Archive for February, 2006

It’s official: I am way too easily amused

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006

While I’ve been waiting for Ms. Moose’s cookies to arrive, I’ve been having fun this morning (and have managed to waste lots of time) making my own Garfield comic strips. Here’s a tame sample; click on the strip for a larger version:


I say “tame”, as I’m sparing you from some of the x-rated or otherwise sick and twisted creations I also came up with. You’ll just have to use your imagination. This shiznit is addicting, peeps — in fact, I don’t recommend you visit this site if you happen to be at work right now, because it will probably kill your productivity for the rest of the day. One slight problem is that the site won’t allow you to directly save the finished strip, although you can print it. To make a jpeg out of it like above, you either have to scan it after you’ve printed it, or better yet, use a screen grab utility (like this cool freebie called ScreenHunter) to capture the image.

Anyway, here’s an idea: since Moose had a haiku contest, I’m thinking about perhaps launching a comic strip contest, awarding a prize to the reader who uses this application to come up with the most amusing and/or bizarre strip. I have no idea what sort of prize I might offer (chocolate comes to mind), but what do you all think? Too much work? Too much trouble? Too much possibility of legal action by Jim Davis and Universal Press Syndicate?

Let me know what you think. In the meantime I seem to have a strange craving for lasagne.

Haiku, therefore I am

Monday, February 27th, 2006

I can no longer say that I’ve never won anything in my life.

Today, the internet equivalent of Publisher’s Clearing House has come a-knockin’ on my virtual door. I open it in my pajamas, bleary-eyed and somewhat incoherent, wondering who on earth could be at the door at this god-awfully early hour (10 AM!!) of the morning. Suddenly, before I am fully awake and realize what’s happening, Ed McMahon has thrust an oversize check for TEN MILLION DOLLARS into my hands, TV cameras are rolling, buxom models in sequined tights are jumping up and down on my front porch, and a reporter shoves a microphone into my face, asking “SO how does it feel to be a WINNER??” while I am caught between the euphoria of realizing that I have actually WON something and the nagging DREAD that some unspeakable part of my anatomy may be hanging out of my pajamas on live national television.

Well, not exactly.

But I have won a batch of chocolate chip cookies! Which is almost as good, considering that no magazine subscriptions or potentially embarrassing video is involved. Better yet, these cookies will be personally baked by the delicate hooves of Ms. Moose herself. All I had to do was write a haiku — and by some strange twist of luck, mine was selected as the best. Okay, co-selected, to be more precise; I tied with another author for the top spot, but still, people — cookies!! I am pumped here! Boo-yah!

Of my winning entry, Moose writes, “I laughed, I cried, I realized that even grown men are prone to angst- ridden drama of the 14-year-old variety. Susceptible to such things myself, this amuses me.” Yes, cookies appeal to the inner child in all of us, and perhaps it was the subconscious realization of this Truth that inspired my poetic imagination. Or whatever. Maybe it’s best not to over-analyze, but simply thank Moose for this honor and enjoy my sweet reward. I promise to post an update (with photos!) when the Prize Patrol van arrives with my booty, but in the meantime here’s a sample of my newly-acquired, award-winning haiku skills:

Bloggers, dogs and cats
Universal cookie love
All that’s left is crumbs

(sigh…) Brings a tear to yer eye, don’t it?

Update: Operation Domestication complete

Sunday, February 26th, 2006
World, meet Fuzzy:


The long process of converting our newest family member from feral animal to domestic house cat has been chronicled for some time now in this blog, and I’m happy to report that the story has finally reached a successful conclusion. The adventure began last November when we first spotted him hanging out in our yard; he was so wild then that barely cracking open the patio door would send him running off to hide. We began leaving food out for him, and after a while he would tolerate us sitting outside within a few feet of him while he ate. Gradually, we moved the food dish closer to the back door, then to the threshold, then a few feet inside the house. In December, we scored a major breakthrough when he allowed us to touch him for the first time, and he soon became more comfortable with being indoors.

A couple of weeks later I was able to snatch him up and take him to our vet to be vaccinated and neutered, which he was none too happy about. However, we recovered from this setback, and once trust was re-established the domestication process has seemed to move fairly swiftly since then. He began staying inside for longer periods at a time, and about two weeks ago we decided we were ready to commit to full ownership and keep him indoors permanently. We understand this is a point of controversy among some cat owners; there are those who believe it’s natural and enjoyable for cats to roam, and that it’s somehow wrong to deny them this pleasure. However, our decision is based on prior experience; other cats we’ve had that were allowed outdoors have had their lives tragically cut short (usually hit by cars), so our logic is that if we love them, this is the best way to keep them safe and healthy.

