Sunday, July 29, 2007

Behold a pale blog

Headline of the week
“Scientists breed world’s first mentally ill mouse”

Because they can.

The Rapture
The Child Bride, who is obsessed with the LEFT BEHIND books, came up with a great idea: LEFT BEHIND: THE PETS. It would be kind of an ANIMAL FARM kind of deal, featuring a pet antichrist, probably (based on our own experience anyway) a Burmese cat. A Burmese cat is staring at me balefully even as I type. Her name is Scully. She is evil. Help me.

The Rapture II
Last week I had an idea to make a porn movie based on the LEFT BEHIND concept. The idea is that the folks left behind are sinners anyway. Why not have endless orgies? What have they got to lose? I’d get right on this, but I don’t know anybody in the porn industry.

I just remembered: a friend of ours, a filmmaker, got a job on a porn movie back in the seventies, running sound. He had a business card from one of the actresses, which he showed us; it described her as an “analist.”

More alarming animal news
Headline of the week, alternate: “Voracious Jumbo Squid Invade California”

Unlike Knut the polar bear, they are not fuzzy and adorable. Some are 7 feet long! Mmm. Calamari!

Oscar the cat
The latest New England Journal of Medicine has a story that has traveled the globe already, about Oscar the cat, a feline in a Rhode Island nursing home that seems to know when patients is about to die, curling up next to them in their final hours. According to CNN, Oscar recently received a wall plaque commending his "compassionate hospice care."

Well, I don’t know. If I were a patient and I saw Oscar come padding over, I’d run out of the room screaming. Or rather, shuffle away on my walker, screaming. I wonder if Oscar is part Burmese?

I saw two ‘possums in our back yard last night. So many species have become extinct, why can’t some catastrophe strike these nasty critters?

Some seem to like opossums. There is even a ’possum rescue website, which informed me: “Opossums may drool, growl and show their 50 teeth when frightened, but in reality are placid and prefer to avoid any confrontation.” And they eat kittens. They eat anything. I hate them. They’re creepy, with their bald tails, and beady eyes.

Water water everywhere
I heard on NPR that Coca Cola’s brand of bottled water, Aquafina, which previously listed as an ingredient, PWS, must now spell it out on the label – Public Water Source. In other words: tap water.

Is witlessness contagious?
Another story of the week claims that obesity may be contagious. No. It’s not. In a world of stupidity, this may be the most stupid thing I’ve heard in ages. Obesity occurs when one overeats, or eats food that leads to obesity, and does not exercise. It does not pass from person to person like the flu, measles, or atheism. That’s right. Atheism is contagious. Prove it isn’t!

More news, from the virtual world
From Good Morning, Silicon Valley: “…BM -- once famous for its unspoken but rigid white-shirt-and-wingtips workforce dress code -- would be spelling out guidelines for the appearance and behavior of employee avatars in virtual worlds…. [W]orkers are advised to be ‘especially sensitive to the appropriateness of your avatar or persona's appearance when you are meeting with IBM clients or conducting IBM business.’” In other words, don’t show up at the virtual meeting as a giant squid.

MORE news, from the virtual world
From Slate: “New Barbie dolls play MP3s and can be plugged into a docking station to access online games and chats. Stuffed animals called Webkinz have a number sequence you can plug in to a Web site to enter a fantasy world complete with avatars of your animals. Disney is selling a camera into which you can download Disney characters for your photo collection. MTV has started a video game in which people can play real instruments together through game consoles. Rationale for toy companies: Doll sales are down, but electronic sales to kids are up. Business model: 1) Use the offer of site access to sell the first doll. 2) Add new, restricted-access areas to the site that require kids to buy new dolls. 3) Keep the kids interested by letting use the site to win play money to get additional outfits.”

I read a story in the New York Times about Moms, whose kids are away at camp, have to spend a lot of time caring for their Webkinz. Otherwise they will “die.”

Somebody, please, destroy us now.

This week in sports
New York Times: “Sport’s despairing week has brought another puncture to cycling’s credibility; Barry Bonds’s continued grim chase of baseball’s home run record; a game-fixing investigation of a professional basketball referee; and gruesome dog-fighting accusations against the Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick.”

If I followed sports, I would be alarmed. But I don’t have a dog in that fight.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Women in the News Blog

Women in the news!
Washington Post, courtesy of fashion writer Robin Givhan, covering Hillary Clinton on the floor of the Senate: "The cleavage registered after only a quick glance. No scrunch-faced scrutiny was necessary. There wasn't an unseemly amount of cleavage showing, but there it was. Undeniable."

