Friday, March 30, 2007

Retro Week: God do I hate Celine Dion

And in the grand finale of this installment of Retro Week on the NaturalBlog, let's turn back the clock to 1998. What were my thoughts on the musical stylings of the day? I can say with exact certainty, because I wrote these words in my college paper.

Everywhere I turn, there's Celine Dion. I'll be honest: It's scary.

As if hearing "My Heart Goes On" every five minutes were not enough, now she's being lampooned on "Saturday Night Live" and is smiling her Canadian smile on the cover of Entertainment Weekly.

Not since the popularity of "Because You Loved Me" has my stomach somersaulted every time I turn on the radio. But now, it's worse than ever. More than once have my delicate little ears been harassed by her latest hit, which unfortunately doubles as the theme from "Titanic."

The worst part of it all is that if I want to listen to the radio, I can't avoid her. Even WBCN is playing it? Are you kidding me?

Maybe, just maybe, I could handle her success if "Titanic" didn't just topple "Star Wars" on the all-time profit list. Yes, the tale of Jack and Rose was wonderful. But it is nowhere near the quality of the epic struggle between the Rebellion and the Empire.

But even that transgression would be forgivable if not for the worst of it: There's dialogue from the $471 million blockbuster in that lyrical monstrosity. That is a sin I simply cannot overlook.

The two are inexplicably intertwined, which kind of makes sense seeing as how "My Heart Goes On" has been going on for just as long as the three-hour tale of two star-crossed lovers that we've all heard before.

If I want to hear pretty boy Leo DiCaprio profess his love for Kate Winslet as the big ship goes down, I'll go shell out seven bucks to see "Titanic" one more time. If I want to listen to Celine Dion tell me about love, I'll turn on the radio and flip to the station that's playing her song at that particular moment. Frankly, I don't want to do either, and for God's sake don't give me both at once.

I should have seen the nasty trend coming after even Bruce Springsteen, perhaps the greatest poet of his generation, succumbed to the movie dialogue/song lyric ploy.

Yes, even the Boss' "Secret Garden" fell victim after the marketing genius in charge of "Jerry Maguire" decided that the song wouldn't be complete with just Springsteen's lyrics. Nope, we needed to hear Tom Cruise and Renee Zellweger to fulfill our musical lives.

There was a time when songs were songs and movies were movies. But now, it seems that nothing is safe. Media convergence has made the commercialization blitz unrelenting.

I don't mind the websites advertised everywhere. I think getting movie listings over the phone is great. But having to listen to DiCaprio and Dion is just too much.

So to the all the victims of dialogue-laced love songs, please switch the station. And keep on switching until your ears are no longer subjected to the misery of the song that goes on.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Retro Week: Rollin'

To quote Huey Lewis, we're going Back in Time all the way to the early 1990s in today's edition of Retro Week on the NaturalBlog. Always a fashion icon, what might Natty B have had to say about the trend of the day?

I think it's safe to say that tight-rolling isn't just for the cool kids anymore. We're all doing it now. Sure, there are some kids at school who still let their denim pantlegs flap in the breeze. But they're the hicks.

There's a lot of benefits to this. Not just the chicks, either. The tight roll ensures that no one will see I'm wearing white socks with wide blue stripes at the top.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Retro Week: Saved by the Bell is totally what high school will be like

Today's installment of Retro Week on the NaturalBlog peers back to the glorious period from 1989-1993, when Mr. Belding ruled not only the halls of Bayside High but also the television airwaves. I try to reconstruct here what I might've said had I been blogging back then.

I've been a little worried about what high school will be like in a couple years. Even I can admit I'm not the coolest kid around, which is why I'm glad to have gotten a sneak peak into the future courtesy of Saved by the Bell. It's billed as a comedy, but I think of it more as a gripping docudrama about the struggles of six typical high schoolers.

It's so comforting to know that by the time I get to high school, all these divisions among the preps, the jocks, the geeks, the nerds, the rich, and the cheerleaders will have finally melted away. Mark my words, high school will be a veritable Shangri La.

I can only hope that sometime between now and then I'll figure out how to pause time like Zack Morris is always doing. After all, he's the SbtB character with whom I most closely identify, so it only makes sense that I'll end up like him.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Retro Week: I just don't get these Garbage Pail Kids cards

Let's sift through the dustbin of history to shine some light on a forgotten fad. In today's edition of Retro Week on the NaturalBlog, we head back to 1985. What might I have blogged about back then, had blogs existed?

