Wednesday, February 28, 2007

These are a few of my favorite things

It's a quickie today. I just wanted to encourage you to sign up for the greatest club ever established in the history of the world, the NRA Wine Club. Now you can get loaded before you lock and load.

I wonder if Dick Cheney is a member -- remember, of course, that he copped to having a few drinks before he shot that guy in the face.


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

NaturalBlog News Update: Misc.

So I guess he's still alive.I would call it "manna from heaven" when Vanilla Ice raps about Turbo Tax software. I mean, I don't even really have to make a joke here. You can just take a look at the video for yourself. I wonder if the advice he dispenses is to sign over your royalties to Suge Knight while being dangled from a hotel balcony. (And if you like Vanilla Ice making fun of himself, don't forget to see someone else doing the ridiculing.

Greek life? I love Greek life. The Delta Zeta sorority at DePauw University in Indiana kicked out its uncool members after a campus survey suggested the sorority was seen as "socially awkward." It was just a coincidence that all the people who got the boot were fat or minority. From the national sorority's mission statement: "Providing an enduring sisterhood based on a heritage of core values, academic excellence, leadership development, and service to others. And no fat chicks."

Manny being Manny. Manny Ramirez has arrived at Red Sox spring training, about a week after the team asked players to report, but three days before the March 1 deadline mandated by the collective bargaining agreement. Only Manny Ramirez could be late and make it seem like he was early. I look forward to your 35 HRs and 120 RBIs, Manny.


Monday, February 26, 2007

Winos unite

About a dozen of us got together Saturday to drink wine out of paper bags, write down what we thought, then see which one we liked best. It was a blind tasting (right), a classy affair, to be sure. Here's a sampling of what people had to say about the different selections.

Bin No. 2. "Cherry tobacco." "Makes me want to eat steak." This one turned out to be a 2001 De Loach zinfandel. Average score: 7.

Bin No. 3. "Eeech." "Boone's Farm." That's what you get when you buy a bottle based on the name: Bitch. It's a 2005 barossa grenache. Average score: 4.

Bin No. 6. The Clos de los Siete malbec blend took overall honors, but its victory is marred by controversy -- the person who brought it gave it a 10. Average score: 8.

Bin No. 7. "Drinkable. Sweet like Scarlett Johansson." I could see why someone would think that. It was very full bodied. A 2002 Benziger merlot. My pick for best in show. Average score: 7.

The biggest surprise of the night was that the $30 La Crema pinot noir scored the lowest, with a 3. Go figure.


Saturday, February 24, 2007

Celebrities -- They're just like us

Sometimes they have a miscommunication with their stylist.

Sometimes they forget to wear pants.

Sometimes they dress in drag and pose next to slightly smaller-than-life cardboard cut-outs of themselves.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

NaturalBlog News Update: Ripped from the Headlines Edition

I'll pay 2-1 that at least one of these ends up "ripped from the headlines" on Law & Order or maybe CSI.

I guess you could say the fat lady sang. A former New England Patriots coach sued two doctors for allegedly botching his gastric bypass weight reduction surgery. His star witness was heart-throb (and dad-to-be) Tom Brady. And during defense testimony, a juror started gasping for air and the two defendants rushed to his aid. The judge declared a mistrial, but you can't really blame the doctors for their actions. I mean, if I was in court and a blogging emergency happened, I would leap into action.

Mayhem. A man being led into the Barnstable County Courthouse on Cape Cod used his double-jointed thumb to slip out of his handcuffs and flee officers. He carjacked a guy, so police had a newspaper delivery van block his exit from a convenience store. Bonus: The DA witnessed the whole thing as he was buying his morning coffee, so he turned the case over to the Plymouth County DA. Do I smell a "Special Guest Star" brewing?

The case of the McMissile. A woman was sentenced to two years in prison in Virginia for throwing a drink cup from a fast food joint into someone else's car in a road rage incident. The charge was that she threw a missile -- to wit a cup of ice. A judge later reduced the sentence to probation. Good thing, too, because he might've faced his own two-year sentence if he threw the book at her.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Open letter to the guy from whom I've been stealing wireless access

Dear guy from whom I've been stealing wireless access,

These letters are always so hard to write.

