Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Adding to the lexicon

Given the unmitigated success of NaturalBlog's first foray into wordmaking, I am back with another addition to the common discourse:


It describes the compulsion to log onto Ebay every three minutes when you're bidding on a tchotchke, or to check Evite a dozen times an hour to see if anyone new has RSVP'd to a party.

You can use this word for other online exploits, so long as the site you're visiting begins with the letter "E."

Eddiction. Tell your friends. Use it daily.


Monday, January 30, 2006

Innocence Lost

Kelly Barons what happened? Just a year ago you were that cute Red Sox ball girl, the picture of everything wholesome, as American as apple pie, and with a good glove to boot.

But now fame has grabbed hold, and the Boston Bruins have turned you into a tawdry Sunday night hussy. What are you even posing with in that picture up there? Did the Bruins tell you that was sexy? They were wrong.

Please come home to Fenway in April and all will be forgiven. Don't forget your glove and Sox hat.


Sunday, January 29, 2006

Global warming's closing argument

Twice in the last week, I've seen people driving around in convertibles with the tops down. In Boston. In January.

What more must be said?


Saturday, January 28, 2006

I quintuple dog dare you

The razor wars threatened to really get bloody this week, when Gillette announced it would leapfrog the Schick Quattro, and go from three blades on the Mach series to five blades on its new Fusion razor. This is slightly reminscient of when the kid in A Christmas Story creates a "breach of protocol" by going right from the double dare to the triple dog dare, instead of offering the regular triple dare in between.

It also reminds me of this strangely prescient fake 2004 story in The Onion. (I don't know how many of you actually read the links, but you should with this one, at least to the line "You're taking the 'safety' part of 'safety razor' too literally, grandma.")

There's really no end in sight. I can only imagine the Schick people are already at work on the Quintippio or Nanododecahedron razor, the blades for which I assume will cost about $17 apiece.


Friday, January 27, 2006

The King

With a nod to the Nextel Dance Party, I have to say that my favorite commerical (of all time?) almost certainly involves The King. The freakishly tall Burger King wearing the freakish Mardi Gras-style king mask entertains my soul.

As close as I can tell, he was first seen in the Fantasy Ranch ad that was directed by David LaChappelle and featured the musical stylings of Darius "Hootie" Rucker, who apparently has given up on his career. See The King here pushing model Brooke Burke on a swing. They must've hit it off, because they're now dating. (Please note The King's huge hoodie in those pictures. Hilarious.)

The King then started showing up (creepily) outside people's windows and in their beds. I get that the idea was to "Wake up with The King," but my love of the guy still waned. Just too weird.

Fortunately, The King made a comeback during football season, when he kept intercepting passes and doing stylish endzone dances.

I would declare this advertising campaign an incredible success, except that it hasn't made me more likely to eat Burger King in any way. I can't even remember the last time I ate BK, except for that time that The King was in my bed, and gave me an eggnormous breakfast sandwich.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Is prison that different from Survivor, anyway?

Richard Hatch, better known as the fat naked guy who won $1 million on the original Survivor, is guilty of failing to pay taxes on his winnings. He's in federal custody now while he awaits sentencing. There will be some significant differences between jail and survivor. He shouldn't walk around naked, for one. He should also be wary if the other inmates invite him to "Tribal Council."

In other news...

Castro Slipping. Parade Magazine was out last Sunday with its annual ranking of dictators. Somewhere, Fidel Castro is wondering what he can do to stop his slide (from 13 to 15 this year) and crack back into the top 10.

New York now for Damons. Anna Benson and her husband Kris are Baltimore-bound after Mets GM Omar Minaya moved one step closer to his vision of an all-Latin team. Coincidentally, Orioles ballboy applications have spiked.

Fat people date. I heard a radio ad this week for overweightdate.com. Whether you're a "large lover or a fan of a full figure," it's for you. The jingle is creepily catchy: "Fat or thin. Gay or straight. There's more to love at overweight date."

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Pure marketing genius

Free product advice for the people at Kashi.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

If I were on The Price is Right...

If I were on The Price is Right, I would have fulfilled a lifelong dream.

If I were on The Price is Right, I would probably be surprised at how small the set is.

