June 2010 Archives

pure theater

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Elena Kagan's confirmation hearings are going on now, and I followed it all day yesterday. Watched a bit on C-SPAN, listened on C-SPAN Radio, and when I couldn't watch or listen I followed along with the SCOTUSblog.com live blog. Which is terrific: they're non-partisan and they provide context for everything people say, for instance whenever someone mentions a precedent the live blog will link to the decision and their analysis of it.

The hearings are pure theater of course. I don't expect any shocking (or even mildly surprising) revelations to come out. It's just interesting to see the tactics that are used. And the hilarious posturing: everyone who supports the nominee asks questions along the lines of "Isn't it true that you love puppies and are kind to old ladies?" And opponents ask "Don't you agree that the president who nominated you is ruining our country and must be stopped at all costs?"

The only surprise is that Kagan has a good sense of humor. Lindsay Graham asked her where she was on Christmas Day (something to do with the Christmas Day bomber) and she said "Like all Jews, I was probably in a Chinese restaurant." Which is first of all, hilarious, also interesting that she admitted not remembering exactly where she was on Christmas. Of course, why would she -- to a non-Christian it's just a day off.

The funniest line to me requires a bit more setup: someone, I think Grassley, was asking her about some statements she had made about Israeli judge Aharon Barak. Apparently Barak has a judicial philosophy that is at odds with the approach favored in the US, and Grassley was trying to associate her with Barak's philosophy. They went back and forth for awhile, then finally she explained that the remarks he was quoting about Barak were made while she was introducing him before his speech at Harvard. She said that it was her job as dean to introduce people, "and if any of you had spoken at Harvard, I would have given you a great introduction too." It really helped to deflate Grassley's argument.

I've decided that I prefer listening to the hearings on radio to watching them on TV. Because it's easier to take when I can't see the senators' faces. For instance, yesterday morning I heard Sessions sneeringly say "Miss Kagan, put your legal hat on for just a moment" and basically call her a liar, and thought to myself "Christ, what an asshole"* without reacting emotionally. In the evening I saw Coburn challenge her on something she had said in a speech once, and I wanted to punch him in the face.

My main impression of the first day of questioning is that Kagan's opponents have got nothing. Only a couple went on a serious attack -- even Big John Cornyn was fairly mild -- and the substance of the attacks have been pretty lame. Sessions went after her for blocking military recruiters from Harvard Law because Don't Ask Don't Tell violated Harvard's non-discrimination policy. Okay, I'm not a good judge of this one because I admire her for doing that, so an attack based on that doesn't seem very damaging to me. But it did seem to me that she parried well. Coburn's attack was all over the place. By the end he seemed to be making the bizarre claim that the original intent of the framers of the Constitution was to prevent any law that Tom Coburn doesn't like, and therefore the Supreme Court have failed to do their job because they allow Congress to pass laws. He ran out of time and said he'd go back to it in the second round. Can't wait.

The weirdest attack mostly happened on the first day, during the speeches. Apparently the new GOP party line is that Thurgood Marshall was a bad justice, and therefore Elena Kagan will be bad because she clerked for him and .. she's not capable of thinking for herself but will only mimic the man she worked for twenty years ago? Or something? All I can say is, if demonizing a legendary, beloved figure is all they've got, well, good luck with that.

*Have you seen that thing about how all comic strips are funnier if you replace the last word balloon with "Christ, what an asshole"? It works even better with Senate confirmation hearings.

I haven't posted at all this week because we were in Savannah. And I had a momentary attack of good sense and didn't want to post an announcement that my house was unoccupied for days.

Common Snapping Turtle, VirginiaMore on that later. The excitement today was rescuing a snapping turtle from the road. I stupidly didn't have my camera with me, so I'm posting someone else's photo of the same kind of turtle. The one we saw looked just like this photo, except a little lighter in color, and the shell was more knobby. I think that means the one we saw was a little older.

He was crossing Cole Mill, heading for the pond on the golf course. We were coming back from the farmer's market when we saw him in the median. He was moving fast for a turtle, but Cole Mill is four lanes there and I can't imagine he would have made it across by himself. I ran back while Georg turned the car around, and another woman stopped next to the turtle. I'm so incredibly glad she was there. Because I'd never encountered a snapping turtle before in person.

