December 31, 2010

December 24, 2010

December 17, 2010

December 15, 2010

Not That I'm Cynical

Another appropriation from Information Is Beautiful (mouseover for punchline):

December 14, 2010

It's Like Rayayain On Your Wedding Day

This is an awesome opening gambit coming from a story on
The more someone claims to know, the less they generally do know. The problem is, the only thing worse than not having the right information, is walking around acting like you do.
So put that blackboard away, Glenn.

(The story itself is a collection of comma splices and non-sequitur platitudes that aim to dispel the "top nine myths about sex", and is barely worth talking about other than to complain about its comma splices and non-sequitur platitudes. Though I guess if you don't know "a wide variety in sexual appetite or level of libido exists" then you might want to check it out.)

December 10, 2010

December 09, 2010

The Answer Is: Yes

Is it just me, or does this headline sound like a line from a piece of modernist erotic poetry?

December 03, 2010

December 02, 2010

Grumble Grumble Grumble

From AOL ParentDish: Nothing Personal, Dad: Your Daughter's Not Calling Because She's Fertile
When a woman is, ya know, fertile, she wants a guy like Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp standing by.
This article is an exercise in exquisitely confusing use of innuendo. The "ya know" (thanks, Ms. Palin) and the italics around "fertile" (in the original, not my addition) seem to be suggesting that what the author really means here is "when a woman is horny". (That, and the mention of two sexalicious Hollywood hunkinators, both of whom are enough to make anybody fertile. Hubba hubba.)

On the face of things, then, I get it. Except that if you read on it turns out the author actually does mean fertile. Like, as in "able to conceive". So why the innuendo? Is it some kind of double-bluff? Is this author trying to cack-handedly inject "personality" into his writing in a lowest-common-denominator sort of way? Or is he just yet another example of somebody getting paid to say something interesting even though he doesn't have anything all that interesting to say, thus giving grist to the web's great Inane-o-Matic Content Generator?

Based on this next paragraph, I'm going to go with the latter.
Psychologists have already established how women appreciate manly faces, masculine voices and a certain amount of macho swagger when their menstrual cycles are at their friskiest.
I'm sorry, when their menstrual cycles are at their friskiest? What exactly does a frisky menstrual cycle look like? ("Oh, gee, honey, better get the leash! My menstrual cycle's trying to hump the mailbox again!")

Now, to transition from my predictable I-hate-mindless-blogging rant into my equally predictable I-hate-evolutionary-psychology rant. (Hidden after the jump, for those who don't care.)
…women appreciate manly faces, masculine voices and a certain amount of macho swagger when their menstrual cycles are at their friskiest.

It makes sense from a Darwinian perspective.

Now, a study out of the University of Miami says that's all true, except when the manly face and masculine voice belongs to the woman's father.
Oh, what a multitude of sins that single-sentence paragraph disguises! In this case, from a writerly perspective anyway, I actually have to hand it to the author for managing to boil down so many decades of dubious, pseudo-scientific theory into such a succinct seven words. Where to begin?

1. If you take as a starting point for your empirical experiment a concept like "masculine" — a word that can be defined as both "[objectively] relating to men" and "[subjectively] associated with how men should be" — then, duh, your results are going to be just a tiny bit fucking useless. What does it mean that an "average" woman is turned on by a picture of what a researcher deems a "masculine" face? From the strictest empirical point of view, the only thing you can definitively call a masculine face is one that belongs to a man; if you start imputing culturally contingent values of masculinity to subsets of those pictures, all you are really proving is that your test subjects and your test administrators share the same cultural values about what it means to be "manly". (Presumably if they'd conducted similar experiments a couple of hundred years ago, they would have concluded that women have a genetic preference for powdered wigs.)

2. This particular study was conducted by examining the cell phone records of forty-eight women over one billing period — and because women called their fathers less during the portion of that (one!) billing period that overlapped with the peak of their fertility, the researchers concluded that all women avoid their fathers when they're fertile. Never mind that the sort of woman who can call either of her parents' cell phones from her own cell phone is at best representative of a particular class of twenty-first century American family, and not (a) any other kind of contemporary family arrangement, or (b) the kind of evolutionary environment where this trait supposedly developed; never mind that this same study found that women in general talk less to their fathers on the phone anyway; never mind that there are a gazillion other potential reasons why a person might talk to another person more or less, fertile or not: this is clearly evidence that women are afraid of bangin' their dads.

3. Um, hello, can't you see that you are projecting a social taboo onto a putatively biological behaviour, here? Even if you could convince me that American women really do avoid their fathers when they're fertile, and that there's value in flattening human behaviour into biological imperatives like this — and you're not, at the moment — isn't it possible that years of anti-incest social conditioning have made women just feel plain awkward around their dads at the time of the month when they've supposedly got sex on the brain?


And now, finally, back to my I-hate-mindless-blogging rant:
Fertile women apparently avoid their dads like the plague. Literally.
"I'm sorry, Dad: either you talk to me from quarantine this week or you don't talk to me at all."


November 19, 2010

Conversations With Greatness CCCVI

Ah, it's been a while since I've made a good Hegelian Dialectic joke. #highbrowhumour #pretentious-ahole

November 18, 2010


From AOL Jobs: Amy-Erin Blakely Busts Devereux Foundation with Large Breasts Lawsuit

I'm sorry, she does what?
BUSTS Devereaux Foundation
Well, at least they didn't call it a titillating story.

Among her allegations:
She was told by management "you have very large breasts — so does my wife, and I have talked to her about you and your breasts."

She learned that someone in management wanted to sit next to her "so he can look at her big titties" and that he "loves big titties."

She learned that she had been nicknamed "Big Tittie Baby."
A spokesperson for Devereux told the press that they "carefully investigated and concluded her claims . . . are either spurious or twisted in content and context to be deliberately inflammatory" — though it's hard to imagine any context in which "Big Tittie Baby" is an appropriate nickname. Even pornstars at least go for the double entendres.


November 12, 2010

November 11, 2010

An A-Paul-ling Joke

From BBC News: Gazza fails to show for drink-drive sentencing
The sentencing of former footballer Paul Gascoigne for drink-driving has been adjourned after he failed to show up at court.
Not the first time Gazza's failed to show up in the box when he should have, though, eh chaps?

If you are a fan of puns and English football circa 1990, that joke killed.

November 05, 2010

November 03, 2010

Skerry Stories

From BBC News: US Elections 2010: Congress splits between parties

This is not really what I want to talk about today, but:
US Republicans have seized the House of Representatives in mid-term elections, dealing a severe blow to President Barack Obama's ability to pass laws.
"Severe blow"? Really? He still has the Senate. He still has, hello, the WHITE HOUSE. And hey, overall he's still in a marginally better position than Clinton was in at this point in his presidency, and unless I'm remembering completely incorrectly Clinton still went on to do pretty well for himself.

So let's all just calm the fuck down, okay?