We'v had some really great times together over these last two months. It was a whirlwind, really. There were the movies we illegally streamed, the music we legally downloaded, the celebrity gossip we devoured together. (Oh that Britney!) I'll treasure these memories forever.

Hand in hand we strolled the wilds of the Internet. I thought about you first thing in the morning, all day at work, and last thing before I went to bed.

It was so much fun at first that it was easy to overlook all your nagging faults. Let's face it, you're cheap. And you don't bother to password protect yourself -- what does that say about your character?

Sometimes you were slow, sometimes you weren't there at all. And it was always when I needed you most that you were nowhere to be found. You timed me out of more gmail chat sessions than I care to remember.

That's why I've decided that I'm leaving you. You have 404'd me for the last time.

There's no use protesting. I've made up my mind and there's no going back. You can try and find me if you want, but my new IP address is password protected, so good luck.

By the time you read these lines, I'll be gone. But we'll always have



Tuesday, February 20, 2007

NaturalBlog Vice Index

I saw in the news last week that profit for Molson Coors was up a staggering 343 percent in the fourth quarter. That got me to thinking about the need for a mutual fund that trades in vices. I'm sure these exist, but I'm a do-it-yourselfer.

I'll keep it simple, tracking the value of one share of common stock in six firms that play to people's vices and seeing how I do percentage-wise versus the Standard & Poor's 500 Index.

On to the companies:
  • Beer: Molson Coors (NYSE:TAP). Hop on board the Silver Bullet train. They probably can't duplicate last quarter's profits, but I'm backing my college favorite, Coors Light. Price: 86.61.

  • Wine: Constellation Brands (NYSE:STZ). The world's second largest wine conglomerate, they distribute Mondavi wines, one of my favorite moderately priced California wine labels. Price: 24.01.

  • Caffeine: Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX). This one's a no brainer. The industry leader in the sale of legal stimulants. Price: 33.01.

  • Gambling: MGM Mirage (NYSE:MGM). The Las Vegas entertainment giant also allows me to get my fingers into Hollywood. Price: 68.97.

  • Tobacco: Reynolds American International (NYSE:RAI). This is the corporate parent of cigarette brands including Camel, Kool, Winston, Doral and Pall Mall. No vice fund is complete without tobacco. Price: 63.94.

  • Sex: Church & Dwight Co. (NYST:CHD). This firm makes a host of consumer products. I'm picking it because it owns the Trojan condom brand. It also owns First Response pregnancy tests, which I think is a funny pairing. Price: 47.34.
So there we are. Add up those prices and you get 323.88. So that's where the NaturalBlog Vice Index starts. For comparison's sake, the S-and-P is at 1,455.54 today.



Monday, February 19, 2007

Disorderly conduct ensues

In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders. This is their drinking game.

In honor of TNT's 24-hour Law & Order marathon airing today, I've decided to finally codify my Law & Order drinking game, which debuted about three years ago during a rainy Memorial Day barbecue party.

I've broken it down nice and easy, five times to drink during the "law" part of the show, five times for the "order."

  • "Objection!"
  • The female ADA changes from one episode to the next.
  • The DA offers a grizzled witticism, or talks about having to win reelection.
  • The wrong man is charged.
  • A plea deal is offered. (Drink twice if it's accepted.)
  • "Dong-dong!"
  • Lenny Briscoe (RIP, Jerry Orbach) gives a one-liner to end a scene.
  • Lt. Anita Van Buren interrupts a good cop-bad cop routine.
  • Somebody buys food from a street vendor.
  • There's a visit to the Upper East Side.

For bonus drunkenness, take a drink every time...
  • The same actor plays a different character from episode to episode.
  • The judge makes a stupid joke at the bail hearing.
  • There's a dead hooker.
  • The prosecutors take a trip to Rikers.
Happy boozing, and if you're not busy today, come on over and play.


Sunday, February 18, 2007

Who be my Brady daddy?

There's some tarnish on the golden boy. Tom Brady has fathered a kid out of wedlock. At least according to his ex-girlfriend Bridget Moynahan.

It's been a rough couple of weeks for Tom Terrific. First he throws an interception to end the AFC championship game, then as soon as he pulls off the rare and vaunted actress-for-Victoria Secret model switch (he's been dating Gisele Bundchen since December), he gets hit with this: a baby momma.

