For anyone who has read a state department travel advisory
--this clever twist
barrows heavily from the Nepal travel advisory, but I think it has enough universal elements for you to get the idea.
Want to know what happens when the Pentagon uses resumes submitted to the Heritage Foundation to find junior management for an occupied country? Lots of unqualified conservative twenty-somethings
screw things up in Iraq. Best Quotes:
"They had come over because of one reason or another, and they were put in positions of authority that they had no clue about."
"I wanted to pull their heads off oftentimes."
"There were a lot of people who, being political science majors, didn't know what an income statement was, who were asking the impossible. . . . That was giving us ulcers, quite frankly."
"We don't seem to have enough senior-level folks making the decisions in the right place."
This is a very interesting NY Times story
on the perks of EU Parliamentarians. One example: they can get reimbursed for the highest fare price for plane tickets between their home country and Brussels, even if they got a better deal. A Finnish Parliamentarian says he makes $3,000 a flight. I guess I would be mad if I were a taxpayer, but I'd also consider going into politics...
Woo hoo, the Bush twins are coming out
! Into the public that is. Now that they've graduated from college they'll be working on Daddy's campaign. I am oddly fascinated by the activities of children who become celebrities by virtue of their parents' fame and judging by their past behavior these two will not disappoint. Following their arrests, escapes from their secret service details, trashy clothing choices and indulgent parents, I'm guessing we'll have plenty to read about Barbara and Jenna.
Reason Magazine has startled its subscribers
with an issue about privacy. The hook? An aerial shot of their homes on the cover, circled in red, with the words "They know where you live!" An ingenious idea for the libertarian magazine, but one that took lots of planning and work.
One more thing: for all that is holy and good, people, stop voting for Jasmine Trias. There's no good reason why she's still in the American Idol competition and if she stays tonight, I will lose faith (yet again!) in America. She seems really nice, I guess, but the girl CANNOT sing. Don't even get me started on the Idolbot that is Diana DeGarmo. I'm all about the Fantasia love!
Tonight brings the series finale of Angel, and I'm already mourning the loss not only of my favorite hour of appointment television but of the Buffyverse. I wasn't a fan of Angel at first and I've had issues with it at various times. For one thing, I missed the feminist spark that animated Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And for another, the series had trouble establishing its own tone. But during the five-year run, the series found its own voice. David Boreanaz became a dark, tortured, angsty, and really funny leading man, while the secondary characters, particularly Alexis Denisof as Wesley, grew into their character arcs. I think I'll miss Wesley most of all; his affair with femme fatale and film noir villainess Lilah was a high point of the series. But I'll also miss Amy Acker as geek-girl turned ancient-goddess, J. August Richards as Charles Gunn, the baddest lawyer on the planet, and of course, James Marsters as the other vampire with a soul.)
When Buffy ended, it went out with a bang--with the power of the Slayer transferred to all of the potentials around the world. It was a brilliant extension of the metaphor of the Slayer. We're all slayers, Buffy said, and we all have the power to kick demon ass, whether those demons be bad boyfriends or lost friendships or just a bad final exam. (I'll be sure to apply this lesson to my Federal Income Taxation final exam tomorrow. When in doubt, I'll just roundhouse kick section 1014 and double-punch the realization requirement.) Angel's series finale, I hope, will end differently. While Angel had its own epic moments, it was never about the big sacrifice. Instead, it was about the daily struggle to atone for one's sins, to live up to who you could be, to seek redemption. I'd love to see Angel finally earn his shanshu--but it would be far more appropriate for Angel to keep fighting, to keep working for that redemption, even though it's far away.
And Joss Whedon, who created the fabulous and epic Buffyverse, should know that if he ever makes a spinoff, a TV movie, a comic book, an animated series, a broadway musical, or a fabulous feature movie, whether it stars Sarah Michelle Gellar or the chick that was an extra in episode 4 of season 2, I am SO THERE.
Jon Stewart's commencement speech
at William & Mary is worth a read.
If you've never seen it, check out Found Magazine
, which collects found notes and pictures and displays them for the world. Quite fascinating. (I like the one on the right because of the extreme vitriol, and then "PS page me later" tacked on at the end.) I'm adding Found Magazine to the left-hand permalinks, along with "This American Life" to a new "Weekly Listen" category.
I can't believe what happened on the Gilmore Girls tonight. Yay! And, Oh no! And, Wow. And I have no one here with whom I can talk about it! I'm leaving this ambiguous for spoiler purposes, but let me just say, once you see the season finale of Gilmore Girls, we've gotta talk.
