June 30, 2009

Planning Fail

June 26, 2009

June 25, 2009


From The New York Times: Come Celebrate! No, Maybe Not
WASHINGTON — It was an attempt by President Obama to reach out to Iran with a classically American invitation: celebrate the Fourth of July with hot dogs and hearty fellowship at United States Embassies worldwide.
I'm sorry, it now qualifies as diplomacy to invite Iran to eat hot dogs? What brand were they planning to serve, Hebrew National? Oy.
On Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who had authorized diplomatic posts this month to invite Iranians to their Independence Day parties, sent out a cable rescinding the invitations.
She then leant back in her chair, put her feet up on the desk, and waited for the violence in Tehran to stop.

In other news, the New York Times offered me a special "university faculty" rate for a subscription the other day, so starting September I'll be that much more of an insufferable intellectual. Finally, correcting all those student papers is paying off! When do the rest of my perks start arriving?

June 23, 2009

Tennis Fans, Thy Name Is Fickle

From The Daily Mail: Dozens of Murray fans treated for exhaustion as Wimbledon bakes in 100F heat

I've complained in the past about the British obsession with Tim Henman, particularly vis-a-vis their repeated claims that every year was "his year" at Wimbledon despite a severe lack of evidence that he had anything like what was necessary to advance past a drawn-out, miserable semi-final.

They really did used to go completely insane around Wimbledon time (and indeed at any other point in the year when they happened to think of him), doing things like skipping work to join in with the rapturous squeals of "Henmania" at "Henman Hill", or devising a points systems "proving" that Henman was actually the second-best man ever to play at Wimbledon (he beat out Agassi by a long shot, even though Andre actually won Wimbledon, occasionally). I even knew a girl in high school who would pretend to be Tim Henman's sister whenever she heard people badmouthing him in public, so that she could more authoritatively reprimand them for doing so. (N.B. Tim Henman does not, in fact, have a sister.)

But to look at the tennis-loving British public now, you'd barely know it, so hegemonic is their sudden adulation for Henman's replacement, Andy Murray: "Henmania" has been swiftly pushed aside by "Andy's Army"; "Henman Hill", where so many thousands of fans once gathered to watch him play, has been rechristened "Murray Mound"; even Henman's official website at timhenman.org has mysteriously disappeared. It's as if the poor chap never even existed:
James Pollard, 32, from Harefield, north west London, said [of Murray]: "This is the first Brit with a chance in more than 70 years."
Now, it would, of course, be churlish to point out that, although Andy Murray is without a doubt a very fine British tennis player, at this point he's not in much better shape than Tim Henman was at the peak of his career, and so it doesn't seem all that likely that he'll do much better than Tim ever did in his numerous Wimbledon disappointments. But at least Murray has yet to establish a solid track record of dashing the British public's dreams, so I think I'll let it go, for now.

HOWEVER, I would like to complain briefly about how shocking American tennis commentators are. I was watching Murray's opening match earlier, and rather than discussing, I don't know, THE TENNIS MATCH GOING ON IN FRONT OF THEM, the two dipshits were blathering on about all the men to have scaled Everest and the relative merits of various British tabloids, and THEN cut to an audio feed of an interview with Andy Roddick, wherein he answered such weighty questions as: "What's it like being at Wimbledon as a married man instead of a single one?", or even (&*!#&*@^!!!!!!) "How do you like using Twitter?" They then began to read him individual entries from his Twitter page and asked him to elaborate on them. I mean, for God's sake, if I wanted to follow Andy Roddick on Twitter, I would JOIN TWITTER — at least that way I wouldn't have to listen to him EXPLAINING his deep, 140-character thoughts that, let's face it, don't require any fucking explanation in the first place. ("My wife has the worst taste in music!" OMG!)


