During this time of year, it's de rigeur among anyone with a keyboard and an opposable thumb to come up with a list of the best and worst of 2003. Hell, I got paid to do it today.
But some do them better than others. And that just screams for one more list!
BEST TOP 10 LISTS LIST
1. BEST ASTRONOMY PHOTOS OF 2003
The Hubble light echo shot alone is worth a visit to this site. You gotta love when they build a device like the Hub and it scares astronomers because they don't understand what they're seeing. That thing was a bargain.
2. TOP TEN WORDS OF 2003
Actually they're the top words in a variety of categories, from "Worst New Product Names " (Hywire - GM's name for its new experimental fuel cell car) to "Top Ten Youthspeak Words" (No. 7: Poppins - Perfect, as in 'Mary Poppins is perfect in every way.').
3. THE YEAR IN MAGAZINES
The Washington Post's Peter Carlson is a god of a writer. Loved this passage: "After veteran magazine photographer Herb Ritts died, Vanity Fair, which had published dozens of his pictures, ran a one-page tribute to Ritts and a 25-page retrospective of the photographs of . . . Annie Leibovitz. Which raised the question: When Leibovitz dies, will Vanity Fair run a gallery of Ritts photos?"
4. THE SHIT LIST
I've never heard of a majority of these bands or these songs. But the descriptions and the name of the list itself killed me. An exerpt under the heading of Worst Singles of the Year: "4: Fast Food Rockers - "Fast Food Song.' Child obesity is not a joke. FFR should be fucking strung up by their fucking nipples and beaten with chainsaws." I love blunt trauma that's disguised as music criticism.
5. THE MOST ANNOYING PEOPLE OF 2003
Neal Justin of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune nailed this list cold. Not by listing "rich girls" or "metrosexuals" or "The Cat In The Hat." Nope. Neal became my hero by pegging Oven Mitt, the stupid talking mascot from the new Arby's commercials. Justin calls it "the most annoying non-human mascot since Subway created Jared." In the interest of fairness to those who might disagree with this assessment and thus find him an adorable and, possibly, sacrosanct spokesmitt, you can purchase high-quality products adorned with the Oven Mitt visage at the Arby's Web site. May God have mercy on our souls.
6. 2003: A YEAR IN PICTURES
The San Francisco Chronicle takes a left turn where most go right when compiling a photo list. Everyone else has shots of Saddam's fallen statue in Baghdad or Sammy Sosa's corked bat exploding. The Chronicle has a very tasteful shot of naked women near Bethesda Fountain in New York's Central Park running to lay down in the snow to spell "No Bush" with their bodies. That cracked me up on a number of levels.
7. MOST INTRIGUING MEDICAL FACTS OF 2003: A YEAR IN PICTURES
When you consider that this was the year of SARS, cruise ship viruses, epic levels of flu and Michael Jackson was able to convince Ed Bradley that his disturbing facial appearance wasn't something that a "60 Minutes" reporter needed to investigate, 2003 was one wacky year for health. This page compiles the weirdest arcana in that category. Until reading this page, I had no idea that only 10 percent of Americans die suddenly; 90 percent experience a steady decline in health. Or that 2 quarts of mucous flow each day from the sinuses into the nose. Then again, maybe I didn't need to know that.
8. MOST LIKABLE ADS
The picture of the Miller Lite women above notwithstanding, my personal favorite was the Reebok series featuring Terry Tate, the "office linebacker" who tackled employees who did not practice workplace etiquette. Tag line of the year: "Here comes the pain train! Whooooo, wooooooo!"
9. MOST E-MAILED ARTICLES OF 2003
Not to make you nervous or anything, but The New York Times keeps track of which articles and photos that its online readers e-mail to other friends and family online. (And to think, they bitch about Ashcroft.) No. 75 was the tale of a carp that shouted in Hebrew. Coy gevalt!
10. FIMOCULOUS.COM: THE YEAR IN REVIEW
This is the list of lists that inspired this list. So there.
Life is full of time suckage. Menial tasks and duties that shorten our lives for no reason. But there are some things I don't mind if they take a little while longer to complete. Proper airline maintenance. Steak dinner at Bern's. Brain surgery. A Churchill cigar.
