Thursday, March 30, 2006

57 creatures that I would not want all angry and up in my grill

Vampire bat

The latest installment of an ongoing series.
  1. Alligator
  2. Anaconda
  3. Ant, Fire
  4. Barracuda
  5. Bat, Vampire
  6. Bear, Grizzly
  7. Bear, Polar
  8. Bee, Killer
  9. Bee, Bumble
  10. Boar
  11. Bobcat
  12. Boll Weevil
  13. Bull
  14. Catfish
  15. Crawdad
  16. Cobra
  17. Crocodile
  18. Deugar
  19. Elephant
  20. Falcon
  21. Ferret
  22. Goat, Billy
  23. Goat, Mountain
  24. Goose
  25. Hawk
  26. Hippo
  27. Hornet
  28. Iguana
  29. Jellyfish
  30. Lion
  31. Loch Ness Monster
  32. Marmot
  33. Monitor Lizard
  34. Mosquito
  35. Octopus
  36. Owl
  37. Pit Bull
  38. Poison Frog
  39. Python
  40. Rattlesnake
  41. Rhino
  42. Ringworm
  43. Scorpion
  44. Shark
  45. Snapping Turtle
  46. Spider
  47. Stingray
  48. Swan
  49. Tapeworm
  50. Tiger
  51. Vulture
  52. Wasp
  53. Werewolf
  54. Wolf
  55. Wolverine
  56. Yeti
  57. Zombie

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Wednesday link-o-rama

  • Apparently, there is a "Bizarre Sex Toys War in the South."
  • One of our new favorite sites, Barely Legal Blog, just turned one.
  • Funny advertising criticism at This Is What We Do Now.
  • From James Wolcott, another provocative post about Peak Oil.
  • Our drinking buddy Dave Enders has a couple new articles up at Mother Jones. Glad that this time he's sticking to the comparatively safe territory of Northern Iraq instead of hustling around Baghdad. When he's back, the Bell's is on us.
  • Meanwhile, stop wasting your time with Wait until he gets a talking to.
  • MZone continues to be very funny, as well as gracious, following the resolution of the Colin Cowherd controversy. The blogger sometimes known as spinachdip remains less than pleased.
  • Michigan is thinking about installing luxury boxes at Michigan Stadium, and a good number of people are pissed. I'm not too exercised, because this move has been inevitable for a decade, and I don't see it as a fundamental attack on the integrity of the stadium or the program. This defense is pretty extreme in the other direction. I guess on the one hand, there are people in a state of denial the commercial aspect of college sports, and on the other, people who don't see problems with any step to maximize profit as part of a revenue arms race. In my mind, a few luxury boxes aren't a big deal; ads in the stadium would send me into a fury.
  • Michigan's baketball team is in the NIT Finals. Some of my friends are fired up. I'd rather play NCAA 2006.
  • Lastly, filmmaker Spike Jonze put together this 12-minute documentary about Al Gore in 2000. It quickly disappeared before making a comeback in recent weeks. Not your usual campaign video. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

French benefits


To: CNN anchor whose name I'm not bothering to look up because you clearly didn't bother to read anything about the news you report

From: Flop

Just because protesters make you uneasy, and your bosses have a fetish with "balance," that doesn't mean you need to waste your breath by asking the Paris correspondent if the youth protests in his city are happening because young French people are split on a law that would make it easier to fire them. It's not one of those combination for-and-against protest we always hear about. They're against it. That's why there's a million of them out in the streets. No one's protesting to support the evisceration of their job protections.

Also, please stop wondering aloud about how this might be related to professors' diminished work ethic when they get "ten-year." For the love of God, if you do actually know what that word is, please learn to pronounce it properly lest you endumben even more Americans. And read a newspaper once in a while.

- F

Hard-won knowledge: pub-quiz edition

I'll eliminate all the background information and agita and just skip straight to the moral of the story: When someone with a master's degree in art history tells you that the answer is "Dogs Playing Poker," well, you listen to that person.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Keeping up with the plagiarists: justice is done

Last Thursday I built up a head of steam about plagiarist Washington Post blogger Ben Domenech and content-stealing ESPN Radio host Colin Cowherd. As already noted, Domenech resigned, and earlier today, Cowherd apparently issued a thorough on-air apology for his behavior concerning his MZone transgressions.

All the good guys win.


I have a guest post up at spinachdip, in which I discuss the arrival of Bell's Beer to New York.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Baby turns one

A year ago today, Cole Slaw Blog was born.

It's been one year of media criticism (and a plaudit now and then), the occasional sports gripe, a few movie reviews, fashion bashing, injury reports, squirrel anecdotes, squirrel photos, squirrel taxonomy/melon appreciation, TV commentary, crustacean updates and of course, all the slaw news you can use.

Thanks to everyone who's been reading. We're flattered to be one of your destinations of choice for workplace procrastination.

Thanks also to spinachdip, Washington Oculus, Nichelle and the various others who've linked to us over the past year.

We plan to celebrate with immature behavior, which includes making fun of our friends and annoying some strangers. In other words, a typical weekend.

--CrimeNotes and Flop.

Domenech resigns

The Washington Post's deranged, oppressed plagiarist just resigned. The Post's mea culpa is pretty classy and straightforward. They don't like plagiarists, either:
Plagiarism is perhaps the most serious offense that a writer can commit or be accused of. will do everything in its power to verify that its news and opinion content is sourced completely and accurately at all times.

We appreciate the speed and thoroughness with which our readers and media outlets surfaced these allegations. Despite the turn this has taken, we believe this event, among other things, testifies to the positive and powerful role that the Internet can play in the the practice of journalism.
I know at least one vastly more talented guy in his mid-20s who'd make a good replacement.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Plagiarism Thursday

If there's anything worse than ESPN personalities and bilious right-wing hacks, it's plagiarism.

