This is for 2004

stingy? no more!

The United States has increased aid promised to $350 million.

"The United States is pledging $350 million to help tsunami victims, a tenfold increase over its first wave of aid, President Bush announced Friday.

"Initial findings of American assessment teams on the ground indicate that the need for financial and other assistance will steadily increase in the days and weeks ahead," Bush said Friday in a statement released in Crawford, Texas, where he is staying at his ranch.

"Our contributions will continue to be revised as the full effects of this terrible tragedy become clearer," he said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this epic disaster."

Bush also is sending Secretary of State Colin Powell to Indian Ocean coastal areas ravaged by earthquake and tsunami to assess what more the United States needs to do. The president's brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, will travel with him.

The newly announced aid came after some critics claimed that the initial U.S. contribution of $35 million was meager considering the vast wealth of the nation.

France has promised $57 million, Britain has pledged $95 million, Sweden is sending $75.5 million and Spain is offering $68 million, although that pledge is partly in loans."

From somewherequiet:

President Bush defended American generosity Wednesday, even as his administration figures out how to pay for more help beyond the $35 million it has already promised to tsunami victims in Asia.

In his first remarks since the weekend disaster that so far has killed more than 125,000, Bush -- like some in his administration previously -- took umbrage at a U.N. official's suggestion that the world's richest nations were "stingy," and indicated much more is expected to be spent to help the victims.

"Well, I felt like the person who made that statement was very misguided and ill-informed," Bush said from his Texas ranch. "We're a very generous, kindhearted nation, and, you know, what you're beginning to see is a typical response from America."

Let's visit the facts so far to understand why we shouldn't be outraged by being called stingy:

Death Toll:
80,000+ (this number will double)

Countries Affected:

How Much Faster the Earth is Spinning Because of The Quake:
One Second

How Much the Bush '05 Inaguration Will Cost:
40 Million Dollars

How Much We Pledged in Tsunami Relief As A Country:
35 Million Dollars

Stingy? Nah.

And this from the Scotsman:

Bush 'Undermining UN with Aid Coalition'

By Jamie Lyons, PA Political Correspondent

United States President George Bush was tonight accused of trying to undermine the United Nations by setting up a rival coalition to coordinate relief following the Asian tsunami disaster.

The president has announced that the US, Japan, India and Australia would coordinate the world’s response.

But former International Development Secretary Clare Short said that role should be left to the UN.

“I think this initiative from America to set up four countries claiming to coordinate sounds like yet another attempt to undermine the UN when it is the best system we have got and the one that needs building up,” she said.

“Only really the UN can do that job,” she told BBC Radio Four’s PM programme.

“It is the only body that has the moral authority. But it can only do it well if it is backed up by the authority of the great powers.”

Ms Short said the coalition countries did not have good records on responding to international disasters.

She said the US was “very bad at coordinating with anyone” and India had its own problems to deal with.

“I don’t know what that is about but it sounds very much, I am afraid, like the US trying to have a separate operation and not work with the rest of the world through the UN system,” she added.

New Year's Blah

I've started and stopped this post, inadvertently, at least three times. The last one, which I was actually quite pleased with, was eradicated by a kitten unplugging the computer. I took this to be a sign. That it's time that damn kitten got a job and started earning his keep. Unplugging computers, attacking rolls of paper towel and swinging on the drapes Tarzan style aren't going to cut the mustard any longer! On this last day of 2004, weird weather continues. Outside, the normally tundra like Wisconsin, it is 48 degrees F. The sky is blue. And there's weird news out there in the world. Two Long Island women sold hot dogs and sodas from a truck were arrested today. It seems they offered an interesting side dish. Sex.

Catherina Scalia, 38, and Rose Skorge, 34, were arrested Wednesday afternoon after they "offered and agreed to engage in sexual conduct with others in return for a fee" at their hot dog stand. Scalia offered to expose her breasts to an undercover officer who was buying a hot dog and Skorge offered him oral sex in exchange for money, Deputy Inspector Rick Capece. The women also gave the officer a card for a stripper business.

Sharon Osbourne is going to be doing the Vagina Monologues. This subject is rich with bad jokes.

Across America, brawls are going Tyson as ears and fingers are bitten off and, in some cases, swallowed. People are encouraged to leave guns at home when they celebrate.

The airlines are fucked because no one wants to work for free on New Years. And because they're so top heavy.

The dollar sinks in value everyday in odd accordance with world opinion of America.

The word 'peace' is being bandied about in the Sudan. I have a surface believe when I see it but there is hope.

In my daily sweep of internet news sites, U.S. papers complain about Bush-bashing whilst everyone else in the world is trying to garner as much aid as possible for the victims of the tsunami. Priorities people.

Anna Nicole tain't gettin' no dough from her hubbies estate. Damn lawyer can't get her any money or keep her sober for televised events.

This coming year will bring
Don Quixote's 400-year anniversary.

The Guardian has a clever run down of 2004 called Go Figure.

Alexander is pulled from movie theaters and declared a flop akin to that of Waterworld.

I need a nap.

Links to banned ads of 2004.

I'm taking a nap.

Before and After

Amazing photos from the LA Times

Here is a link to a huge photo of the wave hitting.

Hair today, worn tomorrow

Only in California, the state the brought us the "Fountain of Woof" from the canine friendly Carmel Plaza, that the latest in pet lover fashion makes it's appearence: clothing made from the fur of your beloved fuzzy companion.

Carmel resident Victoria Pettigrewcame up with VIP Fibers, a company in Morgan Hill.Be it dog hair cat hair, rabbit fur, goat hair, alpaca fleeces, llama fleeces, and other exotic fibers, they'll make it into yarn and even knit the sweater or afgan of your choice. Pettigrew started the company about three years ago after her 16-year-old Lhasa Apso, Karly, died. Pettigrew created a scarf from some of the hair she had saved from brushing Karly. Having the scarf gave her comfort when she missed Karly, and Pettigrew thought other pet owners might feel the same.

"I have a personal understanding of how it feels to lose a beloved pet, and we strive to treat every fiber entrusted to us as if the pet was 'visiting.' We work very hard and with the greatest care to send the pet back home as soon as possible and in loving condition," she said.

A majority of VIP Fibers' business is with dog hair, though the company has transformed hair from cats, sheep, alpaca, bison, rabbits, hamsters, cows and even horses. Customers come from across the United States, Canada and overseas, including England and Indonesia.

Pettigrew devotes a section of her Web site to discussing the merits of spinning pet hair into yarn. Yarn spun from dog hair, in particular, has been considered good luck in the past, and Pettigrew writes that it's 80 percent warmer than sheep's wool.

You'll pay a few hundred dollars, but who can argue the worth of having one's beloved pet keeping one warm well after the pet is in the cold, cold ground?



A lot of strange things happen in my house in the wee morning. Sober stumbling and wall bumping on the way to the kitchen - a daily occurrence. Oatmeal in the coffee cup, coffee in the bowl - happens a fair amount of the time. Standing in the middle of the room, slack-jawed, while waiting for a synapse to fire - happens all the time.

The hard water has condemned another coffee maker to a half hour to brew brown water.

Winter and a faulty garage door have brought in mice for the cats to play with and for me to find in corpse form in unsavory stiffness as the sun attempts to rise.