He was an ornery fellow. The woman got a metal humane trap out of her car, put it down in front of him, and tried to guide him in with the trap lid. His response was to whip around and bite the lid. Yikes! He moved fast. If I'd been alone I wouldn't have recognized him as a snapper and would have tried to pick him up. He probably would have taken a finger off.

We were standing there trying to figure out what to do when a police officer stopped. We had a hilarious exchange:

Cop: "What seems to be the problem?"
Us: "We're trying to get this turtle across of the road."
Cop: "Well pick him up and carry him across!"
Us: "We can't, he's a snapper. See?"
[lady pokes turtle with trap lid, he obligingly rears up and snaps at it.]

We were trying to figure out if anyone had anything in our cars that we could put the turtle in. The cop pointed out an unoccupied house on the other side of the street that had a recycling bin, so Georg and I went and got it. Meanwhile the turtle scooted under the woman's car, and the cop helped guide her to back up without running over him. Snapping turtles, by the way, have big ugly looking claws. They are not cute like box turtles.

I don't know how they got the turtle into the recycling bin, because we didn't think it was big enough and I had gone back to get a big wheeled cart from the house. However they did it, he was inside the bin. The turtle was big enough to snap at the top of the bin, and might have been able to reach over the top if he really tried, so it wasn't safe to pick up the bin. We took turns pushing it across the road with a foot, while the cop stopped traffic for us.

After being shoved across the road, the stupid turtle didn't want to come out of the bin. We tipped it on its side and he just would not come out. Finally we turned it all the way over and dumped him out -- backing away quickly, he was a mean, mad turtle by that point. Standing up high to make himself taller, and I swear to god he looked like he was hissing at us. Georg took the empty bin back and I watched the turtle head straight for the pond and dive right in. He's the golf course's problem now.

I have to say, I'm glad to live in a town where the police will help you get a turtle out of the road. Maybe he thought we were being ridiculous and were likely to get ourselves run over. But if that was why he helped us, he didn't show it. Thank you, police officer!

The political blog Balloon Juice had a post last night on threats of violence against census workers. A couple of census workers popped up in the comments thread, with reports of their experiences. It was mostly not as bad as I would have imagined -- with one exception, which was a "friend of a friend" story that is so extreme I'm frankly not inclined to believe it.

Mostly it sounds like the census workers are encountering a lot of bluster, with the same half-baked ignorance that produced "get your government hands off my medicare." For example:

(after explaining the basis for the census in the constitution): "I don't agree with your constitutional analysis. Please leave."
"in MY government they don't come to our houses to count us"
"I don't agree with this government's massive waste of money on the census"
"You're just a stooge for obama, helping get the employment numbers up"


The thing I can't understand is, not to put too fine a point on it, what the fuck? Are these people all nine years old & have never experienced the census before? How could they possibly think it's a plot? It's one of the first things in the Constitution. Libertarians and constitutional literalists should love the census. It's the closest most of us will ever get to carrying out the direct instructions of the Founders.

obligatory disclaimer: I'm aware that someone commenting on a blog could be anyone, and the "census workers" on that thread could be making the whole thing up. All I can say is that they sound real, except for the one story that doesn't. 

brevity

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I have XM radio in my car, and you might not be surprised to learn that my favorite station is The 40s On 4. I've always been impressed with their promos and station IDs. They used to call the station The Savoy Express, and the promos would say things like "Get on board the Savoy Express, rolling down track number 4." I really liked a series they did where they would name three artists in their rotation. For instance "This is the Cab Calloway Express. The Larry Clinton Express. The Helen Ward Express. It's the Savoy Express, rolling down track number 4."

I liked those Savoy Express promos so much that when WXDU asked me to create some promos for Divaville Lounge, I stole the concept and did a couple "It's the so-and-so Lounge." I also came up with a motto for my show: "from Tin Pan Alley to the Swing Era." It's not strictly accurate -- the show goes past the swing era, to the early 60s -- but I think it gets the point across.

