Thursday, August 31, 2006

It's really a wonder I don't watch more TV

Let's take a look at some of the highlights of the fall line-up.

Just another reason to run when you see Shannen Doherty approaching. Need help breaking up? Brenda can help. Oxygen TV has a new show this fall called Breaking Up with Shannen Doherty. No it's not about my torrid, post-90210 (would that be 90211?) affair with her, but where she runs around and pulls the plug on couples whose relationship is on life support. This show would only be good if they crossed it with that bounty hunter program.

CBS Cares. The new Survivor has castaways divided along racial lines. C'mon -- is this a Dave Chapelle skit? I'm totally rooting for the hard-working asians, by the way.

It's kind of dancing, and they're kind of stars. ABC is back with Dancing with the Stars again. I'm sad to say they've replaced Stacy Keibler (and her legs) with CNN castoff Tucker Carlson. The dude doesn't even sport the bowtie anymore. Hopefully Jerry Rice moonlights as a judge.


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Bring it on, Alexey Pazhitnov

I will beat you at Tetris. I don't care how good you think you are; you're mine.

We all have gifts, and mine is as a Tetris player. Unfortunately for me, there aren't many adult jobs that call on the same skills as the video game at which I excel. So I thought outside the box a bit, and came up with this short list.

  • Luggage handler. Somebody's got to load those carts that take baggage from plane to plane. I don't know if this would satisfy my natural curiousity, but I put it on the list anyway.

  • Tile layer. This might be fun briefly, but it would be like a game of Tetris where you get square piece after square piece after square piece.

  • Mover. I'm not so much interested in the heavy lifting and carrying, but moreso in the supervision of the loading of the truck. I don't know if moving companies have such jobs.

  • Dishwasher. Probably the least well-paying of my Tetris jobs, this would require my stunning Tetris acumen to make sure I used every last bit of space in the dishwasher. I do this in my home life, of course, but for pride not pay.

  • Transport plane loader. Let's talk C-130's. 155,000 pounds of weight, stacked in a hull nearly 100 feet long and 40 feet high. Just call me Hercules.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Wait -- we just got here

Maybe it's because I got my season's ski pass in the mail on Friday, or perhaps that I cleaned out the hall closet and found my sweet brown leather gloves.

Whatever the reason I am ready for the three weeks of brilliance that is the autumn in Boston -- an ephemeral window where the leaves color the city in brilliant orange and the cold morning air stings your chest but burns off in time for lunch in the Public Gardens.

If spring is when young men's thoughts turn lightly to thoughts of love, fall is when they turn indelicately to football, the baseball playoffs, and the sweet nectar of the season, Sam Octoberfest.

But whither summer? It just got here, really. What happened to all the promised golf outings, the BBQs, the Tuesday night baseball games with friends?

So be it. I'll gladly trade what might've been then for what might be in the future of the fall -- even if I know the end game is another six months of winter.


Monday, August 28, 2006

Yesterday's news, today

I dare you to pull the first finger. U.S. News and World Report claims that President Bush likes fart jokes and is even known to "cut a few for laughs, especially when greeting new young aides." Makes sense, seeing as how he's pooped all over our civil rights.

Well he obviously hasn't seen her show. It's alleged that Osama bin Laden has a thing for Whitney Houston, and that he even thought about ways to off Bobby Brown so she could be his all his. I think this is more proof that it takes a while for American culture to seep around the world. The Bodyguard probably just came out at the Tora Bora Cineplex, so I suppose this is understandable.

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Friday, August 25, 2006

Goodbye, new friend

If you're along the East Coast this week, keep your eyes peeled for my new best friend, a Manatee nicknamed Marvin who made a trip this summer to Cape Cod.

I wish I had been on the Cape this week, because then I could've lassoed him and rode him all the way back down to Florida, like a cowboy of the sea.

And if you're reading this, Marvin and you decide you'd like to winter up here, you can stay at my house. I'll flood the basement for you, but I don't know how I'll come up with the 150 pounds of aquatic plants you eat each day.


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Get Nancy Grace on the line, and somebody wake up the Dancing Itos

I would have failed as a blogger if I didn't have a couple of things to say about the curious case of John Karr, who says he is the killer in the unsolved murder of Jonbenet Ramsey 10 years ago in Boulder, Colo.

I think I'll just hit you up list style:

1. There's no way he he did it. Can you trust a guy who wears eye make-up?

2. You've probably seen the footage of his extradition flight from Thailand. How is it that I can't bring a bottle of water on a plane, but six camera crews can carry on their Port-A-Braces and $100,000 equipment for trans-Pacific jaunt? Thailand must as lawless as they say.

3. Karr's public defender -- the same attorney who represented him on child pornography charges five years a go -- is named Patience. Somehow I think that's funny.

4. On that flight from Thailand, the accused was treated to champagne and shellfish. I suppose this answers the question "Who do I have to kill to get a drink around here?"

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Is Danny Almonte pitching for the Yanks yet?

I had planned for some time to wax poetic about the Little League World Series when it got here -- about how pure the the love of the game was, about the hustle on every play, about the endearing and inevitable mental lapses that mark the game.

