Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Bagel Mania: My Opinion of Flavored Bagels

What's up with bagels these days? My company offers free bagels on Fridays, and invariably I have to go on the hunt through the box for the elusive plain bagel. That's all I eat - plain bagels. I like bagels. Don't get me wrong. That's why I won't eat bagels with any other crap in them. And what psychotic chef is coming up with this stuff? Even if I do get one that I think is plain, I'm still nervous. Are those seeds or flecks of cheese? Are those raisins, chocolate chips, or jalapeno peppers? Is it going to taste like onions? I'm afraid to bite into a bagel these days. I've tried going through the bagels and sniffing them, one by one, but people tend to be shy about eating bagels that've been up against my nose. So I just have to pick one and take my chances. This morning I bit into a bagel with powdered sugar and cinnamon on it. That's just disgusting. If I wanted brown sugar and cinnamon, I'd eat a cinnamon bun. If I wanted jalapeno peppers, I'd eat a burrito. I just want a plain bagel with plain cream cheese. And don't get me started on cream cheese.
Originally written 9/2/05

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Buy Nothing Day

Have you done your Buy Nothing Day shopping yet? If your answer is "no," then you already have. There's a new holiday gaining popularity called Buy Nothing Day. Celebrated on November 25th, the holiday is intended to counteract the rampant consumerism of the Christmas season and emphasize frugality. A holiday you do nothing to celebrate? I like it. But the catch is you can't buy anything. That means no gas, no food, no nothing. Sounds tough, but join me for a celebration of absolutely nothing. Sounds like a Seinfeld holiday. To get into the season, I've penned a song, sung to the theme of "Tis the Season To Be Jolly" called "'Tis The Season To Buy Nothing":

'Tis the season to buy no-thing
Fa la la la la la la la la
Al-ready have lots of clo-thing
Fa la la la la la la la la

Won't buy toys or new appa-rel
Fa la la la la la la la la
Scrape the bottom of the ba-rrel
Fa la la la la la la la la

Stay away from every mall
Fa la la la la la la la la
No matter how much shoe sales call
Fa la la la la la la la la

Eat at home, not Burger King
Fa la la la la la la la la
Read a book, won't miss a thing
Fa la la la la la la la la

Categories: news

Monday, November 21, 2005

Geraldo's Mustache

What's up with Geraldo Rivera's mustache? This question came to mind passing a billboard for Geraldo's lame new show, Geraldo at Large. It occured to me that Geraldo is the only man I know who's managed to hang onto a handlebar mustache for almost two decades, well past the time everyone else decided handlebar mustaches were a bad idea.

Mustaches are out these days in America. Even Alex Trebek shaved his off years ago. And a handlebar? The average male in this country who wears a handlebar mustache would have to be either a time traveler from the 1800s or working for an IT department.

Hey, maybe Geraldo really is a time traveler. That would explain why he got into news - he already knows most of it. Then again, if he was from the future, he would have known there was nothing in Al Capone's vault. Or maybe there was, and it was so valuable that Geraldo stole it himself. Yeah, I can see that. Geraldo gets his employers to pay for the operation to break open the vault, then sneaks in during the night to steal the priceless treasure hidden inside, then waits until morning to break open the vault and find nothing inside. He looks like an idiot, but secretly makes a fortune. So Geraldo isn't really an idiotic faux-journalist with a dorky mustache. He's a criminal genius from the future. Wow...you heard it here first.

