Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I'm out of puns for my news roundup headlines

Quit fooling around and invent a flying car already. Goofy scientists say they're working on an invisibility cloak. You'll see a lot of Harry Potter jokes surrounding this, but I haven't yet seen anyone give credit to Gene Roddenberry.

He wasn't a jerk, but he played one in the movies. Paul Gleason, one of the great 'That guy' actors, has died. If you're like me, then you know him from The Breakfast Club, where he played the asshole principle. I intentionally misspelled principal, since his character was the "pal" of no one.

Does your face hurt? Because it's killing me. The Boston Herald says Ben Affleck has some bad headaches. They snapped some pictures of Ben going into a hospital, but the real headline here was the decal on the shirt he was wearing:


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Cervasio > Mae

I was going to write a post about how I liked NESN's new Red Sox field reporter Tina Cervasio better than the sports network's last hire, (ESPN bound?) Hazel Mae. But instead of talking about how Tina is more knowledgeable (and less plastic) than her studio counterpart, I think I have to make fun of her, especially after finding the picture above. (Tina's on the left.)

I also direct you here, where you can learn about her voice over talents -- ranging "from sexy (according to critics), smooth and deep, to fun and higher-pitched." She can do everything from "death, finance, charities" to a "sports-type, very energetic read."

Jersey, Brooklyn, and Staten Island accents available upon request, which bolsters my feeling that she's about two drinks away from taking off her suit coat to reveal a Bon Jovi t-shirt and belting out "You Give Love a Bad Name." Does anybody else feel this way?

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Monday, May 29, 2006

What do these men have in common?

These are the "celebrities" (who knew that category included late members of the Third Reich?) who look most like me -- at least according to this clever little web site, which shows the lengths that facial recognition software still has to go.

I suppose it's nice they don't make distinctions based on race, but Hidetoshi Nakata? I guess the site somehow knew I played left midfielder for the Morehead High School fighting panthers.

Of course, it would be more helpful if I showed you a picture of myself, but that would ruin the anonymity I've worked so hard to protect. Plus it's probably more fun for you to imagine a composite of these men:


Friday, May 26, 2006

I've got the news

There is finally justice in Athens. I bet potty-mouth Brandon Davis will think twice the next time he's tempted to slander NaturalBlog crush Lindsay Lohan.This, after some random chick totally let him have it outside a Los Angeles nightclub. Read about it here, but I caution you it's PG-13.

This is what passes for celebrity in this town. A Boston woman made $100 by letting Ben Affleck use her toilet (thricely). What do you bet he leaves the seat up?

Gumbel was appaently unavailable. Elizabeth Vargas, about to go on maternity leave, is out and Charlie Gibson is in at ABC World News Tonight. Isn't it illegal to demote a woman because she's pregnant?

She looks better in a gorilla suit. Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein is signing a long-term deal, after proposing to his girlfriend Sunday night. It's reported Theo e-mailed friends to tell them, but it's unclear if he blogged about it.


Thursday, May 25, 2006


The word eavesdropping first appeared in the English language in 1487, and then in English law in 1641. It gets its name from people who would stand so close to a home's eaves that they could hear a conversation inside.

In my third attempt at adding a word to the language, I am updating eavesdropping for the present day: screensdropping -- when a friend or coworker stands close enough to your computer screen to see what it is that you're doing. A major office faux pas. Use it every day.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I am weary of you, Geico gecko

I used to think the Geico gecko was a clever way to sell insurance, but I'm afraid those days are done. I've grow tired of him, and now I'd like to grill him up with some garlic and fiddleheads. Harsh, I know, but it's how I feel.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

BlaK? It suks

I tried Coke's new "effervesence with coffee essence" beverage BlaK the other day, and I am here to tell you not to make the same mistake.

BlaK, whose capitalization alone should have sounded a warning claxon, tastes like Coke, but if you ran it through your Sunday morning coffee grounds on Tuesday. There's also a hint of lime -- or maybe Froot Loops, I couldn't tell.

They should've named it BleCH, or maybe YaK.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Watching ads is what I like to do

I come to praise Dunkin' Donuts new summer ad campaign, America Runs on Dunkin Donuts. Say what you will about the "Doing Things is What I like to Do" song (Lord is it annoying), that's a funny ad. It also answers the lingering question "What are They Might Be Giants up to?" Besides podcasting, of course.

The Doing Stuff song isn't the only catchy one from the campaign, either. You've got the bit about swimming-soccer-ballet-oboe-karate, as well as the upcoming spot about the sticky hot scourge of summer, pleather.

