Saturday, June 27, 2009

If I Can't Score It, It Ain't a Word

Lately, I’ve been playing a lot of Scrabble on Facebook. Call it Lexulous, call it Wordscraper, it’s still Scrabble. Capital S, eight letters, 17 points, and a proper noun so you can't play it anyway.

Thing is, I’ve noticed that there are words that are missing. Not so much words that are missing from the acceptable word lists, but actual letter combinations that should make words and somehow don’t.

WOY, for example. I imagine it as a popular game in the Polynesian islands involving a coconut and butterfly nets.

PLUD. An unripe plum.

GLAB. That film in your mouth after a night of drinking.

HULVEY. That feeling of wanting to eat even after you’re stuffed.

PROTT. Any detritus found between the toes.

ZAY. An overall term for any sort of animal-to-animal communication.

VULT. A temperature-sensitive place to store chocolate; something of a Cadbury humidor.

TWONK. Physical assault similar to a purple nurple.

XUMI. A smoky taste, but chewy, too.

QUOKE. A triple-or-more jump in checkers, getting kinged in the middle.

Anyhow, this is also a roundabout way of telling you that I'll be running off to parts unknown, kicking back with some friends for a little while. Don't know if I'll have internet access, and don't know if I'll use it much if I have it. But I'll see you in a week or so, 'kay?


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Burn After Reading

If you like Burn Notice as much as I do (and you really should), you'll want to take a look at Alan Sepinwall's interview with Matt Nix, the show's creator. Really good stuff there.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Went to my meeting a day early (Kathy & I have plans for tomorrow) and found I'd lost 1.6 pounds -- the weight of this Infamous Intimidator paintball marker (without regulator or barrel).



Monday, June 22, 2009

Geek In Chief?

At the Radio and Television Correspondents Association dinner, John Hodgeman puts President Obama's nerd cred to the test. It takes a little while for him to get rolling, but there are some nice moments here.


Who Can It Be Now?

I'm sure this isn't unique to me, but every now and then I get a Facebook notice that says "How well do you know Jodi Tallerento*? Take this quiz!" And I have to wonder, not how well I know her, but who the hell she is.


*Name changed to protect the unmemorable.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

If There's a Hedgehog in Your Bathroom (Don't Be Alarmed Now)

Well, first of all, actually it was a groundhog. But I'd been calling it the hedgehog for an hour or two before I realized that, so I've decided to name him Hedgehog the Groundhog.

Anyway, here's how the speedy little bugger got into our downstairs bathroom.

As part of a burst of much-needed housecleaning in the event we were having some friends over, Kathy was taking some recyclables out to the recyclable can. There were a few items left, so I gathered up the beer bottle, peanut butter jar, marinara sauce container and diet coke can and elbowed the screen door open to follow her.

The moment I had that door open, suddenly something low and fuzzy streaked by me at my feet, brushing past my legs and slamming heavily into the screen door. It ricocheted off the door just like a pool ball might, taking the angle of least resistance and making a beeline into the house, all to a loud chorus of "What the fuck? What the fucking fuck?" Seriously, if you'd been in our driveway at that moment, you'd have thought you'd pulled up to the International House of What the Fuck.

Now, the little guy was just as freaked out as Kathy and I, and probably terrified, to boot. He was standing on his hind legs in the corner behind the toilet, his front paws against the wall, like he was expecting to be patted down and read his Miranda rights. I closed the door for a moment; I didn't want him going anywhere until I figured out what to do.

Luckily, a solution was at hand. We have a foldable gate that we use to keep the ferrets away from the screen door during the spring and summer when we keep it open. I unfolded the gate to its full length, and it turned out to be just the right size to funnel our squat intruder from the bathroom to the back door, and back into nature (which, incidentally, is the World Under Our Deck).

Having set up the gate, I opened the bathroom door. But Hedgehog wasn't going anywhere.

Rather than wait for him to decide the coast was clear and he could leave, I got a long broom-handle that we use to screw into paint rollers and went back into the bathroom. I poked him with it, gently, but that just seemed to send him even further into the corner. Undeterred, I poked indirectly around the other side of the toilet -- sliding the knocked-over toilet brush that was back there into him. Now, with something coming at him from the corner, the groundhog spooked once more, and bolted for the great outdoors. Or maybe he was just grossed out. It was a toilet brush, after all.

