Sunday, December 31, 2006

On the Shelf at the Synagogue:
Happy New Year!

This is why I like hanging out at the synagogue when my wife has stuff to do -- so much interesting stuff to see!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Celebrating the Death of a Dictator

If there’s one thing you can say
About Mankind
There’s nothing kind about man
Tom Waits/Kathleen Brennan, song writers, from the song "Misery is the River of the World"

I find all the delectation people are exhibiting and the news media’s breathless repetition of Saddam Hussein’s death as well as the eagerness to show the corpse leaves me with a sense of unease.

The Iraqis celebrating in Illinois and those brave enough to go outside in Iraq all seems rather barbaric. The hundreds killed by Hussein, his sons or his lynch men are not brought back, the suffering felt by the families is not lessened, there is not even closure because the pain will always be there.

The celebration of a death penalty executed shows humanity at its most abject.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Non-Decisional Meeting with Dire Results

Every decision is liberating, even if it leads to disaster. Otherwise, why do so many people walk upright and with open eyes into their misfortune?
Elias Canetti (1905–94), novelist

From the nightly Wall Street Journal e-mail I receive.

Bush: 'Making Progress'
In what was billed as a "non-decisional" meeting, President Bush today discussed ways to change the administration's Iraq strategy with the entire National Security Council at his home in Crawford, Texas. "We're making good progress," Mr. Bush told reporters, without fielding questions. The president isn't expected to announce his new course in Iraq until sometime next month…

Tell me, how can you make progress in a “non-decisional” meeting when the Decider in chief is there? Why are they spending taxpayer money to hold a meeting to solve nothing?

The newspaper reported that December was the second-deadliest month for U.S. troops. There have been 3,238 coalition deaths -- 2,989 Americans, two Australians, 126 Britons, 13 Bulgarians, six Danes, two Dutch, two Estonians, one Fijian, one Hungarian, 32 Italians, one Kazakh, three Latvian, 18 Poles, two Romanians, five Salvadoran, four Slovaks, 11 Spaniards, two Thai and 18 Ukrainians -- in the war in Iraq as of December 28, 2006, according to a CNN count.

And the Bush gang is in a non-decisional meeting trying to come up with a strategy. Something is very, very wrong!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Death of a President

Waxy has a great links page that we check all the time -- and he's got a link to the famous Dana-Carvey-as-Tom-Brokaw sketch, in which he eulogizes Gerald Ford... ten years ago! If you haven't seen it, check it out now.
(I think you can just lick that "play" button above.)

Presidential Words Have No Integrity

The right to do something does not mean that doing it is right.
William Safire, columnist

George W. Bush, our president (unfortunately), said regarding Gerald Ford’s passing, “During his time in office, the American people came to know President Ford as a man of complete integrity who led our country with common sense and kind instincts.”

All traits our current leader has never exhibited. It may just be me, but these words coming from the Decider-in-Chief mean less than nothing, it’s akin to Tom DeLay saying that lobbyist Jack Abramoff was honest or Kenny-boy Lay was a great CEO, or that administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Michael Brownie is doing a heck of a job, or better yet, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld would remain in his administration until the end of his presidency.

This country would be better served and national dignitaries better remembered if our embarrassment of a leader kept his mouth shut.

I accidently stumbled upon this and it's hysterical. Wait a second the sound will come up.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Original Mash-up

I was going through the garage this week and came upon my box of 45s,* which collection includes some classics, including work by the duo known as Buchanan and Goodman. Growing up I listened to them constantly, having cadged them from my dad, who got them when he was a kid, I guess..

Buchanan and Goodman were the first mash-up artists, taking bits and pieces of various pop songs and splicing them together into larger pieces -- their most famous being "The Flyer Saucer," recorded in 1956. Their samples were, in many cases, my first exposure to some of these classic songs (and I was confused for years by the fake attributions given in the mash-up).

Click here for an mp3 of The Flying Saucer uploaded for your listening pleasure. It's interesting to note (especially to us Creative Commons folks) that Goodman wound up in court for infringement of copyright -- that is, he didn't get anyone's permission for his sampling. The lawsuits were later settled out of court when the judge ruled that the records were parodies, and were original creations in and among themselves (Gray Album, anyone?).

*A 45 is a type of record -- an analogue sound recording medium consisting of a flat disc with an inscribed modulated spiral groove starting near the periphery and ending near the center of the disc. "45" indicates it is spun at 45 revolutions per minute. They really exist.


Can someone help me out here? My in-laws have a dishwashing soap called "Non-Ultra Joy"... what's up with that? Is there an "Ultra Joy"? Is there some reason I wouldn't want the ultra power?

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Murray Saved Christmas--
Now we know who to blame

From a commercial point of view, if Christmas did not exist it would be necessary to invent it.
Katharine Whitehorn, journalist

Twas the night before Christmas and at the North Pole,
Santa was rockin’ and ready to roll.
His seat belt was buckled, his reindeer were fed,
And Five billion toys were stuffed into his sled.

There were dolls that said “Mama and dolls that said “goo,”
Dolls that made music and dolls that made poo (B2, take note)
There were dolls that grew tall at the push of a button,
And a doll, best of all, that didn’t do nuttin’.

The above is the opening page from the book "How Murray Saved Christmas" written by Mike Reiss and illustrated by David Catrow.

From the cover leaf, we learn that when Santa is knocked out cold by a Jack-in-the-Boxer, deli-owner Murray Klieiner reluctantly agrees to take his place. He may not understand the subtleties of the job, or agree with Santa’s opinions on who deserves toys, and he definitely cannot remember the names of all those reindeer. But with the help of a pushy elf and an eager-to-believe young boy, Murray finds that even though he’s not big enough to fill Santa’s suit, he’s go more than enough heart to get the job done.

And how, you might wonder, did Santa get fat?
Just thank Murray’s chocolate-chip cheesecake for that!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Hopper Continues to Roll Over in His Grave

Back in March 2005 I shared with the readers of Toner Mishap an assortment of parodies of (and tributes to) Edward Hopper's painting, "Nighthawks" (you can check it out here.) It was one of my most popular posts, and continues to get hits -- in fact, if you Google "hopper nighthawks parody" Toner Mishap comes up at the top of the list!