If I were on The Price is Right, I would probably be surprised at how trashy Barker's Beauties are.

If I were on The Price is Right, I would definitely bid just $1 more than somebody else on Contestants Row, because that's the kinda guy I am.

If I were on The Price is Right, I would wish I did the household grocery shopping, so I'd be better equipped to play a pricing game.

If I were on The Price is Right, I would love to play The Matterhorn.

If I were on The Price is Right, I would hate to play Plinko.

If I were on The Price is Right, I would tell Bob he should be spayed or neutered.

If I were on The Price is Right, I would want to win a Brand New Car!

If I were on The Price is Right, I would probably win a bedroom set.

If I were on The Price is Right, I would spin the big wheel backwards.

If I were on The Price is Right, I would overthink the Showcase Showdown and probably bid just "One Dollar, Bob."

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Monday, January 23, 2006

People I Like, Inexplicably, Vol. II

As promised, the continuing chronicle of people who entertain the NaturalBlog against all odds.

Burt Reynolds has a lot of stuff working against him. His mustache and hair are as different as black and white, and he's been known to get drunk at movie premiers and slap harmless entertainment reporters.

Yet I love him.

A reasonable person would call Smokey and the Bandit claptrap, but I say his on-screen rapport with Sally Field was Oscar-worthy. And the forgettable Evening Shade years? I can't get enough. (By the way, Marilu Henner, if you're reading and I suspect you are, you're too classy for this. Too classy.)

The NaturalBlog salutes you, Mr. Burt Reynolds. Just please don't hit me.

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Sunday, January 22, 2006

What's a gossip hound to do?

A great conflict is growing deep in the heart of the NaturalBlog. I find myself drawn more and more strongly each day to gossip rags and websites as my appetite for celebrity news grows out of control.

What started as a harmless People Magazine subscription has grown into a diabolical need to see candid celebrity photographs, read about their divorces and stupid baby names, and even make fun of them before the dozens (and dozens) of people who read this very blog.

I can't help but think of an interview with Bruce Willis, whom I believe to be magnanimous because he somehow hasn't manslaughtered Ashton Kutcher. When asked to name a job he wouldn't want, Bruce said he would never want to do any job that depended on the invasion of privacy of others.

He's right, I know he's right. But I feed this paparazzi beast each day.

What's an otherwise reasonable man who's hooked on gossip to do?


Saturday, January 21, 2006

Whoever had Jan. 20, 2006 wins the pool

Got engaged last night. Take that, naysayers.


Friday, January 20, 2006

The Young and the Restless

The only thing that's missing is Larry Luchinno's evil(-er?) twin showing up in an eyepatch.

The offseason soap opera at Fenway Park took another predictable turn last night when the Sox ownership group said former general manager Theo Epstein would return to the team in an official capacity.

Theo had apparently decided his music career would be no more succesful than Bronson's. So his vacation from the team, which began when he ducked reporters outside Fenway Park Halloween night by wearing a gorilla costume, has come to an end. In that time, the Sox have traded prospects for Josh Beckett, traded Edgar Renteria for a prospect, and lost Johnny Damon to the Yankees.

The team either wouldn't or couldn't explain Epstein's duties, title, or relationship to new co-GM's Jed Hoyer and Ben Cherington. They said that would come next week.

But of course. They say that so we're sure to tune in next week, when John W. Henry awakens from his coma, Manny's affair is discovered by his wife, and Mike Timlin comes out of the closet.

My goal is not to write about the Sox again until they have a centerfielder.


This week in the news

It's been quite a week for news and news-like occurences.

William Shatner, TV's Captain James T. Kirk, passed a kidney stone recently and sold it GoldenPalace.com, a garbage collector that moonlights as a gambling website. This is the same outfit that bought a "Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese" from ebay. You know how much Shatner overacts when he's got a hangnail. Can you imagine him passing a kidney stone? I searched the Internet for a tape of this, but to no avail.

McDonald's has brought back the McRib, which not coincidentally looks like a piece of quasi-meat run over with a tank tread, and is trying to build a little buzz with a clever marketing campaign that treats the McRib like it's a music tour. This idea is the rock bottom of ads. Didn't Burget King already try it, and didn't it fail?