And now, for the funny quote taken out of context:
In Nevada, one of the most dramatic contests of the night, the Democrats' leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, fought off Tea Party challenger Sharron Angle. US Senator John Kerry reacted with delight: "Harry Reid isn't just Dracula, he isn't just Lazarus, he's our leader and our whole caucus is thrilled that he's unbreakable and unbeatable."
But you're saying he is Dracula? And that Democrats are thrilled to follow him? Oh my God... That Tea Party campaigner was right!

John Kerry: Demonstrating Why He Lost The Election Since 2004.

November 01, 2010

October 28, 2010

You Take The Highbrow

From BBC News: Scottish university graduates 'should pay'

Oh, they'll pay, alright — this is the country where students drink vodka through their eyes.
The body representing Scotland's university principals has said students may have to pay towards the cost of their degrees after they graduate.

Universities Scotland said higher education should be "free at the point of entry and throughout their study".

But graduates earning reasonable salaries should be asked to pay.
Oh my God, people with a university education having to help fund universities! How... practical.

Scottish First Minister Susan Boyle Alex Salmond has ruled out a return to tuition fees, but has promised to provide a "uniquely Scottish solution" to the issue of higher education funding — and seeing as I've already made an alcohol-related joke about this story, I'm forced to conclude that this solution will involve heart disease in some way.

The Scottish Tory leader criticised Salmond's prevarication on the issue, saying "he's like some latter-day Nero strumming out 'Gaudeamus igitur' on his fiddle while tongues of flame reach out to our universities."

Blimey. Sounds like someone better get out the chequebook.


Side note: what kind of search algorithm makes a Google image search for "jowls" turn up pictures of jowls, but a Google image search for "MALE jowls" turn up a lot of porn?

October 22, 2010

October 15, 2010

October 14, 2010

Make Miner Pun

Seen on Netscape:

Wah-wah. I think they're familiar with that particular challenge already.

Other hilarious headlines:

"Experts warn miners may get the shaft"
"Experts warn of a mother lode of problems"
"Experts warn of perils of light at end of tunnel"
"Experts warn return to real world could be explosive"
"Experts warn of seamy life of celebrity"

And, of course:

"Experts warn of dangers of rock star lifestyle"

October 11, 2010

Stay Tuned For MLA Limericks

The sixteenth edition of the Chicago Manual of Style was released last month, and to mark some of the important changes introduced in this new edition, plethoric pundigrions is proud to present the following CMS-inspired poetry.

Capitalization Of "Web" And "Internet"
Chicago now prefers
web, website, web page
And so forth —
With a lowercase
But capitalize World Wide Web
And Internet.

Names Like iPod
Brand names that begin
With a lowercase letter followed
By a capital letter
Now retain the lowercase letter
Even at the beginning
Of a sentence or heading.

Names Ending With An "Eez" Sound
Names like Xerxes
Or Euripides
Now form the possessive in the usual way —
With an apostrophe

Note Numbers With Subheads
Chicago no longer objects
To note reference numbers
Or symbols appended to subheads.

Headline-Style Capitalization
In general,
Chicago no longer recommends making exceptions
For short or unstressed words
Or to avoid
The occasional

No wonder I'm not friends with any poets.

October 08, 2010

October 05, 2010

Adventures In Babysitting

From AOL ParentDish: Are Tweens Really Ready to Babysit?

Short answer: no. Long answer: oh my God, no.
Forty percent of younger babysitters report they had left children unattended while babysitting, and 20 percent say they opened the door to strangers . . .

The good news? Nearly all (98 percent) of 11- to 13-year-old babysitters know who to contact in the event of an intruder.
So, after opening the door to an intruder, 2% will then stand around scratching their heads about what to do next. And this is the good news?
The vast majority [also] know who to contact if a child is poisoned (85 percent).
Though, I mean, if you've managed to poison a baby to the point where it is visibly suffering, and you're still not sure what you should be doing about it, the right person to contact is ANYBODY.
Ten percent of the young babysitters reported having a personal experience with an emergency requiring a call to 911; 10 called 911 after a child sustained injuries from a significant fall, eight due to a house fire, six because a child had profuse bleeding from a laceration and six because of a significant head trauma.
Good GRIEF. What are these babysitters doing to keep their charges occupied? Significant falls? Profuse bleeding? HOUSE FIRES?

This might all seem pretty alarming, until you consider the picture that the authors of the study released showing a typical tween babysitter:


October 01, 2010

September 24, 2010

Conversations With Greatness CCXCVIII

And no, Mariana, I don't know him. Sorry.

September 23, 2010


If you've been reading my blog for a long time, you can't have failed to notice that my output has dropped off significantly in the past few months. Partly that's a symptom of creeping real-life-itis, and my general lack of spare time between my various jobs and trying to keep some kind of momentum with the novel — but the more I've thought about it lately, the more I think it has to do with an equally creeping frustration with blogs (or my blog, anyway) as a format.

For a start there's the time thing, and not only the "there's not enough hours in the day" part, either, because increasingly the blogging itself is inherently more time-consuming: in the past it was always easy enough to find some ridiculous link I could dash off a few jokes about, but nowadays I find myself having to actually spend time searching for stuff that interests me. Maybe it's because funny links circulate so much faster now, thanks to Facebook in particular, that by the time they reach me I feel like there's no point in blogging about them; maybe it's because so many of the "news" links that pop up on my homepage now are blog posts themselves and have already distilled the story past where it's engaging; or maybe it's because I'm worried about repeating the same sorts of jokes and the same sorts of rants that I've already been making for the past seven years.

And it's that worry about constantly being "fresh", actually, that I think is the most counterproductive thing about the constant march of the internet (as I've complained about before): since "good" blogs have to be updated constantly, bloggers have to either be interminably scouring the web for new material (which, as I said, I don't have time for), or constantly generating new opinions about old material. And frankly, I don't generate drastically new opinions that often. I don't think anyone should, really — certainly my opinions change all the time, but as a sort of gradual process that doesn't lend itself to hourly 140-character summaries.

So with blogging, now, I have a choice between making the same old tired comments about the same old topics all the time, or forcing myself to take new and uninformed stands on those topics just so I have something novel to say about them. Colour me fucking jaded.

The other alternative, of course, is to do what a lot of bloggers resort to — I presume suffering from the same sort of malaise, even if they don't voice it — and scale back my own commentary to make room for insipid "What do you guys think?" paragraphs. You know the ones I mean: the few sentences at the end of a blog post that pose one or two bland rhetorical questions and absolutely refuse to take any sort of ownership of any opinion whatsoever, in the hope that an angry flamer will do it for them. But I refuse to stoop so low: this is my blog, and if I can't fill it up myself I'll be damned if some Googler looking for Colin Farrell's cock is going to do it for me.

There's not a happy ending here. I still enjoy blogging because I still enjoy writing, and CWG hasn't lost its charm for me yet, either — so I don't plan to close up shop any time soon. But I do feel a little like blogging is starting to make itself at odds with good writing, not because it isn't capable of producing great writing, but because the sheer volume of shit that is produced by internet users — and expected by them — is overwhelming that imperative to slow down, and think, and appreciate something that only comes around every week or two (or six). And until I can get a better handle on all that — or until I become a raving demagogue nutbag — I'd prefer, if I don't have anything interesting to say, to not say anything at all.

