Friday, September 28, 2007

With this blog, I thee wed

There were a pair of funny engagement stories I saw this week.

A dude proposed to his girlfriend at a romantic Central Park gazebo, but after she said yes a mugger demanded their money. The robber apparently missed the proposal, because he didn't notice when the groom-to-be slipped the diamond engagement ring off his fiance's finger. The mugger did make off with $125 and the bride's Rolex.

That story's nice, but not as nice as the two geeks who got engaged after a complicated crossword proposal. A guy from Cambridge convinced the Boston Globe's crossword writers to sneak in clues indicating he wanted to pop the question. When his betrothed got to 111-across "Generic Proposal," the gig was up and he formally asked. Apparently excited at the idea of little geek babies, the girl said yes.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Those Iranians aren't gay, just happy

Editor's note: Sorry there was no post yesterday. My host,, wasn't accessible.

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who some say is the Middle Eastern Bronson Pinchot (or possibly Steve Carrell), faced down a tough audience at Columbia University earlier this week, withstanding a blistering introduction and then fielding questions.

My favorite moment came when he was asked about Iran's treatment of gays. He stated emphatically, albeit hrough a translator, that there's no problem, because "In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country."

Seems reasonable. I mean, he is the president of the country. He oughta know.

I just hope that legions of middle eastern gays take this oppotunity to descend on Iran, bringing with them an army of little dogs, to take so-so Tehran neighborhoods and clean them up with track lighting, high ceilings and accent walls.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

You are the Decider: Just like us edition

You might think that because the candidates running for president are all super wealthy and are unwilling to speak candidly because of political concerns that they're different from you and me. Au contraire! As you'll see in this edition of You are the Decider: Candidates -- They're just like us!

They talk on the phone! Below, see that Rudy Giuliani is smart enough to know that when his wife calls, he's gotta answer, as he did during a speech before the NRA last week. If only he'd shown such care with his first two wives.

They try to fit in with the cool kids! Here you see Bill Richardson trying to hone in on the conversation between Hillary Clinton and Chris Dodd. Can't blame the guy. His best bet in the race is for people to confuse him with someone else.

They play rock, paper, scissors! Mitt Romney throws paper in a game of rochambeaux. Save that strategy for the general election, chief, just in case you have to face Rock Obama.


Monday, September 24, 2007

Jan, Jan, Jan

In what might be the most desperate move by a former celebrity since Darva Conger posed in Playboy, Marcia Brady will admit in her upcoming autobiography that she had a lesbian fling with her TV sister Jan. Well, not Marcia, but Maureen McCormick. And not Jan, of course, but actress Eve Plumb.

According to the National Enquirer (how's that for sourcing?):
The most explosive comments will be how the then-blonde, blue-eyed cutie developed a crush on Eve Plumb, which led to some sexual play. This book will certainly come as a shocker. While Maureen is not a lesbian, she reveals there were some sexual hijinks going on behind the scenes.
McCormick said in 1997 that she had a crush on Plumb and admitted the two had kissed.

Who knows what other details her book will reveal, but if McCormick left Plumb broken hearted, it would certainly explain the method behind fine acting like this:


Friday, September 21, 2007

Vegan skin

For a lot of guys, it was 1995 when they first fell in love with Alicia Silverstone, thanks to the great commercial success of Clueless. For me, it was 1993's The Crush. Never before (nor since) have I wanted to be Cary Elwes so much.

I caught part of Clueless on TV on Monday and wondered what Alicia was up to. Absent a cover shoot for Shape Magazine earlier this year (Mrs. N-B subscribes), I didn't really know what she was up to.

The answer came this week, when PETA unveiled Silverstone as a new spokeswoman. In this Internet ad she emerges naked from a pool to tell us she's a vegetarian. She's actually a vegan, but that's too hard a sell, even from a naked girl.

Nice production values there, but there's not a whole lot more skin shown than in 1993. Nudity? As if.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Start spreading the news (roundup)

Here's a couple of stories out of New York that caught my eye.

Talk about a bottle blonde. The New York Post has an EXCLUSIVE about how the six sperm banks in New York City are running out of Scandanavian juice, prized for genes that breed blonde babies. Apparently there's some sort of ban on importing reinforcements. Either that or Sven's little swimmers are having too a hard time making it across the frigid North Atlantic.

