March 31, 2005


It seems like everyone on the planet is linking to this IM exchange between a college student and a comedy writer bent on screwing with said college student. [Link] But funny is funny, heavy linkage or no. And this is funny. Brilliant, even.
And besides, as someone who received some crazy assed IMs out of the blue back when I had AOL, I'm always glad to hear when someone uses an idiot for a little verbal handball session.
And I'm all for deifying the great and powerful Chivas.
Posted by Jeff at 07:13 AM | Comments (1)

March 24, 2005


Here's a brilliant bit of nose-thumbing art terrorism.[Link]
Seems a guy installed four pieces in New York's most prestigious museums - The Brooklyn Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of Natural History. Some of it is still hanging.
Dressed as a British pensioner, over the last few days Banksy entered each of the galleries and attached one of his own works, complete with authorative name plaque and explanation.

He says - "This historic occasion has less to do with finally being embraced by the fine art establishment and is more about the judicious use of a fake beard and some high strength glue." Banksy continues -"They're good enough to be in there, so I don't see why I should wait"

Staff at the New York Met discovered and removed their new aquisition early Sunday morning while Banksy's discount soup can print took pride of place in the MoMA for over three days before being torn down.

As of now, the other two pieces currently remain firmly in place...

Posted by Jeff at 06:05 AM | Comments (2)


My friend Katherine sends along this link to what she calls "the best music video ever." [Link]
After watching Hurra Torpedo's version of "Total Eclipse of the Heart," I have to say that I think she undersold it. It has gigantic, Costco-sized value if for no other reason than the dramatic tension provided by the one guy's drooping adidas track suit. Damn thing is hanging on for dear life.
These guys make They Might Be Giants look like a chamber quartet.
Posted by Jeff at 05:00 AM | Comments (0)


Got a note the other day from Willie Drye, author of Storm of the Century: The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935. Seems he's temporarily stopped cruising the Web again for sordid stories and instead boated himself quite a marlin.

Just remember who loved you when you were merely a meteorological mensch, Willie.

Hey guys:

Just hung up the phone from talking to [Name Withheld], a producer at Towers Productions in Chicago. She tells me we're going to produce a documentary based on my book for the History Channel. Says the HC agreed to it today at a meeting with Towers CEO [Name Withheld] and producer [Name Withheld] in New York. I'd been talking about this possibility for some time with Towers, but it wasn't sure it was going to happen until just a few minutes ago.

My understanding is that this is going to be a full hour-long production, with special effects, actors, etc. I think they're going to have it ready to run by this summer/fall.


More details later.




Santa smokes dope.

Shopping for love.

Mack the knife.

You say N'awlins. I say New Orleans.

Go to hell, Ivan.

Flirtin' with disaster.

How low can it go?

Anyone for an storm surge?

Look at me when I'm talkin' to you, tiny eyes.

Anyone care for a blindfold and a cigarette?

A healthy serving of "drunken Swede."

Flame on!

Rankled by rankings.

Remembering Buddy Hackett.

Posted by Jeff at 04:59 AM | Comments (0)

March 23, 2005


San Francisco-based Gap Inc. will not renew its contract with 'Sex and the City' star Sarah Jessica Parker. Gap hired Parker for a three-season advertising contract for Fall 2004 to Spring 2005. Most recently, Parker has appeared in commercials promoting the company's "Pretty Khaki" line, which promotes "Enjoy being a girl in khaki styles with feminine a flair."
On behalf of a grateful nation tired of the nauseating show-tunes ad campaign and the color pink, which we were happy to see stay in "Miami Vice" time warp of 1984 before Miss Schnozz brought it back every 30 seconds on TV, I say, "Thank you."
Now give us Joss Stone and be on your way.
Posted by Jeff at 07:48 AM | Comments (1)


Found over at Threadless.
Posted by Jeff at 07:00 AM | Comments (0)


Oooooh, this is good news. Very good news.
This woman rocks it hard, folks. If you dig funk and soul, you need to run - not walk - to see her:
Nikka Costa Infuses Soul, Rock and Funk in "can'tneverdidnothin"'

NEW YORK, NY - Virgin Recording Artist Nikka Costa is set to release can'tneverdidnothin', the long awaited follow-up to 2001's critically acclaimed Everybody Got Their Something. Written and co-produced by Costa, can'tneverdidnothin" covers a wide range of material including rock, funk, soul and sultry ballads. Named after a memorable motivational phrase she grew up hearing from her Southern-born mother, can'tneverdidnothin" will be released May 24, 2005 on Virgin Records.

Having released records internationally as a young girl and later as a teenager, Costa made her breakthrough with "Everybody Got Their Something."On that acclaimed album, Costa tapped into the power of soul music that meant so much to her growing up, and found a sexy, joyful groove. With "can'tneverdidnothin'," Costa once again finds her groove. The 11 tracks include: "can'tneverdidnothin'," the album's rocking yet ultra-funky titletrack; the infectious first single "Till I Get To You," "I Gotta Know," a stately piano-based love song; and "Fatherless Child," a moving tribute to her father.

Costa is also set to join Lenny Kravitz on the "Electric Church: One Night Only!" tour. The exclusive theater tour hits 27 cities nationwide beginningApril 5th. In addition, Costa has announced the following solo club shows:

April 1 - The Galaxy, Santa Ana, CA
April 2 - City Limits, Tucson, AZ
April 4 - Sanctuary at Sunset Station, San Antonio, TX
April 6 - La Zona Rosa, Austin, TX
April 12 - The Social, Orlando, FL
April 19 - Fletchers, Baltimore, MD
April 30 - The Music Mill, Indianapolis, IN
May 3 - Luther's Blues, Madison, WI
May 8 - Blue Note, Columbia, MO
May 24 - Roxy, Los Angeles, CA
May 25 - House of Blues, Anaheim, CA

Dates for Lenny Kravitz's "ELECTRIC CHURCH: ONE NIGHT ONLY!" tour are:

April 5 - Nokia Live, Dallas, TX
April 7 - Verizon Theater, Houston, TX
April 9 - Tabernacle, Atlanta, GA
April 10 - Owens Auditorium, Charlotte, NC
April 13 - Jackie Gleason Theater, Miami, FL
April 16 - Electric Factory, Philadelphia, PA
April 17 - Borgata, Atlantic City, NJ
April 20 - Constitution Hall, Washington DC
April 21 - Beacon Theater, New York, NY
April 23 - Oakdale Hartford, CT
April 24 - Orpheum, Boston, MA
April 26 - Music Hall, Cleveland, OH
April 27 - Massey, Toronto, Canada
April 29 - State Theater, Detroit, MI
May 1 - Congress, Chicago, IL
May 4 - State Theater, Minneapolis, MN
May 6 - Rave, Milwaukee, WI
May 7 - Pagent, St Louis, MO
May 9 - Memorial Hall, Kansas City, MO
May 11 - Fillmore, Denver, CO
May 13 - Snitzer, Portland, OR
May 14 - Orpheum, Vancouver, Canada
May 16 - Paramount Theatre, Seattle, WA
May 18 - Bill Graham Civic Center, San Francisco, CA
May 19 - Copley Symphony, San Diego, CA
May 21 - The Joint, Las Vegas, NV
May 22 - The Wiltern, Los Angeles, CA

Who is she? Her father, Don Costa, produced Sixties legends and Rat Pack heavies including Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr. and Paul Anka. And her godfather was Ol' Blue Eyes himself.

Costa was a child star overseas long before she struck gold in the U.S. At five she recorded a duet with Don Ho; at eight she opened for the Police in Chile in front of a stadium crowd. American audiences took notice of a grown-up Nikka three summers ago when she lent Tommy Hilfiger her music for a commercial. A song on the Blow soundtrack followed, and her U.S. debut, "Everybody Got Their Something," landed her the opening slot on Beck's European.

