Friday, December 26, 2008

Hot Seller: Order the 2009 Sarah Palin Calendar

Sarah Palin was one of the hottest news topics of 2008 (in more ways that one), so it's no surprise that the 2009 Sarah Palin Calendar has become a big seller this holiday season. You can order a copy (or two, or three) at the official Sarah Palin Calendar Web site, www.sarahcalendar.com, or at Amazon.com (use the Search box at right).

It's currently the second best-selling calendar on Amazon.com, according to one news story. The 2009 Sarah Palin Calendar is a 9 x 12," 13-month wall calendar that is said to feature more than 50 photos of the governor and her family, and it was created by Alaska photographer Judy Patrick.

You can buy the Sarah Palin Calendar at Judy Patrick's official order site above. The calendar is $15.95 and, you betcha, it's produced and printed in the good ol' USA! No indication of whether it includes recipes for mooseburgers or caribou stew or anything like that. But you're sure to see photos of Palin's adorable kids, and maybe some shots of Todd Palin, the first dude, on his snowmachine.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Montauk Monster Wins Awards, Stars in TV Commercial


The Montauk Monster is proving to be more than a one-season wonder. Now there are awards and maybe a TV commercial! After all the intense interest in Monty during this past summer, when the monster washed up on a beach in Montauk, New York, the attention died down during the Fall, with Monty keeping a low profile. But the Montauk Monster is back in the news as Winter sets in, capturing the coveted "WTF of the Year" title at the URLie awards.

I lobbied hard to have John McCain name Monty as his running mate, and even (prematurely) wrote a post saying that Monty had been picked as VP. And of course who can forget the Montauk Monster chilling with his celebrity buddies?

Now it seems Monty is doing commercials (see below), specifically a German Volkswagen ad. The dog-fish in the spot bears too much of a resemblance to the Montauk Monster to be a coincidence. But is it Monty or a celebri-creature lookalike? If that's not Monty in the ad, he should sue Volkswagen for unauthorized impersonation!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Bristol Palin's Mother-In-Law Arrested on Drug Charges

If you thought the odd saga of Sarah Palin and her family couldn't get any stranger, it has. Sherry Johnston, the future mother-in-law of Bristol Palin, has been busted in Alaska on drug charges... six felony drug counts, in fact.

In case you erased her name from your memory after the election, Bristol Palin is one of the five children of Alaska Governor and former Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin. It came out during the campaign that Bristol was pregnant with the child of her boyfriend Levi Johnston.

Police say the arrest of Levi's mother Sherry Johnston came after a lengthy undercover investigation. The charges are said to be related to the prescription painkiller OxyContin.

With the baby of Bristol and Levi due any day now, the arrest of the 42-year-old Mrs. Johnston should make for interesting conversation between the two grandmothers, one a governor and the other an accused felon.

You can't make this stuff up. Well, you could, but no one would believe you.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Burger King Cologne and Other Tales from the "WTF?!" Files

When I first heard that a Burger King cologne was being sold, I assumed it was a joke. Turns out I was only half wrong: Burger King is not creating a cologne, but it is coming out with a body spray. Yes, it's going to be burger-scented, and it's called Flame. Really. No kidding.

Or maybe some kidding: considering BK's wacky TV commercials with a guy dressed up in that scary-looking King outfit, maybe this is all just a big PR stunt by Burger King. Flame body spray could well be a limited-distribution product designed to create publicity and sell burgers, not body spray. Just look at the company's promotion for the product, which says it offers "the scent of seduction with a hint of flame-broiled meat."

Decide for yourself by checking out the official Burger King Flame body spray Web site, www.firemeetsdesire.com.

In a news story that redefines "moving violation," a Cleveland Browns fan was stopped by police last month for driving a sofa outfitted with a converted riding mower to a game. The fan will appear in court on Tuesday on charges of driving an unregistered vehicle and having expired license plates.

Some odd people feel that holiday season is a time for giving to themselves... especially when it comes to giving themselves a baby Jesus from a public nativity scene. So churches and other organizations are using GPS tracking to track down the baby Jesus figures that people have walked off with. It's working pretty well, it seems. Synagogues are also finding GPS helpful for tracking down menorahs that are stolen during the Hannukah.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Iraqi Man Throws His Shoes at Bush

In a truly odd incident, an Iraqi man threw both of his shoes at the head of President Bush (video below) when the prez was in Baghdad holding a press conference with Iraqi leader Nuri al-Maliki. The Bush shoe thrower, whom some sources said was a journalist, also shouted in Arabic, "This is a farewell ... you dog!" Bush ducked both shoes, and the man was dragged off screaming.

It is considered an insult in Islam to throw a shoe at someone, or even to sit so that the sole of one's shoe faces another person. Bush made light of the shoe-throwing incident, saying "That was a size 10 shoe he threw at me, you may want to know."

Maybe journalists at Iraqi press conferences should be asked to remove their shoes, as U.S. airline passengers are forced to do before boarding planes?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bettie Page, the Original Pinup Girl, Dies at Age 85

Bettie Page, the original pinup girl whose racy photos created a stir back in the 1950s, has died at the age of 85. Back in the conservative days of the Eisenhower administration, Bettie Page caused a sensation by posing in the buff, in various bondage positions, and in naughty-but-nice poses that combined girl-next-door innocence with brazen sexuality. She was often credited for setting the stage for the sexual revolution of the 1960s.

Bettie Page died Thursday, December 11th in Los Angeles. Her agent announced her passing on her official Web site, www.bettiepage.com.

Page had undergone a surge of interest in the last two decades, and had a cult following. An authorized biography, “Bettie Page: The Life of a Pin-Up Legend,” was published in 1996, and she was the subject of the movie “The Notorious Bettie Page” two years ago, which starred Gretchen Mol as Page.

Ironically, Page voluntarily left public view in the late 1950s, and pretty much disappeared from public view. In that time she went through a variety of life changes, from failed marriages to mental illness to becoming a born-again Christian.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Behind the Scenes of the Parody "This Ain't Gilligan's Island"

If there was any '60s TV show that could use a bawdy send-up, it's "Gilligan's Island." Entertainment Tonight has a video that takes us behind the scenes of a new adult movie called "This Ain't Gilligan's Island," a reinvention of the series about a boatload of tourists and crew shipwrecked on an island.

ET says the naughty Gilligan's Island tale picks up with the castaways living on the island and being discovered by an adult film crew that lands on the island. The video features the women who play the sexy female castaways of the S.S. Minnow, Ginger and Mary Ann. Sounds like a hoot. ET says it will be showing sneak previews of "This Ain't Gilligan's Island" on its TV show, so be sure to watch for that.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pricey Call Girl Ashley Dupre is Interviewed on ABC's 20/20

Disgraced former New York governor Eliot Spitzer has been keeping a low profile but Ashley Dupre, the high-priced hooker who led to his downfall, is revving up for another fifteen minutes of fame. She sat down for an interview with Diane Sawyer of ABC and that segment will be appearing on the show this Friday, November 21st.

Dupre, who went by the name "Kristen" at the sex ring and who is originally from the Jersey shore, ended up working for an exclusive New York City prostitution ring at which Spitzer, who became known in court documents as "Client 9," was a repeat customer and had asked for Dupre.

After her name was made known during the criminal investigation into the hooker ring, Dupre's name and photo were splashed all over the tabloids and the aspiring singer, received several million hits on her MySpace page within a week.

You have to wonder how Diane Sawyer feels about interviewing Ashley Dupre. She's a veteran journalist who has interviewed top politicians, heads of state, and many other important figures; how does chatting with a onetime prostitute and wannabe singer fit into her journalistic resume?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Company Pays $1 Million for Vibrators.com Domain Name

There's a worldwide recession going on, but apparently it's not affecting the market for racy Internet domain names. TechCrunch reports that a firm called PriveCo, which specializes in selling the kind of items that are euphemistically called "marital aids" as well as what it terms "embarrassing' products," has paid $1 million to acquire the domain name vibrators.com.

PriveCo sells the goods on its Web site ShopInPrivate.com. TechCrunch says that the firm ships more than 1,500 packages a week.

That's a lot of vibrators! (and other stuff).

Monday, November 03, 2008

Free Coffee at Starbucks on Election Day!

Neither of the presidential candidates are promising a chicken in every pot, but Starbucks is giving a free cup of coffee to Americans who vote on Election Day, Tuesday, November 4th. According to a video on the coffee seller's Web site (and seen as an advertisement on various videos online, including Saturday Night Live), people just have to walk into a Starbucks location and say
"I voted," and they will be given a free tall cup of brewed coffee.

The video doesn't give any specific hours for the voting promotion, so it seems the offer is good during all hours that a given Starbucks location is open. And the video doesn't mention having to provide any proof that a person has voted, or even if they are registered or eligible to vote, or are of legal voting age, or are a U.S. citizen.

Basically it sounds like if you look like you might be 18 years old and can speak the words "I vote," you've got your free cup of coffee.

Now, what about people who vote in the evening, say, after work? Will they be given a free cup of coffee in the daytime if they say "I'm going to vote"?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

John McCain on SNL: Selling Stuff on QVC!