Two thumbs up to Boston-based Hill Holliday for this one.

I will leave the task of giving props to the late Fred the Baker to my Rhode Island-based commentors.


Saturday, May 20, 2006

Winning the lottery, something for nothing, the American dream

If I won the lottery, I think I would start a charity and call it The Human Fund. I also think I'd replace my Hyundai Accent.


Friday, May 19, 2006

Jeers: Sopranos, whack somebody already

Am I alone in wanting more from the Sopranos this season, given that the writers and producers had more than a year to figure it out?

Don't get me wrong, there have been some nice plot points, mainly I'm referring to Tony's shooting, as well as some real enjoyable moments, like when Chris-ta-fuh beat up Lauren Bacall as herself.

But what else do we have this year? More mush from Janice, the plodding development of Tony Bacala as the anti-Tony Soprano, and the utterly boring Johnny Sack-to-prison storyline.

Of course, I"m forgetting to mention the Vito-is-gay bit, which I'm torn about. We waited so long for this plot point to re-emerge, but I think its treatment is too heavy handed. It's very un-Sopranos to devote so much time to the details of something. What's more, the producers have resorted to this sort of base enjoyment, like cutting from Vito in bed with his New Hampshire firefighter boyfriend to a shot of Bobby's train going through a tunnel. Come on, you can do better.

On a related sidenote: Do you think New Hampshirites are angry at the portrayal of their state as a gay mecca? I thought Massachusetts had the corner on that market.


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Cheers: Big Love hits its stride

I'm going to talk about HBO's new Sunday night series Big Love, so if you watch the show but aren't caughtup on your episodes, then you may want to stop reading.

And if you don't watch the show, then you should start, because it's quite good.

I wrote a few weeks back about how the show would be made or broken on the strength of the development of the three female leads. We can only conclude that the producers read the blog, since they complied in short order.

The show hit the peak of its short run in last Sunday's show, the 10th episode so far. I won't get bogged down in plot, but I'll say the show managed to make Barb, Nikki, and Margene both maddening and sympathetic, all in the space of the 60-minute show.

More generally, I think it's good the producers have also avoided the crutch of the Bada Bing, deciding against female nudity (we often see Bill Paxton's butt), in favor of showing of Nikki's skills at fixing garbage disposals and dryers.

The directing is understated, and there are a lot of little gags the show works in but lets pass, leaving it up to you catch them. (The scene where Barb and Nikki are doing Bill's ironing comes to mind.)

But enough fluff. Watch the show.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

SEEN: Mr. Butch

I wrote a few weeks back that Allston denizen Mr. Butch was incarcerated, so I was pleased to spot him earlier today in his old stomping ground, in his full dreadlocked-glory. He was jaywalking with a friend when I spied him. It was around 11 a.m., so I can only assume he was staking out his spot outside Blanchard's Liquors in time for its opening.

He remains very tall. He has a new jacket that says "Mr. Butch" three times across the back in red, white and blue. Very stylish, and patriotic.


People send me funny news stories, and I pretend like I found them all on my own

Proving once again how difficult it is to be an analyst. A BBC job applicant got more than he expected at his interview when a producer put him on the air as a legal analyst. Apparently the guy managed to bullshit his way through it, raising the question of whether you'd want hire him because he can roll with the punches, or not hire him because he's clearly a liar.

A favorite of pedophiles everywhere. Hasbro says it will mark Play-Doh's 50th anniversary with a Play-Doh scented perfume. What's next -- pants that come with dirt stains?

And this differs from a regular Rick Sutcliffe interview how exactly? ESPN baseball analyst Rick Sutcliffe dropped by the broadcast booth at a Padres game and made some remarks that were described as "incoherent" and "rambling." They'd have been better off giving a microphone to a fake legal analyst.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

How fantasy baseball has changed the way I watch the game

So what exactly am I hoping will happen when Barry Bonds faces Jake Peavy with runners on first and third. At the beginning of the season, it was a no-brainer: Three-run homer. Boom. But now that I've traded for Peavy, this is the sort of match-up that gives fantasy baseball managers fits.

I wouldn't mind the three-run homer, because who can't use the RBIs? But seeing as how pitching is an area of weakness for me (hence the Peavy trade), I might like to see Peavy strike him out. But of course, what if Barry leaves those runners stranded, and they still come around to score later? That's the worst of both worlds -- no ribbies for Barry, a couple earned runs for Jake.

And this little conundrum, played out about a dozen times a night thanks to ESPNews and that fantastic crawl on TBS, is multiplied several-fold when the pitcher in question is on a team I'm rooting for, usually the Red Sox, but sometimes the team I've selected in my weekly eliminator pool.

