Thursday, January 31, 2008

Olive you too

For a number of years, the list of foods I didn't like was small but unyielding: Canned tuna, olives, yogurt.

But for some reason I'm slowly coming around, on everything but the canned tuna, at least.

A few weeks back was the first time I ever had a craving for olives. The conversation with Mrs. N-B went like this.

Me: I could really go for an olive.
Mrs. N-B: Do you want the olive or the martini that comes with it?


I sure picked a good time to start liking them, too, since they figure prominently in the Catalan cuisine we had in Spain last week.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

What the heck is going on here?

I guess it's a demonstration of how quickly a city can go from being full of lovable losers to being drunk on winning. The New England Patriots are four days away from facing the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII, and the collective reaction in Boston goes something like this: "Ho-hum."

I think it's best summed up by what one Boston businessman told the Globe. "It's crazy to say, but it's the same old, same old," he said. "It's almost like, who hasn't been to one or two of them already?"

Um, me?

And that's not even the worst part. Boston Mayor Tom Menino owes me a Coke, because he totally jinxed the team when he said yesterday that the city had already planned a victory parade. That's right. The day, the time, the route. All that we're missing at this point is the Lombardi Trophy.

I usually think the Boston Herald is a little heavy handed, but today's front page treatment of Mayor Menino goes a little soft on him, I think.

I don't know if the Giants will win, but definitely pick them to cover.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

You are the Decider, Florida

As long as this presidential campaign continues to limp on, I will continue to chronicle it in this series You are the Decider. Cue the graphic of the pooping bulls.

You are entering the no bull zone.

People in Florida are voting today, but only the Republicans. It's a little unclear why it's just the GOP, but I think it has something to do with a secret plot by Katherine Harris (at right, with the only person who voted for her U.S. Senate campaign). That's just a guess really.

My former chief executive Mitt Romney was on the verge of trying something new in his campaign in Florida the other day: He almost told the truth.

Asked about a McCain claim that Romney supports a timetable for a troop pullout from Iraq, Romney said “Well, he's lying. he's dishonest. He's being dishonest in that regard."

He's lying? Does that make him a liar? Are you calling him a liar liar pants on fire, a reporter wondered.

“No, I'm not. He made a dishonest comment, I misspoke."

So he's dishonest, but not a liar? Are we holding this election in 1984?


Monday, January 28, 2008

How can you miss me if I don't go away?

The NaturalBlog is back from beautiful Barcelona. I'll resume the blog's trademark observational wit by offering a few thoughts about international travel and Spain.

Barcelona has a church that's been under construction since 1882 (pictured). That 125-year timetable makes me feel better about the Big Dig.

Why is it that cabs and cop cars look the same in every country? In Spain, they're both tiny. The biggest car we saw there was a Pathfinder.

This past week was the first time that I was lucky enough to have someone try to communicate with me in another language (Catalan in this case) simply by speaking loudly. The person in question was a cabbie. I couldn't understand what he asked, but I used context clues to tell him that we wanted the Delta terminal.


Thursday, January 17, 2008


I'm going on vacation. Be back in a week and a half, unless I decide to move there.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

This business idea can't miss

I do some of my best thinking in the bathroom,. Indeed, that's where this product plan hit me. Fact: Urinals are a mess. Fact: Guys are competitive. Add these two maxims together and you end up with suddenly better aim.

It's a cross between a urinal and a skee ball game. I call it Pee-Ball.

So there's the idea. Now I just need a manufacturer and distributor.

I wonder why all of business plans involve the bathroom.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sad Peyton Redux

If there's one thing I love, it's writing about Sad Peyton. But judging by yesterday's comments, my occasional series chronicling Peyton Manning's losses touches a nerve among some readers who think I'm being unfair because I don't criticize Tom Brady.

To be honest, there are a lot fewer opportunities to post "Sam Tom" pictures, since he's only lost twice in the postseason in his career, compared to Peyton's seven. (Perspective: Remember you can only lose in the postseason once a year.) As for making fun of Peyton's ads, there's nothing I can do because those jokes write themselves.

But if you think I haven't made fun of Tom Brady, well then you just haven't been paying close enough attention.

I've made jokes about Brady's ads (Feb. 9, 2006), Brady's lack of protection in the pocket (Feb. 18, 2007), Brady's wardrobe (May 3, 2007), and even Brady's physique (Jan. 3, 2008).

I've posted pictures of him holding a goat not once but twice. And once I even called his first Super Bowl run a fluke.

There are my bona fides. Here is my Sad Peyton panoply:


Monday, January 14, 2008

Don't hate the player...

The (Stay Classy) San Diego Chargers have beaten the Indianapolis Colts three straight times now, giving me a plethora of Sad Peytons. Here's a nice one from yesterday's playoff loss:

Of course, my happiness over Sad Peyton was tinged by my sadness over Happy Eli, who somehow someway not only covered the spread but actually beat the Cowboys in Dallas.

For those of you out there who don't delight in Manning failure as much as I do, I challenge you to witness their latest ad campaign and still root for them. No reasonable person can visit that web site and not wish them to lose.


Friday, January 11, 2008

Of all the days to forget to wear underwear!

If you're riding public transportation in Boston, New York and lord knows where else tomorrow, please beware the pantsless wonders. There's some group that's going to ride the trains in just their underwear. They're calling it improv, but I just call it creepy. As if the people riding the MBTA aren't strange enough already.


The emphasis was theirs, but I can't emphasize this point enough: I have worked in the news media and this is not the sort of thing you want to demand.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

You Are the Decider: Nothing is yet decided

Apparently there are still more elections, so let's fire up the graphic for You Are the Decider, my occasional and awesome series on the 2008 presidential race.