The real John McCain was on Saturday Night Live last night, along with his real wife Cindy and the fake Sarah Palin (Tina Fey) to sell campaign goodies on QVC. You can watch the video below.

McCain also appeared on Weekend Update later in the show, describing what he might do to revitalize his campaign (the "Double maverick," the "reverse maverick," etc.)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sarah Palin Rap on SNL with Amy Poehler - VIDEO

Sarah Palin made her long-anticipated appearance on SNL last night, and the highlight was Amy Poehler doing a Sarah Palin rap... featuring dancers dressed as her husband Todd, a couple of native Alaskans (formerly called Eskimos), and even a moose... or what is a caribou?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I Can Has Cheezburger: Invasion of the LOLcats



On the Internet, people can hear your cat talking. All the time, in fact, thanks to the phenomenon of LOLcats (LOL for "laughing out loud"), those cute and often bizarre photos of cats with odd, badly spelled captions on them. (It's not known if cats really have terrible spelling and grammar, but it adds to the humorous appeal of LOLcats.)

One recent blog article claimed that studies showed that more than 50% of email flying around the Internet consisted of LOLcats. It was a tongue-in-cheek statement, but there's no doubt that LOLcats are an Internet phenomenon that shows no signs of slowing down.

One of the first LOLcat photos (possibly the first) seemed to be one with the caption "I Can Has Cheezburger," which is also the name of what might be the original LOLcats site, www.icanhascheezburger.com.

At that site readers send in their own LOLcat samples, which they can put together easily with the site's "LOLcat builder." And like any good marketing business, www.icanhascheezburger.com has expanded by extending its brand, including "LOLdog" photos and LOL- photos with all kinds of other animals.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Paris Hilton for Prez Update: Tells Palin to "Show Skin"; Chats with Martin Sheen

Paris Hilton has been kind of silent in her presidential campaign lately, but now she has a new video (below).

In the video Hilton:
* chats with Martin Sheen, the famous fake TV president;
* talks up fo-po (foreign policy);
* names her running mate (Rihanna);
* discloses her inauguration party plans;
* and gives Sarah Palin some advice: take your clothes off! (she urges the governor to "show some skin")

Vote Paris Hilton in 2008 ... our next great fake president!

See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die

Saturday, October 04, 2008

University of Wisconsin Marching Band Suspended for Bad Behavior

Usually when we hear about misbehavior involving college sports, it's the players who are getting into some kind of mischief. At the University of Wisconsin, however, the entire marching band that's gotten in trouble. Apparently the entire band has been suspended and will not be playing at halftime of Saturday's big prime-time, nationally televised matchup against Ohio State.

The Badgers Marching Band is facing accusations of "hazing, alcohol abuse, and sexual misconduct," according to reports. The University of Wisconsin announced Friday night that the band was suspended and would not be playing at the Big Ten game against Ohio State at Wisconsin's Camp Randall Stadium.

University officials seemed to indicate that the current allegations that led to the suspension were consistent with abuses that had the Badgers Marching Band placed on probation in 2006.

When was the last time you heard of a marching band beating out the football team in bad behavior? In high school, the marching band was made up of the uncool nerdy types. This is pretty odd. Since the problems with the band go back to at least 2006, looks like there's a musical shakeup coming in Madison.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Shea Goodbye: Baseball's NY Mets Bid Farewell to their Original Home


Shea Goodbye: Citi Field, which will be the Mets' home beginning next season, looms right next to Shea Stadium, in this photo taken at the Mets/Cubs game on Sept. 23rd.

Shea Stadium can't match Yankee Stadium in longevity, number of championships won, or baseball mystique. But it has hosted many classic moments in its 45 years, and like Yankee Stadium, the home of the NY Mets was officially closed for good today at the end of this season with a ceremony featuring appearances by many of the franchise's most famed players. For the Mets, the end came today.

The closing ceremony, fittingly called "Shea Goodbye," was bittersweet not only because of the memories that were made there, but for a more immediate reason: The Mets lost their final regular-season game just before the ceremonies. That combined with a Milwaukee Brewers win over the Cubs meant that the Brewers claimed the National League wild card spot, and for the second straight season, the Mets blew a late-season lead to get knocked out of playoff contention.

But back to the closing ceremony for the Mets and Shea. Many of the team's storied players, including a number from the team's two World Series victories in 1969 and 1986, were there. Walking in from the outfield wall to the infield were such names as Lenny Dykstra, Howard Johnson, Sid Fernandez, Jerry Koosman, Gary Carter, Rusty Staub, and many others, including Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan (most baseball fans probably don't even know that he played for the Mets in the early years of his career).

Some of the biggest cheers were for Tom Seaver, the Hall of Fame pitcher from the 1960s who was called "The Franchise;" fellow Hall of Famer Willie Mays, who played his twilight years for the Mets; and fan favorites from the 1980s, including Keith Hernandez, Dwight Gooden, Dykstra, Darryl Stawberry, Carter, Mike Piazza, and relief pitcher Jesse Orosco.

There was an unusual bit of symmetry with the closing of Yankee Stadium a week or so ago, one that linked the two teams and also two eras of baseball. One of the Mets honored at the Shea closing ceremony was legendary Yankee player Yogi Berra, who was one of the first Mets managers, and who also was featured at the Yankee Stadium closing ceremony.

One by one, the players touched home plate one last time, and then there was one final pitch thrown at Shea: 1960s Mets legend Tom Seaver threw a one-hop pitch to catcher Mike Piazza, who energized the team when he played for them in the late 1990s and early 2000s. After that, Seaver and Piazza walked across the field toward the opening in the outfield walls from where all the players had emerged. The two players stopped and waved, and then each of them closed one of the outfield walls, bringing an end to the 45-year history of the stadium that has been the Mets home since 1964.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Exploding Pudding Truck Sends Driver Running

There's always room for Jell-O, but 60 tons of exploding pudding turned out to be too much for a bewildered British truck driver. The driver had to flee after the 60,000 cans of custard and rice pudding started exploding "like fireworks" when a fire broke out on his truck.

The cans were said to be exploding "like thousands of gunshots." The driver was apparently unaware that his truck was on fire until passersby flagged him down. He eventually stopped the truck and hightailed it away from the Pudding Truck from Hell before it started exploding like a pudding lover's 4th of July dream.

Got any vanilla wafers?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

It's The Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator!

Get your own name for yourself or your baby with The Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator!

The whole country has gone ga-ga over everyone's favorite gun-toting, moose-shooting, specs-wearing, earmarks-hating governor from the land of Northern Exposure. And she and her husband Todd have a real knack for giving their kids unique names... kind of new-age style with a All-American, frozen tundra twist! (Their kids' names are Trig, Track, Bristol, Willow, and Piper.)

Now if you're reading this, it's unfortunately too late for you to be born, and to have Sarah Palin give you a name. But the good news is that you can now get a name for yourself or your baby, as if you'd popped out of the loins of Sarah Barracuda herself, with The Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator.

With this name generator, you can be "born again" as a Palin child!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Sarah Palin - Little Known Facts!

Sarah Palin has definitely arrived as an Intenet celebrity... Cnet has reported that Palin has now inspired several Web collections of "little known facts," of the same type as the popular "Chuck Norris Facts." (Apparently Norris has chosen some of his own favorites from the facts featured on the site devoted to him.)

Among the Sarah Palin "little known facts":
- Sarah Palin taught MacGuyver everything he knows.
- Sarah Palin always beats the point spread.
- Sarah Palin knows the last digit of pi.
- Sarah Palin wants more cowbell.
- Sarah Palin drives herself to work everyday - in an M1A1 tank.
- Sarah Palin CAN eat just one Pringle.
- Glasses sales up 150 percent since Sarah palin became nominee.

You can find these and many other Sarah Palin little known facts at www.palinfacts.com/ and on Twitter.

Got some of your own? Add them here!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

You Suck at Photoshop - Donnie Hoyle's Hilarious Video Series

You Suck at Photoshop is a hilarious video tutorial series by "Donnie Hoyle." Of course, calling it a "tutorial" is a stretch because its main point is to amuse (although you might really learn some basics of Photoshop by viewing the videos). In the You Suck at Photoshop you can hear Donnie's wife yelling in the background as digitally removes the wedding ring from his wife's finger and other various important tasks.

In fact, as a radio report on August 16th points out, You Suck at Photoshop is really a guerilla marketing campaign created by Big Fat Institute, a company that specializes in word-of-mouth marketing campaigns.

It's working like gangbusters: You Suck at Photoshop has won a number of comedy awards and the folks at Adobe Systems, the company that makes Photoshop, are said to be fans of the videos.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Bigfoot Press Conference: Creature Announces Book, Movie Deal

Tired of the endless rumors and speculation, the so-called Georgia Bigfoot creature is holding a press conference Friday to address questions about his life, his future, and his very existence.

Sources indicate that Bigfoot, who is known to his friends as "Bucky" or sometimes "The Buckster," was troubled that photos said to be of him were circulating all over the Internet, many of them fake... and that he was getting none of the money.