September 17, 2010

September 16, 2010


From BBC News: Crowds gather to welcome Pope to Edinburgh
An estimated 125,000 well-wishers have lined the streets of Edinburgh to catch a glimpse of the Pope at the start of his state visit to the UK. . . .

The Devine family from Fernieside in Edinburgh, who had turned out for the last papal visit, were among those who gathered on Princes Street.
The Sinner family, meanwhile, from Clackmannanshire, stayed at home.
Holidaymaker Francis Piscopo, from Malta, was also among those cheering as the Pope left Holyroodhouse and made his way past Abbeyhill in the city.

He said: "The Pope is following us I think. We saw him in Malta. Then, when we arrived in Cyprus, we missed him by a day and now he's here in Scotland with us.
Yes, that's right: the Pope, the world's worst stalker. ("Honey, that man in the gold hat driving the giant perspex cake tin is behind us again.")

Mr Piscopo continued:
"The crowd here seem a bit more mooted though."
"Mooted"?! Was it a crowd of agnostics?

Meanwhile, senior papal advisor Cardinal Walter Kasper declined to accompany the pontiff on the visit, after likening Heathrow to a "Third World country".

The cardinal's secretary Oliver Lahl, however, was quick to reassure the world that the remark wasn't meant to be offensive, saying in a statement (and this is delightfully true):
"All he was saying is that when you arrive in Britain today it is like landing in Islamabad, Mumbai and Kinshasa all at the same time, because there are so many cultures and religions and races from all over the world.

He was simply saying that Britain is no longer a mono-cultural country. There was nothing racist or xenophobic in that."
Yes, there is absolutely nothing racist or xenophobic about referring to any non-white culture as "Third World". Can I hold that shovel for you, Monsignor?

Lahl added (and this is even more delightfully true):
"He is in bed so he can’t check the internet to look at the coverage, but he has been informed."
That is a thinly veiled request for an iPad if ever I heard one.

God bless the Catholic Church.

September 10, 2010

Conversations With Greatness CCXCVI

This one goes out to all my home furnishing boys.

September 03, 2010

September 02, 2010

Time For Applause?

From AOL News: Double Hand Transplant Patient Speaks
(Sept. 2) -- The recipient of cutting-edge double hand transplant surgery is speaking to the media today and reporting that he can already wiggle his fingers and is able to form half a fist. . . .

"I feel fantastic," he told reporters. "I'm feeling very blessed and thankful for having a new pair of hands."
Very Blessed and Thankful are the two Vegas call girls the patient ordered immediately upon realising he could grab things again.
Doctors at Jewish Hospital & St. Mary's Health Care live-tweeted the entire operation, posting updates about the progress of the surgery in real time on the hospital's Twitter account.
Said Twitter account repeatedly reassures us that the tweeting was not being performed by any of the surgeons actually involved in the operation -- though the lead surgeon was pausing every few minutes to tweak the Hand Transplant Megamix he'd created on iTunes to get them through the procedure. Among the featured songs:

"I Want To Hold Your Hand" by The Beatles
"I Can't Write Left-handed" by Bill Withers
"Shake That" by Eminem, of course, everything by Nine Inch Nails and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.

August 27, 2010

August 23, 2010

Comedic Timing of the Week

[Underbelly bar, 12:40 a.m.]

Angry customer: I'm friends with the editor of the Scotsman, and if you don't give me a refund this will be all over tomorrow's paper.

[Scotsman paperboy strolls up]

Paperboy: Can I interest anyone in a copy of tomorrow's Scotsman?

Me: [suppressed giggle]


NB. If any potential angry customers are reading this, let me offer a piece of advice: threatening to call the media is the one thing you can do to absolutely GUARANTEE I will not take you seriously, because:

1) Even on a slow news day, the fact that some drunk tourist didn't get a refund for a Fringe ticket will not make it into print.

2) If you had a legitimate complaint you wouldn't need to threaten to call the media because I'd already be giving you a refund.

Also, side note: we are sponsored by the Scotsman, if you couldn't tell by their logo being plastered all over the place, so calling them will be doubly ineffective. FFS.

August 20, 2010

August 17, 2010


I was doing some Mac-PC networking at the office today, and when I tried to get info on one of the PC servers in the Finder this is what came up:

Yes, that's right: the generic icon for a PC server in the Finder is a monitor displaying the blue screen of death. Real nice, Jobs.

August 15, 2010

Real Life > YouTube

Apologies, as usual for the long blog silence. Please accept as a peace offering the following reviews-in-brief:

Celebrity Autobiography might be better titled "Irony: Live On Stage", because it essentially boils down to an exercise in deadpanning: the only "script" here is actual autobiographies written (or ghostwritten, at least) by sundry celebrities, read aloud by other (more minor) celebrities as if at an ordinary book reading. Where the show's considerable wit lies is in the selection of passages from those autobiographies, which are so histrionic, hyperbolic, and hilarious that it's often hard to believe they were written in earnest. The cast uses their well-tuned comic timing to mercilessly milk those passages for laughs, and the results — particularly Tiger Woods's description of his putting method, given his recent extra-curricular scandals — are thoroughly entertaining. Four pundigrions. (Udderbelly's Pasture, 19:25)

Bo Burnham, YouTube darling of 2008, has been persistently trying to break into the mainstream since his modest early-teenage successes, and his latest effort is a Fringe show at the Pleasance. I have to admit to being a little worried, when I saw his name in the brochure, that the Fringe would eat him alive — Edinburgh ain't exactly a webcam in your bedroom — but after seeing him at Spank! last night all my fears evaporated: it turns out he is actually just a great fucking comedian. He read the crowd perfectly, and his timing was impeccable, and he was generally a laugh riot from start to finish. If I can get tickets to his full show I'm definitely going to see it, and the rest of you should too. (Pleasance Dome, 21:35)

August 13, 2010

August 08, 2010

[Long Sigh]

Blog blog blog: I have been absent and remiss of late, and I apologise. Fringe setup this year has sapped enormous amounts of time, sleep, energy, sanity, etc. from me, even relative to the already enormous time/sleep/energy/sanity/etc-sapping tendencies of Fringe setup. Plus I've been somehow attempting to write course syllabuses for the fall and finish my book. So.

In any case, I finally saw my first Fringe shows of 2010 yesterday, and I can happily recommend them both.

The first, The Friendship Experiment, is a new play by perennial Fringe theatre company Big Wow. (A few years back they won a few awards for Insomnobabble, a really fantastic piece of surreal, psychological work — and I say that as someone who is pretty cynical about surreal, psychological theatre.) TFE doesn't quite recapture those impressive highs of their early years, and in places it really seems to drag — the meta-commentary/fake improv stuff is particularly overdone — though I think this is mostly a by-product of bringing a seventy-minute play to a festival where fifty-five minutes is the norm. If you can settle yourself enough to watch for the subtleties of the two actors' performances, however, you'll be amply rewarded: there's a superb set piece halfway through in a Blackpool nightclub, and the warmth and depth of the final minutes is piercingly lovely, and very touching. Three and a half pundigrions. (Underbelly, 15:05)

The second, Sticks, Stones, Broken Bones, is shadow puppetry and — since I'm something of a puppetry connoisseur these days — a fine freaking example of same. The Montreal-based Jeff Achtem combines all the things that puppetry does best: creativity, simplicity of storytelling, and the simple delight of seeing inanimate objects brought to life. He's also got a great, clownish persona of its own, a perfect soundtrack, and is generally just a joy to watch. Five pundigrions and highly recommended. (Underbelly, 14:00)

So, same time in two weeks?