A new experience, and one in keeping with the season, is pouring eggnog over the cereal. Not tasty.

Is it no wonder I prefer a nocturnal life?

List of Lists

Fimoculous has the quintessential itemization of 2004 lists called, aptly, Lists: 2004.

The lists include the
Bad Science Awards, Top Cryptozoology Stories, 10 Moments In Bad Journalism and Top 10 Web Diversions.

Plan on parking for a few days and taking in the year the way it should be taken in: on your ass.


Secrets Of Erotica...Revealed!

This is one of my favorite blog posts of this last year. And damned if it isn't accurate as hell. From Notes in a Darkened Room wwwaaaaaayyyyy back in June:

Secrets Of Erotica...Revealed!
"The difference between pornography and erotica is lighting."

Yes, in this one-time-only post, I, Michael O'Mahony, bestselling author of such self-help books as "But It Looks Nothing Like A Fucking Flower!": How To Write Descriptive Prose About The Female Genitalia, and Why Everyone Laughs When You Call It Admiral Winky, have gathered my considerable knowledge of writing dirty stories into one, easy-to-read package so that you, my readers, can go away and write the kind of erotica that will ruin underwear all over the world.

Before we start, please feel free to browse my recent forays into filth and depravity; A Conspiracy Of One, Collect Call To An Unknown Lover, Tomorrow, Five Minutes Alone, Rain, and Fitz And Me.

All done with those? Still want to be a master/mistress of the erotic arts? Marvellous. If words be the food of love, read on...

Be Able To Write In The First Place
If you can't string simple words together in a coherent fashion, you will never be an erotic writer. Brutal but true. While erotica is a much-maligned genre that is rarely taken seriously by the mainstream, it still requires a certain degree of talent to become respected and read in the field, even if your hardcore audience does consist of men in dirty raincoats who buy books with glossy covers that depict impossibly beautiful women pouting seductively whilst writhing amongst silk bedsheets.

Understand Your Genre And Your Audience
There are many different varieties of erotica, and not all of them are literary. On the internet for example, The Alt.Sex.Stories Text Repository (Adult Site) contains a veritable blizzard of strange, horrible, and poorly written tales in categories ranging from Non-Consensual Gay Sex to Mind Control (I wish I was kidding). ASSTR is basically a portal to the largest collection of erotic stories on the internet. I haven't read them all. I doubt I've read 1% of them. But I have seen enough and know enough to be sure that of these thousands and thousands of dirty stories, about twelve are actually any good. The reason I want you to go there is not so that you'll have a fine old time reading some awesome fiction, but to give you an understanding of just how huge and varied this genre is. If somebody somewhere has fantasised about it, you're bound to find a story that features it.

Chosen A Category? Spiffy. Now Let's Get To The Actual Writing.
Now you've chosen a Category (and those that chose vampires, vacuum cleaners, a video game character, or Mind Control can find the exit in the top right hand corner), you need to think about how you're going to write your story and what it's going to be about. In my own work, there is a huge difference between Fitz And Me (a lengthy tale with three-dimensional characters that actually attempts to tell a story and tap into the reader's emotions as well as their pants), and Rain (in which two anonymous characters engage in clumsy, passionate sex against a backdrop of rain in an empty, nameless city). The contrast, to me, is obvious. Whereas the latter story's erotic content is its centrepiece and meaning, the former uses erotic elements as a means to an end, in this case the telling of a doomed love story. These are two different approaches that attempt to make the reader feel similar emotions (though the overwhelming e-mail response to Rain suggested that it invoked a feeling of nostalgia and lost love).

So...decide what your story will be about, how long or short (approximately) it will be, and what it is you want to give your readers. If your answer to that last question was "an orgasm", then that's absolutely fine. I now plan to show you how to do this with style.

How To Write Sex
There is no right way to bring the glare of your descriptive prose to bear on sexual interaction of any kind. But there are many, many wrong ways. In my experience, and assuming the writer has talent in the first place, there is a tendency to go in one of two directions.

"Pamela screamed in ecstasy as I splattered her smiling face and jiggling tits with my thick, creamy man-custard."

This kind of thing is most commonly found in works written by males that spend too much time reading the letters page of Reader's Wives and surfing internet porn sites. Crazy as it seems, I have read work exactly like this. Erotica can be funny, but nobody wants the audience to laugh when they're not supposed to.

"Camilla gasped and clapped her hands to her heaving bosom as Robert unveiled his throbbing manhood and then reached to rend her blouse asunder."

You are a woman. You read too much Mills And Boon. Your writing would lose a battle of erotic content to a cheese sandwich. Danielle Steele sucks, and if your work reads like a sub-par attempt to copy her, then you may as well give up now.

While those two examples are still fresh in your minds, I'd like to deal, for a moment, with language. 'Man-custard', unless you're writing in character and such a colourful turn of phrase comes (no pun intended) naturally, is not an acceptable euphemism for semen. Admittedly, 'semen' is not exactly an erotic word in the first place, but surely you can do better than that. I pretty much always use 'come'. Yes, that's 'c','o','m','e'. There is no such word as 'cum'. If you attempt to use it in your erotic fiction, I will have you killed.

Acceptable Euphemisms For Penis: Cock, Dick, Prick...or any descriptive variations on the theme...it's not too difficult to write descriptive prose about the penis and its activities. There certainly isn't a need for any of the following: Bacon Bazooka, Bald Avenger, Beef Missile, Bitch Stick, Captain Howdy, Charlie Russell The One-Eyed Muscle, Dr. Cyclops, Fun Truncheon, Gash Mallet, Godzilla, Jive Sausage, Little Jesus, Meat Thermometer, Mini-Me, Mr. Giggles, Muff Mole, Optimus Prime, Piss Whistle, Pump-Action Yoghurt Rifle, Purple Avenger, Slit-Eyed Demon, Soul Pole, Spurt Reynolds, Twelve-Inch Train Of Pain...or any variation thereof.

Acceptable Euphimisms For Vagina: This one's tougher. The only really useful one is 'cunt', and some folk are deeply offended by that particular word. I rather like it myself. 'Pussy' is also widely used, but I've always thought it sounded a bit lame. Then again, it's possible it has simply been ruined for me by too many years of hardcore pornography. Either way, a good writer can see the image in his or her head and write about it without ever resorting to using any of these: Bearded Clam, Beef Jacket, Birth Cannon, Bitchcake, Camp Coochie, Cock Holster, Finger Warmer, Flesh Wallet, Four-Lipped Man-Eater, Front Butt, Fuck Hole, Garage Of Love, Gleaming Mound Of Venus, Growler, Gutted Hamster, Hairy Chequebook, Meat Curtains, Momma's Silk Purse, Ninja Slipper, Old Toothless, Panty Rabbit, Pink Palace, Snake Charmer, Wizard's Sleeve, Wookie....etc. etc.

Rely on your natural talent for writing good, sound prose, no matter how obscure the similes you may find yourself drawing on. Good erotic fiction understands the rules so that it can break them.

You Are Now Ready To Write Erotica
That's it...the end of this short but educational trip into the realm of the erotic. Go forth, my students. Go forth and write of warm skin, glistening flesh, and throbbing shafts. Fill the world with love and spectacular prose, not man-custard and beef missiles. Your readers will thank you, and so will I.