I suppose it’s okay for a woman to remark on a Presidential candidate’s décolletage, especially since she makes it a point that she was NOT scrunching her face to scrutinize the Hillarian breastage. She glanced at Ms. Clinton’s breasts very very briefly. A blink and she would have missed them. This is a properly feminist position to take.

Unlike some men we could mention, who probably don’t even pay attention to Ms. Clinton’s platform, but instead slaver, slack-jawed, over her Platform, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.

Women in the news!
I found a website called “How Hard Does She Come?” The site features the speculations of an unnamed male (I assume) about the orgasmic thresholds of various celebrities, based on publicity stills. It contains this: “…[T]he fact is Hillary devotes all her energy to Doing Good, and therefore has no energy left whatsoever for high jinks of the carnal variety.”

And Maureen Dowd? “Maureen doesn't find orgasms necessary. But she really likes kitsch ray guns and slinking around her apartment in a cat suit, saying ‘Pow!’”

You know? Somehow that seems true to me.

Speaking of celebrity photos…
Forbes Magazine made a list of the most expensive celebrity photos of the past few years. They include:

IN TOUCH WEEKLY reportedly paid $400,000 for a shot of Anna Nicole Smith with her son Daniel taken hours before his death. "The death of Anna Nicole's son was the massive news story of the moment--it consumed the whole nation, and these pictures were so newsy and so emotive," executive editor told Forbes. "This was every mother's worst nightmare, and through these pictures, America could empathize with what Anna Nicole was going through."

Think of it. For a mere 400,000 IN TOUCH WEEKLY helped heal a nation.

Back in 2005, US WEEKLY paid $500,000 for pictures of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie on an African beach.

Jolie and Pitt took $4.6 million from PEOPLE for photos of their daughter Shiloh Nouvel, though they gave the money to charities.

In other other news…
I was listening to a story about dogfights on NPR. Some folks are trying to get a federal law outlawing them everywhere, but some conservative congressmen are resisting. One of them said something to this effect: “Abortion is still legal in this country. If I vote against dogfighting, I am making the life of animals more valuable than the lives of unborn children.” That’s the kind of logic that makes our nation’s political leaders the envy of the reasoning world.

Oh, speaking of canines, two coyotes who had taken up residence is San Francisco's Golden Gate Park were shot after they attacked somebody's pet dog, a dog twice their size by the way. Typically, many San Franciscans were outraged. That's right. Wild animals took up residence right here in the city, showed no evidence of avoiding humans, and even attacked a pet, yet people were outraged that the wild animals were put down. I suppose we should have put them in a petting zoo? They're so cute!

Harry Potter Mania!
Why don’t I care? What’s wrong with me?

Op-Ed I didn’t finish reading.
Pat Buchanan: “Responding to the call of Pope Urban II at Claremont in 1095, the Christian knights of the First Crusade set out for the Holy Land. In 1099, Jerusalem was captured. As their port in Palestine, the Crusaders settled on Acre on the Mediterranean.”

(Raising hand, waving frantically) Father Pat! Father Pat! I have to go the bathroom!

Headline of the week.
“Are Computers Causing us to ‘Cocoon’ Ourselves?” Wow. Let me think about that. Um. Yes?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Shameless Self Promotion Blog!

About Duck's Breath...

We don't get out of the house much any more, but when we do, we like to
wreak as much havoc as possible, before our handlers retrieve us, and
put us back on our meds.

So we will be running amok in the Bay Area this August, and we urge you
to join us. Let us now run through the scheduleŠ.

AUGUST 9/10/11, 2007 (THR/FR/SAT * 8 PM)
142 Throckmorton Theater
142 Throckmorton Avenue, Mill Valley, California 94941

The evening will open with a series of short sketches featuring (among
others) Doctor Science, Randee of the Redwoods, & Ian Shoales. It will
end with a thrilling climax: the re-mounting of our classic tribute to
the spaghetti western, "Senseless Cruelty," featuring special guest, Bay
Area musical hero Joshua Raoul Brody.

Violence! Music! Belly laughs!

That will be a three day event. If you miss it, you will probably regret
it for the rest of your life. But should you miss it, don't worry, there
are two more opportunities to experience the glory that is Duck's Breath
Mystery Theatre. And they are:

AUGUST 12, 2007 (SUNDAY * 7 PM)
The Palms Playhouse
13 Main Street, Winters, CA,

AUGUST 13, 2007 (MONDAY * 8 PM)
Freight & Salvage
1111 Addison Street, Berkeley, CA 94702

These latter shows will feature Duck's Breath's characters in a wide
range of short sketches including Art Show, Sister Mundhi-Mr. Johnson,
the Marones, and more - including new stuff! That's right! New stuff!
From us!

