We knew all the dances you stood in line to do: the Electric Slide, the Modified Y, the Tootsie Roll. Even the Ooh! Aah!, although the right-left-shuffle gave Juli some trouble.

We knew all the dances you stood in line to do at someoneís Bar-Mitzvah, although we rarely did them because we were too busy drinking Shirley Temples and sticking French fries up our noses. Often weíd get our hands on some sort of inflatable guitar, and bash each other until it was time for dessert.

We knew how to count calories, how to accessorize with multicolored bandannas, how to iron on an iron-on decal. You just ironed it on.

We knew how to get maximum burps out of our soda, how to down a can in one gulp, how to say the ABCís while burping. You just burped and said it.

We knew how to hem a skirt three inches above the bare knee. We knew how to tuck the fabric so our uniform skirts flipped a little when we walked. Like a dance or a cantanelle.

We knew how to look at a girl who had a skirt hemmed three inches above the bare knee. We didnít really know how to talk to her, though. We figured it must be like a dance or a cantanelle, but we didnít know what a cantanelle was. Actually, we probably still donít.

We knew we were the last all-girlsí high school in Milwaukee.

I doubt we even knew where Milwaukee is.

Astrid knew how to French inhale off a Lucky Strike. Some Fenwick kid taught her. Hands on, my guess. Astrid.

Jessie knew how to hold a cigarette like he looked really sketchy. He probably picked it up from some bad TV show. At home alone, my guess. Jessie.

We knew a lot of things about hair: how to brush, comb, and tease it. How to streak it, how to dye it, how to get gum out of it with the white jelly of an egg. We knew how to curl it with curling irons, how to straighten it with flat irons. We knew that hair was very important.

We knew a lot of things about hair: how to wash, dry, put a backward hat on it. How to make it look like you showered before going to school, on days you woke up too late. We knew how to get really bad haircuts that we cringe at now. We knew that hair wasnít very important.

Now, to the book:

Continued after jump...

Permalink: 09:39 AM | Comments (5)

June 01, 2005

Photo dump: Melbourne

Are you sick of hearing about Australia yet? Yes? Well, too bad: Here are some amusing photos I took in Melbourne:


This is clearly the product of a couple drunken guys pulling a prank on their friend, but I was laughing about it for days. I think it's the last line that really got me.

Continued after jump...

Permalink: 09:39 AM | Comments (2)