Monday, March 31, 2008

Bracket Busted

I vowed a few weeks ago to win my March Madness pool this year, but I have come up short.

Not unlike the Texas Longhorns, who I picked to make it to the final but who were defeated yesterday by Memphis.

C'est la vie.

My seven-for-eight showing Thursday and Friday was a personal best, so I'll take it.


Friday, March 28, 2008

You are the Decider: Robert Palmer Edition

On the suggestion of my only regular non-U.S. reader, I've been kicking around an occasional "Where are the now"-type series on the NaturalBlog. I was going to start with Robert Palmer, until Mrs. N-B wisely pointed out last night that he died four-and-a-half years ago.

So now you know where he is.

His music lives on, thankfully, in this spoof passed along by a big time newsman.

If you enjoyed that, be sure to watch the Making Of Barack Obama-sistible.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

D.B. Cooper update

I've had an interest in the D.B. Cooper mystery for almost 20 years. It predates that bizarre D.B. Cooper storyline on NewsRadio, and goes all the way back to when I borrowed a book on unsolved mysteries from the Eden Public Library.

If you don't know about D.B., here's a quick primer: A man named Dan Cooper hijacked a flight from Portland to Seattle in 1971, demanded $200k and four parachutes, and jumped somewhere north of Portland. He was never found. None of the money ended up in circulation, though $5,800 thought to be part of the heist were found along the Columbia River in 1980.

Now, the FBI is investigating a parachute (right) found around the place where Cooper leapt from the plane.

The mystery deepens, though: If Cooper hit the ground where the parachute was found, then that means someone or something carried that $5,800 to the Columbia River.

I just love this case.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Comics pages

While I'm not as much of a comics connoisseur as my sister, I have had a long appreciation for the funny pages. My favorite as a kid was Garfield, mostly because illustrator Jim Davis (or one of his assistants, more likely) was kind enough to answer a fan letter I wrote at age 8. I also liked the fat cat because we were both born around the same time, though I am about two months older.

There are a pair of web sites that take a little luster off the comic strip, and I wanted to share them since I thought they were pretty clever.

First up, we've got Garfield minus Garfield. It's the strip reimagined without any Garfield, only Jon Arbuckle. It's pretty depressing.

Another take on the same idea is called Arbuckle. This gist of it is that since Garfield is a cat, Jon can't read his thought bubbles, and therefore spends his days talking to himself.

I like it because the comics are redrawn by fans of the site. There's a lot of variety there.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Red Sox (0-0) vs Athletics (0-0), 6:05 a.m. eastern

The baseball season got underway a few hours ago in Tokyo. A 6:05 a.m. start makes the Marathon Day game (11:05) seem like a nightcap.

As I post, the Red Sox trail. Fenway Park is dark.


Monday, March 24, 2008

$9.15 for Sam Light?

I was doing some Easter shopping yesterday afternoon at my neighborhood liquor store, and I was dismayed to see how expensive beer prices have become. I spent $19.75 for 12 beers -- a sixer of Sam Light (based in Boston, but bottled all the way in Cincinnati) and a sixer of Long Trail (brewed in Vermont).

Apparently it has to do with a worldwide shortage of hops, and increased transportation costs.

Whatever the reason, I'm afraid to even ask -- Is a $10 six pack around the corner? What is this, New York?


Thursday, March 20, 2008

My favorite (sports) day of the year

The responsibility of being my office Bracket Guy aside, I am fully ready to embrace the madness of March, starting today at 12:20 eastern. I plan to embrace it so much, I might not blog tomorrow.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

You are the Decider: Potential First Daughters

Chelsea Clinton, beware. There is a pretender to your throne as my favorite candidate for first daughter. My Chelsea love is as long-running as it is well-documented.

But could John McCain's 23-year-old daughter Meghan be a suitable alternative?

According to GQ, she's a fan of "The Big Lebowski" ("I f***ing love that movie!"), and the kitchen of her Phoenix loft is stocked with "some Bud Light cans, a six-pack of Stella Artois, and twelve cups of Jell-O pudding." (My money is on Jell-O shots, by the way.) She's even a blogger.

But most interesting is her succinct analysis of why voters never warmed to failed candidate Mitt Romney: "Mitt didn’t keep it real," she said.

No kidding. I think Romney's campaign would be a great entry in "When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong."


