Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Jesse v. Jesse

I know I run the risk of turning this into Fight Week on the NaturalBlog, but I can't help myself. Today I'm going to have two legends of the small screen face off to settle the greatest question of our time once and for all -- Who is the best Uncle Jesse.

In one corner, John Stamos as Uncle Jesse Katsopolis from Full House (1987-1995). And in the other corner, Denver Pyle as Uncle Jesse Duke from the Dukes of Hazzard (1979-1985). For the purposes of this fight, the girls who carry the round numbers around the ring will be Daisy Duke and Kimmie Gibler.

Enough talk. Let's get it on, like Donkey Kong.

HairAlong with "C'mon, huh?" it's his trademark. Long, flowing, Breck-like. Swoon-inducingOften obscured by a hat. Bryll-creemed when not. He does bring a beard to the table.
SmartsLived with a non-nuclear family when clearly a bachelor bad would have gotten him more play.Always out-thinking Boss Hogg and helping his nephews stay out of trouble.
RideMr. Super Cool, he rode a Harley.Mr. Not-so-cool, he drove a truck.
FamilyA goofball TV caster, out-of-work comic, nutcase kids who turned out to be 1) God freak, 2) smack addict and 3) anorexic.Just a couple good ol' boys, never meanin' no harm.
Musical choiceThe RippersThe Banjo
Well, there you have it. I would've put my money on Jesse Duke, to be honest, but it looks like Katsopolis wins it by a hair.

But not if they fought in a bar, mind you.


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Governor Hot or Not -- Round 1

It's the post you've been waiting for: The battle royale to determine the nation's hottest governor. We start with the women, before moving on to the men. I've pre-selected the four best of the best. Your comments will determine who moves on from each match-up, with the winners facing off in a couple days. I'll be honest though, Alaska's Sarah Palin is a biiiiiiiig favorite here.

Jennifer Granholm, left (D-MI). She once appeared on the Dating Game. She’s the first female governor of Michigan. Drawback: Born in Canada. Kathleen Sebelius, right (D-KS). Time called her one of the top five governors in 2005. Back off boys, she’s married with two children.

Sarah Palin, left (R-AK). Palin worked in media before making the jump to politics. Jodi Rell, right (R-CT). She reminds me a little of Judge Judy, which is probably the reason she’s here.

Monday, January 29, 2007

NaturalBlog News Update: Politics and other

HRC reaches for the check. Hillary Clinton will forgo public financing for her 2008 presidential bid, because she can spend a heckuva lot more if she relies on her own fundraising machine. Some people say this means the end of public financing. Sounds good to me, since the only candidates who take it have no chance of winning.

OMG. This guy really hates America. In a Los Angeles Times editorial, a Johns Hopkins University professor makes the case that the 9/11 terror attacks weren't all that bad. Wow. Doesn't he know that dissent has to wait until we're no longer in a time of war. So, 2045 maybe?

Oh, Harvard. The New York Times and Boston Globe offered dueling features Sunday on Barack Obama's time at Harvard Law School. The Globe says he was a gifted listener. The Times says he talked out of both sides of his mouth. The Times provides the best nugget, though, a Harvard Revue spoof of Obama's inspiring life story:
I was born in Oslo, Norway, the son of a Volvo factory worker and part-time ice fisherman. My mother was a backup singer for Abba. They were good folks. [I] discovered I was black, and I have remained so ever since.


Friday, January 26, 2007

Unintentional Humor Roundup

Here are a pair of screenshots from this week that are funny either unintentionally or intentionally. I found the first one all by myself. The second is courtesy Mr. X; he found it Monday. You can click on the pictures to make them larger.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Neither marriage nor children shall stay us from our appointed rounds

I have to admit I was worried that the annual Reunion of BU People I Like (you know them as "Some Guy," "Bean Stringfellow," and a third guy who doesn't comment on the blog) might change after 2006 brought us one marriage (mine) and one baby (Bean's). But I'm happy to report that you can sit in a basement and play Madden all weekend even if one of your friends is a dad.