It has been confirmed that Bucky has signed an exclusive deal with the William Morris Agency to act as his agent and handle his various business dealings. This includes a deal with Getty Images to handle the licensing rights for all authentic images of Bigfoot.

William Morris handles many top film, music, and other celebrities, and Bigfoot's agreement is said to include a two-book deal and options for at least two films, one an autobiography and the other a Bollwood-style musical based on the life of a fictional Appalachian bigfoot-type creature who seeks to make it big in the movie business.

New Jersey's Rebecca Soni Takes Gold Medal, World Record in 200m Breaststroke

OK, we here at Coffee is for Closers have to throw in a little Jersey pride here: our local gal Rebecca Soni has pulled another great performance out of the hat and taken another Olympic medal... and this one's gold.

The 21 year old from Plainsboro, New Jersey beat Australia's "Lethal" Leisel Jones in the women's 200m breaststroke in world record time, pulling further away from the favorite Jones as the race neared its end.

Soni was the surprise silver medalist in the 100m breaststroke, coming in second to Jones. Rebecca Soni was not even originally scheduled to swim the 100m breaststroke, having finished fourth in the U.S. trials in the event. But she was inserted into the race after a teammate withdrew after having a positive drug test.

In true American melting-pot fashion, Rebecca Soni is the daughter of Hungarian and Romanian immigrants to the U.S.

You can read more about Rebecca Soni's bio silver medal victory and find a Rebecca Soni bio and profile at USA Swimming.

Congrats, Rebecca! I've got a number of friends from the Princeton/Plainsboro area, and I'm sure everyone down there in Central Jersey is very proud of their local girl.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Rad Girls - Episodes and Behind the Scenes Videos

The three Rad Girls are out to do wacky stunts, pranks, and hidden camera videos, and they don't care who they embarrass (least of all themselves). At the Rad Girls Web site you can view videos, from episodes of their Fuse TV show to behind-the-scenes videos including their crane-lifted wedgie challenge and their tryouts to be strippers.

They're rad, they're bad, they're out to cause mayhem and embarrassment. Follow the adventures of Ramona Cash, Darling Clementine, and Munchie in The Rad Girls.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Montauk Monster Chillin' With His Fellow Celebs - PHOTOS

It's been said that Law of Attraction notes that people are attracted to things that are like themselves. If that's true, then many A-list celebs want to be like a rotting animal carcass, because they've been making a beeline to get close to everyone's favorite "thing," the Montauk Monster.

Doing the fist pump with Barack ... jumping on Oprah's couach ... hangin' with Marlon Brando in a vintage poster for The Godfather ... joining the Full House gang ... the stars all want to hang with Monty!

Celebs love the Monty almost as much as Photoshop does, and that brings up to these photos from the new Montauk Monster mashup site, www.Montymash.com. Some examples here...



Oprah shrieks, "I'm in love! I'm really in love with Monty!!"



(Of course, there are some D-list hangers-on, like Carrot Top here.)



Get this pasty-face, orange-haired FREAK away from me!

Inquiring minds will naturally be asking, John McCain chose the Montauk Monster as his running mate, but there are no pictures of the two of them here. What's up with that?

Patience, dear reader. Johnny Mac knows that Monty is a unique running mate and is letting his light shine all on its own for now. There will be plenty of time for Mac and Monty to do joint appearances, once Monty is done with Jay and Dave and Conan and Rachael Ray (bet you didn't know that the Montauk Monster could cook up a mean lobster tail fra diavlo with linguine and white clam sauce!)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Montauk Monster 2.0: New Pictures, eBay Auction, and More!




It was sad to think that the feel-good event of this New York summer, the discovery of our very own Montauk Monster, had outlived its 15 minutes of fame. But wait! There's more!

Gawker has put together a photo album in tribute to the Montauk Monster. Called the 2008 Montauk Monster Yearbook, it includes many of the photos of the Monster, as well as some clever take-offs, including the Montauk Monster cuddling up to a woman in an evening gown, the Monster with sunglasses and a hand of playing cards, and even the Monster sticking out of a bucket of KFC! "Finger Lickin' Gross," as the caption says!

Even better, Gawker alerts us to a new site, MontyMash.com, that collects some of the best Zelig-like moments of our beloved Monty, including some of the ones mentioned above, plus an ever-growing collection of reader-submitted contris. You can see Monty in The Godfather, as part of the Full House TV gang, and even wading into the political sphere, appearing with Hillary Clinton and doing a fist-bump with Barack! (No word on whether these Democratic photos will have an adverse impact on the Montauk Monster being chosen by John McCain as his VP.)

And... miracle of miracles!... a man has claimed that the Montauk Monster magically appeared on his piece of morning toast!



It's a fitting tribute to the Montauk Monster as we knew him, as he used to be (unfortunately he has now turned to bones and black goo, in a plastic bag in someone's garage).

Saturday, August 02, 2008

John McCain Names the Montauk Monster His Running Mate


Wolf Blitzer breaks the news: McCain picks Montauk Monster for VP!

Seeking to prove that Republicans can offer "change" just as well as the Democrats, John McCain has reached deep into the diversity well and chosen the Montauk Monster as his running mate.

The Montauk Monster, which became an instant celebrity last week after pictures of it lying on a Long Island beach were published in Gawker and other places, has made headlines not just in local news sources like Newsday and the Hamptons' Plum TV, but also Scientific American and CNN.

Approached while running to catch a plane, McCain would neither confirm nor deny the choice of the Montauk Monster as veep, saying only, "The Montauk Monster has touched a lot of Americans in the last week or so, and I know he believes in the values that my campaign is stressing. Like me, Monty shares a love of American freedom and a firm belief that lower taxes, less government regulation, and offshore oil drilling will keep America strong and prosperous."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was less enthusiastic about the potential VP choice. "An old, decrepit, rotting corpse is not the change America is looking for. And having the Montauk Monster on the ticket doesn't help, either."

Of course, the seemingly dead creature known affectionately as "Monty" must clear some piddling legal hurdles before being able to accept the number-two spot on the Republican ticket: Is he 35 years old? Is he human (I'm not sure if the Constitution specifically demands a "human")? Then there are of course the traditional political skeletons-in-the-closet questions to be tackled: Has the Montauk Monster had any tawdry affairs, hired an illegal nanny, played footsie in an airport bathroom with a Federal agent, etc.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Montauk Monster Has Curious Americans Wondering, "WTF *is* that Thing?!"

Four-dollar gas. Recession. An endless war overseas. But the thing that's preoccupying Americans these days is a butt-ugly, bird-beaked, nekkid-as-a-jaybird rotting animal corpse that's washed up on the northeast end of New York's Long Island. So what the hell is this "Montauk Monster," as it's being called?

[BREAKING NEWS: John McCain has named the Montauk Monster his running mate!]

Here are some possible explanations of what the Montauk Monster is, ranging from the practical to the absurd (you can decide for yourself which is which). [UPDATE: A blog called Amnesia Blog has a good collection of Montauk Monster pictures, so you can get a better look at The Thing.]

* Lab experiment gone wrong, escaped from a nearby agricultural research facility, the Plum Island Animal Disease Center
* A turtle without a shell (never mind the fact that turtles can't just detach from their shells, like in those TV cartoons)
* A shaved raccoon
* An alien creature from outer space, come to warn us about the end of the world (or to go on a tour of one of the North Fork's many wineries)
* A new undiscovered species of animal, just out looking to check out some of the North Fork's wineries
* A pretty snazzy creation of someone's imagination and a lot of time spent on Photoshop
* An escaped pet (notice the cloth wrapped around it's right front arm... leg... whatever it is)
* A very large rat, escaped from the NYC subway or maybe the Long Island Rail Road (it got injured after not Minding the Gap)
* A Department of Defense experiment - a successor to the attack badgers the British were supposedly using in Iraq
* A very lifelike synthetic creature made by an unemployed movie prop maker with a lot of free time and even more spare latex
* A viral marketing stunt for a sci-fi TV show
* Joan Rivers fell off a cruise boat... this is how she looks without her wig

What do you think the Montauk Monster is? Let us know!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Montauk Monster - Just the Thing for a Slow Summer!

Things can get kind of slow in the news business during the summer in New York, so writers and bloggers must have been cheered by the mysterious appearance (and apparent disappearance) of what's being called The Montauk Monster, which was seen lying on its side on a Montauk, Long Island beach.

What... the... frack?!
The creature looks like a hairless dog, with an eagle-type beak for a nose. Gawker published a photo of the Montauk Monster along with a story, with some of their classic commentary. It notes that one person has claimed that this might be an escapee from a government animal testing lab that's supposedly nearby, but Gawker disagrees:

"... unless the government is trying to design horrible Montauk monsters that will eat IEDs and fart fire at bad Iraqis, we're not sure why they would create such an unthinkable beast. Our guess is that it's viral marketing for something. Ali Lohan's new album perhaps."

Ali Lohan and her famous sister (and father, and mother) were apparently unavailable for comment.