The winners of this year's World Series of Beer Pong look, oh I don't know, 100 percent like you thought they would.

And I would be remiss if I didn't signal approval of Isaac Mizrahi's groping of Scarlett Johansson's golden globes at the Golden Globes:

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

My BLOCKBUSTER fantasy baseball draft strategy

What kind of loser has a fantasy baseball draft in the middle of January? This kind of loser, that's who.

I gathered with The Boys this weekend to do our 2006 draft. Because of our disparate schedules we knew we wouldn't be able to do it on the phone in March, and this month was the only time we'd all be in the same place before the season opens this spring.

It is a non-standard 4x4 rotisserie league. This means that there are eight cumulative statistical categories, four for hitters and four for pitchers, my fake team earns points based on how well real players perform. The categories are batting average, RBIs, steals and strikeouts for hitters, and ERA, saves, strikeouts and walks for pitchers. The only eligible players are those who play for teams in the NL and AL Easts.

Before putting together my fantasy baseball draft spreadsheet, as I do each year, I determined a BLOCKBUSTER strategy that I hope will vault me to my first fantasy baseball championship. Because two of the pitching categories count up (saves and Ks) while two count down (ERA and walks), I decided that I would only have one active pitcher on my roster. I will start Mariano Rivera and Mariano Rivera only, perhaps for as little as just one game. This way I am guaranteed (?) to accumulate the fewest walks and lowest ERA. Of course, I'll place last in saves and strikeouts, but this middle of the road approach will be worth 10 of a possible 16 pitching points.

In essence, I managed to build an average pitching staff (exactly average, statiscally) with just one draft pick, and that freed me to spend all of my top picks (Rivera aside) on hitters. Not only did I get many of the top players at each position, I was also able to draft too many players at different positions, thus keeping quality players away from other teams.

Of course there is risk with this plan, because greatness is always tinged with risk. What if Mariano Rivera gives up 4 runs in his first start and spends the rest of his year trying to get his ERA below 5? What if he blows out his arm altogether after a bad outing? I admit that might sink my season, but whose team is not dependent on being injury-free?

Next fantasy baseball update: in March, after our "I blew out my knee in the World Baseball Classic/Spring Training" supplemental e-mail draft.


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Is Steve McQueen the coolest dead guy around or what?

Absolut Vodka is the latest corporate giant to milk the cash cow that is the corpse of Steve McQueen. He'll be featured in a new television advertisement in which he'll be termed the "Absolut Man."

His 1980 death notwithstanding, McQueen has been seen shilling the last couple years for Tag Heuer, the new Ford Mustang and The Gap, among others. He's still the king of cool somehow despite the fact that Sheryl Crow sang a song about him.

So why do companies bring out the dead, rather than find someone who is cool and still alive? Dunno.

Maybe it's easier to work with a soulless company that reps a dead guy than with an actual live person -- ironic given McQueen's reputation as such a tough guy to work with.

Plus, if you went with cool and alive, you might end up with somebody like Russell Crowe or Colin Farrell, and the last thing you want is your compensated celebrity endorser unable to make a photo shoot because of court-ordered community service or some pesky rehab.

Whatever. Attention Absolut: If you want someone cool, alive, and unlikely to end up in rehab, then the NaturalBlog is available. E-mail for an 8x10 glossy.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Ted Furgeson, Bud Light Daredevil

If you haven't seen these commercials from Bud Light, well then you're just not living life to its fullest.

Ted Ferguson, Bud Light Daredevil, is known to take to on the gravest of challenges. To wit: Clad in helmet, goggles and elbow pads, he braves a shopping trip with his girlfriend during the NFL playoffs or even staying at work two minutes past five -- ON A FRIDAY.

But Ted Ferguson, Bud Light Daredevil, truly proved his mettle when he had lunch with his girlfriend next to a table of hot girls without looking over, not even once.

Too bad for Ted I'm a Miller Lite Man.

Ted Ferguson, this Miller's for you.


Monday, January 16, 2006

What soothes the sting of a Pats playoff loss?


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Sunday, January 15, 2006

Separated at birth III

Red Sox CEO and all-around bad guy Larry Lucchino (with the World Series trophy), and MBTA General Manager Dan Grabauskas (with the American flag). Dan might be a republican, but he's definitely less evil than Lucchino.

