Sunday, April 30, 2006

What soothes a 3-6 Sox roadtrip?

Cigar, glass of brandy, Cake album from the Nomar-batting-champ era.

This will be my last baseball post for a week. I promise. Unless Roger signs.

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Doug Mientkiewicz reads this blog

The Red Sox and nomadic first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, now part of the best-named infield in the majors in Kansas City (Graffanino to Grudzielanek to Mientkiewicz, the modern day Tinker to Evers to Chance), have agreed that the ball from the final out of the 2004 World Series will go to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Boy that's a great idea. It sounds so familiar. I wonder who thought of it.


Saturday, April 29, 2006

All the news you'll ever need

Good idea. You start. In an issue sure to elevate the level of discussion on talk radio, the Star Spangled Banner has been recast in Spanish. President Bush's reaction: "I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English."

Wait. You mean it wasn't Joey's animal magnetism? Long Island Lolita Amy Fisher says it was the club drug Ecstasy that led her to shoot Joey Buttafuoco's wife Mary Jo while she was having an affair with the Italian Stallion in 1992. I didn't even realize E was around that long ago. Long Island gets everything first.


Friday, April 28, 2006

Finally, something the whole family can enjoy

I think it's unprecedented, but the future Mrs. NaturalBlog and I are smitten with the same guy. She loves him for his good looks and southern charm, I love him for his fearlessness and unblemished professional record in save situations. We both love his fashion sense (left).

He's Jonathan Papelbon, the Red Sox lights-out-in-April closer, last seen channeling the Wild Thing, Charlie Sheen's character from Major League.

Not to tell you how to live your life, Jonathan, but I wonder if a guy who once shot his girlfriend (twice) and who's spent more than your career earnings on hookers and blow is really somebody to emulate.

P.S. Now that I've jinxed you, please feel free to go ahead a blow a save. Maybe against the Yankees next week.

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

A comment on comments

Due to the exploding popularity of the NaturalBlog, the sad underbelly of the Internet (spammers) have taken to leaving spamish comments. So I added a Ticketmaster-style word verification option.

Sorry for the inconvenience, spammers.


How Kaavya Viswanathan got wild, got busted, got contrite

You may or may not have heard about the Harvard sophomore who got a $500,000 book deal, then admitted to inadvertently plagiarising parts of her debut novel.

I think her Facebook page (screenshot below) really says all we need to know.


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

I read the news today, oh boy

Snow job. The President went ahead and made the White House's partnership with Fox News official, in naming Fox News Radio host Tony Snow as his new press secretary. A journalist going to work for a politician? I'm disgusted.

Nice play, pretty boy. Keith "No Play for Mr. Grey" Hernandez is in some hot water after indelicate comments about whether women belong in major league baseball clubhouses. What do you expect from a guy who pitches a product called Just For Men?

I never got my freebie. I've been planning for years to blow through a Massachusetts Turnpike Fast Lane toll, knowing I had one warning at my disposal. I figured I could use it if I was ever late for the airport. But the Turnpike Authority wisened up. The lesson: Never wait to take advantage of a scheme.

Come to the city of champions, Roger. The Brockton Rox of the Can-Am baseball league are pulling out all the stops to sign Roger Clemens. They're offering the league maximum $3,000 monthly salary, and a complimentary parking spot at the Brockton High School parking lot. Also, a "Brocket" Bobblehead Night.


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The most technologically inept blogger. Ever.

Could there be another blogger out there less technically adept than the NaturalBlog? Perhaps, but pretty unlikely.

Wonder why I have to borrow (read: steal) all my pictures from reputable web sites? Because I can't figure out how to download pictures from my digital camera to my home computer, which I think is a 486. It runs Windows 98. That was eight years ago, you know. Not that a faster computer would do me any good, since I still use dial up. Dial up.

The indignity doesn't stop at the computer though. I tried to tape a show for a friend, only to discover the VCR that I got from an old roommate isn't a video cassette recorder at all, but only a video cassette player. Who owns a VCP?