August 04, 2010

I Believe This Is What They Call A "Vulgar Capitalist Mindset"

From Daily Finance: Seven Reasons Not to Send Your Kids to College

In a particularly insipid "column" on Daily Finance yesterday — insipid even by the admittedly Great-Depression-trough-low standards of Daily Finance — investment writer James Altucher explains why college is a scam (quote: "self-perpetuating Ponzi scheme"), and why we really ought to stop sending our kids there.

His seven titular reasons are of course provocative, in that special way that only people who depend on click-throughs to make a living can pull off, but let me boil them down for you:
1. Money.
2. Money.
3. Money.
4. Money.
5. Money.
6. Money.
You'll notice I've only listed six there, not seven. That's partly because reasons three and four are actually one reason that's been arbitrarily split in two — reason three is actually a common argument for college on its own — but in fact I'm willing to give him that one because reason seven does, ever-so-slightly, depart from the otherwise ridiculous logic that the only purpose of a university education is to increase your future financial well-being.
7. Alternatives to spending $200,000 per kid so they can waste four years of their lives:

Give them $20,000 to start one to five businesses. Most businesses fail but that's ok. The education from the process lasts a lifetime and the network you build when you start a business will lead to many future jobs and possibilities.
I'm sorry, so the alternative to "throwing away" money on sending your kids to college is to throw it away on an underfunded start-up?
Travel the world. That would be an education that pays many dividends and is much cheaper. Your kids can then go to college with a much more mature view of the world.
Oh, so now you want them to blow a couple of thousand dollars on travelling and then throw away all that money on college as well? Another great money-saving idea! Now, if only there were some way we could convince people to take a year off between high school and university. That never happens.
Work. They won't get the best jobs but they can make money, network, get a "hands-on" education, learn the value of money and go to college in their 20s when they can afford it -- and make every dollar worth it. Plus your kids will have a more clear idea of what they want to do in the world.
You know, you talk about the importance of networking a lot. So if you'll permit another sarcastic aside: if only there were some way we could get our kids to spend several years making personal connections that would last the rest of their lives. That never happens.
Do nothing but read. Get the benefits of a college education without paying the $200,000.
But you already said a college education HAS NO BENEFITS!!!!

FFS, SMITF, etc.

July 30, 2010

Conversations With Greatness..., as is the norm at this time of year, taking its annual two weeks off. We'll be back on (gulp) Friday the 13th.

July 29, 2010

Resistance Is Viewtile

From AOL News: Obama Tells 'The View' He's Not Invited to Chelsea Clinton's Wedding

Whoa, whoa whoa, hold on... What?! Why is the President of the United States appearing on The View?!

I mean... Why is the President of the United States not invited to Chelsea Clinton's wedding?!

No, wait. I don't mean that. Let's go back to the first thing.

This is depressing, right? He holds the most powerful office in the land, he's one of the most important men on the planet, and he's reduced to talking to Barbara Walters about the Jersey Shore just because... what? He needs the votes? He's trying to broaden his appeal? I don't get it.

Besides, he's the head of the Democratic party — doesn't he spend enough of his time surrounded by boobs?


July 27, 2010


BBC News - Pigeons force Kings of Leon to abandon concert
Rock band the Kings of Leon have been forced to end a concert early after pigeons defecated on them from the rafters of a US venue. . . .

Their publicist added the band found it hard to carry on after the incident.

"Jared was hit several times during the first two songs. On the third song, when he was hit in the cheek and some of it landed near his mouth, they couldn't deal [with it] any longer," said Amy Mendelsohn.
Hmmm... A building that relentlessly shits on you until you can't take it anymore and you're forced to go elsewhere. Where was it they were playing, again?
Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre.

July 23, 2010

July 20, 2010

Going To The Trial

From BBC News: Swiss bank to lift lid on hidden Kafka works
Safe deposit boxes believed to contain manuscripts and drawings by the late author Franz Kafka are due to be opened at a bank in Zurich.

The move is the latest twist in a long legal battle over who owns the papers.

Two Israeli sisters say they inherited the documents from their mother, but the Israeli state claims them as part of the country's cultural heritage. . . .

Kafka asked his friend and fellow writer, Max Brod, to burn his manuscripts after his death. Brod refused, publishing the novels and taking letters and other writings to Israel where he left them to his secretary Esther Hoffe - who then bequeathed them to her two daughters.

At some point during the past 50 years, the documents were stored in bank vaults in Tel Aviv and Zurich. . . .

Today, on the orders of a Tel Aviv judge, the four vaults in Zurich will be opened but only for the eyes of one Kafka specialist who will itemise the contents and report back to the judge.
This is some crazy, elaborate piece of performance art, right?

Also, man, the Swiss are just releasing everything these days, aren't they — am I right, Roman? Hey-oh!

July 17, 2010

Beating Them To The Punch

Here's my prediction of the topics stand-up comedians will be making jokes about at the Fringe this year (bearing in mind that many of them are writing new material in March/April/May/June so that they can test it out at Edinburgh previews). I'll update this post every time I get one right.

[] Oil spill
[] World Cup — General
[] World Cup — England's failure to do well in
[] British General Election — General
[] British General Election — Defeat of Labour
[] British General Election — Cameron/Clegg love-in
[] Icelandic volcano
[] Death of Polish president/government in plane crash
[] Recession — General
[] Recession — Collapse of Greece

July 16, 2010

July 14, 2010

Somewhere A Tobacco Executive Has Just Given Up

From The New York Times: Philip Morris Said to Benefit from Child Labor
MOSCOW — One woman said children as young as 10 working in the fields developed red rashes on their stomachs and necks as they harvested tobacco for use in cigarettes made by Philip Morris. . . .

Human Rights Watch, the group best known for documenting governmental abuse and war crimes, plans to release a report on Wednesday showing that child and forced labor is widespread on farms that supply a cigarette factory owned by Philip Morris International in Kazakhstan, in Central Asia.
Good grief. If there's one thing Philip Morris needed less than another example of how completely fucking evil they are from filter to tip, it's an example of that provided by an organisation that normally goes after dictatorships.

Still, I'm sure their P.R. guy can dispel any whiff of monstrousness and corruption.
Mr. Nixon, the Philip Morris spokesman . . .
Oh, FFS.
Mr. Nixon said Philip Morris would step up its efforts to eliminate child labor. The company, he said, was “appreciative” of Human Rights Watch for drawing the continuing abuse to its attention.
Ha! I bet they are. The thank you card is in the mail, boys!

