September 27, 2002
“LET’S ROLL” ~ “LET’S ROLL” ~ “LET’S ROLL”


A week or so ago I was watching “The Golden Girls” on Lifetime -- Hey, I like sitcoms with older Jewish actresses playing even older Italian characters who bear an uncanny, almost eerie, resemblance to my paternal relatives, okay? -- and Sophia Petrillo, the character played by Estelle Getty, said, get this: “Let’s roll!”


“Let’s roll!” Yes! “Let’s roll!” How about that? “Let’s roll” was a phrase in wide and very generic use even before 1992, the year of the series finale, at least nine years before the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001.


I wonder if the litigious ├╝ber-widow and uncompromising trademark claimant, Lisa Beamer, was watching.


I wonder if Lisa Beamer is planning to sue the producers for trademark infringement.


I wonder if Lisa Beamer is planning to sue the increasingly disabled Miss Getty for the same.


I wonder if Lisa Beamer will get royalties every time that rerun is aired.


I wonder why Lisa Beamer is appearing at the Target store in Plymouth Meeting, Pa., tomorrow.


I wonder when Lisa Beamer’s attorneys will start hounding me.


I wonder if I can trademark the phrase, “Let’s barf!”

September 24, 2002
OUR WEEKLY READER




“Whoa . . . slow down. What page are we on again?”



[Thanks to Max Sawicky of MaxSpeak and by extension, Eschaton and BartCop.]


POST PUBLICATION ADDENDUM (Sept. 27, 2002):


The authenticity of the photograph displayed here is apparently in doubt. As such, the wing nuts sending me e-mail about this want me to take the photograph off the site. Sorry, no. The larger point is still valid.

September 23, 2002
CATCH A RIDE


And now for something completely different . . .


The next time you go out on the town, throw your bartender for a loop and order a sidecar.


Never tried one? You’re not alone. The sidecar’s heyday was back in the 1950s, if not earlier, but it’s a terrific cocktail.


I was introduced to the drink by the girlfriend of a one-time friend, the former a chef, the latter allegedly a writer. This woman made one mean sidecar, and about five of them got me through a particularly rough day, that before greed, lies, immaturity, and selfishness ended what I mistakenly thought was a genuine friendship.


Just be sure the bartender makes it right: as The Unmentionable Web Site That Broke the Link to a Photograph of a Sidecar and Therefore to Any Traffic That Might Come His Way From Here emphasizes, the ingredients matter.


The Unmentionable Web Site That Broke the Link to a Photograph of a Sidecar Previously Posted and Therefore to Any Traffic That Might Come His Way From Here offers a wide array of variations on the sidecar, but trust me, stick with high quality cognac, cointreau, and fresh lemon juice. Insist upon it.


Order the drink straight up and with a lemon wedge, as shown in the photograph from The Unmentionable Web Site That Broke the Link to a Photograph of a Sidecar and Therefore to Any Traffic That Might Come His Way From Here, but without sugar on the rim and definitely without a maraschino cherry. Enjoy.

September 22, 2002
MORE ON CHILDREN’S SONGS


Is it me or is Liza just one great big pain in the ass?

September 20, 2002
THAT TRASH WON’T BURN!


Chicago-area father-and-son hooligans and body art enthusiasts William Ligue Jr. and his unidentified 15-year-old progeny last night attacked Tom Gamboa, first-base coach of the Kansas City Royals, and now face battery charges.


Fortunately, Gamboa received only a few cuts and a bruised cheek. “He walked off the field to a standing ovation from the crowd at Comiskey Park, where the Royals beat the Chicago White Sox 2-1,” CNNsi reports.


“Gamboa said one of the men was speaking, but he couldn’t tell what he was saying,” according to CNNsi. “‘He was yelling something, but it was incoherent,’ Gamboa said.”


Why am I not surprised?

September 19, 2002
WHAT DID WE DO BEFORE COMPUTERS?


From the traffic reports I receive for this site and The Rittenhouse Review it is abundantly clear that the number of visitors, and the length of their time at the site, suddenly picks up at or after 4:00 p.m. (Eastern Time).


Off the top of my head I can think of two possible explanations for this.


First, readers are starting to return home from work, settling in for some time at the computer before dinner and what not, and stopping by to see what’s new.


Or second, with an hour or so left to go at the office, readers are killing the final, often painful, sixty minutes cruising around the web, visiting their favorite (or least favorite) sites, an activity we all know can be done while still appearing to look very, very busy.