I worry that I risk being thrown out of the super cool blogger club.


Monday, April 24, 2006

Mr. Butch Lives

Whither Mr. Butch, dreadlocked fixture of Allston, air guitar hero, drunken stalwart?

The answer comes in Sunday's Globe: State custody.

I'll save you the slog through the story, though, by hitting the highlights. Arrested for public drunkenness last month, he's been in detox treatment and is set to be released Wednesday.

There were a few enjoyable nuggets in the newspaper, including Mr. Butch's real name (Harold Madison Jr.), his age (54), and that he likes to go to Foxwoods. I can only wonder -- how does he get there?


Sunday, April 23, 2006

All stars of ugly (active players only)

And here's how I'd bat them.

3B Kevin Youkilis
SS Edgar Renteria
CF Hideki Matsui
LF Barry Bonds (Ugly on the inside)
DH Frank Thomas
1B Jim Thome
C Jorge Posada
RF Jeremy Burnitz
2B Jorge Cantu

SP Randy Johnson
CP Keith Foulke


Saturday, April 22, 2006

Colleges I applied to, or at least requested information from

It's that time of year when 18-year-olds decide where they're going to college, a decision they cannot possibly be ready to make.

It reminds me... When the NaturalBlog was a young man (14 or 14-ish), he sat down at the ol' IMB-386 and wrote letters to colleges that made U.S. News's list of best engineering schools.

Here's an incomplete list of what-might-have-beens:

Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Rose Hulman Institute
Embry Riddle Aeronautical University
Presbyterian University (though Catholic, I received a scholarship offer)
The Cooper Union
US Naval Academy (They wanted four years of PE -- Forget that)
Georgia Institute of Technology
Auburn University
Tuskeegee University

Hard to believe, but true.


Friday, April 21, 2006

Goodnight sweet prince of darkness

The guy with the toughest job in the world, White House spokesman Scott McClellan has resigned. In his honor, let's look back at a testy and representative exchange between Scott and the press in June 2004.

Q.: Well, let me ask this as a policy question. You said that the President sees this as a serious matter, anybody inside or outside who has information should disclose it. What does the President -- if someone in the administration did disclose this information, what action is the President prepared to take against that individual?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, now you're asking me to speculate about an ongoing investigation --

Q.: No, no, I'm not. I'm just asking you to talk about what White House policy is.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I previously, I think, addressed that question. But the President --

Q.: Well, could you just refresh my memory?

MR. McCLELLAN: -- this is an ongoing investigation and --

Q.: Can you refresh my memory?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, this is an ongoing investigation, John, and I'm going to direct further questions to the officials in charge of the investigation.

Q.: Yes, but this would be a White House matter. I mean, would the President fire a person if they had -- if it's found that they leaked this information? Would he admonish them, reprimand them -- what would he do?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think that we made that clear previously -- I made that clear previously in briefings, you can go back and look exactly at what I said. It still stands.

Q.: Do you just want to reiterate it now, just so that we've all got it straight?

MR. McCLELLAN: John, I think you can refer further questions to the people in charge of the investigation.
You can find years worth of these wonderfully entertaining transcripts here.


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Here's looking at you, kid(s)

People occasionally arrive at my blog via a search engine, and while I welcome all comers sometimes I wonder what kind of people I'm attracting.

When I made a throwaway joke about Marilu Henner, someone logged onto the site the next day from an IP address in Italy, after googling her name. I can only assume it was Marilu herself, until information to the contrary becomes known.

Many have logged on looking to see if the name Tony Soprano assumed in his coma was an anagram for something. Fortunately for them, I'd already done the heavy lifting.

Lots of people come wondering "Why so blue, panda bear?" And a handful link from the Washington Post to my extremely inappropriate joke about an autistic boy. D'oh.

