Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Where I live, Krispy Kreme is king. Unfortunately for me, I still prefer the doughnuts and coffee I grew up with, from Dunkin Donuts! I think their doughnuts are way better, and I even think their coffee is better (and cheaper) than Starbucks. Whenever I make a trip to Long Island I try to make a stop at a Dunkin Donuts.

The reason I'm reminiscing about that store today is because the former face of Dunkin Donuts, Michael Vale, died today at age 83. In the Dunkin Donuts commercials, he was known as "Fred The Baker," and in the early incarnations of the ads he was perpetually exhausted because it was always "Time To Make The Donuts." The purpose of the ads was to show that Dunkin Donuts' doughnuts were always fresh. The funniest ads were when Fred The Baker would dress up in drag and visit other doughnut stores to interrogate their employees about how fresh their doughnuts were. If I remember right, the competitor's employees looked dumbfounded, especially because Fred didn't bother to shave his dark mustache while posing as a woman.

According to Newsday, Michael Vale worked as an actor on the Broadway stage, in film and on television, and appeared in more than 1,300 TV commercials besides his work as Fred, the Dunkin Donuts Baker.

So the next time you visit Dunkin Donuts for their coffee, pour a bit on the ground outside for your homey, Michael Vale.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Have Yourself A Very Mookie Christmas

Blogging will be light or non-existent for the next several days, as we head off for the holidays. I expect to have limited- to no- internet access until next Wednesday. In the meantime, enjoy whatever holiday or non-holiday you celebrate or don't celebrate this time of year, and pass your free time browsing the links on the right hand side of this page! Ho! Ho! Ho!

Also, click here to view a holiday card from the New York Mets!

Peace on Earth, and Ill Will Towards Man

Well, the D.A. and that California jury of boneheads couldn't put Michael Jackson away for child molesting, but the Department of Justice is investigating the singer for allegedly lying to get his children new passports in an attempt to illegally remove them from the United States.

Personally, and I don't care if it's for unpaid parking tickets, someone's got to be able to get this man convicted of something just to show me that there is justice in this country for celebrities!

Countdown to 24

My wife is going to be so happy in January. That's when I begin monopolizing the TV two nights a week. Lost returns with new episodes, and the new season of 24 begins!

Set your Tivo: The four-hour, two-part season premiere of "24," will air Jan. 15-16 (8 p.m. EST).

The cast of 24 has been updated for the new season (Thanks John for the tip!) Can't wait!

More Poetry in (Non) Motion

Day two of the NYC transit strike brings us another poem. This one is by Brian Sack. An excerpt:

The workers were nestled all snug in their booths;
Where oft they're found sleeping, to tell you the truth.
Toussaint wants their pensions to be like the cops' -
you know, 'cause it's stressful announcing each stop.

Read the entire poem here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Mookie's First TV Appearance!

Hey check out Mookie in the latest webisode of Ralph Suarez's very funny Disorderly Conduct TV show. An image of Mookie appears in the first sketch of Episode Six, available for download here. (Right click the link, save to your desktop, and when it's finished open it with Quicktime. If you don't have Quicktime you can watch it with Windows Media Player but you need to download a plug-in as described here.)

Subway Sestina

Some days I really miss the big city. Even though I really lived on Long Island, I did commute to "The City" for several years. Today the NY City transit workers went on strike, leaving many many people who depend on the subways and buses stranded. As New Yorkers we cursed the subways, but I am sure they are missing those trains today. Check out this sestina by Adam Mazmanian called Sestina For The Q Train. I used to take the Q Train daily up to my job's offices on 56th and 6th. Here's an exerpt of Adam's sestina:

"No trains," says a workman, after a contemptuous eternity,
"Stop here tonight. Upstairs for the Q Train."
They follow me, the passengers, through Canal
Street Station, and one in particular, Shirley,
introduces herself right there on the platform,
and asks, would I share with her a taxi across the bridge.

Read the full Sestina here, and find out what a sestina is here. I am going to try and write a sestina myself over the holidays. I haven't written any sort of poetry in years. Wish me luck!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Public Service Announcement

Dear Readers,

Not trying to be a jerk here or anything, but when addressing holiday cards to a family, there is no need to put an apostrophe before the "s" when pluralizing the family's name. For instance: "The Smiths" is correct, "The Smith's" is not.