So is this a viral marketing scam, as Gawker suggests? We may never know, because liberal blog The Huffington Post has wasted no time in jumping on the Montauk Monster bandwagon, giving the creature his (her?) own column, entitled The Montauk Monster.

In the current column, the Monster says that he (she?) came to the beach for sun and surf: "The sun was very hot and I took a nap, naked. And then it turns out a picture of this very nap was posted on the Internet, paparazzi or some such thing, I'd imagine."

There you go, straight from the Montauk Monster's mouth. Now that the Monster is working for HuffPo, I guess its job will be to blog about New York nightlife and write puff pieces on Barack Obama.

What's Mandarin Chinese for "Rah Rah, Sis Boom Bah!"

The Chinese are leaving nothing to chance in their quest to have a good Olympics, and that goes beyond preparing its athletes. First we heard about its plans to seed clouds so that rain does not fall on the opening ceremonies on August 8th.

Now, to rev up its army of athletes in the Beijing Olympics, China is training people to become cheerleaders for its sports teams. So they've created classes to instruct people in cheerleading, according to a recent story that aired on the radio in the U.S. The classes run a total of 10 hours, and some workers are taking time off without pay to get the cheer training.

"The students in one cheerleading class are not leggy athletic girls with pompoms, but rather desk-bound, middle-aged government employees brandishing balloons," the article notes.

Imagine Michael from "The Office" training his employees in cheers, waving balloons...

This article says that at least 300,000 people will be on China's Olympic cheering squads.

One cheer goes, "Smile, Beijing, a smile shows Beijing's best tomorrow." It doesn't sound all that rousing to me, but I guess it might be more dramatic sung by a middle-aged office worker furiously waving his balloon-holding arms around as if he was trying to land a jumbo jet.

Or maybe not.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Randy Pausch, Author of "The Last Lecture," Has Died

Professor Randy Pausch, who inspired millions of people with "The Last Lecture" as he fought terminal illness, has died. He was 47 years old.

Pausch suffered from pancreatic cancer, which eventually took his life. Pausch was a Professor of Computer Science, Human-Computer Interaction, and Design at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. (Randy Pausch's Web page at Carnegie Mellon.)

The book "The Last Lecture," which became a New York Times bestseller, arose from a lecture that Pausch gave in September 2007 called "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams." Pausch was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in August 2006. In recent months the cancer had spread to his liver, lungs, and spleen.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The American Vampire League - Fighting for Vampire Rights!

If gray-eyed left-handed lacto-ovo people can fight for their rights, then why not our life-challenged cousins? It's time to let the people of the night emerge from those musty old coffins and shake off those dusty old stereotypes that have been around for centuries.

The American Vampire League seeks to fight for the "human rights of vampires" and let them "emerge from the dark" (OK, these may sound better in print than in practice, since vampires aren't technically human, if you want to get all scientific about it. And if they emerged from the dark they might melt or something. But you get the idea.)

If you don't get the idea, then check out the American Vampire League Web site. It's brought to you by the good folks at HBO, who as part of the Time Warner media conglomerate know a thing or two about good old corporate bloodsucking! But I digress...

The American Vampire League just happens to be affiliated with a new TV program by the aforementioned HBO, called True Blood. It's named after Tru Blood, a new synthetic blood substitute that will eliminate the need for vampires to suck blood from human creatures. The tagline for Tru Blood is, "All of the flavor, none of the bite." Sounds like a win-win to me. (You can learn more about the beverage at the Tru Blood Web site.)

How does Tru Blood taste? I haven't sampled it, but it can't be any worse than Red Bull...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Big Changes at CSI: William Peterson, Gary Dourdon Out; Jorja Fox Coming Back

It's getting hard to keep track of all the comings and goings at the original CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. William Petersen will be leaving the show this season (by the middle of the season, it seems), but is going to make some appearances on the show even after he leaves. And Petersen will remain as an executive producer, so he won't be straying far from the crime lab. (The head of the CSI team outlined plans for the show.)

Jorja Fox and Gary Dourdan have also left the show recently. Fox was seen driving out of Las Vegas after surviving a kidnapping. Gary Dourdan was last seen on the show in a precarious and dangerous position in last season's finale, and speculation is that he'll be killed off. But Dourdan is scheduled to appear in the upcoming season's premiere, which some observers are speculating will be the last time we see the original cast all together in one episode.

As for Fox, she will be returning for "multiple" episodes (including the season premiere), according to the producers.

It's also reported that another male CSI will be brought onto the show, and the producers are looking for a heavy hitter to fill the role (they're said to be seeking Laurence Fishburne or Kurt Russell).

Looks like we'll need a scorecard to keep track of all the lab geeks...

Friday, July 11, 2008

It's Cow Appreciation Day at Chik-fil-A ... Dress Like a Cow, Get Free Food!

My Chik-fil-A Cow-lendar tells me that today is Cow Appreciation Day, and that means that you can get free food for dressing up like a cow. (The more complete your transformation into a cow, the more food you get.) You can learn more at www.cowappreciationday.com/. The site includes a section called "Cow Tipping" that gives advice on how to dress up like a cow.

For several years Chik-fil-A has been running an ad campaign meant to look like it was created by cows, urging people to eat chicken instead of beef. The campaign includes sloppily written signs that say things like "Eat mor chikin," and has spawned the popular Chik-fil-A Cow-lendar, which each month features amazingly lifelike photo-illustrations of cows in a variety of positions.

The 2008 Cow-lendar is called One-Hit Wonder Cows and features cows in musical settings ranging from Saturday Night Fever ("Brisket Inferno") to a Wayne Newton-style Vegas act, a boy band, a reggae group, and even a heavy-metal concert scene (called "Slaughterhaus").

The illustrations are pretty detailed, and their creator used a variety of techniques including real cows and life-sized cow models to create them.

As the "Slaughterhaus" cow says, "4 Those Abowt 2 Eat Chikin, we Saloot U."

Monday, July 07, 2008

Dara Torres - Profile of the Five-Time Olympic Swimmer

U.S. swimmer Dara Torres has made history by becoming the first American swimmer to make the Olympics on five different occasions. And she's 41 years old! Oddly, the Internet seems to be abuzz with people searching for "Dara Torres husband" -- apparently folks are more concerned with her marital status than her swimming accomplishments? Or maybe it's a trivia question in a drinking game.

The New York Times has a good profile of her, which tells of the extensive training regimen she uses to stay in top competitive shape. (The Times also did a profile of her late last year, which you can find here.) Torres has her own Web site, www.daratorres.com, but it has been very busy and not loading the last few days.

In any case, "Dara Torres husband" is kind of a trick question: though Torres has a partner (a doctor named David Hoffman), they are not married. Dara Torres has been married (and divorced) twice, so maybe she feels having another husband is not the best idea right now.

So while there is no Dara Torres husband, the swimmer and her not-husband Hoffman do have a daughter, a two year old named Tessa Grace.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Joey Chestnut Keeps Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Crown in Thrilling OT Eat-Off!

Joey Chestnut held onto his title in the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Championship in a thrilling overtime dog-off with six-time champion Takeru "Kobe" Koayashi. For the first time ever, the contest ended in a tie when the contest ended after 10 minutes (the contest was formerly 12 minutes, but was shortened by 2 minutes this year).

Chestnut and Kobayashi were deadlocked after 10 minutes, having both eaten 59 hot dogs and buns. In the Dog-Off, five additional hot dogs and buns were brought to both contestants, and Chestnut was just a bit faster in finishing them off.

Kobayashi had won the contest six straight times before losing to Chestnut last year; he had been suffering from arthritis of the jaw but seemed to be recovered for this year's contest.

The annual contest takes place next to the location of the original Nathan's Famous hot dog restaurant, on the boardwalk in Coney Island, Brooklyn.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Women Prefer Stubble in Men

Gentlemen may prefer blondes, but women seem to prefer stubble. That is, they prefer men who have stubble on their faces not only for sex, but for love and marriage, according to a study mentioned in the London Telegraph.

"Stubble is the way to win a woman’s heart," the article begins. "Researchers found that women are more attracted to men with stubbly chins than those with clean-shaven faces or full beards."

Women in the study consistently regarded men with stubble as "tough, mature, aggressive, dominant, and masculine," the article says. Not only that, such men were viewed as the best partners, whether that partnership was a brief fling or a long-term relationship. The study participants were British women between 18 and 44 years of age.

The study suggests that stubble may be a "signal of aggression" because it makes the lower jaw look bigger, and draws attention to the teeth as "weapons." Hmmm, but don't many British people have bad (or missing) teeth? Perhaps these stubbly men are perceived as being able to gum an assailant into submission.

Maybe Don Johnson was really ahead of his time when he cultivated that two-day beard look back in Miami Vice in the early '80s!

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin Videos from YouTube

George Carlin is, sadly, no longer with us, but his works will keep us laughing (and thinking) for a long time to come. Here's a collection of five George Carlin videos from YouTube. They don't include the famous "7 Words You Can't Say on Television," but I think Mashable has a link to that one on this page.