I guess all that talk about Tom's completion percentage being down this season was overblown. He was able to find an open receiver just fine; it was the protection that was the problem.


Friday, February 16, 2007

Sunday River bound

See you Monday.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

The decider is you

After months of being unofficially unofficially in, and a few weeks of being officially unofficially in, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney said this week he is officially officially in the race for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.

Even so it's been a tough week for Romney. He's trailing Newt Gingrich in a new national poll, and he can't be happy with a piece in New York Magazine, which ran under the completely unbiased and fair headline "Is Mitt Romney the toothsome, carpetbagging phony he appears to be?"

I'll excerpt the best line in the thing, in case you're the kind who doesn't click on links. Author John Heilemann quotes a "former Democratic gubernatorial candidate from Massachusetts" as saying of Romney's Mormonism "Look, let’s be honest, Mormons are weird."

NaturalBlog is offering 3-1 odds that this unnamed source is former Clinton cabinet secretary and failed 2002 gubernatorial candidate Robert Reich. Tough talk from a guy who did a nude calendar.

But it may be all moot for Mitt, now that his fellow former governor Jane Swift, who he elbowed out of the 2002 Republican gubernatorial race, has backed John McCain. An unpopular and rarely thought of former elected official is picking McCain in Massachusetts? This race is so over.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Symbolism of the Mundane

I've always thought that wall sockets looked like little faces.

I was reminded of this by a story on the radio and one in the paper the other day, and it got me to wondering what the wall sockets in the U.S. and other countries might say about the people who live there. Let's take a gander.

The U.S. is the best, and it's suprised that so many people disagree with my frank assessment. Australians are apparently fashioned after the killer mask from Scream. The English have bad teeth. Indians are hungry. Europe has no voice in world politics. Japan, I have no joke.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Into the breach steps a new wartime hero

I was pretty disappointed when Admiral Tom Collins retired as head of the Coast Guard. He was by far my favorite military official who shared his name with an alcoholic beverage. (A close second was Sergeant Smirnoff, who was something of a campus recruiter when I was in college.)

I'd like to think it was a coincidence that Adm. Collins left the military last year, around the same time I decided to swear off the refreshing gin cocktail of the same name.

So imagine how happy I was when I realized this week there is a new Tom Collins protecting our nation (albiet at the expense of our liver): Colonel Tom Collins, the spokesman for the Coalition Combined Forces Command in Afghanistan. What's even better? Col. Collins came out of retirement for the job.

Talk about a real American hero. Thanks, Col. Collins, for making it safe to enjoy cool refreshing gin-spiked lemonade in rugged hotspots around the world.


Monday, February 12, 2007

Women's studies

It seems natural to think that Harvard's selection of Drew Gilpin Faust as its first female president can begin to undo the harm done to the public perception of successful women by NASA's Capt. Diapers last week.

There are critics, among them author Richard Bradley who in essence told The New York Times that Faust was sloppy seconds. Was he insinuating she got the job because Thomas Cech dropped out of the running?

It's impossible not to view Faust's appointment in terms of the last Harvard president's departure -- Larry Summers's long exit began in 2005, when in a speech in Cambridge he explored the idea of intrinsic differences in aptitude between men and women in science and engineering.

Notwithstanding that the speech began with an acknowledgment he would attempt to provoke the crowd, notwithstanding that he said he thought the "largest phenomenon" that explained the lack of women in top science research jobs was the "general clash between people's legitimate family desires and employers' current desire for high power and high intensity," Summers was toast when he used the phrase "intrinsic aptitude" -- "in the special case of science and engineering, there are issues of intrinsic aptitude, and particularly of the variability of aptitude."

He might as well have leaped onto the third rail.

But let's flip the question, as a Boston think tank did when it looked at boys and girls performance in public secondary schools. I won't get into the detail, just the highlights. Boys are more likely to drop out, more likely to be put in special education, more likely to struggle on standardized testing.

This prompted a Boston Globe editorialist to say that "better training regarding the cognitive differences between boys and girls should help to close the gender gap."

The cognitive differences between boys and girls.

