Monday, July 30, 2007

Bridge to Indictment

The man who told us the internet is a series of tubes could have to worry about his own tube pretty soon:
Agents from the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service yesterday raided the Alaska home of Sen. Ted Stevens (R), as part of a broad federal investigation of political corruption in the state that has also swept up his son and one of his closest financial backers, officials said.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday Random Simpsons

Okay, we've got a few real winners this week, so let's get to the action!

1. Last Exit to Springfield. Wow, pretend this is baseball and hit us a homer! One of the best episodes; actually picked the best Simpsons episode ever by Entertainment weekly. Clearly they haven’t seen Lisa the Vegetarian. But this one really is awesome. Homer becomes the head of the union at the power plant, mainly because Lisa needed braces (“Dental plan!! Lisa needs braces. Dental plan!! Lisa needs braces”); without the plan, she’ll have to get braces that you’re not allowed to get wet. Burns’ opening offer of a beer keg instead of a dental plan is tempting, but Homer forces him to negotiate. Homer thinks Mr. Burns’ negotiating language is laden with homo come-ons, and he says “Sorry Mr. Burns, but I don’t go in for any backdoor shenanigans. Sure I’m flattered, maybe a little curious, but the answer is no.” Meanwhile, the dentist breaks Ralph’s spirit by forcing him to look at the Big Book of British Smiles, Homer pees in one of Burns’ rooms, Burns falls out of a helicopter, Lisa plays “Classical Gas,” Homer screams when interviewed by Kent Brockman, and Monty quotes Ahab. And let’s not forget this show has the all-time Grandpa scene, the “onion on my belt, which was the style at the time” scene. “Gimme five bees for a quarter!” All this in less than 23 minutes. Incredible. 11/10

2. Bart of War. From the highest highs to the lowest lows. 14th season. Haven’t seen it. N/A.

3. Krusty Gets Kancelled. Okay, back in my wheelhouse. Gabbo takes the town by storm (“Look, Smithers, it’s Gahbo”). At first Krusty is nonchalant (“Oh yeah, I slaughtered the Special Olympics”), then he gets worried and starts offering kids $40 checks to watch his show (“checks will not be honored”), and next thing you know he’s off the air. Homer then tells us what we all know, that two wrongs make a right, and Bart and Lisa plan a Krusty komeback special. Bette Midler, the Chili Peppers, Liz Taylor, Johnny Carson all get a piece. Great episode, but I’m not remembering as many quotes as I’d like. Lil’ help? 9/10

4. My Sister, My Sitter. A so-so episode from one of the dark years, season 8. Lisa starts a babysitting business, and one night Homer and Marge hire her to babysit Bart. There’s some good moments, like when Rod and Todd get scared of the moths, Chief Wiggum discovers that instead of Bob Seeger tickets he bought Bob Sagget tickets, and Snake tells Doc Riviera that he “fell” on a bullet. But not that great a show. 5/10

5. Homerazzi. This season. Add it to the Netflix cue, I guess. N/A

6. Hungry Hungry Homer. Not too shabby, despite its ’01 vintage. The Simpsons go to Blockoland, where Homer constructs himself a healthy apple (Lisa: “You made that apple out of ham cubes”). After helping Lisa get a missing piece for her Blocko Eiffel tower, he decides he’s going to spend more time helping out the little guys. He convinces a girl to go out w/ Bart (“Bart has inner beauty, like you’d find in a rodent”), helps Marge get a free hair dye (“$400 a month for loafer lightener?”), and tries to get Lenny’s money back on a ticket for the Isotopes. He discovers the Topes are moving to Albuquerque, so he stages a hunger strike. The rest of the episode is him starving at the stadium, singing made up songs to get by: “I’m kinda like Jesus, but not in a sacrilegious way.” Lots of Duff man, which always helps. 6/10

7. Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish. Season 2, everyone loves it. Me, I’m not so high on it. For me, it was season 3 when the Simpsons really took off. The characters are just too raw, the drawings too primitive for me. Still, a really good episode, better than most (but not all) of the stuff after season 7. Burns decides to run for governor so he can relax the regulations on nuclear power plants after his attempt at bribing inspectors fails (“Mr. Burns, if I didn’t know better I’d say you were trying to bribe me”/ “Is there some confusion about this? Take it! Take it!”). Problem is, he’s got a 98% disapproval rating, aka Dubya territory. So in the great tradition of Lee Atwater, he decides to go negative on the state’s beloved governor. The night before the election he has dinner w/ the Simpsons, Marge serves a three-eyed fish, bla bla bla. 7/10

8. Rome-Oh and Julie-Eh. This season. Even the name isn’t funny. N/A

9. Homer the Smithers. Man, do I love this episode. Burns sends Smithers on a vacation. Homer is his assistant in the interim (“One of your organ banks from sector 7-G”). Homer has a rough couple days (“um, can you repeat the part of the stuff where you said all about the . . . things?”), and finally Homer punches Burns out. Burns is terrified and tries to call Smithers, but gets Moe, who says: “I’m gonna rip out your eyes and shove ‘em down your pants, so you can watch me kick the crap out of you.” Sweet. Really, this is another of those episodes where so much hilarious stuff happens, you just can’t fit it all in one paragraph. My favorite bit is when Homer reads Mr. Burns his phone messages: “You have 30 minutes to move your car; you have 10 minutes; your car has been impounded; your car has been crushed into a cube; you have 30 minutes to remove your cube.” The phone rings and Homer answers. Mr. Burns asks “Is it about my cube?” 10/10

10. When You Dish upon a Star. So, we finish with a suckfest (not the good kind). Alec Baldwin, Kim Bassinger, Ron Howard guest star. Nuff said. 3/10

Sure, the usual klunkers showed up, but so did some of my favorites. This might be the best FRS so far. Dig it!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Are you ready for some football?

I mean, do you have a bucket and loaf of bread?
A couple who admitted locking a 7-year-old boy in his room with a bucket for a toilet while they watched Packers games at a casino received jail sentences Monday. Circuit Judge Jeffrey Wagner called the couple's actions "abhorrent" and ordered them to undergo psychological screening.

"What both of you did certainly shocks the conscience of the community," Wagner said.

Scott Scherer, 39, and Melanie Hardrath, 30, admitted locking Hardrath's son in his room with a loaf of bread, peanut butter and jelly, and a bucket that he would have to clean when they returned.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Tetris + Geography = Stateris

If you think that naming all 50 states is a piece of cake, why not a real challenge: putting them in place Tetris-style.

The easy version has the names and rotation in place. The hard setting is just an unnamed spinning statelet.

Is That the Good Kind of "Poker"?

A headline that makes me want to be law abiding.

Prisoner Poker Could Crack Cold Cases

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Friday Random Simpsons - Extra Half-Assed Edition

I know how much all two of you look forward to the FRS, but I’m afraid the usual 10 has been downsized to 5, at least for this week. Maybe it’s the war in Iraq, maybe it’s the state of Social Security, maybe it’s the trade deficit, but something’s got me down. Oh wait, it’s because I ran over my laptop today. Technically, Mrs. T ran over it, but that’s because I left it leaning against the car. Yeah, I’m smart like that. On to the fabulous five!

1. Mayored to the Mob. From the 10th season, memorable mainly for featuring Mark Hamill in a dinner stage show, performing “Luke be a Jedi Tonight.” (“Homer! Use the for . . .”/ “The Force?”/ “No, the forks!”) Homer ends up being Quimby’s bodyguard, and he learns that the mayor is mobbed up. One thing Fat Tony is doing is selling milk from rats to the schools. The image of a thousand rats being milked has not left my brain to this day. 6/10

2. Hurricane Neddy. This one is all Ned, all the time, and it’s sweet (unlike those weird episodes after Maude’s death.) A hurricane destroys Flander’s house but leaves Homer’s intact, and then the town gets together to build them a house even worse than something Haliburton would build. It crumbles, Ned snaps, and then he’s admitted to a sanitarium. There we learn (through hilarious flashbacks to when he was the child of beatniks) that as a boy Flanders was subjected to a series of treatments at the Spankalogical Institute. Repeated spankings made him the annoying goody two shoes we all know and love, but repressing all his anger has made him nuts. So the docs try to unleash his anger by having Homer talk to him. Classic lines: “Past instances in which I professed to like you were fraudulent.”/” Ned Flanders, I mock your value system.”/”I engaged in intercourse with your spouse or significant other – Now that’s psychiatry!” I could go on. 8/10

