October 31, 2008


What a crappy way to end the week.

This, I mean. (Click here, too, because the Times gets the headline right - but definitely read Rick Kogan's piece in the Tribune.)

One of the understated highlights - I don't know if that phrase makes sense, but I hope you catch my drift - of the thousands of days I spent in Chicago was meeting Studs Terkel at a cocktail reception for a community journalism project. He was, of course, wearing a shirt that looked exactly like the one he's wearing here, which I gather was true almost all of the time.

I'd be getting in over my head to explain why I thought it was so cool to meet him, but for one thing, he was the author of The Good War, one of the very few books I read all the way through during college. Although he was born in New York - his family moved to the Windy City before his teens - he was unmistakably, charmingly Chicagoan. Oh, and he had a cameo as a writer in Eight Men Out, which I always thought was cool.

In the way he culled great stories from thoughtful interviews, Studs was It to generations of journalists and other writers.

Extreme niche marketing

Buoyed by S and J Market's latest sale (and largest to date) - my new best friend in Atlanta bought three of these magnificent garments - I hurried our production team to get some new merch into the mix.
What they came up with were these exclusive reissues of concert shirts from one of the great tours of all time.

It will be interesting to find out whether anyone other than me thinks that these are worthy additions to our rapidly growing collection. I hope so. But who knows if there's anyone else out there who finds this wacky blend of world history and pop music iconography to be as entertaining as I do. If not, this exercise could truly redefine the term niche marketing.

Anyway, here, take a look. (Click the images to see how they look on the actual tour tees):

Go buy today - the Market is having a sale - $3 off when you use the code 3OFFZAZZLETS at checkout. That's some well thought-out code, isn't it?

A brief rumination on geology and meteorology in Southern California

Apparently it rained overnight here in the city of angels.

Which means that since Memorial Day, I have seen puddles on sidewalks as many times (two) as I have experienced an earthquake.

So I've got that going for me.

October 30, 2008

Not quite a flying start

If you're in marketing at JetBlue Airways, the following probably isn't what you had in mind when you paid the Los Angeles Clippers a whole bunch of money to sponsor an in-game promotion.

In this contest, a fan is given the chance to make baskets from various spots on the court, for the chance to win flights to various JetBlue destinations. The harder the shot, the better the destination. So far so good.

(Although the prize for the easiest shot - a layup from right under the basket - is a trip to Oakland. Which made me think of the W.C. Fields line about Oakland's East Coast counterpart: "First prize was a week in Philadelphia. Second prize was two weeks.")

At last night's Clippers season opener, the contestant made a basket to win that Oakland trip, but then proceeded to miss every other shot attempt. Which prompted the Clippers' emcee - and, again, this is a contest sponsored by an airline - to announce over the Staples Center public address: "Oh, man. You're gonna crash and burn."

Maybe not exactly the best word choice.

October 28, 2008

The answer was simple

First, a little background: To fully appreciate this post, it'll help to watch this one-minute video or read the transcript of this subtly funny Saturday Night Live commercial spoof from 1988. Or, if that's not the way you roll, you can just keep reading and I'll explain....

The spot, for the fictional First Citiwide Change Bank, poked fun at the self-important talking-heads financial services TV ads of the time. Its premise was that the bank existed solely to provide change - if you had a hundred-dollar bill and wanted a fifty, two tens, four fives and five ones and twenty quarters, First Citiwide was your kind of bank.

The kicker (starting at 0:53 in the clip) is delivered by the bank spokesman, who admits that customers always ask how Citiwide makes any money, if all it does is give people change. "The answer is simple," he explains. "Volume."

That seemed pretty funny to my high-school-senior brain, and come to think of it, it seems pretty funny now. It does not, however, seem like the basis for a legitimate business plan. For, like, a non-spoof company.

Which - finally! - leads me to the point of this post. Over the weekend, for no apparent reason, I was reminiscing about one of the great casualties of the dot-com bust: Kozmo.com.

For those who don't remember, or who didn't live in one of the seven markets it eventually served, Kozmo was a web-based retailer that sold snacks, drinks, small electronics, CDs and DVDs. And with distribution centers strategically located throughout each of its cities, it offered one-hour delivery.

