November 30, 2004

Future NPL members in the news

A heartwarming story about a kid who memorized the spelling of a word over 300 letters long.

The second reader comment at the end misremembers the spelling of "pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis", but it hardly matters, since that word was a hoax perpetrated many years ago by some of my fellow members of the National Puzzlers' League (a group this youngster seems bound to end up in someday), in an attempt to get a word into the dictionary, I believe. Good job, but I humbly suggest that "igry" is way more useful than "pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis".

Posted by Francis at 11:01 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 29, 2004

Bauhaus is in the house

This morning, waiting on the subway platform, I saw an ad for the Bose SoundDock (an iPod speaker system) that had been defaced with black magic marker. The graffiti read, in large capital letters, "WEIMAR AESTHETIC". Was the anonymous commenter trying to draw a parallel to the liberal German government that was supplanted by the Nazis thanks to a fear of Communism? Never have I quite felt that a scrawled comment so called out for a footnote.

Posted by Francis at 08:09 PM | TrackBack

Man, I'd love to read the Necronomicon, but the floor between my bed and the bookcase is so cold! What to do?

Debby tipped me off (while Rose and I were visiting for Thanksgiving) to the existence of these plush Cthulhu slippers. They'll make your feet warm!

Posted by Francis at 05:03 PM | TrackBack

A legal matter, baby

My pal David Feige has an article in Slate today about more harbingers of judicial doom in the air. When liberal states like Hawaii approve amendments that take power away from judges and hand it to prosecutors, it's hard to be optimistic. Those Rockefeller laws have worked out so well here in New York, after all.

Posted by Francis at 01:17 PM | TrackBack

November 28, 2004

Binge and purge

Oh, I just haven't been able to keep up with the cavalcade of horrors creeping across the headlines lately. The public leash-yank of Arlen Specter as prelude to assaults on reproductive rights, the Senate GOP's scheme to get rid of the filibuster rule, you name it. But this was just too much:

[Conservative Christians] believe that if their agenda is not implemented quickly — if their concerns are not addressed in a timely fashion — God will be angry.

Dr. James Kennedy delivers sermons at Coral Ridge ... He dismissed the concerns of people who worried about the impact of Christian conservatives on the U.S. government.

"Repent," he said with a laugh. "Repent. That's what I'd say."

... Asked about the millions of Americans who are not Christian, or have a different interpretation of Christianity, Kennedy said with another laugh: "I couldn't care less. It's true."

Oh! Oh, you arrogant shitbag! Evangelism is supposed to be about converting people, not coercing them, moron! ARRRRRRRRRGH

Anyway. Another quote that set me off.

Gary Cass, head of a grassroots political organization affiliated with Coral Ridge, called the Center for Reclaiming America ... wants a U.S. Supreme Court that will outlaw abortion and gay marriage. "Do you want to take your children to a National League baseball game for instance and have homosexuals showing affection to one another? I don't want my kids to see that," he said.

He also doesn't want them to see heterosexual affection before football games, I bet.

Anyway, I'm sure that Gary Cass is apprised of the fact that people who aren't married display affection in public all the time. Although homosexuals are generally more cautious about where they do it, so as to avoid having the shit beaten out of them by jerks.

Quick rule of thumb, Gary: if you're talking about a gay couple, substitute the phrase "interracial couple" into your sentence, and see if it's something you'd still be willing to say without embarrassment.

Finally, you know how we liberals like to defend gay marriage against people who feel that it threatens "traditional marriage" by saying, oh, what about Britney's quickie Vegas marriage? It's not like heterosexual marriage is so perfect. Well, maybe we should have kept quiet about that.

Posted by Francis at 09:21 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 24, 2004

The right to bear arms! Get it? Bear arms?

Brasco Buddies (tm) always say no to murder. Well, that's good to know.

Also, with the holidays coming up, you might want some greeting cards.

This just in: you can download a free PDF of the Brasco (tm) coloring book.

(Via Boing Boing.)

Posted by Francis at 12:39 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 23, 2004

Don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out -- because you're homophobic and don't like being touched on the buttocks

Paul Fourie, one of my former Millionaire coworkers, has helped unearth John Ashcroft's goodbye card. (You may also be interested in his book, What Would W Do?)