3. Lisa the Beauty Queen. Classic stuff, here. Lisa realizes she’s ugly, so Homer gives up his free ticket for a blimp ride (“Hey, there, blimpy boy, flyin’ through the sky so fancy free”) to enter her in a beauty contest. Lots of good stuff here, but my favorite bit is Homer explaining to Bart why it’s good to compliment females: “When it comes to compliments, women are ravenous blood-sucking monsters, always wanting more, more, MORE!” 9/10

4. Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? From the second season, when things were starting to heat up. Still, not a great episode. Homer discovers he has a half brother, Herb. Herb is a auto tycoon, and he brings the Simpsons to Detroit to visit. He hires Homer to design a car, the car flops, the company goes bankrupt, and I don’t laugh much. Danny Devito as Homer’s half brother? No thanks. 3/10

5. The Great Louse Detective. Whew, that was a close call. I thought I was going to have a whole five straight episodes that I’d actually seen. This one, I have no clue. And it’s a Sideshow Bob episode. I usually love those. The summary sure don’t sound good, though. N/A.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Get Out the Forks

Mrs. Thrillhous, a Va Tech grad and big-time Hokie sports fan, e-mailed to ask me why I haven't posted about Michael Vick, aka Ron Mexico, aka Ookie, aka "That Bong Is Also a Water Bottle." I don't know, maybe it's because I'm busy raising our daughter??? Snap.

But the kid is doing something she rarely ever does right now, that is, nap. So let's talk Ookie. The dude is done. Career over. No more endorsements (except maybe from a cattle prod company).

In case you haven't heard (and if you haven't, then you must be in some undisclosed location w/ no TV, radio, internet, or Morse code device), Atlanta Falcons QB Michael Vick was indicted yesterday by a federal grand jury for dog fighting. While dog fighting itself is Pulp Fiction gross, the details provided in the indictment are Faces of Death gross. Dogs that didn't fight well were executed, sometimes by gunshot, but sometimes by hanging, electrocuting, or slamming their bodies on the ground.

Ah yes, that last bit is what ends Ookie's career. Dog fighting is bad, but it could count as bad-boy behavior, something he's learned from and is a better person for, bla bla bla. Executing dogs by gunshot might be survivable, if he cried and hugged some dogs and cried some more (and took the Falcons to the Super Bowl). But the electrocution and hanging and slamming? Can't come back from that.

Now, Vick wasn't the only one indicted. Three other guys are named, and it could be those guys who did the gruesome stuff. But it doesn't matter. Once folks hear the descriptions of the killings and then hear the name Michael Vick somewhere in the same story, they'll set their phasers to Outrage and let Vick have it. Besides, who's going to get any gratification from villifying P-Funk?

Messing with people's favorite animals is like messing with their emotions. And unless your name is Mitt Romney, you're probably going to be calling for Vick's head.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Business Time

If you haven't experienced the wonders of HBO's new comedy series "Flight of the Conchords," here's a clip of New Zealand's 4th most popular folk duo doing a song that was featured on Sunday's show. Enjoy.

In Which StudioDave's Real Identity Is Revealed

Sorry dude, but you really deserve it this time.

LARGO, Fla. (AP) - A 38-year-old man was arrested after he called 911 and told a dispatcher he was surrounded by police officers and needed help, authorities said.

Police officers met Dana Farrell Shelton after being called to investigate a disturbance at a bar on Sunday but had found no problems and told him to move along.
Shelton, who officers said appeared intoxicated, then called 911 to report he was "surrounded by Largo police," according to an arrest affidavit.

"Appears intoxicated" was Studio's yearbook quote in college.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday Random Simpsons

It's that time of the week again, when we're all looking for a way to run out the clock while appearing to be busy. Simpsons, take us away!