It's almost Christmas (or so my gentile friends tell me), and I just saw this...

... so I figured a few more were called for.

[Stephan Pastis is a cartoonist you may have seen in the funny pages lately]

[A patriotic version from the Atlantic Monthly]

[A post-apocalyptic version for fans of the whole SubGenius thing]

[This one is popular with people who are fans of both fine art and Doom]

[From a production of a play based on the painting]

Thursday, December 21, 2006


Just read a colleciton of stories by Kelly Link, called "Magic for Beginners" -- she's the sort of author that makes you wish her stories were longer, because when they end you just want more, especially if you like zombies. My favorite line from the book:

"Art is for people who aren't worried about zombies."

P.S. And of course, there's a shirt.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Pinata Travesty

BoingBoing posted the other day about a military-themed pinata filled with soliders... I thought I'd share these shots of a pinata made by a co-worker designed to look like the birthday grl... right down to the outfit.

Are you really supposed to hit this with a stick? (Answer: yes!)

Misanthropic Thoughts

Publicity is the life of this culture—in so far as without publicity capitalism could not survive—and at the same time publicity is its dream.
John Berger, critic

Miss USA --The Donald was not being charitable at all by granting Tara Conner the ability to retain her Miss USA title. The publicity that will accompany Ms. Conner wherever she shows up will only help to build ratings for the pageant next year. Trump was being a smart businessman. End of story.

Time Magazine --Apparently the entire United States was aware of Time Magazine’s person of the year except me. Frankly, I don’t care about the award, but now that it was given to me, I want no part of it. It doesn’t have anything to do with Groucho and his famous quote, I don’t agree with it (the award has absolutely nothing to do with news). However, it is good publicity and that is what it's all about.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I Won -- Sort of

Letters are useful as a means of expressing the ideal self; and no other method of communication is quite so good for this purpose.…
Elizabeth Hardwick, author

This is the actual letter I sent to the CEO of the parent company that manages the apartment complex I stayed in for a few months, before moving into the new house. I left the names out for my privacy. They just sent me a notice stating that I did not have to pay.

November 22, 2006

Property company
President & Chief Executive Officer
Chicago, Illinois 60606

Dear Mr. President & CEO:

I am writing to you because I paid one month and a half rent to get out of my lease early as my stay at [your property] was unpleasant almost from the start. Now I am being harassed for a cleaning deposit, when I left the place in excellent condition. I would very much like not to pay this unnecessary and punitive penalty of $224.75.

I signed a lease to stay in [your property] for one year. The situation and the management were absolutely incompetent and intolerable. I have attached a copy of the letter I sent to the property manager that lists all of the incidents I had to endure (I sent several letters, but the attached is a summary). I did leave one off, which was the neighbor whose son attempted to burn the place down -- intentionally. Thankfully he only succeeded in destroying his unit.

I would greatly appreciate if you could dismiss this fee.

The Misanthrope
cc: the pissant subsidary who sent me the bill

This is part of the letter that was attached:
Let’s review my five months here:
  • Water pressure mysteriously reduced after two weeks and never returned to its proper volume (your offer to reimburse me for a showerhead would not make a difference, since it used to work with the current showerhead),
  • Neighbors who played music at 3 a.m. that I finally had to confront myself,
  • Fireplace gas pipe rotted and significant hole on pipe reducing the effectiveness of gas starter. It’s still bad, but now it’s summer and I’m dealing with your antiquated air conditioning,
  • An apartment full of dead bees upon my return from one day away (did not report, my housekeeper took care of it),
  • Dishwasher that is worthless as far as cleaning goes. (Have not officially reported, yet. Now please consider it officially reported),
  • Piles of bird waste outside my garage from multiple nests of birds located on the eves above (Have not officially reported, yet. It was half-heartedly cleaned up once. Now please consider it officially reported),
  • No one mentioned that this complex did not upgrade its cable system, thereby rendering it worthless for televisions or computers, and of course,
  • The outdated dilapidated air conditioning unit that was never checked prior to moving in that has caused me nothing but grief and aggravation all weekend, while we have had record heat.

Maybe now you’ll understand my less than warm feelings for this place and how it is managed.

Sometimes it pays to write letters. I should have asked for my month and a half back.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Blessed are the Ophans

“Marry an orphan: you'll never have to spend boring holidays with the in-laws (at most an occasional visit to the cemetery)”
George Carlin, comedian

The Ruminator

Tis the season! This is the time of the year when we’re supposed to count our blessings and remember those who are less fortunate than we – which is politically correct speak for anyone whose house, car, wardrobe, or 401K is less than ours. But the most commonly voiced and applied yardstick to determine the degree of one’s “fortune” is whether or not they have family. In other words, according to the common wisdom, the least fortunate among us have no one with whom to celebrate the holidays. It is the opinion of this writer that the analysis is completely backward.

Orphan Asylum, n.d.
The orphan asylum was owned and operated by the Benevolent Irish Society

Pity the orphans who are now a fashion accessory for the well-to-do; this is the time of the year when they could have been rejoicing. The fortunate ones are those who have no one with whom to mark the season – i.e., the true measure of one’s blessing at Christmas is inversely proportional to the number of relatives with whom he must interact. Or, as a true misanthrope’s first beatitude states: “Blessed are the orphans, because the lucky bastards don’t have to deal with parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, or in-laws who view Christmas as a god-given time when they are free to foist their hyper-dysfunctionality on their hapless relations.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Doll That Poops In Her Pants

My wife and I rejoiced this year when our youngest made it out of diapers -- rejoiced, I say! But the joke was on us, because for Hanukkah my mother-in-law bought for her the Hasbro Baby Alive Doll -- the doll that poops in her pants. For full disclosure, I should point out that she only poops if you feed her first, which we are swearing never to do.

You've probably heard of this doll, as it's not actually new -- they've just made a new version. But the best part of Hanukkah last night was the dramatic reading of the instructions, which I will now share in excerpted form. As with many great works of literature, it's what goes unsaid that is the most fascinating.