Sure, it's hard to be a Guitar Hero when your only audience is an infant, but that didn't stop us. Rather than try to recap and run the risk of forgetting something (or someone), I will sum up last weekend -- its fantasy baseball draft and college hockey game and Loser Bowl -- with these pictures.

Great times. See you next January.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


I think I've watched the State of the Union every year since I was 13, and every year I fall asleep before it's over. I'm not unlike Ted Kennedy or John McCain in this way.

I'd probably be able to make it through the whole thing if there had been less applause for ethanol, wood chips, agricultural waste -- and less hooting and hollering over Congressional earmarks.

Before I clonked out, I was able to make a few observations.

The line of the night goes to MSNBC analyst Chris Matthews for his keen observation on the two figures behind the president, Dick Cheney and Nancy Pelosi. "Here comes a great shot," Matthews opined. "Different parties, different genders. Different apparel, obviously." Nice.

As for what the President said, I know he didn't take on Iran directly, but does anybody else get the sinking feeling we'll be fighting a two-front war before his term is out?


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Decider? You're it.

Listen up. Hillary Clinton said formally over the weekend what we all knew from the day she launched her first listening tour back in the 20th century, which is that she is running for president.

If Democratic primary voters are foolish enough to choose someone whose negatives are in the 40s when she isn't in the national public eye, then they deserve four more years on the sidelines.

That said, I am rooting for Clinton, because then we can get a line of presidents that goes Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton. We might even be able to tack on another Bush (Jeb?) to tide us over until the next Clinton (Chelsea) is 35 and eligible to run.

Of course, Chelsea is the real reason I want Hillary Clinton to be president. I've already come clean about my long-standing Chelsea crush. She's been out of the gossip pages for years now, and I've begun to miss her.

Vote Clinton '08!


Monday, January 22, 2007

Dogs and cats living together -- mass hysteria!

Wait a minute -- sad Brady? Sad Brady? Something has gone horribly haywire here.

To those who would crown happy Peyton so soon, don't forget he still has to face Finland, so to speak. If Chicago comes through, hopefully we'll see Sad Peyton two weeks from today.


Friday, January 19, 2007

Long Overdue Props, Vol V.

If listening to Hall and Oates doesn't get you pumped, then you're out of touch. How could you not love a group smooth enough to bring you not only Private Eyes, but Maneater and You Make my Dreams, as well.

I could go on and on, but you can't go for that, so I'll conclude this edition of Long Overdue Props early, so you can enjoy this vintage album cover.

I have no idea which is which

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Era of Good Sleep

The winter doldrums of the sports year are here: Just 180 minutes of football remain between me and Opening Day.

Televised spring training games are about as rare as chupacabra sightings, and I don't really get excited about college basketball until I reprise my role as office bracket guy, a thinly vieled excuse to create a spreadsheet.

There's only thing keeping me interested in ESPN's fantastic college baskeball overkill (Big Monday, Super Tuesday, ACC Wednesday, and Throwdown Thursday. Oh, who could forget Throwdown Thursday?), and that one thing is Sean McDonough.

The dulcet tones of the former Red Sox play-by-play man are like a sports siren song to me. I could listen to him call a grass mowing competition and still be interested.

Now that I think of it, ESPN-8 "The Ocho" actually broadcasts grass mowing, weekdays at 2.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

NaturalBlog News Update: Nuggets edition

Here are some fuunny things found after the jump, which is newspaper speak for after a story goes from the front page of a section to the inside.

I. Lewis Libby, one of us. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, former adviser to the most powerful vice president in the history of the universe, is also a big Star Trek fan. A Yale classmate tells The New York Times that Libby could "remember not only all 79 ‘Star Trek’ episodes, as I could, but he knew all the titles, too." A kid nicknamed Scooter is a big Trekkie? I'm shocked. Shocked.

America's next top weapon: Real Ultimate Power. Raytheon, worried that retiring baby boomers will sap the country of its talent base, has begun reaching out to demographics not usually associated with the defense industry, including minorities and homosexuals. And how is Raytheon doing this? The Boston Globe says it's using "a corps of 'ninjas' and 'game-changers' to foster a culture of inclusion." Might I suggest actually putting the ninjas into battle.

