August 28, 2002

You know you’re watching too much CNBC when . . .

You think the music in Boeing’s corporate-image advertisements is pretty cool and that the typescript accompanying the ads is poetry:

Have you seen the horizon

Beyond the horizon

Where the sky expands

And the eagle is the dove

The final frontier is not space

It is the human imagination


A classic Tori Spelling performance on Lifetime tonight at 9:00 p.m.:

“Deadly Pursuits”: A student’s life is shattered when both his mother and sister are found murdered and his missing father becomes a suspect. Also starring: Patrick Muldoon, Richard Belzer, Mitchell Laurance.

August 27, 2002

I’m going to try to kick my coke habit.

No. Not that.


Nectar of the Gods

August 25, 2002

Green burials” are gaining popularity in Great Britain.

“[G]reen burial transforms funerals from lavish, resource-consuming productions into environmentally friendly, do-it-yourself tributes. Bodies are not embalmed, and are buried in simple coffins of soft wood or bamboo or even cardboard. Saplings or shrubs replace stones as grave markers. Once full, the sites will have become regenerated forests, and will be operated as nature preserves,” writes Andrea Gerlin in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer.

Sorry but this just creeps me out.

And shouldn’t the British be occupying themselves with more pressing national concerns? Like building dental schools?

August 21, 2002

Having trouble keeping up with your favorite weblogs and other sites?

Give Right Web Monitor a try.

Enter the addresses of your favorite sites and RWM will check them, at a rate of frequency you establish, and notify you when the site has been updated.

It’s working well for me so far. Far better than Blogger, I might add.

August 20, 2002

“The U.S. is now mainly governed by men in their mid-50s, i.e. the Vietnam generation,” writes Matthew Engel in The Guardian, “except that this lot missed being the Vietnam generation. The enterprisingly original New Hampshire Gazette maintains a ‘Chickenhawks’ database to tell their stories.”

Engel’s essay hits its “high-ney” note with this, um, “hole-ly” entertaining tail tale:

“The best story concerns Rush Limbaugh, the ferociously bellicose radio personality, who allegedly had either ‘anal cysts’ or an ‘ingrown hair follicle on his bottom.’ It is not my custom to mock others’ ailments, but anyone who has listened to Limbaugh’s programme [sic] can imagine the dripping scorn he would bring to the revelation that a prominent Democrat had skipped a war over something like that. Also, in his case, a pain in the arse [sic] is peculiarly appropriate.”

Wonder if it Hurts to Sit Down


I wonder why skateboarders can’t comprehend why they’re so unpopular with many of their fellow citizens and why any attempt to restrain their excesses is treated as an assault on the Declaration of Independence.

Speaking for myself, there’s something discomforting about dodging reckless sidewalk skateboarders whether one is walking down Seventh Ave., Walnut St., or Pennsylvania Ave., particularly when the aim of the game seems to be to ride as close as possible to ambling pedestrians.


The Secret Life of Zoey,” starring Mia Farrow, which debuted on Lifetime TV Monday night at 9:00 p.m., turned out not to be a Truly Great Awful Movie, or TGAM, as we had hoped, but only a Truly Awful Movie, or TAM.

Although Farrow’s performance was excellent, the film, as a whole, was surprisingly weak.

Ex-Brat-Packer Andrew McCarthy, appearing in a supporting role as a “psychiatric social worker,” was unbearably horrible and embarrassingly so, albeit appropriately condescending and smug as a know-it-all member of the “helping professions.”

And Julia Whelan, as the title character, Zoey, was simply awful.

Of course, just about any film featuring the “love and warmth” of the thoroughly misnamed helping professions is destined for failure.

These films are always a complete joke: We wait for the weak main character to succumb to the predetermined, resolve-all solution: a “12-Step Group,” the kind of monthly, weekly, or even daily meeting where one addiction is exchanged for another, where “victims” of “addiction” present “insights” for their peers’ applause, and everyone in charge pretends to know more about the participants than the participants themselves.

Enough, already.

August 18, 2002

Yes, I’m a little biased because I own one, but English Bulldogs, without doubt, are the best dogs in the world.

Two Beauties

This isn’t my dog, but this is very much what she looked like as a puppy:

Cute or what?