The only dilemma we then faced was what to name him. I am terrible at picking animal names, so we turned to WitW readers for help. Y’all offered a number of great suggestions (which I thank you very much for), but none seemed to stick; he acted completely indifferent when I tried them out on him. Then one day last week I remembered that a bloggin’ buddy has a cat she calls Mr. FuzzyButt, which I always liked. At that very moment, Cat With No Name was laying on the bed. The name seemed appropriate with his long fur and all, so I looked at him and said, “Fuzzy?” He flipped over, looked back at me, and made a “merrrrow” noise that I clearly interpreted in cat language as, “Yeah, that’s my name. What took you so long to figure it out?” So “Fuzzy” he is.

Surprisingly, Fuzzy’s been getting along very well with our other two cats. There’s been a wee bit of hissing here and there, but nothing serious – and in fact, he and Tiger have even been playing hide-and-seek with each other. We had frankly expected more territorial altercations, so this is a welcome development.

Well, there you have it: we’re now officially a three-cat household. Only five more windows left to fill! :^)

IPF strikes again

Friday, February 24th, 2006

Conservationist and “Jaws” author Peter Benchley has died at age 65 of pulmonary fibrosis. Article here. It always makes me uncomfortable and a bit nervous to know when this fucking disease has claimed another person, but at the same time I get angry and determined. If anyone is gonna beat this shit, it’s gonna be me.

San Francisco: powered by pooch poop?

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

San Francisco, already one of the most progressive places in America, is looking to boldly go where no other U.S. city has yet gone: converting dog poop into energy. Within a few months, Norcal Waste, a garbage hauling company that collects San Francisco’s trash, will begin a pilot program under which it will use biodegradable bags and dog-waste carts to pick up droppings at a popular dog park. The droppings will be tossed into a contraption called a methane digester, which is basically a tank in which bacteria feed on feces for weeks to create methane gas.

According to this Associated Press article, San Francisco canines produce roughly 6,500 tons of poop a year — which, if you think about it, is….well, maybe it would be better not to think about it, actually.

My favorite quote in the article comes from recycling consultant Will Brinton, who said the plan will “give value to something we’d rather not talk about. San Francisco is probably the king of pet cities. This could be very important to them.”

Mr. Brinton is saying, in other words: San Francisco, you’re full of (dog)shit.

Although the technology used to convert dog waste to methane has been used in Europe for the last 20 years, San Francisco will be the first U.S. city to try the operation on a wide scale.

No doubt, many jokes could be made of this — some having to do with feeding your dog burritos, BART accepting bags of poop in lieu of tickets, or possibly involving Paris Hilton, but I will leave such hilarity to your imagination. Although I do have one thing to say (and any regular reader of my blog will see this coming): if San Francisco is indeed successful in converting shit into energy, we should move immediately to set up a similar program in Washington, D.C. We wouldn’t need to import another single barrel of oil, ever again.

This is the best news, ever

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006

I’ve had chocolate on the brain a lot lately.

Perhaps it is due to this month’s National Chocolate Holiday known as Valentine’s Day, or fellow blogger and chocoholic “Moose In the Kitchen’s” recent ramblings on the subject. Most likely, however, it has more to do with my present dietary restrictions. When I was first being evaluated for a lung transplant last year, my doctors told me the only hurdle I faced was that I was too damn fat had a body-mass ratio that was slightly more than what was considered optimal for the surgery. They wanted me to shed approximately 50 pounds, and I was told that to do this I must go on a diet containing only essential nutrients, with no unnecessary food items.

I was fine with this concept (and have indeed dropped about 35 pounds since then) until I learned that my doctors considered chocolate to be one of these “unnecessary food items”. I then became shocked and horrified.

As a result of being forced to give up many of my favorite high-caloric little treats that helped to make an otherwise mundane existence seem worthwhile (including not only chocolate, but cookies, donuts, gooey cinnamon rolls, and a host of other tasty snacks as well), I’ve gone through a process resembling the stages of grief: first denial, then shock, anger, and finally, acceptance. While it seemed a small price to pay for a second chance at life, I nevertheless still longed for that sweet chocolaty fix. Which is why I nearly cried tears of joy when I read this headline in the news recently:

Chocolate is good for you.

It turns out that The Mars Corporation plans to release a new line of products made with a dark chocolate called CocoaVia, which is high in flavanols — an antioxidant found in cocoa beans thought to have a blood-thinning effect similar to aspirin. The snacks also are enriched with vitamins and injected with plant sterols from soy, which may help lower cholesterol.