After keeping the promos the same for over a year, few months ago the 40s On 4 changed them all. They dropped the name "the Savoy Express," and the new promos were all extremely short. A typical promo would go "The 40s, and more!" I was particularly impressed with that motto. It communicates exactly what the station is about, in only four words. I spent a lot of time trying to think of a motto for my show which was that concise, without success. I never thought of anything I liked half as much as "from Tin Pan Alley to the Swing Era."

Well apparently there is such a thing as too much brevity. After only a few months the 40s On 4 dropped the super-short promos and introduced a new batch. Now they have a variety of promos, with different music for each one, a motto specific to that music, and then they tack "The 40s On 4" onto the end of each. For instance, "Put on your spectators, and dance!" while a fast swing instrumental plays. Or "Music for hep cats," over a 50s cha cha cha. There's also one with Cab Calloway, though I can't remember what voiceover goes with that one. The only one that doesn't really work for me is one where the announcer says "Singers..." [a snippet of a crooner singing "Laura"] "...and swingers!" [a clip of some swing tune]. I'm not crazy about that one because the transition between the two songs is too abrupt, it sounds a little weird to me.

Anyway, this is the only radio station I listen to regularly enough to get to know their promos. (Except WXDU of course, and we don't have regular promos.) It's been really instructive to hear the 40s On 4 promos evolve.

viva mexico

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Georg pointed out the only fitting response to today's game:

gooooool

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This afternoon Georg and I went to Galaxy Cinema for the Mexico-France game. Galaxy is showing "selected" games for free. I think maybe that means all the afternoon games, plus all US games? Not sure. Anyway I'm rooting for Mexico so I was glad they showed this one.

It's a great place to see a game. Huge screen, duh, and good snacks. There were only 2-3 dozen people there, including a contingent of French guys who were decked out in their team jerseys and face paint. We saw them putting on the paint before the game. They had a little plastic thing with three sticks of grease paint so they could draw on their blue, white and red in one swipe. During the first half the Frenchmen were happy, noisy and sitting right behind us. It was fun to hear them yelling "Allez, allez ALLEZ!" and "Voici voici!" every time France got close to making a shot.

I haven't studied French since high school ahem years ago, so I only understood a tiny bit of what they were saying. I think the guy right behind me made fun of me once -- at one point Mexico missed a great shot, and I said "oh no!" or something like that. The guy behind me said "Ah, c'est dommage!" and the other Frenchmen laughed. They sounded goodnatured so I didn't take it personally. Especially since Mexico kicked their asses in the second half. The final score was 2-0.

I would definitely watch future games at Galaxy. The guy at the front desk said attendance has varied greatly depending on who's playing, for instance the US-England game last Saturday was completely full. My only complaint about the experience was the dreaded "summer matinee effect." By which I mean, every time I go to the movies during the day in the summertime, I get a headache afterwards. Every single damn time. I think it's spending two hours in the cool and dark, and then going suddenly out into the heat and humidity. Long ago I learned not to watch matinee movies in the summer. In fact it's been so long I just forgot today.

Honestly, regardless of the headache I'd still go to another game at Galaxy. It was that much fun. Especially when my team wins!

more on the smoker

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A couple of good things I forgot to mention:

1. Georg found apple wood chips at Kroger! Previously all we could find are mesquite and hickory. Which are a bit harsh for meats that spend a really long time in the smoker. This time I used about 2/3 hickory, 1/3 apple. The hickory comes in big chunks, which I drop into the charcoal compartment. The apple is small chips, which would burn up immediately if they were in with the coals. So instead I put them in a tin foil packet and set it right over the coals. It worked great. The apple wood lasted all day, with a thin plume of smoke coming from it. I think light smoke is better when the meat spends 10-11 hours inside the smoker. It still had the nice pink smoke ring, but was a gentler smoke flavor than last time we did pork butt.

2. Instead of setting the meat right on the grill, I put it on an oven roasting pan (the kind with a tray that sits over a drip pan). This had a couple of advantages: first, though we clean the grill every time, it's still kind of nasty. Second, the meat drippings fall into the roasting pan, not into the bottom of the grill. Usually when I run the smoker that liquid ends up dripping out the lower vents into the cooker's drip pan. Eventually the dog notices it, and then we find her with ashy meat juice all over her face. Yuck. I'm always worried she's going to make herself sick. This time it was just dry ash and she wasn't even tempted.

smoker success

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Yesterday I think I had a breakthrough with our smoker. We've had the smoker for about a year now, and we've been really happy with it except for one problem: everything takes way longer to cook than it should. A chicken or pork ribs are supposed to take about 4 1/2 - 5 hours, and would take me 7-8. Tougher cuts like pork butt or beef brisket would spend 12 hours in the smoker and still wouldn't be tender. They tasted great, after we finished them in the oven the next night.