- Always give your doll a bottle of water after she eats, or food may become stuck inside.

- Do not feed doll more than one packet of food and one bottle of water between diaper changes.


- To clean doll after feeding, give the doll several bottles of water until any remaining food has been rinsed away and the water runs clear (it's best to do this over the sink). Tilt bottle from side to side to make sure you've rinsed away any food build-up in the corners of the doll's mouth.

- Clean doll's face and body by wiping gently with a soft, damp cloth. Do not rub.


And one final instruction that just makes me cringe:

- Do not place any foreign objects in doll's mouth or any other opening.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Woo Who?!

A legend is an old man with a cane known for what he used to do. I’m still doing it.
Miles Davis (1926–91), musician

I predict that we will reach 200,000 page hits today. Honestly, you can minus maybe a hundred or so from me not being vigilant about blocking my cookies. Not bad, getting another hundred thousand hits after we said good-bye in October 2005 here, here and here.

It seems B2 and I have found it difficult to stay away for too long. On The Mark pops in from time to time. He has a very interesting story to tell, but I have a feeling he is going to keep it to himself. I could not stop visiting a lot of the blog sites, even if we have not been diligent with deleting old ones or adding new ones, that’s because B2 left it up to me and you see it I let the blogroll go to seed. For example, I for no apparent reason tried to update Lone Sophist and now we have two, one you click on and Toner Mishap disappears.

Since we said good-bye we have been recognized in public by regular readers. B2 by Cory Doctorow from Boing Boing, and I, once I was pointed out by B2, by a market guru, which pleased me.

Dear readers old and new -- you're awesome!

Even you Darrell, you lurker.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Automatic Whoopee Cushion

It's been years in the making.

Many of the readers of this fine blog are, no doubt, fans of practical jokes, and we proud few have sat patiently for years waiting for the next wave of technological innovation in this important industry.

Comrades, the wait is over.

I am pleased to announce the latest prank gadget to hit the stores, something so marvelous I compare it to the original snakes-in-a-can or disappearing-ink-pen: the automatic whoopee cushion. It solves the age-old problem: how do you effectively and quickly reset your whoopee cushion for maximum fun potential? Watch my demo (filmed in a local party supply store).

Monday, December 11, 2006

Hulk Smash Christmas!

You've gotta click on this pic to see it larger! I don't know if it's the expression on Hulk's face, the fact that he's sneaking down the chimney instead of busting in through a wall, or that cute little hat on his gamma-irradiated head... but this is priceless! (Actually, it costs about ten bucks.)


Here's one where Hulk is, as expected, breaking through a wall. [Source]

And a third one, shown together with my original find... [Source]

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Kids Love the Taste of Santa's Sack

Other slogans for this candy my wife and I discussed on our date this weekend (we spent quite a bit of time in hysterics over this product from the candy display at Toys R Us):

Everyone Wants a Lick of Santa's Sack
Kids Love to Suck on Santa's Sack

And so on.

Sunday Miscellany

I look upon every day to be lost, in which I do not make a new acquaintance.
Samuel Johnson (1709–84), author

Saturday I met Bitch Ph.D. She had a barbeque that turned out very nice even as we stood under the eves drinking fizzy pink wine (which was very good), to avoid the rain, we eventually moved in doors and in the background heard the pouring rain. I felt very comfortable around her and Mr. B. as well as her other blogging friends including Kathleen from Planned Obsolescence. It was an interesting and nice evening and just as the conversation was getting even better, I had to return home, since wife and I had different schedules all day Saturday and we wanted to share a bit of the evening together. A public thank you to Dr. and Mr. B.

Much to my disadvantage, I had never read Planned Obsolescence prior to meeting Kathleen last night, and the first post that I read in memoriam literati was about a piece about Gore Vidal’s new book, “Point to Point Navigation, A Memoir,” which I purchased about a month ago specifically to blog about, but I didn’t. I encourage you to visit P.O. to read a rebuttal to Vidal’s essay "…My Backstory.”

My Gore Vidal story is that when I worked at a public relations agency, I had a client who was looking for financial backers for an online music site, prior to iTunes. He was staying at a high-end hotel in Santa Monica, maybe it was Shutters, I don’t honestly remember. The client and his friend were from Texas, I would not be exaggerating to say they were racist. One time I had to take them off the speakerphone and tell him he could not talk that way and we'd have to drop them as a client if it continued, but that is another story. We were meeting them for a game of golf and they asked if I knew who Gore Vidal was. I said yes, but didn’t offer anything more.

*He doesn’t believe in God, the client said in horror. The client continued, we didn’t know who he was and we were telling him about our site and thinking he might be a potential investor. We closed the bar and he suggested we go to our room to continue the discussion. The client felt like they were propositioned by the author and they immediately asked him to leave. Once I was finished laughing, I explained to them who the author was and that I had recently paid to hear him speak because I enjoyed reading his essays and hearing him talk. They couldn't believe anyone would pay to hear him speak. I can't believe they never heard of him.

*I don't use quote marks because this is not vebatim, just memory now.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Blazing Saddles in the Air

I love the smell of napalm in the morning
From the movie "Apocalypse Now "

I had visions of the campfire scene in Blazing Saddles where all the cowboys are sitting around the campfire eating beans and loud inharmonious farting ensued, when I saw the headline:


Apparently some passenger with the IQ of a hoe handle decided to light a match on the plane to cover her malodorous stench.

Meanwhile, 99 passengers had an unscheduled visit to Nashville early Monday morning.

American Flight 1053, from Washington Reagan National Airport and bound for Dallas/Fort Worth, made an emergency landing here after passengers reported smelling struck matches, said Lynne Lowrance, a spokeswoman for the Nashville International Airport Authority.

Finally after bomb-sniffing dogs and FBI passenger interviews the guilty one admitted to what she had done. Everyone reboarded except stinky, who now climbs there is a medical condition. I didn't realize stupidity had such a classification.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Have Another Drink, It Will Make You Feel Better

Sometimes too much to drink is barely enough.
Mark Twain (1835-1910), writer

Seventy-three years ago today Prohibition was lifted. The headline in the New York Times that day read:


1,000 Licensed Places to Keep Radios Tuned In for the Repeal Proclamation


Countless Parties to Drown 'Old Man Prohibition' as the Night Wears On.