Of course, Mars also makes Snickers, Milky Way, and M&M’s, so you might suspect their information to be somewhat biased. But in digging further, I found even more to suggest that chocolate is good for you, including this 1999 report from the BBC on a study by Holland’s National Institute of Public Health and Environment, which revealed that moderate chocolate consumption offers health benefits because it contain catechins, believed to protect against heart disease and cancer. The medical site WebMD also reports that dark chocolate can lower blood pressure. Still another study showed consuming dark chocolate and cocoa improves the function of blood vessels. The American Hypertension Society found that “consumption of cocoa in healthy volunteers, aged 18 to 77, resulted in significantly improved vascular responsiveness”.

Need more evidence? How about a CNN report revealing that “chocolate contains even more treasured antioxidants than red wine, blueberries or black tea”. Even the prestigious American Dietary Association agrees that cocoa flavanoids found in chocolate “are associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease”. Hoo-yah!

While chocolate was first made in this country in 1765, it originated with the Aztecs of ancient Mexico for whom it was, quite literally, the food of the gods. The Aztecs considered chocolate divine; the tree on which the beans grow served as a bridge between earth and heaven. Chocolate was an everyday drink, but the Aztecs also solemnized everything from marriages to human sacrifices by having the participants drink it.

The Aztecs got it right from the very beginning. A little chocolate (and an occasional glass of red wine) adds to the quality of life not only psychologically, but as has now been confirmed, medically as well.

If medical science next reveals that beer, pizza, Philly cheesesteaks, and jelly donuts are good for you as well, then all my prayers will have been answered and I can die in peace.

Random foolishness

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006

Herewith I present a collection of stray bits of flotsam and jetsam gathered from the Internet, and compiled for your enjoyment — which proves (yet once again) that I have way too much time on my hands:

1. A few weeks ago I was cable-channel-surfing and happened upon a favorite classic movie, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. Even though I’ve seen it a gazillion times, I still enjoy watching Jack Nicholson’s character descend into madness. It’s some supa-fine acting — perhaps his signature role — and I didn’t mind sitting through it again. But by the same token, the film completely freaks out Mrs. Toast (especially the “Here’s Johnny” scene) who must leave the room if it’s on. So, imagine my delight the other day when I found something we can both watch together: The Shining, in 30 seconds, re-enacted by bunnies. Yep. See it here.

2. Speaking of actors, do you know of the Cult of Chuck Norris? Hell, we don’t need no stinkin’ U.S. Army to kick Iraqi butt! Just send in Chuck — alone — and he’ll own them goldurn terrorizin’ Islamo-Fascists. A few samples of little-known Chuck-factoids: There is no skin behind Chuck Norris’s beard, only another fist. Chuck Norris does not sleep – he waits. The three leading causes of death worldwide are (a) Heart Disease (b) Chuck Norris (c) Cancer. If you find any of this amusing, there’s more here.

3. How long would it take you to drive from L.A. to New York City? Could you do it in, oh, I dunno, four minutes? This guy did. Fascinating.

4. Let’s say you’re a computer genius who can install a complete Windows networking infrastructure with one hand while you flash a BIOS and format a hard drive with the other, using the keyboard with your toes to compile C+++ at the same time. People who don’t know RAM from a CD-ROM are always begging you to come to their homes and help them with their computers, but you don’t want to do it for free and you don’t really need the money. What you really want is to make it with hot chicks. Yeah, you’d totally fix computers for sex, ‘cuz you’re the hunky tech-support man-whore known as The IT Gigolo.

5. Speaking of sex, I must have died and gone to heaven because the object of my unrequited lust, Maria Sharapova, is one of the 2006 models in the new Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Yeah baby! I will do my best to refrain from any smart-ass double entendres incorporating tennis terms, such as “grand slam”, “backhand”, “forty-love”, “mixed doubles”, “top stroke”, “seed”, or “sweet spot”. (Eh, too late.)

6. Also speaking of sex (are you noticing a theme here?) don’t be surprised if the next time you’re in a public place, someone nearby suddenly reaches into their pants and whips it out. Er, their cell phone, that is. Porn-to-go, euphoniously (pun intended) termed “mobile adult content” by the industry, is the Next Big Thing for those small cellular screens. If you’re intrigued by the idea of your cell phone turning you on instead of the other way around, have a look at this article.

7. And finally, this oldie-but-goodie from 2002 is still a good chuckle for those that may not have seen it — and it’s now even more relevant due to the recent “Dead-Eye Dick” Cheney Shootout at the Armstrong Corral. Let’s suppose for a moment that, God forbid, George W. Bush were to strangle his lovely wife Laura. How would the incident be reported by the mainstream media? Find out in Whacking Pickles. (“Pickles”, for anyone who may not know, is Dubya’s adorably cute li’l ol’ nickname for the First Lady. Awwwww. It beats “Turd Blossom”, I guess.)