So if it was 2000 - the year before Kozmo krashed - and you absolutely had to have a pint of New York Superfudge Chunk (which I did a few, OK, several times) and a copy of *NSYNC's No Strings Attached CD (which I definitely did not), and you had to have them pretty much right away, it was Kozmo to the rescue. And, despite the almost unfathomable convenience, prices were pretty much the same as you would have paid at 7-Eleven for the ice cream or at Tower Records (remember them?) for the CD.

Oh, and if it sounds too good to be true, it got better still: Delivery was free.

In other words, it was perhaps my favorite company of all time.

But even as I was enjoying the heck out of this brave new business model, I also felt a creeping doubt. Something close to guilt, actually. Without charging a premium, let alone a delivery fee, how could Kozmo possibly survive? I was pretty sure that the more I ordered from Kozmo, the more money I was costing the company, and the sooner it would go out of business. But there was Superfudge Chunk to be eaten, and I had Internet access, so I blithely put those doubts aside.

Until one day, probably just a few months before it all went pfffft, when I had the opportunity to write an article about Kozmo's marketing strategy. While interviewing the marketing director, I mentioned that I didn't quite understand how they could charge the same prices as retail stores, offer free one-hour delivery and absorb all of the attendant costs, and still turn a profit.

I am not making this up.

Her answer was simple: "Volume."

Beats working

Especially during a week like this, I feel like this guy has the right idea.

October 27, 2008

Chocolate kisses

One good thing about my name not being clearly identifiable on this blog is that I can just come right out and tell you what movie I saw this weekend.

Culture snobbery aside, you should be psyched about it, because... you get... another all-new installment of... Six-word Movie Reviews!

The movie: High School Musical 3: Senior Year.
The review: Way more entertaining than you'd expect.

(Thank goodness for contractions - that sucker was shaping up to be seven words.)

Probably the best part about the theatergoing experience - and I hesitate to say this because it'll probably sound creepy. But it's not creepy, so just go with it - was seeing it in a theater filled with 12-year-old girls. (Well there were also at least a few parents, one of whom we heard say to another: "So, they suckered you into seeing this, too, huh?") Every time Troy and Gabriella almost kissed, and especially the one time Troy took off his shirt, the theater sounded like the second coming of Beatlemania.

Even better, though, was the audience's reaction after the main characters shared a chocolate-dipped strawberry. Said one of the youngsters: "Ewwwww!" Said another: "It's like they're kissing! With a strawberry."

I know! Soooooooo gross!

October 24, 2008

Good news, bad news

Which do you want first?

OK, the bad news.

(Cue John Williams-composed breaking news trumpet fanfare.)
TASTEBUDS HELD HOSTAGE UPDATE: Day 26. The standoff has ended. Your Escalator Operator stumbled into the local (and by "local," I mean one of the six within a quarter mile of where I work) Starbucks and indulged in a hot, sweet and spicy chai latte.

I was enjoying the will power - surviving the excruciating challenge of not succumbing to my chai needs. But after almost four weeks, I remembered that I still had more than $15 left on my Starbucks card, and that money wasn't just going to spend itself. Clearly, in these trying financial times, it would have been foolish - nay, irresponsible - to leave all of that money just sitting there, where it couldn't help stimulate the economy. So in the interest of our greater good, I went for it. Besides, it's Friday. I deserve a treat.

I figure I can get another three and a half chais out of this debit card, and then we'll take it from there.*

OK, now the good news:

SHIRT AND SWEET. Let's hear it, kids. Three new wildly cool t-shirts have been added to the S and J Market lineup. So if you feel the need to show your love for High School Musical but in a cool, tasteful way, or if you appreciate the intricately rendered irony of a good Magritte painting (for men and women!), there's now a shirt that's just for you.

I'm figuring those two options sort of cover both ends of the spectrum.

* Sentence updated/edited thanks to Bugs' eagle-eye proofreading.

October 23, 2008

Madam President

Put your hands together for Tessa, who is too busy to read the SFTC, but who indirectly brought this slightly partisan but highly funny page to my attention.

You'll need audio - and, probably, residence in a blue state - for the full effect.

Warning: If you are a big animal lover, you might not want to click on the Oval Office door too many times. (Although the visuals supposedly will change every day, so if you're reading this after Oct. 23, that might not make sense. In which case, never mind.)