And now this.
Why do I have the feeling it's going to be like the joke in "Something About Mary" where the guy brags about creating the "6 Minute Abs" workout because the "8 Minute Abs" was just too tedius?
Take your time. If it requires an extra few minutes of processing, I'll wait.
I'm trying. Really, I am.
I find myself having to put forth an effort to say something positive about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the season they stubbed to a halt yesterday.
At the end of that search for something green in a valley of muck, all I can say is this: at least Jon Gruden didn't vomit his spleen and bleed from his eyeballs on the sideline.
As implausible as that might sound, I think that given the stress this year provided for him, it would have been a pretty easy thing for me to do had I been wearing his visor.
Think about it: Super Bowl champion coach who puts in 20-hour days for the better part of 11 months gets the pleasure of watching his team self-destruct as it puts in lackluster performances against sub-par teams and fails to string any pearls of consistency together. Mouthy wide receiver destroys team chemistry. General manager connives his way to a new job with rival team for no compensation. Place kicker who had been a model of predictable results suddenly has all the quality assurance of a 1973 Ford Fairlaine. Heralded defense forgets how to tackle runners who - get this - dare to run up the middle. Special teams spots opponents 25 yards per kickoff.
The fulcrum came on Sunday when Tennessee Titans quarterback Neil O'Donnel throws for 232 yards and two touchdowns. After being out of football for 16 weeks. The guy was doing color commentary in a TV booth for a college team. And the Bucs make him look like a world beater.
They made everyone but themselves look like world beaters this year. And therin lies the problem. They were so busy preening and chest-thumping and doing commercials and trash talking that they forgot to actually play the game.
Give me less media exposure, less conjecture about this being a dynasty and more fundemental tackling and kicking and passing and running and defending skills and I'll be satisfied.
It is with a heavy heart that I provide the finale to the Calendar of Disturbing Santas.
It's been a lot of fun. It's been occasionally disturbing (the blue balls was a lowlight). But mostly, it's been a device to fill a blog for a month. And for that, there is no price you can affix.
So without further delay, I offer the final installment.
You may want to have a moist towelette ready. This could get a little grimy.
You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout,
or this baby will die. Santa Claus is coming to towwwwwwwwn.
Who knew that Santa was an isolationist?
While not immediately disturbing on its face, this photo upon further inspection showcases a disturbing phenomenon: Rotary Wood.
This one is possibly related to the Rotary photo, but I'm not going to be the one to make that jump.
Hey, look, it's the Insane Claus Posse.
Note to self: next year, put out a helping of RC Cola and fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches for Santa.
Something I'd always suspected: Santa was Liberace's "beard."
Three words: Too much conditioner.
Two words: Urinal fruitcake.
In preparation for the newest reindeer: Gassy.
Dressed up or not, a flash mob is still a stupid idea.
Consider this your toasted Christmas bird.
Next on Bravo: "Queer Eye for the Santa Guy."
When thoughtful and innocent little children ask Santa what he wants for Christmas, this scenerio what immediately runs through his mind.
Vixen has some new competition.
A little road rage we could all live without.
New on home video: Santas Gone Wild.
Fo' shizzle, Santa Clizzle.
Grandma wasn't the only one who got run over by a reindeer.
In case you've missed the previous days' Santas, here are Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Days 7 and 8, Day 9, Day 10, Day 11, Day 12, Day 13, Day 14, Days 15-17, Day 18, Days 19-20, Day 21, Day 22, Day 23 , and Day 24.
We're in the homestretch. Only two days to go.
Tomorrow, I pull out the heavy artillery.
Today? Today, I'll just monkey around:
There really are no words to enhance this bizarre little visual morsel. And so, I'll run along now.
Editor's note: Expect a Christmas Day Santapalooza.
In case you've missed the previous days' Santas, here are Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Days 7 and 8, Day 9, Day 10, Day 11, Day 12, Day 13, Day 14, Days 15-17, Day 18, Days 19-20, Day 21, Day 22 and Day 23.
He certainly gets my vote.
See who else got nominated.
