January 2004 Archives

Call a Spade a Spade

Critics across the country and on both sides of the aisle, including a noted TV chef, are criticizing Georgia for their new proposal to remove the word "evolution" from the state science curriculum and replace it with the phrase "biological changes over time". I think they've got it backwards. I applaud the progressive thinkers in Georgia for their effort to demystify controversial terms and eliminate buzzwords. In fact, I think they should go even further.

Other terms they should eliminate, and their replacements:

  • abortion → parasite removal
  • affirmative action → favored treatment based on skin color
  • war on terrorism → PR campaign to legitimize reduction of American civil rights and vendetta against the man who tried to kill the President's dad
  • global warming → destruction of Earth's ecosystem through human arrogance, indifference, and greed
  • Bible → book of questionable provenance used to justify the imposition of a particular belief system on others
  • gravity → why things fall and go boom
  • Vin Diesel → proof that talent is not required for success
  • Oreo Blizzard → heaven in a cup
  • TiVo → our lord and master

Comments (12) | last by Danielle, Feb 2, 5:42 PM

And the award for most unintentionally funny use of captions on a television series goes to... Celebrity Mole: Yucatan for their policy of close-captioning Dennis Rodman's confessionals. He's a bit of a low-talker, but his words are perfectly understandable (is there an aural equivalent of legible?). The real service would be if the producers somehow made his statements actually make sense.

The games on this week's show, by the way, were quite good. The similarity of all the paintings in the art game was just brutal. It didn't help that Mark Curry gave phenomenally poor descriptions to his teammates. It looks like either he or Tracey is the Mole. But if it's him, he's being remarkably obvious about it.

I can't remember the last time I looked forward to Superbowl Sunday as much as I do today. And it has nothing, of course, to do with the Patriots, or the Panthers, or the Homer Simpson Mastercard commercial.

You know me better than that.

It's all about Survivor, baby. Three teams of six repeat castaways each, mano-a-mano for another million. This time, not only do we all know the players-- so do they. That's gonna make things really interesting from the get-go. And the gamemaker in me is very curious to see how Burnett's going to capitalize on the three-way action in challenges.

Quote of the day, from a story in the Philadelphia Daily News, about the contestants:

"They hang, they talk, they go to charities," Probst said. "It's a big part of their lives, 'Survivor.' So they talk about it all the time with each other." Yet, as you'll see in Sunday's premiere, none of them has apparently spent any time talking about how to make fire.

That cracks me up. You'd think that for their second chance, they'd have brushed up a bit on their basic survival skills-- especially the ones that gave them trouble the first time around.

And another quote, also from Probst:

"One by one, they e-mailed me or called before we got out there and said, 'I just want to let you know: I'm not gonna give you anything good at tribal council.'

"I went into the game thinking, 'How am I gonna get good stuff out of these guys?' And it turned out I got the best stuff I've ever gotten."

I am so looking forward to this.

I am so sad.

Comments (4) | last by Peter Sarrett, Jan 30, 11:24 AM

Term of the Day

Learned something new today.

Solving today's NYT crossword, I came upon the theme entry at 44 across, clued "Place to buy wine". The clue had me puzzled, because intersecting entries strongly suggested the intended answer was PACKAGE STORE. But that made no sense to me. I was convinced that the puzzle had a typo, and the clue was intended to read "Place to buy twine". But nobody else was saying anything about it on the NYT crossword forum.

A quick trip to Merriam Webster revealed that a package store is, in fact, a liquor store. Which perhaps explains why I'm never able to get stamps there.

Ironically, I think I hit this same term a couple of years ago in a crossword and was equally perplexed. Maybe it'll stick this time.

Comments (3) | last by Matt, Jan 29, 12:02 PM


Comments (6) | last by sue, Nov 5, 8:35 PM

The New York Times reports that ABC has decided to bring Who Wants to Be a Millionaire back to prime time. They'll be returning to the original scheduling format-- multiple nights in a single week of sweeps-- and bringing back Regis, but changing the game format to create new excitement. The dollar values will be increased tenfold, with the top prize rocketing to ten million dollars. When players reach the second level of the game, they'll also receive three new lifelines (the details of which have yet to be announced). The new Super Millionaire will air the week of Feb. 22.