Stay tuned. I'll post links to her music when they become available.

Posted by Jeff at 06:50 AM | Comments (2)

March 22, 2005


My buddy Drew sent me this camera phone pic the other day.

His notation: "Only at Wal-Mart.":


He did not say if the tiger "growled" at him.

Posted by Jeff at 07:52 AM | Comments (0)


Work + intestinal bug + more work + lots of stuff to do = a blog with a lack of updates.

Consider this a bit of a spring break. The Salad Bowl will return in a couple days when I get a few moments of leisure time. Or when my innards finally stop evacuating.

Until then, enjoy this dark little Terry Schiavo t-shirt:


Posted by Jeff at 07:48 AM | Comments (1)

March 17, 2005


When you think about it, Mario Vasquez, the dainty singing figurine who quit "American Idol" but looks like he instead should be on "That 70s Show," at least had the good sense to milk his soon-to-expire 15 minutes by going on "Late Show with David Letterman" the other night to mock his own aborted time in the spotlight by giving an abbreviated top 10 list.
My favorite was No. 8:
"Yeah, my career is over, but I just saved a bundle on my car insurance."
TVGasm has the audio from the entire segment. [Link]
Speaking of CBS... I don't watch a lot of reality TV, so I don't know about these things... but when did Janeane Garafalo and Ed Bradley join the cast of "Survior: Palau"?
Posted by Jeff at 04:50 AM | Comments (1)


In the same week that the movie "Robots" makes $40 mil in its first week [Link], and the RoboMaid is introduced to sweep your hardwood floors to within an inch of their veneer, (It's The New Sweeping Sensation From Europe!)[Link], Transport Trends tells us about The Walking Machine, a tree trimmer that walks through the forest defoliating anything that even so much as resembles a whisker. [Link]


This kind of junk makes me feel like Will Smiff in "Independence Day" after he's just taken the alien speedster out for a spin: I gotta get me one of these.

I can only dream the dream of the devil when I think of making every commuter of the Selmon Expressway into my robo-beeyach. I mean, if I'm going to crawl to work, I might as well crawl in style.

Posted by Jeff at 03:49 AM | Comments (1)


Just saw this on Drudge: [Link]


Unfortunately for CNN, God only has him signed through July 2007.

Posted by Jeff at 03:34 AM | Comments (1)

March 14, 2005


Meet Tron Guy. [Link] If you're not on a full stomach, that is.
The site is worth the full scroll. Trust me.
Posted by Jeff at 06:42 AM | Comments (3)

March 12, 2005


In poking around the Web I tripped into an online archive full of Florida films, [Link] including one of a young Jim Morrison.
The public relations film [Link] emphasizes the need for more college-educated Floridians to work in the state’s rapidly expanding industries. And in two brief scenes, features a young Morrison years before his days aslead singer for The Doors.
Other films include:
Flower of Tampa - The story of a young man visiting his uncle, a cigar manufacturer in Tampa, to showcase the city’s cigar industry. Along the way the young man meets an attractive young woman who takes him on a tour of Ybor City and the cigar plant where all aspects of cigar making are discussed and hand and machine cigar rolling techniques are highlighted. The film also includes scenes of Tampa’s airport, downtown and harbor during the annual Gasparilla Pirate Festival. [Link] [Video]
The Care and Feeding Of A Mermaid - How a young woman learns to be a mermaid at Weeki Wachee. Lessons in breath control, synchronized swimming, diet, modeling, announcing, and how to eat and drink underwater. Parts of performance are shown. Uses underwater photography. [Link] [Video]
Disney: Yesterday and Tomorrow - Then-Florida Gov. Haydon Burns introduces our "new neighbor" Walt Disney. Uses clips from Disney TV and movies and scenes from the California park to introduce Florida to its newest theme park. Also uses scenes of Disney-created exhibits at New York World's Fair. Shows color/sound footage of Orlando press conference announcing Disney World. [Link] [Video]
Florida Moonport USA - Starts with a wonderful Mercury launch sequence. Shows a thriving aerospace industry in its prime. An unsuccessful launch is shown, lots of technology of the day (including transistor pocket radios) and 12 gallons. of gas for $3.60. See recreation, educational centers, corporations and their space-related products. Describes economic, cultural, population boom. See tactical missile launches and astronaut medical test equipment. Predicts and shows model of Vehicle Assembly Building. Shows Miss Baker, the astro-monkey. [Link] [Video]
Posted by Jeff at 07:15 AM | Comments (0)


The latest by-product of my OCD tendencies: a near unhealthy fascination with the ESPN Classic show "Cheap Seats: Without Ron Parker." It's essentially the Mystery Science Theater 3000 of sports highlight shows. And it's devouring gobs of hard drive space on my digital video recorder.
The site explains the premise of the show:
Cheap Seats, a new show hosted by Ron Parker, was slated for launch on ESPN Classic. But a horrible tragedy in the ESPN Tape Library derailed the smug sportscaster's career. Longtime tape librarians Randy and Jason were forced to take over.

Like Brady for Bledsoe and Gehrig for Pip, Randy and Jason had just one, single-minded focus: Get the job done. And get it done funny. And get better haircuts. And clean up the tape library a little.

The result: two guys with a lot of time on their hands and a lot of videotapes at their disposal.

With searing commentary, guest appearances, sketch comedy and features, Randy and Jason provide a new look at the old games on "Cheap Seats Without Ron Parker."

The New York Times has a story about the twin brothers who host the show, Randy and Jason Sklar. [Link]

In person, the twins are fast-talking pop-culture enthusiasts who tend to finish each other's sentences - perhaps a result of doing stand-up together for nearly 20 years. They grew up in suburban St. Louis, loving absurdist comic films like "Airplane!," and share obsessions with television series like "MST3K," "Mr. Show" and "Arrested Development." Their musical tastes, on the other hand, diverge slightly, as Jason Sklar noted. "Randy loved Wilco's 'Yankee Hotel Foxtrot,' " he said, "and I liked Wilco's 'A Ghost Is Born.' "

The brothers spent their first season of "Cheap Seats" fine-tuning the format of the show (it was reduced from an hour to a half-hour) and shaping its sardonic sensibility. Having it broadcast on ESPN Classic - not exactly a cable ratings powerhouse - has been a boon, the brothers said. "It's half the number of viewers as ESPN, but I still think it has been great for us because we've been able to hone it," Randy Sklar said.

Jason Sklar then interrupted, "We've been able to develop it, and that's such a rare thing in TV, where, if it's not an instant hit, then it's gone."

Part of the challenge has been identifying their audience. As Randy Sklar self-deprecatingly joked last week in a hilarious send-up of ESPN's Emmy Award-winning biography show "Sports Century," "We thought we had our audience pegged - we were convinced it was going to be senior women and honorably discharged marines."

Jokes aside, the Sklars said their audience was potentially rather broad. They're adamant that the show is not just for sports people; it's for anyone who likes a good laugh at the expense of, say, a competitive lawn mower. As Jason Sklar said, "We want to do a show that comedy people say is a great comedy show, and sports people say is a great comedy show."

Last season they became so hungry for a larger audience that they almost spent their own money to buy a promotional ad in the satirical newspaper The Onion. There was no need: the paper gave the show a glowing review that week.

Where does "Cheap Seats" go from here? Randy Sklar tried to answer that in an episode last week. "I don't know where we're going to be tomorrow - actually I do know where we're going to be tomorrow," he said, "but in an abstract sense I don't know - so don't press me. But I do know this: If there are Germans riding on bikes playing soccer, 'Cheap Seats' will be there to make fun of it."