No hue and cry followed this editorial, because saying that boys are not as smart as girls is not a big deal. Imagine if Larry Summers had said the same. I guess he kind of did.

The point? Drew Gilpin Faust has a lot to overcome in a world where even our double-standards have double-standards.


Friday, February 09, 2007

A case study in America: The life of Anna Nicole Smith (born Vickie Lynn Hogan)

Where to begin when remembering a figure as larger than life as Anna Nicole Smith, who died yesterday in Florida. Do our emotions first lead us to 1993, when she was Hugh Hefner's hand-chosen successor to Marilyn Monroe in American soft-core pornography, or perhaps her 2004 drunken speech at the American Music Awards. What about her 1989 drunk driving arrest (right -- 5'9" with hair, 5'6" without), her totally natural weight loss in 2003, or her activist work with PETA (save the whales).

My favorite Anna Nicole Smith moment was not her reality TV show with that stupid little rat-dog (Sugar Pie was its name, after her favorite breakfast), but the day she entered the annals (yikes!) of U.S. history -- her appearance before the Supreme Court in the inheritance case of her late husband, billionaire J. Howard Marshall.

It's not common for women to outlive their husbands, especially when the husbands are 63 years their elder. Also when the woman met the man at a strip club and married him with the intention of sexing him to death. Don't take my word for it, a judge said so.

But I guess I'll remember Anna Nicole Smith for the one thing she did that I liked, which was to appear in the Coen brothers' 1994 classic The Hudsucker Proxy. So what if I don't remember her performance as "Za-Za" -- it's probably best that she be forgotten.


Thursday, February 08, 2007

Ok. What gives?

This week's case of the astronaut love triangle, in which an astronaut who couldn't hold it drove 12 hours to confront a woman she thought was moving in on a shuttle commander she had the hots for, got me thinking again about a question that has plagued me for years.

Why do female astronauts have bangs? Their official NASA photos look like they were taken in 1982, after Dolly Parton's stylist came to visit the Johnson Space Center.

Don't believe me? Take a look.

What is up with this?

The only theory I've been able to come up with is that bangs (and buzz cuts, on the men's side) are required under NASA regulations, as a way of making astronauts unattractive and therefore keeping them from having sex in space.

I'm sticking with my idea until a more plausible theory emerges.

UPDATE: Due to popular demand, I will give a nod to perhaps the most famous example of astronaut bangs, the late Christa McAuliffe.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Out of this world

A NASA astronaut caught up in an astronaut love triangle is now the first astronaut ever charged with first degree murder, attempted kidnapping, battery, and attempted vehicle burglary with battery.

Lisa Nowak was said to be jealous of another woman's affections for astronaut William Oefelein. Prosecutors say she drove more than 12 hours from Houston to Orlando so could confront the space hussy. Apparently pressed for time, she wore diapers so she wouldn't have to take bathroom breaks.

So who is this NASA piece of ass who has women literally peeing in their pants because he's so hot?

Well, hot for NASA, I guess.

Nowak apparently told investigators she had "more than a working relationship but less than a romantic relationship" with Oefelein. By this I just assume she meant a Glenn-Close-in-Fatal-Attraction type relationship.

Nowak pleaded not guilty. She said she just wanted to talk to the other woman. The implements she was going to use to facilitate the discussion? Pepper spray, a steel mallet, a buck knife, a BB pistol, and a garbage bag.

Though the garbage bag might have been for the diapers.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Separated at Birth -- How many more of these can I do?

On the left is the new Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick's chief of staff, Joan Wallace-Benjamin. On the right is actress S. Epatha Merkerson of Law & Order fame. I wish Patrick would hire a Serena Southerlyn lookalike, too.

I know what you're thinking: "Hey, you just think all bald people look alike." Not so. Just these two, figure skater Scott Hamilton on the left and sportscaster Sean McDonough on the right. Both pictured in their Sunday best.

From B-list sports celebrities to B-list regular celebrities, please examine Ryan Seacrest (l) and Josh Duhamel (r). I saw a picture of Duhamel with his fiance Fergie and thought it was Seacrest, but we all know that equation just wouldn't add up.

More baldies for you. Have you ever seen U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and U.S. Rep Henry Waxman (D-CA) in the same room? I know I haven't.