I’ll leave the decision in your hands.


All of this is a roundabout way of getting to my real point: that the proliferation of PCs has exponentially increased the ways office workers, or anyone with access to the web at their desk, can waste time.


Visiting a mildly humorous web site such as |||trr||| is one way, of course. Reading a purportedly serious weblog like The Rittenhouse Review is another.


In an entirely different league, however, are such sites as The Official Rock Paper Scissors Strategy Guide, a diversion that would have been impossible to propagate without the Internet.


So, enjoy. Just don’t tell your boss I sent you there.


Oh, and if you have favorite sites along the same vein, drop a line to |||trr|||.

SOME THOUGHTS ARE BETTER LEFT UNTHOUGHT


I don’t know where this one came from today, but I was thinking, is “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” actually a dirty little ditty? You know, the part about Dinah in the kitchen and all that.

September 14, 2002
DIALING FOR . . . NO REASON AT ALL, APPARENTLY


Slacktivist catches a striking contradiction in the methods used in telephone surveys.

September 13, 2002
SOMEONE MUST BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE: PART IV


Who thought this was a good idea?


“Exclusive” ~ When an anonymous tip leads a broadcast reporter to seven bullet-ridden corpses at a Boston nightclub, she realizes that she must investigate the case to further her career. Starring: Ed Begley Jr., Michael Nouri, and Suzanne Somers.


(Lifetime TV, Sept. 13, 1:00 p.m.)

FUN, FUN, FUN


Max Sawicky sure hangs out with a lot of fun people.

September 12, 2002
WHAT DID WE DO BEFORE COMPUTERS?


This short cartoon -- “Flight of the Chickenhawks” -- is well worth your time and a noble way to kill about 10 minutes of downtime at the office.


Thanks to Media Whores for drawing my attention to it.

September 10, 2002
WEST PALM BEACH KIDNAPPING HOAX


Who needs fiction when the real world gives us stories like this one?


“A report that three teenage girls from West Palm Beach were kidnapped at gunpoint was a hoax to cover their part in an armed robbery of a young man they set up, police said Tuesday,” according to today’s Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.


“Police said 18-year-old Jorge Beltran III of Key Biscayne drove to Virginia Key Beach late Monday to meet with three girls, ages 15 through 17, and was attacked by two males who pepper-sprayed him and threatened him with guns,” the Sun-Sentinel reports. “The two suspects and the three girls then took off in Beltran’s car and in the car the two men had driven to the scene.”


And so arises a new definition of the term “dusted.”

September 09, 2002
BONEHEAD OF THE WEEK AWARD


The Bonehead of the Week Award goes to British tennis pro Greg Rusedski, who sputtered out this gracious tribute to Pete Sampras after losing to the American in the third-round of the U.S. Open:


“I tried my best. But unfortunately, when it counted, I gave him a little too much respect. I mean, he’s not playing that great. I’d be surprised if he wins his next match. To be honest with you, I’d be very surprised.”


Although Rusedski’s remarks garnered substantial media attention, Sampras’s post-match observations did not, which is quite a shame, considering how well they reflect upon this longstanding champion and true gentleman:


“I feel pretty good. I feel like it’s a tough match. Playing Greg is difficult. You don’t get a ton of rhythm. It’s kind of hit-and-miss tennis. You kind of hang in there against Greg. I thought he played pretty flawless. Really mixed up his serves, first and second. He kind of had me guessing a lot the whole match. I thought Greg played well. I thought he handled the nerves well.”




Pete Sampras

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images


Of course, as most readers know, Sampras proceeded to beat the incredibly talented and much younger Tommy Haas and Andy Roddick, the significantly younger Sjeng Schalken, and the one-year-older Andre Agassi to win his fifth U.S. Open Championship, the oldest man to win the title since Australian Ken Rosewall, then nearly 36 years old, took the cup in 1970. (Note: Sampras holds the record for the youngest man to win the U.S. Open, that in 1990, at age 19.)


I don’t know but I think that if I were Rusedski, I might think seriously about skipping Flushing Meadow next year.

September 03, 2002
SOMEONE FEELS OUR PAIN


At last. At long last, someone feels our pain.


It's the pain that comes from being a fast walker in a snail's-pace environment. It's not a physical pain, but a psychological pain, a persistent form torture consciously or unconsciously inflicted upon the swift of gait by our fellow, albeit less determinedly ambulatory, sidewalk pedestrians.