Important Safety Advice; Field Tested; Part II

Do NOT, EVER put the word YUCK in the Google Image Search. I really can't emphasis this more strongly.

Yuck Factor 2004

15. Steve Perry fan fiction. Really. I'm not kidding.
14. My left foot
13. Genre Isolationism
12. Horny hand puppets
11. Aqua Teen Hunger Force
10. Any talk show host described as 'perky' i.e. "Perky TV host Kelly Ripa,34, knows the secret of balancing the demands of family and fun - margaritas!"
9. 'He's Just not into You'. The restraining order should have been the first clue, people.
8. Dr. Phil McGraw, who has
new deal with producers of his daytime talk show cleverly called "Dr. Phil."
7. Weekly World News; especially columnist Vicki York and such
articles as: How To 'flip' A Platonic Friend - and turn her into a sex machine! and Teach Your Gal's Dog To Fetch Beer. we like humor that doesn't hit us over the head like: Department Of Libel: Drew Carey Killed A Guy And Paid To Cover It Up and Archaeological Dig Uncovers Ancient Race Of Skeleton People
6. All of the home-redo, swap rooms, look at what the 'crazy designer lady with no credentials did to my house' shows.
5. Reality show celebrities.
4. Cat puke - cold or warm, they're equally yuck.
3. Super couples
2. The political 'are so, are so'/'am not, am not' crap pervading the news
1. Paris Hilton. Frankly, even people banning her is getting boring. So 'not hot'.

Important Safety Advice; Field Tested

When one has a mouth full of souffle, it's a bad time to sneeze.

How to Fix Mom's Computer

Scribbling.net takes note of the people that go home for the holidays and become in-house IT experts for their moms.
A few problems reported:

Deleted spyware with Ad-Aware

True story: my mother-in-law heard a Barenaked Ladies song on the radio that she liked, so she Googled "bare naked ladies." There was more porn than music in the search results. She clicked around.
"Suddenly this weird web search bar showed up in my browser," she told me. "And after that, I couldn't use the computer at all. Any time I went to it, the disk drive made lots of noise and the whole computer was so slow, I couldn't get it to do anything."

Switched default web browser to Firefox

Mozilla's Firefox is easier to use and more secure a web browser than Microsoft Internet Explorer, so the next order of business was to switch my mother-in-law to Firefox. I downloaded Firefox, installed it, and imported all of IE's preferences and bookmarks. When Firefox asked if it should be the default web browser, I clicked "Yes." (I want all clicked links from here on out to launch Firefox and not IE.) This browser switch has to be seamless for my mother-in-law, who doesn't and shouldn't have to think about what browser she's using.

Trimmed down startup programs

Windows took a long time to load on the computer because a bunch of software was set to start automatically. To remove these programs from starting with Windows, I went to the Start button, chose "Run" and typed "MSCONFIG" (no quotes.)

I adore Firefox and have installed it on my mom's system as well as getting rid of the horrific amount of spyware and adware she had lurking on her hard drive. Her system went from snail to rabbit in the space of two hours and I was a momentary hero.

AP Reports Tsunami Killed Very Few Animals

By GEMUNU AMARASINGHE, Associated Press Writer

YALA NATIONAL PARK, Sri Lanka - Wildlife officials in Sri Lanka expressed surprise Wednesday that they found no evidence of large-scale animal deaths from the weekend's massive tsunami — indicating that animals may have sensed the wave coming and fled to higher ground.

An Associated Press photographer who flew over Sri Lanka's Yala National Park in an air force helicopter saw abundant wildlife, including elephants, buffalo, deer, and not a single animal corpse.

Floodwaters from the tsunami swept into the park, uprooting trees and toppling cars onto their roofs — one red car even ended up on top of a huge tree — but the animals apparently were not harmed and may have sought out high ground, said Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne, whose Jetwing Eco Holidays ran a hotel in the park.

"This is very interesting. I am finding bodies of humans, but I have yet to see a dead animal," said Wijeyeratne, whose hotel in the park was totally destroyed in Sunday's tidal surge.

"Maybe what we think is true, that animals have a sixth sense," Wijeyeratne said.

Yala, Sri Lanka's largest wildlife reserve, is home to 200 Asian Elephants, crocodile, wild boar, water buffalo and gray langur monkeys. The park also has Asia's highest concentration of leopards. The Yala reserve covers an area of 391 square miles, but only 56 square miles are open to tourists.

The human death toll in Sri Lanka surpassed 21,000. Forty foreigners were among 200 people in Yala who were killed.


Truck Drivin' Dog Day Afternoon

In Springdale, Arkansas, Michael Henson parked outside O'Reilly Auto Parts and left his truck running as he sprang inside. His dog, who preferred not to be named in this story, was along for company.

Possibly bored, Henson's playful pooch jumped over and knocked the truck into gear. With little choice in the matter, the truck charged into the building. Clerk Josh Hopper heard the crash and looked up from the transaction.

"His truck was in the window," Hopper said. "I thought, 'Oh no.' Everybody was fine. His front left tire just made it onto the brick wall."

"The guy said he was standing there, looked up, and saw his dog driving his truck through the building," said a copper on the scene.

No one was hurt and no humans or animals were cited.

Banks is back...

...and he's a bastard. That's right! Any man that sends out an invitation to his new blog and greets his 'friends' with this image is a complete bastard. Watch your double glazes, Ray m'boy! I've got the Docs on and they're lookin' fer English arse!

P.S. You're right, Newton, despite his name, rocks the noir casbah.

Ghettopoly to be Destoyed

Justice Department lawyers are seeking judicial permission to destroy about 63,000 copies of the controversial "Ghettopoly" board game, which has been criticized as a racist takeoff on the classic "Monopoly." Earlier this year, Customs and Border Protection agents in Tacoma, Washington seized five separate containers filled with "Ghettopoly" from a ship that had arrived from China. According to the forfeiture request, the board games were seized by federal agents because they violated a trademark held by Hasbro, which produces "Monopoly." The knockoff game, which retails for $39.95, describes "elements of the game" as, "buying stolen properties, pimpin hoes, building crack houses and projects, paying protection fees and getting car jacked." In "Ghettopoly," players land on properties like Chico's Bodega and Smitty's XXX Peep Show, instead of Boardwalk or Marvin Gardens, and the game pieces include a pimp and a machine gun. When "Ghettopoly" debuted last year, black leaders nationwide decried it as racist and criticized game creator David Chang, who has defended his creation, saying it "draws on stereotypes not as a means to degrade, but as a medium to bring together in laughter." Hasbro, of course, did not get the joke and last October filed a federal copyright lawsuit, which is pending in U.S. District Court in Providence, Rhode Island. Chang has about 30 days to file a claim challenging Uncle Sam's bid to destroy the seized "Ghettopoly" stash, which has a street value of nearly $2.5 million.

Sontag dies at 71

Susan Sontag, one of America’s most influential intellectuals, internationally renowned for the passionate engagement and breadth of her critical intelligence and her ardent activism in the cause of human rights, died today of leukemia. She was 71.

The author of 17 books translated into 32 languages, she vaulted to public attention and critical acclaim with the 1964 publication of "Notes on Camp," written for Partisan Review and included in "Against Interpretation," her first collection of essays, published two years later.

