Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Bob Woodruff is the man

I couldn't tear myself away from the TV last night as I watched footage of ABC News reporter Bob Woodruff make his impressive 13-month recovery from a bomb injury that ripped off part of his skull while he was covering the Iraq war.

What makes the entire special so moving is that only part of it focuses on Woodruff's amazing recovery. The second half of the special is dedicated to America's treatment of injured soldiers — some of whom weren't as fortunate as Woodruff — and the widening gaps between the opinions of the Defense Department and the injured.

Example: The Department of Defense reports about 23,000 nonfatal battlefield casualties among about 1.5 million soldiers who have reported to Iraq and Afghanistan, but according to Woodruff, an internal document states that over 200,000 of these soldiers have sought medical care.

When Woodruff approached Veterans Affairs Secretary James Nicholson with these figures -- including some 73,000 reports of mental disorders and about 61,000 nervous system diseases -- Nicholson began his response with “A lot of them come in for dental problems."

Think Progress has video of that awkward exchange here.

Last I checked, the worst root canal isn't quite comparable to Traumatic Brain Injury.

Anyway, the show is gripping. If you have 40 minutes, I highly recommend watching the entire ABC News special here.

Blogging: For love and money


I won't ask this often, but you'll also notice that I've added some Google Ads to this blog. (I know, I know. I finally caved.) But the ad layouts are pretty seamless and it's pretty simple for you to help on your end. Click on the ads and I'll find yet even more incentive to blog about the ridiculous and the mundane. Clicking on the sponsored ads that are generated by the Google Search box in the right margin should also send me a few pennies in the process.

If you love something I just wrote or wrote long ago, or hated something I just wrote or wrote long ago, click on an ad when you visit. Make a habit of it, if you'd like.

Blogging can be lucrative, but I'll start small.

I can see clearly now, the Cloud ... is here

As you frequent Basketweavers might notice, I've modified the lower-right of the sidebar to include a beautiful new Label Cloud to showcase this blog's topic archive.

It's superior to the old version for many reasons. Not only is it alphabetized, but it's simultaneously color-coded and size-dependent to indicate blog topic frequency. In other words, the more aquamarine and larger a topic is, the more frequently it's appeared on this blog; less frequent topics appear smaller and more off-white.

And because the Label Cloud takes up less space than the default Blogger version, I've cut back on the number of blog posts per page from 75 to 30 -- and still every topic title fits. So I'm passing the (time) savings (it takes to view the blog) onto you, loyal reader.

Thanks to Phydeaux for creating such a user-friendly Label Cloud widget. You rule.

(And yes, I've blogged a lot about blogging this last week. My apologies. I'll return to discussing the universalities and transcendentalism of "Ghostbusters" in the weeks to come.)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sorority wannabes shocked -- SHOCKED -- that looks matter to shallow people

I'm not saying what happened here is right -- it's not -- but it's not national news that some young women are not welcome in certain sorority chapters because they don't fit a certain look. Yet CNN and ABC News are all over the story as if this were a recent or unusual trend. Did we learn nothing from all those '80s and '90s teen movies, people?

That's like my complaining that I was picked dead last in gym classes because people thought I looked like a poor athlete at the time. (I mean, I was, but that's besides the point.) The key difference: I didn't demand an apology from those people, and if I did, it wouldn't mean much in the end.

This just in: Lots of people are mean and superficial.

Paging Friedrich Nietzsche: If God is dead, would it make sense that His alleged remains would be confirmed by a mistake-prone film director?

I'm not really saying James Cameron is right or wrong (well, I'm leaning toward one) -- and I admire his quest for truth -- but I think it's funny that so much credibility is being bestowed on a man whose most famous movie is jam-packed with historical inaccuracies.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Isaac Mizrahi tells me he feared death when his car crashed, takes 'the fifth' on Ryan Seacrest, and thinks I'm 'cute'

I had a blast talking with fashion icon Isaac Mizrahi this weekend for Suburbarazzi. I also got a lot of interesting exclusive material from him in our 10-minute sit-down interview, including what might be the first published account of a car crash that shattered his hip and led him to say, "I thought we were finished."