Now red wine is a recommended drink. We’ve come a long way…

Closing Time*

There is no logical explanation for despair. You can no more reason yourself into cheerfulness than you can reason yourself an extra six inches in height. You can only be better prepared.
Stephen Fry, comic actor

It sucks to feel less than hopeful. I wonder if the wind we have around here for what seems like two months is finally making me batty or battier.

A little music by Tom Waits helps to sustain the mood:
Everything Goes to Hell
Make it Rain
Little Drop of Poison
Misery is the River of the World
God’s Away on Business
Step Right Up
Starving in the Belly of the Beast
What Keeps Mankind Alive
World Keeps Turning
Down There by the Train
Road to Peace
Walk Away
The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me)
Rains on Me
I Don’t Want to Grow UP
Lie to Me
It’s Over

*name of Tom Waits CD

Friday, December 01, 2006

W’s Kiss of Death

It only takes a politician believing in what he says for the others to stop believing him.
Jean Baudrillard, French semiologist

At the news conference afterward, Mr. Bush stood at Iraq Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s side and showered him with praise, saying, “He’s the right guy for Iraq.”

Is this akin to doing one heck of a job? If so, Maliki’s end is near.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Catching Up

An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion
Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) Newton's first law of motion

Bond, James Bond
I have been on vacation hanging around doing not much of anything too productive and Newton’s law really does apply, when I am at rest I pretty much stay at rest. My first day of vacation was to see the new James Bond Movie Casino Royale, which was outstanding. Certainly one of the top three Bond movies ever. But, hey, when an audience is building for "24" and the "Bourne Identity" series, the producers of Bond had better do something – and they did!

Ping Pong
I have been playing ping pong and I have found no one who can beat me. My childhood friend who still lives around the corner from my parents is my usual competitor, but he has slipped. We played hundreds of games about 10 years ago and the final score total to me winning by one game. So, we picked up a ping pong table and he is no longer a match for me. Without going to check the score, I believe I am ahead 35 to 7 games. We each have a skunk against the other; his was 7-0 mine was 11-1, which I content is more difficult since I have to score 10 points to his seven. Playing pool is a horse of another color. We don’t even bother to keep score there, he just kills me. On The Mark and I are a bit closer, but he wins the majority of the games in pool.

I finished reading “The Thirteenth Tale” by Diane Setterfield. I was not thrilled by the book at all, frankly very disappointed. The book I am reading now “All Governments Lie! The Life and Time s of Rebel Journalist I. F. Stone” by Myra MacPherson is outstanding. I have outlined so many pages it looks like a text book. Truly things in government and people never change and most likely never will. The oil companies among other companies were selling goods and supplies to the Nazis, and politics were very similar -- communists are today’s terrorists. Although, I have to say communists didn’t attack the U.S., but our government is using the same excuses to eliminate freedoms. Next up on my reading list is “Exile on Main St: A season in Hell with the Rolling Stones” by Robert Greenfield. I may start reading this to give myself a break from politics. I will share some of the Izzy stories in another post.

In October I walked over to City Hall in my growing town to complain about the water pooling in front of my driveway from city sprinklers since the streets have lifted because the trees' roots. No action. I called the name of the city engineer I was given and reached him (it was 5:50 a.m.) and he told me how it was probably my neighbors over watering, which I explained I had no neighbors above me. Then he warned me that it would be a while. I waited a week and left him another message. No reply. I wrote to his boss with the following opening line: I am rather surprised by the “I can’t get to you now” attitude exhibited by your group. I would expect something like that from the City of Los Angeles, but not the City of Simi. Within two days engineers were marking up the street, painting the grass, sticking in little flags to mark gas lines, but nothing has happened in two weeks. I actually expected that they would start jackhammering while I was home. I am glad they haven't, but I wonder when they will start.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Find that truck!

Anyone have any advice for tracking down a horrible truck driver?

He cut me and a few other drivers off this morning on the freeway by flying past in the right lane and forcing himself back into traffic when he ran out of room.

It was one of those big semis, all white, with a South Dakota license plate: UO60936. On the door was written "Jet's Express / California 337063" This happened at 7:40 a.m. today (Wednesday, November 29), heading south on the 5 freeway in Santa Clarita (CA), between the Lyons and McBean offramps.

I can't find a listing for Jet's Express in South Dakota, but I figure some of you bloggers must be of a similar mentality -- that is, it really steams you when someone does this, enough to make you write down the details hoping to one day see appropriate repercussions come to pass.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Dissing the Pigeons?

The last leg of my morning commute commences at the exit from a subway station in a field of pigeons.

Today, as I rode the elevator up to the light of day I was overcome by the high-pitched screechings of what I first took to be giant pigeons running amok through the city streets -- perhaps mutant offspring of the friendly, cooing variety to which I had grown accustomed.

But I then discovered that the source of the noise was a new device for deterring pigeons from gathering: a pole-mounted speaker broadcasting what I presume are thought to be pigeon-unfriendly squawks and squeaks at ear-splitting volume. This is apparently not limited to Los Angeles; I found similar efforts elsewhere.

Sadly, it is a miserable failure. The pigeons, having been forced from cozy nooks and crannies in the station structure through a months-long process of adding wires and spikes and, in the end, ugly metal plates, will not leave the flat, sandy area adjoining the station, and mill around the noisemaker without a care in the world (see photo).

Sure, there don't seem to be too many (I'm not really sure how many pigeons would be considered a "problem," but this isn't too bad), but those that gather there are deifnitely not being scared off... though we humans expressed loud, shared disgust with one another. And I almost missed the irony of pigeon spikes atop the pole; I guess this is the "belt and suspenders" approach: if they don't mind the sound, at least they can't poop on the pole.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Stab This Book

Alternate Titles for O.J. Simpson's New Book

The Internet

In Hell all the messages you ever left on answering machines [or comments left on blogs] will be played back to you.
Judy Horacek, cartoonist

I'm hopeful not everybody in the world has seen this except me.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Ben Lee rocks!