Join us, won't you? If not, why not? When else are you going to see us?
We're not getting any younger you know. Hello? Be there! Aloha!

Friday, July 13, 2007

More blog for the money

News from Oakland
The trash collectors are on strike here. The Environmental Protection Agency claims that America generated more than 245 million tons of trash in 2005. Much of that now gathers dust on the streets of Oakland.

From a press release
“As part of an extensive branding initiative that will also include a new look, new logo and expanded line-up, Court TV is about to become truTV. This new name reflects the network's popular line-up of series that offer first-person access to exciting, real- life stories…. Through a dynamic original programming line-up that has been providing the network with strong and consistent audience growth, truTV will target a highly coveted psychographic known as ‘Real Engagers.’”

After much research, I discovered that the “coveted psychographic known as ‘Real Engagers’” is an invention by the folks at Court TV – excuse me – truTV. It means members of the television audience who like to watch reality television.

This was a new one on me. What does Wikipedia say!

“In marketing, demographics, opinion research, and social research in general, psychographic variables are any attributes relating to personality, values, attitudes, interests, or lifestyles. They are also called IAO variables (for Interests, Attitudes, and Opinions). They can be contrasted with demographic variables (such as age and gender), and behavioral variables (such as usage rate or loyalty).”

In the New America, we spend all of our efforts determining the various gleaming facets that glitter on consumers’ surfaces. It is no longer, “We have a screwdriver for sale.” It is now “What kind of person would buy this screwdriver? Are you that person?”

I recently read an article noting that Facebook attracts a more upscale person, while myspace has more of a lower class demographic. So much for “On the Internet nobody knows you’re a dog.” Everybody knows exactly who you are. Because you tell everybody exactly who you are.

…This is one of those "please don't eat the daisies" instructions that one hopes wouldn't be needed, but you hear a lot of advice over a lifetime and you're bound to forget some. So here's your booster shot, straight from the New England Journal of Medicine. First, if there's lightning in the air, don't stand around outside. (Lightning safety experts have been pushing the slogan "When thunder roars, go indoors," but it's hard to see that catching on.) Second, if you insist on being outside, for heaven's sake, do not wear your iPod or similar device, including cell phones and pagers. These items will not attract lightning, but if you're unlucky enough to be hit, the wires and metal components will sizzle their imprint into your skin and, if you're wearing earphones, blow out your auditory inputs.

Just ask the 18-year-old Colorado guy who was mowing his lawn while a storm passed in the distance, happily listening to Metallica on his iPod. Lightning hit a nearby tree, veered off, and hit him, rupturing both eardrums and leaving burns that traced his earbud wires down his face and body and culminated in a charred spot on the hip where he carried the device. Same deal for a 39-year-old Vancouver area man who was jogging in a thunderstorm (you see how following the first rule avoids all this) and wearing his iPod. Not only was he burned and deafened, but his jaw was broken in four places.

Religious news
A boy with the last name Hell has been barred from enrolling in a Catholic school in Australia.

And the Pope…?

Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of “Church” with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?


According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called “Churches” in the proper sense.

So take that, Baptists and Unitarians. He must be right. He’s the Pope. He’s infallible.

In other news…
Estonians took gold and silver at the world wife-carrying championships in Finland on Saturday, defying rain and exhaustion to stumble along a path with women clinging upside-down to their backs.

Whole Foods: Caring About Our Communities & Our Environment
From AP: “The chief executive of Whole Foods Market Inc. wrote anonymous online attacks against a smaller rival and questioned why anyone would buy its stock, before Whole Foods announced an offer to buy the other company this year.

“The postings on Internet financial forums, made under the name ‘rahodeb,’ said Wild Oats Markets Inc. stock was overpriced. The statements predicted the company would fall into bankruptcy and then be sold after its stock fell below $5 per share.”

From a blog, Infowisps
“Many creatures are averse to mirrors and reflections in windows. Some believe the reflection is a rival, while others recognise themselves and are disturbed by this. The most fearful is the lobster. In 1976, marine biologists in California set loose 30 male lobsters in a funfair hall of mirrors. All but two had died within three minutes, either of sheer fright or in a frantic battle with their own specular images!”

