Saturday, September 22, 2007

Alice Ghostley Dead; Nelson Mandela Still Very Much Alive

The actress Alice Ghostley, best known for playing the witch Esmeralda on TV's "Bewitched," died the other day at age 81. That we know for sure.

Former South African president Nelson Mandela, however, is very much alive, despite a public pronouncement to the contrary by U.S. president George Bush. Bush is famous for his word-mangling and verbal gaffes, but saying that a revered world figure is dead is at the top of the list of public relations no-no's.

"I heard somebody say, 'Where's Mandela?'," Bush said in a speech defending his Iraq policy. "Well, Mandela's dead because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas." News outlets were flooded with calls about the health of Mandela, but Mandela himself issued an announcement reassuring folks that he is indeed still alive.

At a summit in Australia a couple of weeks ago, Bush mistakenly called the country Austria. Hmmm, maybe the president hasn't been getting his afternoon naps lately... or maybe Bush's mouth is truly Bewitched. He's been making these gaffes so long I don't know if Esmerelda could fix things.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Barry Bonds Hammers "Idiot" Who Bought No. 756

Here's a humorous piece that's too odd for me to have made up. Barry Bonds has called an "idiot" the man who bought the baseball Bonds hit for his record-breaking 756th home run.

Marc Ecko, a fashion designer who won the ball last week in an online auction by paying $752,467, has set up a Web site to let visitors vote on what should be done with the ball, and that's apparently what Bonds thinks is idiotic.

Ecko's three options? Donate the ball to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, brand it with an asterisk and then send it to Cooperstown, or blast it into space on a rocket. The asterisk, of course, is a reference to allegations that Bonds has used performance-enhancing drugs and that his home-run record is therefore tainted.

''All of those options don't weigh anything,'' Bonds told the San Francisco Chronicle on Tuesday night. ''In baseball, that number (756) stands.'' As for paying all that money to buy the ball and let the public decide its fate? ''He's stupid. He's an idiot,'' Bonds said of Ecko. ''He spent $750,000 on the ball and that's what he's doing with it? What he's doing is stupid.''

Ecko said in a statement he would make Bonds a custom T-shirt that says, ''Marc Ecko paid $752,467 for my ball, and all I got was this 'stupid' T-shirt.'''

The public can vote on the fate of the record-breaking ball online at Ecko says he'll announce what he'll do with the ball when voting ends Sept. 25.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Chinese Menus Look to Cut "Pee Soup" and "Crap in the Grass"

Chinese authorities are doing more than building cycling velodromes and sports arenas to prepare for next year's Olympic games. They're getting the grammar police to clean up some of the, um, interesting translations of Chinese foods into English on the menus of restaurants around the country. They've even set up a hotline people can call to translate a confusing menu item into English or, presumably, other languages, according to a report last month by the BBC.

The officials are hoping to avoid embarrassing gaffes by banning such menu items as "pee soup", "five sliced things", "dumpling stuffed with the ovary and digestive glands of a crab," and "crap in the grass."

The latter, a misspelling of carp, is always good for a laugh.

"Among this correspondent's favourites," says an earlier article in The Independent (mentioned on the Web site, "is 'f*ck the certain price of goods' -- far more striking than 'sale now on.'"

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Bin Laden's Cozy Home and Heavy-Metal Speechwriter

Osama bin Laden continues to be a question wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a big ball of fuzzy black hair (but no more gray! thanks to Grecian Formula)...

The New York Daily News reports that OBL lives not in some squalid cave, but in a cushy compound in a remote region of Pakistan... one apparently equipped with cable TV and broadband Internet, judging by his knowledge of current happenings in the U.S.

Speaking of which, maybe OBL doesn't really know squat about taxes and mortgage problems in America; just like modern politicians, he has a speechwriter doing research and writing his stuff. Some intelligence experts have remarked that The Bearded One's remarks about American society and capitalism have the fingerprints of an American al Quaeda member all over them.

The U.K. Telegraph quotes an ex-intel official as saying that large sections of the speech were probably written by Adam Gadahn, the head of al-Qaeda's English language media operations, who used to be a California heavy metal fan before converted to Islam. (He's made his own anti-U.S. videos, but clearly Osama wants the screen time this go-'round.)

The Telegraph notes that the U.S.-bashing comments in OBL's speech had him "sounding like an anti-globalisation protester.... The al-Qaeda leader's first video message for three years featured a bizarre rant against America, with references to global warming, "insane taxes", the US mortgage market meltdown and rising interest rates."

Rants about Insane taxes, global warming, mortgage crunches, and big corporations? Trimming and dyeing his beard to look younger? Sounds like OBL is trying to appeal to a younger demographic, just like many TV advertisers... maybe bin Laden has hired a team of lobbyists and media consultants in hopes of buffing his image and reaching a broader audience.

What's next... bin Laden insights on American Idol candidates and commentary on whether Vaness Hudgens should be removed from High School Musical 3?

Friday, September 07, 2007

Bin Laden Gets Dye Job for New Video

Only his hairdresser knows for sure: the clothes could use a makeover, too.

Has Osama bin Laden gone Hollywood? The media-savvy terrorist has now appeared on video for the first time in several years, sparking new questions about his purpose in appearing on camera after a long absence. Personally, I have to wonder if the guy has been watching too much TV these days (assuming he gets cable in whatever cave he's living in).

In his new video bin Laden makes the usual rants about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the U.S. administration, as well as the evils of capitalism. This last bit has me puzzled, since OBL is sporting a new, younger look: his unkempt, graying beard and hair are gone, replaced by an evenly colored, trimmed, jet-black look.

Has he seen those TV commercials for Grecian Formula or Just For Men and wondered if a younger look might be better for getting his message across? Maybe he figures that just because he lives in caves surrounded by the smell of old camel pee doesn't mean he has to look like it. So he thought it was time for a litte "extreme makeover" of his own.

Maybe he got jealous hearing about the $400 haircut of presidential candidate John Edwards, and decided that an infamous worldwide terror leader should have a more dashing look. Even scruffy muckraking filmmaker Michael Moore has ditched his longtime overgrown beard and unruly hair for a more styled look (all the better for looking good at benefits and Sundance parties).

And with that new TV show "Cavemen" coming out in a few weeks, possible OBL was afraid he'd be confused with those hirsute (but very capitalistic) Cro-Magnon stars.

Perhaps OBL got inspired for his dye job by that Just For Men commercial in which retired jocks Walt Frazier and Keith Hernandez extoll the virtues of the product while an actor with gray hair gets shunned by his date, but then gets invited into her apartment another time after using Just For Men. Bin Laden already has had a number of wives, but maybe he's looking to be the big chick magnet of Outer Wazhiristan. Score!