The five videos on this page are "Voting," "Ten Commandments," "Airline Announcements," "Saving the Planet," and "Religion is Bullsh*t."

Rest in peace, George.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Department of Irony: Iowa Flood Museum is Flooded

What happens when a once-in-a-lifetime event occurs more than once in a lifetime? Well, it catches a lot of people by surprise and creates some odd ironies. That was the case this week when heavy rains came to Iowa and flooded a museum.

But it's not just any museum: Fort Madison, Iowa has a museum to the many floods that have occurred in the area. The biggest was the 1993 flood, which was thought to be of such magnitude that it was a "100 year flood." This is the fourth time the flood museum has been flooded since the "Flood of '93" exhibit was added to the museum.

Unfortunately, last week's flood has left the Fort Madison flood museum like the rest of Fort Madison, and like much of that area of Iowa: completely underwater.

In another ironic twist, visitors to the town have been coming by the flood museum to take pictures of it in its flooded condition.

You can hear more in this story here.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Meghan McCain's Writing Life Moving from Blog to Book

Meghan McCain, the 23-year-old daughter of presidential candidate John McCain, isn't limiting her writing career to her blog. The creator of McCain Blogette, an irreverent look at her life on the campaign trail, has said that she is going to write an illustrated children's book about her father. set to be published during the first week of September — just when the Republican Party is holding its national convention in Minneapolis.

Meghan McCain, the daughter of the presumptive Republican nominee and his second wife Cindy, is not your typical candidate's daughter, as you can tell from an article in GQ. Though the Columbia University graduate agrees with her father on many issues, she's a socially liberal young woman who voted for John Kerry in the 2004 election, thinks Barack Obama is "sexy,' and is a fan of burlesque stripper (and former Marilyn Manson wife) Dita von Teese.

With Meghan McCain blogging the general election campaign for the Republican side and Obama and his young supporters representing the Democratic side, there's going to be quite a lot of youthful energy in this battle for the White House.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Fox Questions Obama's "Terrorist Fist Jab" - Is Howie Mandel a Jihadist?

UPDATE: E.D. Hill on June 10th apologized for the characterization of the fist pound as a "terrorist fist jab," according to TV Newser. It's also been reported that on the same day Fox News announced that E.D. Hill's show "America's Pulse" had been canceled, but she is apparently going to be reassigned somewhere within the company.

A Fox News Channel reporter did a segment last week on Barack and Michelle Obama's fist bump, or pound, by saying, "A fist bump? A pound? A terrorist fist jab? The gesture everyone seems to interpret differently."

Huh? Since when is the fist pound, a staple of hip-hop greetings and baseball players, among many other people, a "terrorist fist jab"? The reporter, E. D. Hill, did not explain her remark, or repeat it again during her interview with a "body language expert," who also made no reference to the gesture as being anything but a greeting.

But if this fist pound is some kind of sinister greeting, what does that mean... hey, Howie Mandel the "terrorist fist jab" many times in each episode of "Deal of No Deal"!

Should Mandel be declared an enemy combatant? What about the mysterious "Banker"... is he some kind of jihadi financier? And if Howie gets sent to Gitmo, do all the models with the briefcases have to go, too?

I'm sure Fox will sort all this out for us... thank God they're on the case and keeping us safe from dangerous game-show hosts!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Clinton Meets Obama at Her Home; is Said to Demand "The Obama Pound"

[SATIRE] Barack Obama is meeting with Hillary Clinton tonight at her apartment in Washington, D.C. Speculation had focused on Clinton wanting the spot, but recent rumors have said that Clinton wants something else... something more personal... the Obama fist bump, referred to as The Obama Pound.

The whole world saw Obama and his wife Michelle exchanging fist "pounds" on the podium on Tuesday night. Apparently Ms. Clinton saw that and his looking to secure her own piece of street cred and hip-hop cool with the newly minted presumptive Democratic nominee.

Sources close to Mrs. Clinton say that her support of Obama will hinge on whether she can secure the much-coveted Obama Pound. Mrs. Clinton was overhead by observers this afternoon saying, "I'm not coming around, until I get The Pound!"

Told by her staff that her request for the Obama Pound was unusual, unconventional or, well, just plain bizarre, Mrs. Clinton retorted: "I want that friggin' pound! I will get that Obama Pound and I won't go back to Chappaqua without it!"

Mrs. Clinton's staff had no comment on the matter. There were rumors among Michelle Obama's camp that she would not allow her husband to give Mrs. Clinton a fist pound unless Clinton beat Mrs. Obama in a Jell-O wrestling match.

Asked to comment on this rumor, Michelle Obama would say only, "There's always room for Jell-O."

Monday, June 02, 2008

Celebrity News: Tatum O'Neal, Gina Gershon, Uma, and More

It's been a busy day in the ever-bizarre world of celebrities and their hijinks. Here are links for more information:

Gina Gershon is in the news for a role, but not on the big screen: a new article in Vanity Fair implies that Gershon was one of several women former president Bill Clinton might have had affairs with during his travels around the country. The article refers to these as "rumors" or "gossip," so it's unclear how much truth there may be to the reports. (And some news sources insist on calling her Gina Gerson.)

Tatum O'Neal, is arrested on possession of crack and cocaine near her New York apartment, along with the guy who was selling it to her. The actress who won our hearts as nine-year-old in Paper Moon is now 44 years old.

Kelsey Grammer of "Frasier" and "Cheers" has been hospitalized in Hawaii after suffering a mild heart attack.

The man who's been stalking Uma Thurman has been ordered released from jail. He will be on probation and will be required to seek psychiatric care.

And on a sad note, rock and roll innovator Bo Diddley has died at the age of 79 of heart failure. Rest in peace, Bo.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The 2008 Belmont Stakes - Date, Post Time, Tickets, and More Info

All eyes in the racing world will be on Belmont Park as Big Brown goes for Triple Crown glory at the 2008 Belmont Stakes. This is the final race of the Triple Crown and always creates a lot of excitement here in the New York area, so here's some information on the race, including the date of the 2008 Belmont Stakes.

The Belmont Stakes, the third leg of racing's famed Triple Crown, takes place this year on Saturday, June 7th. The Belmont Stakes is held each year at Belmont Park racetrack in Elmont, Long Island, New York. Belmont Park is just a 30 minute ride from Manhattan's Penn Station on the Long Island Rail Road.

The 2008 race will be the 140th running of the Belmont Stakes.
Official site of the 2008 Belmont Stakes at the New York Racing Association: www.nyra.com/BelmontStakes2008.html

The site includes Belmont Stakes updates throughout the week, as well as information on buying tickets, betting on the race and opening an account, and even buying Big Brown t-shirts, caps, and other merchandise.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

“The Foot Fist Way" Just Part of Danny McBride's Excellent Comedy Summer

Comedian Danny McBride is going to have a great summer. He's gone from having only one acting role in a movie to being in three of the summer's most anticipated movie comedies: “The Foot Fist Way,” (opening this Friday), “Pineapple Express,” and “Tropic Thunder.”

"Pineapple Express," of course, is the latest comedy from the comedy success machine of Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen (who serves as both actor and screenwriter for this film). Apatow is the producer or director of such successful and popular comedies as "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," "Knocked Up," "Superbad." and "Forgetting Sarah Marshall."

The Los Angeles Times offers a profile of McBride, telling how he went from night clerk at the Burbank Holiday Inn to sharing the bill with some of today's biggest and most established comedy names, including Will Ferrell and Ben Stiller. It talks about his knack for playing bumbing, awkward characters, which in this summer's movies involves McBride being beaten up, blown up, and tied up to a chair, among other things.

But if moviegoers like McBride as much as film festival audiences and his fellow actors do, it's going to be a very happy (and lucrative) summer for Danny McBride.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Ashley Harkleroad to Pose for Playboy

Tennis player Ashley Harkleroad has confirmed that she will pose for Playboy magazine, according to an article in USA Today. The article says Harkleroad, who started out as a teen phenom and is now 23 years old, will appear in a pictorial in the August issue of Playboy.

Harkleroad will be the first tennis player to pose for Playboy. She seemed cagey when asked why she decided to pose. "There's a few reasons why I did it, but I can't really go into it right now," she added. "But like I said, I really didn't think it was that big of a deal. I'm proud of my body. I stay in shape and try to stay fit."

Ashley Harkleroad is now married and while it may seem odd for her to pose for Playboy, the pictorial may not feature the magazine's traditional explicit photography, but rather the less racy type of shots that Lindsay Lohan did for Vanity Fair, or even something less explicit than that.

Ashley Harkleroad was an up-and-coming juniors player as a teen and seemed destined for stardom, but then was slowed by a number of injuries. Earlier this year she had surgery to remove an ovarian cyst. She had high hopes for continuing her comeback at this year's French Open, but unfortunately she was assigned Serena Williams as a first-round opponent, and Williams defeated Harkleroad convincingly today.

Scott Dixon Wins Indy 500; Danica Patrick and Sarah Fisher Out

Scott Dixon of New Zealand won the 2008 Indy 500, narrowly beating second-place Vito Meira. You can find all the Indy 500 results here, at the results page at the IndyCar.com Web site. You can find Scott Dixon's profile here.