Very Low-Maintenance: Festivus Turns Real

As a die-hard Seinfeld fanatic, I well remember the 1997 episode (was it that long ago?) in which George's father revived and celebrated his own holiday, Festivus. Ever since then, I thought it would be funny to actually celebrate the holiday. Well, like everything else in American pop culture and the Internet Age, several people had the same idea and have banded together to bring Festivus to life. I never heard about it until now, but apparently it's reached critical mass. There are two books on the Festivus holiday, and even a place to buy your very own "high strength-to-weight ratio" Festivus pole. For forty bucks? I think cheap-skate Frank Costanza would never pay that much, but then again, you only pay that once and it's good for decades. How much do you pay for a Christmas tree you throw out in two months? Check out Festivus on wikipedia, your ultimate source on everything.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

In Defense of the French

I make fun of the French all the time, but that doesn't mean I hate them personally. I'm not saying I like them. I've just never really met anyone from France, and I'm sure there are nice French people, just like there were nice Nazis. I do think Americans go a little overboard on the French-hating, though. I think America suffers from an inferiority complex when it comes to France. "Yeah, France, you've got all that culture and art and you're thinner and healthier and have better food and your cities are more beautiful than ours...but you're all cowards! We saved you in World War II!"

But during the second Gulf War...oh, yeah, we're still in the second Gulf War...anyway, I stumbled across a popular pamphlet published by the US military defending the French. Yes, by the US military. Not the modern military, of course. Apparently, during the second World War...which I'm pretty sure is over...a lot of US soldiers stationed in France hated the French just as much as the rest of us. So the US military published a pamphlet called 112 Gripes About The French listing and debunking some of the more popular anti-French sentiments. The pamphlet was re-published and sold like hotcakes in France in 2003 during the run-up to Gulf War II. Good points. But I still love a good French joke.

Q: Why do the French tanks have a forward gear?
A: In case the enemy attacks from behind.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Every Day You See A Cow

There's an urban legend that every day, you see a cow. What does it mean? It means that every day, you see either a live cow or a picture of a cow or a drawing of a cow. A few months ago, I decided to test the theory, and it's been amazing. So I decided to create a blog dedicated to my cow-sightings. It's called, inventively enough, "Every day, you see a cow."

Sunday, November 13, 2005

You're the Man Now, Dog!

I never was interested in seeing Finding Forrester, but I would have gone to see it just for the moment in the commercial where Sean Connery yells "You're the man now, dog!" Well, apparently I wasn't the only one who found that moment beyond hilarious. It has been memorialized in a website devoted entirely to a picture of Sean Connery and a sound clip playing "You're the man now, dog!" The website has become so popular that it spawned a whole host of websites dedicated to images and short audio clips at YTMND.com. Join the craze, read the Wikipedia entry on it or read the interview of the YTMND creator at the Wall Street Journal. When you get bored of YTMND, try the second most popular variation, the Captain Picard YTMND.

P.S. I know this is old news to the webheads, but I just heard of it. I'm catching up...gradually.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Flashback Friday: Bionic Six

Bionic Six was a pretty good show in the eighties about a family of six (four kids and a father and mother) who get into a plane crash and are revived by "bionics" to become superheroes. Here's the summary from the Big Cartoon Database:

"Jack Bennet, a secret agent for the CIA, had taken his family on a trip to the Himalayas. During this trip, Jack is called to duty to investigate unusual magnetic readings. He encounters aliens who are trying to obtain Bertomium, a mineral that can increase bionic abilities and give eternal life to its posessor. In a battle, Jack's family becomes trapped under radioactive snow and they slip into a coma. Not seeing another way to save their lives, Jack permits Professor Sharp to operate on his family. Professor Sharp implants bionics in human beings, and the Bionic Six are born. Doctor Scarab creates his own bionic group from misfits taken from penitentiaries and asylums."

I could see the pitch now - "It's the Brady Bunch meets Six Million Dollar Man!" They fought the evil Doctor Scarab who also had a group of bionic minions. Doctor Scarab was a pretty good villain, although his obsession with his last name got old. Why is it supervillains are always obsessed about one thing like gold or spiders or scarabs? And what do scarabs have to do with bionics? And why is it that super-teams on cartoons only fight one villain? Aren't there other problems in the world? Didn't G.I. Joe have other organizations to fight besides COBRA? And what happens if the Bionic Six runs across some other criminal? "Sorry, not our jurisdiction. We strictly fight Doctor Scarab. You need to call the Transformers or something."