Something tells me it's going to be a tense little Christmas in the house of Windsor.
Betty's gonna have to take back all those Milkbones she bought for Pharos.
There's a song in my head at the moment... can't get it out...
Oye como va mi ritmo
Bueno pa gosar mulata
Why is it haunting me so?
Wait, I know why...
...because of Carlos Santana Claus.
Editor's note: This series concludes on Thursday. Expect an explosion of epic proportions.
That is all.
In case you've missed the previous days' Santas, here are Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Days 7 and 8, Day 9, Day 10, Day 11, Day 12, Day 13, Day 14, Days 15-17, Day 18, Days 19-20, Day 21 and Day 22.
What's the definition of unintended consequences?
This one works for me:
New intelligence indicated that operatives of Osama bin Ladenís al-Qaida terror network, possibly trained and licensed to fly passenger jets, may now be pilots for some foreign airlines, ideally positioning them to carry out suicide attacks, U.S. officials told NBC News on Monday.
Reinforced cockpit doors intended to thwart hijackers after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks would now protect any terrorist pilot at the controls, the officials said on condition of anonymity.
How will you know when you're on a hijacked flight? When they don't ask you to put up the tray table and move your seat up from the reclining position.
He'll have a blue Christmas without you:
A blue (balls) Christmas, that is.
In case you've missed the previous days' Santas, here are Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Days 7 and 8, Day 9, Day 10, Day 11, Day 12, Day 13, Day 14, Days 15-17, Day 18, Days 19-20, Day 21.
Anyone remember the simpler days, back when Grandma only got run over by a reindeer?
I know the subject matter isn't funny.
But this is.
As I said, Brian and I went to the Bucs game yesterday. There were lots of people there, 65,572 to be exact. As you can see by this photo, everyone was dressed in Bucs colors, which include red and black... holiday colors, when you think of it...
A Bucs game would be the perfect blending environment for an older, bearded, heavyset man who wears red and black all the time... with that kind of camoflage, he could slip into a crowd and go almost unnoticed. Almost...
When they say, "Santa Claus is watching you," you had better believe it, brother.
Well, it's official: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are done. I went to the Atlanta Falcons game yesterday, I knelt over the team's moribund body, pressed the back of my hand against its lips to see if I could detect even the shallowest of breath and, having found only a slight hiccup of activity, declared it dead.
Unlike last season's blaze of glory, this year has been not unlike watching a once healthy goldfish strangle in its own environment. These guys had all the talent and coaching a team could want. Enough resources to make Solomon blush. And in the end they screwed themselves into the ground with amateurish mistakes, blown opportunities and a complete loss of composure and mental toughness.
But it was still fun to go to the game yesterday. My cousin called to offer to take my son and I to the game and we jumped at the chance. Especially since it was probably Warren Sapp's last game as a Buc.
And, until the time we lost, of course, everyone seemed to be in the holiday spirit:
The open container laws in Tampa are, to put it mildly, relaxed on game day.
Yes, that's a rhinocerous horn. And yes, that's tinsel on the end of it. What, you were expecting a wreath?
These guys once picked my mother off the ground when I asked them to take a photo with her. They roam the stadium like ambassadors of quan.
It was nice to see Carrot Top being so approachable.
Time to play catch-up again and double up on the Santas since I was out of town yesterday:
Wot's tha mattah, dingo eat your Santa?
I'd be happy if we put the MAS back in Christmas. Mas is more and more is always better.
Nice Photoshop image, by the way. Now I know why my gifts were dripping with blood last year.
Only one week to go until Christmas, friends and neighbors. Which means, of course, that this weekend will be Prime Holiday Party Time. Lots of drinking, lots of unwanted mistletoe come-ons and a sleigh full of inappropriate gestures like this one:
I always wondered what happened to the leather guy in the Village People.
Never piss off a PhotoShop expert.
FUH2 is a great site. It's more or less a photoblog of people around the country who have taken photos of themselves giving the finger to Hummers at various places. I like the one above because the person driving can see the finger being delivered. That's the honorable way, I think.
Some are better than others...
I like how this double-barrel salute frames the hummer. It says, "Hey, up yours... TWICE!" at the same time it humbles the overpowered vehicle by making it appear smaller in the distance than it really is.