And no, as a former contestant on the syndicated show, I don't expect to be eligible to play. Dammit.

Comments (4) | last by erin, Feb 5, 12:57 PM

Best. Euphemism. Ever.

Dress left.

Comments (13) | last by mike, Jan 27, 5:55 PM

I had a Laundry Situation this morning. You've been there. Fresh from the shower, toweled off, ready to dress and meet the day. Then you open your underwear drawer. The camera zooms in on the vast emptiness that greets you, then pulls out in a series of ever-widening quick cuts as you scream in despair.

You glance at yesterday's underwear beckoning ever so suggestively from the lip of the hamper. <rasping breath> "Luke. I am your father. Join me." You reject the Dark Side and scramble around your bedroom, checking your closet, your other drawers, the heaps of clothing on the floor-- anywhere a clean pair of underwear might be lurking.

That was me. And I found something. A pair of underwear stuffed into the back corner of the sock drawer. Banished and forgotten, but clean.


I'm a briefs man. I suppose that's my mom's doing-- it's what I always had as a child, and I never saw a reason to switch. But somewhere along the line I got a pair of boxers as a gift-- also from mom, in her misguided but well-intentioned "Peter will like anything with Bugs Bunny on it" phase-- which languished in disuse. But now I was backed into a corner. And fun as it is for Joey and Chandler to say, I didn't fancy going commando. Boxers it was.

And it feels weird. It's like I'm naked underneath my clothes. Every time I shift in my seat, I shift, if you know what I mean. I thought the <zip> <zip> <zip> of corduroy was the most self-conscious I could get from walking down the hall with parts of my body rubbing together, but today I discovered differently. Maybe it's a jeans thing. Slacks and boxers might create a synergy of loose-fitting comfort, but snug denim wants snug undergarments.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have laundry to do.

Comments (7) | last by Peter's Mom, Jan 29, 12:11 PM

Faceless Idiots

There are many fascinating things about The ESP Game-- how it uses a game structure to construct an index of images on the web, what words become taboo from frequent use, how utterly uninteresting most of the images pulled randomly from the web really are. But by far the most intriguing aspect of the game is how often your random, unknown partner is a complete idiot. Like when a picture shows a large mountain in the background, and your partner never says MOUNTAIN. And worse, he asks to pass and move on to the next picture! Here's one that just happened to me-- the game actually gave us the same picture twice in a row, but the 2nd version was smaller and had fewer taboo words. The obvious thing, which I did, would be to type in the same answer we just matched on. But my partner didn't.

The unrelenting anonymity means there's no catharsis when it's all over, no way to yell at your partner and ask what the heck they were thinking when they passed on such a no-brainer. And yet that element of frustration makes the thing oddly compelling. I find myself actually hoping for an "idiot" on the other end of the line-- someone on such a completely different wavelength that I have to step outside of myself to get a match.

Comment (1) | last by dana, Jan 20, 10:30 PM


The game show I run at next year's Gathering could be so cool with these...

... but not at $200 a pop.

Comments (2) | last by Peter Sarrett, Jan 20, 4:47 PM

Winner of this week's I Can't Believe Someone Actually Cares Enough About This to Make a Web Site award, for sites and topics that-- while inconsequential-- nevertheless have a certain coolness factor.

Comments (2) | last by Brian L, Jan 16, 5:53 PM

Promo Writers Must Die

Attention Celebrity Mole: Yucatan producers: Yes, tonight's victim would have been a delightful surprise IF YOU FREAKING IDIOTS DIDN'T RUIN IT WITH THE TEASERS DURING THE SHOW!. Instead of saying "You'll never believe who becomes the Mole's second victim," you might as well have just flashed "Corbin gets executed" on the screen every ten seconds-- it'd have been just as subtle. Crap like this is why The Mole got cancelled in the first place. You nitwits aren't fit to lick the guano off Mark Burnett's Reeboks. Pinheads.

Had a team morale event yesterday at a local bowling alley which was, against all the laws of the known universe and at least three PBA regulations, smoke-free. That's right, you can now strut in your best polyester all night without stinking like an ashtray when you get home. Are you listening, Tulalip?

I'm writing this, however, from a standing position-- my back thrown completely out of whack by a less-than-elegant release of a 14 lb bowling ball. Kind of a cosmic Nelson Muntzism.