Chalk it up to Ralph Williams's dewey-eyed, start-of-the-semester lectures about the importance of honesty in your work; chalk it up to a few painful latenight meetings with my fellow college journalists where some wrongdoing was discovered and a staffer got fired. Whatever.

When my apartment was burglarized awhile back, it wasn't a big deal to me, because I can always buy more stuff. If I found out that someone stole credit for my work or ideas, though, it would be a different story. Stuff is replaceable, but your written work stems from personality and integrity. Whether it's a blog post, a newspaper article, or a novel, you take a risk in asserting an idea and putting your reputation behind it.

Two blog genres that I traffick heavily have been on fire today. In the college football realm, an earlier post at The Michigan Zone was lifted lock stock and barrel by an unscrupulous ESPN radio hack with the apt name of Colin Cowherd. Cowherd read over the air a Michigan Zone post without attribution. The original post is pretty good. It included stuff like this:
9. If Michigan has a 12 point lead with under 9 minutes left in the game, how much time will be left on the clock when the opposing team scores the winning touchdown?

a) 3 minutes
b) 1 minute
c) :35 seconds
d) none, last play of the game and immediately named ESPN Instant Classic
Though it's not one of my five-times-daily stops, The Michigan Zone has a place in my heart because in the unhinged days following a spectacularly painful loss, I left some assholeish comments criticizing one of their posters for a being little too cheerful, when all I wanted was rage. The guys at Michigan Zone were pretty nice about my rudeness, and for that, I like them.

With appropriate pique and seriousness, they wrote Cowherd to notify him that he cited their work without attribution. It might've been a simple error, easily cleaned up.

Cowherd couldn't be bothered, and wrote the following reply:
Date: Thursday, March 23, 2006 10:35 AM
From: ESPN Colin Cowherd Show
To: michiganzone at adelphia dot net
Subject: RE: From the M Zone
Size: 2 KB

The reaction on my blogs of choice have been swift. MGoBlog, Every Day Should Be Saturday, and Hey Jenny Slater have each posted some fired-up salvos noting their contempt.

As Michigan Zone noted, guys like these don't write because they're looking for big paydays or a guest slot on PTI. They do it because they love it. In its own way, their kind of work is a service, and a source of great pleasure for me. Seeing something stolen and then spit on by a thief like Colin Cowherd is disgraceful. It's the worst kind of bullying from an unoriginal, low-integrity tool. Colin Cowherd is scum.

You know who else is scum? McCarthyistic assweasel Ben Domenech, a 24-year-old political operative hired by the Washington Post's online outfit, ostensibly to provide right-wing balance to the paper's allegedly liberal, lefty ways. Nothing wrong with hiring a 24-year-old right-wing nut in and of itself, maybe, even if he comes from the kind of grievance camp that appears to view the Red State/Blue State breakdown as a meaningful paradigm, and conservatives as some kind of repressed minority. It may be lousy journalism and shoddy analysis, but if The Washington Post has a deathwish, I'm not riled enough to post about that issue in itself. (Um, no offense for those of you who work at The Washington Post. I say this out of love.)

It turns out that Domenech is a serial plagiarizer. Plagiarizes everybody. Plagiarizes P.J. O'Rourke. Plagiarizes Salon. Plagiarizes IMDB reviews.

There's much too much to digest about the implications of this Domenech episode and the fall of journalism. That would be the case even if he wasn't a thief. Suffice it to say, the Post staked its name behind an inexperienced and deeply suspect political operative, enraged media watchdogs and liberals, and will now be left to bury the career of a thief. This is an exercise in bad judgment for everyone.

I know about an aspiring lawyer whose college plagiarism prompted calls from the state bar. I've known people kicked out of extracurricular groups for their plagiarism. Joe Biden's 1988 presidential campaign sputtered in part due to plagiarism allegations.

What angers me about the Cowherd story is its bullying. It involves someone with a bullhorn and a prestigious title taking credit for someone else's work and not giving a shit. Domenech's problems are a different kind of hubris. Maybe it's time to leave the blogging to the bloggers and the journalism to the professionals.

Substitute Spinachdippers

The guest-posting over at spinachdip is in full swing, and the action is hot and heavy.

There's been alarming news on the Tinas Yothers (you read that right) a recap of a brilliant weekend (sounds as good as mine was, and mine was outstanding), what probably will hold the title of "sexiest post in the vegetable-side-dish-related blogosphere" for a long, long time and some excellent photoshoppin' phun.

The bar has been raised for guest posters everywhere.

So that's what those were

Twice in the past couple months, I've watched a couple dozen NYPD cars hurtling through the city, sirens and lights in full effect. Both times, I kept an eye on local news outlets to see what the cause had been, but nothing ever manifested itself.

Now, via cityrag (via Gothamist), it appears that these things were regular NYPD drills. Good to know, I suppose, although part of me is skeptical that these shows of force might just be Giulianian prick-waving.

If I sound pissy, it's because I am. During last months episode, I was on the Upper West Side, and while I was walking down Broadway, I could hear a whole lot of sirens in the distance. I also walked past a building that was clearly being guarded by several police officers in black assault-type gear, including helmets. They also carried some serious firepower _ submachine guns and assault rifles. One of the officers with a submachine gun was holding the muzzle in such a way that I would have had to walk in front of it. I stopped and looked at the officer, who continued staring straight ahead. Based on what I assumed were some serious game faces on everyone's face, I weighed the likelihood of getting hassled for what would likely embarrass an officer in front of colleagues, I decided to just keep walking.