The apostrophe implies possession (or a contraction). Notice usage above with the phrase "family's name," Here the apostrophe is used because the name belongs to the family. Conversely, this post begins "Dear Readers," with no apostrophe needed.

Thank you all very much for the cards you've sent to me, grammar errors notwithstanding. It is very nice to be remembered.

Merry ChristmHanuKwaanza,


New Snacks

Nestle and Hershey both think the next big thing in candy are sticks, or, more specifically, crispy wafers rolled up into a stick, and then filled with creme and sprinkled with bits of candy. Nestle will have Butterfinger Stixx and Nestle Crunch Stixx, while Hershey will launch a similar line with their own brands, presumably including Almond Joy and Reeses (different from the already available bar-shaped Reeses Sticks). They'll both hit your local candy distributors shelves this coming March. Just in time to give up next year's new years weight-loss resolutions!

A Word On Advertising

Great line by Rob Jones on Advertising in PMT in an article titled "Advertising is a Four Letter Word":

"Advertising can be three things: (1) Fast, (2) Effective, and (3) Economical, . But it can only be two of those things at once. If it is Fast and Effective, then it is not economical. If it is Effective and Economical, then it is not fast. And if it is Fast and Economical, it is not effective."

This man is a genius.
Full article can be found here. (Search by author: Jones)

The Family Kong

I saw two movies this weekend: King Kong and The Family Stone. Obviously I dragged my wife to the former, and she dragged me to the latter. I expected The Family Stone to be a "chik flik" and a dreadful experience, but it actually turned out to be a pretty good movie. I had expected that all the "funny" parts were shown in the preview, but in actuality the preview didn't give that much away at all, and I was happy to find out that the funniest parts were saved for people who went to see the movie. Guys, this is a good movie to let your better halves drag you to. You'll enjoy it, and you'll score a point or two as well.

Kong was everything I expected, and then some. It was the "then some" that bugged me a bit. I'm not talking about the length of the movie; the three hours went by fast enough. My only issue with the film was that I thought director Peter Jackson went a bit too far with the love story. The love story between Naomi Watts' character and the big ape, that is. Poor Adrian Brody and his character were so overshadowed by this creepy love affair. My feeling was that Ann Darrow's affection for the beast would have been better portrayed more like the way a person feels affection for a pet. Jackson made Kong too human-like. He went just a bit too Lord Of The Rings fantasy for me. The magic of the King Kong story is the idea that it could actually happen, and Jackson went a bit too far for me to completely suspend disbelief.
Stone: B
Kong: B-

Friday, December 16, 2005

Yet Another New Coke

If Diet Black Cherry Vanilla Coke doesn't sound appealing enough to you, Coca-Cola will attempt to appeal to your taste buds (and open your wallet) for Coca-Cola Blak, a combination coffee/cola carbonated beverage in 2006. According to a press release, the new flavor is aimed at adults.

"Coca-Cola Blāk is not just a flavor extension. It is a blend of unique Coke refreshment with the true essence of coffee and has a rich smooth texture and has a coffee-like froth when poured. We believe we have created a new category of soft drink – an adult product in a carbonated beverage – and a whole new drinking experience. This brand is ideal for any part of the day when people are looking for renewed energy or simply to take a break," said Marc Mathieu, vice president, Global Core Brands, The Coca-Cola Company.

People in France will be the first to try the new soda, in January, with Americans getting a taste sometime later in 2006. To me, the bottle looks like a beer. What do you think?:

I will definitely give this new drink a try, but I am not optimistic about it. I guess we'll have to see. Meanwhile, Pepsi is making sure they don't get caught in the dust. If Coca-Cola Blāk takes off, they'll be ready with Pepsi Cappuccino.

Not nearly as sexy a name,
but I think it might come down to which company hits the U.S. first.

Howard Stern

Today was Howard Stern's final broadcast on what's called "terrestrial radio." I am not sure about that terminology, but the news media is using it to describe the end of his free, over the air radio show, contrasting his new gig on satellite radio.

In January, Howard will begin broadcasting on Sirius, one of the two satellite radio providers. The other is XM. Since leaving New York just over a year ago, I have missed Howard's morning show dearly. Every other morning show is absolutely dreadful! So it would seem to be a no-brainer for me to sign up for Sirius next month, right? Well, here's the thing...