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Separated at Birth returns

It's been a while since I examined the idea of genetic repeats, so I'm happy to again present the NaturalBlog staple Separated at Birth.

Here we have Spain's president Jose Zapatero, who was reelected earlier this month, and Rowan Atkinson, who you probably know as Mr. Bean. I don't know much about Pres. Zapatero, but I can only imagine he's a lovable but hapless leader who always finds himself in awkward situations.

On the left is the U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. On the right is Boston University men's basketball coach Dennis Wolff. I was hoping to write this week about how Wolff had guided the BU Terriers to an NCAA tournament appearance, but now I have to settle for this entry instead.

You may have spent the last couple days wondering who disgraced former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer reminded you of. My sister-in-law suggested Gollum. In the very first Separated at Birth, I said he looked like former Steelers Coach Bill Cowher. Later, I suggested Steely McBeam. Now, I let him stand alone (with only his brain), as he does on the latest cover of New York Magazine.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Yes, that is madness

Keenly aware of the power of free advertising, The Oregon Urology Institute is hoping March Madness will lead to a vasectomy boom, which is the exact opposite of a baby boom.

Because guys need a couple days of sitting around to recover from a vasectomy, the Institute suggests having the surgery the day before the tournament opens Thursday, so dudes have an excuse to watch TV all weekend.

Seems like a pretty drastic way to come up with an excuse for watching a basketball tournament. Might I suggest a fake sprained ankle instead.


Friday, March 14, 2008

Drunken News Roundup

The headline refers to the content of the news roundup, not the state of the author.

Bad Idea No. 1. A repeat drunk driver faces a 10-year license suspension after crashing his Ford Ranger pickup in Waltham, Mass. He crashed it into the Waltham Police Department. During roll call.

Bad Idea No. 2. A man from Lowell, Mass., is charged with drunk driving after being pulled over for doing 100 mph on Route 110 in Methuen, just 10 mph shy of that golden moment when your speed matches your highway. He was so drunk during the arrest that he thought he was in a cab, not the back of a police cruiser. "Turn around and take me to Lowell," he shouted at the arresting officer. He "seemed to believe he was in a taxi, not a police car," the officer wrote.

Bad Idea No. 3. This doesn't deal with drinking, but it's so gross it may drive you to drink. A Kansas woman had such a phobia of leaving the bathroom that she stayed there for two years. She sat on the toilet so long her skin fused to it. Her live-in boyfriend might face charges.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

My guess is only three diamonds, maybe two

The New York Times gives us our first look at the hooker who blew Eliot Spitzer's hopes of higher office. "Kristen" nee Ashley Alexandra Dupre nee Ashley Rae Maika DiPietro nee Ashley Youmans is, according to the Times, just a small town girl, living in a lonely world.

We've learned she's from the Jersey Shore, she wants to be a singer, and her MySpace page says tellingly "what destroys me, strengthens me."

More importantly, we've learnd what a 22-year-old, $1,000-an-hour hooker looks like.

That's it? Yikes. She looks best in the photo where you can see the least of her face. Nice job, Eliot.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

It's time to make fun of Eliot Spitzer

Don't you wish you could go back to a time before you'd ever thought about Eliot Spitzer having sex? Yeah, me too. Monday feels like so long ago. But we're here, so we might as well enjoy it.

If you haven't heard, here's the primer: Crusading crime-fighter-cum-governor of New York Eliot Spitzer might end up a felon for ALLEGEDLY transporting a hooker across state lines for a tryst in Washington, D.C., in February. It's described as a high-priced prostitution ring (y'know, $5,000 an hour), but he made her take the train, so it can't be that fancy.

No wonder they're saying his political career is over. Someone who outsources outside his marriage could never be elected president.

It all happened right before Valentine's day -- is that a hooker's busy season?

Apparently Spitzer got a discount that night because he had a credit with the agency. How do you get a credit with a whorehouse? Did he complain about the service? "Well, Client 9, we can't take back the product, but we can give you a store credit for next time."

The call girl ring he used ranked its girls on a scale of three to seven diamonds. I wonder how. Evaluations, like they do in college classes? Performance reviews? Maybe they keep it simple and just go with cup size.

