Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Body Farms

The Tennessee Body Farm never ceases to amuse us. Rotting bodies spread out over a 30 acre parcel near Knoxville--WAY more interesting than that 266-foot gold-plated golf ball left over from the 1982 World's Fair.

Now there are plans to open a similar, uhm, installation, in Iowa, which would allow forensics researchers to see how a body rotting in a Midwestern cornfield might be different from a body rotting in the Appalachian foothills. We are all for this. For one thing, if we were ever beaten half to death and buried alive in the middle of a cornfield, like Joe Pesci in Casino, we'd want the Iowans to catch the fkn fks who did it. For another, we are nearly certain there is nothing else so interesting going on in all of Iowa.

Monday, November 28, 2005

DC's First Hot News Anchor

Among the many curses of DC is the herd of cows that staff the local news shows. Every other city on earth has a handful of hotties to tell you that the Supreme Court is falling apart, a kid got shot twice over his North Face jacket, and other headlines of the day. Not the capital of the free world. We like our news ugly and our reporters uglier.

Things are beginning to look up, though. The local NBC station now has one Lindsay Czarniak doing sports on weekends and filling in for the regular nobodies every once in a while. And yes, we know that web page says she has been here since June, but we just saw her for the first time the other night.

Narnia on the Big Screen

Sore from kicking themselves for passing on Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Disney is bringing Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia to the masses, starting with The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Seems that after the success of Harry Potter, the studios can't find more British children's lit fast enough--but Lewis's Christian Indoctrination for Children could cause problems for Disney:

In fact, there are some Hollywood observers who seem to believe that there is a good reason Lewis is among the last of the classic children's authors to be adapted for the movies, and that in taking on Narnia, Disney has backed itself into a corner. If the studio plays down the Christian aspect of the story, it risks criticism from the religious right, the argument goes; if it is too upfront about the religious references, on the other hand, that could be toxic at the box office. Disney, which is producing "Narnia" with Walden Media, the "family friendly" entertainment company owned by the politically conservative financier Philip Anschutz, is hedging its bets and has, for example, already issued two separate soundtrack albums, one featuring Christian music and musicians and another with pop and rock tunes.
Well, they can release two soundtracks, but we don't see how the Righteous Christian Forces of Aslan and the Immoral And Ultimately False Popular Culture can both win The Good Fight. Maybe they filmed two endings, one to show in red states and one for the blue states?

UPDATE: Polly Toynbee rants, "Narnia represents everything that is most hateful about religion" at the Guardian.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Baltimore = Ghetto

We were amused to learn that somebody is cutting down street lights in Baltimore and selling the metal for scrap because it reminded us of Mr. Burns's attempt to darken the streets of Springfield. That, and it reminds us what a cesspool Baltimore is: The sewers clog every time it rains, the roads haven't been paved since cobblestones went out of style, and the police are so lazy you can cut down a 30 foot street light pole and cart it off without getting caught.

Colored Bubbles

Remember blowing soap bubbles with those little plastic wands when you were a kid? Wouldn't it be awesome if they came in colors?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Reese Witherspoon is June Carter

As Johnny Cash fans, there was never any doubt that we were going to see Walk the Line. And no matter how slow it felt at times or however unfairly it may portray Vivian Cash, we were going to like it, so there is no point in us telling you how good it was.

We are going to tell you, though, that Reese Witherspoon steals the show. Witherspoon is, of course, a hot country girl with considerable wits; she inhabits June Carter--another hot country girl with considerable wits--to the point of taking over Carter completely. When Carter and Cash meet backstage on the first Sun tour, she gets the bows and ribbons on her comically American-as-apple-pie dress tangling in Cash's guitar strings. As the MC is warming up the crowd for her, she calls out to the audience, from behind the curtain, "Jus' a sec. Ah'm jus' tanglud up in thu stran'gs a' Johnny Cash's get-tar," as if her backstage delay is part of the act, and then whispers to Cash, "Don't worry. Ah can keep this funny for at least two menuts." We don't know if that was Carter's humor or Witherspoons. ...the intertwining of these two beauties in this one character reminds us of a buxom blonde college girl from Tennessee who called Dolly Parton her childhood idol... Oh, and did we tell you Witherspoon does her own vocals? Her voice isn't exactly June Carter's, but Carter wasn't the world's greatest singer, so there is no loss there. And at least she sings better than Joaquin Phoenix.

Previous Post: Joaquin Phoenix is Johnny Cash

Friday, November 18, 2005

Turkey Day

We're taking the week off to enjoy homecooking, etc, so posting will be very light.

Check out Shandy's new digs, or hang out with the Percolator, or get something to eat over at Gubbins.