Fun Facts:
* The show aired in 1987 for two seasons
* Originally the show aired weekly, then went daily. I only remember the daily version.
* The Bionic Six were as follows - Jack Bennet codenamed Bionic-1 (super-vision and super-hearing), Helen codenamed Mother-1 (psychic powers), Eric codenamed Sport-1 (magnetic powers and a super-powered baseball bat, no kidding), J.D. codenamed I.Q. (super-intelligent), Meg codenamed Rock-1 (sonic blasters, super-speed), and Bunji codenamed Karate-1 (martial arts).
* Mother-1 was hot in a June Cleaver sort of way.
* All of the Bionic Six were super-strong.
* The kids were multi-racial; white, black, and Asian. While that sounds good, it means the Bennets went to the adoption agency and said, "Okay, we need a black kid, a white kid, and an Asian kid. No, we can't have two black kids! We already have a black kid! It's gotta be even! No doubles!"
* There were two white kids. No Mexican kids.
* The Asian character was a martial-arts expert. That's about as subtle as making the black character a basketball player. But at least he didn't wear a coolie hat.
* The Bionic Six were supposed to be infused with a radiation called "bions" that gave them super-powers, but their transformation showed cross-sections of them with mechanical parts. The writers couldn't seem to decide if they were cyborgs or just super-powered. I think they wanted to make them mechanical, but came up with the "bion" thing because they didn't want to get sued.
* In Germany, the legal problems were probably even worse - in Germany, the show was called The Six Million Dollar Family. I guess they figured the copyright lawyers couldn't get them there.
* The Bionic Six had nothing to do with The Six Million Dollar Man.
* The Bionic Six had a giant robot gorilla named F.L.U.F.F.I. Besides adding comedy relief and another toy, I can't see any reason for this.

Episode Guide
Bionic Six Memorial
Fan Fiction
Big Cartoon Database

Up in Smoke: Celebrity Drug Use

What's up with celebrities bragging about being drug users? I was listening to Terry Gross' interview with Bill Maher, and she pointed out that Maher talks about smoking marijuana in his show, so doesn't he worry about the cops coming to his house? Good question. He laughed and went into a bit about how the "character" of Bill Maher smokes pot, but the real Bill Maher doesn't in a "wink-wink" kind of tone. This made me question the whole issue. But this question first came to me when I saw that Snoop Dogg, Dr Dre, and Eminem did a tour called the Up in Smoke tour with a marijuana leaf as their symbol.

The question is, why do celebrities feel so free to talk about their drug use, considering they are way more visible and easier to find than the average citizen? Then there's the inevitable phenomenon of a celebrity drug user getting arrested for drug use, and complaining about it. Tommy Chong was arrested for selling drug paraphenalia and went whining to everybody who would listen. Why are the most watched drug users the ones who talk the most about it?

Here's a tip. If you're gonna take drugs and you don't want to get arrested for it, shut up about it. If I walked down the street wearing a T-shirt that says "I smoke marijuana and I have marijuana in my pocket right now," I don't think I'd be surprised if a passing cop pulled me over for a search. Yet Eminem stands on stage rapping about how he's going to smoke marijuana that night, then gets angry when the cops knock on his door. If I wrote a song about cheating on my wife, I don't think I'd be too shocked if she started checking up on me at work.

Here's the truth. Celebrities think they are untouchable because they're famous. They think they're surrounded by a wall of press agents, bodyguards, media attention, and loyal fans. And they think that cops are too stupid or lame to listen to their music or watch their movies.