The wife and I went to Ben Lee's concert this evening with some friends, and we had a great time! Regular readers will recall that I entered and won a contest to make a video for his song "Catch My Disease," and the prize was four tix and backstage passes! We met Ben, chatted, and enjoyed the show. The picture above is of Ben in his gold "rock and roll" suit. (To preserve our feeble attempt at anonymity, I am not posting a photo of us and Ben.)

The Four Stages of Life

Most of us are about as eager to be changed as we were to be born, and go through our changes in a similar state of shock.
James Baldwin (1924–87), author

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Toner Mishap Exclusive…
Another Acquitted Murderer to be Interviewed and Write Book

The only thing that ever consoles man for the stupid things he does is the praise he always gives himself for doing them.
Oscar Wilde (1854–1900), playwright

It has been absolutely unofficially confirmed that Robert Blake is going write a book published by ReganBooks and do an interview with Fox, the network associated with neo-conservatism and family values.

Fox plans to broadcast an interview with Robert Blake in which the former television star discusses "how he would have committed" the point blank shooting in the head of his wife, Bonnie Lee Bakley, after dinning with her, for which he was acquitted, if he had done it, the network said.

Blake, in his own words, tells for the first time how he would have committed the murder if he were the one responsible for the crime," the network said in a statement. "In the television and publishing event of the decade, Blake describes how he would have put the gun to Bonnie Lee Bakley’s head while she was sitting in the car, which was parked on a side street around the corner from Vitello's Restaurant on Tujunga Boulevard in Studio City. And, how he would have told the police that he had gone back to the restaurant to get a gun he left at the table and was in the restaurant when the shooting occurred, if he had committed such a crime.

Judith Regan of ReganBooks, who is also publishing O.J. Simpson’s fictional "what if" book, has said she is on a mission to get all acquitted murderers to write books that can be read as confessionals.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I didn't write this blog entry, but if I did...

I didn't write this blog entry, but if I did I would have logged in to my Blogger account and selected "Create Post." I would have typed in some words, and then hit "Publish Post."

But that's just hypothetical because, truthfully, I didn't write this blog entry. And I will not rest until the real writer is brought to justice!

How O.J. Did It [sic]

So O.J. Simpson is going to do an interview on how -- if he had killed ex-wife Nicole, which he still says he didn't... wait -- I can't believe this is actually happening! He is going to say what he would have done, if he had killed her? But he didn't? And we're letting him walk around free?

I wish I had links to those SNL sketches with Tim Meadows as O.J., but instead you'll have to settle for this from MadTV.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Jay Z/Russell Simmons Anti-Antisemitism PSA

Stereogum was making fun of this, but I actually think it's great to have this sort of messaging put out there. So Jay-Z is now on my "good guy" list (Russell Simmons has always been there).

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Thoughts on the Election

In every election in American history both parties have their clichés. The party that has the clichés that ring true wins.
Newt Gingrich, Republican politician

  • W’s political capital disappeared as fast as the country's budget surplus.

  • During the 2004 election, John Kerry said that foreign leaders told them they would like to see a change. For obvious reason he could not name names, but once Donald Rumsfeld was fired, country leaders spoke out about the positive change for the U.S. and the Iraq war. John Kerry was telling the truth.

  • I don’t believe Rumsfeld will have a Robert McNamara, Former Secretary of Defense under John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, type of moment because he is just too full of himself to believe he can make a mistake.

  • Bush was very successful in one thing, he wanted to avenge his father’s presidency and he did. People long for the wisdom from father Bush and his advisors rather than a group of neo-cons with unrealistic views of the world.

  • As I predicted gas prices have already started to rise. It’s being attributed to inflationary dollars mean that the billions of dollars in oil profits are really not enough to keep pace with oil consumption.

  • It’s about time minimum wage is upped. City council members, city managers, congressional members all have their wages automatically increased. I have misplaced the article, but LA Council members make in the $200,000s, while city employees barely make ends meet with generous retirement packages that will eventually be taken away similar to airline pilots and others.

  • Democrats will be on their best behavior as they try to position themselves for 2008.

  • Keep an eye on John Edwards. I see a grass roots program building not unlike Jimmy Carter’s in 1976 – Jimmy who?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Bush and Dell Computers

If you haven't seen this clip, in which it appears as though the Prez is shilling for is friend's computer company, check it out... and then tell me if I'm right in thinking it's a fake.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


It’s not the voting that’s democracy, it’s the counting.
Tom Stoppard, playwright

Monday, November 06, 2006

James Bond is...
The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

What do you think spies are: priests, saints and martyrs? They’re a squalid procession of vain fools, traitors too, yes; pansies, sadists and drunkards, people who play cowboys and Indians to brighten their rotten lives.
John Le Carré, novelist

The new James Bond, Daniel Craig reminds me of Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum), from The Man From U.N.C.L.E. I will happily give Craig a chance because I was never a fan of Pierce Brosnan or Roger Moore.

After Sean Connery, Timothy Dalton was by far the best and made the best two Bond movies. In another few days, I believe it’s Nov. 17 the new Bond premieres.

In the meantime, check out who Panthergirl over at The Dog's Breakfast thinks Craig resembles.

Here is some Bond trivia for you from Wikipedia”

  • Fleming was inspired by a real spy - Dushan Popov, a Serbian playboy that was a double agent for both British and Germans.
  • The James Bond franchise is currently the second all-time highest grossing film franchise in history, after Star Wars,[4] and one of the longest running film series in history, spanning 20 official films, 2 unofficial films, 1 TV episode based on Casino Royale, and a cartoon television series spinoff. Casino Royale, the twenty-first film will be released on 17 November 2006 with a follow-up film currently using the working title Bond 22 that will be released on 7 November 2008.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Rocky Balboa is Back
and Older than Ever

I want to keep fighting because it is the only thing that keeps me out of the hamburger joints. If I don’t fight, I’ll eat this planet.
George Foreman, boxer

I had to put the Sunday paper down and this short post when I saw an ad for the new Rocky Balboa movie. I was thrilled to see that Rocky Balboa gets into the ring of the head of AARP to knock the snot out him for violating privacy laws to send people invites to join their old people club.