Posted by Jeff at 06:03 AM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2005


Every so often, someone realizes that there are real stories to tell out on the road. Like this one the Minneapolis/St. Paul City Pages ran about pizza delivery drivers and the weird crap they see on the job. [Link]
This was a great passage:
CP: The Onion once ran a story with the headline "Everyone Involved in Pizza's Preparation, Delivery, Purchase Extremely High." What do you say to that?

Mr. Blue: I'd say 30 to 40 percent of our customer base is high. Cooks, maybe 60 percent. Personally, I've just had three times where I went to work high. Once, when I was delivering to an address in deep south Minneapolis, I was just cruising along and listening to a tape before I realized that I was on 35W headed toward Bloomington.

Mr. Pink: Pot has never caused me any trouble. Sometimes I space out a little and keep driving beyond the delivery area, but that's the worst thing about it. One time I delivered to this regular at a mansion by one of the lakes. I think he was a realtor or something who made it big in the boom. But he was still basically a regular guy. So I see that his wife and kids were gone, and he is hanging out with some friend. And they have these huge bottles of ultra-expensive scotch and enormous bags of marijuana and hash spread on the bar. So I spent about half an hour there. It was my greatest delivery.

Mr. White: I've been tipped in pot. One time I delivered to this girl on Hennepin Avenue, and she said, "Wanna come upstairs and smoke some pot and do some whip-its?" So I said okay, and hung out with her for about half an hour. But I get dyslexic when I smoke pot, so it's not very good for me. My math skills get poor.

Mr. Brown: For me, it's just a waste of a f***ing buzz. It makes the shift go on too long. You've got to sit and listen to the people at work, asking all these weird questions. Being high around that sort of stuff is just too much for me. But if I worked at Domino's, I'd have to get f***ing high just to put the outfit on.

Posted by Jeff at 08:10 AM | Comments (0)


Staying with the dog theme, here's an interesting blog, Dogblog. [Link]

As the writer says, "As I walk around San Francisco, I encounter dogs tied to things, take their pictures, and offer them up to the world with whatever commentary springs to mind.''

I loved this one:


Not 30 seconds before I got into position to take the picture you see here, this genius lifted his leg and peed on the pole his leash was tied to. Dig that look on his face, like he's positive he's done the right thing. I wonder how many more walks that leash was good for.

Posted by Jeff at 08:09 AM | Comments (0)


I can't decide whether or not I like that weird new Burger King commercial with Darius Rucker and Brooke Burns in it. It's all kinds of goofy, like what you'd see if "Big Rock Candy Mountain" ran into Cowboy Carl on Pee-Wee's Playhouse. Ad Land said it looked, "like an Old Navy ad on acid with some Playboy/Penthouse thrown in for good measure.''
Singer Ryan Adams mused on his blog:
Anyone else seen that really, really weird Burger King commercial where Darius Rucker is walking around in a cheap cowboy costume playing guitar and singing, there are twin girls in cowgirl outfits smiling, and Brooke Burk is in a swing and says something really random at the end? That commercial freaks me out.
Regardless, I'm still mesmerized by it in a drive-slow-so-I-can-see-the-car-wreck kind of way.
Costa over at Population Statistic found the lyrics for the full song. Feel free to sing along:
“Burger King: Ranch Song”

When my belly starts a-rumblin’
And I’m jonesin’ for a treat
I close my eyes for a big surprise
The Tendercrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch

I love the Tendercrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch
The breasts they grow on trees
And streams of bacon ranch dressing
Flow right up to your knees

There’s tumbleweeds of bacon
And cheddar paves the streets
Folks don’t diss you ‘cause you got the juice
There’s a train of ladies comin’ with a nice caboose
Never get in trouble, never need an excuse
The Tendercrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch

I love the Tendercrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch
No one tells you to behave
Your wildest fantasies come true
Dallas cheerleaders give you shaves
Red onions make you laugh instead
And french fries grow like weeds
You get to veg all day
All the lotto tickets pay
There’s a king who wants you to have it your way
That’s the Tendercrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch

I know. It doesn't make any more sense having the words in front of you.

Posted by Jeff at 08:09 AM | Comments (11)


Unlike past years, I'm not blogging the Iditarod [Link] this time around.
Most times I wind up just linking to stories on the Anchorage Daily News Web site [No Link] and that only drives traffic to them. Even 13 years after they bought my paper out of business, I have a hard time begrudging them even the smallest indulgence.
It's not that they do crap journalism. They write fine stories, when they bother to cover the local area. They've had some compelling stuff about blind Iditarod musher Rachel Scdoris, [No Link] for example. Nice reads abound there.
Still, there are some funny little asides to note.
Like the story of the injured dog who was flown home to Anchorage from the trail, only to get loose on the runway of an international airport: [No Link]
Melanie Gould's dog Olive may have been dropped from the Iditarod, but there's no question the husky can still run.

Airport and Iditarod officials spent the better part of Tuesday afternoon and evening chasing the sled dog around the windswept, snow-covered grounds of Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport after she bolted off an incoming PenAir flight around 2:15 p.m.

Gould, who is competing in her fifth Iditarod this year, dropped Olive in Rohn, about 270 miles into the 1,100-mile race across Alaska, but officials would not say why the dog was cut from the team and flown to Anchorage. Olive was en route to her home in Talkeetna, about a three-hour drive from Anchorage, when she escaped.

"She just darted out the minute they opened that cargo bay," said Iditarod spokesman Chas St. George.

See, this cracks me up.

Mainly because I remember covering the race in McGrath, one of the major checkpoints. McGrath was also a hub for transporting food, gear and people, since it has a relatively nice airfield. The Iditarod Air Force, a ragtag collection of volunteers who fly the aforementiond food, gear and people in single-engine aircraft, have the pleasure of transporting sick and wounded dogs as well.

Well, sort of wounded. Mostly, the dogs suffer from a case of the trots and are too weak to run after pooping for a couple hundred miles.

Now, imagine dozens and dozens of dogs sitting on beds of straw, their leashes hooked to the chain-link fence surrounding the tiny airfield in McGrath. They're tired. They miss their dog teams. They're cranky. They've got irritable bowels. And they endure howling snow blasts from the prop wash generated as planes take off behind them.

That probably was the case with Gould's dog. If that pooch was strong enough to take a lap around the airport runway, he probably had enough hassles for one week and decided to am-scray. Good for the dog, I say.

Posted by Jeff at 08:05 AM | Comments (1)


Uh oh, now his deal is cooked.:
Spain's Islamic Commission, which groups the nation's Muslim community, said it was issuing a fatwa against Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

"We are going to issue a fatwa (religious decree) against Bin Laden this afternoon,' Mansour Escudero, who leads the Federation of Islamic religious entities (Feeri) and co-secretary general of the Spanish governmenmt-created Commission told AFP.

I love that they announced that they would announce it.

They could have just fatwa-ed him up the wazoo right there and then... but they teased it and primped it until that fatwas was jussssst right.

Even the extremists are into spin.

Now, if they'll only issue a fatwa after the real terrorists: M'Balz Es-Hari, Grabbir Boubi, Haid D'Salaami, Hous Bin Pharteen, his cousin I-Bin Pharteen and their close companion I-Zheet M'Drurz. Not to mention Mustaf Herod Apyur Poupr. [Link]

Posted by Jeff at 07:26 AM | Comments (0)


This is the kind of obit I fear I'll have when I assume room temperature: [Link]
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Actress Nicole DeHuff, who memorably took a volleyball in the face from Ben Stiller in the 2000 hit movie "Meet the Parents," died of complications from pneumonia. She was 31.
Posted by Jeff at 07:13 AM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2005


Some people never learn their lesson.
Apparently, Britney Spears has yet to learn that no one wants to see her in a movie. [Link]
Never one to be put off by a bit of bad press, the 23-year-old star is giving her acting career another go - with a comedy slant.