Here's part one of four of my interview for Suburbarazzi. Coming up later this week, I'll reveal his answers to the following questions:

•Why didn't you do the Oscar red-carpet analysis this year?
•Who's your favorite fashion icon in Hollywood now?
•Does the umbrella go with Britney Spears' bald head?
•You've been on both shows, but gun to your head: Is “Ugly Betty” or “Sex And The City” better?
•What’s wrong and what's right with my style?
•What do you think of the following celebrities: Tim Gunn, Ralph Lauren, Rosie O’Donnell, Donald Trump, Joan Rivers, Ryan Seacrest, Martha Stewart, Howard Stern and Isaac Mizrahi?
•If you happen to like the outfit of anyone who comes up to you on line today, will they get the Johansson Treatment?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Blogging about blogging is so meta

A few days ago, I published a post to mention that Varsity Basketweaving was becoming a member of the BlogBurst network, which -- if I must be honest -- was only because the verification process for inclusion required me to embed the BlogBurst link in a way the network could recognize it. I'm not usually in the business of promoting, so if it seemed a little weird, it was.

But in truth, it is a nifty little network that drops Varsity Basketweaving onto the Web site of news publications and other high-profile subscribers. And when I filled out my profile for BlogBurst, it asked for a blog logo. While I didn't have one at the time, I thought it would be a fun project to attempt on my imitation PhotoShop software.

So, after a few drafts, here's what I came up with:

Constructive criticism is welcome.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Support Our Troops: The Show-Don't-Tell version

No matter what your stance on the Iraq war -- or any war -- this is a short, powerful ABC News video that features a lot of selfless people, including veteran Bert Brady. (I promise it's more moving than depressing.)

Regardless of your personal timeline for American troops in Iraq or Afghanistan, let's hope all of them get home safely.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

BlogBurst-ing with flavor

Varsity Basketweaving is about to become a part of the BlogBurst network of awesomeness. Ooh, Fancy!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Yet another danger to drunks everywhere

While sober (I promise), I realized while traveling on a New Jersey Transit train this weekend that northbound drunkards lacking tickets might have a tough time telling ticket collectors which stop they're going to.

"Tickets. Tickets, please, sir."
Drunkard: "Uhhhh?"
TT: "What stop are you going to, sir?"
D: "Nworrrk, Penn Station."
TT: "I'm sorry, do you mean Newark Penn Station? Or New York Penn Station?"
D: "I said — hic! — NOOWYERK PENN STATION!"
TT: (shrugs, looks both ways) "That'll be $150."
D: (handing him wallet) "Here you go, mom."

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Don't Stand So Close To Me

Good news: I just bought tickets to see my favorite band of all time, The Police, reunited, at Madison Square Garden.

Bad news: I'm sitting in the last section, diagonally behind the stage. While I've never really had great seats to any show I've seen, that's always been the place I've said "Well, at least I'm not sitting there."

Hopefully it won't matter too much in the grand scheme of things. Quite frankly, I'm just happy I got in the door.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Yes, it is just me

Is it just me, or is anyone else worried that when they bite into a Dove bar, that they're biting into soap with a similarly scripted logo and "one-quarter moisturizing cream"?

Or, like, a bird?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Standing up (or in my case, slouching) for the theory of evolution

Say what you will about this CNN story, covering the Kansas Board of Education's return to teaching the theory of evolution. (Trust me, there's a lot to say.)

Despite the fact that the article mentions a retired biology teacher who criticized the board for "discrediting parents who reject materialism and the ethics and morals it fosters," the most disturbing part of it for me was realizing that the second-most-upright stick figure in the accompanying graphic best represents my posture.

As many of my friends will tell you, I still haven't quite evolved. (Or for those objecting to the Kansas School Board and its heathen supporters, I still haven't quite been Intelligently Designed.)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Just when you thought the people from 'Laguna Beach' and 'The Hills' couldn't get any phonier

There's this virtual environment, where I'm sure the devil himself (herself?) wears Prada, owns a penthouse apartment, frequents V.I.P. and grabs salads with Heidi.

I'm in favor of opening up the borders to allow "World of Warcraft" characters to unleash hell in virtual Orange County.

Foo Fighter poses as reporter, asks best question at Police reunion press conference

As much as I enjoyed ?uestlove's proclamation of The Police as "one of the greatest bands ever," the highlight of this MTV News article about a Police reunion press conference had to be the very end, which documents Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins posing as a reporter for the nonexistent Topanga Canyon Tribune.

"So you got three months before the tour starts," Hawkins began. "Do you think there's time for the mullets to return?"

"Finally a serious question," guitarist (Andy) Summers replied.

What my final two bars would be if VH1's 'The (White) Rapper Show' forced contestants to diss host MC Serch

You oughta know your place
Before you talk smack, son
Why stop at 3rd Bass
When you can hit a home run?


Three thoughts on the addictive show:

1. $hamrock is all but guaranteed the hundred G's at this point. Jus Rhyme is too goody-goody and no one seems to like John Brown, who's just good enough to spare himself from elimination week after week.