Doctor doctor give me the news
NYT: Former Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona told a Congressional panel Tuesday that top Bush administration officials repeatedly tried to weaken or suppress important public health reports because of political considerations.

The administration, Dr. Carmona said, would not allow him to speak or issue reports about stem cells, emergency contraception, sex education, or prison, mental and global health issues. Top officials delayed for years and tried to “water down” a landmark report on secondhand smoke, he said. Released last year, the report concluded that even brief exposure to cigarette smoke could cause immediate harm.”

And administration officials even discouraged him from attending the Special Olympics because, he said, of that charitable organization’s longtime ties to a “prominent family” that he refused to name.

“I was specifically told by a senior person, ‘Why would you want to help those people?’ ” Dr. Carmona said.

The Special Olympics is one of the nation’s premier charitable organizations to benefit disabled people, and the Kennedys have long been deeply involved in it.

News from Germany, via Reuters
German police broke into a darkened flat fearing they would find a dead body after neighbours complained of a nasty smell seeping out onto the staircase.

The shutters of the apartment had been closed for more than a week and the post-box was filled with uncollected mail.

But instead of a corpse police found a tenant with badly smelling feet asleep in bed next to a pile of foul-smelling laundry, police in the south-western town of Kaiserslautern said on Sunday.

Dahlia Lithwick in Slate
“In April 2005, Gonzales testified before the Senate that ‘there has not been one verified case of civil liberties abuse’ as a consequence of expanded FBI powers under the Patriot Act. We now learn that at the time, he was in possession of at least six FBI reports detailing unlawful surveillance, searches, and improper use of national security letters.”

Sorry, ma’am
The Daily Mail: “The BBC was forced to offer a humiliating apology to the Queen over claims that she stormed out of a photo shoot.

“She is said to be livid at the way documentary footage was manipulated to make it appear she had flounced out of a portrait sitting with American photographer Annie Leibovitz.

“The corporation has admitted that the footage of her alleged exit was in fact filmed as she arrived for the session.”

The following did occur, allegedly:

“During the photo shoot in March Miss Leibovitz tells the Queen, who is wearing the Queen Mary Tiara: ‘I think it will look better without the crown - less dressy - because the garter robe is so extraordinary.’

"The Queen gives her an icy stare and replies: ‘Less dressy? What do you think this is?’, pointing to what she is wearing.

“The trailer then shows the Queen telling one of her assistants: ‘I'm not changing anything - I've done enough dressing like this thank you very much.’”

Well, if the Queen can’t act like a Queen, who can?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Animal Blog

The chimpanzee of Tarzan
Cheeta, Johnny Weissmuller’s companion in 12 movies, is still alive. He just turned 74. He is the world’s oldest chimpanzee. For many years he enjoyed cigars and booze, until animal rights activists protested. He still enjoys the occasional hamburger and chips. He also likes to watch television. He had cake on his birthday – sugar-free, because he is diabetic. He still has all his teeth. His real name is Jiggs, and he has produced over 100 paintings.

Memorize this information! Share it with your friends! Astonish them! These ape facts will make you popular with potential lovers!

Other animal news
This Associated Press report came out of Raleigh, North Carolina, but I suspect it has wider resonance:

“Animal welfare officials are looking for pets that ran away this week after they were spooked by Independence Day fireworks displays.”

Somewhere, in a dark basement in Raleigh, parakeets, dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and –yes- ferrets huddle together in fearful silence.

More animal news
The feral kittens next door have become young adults, and have learned how to hop the fence into our yard. They were observed last night romping and frisking around the compost bins. And giving us baleful glances.

The Daily Mail, always on top of this story, gave us an update on the formerly cuddly polar bear.

Keeper Thomas Doerflein, told the Mail that Knut, who now weighs close to a hundred pounds is getting too big and powerful to play with: "He now sometimes has temper tantrums when he's hungry or when he wants something and doesn't get it. Then he gives me a really good bite. He is, after all, a predator."

The Daily Mail also claimed: ”Pictures of the adorable ball of Arctic fuzz melted hearts the world over.”

Will Knut ever be cute again? Or is he doomed to be a shaggy hulking predator in a play-free environment? Stay tuned!

Behavior that may baffle other primates
AP: “Hundreds hoping to be lucky in love poured into Las Vegas wedding chapels Saturday to tie the knot on 7/7/07, a date with auspicious associations.”

More behavior that may baffle other primates
From The Hill:

“NPR handed out Nina Totin’ Bags on Capitol Hill last week — a canvas number with four Andy Warhol-inspired faces of NPR correspondent Nina Totenberg.