Bless Britney...

After her first film, Crossroads, was panned by anyone and everyone, she's dusted herself off and signed up for movie number two.

This time round she's starring in the comedy In The Pink alongside Cher, Bette Midler and Tim Allen.

She plays a door-to-door saleswoman called Drew Heart and will start filming later this month.

You know, I considered retiring the Your Moment of Britney series not too long ago. I thought that perhaps it should morph into Your Moment of Paris or Your Moment of Lohan, but I think the girl has just enough crazy left in the tank to keep this going.


Britney wears the glamorous life.

Britney takes a palimony suit.

Something old, something new.

Britney takes a groom. Again.

Britney defends her latest love.

Britney marries a childhood friend. For 50 hours.

Britney swaps spit with the Rosetta Stone of Skank.

Britney poses for photos that make her look even more plastic and lifeless than she already is.

Britney, as she would look if she hit the all-you-can-eat Seafood Lovers Special at Red Lobster every night for six months.

Britney runs a restaurant into the ground.

Britney has an evil twin available for parties.

Britney and George cut a rug.

Britney proves the axiom: Beer affects the way males respond to females.

Posted by Jeff at 08:00 AM | Comments (0)


From the realm of morbid curiosity: Movies of stuff getting ripped apart by an industrial shredder. [Link]
Who knew that steel drums [Link] would stand less of a chance than a diaper [Link]. The washing machine (above) [Link], the boat [Link] and the refrigerator [Link] didn't put up much of a fight. The barrel of concrete[Link], however, took a little doing.
Posted by Jeff at 07:50 AM | Comments (0)


I've always thought it would be cool to have a photo booth in my house. Not that I'd use it all that much, but it would be quite the topic of conversation. One of my favorite photos of me and my son is a four-pic strip I have from when he was about 1 and I had taken him to the mall.


Then I saw this New York Times article on how they're becoming de rigeur among the hoi polloi: [Link]

Formerly relegated to passport and visa offices (where they have now been replaced by digitized versions or an actual person with an actual camera), the old-fashioned photo booth is making a comeback. Bars and restaurants in San Francisco and New York are using them to attract customers, and individuals are buying them for their homes. But perhaps not surprisingly it is in Hollywood where they have become the toy du jour, with celebrities installing them as permanent party gimmicks for guests who never tire of seeing themselves in close-up. "There's no better foreplay than to have someone dive deeper into their own vanity on their own turf," said Dave Navarro, the guitarist with Jane's Addiction whose recent memoir, "Don't Try This at Home," features his photo-booth portrait on the book jacket and many photo strips inside.

For more than a year Mr. Navarro kept an old photo booth in his house to document visitors for the memoir, and though he has relegated it to the garage, his wife, Carmen Electra, won't let him get rid of it altogether.

"She thinks it's art," he said on the phone one recent morning from their home. "Is that what you said, honey?" Ms. Electra, an actress and a guest performer with the Pussycat Dolls, said yes, it was.

When Dave Navarro and Carmen Electra co-opt your electronic fetishes, it's time to get a new electronic fetish.

Posted by Jeff at 07:49 AM | Comments (0)

March 09, 2005


Need a laugh? Check out this great little CGI caveman short film. [Link]
Posted by Jeff at 08:07 AM | Comments (0)


Don't know if you've caught it, but Doonesbury all this week has drawn a series of tributes to Hunter S. Thompson. Seems apt, since Garry Trudeau's character Duke was based on HST.

But this series of panels from Tuesday's strip caught my attention: [Link]


It reminded me of the strip he drew in May that showed one of the characters, Joanie, daydreaming about avenging the firing of a friend from a university coaching job. In the last frame, she was shown carrying the head of the university president on a platter.

DoonesburySevered Head.jpg

The problem was that the strip ran the week that the decapitation of American Nicholas Berg was shown on video on a Web site.

Trudeau later said he he regretted the poor timing and apologized to anyone offended by the image "that is now clearly inappropriate."

How many calls and e-mails have there been about this week's panels showing Duke's head exploding, a la Thompson's gunshot to the mouth?

None. Nada. Zilch.

Guess it all depends on whose head it is.

UPDATE: The Washington Post addresses the head explosion and the rest of the week's strips and talks to Trudeau about the tribute. [Link]

Posted by Jeff at 08:06 AM | Comments (2)


Love your iPod? Better be ready to fight for it, if you live in New York City. [Link]
City students have become victims of a rash of vicious iPod muggings and a spike in larcenies at schools.

One South Brooklyn transit officer, who asked not to be identified, said his district has seen a near doubling of student iPod robberies on the subways in recent months.

Just last week, he said, a James Madison HS student took 44 stitches after being stabbed for his iPod on a Q train. At least three students at Stuyvesant HS in Manhattan recently reported getting jumped outside their school for iPods.

Inside schools, grand larcenies shot up 41 percent during the first two months of school over the same period last year, according to the mayor's management report released last week. Petit larceny jumped 16 percent.

Concerned with the crimes, South Brooklyn transit cops last week distributed fliers offering to engrave students' iPods and cellphones with ID numbers beginning today at John Dewey HS in Sheepshead Bay.

But police brass late yesterday put the kibosh on the initiative, which they had hoped to expand citywide, upon being told by the city Department of Education that the items are banned in schools because they're considered distracting.

Police said the white iPod headphones, which seem to be pumping tunes into the ears of every other youngster on the street these days, are alerting would-be thieves to the presence of the tiny but big-bucks music players.

This cracks me up. Why?

Because it screams of class envy all wrapped up in a well-packaged little device. And if Spencer [Link] is any indication, there is envy even within the iPod Nation:

The White Headphones are Mr. Suit's way of telling you that he is rich enough to buy a £300 to £400 hundred pound 40 gig hard-drive in a shiny box. As well as telling you and I that they are this rich, Mr.WhiteHeadphones also tell Mr. CrackHead that he is carrying at least a good nights session in his pocket and perhaps following him home under the dark railway-arch maybe worth getting out of his damp cardboard box for.

That, however, doesn't really bother me. I consider that natural selection. However, what really bothers me about Mr. WhiteHeadphones, is that he clearly knows NOTHING about sound. What The White Headphones really say to me is, "I've spent £400 on a state of the art digital music player. I have spent hours recording in AAC format to get CD quality sound. I will tell you and my friends at every available opportunity about my iPod. However, I am now listening to my music through the audio equivalent of feeling a woman's breast with a thick set of mittens on."

I can testify that these things are ubiquitous in Manhattan. On every sidewalk and in every subway car, people use these things to isolate themselves from the rest of the world. It's hilarious to see.

How ubiquitous? Khoi mapped out the 32 iPods he saw one day while walking to work the 17 blocks to 27th Street from the East Village. [Link]


And beyond being a magnet for muggers, apparently they're an annoyance on the job. At Microsoft, at least: [Link]

To the growing frustration and annoyance of Microsoft's management, Apple Computer's iPod is wildly popular among Microsoft's workers.

"About 80 percent of Microsoft employees who have a portable music player have an iPod," said one source, a high-level manager who asked to remain anonymous. "It's pretty staggering."

The source estimated 80 percent of Microsoft employees have a music player -- that translates to 16,000 iPod users among the 25,000 who work at or near Microsoft's corporate campus. "This irks the management team no end," said the source.

So popular is the iPod, executives are increasingly sending out memos frowning on its use.

Of course, Microsoft's software is used by dozens of competing music players from manufacturers like Creative Technology, Rio and Sony. Its Windows Media Audio, or WMA, format is supported by several online music stores, including Napster, Musicmatch and Wal-Mart. Microsoft's PlaysForSure program markets this choice as a boon for consumers.