Sontag died at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

Sontag wrote about subjects as diverse as pornography and photography, the aesthetics of silence and the aesthetics of fascism, Bunraku puppet theater and the choreography of Balanchine, as well as portraits of such writers and intellectuals as Antonin Artaud, Walter Benjamin, Roland Barthes and Elias Canetti.

"A novel worth reading," she replied, "is an education of the heart. It enlarges your sense of human possibility, of what human nature is, of what happens in the world. It’s a creator of inwardness." She was the cartographer of her own literary explorations. Henry James once remarked, "Nothing is my last word on anything." For Sontag, as for James, there was always more to be said, more to be felt.

She is survived by her son, David, and a sister, Judith Cohen.

I want Neil Gaimen to adopt me

Look what he gave a family member for Christmas:

Helping those that Hurt

I am left horrified and hurting by what has happened in Southeast Asia. I'll admit to not being able to watch coverage after a video that depicted people being washed away in a flood after loosing their grips on solid ground. This link shows all agencies giving aid to those affected. Please help. I've read that a third of those dead are children. Other children are left orphaned and homeless as they face the threat of disease. The smallest amount helps those left with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
Two Thai monks donate blood at Red cross in Bangkok on Monday Dec. 27,2004.


How to use a hand puppet to meet, attract, and date tons of single women...

...again, my dear humans, a real website by a real man giving real advice on how to attract 'tons' of single women:

Here's how he does it:
  • First, you will need a hand puppet. You can buy them at your major toy stores such as Toys 'R Us.
  • Bring your hand puppet with you to a nightclub where there are lots of single ladies.
  • When you see a girl that you're attracted to, approach her and tap her on the shoulder lightly with your puppet and when she turns around raise your hand puppet towards her face and say something like this with your puppet, "Hi, beautiful, would you like to dance with me?" Move your puppet up and down with your hand as you are saying your script just as if the puppet was really talking. And be sure to talk in a real silly voice.
  • What happens next? She's going to die laughing and think that you are so funny. Plus, you will make a very favorable impression on her because women love a guy with a sense of humor. And, of course, she will most likely dance with you.
Quite a few women that I saw in Toronto would dance with Michael Collins if he'd tried this. The pick up lines would be priceless.

Have you Kama Sutra and Eat It, Too!

From Porn Bread.com comes the recipe of bakery fetishists everywhere: Gingerbread Kama Sutra!

Not sure what to think of the Ejaculating Eclair.

Yoga for elephants

Yes, Yoga for Elephants.

Easy enough to picture an elephant, of course.

Easy enough for most to picture yoga.

I've got firm images of Babar in place.

Anyone that loves or has loved Babar must see the seemingly stiff pachyderm do the plough.

Thank you Ruth...

Happy Christmas, Merry Holiday and please stop playing those damned songs now!

I have been remiss in attending to many holiday duties this year. For that, coal was expected. Coal was not received, however. The family arrived, the lights were lit and so was I.

The annual raptor visit occurred early and this year, for the first time, it wasn't a hawk but a peregrine falcon. He terrified our usual visitors by perching handsomely in the sun for a good fifteen minutes before taking off. The food spread was heavy on the carbohydrates indoors and protein heavy outdoors for all of my bird, squirrel, rabbit and deer friends and they did make it back for some serious holiday noshing. Indoors, as is tradition, mom made far too much food. Festivities lasted well into the wee hours and I didn't slink off to write which kept me well in the family poker game that I handily won.

Now New Year's thing is looming and I can tell you I hate only Valentine's Day more. Curling up with a good book, music in the background as I sip a hot cup of tea sounds lovely. No TV. No clock watching.

But that won't happen.

I'll be amongst humans and made to be sociable and happy. Damn. There is a rumor that young Bryon will make an appearence. If he survives the full on Jordan experience with his sanity intact, we have a hideous Jordan ritual that features him in the middle of a circle as we all dance around him and sing, "One of us, one of us." After, he gets a tattoo on his ass, he's made to drink from a cauldron and he must sacrifice an Elmo doll. Bryon, you'd best get fucked up.


Lyonne Low

Apparently, Natasha Lyonne is no dog lover.

The "American Pie" star was arrested Friday night at her Manhattan home after she allegedly made menacing remarks to a neighbor's pet.

Sources claimed that Lyonne burst into her neighbor's third-floor apartment around 11 p.m. and grabbed and threatened the dog. The unlucky canine was not injured in the bizarre attack, but other tenants in the building called the police, who showed up to arrest Lyonne.

During her alleged rage fest, the indie-film regular also reportedly ripped a mirror off the wall of the apartment and screamed threats at her neighbor.

It was not clear what sparked Lyonne's attack. As of Tuesday night, she had made no comment on her arrest.

It's not the first time Lyonne has wound up in trouble with the law. In 2001, she was busted for drunken driving in Miami Beach after she crashed her car into a sign and fled the scene of the accident.

Tong Recipient Painfully Silent

SAVANNAH, Ga. - Police are looking for two women they say sexually assaulted a man with a pair of cooking tongs in a drug-related attack.

Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan police say the victim, a 25-year-old man, awoke Saturday morning with a metal object protruding from his body.

The victim, who police say was using cocaine at the time, told police he does not remember much of what happened.

He told doctors he was drinking and using cocaine at his mobile home Friday night when he saw two women outside his home and invited them in.

The victim's cousin took him to Memorial Health University Medical Center Saturday after he complained of pain. Doctors surgically removed an object identified as "one half of a pair of food tongs," and turned it over to police.

No information was available on the man's condition, according to a hospital spokesman.

The two women are wanted on aggravated sexual battery charges, but police say they aren't having much luck finding them.

"We have no descriptions of the women, being that (the victim) is not cooperating with the police," police spokesman Sgt. Mike Wilson said. "And there's little we can do to urge cooperation."

Somebody Spiked the Milk!

Bovine Beer

This brewski's for Bessie. Eastern Iowa farmers are spiking their cattle feed with beer. Cattleman Robert Miller says the cows like the beer so much, they don't want to eat their feed dry. Outdated beer is used for the cattle feed. Researchers say it has vitamins, minerals and proteins which are good for the cows.

Of course, giving beer to cattle could give a new meaning to cow-tipping.

Is Happy Holidays an Anti-Christian Sentiment?

Some people seem to think so. This report from ReasonOnline by Julian Sanchez covers "how 4/5 of the country became an oppressed minority"
A few gems:

The kvetching is especially loud this year, with a spate of stories chronicling the outrage over a particularly insidious form of anti-Christian bigotry: the Satanic phrase "happy holidays."

But "Happy Holidays" is just a skirmish in the Axis of Atheism's total war to annihilate Christmas. When the Target chain opted not to make a special exemption for the Salvation Army from its general ban on solicitation, it was tarred as not merely Scrooge-like, but anti-Christian, and deserving of a boycott. Newsweek is ineptly slagged for running an extremely mild piece to the effect that some scholars doubt whether various aspects of the biblical Christmas story could be historically accurate. Even the neutral-sounding phrase "winter break" for the vacation weeks students of various religions are given evokes the specter of the lion pits. If your media diet is largely constrained to Fox News and The Washington Times, it may seem that Bill O'Reilly stands all but alone in having a good word for the holiday amid an "anti-Christmas jihad."