Since our brush with nature, the bathroom has been very avidly cleaned by Kathy, and I have learned to look both ways before leaving my house.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mad About The Mad Ones

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Tom Folsom
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorJason Jones in Iran

This interview with Tom Folsom on last night's Daily Show made me wonder if his book The Mad Ones might be the Most Perfect Book in the World. It honestly seems like it has everything I could ever want.


Monday, June 15, 2009


Well, my brother and his fiancée are now husband and wife, which among other things means my fingers will once again forget how to type "fiancée". (I remember my first encounter with the word, in a book of short stories reprinted from Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine; I read it as "finance".)

Anyway, it occurs to me that there's something that's just not said enough at weddings. People say "welcome to the family" right and left, and that's a wonderful sentiment, of course. I'm convinced that five of the best words in the English language are "Welcome. We're glad you're here"—and they just can't be said enough.

But something that often goes unsaid—at least by the peripheral people in the wedding, rather than the couple at the center of it all—is "I'm glad to be a part of your family now." However distantly, however indefinable that connection is (sister-in-law-once-removed? There just aren't words for this stuff, and that's fine), there's a sense that these two families have joined, even though the more distant parts of each may never see each other again.

So that's what I find myself thinking, after a weekend at a country inn and two big, happy dinners together. Thanks, Lindsay, for letting our crazy, big-hearted family join your crazy, big-hearted family. And welcome—all of you—to ours.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Firsts Meme

Okay, I got tagged with a Facebook meme, and as is my custom, I'm taking it to my blog.

If I tag you it means I want to know yours. Copy and paste this note into your blog/facebook notes, delete my answers and fill yours in. Tag me back and anyone else whose "firsts" you want to know about...

1. What was your FIRST job?
Purveyor of water ice at the Springfield Country Club. Actually, probably a paper route.

2. What was your FIRST car?
92 Mercury Tracer

3. Who was your FIRST prom date?
Terri Turner -- I think. I can't remember which order they went in, nor is it worth bothering whether the Snow Dance or Soph Hop qualified as "proms".

4. Do you still talk to your FIRST love?

5. What was your FIRST alcoholic drink?
My dad's beer. If you can call it beer.

6. Who was the FIRST person to text you today?
I have no idea, but they were very excited about finishing classes.

7. Who is the FIRST person you thought of this morning?
The stone mason who’ll be giving us an estimate on our stairs. Next Monday. (Sorry, honey! I thought I heard him knocking!)

8. Who was your FIRST grade teacher?
I should know this. She should have taught me her name better.

9. Where did you go on your FIRST ride on an airplane?
Orlando, Florida. It was so amazing it was like a vacation in itself.

10. Who was your FIRST best friend & do you still talk?
Dave Holdsworth; no, I wasn’t even able to see him at the reunion a while back. :(

11. Where was your FIRST sleep over?
I think at my neighbor Dave Kennedy’s. I remember the B-52s were the musical guest on Saturday Night Live that night, so we can probably find an actual date for the event.* (For years, I thought the musical guests were supposed to be funny because of them.)

12. Who was the FIRST person you talked to today?
Kathy (Again, sorry, honey. Sometimes I open my mouth in the morning. A bad habit, I know.)

13. What was the FIRST thing you did this morning?

Threw on some clothes and looked for the unexpected (and nonexistent) stone mason.

14. FIRST tattoo?
I’m sure, at some point in high school band, I got hold of a trumpet and blew a tattoo. (wow, that sounds filthy!) Other than that, no tats.

15. FIRST piercing?
File this under Piercings Yet To Come... or even more likely, not.

16. FIRST foreign country you've went to?
Mexico. Well, Tijuana for an evening, which isn’t really another country, just America without laws. My first extended out-of-country trip was to Quebec City.

17. FIRST movie you remember seeing?
Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. Or maybe Pete’s Dragon. Or heck, possibly One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing.

18. When was your FIRST detention?
In 10th grade for being late to Spanish class.

19. Who was your FIRST roommate?
Andy Topol. Good guy, too.

20. If you had one wish?
I’d wish that this question had a FIRST in it to fit the meme.

21. Did you marry the FIRST person you asked to marry?

22. What was the FIRST sport that you were involved in?

23. What were the FIRST lessons you ever took?
Swimming lessons at the Y, I guess.

24. What is the FIRST thing you do when you get home?
Throw my keys somewhere I’ll have trouble finding them later.

Oh, and I’ll tag Sharon, Drew (yes, you should kickstart that blog, man), Ami, Greg, Jeff, the Bastard and Geoff.

*January 26th, 1980, unless it was a repeat.


Fuck these people. Sick bastards.