Then again, the simplest explanation for all this is that marijuana decreases mental functions, so the fact that dope-smokers are too stupid to shut up about their drug use probably proves the point. But at least I haven't heard too many songs about using crystal meth or crack lately.
Categories: opinion

Dress for Success: NBA Dress Code

The NBA has instituted a dress-code for its players. I know what you're thinking - "Don't they already have a dress code? Called uniforms?" But the dress code is for team-related events, including going to press conferences, boarding planes, and doing charity work. It's basically requires them to dress in business casual - khakis, collared shirts, etc. The reason given is that they think the NBA has an image problem, that players are dressing too sloppy or too much like gang members, and they need to have a more professional image.

Personally, I can see both sides. It's true that some NBA players are dressing too sloppy and that it would certainly give a more respectful look to the game. On the other hand, having to sit through a six-hour flight in khakis and dress shoes seems a bit much. So forget that part. To me, the most important part of this is the racial issue. Steven Jackson has called the dress code racist, saying:

"I'll wear a suit every day. I think we do need to look more professional because it is a business. A lot of guys have gotten sloppy with the way they dress. But it's one thing to [enforce a] dress code and it's another thing if you're attacking cultures, and that's what I think they're doing."

While that's a controversial argument and one which I think is narrow-minded, it's certainly far from completely false. I've heard people say this decision has nothing to do with race, and that's just plain wrong. If this was a predominantly white league and the players all wore overalls, work boots, and plaid shirts, I'm not sure we'd be getting such an uproar.

Consider the words of coach Phil Jackson:

"The players have been dressing in prison garb the last five or six years. All the stuff that goes on, it's like gangster, thuggery stuff.

Gangsters? Thugs? Aren't those exactly the words some people use in a derogatory sense to describe African-Americans in general? I agree that wearing do-rags and chain-links around your neck is gangster. But jeans and a T-shirt? Retro jerseys? Pendants? Since when are those gangster or prison garb? I don't remember seeing players in black-and-white striped coveralls and handcuffs getting off the planes. So what exactly is "prison garb?" Answer: Hip-hop style clothing. Which are worn by African-Americans.

I'm not saying it's all racist. They do need to do something after Allen Iverson started punching people in the audience. But they have to acknowledge that the dress code is based at least a little bit on race. At some level, rich white people are nervous because the game has become too black-oriented, and they want to rein it in. Even if that's not true, they should work to avoid giving that impression. I don't have a problem with the dress code, just those who insist it's not about race. When you've got white people telling black people how to dress, it's almost impossible not to be.

Read someone else's editorial on the NBA's Hypocritical Dress Code.
Categories: sports

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Left Turn Lovers: NASCAR Romance Novels

Harlequin announced that it's working with NASCAR to create a line of NASCAR-themed romance novels. We've acquired an exclusive sample of the next NASCAR novel, Left Turn Lovers:

When Billy Bob's racecar pulled up to her house and he stepped out, Mary Lou caught her breath. The way the sweat on his jiggling belly caught the sun made Mary Lou shiver. She wished she had taken the time to brush her tooth, but she knew you didn't keep a man like Billy Bob waiting.

"Oh Mary Lou," Billy Bob whispered. "You're the purtiest lady I ever done seen. I won me ten dollars at the last race, more money than I ever had in my whole life. Would you do me the honor o' bein' my wife? We can git married and spend the honeymoon at Wal-Mart."

"Sure as shootin'," Mary Lou said shyly. "Why don't you put down that beer, come over here, and kiss me with them big cold sore-riddled lips."

Just then, their mother called out, "Kids, it's time for supper! Go get your Pa and scrape up some roadkill for the stewpot!"

Categories: sports, best-of

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Venting the Spleen 2.0

As regular readers of this blog may have noticed, the name of this blog has changed from Venting the Spleen to Monkey Migraine Mountain. That change was inspired by the number of references to spleen venting on other blogs, as well as the desire to give my screenname greater focus. But fear not. Venting the Spleen has become a website.

It occured to me that a lot of my posts have disappeared into the archives, where they will most likely never be seen again. And, if I do say so myself, some of them are pretty good. I also worried about Blogger shutting down or accidentally erasing three years of work. And don't say it couldn't happen. So I've created an archive, a permanent website that is broken into categories for easy viewing. It's not nearly complete, but it's a start. It'll be updated more frequently than this blog, I think, but you never know. I suggest visiting both.