Clearly, I was wearing my Bad Idea Jeans. Although the only consequence was that I berated myself for the rest of the day for not asking the officer to handle his weapon in a safer way, even in the midst what I assumed was a legitimate cause for concern. Now that I know it was just a drill, I'm even more pissed. I don't own a gun. I never have. I've never shot one regularly, but I've handled enough of them to know that there's one absolute rule of gun safety, and this guy was violating it.

I should have spoken up. It's one of the few times since Sept. 11 that I've screwed up like that. And unlike oh, say 51 percent or so of the country, I haven't made deference to power and fear a guiding principle. But reading about this again has gotten me all mad at myself again. And made me a little more vigilant about "Security Mom Creep" in my own worldview.

As a final insulting coda, it's interesting to know that these drills, if that's indeed what I experienced, were instituted in the run-up to the Republicans Sept. 11 grave-dance here in 2004.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Wednesday link-o-rama: Deutschland has been represented

What I've done with my Wednesday afternoon:

  • Caught most of the United States' friendly with Germany. We got our autos totally unpimped, 4-1. Small comfort: U.S. lost 4-2 to the Germans and robot goalie Oliver Kahn in March of 2002. Larger comfort: This hilarious World Cup live blog. Which included lots of good snark, albeit at U.S. expense.
  • While reading Washington Oculus, I clicked through to an architecture blog and lost myself for a good 30-45 minutes reading about the coolest university library in the world. A small part of me wants to be a Dutch engineer, just for stuff like this.
  • As you probably already know, The Washington Post thinks so highly of its readers that it hired a blogger who grew up homeschooled in the D.C. suburbs and to tell us about Red (subtext:"real")America. Apparently, vast swaths of our country identify with smug, know-it-all 24-year-old Republican activists who work in Washington. Good to know.
  • Ohio politics corner! Bush apparently did take all questions at the City Club on Monday. He got cranky, though, and wondered aloud if anyone in Cleveland had a job. A lot more did before he was president. Also, Mike DeWine is disliked by the wingnut faction of the Republican party. So DeWine's not a wingnut, just an authoritarian cultist _ part of the group of Senators who like to roll over and pee on themselves whenever the White House barks.
  • (Updated) And I thought I have dinner plans. But the place is only open 11-3. I'll have to get out there tomorrow.

The 58th thing about living in New York that is so great it's practically unbearable

There is currently a coyote -- hell yeah Hoss, a real wild motherfucking coyote -- running around in Central Park.

According to the Post:
The coyote "has been hunting birds and ducks ... The staff has found several piles of feathers."


"I've seen it all - squirrels, raccoons, you name it," said Frank Salinas, 64, a retired dog walker. "I'm not concerned, unless it's a Wildebeest."

The only thing that could be better? If the coyote turns out to be a werewolf.

Update: The wily one has been captured! Apparently, authorities closed in while he was about to ignite his Acme rocket. Parks department officials also seized posterboard, wooden laths, quick-drying ink, several pounds of birdseed, iron pellets and a really big magnet. _ Flop.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

CNN self-parody

I've been watching CNN on and off all day. This morning, they showed footage of a cat falling out of a tree, hitting a branch on the way down, then landing and scampering off unhurt. I'm not here to argue over the news value of such footage today.

This isn't one of those "CNN is covering x but can't cover y" rants. Instead, I'd just like to point out that CNN is now showing the footage set to music.

Van Halen's "Jump" accompanied slow-motion footage of the feline pratfall before a commercial break, followed by Tom Petty's "Free Fallin.'" This sounds like something Crimenotes and I would make up between pint No. 3 and pint No. 4.

And people say the media's lost its way.

Update: CNN just played "Turning Japanese" while recapping Japan's win in the World Baseball Classic. Is someone playing an elaborate practical joke?

View it on the web: Flop isn't lying. Video footage is available here. I don't know what all the fuss is about, because when I was a kid something like this happened in the neighborhood about twice a month. -CrimeNotes.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Updated links

If you keep track of the links on the righthand side of the page -- and you should, because all of the listed sites are excellent, much better than us -- welcome a couple of two new entries to the list.

Under the "Silliness" heading, we now have Barely Legal Blog. It is perhaps more entertaining than its namesake porn genre, if considerably less nubile. Operated by two highly disgruntled law students, it chronicles the farce and apathy of their sputtering educational careers. As its two proprietors are scheduled to graduate this spring, its themes will likely change soon, but these guys are so entertaining they could write about a night at Applebee's and make it seem like a blast. I believe that Flop read their entire archive in a day.

Hey Jenny Slater debuts under the "Sports" heading, although its genre-busting interests resist an easy classification. Like us, Doug mixes lengthy political posts with sports analysis and pop culture curveballs. It's a shame that I'm labeling it a sports blog, but it's a little too serious to fall under "Silliness" and a little too broad to be a political site. Sports seems like a fair compromise.

In a little-behind-the-scenes news, this humble site turns one on Friday. We're trying to think up a proper celebration.

Finally, for the next two Mondays, Flop and I will be guest-blogging on the godfather of all blogs named after vegetable-based side dishes but not about food, spinachdip nyc. We'll remind you when we post.

Gore 2.0

Over the last three or four years, I've been developing a big political crush on Al Gore. It began with Sarah Vowell's essay about him in The Partly Cloudy Patriot, and by now it's starting to run out of control. As usual, it will probably end in heartbreak, but a boy can dream.

The American Prospect has just published a lengthy report about him. If you're skeptical, read his spectacular MLK Day speech on the administration's wiretaps first.

Tough* crowd

The President spoke in my hometown today. At the City Club, which hails itself as "the oldest continuous free speech forum in the country, renowned for its tradition of debate and discussion."

Of course once George W. Bush is in the mix, things like tradition, not to mention free speech and debate, tend to get trod upon.