Posted by Francis at 12:10 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

When meep met bork

That letter-writing campaign might be unnecessary. Word on the e-street is that Disney (who bought the rights to all the Muppet material not so long ago) is planning a box set of the first season of the Muppet Show. I guess I should have known it would all be okay when Disney stepped in -- those guys might not know how to make great animated features anymore, but they damn-right know their shit when it comes to marketing, and surely they would never overlook an obvious moneymaker like Muppet Show DVDs.

Posted by Francis at 07:50 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 22, 2004

Oatmeal, you need to start seeing someone about your self-esteem issues

Okay, this is a little meta. At the grocery store this weekend, I saw a new flavor of Quaker Instant Oatmeal: French Toast.


Some proposed future flavors:
Cornflakes Oatmeal
Eggs Benedict Oatmeal
Farina Oatmeal
Maple-and-Brown-Sugar-flavored Apple and Cinnamon Oatmeal
Donut Oatmeal

Posted by Francis at 12:06 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Another good possibility: The Stockholm Network

Here at the Conde Nast building, there are little screens in the elevators that display headlines, sports scores, that sort of thing. I just noticed that the name of the content provider for those screens is the "Captivate Network". Very appropriate, considering the etymological relationship between "captivate" and "captive".

Posted by Francis at 11:56 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 21, 2004

You remember letters. They're like e-mail, except you have to leave your chair at some point

I know we're all disillusioned with activism after the disastrous election, but here's a letter-writing campaign that really has a chance to make the world a better place: The Muppet Show DVD Campaign.

Posted by Francis at 04:32 PM | TrackBack

From each according to his abilities

As most of you know, Rose has a yarn store. Well, one way I have been contributing to the store is by making a series of mix CDs for it. If you'd like to see the sort of music you might hear if you go shopping for crafty stuff there, some playlists have been posted.

Posted by Francis at 11:14 AM | TrackBack

Or you could give her Pepsi Spice

Since I rarely watch TV, I have entirely missed this killer ad, which has its clearly overlooked subtext examined by Eric Berlin.

(No, I haven't tried Pepsi Spice yet. But click here.)

Posted by Francis at 09:57 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 20, 2004

I knew Target was trying to position itself as being edgy, but really now

Somehow, I doubt clicking on "What does this mean?" is going to help.


Link to actual page, for however long it lasts.

(Via BoingBoing.)

Posted by Francis at 09:46 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

November 19, 2004


I'm sure there's a perfectly innocent explanation for why representative of Black Box voting found discrepancies -- always in favor of George W. Bush -- between certified poll records in Florida and unsigned ones submitted for final vote tallies, and why poll workers were throwing out garbage bags of original vote tallies. Well, there might have been an innocent reason for the first part (an election supervisor says that duplicate copies of each tape are created, and duplicates are later discarded), but when you add in that second part...I'm not so sure anymore.

Posted by Francis at 03:02 PM | TrackBack

Lessons learned from rocky campaigns to rocky elections

Fascinating article in the New Republic (read it without having to register here) about undecided voters. Read it and weep.

Posted by Francis at 10:10 AM | TrackBack

November 18, 2004

One part Mark Kostabi and two parts wrong

My new favorite webcomic: The Perry Bible Fellowship. This doesn't mean I don't still love you, Wigu and Achewood.

Posted by Francis at 11:51 AM | TrackBack

November 17, 2004

Book! Is!! Here!!!



I don't know exactly how long it will take for these babies to get to reviewers/stores/Amazon, but I'm thinking realsoonnow. And if any of my readers are close personal friends with important book reviewers, now is your time to shine.

Posted by Francis at 10:08 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

This was probably covered on an episode of Spongebob Squarepants

Hey, everyone -- make me feel better about my ignorance and tell me that you were also not aware of the fact that there is now a fifth ocean (and has been since spring 2000).

I feel so out of touch. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go back to listening to "Constantinople (Not Byzantium)".

Posted by Francis at 12:11 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 16, 2004

I will choreograph bad fights no more forever

I'm not going to pretend I've read this whole list, so apologies if I ever transgress in the future. (I'm pretty sure "Zany Danes" doesn't count as a production of "Hamlet", though, so I think I'm still in the clear on "I will not work in any pop music.")

(Via Making Light.)

Posted by Francis at 09:32 AM | TrackBack

November 15, 2004

Wanted: Right-wing apologist

Woooo! William Safire is finally stepping down as an Op-Ed columnist! Oh...but he's still going to be writing "On Language". Damn.