Who knew Dr. Robert Bruce Banner took spin class? A stock broker got upset at a spin class when another member of his super-posh Equinox gym was "enjoying the 'euphoric experience' of cycling and was making noises to increase his high." The AP says when the broker complained, the victim yelled back: "This is spin class. If you don't like it, leave. Stop being such a baby," he said. With that, the broker flipped the 200-lb. grunter, and his bike. They're calling it "Spin Rage."

I had a girlfriend nicknamed 'Queenie' once. No one knows why there was a cow roaming around Jamaica, Queens, but she did lead police and others on a two-mile chase. The cow, nicknamed Queenie by her rescuers, will "probably go to a farm sanctuary upstate," according to Animal Care and Control of New York City. Upstate, eh? I think that's where all those childhood pets are living these days.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Separated at "Has he lost his marbles?"

The consultants I paid to review the site said "Keep it fresh," so here's a new take on a NaturalBlog staple: Separated at birth, non-human edition.

At left is Cutie, a cat who lives in Jamaica Plain. At right with laser beam eyes is Abita, whom Mrs. N-B and I cat-sat after she was displaced by a hurricane. To be fair, I guess all cats kind of look alike.

And in a pairing sure to rile somebody up, I dare you to tell the difference between Wyoming and Colorado. I took the labels off to make it harder on you, but I think there are enough context clues left for you to figure it out.

How about the 2005 Hyundai Elantra and the 2002 Saab 9-3? It would be a lot less expensive to buy the Hyundai, but you make significant sacrifices to style.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

NaturalBlog News Update

Wait. Who? Yankees rightfielder Shelley Duncan signed an autograph for a 10-year-old Boston fan over the weekend. Why the kid wanted Shelley Duncan's autograph, I'm not really sure. I guess it caught Duncan by surprise, too, because he apparently wrote the first thing that came to mind: "Red Sox Suck! Shelley Duncan." Classy.

Free him so he can find the real robbers. OJ Simpson is due in court later this week after being arrested for armed robbery. He's accused of brandishing a gun and trying to rob two sports memorabilia dealers who were selling Simpson merchandise. Said one of the alleged victims: "As soon as I saw him, I'm thinking, 'O.J., how can you be this dumb?'"

Here are O.J.'s mugshots from 1994 and this week. He actually looks good for a guy who's 60. You can see he's almost bemused by his arrest this time, maybe because he's been through this whole booking thing before.


Monday, September 17, 2007

I am ready to submit my bid

Upset with only being the Las Vegas of same-sex marriage, Massachusetts now wants to be the Las Vegas of gambling, too. Gov. "The Wonder of Deval" Patrick is proposing the state license three casinos, one in southeastern Massachusetts, one in the Western part of the state, and one in the Boston area.
I know there will be a lot of competition and jockeying for these casinos, but I'd like to go ahead and ask the state to build one in my basement. Plenty of room down there, so long as I organize all those boxes of old plates and small appliances that are optimistically labeled "Vacation House."

What's more, Mrs. N-B and I are conveniently located to not only Storrow Drive, but also the Massachusetts Turnpike.

There is ample street parking in our neighborhood, so long as you don't take my landlady's spot in front of her house next door.


Friday, September 14, 2007

The Biz never sleeps, but I do

Sometimes, when it's been a long week, I like to kick back and let Biz Markie (born April 8, 1964) take me away. He's got what I need.

Those dulcet tones may remind you of 1989, but I can't help but think of the time Mrs. N-B and I were in traffic next to a dude in a Mercedes convertible. He was listening to Just a Friend at top volume, singing along. We managed to keep from laughing until the light changed.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Patriots jump the shark

The New England Patriots (1-0 on the season, 0-0 in games where they don't cheat) might lose draft picks or have someone suspended because they spied on the Jets during Sunday's 38-14 mauling.

The NFL seized the video camera and tape in the first quarter, so it probably played no role in the win. Even so, I think the Pats ought to forfeit the game. It would be like a pass interference penalty -- maybe the dude wasn't going to catch the ball, but you're going to be punished like he would've.

Despite my tough line, I don't know if such a punishment is totally warranted, since I suspect that most teams are bending the rules in this or some other way.

It's kind of shocking the vitriol that's being leveled at Pats head coach Bill Belichick. It's like a lifetime of anger that fans couldn't voice because he's so good (76-37 with the Pats, plus 13-2 postseason) has finally found an outlet.