I think the reason Howard Stern is so misunderstood is because of how the E! television show is edited. If you tune in to that show, nine times out of ten you'll see a stripper or a wanna-be stripper taking their clothes off or being humiliated for the right to take their clothes off. Now, I have nothing against naked women, but by far the best part of Howard's radio show was not that element.

The best part was the honesty. When Howard and Robin and Baba Booey and whoever happened to be in the studio would just sit there and talk, or argue, or make fun of each other, it was real. It wasn't contrived conflict, like what is so prevelant on every other morning show; it was real, even if sometimes it was real immature. Also, Howard's interviews with celebrities were fascinating. We always learned way more than on other radio shows or TV talk shows where again and again the same softball fluff questions were tossed at the stars. Howard asked the best questions, the hard questions.

So, as I go on and on about the greatness of Howard's show that I miss so dearly on my short morning commute, why wouldn't I be salivating at the opportunity to reconnect with Stern on his new Sirius gig?

Frankly I am worried. I am worried that with the FCC restrictions lifted, Howard's show is going to become an even raunchier, uncensored version of his E! show. A non-stop parade of strippers and profanity. I fear Howard's true talent is going to be lost among the mayhem.

And the celebrity interviews. Howard played to an ENORMOUS audience on his broadcast show. Even the celebs who were scared of answering his questions were almost obligated to appear on his show to promote their latest project to Howards giant audience. That audience will be decidedly smaller on Sirius. Sirius total subscriber base is about 2.2 million. Over the air his audience was about four times that. Will he still be able to book celebs on his new show?

Finally, my other hestitation has nothing to do with Howard at all. It has to do with the other thing I miss so much about radio in New York. XM Radio, Sirius' competitor, is the only way I can listen to radio roadcasts of Mets games down here in North Carolina.

Won't these two companies make my life easier and just merge already?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Read: An Open Letter to Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer

A.F. Passafiume (real name?) writes an open letter to our favorite reindeer at

an excerpt:

When Santa came over to you that foggy Christmas Eve and asked, "Rudolph with your nose so bright, won't you guide my sleigh tonight?," I couldn't wait for the part where you'd tell Santa to stick it up his ass, and run off with Hermey to open a thriving dental practice on the Island of Misfit Toys. So what if Christmas got canceled that year and all the little boys and girls all over the world would wake up to empty stockings by the fireplace. You needed to teach Santa a lesson in how to treat people.

However, you didn't do that. Instead, to my shock, you were happy that Santa asked you to guide his sleigh! You said, "Sure, I'll guide your sleigh! I'd be thrilled to!" Then off you went with that creep, who up until then had treated you like you were the bastard child of the Elephant Man.

Read the full letter here. Happy Holidays everyone!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Incest Is The Best, Put Your Cousin To The Test

Today at lunch we were discussing the excellent movie, Walk The Line, which tells the story of the life of Johnny Cash. We were talking about another person portrayed in the film, Jerry Lee Lewis, who is notorious for having married his 13 year old cousin. We got to talking about the always fun topic of 'kissin cousins,' which led me to come back to the office and look up a bit about the subject. Here's what I found out.

In addition to Jerry Lee Lewis, Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein are also people who married their cousins. All three suffered for having violated a widely held social norm against "incestuous" unions. Yet there may be less reason for this norm, and for the laws enforcing it, than was once believed.

A panoply of state laws say cousin marriages are taboo. But a report in the Journal of Genetic Counseling concludes that cousins can have children together without running much greater risk than a "normal" couple of their children having genetic abnormalities. Accordingly, the report potentially undermines the primary justification for laws that prevent first cousins from marrying or engaging in sexual relations with one another. True, marriage among close kin can increase the chance of pathological recessive genes meeting up in some unlucky individual, with dire consequences. The problem isn't cousin marriage per se, however, but rather how many such genes are floating around in the family pool. If the pool's pretty clean, the likelihood of genetic defects resulting from cousin marriage is low. The report says that, on average, offspring of first-cousin unions have a 2 to 3 percent greater risk of birth defects than the general population, and a little over 4 percent greater risk of early death. While those margins aren't trivial, genetic testing and counseling can minimize the danger. An argument can be made that marriages of first cousins descended from strong stock can produce exceptional children.