A spokesperson for Kazakhstan, meanwhile, said something hilariously backwards about his wife.*

(*This joke courtesy of Sacha Baron Cohen.)

July 12, 2010

Easy Dorset

From BBC News: Man, 75, hurt in 'tombstone' cliff dive
Coastguards have warned people about jumping off cliffs in a practice known as "tombstoning" after a 75-year-old man who dived 30ft (9m) was injured.

Portland Coastguard was called to Durdle Door at 1504 BST on Sunday after the swimmer was said to be "in shock".
I'm sorry, the coastguard was called to where?
Well, I mean, the poor old sod can hardly be blamed for thinking there was nothing dangerous about a place called Durdle Door, can he? It sounds like something out of Harry Potter.
WIFE: Where are you going, dear?

HUSBAND: Oh, just out for a spot of swimming at Durdle Door.

WIFE: BEWARE! Men have met their gruesome ends at the horrific site of Durdle Door! Abandon hope all ye who ente—

HUSBAND: Whatever.
Durdle Door is, in fact, only one of many popular coastline attractions in the area, including (these are all real):

The Lulford Crumple
Budleigh Salterton
Langton Matravers
Old Harry's Rocks
St Aldhelm's Head

(I think Budleigh Salterton and Langton Matravers won the men's doubles at Wimbledon one year.)

Dorset is also home to an impossibly long and wonderful list of silly English place names, among which my favourite are:

Melbury Bubb
Okeford Fitzpaine
Fifehead St Quintin
Badbury Rings
Bradford Peverell
Sixpenny Handley
Whitchurch Canonicorum
Higher Bockhampton
Ryme Intrinseca
Winterborne Stickland

...and of course, the long-suffering village of Shitterton.

And then, of course, there are my own too-fun-to-make-up additions to the list:

Windy Bottomsford
High Bottomsbury
Chintzy St Margaret
Forgetmenot Plympton

I love England. Except when they are put in charge of refereeing world cup finals.

July 09, 2010

July 07, 2010

British Politics At Its Finest

BBC News: 'Big budget' porn film shot in London hospital
A "big budget" pornographic film was shot in a London hospital when it hired out one of its wards to a film company.

The movie generated "substantial income" for the hospital, Conservative MP Penny Mordaunt said. . . .

"I cannot claim to have seen the final picture," [said Ms Mordaunt]. "As I understand, these things are no longer claimable on parliamentary expenses."
Ha. Zing! Talk about mordaunt wit.

July 06, 2010

Alleged Child Abuse Collaborator To Visit UK On Taxpayer's Penny

From BBC News: Pope's UK visit 'could cost taxpayers £12m'
The Pope is travelling to the UK at the invitation of the Queen, and she will meet him at Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh on 16 September, the first day of his trip.

He will travel along the city's Princes Street in the Popemobile.
SONOFABITCH! I'm missing the Popemobile by eleven days?! Come a few weeks earlier, Your Holiness! On behalf of the Underbelly I will heartily reserve a sixty-seat dark, humid room for you.

Actually, I'm glad he won't be there during the Fringe — otherwise every single stand-up bloody comedian would be doing gags about it.

e.g. "So, the Pope's in town. Yeah, he came to my gig last night, but we had to kick him out — nobody behind him could see past his fucking hat."

e.g. "The Pope is staying with the Queen right now, apparently. Either that or there's a fucking great costume party going on at Holyrood Palace."

e.g. "I was down on Princes Street yesterday. I think I saw one of those new trams going past. Wasn't too impressed — it was only doing about five miles per hour and the fare collector's uniform made him look like a fucking twat."

(N.B. Every Fringe punchline includes the word "fuck".)

July 02, 2010

June 27, 2010

Löw and Behold

Has anyone noticed the striking similarities between man-of-the-hour German soccer manager Joachim Löw and Zach Carey, Kyle Maclachlan's iconic role in 1995's epic drama Showgirls?

June 26, 2010

Live From The Frozen Tundra Of Hell

From AOL News: Former Vice President Dick Cheney Hospitalized
WASHINGTON (June 25) -- Former Vice President Dick Cheney was admitted to the hospital Friday after experiencing discomfort.
Cheney was dangling jerky above injured puppies, as he usually does on Fridays, when he felt a strange, uncomfortable twinge — feared to be a conscience — in his chest.

When the sight of an Iraq war dossier lying on his bedside table exacerbated the feeling of discomfort, his family braced for the worst.

He remains under observation, and potentially internal moral guidance, at George Washington University hospital.

June 25, 2010

June 23, 2010

Hoi Polloi

47% think World War III will be the cure for cancer.

Incidentally, this really is the stupidest poll ever conducted. What exactly is the supposed benefit in asking a bunch of random people what they think might happen in the future? Here are some other results:

•84% of people think they will have breakfast tomorrow.

•41% of people think it might rain this week.

•68% of people think they are hungry.

•27% of people think some things are good and some things are bad.

•91% of people are indifferent about some stuff.


Next time, why don't we take the money it will take to conduct a poll like this and put it towards actually finding a cure for cancer?

June 19, 2010

I'll Put Money On It

Um... "I'm a professional gambler"?

June 18, 2010

June 17, 2010


From AOL Health: Obese Woman Lack Sex Partners; More Likely to Get Pregnant Accidentally
Experts interviewed nearly 10,000 French men and women aged 18 to 69 about their sexual experiences and analyzed the results based on their Body Mass Index. . . .

[R]esearchers found obese women had more trouble finding a sexual partner than their normal-weight counterparts, though the same wasn't true for obese men . . .

Nearly 70 percent of fat women reported having a partner who was also heavy, while only about 40 percent of fat men had a similarly proportioned partner. . . .

"Maybe women are more tolerant of tubby husbands than men are of tubby wives," said Kaye Wellings, a professor of sexual and reproductive health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and one of the BMJ study authors.
Hmm, yes, excellent hypothesis — or maybe, when you ask men and women to self-report on their sexual successes or lack thereof, men are more likely to LIE ABOUT IT.


June 11, 2010

June 09, 2010

Do Bears Give The Pope Wood?

Spam asks:
Can penis pill give you a bigger penis?
I mean, if it can't, on what basis are you calling it a penis pill?

June 08, 2010

Oh Snap!

From PopEater: Chris Brown Denied Entry to Great Britain for Tour
Chris Brown has been denied entry into Great Britain on the basis of his past assault conviction, meaning he'll have to postpone a small concert tour there. . . .

The singer tweeted the news, but has since removed that message. However, he's been letting fans know how bummed he is about the decision.

"U ever feel like the storm clouds are too thick for any sunshine to get through?" he mused on Monday.
1. Look, Brown, don't try and blame this on Elyjallakoalatutelage — this is about you being a partner-beating scumbag.

2. Aw, you're bummed? I wonder how f*cking Rihanna felt. Maybe next time you want to tour internationally you should think twice about dishing out the shiners.

Now if only we could get Britain to expel Gordon Brown, we'd be all set.

June 05, 2010

Is That Something Ballerinas Wear?