Nonetheless, Apple's iPod commands 65 percent of the portable player market, and its online iTunes Music Store 70 percent of online music sales, according to Apple.

"These guys are really quite scared," said the source of Microsoft's management. "It shows how their backs are against the wall.... Even though it's Microsoft, no one is interested in what we have to offer, even our own employees."

So concerned is management, owning an iPod at Microsoft is beginning to become impolitic, the manager said. Employees are hiding their iPods by swapping the telltale white headphones for a less conspicuous pair.

"Some people are a bit concerned about being traitors, not supporting the company," he said. "They're a bit stealth about it."

How "stealth" varies from division to division. At the company's Macintosh Business Unit, which publishes a wide range of software for the Mac, owning an iPod is almost de rigueur.

But at the Windows Digital Media Group, which is charged with software for portable players and the WMA format, using an iPod is not a good career move.

"In the media group they all smoke the company dope on that one," the manager said.

Wait. They piss off Microsoft?

Maybe these things do have merit...

Things are getting so bad for the Pod People that some are going "into the closet" by wearing non-white earbuds [Link]:

Author and speaker Seth Godin is on his fifth iPod, but he's never once worn the telltale white earbuds.

Why not? Because Godin doesn't want to be recognized as an iPod owner.

Godin is a closet iPod user, one of a small cadre of iPod lovers loath to be identified as an iPod lover.

For closet users like Godin, it's the way the earbuds scream, "Woo hoo, look at me, I've got an iPod!"

"I'm not looking forward to being identified on the street," Godin said. "I don't know why. I don't like it." (Curiously, Godin said he's "proud" of his laptop's Apple logo when he gives presentations to thousands of people, but dislikes the idea of getting the iPod nod on the subway).

To others, using non-white headphones is a reaction to the growing hordes of iPod fans clogging the sidewalks and subways. Others don't like wearing corporate logos, even earbuds.

Godin, who lives in New York, said he knows plenty of other New Yorkers who also refuse to wear the white earpieces. Most rationalize it, he said, saying they get better audio from different headphones. But in reality, they're asserting their individuality.

"It makes me fee individual to customize it," Godin said. "Even if its just changing the headphones. That's the irony of the whole thing. Most of the people who are Apple's biggest cheering section are people who go out of their way to wear what everyone else is not wearing and eat where not everyone else is eating. They're the kind of people who like to customize their life and feel like they're independent."

As the iPod moves fast into the mainstream (Susquehanna Financial Group predicts Apple and Hewlett-Packard will sell 1 million iPods a month this holiday season), more and more users are going back into the closet.

"I started to feel like a walking iPod ad," said one New Yorker, who preferred to remain anonymous, in print and in person. "I actually dug out an old pair of black headphones to use with mine."

Posted by Jeff at 08:05 AM | Comments (2)


This story [Link] reminds me of that scene in "American Beauty" when Lester Burnham looks at his cheating wife and says, "You don't get to tell me what to do ever again."
McDonald's has a suggestion for Americans, who are becoming obese in alarming numbers: get some exercise.

The company, under fire from those who say its food plays a role in the nation's obesity problem, introduced a marketing campaign yesterday promoting physical activity as part of a balanced life. The theme: "It's what I eat and what I do ... I'm lovin' it."

The campaign includes commercials that largely dispense with traditions like showing the product, the restaurants or people eating food. One spot even tells viewers, "Maybe you should spend less time with your TV."

Yeah, and maybe you might want to do something about the 40 grams of fat in your Double Quarter Pounder With Cheese.

Posted by Jeff at 06:49 AM | Comments (0)

March 08, 2005


Some joker is taking votes on the top 278 lines from "The Simpsons."[Link]

A few highlights:

Me fail English? That's unpossible.

This is brain surgery, not rocket science... now hand me that Icecream scoop.

My baloney has a first name, it's H-O-M-E-R. My baloney has a second name, it's . . . H-O-M-E-R.

Just because I don't care doesn't mean I don't understand.

There's a four o'clock in the morning now?

"Mmmmm. Soylent Green."

You don't win friends with sal-ad!

I'm looking for Amanda Hugandkiss!

Fight, fight, fight. Fight, fight, fight. The Itchy and Scratchy Show!

She's a sweet reverand's daughter and your the devil's cabana boy.

Mmmmmmmm, unprocessed fish sticks.

Posted by Jeff at 08:12 AM | Comments (1)


...especially if you're a cartoon bunny. [Link]
A few favorites: Here, here, here and here.
Posted by Jeff at 08:05 AM | Comments (0)


He might not be writing a column at the moment for the Miami Herald, but Dave Barry's blog [Link] continues to be hilarious.
This week he's posting various photos of odd places he's found while in England.

Earlier this week, he posted this message:

Today I am leaving for several days in London, which has me a little nervous, because according to my sources, London is located in a completely foreign country, and the only way to get there is to cross a major body of water. And apparently even if you succeed in getting there, you are in danger of being killed by glaciers.

I'm going with Ridley Pearson, my friend and bandmate and co-author. We're over there to do "research" on our next book. This also makes me nervous, because I have never engaged in "research" before. I just hope it's not painful.

Anyway, the point is, blogging will be sporadic for a while. I'll try to send reports, using this blog's exclusive CrapCam technology, but I don't know if I'll be able to use the Internet over there, because it apparently operates on the metric system.

Posted by Jeff at 08:01 AM | Comments (0)

March 07, 2005


Spear Toss [Link]
You can thank me later.
Posted by Jeff at 08:07 AM | Comments (2)


Great NYT article this weekend on the Guns N' Roses album that was never finished. [Link]
This just in: Singer Axl Rose is a tad unstable. So is his guitarist, a guy named Buckethead who plays while wearing a mannequin mask and a KFC bucket on his head. (In fairness, I used to work like this as well, but stopped after I got to the point that I felt the chicken container limited what I could achieve as an artist.)
Oh, and it appears Axl's a little loose with the wallet:
The crew rented one piece of specialized equipment, for example, for more than two years - at a cost well into six figures - and used it for perhaps 30 days, according to one person involved with the production.

Mr. Rose appeared sporadically, some weeks just one or two days, some weeks not at all. "It was unorganized chaos," the same person said. "There was never a system to this. And in between, there were always parties to go to, different computers Axl was trying out or buying. There were times when we didn't record things for weeks."

So the studio technicians burned as many as five CD's per week with various mixes of different songs, which were driven to Malibu for Mr. Rose to study. The band's archive of recorded material swelled to include more than 1,000 digital audio tapes and other media, according to people who were there at the time, all elaborately labeled to chart the progress of songs. "It was like the Library of Congress in there," said one production expert who spent time on the album there.

By one count, the band kept roughly 20 songs it considered on the A list and another 40 or so in various stages of completion on the B list.

Then there's this great tidbit:

At about 4 a.m on New Year's Day 2001, at the House of Blues in Las Vegas, he and the new lineup of the band finally unveiled some of their new material. "I have traversed a treacherous sea of horrors to be with you here tonight," Mr. Rose told the crowd, which received him with roars of approval. Warm reviews followed. Making the most of the moment, he took his band on the road, going to Brazil to play in the Rock in Rio festival.

With the band's return, Mr. Rose's machinery cranked up again. One internal cost analysis from the period pegs the operation's monthly tab at a staggering $244,000. It included more than $50,000 in studio time at the Village, a more modern studio where Mr. Baker had moved the band. It also included a combined payroll for seven band members that exceeded $62,000, with the star players earning roughly $11,000 each. Guitar technicians earned about $6,000 per month, while the album's main engineer was paid $14,000 per month and a recording software engineer was paid $25,000 a month, the document stated.