2. Although one could make the argument that he sounds too much like Eminem, I'm still upset Dasit was eliminated in the first round. I still think he was the best of the 10 and had every right to be upset when MC Serch got loud with him. Which leads me to my last point...

3. MC Serch is a nice enough guy, but he seems awfully cocky for a One Hit Wonder. He slams Vanilla Ice repeatedly, but Ice might have had more mainstream hits than 3rd Bass. And when Serch shouts "STEP OFF!" to eliminated contestants, I can't help but wonder if the Beastie Boys used the same line on him. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, read the third paragraph of the Career section of this Wikipedia entry).

Monday, February 12, 2007

Wanted: Two tickets to see The Police at MSG without sacrificing kidney

Tickets to the epic Police tour are now on sale to members of Best Buy's rewards program. For those of us who don't suck, tickets go on sale next Tuesday.

I'm starting to play the game "How much would I pay to see this show?" The answer's not pretty. I don't want to give eBayers an unfair advantage, but I'll say this much: I'll never be willing to pay more for other concert tickets. Never.

Who needs all of his/her vital organs, anyway?

By the way, I love how the band decided to replace Stewart Copeland with Jerry Springer. (Just kidding. Copeland's my favorite drummer ever. I can't think of another band's drummer that frequently makes me say, "Wow, those drums are awesome.")

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Cats are cute. You got a problem with that?

OK, this is amusing and perfectly executed. And also adorable:

To compensate, I'm going to go lift weights and watch the NFL Draft now. Who cares if it's not on today? I'll watch last year's again. Grrr!

(Link courtesy of the extremely masculine Cute Overload.)

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Boston Globe wonders if my ridiculous friend Chris Fitzgerald looks like Keanu Reeves

Does he or doesn't he?

Does it matter? This cracks me up to no end.

Other than reportedly coaching the Dallas Cowboys next year, another good reason to root against Wade Phillips

When Wade Phillips was Buffalo Bills head coach in 2000 and readying for the first-round playoff game against the Tennessee Titans, he chose backup quarterback Rob Johnson -- who started only the last game of that season -- over starting quarterback/cereal pitchman/Boston College miracle worker Doug Flutie.

Flutie, famous for his Hail Mary pass that propelled BC to a last-second win over national champ Miami in 1984, had been the feel-good comeback story of the year, winning 10 of 15 regular-season games for the Bills. I wasn't the only one upset about Phillips' pick; Bills fans were ticked.

Watching the game, I was disappointed that Phillips didn't change his mind at any point, marooning Flutie on the sidelines. So the karma was obvious for Phillips when the Titans pulled off the famous Music City Miracle -- as time expired. I can't help but wonder if Flutie would have been on the right side of another last-second victory if he had started or finished the game.

Needless, to say, I'm happy Phillips is not coaching the Seattle Seahawks, for whom BC alum Matt Hasselback is the quarterback, or the New York Giants, from whom fellow alum Tim Hasselback is back-up to Eli Manning. Also, I'm happy Phillips is not coaching the Giants because I want them to win.

(And yes, I'm terribly thrilled that both Giants quarterbacks are inferior to their older brothers.)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Random Moment of Feeling Old, Part II

When I'm too lazy to install the satellite radio component in my car, I have to break out my walker and Depend undergarments upon hearing Z-100 announce a "vintage cut" by the Notorious B.I.G.

Screw you, Z. Just because "Big Poppa" came out 13 years ago (are you kidding me?!), that doesn't make Biggie vintage.

(OK, maybe it does.)

Random Moment of Feeling Old, Part I

I want to punch a wall whenever I see kids skating around on those sneakers with those wheels embedded in the heels.

Partially because I find them — and the children's inattentive parents — obnoxious.

Partially because I wish I had those shoes myself.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Prince reaffirms Purple Reign at Super Bowl

One word for the 12-minute halftime show of the artist formerly known as The Artist Formerly Known As Prince: Wow.

It was easily the best halftime musical performance since U2’s in 2002—maybe even better. (And, for the record, U2’s one of my all-time favorites.) If you missed it or want to relive it, check it out:

Here's a second-by-second breakdown of the whole show:

[0:07] Possibly the worst part of the performance, an infantile version of “We Will Rock You,” with superfluous pyrotechnics, a chorus of whiny children and awful canned crowd noise. The good news is that the pervasive canned applause won’t have to be used again, as Prince improbably wins over the crowd of football-first fans.

[0:40] “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to get through this thing called life!” The first of many goosebump moments. Yes, Mr. Nelson, I am accepting your invitation to become mentally unstable.