1. It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge. Even though this is from the 11th season, I liked this one. It features the one and only Otto Man who, it turns, out, has a girlfriend, Becky. He proposes to her (with “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” playing), and the Simpsons host the weddings. You can’t ever have enough Poison, so Otto hires a Poison cover band to do the wedding. Becky admits she hates heavy metal (gasp!), Otto runs off, and the Simpsons are stuck w/ Becky. From here on the show isn’t as hot, and there’s definitely a lot less Poison. 5/10

2. Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase. This ep has three spin-offs that somehow never made it past the pilot. Two are hilarious, one makes me want to stick forks in my eyes. The first is Chief Wiggum’s own show, where he’s a private detective in New Orleans (pre-Brownie). Lots of great bits: the warning gator (its teeth were corked); the Chief’s description of Ralph (“caucasian male, between the ages of six and ten, thinning hair”); Ralph’s bedwetting problem: “These rubber pants are making me hot”/”You wear ‘em til you learn, son.” The next show is Grandpa Simpson as the love tester in Moe’s bar. Kinda campy, kinda corny, but some good Grandpa and Moe action: “’Go near Moe.’ I’d say that’s a pretty strong endorsement”; “Fact is, I invented kissing. It was during World War 1, and they were looking for a new way to spread germs . . .”; “I've suffered so long, why can't I die?” The third show was a variety show. It was awful, every moment of it. Really good episode until that clunker of a variety show. 7/10

3. The Way We Weren't. Fifteenth season. Didn’t see it, don’t know nothing. N/A

4. Milhouse Of Sand And Fog. Seventeenth season. See number 3. N/A

5. All Singing, All Dancing. As the title suggests, this was a musical episode. I truly loathe the Simpsons singing episodes. Nothing good to say about any of them. Okay, I liked the Lee Marvin – Clint Eastwood “Paint your Wagon” bit, just a little. 2/10

6. The Regina Monologues. See nos. 3 and 4. N/A

7. Bart vs. Lisa vs. The Third Grade. I am just now realizing how little Simpsons I”ve watched the last few years. N/A

8. Two Bad Neighbors. Hell YES!!!!11!!!! One of my very favorite episodes. Bush Sr. and Bar move in across the street from the Simpsons, and hilarity ensues. Bart and Homer hate Bush, while Ned Flanders and Sr. become the best of friends. Every moment of this episode is so great I could stick forks in my eyes. Like the opening scene, where there’s a neighborhood yard sale and Homer starts singing about Table 5 to the tune of “Stayin’ Alive.” Some great lines: “Having accomplished all my goals in one term, there was no need for another”; “It’s all in the Bible, son. It’s the prankster’s Bible”; Big deal! When I was a pup, we got spanked by Presidents till the cows came home. Grover Cleveland spanked me on two nonconsecutive occasions.” I could watch this one over and over. 11/10

9. Crook and Ladder. And, the crap is back. 18th season. boo. N/A

10. Homer Badman. What a way to finish! Back to the sweet zone. This episode kicks off with Homer and Marge going to a candy con, where Homer steals the uber-rare Gummy de Milo. When he’s taking the babysitter home he sees that the gummy is stuck to the babysitter’s butt; he tries to peal it off, she claims sexual harassment. Looks even worse when the TV mag “Rock Bottom” does an expose of him, where they rearrange some audio clips of Homer to make him say “ Then I noticed she was sitting on [splice] her sweet [splice] can. [splice] -- o I grab her -- [splice] sweet can. Oh, just thinking about [splice] her [splice] can [splice] I just wish I had he -- [splice] sweet [splice] sweet [splice] s-s-sweet [splice] can.” (stolen directly from the Simpsons archive) But that’s not the only classic line: “It’s hard not to listen to the TV. It’s spent so much more time raising us than you have”; “Marge, they can't carry enough candy! They have puny little muscles, not big ropy ones like you.” Comedy gold. 10/10

Well, there were some real duds in there, but it got better at the end. Kind of the reverse of most of my Friday nights. Feel free to drop good memories (or bad) in the comments.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I guess that explains the moustache

Now this sounds like a rough neighborhood.
As a child of 11, guitarist Kirk Hammett watched in horror as his pet dog Tippy was penetrated by the guy next door. That's just one of many jaw-dropping facts we learn about ultimate rock monsters METALLICA in the new issue of British magazine Q.