Why you should like Jason Bartlett

You might not care about the World Series. Or baseball. Or sports. Or anything that's good about America, for that matter.

But you should care about Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett. Because during the fifth inning of last night's World Series game, he stole second base. Why does that matter to you?

Well, as a result of that stolen base, you are entitled to a free taco at Taco Bell.* (And, no, I'm not admitting that I made a lunchtime run for the border yesterday. For three crunchy tacos.**) How great must Bartlett feel? At a time when Americans could really use a pick-me-up, the guy treats the whole country to approximately 1/4 of a meal of questionable nutritional value. Awesome.

* Can someone tell TB copywriters that "90ft." should have a space in there somewhere? Or else, maybe mistakes like that are just soooo out-of-the-bun.

** This is partly why I'm eating strawberries with a little granola - barely a light dusting of granola, really - as I write this post.

October 21, 2008

Numb and Numbers

Summarizing my last few days, in one of those cute weekly-magazine-style numerical lists:

Garlic and herb french fries that ended up constituting my dinner last night. I had just finished telling my brilliant and amazing wife that I've been thinking a lot about eating smarter. That the thought of a big, juicy hamburger seemed really appealing in theory, but I knew I would feel better about myself if I had something healthier - a little closer to the tofu side of the food scale - for dinner.

Then the waiter shows up and somehow the words "garlic and herb fries" come gushing out of my mouth. I hastened to add, "Without the cheese sauce."

My wife laughs.

"What?" I ask.

"You just said you wanted to eat healthier."

"Well. Um. The fries have herbs on them."

I think I lost that one.

Five minutes later, the world's largest order of french fries arrives. Way, way, way too much for a single person to eat, but I shift into another gear and polish them off. I think I'm good on fries for a while.

Shirts I've sold from (lord, here we go again) my fledgling t-shirt store. The illustrious GG was my first customer, which was awesome. As either Sarah Palin or Tina Fey would say, there's a special place in heaven for her.

But yesterday, I rang up an order from someone named Megan, who's from Chicago, and who I don't even know - in other words, this was not just a friends-and-family sympathy purchase. Clearly, Megan has impeccable taste. She picked herself up a "Wassup Wasilla" tee, perfect for the Decision 08 home stretch. No wonder it's now one of our top sellers!

As my sister pointed out, I only have to sell about 10 more in order to trigger my first commission check. So there's that.

Since you're dying for more awesome S and J Market t-shirts, I'm working on a new design (very highbrow) that should be posted to the store later today or tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Total hits recorded by Sorry for the Convenience as of late last week. I recognize most of those are friends-and-family sympathy hits, but I'll take 'em. Thanks for reading all of this weird stuff! You're the best!

Foreign countries from which people have visited SFTC since I started tracking last month. The list: Germany, Holland, Hungary, Israel, Jamaica, Peru, Russia, Thailand and the UK. Oh, and Canada. That counts, right?

Phrases "I wrote" that "were actually published" in the 2009 Zagat "Movie Guide." (Yes, Zagat also publishes a guide to movies. I guess it's so you "have something to do" after you "dine" at one of the "eateries reviewed" in their better-known "restaurant directories.")

It wasn't my first time getting "some of my bon mots" into Zagat. I landed a few in the Chicago restaurant guide "a couple of years" ago. But this one was "particularly rewarding" since, the way I see it, I was "competing for space against" dorky amateur movie reviewers "from all over the country" as opposed to just dorky amateur restaurant reviewers from "a single midwestern city."

Oh, "and since you asked," one of my "reviews" that they used was about The Savages (Laura Linney and Rochester's own Philip Seymour Hoffman take care of their senile old dad), about which I wrote "savagely smart script." Hey, they seem to like alliteration. I leave open the possibility that someone else submitted the same exact phrase about this movie, because, well, "savage" is right in the name, and it was a smart script, so "you do the math." But I definitely sent my survey in "with those words" on it, so I'm taking credit. Thank you.

The "other two" were about No Reservations, the flick in which Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart fall in love (!) after "initially not hitting it off" (!) while working as chefs in the same restaurant. I know, I was shocked, too. Zagat used my "as predictable as a Big Mac" and "a little heavy on the sugar." (Get it? Restaurant, food references. Right.) The movie was actually better than I expected it would be, "so sue me" if they only used my snarky comments. I have a reputation to uphold, people.

Since this post got me thinking about numbers (duh), I was reminded of something my dad said when I was a kid that cracked me up at the time - and still does. I think I was in second grade, and I had just nailed some particularly challenging spelling assignment.

My dad was sitting at the dinner table and I ran up to him and said, "I know how to spell approximately!"

"Big deal," he said. "So do I."

"No you don't. Let's hear."

Without skipping a beat, he said: "A - P - P - R - O - X - period."

October 17, 2008


So, apparently, every 29 years or so, I see Henry Winkler in person.

I walked by the former Fonz the other night at Dodger Stadium - right before watching the Dodgers lose an NLCS game to the Phils - and he seemed very cool, stopping to talk to fans and posing for pictures. He's also shorter than I remember (which I suppose is quite clear in this shot - or else this picture was taken by a very tall photographer who couldn't aim down).

But that could be because the last time I saw him I was in second grade, when I was not the hulking giant I am today. For some reason that I can't remember - but even if I could rembember, I'm not sure I would understand - Winkler was making an appearance at a local public library. Oh, right, it was probably to get kids interested in reading. (Unless I miss my guess, someone almost definitely said something about reading being cooooooool.) I really don't remember anything else about it.

That would have been right in the middle of Happy Days' 11-year run. Which, um: Happy Days was a kick, but it was on for 11 years? Also: Mr. Winkler was a huge star at the time! It's kinda hard to imagine a big sitcom actor doing an event at my local library now (and I live minutes away from Hollywood). Actually, are there even any sitcoms on TV right now, or is it just DWTS and a lot of shows that seem a lot like CSI:?

Henry, if you're reading this: See you in 2037.

October 14, 2008

Anyone need two?

My entrepreneurial career is off to a flying start: I sold one of my t-shirts! (Thank you, GG, thank you.)

The problem is that, by selling them through Zazzle, I don't get any of my commission money until I amass $25 in commissions. To reach that lofty figure, we're talking about another 10 or 11 shirts. By the time that happens, the Cubs might very well have won a playoff game.

Speaking of postseason baseball: If I've learned anything from the last couple of days, it's that I'm not really cut out to be a ticket broker. Yesterday, I got a marketing email from the Dodgers explaining that they were releasing a bunch of tickets for sale for game 5 of the National League Championship Series. Figuring any game of an NLCS is a surefire sell-out, I thought I'd get two tickets and then turn around and sell them for an easy profit.

So I clicked over to the Evil Empire's web site (which you probably know as Ticketmaster.com) and picked up two half-decent seats for tomorrow's game. I got a post up on Craigslist right away and on StubHub as quickly as I could, which wasn't very quickly, for reasons that I won't go into.

And then the Dodgers go and lose game 4, which means that now L.A.'s interest in game 5 - which could end up being the death knell to the Dodgers' season - is slightly less than L.A.'s interest in what transpired during the January 7, 2008, Concord, New Hampshire, city council meeting. (The meeting minutes are here, by the way, in case you're curious.)

So now it's 29 hours until the game starts and no bites yet. And I've got about $200 worth of Dodgers tickets that I'm probably not going to use.

And just as I wrote that paragraph: An e-mail appeared from a Phillies fan in San Diego. Go figure. We may have a taker. I may yet make a few bucks (emphasis on few) on this deal.

While I wait for my new best friend to get back to me about the tickets...

After attending two of the latest playoff games at Dodger Stadium, I have an observation for you. Many say our current economic meltdown, and the unconscionable greed, avarice, stupidity and criminal behavior it exposed, is a sure sign of the end, or at least the accelerating decline, of U.S. society, capitalism and/or America's once-lofty world standing. Until last night, I thought that was probably overstating the depth of our decline.

But if you want living, (mouth-)breathing evidence of the decline of civil America, all you'd have to do is sit in the lower- and medium-priced seats at the ballpark for a few hours and take in the unrelenting gluttony and bad behavior.

I realize I sound like I've never been to a sporting event before (definitely not the case) and like I'm about 80 years old (still a few years away). And Amish. But I swear it just keeps getting worse.

A couple was sitting in front of us with their son, who must have been about four, and I kept wanting them to get him out of there. Let him watch at home on TV, so every time the Phillies got a hit, he didn't have to hear 18 people yell "Fuck!" at the top of their lungs. Or so he wouldn't have to see wasted assholes harrassing the concession workers when they announced last call for beer sales at the end of the seventh inning.

It's gotten to the point that we count it as a pleasant evening at the stadium when we escape without seeing any fistfights in our seating section. At a playoff game two years ago, there were too many to count, and we finally gave up and left when one guy in our section was so bloodied he had to be taken away in an ambulance. Last night wasn't nearly that bad, but we did get close: At one point, a couple of beligerent twentysomething women almost got into it for no reason other than one of them was drunk and stupid, and as the argument died down, one of them yelled something like, "You're lucky I'm pregnant or I'd kick your ass." Her kid is going to have one awesome mom.

Maybe the guy who's going to buy my tickets for tomorrow (I hope I hope) will get to sit next to her.

Surf city, here we come

Next time you see me sitting in front of a computer screen, just typing random crap into the Google search bar, you can rest assured that I'm not wasting time.

I'm making myself smarter.

This news is exactly what lazy, out-of-shape Americans need to hear right now, isn't it?

T-shirt update: Some new inventory (I think that's industry lingo for, um, shirts) went up on my Zazzle.com page last night. Judging by the new designs, I probably need even more brain function than I'm getting right now with all of my web surfing. I know, I'm getting sick of the cross-promotion, too.

October 13, 2008

So would that be a t-shirt sail?

I don't mean to be pushy, but Zazzle.com is having a Columbus Day sale today - everything is 14.92 percent off. (I assume they're serious.)

So if you've been dreaming about picking up a lil' somethin' to show off your snarkiness, your love for Tulsa or Wasilla, or that, um, you're a judge (?), today's your big day. Be sure to enter COLUMBUS2008 in the appropriate place at checkout.

Sorry for the commercial. I just really want to sell some shirts because this is kinda bringing me down. Plus I just couldn't resist the sale-sail pun.

October 10, 2008

Wow! I thought Test Person lived in Chicago

For months, I've been very impressed with Obama's strategy of making small-time donors feel like they "own" a piece of his campaign. It's a great idea and the marketing to support it has been extraordinarily well-executed.

Apparently, the strategy has made some other fans. Guys like Test Person, a native of "Some Place, Utah." And someone named Jgtj Jfggjjfgj, who's from... well, from this article, I'm not quite sure where Jgtj is from. However, I have a hunch his close friends call him J.J.

Now, I know the McPlain camp is going to cry foul, and say that Obama is taking money in excess of federal campaign contribution limits from millionaires who are taking the time to come up with incredibly deceptive pseudonyms and then going to the trouble to get online and donate $7 here and $10 there.

But I don't think that's the case.

I think people are remembering the day when Obama was first introduced to most of the nation - his speech at the Democratic convention in Boston four years ago - and he referred to himself as "a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too." I think other skinny kids with funny names - names like Test and Jgtj - feel like this campaign is also their campaign. That America has a place for them, too.

So I think the Repubs will probably get over it. I mean, those people could be real. It's not like their names are Track or Trig or something.

Oh, and also: James Franco's face is nearly perfect.

October 9, 2008

October 8, 2008

In which I become a wildly unsuccessful entrepreneur

I have too many t-shirts.

There, I've said it.

My dresser drawers are literally overflowing with the things, and for the most part, I can't bring myself to get rid of any of them. Some are ratty but oh-so-comfortable (a red one with a tastefully faded State Farm insurance logo comes to mind). Others are old and stained but have sentimental value (my Interlochen ringer t).

Several are from 5Ks, 10Ks and half-marathons that I ran, back in the good old says before my knees decided to start messing with me. (I'm never getting rid of my shirt from the 2003 Chris Zorich 5K race, which I ran at a personal-best 7:10 per mile pace.)

Since I'm a guy, I also have a ridiculous number of shirts commemorating sports championships I personally had no part in winning. There are at least three Chicago Bulls shirts from the mid-90s, a few from the Ravens' Super Bowl and, best of all, a University of Rochester basketball t-shirt from the magical 1990 NCAA Division III title season. That last one is particularly special, because only players, coaches and recruits got this particular edition. My friend Kyle, who joined the team the following fall, gave me his shirt when I graduated from college. One of the best presents ever.