Well there you have it, folks, another rousing edition of Mr. Toast’s Wacky Web Wanderings™. Look for this to become a semi-regular feature of this blog, as my inbox periodically overflows with strange crap that I don’t know what else to do with.

Centurion!

Tuesday, February 21st, 2006

I’ve just noticed only today that my post count has passed the 100 mark; in fact this entry is #107, to be precise. Woo hoo! It’s customary in the Blogosphere to celebrate the transition to triple digits with the traditional “100 things about me” post — but I will mercifully spare you this, my friends, as there are hardly 100 things that even I find very interesting about myself, let alone feel obliged to subject others to.

Frankly, you probably know enough about me already, but in case not, I thought I would compromise by passing along the following slightly- modified meme that’s been floating around the web. No one has actually tagged me with this, but I nevertheless get to whore another notch on my post count and need write only five complete sentences (keeping with the “fives” theme) to do so. Lazy-ass bloggers of the world unite!

5 jobs I have had:

  • Radio Disk Jockey/Program Director/News Reporter
  • Television Engineer
  • Two-way radio tech on private yachts and offshore oil rigs
  • Sales Agent for Budget rent-a-car
  • Burger-flipper at McDonald’s (during high school)

5 places I’ve lived:

  • Houston, Texas
  • St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
  • New York City
  • Miami and Sarasota, Florida
  • Santa Cruz, California

5 TV shows I enjoy:

  • Law & Order
  • The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
  • I Love The 80′s
  • Best Week Ever
  • Mythbusters

5 Movies I could watch over and over again:

  • Raising Arizona
  • Young Frankenstein
  • The Day The Earth Stood Still
  • Monty Python & the Holy Grail
  • The Terminator

5 places I’ve vacationed:

  • Europe (England, France, The Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Switzerland)
  • Diamond Lakes region of Arkansas (Hot Springs area)
  • Las Vegas
  • Pagosa Springs/Durango, Colorado
  • Cozumel, Mexico

5 websites I visit daily:

  • Every blog on my Blogrolling list right over there ———->>>
    (Yes! Each and every single one of them! Every day!)
  • e-Bay
  • News: CNN, Slate, NYT, LA Times, Miami Herald, Houston Chronicle, etc.
  • Shoutcast
  • Dilbert (my hero!)

5 favorite foods:

5 places I’d rather be right now:

New McClellan press conference strategy

Monday, February 20th, 2006

Bush’s healthcare plan

Saturday, February 18th, 2006

Slap your irritating co-worker day!

Friday, February 17th, 2006

Do you have a co-worker who talks nonstop about nothing, wearing you down to your last nerve with tedious and boring details that you don’t care about? Do you have a co-worker who ALWAYS screws up stuff creating MORE work for you? Do you have a co-worker who kisses so much ass, you can look in their mouth and see what your boss had for lunch? Do you have a co-worker who is SO obnoxious, when he/she enters a room, everyone else leaves? Well, I am very glad to announce today, Friday February 17th, is officially Slap Your Irritating Co-Worker Day! Here are the rules you must follow:

  • You can only slap one person per hour – no more.
  • You may slap the same person again if they irritate you again in the same day.
  • You are allowed to hold someone down as other co-workers take their turns slapping the irritant.
  • No weapons are allowed…going upside somebody’s head with a stapler or a hole-puncher may be tempting, but confine your behavior to bitch-slapping only.
  • If questioned by a supervisor (or police, if the supervisor is the irritant), you are allowed to LIE, LIE, LIE!

Now, study the rules, break out your list of folks that you want to slap the shit out of, and get busy.

Happy Slap Your Irritating Co-Worker Day!

Post-Valentine weirdness

Thursday, February 16th, 2006

St. Valentine’s day has come and gone with little fanfare in the Toast household, other than a dozen roses, a card exchange, and the promise of a romantic dinner in a nice restaurant tomorrow night. (We’re skipping the holiday crowds.) It could have been much worse.

Many men suffer through Valentine’s Day with the firm opinion that the pseudo-holiday is nothing but a blatant attempt by the floral and greeting-card industries to extort money from desperate men on cards and flowers that have been jacked up in price by 125% for the occasion. If you want to see true panic in a man’s eyes, go to your local drugstore at around 7 or 8 PM on Valentine’s night and observe the number of pathetic wretches searching for some token display of affection among the dregs of the picked-over card selection. We’re not talking something that will get them laid here — only something to save them from being thrown out of the house on the front lawn when they get home.