As you can see, fantasy baseball is slowly driving me mad. If you ever hear a baseball fan talking about "taking in" a game, implying some sort of leisurely three-hour pursuit of relaxation, then that baseball fan is clearly not a fantasy baseball manager.


Monday, May 15, 2006

Nine-minute snooze -- why?

An open letter to the guy who decided my alarm would snooze for nine minutes:

Alright, buddy. It's about time we had a talk. I admit that if I had an ounce of discipline, I wouldn't need your little invention. But the NaturalBlog wake-up call comes early, so I need you.

But why nine minutes? Why not three -- at least then I might get so sick of you that I'd get up. But nine -- that's just enough to fall back asleep, realize a tantalyzing dream, then get awoken once more.

If only I'd never learned of your magical powers, perhaps then I would have the upper hand. But I suppose we'll never know what might've been.


Sunday, May 14, 2006

Celebrity Poker switches Phils

I've seen some promos recently on Bravo for the new season of Celebrity Poker Showdown, and I'm dismayed to report that likable colorman Phil Gordon is out in favor of poker bad boy Phil Hellmuth.

Change is not unprecedented on the show, which dumped Kevin Pollak (and his ridiculous hat) for Dave Foley early in the going, but I'm sad to see Gordon go, though it was reportedly of his choosing, not Bravo's.

I can only guess that Phil Hellmuth will be on his Sunday best, reminiscent of his post-elimination turn at the play-by-play table of the 2002 World Series of Poker. However, it's just a matter of time before he totally loses it when a 10-4 sucks out on the river over pocket kings. Maybe he'll even punch Foley.


Saturday, May 13, 2006

Weekend Update

Maybe he can move to Northern California to toughen up. The New York Times reported this week that Pedro Martinez unwinds before games with some light gardening at his home in Greenwich, Conn. He is quoted as saying to his flowers: "What about you, beauty? Aren't you going to grow up to be so pretty?" The story did not say if he talks that way to his cockapoo.

For his next trick, he'll make David Copperfield's career reappear. Thrillseeker, daredevil, king of irrelevance David Blaine failed to set a new record for holding is breath in a giant snow-globe filled with water. He did set the record for wrinkliest hands, an honor previously shared by E.T and Estelle Getty.


Friday, May 12, 2006

Separated at Birth IV: The Quest for Peace

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on the left and British Prime Minister Tony Blair on the right. Same British lips, same British ears. Has anyone ever seen these two in the same place at the same time? If no one leaves a comment saying yes, then I will just assume they are the same guy.

Boston media stalwart Emily Rooney is paired with Middlesex County (Mass.) district attorney Martha Coakley. It's an old picture of Rooney, I admit, but I'm trying to make an affirmative case here.

On the left is New York Times columnist and author Maureen Dowd. On the right is CNN Congressional correspondent Andrea Koppel (sorry for the fuzzy photo). Though they look alike, I've had an unrequited crush on only one of them.

And finally, I just can't get over how much celebrity interviewer Jiminy Glick looks like a fat, old Martin Short. Has anybody else noticed this remarkable resemblance?


Thursday, May 11, 2006


Occasionally, I come up with an idea that I think will be a funny bit for the blog, but it just doesn't work. So I decided to compile a couple of them to give you an idea of just how high the bar is for a gag to get posted. I ripped off this idea from the Chapelle Show (R.I.P.).

Mr. T. Reads Your Horoscope. Self explanatory. You'd think this would just write itself, but I couldn't make it past Libra.

Cheerleaders: Brave, undaunted. Somehow, the cheerleader who kept cheering even after she was seriously injured during a college basketball timeout escaped my wrath. By the time I was ready to post something about it, I couldn't think of anything funny. I'll get you next time, cheerleaders.

The Shut Up Fund. I wanted to write about how Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy always pissed me off, and that I figured I wasn't the only one. My suggestion: Everybody who gets angry at Shaughnessy throws in $5 or $10, and we pay him not to write. But since I came up with this plan, a better idea dawned on me: I just stopped reading Shaughnessy.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Umpires have funny names, I say

I'm sometimes struck by the silly names of major league baseball umpires. If I were going to put together a crew with the funniest names, I would choose:

Tim Timmons at first
Fieldin Culbreth at second
Kerwin Danley at third
and of course
Hunter Wendelstedt III calling balls and strikes.

And if it were a playoff game and there were two additional umpires down the left- and rightfield lines, I would pick Laz Diaz and CB Bucknor.