There are a few reports out there this morning saying Spitzer spent $80,000 on hookers over the years. Sounds like a lot, but that's only 16 hours at $5,000 an hour. And if it was spread out over, say, six years, you're only talking two or three hours a year. So, you know, 100 or so trysts.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Matt Walsh videotaped the tryout

I saw a's coverage this week of the try-outs for the New England Patriots cheerleader squad. I looked through the photos purely for research purposes: Given how marginally attractive the actual Pats cheerleaders are, how gross must the rejects be?

My answer was a disinterested "Meh."

I've often wished that in place of the usual my-city's-speciality for your-city's-speciality bet that mayors make during big games, someone would've arranged for the Patriots to win another team's cheer squad in Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII or XXXIX. The Panthers' cheerleaders would obviously be the pick of the litter, but even Philly would've been an upgrade.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Clooney is everywhere

I mentioned George Clooney on Friday and since then I've realized he's pretty much everywhere these days. He's had three magazine covers recently, and he pretty much runs the gamut. Take a look:

That's the new edition of The New York Times fashion magazine, Time Magazine from a few weeks ago, and next month's Esquire. He's a real triple threat, I supposed.

He displays a very likable self-efficacy in the Esquire interview. Asked about a web site that calls him "gay, gay, gay," he says "No, I'm gay, gay. The third gay -– that was pushing it."


Friday, March 07, 2008

Casting call

For some reason, Mrs. N-B and I were discussing the other day whom we would want to play us in the movie version of our lives. The conversation went like this.

Me: I'm thinking Clooney.

Mrs. N-B: He is very handsome. But you look more like Matthew Broderick.

Me: Maybe Matt Damon. But under no circumstances should it be Ben Affleck. Under no circumstances.

Mrs. N-B: I think I'd want Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Me: Ok but no Michael Douglas for me. I'm serious. He's gross.

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Get me Merriam. ... Then wake him!

A friend suggested a trademark a word I came up with after my trip to Barcelona with Mrs. N-B, but I don't know how to trademark anything. Instead, I'll write about it here, so at least it's on the record as my own.

The word (phrase, really) describes someone's ability to communicate in another language. While I'm far far away from being able to speak fluent Spanish, I can definitely speak...

Transactional Spanish

I can buy stuff, get a recommendation from a waiter, exchange a ticket I bought for the wrong day, and even explain that I want a wake-up call. I do all of this haltingly, with bad grammar.

There ya go. Another new word. Read the others here.


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

You'll know them by the trail of the mail

Have you ever thought about how strange the U.S. Postal Service is?

Here is an army of 800,000 people, outfitted with 260,000 vehicles, roaming our neighborhoods, learning our names, reading our postcards. They wear uniforms. They report to an executive known not as a director or secretary, but as a general.

Is this not creepy? I have this sneaking feeling that something sinister is afoot. Believe it. The training has already begun.


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

QI, XU, et al.

My latest obsession Scrabulous hit the front page of The New York Times this weekend. If you still have the paper floating around your house, take a close look at the graphic and look at the players' names. Or click here.

For the uninitiated, Scrabulous is online Scrabble, which started on this website and really took off after its programmers came up an interface for the Facebook website. My sister and I played game No. 1,061 back last April. The game someone just started with me on Facebook is No. 21,427,617, so it's fair to say it's kind of popular. (I'm just about .500 in my career, if you were wondering.)

The Times story doesn't break any new ground, except to say that there are two game companies that have signed deals with Scrabble-maker Hasbro for official online versions of the game.

The Scrabble people have threatened to shut down Scrabulous because it's unauthorized. I'm sure they'd change their minds if they heard this.

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Monday, March 03, 2008

Product Review: Snickers Charged

I was pretty tuckered out after a weekend of skiing in Maine, so I turned to a new Snickers product to keep hunger at bay. It's called Snickers Charged, which is like a regular Snickers but with caffeine, taurine, and some vitamins.

There's 60 mg of caffeine in a small bar, about 3/4 the amount in a cup of coffee, while there are 250 mg of the amino acid taurine, just 1/4 of the taurine found in a Red Bull. It has 250 calories, which works out to about 30 calories a bite.

Mrs. NaturalBlog and I both tried it. Her verdict: "Tastes like a Snickers to me." I agreed, at least at first. But then my muscles started twitching beneath my logo apparel, my visual acuity increased five-fold, and I found I was suddenly able to name all the vice presidents. In order, with their home towns.

So I'd say Snickers Charged gets the job done.

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