Oh, and let's not get into event t-shirts that I haven't even worn (Ripken's 2131 game, McCartney in Chicago, Cream at MSG), because at some point I'm going to get them individually framed. That'll happen.

Then, there are shirts that have it all: sentimental value, cool design, wearability and extreme comfort. On this list: a Genessee beer t (a gift from HPA and Mrs. HPA) and my Capitol Records and Guinness shirts (both green, and both from the best wife in the world).

But the thing is, you can always use another t-shirt. (Or, I guess, frame another t-shirt.)

Which is why I'm making a highly tentative, low-risk, low-cost move into the cutthroat business of t-shirt design. That is to say, I've posted a few designs for sale on Zazzle.com.

I'm particularly proud of today's addition to my (ahem) product line. If nothing else, it's proof that our designers (me) can work quickly to respond to hot issues in politics and popular culture. Take a look:

Pretty sharp, right? And more patriotic than paying taxes! (Sorry, couldn't resist. But this is still a pretty unbiased t-shirt. Perfect for the Democrat or Republican in your life.)

Seriously, though, it's really for sale. Over here. It's a soft, comfy American Apparel t, so you know you'll look good.

C'mon. You know you want one.

October 7, 2008

Grammar school

I have a new second-favorite blog. My favorite, of course, is World's Best Burger, although sadly, the chefs have been on blogcation the last few months. As if going to law school and getting married are more important than weighing in on Mitt Romney and bubble gum TV shows. Psh.

Anyway, my new No. 2 is After Deadline, a New York Times blog that goes deep, deep, deep into grammar and usage. Favorite part is the comments from readers who try to second-guess the editor.

Want a full-on discussion of who vs. whom, or curious about the proper use of the phrase "begs the question?" (On the latter, I'd wager a buck that you've been using it wrong.) If so, After Deadline is your destination.

Best I can tell, the blog has yet to cover whether it's OK to end a sentence with "also, too."

TASTEBUDS HELD HOSTAGE UPDATE: It has now been nine painful days since I've savored the flavor of a creamy-and-sweet-and-just-slightly-spicy chai latte. It was all I could do not to look as I drove by my Starbucks this morning. Don't worry; I'm sure I'll be OK.

October 4, 2008

Great moments in customer service: Citi edition

Dear Citibank:

I know you're super-busy this month, what with taking over all of those failing banks and all. But is this really how it's going to work for your preferred customers?

We pick up the action Saturday afternoon. Your Escalator Operator checks out his bank balances online. Something is amiss. He picks up his Sprint phone and calls the local Citibank branch. The lights dim. (Just kidding.)

Me: Hi. I was just in your branch an hour ago, and Chris transferred everything from my savings account to a new higher-interest account. Now I'm looking at my accounts online and it looks like the old account is overdrawn by about $42.

Citi: [Silence]

Me: Is that something you can check?

Citi: Yes, one moment.
[30 seconds later] Sorry, our computers are a little slow today.*
[30 seconds later] I see what you're referring to. Well, it's too soon to tell you anything about that. We won't know until Tuesday.

Me: OK, well could you or Chris call me on Tuesday to let me know what's going on?

Citi: It would actually be better if you called us.

Me: What? Really? I think it would be better if you called me.

Citi: Well, we don't want you to be disappointed if we forget to call you. We get very busy.

Me: Yes, so do I.

Citi: So we'll hear from you on Tuesday?

Me: Yeah, I'll get right on that, turdface.**

Couldn't you at least make up a reason that your customer service folks can't call customers back? Tell me the branch phones can't make outgoing phone calls on weekdays or something. But having bankers tell your customers that they're too busy or might forget to - I think I have this right - do their jobs? I think that might be the wrong way to go.

Nice work.

Feeling very preferred,

* It's 2008. I'm guessing you're not using dial-up at Citibank. This is no longer a valid excuse for anything.

** Or else, I just said "Sure" and hung up as she was finishing her "Thank you for calling Citibank" BS. I don't like to upset people who handle my food or people who have access to my bank accounts.