E! Network Plans All Brad and Angelina Channel (Fake)

E!Entertainment Television announced plans to start a twenty-four hour news network called the Brad-Jelina News Network, devoted entirely to the love triangle between Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, and Jennifer Aniston.

During the press conference, E! Entertainment spokesman Gary Nelson said, “We've spent so much time devoted to this topic that we found we were running out of space. It seems like every tabloid has Brad, Angelina, and Jennifer on the cover every week with new twists and turns. Our audience seems to have an insatiable desire for information on these two. We literally can’t cover it enough, so we’ve decided to deliver the goods.”

The Brad-Jelina News Network will premiere later this month, hosted by Joan Rivers and Ted Casablanca. Programming will include:

* Family Ties – A show about Angelina Jolie’s children and how Brad Pitt is caring for them. There will also be a segment on whether Brad wants to start a family, and if Angelina Jolie is pregnant with his child.

* It’s Official – A daily news show that reviews photos, film clips, interviews, and press appearances dedicated to proving, once and for all, that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are romantically involved.

* That Slutty Whore – a roundtable discussion about what a scheming whore Angelina Jolie is to steal Brad Pitt from Aniston, and tips on how women can imitate her success with the men in their own lives.

* JenWatch – A round-the-clock program that will monitor Jennifer Aniston’s mental and physical health in coping with the loss of Brad Pitt.

When asked about the new channel, Pitt and Jolie’s press agents released statements insisting that they are not dating, and Aniston’s friends reported that she is grief-stricken but remains strong.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Flashback Friday: ...and Son

Children's cartoons are like every other show on TV, they tend to go in cycles. Like how everybody's trying to make a Lost clone this year? And every children's cartoon these days is trying to copy Pokemon? It's like Japan took over American television.

Anyway, back in the eighties, there was a bizarre trend of making shows about popular cartoon characters and their sons. Like Popeye and Son, Pink Panther and Sons, Captain Caveman and Son, etc. I'm not sure which show started it - maybe it was an offshoot of the rush to create a clone of Muppet Babies. There were many strange things about this trend. First of all, they had to figure out how to give the character a son. Oddly enough, I only remember Popeye having a family. The rest of them just got a son out of nowhere. Second, there was no daughter. Like I don't remember Barbie and Daughter. I guess that didn't have the same ring to it.

Fun Facts
* Even though Pink Panther's son talked, his father didn't. In the old cartoons, this was explained by the fact that no one talked, but I guess the new show confirmed that the Pink Panther is a mute.
* Popeye's son was named Popeye Junior. Real original.
* Popeye Junior didn't look like Popeye. And he hated spinach. He would only eat spinach to get out of a jam, and when he did, his forearms and jaw bulged up, and his eye got squinty. No wonder he didn't like spinach.
* Captain Caveman and Son appeared on the Flintstone Kids cartoon show.
* Captain Caveman's son was named Cavey Junior. And he was useless.
* Bluto's son wasn't named Bluto Junior. It was Tank, confirming that Bluto was the last name. So what's Bluto's first name?
* The Pink Panther's sons were named Pinky and Panky. Wonder how long it took them to come up with those? Imagine going through life with the name "Panky."
* Given the rumors about the Pink Panther, I'm not surprised he didn't have a wife. Maybe he used a surrogate mother like Michael Jackson. Or he adopted.
* Pink Panther's life partner never appeared on the show.
* I thought there were more "and son" shows, but can't find or remember them. Maybe it just felt like more.

When You Gotta Go...: Glued to the Toilet

Now we come to the type of story I live for. A man is suing Home Depot. Why, you ask? Because he claims they didn't respond fast enough to his cries for help. Why did he need help? Because he was in their bathroom, super-glued to a toilet seat. He says his friends put the glue on the seat as a joke, and he waited fifteen minutes before someone found and called the paramedics for him.