Another fine effort. First, there's the group action. It not only magnifies the sentiment, it reaffirms the viewer's faith that there's more than a few people out there who feel the same way. Then there's the proximity factor. Risking personal injury, they've left the comfort of their own Suzuki Samarai (I'm just guessing here) and ventured out close enough to touch and deface the H2 with their vile non-verbal expression. That took some cojones, especially when you consider that the owner probably owns a gun and would shoot them for even looking at the damn thing, much less touching and insulting it.
This might be the most cowardly act you'll ever see.
Hope you enjoy this holiday e-card. It goes out from me to you.
Help me out here. My decoder ring is in the shop for repairs and I'm having difficulty interpreting the world around me.
Are these racist stereotypes or just a reflection of our times?
I laughed when I first saw them. Then they made me sad. This is the image of the African-American man today? My friends don't look like this. You don't see someone making ridiculous caricatures of them. Then again, they aren't chasing a bling mirage. They're too busy leading their lives.
I get confused anymore. I'm still wrapping my head around the idea of Strom Thurmond getting his freak on with the family maid 79 years ago and then keeping the byproduct a secret all this time.
Weird world, man. Weird world.
Been a tough week. Lots of work and shopping and baking and wrapping. Hard to fit in a little Santa hunting online, much less throw it up on the wall here in the Salad Bowl.
But throw I must.
I thought I'd catch up for a few missed days and post these inglorious Santas for your dining and dancing pleasure:
Maybe I can buy the idea of Santa watching over the world. Or having the whole world in his hands. Or at least cradling the world before he tries to nail the 7-10 split to save the rest of his Pin Heads teammates during Thursday night bowling down at Stuckey Lanes. But wings on Santa? Uh-uh. Not going there. And not just because you'd need the wingspan of a 767 to get that bastard off the ground. Or because he appears to have taken advantage of the half-off wire frames sale at VisionWorks. It's because this very well could be an ad for holiday douche, for all I know.
Looks like this was shot at a rally in support of SSPOLA (The Santas/Shetland Pony Open Love Association). The guy in the back appears to be calling for backup.
Reminds me of that scene in "Empire" when Princess Leia whispers, "I love you," and a cocky Santa replies, "I know."
Santa looks pretty good frozen in carbonite, doesn't he?
This pretty much says it all.
Friends asked when I started all this if I'd be able to find enough disturbing Santas to keep the series going.
They obviously didn't anticipate this one:
Please excuse my crude Photoshop skills. It's the best Saddam Claus that I could fashion at 8:17 a.m. on a Sunday.
So they found him in a hole 8-feet-deep, eh?
Here's hoping he'll be back down there again real soon.
They say 13 is an unlucky number...
...I'd say that's about right.
By the swollen appearance of his feet, I'd say either he's been a busy, jolly old elf or else...
Santa's got the gout.
Somebody has been watching a little too much "Knight Rider" on Nick at Night.
If I did this to my crap 1998 Explorer, several teeth would be missing and it'd be leaving a trail of drool down the road from the radiator.
...for a pretty picture.
I swear, I never get tired of seeing these.
The music on the site, though, sounds like what they played every time Kirk tried to hump one of those green women on "Star Trek."
I think of Santa and I conjure a soft and round little man.
Not something like this:
You could poke an eye out with one of these.
Sometimes, ya gotta roll your own.
I want to think that Santa is pure of heart, that he is wholly untouched by the grime of earthly desires that you and I share. Santa is about joy and goodness, not filth and lust and greed. I don't want to think of Santa tooling around the world, looking to get his wood on.
Then I see something like this:
Apparently, no matter what, Santa is always game for the milk and cookie.
I've stumbled upon a blog that offers a fascinating glimpse of life at the bottom of the world.
The writer is posted at McMurdo Station, an American research lab in Antarctica. McMurdo is the largest Antarctic post -- its population tops 1,100 during the summer and slims down to 250 hardy souls in winter.