Label executives were losing patience. Interscope turned to Mr. Zutaut, the original band's talent scout. Could an old friend succeed where so many others had failed? He was offered a roughly 30 percent bonus, he said, if he could usher the project to completion within a year.

But Mr. Rose's renewed energies were not being directed toward the finish line. He had the crew send him CD's almost daily, sometimes with 16 or more takes of a musician performing his part of a single song. He accompanied Buckethead on a jaunt to Disneyland when the guitarist was drifting toward quitting, several people involved recalled; then Buckethead announced he would be more comfortable working inside a chicken coop, so one was built for him in the studio, from wood planks and chicken wire.

Posted by Jeff at 07:55 AM | Comments (1)

March 06, 2005


Hmmm. Seems a movie thespian has decided a Web site is in order so that fans can feel engaged and intimate with this person's career.

Can you figure out who it is?

"For many years as an actor, all the communication that I had with people who saw my movies or watched me on tv, read articles or tabloids was one way: information going out. I've created this site in part to have a forum for issues I'm concerned about, but more importantly to open a dialogue with my fans, my friends, and people who see my work and want to comment on it (good or bad). I have no desire to address preconceptions or misconceptions about me: I've given up on that, I've given up on wanting to correct what is written or said about me in the press. Through this website, I will tell you some things about myself that no one has ever asked me. I will let you know what is upcoming as far as films, and what is and isn't going on. We'll see what happens. I want this site to be fun and interactive so I need you to help me out."

Who's the mystery celeb?

Bruce Willis. [link]
You've been warned.
Posted by Jeff at 10:26 PM | Comments (1)


T-shirt of the day:


Posted by Jeff at 01:14 PM | Comments (0)

March 05, 2005


There's a generator that figures out what your stage name would be if you starred in an adult film. (Mine, for the record: Sassy Spankadocious).
What someone needs to do is work on one that generates blog pen names.
My favorite so far: Dino Ironbody (aka The Daily Show's Rob Courddry).
Posted by Jeff at 02:00 PM | Comments (0)

March 04, 2005


Favorite new Web app: Montage-a-google.
Plug in a word and it will find 20 images in the Google images search engine and turn the results into a, what else, montage. Then you can click on individual photos to see larger versions.
So we took it for a test spin.
I could have spent hours on this ridiculous exercise.
Here's what it came up with for the words:
Side Salad.
Tampa Tribune.
Posted by Jeff at 08:09 AM | Comments (2)


The next James Dean:



Posted by Jeff at 08:08 AM | Comments (0)


After 67 hours and 2 minutes of sleep deprivation and 12 diet milkshakes, Steve Fossett on Thursday became the first person to fly around the world alone without stopping or refueling. He touched down on Thursday on the same Salina, Kan., runway from which he took off almost three days earlier. Thousands were at the airport to watch him land his custom-built GlobalFlyer.
I, however, was stuck in traffic at the time. Unless you were alive during Lindbergh's time, you have no idea how underwhelming it is to listen to a radio account of an historic plane landing. Nothing like hearing history through the words of an underwhelmed afternoon drive-time AM radio hack.
And then the regular talk hosts came on the radio. They didn't know anything about the effort. One thought the pilot was Richard Branson. No, the other said, Branson paid for it because he got to pilot a balloon around the world first before Fossett. Are you sure, the other asked? Not really.
The dialogue of idiots pissed me of.
First, because if you're going to be a talk radio host, you should at least turn on the TV and absorb something of the world beyond your own little fishbowl.
Second, because it again proves the way that shiny, flashy false spectacle has made us immune to true achievement.
By flying 23,000 miles, Fossett broke what was considered to be the last great aviation barrier, breaking several records, including the longest flight by a jet without refueling. The record was more than 12,000 miles, set by a B-52 bomber in 1962.
Consider that Wiley Post made the first solo around-the-world trip in 1933, taking more than seven days and stopping numerous times. The first nonstop global flight without refueling was made in a propeller-driven aircraft in 1986 by Jeana Yeager and Dick Rutan, brother of GlobalFlyer designer Burt Rutan. That's right, it took two people the last time to pull this off. And from what I remember Rutan and Yeager were not the best of friends before, during or after the effort.
Not to mention the other records Fossett owns:
*His first solo balloon flight around the world in 2002 covered 3,186 miles in a single 24 hour period - and hit a top speed of 200 miles per hour - flying faster than anyone ever had by manned balloon.
*On previous global attempts he made the first balloon crossing of the continents of Asia, Africa, Europe and South America, and the first ocean crossings of the South Atlantic, South Pacific and Indian Oceans.
*Fossett is also the most successful speed sailor in history. The 58 days, 9 hours he spent circling the globe set a record in 2004, His trans-Atlantic record of 4 days 17 hours was set in 2001.
*Between 1993 and 2004 Fossett set 23 official world records in sailing, including 13 which still stand.
*In the last 2 years he has set 10 of the 21 glider flying world records.
Consider that a lot of these records - especially the airflight ones - were achieved at a time when it was difficult to know if he would be shot down while ballooning over places like Libya and Iran. The fact he was allowed to fly over China this week should tell you alone how much the world has changed in recent years.
And that inspires yawns and indifference?
Less than 24 hours later and what is the lead story of the day?
We seriously need to recalibrate our instruments, folks.
Posted by Jeff at 08:02 AM | Comments (2)


When we last saw My Muse, he was ropin' like Gene Autry.

Yesterday, the Muse came tooling around the workplace yesterday decked out in a fancy leather jacket, exhibiting Elvis cool and Brando swagger.


"Hey," I said, "There's the leader of the Paxil."

Ah, if only I could make money being publicly abusive.

Posted by Jeff at 07:59 AM | Comments (0)


NEW YORK — For just $79.99, will personalize a replica of your team's favorite jersey with your name or nickname on the back.

As long as your name isn't Lesbian.

Or Barf. Or Pimpjuice. Or 420.

Gay, however, is now OK.

After several days of ridicule and protest from Internet bloggers and gay-rights activists, the NFL's brass gave the league's official online shop the green light on Thursday to sell personalized jerseys with “gay” on the back, removing it from its list of 1,159 banned words and phrases.

"I understand the league has a right to control its officially licensed products," said Jim Buzinski, an editor of gay-oriented "I applaud the decision to remove 'gay' from the list. But it bothers me that the NFL considers 'lesbian' a naughty word and that 'gay' was once banned, too."

The league has been plagued for years by allegations of homophobia and gay-bashing, but spokesman Dan Masonson said yesterday the NFL does not consider the word "gay" objectionable. New England Patriots cornerback Randall Gay has personalized jerseys for sale, Masonson said; the league used to offer replica jerseys from former NFL players William Gay and Ben Gay. "Gay should never have been in our filter," he said.

Tongue, however, remains on the list, which will disappoint fans of Jets safety Reggie Tongue.

The controversy began shortly after the Super Bowl, when Louisiana State professor Leigh Clemons tried to purchase a Patriots jersey with "gay" on the back. Clemons was moved by Gay pride, not gay pride: her former student, Randall Gay, was a rookie cornerback with the Super Bowl champion Patriots this past season.

Clemons says she became a fan when Gay was a student in her Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies class last spring (the class, incidentally, addressed gay awareness issues). Gay, occupied by the birth of his son, fell behind in his studies, but with her help, he caught up and completed his course work by the end of the semester.

After signing with New England as an undrafted free agent last summer, Gay soon became an important contributor to New England's championship season.

"I am very proud of him," Clemons said. "It's really cool that he went from almost having no career to a Super Bowl team."

Clemons tried to purchase a Gay jersey shortly after the Pats' 24-21 Super Bowl win over the Eagles, but when she entered the last name of the cornerback, her request was rejected. A message popped up that said, "This field should not contain a naughty word."