The formerly high incidence of congenital defects, specifically hemophilia, among European royal families isn't the classic demonstration of the perils of inbreeding that everybody thinks it is. The short explanation is that hemophilia is an X-chromosome-related characteristic, transmitted only through the female line. The children of royal female carriers would have been at risk no matter whom their mothers had married.

The U.S. is virtually alone among developed nations in outlawing marriage among first cousins. European countries have no such prohibition. Even in the U.S. laws forbidding the practice are far from universal.

Twenty-four states prohibit marriages between first cousins, and another seven permit them only under special circumstances. For example:

  • Utah permits first cousins to marry only provided both spouses are over age 65, or at least 55 with evidence of sterility. Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin also have laws stating minimum ages or proof of sterility.
  • North Carolina permits first cousins to marry unless they are "double first cousins" (cousins through more than one line. For instance, two brothers from one family marry two sisters from another; if each couple has a child, those offspring are double cousins).
  • Maine permits first cousins to marry only upon presentation of a certificate of genetic counseling.

The remaining nineteen states, including New York and California, and the District of Columbia permit first-cousin marriages without restriction. All states allow marriage of second cousins or more-distant relatives.

So, how common are cousin marriages? Well, he frequency of cousin marriages in the USA is about 1 in 1,000. In comparison, the frequency of cousin marriages in Japan is about 4 in 1,000. It is estimated that 20 percent of all couples worldwide are first cousins. It is also estimated that 80 percent of all marriages historically have been between first cousins. And in some respects, we are all cousins, as no two people are more distantly related than 50th cousins.

So there you go.

This post flagrantly plagiarizes from:

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Lessons In Effective Copywriting

Jay Dyckman, of, has some suggestions for how to improve the effectiveness of animal adoption ads. Here's an example:


Current: My name is Rocky and I was abandoned here at the center. I'm 10 years old and looking for a nice home to live out my golden years. Please come down and say hello. Until you come, I'll be waiting here. Full disclosure: I have a hyperthyroid and am blind in one eye. Hasn't slowed me down, though, and I'm sure it's something you can handle.

Suggested: Let's get real honest. If I don't come home with you, I'm taking a one-way trip on the needle express. And all those touchy-feely posters out front describing the center's painless euthanasia procedure? Says who? We can't talk, you know. It's your call.

Check out all the rewritten ads here.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Richard Pryor, R.I.P.

One of the great comic geniuses of our time, Richard Pryor died today, at age 65.

This weekend, honor him by renting his cinematic trilogy of greatness, Brewter's Millions, Superman III, and The Toy.

Actually, donating to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society might be a nice idea.

Mookie Of The Month - December

I thought it was time for a flashback. This is our little Mookie at just 5 weeks old. You already could see her attitude!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Word Of The Year

Who knew there was a 'Word of the Year?' well, ladies and gentlemen, the Word Of The Year for 2005, according to the editors of the New Oxford American Dictionary, is..... podcast.


Behold, the 2005 Word Of The Year, in all its glory. Congratulations, podcast. Although, personally, I was really pulling for squick.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

From The Junk Mail File...

I think this may be a recurring feature here, posting spam messages I find amusing....

I just got this in my e-mailbox. A company called Encompass Media wants me to know that pizzerias nationwide are now offering up their pizza boxes as advertising space. For example:

I have two concerns about this:

1) Since they're now being subsidized by advertisers, will it make my pizza any cheaper?

2) What will happen to the stereotypical overweight Italian guys who usually model for the covers of these things?

The Carnivore

Bob, of PartyWithBob, is attempting to eat as many different types of animal as he can in one sitting. He's calling it Operation Noah's Ark, it is tentatively set for January 1, 2006, and he's inviting anyone who wants to join him in his quest. Vegetarians Need Not Apply.
" by one (counter to Noah's 2 by 2 I know, but if it is nasty who will want a second?), we will blaze a path through the animal kingdom and remind every last one of them who is at the top of the food chain...and who wears who as a coat."

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

V Photo

My cousin has a blog where he puts his photography skills on display. Today he's showing off his photo editing skills as well. How quickly can you spot what was changed in the retouched image of this original shot?

How Do You Define Respect?