Wednesday Withnail

It's easy to see why Withnail & I has become such a beloved movie. It's full of great lines, and (as one of the actors said in a retrospective on the Criterion DVD) "there are no crap bits."

Plus, drinking. Lots and lots of drinking. As Roger Ebert says in his "Great Movies" essay, it "conveys the experience of being drunk so well that the only way I could improve upon it would be to stand behind you and hammer your head with two-pound bags of frozen peas."


Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Hey Mister President

Sometime in November, when Barack Obama was elected president, some of my friends and family members asked if I'd be going after Obama when I thought he was wrong, just as I went after Bush. (The fact remains, though, that I'm no bulldog -- the last few years of Bush didn't see as much fire from me as the first years. Ya get worn down, is what I'm saying.)

Well, here's one of those times.

There have been a number of things in recent days that I'm not happy about. I'm not entirely satisfied with Obama's handling of the torture photos, nor the dismissal of the idea of prosecutions for torture. I think our moral standing is the greatest force we have as a nation, and it erodes when we don't police our own. I understand the desire to avoid further inflaming the factions in the Middle East who would point to those photos as evidence of war crimes, rather than pointing to the release of the photos as evidence that the war crimes have ceased. That's a subtle point, and one liable to be lost on a lot of people. I get that, and I'm a lot more inclined to trust Barack Obama's judgement on these matters than Bush and Cheney's. But there's a principle that makes old horror movies come alive in the way that new ones seldom do: The most terrifying thing of all is that which is unseen. By withholding the pictures, anything can be in them. Better, I think, to have concrete photos to look at than to let imaginations run wild.

But that isn't what I'd intended to write about. It's this: The majority of the country believes that gays should be able to serve openly in the military. And by majority, I mean majority. The majority (86%) of liberals (of course). The majority (77%) of moderates. The majority (58%) of conservatives. Practically every subset of American society believes gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the millitary. 69 percent of us, overall.

So get on that, willya? The Supreme Court is passing the buck, but honestly, as commander in chief, the ball should be in your court, anyhow. I'm tired of hearing about gay Arabic translators being fired for their orientation. It sucks for the people being discharged, and it makes us less secure as a nation, not more.

But regardless of the polls, equal human rights are not a popularity contest. There are some cases where the right thing to do is as clear as day, and this is one of them. An estimated 65,000 members of the military are gay. It's time they breathed a sigh of relief.


Monday, June 08, 2009

Where I'll Be

Next Week, the NYC Food Film Festival enters its third year. It's a festival devoted to movies about food... and then providing tastings of the food featured in the movies. It's a great idea, and amazingly, it's largely free.

When I first heard about this, my first thought was: Will they show Big Night?

When I first told Kathy about this, she asked: "Are they doing Big Night?"

Later that night, I told my friend Sharon about it. She said: "They're doing Big Night, right?"

Friends, they're screening the wonderful movie Big Night on Thursday, June 18, at Water Taxi Beach at South Street Seaport. And yes, they're making the Timpano, the amazing dish that's the centerpiece of that film, that I never, ever thought I'd get a chance to taste.

If you've seen Big Night, you know you wanna be there too. Let me know if you're going -- the more the merrier!


Friday, June 05, 2009

Do you suppose...?

Yeah, money's nice. And lots of money's really nice.

But MGK has uncovered the real reason Archie's marrying Veronica instead of Betty.


Thursday, June 04, 2009

Goodbye, Koko

Koko Taylor has died at age 80, less than four weeks after her last performance. I had the privilege of seeing her perform a few times, and she was never less than thrilling. But this video is the first one I've ever seen of her performing not as the Queen of the Blues, but as an up-and-coming star. Her voice, though -- her voice is still right there, already able to shake you to the soles of your feet.

Rest in peace, Koko. I hope that wherever you are, you're pitching a wang-dang doodle.


Play Ball!

Kathy & I had a great time at the Somerset Patriots game tonight. The team won, and we sat right behind a pair of cut-ups we fell right in line with. Before the night was over, we were joking about shaming the poor kid who lost the between-innings sack race, had invented Taser Night (first 300 screaming kids get tasered), and also Dick Cheney Appreciation Night, where the seventh-inning stretch would be replaced by waterboarding* and a naked pyramid. Good times...

Plus, I went to my cult today and lost two pounds, represented here in bars of foreign chocolate.

So overall, a good day.


*Or, if they needed a sponsor, QuickCheck coffeeboarding.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

A Word of Warning To My Brother

Make sure your best man is as agile as a cat.


P.S. This is fascinating.