But my "Who is searching for this?" hall of famer must be Cathy Poulin, the semi-sexy siren who appears alongside Bob in the Bob's Discount Furniture ads. About five people a day end up on the NaturalBlog after searching for her on google. Usually, they've also included "hot" or "naked" in the search string.

I just got a great idea on how to boost traffic:

Cathy Poulin naked Cathy Poulin naked Cathy Poulin naked.

There. Are you happy, sickos?


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Katie Holmes, hot for a mom

Just in time for the heavy publicity on the new Mission: Impossible movie, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes have had their spawn. It's a girl. Seven lbs., 7 oz., 20 inches. The name is Suri, as in "Suri to be screwed up for the rest of her life."


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Not so good the second time around

I'm sure this has been going on for years, but I've noticed a couple of examples recently of companies ripping off old songs and changing the lyrics to suit the product.

The new ad for Kraft cheese crumbs features a take on the smash hit Unbelievable by EMF, which believe it or not made it to No. 1 on the US charts in 1991. I bet Kraft was actually able to get EMF to perform the song (Crumbelievable, sted Unbelievable), since I can only imagine that these days they're working at a car wash or possibly in sanitation.

And the Go-Go's got a second take in the new Pizza Hut ad We got the Meat, instead of We got the Beat. This does not make me want to Go-Go to Pizza Hut, at least not as much as Jessica Simpson did.

Most annoying in this trend is a recent Applebee's ad where two jamokes sing new lyrics to the theme from Gilligan's Island. The chances of me going to Appleby's before these ads were pretty slim, but now they're thinner than Bob Denver in his heydey.


Monday, April 17, 2006

Boston Marathon -- Kenya dig it?

Go number 18,625.


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Weekend news is often lighter than weekday news

Never have I heard such a concoction to cover up a drinking injury. Rhode Island congressman Patrick "Patches" Kennedy was hit in the mouth with a hammer during a "meeting" in his office. Six stitches later, his press people came up with this as an explanation. Maybe Tom DeLay hit him the face.


Saturday, April 15, 2006

Money Mag: Your job sucks

Money Magazine ranked a bunch of jobs based on pay, cushiness and prospects for advancement and found that software engineers have it best, followed by college professors.

Scroll down a bit and you get to the NaturalBlog's sphere of influence. I've worked Nos. 19, 20, and 25, and that's about how I'd rank them, too.


Friday, April 14, 2006

Google hate

One of the reasons I started the blog was to make wild off-the-wall predictions about the future, Nostradamus style, and then be proven right weeks or months later.

So behold. The NaturalBlog predicts that one day, people will hate google as much as the hate WalMart.

That's right. The company whose motto is "Don't be Evil" might as well change it to "Everyday Low Prices."

Why? It's simple: The pendulum of public opinion giveth and taketh away, driven by the petulant angry American media. Howard Dean, anybody?


Thursday, April 13, 2006

This week in the news

No word on whether it has gnashing teeth. A giant rabbit is wreaking terror in a village in northern England, where it is eating people's vegetables. It has been described alternately as a "brute" and a "monster."

What's next? Shiv nite in the shop? The "recreation officer" at a Massachusetts prison is in trouble after showing Brokeback Mountain at movie night. Officials say the problem was not the gay friendly theme, but the sexually explicit scenes.

Big whoop. When I was his age, I'd already written an opera. A four-year-old Indian boy is thought to be the world's youngest marathoner. Apparently his coach is catching some flak, though, because he makes the little tyke run five marathons a week. He also swims for an hour each afternoon, because he's an overachiever.

And finally. This is as good a place as any to pose this question: What is up with Manny's hair this season?


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Chicks dig the long ball

The Red Sox gave up middling pitcher Bronson Arroyo last month to get young slugger Wily Mo Pena from the Reds.

Since coming to the Sox, Pena is 1-for-5 with three strikeouts. He also had a ball bounce out of his glove and into the visitors bullpen at Fenway for a home run.