“But the bag wasn’t all. Totenberg came to the Hill in honor of NPR’s lobby day and sang The Temptations’ ‘My Girl.’

“On the bag, Totenberg wears purple and green eye shadow. ‘I like it,’ Totenberg said in a phone interview …. “I don’t look ugly, so that’s all that matters.’”

Creepy news from Good Morning, Silicon Valley, a newsletter which I usually receive in the afternoon, for some reason

“In a study done for NBC, Innerscope Research wired up viewers to gather a bundle of biometric reactions while they watched fast-forwarded commercials, then massaged that data into a scale measuring ‘emotional engagement.’ As the New York Times reports, preliminary results found that viewers of the high-speed ads registered as high on the engagement scale as those watching the commercial (or even the program itself) at normal speed. ‘People don't turn off their emotional responses while they're fast-forwarding,’ said Carl Marci, the chief science officer of Innerscope. ‘People are obviously getting the information.’ A second study will look for the qualities that result in the most engagement with fast-forwarded ads, so that NBC can offer its advertisers tips.”

Let’s just put the chips in our heads right now, and get it over with.

More animal news!
A dodo, deceased, skeletal in fact, has been found in a cave in Mauritius. Scientists are excited about the discovery. They have nicknamed the skeleton “Fred.” It is cuddly and adorable. And it will grow up to be shaggy and powerful predator.

Love is all you need
DIRTY BLONDE: THE DIARIES OF COURTNEY LOVE has been published. I’ve read several reviews of it; there is general disappointment in its relative lack of tawdriness. Caveat Emptor!

Another caveat
Pope Benedict XVI has removed restrictions on celebrating the Latin Mass, which has been pretty much gathering dust in the attic since the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. Conservative Catholics are thrilled, although liberal Catholics object. Also Jews are angered because the Tridentine Mass contains a prayer for their conversion.

Final caveat
It is not advised that you ignite loud fireworks in the vicinity of polar bears, either cute or shaggy.

Oh, and…
Chris Rock was taken off the air at the LIVE EARTH show in London, mere seconds after he took the stage to introduce the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He said, “I’m here to save the environment. Paris Hilton is playing here next week; there are still some tickets available.” The joke got a nice response, so he said, “I’m only joking, motherfuckers.” At which point the BBC pulled the plug on him.

Did you know that humans are the only primates that make Paris Hilton jokes? Though I understand that Jiggs remains a loyal fan.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Resonant Blog

Tough questions from Slate
“Since the Die Hard franchise, and its catchphrase, have been absent from the screen for 12 years, a question arises: do the words ‘Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker’ still matter? And why did they resonate in the first place?”

Huh? What? Sorry, I wasn’t paying attention.

Since iPhone has been available for two whole days now, a question arises: does the word “iPhone” still matter? And why did it resonate in the first place?

News from Italy, courtesy of Reuters
A teacher who forced a pupil to write "I am a retard" 100 times was acquitted by an Italian court on Wednesday of abuse charges.

Ann Coulter defends herself for her remarks on John Edwards, kind of
She wrote:

“So for those of you who haven't read any of my five best-selling books: Liberals are driven by Satan and lie constantly.

“Here is my full sentence on ‘Good Morning America,’ which the media deceptively truncated, referring to a joke I told about Edwards six months ago that made liberals cry: ‘But about the same time, you know, Bill Maher was not joking and saying he wished Dick Cheney had been killed in a terrorist attack — so I've learned my lesson: If I'm going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I'll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot.’”

You know, I would like to get Ann Coulter alone in a room, have her stand stock still in the middle of a room, pluck her scrawny arms, and see if she resonates, like a tuning fork. Is that wrong?

Hard news from the New York Times
“Lists have been a reliable staple for magazines and other publications for years, but it wasn't until VH1 polled musicians a decade ago to come up with the '100 Greatest Artists of Rock 'n' Roll' that things really took off on TV.”

Huh? What? Sorry, I wasn’t paying attention.

Dick Cheney and his people have tried to sidestep handing over documents to a federal agency charged with their oversight by (a) trying to get the federal agency abolished, and (b) claiming that the federal agency is only charged with documents within the executive branch, and the vice president is not part of that branch, because the veep also presides, occasionally, over the legislative branch; he is therefore exempt. Q.E.D.

Obviously, Dick Cheney belongs to neither branch, but resonates in both. He has no secrets to reveal. He is a phantom, a wraith, a ghost, translucent ectoplasm. He is harmless. Ignore him. He will go away.