Comments (5) | last by Jack, Jan 16, 3:33 PM

The Big Reveal

Not only did they reveal what happened to Sydney's missing two years on tonight's Alias, but they did so without pulling a rabbit out of their ass. Not only did it make sense, but it made other things that have happened this season make more sense. And you've gotta love the final twist. The show's still got it.

I do have a question about the test tube baby thing, though. It's been close to twenty years since I took biology, but I seem to recall that the human fertilization process requires sperm. Is sperm just a DNA delivery system? Can a lab tech take any old male DNA and fertilize a human egg?

Comment (1) | last by Jake, Jan 12, 10:42 AM

Museum Living

The Apprentice isn't much different from Mark Burnett's other reality series, Survivor. Two teams of 8 people each, challenges to perform and win immunity and rewards, somebody getting booted each week.

But Survivor has bikinis.

The Apprentice has Trump. The guy comes off about as flexible as a 2x4. And who in the world would want to live in that apartment of his? Everything in it is gold leaf and marble-- can we say "Versailles complex"?

The redeeming factor of the show was the boardroom, which seemed more honest, confrontational, and dramatic than the usual tribal council. I liked hearing what Trump and his cronies had to say and the responses from the contestants. I was disappointed that nobody brought up the single factor that seemed to put the women out ahead of the men-- their price point. While the men were flogging lemonade at a dollar a glass, the women were getting five bucks a pop. Forget everything else-- the men simply priced themselves out of the competition.

And come on-- after "The tribe has spoken," is "You're fired" the best they could do? Gimme some zing-- "Don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out," or a Mr. Slate riff in the delivery-- something.

Forgive me for what I'm about to do to you.

I'm addicted.

Comments (6) | last by Dan Blum, Jan 31, 7:07 PM

Way too early to gain any useful Mole intelligence, but... My gut says that Baldwin and Bersen are players, not Moles-- they're simply too entertaining playing it straight for the producers to muck about by making one of them the Mole. Everhart's "make them think I'm the Mole" ploy is either a brilliant bit of double-reverse psychology, or it's exactly what she said it was. I'm counting her out as a Mole.

That leaves Rodman, Curry, Gold, and Pulliam. Who is the Mole?

Comments (2) | last by job interview questions, Mar 22, 2:49 AM

Reality Rundown

A bunch of reality TV hits the air this week, and I thought I'd release the Static Zombie syllabus so we're all on the same page.

Wednesday, 10 PM, ABC: Celebrity Mole Yucatan. The Mole is the best of all the reality TV concepts, and the celebrity angle doesn't harm the gameplay a bit. Oddly, Corbin Bersen and Stephen Baldwin-- veterans of the first Celebrity Mole-- are back again. Is one of them the Mole this time? We'll be watching.

Thursday, 8:32 PM, NBC: The Apprentice. Candidates vie for a job with a 6-figure salary from Donald Trump by competing in challenging tasks. C'mon, it's The Donald. Would he put his name on anything of questionable quality? Meanwhile, a Bronx cheer to NBC for their pervasive practice this season of starting shows a minute or two early to spite TiVo users and create Season Pass conflicts. Here's a tip, NBC: in every conflict, your show will get the heave-ho. Spite works both ways, bastards.

Sunday, 9 PM, The WB: The Surreal Life. The first series was oddly fascinating, in no small part because of Corey Feldman's rampaging ego. This time we get Ron Jeremy, Tammy Faye, and Erik Estrada under the same roof as the show answers the burning question, "Whatever happened to Vanilla Ice?" It's a train wreck waiting to happen, and we can't turn our eyes away.

Also premiering this week is the second series of Average Joe. As part of our longstanding ennui about relationship/dating programs, we will not be watching. Sorry. Besides, the producers tanked their own premise last time by introducing a bunch of "hunks" into the mix late in the game-- I don't expect many viewers to sign back on to be fooled twice.

Comments (3) | last by Matt J., Jan 8, 10:41 AM


I'm just catching up on this season of 24-- I'm about 5 episodes in-- and I'm not impressed. If our real governmental agencies are run as poorly as CTU, be very afraid. This place has a bigger mole problem than Cindy Crawford. After Nina in season 1, you'd think they'd tighten their security procedures just a tad. And how exactly did Chappelle, who sided against the President in season 2, manage to keep his job? And apparently becoming a trained computer tech at a government agency where your father works is as easy as saying "plot device." Still, it beats being stalked by a cougar.