Former SNL funnyman Jimmy Fallon and Gonzaga Bulldogs frontman Adam Morrison are closer to lookalike cousins than twins, but that's close enough to make my list.

Mike Holmgren on the right has been head coach of the Seattle Seahawks since 1999. Andy Reid has coached the Philadelphia Eagles since that same year. They've been spotted together only once: when Seattle clubbed Philly 42-0 earlier this year.


Saturday, January 14, 2006

I've gotta get a dish

There are these ads running on RCN cable lately that are designed to teach people how easy it is to use their RCN voicemail. I'm thinking that these little promos run when the RCN people haven't sold enough ads.

Anyway, they are so bad that they I have to write about them.

This Troy McClure wannabe appears, tells us that his name is Jim O'Connor and that he is so excited about teaching us about voicemail.

Then he tells you that all you have to do to set your password is dial your local voicemail access number. If you're prompted for a password and haven't yet set one up, then it's the last four digits of your phone number. Then to set your passord hit U, then P, then a 4- to 10-digit number, then pound, and X. Then to set your message you hit U, then G, record the message, press pound, then R, then X, then to set your name, hit U, then N, record your name, press pound, then X, then X again.

No joke, he really says all this. And he's flying through it, too.

Now remember, these ads are aimed at people too stupid to figure out their own voicemail. Are these same people who can't follow voiceprompts so savant-like they can memorize 30 seconds of arcane instruction?

This commercial is so bad that I initially thought it was a joke. If you haven't seen it, might I suggest that you switch your cable provider to RCN just so you have a chance.


Friday, January 13, 2006

How 'bout a cocktail

Who doesn't have a hangover at work every now and then? About one in eleven workers, according to a study out of the University of Buffalo. Seems a little low, if you ask me, but I must say I was a little suprised at these nuggets from the survey: About two percent of the workforce say they drank before work at least once in the last year. Another seven percent drank during the workday. They must not have surveyed any Big Dig workers, otherwise the numbers would have been much higher.

This is not uniquely American, mind you. Britain has it's functioning alcholics, too.


Thursday, January 12, 2006

Brad Pitt apparently virile

People Magazine makes the NaturalBlog household's yearly subscription worth every single cent this week, with a bombshell admission by Angelina Jolie that she is pregnant with Brad Pitt's baby. This will be the first child for both, though the couple has been known to steal babies from the third world.

Speaking of Brangelina, the pair has reportedly signed on to billionaire Richard Branson's plan to send people on joyrides into space in 2010. Their companions on the Virgin Galactic Spaceship will include Sigourney Weaver, Moby, and William Shatner.

This is actually remarkably similar to the list I keep in my head of people I'd like to banish from Earth. What are the chances that Barry Bonds, Paris Hilton, and every Fenway Park ticket scalper will also sign on?


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Goodbye, Waltham Tavern

A quick early evening post on the coming demise of the Waltham Tavern in Boston's South End.

True, I only drank there one night, and that was almost five years ago, but the Tavern was an epic stop on an epic evening.

I suppose in retrospect it is not that surprising that the bar's owner is a reputed mobster who is (allegedly) dealing Oxycontin out of the back. I don't know what the first indication was, but the most enduring was a man gleaming with Soul-Glo playing one-handed pool.


Let's hear it for the boy

The NaturalBlog is much derided for his taste in music. Even the phrase "taste in music" is up for debate, because many would say lack of taste.

I sum up my musical taste as a cross between black and white. As anyone with a worthless Master of Fine Arts can tell you, white is the absence of color, while black is all colors together. When it comes to music, I like everything (black), but indescriminately and with the absence of taste (white).

Need proof? I can pinpoint the moment I revealed my awful taste to different friends.

My college roommate knew when I used a Tower Records gift certificate to buy a Prince album.

A coworker lost all respect when I told him I couldn't name my favorite Dead song because I couldn't name a Dead song. "You whould be careful who you say that too. Some people take music really seriously," he said.

Then there was the time I accidentally said aloud that I wanted to buy the "Mellow Gold Hits of the '70s" album advertised on TV. That opened me up to about four years (and counting) of ridicule.