Since moving to the National League, Arroyo has gone 2-0 with a 1.98 ERA. He has also hit two home runs in four at-bats with a walk, batting .500 and slugging a stunning 2.000.

Maybe the Sox missed the boat on Bronson. They should've left him in the rotation once a week and put him in right field the rest of the time. His defense couldn't be much worse then Wily's.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

What happend to President Palmer?

Let us examine the curious career path of President David Palmer. He started off with what is arguably the best job around, president of the United Sates, on the first couple seasons of 24 on Fox.

But politics is finicky and Palmer was out.

Unlike many ex-presidents, he didn't fade into the ether, skydiving for fun or maybe building homes for the poor. After a brief sojourn as a ubiquitous pitchman for State Farm, the public service (and primetime) beckoned again, and he was back as anti-terror agent Jonas Blane in the new CBS show The Unit.

If actor Dennis Haysbert continues this slow sad slide, I'm afraid he'll end up in the 2009 NBC drama "The Dogcatcher," before he's eventually exiled to hosting Real Stories of the Highway Patrol on Spike.


Monday, April 10, 2006

Canadians are canuts

The future Mrs. NaturalBlog and I spent Sunday afternoon at the World Men's Curling Championships in Lowell, Mass.

By chance we sat in the Canadian fan section. These were not happy-go-lucky America Jr. types, though. They were the French kind of Canadians, rowdy Francophiles who'd come hundreds of miles to see their team.

They sang Who Let the Dogs Out in French. They drank Molson Ice out of cans. They did the chicken dance. They even gave me a Dr. Seuss-type hat with a maple leaf on it.

See if you can spot me:

But all the cheering in the world couldn't help the team. Canada lost to Scotland 7-4.

My favorite part of the day was the subtle joke the PA guy offered, when he played Sweet Caroline going into the 8th end, the same way they do at Fenway Park.

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Sunday, April 09, 2006

In the interest of fair play, John Kerry is also pretty boring

I hate to be taken as a partisan, so I'm going to make fun of John Kerry's list of riders given to hotels during his 2004 Presidential campaign. The junior Senator is a little more difficult to make fun of than the Vice President, but I'll have a go.

He can say he doesn't want Evian, but he can't hide from his undeniable Frenchness.

Also, No tomato-based products -- including ketchup? Do you think he's allergic, or just being passive aggressive?


Saturday, April 08, 2006

Deja vu, you are a tantalyzing mistress

I had deja vu a couple times the other day. It was over some real mundane stuff -- a document I was explaining to someone at work, an e-mail I was reading, etc.

It's a simultaneously frustrating and wonderful moment, when your subconscious momentarily clears its throat. I feel like I teeter on the edge of a great precipice of understanding, only to have the promise of something great disappear as soon as I begin to realize it's there.

It's the mental equivalent of finger-cuffs: The harder you try to get there, the more difficult it becomes.

Is it just me, or have I made that joke before?


Friday, April 07, 2006

Katie Couric moves from one show I don't watch to another


Thursday, April 06, 2006

What is up with this Milky Way ad?

A guy gets shot down on a date, so he goes back to his car and unwraps a Milky Way, but instead of a Milky Way, it's this woman, approximately the size of a Milky Way, who says in some sort of strange, almost-Asian voice "Why so blue, panda bear."

She goes on to tell him he is a "buffet of manliness," and then he eats her.

What is the theme here?

When you feel blue, eat a candy bar, because it will avenge the people who've made you angry.

No wait. I think I've got it: If one woman tells you no, don't worry, you can just eat another woman alive and you'll feel better.


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

When you mention Chloe Sevigny, a debate about women's subjugate role in film and television cannot be far behind; or A review of HBOs "Big Love"

When I watch HBO's new Sunday night drama "Big Love," I can't help but think of Hugh Hefner and his girlfriends.