This time I did some searching online, and discovered that the smoker manufacturer has a forum. And several people mentioned having problems with the temperature differential between the top of the dome, where the thermometer is, and the grill where the food is.

Yesterday I used our digital thermometer, ran it through one of the vents and left the probe sitting on the grill. The temp at the top of the dome was 230°, just where I always keep it, but at the grill it was only 160°. No wonder it took forever to cook the meat.

After that I ignored the dome thermometer and raised the grill temperature up to about 185°. Lo and behold, the cooking time was much closer to what the cookbooks all say. The chicken was in for almost 5 hours, and was really tender. It could actually have gone a little longer for my taste, but I'm a philistine about chicken, I like it a little overdone. Judging by the way nice restaurants cook their chicken, that is.

Besides a chicken I also smoked a small (about 3 pounds) pork butt. And sausages -- two chorizo and one Italian sausage which I had for lunch in a hot dog bun. That's my treat for myself, every time I run the smoker I throw in some sausage and have a sausage "hot dog" for lunch.

This time instead of keeping the pork butt "low and slow" the whole time, I let it get up to 160° internal temperature, then cranked up the temp inside the smoker. The instructions said to bring it up to 350° but I never could get it that high. To be honest, I ran out of steam in late afternoon and didn't put nearly enough energy into maintaining it after that point.

Running a smoker doesn't sound like it would be as tiring as it is. You just have to check it every half-hour or so, adjust the temp if necessary. And at least once an hour open it up, baste the meat, add more water to the water tray, more charcoal to the fire and more wood if necessary. Every few hours the charcoal burns down enough that you have to get the chimney out and start up another batch of hot coals, then pick them up with tongs and drop them into the charcoal compartment one by one.

You get a faceful of smoke every time you open the lid. Which I was doing more often than usual because I was trying new things with the heat, so was having to do way more adjusting than normal. Plus dealing with the digital thermometer probe run through the vent, that was a hassle which meant I was standing over the open smoker more, which meant more smoke inhalation. I wish I had thought to run the probe up through the lower vent. Would have been easy to do while it was cold, and much easier to deal with during the day.

And it was so hot yesterday, and I didn't want to turn on the a/c because I was going in and out so much. Besides running the smoker I also made a cherry pie yesterday. I meant to do the pie in the morning, but I had to get some work done. (and by the way, trying to write code and run a smoker at the same time is officially no fun.) So I didn't get to the pie until the afternoon. By then it was so hot in the kitchen that just rolling out the crust made me feel kind of ill. (Note to self, if it's too hot to work in the kitchen, it's definitely too hot to work with pie dough. The crust did not turn out well, must be because of the heat.)

Georg got home just after I had finished assembling the pie and cleaning up the kitchen, and found me .. well I don't exactly remember. Sitting on the couch mumbling incoherently about the heat, probably. He took over from there, because he is awesome. He finished the pork butt, baked the pie, and made us a lovely salad including the chicken which was already out of the smoker. I fell asleep at about 8:30, woke up at 1, got up long enough to make sure the food had all been put away, then back to sleep until 6. It felt so good.

Despite my complaining, yesterday was a good day with the smoker. Just in terms of what I learned. I have a good idea what I've been doing wrong & in future I think we'll have much better control over the cooking times. And we have food for almost the whole rest of the week. Tonight we're having pulled pork sandwiches.

Following links this morning led me to The Unlikely Fan, a great fan site geared towards Americans who (like me) are interested in World Cup and (like me) don't normally follow soccer. The site is full of good posts for the new fan, maybe the best is The World Cup, Translated Into American, in which he compares every World Cup 2010 team to an American sports team. It's funny, gives you a hook for each team, and also gave me a big boost because I got way more of the references than I expected to. (For instance, he compares England to the New York Jets because their fans talk so much more shit than is warranted by the team's performance. I got that!) I guess I'm not a complete ignoramus about sports after all.