Hammett explains: "I went to my neighbor's. The guy took down his pants and started having sex with the dog! I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. When he got up, I just took the dog and left. She was still wagging her tail."

Discrimination v Discrimination

This club is exclusive, so don't tell them that you're Jewish.
A Christian fraternity alleging discrimination is taking the University of Florida to court.

Beta Upsilon Chi's lawsuit says the university refuses to recognize it as a registered student group.

According to the lawsuit filed in federal court in Gainesville, school officials told the group it can't be registered because only Christian men are eligible for membership.

The organization that governs the university's Greek system prohibits religious discrimination.

Sounds like a job for the ACLU.

Chertoff's Guts

A few days ago, Homeland Security boss Michael Chertoff told the Chicago Tribune that he had no real reason to suspect a terrorist attack, but he had a "gut feeling" one was coming. This comment has gotten all sorts of people hepped up. What could be giving him this feeling, if he doesn't have any actual evidence?

My guess: he's talked to enough people in this administration to realize just how incompetent they are:
Undercover congressional investigators posing as West Virginia businessmen obtained a license with almost no scrutiny from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that enabled them to buy enough radioactive material from U.S. suppliers to build a "dirty bomb," a new government report says.
I don't know who the Bush crony is that's running the NRC, but I think he or she is due for a "heckuva job" call.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

What a wookiee

Looks like we'll get a chance to see the actual Chewbacca defense:
A Chewbacca impersonator is accused of sexually assaulting a Marilyn Monroe impersonator in front of the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood in June. The wookie then reportedly evaded arrest, police said.

This article includes a sentence that rivals this one in entertainment value.
Chewbacca, whose real name was not available, fled before police arrived.

Trivia: did you know that the language spoken by wookiees is Shyriiwook?

Monday, July 09, 2007

Enter Taleban

I think somebody ran into a Napster fan.
James Hetfield, frontman of US metal rockers Metallica, was detained at a British Airport before his appearance at London's Live Earth gig on Saturday.

Seven Wonders My Ass

As you may have heard, some jerks recently composed a list of the 7 new wonders of the world. Here they are: the Great Wall of China, the Colosseum, the Chichen Itza pyramid, some statue in Brazil, Machu Pichu, and the ancient city of Petra. That's right, an entire city made the list.

These things are all OLD. They had their shot at the original list of 7 wonders of the ancient world, and they muffed it. We need a real 7 wonders list for the modern world. I will accept no list that doesn't begin, and perhaps end, with this.

That's 10,660 beer cans. Just try to tell me it doesn't bring a tear to your eye. Other wonders on my list would be the Daytona International Speedway, the Las Vegas Strip, and the water tower in South Carolina off I-85 that's supposed to look like a peach but mostly looks like a gigantic ass.

Okay, so I can't think of seven, and all but one of mine are in the states. Lemme see you do better.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Friday Random Simpsons

Otto Man's busy taking care of some legal business today (he swears he thought the cop was a prostitute), so I'm stepping in to talk Simpsons. The mighty Simpsons randomizer (hat tip to the lovely and threatening Mrs. T for its creation) has produced a list with some big hits and some big misses, so lets get swingin'!

1) Thank God It's Doomsday. Oy, not how I wanted to start. This one's from a couple years ago, when my Simpsons watching was inconsistent at best. I have seen bits of it, though. Basically, Homer sees the movie "Left Below," a rip on the "Left Behind" series, and thinks the end of time is coming. That's pretty much all I got. If anyone liked this one, or can remember, like, one line, lemme know. 2/10

2) I'm with Cupid. Slightly better, but only slightly. Manjula's mad at Apu for being a workaholic, so Apu does a series of romantic things to make her happy (yeah, like that works in real life). The other men in Springfield decide he's making them look bad, so they try to sabotage his plans. There are a few good lines, of course. Apu covers his and Manjula's bed with wild flowers, which amazes Marge. Manjula asks if Homer's done anything like that, and she says "sometimes I find a pickle in the sheets." Sounds familiar. 4/10

3) Homerpalooza. Oh yeah, here's the good stuff. Homer is shocked to discover he's no longer cool ("You guys don't know Grand Funk?"), so he takes the kids to Hullabalooza, where he gets shot in the belly with a cannonball. Everyone loves it, so he goes on tour with the show. Cypress Hill, Peter Frampton, and the Smashing Pumpkins ("hi, we're Smashing Pumpkins"/"I'm Homer Simpsons, smiling politely") star. Flashbacks to Homer's youth are icing on the cake. 7/10

4) Please Homer, Don't Hammer 'Em. From this season. No clue. Can't even rate it.