Marco Andretti came in third.

All three women in the race were knocked out. Sarah Fisher, making her seventh Indy 500 start, had bad luck throughout the day, beginning when her engine wouldn't start at the start of the race. Fisher's race ended in the 105th lap when a crash with Tony Kanaan knocked both her and Kanaan out of the race.

A native of Commercial Point, Ohio, Sarah Fisher earlier this year became a team owner as well as a driver when she formed Sarah Fisher Racing.

Danicamania came to an abrupt end when Danica Patrick's car was knocked out late in the race. Her godaddy.com car was damaged not in a racetrack crash, but when her car was hit as she was on her way out of a pit stop.

The third woman, Milka Duno, was eliminated when a skid caused her tires to burn out late in the race.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

2008 Fleet Week Sails into New York City

Thousands of sailors have descended upon New York City for the annual Fleet Week celebration, which runs from May 21st to 28th. There will be service members from the U.S. Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard ships in town, and there ships are taking part in a parade up the Hudson River on Wednesday.

You can find out more at the official Fleet Week in New York Web site: www.cnrma.navy.mil/fleetweek/

Fleet Week lets the sailors see the City, and vice versa. There will be many military demonstrations and chances for the public to view the ships. There will be five U.S. ships taking part, led by the USS Kearsarge, a 40,500-ton amphibious assault ship equipped with both helicopters and surface boats.

The 2008 Fleet Week celebration will also include three Canadian vessels, including the USS Winston S. Churchill.

You can find the entire schedule of Fleet Week activities at www.cnrma.navy.mil/fleetweek/schedule.htm

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Lovely Dagmar Midcap on YouTube

Dagmar Midcap is a popular (and rather attractive) TV personality with a wide range of experience, from TV shows about cars to small roles in movies and TV shows (including the excellent British crime drama, "Touching Evil"). She had also had a recurring role on "Smallville," and was even in the film "Catwoman" with Halle Berry. Dagmar Midcap is currently a weather personality at a TV station in Atlanta, Georgia.

You can see Dagmar Midcap in a few clips on YouTube, from the show "Driving Television: here and here.

The redheaded Dagmar Midcap is a native of Vancouver, British Columbia.

Chilli the Giant Cow: Going for the Record Books!

There are supersized meals and SUVs, and now there's a supersized giant cow that's shooting for the Guinness book of world records. Chilli is six feet, six inches tall and its owner is trying to get this giant cow recognized by the Guinness folks at the tallest cow Britain has ever seen.

The nine-year-old Chilli, a black-and-white Friesian, weighs a ton and is larger than most horses, and the size of a small elephant. And yes it's Chilli, not Chili, the cow.

You can find photos of this humongous bovine here.

While the British press refers to Chilli as a "cow," a bullock is a word used to describe a bull. So it's unclear as to whether this is a giant cow or a giant bull. Maybe the Brits use "cow" to describe both male and female?

Monday, May 12, 2008

"Lily and Marshall Sell Their Stuff" - Charity Auction for TV Memorabilia

Fans of the TV show How I Met Your Mother will want to check out a Web site with a rather long name, www.lilyandmarshallselltheirstuff.com. In the May 12th episode the show featured the two characters Lily and Marshall facing financial trouble and, yoiu guessed it, setting up a Web site to sell their stuff.

The twist is that the "Lily and Marshall Sell Their Stuff" Web site is a real site, selling real stuff: props and costumes associated with the characters. As TV Squad notes,the proceeds of the auction will go to the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles. The "Lily and Marshall Sell Their Stuff" Web site will be up for two weeks.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Today is National Train Day

Amtrak is sponsoring the first-ever National Train Day on May 10th, 2008. You can find complete details at the official National Train Day Web site here.

There will be major events today at Amtrak's largest passenger stations, New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, and Los Angeles, which will feature free music performances, train photos, train simulators, and prizes and giveaways. Several dozen smaller stations will have events as well.

The New York event will include an appearance and performance by the Harlem Globetrotters.

Intrade.com Lets You Bet on Britney, Presidential Candidates, and More

Want to bet on who you think will win the presidential election, or on how soon Britney or Lindsay will be back in rehab? A Web site called InTrade (www.intrade.com) lets you do just that.

As reported on ABC News, Intrade is what's called a "prediction market." It acts as a futures market, but instead of betting on the direction of the price of sugar or crude oil or pork bellies, you're betting on the direction you think various trends will take. And yes, you can make money if the value of your prediction increases.

Right now you can check out what Intrade members think of the chances for the various presidential contenders, as well as the potential vice presidential picks for each party. And there's more: Will there be an Olympic boycott? Will Eliot Spitzer be indicted on felony charges? Check the odds on Intrade!

How accurate is the information on Intrade? The founders claim that the Intrade market data is being used by institutions ranging from the U.S. Navy to the Federal Reserve Bank, as well as dozens of colleges and universities.

Intrade is the latest Web site to let users bet on predictions. There's also at least one that lets you bet on various sports teams, and one of the first such sites I remember hearing about years ago was the Hollywood Stock Exchange, where users guess how they think films will do at the box office.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Daisetta Sinkhole - They Make 'Em Bigger in Texas!

Texas is known for doing everything in a big way, and a big sinkhole near Daisetta is living up to that reputation. The sinkhole has been getting bigger by the day, swallowing up earth and anything on it (tractors, trees, whatever) and is now estimated to be 600 yards across (who wants to get close enough to measure it?)

The Sinkhole That Ate Texas is near Daisetta, northeast of Houston, and contains a mix of oil and fuel sludge. Sinkholes usually result from underground limestone that gets washed away by water under the earth, but the Daisetta sinkhole is said to be caused by a dissolving salt dome in an area where oil was pumped out of the ground.

An article says that the edge of the crater is now just 75 yard from one house, and may end up swallowing part of a highway as well. As the first sentence of the article says, "There's not much to do but pull up lawn chairs and watch."

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Antonio Pierce Interns on Howard Stern Show

Antonio Pierce is the latest New York pro athlete to snag an internship with a high-profile company. Just a couple of weeks after Sean Avery of the New York Rangers reportedly began a gig as intern with Vogue magazine, the New York Giants linebacker has signed on as an intern on The Howard Stern Show. It may seem an odd shift for a guy who was playing in, and winning, a Super Bowl ring a few months ago, but Pierce has expressed an interest in being in broadcasting after his playing career is over, so why not?

Newsday's Pet Rock blog says that Pierce had to field questions about his sex life and the NFL lifestyle, and did typical intern duties such as manning the phones, getting prank calls from Stern staff members, giving pointers on throwing a football, and "towel-whipping those who pranked him earlier in the morning."

Apparently this was just a one-day internship though... how much can a person learn in one day? Antonio Pierce apparently did well, and had good things to say about his three children and his fiancé, Jocelyn Pierce. The two are scheduled to wed later this month.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Ryan Reynolds Engaged to Scarlett Johansson

Ryan Reynolds and Scarlett Johansson are engaged, it's been reported by the Associated Press and other sources, quoting the actress's publicist.

It will be the first marriage for both Johansson (23 years old) and Reynolds (who is 31). Ryan Reynolds was previously engaged to singer Alanis Morissette, whom he had been dating for several years. Their engagement was ended early in 2007, it's been said.

Ryan Reynolds was in the ABC sitcom "Two Guys and a Girl" and films including the comedy "Van Wilder" and the action flick "Blade: Trinity."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Fake Google Results: What Happens in Vegas, Number of Deaths in Rambo, Rick Astley, etc.

A funny collection of oddball Google search results became one of the most popular items on Digg.com today, until it turned out that they were fake results. They're funny nevertheless, and you can see them here. They're a goof on Google's "onebox" results, which summarize the most likely or popular search results in a handy table.

It's meant to be a take-off on other bizarre and/or dumb Google searches, such as "number of horns on a unicorn? (ummm, "uni" means one). Here's a sampling of the "results" listed:

Google search: Things Rick Astley would never do
Results: Give you up, let you down, make you cry, say goodbye

Google search: Number of deaths in Rambo
Results: Rambo: First Blood - 1; Rambo: First Blood Part II - 69, etc.

Google search: What happens in Vegas
Results: Stays in Vegas

Google search: I know kung fu
Results: For the last time, no you don't

Google search: Weeeelllll...
Results: Kyle's Mom's a bitch

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Things That Rick Astley Would Never Do ...

Thanks to the recent phenomenon of "rick rolling," many of us cannot get Rick Astley's hit song "Never Gonna Give You Up" out of our heads. In the song, the deep-voiced singer gives a laundry list of the things that he would never do to his lady love. What things would Rick Astley never do, and how do they rank? Thanks to the Internet, we now know!

Many Web sites have compiled data on the things ol' Rick, now a middle-aged dude with a kid, Would Never Do, according to their mention in the song.

So what are the things that Rick Astley would never do, and how frequently would he not do them? The Web site MLive has put together a handy pie chart to show us all. And The Phoenix supplies the data in cartoon format.