He even includes my home team:
unlikely.gif

clarity

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One of Andrew Sullivan's readers came up with the clearest description I've ever seen of youthful selfishness:

"The world revolved around me and my needs, and I always knew what was right after a moment's thought. That justice was always aligned with my convenience was a happy coincidence and nothing more. When I grew the hell up, I came to understand that this sort of thinking marked me as a douchebag with entitlement issues...."

I say "youthful" though it's all too common in grown-ups who should know better.

we're chilling

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up the stepsWe have a new refrigerator! I wrote last week about the plumbing problem that delayed installation. On Friday we had a plumber come out and install a shut-off valve in the water line, and I rescheduled the installation for today.

Turns out the plumber was also supposed to replace the copper water line with -- I don't know what. Something besides copper. Today's installer told me that they are instructed not to hook up to a copper line. Because copper can't handle being bent or twisted, and people sometimes have to move refrigerators around, and the copper line can crack and leak. He did connect the water line; he just had to write on the form that he did not hook it up. He was nice about it; he said "Put it this way: if you get a leak, it's on you." I laughed and said "I promise I won't come after you!"

It seems like a communication failure all around: the first installer was very unclear about what exactly was the problem. He just said "we can't hook up without a shut-off valve and we can't hook up to this kind of line." He didn't at all explain what that meant and I didn't understand that there were 2 problems, not just one. My mistake was not asking him to be more clear. He said that the plumber would know what to do and I was like, um ... okay, whatever you say! Big mistake. I should have asked him to draw me a picture, or googled it after he left, or something.

The plumber's mistake was not knowing that refrigerator manufacturers nowadays are anti-copper pipe. When the plumber installed the shut-off valve I said, now they told me that they couldn't hook up to this kind of line, do you have to replace the line? And he said no, this is standard, they should have no problem with it. And because I hadn't bothered to find out what the first installer was talking about, I didn't know that wasn't correct. Today's installer told me that this is the way it is now, and we should probably get the line replaced when we can. For the dual reason that 1) if and when we ever replace this fridge, we'll run into the same problem; 2) if we accidently push the fridge back over the line, it could crack and then we'd have a real mess on our hands.

through the doorSo, mistakes were made. I'm not too upset about it because we have our new fridge! Today's installers were great. They had this crazy harness thing with a big wide strap that connected them together. They slipped the strap under the base of the fridge, ratcheted the strap to shorten it, then stood up and carried it between them. Really cool.

They had to remove the fridge door (though they left the freezer door in place), the sliding thing on the screen door, and the entire kitchen door. The kitchen door went right back together; the sliding thing on the screen door did not. When they unscrewed one end of it, the other end came apart. And the three of us couldn't figure out how to put it back together. Georg said he'd been thinking about replacing the screen door anyway. So we can look at this as an opportunity.

goodbye crummy old fridgeI cannot tell you how glad I am to get rid of the old fridge. Here's a little story that underscores how badly we needed a new fridge: Last week, when I thought we were getting our new fridge, I turned off the old one and dumped out the ice bin. Of course I had to turn it back on and load the food back in, but in the meantime it had a chance to warm up pretty thoroughly.

Today I went through the whole process again: load the food into coolers, turn off the fridge, dump the ice bin. I was thinking I would make a fresh pitcher of tea and fill it with ice so it would stay cool during the day. Until I looked in the ice bin and discovered that some of the ice was green. GREEN. There must have been some creeping crud growing in the ice maker, and the ice maker was always icing over because of the air leak, so when it thawed out, the melted ice must have mixed with the creeping crud and then refrozen into new ice. Horrifying. I stood there trying to remember how much ice I had used since last week, and had I looked closely at it. And also trying not to throw up. (I did not, in fact, throw up. I remembered that it had been 4-5 days since I'd had any ice, and if it was going to make me sick it would have already.)

On that appetizing note, I think I'm going to go get some ice from my new fridge.

the women

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June 9 movie: The Women. To my surprise, this movie almost fails the Bechdel test. The Bechdel test requires a movie to:

1. include at least two female characters (rule variation says they must have names)
2. who talk to each other
3. about something besides a man.