Bee Gees, Petula Clark, C+C Music Factory, Brian Adams. Yes, yes, yes, no, but the exception proves the rule.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

People I Like, Inexplicably, Vol. I

You may not know the name Matthew Lesko, but you know the face. Or, more likely, the jacket. He's that crazy jamoke you see on TV with the question marks all over his suit. He wants you to buy his book so you can see how to get thousands, nay, millions of dollars in free government money.

By all reasonable standards of measure, I should hate this guy. He's clearly a liar, he shouts on television (a major NaturalBlog pet peeve), and as you may have noticed he wears a suit that makes him look like a Batman villain.

But somehow, some way I love him. Maybe its the way he chases those g-men around Washington on his commercial. I don't know, but I just can't get enough.

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Monday, January 09, 2006

Do you like scary movies?

NaturalBlog doesn't see a lot of movies, and the ones I do see I usually don't like (Walk the Line -- two thumbs down for a bad story arc). But one movie that I'm willing to recommend sight unseen is the upcoming remake of 1979's When a Stranger Calls.

If the remake is even one-tenth as frightening as the bone-chilling original, then it will be enough to keep you up nights for a week.

As proof I offer the creepy line an unknown caller repeats again and again to the movie's protagonist babysitter: "Have you checked the children?" Could anything be scarier? Only when the cops call to say "Get out of the house. The call is coming from inside the house."

Feb. 3 in theaters. See you there.


Sunday, January 08, 2006

Pats 28, Jags 3.

Brady and Belichick in the playoffs? It's like they've got one of these.


Friday, January 06, 2006

Animal News Roundup

Several alert readers have let me know about unusual animal stories lately.

A cat named Tommy bucked the standard feline practice of eating its owner after death and instead somehow dialed 911 when the man fell out of his wheelchair and couldn't get up, giving new meaning to the phrase "cat call." (Thanks to Riptide for the link.)

In Ft. Myers, Fla., an avian veterinarian fashioned prosthetic legs made of bone pins and dental acrylic for a cockatoo that was ruthlessly mauled by its cagemate. It is apparently the first successful limb replacement for a cockatoo, though not the first time a cage match has proved ugly. (Thanks to K-Don for the link.)

And in the "I know he's not an animal but..." category: If Jack Abramoff's wardrobe is any indication, he's going to scrap that guilty plea and go with insanity instead.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Damon v. Benson

Who puts the hot in the hot stove league? Damon and Benson, Benson and Damon. No, not Yankees centerfielder Johnny Damon and Mets pitcher Kris Benson, but their wives Anna Benson (tattoed on the left) and Michelle Damon (inexplicably wearing white, below at right).

They're sharing the New York stage, thanks to Johnny's free agent signing with the Yanks earlier this offseason. So one has to wonder -- whose star will shine brighter?

I think it's pretty clear Michelle will need a few tricks up her sleeve (if she's wearing one) if she's going to compete with Anna. Not unlike the way New York eclipses Boston is almost every measurable way, Anna clearly offers more to sad lonely sports writers looking for a pretty face and screaming headline.

Witness: One of the reasons Damon reportedly wanted out of Boston was that Michelle was the subject of nasty rumors that she used to be a stripper. Benson does that one better -- she posed in Penthouse and is in negotiations with Playboy. (Shouldn't it be the other order?)

Michelle promised to give a fair shake to members of her husband's team whom she interviewed for her gig as a NESN reporter. Anna promised to sleep with her husband's teammates if he ever cheated on her. ("Even the batboy," she told Howard Stern.)

Michelle told The Boston Globe she uses money from Johnny's contract to buy houses, then turn them around at a profit. Anna told The Daily News she would want money her husband gave to 9/11 charities back if he were traded, as was rumored earlier this season.

I'm just hoping the Mets don't trade the Bensons before Anna has a chance to sit down with Michelle and show her how things are done in the Big Apple.

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Torino '06

It's forgivable if you didn't know the olympics are next month in Italy, because the winter games usually fly under the rader, especially when they happen in a place that isn't America (or even Canada).