The writing here is outstanding. Along the way he imparts observations that are more or less universal in any workplace, such as:
In the constellation of complaints, food and mail are the brightest stars. There is little you can say about either subject that has not already been whined, moaned, or groaned about already. In the interest of craftsmanship, it is best to remember that if you are going to complain, then you should do so in a way that entertains those around you, because no one really feels sorry for you anyway. All anyone really wants is to forget the miserable horrors of their mundane existence, if even for a few fleeting moments of laughter. Some people call any critical statement 'complaining' only when they do not agree with it, but are otherwise happy to complain about the food or the mail. Some people are tired of hearing those people complain about complaining.
Everyone loves a good snowball fight.
I got to the second round. Then I got creamed. Enjoy.
If you're planning on flying somewhere for the holidays, I want you to think of this Santa right at the moment the wheels lift off the Tarmac and again at the tense little microsecond right before they touch down on the sweet, sweet earth:
I have to think this guy was on duty when President Bush snuck out of the country for Thanksgiving.
I'm so glad to see that Wing has cut a Christmas album. I especially like the peer-pressure title of "Everyone Sings Carols With Wing." The album's cover shows her with her left hand raised at a 45-degree angle, as if to say, "I'm going to bitch-slap you if you don't buy this album."
You can listen to samples on her site.
You owe yourself a little "Santa Claus is Coming To Town." Her voice has a sort of Madeline Kahn-meets-Madame-Butterfly-while-drinking-eggnogg-laced-with-a-heroic-dose-of-Draino quality.
Shake it like a Polaroid pick-chah.
Yeah, I know. I've let down every one of the readers of this site by not updating the Disturbing Santas Calendar yesterday.
Know what I have to say to that? All three of you can sue me. You know, when you get around to reading this in January.
Anyway, I'm catching up for lost time, amid the hustle and bustle of holiday decorating, shopping and partygoing.
In the interest of keeping things orderly I hearby humbly submit the following two - yes TWO - disturbing Santas:
DISTURBING SANTA NO. 7
I'm guessing this was shot around 1982. Why? Check the visual clues:
** The Adidas three-stripe running shorts the guy on Santa's lap is wearing. The last guy who wore a pair of these in 1987 didn't get laid for a good two years after.
** The Pier 1 Imports bamboo papa-san chair, which came either with a circular pedestal (seen here) or a hook, from which the chair would dangle and then rip out your ceiling joist.
** The electric Gibson six string guitar at frame right. The shirtless wonder in this photo, whom I've dubbed Tod (I'm imagining that he dropped the last d because he thought it would score down at the ABC Liquor Lounge's 3-for-1 ladies night on Thursdays), picked it up after hearing Stevie Ray Vaughan's solo on David Bowie's "China Girl.'' He tried to play it a few times, but only wound up sounding like Duane Eddy on mescaline.
** The silver Casio timepiece on Tod's left wrist. Also had a miniature calculator/keyboard just below the digital display that never failed to punch in four numbers at once when all you really wanted was to peck one at a time.
** The guy on Santa's lap looks just like Weird Al Yankovic.
DISTURBING SANTA NO. 8
Just after the scene depicted on the cover of this comic book, Santa went ninja on their ass. How do I know? Because nobody fucks with Santa and gets away with it.
A postscript: Back in the day, this is what people meant when they said, "Dude, you're getting a Dell.''
I apologize in advance for the sudden shift toward All Things Oceanic in this week's Disturbing Santas. Blame it on my Floridian upbringing.
But I think that I now know who found Santa Claw:
It was this guy.
Few things foster yuletide cheer than the idea of a fat, hairy man smelling like low tide.
Is it me or does Santa look a lot like Al Jolson?
Perhaps it was some sort of harmonic convergence, but I've encountered during the last 24 hours some of the most... breathtaking music. Is that the right word, breathtaking?
Nevermind. It is what it is.
And for that, I am thankful to my friend Greg, who sends along this link, which takes you to a blog that offers the musical stylings of Sandra Prill, a Tampa public access star from the mid-1980s.
Greg's brother Eric writes at the site:
Sondra was the star of the imaginatively titled "My Show". (Hey, Charlie Chaplin wrote a book called "My Autobiography" and he was a genius, so maybe we should cut her some slack.) In its three installments aired over the course of several years, "My Show" provided a showcase for Sondra's ever-evolving range of things at which she tried to be talented.