"I couldn't believe they wouldn't take my $80," she said.

Clemons called, but a customer rep wouldn't sell her the jersey. His supervisor wouldn't budge, either. Another supervisor finally verified that Randall Gay was a member of the Patriots, and employees suspended "gay" from the site's filter long enough for Clemons to make her purchase - then put the name back on the banned list.

Masonson said the league is reluctant to offer more than fans' names or nicknames on personalized jerseys because it doesn't want to offend or cross the lines of good taste. When the site was created several years ago, a dirty word filter - similar to those used by AOL and scores of E-commerce sites - was installed to keep things rated G. Other words and phrases were added after NFL fans tried to purchase jerseys with risque names or phrases.

That means lesbian, barf, pimpjuice and 420 - slang for smoking marijuana - won't make the cut on personalized jerseys, which account for 20% of the's $60 million in annual revenues.

Neither will Jesus Christ, Jack the Ripper and hundreds of other words, names and phrases - most of which are vulgar sexual phrases unprintable for most newspapers.

Rex Wockner, a columnist for, first tackled the issue, but it really heated up after Buzinski's picked up the story and reprinted the NFL's list of 1,159 naughty words. "We got 208,000 page hits Tuesday," Buzinski said. "That's about three times what we usually do."

Soon dozens of bloggers and Web sites, including the high-profile, picked up on the story. Yesterday, the NFL, which has been embarrassed by anti-gay slurs by Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey, 49ers running back Garrison Hearst, Falcons lineman Patrick Kerney and Lions president Matt Millen, pulled "gay" from that list.

Masonson says uses three levels of manual checks to make sure a personalized jersey meets the league's guidelines, so while "Al Qaeda" or "Hitler" might get by the Web site's filter, it won't get by employees.

Yesterday, the NFL removed "gay" from its filter, but Buzinski said it should replace its banned list with common sense.

"Of course," he said, "people can always just buy a jersey and put on it whatever they want."

Posted by Jeff at 06:50 AM | Comments (0)

March 03, 2005


As with all great adventures, Steve Fossett has hit a bit of a snag in his quest to fly a jet around the world alone without refueling.
By snag, I mean that he's not sure how much fuel he actually has. In fact, there remains a 2,600-pound discrepancy in fuel readings. Was it because of conflicting gauge readings? Was it a leak in the tank? Was there an extreme amount of evaporation due to the high altitude and wind speed?
This kind of snag tends to turn someone into a smear on the ground.
At around midnight Wednesday, Fossett passed over Hawaii. That was the point at which he had to decide if he was going to go for the U.S. mainland and take a chance of dunking into the Pacific or land in Hawaii and call it a good first try. Fossett decided to push ahead.
If the tracking map is any indication, the gamble appears to be paying off:
Landfall doesn't necessarily mean he's in the clear. This is a guy who's essentially been awake for the better part of three days and stuffed in a flying gas can. He doesn't have the same piloting skills that a fresh pilot has. Making the landing will be difficult - if he makes it that far.
Plus, he's flying an aircraft that is significantly lighter than what it was three days ago. The rudder stick will feel nothing like it did when it took off.
Hold onto your seats, folks. It's gonna be a bumpy ride.


Steve Fossett, me and the Iditarod.

Posted by Jeff at 08:14 AM | Comments (0)


I'm not much of a fiction consumer. Call it a casualty of my occupation. David Foster Wallace is about as deep into the genre as I go.
But an article in the New York Times Magazine has me curious about a young author named Jonathan Safran Foer.
The story got my attention. The photo of him passed out as a child sunk the hook. It clearly was taken by a parent who saw in him early the potential for eccentricity.
Here's an excerpt from the profile:
Foer is given to comic self-invention, to feats of distortion and parody -- some of which are dauntingly literary. He was all of 25 when he emerged out of nowhere, in 2002, with his widely acclaimed first novel, ''Everything Is Illuminated.'' Begun while he was still an undergraduate at Princeton, it tells the story of a young, self-deprecating writer named Jonathan Safran Foer who travels to a vanished shtetl in Ukraine, searching for a woman he believed saved his grandfather from the Nazis. The book has sold more than 100,000 copies in hardcover and another 150,000 in paperback, making it that rare event in the publishing industry, a literary best seller, and proving that a difficult, cerebral novel is not doomed to sell 23 copies, all of them to the author's mother. A film version of the novel, directed by Liev Schreiber, is scheduled to be released in August.

Foer's second novel, ''Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,'' will be published in about a month. It shifts his landscape from the wounded earth of Eastern Europe to a fresher site of devastation. The book's main narrator is Oskar Schell, a 9-year-old schoolboy whose father was killed in the attack on the World Trade Center. An aspiring inventor, Oskar consoles himself by thinking up far-fetched creations that could protect people from all sorts of injury. In the process, he becomes a kind of artist, someone whose dreams are so romantic that they are destined to failure. Oskar's creativity is echoed in the design of the novel, a highly experimental affair that draws upon photographs and typographical play in an attempt to blur the old boundaries between image and text. ''It's the kind of book that will look great next to the toilet,'' Foer said jokingly, in response to a compliment about the novel's appearance.

His office occupies a small rented room within walking distance of his home. The place is furnished sparsely, with little besides a long work table, a set of Ikea bookshelves and an oversize canvas dog bed reserved for a female creature named George, apparently a Great Dane mix. A curious object -- a carpenter's hacksaw -- hangs on an otherwise blank wall above the desk. (''You never know when you'll have a bad day,'' Foer explained.) Opposite the door, there is a lovely ink drawing circa 1940, an original self-portrait by Isaac Bashevis Singer, his eyes glinting beneath his pronounced cranium. ''You shouldn't make too much of that,'' Foer told me, not quite convincingly. '''Gimpel the Fool' is probably my favorite short story, but I don't feel any real affinity with Singer. His morality is so 19th century.''

Oddly enough, the room lacks a telephone, a detail that might lead you to envisage the author hunkered down in silent, undisturbed concentration. But the image is a total sham. Foer, as I later learned, didn't compose his new novel in this office, or in any office at all. A kind of poet-wanderer, he does his writing all over town: in public libraries, in coffee shops and even in the homes of friends. The process of writing has traditionally been romanticized by its creators as an act of self-imposed isolation, but Foer redefines it as something more open and oxygenated, an expansive social activity best undertaken amid the clamor of life. Of course, all of this prompts the question of why he needs an office in the first place. ''I need an office,'' he explained, a bit enigmatically, ''so I can have a place where I don't write.''

If you're interested, you can hear Foer read from his new book, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close."

Posted by Jeff at 08:05 AM | Comments (0)


I think I sort of know what Cluetrain is getting at with the 95 theses in its manifesto. In fact, I agree wholeheartedly with a lot of it. I've been preaching some of it for years.

Or at least the ones I think I understand.

Such as:

6. The Internet is enabling conversations among human beings that were simply not possible in the era of mass media.

7. Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy.

8. In both internetworked markets and among intranetworked employees, people are speaking to each other in a powerful new way.

9. These networked conversations are enabling powerful new forms of social organization and knowledge exchange to emerge.

10. As a result, markets are getting smarter, more informed, more organized. Participation in a networked market changes people fundamentally.

11. People in networked markets have figured out that they get far better information and support from one another than from vendors. So much for corporate rhetoric about adding value to commoditized products.

20. Companies need to realize their markets are often laughing. At them.

21. Companies need to lighten up and take themselves less seriously. They need to get a sense of humor.

22. Getting a sense of humor does not mean putting some jokes on the corporate web site. Rather, it requires big values, a little humility, straight talk, and a genuine point of view.