I suspect it will be a twelve or fifteen rounder considering how old our heroic boxer is now.

Friday, November 03, 2006

It's the Devil's Fault

And oftentimes excusing of a fault
Doth make the fault the worser by th’excuse.
William Shakespeare (1564–1616), English dramatist, poet. Pembroke, in King John, act 4, sc. 2.

Let’s see what excuse the Rev. Ted Haggard will use for his reason for engaging in homosexual sex with a paid prostitute for the past three years pitching his fire-and-brimstone against gays from the pulpit:

Drugs: Haggard used methamphetamine; I predict he’ll blame his addition from over using allergy medicines,

Alcohol: This is the usual stand by excuse. If this is used expect rehab to be next up,

Satan: The devil made him do it.

Haggard supported an amendment to Colorado’s Constitution banning same-sex marriage, on which Coloradans will vote next week. He told a news outlet that the accusations might have been politically motivated. Isn’t that what all the Republicans and hypocritical clergy say?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Funniest Pie Chart Ever - Really

Thanks, BoingBoing, for sharing.

Thanks for the Stardust Memories

Dante did not write in the age of malls, but he would have recognized Las Vegas, in any age, for what it is: a religion, a disease, a nightmare, a paradise for the misbegotten
Nick Tosches, writer (intro to the book “Literary Las Vegas”)

The Stardust Hotel is no more. The famed hotel closed its doors yesterday. The hotel opened its doors at noon July 2, 1958, according to the Los Angeles Times. It was the largest resort in the world, at the time, boasting 1,065 rooms. A portion of the casino’s history is written about by Nicholas Pileggi in the book Casino and dramatized in the movie “Casino” staring Robert De Niro.

I have a soft spot for the casino because my friend’s father was a professional gambler who made his bread and butter wages dealing at the card clubs in Gardena, but made his big bucks in Las Vegas. He arranged for his son and me to go to Las Vegas compliments of the Stardust. We got a mini-suite and gambling money.

I was 20 and had gone to the DMV, told them I lost my license and then received a temporary one that said I was 21, which worked in those days. That was a trip of many firsts. We were having a steak dinner and his dad ordered me a whiskey sour, which was my drink for a number of years; I learned to play craps; I learned how to bet baseball games; I saw my first topless show – the Lido de Paris from the front row, and then his dad gave us each $50 told us to get a hooker and be sure to use a condom. I, being the big chicken, opted to save my money, but my friend was already negotiating for us. No need to go into details, but once my friend started arguing that he wanted his money back; I thought a pimp was going to come in and kill us. Once that adventure was over, I being a bit of a germ nut threw all the linens into the hallway and had housekeeping replace everything.

I believe I did come home with money winning from both craps and the sports book.

We went back again with a group of guys, but I ran out of money and didn’t care that everything else was comp’ed, I needed to go home to study and my girlfriend, who eventually became Daughter’s mother was waiting for me. The group finally drove me to the airport and I had to run all the way to the gate, down the ramp (no terrorist threats in those days) and the jet (PSA) was pulling out. I placed my hands together in a prayer position and the pilot stopped the jet, pulled it forward, and allowed me to board.

The Las Vegas trips with On The Mark (stories for another post) started several years later and generally took place at the Desert Inn, which is also gone and is now the location of the Wynn hotel. I am confident most of my adventures in Las Vegas will stay in Vegas because I can no longer remember all the stuff, and the hotels are demolished.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Inflammatory question

Are certain religious leaders against birth control because unrestricted population growth leads to poverty, and poor people are fairly easy to control?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Backbone is a Good Thing

A lot of people are afraid to tell the truth, to say no. That's where toughness comes into play. Toughness is not being a bully. It's having backbone.
Robert Kiyosaki, investor, businessman, and self-help author

Senator John Kerry finds a backbone, unfortunately it’s two years too late.

He said during a discussion at gathering at Pasadena City College in California, “You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”

The Republicans looking for anything to keep the country in its divisive political pattern are now attacking Kerry for his remarks. Statistically, it is the less well off families and those without college educations that make up the bulk our combat forces, so Kerry is correct.

The Decider in Chief, 18 Republican members of the House and John McCain have called on Kerry to apologize.

As reported in the New York Times, Kerry’s response:

"If anyone should apologize, it is President Bush and his administration officials who started the ill-conceived war. If anyone thinks a veteran would criticize the more than 140,000 heroes serving in Iraq and not the president who got us stuck there, they’re crazy. I’m sick and tired of these despicable Republican attacks that always seem to come from those who never can be found to serve in war, but love to attack those who did.

“I’m not going to be lectured by a stuffed-suit White House mouthpiece standing behind a podium, or doughy Rush Limbaugh, who no doubt today will take a break from belittling Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s disease to start lying about me just as they have lied about Iraq. It disgusts me that these Republican hacks, who have never worn the uniform of our country lie and distort so blatantly and carelessly about those who have.”

At least Kerry is willing to learn from mistakes, Bush keeps getting soldiers killed for his.

Friday, October 27, 2006

I won!

Thank you, loyal readers, for your viewing of my Powerpoint video for Ben Lee's song, "Catch My Disease." I won four tickets and backstage passes to the show, and my wife is very pleased.

I'm still a little stunned, given that I didn't imagine enough cross-over between Ben Lee fans and Powerpoint geeks to propel my video to the top, but I guess you never know...

And if you want to hear more from Ben Lee, check out his MySpace page.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

On The Mark -- Poppycock

The rhetoric about how the Iraqi government and military need to be able to stand up for the country is nothing but poppycock. That's like saying the Little League World Series champs should be able to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers if they really wanted to.

The only strategy left at this point is to pull all the troops and technology (which can take the place of thousands of troops and miles) back to ring and secure the borders (including the oil fields, of course, since that is why we're there in the first place) and then let everyone else fight it out among themselves until there is a singular enemy left. I'd like to say we should just leave, but this country is not prepared for dealing with what would result in the Middle East from that action (e.g., dependence on oil).