Key word here: tried.
Anyway, you owe yourself a three-song block of Sandy's work. I don't want to say she's off-key, but she hit a frequency on one note during her rendition of Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love" that beached an entire pod of pilot whales in New Zealand.
Youíve been hit by - uh-uh - Youíve been struck by a...
Which Michael Jackson are you?
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.
And when I became a man...
... all the hope in my soul was extinguished by the brute force of reality, like a Lucky Strike stubbed out by the heel of a guy who just lost his paycheck at the dog track.
Thanks, mom and dad, for making me believe that a room full of Lite Brites, Spirographs and Daisy Air Rifles will appear out of thin air - with no work or effort on my part - if you only ask for them. I now have the pleasure of hoisting 23 percent interest on a six-digit credit card debt so that I can prop up what's left of that illusion.
Christmas 1991 should be paid off next year.
In case you've missed the previous days' Santas, here are Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4.
...is a set of Mexican wrestling masks.
Don't know why. I just do. It'd be great to walk into a meeting at work with one of these things on.
"Hey, Jeff.... nice mask.''
"Thanks. Got it for Christmas."
That they come in a four pack only enhances their allure. That way, you can pick one to wear to match your day, like a mood mask.
"Better be careful,'' they'd say at work. "He's wearing his Electro mask today.''
The cost breaks down into $2.70 a mask. Where else can you get a bargain like this?
Do you smell that? You don't? Really?
It's Santa Claw.
Tomorrow: Santa comes clean.
Prepare yourself. Today's disturbing Santa gets a little rough.
Two words: Santa porn.
When we last left Asses of Fire Tour, we were scraping the middle of the barrel to find good places to eat chicken wings.
Now we're over a barrel, so to speak.
For the uninitiated, the tour was conceived first as an exploration of the finest gameday wing establishments in Tampa. Then it became a weekly quest that was limited in scope only by the length of a football season. The deal: one wing joint for every week of the season.
Do you know how frigging long a football season is? Too long. Five weeks of preseason, 16 weeks of regular season football, then the playoffs, then the Super Bowl, then the Pro Bowl.
Another indicator of how long the season is: Two participants have gone on and off and back on diets. Only one remains steadfast to his dietary discipline.
It is safe to say we had not anticipated this dilemma when we first set out to conquer the known wing universe.
We've gone to so many places, we're having to travel long distance just to get there. Drive, eat and drive back... three hours, easy. For wings.
Got so bad yesterday that our only criteria when we called Munchies in Brandon was: A) Are you open; B) Do you have a TV set on which you could theoretically show a sporting event.
The wings were good; the scorchers were hot but not "call 911" hot. We've had those. These were not it. But the honey barbecue were great and, hey, the owner, Said, gave us a free sample of pizza as soon as we walked through the door. Not a bad deal all in all.
For a visual clue as to the taste of the wings, I give you this:
Nothing more need be said. If this had been Roberto Bennini instead of Rommie Johnson, he might have exclaimed, "The wing of the chicken... she is very much like a lover.''
The new goal - if there ever was an old one - is to eat 1,000 wings by the end of the season. (We've given up on dining our way through the playoffs.) According to Rommie's calculations, that means we have to eat 133 wings at the last 3 places. We're at 867 wings and counting.
We're gonna need reinforcements.
This man's gesture indicates:
1. "I am having difficulty breathing!
2. "No yanky my wanky."
3. "Iíve been waiting for a drink so long Iím growing a beard. I will use it to strangle the bartender."
Your answer can be found here.
In our continuing quest to display the most nauseating, discomforting and visually noxious Santa Claus representations, we had to go down on the farm to find this one:
You know, it only takes a little dyslexia to spell Satan Claus.
Mr. Picassohead, I made you.
How sad. I spent an hour doing this over and over, refining my skills and honing them to a devious, "Nip/Tuck" sharpness and the best I could come up with was something that looked like Kathy Griffin.
Speaking of awful plastic surgery, it's good to see Courtney Love getting a little touchup...