But what is not forgivable is those mascots, Neve and Gliz, as they're apparently known. They look like marshmallows to me. They couldn't have come up with something, I don't know, a little less stupid. Or cuter? Maybe a panda eating pasta? Or the pope on skis?

Though I suppose I can't complain too much, because the last time the U.S. was lucky enough to host the Summer Olympics we totally punted when it came to creating a mascot, with Whatizit.


Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Back to the Panda

Since the New York Times is devoting more than 2,000 words to what makes baby pandas so freaking cute, I figured it would be okay to revisit little Tai Shan at the National Zoo in Washington.

I've learned some important new facts since I wrote about this little booger last time.

His nickname is Butterstick, after his approximate size at birth. So cute and shaped like butter? It's a miracle his mother didn't eat him up on the first night.

Second, once you go visit the panda cam, any productivity you hoped to have that day is gone. Just surrender to the overpowering adorability of the Butterstick. He is in control, and all you can do is watch.

And if you do check the panda cam as often as I do, you'll see that he plays with a Nike ball. The little guy heeded my advice and found a way to make money -- endorsements. And speaking of money, look how this guy is profiting from His Cuteness.

Lastly, and most awfully, I have learned that per our panda agreement with China, we must send the Butterstick back to the Communists when he turns two. This is simply unacceptable. Let me be the first to say I shall do everything in my power not to let this come to pass. I'm thinking that means an underground railroad, by which we sneak Butterstick to freedom in my basement, or possibly Canada. Fortunately, the rule of law means little to America the last couple of years, so I'm sure I'm find allies and panda fans in the highest levels of government.


Monday, January 02, 2006

Vote or Die

It's been called to my attention lately that some Americans don't like our president, currently George W. Bush.

NaturalBlog is largely apolitical, but I thought this might be a good time to examine whether we'd like to replace him with a fake president. A sampling for your consideration:

  • Michael Douglas as Andrew Shepherd in The American President. The greasiest shall be first. Douglas played a widower. Would that Catherine Zeta-Jones imitate art and dump his ass.

  • Douglas's chief of staff from American President Martin Sheen did his own turn as the leader of the fake free world, as Jed Bartlett in TV's The West Wing. A liberal knight in shining armor, NBC couldn't have made him more fake -- when would America ever elect a democrat from New England?

  • Morgan Freeman as President Tom Beck in Deep Impact. Was Freeman the first black man to play the president in a movie? I don't know. But I do know that he's more electable than Al Sharpton.

  • Geena Davis as President Mackenzie Allen in Commander in Chief. No offense to our first female president, but she couldn't carry Jed Bartlett's water, let alone sit in his chair.

  • Ronny Cox as president Jack Neil in Murder at 1600. A classic "that guy" character actor (right), he reminds me of Jimmy Carter. Not only does he look a bit like him, but he also proved that anyone can be fake president, the same way Carter proved anyone could be real president.

  • Kevin Kline as President Bill Mitchell in Dave. Goofy, lovable, unqualified. So a lot like Reagan.

  • Anthony Hopkins as Presdient Richard Nixon in Nixon. Does someone playing a real president count?

And now on to the heavy hitters, the Mount Rushmore of fake presidents.

  • Harrison Ford as President James Marshall in Air Force One. He did not negotiate with terrorists -- he just kicked their asses. This dude was awesome.

  • Bill Pullman as Thomas J. Whitmore in Independence Day. It's hard not to love a president who was not only a good father, but a good fighter pilot too. Not to mention the fact that he personally saved the world from alien invaders. Well, him and Goldblum.

  • Jeff Bridges as Jackson Evans in The Contender. Calm and chilling, he was out to get his pick for Vice President. We loved George H.W. Bush, so why not love Bridges?

But wait -- has a dark horse emerged? Perhaps the man who portrayed the greatest leader of ours or any time. A man somehow still funny in the face of a dwindling air supply:

My pick for president is Mel Brooks as Skroob in Space Balls. His courage and leadership shall never be matched.


Sunday, January 01, 2006

You were my boy, blue

I close my eyes,
only for a moment,
and the moment's gone.

All my dreams,
pass before my eyes,
a curiosity.

Dust in the wind,
all they are is dust in the wind.

You're my boy, Blue (1919-2005).


Jan. 1, 2006

I think I'll blog later.