Throw in the suspension of Rodney Harrison for using human growth hormone, and the raging hormones of manwhore QB Tom Brady, who had a breakdown in protection, and the team has lost a lot of its lustre. Don't take it from me, take it from this guy, who's funnier.

The lustre can come back, though, with a win over the Chargers on Sunday.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Maybe he's just resting

Alex the Parrot, a smarty pants know-it-all bird who recognized shapes and colors, understood the concept of zero, and even made fun of bad grammar, has died, apparently of natural causes. He was 31.

Alex was considered the smartest parrot in the world, with the intellect of a five-year-old child, but the emotional development of a two-year-old, which would explain all the tantrums. The parrot once starred alongside Alan Alda on a PBS show. He used to admonish the scientists in his lab to "talk better."

Researcher Irene Pepperberg of Brandeis and Harvard Universities bought Alex in 1977, apparently unaware that she was purchasing the Einstein of birds. There is a creepy divergence in the reporting surrounding Alex's final conversation with Pepperberg.

The New York Times says:
As she put him into his cage for the night last Thursday, she recalled, Alex looked at her and said: “You be good, see you tomorrow. I love you.”
But the Boston Globe reports more ominously:
Pepperberg said she and Alex went through their good-night routine, in which she told him it was time to go in the cage and said: "You be good. I love you. I'll see you tomorrow."

To which Alex said, "
You'll be in tomorrow."
The emphasis is my own, but the point stands. Was the bird trying to tell Pepperberg he was dying?

Unsatisfied with the reporting, I contacted Pepperberg and she told me via email that Alex's chilling final words came in unrhymed iambs:
Ask for me tomorrow, and / you shall find me a grave man.
J/K. The bird did not quote from Romeo and Juliet, Act III, scene i.

Pepperberg's actual response was cryptic. Asked which version was true, she said "Alex said most of it...I told him I loved him, too..." I think she's covering for the dead bird. Fortunately, an eagle-eyed NaturalBlog coworker managed to find this video of Alex's final moments:

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

News Roundup: Awards Shows Edition

Who would've thought I'd ever be rooting for K-Fed? There's a lot of talk among the newsgossip sites I visit about Britney Spears' disastrous Video Music Awards performance. TMZ intones: RIP Britney's Career 1998-2007. I think I would've put the date of death a little earlier. Who cares if she's not as good at lip-synching as she used to be?

Maybe she's not so bad. I have long detested Kathy Griffin, but I might be coming around after her Emmy Award acceptance speech was deemed so offensive it will be censored. "A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus," she said. "This award is my god now!" The AP says she also made an "off-color remark about Christ," but I couldn't determine what it was. A little help?


Monday, September 10, 2007

Review: The Beehive (541 Tremont St.)

I went to a really cool bar last night called The Beehive in Boston's South End. Instead of reviewing the bar, which has been done, I think I'll review the bathroom.

There is precedent for toilet humor on the NaturalBlog. There were the national bathroom rankings, which were blog fodder last year, and long-time readers could never forget the time I made a spreadsheet to determine whether the toilet seat should be up in your household (3d item). So today I'm going back to the bowl.

I'm writing about the Beehive bathroom because it was so nice. Not nice in the marble counter-and-soft handtowel kind of way, but in the fact that it met or exceeded all my expectations.

Spacious, with three stalls and two urinals. Thoughtful in design, which is to say there was a little divider between the urinals. Clean, meaning the graffiti wasn't too gritty, but the kind of graffiti you could take home to meet your parents.

What really won me over was the hand drying situation. Most places now give you either an air-dryer that's as strong as an airplane engine or one of those magical towel dispensers where you wave your hand in order advance the paper towels.

Naturally I prefer the touchless dispensers, since I'm so clean, but my complaint is always that you don't get a large enough square of paper towel. But not so at the Beehive. You get plenty. I put together this graphic to explain:

So say if you go to the Beehive, don't hold it. Use the bathroom. You won't be disappointed.

The Maker's Mark Manhattan was pretty good, too.


Friday, September 07, 2007

Deadliest Catch v. Lobster Wars

The Discovery Channel has debuted Lobster Wars, a documentary-style show about New England lobstermen who fish Georges Bank off the Massachusetts coast. I was ready to like this show more than its west coast counterpart Deadliest Catch, which is about Bering Sea crab fishermen.