The women in The Women never talk about anything but men. I only found the following conversations:

  • The first scene of the movie pans through a health spa, eavesdropping on snippets of many anonymous conversations, many of which are not about men.
  • The main characters gather for lunch early in the movie and trade barbs, some of which are not about men.
  • Mary (Norma Shearer), her mother and her daughter watch vacation movies and talk about the vacation.
  • Mary's mother and her maid exchange a couple of sentences about the fact that the mother hates Mary's friends.

The only conversation that clearly passes the test is the one with the vacation movies. One conversation in a 133 minute movie with dozens of female characters.

I decided not to include the Bechdel test in every movie I write up, because it's too easy to fall into thinking it means more than it does. It's not the ultimate test of whether a movie is sexist or not. It's just ... interesting. And when the results are interesting, as in this movie, I will mention it.

perversion for profit

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June 5 movie: Perversion for Profit. Oh. My. God. This is amazing. It's a 1965 anti-pornography propaganda film. Financed by Charles Keating and narrated by reporter George Putnam, who delivers the entire script as if he was anchoring coverage of a war in a foreign country.

The whole thing is Putnam standing in front of a map of the US, talking about the horrors of smut. Interspersed with images of the smut in question. Which is hilariously tame, of course. 45 year old girlie magazines look so quaint and wholesome compared to modern porn. All the women in the photos had black bars over their eyes and naughty bits, which made the whole thing even funnier. I wasn't sure why they looked so funny until Georg figured out that it was reminscent of the "Full Frontal Nudity" sketch from Monty Python. The one where the dirty old man keeps trying to look at naked women, and there's always an umbrella or mini car or something blocking the view of the dainty bits.

Georg also pointed out something odd: Playboy was completely absent from the movie. We saw the covers of dozens, maybe hundreds of different smut magazines, most of which wouldn't have existed without Playboy, but no Playboy. No idea why.

Things I learned from this movie:

  • Once a normal person becomes perverted, it's almost impossible for them to return to a normal understanding of sexuality.
  • The women in nudist magazines are not actual members of "nudist cults," rather they are paid professional models!
  • Bodybuilding magazines can make you gay, even if you only read them for bodybuilding tips.
  • The ancient Egyptian culture collapsed because of moral decay of the same type that was corrupting America in the 1960s.
  • We have a Constitutional right to be protected from obscenity.

Describing Perversion for Profit is no substitute for watching it. Thank you, Youtube!
Part I:

direct link if embed doesn't work

Part II:

direct link if embed doesn't work

old homes are fun

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Kind of a frustrating day. I spent most of the day getting ready for the new refrigerator -- unloading all the food and packing it into coolers, defrosting the old fridge, measuring to make sure the new fridge would fit in the doors, waiting for the installers to show up. Each of the two entrances was a little smaller than the fridge, so I was a little worried about how the install was going to go.

Turned out to be moot: the installers showed up, got a look at the old fridge and announced that they couldn't do the install. Turns out whoever installed the old fridge didn't put in a shut-off valve. They just ran a copper pipe and hooked it straight into the fridge. Without a shut-off valve, the installers today couldn't disconnect the old fridge. They would have had to turn off all the water to the house. And they couldn't connect the new fridge to that copper pipe. They said I need to get a plumber to install a shut-off valve.

So, they took the new fridge away. I called a plumber. Turned the old fridge back on. Loaded the food back in. The plumber is coming in the morning. (He's awesome!) Georg cleaned behind the fridge so it wouldn't be so horrible for the plumber.

On the bright side, before they discovered the problem with the water line, the installers told me that getting the new fridge into the space looked like no problem. I guess they take the doors off. As they were getting ready to go, the one who did all the talking apologized for the inconvenience, and when I replied with "It's not your fault" they both looked a little startled. Maybe they were expecting me to throw a tantrum. I have to admit, a little part of me wanted to! But it really wasn't their fault.

(About an hour later I got a pushy fundraising call from the DNC, and when I declined to donate the guy suggested that none of the people on his call list were really supporters at all. I kind of chewed him out for that -- told him that I had made hundreds of those calls [if you include the easier GOTV calls it's probably more like thousands] and I knew they were hard, and here's a tip, don't tell someone you're asking for money that you think they might not really be a supporter. This is going to sound horrible, but blowing up at that guy made me feel better.)