A.K.A 'Run Over Grover'My parents would probably let me collect these Garbage Pail Kids cards if I asked, but to be honest I don't think I'm interested. I mean, this stuff is just gross. Oozy Suzie? Potty Scotty? Heavin' Steven? Ugh.

What's next, Clogged Blog? Thank you, no.

I much prefer Topps baseball cards, if you're buying.


Monday, March 26, 2007

Retro Week: I love those Dukes

It's time again to look back to the past, to see what I might have blogged about, had the NaturalBlog existed when I was a kid. We start the second installment of Retro Week all the way back in 1981.

I'm pretty excited about the new baby sister my parents got for me, but I have to say I'm more excited about the Dukes of Hazzard barn jumping set they brought home the same time she arrived.

The Duke Boys are just about the best thing going. Daisy is OK, too, but I'd rather have less of her and more of the Dukes and their crazy car chases.

Sometimes, Mom even lets me get in the car like they do -- through the window. I'm pretty sure that I'll get a car like the General Lee when I turn 16.


Friday, March 23, 2007

NaturalBlog 1, DVR 0

I was worried when the NaturalBlog household got a digital video recorder with our schmancy new Comcastic cable hookup last month. My concern was that my newfound ability to record anything I wanted and watch it any time I wanted would move my TV viewing from about an hour or two a day to, say, 12 or 15 hours each day.

But a month into this bold new world I'm glad to say that I'm still at about two hours a day. But instead of watching the drivel that's actually on from noon to two, I'm instead able to watch all the stuff that's on past my bedtime. Sarah Silverman's show, for example, and The Office.

It may be too soon to declare a victory over my digital video recorder. I think the score is 1-0 now, but we'll have to see how baseball season goes.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

People I Like Inexplicably, Vol. V

Two words here: John Mayer.

I've tried with all my might to dislike this guy. I really have. The hair. The fact that Esquire gave him a column. The fact that he dated Jessica Simpson, dumped her, now dates her again.

But even given all of these things, I've always kind of liked him. Maybe it's because my old roommate told me that Mayer once gave her a ride home, way back when he was playing Atlanta Barnes & Noble bookstores for free.

I started to really come around on the guy when he showed up on the Dave Chappelle Show to help Dave explain why white people love guitar. ("Play the fight riff, John!")

And I finally decided to include him in the People I Like Inexplicably pantheon after hearing an interview where he pretty much made fun of himself the whole time. Talking about his song Waiting on the World to Change, he summarized the message of the song by spoofing his own lyrics:
"Hey dude, on your own time/on your own dime/look up some stuff/but don't think it's cause I told you to."
He also worried that he might say something in the interview to give bloggers fodder for making fun of him. Not so, my friend. I'm on your side. It's my commenters who will probably let you have it.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

NaturalBlog News Update

It was his only time in first class, natch. British Airways has apologized for moving the body of a passenger who died on a flight from Delhi to London in first class. Apparently, the corpse gave something of a scare to the person seated next to it when he awoke from his mid-flight nap. Even so, this in an improvement from British Airways old policy of throwing the body out an emergency exit.

I'm shocked. Shocked by this news. San Diego Padres pitcher David Wells says he has type 2 diabetes -- the kind linked to being overweight. Wells --who is listed at 6"4', 250 lbs., and has battled gout -- says he has given up drinking, except for an occasional glass of wine. This is bad news for the NaturalBlog Vice Index -- I was counting on Wells to be good for business.

Get up in Manny's grill. Red Sox leftfielder Manny "Being Manny" Ramirez is seen on Ebay selling an "AMAZING grill." "I never have time to use it because I am always on the road," he writes on the listing. He told reporters yesterday he was selling it because he needs the money. Well, his $160M contract is nearing its end. Turns out the grill business can be lucrative, too. The bidding is up to $99,999,999. Plus $70 shipping.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Bloggin' ain't easy

I was worried that when I recommended a pair of funny video blogs about a year ago that I would lose all my regular readers because the sites I was recommending were funnier and took better advantage of the medium.

As it turns out, I'm the last man standing. Amanda Congdon left Rocketboom in a contract dispute a few weeks after I made my post, and Ze Frank wrapped up The Show over the weekend.

I suppose there is some pride in outlasting both of them, but it's tempered by the fact that Congdon now works for ABC News, and Ze is leaving because he got famous, got an agent, and is moving to Hollywood.

I prefer to think they couldn't hack it at being funny once a day and hung up their spikes. Sure, they may have been funnier, but now they're gone. I'll be less funnier, but for longer, thus arriving eventually at a higher total level of lifetime humor displacement.

Or something.