From The Plain Dealer's blog:
Long-time member Walt Nicholes said the City Club is breaking from tradition by not allowing members to line up at the microphone to ask questions. He said City Club officials at first said members who wanted to ask a question would be picked from a lottery, but now they say Bush will call on people from the floor.

Such a format won't allow for true variety of questions, Nicholes complained.
Apparently, Bush still can't face the citizens he claims to govern. I suppose that's somewhat understandable, seeing as he's coming back to Ohio, a state which supported him by just barely enough for him to wring out a "win," but doesn't stand by him now.

Of course, the City Club didn't exactly stand on principle, either. I suppose their webmaster is busy adding an asterisk to this sentence: "All speakers must answer unfiltered, unrehearsed questions directly from the audience."

Alert the country's second-oldest continuous free speech forum. Looks like they're No. 1 now.

Update: Well, he certainly showed why he's basically incapable of thinking for himself in public. Ass.

Further updatiness: Apparently, the President did take any and all questions. Huzzah! Also, it appears that the lengthy Q&A was what prompted him to wonder aloud if anyone worked anymore.

St. Patrick's Day recap

We went through two garbage bags' worth of beer bottles, 16 pounds of corned beef in 45 minutes, 6 pounds of apples, 20 potatoes, one pot of coffee, a few bruises, some Yeats, and the equivalent to 12 cups of flour.

Thanks to everybody who contributed to another kick-ass year.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Authentic Irishness

See also: Ersatz Irishness

Because it's St. Patrick's Day and I'm Irish, a couple facts about the forms my Irishness takes:

  • My mom's maternal grandparents are the Irish in my family.
  • My Irish ancestors are from a town in northwestern Ireland called Sligo. I saw it once when I was 10. I remember it as a gray, kind of poky, little town, surrounded by beautiful countryside. There was a shopping cart upside down in the middle of the river that ran through town, and some ducks swimming around it. We had lunch at a pub, and then visited Yeats' grave.
  • I used to play golf with some of my parents' Irish friends. A common phrase: "OK, [Floppy] looks like we're in the deep stuff again."
  • I could tell the difference between a Cork and Dublin accent when I was in high school.
  • I met Seamus Heaney once.
This concludes the chronicling of my own ties to the Emerald Isle.

We'll be back in August to honor my other ancestors on St. Stephen's day, Oktoberfest and Guy Fawkes Day.

Ersatz Irishness

I think it was my senior year in college when a faux-Irish pub opened up on Main Street in Ann Arbor. It was called Conor O'Neill's, a big deal was made of the fact that the bar itself was imported from Ireland, and pints were expensive. But it was usually a great time, and we probably went about once or twice a month. Which in college means a bar is in the rotation, but not a fixture the way Ashley's or the Jug was.

I remember being made a little uncomfortable by all the clearly contrived bric-a-brac _ in particular, the apothecary cabinets with glass that was meant to look "aged" at first glance, but which just looked fake upon closer inspection. I didn't get too upset about it, because it was a good bar, but I also knew it was a bit of an illusion.

Today, I read that forces larger than I imagined at the time may have been at work. Exporting ersatz Irishness around the globe is a pretty damn great idea, especially for a country in the kind of shape Ireland was at the time. Essentially, Ireland exported it's best renewable natural resource _ goodwill. I mean, unless you're running a private club in the Gilded Age, who doesn't think that things are improved with some Irish people around?

I mean, the Irish have got to be annual contenders in the worldwide survey of affable, English-speaking people. (For what it's worth, I see it as an annual slugfest between them, the Aussies and the Kiwis. With the Canadians perennial dark horses, and the various European countries in which English is taught only useful in exactas and trifectas, if at all. Although look out for the Dutch this year. I'm telling you.)

Although I have no idea if Conor's (as it was called) was part of the plan outlined in the article or a separate venture, I do know that I pretty much enjoyed myself there every time. Anyway, thanks to the muscle of a major corporation (Guinness and whatever liquor giant it's associated with) with a vested interest in greatly increasing the number of Irish pubs worldwide, the plan worked out well. Now you can go into a fake-authentic Irish pub almost anywhere in the world. It's a blessing.

Friday afternoon pick-me-ups, for your viewing pleasure

If the sad news about Flop's injury has you down, and the combination of St. Patrick's Day and March Madness can't lift your spirits, I have just the ticket.

Check out this trailer for The Shining, recut into a heartwarming family comedy. Then enjoy the similarly inspiring trailer for Must Love Jaws, both of which were unearthed at the highly enjoyable Hey Jenny Slater.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Programming update: we have a man down

If you've been missing Flop's prose stylings, it's because he's taken a hit and finds himself on the disabled list.

In his own words:
The blog hasn't really been a priority of mine for the past week. I've been feeling really crappy and I thought for the past couple days that I was going to need surgery, either for appendicits or a hernia.

Turns out, it's just a torn or strained abdominal muscle, which I acquired while cleaning my room last Wednesday night.

Most pathetic injury ever.
It's also the most character-appropriate injury ever. Shame on me, as I took small pleasure in hearing about his housekeeping injury: Flop's off-the-blog conduct has very nearly led to me seeking emergency room treatment on more than one occasion, so the schaudenfreude runs a little deep.

I'd also like to note that when I tore an abdominal muscle last summer, it was in a waterskiing fall. For Flop, it was extreme housekeeping.

Tonight I start the preparations for my eighth annual St. Patrick's dinner, and will be in virtual seclusion until Saturday night. No substantive blogging, but I might post a snapshot of soda bread or peeled potatoes if that's your thing.

And with that, this site becomes Better Homes & Gardens as written by injury-prone retards.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Eulogizing a legend

The superlative MGoBlog has posted a tearjerker (I use that word earnestly) about the death of Ann Arbor pizza legend Faz.