And finally. Derek Jeter's sometime girlfriend Jessica Biel has a dog, and apparently the dog hates the star shortstop. It's true, I read it in a gossip magazine.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I'm out today

Monday, January 15, 2007

Where's the sports? Is this a kissing book?

A few quick thoughts on yesterday's Patriots-Chargers game, a contest in which New England was the last team standing on the Chargers logo.
  • Did anybody else notice Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer took off his sunglasses halfway through the game? I prefer him with the glasses, a look that went out around the last time Marty won a playoff game.
  • A friend noticed this bizarre stat during the Patriots game-tying fourth-quarter drive. Brady's stats at one point on the drive: 4 for 10, one INT.
  • So the Pats get to face the Colts, an AFC championship matchup predestined the moment Adam Vinatieri signed with Indy last offseason. My biased prediction: Vinatieri wide right, Pats vs. Saints in the big game.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Long Overdue Props, Vol. IV

I was flipping through the channels in the yawning void that is daytime television when I happened upon comic gold: Pee Wee's Big Adventure. The 1985 tour de force has withstood the test of time, and it is now eligible for the fourth installment of the NaturalBlog's very occasional series, Long Overdue Props.

Paul Reubens as Pee Wee and director Tim Burton, obviously students of Strunk & White, omit anything needless. Their jokes contain no unnecessary words, their scenes no unnecessary jokes, their movie no unnecessary scenes.

Like alcohol distilled again and again for great potency, what we're left with is hilarious. For proof, I suggest you look no further than Large Marge.

She's the ghost Pee Wee encounters on his trip from home to the Alamo, in search of his stolen bike. I won't recap the encounter, because I couldn't do it any funnier than this page.

Suffice it to say, every scene is this funny. I say buy this film.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Who is the decider? You are.

It's time for another installment of You Are the Decider, my occassional series on the race for president in 2008. Hence the graphic floating menacingly above this paragraph.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney formed an exploratory committee last week, which is a way for him to start running for president but hold off on an official announcement until people have begun to forget he's running for president, which he's not officially doing yet.

Romney is not alone in exploring a presidential bid. Others with exploratory committees are the 800-lb. gorilla John McCain, American Hero Rudy Guiliani, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, Rep. Duncan Hunter of California, former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson and former Virginia Gov. James Gilmore III. I'm pretty sure Ben Affleck has one, too, but we should double check that.

Mitt, who was for a brief time my boss's boss, has also launched a schmancy new Web site titled "Mitt Romney: The Exploratory Committee." Take a gander at the art, which is quite presidential:

I can't help but think of the merchandising gag in Spaceballs -- Spaceballs: The Lunchbox. Spaceballs: The Coloring Book. Spaceballs: The Flamethrower!

Next, I can only dream of Mitt Romney: The Beverage! And maybe even Mitt Romney: The Dessert!

It will be interesting to watch the pendulum of the national media coverage on Romney. There's been plenty of Romney love, like this piece in The Economist, then this one in the LA Times that pretty much copied it verbatim. And you're beginning to see a little Romney hate, though it's still mostly home grown at this point. Well, as home grown as a story can be when it's datelined out of Suchitepequez, Guatemala.

Of course, what does the man in might not be the enterprising liberal media, but Mitt Romney himself, back when he was an enterprising liberal. There's plenty of print coverage of his 1994 defense of abortion rights, but it's another thing to see him say it himself. I think the Affleck people are behind the posting on YouTube.

I hope my Romney commentary was more insightful than Katie Couric's.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

News Roundup: "It's the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)" Edition

I don't want to be an alarmist, but I think the end is near.

Our recalcitrant government digs deeper into Iraq and into the past, while the opposition resorts to gimmicks.

An unexplained stench belches forth in New York, dead birds fall from the sky in Austin, and dolphins, the smartest of them all, commit suicide on Cape Cod.

I think I just saw Pestilence ride by, asking if he was late.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Save the Whales

Don't forget his Irish friend, Nick O'TeenTheir annual assault on Christmas having ended again in a draw, the culture warriors are now redeploying their foot soldiers in a new battle, one that threatens the very fabric of America's drawstring waistband: The War on Fat People.