Doubtless the faithful face many burdens, but it's probably worth recalling, for perspective's sake, the (almost certainly accurately) conventional wisdom that an open atheist could not be elected to national political office. George Bush the First may not have been quite as voluble about his faith as his prodigal son, but nevertheless he was dissuaded by neither realpolitik nor etiquette from telling one reporter: "I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots."

Camel Toe Report

Yes, the whole site is like this.

Hunk a Hunk a Burnin' Love

NEW YORK - Irish actor Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, who played the soccer coach in 2002's "Bend It Like Beckham," will star as Elvis Presley in a four-hour miniseries to air on CBS.

The fact-based drama will also star Camryn Manheim ("The Practice") as Presley's mother, Gladys, and Randy Quaid ("LBJ: The Early Years") as his manager, Col. Tom Parker, the network said Tuesday.

Rose McGowan ("Charmed") will play Ann-Margret, the actress who co-starred with Presley in the 1964 film "Viva Las Vegas."

The miniseries, titled "Elvis," is being made with the cooperation and participation of the Elvis Presley estate and will include actual master recordings of Presley's most famous hits.

A little Rose on Jonathan action will probably not hurt the numbers.

Let your Tongue do the Walking

A very agile woman from Hampton, Virginia, her hands bound behind her back, used her tongue to dial 911, sending police after the armed intruder who stormed into her home Friday, terrorizing the five people inside.


I Don't Understand

The British Navy has paid for a boob job for a man.

The anonymous man in his 20s had a breast reduction operation to remove saggy "man's boobs" after losing a lot of weight.The Ministry of Defence paid a total of £37,838 for cosmetic surgery treatments last year, including nose jobs and tummy tucks.

The Navy insisted the operations were carried out in military hospitals for "serious clinical reasons".

A female flasher, 37-year old Karen Bulmer of York, faces jail if she continues to strip in public. For some odd reason Bulmer kept taking her clothes off after exteneded drinking sessions. At times, she would complete the striptease in the back of police vans after annoyed neighbors called the cops. She has also been banned from purchasing alcohol in city pubs for the next two years. This begs the question - what does she look like?

Students of Britain's largest exam board, Edexcel, is offering a chance to study how to fit a bra. A certificate of excellence is offered for those that, well, excell. Michelle Wallace, head of development at Debenhams, said: "We want our staff to have a more rounded knowledge of the subject." One questions how firmly her tongue was placed in her cheek at the time of the statement.

A group of Colombian policemen seized nearly 300 voodoo dolls and adamently refused to look at them.

The policemen from Quindio said they were afraid of handling and opening the dolls in case they were really magic and something bad things could happen to them.

A police spokesman told Terra Noticias Populares: "I know that there is no such thing as witches but if they exist, then they really exist." The quesy police said that they seized the dolls from a street stall in order to protect the local people's morals.

Sir Elton John sees snow-covered Alpine mountains and is reminds him of wilder drug-fuelled days as a young musician.

"When I fly over the snow-covered Alps, all I think about is the 'snow' that I once took," he told German magazine Neon, explaining that the word snow is often used as a synonym for cocaine. The 57-year-old pop star said he took "a lot" of cocaine when he was younger. "Somebody once calculated that I spent 70 million dollars every 20 months in the 80s. What for? Amongst other things cocaine." A new definition of 'a lot' as far as I'm concerned.

A woman is selling a single cornflake on eBay. Really. Rosy Greaves, of Leeds, hopes the sale will raise money for a dog charity center. Rosy was heard to say: "After all the publicity regarding toast, tomatoes and other foods always looking like someone or something else, I decided as a joke to sell a cornflake that looks just like a cornflake" I am frankly to damn lazy to look up the actual link. Sorry. Oh, fine! Here it is: link!

Holy Huge Haul, Batman!

This is amazing. Today, in Belfast, thieves took the families of two top bankers hostage and forced them to help them steal more than $39 million. And this wasn't even the biggest haul they'd ever made.

"Experts said Monday's raid on the Northern Bank cash center was the biggest robbery since 1987, when thieves made off with about $65 million in cash and other valuables from the Knightsbridge Safe Deposit Center in west London.

The tactics in Belfast - particularly the use of hostage-taking as a way to infiltrate a high-security target - suggested a level of sophistication and experience most commonly found within Northern Ireland's rival outlawed groups, particularly the Irish Republican Army.

"This isn't a gang of Belfast criminals who just got together. It's more than that. This looks like a military operation with obvious connotations," said John O'Connor, a former commander of Scotland Yard's elite detective unit in London."

'Tis the Season to be Crabby

Santa Claus was beaten in Ales, France while distributing candy. A group of greedy teenagers kicked him to the ground and beat him up for not handing over his sack of sweets. I think we all know what they'll be getting in their stockings! That's right! Toothpaste!

Holiday shoppers got into a knock down fight over a parking space in
West Hartford, Conn. Police said the confrontation developed just after 3:30 p.m. in the crowded lot of the Corbins Corner Shopping Center, home to Best Buy, Toys "R" Us and other retailers.When a parking space opened up, two cars turned up to fill it.

A woman riding in one of the cars tossed an orange peel at the other vehicle. Angry words erupted and three people jumped out of the cars and, within moments, Officer Kevin McCarthy said, "all three went to the ground."

"It turned into a little free-for-all," McCarthy said.

No one was hurt, but Luz Alicea, 43, Jasmin Kurtz, 16, both of Hartford, and Julia Baldini, 22, of Suffield, were all charged with breach of peace.

In Oxnard, California, police were dispatched when a large Santa Claus statue had a series shots fired at it.

Officers found five bullet holes marring the jolly face of old St. Nick. Five 9 mm casings were lying on the street nearby, police said.

Mike Barber, Santa's caretaker, said the gunshots shattered the lenses on Santa's glasses and broke the frames. He and a friend used screws, glue and wire to patch the frames back together.
UPDATE: Via Aldo 'Deadline, what Dealine?'

Drivers traveling between Oxnard and Camarillo on Highway 101 can catch a glimpse of a 20-foot Santa that Mike Barber brought to Ventura County last year. He is a 27-year Nyeland Acres resident, president of Garden Acres Mutual Water Co. and keeper of the Kriss Kringle.

For the past two Saturdays, Barber has encouraged kids to visit the jolly, plaster Santa by hosting a Christmas toy drive on site. For three hours, kids and parents could spill their wish list to a volunteer dressed as St. Nick and drop off presents that will be handed to needy kids throughout the county.

The event this past Saturday was marred by vandalism earlier that morning -- somebody had shot Santa five times in the face. It was the first vandalism incident in Santa's two years here, and the culprit had not been caught as of Sunday.

The story of how this Santa came to Nyeland Acres is a Christmas tale of rebirth. For 50 years, he rested on a candy store rooftop on Santa Claus Lane near Carpinteria. When the shop got a new owner and its roof grew unstable, Santa seemed destined for the wrecking ball. That was, until Barber offered to transplant the oversize Christmas symbol to an empty, Ventura Boulevard lot owned by the water company.

Now, thanks to Barber, Santa has been given new life as a tourist attraction. And thanks to the recent toy drive, Santa is handing out presents this Christmas.

A Christmas tree shortage in Hawaii has the price of a tree jumping from about $70 to more than $200 dollars.