It not only made me sentimental, but also regret my every Pizza House order. Make sure to read the comments as well.

Serious news to ruin your day

Salon has posted an encyclopedic account of Iraqi prisoner abuse that it's calling "The Abu Ghraib Files," which includes all 279 photos, 19 videos, and nine separate essays and articles. Much too much to digest all at once, but finally it's all out there and available to review.

I spent part of yesterday reading some of these documents drafted by optimistic Iraqi exiles and State Department officials in the run-up to the war. They provide a different kind of heartbreak.

So, happy Wednesday.

Monday, March 13, 2006

"The Sopranos" and "Big Love"

The Sopranos season premiere tonight was excellent in every way, making it hard to evaluate in a fashion that does it justice. For most of the show's life, I've had a hard time avoiding running comparisons to Goodfellas and Casino and the Godfather movies. Now I think that the show has not only commented on, swam in, and satirized the mafia genre, but built on it in a way that's achieved something singular and unrepeatable. Once this show is gone, it's going to be hard for anyone to succeed in making a mob movie or TV show again -- the genre has been deconstructed, dissected, and elevated.

I also liked that the season began with the truism about no one ever going broke underestimating the taste of the American public. What was David Chase saying about the show with that bit of dialogue? And was the opening sequence not the best exposition montage ever? It got better from there. In the past, the show has been a little heavyhanded with its existentialism, but not tonight. Death of a Salesman came to mind.

Big Love, by contrast, does not look promising. I watched with a friend who was incredulous that women as smart and worldly as the ones in the show would succumb to a polygamous marriage. He has a point, but I'm willing to buy the premise as much as I'm willing to believe that someone like Nate Fisher would work in a funeral home. The bigger problem with the show is that it seems preoccupied with obvious jokes about the jealousies that come from such an arrangement. Its execution was not clever and aside from the oddity of their situation, the characters were not interesting. They're dull people. The show is Three's Company, but not funny.

The scenes set in the backwater fundamentalist compound were well-done and intriguing, and familiar to anyone who's read Under the Banner of Heaven. The cast is stellar, but as good as Harry Dean Stanton, Grace Zabriskie, and Mary Kay Place are, the sum of this show is much less than its parts. I watched and waited, hoping for something to happen, looking for a reason to be enthusiastic. There wasn't one, and the preview for next week's show was not promising -- more petty jealousy and libido gags. Ha.

Friday, March 10, 2006

CSB consumer report: celebrity face matching

I followed a link to a site called MyHeritage, which, after a brief registration, evaluates a photo and tells you what celebrity your face structure most resembles.

Mine came out as follows:

1.) Tom Green
2.) Jared Leto
3.) K.d. Lang
4.) David Hasselhoff
5.) Jake Gyllenhall

For better or worse, I don't resemble any of them. So I loaded a second photo.

1.) Ethan Hawke
2.) "Mustafa Sandal" (Who?)
3.) Tennessee Williams
4.) David Blaine
5.) Jimi Hendrix

So far, so fucking insane I can hardly believe it.

I thought the third time might be the charm. Turns out that I resemble Julie Andrews. Either that, or Curt Cobain. These are the most accurate results, but the more photos I used, the more David Hasselhoff surfaced. Hence, this site does not get a seal of approval.

Out of curiosity, I tried to see who came up for Blog Perv Danielle, HMBPDQ2K6. Her matches included Kelly Clarkson, Julia Roberts, and Isabella Rossellini. At least somebody is flattered.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Thursday stylin': pre-empted!

Today's installment of the Thursday Stylin' roundup, an occasional series in which we mock The New York Times for printing materialistic trash under the guise of trend news, has been pre-empted so that we can bring you a Cole Slaw Blog special report.

The other day, while looking around on the NYC bloggers map for any further news on an east side fire that gutted a bar I used to frequent, I found a story that no doubt made the Stylin' Section green with envy. I do need to thank two other blogs: neenotchka online (who appears to be a Duke fan, but that's OK. Some of my best friends are Duke fans.) is where I found the story. She cribbed it from her blog buddy, Alex.

And now, thanks to their hard work and sensibilities, as well as an electrical fire at the Town Crier, we can now bring you the tale of the worst bajillionaire house hunt ever.

I really can't do it justice, other to say that a reporter from the Times of London accompanied two very wealthy people New Yorkers (one the "darling of New York high society," the other son of the Mets' owner), on a house-hunting expedition to the south of France. And trainwreck ensued.

My favorite part is when the reporter drops all pretense of just-an-observer neutrality and openly laments the viewing at which things went, as they say in Britain, all pear-shaped:
It’s almost time for lunch, but Wendy and her team decide to squeeze in one more viewing. “There’s a house owned by an artist that might have the character you’re looking for.” Oh, Wendy, how you must wish you hadn’t done it! Why didn’t you just take Yuki to the nearest brasserie for a vegetarian croque monsieur? Three hours later, Yuki is sobbing hysterically, Bruce is having a stand-up fight with the caretaker, and the police and an ambulance have been called.
Like I said. Trainwreck. Alex Kuczynski couldn't cause this much havoc no matter how many Mase references she throws around.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

It's all goin' to the guvmint, right?

I finally got around to watching my recorded episode of "My Name is Earl" from Thursday. In the episode, Earl realizes he never paid $500 worth of taxes. He decides to atone for this by writing a check. When he goes to the offices of "the government" to pay for it, they can't accept his check because they don't know what it's for.

After some failed attempts to repay his taxes by filling potholes or entering prison, he decides the best way to repay it is to commit a crime with a fine of $500. He and his brother climb a water tower, fall through the tower's roof and are rescued by the combined efforts of a police officer, a city employee and a firefighter. Earl then happily goes to pay his $500 fine at the same government office which denied his check earlier. Happy ending, right?