June 21, 2009

Actual Recycling Jokes

Ever since I wrote this post about SNL recycling its jokes last month, I've started getting a pretty hefty number of Google hits from people actually looking for recycling jokes (jokes about recycling, yes?). Indeed, people looking for such jokes now make up about 9% of all my search traffic and 2% of my total site traffic, which is kind of a lot considering I don't think I've ever actually made a joke about recycling — unless you count this stupendous Al Gore zing from two years ago (and even then I don't make the most obvious recycling joke: "Man, Al Gore loves the planet so much he even recycles his name!").

Anyway, all that is about to change. For the edification of my anonymous, accidental readers, I now present: RECYCLING JOKES

Q. Why did the chicken carrying several bags full of separated paper, plastic, glass, and metal cross the road?
A. To get to a Halloween party dressed as a recycler. Then the landfill.

Q. How many environmentalists does it take to change a light bulb?
A. Two: one to change the light bulb, the other to lecture you about why you should have bought one of those stupid twisty fluorescent ones and reduced our dependency on raw materials over time!

Q. Did you hear the one about the aluminium recycling plant?
A. It smelt!

Q. What did the blonde take to the recycling centre?
A. A big bag of used condoms, because blondes are so stupid and promiscuous!

Q. What was the Japanese Tom Jones impersonator's most recycling-friendly song?
A. "The Green Green Glass of Home"

Q. Did you hear the one about the recycling family of triplets?
A. Polly, Ethel and Ian! (You could only take them out on certain days of the week.)


June 20, 2009

A Nasty Spell

From BBC NEWS | UK | Education: Schools to rethink 'i before e'
The spelling mantra "i before e except after c" is no longer worth teaching, according to the government, [which] recommends using more modern methods to teach spelling to schoolchildren.
More modern methods, like...?
Like studying television listings for compound words.
Ah, yes, television listings — the best way to get children to focus on their spelling lessons.

Elsewhere, this headline is probably the only instance where the words "surprise", "prostate", and "probe" have ever combined to make good news.

June 19, 2009

June 18, 2009


From Newsvine: Analysis: Ensign affair one more woe for GOP
WASHINGTON — It's just about the last thing the beleaguered Republican Party needed: a Christian conservative with national aspirations admitting to an extramarital affair with an ex-staffer.
I'm pretty sure his wife could have done without it too.

Incidentally, gross and unnecessary figure of speech:
There also was a report of a previous affair, in 2002, an indication that the drip, drip of dalliance details may only just be beginning.
Tell me you can hear the words "drip, drip", "dalliance", and "politician" and not think of Monica Lewinsky's blue dress.

Also, speaking of news reports that are hilariously devoid of empathy, how about this BBC article about North Korea qualifying for the World Cup next year:
Iran's failure to defeat South Korea in Seoul earlier meant that North Korea only needed a draw in Riyadh.
Really? You're going to blame this one on Iran? Because I think they have a few things besides the World Cup on their mind right now...

So is this why everyone is so afraid of North Korea these days?

June 17, 2009

Timeless Question Finally Answered

In the class I taught last semester, my (largely) freshman students were pretty critical of Twitter (twitical?), calling it stupid and pointless and self-indulgent. My reaction at the time was: welll, if eighteen-year-olds aren't using Twitter, who the hell is? (Which was, in itself, a reformulation of a question I'd already been asking about Twitter for quite some time.)

Anyway, apparently the answer is IRAN, or protesters, or democracy, or something like that — so much so that, as I'm sure most of you have already heard, the U.S. State Department gently suggested yesterday that Twitter reschedule a planned outage to minimise disruption to the flow of information in Iran.