August 17, 2002

I don’t know why this popped into my head tonight.

Twenty-three years ago:

Aunt Sarah: “So have you got a girl?”

Me, then: “No.”

Me, now, though she’s long since passed away: “No.”


The beauty of these three verses matters not one whit the language in which one reads them:

Katsokaa, kuinka suurta rakkautta Isä on meille osoittanut: me olemme saaneet Jumalan lapsen nimen, ja hänen lapsiaan me myös olemme. Tästä syystä maailma ei meitä tunne, eihän se tunne häntäkään.

Rakkaat ystävät, jo nyt me olemme Jumalan lapsia, mutta vielä ei ole käynyt ilmi, mitä meistä tulee. Sen me tiedämme, että kun se käy ilmi, meistä tulee hänen kaltaisiaan, sillä me saamme nähdä hänet sellaisena kuin hän on.

Jokainen, joka näin panee toivonsa häneen, pitää itsensä puhtaana, niin kuin hän on puhdas ja pyhä.

(I John 3:1-3. In Finnish.)


Still One of the Great Ones

Readers will find a quirky but admiring tribute to one of the best actresses of all time, Patricia Neal, in the latest issue of the New York Observer, “A Different Breed of Celebrity,” by Ronda Kaysen.

Kaysen is an usher at the Gramercy Theater, where celebrities apparently expect, and get, special treatment, including the best seats in the house, on a recent night was told by an excited colleague, “Patricia Neal needs to be reseated.”

“I didn’t know who Patricia Neal was, but I didn’t let on,” writes Kaysen. “I can recognize Reese Witherspoon when I see her, and Laura Linney’s not too hard to pick out of a crowd, either. If I don’t recognize the celebrity, usually the name rings a bell. I know I’m supposed to know who they are,” she continues.

“But Patricia Neal meant nothing to me. My only excuse is that I’m 25 -- I was born after her career had come and gone. . . . And then she came into the lobby herself. . . . But I still didn’t recognize her,” Kaysen notes.

Neal, who of all celebrities deserves a good seat, got one.

Kaysen humbly adds, “It wasn’t until later that evening, after I took the train home and searched for her name on the Internet, that I knew the full extent of my gaffe.”

We’re not sure it was a gaffe, but we can understand Kaysen’s embarrassment.

As Kaysen sums it up: “Patricia Neal was an Academy Award-winning actress, Gary Cooper’s mistress and Roald Dahl’s wife. She was the husky-voiced seductress who starred opposite Paul Newman in ‘Hud.’”

And more. To this list of accomplishments (and that’s the right word: judging by the historical record, being married to Dahl was no picnic), we would add that Neal, with the help of Cooper and director King Vidor turned Ayn Rand’s tiresome, overwrought, and sophomoric novel, ‘The Fountainhead,’ into an on-screen masterpiece.

Patricia Neal

And Neal’s has been a life full of tragedy, one that puts to shame the whiney complaints of so many contemporary actors and actresses.

“Her 6-month-old son was struck by a car while in his stroller, then she lost a 7-year-old daughter to measles,” writes Kaysen. “Three years later, she suffered a series of massive strokes at the age of 39. Reported dead in Variety, she clung to life in a hospital bed -- three months pregnant. She went on to be a leading force for stroke victims, founding the Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center, the first of its kind in the country.”

”Perhaps even more impressive,” adds Kaysen, “she went back to acting, and received an Academy Award nomination for her role in ‘The Subject Was Roses.’ In short, Patricia Neal wasn’t just a celebrity . . . she was someone who’d overcome real adversity and made a significant contribution to the world.” [Emphasis added.]



That’s it. We’re just predictable knee jerks. Who needs to know more?” -- Kathryn Jean Lopez, executive editor, National Review Online.



Be sure to visit Ground Zero Theme Park, a project of Todd Hulin.

For more information about the park, pay a visit to the New York Observer and read “The Grinch of Ground Zero.” [Ed.: Second story.]

August 14, 2002

President George Bush in Recovery

August 13, 2002

My nomination for the best beach-reading book ever published: When She Was Bad: The Story of Bess, Hortense, Sukhreet and Nancy, by Shana Alexander.