Except most of Cole Slaw Blog's readers will note that Earl hasn't actually paid his taxes. He paid $500 for his violation of the law _ namely trespassing on the water tower. I know it seems humorless and priggish to be annoyed by this. But in a nation of people who exhibit near-total ignorance of the basics of the Constitution, things like this don't help matters.

This is as close as I'll ever get to griping about the effect of popular culture on the general welfare of the nation. But when it comes to principles of law, won't someone please think of the children?

"Sons & Daughters" might be the worthy heir of "Arrested Development"

The Lion King argues that there's a circle of life. The death of every noble cartoon lion makes room for others to take their place, leading to the birth of future cartoon lion cubs, and so on.

What applies to cartoon lions applies to network comedies. Instead of mourning the loss of Arrested Development, I recalled the good times. Given the shaky ratings and the fickleness of TV networks, we were lucky that the Bluths gave us three of the best years of our lives. The show was Fox's gift to television viewers. We should be grateful.

Its passing was part of the circle of manipulative prime-time scheduling. I hoped that another would be born to take its place.

Enter Sons & Daughters. I've rarely been so entertained by the first two episodes of a series, particularly one that doesn't feature characters named Trishelle, Coral or Aneesa.

The show is about an eccentric extended family, centered on a Steve Carrell look-alike named Cameron. An elaborate chain of stepfathers, stepmothers and half-siblings round out the mix. In the opening scenes, Cameron's stepfather Wendal informs him that he's considering separating from Cameron's mother. In a lapse of judgment, Cameron informs his sister, but their conversation is overheard by Cameron's gawky, highly adult 13-year-old niece.

This sets in motion a chain of gossip that unleashes the dogs of hell.

The show is frank. The characters, including the kids, talk about sex like actual adults, and they spend much of the first two episodes on this subject. They are painfully, caustically funny conversations, not a series of horndog punchlines. I don't know if I've seen a network show -- maybe not even an HBO show -- where the everyday implications of sex are so unblinkingly, straightforwardly discussed. The gawky 13-year-old tells her sexually frustrated mom that she couldn't imagine having a marriage that didn't include great sex; the family matriarch wields emotional power by reminding sixtysomething Wendal of all the great sex they've had; a couple seeks arousal via fantasies that includes sex on a bus full of blind old people, and sex on a pirate ship. Not particularly dirty, not shocking, and all very funny and believable.

Here's what impresses me about the show: it incorporates Arrested Development's screwball sensibilities and off-kilter dialogue, but instead of A.D.'s high-wire farce (which, don't get me wrong, was a real achievement) Sons & Daughters stays grounded. The writers and actors place a higher priority on keeping the characters real. They do bad things, then feel bad about them; they do nice things, then feel good about themselves. No one's out to be cruel, but sometimes things happen. Words have a way of popping out, and someone has to clean up the mess.

I'm worried that I'm making Sons & Daughters sound like Ordinary People. That is not the case. I laughed at the show about as much as I've laughed at any network show, including A.D. It's a very funny program, which has the added virtue of portraying its characters honestly.

There's no way to tell how this will play out. Maybe the first two episodes are the best ones; maybe there's no way a half-hour sitcom can pull off the feat of incorporating 16 or so characters and maintain a very tricky tone.

Based on last night, I'm going to fire up Tivo and hope for the best. This show has potential to be very, very good. It airs on Tuesdays at 9 on ABC.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Best. Episode. Ever.

I dropped what I was doing moments ago when I saw that tonight's episode of "Good Eats" with Alton Brown was all about a topic dear to us _ slaw.

On this particular episode, entitled "The Long Arm of The Slaw" Brown was appearing on a fake morning show, where he showed the hosts (who were like a fourth-rate Regis and Kelly on the Cincinnait Fox affiliate) how to make slaw. Alton answered "slaw" to every question the hosts asked, which is totally how I'm going answer everything the next time I'm on local TV or appearing before a Senate committee.

Brown went on to explain the principles of slaw (he failed to mention this blog, however), and demonstrate how to make four different kinds of food for the gods. He also shows off his specially modified box grater, which he calls the "Slaw Dog." He then lets the sexpot female host grate a head of Napa cabbage on it for his cider-vinegar slaw. Which, I must admit, looks better than anything I've ever created in the Cole Slaw Blog test kitchens.

Needless to say, this episode has been thetouched by the "Save Until Manually Erased" wand, and shall reside in that Valhalla along with an episode of the Simpsons (monorail!) the final minutes of the Penn State game ("touchdown, Manningham!") and an episode of "Scrubs" (Hot Becky sucking face with Mandy Moore).

I was also going to post about how I realized the other day exactly how TV movie critic Jay Sherman would have reviewed Titanic, but I've got to master that beet-jicama-fennel slaw. I've got a potluck coming up.

Monday, March 06, 2006

57 things about living in New York that are so great it's practically unbearable


The latest installment in an ongoing series. All references to "you" imply a person generally, not you personally.