But then I found out that ESPN, which is broadcasting the games, has decided it needs to do so on a five-second delay. Because of some sort of satellite trouble, you might wonder?

No. Because they're worried about FCC fines, after a player dropped an f-bomb coming off the field and it was picked up on the coach's microphone. Not to be out-classed, the coach hit the player. They were from the New York team. Of course.

The Staten Island squad was eliminated Tuesday. But not so for the Saudis, who've advanced to the semis. Might it have something to do with their 256-pound first baseman with the solid Saudi name, Aaron Durley? Of course, 256 pounds (1/8 of a ton, if you're scoring at home) is actually pretty slim, considering that this 13-year-old behemoth is 6-foot-8. He wears a size 19 shoe.

Do you think this sort of thing is why they moved the Little League fences back 25 feet this year?


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

David Foster Wallace is still a good writer

You may or may not be familiar with The New York Times' occasional sports magazine Play, so I wanted to be sure you read, or at least knew that you ought to read, Sunday's piece on Roger Federer by David Foster Wallace.

Every word, phrase, and parenthetical jab is to be savored like a steak perfectly paired with a cabernet savignon. You don't have to be a tennis fan, or even a sports fan, for that matter, to enjoy it.

It's classic Wallace, with seventeen footnotes1. If you skip the footnotes, you'll miss the piece's thoughtful conclusion, so read all of them, and don't succumb to the powerful temptation I felt when muddling through Infinite Jest2, where the ~100 pages of end notes require a second bookmark3.

1. And two sub-footnotes

2. Wallace's 1,100 page book that was about tennis

†. At least in part.

3. Reading them is worth the effort there, too.

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Now that's what I call Separated at Birth, Vol 6

Lara Logan is a journalist for CBS News. Naomi Watts pretended to be a journalist in 2002's The Ring. Only one them is a former swimsuit model, and it's not the one you'd guess.

This one might be something of a stretch, with Wil Wheaton (left, of the starship Enterprise) and Grady Sizemore (right, of the Cleveland Indians). If Wheaton weren't such a pencil-neck geek, it would work better. Maybe they're more like separated cousins, instead of separated twins.

And finally, I pair up actor Vincent Cassel, seen here as the "Night Fox" in Ocean's 12, with that dude who sings the Foxwoods theme song. That dude, incidentally, is John Pizzarelli, the son of a former Frank Sinatra bandmate.


Friday, August 18, 2006

More snakes

Can you feel it, people? The excitement that grips our nation as the grand opening of Snakes on a Plane slithers toward us, just a few scant hours away.

If you see the movie over the weekend, please leave a comment -- just don't give away too much of the plot.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Thursday in Boston

It's one of those days that makes you glad to live in the Godless northeast, where you finally understand what John Updike was saying when he wrote in 1975:
Pistachio George sits high. July beds bloom./The Ritz's doorman sports his worn maroon./Above us like a nearer sky great Pei's/ glass sheet, cerulean, clasps clouds to its chest.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Oops. Do over

I'm not proud about what I'm going to do today. I'm going to issue my first ever retraction.

Back in late March -- under the headline "Hostage? More like hot-stage!" -- I wrote that I thought kidnapped reporter Jill Carroll looked pretty good in the propaganda tapes released by her captors. Witness:

But now that Jill's new captors (the Christian Scientists) are forcing her to tell her story in an 11-part series in the Christian Science Monitor, we see how she looks when she hasn't been locked up for weeks:

Yikes. Not-so-hotstage. Is she writing her story, or Alex Haley's? I'm all for bottle-red hair, but at least get a dye job before you go on TV.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006


The GWOT finally hits home in the effete northeast. The latest security restrictions on jetliners are apparently wreaking havoc on the classical music business. You know what I say -- if they take away our Paganini, well then the terrorists have already won.

What's next? Kim Jong Il's MySpace page? Proving that I was not the last person to get a blog, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is now in cyberspace. Upstart commentors will be dragged from their homes and shot.


Monday, August 14, 2006

Same steak, better sizzle

As if you needed more evidence that the Boston Globe is The New York Times lite, now the Globe is just running NYT stories.

Yesterday, the Globe's business section fronted a story about a stylish new paint for firearms, by Rob Walker. When I saw it I thought "Strange, since he also writes for the Times, that they'd run a piece by him."

Stranger still when I saw the same piece in the Times Magazine.

To those not in the news business it probably doesn't seem that strange, but this type of corporate synergy (The Times owns the Globe) is very unusual in media.


Friday, August 11, 2006

Nick, it's too soon.

Nick Lachey has been busy lately so he hasn't returned my calls. But I know he reads the blog, so I figured this was the next best way for me to tell him that I think he's moving a little fast with Vanessa Minnillo.

Nick, I know your heart is searching for a new soulmate, now that your divorce from Jessica is complete. But it's just too soon to be talking about marriage. Do you even know if Minnillo shares your passion for chess, grilled meats, and soft cheeses?

Hold off Nick. Unless she's pulling that same trick Jess did. Then I guess you gotta marry her.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

Please remain calm

The Red Sox are fading -- four losses in a row to the doormats of the American League, two blown saves, and just two wins in their last eight games. It's time for Schilling to step it up.