I'm disappointed at how the writers seem to be revisiting their own themes-- Jack on the run from CTU, a mole in the ranks, the President having possible betrayal issues with the people closest to him. Part of me hopes this whole situation is an elaborate setup to get Jack back in with Salazar and root out his terrorist contacts, except that it wouldn't make a shred of sense. I've got a couple more episodes stored up on TiVo, so I'll give the show the benefit of the doubt for now and see where things go. But the clock is definitely ticking.

Update: Watched the rest and am now up to date. And whaddya know, I was right-- it was an elaborate setup to get Jack back in with Salazar, and it doesn't make a shred of sense. I mean, come on-- government agents orchestrating a prison riot, wherein guards are bound to get killed? The worst offense is how they didn't play fair with the viewer. We see Jack, Tony, and Gael act in ways that make no sense if they're in on the whole scheme. And Tony keeping it from Michelle? I don't buy that at all. Feh.

Comment (1) | last by Brian L, Jan 6, 7:53 AM

I sat down to do some work this afternoon. A single beam of sunlight was shining into my living room, directly onto the recliner. Looked comfy, so I sat there with my notebook. Within minutes, all my lifeforce began to leech out of me. Bathed in a heavenly glow, my limp fingers let my pen sag into my lap as my eyelids sealed shut and I curled into a quasi-fetal position. The chair was so warm and toasty with the sun shining on it, I could barely form coherent thought. But as I drifted into indolent bliss, the veil of the universe parted and I achieved an instant of satori.

In that moment, I completely understood cats.

Bleed For Your Dinner

I decided to capitalize on today's holiday by breaking in part of the All-Clad set I got for my birthday (thanks, mom!). I cooked up a lamb tagine (recipe courtesy of The Best Recipe: Soups & Stews from the good folks at Cook's Illustrated) which turned out to be dee-lish. The secret ingredient? Human blood.

I used a different knife than I normally use-- thicker, sturdier, and sharper. All to the good, no? No. It has a tendency to slide as it cuts. As I minced some garlic, for example, I noticed that rather than slicing cleanly through the clove, the blade sometimes sheared away from it partway through the motion. Perhaps I'm just used to manipulating a thinner, duller knife, and the sharpness of this one requires a different technique. Or perhaps the knife is being guided by an otherworldy force-- the soul of a man slain at the forge where the knife was made, now forever trapped within the blade and inflicting minor cuts in mute outrage over being forced to spend eternity inside a freaking kitchen knife instead of something cool like a katana or chainsaw.

But my money's on technique.

I've chopped hundreds, perhaps thousands of onions in my life. Tonight, when coarsely chopping the first onion, the knife slid off the onion and sliced my finger. Nothing too bad, a fairly shallow cut at the base of the nail of my left index finger. I cursed, sucked on it, rinsed it off, and made a mental note to be careful with this knife, which gleamed balefully in the pale fluorescence of my kitchen.

And so on to onion number two. Holding it gingerly this time, I proceeded to chop with careful, deliberate motions. Which made absolutely no difference, as the knife slipped again and carved a deep gouge in almost precisely the same spot as before, but on my middle finger this time. More cursing, more sucking as I cast the knife away like a viper into the sink. The smell of brimstone rose from the pipes-- a stygian stench of rot and decay that threatened to pull my soul into the depths from which it came. Or just the remnants of last night's dinner in the disposal-- a quick flick of the switch washed it away. I made a brief detour into the bathroom and thanked the nice people at Microsoft for handing out first aid kits at the company picnic this summer.

A couple of hours later I took the almost-finished tagine from the oven to add some last-minute ingredients. That done, I grabbed the lid to recover the pot and return it to the oven. And discovered that 45 seconds is enough time to completely forget the laws of thermodynamics-- and not nearly enough time for a stainless steel lid to release the heat it builds up from two hours in a 300 degree oven.

And so, with two bandaged fingers and a seared thumb, I savored every forkful of tagine this evening as I researched Seattle-area knife-skills classes on the Web.

Comments (2) | last by Mom, Jan 5, 7:59 AM

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