  1. There are two baseball teams that everyone who grew up in other places can find equally hateable.
  2. There are also two minor league teams.
  3. New York is not a basketball town. [Except when it is. See comments. Depending on your tastes, this makes things even better -- as if that's possible.]
  4. Three airports. Hence, you can fly anywhere. So the next time you're bitching about having to get out to Newark, realize that not only do you get a direct flight to Grand Rapids -- you can also take direct flights to Warsaw, Buenos Aires, or Tel Aviv whenever the mood hits you. Frickin' awesome.
  5. The New York Times -- the New York Times! -- has an entire section about your city! Every day!
  6. The New Yorker is no slouch, either.
  7. Bohemian Beer Hall.
  8. The beer garden at dba.
  9. The beer garden at Loreley.
  10. Brooklyn Brewery.
  11. Last call is 4 a.m. 4 a.m.! Comparatively, everyplace else might as well be Utah, and frequently is.
  12. When you leave the bar at 4:15 a.m., there is always someplace open for food, and always someone to go with.
  13. If you smoke, every time you step outside for a cigarette, you have the chance to make new friends.
  14. You can't smoke inside, which means not only do you get to make new friends whenever you smoke, but you don't go home reeking.
  15. There's a huge cigarette tax. You shouldn't be smoking that much, anyway.
  16. You never, ever have to worry about driving home drunk.
  17. You never, ever have to worry about traffic unless you're taking a cab in rush hour. In which case, you only have yourself to blame.
  18. Going to brunch is kind of an institution. Hence, it's perfectly acceptable to be buzzed by noon on a Sunday.
  19. The Strand never ceases to amaze.
  20. The Strand Annex on Fulton Street. In any other city, it would be The Strand.
  21. 311. Holy shit. The bar downstairs is playing Another One Bites the Dust too loud at 3 a.m.? Just got shocked by a manhole cover? Need help quitting smoking? 311. That is some absolutely amazing municipal service.
  22. The city has elected four insane mayors in a row, each of whom is uniquely hateable, yet oddly endearing.
  23. Here's how crazy it is -- Staten Island is massive. It has actual farmland, and it's part of the City. It's only a short ferry ride away, but no one ever goes there. Plus, it has farmland. Blows my fucking mind whenever I think about it.
  24. The guy driving your cab and jabbering on his cell phone has lived more life than you or I have dreamt of, Horatio.
  25. Local troublemaker Al Sharpton -- one minute an insufferable demagogue, the next, he's hosting SNL.
  26. There are garbage cans on every street corner. Have a gum wrapper, an empty pack of Camels, and a Starbucks cup? Pow. Garbage can. Right there.
  27. Celebrity sightings. I'm too jaded to give a shit anymore, but if at age 19 you told me that I'd literally bump into an SNL star with his parents or obliviously walk through the middle of a Law & Order shoot, I would've been in clover.
  28. Congee Village. I will have the frog congee, please.
  29. Marco Polo Noodle Shop on Baxter Street. Never heard of it? It's better than anything you've ever eaten in your life, but you've never been there. This is such a kick-ass city.
  30. Wherever you are below 23rd Street, something amazing happened on that spot between 1750 and 1900. Compared to New York, Philly and Boston are historical midgets.
  31. I don't think that Park Slope is any great shakes. Still, on a nice summer night, Park Slope alone has as much going on as all of Boston. And that's just Park Slope.
  32. Prospect Park -- huge, uncrowded, racially and economically diverse -- may be the urban ideal. Whenever you think the country's gone to shit, think about Prospect Park and feel better.
  33. Central Park's not bad either.
  34. Music. Do you ever stop to realize that on any random Wednesday, you could drop $10-$20 bucks, roll the dice, and as often as not see something that will knock you on your ass? Often appreciate that any band you love in any genre you want will probably waltz through town sometime in the next 12 months? And you don't even have to drive home afterward? Life is so flippin' good.
  35. That small apartment that you pay too much for only means that you'll spend less time at home. That is good. Whoever wanted to spend a bunch of time just sitting around?
  36. Some of your best friends will eventually live here, and all the rest of them come through at least once a year.
  37. We have so much access to 24-hour pizza and hot dogs, my inner twelve-year-old can hardly contain himself. And yet I walk everywhere, so I never get fat.
  38. Vietnamese sandwiches. We take them for granted; in Tampa, they'd be mindblowing.
  39. Broadway plays. I don't go to them, but it's nice to know they're there.
  40. You can always find strangers who appreciate a snowball fight.
  41. If you're too stingy or dignified for a strip club, you can walk into Red Rocks West or Coyote Ugly, where a drunk girl from Iowa will most likely show her boobs before the night is through. In most other cities, that would prompt mass arrests.
  42. As a show of protest, on the last Friday of every month, several hundred bicyclists ride around en masse and get chased by cops. It's like a scene from junior high, only the teachers never win.
  43. Improv Everywhere.
  44. I don't know if you've noticed this, but the kids who live in this city are cool. Really cool. Cooler than I was when I was their age, and probably cooler than I am now. It almost makes me want to procreate, but for all of that responsibility, and the shitting infant part.
  45. The publishing industry ensures an almost endless supply of young, highly literate, smart people who make little money but are always up for fun.
  46. The legal industry means that there are always good people to argue with.
  47. The banking industry means that there are always people smoother and better dressed than you, so it's an easy excuse to slack off.
  48. An endless supply of people more interesting than you are.
  49. J&R. For us, it's just an electronics store. If it were in the Midwest, people who live four hours in any direction would know about it. They'd load up the kids in a station wagon on the weekends and drive four hours, just to go to J&R. Back in school on Monday, you'd brag about all the sweet stuff you got at J&R.
  50. While residential patterns are pretty segregated, it's never unnerving to be on the subway and realize that no one else on the train looks like you.
  51. The dearth of local college football means that ABC usually airs the games you want to see.
  52. The tap water here tastes better than bottled water from the store.
  53. Bodegas: It's 3 a.m. and you're looking for beer, Entenmann's, condoms, and batteries. If this is Lansing, you drive 20 minutes to Meijer's, if you're lucky, and spend the next 20 minutes wandering around the store. Here? Less than half a block. There and back in four minutes flat.
  54. It's almost as cheap to drop off your laundry as it is to do it yourself. When you come back, everything is folded neatly and tightly. If you lived in Houston, you'd spend all Sunday night folding your damp undershirts.
  55. If you're into fancy shit, there's a lot of that, too.
  56. If you're into cheap shit, it's easy to find, and the only thing that costs a lot is your apartment, which you don't really need that much anyway.
  57. Now that I think of it, when you factor in the car payments, car insurance, and house insurance that you'd need to live in Seattle, is it actually more expensive to live here in the first place?