5) Lisa The Vegetarian. Jackpot!! This may be my favorite episode of all time. Lisa becomes disgusted with the idea of eating meat and goes veg. Homer plans a huge BBBBQ ("that extra B's a typo"). Lisa suggests he serves salad, to which he replies "You can't win friends with salad." Those are words I live by, my friends. There's also the great bit where Homer asks Lisa if she'll ever eat ham, bacon, or pork chops, and she tells him they're all from the same animal. Homer says "Right Lisa, a wonderful, magical animal." I really really love this episode. 10/10

6) Bart's Comet. Another great episode. The main plot is about a comet that's about to hit Springfield, but my favorite part is the beginning, where Skinner is trying to launch a weather balloon. Bart gets his hands on it and alters it to look like Skinner's buttocks, and he attaches a big sign that says "Hi, I'm Big Butt Skinner." That just kills me. Anyway, congress is about to vote on a bill to authorize a big military mission to divert the comet, but at the last minute someone tries to tack on a provision giving money to the "perverted arts." Sweet. 7/10

7) The Dad Who Knew Too Little. From '03, and you can tell the vintage. Good one-liners, but not enough to string together a whole show. Lisa realizes Homer knows almost nothing about her, so he hires a private detective to find help him learn about her. Yeah, it kind of feels like they do this show every three years or so. 4/10

8) The Wife Aquatic. This one aired in January. No clue, yet again. I read the synopsis at, and it sounds pretty lousy. No rating.

9) Lady Bouvier's Lover. A classic Abe Simpson episode from season 5. Abe falls for Marge's mom, and before you know it they're an item. But then Mr. Burns woos her away from him and almost marries her. In the end she doesn't want to marry anyone, she just wants to watch Matlock. Which is fine with Abe, and they ride off into the sunset (going in the direction of the retirement home). A favorite line from this episode comes when Marge gets mad at Homer for not doing a good job frosting her birthday cake: "You mean it's not Maggagie's birthday?" 8/10

10) Pray Anything. Not a great ending to the list. Another Homer-God one, and nowhere near as good as the one where Homer decides he doesn't have to go to church on Sundays anymore. It is kinda cool that the Lovejoys have to live with the Flanders, but that only gets you so far. 3/10

Now let's all have some salad.

Miracles of choice

Quick, how many people are running for President of the United States? About 20, you say? You are so wrong. Try more than 100.

If you aren't satisfied with the current frontrunners, then why not shop around?

My favorite might be this guy.
Jackson Kirk Grimes — 56, a single pagan with a GED who once portrayed Hitler on "Star Trek," this director of the United Fascist Union (which promotes the economic theories and political ideologies of Benito Mussolini and Saddam Hussein) and two-time presidential candidate promises to abolish paper money and create a global government if elected.

However, I am intrigued by Yaphet Kotto's "vibration politics." Yes, that Yaphet Kotto. If it has anything to do with Frank Pembleton getting Dick Cheny in the box, I'm all for it.

Death is not funny

But really, the first sentence of this article comes pretty close.
Exposure to methane gas led to the deaths of four family members and a farmhand, but whether they suffocated from the fumes or drowned in 18 inches of liquefied cow manure may never be known, authorities said.

The History Boys

In the latest issue of Vanity Fair, David Halberstam has reached out from beyond the grave to smack the taste right out of the president's mouth.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

With relish

We may be losing the democracy war at home, but we can now add the belt of hot dog eating champ around our gigantic waists.
Joey "Jaws" Chestnut unseated the six-time defending champion in Nathan's Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest on Wednesday, eating 66 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes.

Six-time winner Takeru Kobayashi of Japan, nursing a sore jaw after wisdom tooth surgery, scarfed down 63 hot dogs. Last year, he edged out Chestnut by nearly two dogs, eating a then-record 53 and three-quarters to Chestnut's 52.