Monday, March 19, 2007

Hand washing

If I ever have a restaurant, I'm going to post a sign like this one:


Friday, March 16, 2007

Off to Attitash

It's another ski weekend, the third in a row.

It dawned on me last week that I like riding a chairlift more than I like sitting on the beach.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

32 games, 48 hours

This is one of my favorite frenetic days of the sports year. I could wax poetic about March Madness, but I'll let this picture say it all.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

NaturalBlog News Update

I served with Joe Quimby. I knew Joe Quimby. Joe Quimby was a friend of mine. Sir, you're no Joe Quimby. With the pending release of the new movie featuring the Simpsons, all the Springfields in the U.S. are in competition to host the film's opening. It's funny because the cartoon has never said where the Simpsons' Springfield is. Though I've often suspected Springfield, MA -- what with its inept government, burning tire yard, and sizable population of bumble bee men.

At least 50% of the first daughters can read. Did you see that first daughter Jenna Bush is writing a book? It's aimed at young people and tells the story of a pregnant teen in Panama who has HIV. I'll admit that I'm impressed, though I still think I like her twin sister Barbara better. And since we're on the topic of first daughters, it occurs to me that Chelsea Clinton has never written a book. Get on that, Chelsea, or risk losing your status as my favorite first daughter ever.

Sheer awesomeness. I know it's only March, but I think I may have found Time Magazine's person of the year. A recent college grad apparently missed the good old days of college, so he built a mini-fridge that would toss him beer from across the room. Check it out. This idea is so good, I'll give him a pass for having gone to Duke.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The decider, which is you, may soon be overwhelmed with options

I'm very excited about this edition of my occasional series on the 2008 presidential race, You Are the Decider. So excited, in fact, that I'm bringing back my official You Are the Decider graphic.

Those are bulls pooping, btw.

Anyway, the big graphic-inducing news is that former actual U.S. Senator and current fake Manhattan district attorney Fred S. Thompson is considering a run for president in 2008. Get this -- he says there's not enough star power in the field. Well that's an easy remedy -- Thompson is on TV something like 14 hours a day, thanks to reruns of the hit program on which he plays the district attorney, Law & Order.

A quick look at his positions on a couple of key issues -- he's pro-life, anti-gay marriage, pro-troop surge, pro-Scooter Libby -- and it makes me wonder how a guy who was so conservative could be elected in Manhattan.

Whatever. Like the vast majority of Americans, I don't vote on the issues. I vote on whether or not someone will make Sam Waterston the U.S. Attorney General. If Fred S. Thompson makes that promise, then he has my vote.


Monday, March 12, 2007

Dark age

There are a lot of shiny, happy people rejoicing about this year's earlier start to Daylight Saving Time, but I'm not one of them.

Thanks to Congressional busybody Ed Markey (Dumb-Mass.), the sun didn't rise until 7:02 a.m. today. And if you know the Natural Blog's early hours, then you know that means I toiled more than half my workday before sunrise. I've gone from a ridiculously early morning shift to just a run-of-the-mill overnight shift. Great.

Ed Markey, what was so wrong with not starting DST until the end of the month, like we used to? And don't give me that b.s. about how you want people to be happy. Your consituents live in Massachusetts and you know as well as I do that they're only happy when they're sad.

I'm ticked, so I'm moving to your district to vote against you, if I could only figure out which towns it is that you represent. Can someone clue me in on that?


Friday, March 09, 2007

Long Overdue Props: Vol. VI

To get the pulse of the people, I often turn to Paddy Power. He's not a man -- or not only a man, I suppose -- but an entire movement: an Irish gambling web site that lets you bet on everything from horses to poker to politics and American Idol.

Mind you, I read it for entertainment purposes only, but Paddy Power has provided enough entertainment that it now qualifies for entry into my very occasional series Long Overdue Props.

In this case, I suppose the props could really mean proposition bet.

And what are the Long Overdue Proposition bets on Paddy Power? How about the Anna Nicole baby daddy game -- Howard K. Stern is payin 7-2, or take the field at 9-1.

In the political field, the Irish are betting heavily on the democrats in 2008. The site is paying only 4-6 that a democrat will win the White House, 11-10 on republicans. Given the seemingly God-given ability by democrats to mess up newfound political power, I think the GOP might be a safe bet.

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Ernest Gallo, 1909-2007

Ernest Gallo, a winemaking entreprenuer known more for his business acumen than for his tasty table wines, was cut down in the prime of his life this week -- dead at age 97.

He had just begun to sip from the cup of life, which was not coincidentally filled with wine from a $4.99 bottle of delicious cabernet savignon.