My favorite part of the article is this subtle commentary from Arthur Sulzberger, Jr.: "Bill's provocative and insightful commentary has held our readers captive since he first graced our Op-Ed Page in 1973." And soon they will be free.

Posted by Francis at 02:24 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Expect a Jack Chick comic on this subject within the week

Is Hickory Farms a tool of Satan? Check out the prices on the items in the right-hand column of this page.

Update: ! And more! Is the "This Lil Piggy" cutting board for cutting cheese logs -- or performing human sacrifices? (I guess it could be for both.)

Posted by Francis at 11:54 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 11, 2004

The big revelation: turns out Eugene doesn't have gills after all

I interview Eugene Mirman in the new issue of Stay Free! magazine. (There are also other things in it you might want to read, including a report on Chuck E. Cheese's invasion of Brooklyn by Onion alum Tim Harrod and a prank by Charles Star, aka Ugarte.) You can buy a copy online, or find it for free in that whole Boerum Hill/Park Slope-y area of Brooklyn. I know they have copies at Southpaw, so why not go see Robyn Hitchcock on Saturday (his new album, incidentally, is excellent) and pick up a copy while you're there?

Posted by Francis at 10:13 AM | TrackBack

November 10, 2004

Blogging two Birds with one entry

My entertainment dollars this week have been stupendously well spent, let me tell you. Sunday night, Rose and I saw The Incredibles, written and directed by Brad Bird, and it was absolutely exhilarating. Possibly my favorite Pixar film yet, which is saying quite a bit. (Certainly it's the first that feels more pitched at adults than children.)

We were not the only people to notice, however, a certain Ayn Randy quality to the film -- that whole thing where a society suppresses exceptionality to make everyone equal, and it's a bad thing. But the reason Rand was a kook wasn't that she felt suppressing exceptional people was a bad thing, it was that she thought that humoring anyone she considered unexceptional was a waste of time, and that altruism was for suckers. But the core of the idea isn't crazy, and shouldn't be dismissed merely because Ayn Rand happened to think of it en route to planning her domination of the world.

I felt the story of a family of unusual people forced to pretend to be average was particularly resonant, having just gone through an election in which large swaths of the country proclaimed their desire to limit my freedoms based on their religious beliefs. It's a difficult time to be a secular humanist.

The second Bird referred to above is Andrew Bird, a hard fellow to describe. He's a violinist/guitarist/singer/songwriter whose instrumental virtuosity and facility with language do nothing to appease one's jealousy at his amazing voice. He played last night at Southpaw in Brooklyn and pretty much blew our minds.

He played solo, using a technique that never fails to delight me: live-looping multiple instrumental tracks, which he would then sing or solo over. He mostly looped violin parts, periodically grabbing a guitar or playing a melody on a tiny xylophone (accompanied by some high-quality whistling). Impressive. Bill Frisell used a similar technique at Roulette way back in 1989, and more recently, Kid Beyond (aka Andrew Chaikin) did the same thing, but a cappella and with the ability to turn different loops on and off at will. My reaction to both: dropped jaw, delighted brain.

Anyway, you can check out streaming audio of Andrew Bird's live solo technique here (scroll down to show #283). His main website is here, and features some downloadable tracks and three CDs otherwise only available at concerts. (Also, my apologies to my Boston friends for not noticing that Andrew was playing in Somerville on Monday night. He'll probably be back in February, when his new album comes out.)

Posted by Francis at 01:11 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Life begins the moment you start checking out someone's ass, apparently

Let's hope this is merely an isolated incident, and not a scary harbinger of the next four years: A Texas pharmacist refused to fill a prescription for the pill because she doesn't believe in birth control. Oh, wait, the article mentions quite a few such incidents. Well, fuck.

(Via Daily Kos.)

Posted by Francis at 10:15 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

November 09, 2004

Don't forget to start stocking up on porn

I need this T-shirt.

Posted by Francis at 01:36 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 08, 2004

Dream is probably always getting sand in his

There's a Sandman convention coming up next week (which Rose and I would love to attend, but alas, we can spare neither the time nor the funds). This set of seven pairs of Doc Martens, each personalized for one of the members of the Endless, is going to be auctioned off at the con. Totally awesome.

Posted by Francis at 01:45 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 05, 2004

Cheesy art

I am given to understand that many Bush voters hate us artsy types, but love cheeses, so I have compiled a list of cheese-related artworks in an effort to bridge the -- what's that? They love Jesus? Oh. Well, here are the links anyway.