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Bond is all-in

Spike TV is back with a mini Bond-a-thon this week, so I thought it would be a good time to check in on the train wreck that is the new James Bond movie, Casino Royale, opening worldwide November 17th.

I've learned a bit about the plot since my last posting, and at least it seems that the Bond producers are trying to tap into the cultural zeitgeist -- the new movie involves Bond facing off against the bad guy in a game of poker. (Does Norman Chad make a cameo?) It's unclear how the new Bond girl Eva Green fits in.

As for the new Bond, Daniel Craig, he says he's been surprised by the backlash in the press since his introduction as the first blond Bond. We can only assume he's referring specifically to Jamie Foxx's comments, that Sean Combs would have made a better choice.

Can't say I disagree. Puffy could almost pass for a dashing secret agent, while Craig looks more like he belongs on guard duty at a Serbian prison than on Her Majesty's Secret Service.


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

George Michael, rethought

I'll admit (proudly?) that I like George Michael. But a fresh listening to the 9th track from his 1987 smash hit album Faith, "Kissing a Fool," makes me realize that only a fool wouldn't have realized he was gay, even back then.

There's a hint as the song opens "You listened to people/Who scared you to death, and from my heart."

But then he really makes it clear in the third stanza:

But remember this/Every other kiss
That you ever give/Long as we both live
When you need the hand of another man
One you really can surrender with
I will wait for you/Like I always do
There's something there/That can't compare
With any other.

I mean, that's pretty obvious. Of course, I was nine when this album came out, so all my attention, understandably, was devoted to figuring out "I Want Your Sex."

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Monday, August 07, 2006


Taken individually, each of these ideas was not strong enough to merit its own posting. But together, they are a clever troika of observational wit.

Next up: rehab.The NaturalBlog is officially putting the over/under on the start of David Hasselhoff's rehab stint at August 14th. It can only seem that we're nearing the endzone, now that he's too drunk to fly. Don't believe me: Witness it for yourself.

Baseball in hell. I think I got a little preview the other night of what it would be like to watch baseball in hell: The same game on different channels, each with a ridiculously bad broadcast team. It was a Cardinals-Cubs game. On WGN, which is bearable if the sound is down, we had Len Kasper and Bob Brenly, replacements because the old guys weren't big enough homers. Over on ESPN, it was two of my least favorite broadcasters anywhere, ESPN's A-Team of Chris Berman and Joe Morgan. The only thing that could possibly make this any worse would be if Rick Sutcliffe were hanging out in my living room, making inane comments with that false over-sincerity that makes me wanna barf.

New depths for the Garden State. I read that New Jersey is taking old subway cars and submerging them off the shore, to give fish and divers something to do. How very Jersey.

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Friday, August 04, 2006

Keep it in the family, Conrad

I saw an ad in The Economist the other day (see how nonchalantly I work in there that I read The Economist?) with a call for nominations for the 2007 Conrad N. Hilton $1,500,000 Humanitarian Prize.

The foundation wants help identifying those who have "made extraordinary contributions toward alleviating human suffering, whatever its cause."

I think this is a real no brainer, so I'm pleased to nominate Conrad N. Hilton's granddaughter Paris Hilton for the Hilton Humanitarian Prize.

I can think of no one who has done more to alleviate human suffering, like when she patched it up with that skinny girl to do another season of that show, or when she made that tape on the Internet that I heard about.

Plus, I think we all know she could really use the money -- she dresses like a bag lady and is apparently rummaging through people's trash these days:

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Thursday, August 03, 2006

I keep a close watch on these ads of mine

As a keen observer of television advertising (mainly from not having a TiVo), I never thought Snickers would be able to top its "Pretty pretty dancing" panda ad from about five years ago.

I'm happy to say I was wrong. The new Snickers ad featuring this crazy song (Prancing nougat in the meadow/Sings a song of satisfaction -- see it here) is easily the funniest ad I've seen this year.

It's almost enough to make up for their awful outdoor media campaign, featuring such nonsense as "Satisfacellent!"


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

He was tasty

If you're keeping a list of the people who read the NaturalBlog, please add the good people at Geico.

No sooner did I say I was hungry for for them to replace the Geico gecko (smarmly little bastard), did they roll out a new set of commercials featuring the type of people the NaturalBlog loves: minor celebrities.

You can now see Burt Bacharach, Little Richard and Charo doing Geico ads, in which they "translate" the words of an even less famous Geico customer. Good stuff. Thanks for reading, Geico.


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Yankees 60-41 1 GB

Not that I'm worried. After all, I predicted a 1-2 finish for the Yanks and Sox back in April. Plus, the Yankees were kind enough to make their annual folly -- emptying the farm system and taking on payroll at the trade deadline. They gave up prospects (who knew there were any left) for Bobby Abreu (.228 career BA at Fenway) and Cory Lidle (6.49 ERA in 13 career games vs the Sox), and trading Shawn Chacon for Craig Wilson formerly of the Pirates.

And I thought pitching won championships.