I realize that in the grand scheme of things, a delay in getting your new fridge installed isn't much of a problem. Still, it was frustrating. The old fridge is so nasty, and we kept using it for so long. Twelve years, and it was old when we moved in. I thought we'd finally be rid of it today.

this just in

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Raleigh cupcake bakery posts on their website that their cupcakes are so good they "make fat people cry." Customer writes in to complain, they call her "fat cunt" on Twitter. And are shocked, shocked I say! to discover that the cupcake-buying public objects.

The "apology" on their website is priceless: "the tweets you found offensive have been removed." Note that they don't admit to actually saying anything offensive. It's just too bad that customer was so oversensitive as to get her panties in a bunch about being called a fat cunt.

What kind of moron markets a cupcake bakery with anti-fat slogans?* No, I am not saying that all fat people eat cupcakes, or that all people who eat cupcakes are fat. I'm saying it's idiotic to insult people who like food when you sell food. I've heard of stupid bigots destroying their own business before, but this takes the, ah, cake.

I'm just sorry that I never go to Raleigh so I won't be able to watch this place go under.

*the same kind of moron who responds to a customer complaint by publicly calling her a cunt, apparently.

cash for clunkers

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North Carolina is doing a Cash for Clunkers appliance rebate program. Starting today! If you've been wanting to upgrade your washing machine, refrigerator, freezer, dishwasher or water heater, now is the time to buy. And I do mean now -- the last round only lasted for 3 days before they used up the available funds. This one is a mail-in rebate rather than instant, so I expect it to last a little longer, but I still wouldn't dawdle.

We took advantage of the program to buy a fridge this morning. Between the Memorial Day sale and Cash for Clunkers, we got a pretty good deal. It's a basic side-by-side; we wanted to get the kind with the freezer either on top or bottom, but our kitchen is so small that we literally would not be able to open a full-sized fridge door. The side-by-sides have smaller doors that won't bang into the counter, so that's what we have to do.

The best thing about the new fridge is that, unlike our old fridge, it won't leak cold air out of the ice dispenser; the sides won't get covered with condensation; and the doors will shut reliably. We really are exactly the target audience for Cash for Clunkers. We've hung onto the old, incredibly wasteful fridge for years, wanting to replace it but never able to justify the expense. And an extra $150 finally put a new one within our reach. Our tax dollars at work!

where eagles dare

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May 31 movie: Where Eagles Dare. WWII thriller starring Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood. It comes across like a Guns of Navarone knock-off, which is kind of exactly what it is. If you thought Guns of Navarone was great except that the plot made way too much sense, Where Eagles Dare is the movie for you.

I'm kind of sorry I watched this. On previous viewings I saw it as a fun action movie with some plot flaws. Unfortunately the problems become more glaring with each viewing. This time I was shouting "What the???" and "That's ridiculous!!" at the screen over and over. It's just not a movie that holds up to repeat viewing.

hang 'em high

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May 31 movie: Hang 'Em High. This was okay. Not the best Eastwood movie I've ever seen -- too preachy for my taste. Still, it had some great scenes. I'm not sorry I watched it.

the good, the bad and the ugly

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May 31 movie: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Yesterday was Clint Eastwood's 80th birthday and TCM showed Eastwood movies all day. This is one of the best. I read that Eastwood didn't want to do the movie. He wasn't crazy about the script, he didn't like that his character was one of three main characters rather than the only star, and he was concerned that Eli Wallach was going to outshine him. He also didn't get along with Sergio Leone and never made another movie with him -- in fact Eastwood turned down the part played by Charles Bronson in Once Upon a Time in the West. Which I have to say, if Eastwood only wanted to be in movies where he was the star, then he was right to turn down that part. Bronson is fantastic but the movie belongs to Henry Fonda.

I also have to say that Arch Stanton would be the best pseudonym ever. Even better than Astro-Glo Bronze. I might start using it. You heard it here first; if you ever encounter someone online using the name Arch Stanton, it's me. Unless you meet an Arch Stanton who's an asshole. In that case, it's someone else.

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