The show is about a man with three wives, and the best of the early plotlines involves the interaction among the wives, the rampant oneups(wo)manship and the way they shirk responsbility down the chain from first wife (Jeanne Tripplehorn as Barbara) to the second (My title woman Chloe as Nicolette) to the third (Ginnifer Goodwin's Margene).

The first couple episodes seemed designed purely to titillate, but now we've moved into the nitty gritty of polygamy and the bizarre relationship between protagonist Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton) and his second father-in-law Roman Grant (Harry Dean Stanton), who heads a controlling and downright chilling religious sect from which Bill broke free.

The show has all the hallmarks that have made HBO Sundays so great. The acting is fine and rarely overdone, and the episodes are deep enough they benefit from a day or two of reflection.

Case in point: While on a hunting trip, Bill tells his son that he should always give wild animals a wide berth. Later, a wolf threatens them and Bill kills it. It's a metaphor for the threat posed by Roman, and shooting the wolf presumably foreshadows the coming fight between Bill and Roman. The real wrinkle of enjoyment is the clever interplay between Roman and the wolf: Rome, founded by brothers who were raised by wolves.

But all the metaphors in the world won't save the show, unless it gives an honest accounting of why three women would choose to share a husband. The early clues are there, and there's no reason to think the show won't uncover those answers if it lasts long enough.

However, if the show takes the easy way out, it might do more to turn women into caricatures than the quartet from one of HBO's former Sunday night stalwarts, Sex & the City.


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Kowloon House

The communities just north of Boston are a cavalcade of strangeness. There's Frank Giuffrida's Hilltop Steakhouse, replete with its 80-foot cactus. There was the late and great Palace Nightclub, where disco never died. And perhaps most weird is the Kowloon House, pointed out to me by a friend on a recent trip up Route 1.

Take a gander:

That's us in a green SUV on Route 1 on the left. The Kowloon Chinese Restaurant is in the center. And on the right is the Kowloon House: A home that exists entirely in the parking lot of this somehow-locally-famous Chinese place.

The NaturalBlog likes to answer your questions, not raise them, but I don't know if I can do that here. Can anybody explain what that house is doing there? Did it play hide-and-seek with the other houses, and forget its way home?


Monday, April 03, 2006

Volkswagen ads have begun to suck

For years, VW had the Cadillac of ads. There was the "Da-da-da" business in the late 1990s, the very clever promotional material for the new Beetle, and more recently the gag about guys who wear khaki pants.

But the last two new VW campaigns I have seen really really suck.

There was the series of ads featuring the VW "Fast," a little demon-like object that instructed VW owners to speed.

The one I saw more recently was a spoof on the Pimp My Ride phenomenon, where a German engineer (right) puts a hipster's car in a catapult. If it doesn't sound funny here, imagine how bad it is on television.

I'm the target demographic here, and these things don't move me at all.

I'm writing in the hopes that VW executives will heed my call to admit they made a mistake. They should dump their new agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky (who brought us the King; I just hope they're not one and done), and go back to their old firm, Arnold Worldwide.


Sunday, April 02, 2006

The happiest day of the year

A couple of predictions on Opening Day (night, actually, with Cleveland and Chicago kicking it off at 8 on ESPN).

The White Sox will miss the playoffs. The Red Sox will finish second to the Yankees in the AL East for the 37th straight year.


Saturday, April 01, 2006

None of these stories is an April Fool's Joke

This is how valuable first-responder dollars are best spent. A vicious six-toed cat is terrorizing a Connecticut neighborhood, to the point that officials have filed a feline restraining order and arrested the cat's owner, who says the beast is acting in self-defense.

I can only imagine how many quarters it took to get him out. This little booger, 3, climbed into one of those machines where you use a claw to get a toy. I love those things. I'll know I've made it when I have one for the house.

Strippers win maternity leave. "Dancers" in Australia have unionized, and won rights to breaks and overtime. The trouble here is the seniority system they've signed us up for -- the oldest dancers now get dibs.