23. Companies attempting to "position" themselves need to take a position. Optimally, it should relate to something their market actually cares about.

24. Bombastic boasts—"We are positioned to become the preeminent provider of XYZ"—do not constitute a position.

26. Public Relations does not relate to the public. Companies are deeply afraid of their markets.

27. By speaking in language that is distant, uninviting, arrogant, they build walls to keep markets at bay.

28. Most marketing programs are based on the fear that the market might see what's really going on inside the company.

If you're up for a longer swim in the deep-thinking market construct pool, here you go.

Posted by Jeff at 08:01 AM | Comments (0)


A friend at work sent me this list of "naughty" words not allowed on personalized jerseys at the NFL Shop. They allegedly were extracted from a java script list found on the NFL Shop site by

A small, relatively sampling from the rather explicit list (Trust me, don't click on the real list unless you want your eyelids to melt. There are words on there I hadn't heard before and really wish I hadn't found.):

Posted by Jeff at 07:52 AM | Comments (1)

March 02, 2005


So Steve Fossett is within reach of setting a distance record for continuous solo airflight in a jet. He's within 900 aeronautical miles of passing the 12,000-mile mark set in 1962.
But that's not his goal.
If you hadn't heard by now, Fossett is trying to be the first to fly all the way around the world uninterrupted as a solo pilot in the Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer.
There's really no way to tell from the above photo, but Fossett is a sardine in that vehicle. The fit is so tight, he can barely clear his head.
But he's used to cramped quarters. After all, he was the first to fly a balloon around the world solo.
He's on the verge at the moment of crossing over China's east coast.
Elapsed Journey time at this point: 34 hours 31 minutes. Distance covered approximately 11,094 nautical miles.
After this, he'll be hopping over Japan before the long, final leg across the Pacific, passing over the Midway Islands and Honolulu, before re-entering the United States just south of Los Angeles. Last stop, hopefully, will be his point of origin, Salina, Kan.

By late Tuesday, the aircraft had consumed 25 percent of its 18,000 pounds of fuel, and Fossett had downed at least three diet chocolate milkshakes. The jet took off after sunset Monday from Salina.

News reports say that:

Fossett was in "remarkably good spirits for someone who's been awake now for, pretty continuously, over 24 hours," project manager Paul Moore said in an update posted on Fossett's Web site.

Fossett can use autopilot when he needs rest. His mission control in Salina constantly monitors his altitude and course positioning and can call him by phone if something goes wrong.

Fossett estimated he will complete the 23,000-mile journey at midday Thursday.

Project manager Paul Moore said Fossett reached his cruising altitude of 45,000 feet over the Atlantic instead of over Saudi Arabia, as originally expected, because of better-than-expected performance of the GlobalFlyer.

Why do I care?

Well, I met Fossett in 1991 when the Chicago stockbroker was then 46. He was trying to mush a dog team in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. And he wasn't doing a very good job of it.

He had rented a team from a dog owner, a musher named Bruce Johnson. Johnson had agreed to lease a team to Fossett under the condition that he spend at least a month getting ready for the grueling event across some of North America's most forbidding terrain.

Fossett did just that, training as hard as he could in an attempt to bond with the dogs and get them to heed his commands.

That worked okay until about a week into the race.

I was stationed to cover the back end of the race for The Anchorage Times in McGrath. That's where all the great stories can be found. Mushers losing dogs. Sleds broken almost in two by treacherous conditions. Just great gristle to write about.

One day while hanging out in the town's only restaurant, Rosie's, Johnson got word that Fossett and his team were stopped on the trail in the small village of Nikolai. The dogs were refusing to run.

Johnson asked if I and my photographer wanted to rent snow machines and ride the 54 miles back down the trail. Absolutely, we said.

We got to the checkpoint about two and a half hours later, frozen to the bone, only to find Fossett with a wan smile and a team full of dogs laying in a row in the snow. They were done following this cheechako from Chicago.

See, unlike a balloon or an airplane or a sailboat, you can't really "fix" a dog team that doesn't want to run. And when they've decided that the guy on the sled runners doesn't know what the hell he's doing, it might as well be Miller Time.

Johnson got the dogs up and ready, fed and watered them and then mushed them back to McGrath, where Fossett scratched from the race. I remember giggling at this guy who thought he could just parachute into the toughest race on earth.

But then he came back in 1992 and did it again. This time he was better prepared. In the end, he took more than two weeks, but he finished the race in 47th place. I gave him huge credit for that.

Over the years, I tracked his aviation attempts. Then I found out about his other conquests. He ran the Ironman Triathalon in 1996. He cross-country skied from Aspen to Vail in 59 hours in 1998. He sailed a boat in 2001 from Miami to New York in 53 hours. By the time I'd met him, he had swam across the English Channel.

It's funny; in an age when nothing amazes us anymore, a guy like Fossett comes along and quietly puts up a record of achievements that can stand with the greatest of adventurers.

Just don't try telling that to those dogs.

Posted by Jeff at 07:59 AM | Comments (0)


Dog dancing.
Posted by Jeff at 07:58 AM | Comments (0)


Why do I enjoy being friends with Scotty from Home Sweet Road?
Let's just say we both share a similar outlook on life at home:
My latest innovation in the field of sloth science is something I call "intelligent newspaper retrieval." When the days are short and cold, and one can feel the chill through a single-pane window, I no longer automatically trudge out into the snow to grab my Wall Street Journal. Instead, I dial up, examine the PDF recreation of the front page, and THEN decide if it's worth the trip. Not exactly a Jack London story, but it works for me. And I can always grab the real paper in April, right?
Scotty can be excused a little sloth. There's only 125 more days before Scotty and his wife Eileen embark on a year's journey around the country by car. He's going to need all the energy he can get for that adventure.
Posted by Jeff at 06:49 AM | Comments (0)

March 01, 2005


Good news: Looks like the band Garbage is back in business.
:::cue the crickets chirping:::
Shirley Manson... Butch Vig...
:::more crickets chirping:::
Okay, so they're lost a bit of relevance the last few years amid the boy bands, the avalanche of hip hop and the Death of Pop. And, yes, they officially jumped the shark when they wrote a tune for a James Bond movie (a very good song, I might add). But then they went away. And now they're back.
Unlike the heavily layered, monumentally sampled and synthed sound on their previous albums, "Bleed Like Me" takes a different turn.
The album's first single, "Why Do You Love Me," officially hit the airwaves Tuesday, with a Sophie Muller-directed video to follow shortly behind.

"It's a very melodic ... Phil Spector girl-group sped-up-fast kind of song," bassist/guitarist Steve Marker said. "It's one of my favorite cuts on the record. It's gonna be a challenge to play live, especially for our drummer. It's very fast."

"It also has one of the most metal riffs we've ever done," added guitarist/bassist Duke Erikson.

On the track, singer Shirley Manson questions her appeal to a lover and then questions his motivations and eventually his loyalty. "I'm not as pretty as those girls in magazines," she sings in the first verse.

"It's a weird, weird song that kind of deals with three different things in my life going on at one time," Manson explained. "I can't actually articulate it very easily without sounding like a turd. ... I always feel like I have this duty to explain the lyrics, and I always feel like such a turd doing it, so I just decided on this record I'm not gonna do it."

Ahhh, the sweet fragrance of indifference.

Yeah, I remember the mid-90s.

Anyway, if you care, there's a solid fan site to be found here.

Posted by Jeff at 06:28 AM | Comments (3)


The iPod cult is a passionate, smug, isolationist bunch that clings to accessories the way Zsa Zsa clings to husbands with fake titles.
But are they desperate enough to make a cradle in the car for their iPod from a recycled Coke can?
Magic 8 Ball says "All signs point to yes."
Posted by Jeff at 06:13 AM | Comments (0)