Sunday, March 05, 2006

A cranky observation 13 minutes into the Academy Awards

Wow, Jon Stewart is rotten so far. It's like someone transplanted Jay Leno's soul into Stewart's body. He hasn't uttered a funny line yet.

He's much too good to be hosting this crap. Next, Richard Posner will judge the Westminster Dog Show. I wonder if Stewart was so chastened by critiques of his iconoclastic sensibility that he's overcompensated by being safe and boring.

This is what we have to look forward to when he gets an 11:30 p.m. talk show on ABC. What a waste.

Additional thought: It's got to be tough to host this garbage. On the one hand, you have a younger audience -- the type that watches Entourage and reads Defamer -- and therefore fancies itself as being up on the inside jokes. On the other, you have Marge and Carl living in Florida, who feel nervous even with the lame Brokeback jokes.

Oh, and Ben Stiller's schtick just made Stewart's lame opening routine seem hi-larious in comparison. And it strikes me that George Clooney saying he's glad to be out of touch may have set things back a bit.

More thoughts: Christ, this is turning into live-blogging, which is pathetic. I was watching this for Jon Stewart, but when he fell flat, I've kept watching for the Robert Altman tribute. I'd say that the reason I'm a filmmaker is that I love Robert Altman, but I'm not a filmmaker, so that's a lie. Short Cuts and The Player are two of the great movies -- he's made a lot of failures, too, but his failure are still more interesting than most good movies. I thought his remarks would be a little more bombastic, but who cares. He doesn't need to impress anybody -- he craps bigger than Jon Stewart.

Last thought: Larry McMurtry comes up wearing jeans with his tux. That's how I'd want to do it. Larry McMurtry has written some excellent books -- not just Lonesome Dove, but The Last Picture Show, Texasville, All My Friends Are Going to Be Strangers. They're not the kinds of books that get taught in seminars, but more like beach reads if you're more interested in characters than thrillers. I love that he talked about "the culture of the book" and plugged bookstores as an institution. That, along with Robert Altman, made this silly night worthwhile. How come everybody I like is in their seventies?

Friday, March 03, 2006

Here's one reason I'm glad I went to Michigan

Because our players don't lip-sync middle-aged lady songs shirtless and then post the video on the internet.

If this were Henne, Matt Lentz, and Max Martin, you'd hear my screams from New York to Ann Arbor. This shit, I can live with.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The worst leader since Nero

With so much bad governance in the last five years, it's been easy to look at every scandal or fuck-up and say, OMG this is huge.

OMG, this is huge. Not Alexander Butterfield huge, but huger than finding out that there was a memo called "Bin Laden Determined to Attack in the United States." A generation of conspiracy theorists just hit the goldmine. It takes Katrina out of the incompetence ballpark and places it solidly in the category of inexcusable negligence. You know you're in trouble when Michael Brown is the smartest man in the room.

Read more here, here and here.

Why there's a hint of grouchiness even when I'm in a good mood

It's because of stuff like this.
Americans apparently know more about "The Simpsons" than they do about the First Amendment.
No big deal so far. I hear that "The Simpsons" is a popular animated television program, and it's been awhile since people had high school government class. I couldn't tell you much about Mohs scale, other than talc is the softest. I know more about "South Park" than I do about trig. I'm not that judgmental, so chill.
Only one in four Americans can name more than one of the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment (freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly and petition for redress of grievances.)
Mildly disappointing. I figure that speech is a gimme, but I would have thought that religion would be easy. Maybe some respondents followed the Supreme Court's doctrine of conflating "speech" and "press," and didn't name both for fear of sounding out-of-date on their jurisprudence. Deserving of a stern "tut, tut", but I'm not throwing any coasters yet.
[J]ust one in 1,000 people who could name all five First Amendment freedoms.
No sweat. I double-counted on religion for the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause, leaving out freedom to petition. So I'm with the other 999. You're more than forgiven.
The survey found more people could name the three "American Idol" judges than identify three First Amendment rights. They were also more likely to remember popular advertising slogans.
Now I'm getting pissed. I can live with the "American Idol" stat, but advertising slogans? Basically, I've been right all along, everybody's a zombie, those TV commercials are worse than crack, and everyone I know is getting a copy of The Corporation for Christmas.
It also showed that people misidentified First Amendment rights. About one in five people thought the right to own a pet was protected, and 38 percent said they believed the right against self-incrimination contained in the Fifth Amendment was a First Amendment right, the survey found.
Sorry -- the right to own a pet? Like, James Madison and John Jay were sitting around and decided that the Articles of Confederation and the British before them had been insufficiently respectful of hamsters and dogs? The pets had been seized?

And one in five? One in five? No, no, no!

Coming home today, I was giving the stink-eye to strangers on the subway. One in five of them thought that the "right to own a pet" was protected by the First Amendment! When they stand for the Star Spangled Banner, they're thinking about Fluffy; when they read about the Alito hearings, they were confident that their right to own a pet was secure; when they vote for George W. Bush, they think Barney and Spot make him a patriot.

The tragedy is, I love dogs. I'd lay down my life to protect a Springer Spaniel; I'd bear arms to protect Maggie and Oliver. I could be persuaded to amend the Fifth Amendment to protect against the illegal seizure of dogs.

I'm lying on my couch fantasizing about this. One in five carries this shit with them to jury duty.