Yet another life-affirming task performed by the Internet... keeping us all informed of The Things That Rick Astley Would Never Do!

Paul Davis Dies; Singer-Songwriter Had a Hit with "I Go Crazy"

Paul Davis, best known for his 1978 pop hit single "I Go Crazy," died Tuesday at a hospital in his hometown of Meridian, Mississippi. In an odd twist of fate, he died of complications of a heart attack that he suffered on Monday, which was his 60th birthday.

"I Go Crazy" was a big and long-lived hit for Paul Davis (I remember hearing it on AM radio for many months back in the '70s), but he also had popular chart hits with "Love or Let Me Be Lonely" and "'65 Love Affair." He was able to write successful tunes in pop, country, and soul.

You can hear some of the songs of Paul Davis at his MySpace page.

The singles by Paul Davis included duets with artists including Marie Osmond and Tanya Tucker.

It's Administrative Professionals' Day

Once again it's Administrative Professionals' Day, the day to honor secretaries, receptionists, go-fers, and other office support staff. Back in the day when I was an "administrative professional," it was called Secretary's Day, but the name was later changed because the word secretary was thought to have negative connotations (much like salespeople in all kinds of stores and companies are now euphemistically called "representatives" instead of salespeople or clerks).

I was surprised to learn in Wikipedia that Secretary's Day was spearheaded by an executive at the Young & Rubicam ad agency, back in the 1950s, along with the National Secretaries Association, now known as the International Association for Administrative Professionals (IIAP).

It was an ad agency where I began my career as what was called a "group assistant" — an entry-level person who provided administrative support to a group of people in a team. In my case, it was to a Creative Director and his eight-person group, made up of art directors, designers, and copywriters.

You can learn more about Administrative Professionals' Day, which is actually part of Administrative Professionals' Week, in the FAQ at the IIAP's Web site. The Week is observed annually during the last full week in April, Sunday through Saturday, and the day is always the Wednesday of that week.

To all administrative professoinals, go-fers, and other assorted desk jockeys, Happy Administrative Professionals' Day!

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Pope’s Cologne, Pope Benedict Bobblehead, and Other Souvenirs


Pope Benedict XVI has left the U.S., but don't worry, you can always get a papal souvenir to remind yourself of his visit. And there are souvenirs commemorating his predecessors as well. The religion Web site Belief.net takes a look at some of the more interesting and amusing Pope souvenirs, with photos.

There's the Pope Benedict XVI bobblehead (above), Pope-on-a-rope soap, the John Paul II air freshener, the Pope Benedict nut cracker, and even a John Paul II action figure. Also featured is The Pope’s Cologne (below), which has kind of a retro feel since it commemorates Pope Pius IX, who reigned back in the nineteenth century.


The CBS Sunday Morning show did a story yesterday on The Pope’s Cologne, which is made by a doctor in California as a labor of love (and also of faith, it seems). According to the story, the doctor came across the formula for the cologne that Pius IX wore, did some research one how cologne is made, and started making it himself.

He's tried to get stores to sell The Pope’s Cologne, but it sounds like it's a tough market to crack, with so many fragrances out there (many with sexy, seductive, or mysterious names).

"Fire Bill Maher" Movement Underway at firebillmaher.com

Bill Maher is no stranger to controversial remarks, but this time he seems to have really stepped in it with his comments about the Pope and Catholicism in general. In fact, a Catholic anti-abortion group has organized a campaign called "Fire Bill Maher" at www.firebillmaher.com to get him kicked off his job at HBO.

Among other things, he calls the Catholic Church "the Bear Stearns of organized pedophilia." Comparing the Church to the Texas religious compound that was recently raided, Maher says, "the Catholic Church is no better than this creepy Texas cult." Maher also compares Pope Benedict XVI to a cult leader and accuses him of urging a cover-up to keep the child sexual abuse scandal under wraps.

Maher did apologize for one of his remarks during that segment, in which he said that the Pope is a former Nazi, and said he wouldn't make that joke again. (As a young man, the then Josef Ratzinger was forced to join a Nazi youth organization.)

You can see the video of Maher's comments here.

But the organization behind the Fire Bill Maher movement isn't satisfied with Maher's apology, saying it doesn't go far enough, reports Albuquerque TV station KOAT.

This controversy may keep percolating for some time.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Danica Patrick Takes Japan 300 - First Woman IndyCar Winner

Congrats to Danica Patrick of the U.S., who on Sunday won the Japan 300 race, becoming the first woman to win an IndyCar race.

Patrick finished just about six seconds ahead of Helio Castroneves, taking the lead from him on the 198th lap of the 200-lap race. She credited her team for its strategy that enabled her to take the lead late in the race while the other leaders had to pit to take on fuel.

For Danica Patrick, now 26 years old, the race was the realization of the promise she showed when she burst on the scene of Indy racing at the 2005 Indianapolis 500. She got the monkey off her back in her 50th career IndyCar start, and this win will give her a good shot of momentum a month before the 2008 Indy 500.

Danica Patrick will be one of three female entrants in this year's 32-racer Indy 500 field. The others are Venezuela's Milka Duno and another American, Ohio native Sarah Fisher.

Fisher, long a fan favorite, recently formed her own racing team with two female racing legends, Janet Guthrie and Lyn St. James. Sarah Fisher will be looking for her first IndyCar win. The Indy 500 will be her next race, and as part of the lead-up to that race she will be appearing on The Today Show on Wednesday, April 23rd.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Mystery of Mereana Mordengard Glasgow

Mereana Mordengard Glasgow is an odd term related to an even odder (and possibly sinister) video. It's hard to find much information on the subject, but according to one Web site it refers to a video that shows a man's still face for close to two minutes, then in the last few seconds, shows a close-up of the face, with the man smiling.

If that Web site can be believed (I have no idea if it can), Mereana Mordengard Glasgow (also called Mereana Mordegard Glesgorv) has a disturbing history:

"'The full video lasts 2 minutes, and was removed by Youtube after 153 people who viewed the video gouged out their eyes and mailed them to Youtube’s main office in San Bruno. Said people had also committed suicide in various ways. It is not yet known how they managed to mail their eyes after gouging them out. And the cryptic inscription they carve on their forearms has not yet been deciphered.

Youtube will periodically put up the first 20 seconds of the video to quell suspicions, so that people will not go look for the real thing and upload it. The video itself was only viewed by one Youtube staff member, who started screaming after 45 seconds.'"

Sounds like an urban legend to me, especially the send-your-eyeballs-to-YouTube: how do people package and mail their eyeballs if they have no eyes to see what they're doing?).

Anyway, the Mereana Mordengard Glasgow / Mereana Mordegard Glesgorv legend makes for a creepy story, and might make a good scary short story or movie.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Marcus Buckingham - How to Take Control of Your Career and Life

Marcus Buckingham was a guest on the Oprah show today, talking about how people can grab control of their careers and other aspects of their lives. Buckingham is a consultant and motivational speaker who is called a "strengths coach," which I guess is something like a life coach who specializes in building on a person's strengths.

You can find the details of Buckingham's workshop at www.oprah.com/workshop.

In his appearance on Oprah, Marcus Buckingham concentrated on finding out whether folks were satisfied in their jobs. He spoke with several people and had "I Hate My Job Interventions," drawing on the principles taught in his book Go Put Your Strengths to Work.

Vermont Man Told to Clean Feces Off of His Property

A Dummerston, Vt. man has been ordered to clean up the human and animal waste found on his property, according to the Brattleboro Refomer. The man's septic system failed, leading him to use a commode and to dump the contents on the yard.

Public officials investigated a complaint and, finding that he did indeed have human and animal waste on his property, and that it posed a public health hazard, ordered him to remove it. They've also instructed him to hire a professional to fix the septic tank.

Just throwing poop on the lawn wasn't his only offense, though. Town officials "ordered Barrows to immediately stop defecating and urinating on the floors, out the windows and on the yard."

It's not the man's first run-in with the authorities regarding potty habits, either. Last summer officials found that the home was in need of repair and had debris inside and out, and that "human feces was present in and around the toilet area in the basement with no running water or septic to handle the waste."

And to think that some people complain about their neighbors when the grass gets a little long...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

American Idol April 16th Results

Mariah Carey sang her new single, and one more contestant got eliminated on American Idol on April 16th. What were the results and who got to stay?

Check PopCrunch here for the story on tonight's American Idol results.

Mariah Carey has been mentoring on American Idol this week, and it continued Wednesday, results night, when Carey took the stage to sing her new single "Bye Bye," the latest from her album, E=MC2.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tricia Walsh-Smith and the "YouTube Divorce" - Video

Breaking up with someone by text message seems quaint compared to the antics of Tricia Walsh-Smith, who has lashed out against her husband in a video she posted on YouTube.



Why is this getting so much press? Well, Tricia Walsh-Smith is a playwright and former actress who is married to Philip Smith, president of the Shubert Organization, which is the largest theater owner on Broadway. (You can find Tricia Walsh-Smith's official Web page here.) Tricia Walsh-Smith is 25 years younger than her husband.