I like to imagine this exchange: "Wow, this is great artwork!" "Well, it's kind of you to say that, but they're really just doodles."

After seeing this sculpture, I suddenly don't feel so bad about the terrible pun I started this blog entry with.

Is this art, or is this guy just a really, really sloppy eater who has managed to turn his slovenliness into big bucks?


Who says art doesn't promote family values?

Here's your token Picasso.

These are cake boxes, but would make an adorable playground for a pet mouse.

And last, but not least explicable...actually, I take that back...this.

Posted by Francis at 03:02 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

We're not worthy

According to IMDB, the original title of "Miami Vice" was "Miami Unworthiness".

That is all.

Posted by Francis at 02:47 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 04, 2004

And they've all come to look for America

As regular readers have had hammered thoroughly into their heads by now, my humor collection, Holy Tango of Literature -- in which I answer the question "What if poets and playwrights wrote works whose titles were anagrams of their names?" -- will be available soonish. As a tie-in to that book, I am recording a series of songs that answer the question "What if songwriters wrote songs whose titles were anagrams of their names?", which will be available for download.

So here's a sneak preview of one of those songs (and one that seems most appropriate on the occasion of having elected a man who is steadily making our country less safe while somehow convincing people he is making it more safe): "Up on Islam" by Paul Simon. Lyrics after the jump.

Well, the mullah imam, he rolled out of bed, and he started the indoctrination
How the decadent West could be repossessed by subtle infiltration
So all the faithful came running and signed up for the cause
And they're not gonna be working within the laws, whoa

So you better be up on Islam, 'cause Islam's gonna come down on you
Said you better bone up on Islam and hope your knowledge sees you through
They're gonna get all of us praying to Allah and there's nothing we can do
So you better be up on Islam, 'cause Islam's gonna come down on you

Well, the terrorist troops are in a lot of little groups and they're resistant to infiltration
And the president's more concerned with starting a war than the security of the nation
They're on their way, but no one knows from where
They're taking their time and they're taking care
And I may not know their hiding place, but I know that they've got plans
So I bought myself a copy of the Koran, whoa

'Cause you gotta be up on Islam, 'cause Islam's gonna come down on you
Said you better bone up on Islam and hope your knowledge sees you through
You'll be wearing a veil if you're female and there's nothing you can do
So you better be up on Islam, 'cause Islam's gonna come down on you
Said you better be up on Islam, 'cause Islam's gonna come down on you

Posted by Francis at 12:01 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

November 03, 2004

Also, now "Team America" doesn't seem as funny anymore

So here's a thought I just had -- before the election, I kept seeing polls that asked how people felt about the direction the country was moving, with a majority saying the country was moving in the wrong direction. This was generally taken to be a good sign for Kerry.

Well...but what if not all those people were taking the question to mean "Do you think Bush is taking this country in the wrong direction?" What if some of them thought, for instance, that those uppity homosexuals were taking the country in the wrong direction?

I sometimes forget how many people have base assumptions that are very, very different from mine.

Posted by Francis at 09:56 PM | TrackBack

Concession stand

Just watched Kerry's concession. I must say, I was hoping he'd be a little feistier, and not rely so much on the "we must start the healing" and "the country must unite" sort of boilerplate. You know what? Healing, shmealing. If we've learned anything from the last four years, it's that you can't work across the aisle with President Bush, because he's not really interested in doing anything that isn't anathema to liberals (and to most moderates, apparently). All you can hope to do is stop him from wrecking things much more than he already has.

Edwards had a solid never-say-die air about him, though. And is just a much better speaker than Kerry. Not so meandering. Edwards/Obama in 2008? Dean's still my dream candidate, but I don't know if he's ever going to shake off that whole punchline business.

Posted by Francis at 02:22 PM | TrackBack

Y'all made your bed, now...I don't know, get your head stuck between the mattress and the wall or something

See, I told you that presidency was sour.

Posted by Francis at 01:14 PM | TrackBack

Misanthropy OVERLOAD

Oh, I am in no state for people today. On the way to work, if I saw anyone smiling, the only thing I could think was, "Why the fuck are you smiling? Are you one of them?"

