Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Enjoy yourselves tonight

In a sign of how creepily invasive Facebook has become, there's an application that tracks what people are writing on other people's pages. Search for a word, and you get a graph that shows how often it's appearing by day.

Just for kicks, let's take a look at how often "hangover" appears:

Each weekend, with one big spike tomorrow. Classic.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

IPA vs Pale Ale

Beers known as IPAs, or India pale ales, have really exploded in popularity in the last 18 months or so. One of the owners of a favorite haunt told me almost with remorse that more than a third of his taps were IPAs.

In the race to make IPAs distinctive, brewers have really blown the top off the beer. The hoppiness that is the hallmark of IPAs has exploded and alcohol content is way up.

I've been a fan of IPAs for a while, which is why it pains me to say that I'm enjoying them less the bigger they get. I think I'm drifting to pale ales, which aren't so overdone.

If you're a brewer and you're reading this, dial back your IPAs.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Christmas

I'll be back again next week. In the meantime, enjoy this mirth.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The year in mugshots

It's time to give a shout-out to the great web site The Smoking Gun, which has enough success in getting public records to make every journalist green with envy.

The site's year-end compilation of the best mug shots (flagged by my sis) is a trip, evidenced by the single tear falling from behind this man's shades.

Be sure to check out the whole gamut, which is well worth your time. Don't believe me? Take a look at this little teaser:


Monday, December 22, 2008

"Instant Win" ticket is the preferred term

Many years from now when you look back and ask yourself rhetorically, "When did the NaturalBlog turn into a Masshole," you'll be able to point to yesterday, Dec. 21, 2008.

That was the day my landlord gave me and Mrs. N-B a Christmas card chock full of $1 scratch tickets, and it provided our entry into the exclusive club of degenerate Massachusetts scratch ticket gamblers.

The odds of winning this game are 1 in 4.86. Given that we had 10 tickets, we should have won twice. Not so. We went 0-for-10.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

My first news judgement

I heard a radio piece this week from Robert Krulwich that was characteristically wandering, about an MIT student's recollection of the first time she started thinking like a scientist.

It got me thinking of the first time I started thinking like a member of the effete, East Coast, liberal media elite. Another way to put it: What was my first-ever news judgement?

I think I can pinpoint not just the year, but also the month and in all likelihood the day. It was when "Baby Jessica" McClure (now Jessica Morales) fell into a well in Midland, Texas and gave America a glimpse of just how much the media could saturate a story, given the chance.

I remember watching the news the day after she was rescued (it would have been Oct. 17, 1987) and the newscaster ended the story with: "... and the White House says First Lady Nancy Reagan stayed up last night until Baby Jessica had been rescued."

I could recognize fluff even at age nine. I thought, "What a dumb way to end that story."


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

This song's popularity if unbelievable

Strange as it may seem, I don't listen to the radio very often. Probably only a couple hours a month.

Yet somehow, I manage to hear the Primitive Radio Gods' 1996 hit Standing Outside a Broken Phonebooth with Money in My Hand at least once a week. I'm just baffled by the continued popularity of this song 12 long years after it peaked at No. 7 on the Top 40 charts.

I'd love it if someone could shed some light on how this song remains in such heavy rotation, while the much more deserving songs, like EMF's 1991 No. 1 "Unbelievable" for example, go largely unplayed.

Maybe if we can make a list of these songs that continue to get airtime well after their due, we can find the similarities and determine why they remain popular.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

News you in all likelihood cannot use

Here are a couple items you should consider while figuring out how to sate your hunger.

Somewhere Chelsea weeps. The second-best thing to come out of the Clinton White House, Socks the Cat, is said to be near death. U.S News says the "days are numbered for Socks, now a downright elderly 17. Socks lives with Bill Clinton's former personal secretary Betty Currie in Maryland now. Can you believe it was 16 years ago The New York Times opined in a headline: "Hands Off Cat, Clinton Warns."

Somewhere Ocho Cinco weeps. Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Greg White has formally changed his name to "Stylez G. White." The name is a nod to Michael J. Fox's buddy in the Teen Wolf movie, Rupert “Stiles" Stilinski. If I were going to do this, I'd find inspiration in a character from another 1985 Michael J. Fox hit; I'd go with Biff Tannen.

Somewhere Tom Bosley weeps. A lot of people have lost money in a $50b Ponzi scheme allegedly run by a New York trader. I think it would be funny if Henry Winkler ran a Ponzi scheme but called it a Fonzie scheme. If I were a victim of said Fonzie scheme, I would retain attorney Barry Zuckerkorn to represent me.


Monday, December 15, 2008

I can't believe he missed twice

A member of the liberal media (Iraqi chapter) threw both of his shoes at President George W. Bush at a press conference yesterday in Baghdad. The video is worth watching.

I think my favorite part is either 1) how Bush smiles after the first throw-and-miss or 2) how Iraqi Prime Minsiter Nouri al-Maliki does his best defensive back impression and tries to swat down the second shoe.

This of course reminds me of the Random Task character in the Austin Powers movie, inspired by Odd Job (at right). That guy really knew how to get ahead.


Friday, December 12, 2008

What does these men have in common?

It's my honor to present a tryptich of the disgraced, three politicians sullied and tainted by scandal.

From left to right, we've got the accused (Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich), the incarcerated (former Rep. James Traficant of Ohio), and the released (former Providence mayor Vincent A. "Buddy" Cianci).