Having trouble procreating? Try sex
. Great story. (Thanks Sterno!)
Drop whatever you're doing and read Seymour Hersh's articles on Abu Ghraib from the last three New Yorkers:
Yes they are long, but they are so informative from a reliable source and deeply, deeply disturbing. Print them out and read them later if you don't like scrolling. These must be read by everyone. And Rumsfeld must be fired.
Airport security ain't what it used to be
. A stripper in Aberdeen, Scotland, drunkenly found her way past airport guards and a barbed wire fence in nothing but a g-string and a tiny top, and passed out in the cockpit (snicker) of a private plane. Soraya Wilson, 22, was discovered eight hours later
. She had been in a fight with her boyfriend and was looking for a place to sleep. She wound up with just a caution, and the British Airports Authority is investigating.
Nelson Mandela wins world cup!
With a fantastic dribbling display through six Italian defenders, Mandela tipped the ball up into the air with his left foot and blasted a bicycle kick with his right into the upper left corner of the net, beating Italian goalkeeper Gianluca Paliuca. And all while wearing a silly African print shirt, the new Mandela-mandated South African kit.
Um, Nelson, are you there? Wake up! And put the trophy down...now.
As if P. Diddy wasn't full of enough crap, here's his reasoning behind disbanding Da Band
: "'Initially my goal with Da Band was to make sure the world saw realistically how serious hip-hop was,' Diddy told The Associated Press on Thursday. 'So at times it was kind of embarrassing to me the way they were portraying themselves. ... The venture with Da Band was successful because it had the TV backing. But at the end of the day, it's not worth me getting money for something I think misrepresents what [my record label] Bad Boy and hip-hop is about.' By misrepresenting, Diddy meant all the screaming arguments, scuffles, missed appointments, legal entanglements and frequent hardheadedness that the six-member group displayed during two seasons on the hit MTV reality show. Diddy has an MTV production deal, which could possibly result in another 'Making The Band' with a whole new set of would-be superstars."
Congrats, P. Diddy, you have finally realized that there is no point in "getting money" for misrepresenting what hip-hop is all about. Now if you could turn in every penny you've made on your talentless career we can begin to undo the damage and try to recall what hip-hop is really
But of course, note that even though he disbanded the first "Da Band," he's likely going to try another round with his lucrative MTV production contract. This time without any of the squabbling or hard-headedness that these young hip-hoppers introduced to the world of hip-hop and tainted the artistic integrity of the genre.
A couple of funny items from Gene Weingarten's latest chat. Check out this product
on Amazon.com. The user reviews will have you wetting your pants.
And if this isn't the most unusual way to die
, I urge others to prove me wrong.
Oh, to be a backup catcher
! Just like the 7-foot white guy in basketball and the third-string QB in football, the backup catcher has a warm and fuzzy place in our hearts!
From my hometown of Springfield, Ill., comes this lovely dispatch
. A Springfield radio personality was injured on the job. As the story explains, "McGill traditionally lodges a tube in his buttocks, into which bottle rockets are inserted and then launched." The bottle rocket misfired and burned his buttocks. Yes, Springfield, Ill., home to Abraham Lincoln and a guy who burned his own ass with a bottle rocket.
Madeleine L'Engle is interviewed
by Newsweek. When I'm her age, I only hope I'm as feisty and bright and independent and tough as she is. Also, if I could have written a couple of life changing books
, that would be great.
It's fish-hunting season in Vermont
. Not fishing season, fish-hunting
season, as in, "Grab me my AK-47, the quill-back suckers are spawning today."
Maybe I'm the ignorant one, but this seems like a stupid hobby. But the quotes in the story are priceless. ("If you shoot a high-powered rifle, you can get a big mare and six or seven little bucks," Mr. Paquette said.) That must be the origin of "Like shooting fish in a barrel."
NYT's Emily Nussbaum, who always writes smartly about television, has a large piece on television spoilers
. The age of watching television without having a single clue what is to come next has ended. It gets me wondering, why didn't I think about writing that?
And if you think that is bad, just think how it feels to be living abroad, and having to wait several days between airing and when your download finishes to watch it? Um, not that I do that sort of thing.
NYT also reports that reality show producers are stealing ideas left and right
, and the current controversy surrounds Fox's Oscar de la Hoya vehicle "The Next Great Champ," which is a jab, so to speak, at NBC's "The Contender," starring Sylvester Stallone.