I'm told that the number one motivator for getting people to the polls this year was "moral values". Great. Just great. Once again people prove that they would rather impose their beliefs on others than vote in their own economic benefit. Which would you rather have, people -- a job, or the fear that somewhere in America, two gay people might be getting married? I guess we have learned the answer.

Posted by Francis at 10:15 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

On the lighter darker side

Who knew the goth vote was so powerful?

(Via Making Light.)

Posted by Francis at 08:59 AM | TrackBack

Stealing the election in advance

Seems like the Republicans' tactic of blocking votes before they happen instead of waiting for a recount paid off in Ohio. Salon's War Room reports that a voting district in Columbus had insufficient voting machines, and many people who had been waiting in line for hours to vote ended up giving up and going home.

"This is indicative of what's happening in a lot precincts in the inner city," [a volunteer] says, "people waiting for four hours. The mood is really bad." It's no surprise, Kalamar adds, that suburban precincts seemed to have had more than enough voting machines.

Big turnout in the whole state, yet the long lines were only in urban areas. Hmmmmmmm. Go figure.

Meanwhile, I'd like to just say a heartfelt "thanks a lot, you fucking idiots" to the people who re-elected Bush because they felt he was better able to conduct the war on terror. Yeah. Let's think about this. A solid majority of people in the country who live in big cities voted for Kerry. If any terrorist attacks happen in the U.S., do we honestly believe there's any chance they're going to happen in rural Ohio? So we've got the people who are safest voting contrary to the opinions of the people who are most endangered by terrorist threats. Su-fucking-per.

Well, that presidency was probably sour anyway. Feh.

Posted by Francis at 08:33 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 02, 2004

The lighter side of trying to stave off an ulcer until the election results are in

It's not all partisan election monitors and leaked exit polls and white-knuckled gripping of my mouse today. There is still time for entertainment. For instance, I just contributed a verse to Happyscrappy's collection of election haiku (you'll see I adhere to the traditionalist view that a haiku should include a reference to the season).

I didn't get all the way through this saga of SimBush and SimKerry (and SimEdwards and SimCheney and, and, and you were there, SimSaddam, and...), but it's pretty entertaining, especially when it takes a surprise soap opera turn. (Thanks to Debby for the link.)

Here's a funny picture from a voting booth in California. Oh, wait, it's not actually funny, it's disturbing. Damn. It's so hard to stay focused on being lighthearted.

Jim Hanas indulged in some two-fisted voting this morning, by god.

Finally, the Daily Show has an election blog with the most up-to-date fake news on the Web.

And now if you'll excuse me while I go put some iodine on the fingernail scratches all along my inner arms.

Posted by Francis at 05:23 PM | TrackBack

November 01, 2004

You better not pout, you better not create sexual tableaus

Patti White, an organizer of the Christmas Parade of Boats in Seneca, New York, was shocked when an unregistered boat turned out to contain "a topless woman with a strand of Christmas lights spanking a man on his bare butt." Ms. White went on to say, "Kids are scanning all the boats looking for Santa Claus. It's not what they were expecting to see."

Yes, I know it's a little early for Christmas; usually the holiday season doesn't start until after Election Day. Oh, wait -- did I mention this was on September 18? Criminy, people! We've already pretty much ceded November and December to children -- can't we keep September?

(Via Obscure Store.)

Posted by Francis at 03:16 PM | TrackBack

Who fills out a voter registration card with a purple pen? Obviously this is fraudulent.

Rivka at Respectful of Otters has an excellent analysis of the various Republican claims of Democratic voter fraud in Ohio, and why they are more trumped-up than a winning bridge hand.

Posted by Francis at 01:46 PM | TrackBack

The celling of the president

Salon's War Room reports:

Zogby has just released a path-breaking presidential poll conducted exclusively on mobile phones. And the winner is John Kerry by a landslide margin of 55 to 40 percent. Jimmy Breslin and others have been complaining that traditional telephone polls just aren’t capturing the new voter realities, because so many young people are only reachable by their Nokias. If the Zogby poll, which was conducted in partnership with Rock the Vote, is a reliable indicator, Tuesday night might not be such a drawn-out, nail-biter after all.

Man, it'd be nice if the big story from this election were how our system of political polling is flawed. I mean, four years ago, polls before the election were showing Bush with a fairly solid lead over Gore, and Gore ended up edging Bush in the popular vote. Presumably the people who were undercounted then are still being undercounted this year.

Read the full report on the Zogby poll results here.

Posted by Francis at 01:27 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack