March 31, 2008

Hot dog!

Might not matter to half of SFTC readers, but it's Opening Day (capital letters intentional) for Major League Baseball.

This really should be a national holiday. Of course, part of the appeal in most places I've lived is that it's a sign that spring is here (or, in the case of Chicago, that it would be coming sometime in the next eight to 10 weeks). Sadly, it's a little less monumental in Southern California, where the weather is this nice all year round.

And unfortunately, baseball has kind of diluted the excitement the last few years by having the first two games of the season a week early in Japan and by adding another "opening" game on the eve of the first Monday of the season. So on second thought, I guess this is more like just the fourth day of the 2008 baseball season. Yippee.

Might have to get myself a hot dog and throw some peanut shells on the ground to celebrate.

March 27, 2008

Don't believe the snipe

Hillary and Barack were doing so well, coming up with all of the clever ways to explain mistakes they or their staffers have made thus far during the campaign.

At least for Senator Clinton, I think the streak is over.

I personally have never been caught in sniper fire, but I'm guessing that if I were, I'd remember it pretty clearly for approximately the rest of my life.

So Hill's inane ... what, exactly? ... apology? -- suggesting that she merely misspoke when she said that she faced grave danger (Nicholson: Is there any other kind?) during a 1996 visit to Bosnia -- was pretty ridiculous.

I'd disagree with her assertion that a "mistake" like this proves she's human. Seems like it proves she's a B.S. artist who'll say anything to get elected. That's probably true for all three and a half candidates, but I think this will stand as the stupidest misspeak of the 2008 primary season.

Editor geeks, rejoice

The New York Times' director of copy desks answers readers' questions about the aracana of copyediting in a feature that'll probably seem incredibly boring to non-writers, but makes me superhappy.

Always wanted to know why a copy desk chief was called the "slot," and Merrill Perlman comes through. Just wish someone would ask her where the -30- at the end of articles came from.

March 26, 2008

Matter of the house

Interesting to juxtapose the two New York Times articles I read today about responses to the mortgage crisis.

There's John McCain basically saying, to lenders and borrowers: Too bad. Your mistake. Not the government's problem.

And there's a local agency in Baltimore that's actively finding homeowners who might be having trouble making their payments and helping them stay out of foreclosure.

These aren't necessarily opposing views, of course. The agency isn't a government body, and so it might even be the kind of solution McCain would favor. But meantime, he comes off sounding like he'd be happy to sit in the White House burning $100 bills while the nation plunged into Great Depression II, if that's what it came to.

Lie hard

Clearly, lying is bad.

But doesn't it seem like a terrible idea for Congress to make it illegal to lie -- just lie to other people, not to government officials, mind you? That's right: Illegal. As in punishable by a major fine and a trip to the big house.

Yes, I get that the nitwit covered in this New York Times article is lying about something profoundly important to some very important people. But this is probably something a few military types could take care of on their own, without the law getting involved, ifyaknowwhatImean.

On the other hand, maybe this is just a sneaky way for Congress to punish people for being complete and utter morons -- this guy would obviously meet the requirement -- but they just didn't want to phrase the law that way. Now, that's something I could get behind.

For a good time, call

If the cops had killed this asshat instead of just wounding him, I'd call it natural selection.

So, for our purposes, it's just a story about an unbeliveably stupid would-be criminal. He was apparently too stupid to be an actual criminal.

I swear the reporters have to be inventing this stuff. People can't really be this moronic, can they?

March 25, 2008

Endorse mint

People shouldn't be allowed to say they're endorsing a presidential candidate unless there's another clear option.

In other words, I still sort of care who's endorsing Clinton and who's endorsing Obama. Presumably the Democrats backing them aren't really considering McCain -- they're choosing which candidate from their party best suits their taste.

Which is why -- although I'm writing about it -- I really don't care that Nancy Reagan is "endorsing" John McCain. Did that end any amount of suspense for anyone?

I think anyone who's endorsing McCain at this point -- especially any die-hard Republican who has no other Republican choice left, and double-especially someone who was married to the Gipper -- missed the chance to endorse anyone. They may be backing him or they may have decided to vote for him, but I don't think they get to "endorse" him anymore.

It's like choosing teams for kickball and "endorsing" that unathletic kid who's the last one to get picked because, well, he's the only one left.

March 24, 2008

Brain food

Two somewhat related thoughts on the topic of comestibles:

1) Thanks to Menchie's, a fro yo joint conveniently located a few miles from home, I've rediscovered the tasty goodness of Cap'n Crunch. The cereal, which I consumed by the box throughout college, is one of the approximately 800 toppings that Menchie's customers can slather on top of their frozen yogurt. And by "customers," I mean me.

Anyway, I can't really figure out what makes it taste so damn good -- the Quaker Oats web site refers to some nonsense about "sweetened corn and oat" blah blah blah, but I think those evil geniuses have actually invented some crazy superfood that doesn't really taste like anything grown on earth. Matters not.

The point is, Cap'n seems to go with every fro yo flavor I've tried. Last night, it was the perfect complement to a (small) bowl of coconut. Dare I call it coco fro yo?

I think I just did.

So next time you're looking for that certain something to play off of the subtle flavors of your own frozen dessert, buy yourself a box of Crunch and thank me later.

2) Here's how dumb I am.

One of the fro yo (OK, now it's getting annoying) flavors on tap at Menchie's last night was "original tart." I grabbed myself a little sample -- don't worry, Beth, you're allowed to sample -- and took a lick.

It was a little, well, tart. Mouth-puckeringly tart. And not entirely pleasant. I knew it tasted like something I'd eaten before, but I couldn't place it. Lemon custard? Not exactly. Lemon pudding that-has-been-left-out-too-long? No. What, then?

I gave Jenny a taste and she looked at me and said, "It tastes like yogurt."

Which was, of course, exactly right.

Somehow, that connection between the stuff that Dannon sells and the stuff you can slather with hot fudge and Cap'n Crunch was lost on me about 20 years ago.

March 19, 2008

Ice, ice, baby

At last!

A reasonable answer to the question: Should I have a health-food shake or lots and lots of Ben & Jerry's, possibly with a side of Ben & Jerry's?

The authors probably don't mean for people to take their report as license to gorge themselves on New York Superfudge Chunk, and to think of it as a "healthy alternative" while they're doing it, but that's going to be my takeaway.

Quick aside: This reminds me of one of the best answers anyone ever gave me during an interview for an article. I asked an exec at Ben & Jerry's to tell me the worst suggestion anyone had ever given him for an ice cream flavor. Without skipping a beat, he offered, "Britney Spearmint."

March 18, 2008


I guess if the election were up to political cartoonists, Obama would win easily.

And Hillary would, apparently, be a candidate for Jenny Craig's next spokesmodel.

Regardless of your political leanings, though, this NYT piece -- covering how caricaturists see your three remaining candidates (funny, they didn't draw Nader) -- is worth checking out.

Keep it in your pants

I actually don't have anything interesting to write (I know, it's shocking since everything else on SFTC is so captivating), but I have to get some new content up here because the Google Ad that's been running on SFTC the last few days is driving me nizzuts. (Oh, no I dihn't!)

Ever since the last post went up -- the one that was chiefly about John Ritter's doctors, but briefly mentions the name of Eliot Spitzer's favorite hooker -- the ad banner over there in the right column has been running a link to a website featuring info about and photos of Eliot Spitzer's favorite hooker. I can't mention her by name, lest the ad continue appearing. So I'm hoping an entry about something completely unrelated will get those tiny little Google Ad people inside my computer (how do they fit with these new thin screens?) to come up with a new banner that has nothing to do with Eliot Spitzer's favorite hooker.

Of course, having the word "hooker" in here three -- now, four -- times probably won't help the cause.

Ah well.

So that's a long-winded way of introducing this question: Can everyone just cut it out with the wacky cellphone ringers? Make it ring like a regular phone. No more Bon Jovi. No more songs-that-only-exist-because-someone-composed-them-as-ringtones. No more Fur Elise. Just make it ring like a regular phone. Then answer it. We get it. You have a cellphone. It rings. BFD. I don't care how jazzy your little electronic-toned melody is. Just stop.

Better yet, stick it in your pants and put it on vibrate, so nobody has to hear it at all.

That "stick it in your pants" thing is going to trigger some funny ads, too, isn't it?

March 14, 2008

Worth somewhat less than 1,000 words


To: People who edit
From: SFTC
Re: Your brains

Look, I was as big a fan of John Ritter's sensational sitcom acting as the next guy. Also, he was supercreepygreat in Slingblade. But I don't think "doctors being cleared" in his five-years-ago death qualifies as a top-of-the-home-page-with-a-big-photo "DEVELOPING STORY." It sucks that he died, but in the scheme of things, this is not that important to very many people, and--not to nitpick--but it's not developing. It's already developed. Get over your wacky yellow banners and just report the damn news.

Of course, I have to admit your wacky yellow banner got me to pay attention to the story. Which is sort of unfortunate, because you chose to illustrate the article with a photo of a smiling John Ritter. Take a look:

Call me crazy, but when the first two things you see are the bold headline and smilin' John, it sort of makes it look like this dead guy is elated about the jury clearing the doctors who may or may not have hastened his own death. Which he probably isn't/wasn't. (I'm just guessing.)

I understand he was a comic actor and tended to smile a lot, so you were probably limited in your Ritter photo options. And running a shot of him in his postmortem state would not have gone over well. But, maybe a shot of the courtoom scene? His relatives after hearing the news? A retro shot of Joyce DeWitt?

C'mon. Try harder next time.

Oh, but thank you for your diligent, in-depth coverage of Ashley Alexander Dupre's MySpace page. Keep up the good work there.

March 10, 2008

Oh, and those Spitzer 2012 campaign buttons?

So much for any talk about Eliot Spitzer, Great Punisher of Corporate Malfeasance, running for the nation's highest office in 2012. Or ever.

Well, at least he wasn't caught in a Minneapolis bathroom stall. That would have been embarrassing.