The Los Angeles Times even ran an editorial calling for the holiday to be abolished, saying, “we find that true love is overwhelming, irrepressible and spontaneous. Romance shouldn’t be confined to a particular day. Compulsory love is an oxymoron.” Read the full story here.

Meanwhile, this Valentine’s Day was the day chosen by country music legend Willie Nelson to release his new song called “Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly (Fond of Each Other)”, an ode to gay cowboys everywhere. I am not making this up. Willie debuted his rendition of the 1981 tune, written by Texas-born musician/songwriter Ned Sublette, on the Howard Stern radio show. Written prior to the highly acclaimed “Brokeback Mountain”, which started a massive gay cowboy fascination, it features lyrics like, “That’s why they wear leather, and Levi’s and belts buckled tight” and “There’s many a cowboy who’s more like a lady at night.”

Sublette said he wrote it during the “Urban Cowboy” craze. The Dallas Morning News quoted Nelson as saying, “The song’s been in the closet for 20 years. The timing’s right for it to come out. I’m just opening the door.” Willie contributed a song to the soundtrack of “Brokeback Mountain” — his rendition of “He Was A Friend Of Mine.”

And finally in the “Weird Valentine News” category, someone named Tom Birdsey has decided that since women reap most of the benefit of Valentine’s day, what the world needs is a comparable holiday for men. As he puts it:

Now ladies, I’ll let you in on a little secret; guys really don’t enjoy this (Valentine’s Day) that much. Sure seeing that smile on your face when we get it right is priceless, but that smile is the result of weeks of blood, sweat and consideration. Another secret; guys feel left out. That’s right, there’s no special holiday for the ladies to show their appreciation for the men in their life. Men as a whole are either too proud or too embarrassed to admit it. Which is why a new holiday has been created.

Birdsey has the perfect name for it, too: “Steak and A Blowjob Day“, to be celebrated on March 14th.

What a great idea. And the best part of it is, if you’re gay (cowboy or otherwise), you get to celebrate twice within the span of a month.

I want this cool gizmo!

Wednesday, February 15th, 2006

This will no doubt have very little interest or meaning to anyone who has never been an audio journalist or reporter, but I’m going ga-ga over this product. It’s the HHB Flashmic, a professional-quality microphone with an integrated digital recorder. To put this in perspective, consider that long ago in a galaxy far, far away, I worked for a radio station where in addition to my disc jockey duties, for several hours a day I was also a fresh-faced gung-ho “cub” news reporter. Yes, our station manager was really that cheap. Anyway, an important part of my job was to go out and get actualities (more commonly known as “sound bites”) to spice up our station’s otherwise droll reading of the day’s news stories. It might be a simple comment or statement from someone newsworthy, a man-in-the-street reaction to some event, or perhaps a full-blown interview with a local politician or celebrity. In any case, it required packing a heavy and complex assortment of electronic equipment including a cassette tape recorder, spare cassettes, a microphone, headphones, several sets of batteries, and a variety of cables. The possibility that any of these items might malfunction and ruin the interview was huge: a wire could break inside a connector, the cassette used in the recorder could be bad, the batteries could crap out, etc. And then there was the old standby, “operator error”. I once did an entire 20-minute interview with a local marine expert on the health effects of Florida’s notorious “red tides“, and neglected to push the “record” button on the tape deck. Duh.

Worse yet, if something did go wrong, it wasn’t usually discovered until back at the station when the intrepid reporter begins to edit the tape looking for that one, succinct, pithy 10-second comment to be used later in the station’s newscast. When the News Director asks “so, whaddya got?” and you proudly press the “play” button to hear nothing but a loud buzzing sound, or nothing at all, this is the time when an alternate career in the fast-food or waste management industries begins to seem like a fairly good possibility.

Having suffered this ignobility, this gizmo is pretty darn appealing to me. (The fact that I no longer am a news reporter is irrelevant; I still think it’s cool.) The recorder part is built into the microphone itself — no tape, or cables, or other bulky apparatus to lug around. Simply whip the mic out of your pocket, press one button, and flawlessly capture up to six hours of sound in its full digital glory. Even better, all sorts of future improvements could be implemented: the ability to transmit the audio over an 802.11 wireless network, for example, would allow broadcasters to easily send audio from remote locations without using long cables and expensive microwave relay links. I salivate over these possibilities the way some people do over a juicy steak, which should remove any remaining doubt that anyone may have concerning my geekiness.

Now if they could only do something about the “operator error” part.