I am among those who normally walk fast. Sometimes unusually fast. At times, alarmingly fast. Even when I'm not in any particular hurry. I have no idea why I do this, but it is a habit picked up, or a trait acquired, during childhood. Nor is it a habit I care to break, either voluntarily or by surrender to the life-draining pace adopted by others.


Walking at a rapid clip can cause considerable frustration and exasperation, and it is a virtually inescapable predicament. Whoever said New Yorkers are always in a hurry never attempted the trek from 57th St. to 48th St. on virtually any of Manhattan's north-south avenues.


Granted, areas of the city overrun by hordes of seemingly dazed tourists and/or pretentious boutique shoppers, or hampered by the constant construction and reconstruction of buildings great and dismal (no city loves its scaffolding more than New York -- the crap can stay up for years after a project is completed), present the greatest opportunities for sidewalk rage. The same holds for neighborhoods characterized by centuries-old, absurdly narrow sidewalks. Yet even in neighborhoods not so encumbered, the dowdy Upper West Side for example, the sidewalks are crammed with meandering zombies blissfully unaware of their surroundings.


I've always known I wasn't the only person prone to the potentially pernicious effects of this trait. Over the years, a growing but still small number of friends and relatives have admitted to being charter members of the Get the Hell Out of My Way Society. Typically, however, I have learned this fact during whispered conversations in a hidden nook of someone's home during a dinner or cocktail party, the self-confessed speed demon reluctant to offend those in attendance who might live, or at least walk, at a more leisurely pace.


Now, however, a cherished kindred spirit, unfortunately unidentified, perhaps out of fear of reprisals that likely would take the form of still greater aggravation, has published what could easily serve as our manifesto, "Can't We All Just Move Along?", in today's edition of the Chicago Tribune.


"Anyone who has ever been trapped behind a herd of slow-moving pedestrians knows the feeling of utter despair," the statement begins. "The seconds tick by slowly and the blood pressure soars as the frustrated pedestrian seeks passage around the sidewalk clot. If they're going slow [sic] enough, you can feel yourself being sucked backwards into yesterday."


Apparently daily life continues to erode the minds, hearts, and souls of Chicago's fleet-footed, "what with the outcroppings of construction scaffolding, Mayor Richard Daley's sprawling flower planters, al fresco cafes, manic street performers, daredevil bicycle messengers, gaggles of preteen girls with gargantuan American Girl Place shopping bags, and dawdling cellphone-addicted strollers," along with "menacing in-line skaters and skateboarders, . . . those infernal green sidewalk-sweeping machines[,] and maintenance guys who feel compelled to hose down the sidewalks at midday, creating more potential snail-zones, not to mention wet shoes."


The writer offers a few quick tips of sidewalk etiquette:


"First, the obvious. Sidewalks exist so that people may move from Point A to Point B. (Hence, the verb 'walk.') Strangely enough, some people are a bit fuzzy on that concept. Step onto any downtown sidewalk, and you will notice two kinds of people. 1.) Those who want to get somewhere; and 2.) Everyone else."


And this: "Helpful hint: The sidewalk is not a mall. If you're walking six abreast, or trying to walk baby carriages side by side, you are blocking traffic. People are trying to get around you. Hear those muttered curses? See those folks contorting themselves to squeeze past? Take the hint."


These are useful reminders but they barely begin to cover the full ground of offenses members of the Get the Hell Out of My Way Society endure on a daily basis, ground that has been tended to by the organization's 64-page official manual, "Normal Sidewalk Behavior in Civilized Societies," a direct and instructive phrase preferred over the coy and gently suggestive term "Sidewalk Etiquette." Ask for a copy the next time you're passed by that handsome, sharp, and quick young man who really does have someplace to go.

THANKS FOR THE WARNING


Jim Lehrer, host of "The News Hour" on PBS, in response to a question from Howard Kurtz, "How many more years do you plan on doing [the show]?", during an appearance on CNN's "Reliable Sources":


"I will continue to do this until one of two things happen. I don't . . . get a kick out of it anymore. . . . [O]r I start drooling on the air."

LANCE IS LANCED


The Russians have dumped Lance Bass.


The teeny-bopper has been asked to leave the cosmonaut training program and as a result is extremely unlikely to be the world’s third space tourist.


Russian officials attributed the decision to the widely reported difficulty Bass experienced raising the required $20 million in a timely manner.


Maybe. But I'll bet it was his hair.