This Ought to Drown Some of that Christmas Cheer

Mininum wage pays for 1-bedroom apartment in only 4 U.S. counties
WASHINGTON - In only four of the nation's 3,066 counties can someone working full-time and earning federal minimum wage afford to pay rent and utilities on a one-bedroom apartment, an advocacy group on low-income housing reported Monday.

A two-bedroom rental is even more of a burden - the typical worker must earn at least $15.37 an hour to pay rent and utilities, the National Low Income Housing Coalition said in its annual ``Out of Reach'' report. That's nearly three times the federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour.

``You get pushed into a situation where some necessities don't get paid for'' because more salary must be devoted to housing, said Sheila Crowley, the coalition's executive director. ``For people on low-wage fixed incomes, that's a chronic way of life.''

Fast Chat: Wonkette

Dec. 27 / Jan. 3 issue - Ana Marie Cox started writing as the Wonkette in January '03, delivering a gossipy, satirical blog on D.C. politics. Now she's working on her first novel. She dished with Richard Wolffe.

What's the relationship between bloggers and mainstream journalists?
They're locked in this mutually pleasurable sort of Tracy-Hepburn relationship, but it's not as entertaining to everyone else as it is to them. Watching Tracy and Hepburn is fun for the audience. Watching bloggers and mainstream journalists go at it—for one thing, you know they're not going to fall in love at the end.

Do bloggers end up as mainstream journalists?
Yes. One way to define a blog is resume building. I advise anyone who wants a job in mainstream journalism to start a blog and write about mainstream journalism.

What did you think of the bloggers' role in the Dan Rather affair?
I think they did a disservice to the debate because they made the debate about the documents and not about the president of the United States. There was another half to that story that had to do with verifiable events of what Bush may have been up to.
© 2004 Newsweek, Inc.

Ham and Angs Posted by Hello

Oh, Brother!

Re-printed for Dianne of the Bad Day Clan

Last Thursday, I walked around work smiling and gloriously energetic. I received a raised brow question from my co-workers. The question implied was, “You’re cheerier and perkier then usual. What gives, woman?”

I answered.

“I have tomorrow off.” This alone instilled a mood of envy in the room. I was escaping cubicles, computers and customers for a day. In the middle of summer. On a Friday. Oh, the envy…

“What are you going to do?” Hmmm, char some meat on a grill, shop or maybe lay about like a lump of human clay waiting for inspiration to make something of me?

"I’m going to see Brother at Rainbow Summer. Twice.” Now the room had an audible form of envy I’ve rarely had reason to encounter. I was on the verge of giggling as I answered questions and received requests. Pictures and cd’s, when are they playing next and do you think it would be strange if we all called in sick tomorrow?

When I drove home from work that afternoon, the rain came down so hard that with the windshield wipers set on hyper-speed all they managed to do was give the lightning a heightened strobe effect. As I drove farther south, it got clearer and I started looking for a rainbow. I found it in the east and that sealed my fate as a grinning fool.

The next morning, I was instantly awake when the sun started to shine into my room. I hurriedly packed, not bothering to add books to my duffel bag because I wouldn’t crack a spine all weekend. Except my own. I was uncommonly worry free.

Leaving the Jordan casa late morning with plenty of time to spare, Ruth and I made our way across what was the 6th Street viaduct. I was happy because I was no longer being attacked by mama gulls protecting their broods as I cross the regal bridge. Ruth was happy because she was walking, not working. Under the sun, not incandescent bulbs. We were free and cheery and we were about to enter the joy zone.

As we approached the tree lined stage area, children ran around chasing butterflies and grown-ups ran around chasing each other. Bliss took residence in this small part of Milwaukee and it laid out the welcome mat.

As the noon hour approached, the blossom-like Dianne joined us and half the city. This crowd personified the word eclectic. There were suits on their lunch hour (I suspected they’d be late getting back), soccer moms, long hairs, no hairs, rich, poor and all shades of green in between. All sat in keen anticipation.


Let me get to the point.

Happiness is not a state of mind, something you find turning the right corner on the right street or finding the right person, job, car, or object of your choice. Happiness is a decision you make. No matter what you’ve been through, someone in the world has gone through worse and come through it with compassion. They’ve decided to be happy because they’re still alive in the chaos. They’re still striving in the muck of the day to day.

This band has survived a car crash that nearly took their lives, thrive in an existence of constant touring and make brilliant magical music that can lift the haze from a heavy heart. Their performance on the day of the World Trade Towers attack has gone down in local Milwaukee lore as a unifying and healing performance amidst deep sorrow. People held each other with the music keeping them whole and hopeful. This band is welcomed as brothers of everyone, everywhere, as often as possible.

And when they walk onstage, happiness is a forgone conclusion.

Let me lift a quote from their website, as they explain it better than I can.

"Whether on disc or live, our motivation is simple: to create the biggest bloody buzz possible between our music and our audience," says Hamish Richardson, who with sibling, Angus, shares frontman duties for Brother. "We just let the music speak for itself and trust our audiences to surrender themselves."

First on stage is the newest member Philly-born Derek 'Dez' Stewart on keyboards, harmonica, sampling mayhem and a twist of rap. Drummer T Xiques enters from stage left and quietly takes to the drums; belying the force of the music hurricane he is about to produce. Hamish Richardson soon romances the stage; playing alternatively the didgeridoo, bagpipes and guitar as brother Angus roots the band with bass, bagpipes and acoustic. Rounding them out is the strings chameleon, Rick Kurek, lavishing love with his cello and electric guitars. I should say all of these instruments were not played by everyone, at the same time. But, at times, I think that all onstage were like multi-armed Shiva’s bent on creation.

It took not even a full minute for them to hit a groove and for the audience to follow along. As the international bards of musical integration played, the crowd swayed, smiled and danced along. Looking to my left there was a middle-aged woman in full business attire, cutting a groove Madonna would envy. To my right were two fellow work castaways singing along with every word. Behind me was an older couple holding hands and keeping the beat with their feet. In front of me was a boy of about three or four dancing on his mama’s lap. Everyone was beaming.

After the first show, Ruth, Dianne and I bought cd’s and waited in line to have them signed. The group was surrounded. They were given drawings by children and gratitude from everyone. I, of course, made a complete ass of myself as they signed my cd’s. They were smiling and gracious and amused.

We left, knowing we’d be back in a few hours for the night show. We made sure we got there two hours earlier to ensure good seats. We were not the only ones. This group instills deep devotion in their fans.

When the band climbed onstage once again, the feeling in the air was electric. They asked very nicely if people would like to come to the front of the stage and let go… you know, dance! We made our way down there like a pack of puppies that just heard the kibble bowl being filled. I got off my butt and danced for the first time in years. At one point, the band brought a couple onstage. It took little encouragement for the gentleman to got down on bended knee and propose to the very surprised and assenting lady. The wonderful men onstage had sanctioned our release from shyness, passivity and solitude. We were surrounded by about a thousand of our closest friends as we danced and jumped and sang. The band put all they had into their music and then gave it to us. It was a beautiful gift.

I’ll lift another quote from Hamish Richardson to enlighten. "Brother first-timers often approach the band, fist to their chest and say: I really felt it here. Nothing defines our music better than that."