I woke up today to discover that someone had left a comment on this blog entry from almost five years ago, in which I sarcastically (shocking, I know) poked fun at the idea of "liberal media bias" by showing two news articles that displayed, I thought at the time, conservative media bias. (N.B. My idea then seems to have been that pro-military patriotism = die-hard conservatism, which on reflection is probably about as oversimplified as the sorts of statements I was complaining about, but live and learn.)

ANYWAY, said (anonymous) commenter apparently took me for an actual die-hard conservative and left this charming note:
lol Fucking Conservatard. Jesus is rotting in the ground, bro.
This leads me to believe that he or she is:

(a) Too stupid to grasp basic sarcasm, and

(b) Too stupid to "engage" in political debate except through parroting offensive catchphrases that really have no bearing on what anyone else is actually saying.

Both of these things, of course, are endlessly depressing, and so I would like to offer the following few observations as a means of, well, not rebuttal exactly — but hopefully some sort of illumination.

First of all: "conservatard"? "Jesus is rotting in the ground"? "Bro"? What place do any of these words and phrases have in a political discussion that is both meaningful and civil (i.e. the only kind of political discussion that is actually able to produce positive results)? Answer: NONE. FFS.

Second of all: what exactly is the complaint, here? In the absence of anything actually addressing what I wrote, I am going to assume that the commenter's main problem is that people exist who hold and occasionally express differing opinions than him or her, which seems pretty ridiculous coming from someone who is presumably a self-identified "liberal".

Third of all: what exactly is the intended effect of this comment? That the allegedly conservative author of the blog post will suddenly say "Good grief! I've been wrong all these years!" and immediately vote for healthcare or whatever? Because, let me tell you, there is not a lot in that comment that would accomplish such a thing. Instead, it seems like the intention was to be unnecessarily offensive and to feel self-important — which the commenter may well have achieved, but only at the expense of looking like a douchebag and setting political discourse back another few years. (Though I suppose at this point, who's counting in years?)

In summary, I fucking loathe people like this and would like to reiterate what already I've said elsewhere: unless you have something intelligent to say, please sit on your hands and shut up and stop giving bloggers a bad name.

June 04, 2010

May 31, 2010


Dear Blog,

I know I've been neglecting you lately. Sorry. I've been busy, with:

1. Revising novel, again (see above).
2. New book reviewing gig at the Good Men Project (see left).
3. Hopeless addiction to racehorse betting (see biscuit).

To be honest, I doubt things are going to get much better soon, either, because:

a. I'm moving in a month.
b. The World Cup starts in ten days.
c. I'm still busy with points 1 and 2 above. (Point 3 was a joke.)

However, I'm going to try my best to be a little more prolific this month, so please bear with me. After all:

i. We're all human.
ii. Quality is more important than quantity.
iii. Where else can you find quality pun- and/or list-based humour these days?

A. Ladd

May 28, 2010

May 27, 2010

Austerity Measures

From BBC News: Greek PM's phone cut by mistake
A technician mistakenly cut off the home phone line of Greek premier George Papandreou while trying to disconnect a customer behind in payments.

The other customer's number was the same as the prime minister's, apart from one digit.
So NOT the same, then?

This might seem like a funny story already, but this is by far my favourite part:
"It was not a red phone", a [telecom] worker told the BBC, meaning that it was not one of Mr Papandreou's priority lines.
Wait... The Greek prime minister has a BATPHONE?!?!?! Maybe if he were using it more things wouldn't be in such a mess down there.


May 23, 2010

Sexual Healing

From BBC News: Heart attack survivors 'fear sex'
Heart attack survivors are highly likely to avoid sex, fearing it could kill them, US researchers say....

Dr Stacy Tessler Lindau, who led the study of 1,700 people, said the chance of dying during sex was "really small".
...Two words that are sure to restore any man's sex drive.
Experts say it is safe for heart attack survivors to start having sex again once they are capable of moderate exercise, such as climbing a few flights of stairs.
So basically, if you can get to the bedroom in the first place, go nuts.
Dr Lindau said: "Most heart attack patients are sexually active. But for the most part, physicians just aren't discussing this topic with their patients after a heart attack."
Well, I mean, that would be pretty weird.

PATIENT: [waking up] I... Where am I?

DOCTOR: You're in the hospital, Mr Jones. You suffered a heart attack.

PATIENT: My god.

DOCTOR: Don't worry, you're over the worst of it now — you're going to pull through.

PATIENT: Oh, thank you, doctor. What can I ever do to repay you?

DOCTOR: Well, let's talk about your level of sexual activity.
Cathy Ross, a cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said patients should be given information about resuming their sex lives when they were discharged.
But I thought the whole point was to give them that information BEFORE they were discharged.


May 21, 2010

May 20, 2010

Department of Jessica Seinfeld

Dear New Yorker,

If you're going to start publishing Shouts & Murmurs pieces that are irritatingly similar to the submissions I send you, that's fine. I get it. Ideas for Shouts & Murmurs pieces are probably more finite than you'd like anyone to believe. But Jesus, if you really have to do it, at least pick something that's significantly better than what I sent you.

Respectfully yrs,

A. Ladd
It's The Only One We've Got

In today's atmosphere of economic uncertainty and corporate belt-tightening, parents are increasingly facing the prospect of their twenty-something children moving home. If you’re one of these parents, you may be dreading your child’s imminent return, but in fact, you needn’t worry: if current trends continue, your situation will soon be the rule rather than the exception — and in the meantime, you can take a healthy dose of solace in the fact that the squalid leech in your basement is a badge of eco-friendliness that will make you the envy of all your friends!

To begin with, the majority of your son or daughter’s growing demographic don’t own cars — they walk, bike, take the bus, or, indeed, simply forgo leaving the house entirely for days on end. After all, why commute to some stolid, old-fashioned job when your blog about bison meat is on the verge of going mainstream? Even your Prius carpool can’t hope to achieve so tiny a carbon footprint!

But that’s not all! Those “eccentric” kitchen habits they picked up at college could come directly from a Good Housekeeping guide to water conservation: your child and their peers eschew crockery and silverware in favour of whatever container the food was in to begin with; and if something has no container, then they just eat it over the sink! Sure, perhaps it’s a little unsightly to watch someone trickle orange juice down their bathrobe as they slurp it from the carton each morning (or, more commonly, afternoon) — but each glass not washed by hand can save up to a gallon of hot water. By some estimates, the average person will conserve forty gallons of water a day if they can just avoid doing dishes, and that means your bottom-dwelling progeny could be saving you tens of thousands of gallons per year. That's the sort of result that will make your fellow book club members green with envy — though still not as green as you!)

Speaking of conserving water, that pungent fragrance emanating from behind so many bedroom doors is not just from marijuana: it stems from your child’s personal hygiene habits, which are a perfect model of energy efficiency. For them, showers can be postponed for whole days and weeks, or even, during particularly spirited bouts of Beatles Rock Band, indefinitely. And those dreadlocks on which they laboured for so long? The ones that make you wonder if your neighbors can produce any expression but a sneer? Well, they can’t be washed more than once a month! Imagine the reduction in shampooing time!