But unfortunately, Lobster Wars opens by confirming just about every negative stereotype you might have about my people: Rude, angry, crotchety, uncaring of others and that they talk like they have marbles in their mouths.

I vote for Deadliest Catch, where at least all the negative stereotypes are interesting and new.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

News of the Weird

In his defense, it was an undercover policeman. "If you're looking for weed, my roommate Ferrante has some for sale" is a bad thing to yell from your dorm window in front of a policeman. Just ask 18-year-old Michael Emery, who is facing drug charges along with his roommate Matthew Ferrante, also 18. They were kicked out of Northeastern University before even attending the first class of their freshman year. Dopes.

Orville Redenbacher: Death monger. A dude from Colorado has a serious and rare lung condition because he eats too much microwave popcorn. It has to do with that delicious fake butter, which is apparently toxic in high doses and linked to a bizarre condition called "Popcorn workers' lung." The Colorado man had a two-pack a day habit and told his doctor: "I am Mr. Popcorn. I love popcorn."

This story has inspired a special Separated at Birth: Killers Edition. Orville Redenbacher, Dr. Jack Kevorkian. Never seen 'em both in the same place.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Long Overdue Props: Vol. Iron Chef

It's been almost 15 years since Iron Chef debuted, more than eight years since they stopped filming new ones, and about five years since I watched it regularly, so the props I am about to issue fit the theme of this feature, which is to say they are indeed long overdue.

The show's premise was simple, a chef from a nice Japanese restaurant faces off against one of the "house chefs," creating several dishes that feature the theme ingredient. The ingredient is chosen at the top of the show by the program's host, Takeshi Kaga, equal parts enigmatic, flashy, and fictional.

Ever since I saw Chairman Kaga bite into that pepper and stifle a laugh in the show's dramatic opening, I was in love with this program. It's hard to capture the excitement of Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai, who looked like he better belonged as an extra in a Dirk Diggler movie than in Kitchen Stadium, racing against the clock to beat an uppity challenger before the panel of celebrity judges.

And where would we be without the excitement of floor reporter Shinichiro Ohta, the precision of play-by-play guy Kenji Fukui, and the cool voice of experience from colorman Dr. Yukio Hattori. Dubbed, of course.

Iron Chef, it has been too long. Please accept these props, no matter how overdue they may be.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Beer snobs weep

I was proud a few weeks back when I was dubbed a "Bold Explorer" by a beer focus group. I earned the appelation via my willingness to try new beers. That, and the fact that I will venture Indiana Jones-style for a good beer.

I didn't realize it at the time, but I probably owe a debt of thanks to Michael Jackson for ensuring people worldwide wouldn't be doomed to forever drink crappy beer.

Michael Jackson, not the singer, was a tireless beer critic, beer lecturer, beer author, and beer connoisseur, perhaps best known for his TV documentary series "The Beer Hunter." He died at age 65 at his home in West London, after a heart attack. While it's impossible to know for sure the reach of his influence, obituarists are crediting him with everything from starting the 1970's renaissance of interest in beer to being the English language's leading authority on beer.

Here's a funny line he wrote once:
But one glass of the Dublin stout and I would be transported from my desert island to a pub where the glistening black of the beer reflected the brass barrails, the polished mirrors and mahogany ... Two glasses and I would begin to enjoy my own company, three, and I would find myself as entertaining as Joyce, Wilde or O'Casey.
Next time I'm at my favorite bar, I'll have to pour out a $20 Belgian in Michael Jackson's memory. And after downing my own Belgian, maybe I'll find myself as entertaining as, say, Michael Jackson.


Monday, September 03, 2007

I hear ya, Diddy

I read that the Long Island White Party thrown by Sean "Diddy" Combs was a big success again this year. This is according to Diddy himself, but I'm sure he's an unbiased judge.

The gimmick for the White Party is that you have to wear white. If you don't, you're turned away, like Billy Joel's 15-year-old wife Katie Lee, who wore cream. That's her on the right in 2006, maybe wearing the offending dress.

"This party is up there with the top three that I've thrown," Combs said, according to the Associated Press. "It's a party that has legendary status. It's hard to throw a party that lives up to its legend."

This is a spot where Diddy and I agree. Mrs. N-B and I have thrown Kentucky Derby parties for three years running and I'm wondering how we'll top ourselves next year. I think the only thing left to do is offer thoroughbred rides.

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