I felt it there. I made my way through the throng afterwards to express my heart-felt gratitude. I got a hug for my efforts. These are giving, generous and genuine people.

Two days afterward, I play their music, and I still feel it. In my calves, which are sore as hell after dancing and jumping like a kid for hours. And I’ve decided to be happy.

It is here that I mention that a woman in front of me took two rolls of film of this man's(Hamish Richardson) ass. I'm there for the music. I have a strong idea what she's there for.


Keep on Linkin' in the Free World!

A surprising number of people have asked that I update the blog in order to move the Gallery of Deep Fried Stuff further down the page. It seems I'm not the only one disturbed by spiders - but I thought the one below was rather funny. In a crunchy kind of way.

People will sign anything
. This really conveys the need to read before you sign.

Ursula K. Le Guin isn't terribly pleased with the Sci/Fi channels depiction of her Earthsea books. Well, neither am I! The books held most dear since childhood are all askew, full of a quite a few sex scenes I don't remember (and I re-read this series once every few years) and Ged is... let Le Guin tell you: "My protagonist is Ged, a boy with red-brown skin. In the film, he's a petulant white kid."

This is a major issue for Le Guin. "Most of the characters in my fantasy and far-future science fiction books are not white. They're mixed; they're rainbow. In my first big science fiction novel, The Left Hand of Darkness, the only person from Earth is a black man, and everybody else in the book is Inuit (or Tibetan) brown. In the two fantasy novels the miniseries is "based on," everybody is brown or copper-red or black, except the Kargish people in the East and their descendants in the Archipelago, who are white, with fair or dark hair. The central character Tenar, a Karg, is a white brunette. Ged, an Archipelagan, is red-brown. His friend, Vetch, is black. In the miniseries, Tenar is played by Smallville's Kristin Kreuk, the only person in the miniseries who looks at all Asian. Ged and Vetch are white."

"So far no reader of color has told me I ought to butt out, or that I got the ethnicity wrong. When they do, I'll listen. As an anthropologist's daughter, I am intensely conscious of the risk of cultural or ethnic imperialism—a white writer speaking for nonwhite people, co-opting their voice, an act of extreme arrogance. In a totally invented fantasy world, or in a far-future science fiction setting, in the rainbow world we can imagine, this risk is mitigated. That's the beauty of science fiction and fantasy—freedom of invention."

Now naproxen causes heart attack and stroke risk. When I asked my dad, an arthritis sufferer extrodinaire, what he thought about the potential for all of these drugs being taken off the market he said he'd rather risk the heart attack to cut down on the pain. And he didn't think the FDA would ask him before more medicine goes the way of Vioxx.

A recently released memo states that interrogations in Iraq went beyond FBI standards.
While the memo apparently doesn't mention who authorized the torture, two government officials who spoke on condition of anonymity (of course) said the methods were approved. By whom? The man blissfully unaware of afore mentioned standards, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. And he chose to remain a cabinet member. Alanis, once again, that is ironic.
UPDATE: The ACLU has issued a statement that indicates that newly obtained FBI records call the Defense Department's Methods "Torture," and say that there is a "cover-up."
NEW YORK -- A document released for the first time today by the American Civil Liberties Union suggests that President Bush issued an Executive Order authorizing the use of inhumane interrogation methods against detainees in Iraq. Also released by the ACLU today are a slew of other records including a December 2003 FBI e-mail that characterizes methods used by the Defense Department as "torture" and a June 2004 "Urgent Report" to the Director of the FBI that raises concerns that abuse of detainees is being covered up.

We grow 'em dumb in Milwaukee. A man robbing a bank wrote the robbery note on the back of a parole form that had his name and address clearly printed on it.

Visit the Museum of Obsure Patents. The patent of the week? A
Laser-operated security mailbox.

A German golden retriever lived up to its name after it chased a mugger and returned a handbag to his female victim.The dog and his owner were out walking in Berg-am-Laim when the 51-year-old woman had her handbag snatched and began shouting for help. The passer-by sent dog Sizko off after the mugger, who quickly dropped the handbag when he felt the dog snapping at his heels.

Controversial former chess champion Bobby Fischer, who fled to Japan to avoid U.S. visa-violation charges, is smarting from a recent Time magazine description of him as something less than a babe magnet. He defended his virility to a Mainichi Daily News reporter in October by pointing out that he wears "size 14 wide shoes. Just keep that in mind when (they) say I'm not a dreamboat." After recounting an episode at a hot spring nude bath in Japan in which two fellow customers seemed in awe of his "size," Fischer then accused Americans of having persuaded Japanese authorities to lock him up in a facility close to a nuclear plant so that the U.S. government can "make me impotent."

What is a conservative, really? For the definitive answer, look here.

"The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"
--Ronald Reagan

A government that is big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take it all away."
--Barry Goldwater

Sometimes it's hard to be a Santa

This link features photos that accurately depicts being one of Santa's helpers as the hardest job in the world.


The Gallery of Fried Stuff



Cow Brain



One Enchanted Evening

Jon may have you believe that last night was all about dwarf farts and added features to Return of the King. But he failed to mention a rather LARGE part of the movie watching experience and something anyone lucky enough to be invited into that Jordan household encounters: spectacular hospitality.

The whole place, from floor to ceiling, is beginning to look completely like Christmas. Every nook and cranny and every room, with the exception of the office, is bedecked. And the consumate cook, Ruth, wanted to guarantee that every nook and cranny of everyone's tummies had the same treatment. The dining room table featured a spread worthy of royalty. Ruth is magically able to sate the tastes of all of the odd Jordan tastes, from furnace faces to vegan. I'm forced to admit that I growled when people approached a few plates. I was feeling a tad proprietory about a few dishes (the spinach balls!). I don't apologize for my rudeness.

Jon was actually full. In fact, he stated that he may have actually eaten too much! Can you believe it?

Dianne, Ruth and I left during the spider scene. Very girly of us, isn't it?


This is News?

Deep-fried Mars bar taking Scotland by storm

PARIS (AFP) - The deep-fried Mars bar, a nutritionist's nightmare, surfaced in Scotland about a decade ago and is now an established part of the Scottish culinary scene, according to a letter published in The Lancet.

Dipped in batter and then cooked in hot oil, the Mars bar is now on sale in more than a fifth of Scotland's 627 fish-and-chip shops, it says.

The average sale is 23 bars per shop per week, but some shops say they sell up to 200 a week.

The deep-fried Mars bar first surfaced in news reports in 1995, reputedly originating in the eastern city of Aberdeen.

Promoters of Scottish tourism -- aghast at this damage to their efforts to highlight Scotland's history, culture and landscape -- joined with middle-class foodies in deriding the DFMB as media hype.

But this is untrue, say authors David Morrison and Mark Pettigrew of the Greater Glasgow NHS Board, who contend the snack is "deep and crisp and eaten."

"Scotland's deep-fried Mars bar is not just an urban myth," they say.

Health experts have condemned the deep-fried Mars bar as an artery-clogging catastrophe.

Scotland is already ranked as the country with the highest rate of chronic heart disease in Western Europe, a position that owes to cigarettes, alcohol, a poor diet and a love of sugary foods.

Critics should take heart, though. (get it? take heart?)