Although the White House has denied it is trying to meddle in Iranian politics, and Twitter claims they made the decision to delay maintenance completely independent of the government, this exclusive transcript uncovered by plethoric pundigrions suggests otherwise.
capitolhillary @twitter you guys been watchin the news?
twitter @capitolhillary um, yeah why
twitter @thirdparty holy shit dude hillary clinton is totally talkin to me!!!!
capitolhillary @twitter well maybe you should, you know... #iranelections #twitteroutage
twitter *independent thought* /lies/
thirdparty @twitter sweet dude tell her I totally voted for her
thirdparty ...after edwards was out ZING! #hillarypwned
twitter @capitolhillary okay okay. anything else benevolent overlord?
thirdparty thirdparty ftw!
iheartgreysuits @capitolhillary @twitter BACK OFF #iranelections
twitter fml
iran moussavi ftw! #iranelections
democracy victory?
I don't really have any idea what I just wrote, or even if it approximates with any accuracy what a Twitter transcript should look like.

pundigrions out of touch #meta

June 12, 2009

June 09, 2009

You Wish You Could Forget About Dre

Dr Dre has recently been appointed the new public face of Dr Pepper, in an ad spot that puns horrifically (and I say this, you well know, as an inveterate pun lover) on the fact that both things start with Dr. "Trust me," Dre assures us, "I'm a doctor" — after which we're advised by some lettering made up of CGI carbonation to "Drink It Slow" ("Dr's Orders"), a reference to Dre's assertion that his slow tracks are always hits (alas!, I haven't listened to enough of the Dre oeuvre to be able to assess that claim with any authority).

This will be the first in a long line of endorsements by famous Drs, among which I can exclusively reveal the following:
Dr Phil: "Drink it asininely"

Dr Spock: "Drink it affectionately."

Dr Ruth: "Drink some!"

Dr Seuss: "Drink it, plink it, blim-blam-blink it!"

Dr Strangelove: "Drink it atomically."

Dr Mario: "It'sa me, Mario!"

Dr Marten: "Drink it punkily."

Dr Watson: "But how does one drink it, Holmes?"

Dr Scholl: "Drink it odourlessly!"
And, of course:
Dr Kevorkian: "Drink it."
I think I've covered all my bases.

June 08, 2009

Let's Get Biblical

From Newsvine: Court won't stop case of man with porn on computer
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court won't stop Pennsylvania officials from prosecuting a man whose computer was found to contain child pornography while it was at Circuit City being upgraded.
Now folks, child pornography is awful, and certainly no laughing matter — you'll get no argument from me there.

But can we take a moment to appreciate the surname of this particular child pornographer?
Kenneth Sodomsky wants the high court to suppress the videos found on his computer.
Sodomsky's attonery, Gomorrah Jones, declined requests to be interviewed for this story.

June 07, 2009

End Of World, You May Now Commence

From BBC News | Politics: BNP secures two European seats

The British Nationalist Party (not to be confused with the Monster Raving Loony Party) won two seats in the U.K. elections for the European parliament today.


For my non-British readers who don't stay as informed as they could about the batshit insane fringe of British politics, let me give you a brief taster of some of the BNP's campaign literature:
We support the re-introduction of corporal punishment for petty criminals and vandals, and the restoration of capital punishment for paedophiles, terrorists and murderers.

Globalisation, with its export of jobs to the Third World, is bringing ruin and unemployment to British industries and the communities that depend on them. . . . Accordingly, the BNP calls for the selective exclusion of foreign-made goods from British markets and the reduction of foreign imports. We will ensure that our manufactured goods are, wherever possible, produced in British factories, employing British workers. . . . When this is done, unemployment in this country will be brought to an end, and secure, well-paid employment will flourish.

Motorists must not be made the scapegoats for government failure. Fuel tax should be cut, motorway speed limits raised, and hidden speed cameras should be banned.

We reject the idea that Britain must forever be obliged to subsidise the incompetence and corruption of Third World states by supplying them with financial aid.

We will bring our troops back from Germany and withdraw from NATO, since recent political developments make both commitments obsolete.