Monday, February 05, 2007

Don't hate the player. Hate the game

Q. Why do I hate Peyton Manning so much? I don't even know him. And hate is so self-defeating.

A. I always root for the underdog. And he's just so good. Rooting for him is like rooting for a foregone conclusion. There's no fun in it.

Q. But wasn't he the underdog until last night, when he won the Super Bowl, because he'd always struggled in the playoffs?

A. Yeah I guess so. Maybe I root against him because he's the perfect foil to Tom Brady and the Patriots. There's something nice about having your team's rival be the best quarterback of his generation.

Q. But now he's the winner and Tom's the loser. Does that mean you root against Tom next season?

A. Don't be silly. One win does not a hero make. It's all so flukish anyway. Brady was one tuck rule away from not winning that first Super Bowl, not being Mr. Clutch.

Q. Is there a bright side?

A. Maybe we can stop talking about Peyton Manning now. And if sportscasters and columnists stop talking about him, maybe I can stop rooting against him.

Q. That's the bright side?

A. Well, I did win my squares game last night, so I got that going for me.

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Friday, February 02, 2007

NaturalBlog News Update: Cali Style

Ok. We get it. You're straight. Stop having affairs. San Francisco mayor and man about town Gavin Newsom has apologized for having an affair with the wife of a top political aide. Newsom, who's dated CSI actress Sofia Milos and then 20-year-old model Brittanie Mountz since divorcing from his newshound wife Kimberly Guilfoyle, seems to be going out of his way to put those Newsom-is-gay rumors to rest. Try as he might, he'll never do it as artfully as Kimberly did a couple years back. Please enjoy pictures of Newsom's many flames.

Oenologists on high alert. A rare $11,000 wine was among 450 bottles stolen from a private wine cellar in Atherton, Calif. I'm sure the person they were stolen from is pretty obnoxious, but not much more obnoxious than this story that detailed the theft. "Like a sauvignon blanc with an ash-covered chèvre, theft and wine make a heady pairing." Ugh. I like my sauvignon blancs with Soy Crisps.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

If we change our routine, then the Aqua Teen Hunger Force has already won

I thought it was only fair to update today's top story with news from the arraignment and subsequent posting of bail by the two criminal masterminds behind yesterday's terror scare that brought Boston to its knees, snarling traffic, stopping commerce, and -- in the words of the Suffolk Co. District Attorney -- making loved ones across the nation scared.

Take a good hard look at the faces of evil.

A judge who was skeptical of prosecutors' claims ordered them held on $2,500 cash bail. This judge has apparently forgotten that the world changed on 1/31/07.

After these two jokers posted bail, they proceeded to squander any public goodwill they might've built up. At a press conference, they said they would only talk about hair. Asked if they were taking this seriously, they said they were serious -- about hair. I'm not kidding. Take a look.

I have met the enemy, and he is glib.


State Police Bomb Squad: 1, Aqua Teen Hunger Force: 0

Boston was under seige for about six hours yesterday, thanks to a cartoon figure who gave us the finger.

The character is a "mooninite" from the animated show Aqua Teen Hunger Force. As a promotion, marketers hung electronic boards that displayed him in 10 cities around the U.S.

New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle, Portland, Austin, San Francisco, and Philadelphia all managed to weather this vicious terror attack without closing roads and bridges and stopping public transportation.

But not so in the cradle of liberty. For goodness sakes -- don't those other cities realize their very way of life is under attack? Do I need to remind them that the world changed on September 11th? Thank God our state police, local police, the bomb squad and the FBI ran around all morning and afternoon yesterday to diffuse the greatest threat to hit the city since the great molasses flood of 1919.

And what did this threat look like?

But fear not. Two hooligans are under arrest for their devious and dubious role in this guerilla marketing campaign. To paraphrase from Pee Wee's Big Adventure, "I say we scalp 'em, then we tattoo 'em, then we hang 'em, and then we kill 'em."

Forget that these electronic boards had been up for two weeks. We must defend the homeland!

I understand Elmo is coming to town for Sesame Street on Ice. Governor Deval Patrick, you must mobilize the National Guard immediately to protect us from further threats from fictional cartoon characters. Don't wait! Too much is at stake.