The Mediterranean diet is penetrating into Scotland, "albeit in the form of deep-fried pizza," say Morrison and Pettigrew.

Pizza is one of several items that customers have asked shops to deep-fry, along with bananas, pineapple rings and creme eggs, a highly sweet confectionery.

I see Jon heading to Scotland in the very near future.

Back from the Brink.. Again!

Yes, shouts of "It's alive! It's alive, it's alive, it's alive-ah!" Rang through the house over an hour ago. I even did the insane mad doctor on speed routine and threw in a little Renfield for the hell of it. I do an excellent Renfield. I've re-installed Windows and she's pretending to be a just off the line beaut of a machine. I'll let her pretend. (don't say anything to her, but I am shopping around for a new tower. sssssshhhhhhh!!!!!)

With an outdated motherboard, an oooollllldddddd Pentium II chip and a need for DSL, my dear friend Mathilda may end up becoming a part of the garden this spring in my 'Post-apocalyptic' themed area.

In my celebration, I've opened a Leinenkugel Big Butt beer and given the foster cats large piles of catnip. Joy abounds.

Location, Location, Location

BERLIN (Reuters) - An artist who depicted Adolf Hitler as a pop art-style cartoon figure at an exhibition near the former Dachau concentration camp said Thursday he would close the 2-week-old show due to public outrage.

Walter Gaudnek said his brightly colored artworks aimed to provoke people by showing Hitler as a human rather than a monster, but Jewish community and local political leaders see the images as dangerous.

"I wanted to educate my students on the historical phenomenon of Hitler and show an aspect of him which has got lost over time," he told Reuters after his paintings were printed in a Munich newspaper.

"People forget why millions of Germans were fooled by Hitler ... but I painted a picture of him with his dog because he was once this figure in the past," said Gaudnek, an American who was born in Germany.

The bold, oversized drawings show clusters of figures and swastika flags. In one, Hitler is seen speaking from a podium flanked by Nazi guards, while a girl with long blond braids listens intently.

Gaudnek's art is on show at his small private gallery 15 miles from the Dachau concentration camp memorial in southern Germany where 32,000 people were murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

The exhibition consists of 12 paintings and 24 prints, either showing a uniformed Hitler or other Nazi iconography.

Gaudnek, an arts professor, said he was surprised by the reaction. "I'm starting to take the pictures down today because of the criticism," he said.

Charlotte Knobloch, vice president of Germany's central Jewish Council, told Munich's Abendzeitung newspaper: "There are plenty of ways of engaging with history. We could do without pictures of this monster without any problems."

Hitler "should not be portrayed as he is in this show."

Knobloch added there seemed to be a dangerous fashion for films and exhibitions focusing on Hitler as an individual.

A controversial German film tracking Hitler's last days in his bunker in Berlin, "The Downfall," was one of the country's most popular films earlier this year. It depicts Hitler as an ordinary man, eating dinner and playing with children.

"These portrayals can be misinterpreted. The perpetrator can appear the victim," Knobloch said.

It is illegal in Germany to display artwork glorifying Hitler.

It Just Doesn't Matter.

December 16, 2004 -- BILL Murray was ambushed the other day by a disgruntled former colleague at a screening of "The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou." At a Q&A session including director Wes Anderson, Anjelica Huston, Willem Dafoe, a man stood up to say, "I am a cameraman, and I've worked with all the actors onstage. Anjelica, you're wonderful. Willem — you're great. But, Bill — you are a bastard. You are horrible to work with. My question is for Wes and the cast. What's it like to work with someone as awful and difficult as Bill Murray?" After a stunned silence, Huston muttered, "Bill isn't a bastard." Anderson demanded, "Why are you in a position to make such a statement?" Murray didn't react at all. "I was a cameraman on 'Charlie's Angels,' and Bill Murray is awful," the man continued. "I have every right to say that." Our spy snickers: "This guy crashed the screening solely to confront Murray and call him a bastard to his face in front of a theater full of people. The guy totally had b - - - s."

With Birds I'll Share a Seed Strewn Patio

My bodily operating system, that I call Jennifer, is not all it should be, either.

I've had Achilles Tendonitis for a while and noticed that not only was it not healing but I'd developed large lumps on tendon. It's scar tissue. I've re-injured the tendon so many times and so frequently, it doesn't heal. So it's R.I.C.E. and, if the doctor gets his way, cortizone shots followed by an immobolizing cast. Not a fan of immobility at any junction, I find winter to be a particularly bad time to be casted.

If anyone has crutches and a spare computer, send them my way. I will kow tow in your direction twice a day for at least a week.

Operating System Not Found

That's what I got for five hours yesterday when I turned on my computer. I went into resuscitation mode. I gave my computer, Mathilda, CPR and had to shock her 6 times. She rested overnight and is still with us this morning. But she's not feeling well at all.

Mathilda is.... old.

She's running on an ancient motherboard and (gasp!) a Pentium II chip. Yes, that old.

Her valiant efforts to stay with me are noted and I am grateful. But I know she and I are at the end of a long run. I've written a lot of stories and most of a book with her. I've edited with her. And now I've blogged with her. If her motherboard were not configured so irksomely, I would just keep rebuilding her. But she is not terribly 'compatible' with updating. She's an old-fashioned girl and wants to remain so. I, on the other hand, am enchanted by future possibilities. I'm tempted to keep her shell and rebuild from scratch within the empty tower. I love her that much...


Botanical Bigotry

Plants sow seeds of hate

A FLORAL foul-up has left a city street lined with swastika shapes in a week of major Jewish celebrations.

Gardeners hired by Melbourne City Council intended to arrange the purple and white pot plants into neat geometric shapes.

Jewish community representatives were appalled last night by the timing of the blunder.

City venues including Federation Square are hosting hundreds of Jews this week to celebrate the eight-day Hanukkah festival.

The council sent hired green thumbs to rearrange the six offending garden beds last night, about an hour after Herald Sun inquiries.

"The arrangements, even if done inadvertently, are in appalling taste," Lord Mayor John So said. "I have asked that they be changed immediately."

Vandals were initially believed to have rearranged the plants as a racist slur. But closer investigation showed gardeners had inadvertently used the pattern.

Jewish-born councillor Carl Jetter at first said he was appalled by the arrangements, which he thought were vandalism.

"It's sad and it's unnecessary. It makes us, as an international destination, more uncomfortable," he said.

"I disagree with and don't want to see any racist activity in our city."


Avatar Defined for Young Dianne

Dianne and I did our big Christmas shop yesterday and she questioned what an avatar is. I found the definition easily online but it's use culturely is broad and odd. If anyone has definitions to add, please feel free. Studying Buddhism has not made me an expert on anything. Which is kind of the point.

BTW, young Dianne is my sis and when we're in our eighties I will still refer to her as young Dianne. Annoying, isn't it?

Main Entry: av·a·tar
Pronunciation: 'a-v&-"tär
Function: noun
Etymology: Sanskrit avatAra descent, from avatarati he descends, from ava- away + tarati he crosses over -- more at UKASE, THROUGH
1 : the incarnation of a Hindu deity (as Vishnu)
2 a : an incarnation in human form b : an embodiment (as of a concept or philosophy) often in a person
3 : a variant phase or version of a continuing basic entity

Also referred to extensively in gaming, renaissance faires and Japanese anime.