Don’t forget their approach to laundry, either. For the typical malingering dropout, the system works like this: if you can sniff the armpit of a t-shirt without recoiling in nausea, then it’s okay to wear again; if you can turn your underwear inside out without too egregiously soiling the insides of your jeans, by all means do so. Simple tricks like these can cut two or three laundry days out of every month, which is another 130 gallons of water, roughly, that can be used elsewhere — to say nothing of the electricity not being used by your dryer. And clothes last longer when washed infrequently, so the I Brake For Blowjobs t-shirt you find so urbane will continue to appear at the dinner table for many more years to come. No more driving the kids to T.J. Maxx for you!

Ultimately, while you might be tempted to complain about the constant bass thumping through the walls of your home, or the Family Guy episodes perpetually cluttering up the Tivo, you should always remember three important facts. One: what’s good for the environment is good for you. Two: once a baby is on its way they’ll have no choice but to find a place of their own (and that won’t be long, if the weekly Saturday night noises from their bedroom are anything to go by). And, three: at least that beanbag they found on the street last week matches the carpeting.

Your planet thanks you!

May 19, 2010

Rising To The Occasion

From AOL Health: Men Who Use Viagra Risk Hearing Loss

In an unrelated story, Jay Leno's head exploded today. Here are the jokes from the notebook he was writing in at the time:
No, really, did you read about this? Did you read about this? Apparently, men who take Viagra are twice as likely to develop hearing loss as men who don't... See, ladies? Now you know that when he doesn't answer your calls the next day it's because he can't hear the phone.

No, this is true, really. And I mean, they say it's a negative side effect — but actually it makes the men taking it last even longer. Yeah, because they can't hear their wives telling them they're finished.

Yeah, and apparently sales of Viagra have actually doubled since this story was released. Turns out women are buying it now too — that way they don't have to listen to their husbands snoring afterwards.

No, but really, did you hear this? The scientists who published the results said they started the study because of previous research showing their might be a link between Viagra and hearing loss. And the lead researcher said, this is true, "We wanted to see if the link held up."... Yeah, well, with Viagra the link ALWAYS holds up, if you know what I mean! Am I right, Kevin?

May 14, 2010

May 11, 2010

Define "Cool"

From BBC News: West Midlands Ambulance Service defend 'Hitler' survey
Some West Midlands Ambulance Service staff contacted their union after being asked if they thought Adolf Hitler was a "cool" leader in an NHS survey…

"In discussing different styles of leadership a survey, which is one small part of the project, sought to include an analysis of a dictatorial style.

"With hindsight, it would have been better to have used a different example.
I'll say — haven't they heard of Gordon Brown? Hey-oh!

N.B. Not comparing Gordon Brown to Hitler, which EVEN WITHOUT HINDSIGHT I realise would be a terrible idea; merely reminding people that he is alleged to treat his immediate staff in a dictatorial way.

But really: there's no excuse for the phrase "Choosing Hitler was a bad idea" ever being preceded by "In hindsight".


In other news, as if it wasn't bad enough that Britain officially has a smarmy toff for Prime Minister and my socialist utopia lies in ruins — now there's a bloomin' great ash cloud sitting in the middle of the Atlantic so my parents might not even be able to escape the new bloke's Etonian talons this week! FML.

May 07, 2010

May 06, 2010

On The Edge Of Your Seats: Live Updates From Election Night In Britain

[05:51 BST: Andrew goes to bed, even further securing status as worst live blogger ever.]

05:23 BST: Edit: England has now swung 6.2% to the Tories. FFS. It's like a Smurf threw up down there.

04:57 BST: Sexism is alive and well in the British media:

"She looks extremely upset"??!?! WTF?! How is that even remotely relevant? Unless the headlines tomorrow read "Gordon Brown a bit teary at defeat" I call foul here.

04:47 BST: David Milliband (how many Davids are there in this damn election, anyway?) has provided a prime example of how much more gentlemanly British politics are than American politics:
If indeed no party has won an absolute majority then it seems to me perfectly reasonable and right that parties should talk to each other to see if they can find common ground to establish a strong and stable government. There's no harm in that.

It's a good thing to do when the voters have clearly not embraced any of us and given us the absolute majority that we are all seeking.

04:41 BST: The Tories are now sitting on a gain of 50-ish seats. David Cameron claims the country wants "change". No word yet on "hope".

04:05 BST: In Scotland, the vote has swung 0.2% towards Labour; in England, the vote has swung 1.2% towards the Conservatives. Fucking England ruins everything.

03:59 BST: Gordon Brown has managed to hold onto Cowdenbeath. THANK GOD.

03:55 BST: The Tories have gained 32 seats so far, almost all of them from Labour. David Cameron says Labour has "lost its mandate to govern"; David Blunkett says Labour has "lost". Gordon Brown says Labour has "a sexy dog of a leader".

[00:00 BST – 03:45 BST: Andrew goes to leisurely dinner with friends, securing status as worst live blogger ever]

23:49 BST: The BBC is reporting that some polling stations "have locked voters in polling stations after the official close of voting to allow them to cast their ballots". Now THAT'S democracy! ("Nobody is going anywhere until you've all cast your goddamn votes!")

23:36 BST: A third Labour hold in Sunderland Central, though the swing in votes to the Tories suggests that as a whole the country may have gone f*cking crazy.

23:29 BST: A second seat has now been held by Labour: Washington & Sunderland West. (Further proof that Obama has brought socialism to Washington.)

23:20 BST: Best description of Peter Mandelson ever: "Labour's election supremo Lord Mandelson".

22:52 BST: The first seat to be called has been held by Labour. Gordon Brown was reportedly quick to call and congratulate the victor, Bridget Phillipson of Houghton & Sunderland South, though he mistakenly addressed her as Mr Brian Phillerman and then muttered under his breath that she sounded like a prole.

May 05, 2010

Hellenic Handbasket

I wouldn't worry — if their Euro 2008 appearance was anything to go by, Greek strikers can't hit anything with much success.

Only five weeks 'til the World Cup!

May 02, 2010

Aqueduct For Cover

From Crews Race to Fix Break in Boston's Water Supply
BOSTON (AP) -- Workers began installing on Sunday a metal collar they hoped would provide a quicker-than-expected fix to a break in a major pipe that inhibited the supply of clean water to 2 million people in the Boston area. . . .

Gov. Deval Patrick ordered residents to boil water, since some untreated water has entered the system. It remained safe for firefighting, showering and toilet flushing.
Question: at what point does water cease to be safe for toilet flushing? I mean, my God, this is poop we're talking about, people! How clean does our toilet-flushing water ever need to be?

Speaking of facts about this story that confuse me:
The source of the rupture has been identified in the pipe break that has caused nearly two million people in the Boston area to lose their supply of clean drinking water.
This is the rupture that was pouring eight million gallons of water an hour into the Charles yesterday, right? Shouldn't that have been pretty easy to identify? IT'S THE GIANT LEAK NEAR THE CHARLES.

On the bright side, now I at least know why I pay my ridiculous Cambridge rent.