On the scale of practical jokes, this one's kinda lame. First of all, how did his friends know he would be the one to sit down on the toilet, not somebody else? And why did they decide to glue him into a public toilet instead of his house's? Or a friend's, for that matter. Now that might've been a good joke - "Okay, here comes Bob. Remember the plan. Nobody uses the toilet tonight except Bob." That kind of planning makes the old Saran-Wrap-on-the-toilet-seat trick look like crap.

And why'd they use super-glue? I know it's funnier, but that has long-lasting repercussions. The guy had to have surgery to remove the toilet seat from his butt. They had to cut off skin. Okay, that does sound kinda funny, especially if the guy was a jerk.

My biggest question is, why's he suing Home Depot? Why doesn't he sue the jerks who glued him to the toilet in the first place? It's not Home Depot's job to check for people glued to toilet seats. It's not like they're required by law to have a Toilet Paramedic who responds to bathroom medical emergencies. And they left him in there for fifteen minutes, not like they left him there overnight.

To be honest, I'm inclined to think this whole thing was a scam. I think the guy wanted to sue Home Depot, and had the same mental capacity as that lady who put a severed finger in her chili. I think he took some glue off a shelf, went to the bathroom, squirted the glue on the seat himself, and sat on it. He planned to make it look like it was Home Depot's fault, that they somehow left glue on a toilet seat. But he couldn't come up with a good reason why they would have left glue on it, so he claimed friends did it. You have to wonder about these people. Somebody needs to show these guys the successful lawsuits of people who slipped and fell on some water in a business. It works great, guys. Maybe somebody should start classes on how to sue big companies.

The Problem With McDonald's

McDonald's has just announced they will print nutrition information on its wrappers. Too little, too late, I say. Then again, it does beg the question when Wendy's and Jack-in-the-Box will do the same thing. This brings the whole nutritional thing to a head.

I understand McDonald's problem - they are victims of their own success. They've become the symbol of fast-food, the gold standard. The problem is that when someone wants to attack fast-food in general, they attack McDonald's specifically. As a result, McDonald's is getting all the criticism that should really be distributed to the entire fast-food industry.

Health advocates are telling McDonald's "serve healthier food." But they know dang well that nobody goes to McDonald's for tofu and salads. When we go to McDonald's, we go for Big Macs and french fries. If they stopped selling unhealthy food, their business would collapse, and all the fatties would just go next-door to Burger King. But as long as they continue to sell fattening food, they remain a lightning rod for criticism. What health advocates are asking McDonald's to do is put itself out of business. It's like trying to get car manufacturers to promote bicycles.

The purpose of the new ad campaign is to shift attention away from McDonald's and towards food in general. Fair enough. They're trying to say "hey, look, we should all be eating healthier. Let's all exercise, eat right, and live longer. And stop bothering us."

It's a good strategy, but it doesn't work, because they still need to run ads for Big Macs and fries. It's like tobacco companies producing anti-smoking ads. If you really want us to stop smoking, why don't you stop making cigarettes?

You can't eat McDonald's and exercise. A 150-pound person would have to jog six miles to burn off the calories of a single Big Mac. This is all about hiding behind a smokescreen, not seriously changing the company's ethics.

If I were McDonald's, I would first of all stop marketing fast-food to children. I know it's lucrative, but it's just too easy to say "think of the children!" Take that off the table, and ninety-percent of their critics are gone. Next, turn the company into a high-end place and ditch the clowns. Subway makes money by targeting adults, and McDonald's should too. Next, create a new independent company called McHealth or something, truly dedicated to promoting healthy living. Sponsor children's ads for vegetables and fruits that make them just as appealing to kids as McNuggets. Sponsor marathons and exercise. Pay for physical education and exercise equipment in schools. Of course, this will never happen, and I'm glad. Every now and then, I need my Big Macs.