The views of the majority of British people have been ignored and overridden by a Politically Correct ‘elite’ which thinks it knows best. . . . On immigration, on Capital Punishment, on the surrender of British sovereignty to the EU and in numerous other areas, democracy has been absent as Labour, Tories and Lib-Dems conspire in election after election to offer the British people no real choice on such vital issues.
So, to summarise: kill all the paedos, withdraw entirely from the global economy, make motorways a free-for-all, fuck the developing world, leave "obsolete" NATO, and try to break free from the sinister kabal of representational democracy that has for years shackled the British public with unreasonable and untenable policies such as "no capital punishment" and "immigration is normal".

Oh, and then there's the doozie that they're best known for:
On current demographic trends, we, the native British people, will be an ethnic minority in our own country within sixty years.

To ensure that this does not happen, and that the British people retain their homeland and identity, we call for an immediate halt to all further immigration, the immediate deportation of criminal and illegal immigrants, and the introduction of a system of voluntary resettlement whereby those immigrants who are legally here will be afforded the opportunity to return to their lands of ethnic origin assisted by a generous financial incentives both for individuals and for the countries in question.
Yes, that's right. Anyone who cannot prove that they descended from the handful of white people who inhabited Britain 7,000 years ago (they do actually use that number) will be paid to leave the country. And with a reception like that, why wouldn't they?

To put this in some kind of perspective, the BNP winning seats in the European parliament is a bit like the Nazi Party winning a Grammy; nobody quite knows how it happened, no reasonable person thinks it's warranted, and everybody is filled with a sort of horrified curiosity to see what they're going to do with it. And for that reason I would like to join in with the chorus of public figures who have called the BNP victory a "sad moment" in British politics.

(I'd say it was "a black day" in British politics, but it's the BNP — so it's the exact opposite.)

June 06, 2009

What A Gas

Here's, perhaps, an explanation for why Ford is the only U.S. automaker not in bankruptcy:

Remember how I raved the other day about how my rented Ford Focus got me all the way to Montreal and back (≈650 miles), including almost three hours sitting in barely moving traffic, on only $48 worth of gas?

Well, while in Florida last week, my rented (Chrysler) Dodge Ram drove about 300 miles, almost all of it on highways and with no traffic, on $28 worth of gas, bought at the same price per gallon. It also handled like an elephant.

In conclusion: good luck, Fiat.

June 05, 2009

June 04, 2009

Nyerd Nyerd Nyerd

Although I've never actually watched Battlestar Galactica, I've spent enough time with enough of its fans (viz. the entire MFA program at Emerson College) to be highly amused by this article from the Associated Press about collecting oil via a process called "hydraulic fracturing" or . . . fracking.

A few of the gems:
Fracking involves injecting liquids, sand and chemicals underground to force open channels in tight sand and rock formations so that oil and gas will flow. . . .

Nine out of 10 wells drilled nationwide are fracked, [Energy in Depth spokesperson Chris] Tucker said. . . .

"I don't have any problems with the fracking process per se, it's the chemicals they use in the process," said Wally White, a commissioner in La Plata County . . .

Companies say they use mostly sand and water in fracking, but also acknowledge using chemicals and lubricants to help coax the oil and gas out. They guard their fracking recipes as proprietary information. . . .

[Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute member Geoffrey] Thyne said he has read many technical papers on fracking as part of a study he did as an associate professor at the Colorado School of Mines. . . . Thyne said he would prefer comprehensive studies and monitoring over federal regulation of fracking.
Someone at the AP is having a laugh, right?

June 02, 2009

Je June

I just got back from Montreal, and would like to heartily congratulate my rented Ford Focus — from Boston to Montreal and back on a mere forty-eight dollars' worth of gas. Bravo!

Tomorrow I'm going down to Florida for a few days and will return to Boston Friday afternoon, just in time for my UNITED STATES STAGE DEBUT with local improv troupe Kitsch In Sync on Friday night. Be there, etc. (Facebook event forthcoming.)

Also, astute readers will have noticed a novel progress bar along the top of the page. This is mostly intended as a way to further motivate myself to actually finish my first draft this summer, so please feel free to send me abusive emails if I seem not to be making my weekly goals (this week excepted, as I have been/will be on vacation).

That is all.