April 30, 2010

April 29, 2010

Mein Field

Potential disaster: attempting to write "please see me to discuss it further" on a German student's paper. One unfortunate typo and you've got an internal review on your hands.

April 28, 2010

Walka Walka Walka

I'm probably late to the party with this one (as usual), but today I discovered that there is a game available for the Wii called "Walk It Out!", which is a self-described, straight-faced "walking simulator":
Walk It Out!'s uniqueness lies in the gameplay where players walk their way throughout an expansive world of fields, stadiums, parks, ocean sides, suburbs and other metropolitan areas.
Gosh, isn't technology marvellous? Though I'm still keeping my fingers crossed for Ubisoft's long-rumoured breathing simulator!
Go straight or take a turn and follow the road less traveled to unlock in-game items, songs and bonuses. The more you walk, the more you discover and explore!
Wow! No more treadmills for me! Thank God there's finally a way to walk and explore stuff at the same time!
Because of the easy to learn controls, players of all skill levels can get up and walking quickly!
"Easy to learn controls" = the ability to walk?

Now, I'm all for innovative ways to get kids exercising, but do we think that maybe families should be TAKING THEIR KIDS FOR WALKS instead of buying a Wii game to approximate the experience? I'm looking at you, Dad (video). Good grief.

April 26, 2010

Anything You Can Do...

I think I'm beginning to hate blogging.

Not my blogging, of course, which is still charming and hilarious ninety-nine times out of a hundred (obviously), and not the blogging of the dozens of thoughtful, intelligent writers who I read on a regular basis; against the crusty old print-good-online-bad folks, and along with CNF, I believe that a well-conceived blog post, by an author with something to say, is just as satisfying as any other well-conceived piece of writing, in any medium.

But I do tire of the hundreds of bloggers out there who are paid to comment on stuff, and therefore end up commenting on stuff even when they have absolutely no meaningful opinion to express whatsoever.

Case in point: this insipid item from the A.V. Club about Saturday's episode of SNL. What does the author have to say about Saturday's episode of SNL? NOTHING. Her opinion is basically that it wasn't amazing but it wasn't terrible either, and it takes her EIGHT HUNDRED WORDS to say so. A few excerpts:
I was a pretty happy camper.

If it wasn't hilarious it was infectious.

There were several sketches last night that went that way, maybe not comedy gold but something about them was just silly enough that I went along with them.

Not everything was great but I'm not filled with rage about it.

As I've said I'm a sucker for any SNL episode where we see new material, and if that's combined with an enthusiastic host and a good dose of weirdness, I'm in.
So, to summarize, you enjoy television that has original material, engaging performers, and some offbeat humour. STOP THE PRESSES! SERVERS!

I might be able to put up with such wishy-washy "reviewing" if the actual analysis of the episode had any bite to it, but the author's reasons for liking some parts and not others are just as hollow:
I couldn't hear all the lyrics but the ones I did hear were funny.

The address from the President might have been a cutting commentary about the government's relationship with Wall Street but it wasn't funny.

And I thought the "2010 Public Employee of the Year" awards ran on too long.

"Update" was a good mix of jokes, characters and commentary.

The last sketch was appropriately bizarre, charming, disgusting and funny.
Oh, now I get it. You liked some parts of the comedy sketch show because they were funny, and you didn't like other parts of the comedy sketch show because they weren't funny. Hold on while I call the Pulitzer committee.

I think the high point of the entire post, though, is the author's trenchant commentary on MGMT's musical performance:
I think I like the music but wasn't so much a fan of the singing and lyrics although it was remarkable how half the band looked like Elvis Costello and "Weird Al" Yankovic. I also liked the faces the guitarist made.
Now, look, I can suspend my guilt about all the money that gets spent on pop culture commentary these days — rather than getting spent on, say, fighting poverty/famine/global warming/whatever — and in principle the idea of an 800-word blog post about a single episode of SNL doesn't offend me in the slightest; that's pretty much the premise of the A.V. Club, after all, and I read it fairly regularly. But if I'm going to sit down and read 800 words I want there to be a payoff, you know? I want there to be a firm opinion or some insightful observation at the end of it that makes those 800 words worth my time.

But in so much blogging neither of those key components is present (another example: what if movies had no plot or character?), and so it seems hardly surprising that those crusty print lovers don't take blogs seriously as journalism, or as writing, or as anything, really, beyond self-indulgent, self-referential chaff.

None of which is meant to imply, I should reiterate, that I agree with the crusty print lovers — only that I think blogging, like all writing, can be awful as easily as it can be great, and that bloggers as a whole could tilt the scales significantly towards the latter if they would just shut up, and sit on their hands until they actually have something intelligent to say. Is that really so unreasonable?

April 24, 2010

So it turns out that the real culprit behind the recession is not so much evil bankers or Ponzi schemes or the dangerous risk-taking culture of Wall Street, but the fact that at least sixteen regulators at the Securities and Exchange Commission, many of them relatively high up, were less interested in blowing the whistle and more interested in polishing the whistle, if you catch my drift. According to the AP (quoted in the Times):
A senior attorney at the SEC’s Washington headquarters spent up to eight hours a day looking at and downloading pornography. When he ran out of hard drive space, he burned the files to CDs or DVDs, which he kept in boxes around his office.…

An accountant was blocked more than 16,000 times in a month from visiting websites classified as “Sex” or “Pornography.”
Wah-wah. I guess the feds should stop worrying about people at Goldman Sachs and start worrying about people holdin' their sacks — it sounds like the problem isn't with J.P Morgan but with pee pee organs. (Not investment bankers, but...). SPLABANGO!

The best part about all this, in terms of inspiring yet more populist rage with the financial system and/or the government, is that some of these people were earning almost a quarter of a million dollars a year (!!!) to beat off to the latest from "" all day when they should have been, I don't know, stopping Lehman Brothers from collapsing. Oh well. At least it's pun gold.

Other financial terms that sound like euphemisms for masturbation:

"Hedging Your Bets"
"Shorting Your Trades"
"Taking A Long Position"
"Pricing Your Derivatives"
"Diversifying Your Portfolio"

And, of course:

"Liquidating Your Assets"


April 23, 2010

April 21, 2010

Quadruple Entendre Of The Day

Seen on BBC News:

Someone at the BBC is having a laugh. All that headline needs is the last word lopped off and some commas to set up a non-restrictive clause, and you've got yourself the start of an erotic short story. (Or the end of an erotic short story, I guess.)

April 19, 2010

Maybe I Should Try Lemon Juice

Got the following, extremely bizarre piece of spam the other day:
Hello Doctor,

Please check your fax machine there will be patient conditions report
Please urgent reply me.
Now, normally I would have completely disregarded a message like this and trashed it for all eternity — except that it's signed by a "Dr. JK Hidden". As in, "hidden joke" in text speak, no? So what am I missing? Is there some secret message in here that I'm failing to grasp? Or is it just one more coincidental, randomly generated spam name?

April 16, 2010

Conversations With Greatness CCLXXVII

That's right, folks — it's U.K. election season! Let the esoteric gags begin!