The book is aptly described by its publisher:

“In 1945 Bess Myerson made headlines as Miss America. In 1988 she made them again as the star in one of New York City’s seamiest political corruption trials, the ‘Bess Mess.’ The still-beautiful Bess was charged with conspiracy to influence Hortense Gabel . . . the judge in her lover’s divorce case. Bess’s lover, the much younger Andy Capasso, ended up in prison. Bess and the judge were acquitted. But not before Bess Myerson’s scandalous private life became front-page news.”

Also featured prominently in this tale: the unforgettable and inimitable Sukhreet Gabel, the judge’s daughter, and Nancy Capasso, Andy’s wife.

Originally published in hardcover by Random House in 1990, the book was reprinted as a mass-market paperback by Dell Publishing in 1991.

Sadly, both volumes are out of print, though the paperback is held under lock-and-key in the library of The Rittenhouse Review.

Your late-summer project: Visit the used bookstores in your favorite beach resort town or country-cottage village and find a copy of this book. There are plenty of used copies for sale on the web at sites including,,,, Powell’s, and Alibris.

You will thank me. I’m certain of it. Rare is the beach book that will make you glad you skipped Saturday evening happy hour.


“What if the ‘Hokey-Pokey’ really is what it’s all about?”


I just got mooned by my two-year-old nephew!? And it was a real, honest-to-God mooning, not a random event, not a cute happenstance. He asked for some candy and I said, sure, after he ate his pears he could have candy. Hearing that, he turned around and mooned me.

August 12, 2002

There is a fine line between truly awful movies and truly great awful movies. Defining that line is more a matter of art than science, and, of course, is a very subjective form of analysis.

However, before alerting you to the upcoming movie we think everyone with the right sensibility will enjoy, I’ll provide some examples of each genre.

Truly Awful Movies: “Amadeus,” “Cocktail,” “Dances with Wolves,” “Dead Poets Society,” “Exit to Eden,” “Grease,” “Ishtar,” “Longtime Companion,” “Mystic Pizza,” “Spice World,” “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “The Thin Red Line,” “The Waterboy,” “The Wiz,” “Waterworld,” and “Xanadu.” (Just a sampling, I assure you.)

Truly Great Awful Movies, a/k/a TGAMs: “Airplane,” “Airplane 2,” “Caligula,” “Dick Tracy,” “Homecoming,” “Mermaids,” “Mommie Dearest,” “Not Without My Daughter,” “Parenthood,” “Showgirls,” “The Exorcist,” “The Perfect Mother,” “The Poseiden Adventure,” “The Stepford Wives,” “Trog,” and “Valley of the Dolls.” (Again, just a sampling, I assure you.)

I’m constantly searching for the latter, which are among my favorite guilty pleasures. These days the best places to find TGAMs with reliability are on basic cable, normally on the high end of “double-digit land.” Such networks as Lifetime, TBS, TNT, and USA Networks are treasure troves of the genre.

Imagine then the eagerness with which I await “The Secret Life of Zoey,” premiering August 19 on Lifetime. Already the film appears to be a very promising candidate for joining the growing ranks of TGAMs.

The synopsis of the film reads: “‘The Secret Life of Zoey’ explores a very real drug problem among today's teens: the abuse of prescription drugs. Marcia Carter (Mia Farrow) discovers that her ‘perfect’ daughter, Zoey (Julia Whelan), has been stealing prescription pills out of her medicine cabinet. Marcia, a time-strapped divorcée, must help her unhappy, troubled daughter overcome her growing addiction, and so she enlists the help of a psychiatric social worker (Andrew McCarthy). Can a guilt-ridden Marcia help her daughter with a tough-love approach? Is Zoey ready to kick her habit? This riveting drama gives viewers a glimpse of the long, uphill path to recovery for teen addicts and their parents.”

Granted, the story line and the cast lack the “camp” value normally associated with the top ranks of TGAMs, but Lifetime more than redeems itself with the deliciously ironic promotional line employed in the commercials that have been running on the network for the past several weeks.

Referring to Mia Farrow’s character, the voice-over announcer says: “She thought she knew everything about her daughter. Until she learned the deadly truth.”