No Bull. No Mercy. So, what have the candidates been up to?

Bored with all this presidentialing, my favorite creationist in the race Mike Huckabee is giving up running for president and is instead becoming a full-time Guitar Hero. Guitar Hero groupies apparently leave a little something to be desired.

Mitt Romney is 1-2-0 in the medal count, posting second place finishes in the two states that matter and a first place finish in some big state in the west. Asking people for their votes hasn't worked, so now it's plan B: Pull My Finger, America!

Go ahead. Pull it. You won't be sorry.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Resolved: Win March Madness

Last year was my high-water mark for fantasy sports. I won my Super Bowl squares game, captured the title in my baseball eliminator pool, and even managed an 11-game fantasy football winning streak that culminated in a championship.

But the best never rest, and I will let it be known today that this is my year to win my March Madness NCAA basketball pool. After a disappointing 33d place finish last year (in a tie with Mrs. N-B, coincidentally), I am ready to make the leap to the upper echelon.

I suppose I should be careful not to guarantee a win, since I'm the one who runs my office pool (for entertainment purposes only, of course). I'd hate to give conspiracy theorists any fodder.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

What we knew when

Sometimes when I see pictures from 40, 20 or even just 10 years ago, I sometimes wonder "What were we thinking?" Here's an example of what I'm talking about.

Plenty more where that came from.

Sometimes you see old pictures of people smoking while pregnant, something that would have freedom-hating liberals all over you now.

It got me wondering if we're doing anything now that might look silly in pictures later. Two things spring to mind.

Those winter crocs on the left are a no-brainer, simply because they're so ugly. The Bluetooth headset is also ugly, but has the added bonus of probably giving you cancer in your brain. There is a silver lining: our future might be devoid of high-powered salesmen.


Monday, January 07, 2008

Apres ski

Mrs. N-B and I went waaaaaaaaaaaay north this weekend for some skiing. We were at Jay Peak. Nice mountain, full of Canadians. That might be because of it's proximity. Check out the official USGS map:

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Again a word from our sponsors

It's been more than two years since I noted how commercial actors tend to turn up again and again. I don't think two posts in 25 months is enough to qualify for series status on the NaturalBlog, but that won't keep me from going back to this well.

So for those of you who were busy on December 22, 2005 and missed my posting that day, here's the jist: When I notice a commercial actor shilling for two different products, I like to pretend they're a real person and make up a back story that explains how they ended up in both ads.

You might remember this guy (left) from his Holiday Inn ads. He was the straight man trying to keep his band of traveling businessmen in line. There were a couple of ads where they accosted Joe Buck, which was fine by me. Anyway, he must've had a bad performance review, because he was fired and has recently ended up in Comcast ads pretending to be a newscaster. I've worked with newscasters with less experience, so this seems plausible.

This one came from an alert reader. Applebee's has rebranded itself a couple dozen times since the fella on the right was featured in the Applebee's To Go ads. He was the one who left his food atop his car. What a bonehead, but apparently that sort of behavior wasn't enough for his wife to leave him. She's seen here in this ad from Lowe's. They're trying to buy glueless flooring because their dog is allergic to glue. Lowe's? They should shop at Kohl's, because her hair is a helmet. Here is a link that explains that joke.

If you're a fan of this little game, then you certainly know this guy. He's everywhere. As I mentioned in my last installment, he's done Bud Light, Circuit City, Cisco. He's grown a beard since then, proving that he's willing to adapt to stay on top of his game. A regular Renniasance man, now he's in a pretty funny series of Allstate auto insurance ads. This guy is the king of the commercial actors.

SPECIAL OFFER! If you act now (which is to say if you keep reading), then I'll throw in a bonus advertising repeat: The song in the iPhone ads (Orba Squara's Perfect Timing) is the same one used in new ads for the Dodge Caravan. Listen for it.


Thursday, January 03, 2008

The emporer has (had) no clothes

Feeling down about your physique? Worried that you don't have the muscles to get all the pretty girls? Don't worry. You could be this guy.

That's GQ coverboy and sometime New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, back at his NFL tryout in 2000. Y'know, I've filled out a little bit in the last eight years, too, but in a different way, I'm afraid.

Do you think he cringes when he sees that picture? I mean -- where's his pocket square? This may even be more embarrassing than that picture of him and the goat.

Well, maybe not.


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

In a bubble

Wouldn't it be funny if there were a way to see what song someone had in their head, just by looking at them? I think somebody should be working on this Thought Bubble Technology (tm).

In case such a scientist is reading, I'll go ahead and say that I'd like artist and album information, as well as any mistaken lyrics highlighted.

Speaking of mistaken lyrics, I have for years thought the Steely Dan song "Kid Charlemange" contained the line "Did you realize/That you were Italian in their eyes" when in fact it's "a champion in their eyes."

I realized this after Kanye West sampled Steely Dan in a song called, not coincidentally, "Champion."

Oddly, Steely Dan's "Kid Charlemagne" has another misheard line about Italians: "dayglow freaks," which I thought was "Deigo freaks." In "Champion" Kanye says "I shop so much I can speak Italian." That's a lot of coincidences.


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

You Are the Decider

There's a great Latin word "praeteritio," which means something to the effect of "In passing over this, I mention it." You've probably used it in arguments, when you say something like "I won't even mention the fact that ."

Republican Mike Huckabee (getting cleaned up at right) probably won't cop to being fluent in Latin, which is for the liberal effete (and Jesuits), but he's given a delightful example of praeteritio. Yesterday, he called a news conference to say how his campaign had produced a negative ad about Mitt Romney, but that he'd decided not to run the ad. Then he showed the ad.

Well played, sir. Do you think people see through this? Probably not.