How To Increase Your Hit Count

With free sex, of course. This livejournal-ish blog includes links to three softcore galleries with each post, for no reason we can see other than to increase his hit counts, since the galleries have no apparent relation to his posts. Well, we only read a couple posts before getting totally distracted by uhm, other material. Genius.

Google Logos

BoingBoing pointed us to this repository of Google Holiday logos, which also includes this great Dilbert Google Doodle. Hah ha.

There Is Nothing Wrong in This Whole World

One year ago, Chris Cobb--whose previous work includes mashed potato sculpture a la Close Encounters of the Third Kind--transformed Adobe Bookstore's shelves into his art project, There Is Nothing Wrong in This Whole World (photos at Flickr).

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

He Lied, He Lied!

When we were kids, Mr Wizard told us that it is impossible to fold a piece of paper in half more than 8 times. A high schooler proved him wrong:

For extra credit in a math class Britney was given the challenge to fold anything in half 12 times. After extensive experimentation, she folded a sheet of gold foil 12 times, breaking the record. This was using alternate directions of folding. But, the challenge was then redefined to fold a piece of paper. She studied the problem and was the first person to realize the basic cause for the limits. She then derived the folding limit equation for any given dimension.
That's right, Don Herbert, not only did little Little Britney Gallivan prove you wrong for extra credit in high school math, she came up with lots of fancy calculusy-looking equations, too. She's also better looking. (via BoingBoing)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Laura Miller at describes a series of novella-length retellings of the classical myths, coming to a bookstore near you this fall. First up: Margaret Atwood on what really happened with Penelope and all those suitors while Odysseus was away. We're interested, if only to see if Atwood reports something racy enough to overcome a premise that could devolve into a sexist ("feminist," some will surely say) retelling of a perfectly good story.

To read Salon without subscribing, we recommend the Salon Premium Pass script for Greasemonkey (requires Firefox), which will automatically fetch a day pass without you having to watch the ultramercial. If only someone would find a similar hack for Times Select...

God Loves Us Like A Gay Husband

The student newspaper reporters covering a lecturer who gave a talk on "theology and sex" to a Catholic school audience presumably butchered the speaker's words when they printed this:

The biblical prophets spoke of God's love for us in terms of a man's love for his bridegroom.
We wonder: Is God a top or a bottom?

Monday, November 14, 2005

More on Picture Books

ORIGINAL POST: We thought this'd be a nice follow-up to our earlier post on Picture Books: The Print and The Book.

UPDATE: Screw that. Today we stumbled over IT IN place, the art blog by Alex Itin who draws on the pages of books:

I started ripping up books and drawing in the pages (it had been a warm-up exorcize I did in College). The only rule was that it had to be a book that I’d read and that I’d loved. There seemed no point in destroying something you were ambivalent about. I did thousands of drawings....most were terrible, but I began to find a new language of linked images.
The climbing fellow at right--which to us looks like either a painted pygmy or possibly a demon from Dante's Hell--is from the blog, and you should run over there right now for more. Itin is artist-in-residence at The Institute for the Future of the Book, which is itself worth checking out. Especially the if:book blog.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Introduction of Tea, Coffee, and Chocolate

From Isaac D'Israeli's Curiousities of Literature, a six-volume collection of miscellenea from the 1820s:

IT is said that the frozen Norwegians, on the first sight of roses, dared not touch what they conceived were trees budding with fire: and the natives of Virginia, the first time they seized on a quantity of gunpowder, which belonged to the English colony, sowed it for grain expecting to reap a plentiful crop of combustion by the next harvest, to blow away the whole colony.
If you read the rest of the wordy piece about the initial European reactions to hot drinks, you will learn that tea was touted as a panacea for the sole purpose of kindling a market for the weeds that were coming back in the sailing ships from China; that coffee only caught on because Parisian women were entranced by the cute little cups it was served in; and that monks were forbidden from drinking chocolate ostensibly because it inflamed the passions, but really just because everyone else wanted to make sure there was enough for the rest of us.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Apparently, NYTimes and the White House Use the Same Fact Checkers

The Times Magazine had commissioned author JT Leroy to write about Disneyland Paris back in September and had planned to bring him/her/it back in November to write a longer piece on what JT describes as the "Deadwood mentality." However, last week the Times pulled the plug on this, citing the fact that JT Leroy doesn't actually exist as far as anyone can tell. Well, "anyone," with the notable exception of Warren St. John, who profiled Leroy for the Times a year ago. (Apologies for that link to Times Select material.)

Friday, November 11, 2005

Fishing for Music

Since the demise of Napster, mp3s have gotten harder and harder to find. When you just have to listen to something right now, there needs to be a better way to find a copy to download. Enter SingingFish. Type in a few keywords, tell it if you prefer mp3 or QuickTime or whatever, and hope for the best.