Chestnut, who hails from San Jose, California, set a record with Wednesday's feat of eating 66 hot dogs, the event's organizers said.

Not since Joe Frazier defeated Muhammad Ali in the 1971 bout coined the "Fight of the Century" have two contestants battled so hard. Perhaps.

At one point, Kobayashi expelled some of his half-mashed hot dogs from his mouth; those did not count in his total.

Chestnut toiled beside him, a vein throbbing in his forehead and his face bright red.

The Madness of King George

In light of today's commemoration of the movement for American independence, I thought we might take the time to compare and contrast the list of complaints we had back then about King George III and the complaints we have today against King George IV.

Here they are in full. Complaints about the old monarch in italics; comparisons for the new one are, fittingly, in a regular-folks font you'd like to have a beer with. They start off slow and small, but pick up some nice momentum midway through the list.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

Refused his assent to laws? Well, the current king has done that both in whole and, more frustrating, in part. Check!

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

The language is a little arcane, but I think this series of events qualifies. Check!

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

Denying representation for a "large district of people"? Check.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

Unusual, uncomfortable, and distant? Sounds like the Crawford "ranch" to me. Check.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people. He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

We haven't had the Reichstag fire moment. Yet.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

Well, on this one, King George IV has actually been encouraging more immigration, but his usual incompetence has ensured the issue won't be resolved for years now. We'll call this one a push.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

Obstruction of justice? Why does that sound familiar? Check.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

Well, the judges are certainly dependent on his will, but sadly, they haven't been bent to his will as much as other supposedly independent agents of the law. Check!

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

Multitude of new offices? Check. Harrassing our people? Oh, hell yes. Check.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

On this one, King George IV is in the clear.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

A rift between civilian leaders and military heads? Check.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

His assent to acts of pretended legislation? That sounds familiar. Check!

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

Well, sure. Not really a complaint anymore, but check.

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

Yeah, I think the current monarch is in the clear on this count.

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

He hasn't cut off trade with the rest of the world, but he's certainly made it harder to do business there and ensured our dollar won't go as far. Check!

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

This is clearly one sin that King George IV has not committed.

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

Pfft. Trial by jury? How about depriving us of the writ of habeas corpus? Check!

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

Well, it's not exactly "us," but it's being done in our name, which is worse. Check.

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

Abolishing our system of laws in a neighboring land? Check!

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

Altering fundamentally the forms of our government? So many places to cover with this one, but I think I'll settle with this small change. Check!

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

Hmmm. He hasn't exactly suspended the legislature, but he does tend to pull off some sneaky moves when the legislature is in recess. Check!

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

Abdicated government? Left us on our own? Check!

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

Ravaged coast? Burnt town? Lives destroyed? Heckuva job, kingy! Check!

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

Let's see. We have the armies of mercenaries and we have the use of foreigners for cruelty & perfidy. Check and check!

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

Hmm. It's not exactly shanghai'ing travelers, but we do have soldiers and sailors kept in the service long past their terms and against their will. Check!

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

At first I didn't think this applied to King George IV at all, but on closer inspection, he has been working with the Indians and making them mad. Check!

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Ignored the people? Ignored their representatives? Check and check.

In the end, it looks like our King George matches up on 22 of the 27 charges against the last King George. That's more than an 80% match, and remember, that's simply judging the current monarch by the crimes of the last one. There's tons of shady stuff that King George IV has pulled off that King George III couldn't even comprehend, and we've barely even scratched the surface of Iraq, Enron, Halliburton, and all the rest.

So keep your chin up, George. You may have no way to escape your status as our Worst President Ever, but you could trade up to Most Hated Monarch if you really put your heart into it.

Mark Twain on George W. Bush

Ed.: Reposted to honor the meaning of Independence Day

Mark Twain is, without contest, my favorite author of all time.

More than any writer before or since, Twain somehow managed to combine excellent story-telling, first-class sarcasm, and biting social commentary in a nice tight package. I've always loved him for the first two traits, but the more and more this country comes under the sway of the Banana Republicans, I'm really appreciating his clear-eyed take on patriotism and democracy.