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Plagiarism Today

The Internets are abuzz with talk of plagiarism. Apparently, nobody can write a damn book without ripping somebody else off first, bloggers are ripping off other bloggers, and the White House is ripping off itself.

First, The New York Times says Condi Rice is a broken diplomatic record. And now the President's speechwriters are recycling.

Bush on yesterday's nomination of Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden to head the CIA:
He's the right man to lead the CIA at this critical moment in our nation's history.
Bush on the April 2004 nomination of Congressman Porter Goss to head the CIA:
He's the right man to lead this important agency at this critical moment in our nation's history.
Bush on Hayden:
Mike has more than 20 years of experience in the intelligence field. He served for six years as Director of the National Security Agency, and thus brings vast experience leading a major intelligence agency to his new assignment.
Bush on Goss:
I've given Porter an essential mission to lead the agency for the challenges and threats of a dangerous new century. He is well prepared for this mission. Porter Goss brings a broad experience to this critical job.
And where would we be without the obligatory 9/11 reference?

America faces determined enemies who struck our nation on September the 11th, 2001, and who intend to attack our country again. To stop them we must have the best possible intelligence.
In 2004:
Since September the 11th, our intelligence professionals have worked with great determination to stop another attack on America, and our country is grateful.
At least he picked a different venue:


Monday, May 08, 2006

I get older, they stay the same age

There are some things that are different about Big University (BU) since my final undergraduate class there (JO 437 Computer Assisted Reporting W 6-7:30) and the one I just finished (PH 658 Crime & Punishment W 2-5).

The elevator ride to the philosophy department no longer forces you to contemplate your own mortality the same way a Kierkegaard essay might. The crappy pasta place in the student union is now a crappy burrito place. And I actually did the reading in my class this time around.

I can report that one thing hasn't changed: I still procrastinate something awful.


Saturday, May 06, 2006

All news, all the time

Well, he is having a tough time at the restaurant. In a case of art imitating life imitating art, John Ventimiglia, the actor who plays Artie Bucco on HBO's The Sopranos, was arrested in New York City on suspicion of drunken driving and cocaine possession. Officers pulled over his 2004 Volkswagen Jetta after they saw him allegedly weaving in traffic. Wait -- a Jetta?

Like there isn't enough Bad Attitude already on TV. Mr. T. will get his own television show, something like Dr. Phil meets Antqiues Road Show. But less touchy feely. Said Mr. Laurence Tureaud: "You're a fool — that's what's wrong with you. You're a fool if you don't take my advice."

My house is apparently the only place she hasn't showered. You may remember a few months back when Lindsay Lohan slipped on some stairs at Bryan Adams's house, after she was all oiled up following her shower. Allegedly. Well now she's fractured her ankle afer another slip. It's unclear at press time, but it appears to have happened this time at Kelly Osbourne's house. Scrub up all you want, Lindsay. Dirty girls just can't get clean.


Friday, May 05, 2006

Guys Week: Tribute to Bruce Willis

And now on the exciting conclusion of Guys Week on the NaturalBlog, brought to you by Your Mom: We shout it out for the most underrated actor of our time.

Maybe you love him because you love those big budget blockbusters, the Die Hards or maybe Armegeddon, where he made the magnanimous but debatable move of sacrificing himself so Liv Tyler could be with Ben Affleck.

Or maybe you love him for when he tries to be funny, like in Look Who's Talking or Death Becomes Her, or when he's funny not because he's trying like in Striking Distance.

Maybe you're a comic book guy and you love him for his work in Unbreakable, or maybe you love him for his best roles, in Pulp Fiction, 12 Monkeys, and the Sixth Sense.

Or maybe you're old and like him from Moonlighting.

But the point is, there's a reason to love him.

The NaturalBlog chooses to cap off Guys Week with this tribute because Bruce Willis knows that with great awesomeness comes great responsibility: He knows he could kill Ashton Kutcher and no one would say peep, but he chooses not to. What a guy.

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Guys Week: Manly men can still be cleanly men

Today on Guys Week on the NaturalBlog, brought to you by Levitra (Vardenafil HCI): Cleanliness.

Take it from me, a guy who washes his hands a lot: The marketing cabal that runs this nation has decided it's time for men to start using body wash instead of soap, so we've started seeing advertising to that effect.

We've got a new set of Dial ads, where a dude is serenaded in his house by an oompa-type band that tells him how men are taking back the bathroom with this body wash. Selling point: The bottle is kind of shaped like an oil can.