In the video Walsh-Smith pages through the couple's wedding photos, calling one family member "evil;" discusses the couple's, um, intimate relations (or rather lack of them); and has the camera zoom in on a picture of her husband, adding the caption "Mean, Bad Husband."

Although her video is being casually called the "YouTube Divorce," it's basically a rant, although if the two decided to divorce Mr. Smith could certainly use the YouTube episode as ammunition in arguing that Tricia Walsh-Smith is overly impulsive or unstable. (Ironically, the name of one of Ms. Walsh-Smith's plays is "Bonkers.")

Looks like one of those situations where a person is so upset at a situation that she shoots herself in the foot (or with a camera) in order to lash out at the object of her anger!

Monday, April 14, 2008

My Wall Street Journal Parody

No, it's not my parody, but it's a spoof on Rupert Murdoch and his latest corporate acquisition, the Wall Street Journal. The New York Press says that My Wall Street Journal is a parody created by National Lampoon editor Tony Hendra and some folks from The Onion, Comedy Central, and others.

With articles with titles such as "Could Hillary Win as an African-American Male?" and "Bush Abolishes Death, Taxes," it's sure to amuse readers and annoy Mr. Murdoch and other folks at Dow Jones.

Check out My Wall Street Journal here.

The New York Press article says that Hedra and some others created another parody of the nation's leading financial publication back in the 1980s with the Off the Wall Street Journal.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Science of Sex Explored in the New Book "Bonk"

Is wearing polyester hazardous to your sex life? That's one of the odd findings suggested by a study cited in the new book, Bonk: The Curious Couple of Science and Sex. The book looks at the history of research on sex, and the study with polyester was one in which rats dressed in polyester pants got less sex than rats that weren't in polyester (I wonder if it's because the non-poly rats were bottomless, which potential rat mates might find more erotic, but actually I'm trying to block the entire subject of rat sex out of my mind.)

Bonk may sound like an odd take on its subject, this isn't the first time its author, Mary Roach, has tackled an unusual topic in a humorous manner. Roach is also the author of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers.

And like a good researcher, Roach made herself into a guinea pig in sex research. You can hear here talk about this and other aspects of the book, and read a brief excerpt from it, in this interview from National Public Radio.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Hawk Attacks A-Rod in Fenway Park!

A hawk attacked A-Rod in Fenway Park yesterday, but it wasn't the New York Yankees' player, it was a 13-year-old girl named Alexa Rodriguez.

The girl, on a tour of Fenway with a school trip from Connecticut, was bleeding from the scalp but wasn't seriously injured. A teacher who was a chaperone on the trip said Alexa Rodriguez was "a little shaken, but OK."

Some people thought this may have been an omen for the Yankees hitter Alex Rodriguez. Maybe the Red Sox have programmed the player's name into a microchip in the hawk's brain and trained it to attack a person with that name, and the hawk thought "Alexa" was the same as "Alex"?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Kelly Cutrone's People's Revolution has Reality TV Stars

Lauren Conrad and Whitney Port of MTV's "The HIlls" both work for the New York and L.A. public relations firm People's Revolution, which specializes in fashion and celebrity branding.

People's Revolution is the PR firm owned and run by well-known public relations maven Kelly Cutrone. It specializes in the fashion and style industries, and is usually heavily involved in New York's Fashion Week shows. You can find an interview here that Kelly Cutrone did with New York's Gawker Web site before Fashion Week in Fall 2004, in which she talks about what she likes and doesn't like about fashion shows.

If you're in the business of getting publicity, having not one but two pretty young reality TV stars working in your firm isn't a bad idea, as PR Week has noted.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Any Roddick Engaged to Brooklyn Decker

Tennis ace Andy Roddick is engaged to his girlfriend Brooklyn Decker, according to sources for both. Despite her name, the 20-year-old Brooklyn Decker is actually from Ohio, and she and Roddick have been seen often strolling the streets of New York. Brooklyn Decker was discovered in a shopping mall in North Carolina as a teenager, it's been said, and has gone on to be a model for FHM, Teen Vogue, and other magazines, and has been in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition in 2006 and 2007.

Roddick and Decker have only been dating since last year. People.com says that they got together when Roddick, 27, asked his agent to get Brooklyn Decker's phone number.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

2008 Kids' Choice Awards: Jack Black and Lots of Green Slime

You know that Nickelodeon's Kids' Choice Awards (KCA) is getting big when the New York Times does a story on it. The article says that six million kids and parents will watch the show, but the focus of the story is the large amount of green goo that will be go splat on various performers during the show.

Actor Jack Black will host the KCA, as he did last year, and a host of stars will be there. Miley Cyrus and the Naked Brothers Band will perform, and other Hollywood bigwigs from Cameron Diaz to Janet Jackson will be there.

But one of the highlights will be the green goo, or "slime" as the KCA folks call it. The Times article says the neon-green goo is as thick as pancake batter, and the company making it is mixing up two tanker cars worth of the stuff. In the past stars such as Steve Carrell, Nicole Kidman, Justin Timberlake, James Earl Jones, and Johnny Depp have been "slimed."

Why Is Google Black Today? It's Earth Hour 2008

Google has made its home page black today in honor of Earth Hour. What is Earth Hour? It's an annual event to highlight the need to save energy, and consists of people around the world turning their lights out for one hour at 8 p.m. local time.

Google says it is using the black background as a symbolic move to indicate turning lights out, and that a computer monitor uses the same amount of electricity no matter what is showing on the screen. But there is an organization that claims that having a black background uses less electricity than a white background, and it has put up a Google search page called Blackle (www.blackle.com) Some environmentally minded folks encourage people to use Blackle for Web searches instead of Google to save electricity.

Does a black background save electricity? I honestly don't know. But until there's a definitive answer, one can always commemorate Earth Hour 2008 by turning out the lights at 8 p.m. You can learn more about Earth Hour and sign up to say that you'll participate at www.earthhour.org.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Iceberg C19A and Other Icy News

These days we're hearing about weather-related news not just about our own local areas, but about the latest happenings on iceberg C19A and the Ross Ice Shelf and the Wilkins Ice Shelf, all down near Antarctica.

It seems climate change is putting icebergs and such in the news as if they were part of our daily lives. Here's a quick recap: the iceberg known as C19 split off from the Ross Ice Shelf in 2002, and later began moving. It split in two in 2003, becoming two icebergs: C19A and (you guessed it) C19B. C19A supposedly has a surface area of about 4,000 square kilometers, a pretty big ice cube any way you slice it.

After a period of time in which is was pretty much stationary, C19A in 2005 apparently started drifting to the north. Then, earlier this week, we heard that a large chunk of the Wilkins Ice Shelf disintegrated. When they say "large," they mean "seven times the size of Manhattan."

Personally, it's hard to imagine chunks of ice that big falling off and moving around. You can find out much more than I can possibly explain (or even understand) about these events at the Web site of the British Antarctic Survey.

Afghan Ammunition Fraud: AEY Inc. and 22-Year-Old Head Efraim E. Diveroli

The U.S. military has apparently been supplying its troops in Afghanistan with dud ammunition that's as much as 40 years old... and the company supplying the ammo, AEY Inc., is headed by a 22-year-old guy named Efraim E. Diveroli!

The good news is that the U.S. has suspended AEY Inc. as a supplier.

There are so many odd elements to this story I don't know where to begin. How does a guy so young become a major arms supplier, heading a company that provides the majority of the ammo U.S. troops are using in a significant war effort? You have to be 35 years old to be U.S. president, but apparently you can be barely drinking age to sell enough arms to overthrow a medium-size nation of global strategic importance.

AEY Inc. said it was selling the U.S. ammo made in Hungary, but in fact it was from China, and some of it was decades old. Some of it was shown to be improperly packaged and even corroding.

The father of Efraim E. Diveroli started AEY Inc., but it was originally a printing company. From printing to ammunition... not exactly a natural product transition, I would think.

The U.S. government is undertaking a criminal investigation of AEY Inc. to see if it knowingly misrepresented the products it would provide the Afghan security forces.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Peeps Show, Where Everyone's Favorite Marshmallow Treat is the Star

Peeps, those squishy marshmallow treats that come in bright colors, have their own Web site, PeepsShow.com. I haven't eaten Peeps since I was a kid, so I was surprised when checking out the site to find out that Peeps come in all kinds of different colors and shapes now. (I knew them mostly as Easter-time treats that were shaped like chicks, and came in neon-bright pink and yellow.)

Apparently the Peeps folks recognized the sales limits of a product seen as just an Easter confection, and the Peeps Show site proclaims that they're not just for Easter anymore. There have been new products and colors, including tulip-shaped Peeps in the traditional bright yellow color (new for this year). The tulip Peeps look good, but other ideas are less appealing: like the brown, cocoa Peeps that look like they should be called Poops.

Peeps always get attention at Easter time, and the CBS Sunday Morning show obliged today with a story about Peeps and those who love them (including the guy who created the Peeps Show site).

I personally prefer chocolate or jelly beans for my Easter candy bingeing, but Peeps are definitely a pop culture phenomenon all their own.