FOX cuts Arrested Development

Apparently, FOX doesn't have any patience for good TV. This fall, they moved their money-making, award-winning powerhouse Malcolm in the Middle (which we never really watched anyway) to Friday nights, which is like smothering grandma with a pillow.

Now, they are putting Arrested Development on hold. What will they be replacing it with, you might ask. Cops? Close. Try Prison Break reruns.

The Best of 2005 is doing us all the great favor of compiling Best of 2005 lists this fall. Books, music--even the Best Hospitals of 2005. They'll be adding as more lists come available.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


In addition to shamelessly consuming gubbins' edible news, we've been fattening ourselves on a number of food porn sites. Heidi over at 101cookbooks is vegetarian and so sexy a chef that for her, we'd even consider giving up meat. Today she treated us to pistaccio nut butter, which she recommends spreading on crepes, and there is just about nothing we wouldn't do for some of this chocolate mousse to go along with those pistaccio crepes. Whether or not recipes interest you, the photography rocks. We feel very insecure when we compare the talents on display at her site compared to our own, but the food fills our bellies and distracts us from the depression.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Bibliophile Vacations

Shopping sucks our will to live. But book and music stores are different. So we totally sympathise with Slate's Jacob Weisberg who is spending his London vacation in the bookstores.

The Best Politics in the Land

"What did liberals do that was so offensive to the Republican Party? I'll tell you what they did. Liberals got women the right to vote. Liberals got African Americans the right to vote. Liberals created Social Security and lifted millions of elderly people out of poverty. Liberals ended segregation. . . . So when you try to hurl that label at my feet, 'liberal,' as if it's something dirty, something to be ashamed of, something to run away from, it won't work, because I will pick it up, and I will wear that label as a badge of honor."

Any guesses as to the author? Not Michael Moore. Not even Howard Dean. No, it's from The West Wing. Even in the post-Aaron Sorkin era, they can come up with rhetoric that heroic but the best the DNC can run against that Texas hick is, "We need to fight a smarter, better war."

Merle Haggard on Whores

One of our grandfathers has a pile of Merle Haggard records that he values more highly in life than anything except his rifle. So our eyes perked up when we saw Merle reflecting on his first whorehouse visit in today's WaPo:

One day in 1951, a runaway 14-year-old boy named Merle Haggard accomplished two memorable things: He bought his first pair of cowboy boots in a secondhand store and he lost his virginity in a whorehouse in Amarillo, Tex.

Interviewing Haggard for a wonderfully entertaining profile in the November issue of GQ, writer Chris Heath asked the legendary country singer and songwriter if his experiences in that whorehouse changed him.

Haggard pondered the question for a minute. "Not really," he replied. "I think the cowboy boots affected me more. I mean, the gal just affirmed what I already knew, but the cowboy boots made a new man out of me."

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Picture Books!

We just recently learned that Salvador Dali illustrated Alice's Adventures in Wonderland back in the 60s. The pics totally blow our mind.

We've been told that by the end of elementary school, we should be able to read "serious novels," which seems to mean "long books without pictures." Hef taught us that this advice is not wisdom, though it may masquerade as such.

So, to feed our hunger for picture books, we burnt an Amazon gift certificate on illustrated "serious novels" this weekend. With the Dali edition of Alice out of print, this meant lots of Ralph Steadman's work, which not only complements Fear and Loathing and the aforementioned Alice but also the 50th anniversary edition of Animal Farm.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

On Indian Food

The International Herald Tribune has a few words on the rarity of classy eats in New Delhi. Apparently, one cook is making a lone stand for the new cuisine. We're game for a trip to India just to have a taste. Wanna come with?

Friday, November 04, 2005

"Doctor" Frist on Eugenics

The Editors have brought Bill Frist's Family Tree to our attention. Question: Can you imagine the hubris required to publish your family tree?

One reviewer described it as an insecure man's attempt to demonstrate that he is "melanin-free," which made us chuckle, but we think reading this inbred family tree might be darkly fun. There must be something to a family of doctors that can build a huge healthcare organization to bilk their patients and then send their son off to Washington to keep their conspiratorial way of life legal, only to have him make an ass out of himself over a vegetable in Florida, may her soul rest in peace.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Alice Walker: "I am no Condi Rice"

When Tavis Smiley compared Alice Walker to Condi Rice, Ms. Walker fired back:

I find it very objectionable because she is someone that has helped the president actually bomb people, kill people, starve people...

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Physics of the Bra

The average American woman now wears a bra size 36C, up from an average bra size of 34B in 1990. This means more gravity in play, so some physicists have been called in to hold things up. We think their work is worthy of a Nobel.

UPDATE: The fruits of research? A Dutch firm has designed a wall of silicone breasts in all sizes to help men shopping for their significant others. The customer can go to the wall and squeeze the silicone models until he finds his wife/girlfriend's size.