Debate 3

As a rule, I'm not doing posts that merely send you to other blogs. But I'm making an exception in this case because I make the rules here, punk.

Do yourself a favor and check out Ph33r and Loathing's Sarah Palin Debate Flow Chart. (The graphic is at the bottom of his Oct. 2 "Moosehunter" post.) It's a little slice of brilliance. Big thanks to GlutenGirl in the D.C. for sending it to me.

Seriously, go look at it. Why? Because she can't name a newspaper or magazine. That's why. (Just in case the flow chart is unclear, here's a full-size version.)

OK, I'm done with posts related to the VP debate. For today, anyway.

October 3, 2008

Debate 2

I feel bad writing this because I don't want to offend the good men and women who provide in-flight service on our nation's passenger planes.

But while watching Ms. Palin last night, I kept thinking that flight attendant would be a good next job for her.

Also, anyone else enjoy hearing her relay that McCain's world view "says that America is a nation of exceptionalism"? Really, exceptionalism? Well, I guess that was better than her "shout-out" to Gladys Wood Elementary School, establishing a new high watermark for the use of hip street lingo during a nationally televised political debate. (Full transcript here.) Oh, Dan Quayle, how I miss your command of the English language.


Let's just say, hypothetically, that I had spent 90 minutes last night on national TV doing nothing but pounding Jager shots, while someone sitting next to me drank two glasses of water and ate a vanilla wafer.

Could you blame me if I went back on national TV this morning and announced: Wow, that other guy? He really has a drinking problem!

Isn't this - the headline especially - sort of the same thing?

October 2, 2008

Taking us for a ride

I know we're plunging into the worst economic blah blah blah and the Palin-Biden throwdown is tonight and the Dodgers beat the Cubs in game of the NLDS yesterday and they just found Steve Fossett's plane.

All newsworthy, I suppose.

But I think U.S. papers are missing what is clearly - clearly, as my sister likes to say - the biggest story in the world today. And thank goodness The Times of Johannesburg was there to bring it to us. Are you ready?

A lion - a freaking lion - rode a horse.

I know you don't believe me, but here's photographic proof. That's right. Now let that sink in for a second.

This is just more evidence that American papers are controlled by an increasingly out-of-touch liberal elite, bent on keeping these important developments from a public that is hungry for details about vital current events.

Also it points out how incredibly cool (for news geeks, at least) this page of the Newseum's web site is. You can check out today's newspaper front pages from all across the U.S. and 62 countries. So if you're dying to know the top story in Sebring, Fla., or Neptune, N.J. - and why wouldn't you be? - you can have at it, in full living color. Go Newseum! (I added that link to the You Should Also Visit sites over there in the right column so you can keep rockin' the headlines for hours, or even days, into the future.)

One other related note. We were watching Jeopardy last night - yeah, save the comments - and they had a little promo for the Newseum, which was fine in general. But the chirpy commentator noted that the architects used glass for the front of the building to "represent the transparency of our media" (not an exact quote, but pretty close).

Which made me think: Yeah, but glass also represents "windows," which I think are a common feature of, um, buildings.

October 1, 2008

Yes, I am a municipal good-luck charm

Ahh, the baseball playoffs begin today. Maybe the NCAA basketball tournament is the one televised sports event I'd rather watch if I were stranded on a desert island (with a TV and a satellite dish), but otherwise, it's hard to top playoff baseball for pressure-packed TV viewing goodness.

Can it be a coincidence that my current and most recent hometowns (and I guess I can count Anaheim as part of Los Angeles, since the Angels do) each has two teams in the postseason? OK, it's probably a coincidence. Still, the only thing better than that is that New York has no teams in the mix. Life is good.

Life is also good because we'll get to see at least one playoff game live and in person - Cubs/Dodgers game 3. If the game fails to excite, I'll pursue my dream of eating one Dodger Dog per inning.*

Speaking of sports, huge shocker that the Olympic folks would find everything was OK with the 10-year-old Chinese gymnasts competing in the Summer Games, wasn't it?

CHAI TEA UPDATE: Yes, folks, I've made it to Day 3 without a Starbucks visit. Thanks for your support during this difficult time.

* I say this before almost every game I attend, and the quest usually dies after the first inning. Turns out they have a nice hummus and veggie plate at Dodger Stadium.