Posted by On The Mark

Advertising for Osama bin Laden

It is pretty obvious that the debasement of the human mind caused by a constant flow of fraudulent advertising is no trivial thing. There is more than one way to conquer a country.
Raymond Chandler (1888–1959), author

I highly encourage you to visit Anything They Say to watch the Keith Olbermann commentary -- it's titled "The War of Terror." Olbermann hits a bull's eye regarding the scare tactics used by the Bush gang and the Republican Election Committee. The Republicans make sure bid Laden's message gets to far more people than might otherwise see or hear it. This is from the party that is suppose to protect us.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

AARP Go Away!

Men and women approaching retirement age should be recycled for public service work, and their companies should foot the bill. We can no longer afford to scrap-pile people.
Maggie Kuhn (1905–1995), civil rights activist

This is my last post on age for at least a week. What’s up with the AARP? They have been chasing me like the posse that was after Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I never applied for membership.

As far as I’m concerned it’s akin to getting notes from the mortuary telling you to start planning now.

Go away!

One more video --
please watch it so I can go backstage!

Click here to see it!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Send me backstage!

So my wife is a big fan of Ben Lee, and there's apparently a contest: make a video for his song, "Catch My Disease," and win passes backstage at his next concert (for which we already have tickets). So be a buddy, and click over to see it -- the more page views, the better my chances. Spoiler: I made his song into a Powerpoint presentation.,. thanks for watching!

Just click here!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

On The Mark -- Media Snuff Films

When I first heard the report on the radio I said to myself -- here they go again. I disagree with everything Rep. Duncan Hunter has to say, not to mention Rep. Brian Bilbray and Rep. Darrell Issa, all of California. The report stated that these representatives were upset because CNN had shown footage of an American soldier KIA. Good, I thought, Americans need to "feel" this war. A draft would wake up everyone right away when their high school kids are forced to fight as soon as they graduate, but that doesn't look likely at this point. So something else needs to knock some sense into Americans (yeah, I know what the polls say, but where's the outrage?).

The reps called it nothing short of a terrorist snuff film. After the brief news report I turned the radio off in disgust that these guys are still trying to spin ridiculous angles.

Then I read a report in the L.A. Times this morning about how CNN got this video from a spokesman for the Islamic Army. The footage had been captured by a terrorist, not a CNN news crew.

It is a snuff film. CNN was wrong. These representatives are right, as much as it makes me shudder to write that.

CNN had a long, intense editorial debate before showing the video (which, apparently is still on its website -- I won't watch it now), but apparently they weren't debating the real issue. They compromised by blacking out the video when the bullet impacts the soldier's head.

The debate should have been about whether this was news or propaganda.

Posted by On The Mark

Friday, October 20, 2006

Jewish Holidays for Hipsters

From McSweeney's, written by Michael Schulman.

Yom Hipper

(I would add Simchat Torahpalooza, Tisha Bizzav, and Mosh Hashanah.)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

More poor children.

Increasing numbers of L.A. children living in poverty.

One is a freak accident; two is a conspiracy

Stingray stabs Florida man in chest.


How many Austrians didn't say anything?

Destruction in the oceans

An increase in the number of ocean "dead zones."

Geneva Convention, Shmeneva Convention

U.S. anti-terror law may violate Geneva Convention.

Destruction in the sky

Hole in ozone layer grows even bigger.

Racism and xenophobia

Scaring Latinos away from ballot boxes.

Scandal or distraction?

Priest denies having sex with Mark Foley .


NBC nixes Madonna's crucifixion.


A 67 year-old Brazilian grandmother who shot a thief will be receiving a medal.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Support your local fighter

Darrell Forney is a boxer in Squaw Valley, California; I saw this flyer taped up on a gas station/convenience store window, and had to shoot it.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Biff's Question Song

Yes, it's that guy from "Back to the Future." And I've already blogged about his paintings, so stop asking me that question.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Ecstasy and the Agony

No money is better spent than what is laid out for domestic satisfaction.
Samuel Johnson (1709–84), author

I am sure no one’s day has been ruined, but there is a legitimate reason for my lack of posting lately. Two reasons actually, one is that work has been very busy as I wind up projects to go on vacation. And, two, I am moving. Wife and I purchased a new home where I will be spending my vacation unpacking and organizing -- happily so.

While I am thrilled to be moving, I am not so excited about packing and unpacking.

Friday, September 22, 2006

L'Shanah Tovah Tikatevu

For there is no man so righteous on earth who does only good and never sins.
Ecclesiastes 7:20

For our Jewish readers and friends

Thursday, September 21, 2006

New goal: blissful ignorance

I need something to be unrealistically optimistic about, so it might as well be this.

What I am Listening On My Way to Work

Jazz music is an intensified feeling of nonchalance.
Françoise Sagan, novelist

Diana Krall’s new “From this Moment On” is every bit as good as many critics have been saying. It is the perfect end of day – I need to relax type of music or a restful winter’s weekend.

Coming home I plan to listen to Elton John’s new one “The Captain & The Kid.”

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Gasoline Prices to Rise on Schedule

Business? it’s quite simple: it’s other people’s money.
Alexandre Dumas (1824–95), dramatist

It’s almost as if on cue. The headline in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times at the top of page four in the Business section encourages drivers to “Enjoy cheaper Gasoline, for Now.” Soon prices will be reacting to concerns about Iran’s nuclear enrichment program and continued delays in starting production at oil giant BP’s Thunder Horse platform in the Gulf of Mexico. Now the facility won’t be open until mid-2008.

This is why I have a hard time believing oil prices are not manipulated through a labyrinth of arcane deals that only Inspector Clouseau could uncover through serendipity.

According to the article, Monday was the first time since March that American motorists spent less than $1 billion a day on gasoline.

As I have predicted, no matter the excuse, gas will be $3.25 a gallon by Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


It's International Talk Like a Pirate Day! I celebrated by creating a special pirate brochure for my co-workers. How about you?

Monday, September 18, 2006

The White Stripes on the Simpsons

If you haven't seen this, you won't fully appreciate this Simpsons parody.