New York City bans unhealthy trans-fats, and Massachusetts considers the same. Schools now send home body mass index report cards, prompting at least one six-year-old to worry about her figure.

My criticism of the body mass index scale aside (Tom Brady overweight?), what are schools doing here? Don't elementary school students do a good enough job at ostracizing fat kids themselves, without the help of the teachers?

I fear these are but the opening salvos in a vicious confrontation that will end with Count Chocula stabbed through the heart with sharpened celery stalk, shaky Internet videos of Ronald McDonald's hastily arranged hanging, and the raspberry-flavored blood of the Kool-Aid man irrigating our streets.

Doesn't anybody realize we need the fat kids? They're our future poker champions, defensive linemen, comic geniuses. I'm afraid the path we trod is wrought with dangers that the skinny are too afraid to see.

I never thought I'd take solace in the dark vision Aldous Huxley foresees in Brave New World, but believe it or not it provides the only silver lining. Even in his genetically engineered distopia, the feminine foil is still referred to again and again as pneumatic -- plump, zaftig, and bosomy.


Monday, January 08, 2007

News cliches

As a member of the media elite, I often find myself surrounded by broadcast news and its hollow cliches. I've decided to see how many I can string together.

Me in 15 yearsFor the second time in as many days police are mourning one of their own, an officer who made the ultimate sacrifice.

He got more than he bargained for during a routine traffic stop in the wee hours of the morning. He had stumbled on a hotbed of activity, shots rang out, and he died in a hail of bullets, execution style.

Family members are holding a candlelight vigil at a makeshift memorial that marks the spot at this hour.

It could have been worse, though, as the officer's partner was only wounded and is now clinging to life. Family members say there's now way he'll throw in the towel.

The suspect, who often found himself on the wrong side of the law and was therefore known to police, fled on foot. He was apprehended thanks to the long arm of the law and now faces a laundry list of charges.

Police say they expect the judge to throw the book at the suspect.

Looks like I can pack 22 in there.


Saturday, January 06, 2007

Mid 60s? It hasn't been this warm on an Opening Day in ages.

I spent the afternoon -- in shortsleeves, mind you -- smoking a cigar and drinking an ice cold beer on the porch.

Sixty-five degrees in Boston. In January. What would Al Gore say?

I wrote last year about global warming's closing argument. This must be its post-verdict celebration.

It's fun to enjoy, as long as I don't think about my new skis gathering dust in the basement, along side Mrs. NB's still-unused $200 bootwarmers.

I wonder -- can my Solomon's double as water skis?

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Separated at Birth, No. 10

I was able to tear myself away from Samuel L. Jackson's Afro Samurai long enough to put together the latest edition of Separated at Birth.

Doesn't the judge from Saddam Hussein's trial look like Ben Kingsley? Kingsley should totally have dibs on this role in the movie version of the trial . I think Tony Shaloub will play Hussein.

This one is so obvious I can't believe I didn't come up with it years ago. But it didn't dawn on me until the funeral for Gerald Ford, when I glanced at the TV and thought "Why would they pick Ben Stein to deliver a eulogy?" But it wasn't Ben after all, it was Henry Kissinger. They're hardly distinguishable, at right.

I've thought for a long time that CNN's Iraq correspondent Arwa Damon was reminiscent of actress Chloe Sevigny, but I struggled to find a good pair of pictures. I kept finding photos that show Sevigny as a gussied up, whorish version of Damon, which I suppose isn't that far from the truth.


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Everyone at school picks on the pöpli kids -- even I do

Please, come by the house and relax in my Ektorp, as you bask in the warm light of my Tostarp. And when you get hungry, join me at the Jokkmokk for some dinner.

Mrs. N-B and I have slowly begun outfitting our home with furniture from Ikea. The Swedish chain's Massachusetts location opened last year to great fanfare and police details.