I see a theme developing. The wisdom of drawing a sweeping conclusion based on a sample size of three notwithstanding, I am willing to say with certainty that big hair -- real or fake -- is certain to lead to corruption.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Rose (Nyland) by any other name

Bronx Mowgli aside, the most popular baby names this year were Aiden and Jayden for boys and Emma and Isabella for girls.

It's got me thinking about a distant future where the grandparents will be named Britney and Madison and Zuma Nesta Rock, and the little babies will be named Louise and Gladys.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Now that's how you do it!

Nettlesome federal prosecutors have been all up in Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's business, busting him for allegedly trying to parlay Barack Obama's open Senate seat into not only a cash payment up front, but a big job for himself (and his wife) down the line.

According to the federal complaint, one of the suitors for the job offered $500,000, which is a respectable bribe.

Boston politicians, take note. We've got a pair facing federal corruption charges here who pocketed $24,500 between them. They're getting hosed! You can't even buy a mug of beer for that much around here. About $9,000 of the bribes went to secure a liquor license that's easily worth $250k or more.

Massachusetts bribe takers should take a lesson from Rod. Hold out for some real dough.


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Fine for Senate!

Yesterday I pleaded for some ideas for this blog, and someone must've been listening. That someone must've been Fran Drescher, who tells New York magazine she wants to be the next U.S. Senator from New York.

That's right, the woman who played the Nanny Fine on TV (145 episodes, 1993-1999) now says, "I was thinking I’d take the next four years to lay some groundwork, but I’m throwing my hat in the ring."

I am coming out in support of the Drescher candidacy because it's the only logical step America can take after the Schwarzenegger governorship.

I don't know if New York Gov. David Paterson reads this blog, but hopefully he does and will heed my call: Please, please please appoint Fran Drescher to the Senate when Hillary Clinton resigns.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Once more to the well

Sometimes, when my creative reserve runs low, I wish this little dog would show up and help me find something funny to write about.

I wonder if clicking on "advanced search options" would lead me to a blogging treasure trove.


Friday, December 05, 2008

Inside a blogger's mind

Since most of my city is under construction, I see big yellow Caterpillar equipment everywhere I go. And since I sometimes come and go in the middle of the night, I get to see these majestic beasts at rest. Lately, maybe due to extreme mental fatigue, I've been imagining that backhoes, front-loaders, and cranes are modern day dinosaurs.

Take a look at what I'm talking about.

With its long reach, this crane is clearly the big apatosaurus. The apatosaurus was previously known as the brontosaurus. I don't think construction cranes ever went by another name.

Here's an adorable stegosaurus and a decidedly less-adorable front-loader. Both are slow moving but somehow likable to me.

Do you think it would make a good kids book or maybe movie -- trucks that become dinosaurs at night? The marketing possibilities are endless.


Thursday, December 04, 2008

What Grinds my Gears

You know what really grinds my gears?

People who latch onto a metaphor and carry it on too long. Say like you're in a conversation with somebody and you talk about "righting the ship." Maybe not an inspired turn-of-phrase, but acceptable. So this other person talks about the ship needing a "new captain." Alright. Fair enough. Touche, even.

Then the conversation meanders for a bit and he hits you back with some conceit that involves "the first officer planning a mutiny on the bow" or "navigating around the icebergs of the seas." Too much. Too far. Let it go. A metaphor is a literary tool, not a crutch.

God that really grinds my gears.


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Neither shaken nor stirred

One-time James Bond actor Sir Roger Moore was honored with a lifetime membership to a some club in Gramercy Park, and he was kind enough to let The New York Times tag along for the paper's "Night Out With..." series.

Unfortunately, the report contained nothing scandalous, and hardly anything even interesting. I enjoyed that the 81-year-old Moore ordered a club soda with lime, disappointing a bartender who wished to make Mr. Bond a martini shaken, not stirred.

I guess the best detail is that at some point early in the evening, firefighters rushed past Moore into the club on a false alarm. This would remind any true Bond fan of Moore's turn in A View to a Kill, when he and Tanya Roberts escape the burning San Francisco City Hall. The NYT writer lets this reference pass.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Jobs I Wouldn't Have Minded

Sometimes I wonder if I were born 100, 200, 500 years ago what I would've done for a living.

If we're talking a century ago, I guess it's possible I could be doing my current jobs, as a liberal media mouthpiece for the East Coast elite.

Go back 250 years and it's more complicated. Had we invented glasses yet? If not, I'd be confined to a job that didn't require anything better than 20/400 vision.

If we went back 500 years, I'd like to imagine myself as a court jester, a story teller to kings and queens.

Go back far enough, and I'm pretty certain I wouldn't mistaken a wooly mammoth for a tree and been eaten by age 12.


Monday, December 01, 2008


Occasionally I ask myself, "Who is stealing my thunder?" Often I'm just being rhetorical, but today I pose the question literally.

Here are several blogs that are busy in the thunder-stealing business. First up, we've got, which jumped on the blogging train early enough as to sew up my domain name without that nettlesome zero. And what does this blog cover? Nothing. There's not a single posting since its 2002 inception.

I am also annoyed, however less so, at, which is about the "adventures of raising a teen and a tween in the 21st century deep south." I guess I can't fault the Natural Momma, as the blogger is known, since she bought the domain, but has apparently stopped paying for it. Also, it seems we have different target audiences.

I have nothing but respect for, which seems to be a legitimate enterprise that keeps up with a baseball team called The Naturals. It hasn't been updated since June, but who am I to judge -- I took a month off this fall.