Hey Ben. Your dawg, Cubs outfielder Moises Alou, is a weird dude. He urinates on his hands
"Super Size Me
," a Michael Moore-style gotcha! documentary, takes a look at the fast-food underbelly as director/star Morgan Spurlock eats nothing by Mickey D's for a month, almost losing his liver in the process. In any event, I cracked up when seeing the credits at the bottom of this review
. Look at the character with second billing behind Spurlock.
, a Harvard Law School blogger, has more to say about the Friends sexual harassment lawsuit. I agree with him that a TV writers' room is a different kind of work environment than, say, the corporate headquarters at Warner Brothers--but I am also troubled by the implications that this has for sexual harassment lawsuits generally. If sexual harassment is all context-dependent, that erodes standards for acceptable behavior and put the courts in the difficult position of having to interpret subtext and interpersonal behavior. Besides, what if a woman works on an oil rig and the "context" is one of lewd jokes, obscene remarks, and ass-slapping? In that example, the context is clearly one of harassment and she deserves to be safe in her work environment. Basically, I think that while context matters, it's not a get-out-of-litigation-free pass. And even in the "creative context" of TV writing, it's hard to imagine how jokes about Joey becoming a serial rapist and Courtney Cox's fertility are creatively justified.
Go read this
. Seriously. Funniest ebay listing ever. I don't know if this guy is for real or not, but any heavily tattooed man willing to put on his ex-wife's wedding gown in order to sell it and buy Mariners tickets wins my vote. Go now!
Sad about the End of Friends? Maybe you're really just sad about the end of the sitcom as a viable genre (and dreading the Rise of Reality.) Or so suggests Alessandra Stanley in the New York Times,
in a very awkwardly edited article.
. MLB is adding "Superman 2" spiderwebs to the bases and on-deck circles for a series of interleague games this June. Everything has a price. Nothing is sacred.
This is from way, way back (news sometimes travels slowly to Belgium) but it is an astonishing story. The Japanese public is angry at the recently freed Japanese hostages in Iraq
, and it's causing these former hostages undue shame and stress. Compare this with the warm embrace America has given its hostages in the past, and it's a wonder that we live on the same planet. Globalization does wonders, but this reminds us that cultural differences can be quite stark.
If a TV helicopter crashes, does it attract more TV helicopters? This New York Times article
You know those Scrabble hands where you say "Damn, I wish I could take a picture of this one and show everyone just how crappy it is!" Well now you can
(Link via Boing Boing
The Chicago Trib's Steve Johnson weighs in with this long, but worthwhile analysis
of the impact of NBC's "Friends" and "Frasier." He also gives his ideal scenarios
for how the final episodes play out.
Maybe interesting only to me, but this article on the psychology behind gasoline price setting and consumption
really hits home. I'm one who will drive out of my way to save a penny on the gallon.
Also a day late, this story
, about rap video women who are becoming famous just for being in rap videos. Melyssa Ford has been nicknamed "Jessica Rabbit" for her proportions and has been featured in Jay-Z, Usher, R. Kelly and Sisqo. She's released a calendar and a making-of-the-calendar DVD. At least she has a psychology degree and, get this, she's Canadian. NAFTA at work, folks.
The NYT has a piece on how difficult it is
to get a cartoon published in the New Yorker. There's a new generation of young cartoonists trying to get in, and the crotchety old 70- and 80-year-olds are, well, getting more crotchety about it.
If you're hungry for some real kitchen fresh chicken, copykat.com
tells you how to make KFC Fried Chicken in your own home. It also gives this definition of the ubiquitous MSG, which I've always wondered about. "It serves to make flavors stronger, almost pop right out at you." So if you were still under the impression your fast food had real
flavor, think again. It's just MSG.
Goodness. Party barge capsizes
as occupants converge to one side for a glimpse of nude bathers. Only in America folks, only in America.
"Kitchen Fresh Chicken" my ass. I'm glad the good folks at Slate
are at the ready to debunk the nonsense that is KFC's latest ad campaign.
Pennsylvania state police charged a 15 year-old girl with sexual abuse of children, possession of child pornography, and dissemination of child pornography
after she took explicit photos of herself and emailed them to people.
This seems like the weird but inevitable climax of the anxiety provoked by underage teen webcam girls
Hey I've got an idea for a movie... what if black people ran an airline?
Let me tell you: the men would be pimpin. The stewardesses would have big round asses. And get this: the plane bounces. And the security people are Big Black Sistas who are like, WHAAT? YOU GOTTA PRO-BLEM WI DAT?
Get my agent on the phone.