The only way I can explain a trip to Ikea is by comparing it to Disney World. It seems even bigger, though the parking lots are (mercifully) not named after Swedish cartoon characters. ("Honey, remember that we're parked in Oupplouloff!") Such an Ikea idea is not such a stretch, of course, because everything has Swedish names. Like the kids playland (Smalworld).

But the real draw is not the moderately priced assemble-it-yourself furniture. No, it is the delicious Swedish Meatballs. Only $5, and they come with Ligonberry sauce and potatoes. Don't shop hungry.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Headline News anchor or porn star?

The news is a depressing thing, so it's nice that CNN's Headline News service hires the sultriest news anchors available. They're so sultry, in fact, I bet you can't tell them apart from pornographic actresses. Three of each, below. I put the answer key in the comments.

Whither Kagan?


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

I am the face of TSA

Since the Transportation Security Administration rummaged through each of my bags on my return trip from the Cradle of the Confederacy to the Cradle of Liberty, I will now allow my long simmering anger over our nation's completely backwards baggage screening procedures to roll into a full raging boil.

Let's start with the latest carry-on restrictions. Dump out that bottle of water, but sharpen up your scissors, screwdrivers, crochet hooks, and pliers. Lighters? Nope. Shaving cream? Nope. Contact solution? No way. But don't forget your claw hammer.

Worried? I wouldn't be. What evil can someone wrought with a hammer? They won't be able to smash your snow globe, since the TSA now confiscates snow globes before you get on the plane.

So unless you're some sort of contractor on a day trip, you're going to have to check bags. Why? Because back in August British authorities uncovered a plot to use liquids and gels to make an explosive on board U.S.-bound jetliners.

That must've been the first anyone had heard of such a plot, right, otherwise we would've been vigilant long before August, right? Not exactly. We'd known for years that gels and liquids could be used in this way, but our national security plan involves closing barn doors only after the horses have hijacked airliners. It's utterly totally completely reactive.

And how long have we known that a bomb in a checked bag is a successful terrorist method? When was Lockerbie? Yet still not all checked bags are screened and x-rayed. Sure, there's a red flag raised if the person who checked the bag doesn't get on the flight, but that method of protection only works if terrorists aren't willing to die with their luggage.

So how do we rearrange the deck chairs of commercial air travel? The TSA opens my bags to see what I got for Christmas. Of course, I shouldn't complain. I'm complicit in all this too. When I bought the locks for my luggage I actually uttered the words: "Oh these locks are the good ones -- The TSA can open them."

The good locks are the ones that the government can open?

I couldn't help but think of the final chilling lines of George Orwell's 1984: "He had won victory over himself. He loved Big Brother."


Monday, January 01, 2007

My second season of fantasy football, or 'How a Zebra Struggles to Change his Stripes'

I stuck with Bollinger's Bombers for the name of my fantasy football team this year (a shoutout to my favorite NFL backup), but a better name might have been Sophomore Slumpers.

I ran hot and cold all season, with 2- and 3- game winning then losing streaks. I'd like to blame Rex Grossman (who wouldn't?), but it's really my fault.

Thanks for that MNF performance against the the Cardinals, RexIn the end I finished 7-7 and out of the playoffs, mainly because I outthought myself and sat my first-round pick (RB Steven Jackson) in the 14th week of the season. It was a classic Bombers misstep: Jackson was facing the tough Chicago defense, so I picked up some RB off the trash heap and started him instead. Had I stuck with Jackson, I would've turned a crushing 3-point loss into an easy 20-point win, moved to 8-6, made the playoffs, and maybe even gone on to a championship, given how my team came alive in weeks 15 and 16.

The season wasn't without highlight, of course. I had a respectable live draft (my first), pushed my all-time record above .500 (17-15), and most importantly beat my long-time nemesis Cap'n Crunch (nee Chad Painington) for the first time in five tries.

That last feat came while I was out of the country for two weeks, though, bringing me to my can't miss fantasy football strategy for next season: Hands off.

Every time I pick a matchup, I pick wrong. So I'm going to go by the numbers in 2007, and ride my laissez faire strategy to my first championship.

If not, I'll just blame Rex Grossman -- just like the whole city of Chicago will be doing after the Bears wash out of the playoffs in just one game.