Unloading on Cheney

Tuesday, February 14th, 2006

As predicted, the Dick Cheney shooting story has opened a floodgate of jokes and wisecracks from pundits, comedians, and even fellow politicians. At a luncheon yesterday, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush seemed happy to receive a bright orange Farm Bureau lapel sticker. Bush quipped that the sticker might make him more visible, adding “I’m a little concerned that Dick Cheney is going to walk in.” It has also been widely noted that in a 2000 interview with the Houston Chronicle, Jeb’s brother, President George Bush, hailed Cheney as “somebody who is going to shoot straight with the American people.” Ouch.

Here are just a few of the gags heard so far from the professionals:

The Late Show With David Letterman

  • “Good news, ladies and gentlemen, we have finally located weapons of mass destruction: It’s Dick Cheney.”
  • “But here is the sad part — before the trip Donald Rumsfeld had denied the guy’s request for body armor.”
  • “We can’t get Bin Laden, but we nailed a 78-year-old attorney.”
  • “The guy who got gunned down, he is a Republican lawyer and a big Republican donor and fortunately the buck shot was deflected by wads of laundered cash. So he’s fine. He took a little in the wallet.”

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno

  • “Although it is beautiful here in California, the weather back East has been atrocious. There was so much snow in Washington, D.C., Dick Cheney accidentally shot a fat guy thinking it was a polar bear.”
  • “That’s the big story over the weekend. Dick Cheney accidentally shot a fellow hunter, a 78-year-old lawyer. In fact, when people found out he shot a lawyer, his popularity is now at 92 percent.”
  • “I think Cheney is starting to lose it. After he shot the guy he screamed, ‘Anyone else want to call domestic wire tapping illegal?”‘

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

  • “Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot a man during a quail hunt, making 78-year-old Harry Whittington the first person shot by a sitting veep since Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton, of course, (was) shot in a duel with Aaron Burr over issues of honor, integrity and political maneuvering. Whittington? Mistaken for a bird.”
  • “Now, this story also raises a serious issue, one which I as a parent feel very strongly about. Moms, dads, if you’re watching right now, I can’t emphasize this enough: Do not let your kids go on hunting trips with the vice president. I don’t care what kind of lucrative contracts they’re trying to land, or energy regulations they’re trying to get lifted. He’ll shoot them in the face.”

On a more serious note, aside from the accident itself and the delay in making the information public, the incident also raises questions about the practice of “canned hunts”, where sport animals and fowl are raised in captivity and released in a confined area to be shot by patrons of exclusive private clubs. Many rank-and-file sportsmen, who hunt game in their native habitat, believe that shooting animals that cannot escape is unethical and unsportsmanlike. The Humane Society of the United States released a statement reading, in part:

The Humane Society of the United States deplores the shooting of captive birds and animals where traditional “fair chase” hunting ethics are discarded and kills are guaranteed. We are campaigning to outlaw canned hunts through federal and state legislation.

In December of 2003, the Vice President attended a similar canned hunt in Pennsylvania where 500 farm-raised pheasants were released for the benefit of Cheney’s 10-person hunting party. The group killed at least 417 of the birds, and also shot an unknown number of captive mallards in the same afternoon. The event prompted this reaction from Wayne Pacelle, a Humane Society senior vice president: “This wasn’t a hunting ground. It was an open-air abattoir, and the vice president should be ashamed to have patronized this operation and then slaughtered so many animals. If the Vice President and his friends wanted to sharpen their shooting skills, they could have shot skeet or clay, not resorted to the slaughter of more than 400 creatures planted right in front of them as animated targets.”

Look out – Dick’s got a gun!

Monday, February 13th, 2006

We have all sorts of fun down here in Texas. No doubt you’ve heard that over the weekend, our illustrious veep accidently shot a companion while on a quail hunting trip near Kingsville. Cheney profusely apologized to his victim, who was hospitalized with serious birdshot pellet wounds to his face, neck, and chest. The accident happened on Saturday, but was not reported publicly by the vice president’s office until Sunday afternoon — and then only after an account of the incident appeared on a local newspaper’s web site. That long delay was the subject of a testy exchange today between reporters and White House spokesman Scott McClellan, who faced dozens of questions about whether Cheney had followed proper protocol, and why a private citizen had broken the story. Look for the affair to be Leno and Letterman late-show joke fodder for the rest of the week.

Conspiracy theorists take note: the incident occurs not long after Steven Bradbury, the acting head of the US Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, suggested that under certain circumstances, the President has the authority to order the killing of terrorist suspects on U.S. soil (source: Newsweek magazine). The man shot by Cheney, 78-year old Austin attorney Harry Whittington, is hardly known as a suspected terrorist, but the seriously paranoid and/or deranged might find some coincidence in the timing of these two events.