Okay, “deadly” is a bit strong (“awful” would have worked better), but doesn’t this remark hit just a little too close to home for Miss Farrow’s comfort?


Sadly, we have learned that Enos Slaughter passed away early this morning at a hospital in Durham, N.C.

The world has lost a great baseball player and the man whose given name was a godsend to crossword puzzle writers everywhere.

August 11, 2002

Yes . . . I know. I’m probably the last person in America to have received the e-mail message republished below. Nonetheless, I thought it was interesting and since this is my site, I’ll do what I want to. And I’ll add my own comments as well!

Did you know . . . ?

Butterflies taste with their feet. [So? What’s to taste? Rotting leaves?]

A duck’s quack doesn’t echo, and no one knows why. [I don’t know about this. That damned AFLAC duck’s quack is echoing through my brain as I write this.]

In 10 minutes, a hurricane releases more energy than all of the world’s nuclear weapons combined. [Yes, but nuclear weapons aren’t aimed at trailer parks.]

On average, 100 people choke to death on ballpoint pens every year. [Mr. Nader, call your office.]

Ninety percent of New York City cab drivers are recently arrived immigrants. [Tell me about it!]

Thirty-five percent of the people who use personal ads for dating are already married. [Tell me about it!]

Elephants are the only animals that can’t jump. [Thank God.]

Only one person in two billion will live to be 116 or older. [I hope I’m not one of them.]

It’s possible to lead a cow upstairs . . . but not downstairs. [Reminds me of my Bulldog.]

Women blink nearly twice as much as men. [All that crying, no doubt.]

It’s physically impossible for you to lick your elbow. [Oh yeah? . . . Oh . . . yeah.]

The Main Library at Indiana University sinks over an inch every year because when it built, engineers failed to take into account the weight of the books that would occupy the building. [Figures . . . Hoosiers.]

A snail can sleep for three years. [Big deal. So can I.]

No word in the English language rhymes with “month.” [Of interest only to tortured female adolescents writing bad poetry, much of which ends up in small Midwestern literary reviews because no one can tell a good poem from a bad poem anymore.]

Or “orange.” [Ditto.]

Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing. [No kidding. Ever seen a photo of Abe Vigoda?]

The electric chair was invented by a dentist. [Yes, and the dentist’s drill was invented by Dr. Mengele.]

All polar bears are left-handed. [Not a single switch-hitter in the bunch, huh?]

In ancient Egypt, priests plucked every hair from their bodies, including their eyebrows and eyelashes. [I guess they didn’t have to spend much time hearing confessions.]

An ostrich’s eye is bigger than its brain. [Can’t the same be said of President Bush?]

“Typewriter” is the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the keyboard. [Cool, but that still doesn’t justify the stupid placement of all of the keys.]

“Go,” is the shortest complete sentence in the English language. [And the name of one of the best movies I’ve ever seen.]

If Barbie were life-size, her measurements would be 39-23-33. She would stand seven feet, two inches tall. [And I would still be intimidated by her.]

A crocodile cannot stick its tongue out. [Does it really matter?]

Americans on average eat 18 acres of pizza every day. [Each or collectively?]

Almost everyone who reads this will try to lick his elbow. [I don’t think so. Not my readers.]

August 10, 2002

The best sentence from a very good article about the new suburbanites by David Brooks in the latest issue of the Weekly Standard, “Patio Man and the Sprawl People”:

“Patio Man notes somewhat uncomfortably that in America today the average square yardage of boys’ fashion grows and grows while the square inches in the girls’ outfits shrink and shrink, so that while the boys look like tent-wearing skateboarders, the girls look like preppy prostitutes.”


Why is it that every time I hear or read Stephanie Zimbalist’s name I feel compelled to add “Jr.” to the end of it? As in, Stephanie Zimbalist Jr.


Jonathan Chait has a terrific piece in the latest issue of the New Republic, about the “First State,” also known as the “Diamond State,” also known as Delaware, and what should more appropriately be called the “Piece of Crap State.”


And I say that not only because my psychotic, selfish, self-centered ex went to some crummy college there (after pretty much getting kicked out of another school), but because the place really is an ugly dump from one end to the other.