In his honor, please enjoy this walk down memory lane, a totally non-cheesy ad for some blush chablis.

Of course it's not all plonk from the brothers Gallo. Through Ernest's strong-arm business tactics, his wine empire grew to encompass such legitimately good brands like the Frei Brothers and Louis M. Martini.

RIP, Ernest. If they bury you among your vines, may your nutrients find their way into my next glass of white zin.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Hot astronaut love revealed

"I asked him, 'Are you sure that she's OK with this? Because you know how these things go?' and I said, 'Is there gonna be some crazy lady showing up at my door trying to kill me?' And he said, 'No, no, no, she's not like that. She's fine with it. She's happy for me.'"
To quote John McLaughlin: Wrong!

ABC News says the the man in the astronaut love triangle that captured the nation's (ok, my) imagination, Bill Oefelein, was the ultimate NASA playa, carrying on with two women at once, with hilarious consequences. Among the hilarity, the fact that he called the victim in all of this, Capt. Colleen Shipman, by the name of the other one, Capt. Lisa Nowak. This guy gets more play than Capt. Kirk.

You can also read what are billed as "steamy" e-mail exchanges between Oefelein and the saner of his two girlfriends. Sure, there's a little steam ("[My] first urge will be to rip your clothes off, throw you on the ground and love the hell out of you."), but mostly the e-mails are sweet and I almost feel guilty reading them.

Some of them are even really funny, like when Oefelein says he hopes Shipman can make a European trip with him, because "I need my beautiful Irish girl to keep the evil, ugly bread canister ladies away from me."

Funny, but not really poetic. What we need to do is send a poet or artist into space, so they can capture the awesome majesty of looking down on the earth from above, without being distracted by the pressures of dating two women at once, one of whom is married and has lost touch with reality.


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Who are the advertising geniuses who came up with this one

A reader keyed me in to the news that the cavemen from the Geico cavemen ads may get their own TV show on ABC. The network has ordered a pilot, and if it's anywhere near as funny as this website, then ABC may have stumbled onto comic gold.

I hope it doesn't stop there, since I can think of several more cartoon characters I'd like to see in prime time, starting with the woman who does ads for Mercury. Of course, even if she was in a show -- say, Blade on Spike TV, for example -- I probably wouldn't watch.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Is Harold Reynolds a pimp daddy?

It was sad news in the NaturalBlog household when we found out that two-time all star and Baseball Tonight analyst Harold Reynolds had been fired by ESPN for sexual harassment, in large part because Mrs. N-B often characterizes him as cute. I respect him for his AL-best 60 steals in 1987.

So I was glad to see him fight back this week in a legal filing in which he claims the sexual harassment was actually a case of him offering to buy a woman lunch at the ESPN cafeteria. Though I fear this may be a case of "box lunch," I'll take Harold at his word for now.

One additional thought here -- Reynolds' ESPN contract (he was fired just a few months after signing it) was worth around $5 million. That's about 60 percent of what he made in his entire career.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

The most interesting thing to come out of spring training so far

Does anybody know what is up with the new spring training uniform design that changes colors underneath players' armpits? I first saw it on some footage of Japanese ace Daisuke Matsuzaka and thought perhaps that the massive force used to propel his gyroball also led to massive sweat (because, as they say, with great responsibility comes great perspiration).

But then I saw every player had these built-in armpit stains during the Red Sox-Twins spring training opener Wednesday night, which ended in a thrilling 4-4 tie. The Sox had blue stains on their red uniform tops; the Twins had red stains on their blue uniform tops.

If I had to guess, I would say the armpit patch is made from a different material and it allows fat players arms to rotate more easily.

Either way, new shortstop Julio Lugo is downright ecstatic about the change. Take a look for yourself.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Fantasy baseball's name game

It's the time of year where I rack my brain for hours on end, seeking the right blend of brevity, wit, irreverence, class, geekiness and history.

I'm not talking about my blog entries (though I could be, mind you), but the name for my fantasy baseball team. Teams (plural), actually, since I'm doing three leagues this year.

In the No Crying in Baseball league, I'm leaning toward Marla Hooch, playing on the reference to A League of Their Own. Last year in this league, I chose Team To Be Named in the preseason and never changed it, save for the brief period when I was in first place and made myself Your Mom, as in "I'm No. 1, because nobody beats 'Your Mom.'"

In my East Coast Bias league, I'm Closer By Committee, a nod to my pitching strategy. In the Orange Couch league, I'll be Wade's Chicken OCD, due in large part to the naming requirements of the league. Also because "Dice-K's Impossibly High Expectations" goes beyond the 20-character maximum.