Los Angeles Times in Danger

Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half.
Gore Vidal, writer

The worse thing that can happen to the Los Angeles Times is to have it sold to a bunch of billionaires in Los Angeles headed by Eli Broad, philanthropist and founder of insurer SunAmerica, and supermarket magnate Ronald Burkle. Entertainment industry mogul David Geffen is making his own offer, according CNN Money. I have no doubt that if either group got control they would take a very hands-on effort to control editorial content.

The state of journalism is in real trouble and I believe the root of all the troubles is the Federal Communications Commission lifting of the concentration of media ownership rules. A further disgusting development is former FCC chairman, Michael Powell’s alleged destroying of a study that suggested greater concentration of media ownership would hurt local TV news coverage. See Anything they Say for the complete post.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Knocking on Heaven's Door

All publicity is good, except an obituary notice.
Brendan Behan (1923–64), playwright

October is my favorite month even though it’s going to make me another year older and that much closer to death. And, speaking of death, what a coincidence, I enjoy reading the obituary pages in the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. When I read about someone’s life and what major event he or she participated in or what they invented or endured, I am amazed. I also wonder about all the knowledge and wisdom we lose everyday.

I am hopeful death will allow me to go quietly and gently into that good night, and unless I go in some spectacular fashion or Toner Mishap gets well known, I don’t see an obit in my future unless it’s paid for by Daughter.

The reason I bring all this up is the book “The Dead Beat” by Marilyn Johnson is rather interesting. She notes that it’s more than coincidence, actually she believes it supernatural that people are leaving this world in occupational clusters. She lists several examples such as the obituaries of Paul Winchell, the voice of Tigger in "Pooh," and John Fiedler, the voice of Piglet in "Pooh," both left this world a day apart. She also points out two scientists, one who isolated vitamin C, and one who isolated vitamin K, died around the same time. And, of course, there are the famous deaths of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the second and third presidents of the United States who died on July 4, exactly 50 years after they signed the Declaration of Independence.

While this may be a stretch, I do think it’s worth noting that Oriana Fallaci the hard-hitting journalist known for her war coverage and for aggressive, revealing interviews with the powerful, and Ann Richards, the former Governor of Texas, also a champion of feminism, whose comment truly hits home for many women: “Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels,” died just days apart.

Coincidence or supernatural -- you be the judge.

Update: In today’s Los Angeles Times is the obit on Estelle Ramey. The headline reads, Estelle Ramey, 89; Doctor, Sharp-Tongued Feminist. Just add Ramey to the list with Richards and Fallaci. What I am beginning to conclude is that it’s best to have an occupation or cause that no one else has so you can go out on your own terms and timeframe.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Gas Prices -- Where are they Going?

Liberalism is, I think, resurgent. One reason is that more and more people are so painfully aware of the alternative.
John Kenneth Galbraith, 1908-2006, economist

I have been saying ever since gas prices started coming down and not jumping back up in time for Labor Day that there is some connection to the upcoming mid-term elections. Some how the market is being manipulated, at least from my perspective, because if a hurricane strikes or a pipeline breaks that is an excuse to raise prices -- immediately.

Jay Leno once joked oil companies raise the price of oil after any mishap faster than one gets gas from a bean burrito.

My prediction is gas prices will again climb to more than $3 a gallon after the election no matter who wins, oil companies tend to support the Republicans because they believe in the Darwinian theory of capitalism.

However, Dr. Steven Taylor over at Poliblog (where I check in for his take on political events) doesn’t agree with me, and he makes a valid point, but I believe there is some collusion, and maybe OPEC is involved. I left a comment under one of this posts and here is his response, which makes sense, so if anyone has an answer or a theory I'd like to hear it, maybe my friend at Anything They Say will have an answer.

Dr. Taylor’s reply:
...The price of oil is determined by the commodities market, and that isn’t just driven by the oil companies–it is driven by traders.

Explain to me how the administration or the oil companies are able to manipulate the price of barrel of oil on the commodities market.

And, if they can, what would be their motivation for doing anything except keeping prices high?

You might argue that the GOP is good for business, but if they can manipulate the oil prices at will, why would they care about which party is in charge.

Further, the argument is predicated on the notion than an administration that is supposedly inept is somehow simultaneously hyper-powerful. That doesn’t tack.

And you know that I am not an auto-booster for Bush.
Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Friday, September 15, 2006 @ 8:42 pm under a Thursday post titled $2.27

Friday, September 15, 2006

More than a Simple Twist of Fate

… Everything from toy guns that spark
To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark
It’s easy to see without looking too far
That not much is really sacred.

Bob Dylan, singer, songwriter

What’s the big deal about Bob Dylan using a phase here or a line there from some poet? The words are his most of the time. The New York Times ran the story yesterday about Dylan borrowing lines from Henry Timrod, sometimes known as the poet laureate of the Confederacy, for his new CD “Modern Times.” On his last CD, “Love and Theft,” a fan spotted about a dozen passages similar to lines from “Confessions of a Yakuza,” a gangster novel written by Junichi Saga, an obscure Japanese writer (this sentence was copied verbatim from the NYTimes article, well I changed the word album to CD).

These words are not just blowing around in the wind, Dylan has done some research to find these little known or forgotten writers and poets. The good news about Dylan’s use lines from other writers is that he brings them fame they most likely would not have received otherwise.

I wouldn’t think twice about being inspired to use words from another, it’s all right. I am not talking about plagiarism, more along the lines of using a phrase created by another and still creating an entirely different and new piece. Plato pointed out that the tragic poet is an imitator who is thrice removed the king and from the truth. Okay, so Plato was talking about imitation as it relates to the world, but every now and then, I have to get some use from my college texts.

Dylan is probably not entirely used to Google as a research tool or maybe he is and just assumes someone won’t uncover the source of his unoriginal lines, but the times they are a changin’. It would have been nice for Dylan to say inspired by Henry Timrod or Junichi Saga, but his ego or his attorneys advised against it. Now he needs shelter from the storm.

highlighted words are Dylan song titles, sort of.