These last two weeks, in-between work, checking blogsites for Mets updates, and waiting for new Aqua Teen Hungerforce episodes, I have been reading a new book by Paul Zollo titled, "Conversations With Tom Petty." I will post a review of the book when I'm done with it, but today I wanted to post a cool quote I read from a different Tom Petty interview with Billboard Magazine's Melinda Newman. Tonight Tom Petty will recieve The Century Award, recognizing his incredible music career. Her entire, lengthy, interview with Tom can be read in the news section of, but my favorite part was Tom talking about his most recent album, The Last DJ:

Q: Do you think [The Last DJ] did not do well because it was not what people expect from Tom Petty?

A: Well, too bad, you're going to have to take what he gives you. I don't give a damn what you want.

Q: Yes, you do. You have just spent hours talking about the respect you have for your audience.

A: Yes, well, that is respecting them. If I disrespected them, I would pander to them, but I don't. I never have, and I'm never going to. If you just think I'm going to sing "Refugee" every time, I'm not going to do it. I'm too old for that now.

Q: What do you want to do?

A: I'm more interested in what I'm going to leave behind me now than in making a big hit record. I've refined what I do for a long time. If getting better at it means it goes over the heads of those who only wanted to party, then so be it.

Q: There is a great line in the song "Joe" on "The Last DJ" that says, "We could move more catalog if he'd only die quicker." So death really is a good career move.

A: Well, you always sell more. It's just a downright vicious song. It's black, black humor. I think I was hurt inside that you guys fucked this up, just the business in general, you fucked up this beautiful thing, this music that spoke for people. You turned it into this thing that nobody trusts, and it's, like, all for money. Like you weren't making enough money.

Q: What can we expect from your next solo album, "Highway Companion," when it comes out next year?

A: It has a lot to say about time and the passage of time. It's not so much love songs, it's not going to be what anybody expects from me, I'm sure of that. But it's good music, it's really good music.

Q: Do you see a day where you do not make music anymore?

A: My wife will tell you I'm not any happier anywhere than when I'm in the studio. I'm over the moon about it. It keeps me young, it keeps me feeling like I have some purpose. There's some reason this stuff is coming through me. So I don't intend to quit.
Check out the Billboard Awards tonight on FOX. where Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong will present the Century Award to Tom Petty.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Oprah Winfrey's Pomegranate Martini

We had a party this past weekend and served these. Though it's really more a mixed drink than a true martini, the ladies in attendance were quite happy with them. I made a pitcher's worth in the afternoon and then put it in the refrigerator to chill. When it was time to serve, I would pour some into a shaker with ice and then shake to chill even more before pouring into a martini glass:

(Makes 12 servings)

12 oz. Vodka
6 oz Triplesec
9 cups Pomegranate Juice

Oprah's original version can be found here.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Maybe I should have stayed on Long Island. Maybe if I had, I could have scored an invitation to the Bat Mitvah of Elizabeth Brooks, daughter of defense contractor David H. Brooks. Apparently a DJ wasn't enough entertainment for Little Elizabeth. Oh, no. Instead, her daddy booked an all star line-up to perform. The lineup: Tom Petty, Aerosmith, Don Henley, Stevie Nicks, Fifty Cent (which one of these is not like the other?), and more. Fitty was obviously a throw in to appease the kid. I can't imagine a thirteen year old girl has any idea who Don Henley is. Well, if the 150 kids in attendance were bored by the classic rock show, they also got $1,000 goody bags, complete with digital cameras and video iPods!

Get Out Of New York State Before Its Too Late

Just over a year ago, I left Long Island and moved down South. According to a report in todays Newsday, I may have a bunch of Long Islanders following me.

More Long Islanders say they are considering moving away amid difficulties paying for the high cost of housing, a new poll has found.

The poll found the biggest jump in those considering leaving Nassau and Suffolk counties came among those the local economy can least afford to lose - adults in their peak earning years between ages 50 and 64. The results come even as record-low interest rates have decreased homeowners' monthly housing bills, and as regional rental rates have leveled off or even decreased.

"It's just getting to the point that people really are thinking ... is Long Island really worth it?" said Carrie Meek Gallagher, executive director of the Long Island Index, which sponsored the poll.
For me, personally, leaving Long Island was really hard. It was hard to leave behind my friends, family, my beloved Mets, and the corner pizzeria. But having escaped, and now haveing been able to buy a house I never could have afforded on 'The Island,' I can safely say I don't think I'd ever move back to Long Island. I just need to get rich enough to buy a jet so I can still fly back on the weekends for Mets games!