As far as I know, no black helicopters were involved.

Squirrely cat photo

Friday, February 10th, 2006

Even though my Rolling Stones post earlier this morning (or late last night, depending on your point of view) contained the phrase “Stray Cat Blues”, it doesn’t technically qualify as Friday CatBlogging. So let me rectify the situation by posting this picture of Callie in an unusual pose:

I’ve noticed that the grey squirrels who frequent our back yard will often lay out in the sun on tree limbs and landscape timbers, with both hind legs stretched out completely flat behind them, but I’ve never seen a cat do this before Callie. Is she just especially limber, or do all cats have this ability but usually choose not to? (This is a rhetorical question, BTW … as if any human is able to comprehend the sublime workings of the feline mind.) But I’m curious to know if anyone else has ever seen their cats assume this same position.

This week’s Carnival of the Cats #99 is being hosted by Watermark, so go visit there for some cute critters this coming Sunday evening. In the meantime, happy CatBlogging Friday!

Too old to rock & roll?

Friday, February 10th, 2006

I’m about to commit blasphemy. I fully expect the furor over the cartoon depiction of Mohammed will pale in comparison to what I’m going to say:

The Rolling Stone’s Superbowl performance sucked.

I wanted to be impressed by it, I really did. I’ve thought they were cool ever since the days when they were the “Dirty Beatles”. I have all of their albums, and know all the words to most of their songs. I thought “Stray Cat Blues” was one of the nastiest (and I mean that in a good way) songs I ever heard, and Keith’s guitar work on “Midnight Rambler” still gives me goose bumps. But their halftime show in Detroit left me cold; they looked like they were just phoning it in. Granted, this was probably the 23,763rd time Mick and the boys have done “Satisfaction”, and it makes sense that they might have lost some of their feel for the tune after so long. Still, with hundreds of millions of national TV viewers plus the 65,000 live fans, this show was their biggest audience ever and I honestly expected more. Ron Wood’s guitar parts seemed both out of tune and out of sync. As for Jagger himself, his enthusiasm seemed forced, and he appeared out of breath at times during the set from running all around the huge stage. Yeah I know, you’d like to see any other 62-year old geezer get up there and do any better. Maybe that’s the point, though: could it be time for them to hang it up and retire gracefully before they become a parody of themselves? It’s not like they have anything left to prove, or need the money; if they never played another note, they (and their families) would still be rich for the rest of their lives. But sooner or later, there will come a time when Mick sings “Start Me Up” that you’re going to wonder if he’s talking about his libido or his pacemaker, and that’s not how I want to remember the legacy of “the world’s greatest rock and roll band”.

Another thing that detracted from the experience was the NFL’s censorship of two of the songs during the 12-minute show. You may have noticed that on “Start Me Up”, the last word of the line “you make a dead man come” was snipped. And “Rough Justice” contains this verse: “One time you were my baby chicken, now you’ve grown into a fox – And once upon a time I was your little rooster, am I just one of your cocks?”. Even though “cocks” is a perfectly legitimate term in the rooster context, the censors felt the double-entendre was too much for sensitive family viewers and cut it out.

So overall, I was disappointed by the Stone’s mediocre performance on Sunday. Am I the only one who thought this?

New meaning for the phrase “IP address”

Thursday, February 9th, 2006

Every once in a while, someone comes out with a product that makes me want to smack myself upside the head and go, “why didn’t I think of that?”. Today we present such an item for your edification and amusement; big tip o’the Toast hat to Jim for the heads-up on this.

Imagine the following scenario: You’re on e-Bay bidding on a priceless Willet McFarkle machine. You’ve been searching for months, and have finally found one. With only minutes left to go in the auction and the current bid price at just $1.50, you can’t possibly leave your computer. But after three cups of coffee and a 2-liter bottle of Mountain Dew, you’ve been crossing your legs for the last half hour and you just don’t know if you can make it. Well never fear, Pilgrim, the Internet Urinal is here!!

“Shopping, gaming, chat rooms, cyber-dating – the internet is such an addictive and time-consuming force, who’s got time to go? With the Internet Urinal, you’ll never have to leave your computer again. Imagine the freedom – destroy your enemies on network Quake without taking a break; drink as many cans of Jolt as you want and still be able to make that last important trade before the market closes. Each urinal is made with hard plastic and comes with a handy female adapter. Holds 32 oz. of liquid (the same as a Big Gulp!). Also great for road trips, stake outs, waiting in line for Star Wars tickets, and hundreds of other critical functions.”