[0:58] With a fog in the sky caused by the fireworks and rain, the charging throng of fans look like they’re fleeing from Godzilla.

[1:26] Prince’s primary back-up singer, wearing a white cape and a matching hat brim that makes it look like there’s a frisbee ring on her head, gets her first halftime face time—perhaps to distract us from the fact that Prince is wearing a turquoise suit and salmon button-down. (I suppose that color combo is Miami-appropriate, but wow.)

[1:33] Prince launches into the first of many fantastic guitar solos. I know the guy is famous for everything from his constant name-changes to his eclectic fashion sense, but everyone forgets just how amazing of a musician he is.

[1:52] He gets so into the solo that he’s late in resuming his vocals, missing the “Are we gonna let (the)” before returning to the mic with “elevator bring us down.” He plays it cool. No harm, no foul.

[2:06] Prince starts getting the crowd into it with some call-and-response singing. Considering the bulk of the crowd had been more concerned with the score and mustard packets prior to halftime, Prince starts to win them over, based on the volume of response.

[2:23] We’re reminded that it’s pouring outside as the camera lens is covered with translucent hexagonal raindrops. I’m expecting the NFL to fine Mother Nature $8 million and promise more global warming.

[2:49] Prince taunts the crowd by singing a call-and-response falsetto riff that only dogs could hear and/or sing back to him: “HOOO-ooo-OOO-ooo-EEEEE!” Hilarious.

[3:21] It wouldn’t be a Super Bowl halftime show without an appearance from a superfluous marching band, which plays the opening riff of “1999.” But Prince then quickly and seamlessly shifts into the vocals of “Baby I’m A Star.”

[3:42] We see our first glimpse of the marching band uniforms’ glow-in-the-dark lining, which makes them look like they’re guest-starring in the movie “Tron.” It really is the ‘80s all over again.

[3:44] Prince utters the pick-up line all journalists should use: “Hey, I ain’t got no money/But honey I’m rich on personality.”

[4:22] Another seamless segue, this time into “Proud Mary,” which sounds particularly cool with his caped crusader back-up singer and all the marching band brass behind him.

[4:39] Tron-believable!

[5:06] Tron-tastic!

[5:08] Obligatory Guitar Switch No. 1.

[5:21] Prince switches it up yet again, playing a few guitar riffs of a different song before revealing the first words of “All Along The Watchtower,” channeling Jimi Hendrix through his fingertips. More goosebumps.

[6:04] The biggest surprise: Prince pays homage to the Foo Fighters with his bluesy, moody take on “Best Of You.” As a huge Foo Fighters fan, I think Dave Grohl should be really proud; Prince stays true to the song without ripping it off.

[6:32] It’s amazing that Prince can find two dancers who are shorter than he is. Geena Davis need not apply.

[7:19] Continuing the musical seance that he began with Hendrix, Prince channels the late James Brown on a wail that would make almost anyone “get on up.”

[7:21] He starts a raucous, raw best guitar solo that’s his best of the night.

[8:21] In the middle of a downpour, the opening riff of “Purple Rain” resonates through the stadium. No, that’s not just the hypothermia that’s causing your goosebumps. Also, Obligatory Guitar Switch No. 2.

[8:41] Obligatory Crowd-Holding-Up-Lights-Because-They’re-Instructed-To-Do-So Moment

[9:00] Oh, and you thought Tron had disappeared, didn’t you?

[9:40] Prince is made taller—perhaps by default—by projecting his shadow onto a giant billowing bedsheet. The shape of his guitar next to his hips makes for some interesting shadows, ones that might have made a few censors a little nervous about the FCC’s reaction in the aftermath of Janet Jackson’s halftime show years ago.

[10:50] Mechanical doves hover over the stage. Search lights permeate the night. Prince continues to reign.

[10:57] Improbably, when the band cuts out, a majority of the football-jersey-wearing fans joins Prince in echoing the falsetto ending of “Purple Rain.” Amazing.

[11:28] Enough pyrotechnics are set off to make the Fourth of July jealous.

[11:52] After a well-deserved ovation for Prince, the YouTube clip mercifully cuts off before some producer nobody cares about takes credit for the epic show for which Prince is primarily responsible.

This post was originally published here. Hooray!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Arrested man allegedly utters phrase, 'You can't tell this wookie what to do'


The real Chewbacca must be tired of all these impersonators sullying his good name.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

10 things I wanted to do, but didn’t, while visiting the real 30 Rock last night

Read all about it here.

OK, so I'm double-posting. (As a Mr. Can't-Stand-Ya might say, "It's like putting your whole mouth... IN the dip!")