For instance, take this passage from The Papers of the Adams Family:
Against our traditions we are now entering upon an unjust and trivial war, a war against a helpless people, and for a base object — robbery. At first our citizens spoke out against this thing, by an impulse natural to their training. Today they have turned, and their voice is the other way.

What caused the change? Merely a politician's trick — a high-sounding phrase, a blood-stirring phrase which turned their uncritical heads: Our Country, right or wrong! An empty phrase, a silly phrase. It was shouted by every newspaper, it was thundered from the pulpit, the Superintendent of Public Instruction placarded it in every schoolhouse in the land, the War Department inscribed it upon the flag.

And every man who failed to shout it or who was silent, was proclaimed a traitor — none but those others were patriots. To be a patriot, one had to say, and keep on saying, "Our Country, right or wrong," and urge on the little war. Have you not perceived that that phrase is an insult to the nation?

For in a republic, who is "the Country"? Is it the Government which is for the moment in the saddle? Why, the Government is merely a servant — merely a temporary servant; it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn't. Its function is to obey orders, not originate them. Who, then, is "the country?" Is it the newspaper? Is it the pulpit? Is it the school-superintendent? Why, these are mere parts of the country, not the whole of it; they have not command, they have only their little share in the command. They are but one in the thousand; it is in the thousand that command is lodged; they must determine what is right and what is wrong; they must decide who is a patriot and who isn’t.

In a monarchy, the king and his family are the country; in a republic it is the common voice of the people. Each of you, for himself, by himself and on his own responsibility, must speak. And it is a solemn and weighty responsibility, and not lightly to be flung aside at the bullying of pulpit, press, government, or the empty catch-phrases of politicians. Each must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, and which course is patriotic and which isn't. You cannot shirk this and be a man. To decide it against your convictions is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let men label you as they may. If you alone of all the nation shall decide one way, and that way be the right way according to your convictions of the right, you have done your duty by yourself and by your country — hold up your head! You have nothing to be ashamed of.

Only when a republic's life is in danger should a man uphold his government when it is in the wrong. There is no other time.

This Republic's life is not in peril. The nation has sold its honor for a phrase. It has swung itself loose from its safe anchorage and is drifting, its helm is in pirate hands.
"The nation has sold its honor for a phrase." I can't think of a better single-sentence condemnation of the Bush Administration's empty slogans and dead hearts.

I want my goddamn country back. I only hope there's enough of it left to salvage once the Bush gang gets done stripping it for parts.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Commute Button

I'm watching the White House press briefing over the Scooter Libby commutation, and fifteen minutes in, I can't believe the referee hasn't stopped the fight. After nearly seven years of bullshit, the press corps finally seems to have gotten angry. Tony Snow is getting the everloving shit kicked out of him, and it looks like even he doesn't believe the nonsense coming out of his mouth.

I'm reminded of that old Faith No More video that ends with the fish flopping on the floor until it dies. Except Tony looks even worse.

Update: This was such a laugher of a press briefing, I knew Crooks and Liars would have the video up as quick as they could. They haven't disappointed, and the full assault on Tony Snow is now available here.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Bush to Rule of Law: Drop Dead!

Paris Hilton did more time behind bars than Scooter Libby will.

U-S-A. U-S-A.

Life Imitates Bart

Finally, a reason to go to 7-Eleven besides their wonderful selection of Skoal products.

Over the weekend, 7-Eleven Inc. turned a dozen stores into Kwik-E-Marts, the fictional convenience stores of "The Simpsons" fame, in the latest example of marketers making life imitate art.

Those stores and most of the 6,000-plus other 7-Elevens in North America will sell items that until now existed only on television: Buzz Cola, KrustyO's cereal and Squishees, the slushy drink knockoff of Slurpees.

Happy Fourth Anniversary!

That's right, it was four years ago today that these words of wisdom fell from the lips of the Decider:
There are some who feel like -- that the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is: Bring 'em on. We've got the force necessary to deal with the security situation.
When the authoritative histories of this administration are written, scholars will have quite literally thousands of dumb lines from C-Plus Augustus to illustrate the insanity (and inanity) of these days. But this one will likely merit a chapter of its own.

(Thanks to Atrios for reminding us of the moment.)