There's also a spot for Old Spice, where the guy is in the shower and his wife or girlfriend or sleepover buddy is asking him "If you weren't with me, which one of my friends would you want to be with. You can tell me. I won't get mad." The tagline on the ad is something like: Old Spice Body Wash -- don't you wish everything could be this easy?

Not bad, not bad at all.

I'm the target market for these ads, and I have to say I'm enjoying them. But the thing is, I'm still not going to buy body wash. What's an advertiser to do?

Tomrorow, NaturalBlog's Guys Week, brouht to you by Levitra (Vardenafil HCI) mercifully concludes with a tribute to Bruce Willis.

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Guys Week: The cultural importance of playing pool

NaturalBlog Guys Week, brought to you by Mohegan Sun Resort & Casino, continues today with a look at the cultural importance of playing pool.

"Cultural importance?" you ask. "Indeed," says NaturalBlog. Why, let's just look at all the ways pool has wormed its way into the every day lexicon:

Bad Break. An unlucky turn of events, or when you screw up your first shot. That might be because you had a miscue -- when you don't chalk or when you try to over-do your spin. In the broader sense, it's any screw up, over-English or not.

You can run the table in pool, or in a game or business setting, though probably not if you have a long shot or if you find yourself behind the eight-ball.

Now if I were just half the pool player that I am linquist, I might not have had that 0-8 streak against a former coworker, or that embarassing evening when I bragged at dinner that I was a good player because I watched games on TV, then proceeded to miss every single shot.

Tomorrow on Guys Week, brought to you by Mohegan Sun Resort & Casino: Manly men can still be cleanly men.

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Guys Week: A cigar is a smoke

Today on Guys Week on the NaturalBlog, brought to you by Axe Body Spray: Cigars.

The first time I had a cigar I felt like I was joining a secret society. I was about 19, and my boss at the evil conglomerate (His name was Earl) bought two H. Upmanns for us to have one day after the work. A side bonus of the experience was my first trip to a liquor store, where we picked up a half bottle of brandy, to supplement the smokes.

Earl showed me how to cut, light up, ash, and dip properly into a brandy snifter. It was fantastic.

The smoke itself I could take or leave, as well as the the taste that lingers the next 36 hours or so. But the experience is unparalleled. There's something about a cigar that makes you contemplative, willing to discuss the weighty issues of our time, like a salary cap in baseball or an idea for a novel.

And if you're planning to buy ol' Natty B. a gift, you should know my tastes have migrated from Upmanns to The Griffins. I have a box of robustos I got for my birthday, but they are quickly running out due to the nice weather.

Tomorrow on Guys Week, brought to you by Axe Body Spray: The importance of playing pool.

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Monday, May 01, 2006

Guys Week: The best hand I ever played

Inspired by 37 hours of NFL draft coverage on ESPN, ESPN-2, and ESPNews this weekend, I decided to usher in the first-ever Guys Week on the NaturalBlog. Here on Day One of Guys Week, brought to you buy Milwaukee's Best Light, I present The best hand I ever played.

I took this idea from a segment on ESPN's World Series of Poker coverage, where they talk with poker pros and amateurs about, not coincidentally, the best poker hand they ever played.

Mine came about two years ago in a friendly No Limit Hold 'Em game with about 10 people, during a ski trip in Maine. I was in the big blind holding 10-7. The game was about two hours old, and the field had thinned to five or so people.

The novice player to my left called the big blind, it folded around to me and I checked it.

The flop came 10-10-3, giving me three of a kind, a big hand heads-up. Aginst my usual instinct I checked it to the novice, who made what appeared to be a feeler bet, though because she was a novice I thought maybe she'd paired the three. I raised something more substantial, living up to my table image as someone who likes to push other players off of draws and weak hands.

She called, indicating maybe she had a 10 as well, in which case I was probably outkicked and therefore beat.

The turn card was the third 10, meaning I had four of a kind and was bullet proof. I checked it again. She made another small bet and I just called, hoping to let her catch up in the hand. I think this gave the people at the table the impression I was on a draw.

The river was another rag, maybe a jack. I wanted to extract maximum value, so I made a small bet in case she was going to check it on the river. She made a substantial raise, and I came way over the top, going all in.

There was a lot of hemming and hawing at the table, and the consensus was that I was trying to bluff her out of the pot. So I got a call, she turned pocket 6s, and I took home a substantial pot.

Thing is, had she raised before the flop with the 6s, I would've folded and she would have won a small pot instead of losing a big one.

Tomorrow on Guys Week brought to you by Milwaukee's Best Light: A cigar is a smoke.

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