Man, I am SO tanked!

Say what you will about all of W.'s malapropisms during his seven-year reign of stupid, but at least he generally sounded... sober.

Now, when you hear the crap come out of his mouth, don't you get the impression our prez is like the guy at the party who's had three extra Milwaukee's Bests and stayed about two hours too long?

There was the time in September when he was in Australia --that's the big island with the kangaroos and stuff -- speaking at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation -- that's APEC. A-P-E-C -- and referred to the event as "OPEC." And then topped that by telling everyone how nice the "Austrian" people had been during his trip.

But I swear it's gotten sillier.

Last week -- and this is very timely, since the World Series was four months ago -- he honored members of the world champion Boston Red Sox at the White House. If you'd like to be wowed and amazed by his verbal strategery, the transcript of the whole hellacious speech is here.

Among his gems was his shout-out for the Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, who is from Japan and therefore handles his interviews through translators (something the president probably should have considered about seven years ago). And W said: "Red Sox Nation extends beyond the South Lawn, extends beyond New England -- it obviously goes to the Caribbean and even the Far East. So we welcome Japan's Daisuke here to the South Lawn. His press corps is bigger than mine. And we both have trouble answering questions in English. "


Of course you grew up in the United States, where English is taught in many schools, before going to Yale, where -- I'm told -- most classes are taught in English. And Matsuzaka is, well, a baseball player who, until last year... how do I put this?... lived in Japan.

The drunk-dude patois continued when he alluded to slugger Manny Ramirez, who quite sensibly, I think, decided to skip the ceremony. Quick backstory for you: Ramirez had also ditched the White House ceremony after the Sox' victory in 2005; his excuse then was that had to visit his sick grandmother. So W offered this: "I'm sorry... Manny Ramirez isn't here. I guess his grandmother died again. Just kidding. Tell Manny I didn't mean it."

Ah, the dead grandmother jokes. Nice.

Incredibly, White House staff left the microphone turned on for the rest of the ceremony. No mention in the transcript of whether his next words were, "I just love you, Manny. Don't hate me. Wow, I am really lit! Manny, you're my bud!"

March 5, 2008

Guns don't kill people...

... idiotic lawmakers do.

It's neat that anyone can be chosen to represent their fellow citizens through the electoral process. Or maybe "neat" isn't the right term, so much as... um... dangerous.

A news item today made me wonder if there's a way we can require that anyone registering to run for office take an intelligence test. That way, we could make it just a little tougher for raging lunatics like Arizona state senator Karen S. Johnson to get their wack-job ideas turned into law.

After reading the first few paragraphs of this New York Times article about legislators who want to "allow people with a concealed weapons permit... to carry their firearms at public colleges and universities," I double-checked my calendar to make sure that it wasn't April Fool's Day already. Nope, still early March. Apparently, this is not a joke. And, it turns out that 15 states are considering legislation to make it easier for people on college campuses to pack heat.

This is, of course, a response to the string of shootings at Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois, and, unfortunately, too many other colleges and universities. But the argument that there are too many people being killed by guns, so let's make sure more people have guns? Yeah, that logic escapes me.

Maybe it would be a deterrent to would-be shooters if they knew that their would-be victims were armed? Right, except did anyone notice that the shooters don't much seem to care if they lose their lives? And doesn't it seem like these are folks who aren't exactly running down a checklist of pros and cons before they go insane and start shooting up classrooms?

Maybe Ms. Johnson's heart is in the right place? Would you rethink that notion when you read about her initial plan for the Arizona law? Reports the Times: "She initially wanted her bill to cover all public schools, kindergarten and up, but other lawmakers convinced her it stood a better chance of passing if it were limited to higher education."

So thank you, Karen S. Johnson. Now that I've resolved to never step foot on a college campus in Arizona again, I feel safer already.

March 4, 2008

Tiny bubbles

I was as shocked -- shocked, I tell ya' -- to learn this morning that the makers of Airborne have apparently agreed to settle a class-action law suit brought by a bunch of people (classy activists, apparently) who claim -- get this -- the product doesn't actually do anything to prevent or cure colds.


Hasn't anyone told these people that Oprah said the stuff was legit?

A New York Times blog today says that after a 2007 ABC news report that questioned Airborne's remarkable health-benefit claims, the lovable folks behind the cute little tubes of pellets-that-make-your-water-fizz-and-turn-green quickly removed said claims from their packaging and ads.

Guess so. The package that's sitting on my desk now ("Effervescent Health Formula") includes only a vague claim about the product: "The natural ingredients in Airborne's unique formulation reflect state of the art antioxidant, electrolyte, and herbal technology." Day-um. Now what am I supposed to do when I feel a cold coming on? Next, they'll tell us that Emergen-C (8000 percent of your daily vitamin C!) isn't actually that good for us, either.

I submitted a claim through the Airborne Settlement website so I can be reimbursed for some of my Airborne purchases over the last few years. Whatever settlement I get, I'll probably use it to buy more Airborne -- I love making my water all fizzy.