This would be funny even if it wasn’t for real, which it is. If you find yourself having trouble holding it and can’t be bothered with the 5-yard dash to the bathroom, you can buy them here for the bargain price of only two (his & hers?) for $4.95. Oy, such a deal.

The joke potential for this product is seemingly endless, but in the interest of good taste (this blog? Ha!) I’m going to end the post here. Feel free to pick up the ball (ouch!) in the comments section.

Streaking naked sheep

Tuesday, February 7th, 2006

…was this year’s most popular Super Bowl ad, according to a survey conducted by The Miami Herald, which revealed that several of the Budweiser ads scored big with Bowl viewers. If I may channel Dave Barry for a moment, I should also point out that “Streaking Naked Sheep” would be a great name for a rock & roll band.

Studies also indicated the much-publicized “GoDaddy” ad featuring a well-endowed actress with a malfunctioning tank top was a, ahem, “bust” with the audience, ranking only #38 in the top-rated game ads. The video became the subject of controversy when various takes of the commercial were rejected 13 times by ABC before the 14th was approved.

The Business section of the New York Times has color commentary and analysis of the ad-fest, dissecting what it feels were the best and worst of the lot. The commercials are such a hot topic that they even have their own exclusive web site, superbowl-ads.com, for those who might wish to explore the nuts-and-bolts of the sophisticated marketing and research that goes into producing them. Advertisers pay up to $2.5 million dollars for a 30-second Superbowl spot, making the ads some of the most anticipated and entertaining commercials of the year. Not everyone had positive feelings about them, however; The Washington Post felt many were excessively cartoonish and violent (like the Pepsi ad in which a can of competitor Diet Coke was crushed), and Chris Ballard writing for Sports Illustrated called it “another disappointing year”.

Still, you can vote for your favorite ad in the Herald’s survey here, or check out the USA Today site, where you can not only register your vote but watch all of the ads in case you might have missed any of them.

Unfortunately, the networks have an annoying habit of interrupting the annual sell-a-thon with something called “football”. Rumor has it that this year’s game was won by a team named “The Pittsburgh Steelers”, but no one outside of Pennsylvania really seemed to notice or care.

Which of these images is more disturbing?

Monday, February 6th, 2006

In case you had any doubt that large portions of the world’s population are still living in the Stone Age, consider the growing protests and increasingly vitriolic reaction of Muslims to cartoons published in a Danish magazine depicting caricatures of the prophet Mohammed. While I understand how blasphemous this is considered by some, I have a hard time fathoming the depth of hatred that has been shown in response. “Massacre those who insult Islam”? How are we in the West supposed to have any sympathy for Islamic values when not just fundamentalists, but mainstream Muslims, espouse this point of view? It seems awfully hypocritical to be condemning the desecration of Mohammed while at the same time kidnapping and beheading innocent civilians, and carrying out suicide-bomb terrorism.

While tolerance, respect and cooperation have generally been the defining features of Muslim-Christian relations throughout history, there have also been periods of murder, intolerance and hostility on other occasions. There are those who believe that the stage is currently being set for an all-out Holy War between these two great religions, one that will make any previous dustups pale in comparison. Many are actively preparing for such conflict at this very moment, and there is certainly plenty of hatred to go around on both sides. Let us hope that calmer heads will prevail.

For those who may not have seen the cartoons and are wondering what all the fuss is about, you can view them here.

UPDATE 2/9/06!

How to resolve this dilemma? European Superman has the answer!

Somewhere in Europe: A political comic strip offends people of certain religion, Islam. The Muslims are angered, they rebel, they attack the embassies of certain European country. What it can be done, that will save the day? European Superman will come to rescue!

Somewhere in the Middle East:

Muslim: “We will kill all the European and we will eat its children.”

Second Muslims: “wait, which is that one back in the sky”

Muslim: “it is a bird, he is a plane, no he is Mohammed prophet.”

Second Muslims: “no, it is a bomber of the suicide.”

Muslim: “he is not neither, he is European Superman.”

European Superman: “Salaam, Muslims.”

Muslim: “Salaam, European Superman. In the name of the prophet.”

European Superman: “the Muslims, I know that you are angered on these comic strips. Listen, I lived in Europe under the Soviet domination. Religion, Islam, were suppressed by the government.

Muslim: “yes, it is.”

European Superman: “yes, only you will not solve to any thing burning itself the Danish Embassy. He must have a land of in the middle. I have solution to it the problem.”

Muslim: “which is that one?”

European Superman: “Europe must prohibit religious comic strips. And you must burn the Chinese embassy. China is communist, like Soviet union.”

Muslim: “the Chinese embassy, hah, why we did not think about that one?”

Second Muslims: “European Superman, you are wise truth.”