August 07, 2002

I’ve shared “The Stinkymeat Project” with at least a dozen friends and family members and not one of them has found it amusing. And yet every time I read it, I’m on the floor laughing out loud and gasping for air.

Stop by a take a look. This guy’s hilarious. A genius, really.

If you think it’s funny, or even if you don’t, drop me a line and let me know whether or not I’m insane.

Here is scientist Mahlon Smith’s description of the Stinky Meat Project:

”Here’s what happened when I took 3 kinds of meat, 19 days, and 1,000,000 maggots, and stuck them in the yard of my unwitting neighbor. Of course, the neighbor eventually found the meat in his yard. Fortunately, I wasn't arrested -- so I am free to do it all over again. Stay tuned. Middle of August: The revenge of stinkymeat.”

Photographic Record on Day 4 of the 19 Days of the Stinkymeat Project


Bonnie Fuller’s “reign of terror” apparently continues unabated at US Weekly, the scrappy competitor of People, the most profitable magazine in the country.

The masthead continues to drop names at a rate of three a week, according to yet another article about the magazine in today’s New York Post, and staffers are continuing to gripe about the late nights demanded by Fuller’s intense yet haphazard management style.

US Weekly Editor Bonnie Fuller

I’m getting tired of this never-ending “misery at US Weekly” story. Buck up, folks. Fuller is getting the job done and things could be worse. I know dozens of people in the magazine business who are either unemployed, underemployed, or misemployed, and have been for a year or longer.


Look at this weather forecast for Helsinki!

Helsinki, Finland

I am definitely living in the wrong country.

August 06, 2002

This just in from the daily e-mail blast distributed by the kind people at “Larry King Live”:

Joe Esposito -- ‘the King’s’ closest friend saw it all -- from the addictions, divorce and eventually his death. Tune in for intimate stories about the King of Graceland.

“Join Larry tonight at 9 p.m. EST as Joe shares private memories and personal pictures as we remember the REAL Elvis.”

That’s Larry King for you. Always right there with the people you want to hear from the most. The congenitally criminal Bush administration is preparing for an undeclared war on Iraq and King’s spending an hour talking about perpetual loser Elvis Presley, his drug problems, his divorce (King is an expert on this topic), and his pathetic death.

Come on! The guy’s been dead longer than most of King’s wives have been alive. Can we move on please?


Ford Thunderbird


Okay, so how pretentious is this crap?

And we thought only lesbians threw clay.
August 05, 2002

Look at this bunch of nobodies! All collected in one place!

Nigel Ashford

Bruce Bawer

Niclas Berggren

John W. Berresford

Ralph Blair

Rob Blanchard

David Boaz

Dale Carpenter

John Corvino

Chris Crain

Mel Dahl

Wayne R. Dynes

Steven Greenberg

Jim Kolbe

David Link

Carolyn Lochhead

Niall Lynch

Eric Marcus

Peter McKnight

Stephen H. Miller

Deroy Murdock

Stephen O. Murray

Sue O'Connell

Walter Olson

Matthew Parris

Tom G. Palmer

Mark E. Pietrzyk

Jonathan Rauch

Bob Roehr

Richard J. Rosendall

Richard E. Sincere Jr.

Andrew Sullivan

Steve Swayne

Jennifer Vanasco

Paul Varnell

Norah Vincent

Hastings Wyman

I’m willing to cut slack for Jonathan Rauch, because I think he’s an excellent writer who actually does think for himself, and for Bruce Bawer, because even though I sometimes disagree with him, Bawer is the most genuine intellectual of the lot. But that’s as far as I’ll go with this sorry gang.

Just one question. Where is Tammy Bruce? Too independent or too embarrassing?


"I want to be a macho man!"


August 04, 2002

Ashley Blazer Biden, 21-year-old daughter of Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of obstructing a police officer early yesterday.



If you want something done right, do it yourself. If you want something done wrong, take it to Philadelphia.

August 02, 2002

Who thought this was a good idea?

Ore-Ida Funky Fries.

Note especially the Kool Blue version



If you want something done right, do it yourself. If you want something done wrong, take it to Philadelphia.



If you want something done right, do it yourself. If you want something done wrong, take it to Philadelphia.


Not your garden-variety jerks, geo-magnetic jerks.