Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Beefcake Recall 

LOS ANGELES, CA (AFA Newswire) — Thousands of beefcake calendars were recalled today in the wake of allegations that misters April, June and November contain steroids. It is feared that other months may be tainted as well.

The calendars, all for the year 2004, and sold under the title "Hotties 'n' Hunks," feature photographs of muscular young men with well-formed physiques and chiselled good looks, provocatively posed wearing some — but rarely all — of the gear associated with one or other traditionally hyper-masculine endeavor.

At a press conference announcing the recall, authorities — four pale, paunchy middle-aged guys with bad haircuts — told assembled reporters that the threats to consumers of the effected calendars include ". . . ludicrously inflated expectations, unrealistic standards and/or a chronic sense of dismay, dissatisfaction and disappointment."

Although the suspect beefcake is all from a single company, Manley Productions International, based in Van Nuys, other makers of male pin-up paraphernalia were quick to come forward with statements, ranging from Chippendale's outright denial of any steroid use to Playgirl magazine's call for an industry wide quarantine.

Reached for comment via cell phone from his boat in Marina del Rey, Michael Manley, president of Manley Productions, said, "Sure, there's some 'enhancement.' We'll oil 'em up for the camera and maybe airbrush out a mole, or something; but steroids, no. We don't have that kind of money."

Despite hinting that the beefcake in question originated in Canada — Mr. February is pictured skiing in Banff — Manley flatly denied an unrelated assertion that Mr. August is not really 'Eric, a 28-year-old fireman from Boise, Idaho,' but, in fact, a professional model from Florida named Randy Carlton who is trying to break into the film business.

Monday, December 29, 2003

Faux Finish for Iraq 

WASHINGTON, DC (AFA Newswire) — The Bush administration today announced that its plan for "Nation Building" in Iraq is being scaled down to "Nation Redecorating."

Acknowledging that "Appearances do matter" and that right now things in Iraq "Look pretty bad," Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld unveiled "Operation Iraqi Makeover."

"The whole of Iraq, starting in Baghdad, will get spruced up," said Christopher Lowell, spokesman for the Operation Iraqi Makeover planning committee. The group's members include experts in interior design, interior decorating, tromp l'oeil painting, floral arranging and one whose specialty was defined only as 'culture.' "We'll have the place looking super-fabulous way before the Republican Conven . . . I mean, eh, before you know it. Heh, heh."

Lowell described the current situation in Iraq, "Earth tones everywhere you look! Sand, sky, palm trees! Everyone in caftans! My God, it's like Canyon Ranch without the facials and the juice bar," he exclaimed. Still, Lowell is optimistic about the chances for success. "What with all those antique vases and bric-a-brac from the museums — I mean, they all took something — you'll see the most divine potted plant arrangements in every foyer and patio, and tchotchkes on mantlepieces and such," he sighed, "It'll be just gorgeous."

Asked to respond to charges from congressional Democrats that this is just a whitewash for the Bush administration's disastrous mismanagement of post-war Iraq, Lowell turned chilly and snipped, "This is NOT a whitewash; it's much, much more than that. We're talking about sanding, replastering, repainting, re-upholstering and a unicameral parliamentary republic with term-limited representatives democratically elected by a simple majority," adding, "Oh, and new curtains and an unregulated free-market economy."

Pressed to reconcile this dramatic change of goals for the U.S. occupation of Iraq with those stated before the war, Lowell, replied, "It's like when you buy a house. At first you want to redo everything but then you realize how long that would take and how much it would cost, and you decide you can live with most of what's already there, after all. Even the most awful carpeting."

A reporter asked Lowell about the rumor circulating at D.C. cocktail parties that Martha Stewart will be pardoned by President Bush before her obstruction of justice case ever goes to trial and that she'll subsequently be appointed U.S. Lifestyle Envoy to Iraq. This theory proposes that by ensuring Stewart never appears in open court, the administration would prevent revelations embarrassing to Republican power brokers in the finance industry. In addition, Ms. Stewart would work from an office in Baghdad, placing her well beyond criticism and additional subpoenas. "That's just a silly story," said Rumsfeld, shoving aside Lowell to get back to the microphone, "Besides, it could never work, could it?" he asked, "Could it? . . . Excuse me, I have to make a call."

Lowell would neither confirm or deny Stewart's involvement in Operation Iraqi Makeover but said unequivocally that her name is not on the short list of nominees for the crucial position of Feng Shui Master.

The one thing everyone agrees on is that Iraq is 'Just a mess' and there's a lot of work to do.

"We may not be able to turn Iraq into a fabulous western-style democracy," chirped Lowell, "But we can sure make it look like one."

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Vegas-Style Homeland Security, Baby 

LAS VEGAS, NV (Ant Farmer's Almanac Newswire) In response to the city's inclusion on a list of possible American terror targets this holiday season, Las Vegas businessmen are taking homeland security into their own hands in true Vegas style.

Several casinos along The Strip and Downtown are offering a variety of incentives from deep discounts to out-and-out freebies to any patron over the age of 18 with a photo I.D. proving them to be a member of the Al-Qaeda terrorist network or related international terror organization.

"We're not talking about just your run-of-the-mill, America-hating foreigner; you know, the French or any of those snotty Eurotrash types," said Sam "Ace" Rothstein, manager of the Tangiers Hotel-Casino and spokesman for the consortium of a dozen-or-so establishments involved in the scheme, "We mean the real hard-core nut-jobs with nitro in their pants and a rental truck full of uranium."

Rothstein acknowledged that they hadn't worked out every detail when it comes to making an offer would-be terrorists can't refuse, "We figure a $100 worth of quarters for the slots, maybe stake 'em $1,000-worth of chips for the tables, 25% off the buffet table — 50% off beef dishes — plus, we'll comp the room and validate parking." When a reporter expressed doubts that the Tangiers' buffet would dissuade a determined suicide bomber from detonating himself with a dirty bomb, Rothstein menacingly waved a fistful of shrimp in the reporter's face and barked, "See this? Fresh from the Gulf of f***ing Mexico! Flown in overnight. You know what it f***ing costs me to fly in fresh shrimp from Mississippi or Alabama or wherever the f*** this stuff is from? Huh? Do you? I didn't think so, you f***ing pansy."

While Rothstein allowed that, at present, none of the big name stage acts in town had signed on to the deal, he did say — with a sly wink — that he and others were "in serious negotiations" with representatives of Penn & Teller, Wayne Newton and Siegfried.

Rothstein also hinted at another big draw for Vegas-bound terrorists: women. "These guys, they think if they blow themselves up they're gonna wind up in heaven with — what is it, 70? — virgins," he said, "Now, I can't talk about it too much, but I guarantee you, these guys come here and play ball with me, they'll get all the girls they can handle. Okay, maybe not 70 each and none of 'em will be virgins, exactly, but they'll get enough tail to keep 'em busy till next Ramadan, no problem. I got broads who'll do anybody, no matter what he's got in the trunk of his car or what kind of rag he's wearin' on his head."

When reached by phone for a comment about the unique venture, the Director of Marketing and Public Relations for the Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Bureau said, "WHAT THE F. . . ?!? I'll have to get back to you."

A televised advertising campaign promoting the offer began running on Al-Jazeera and UPN December 22, and is scheduled to continue at least through the new year.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Yessiree, This Motor Purrs Just Like a . . . Hey, Wait a Minute! 

Cat Survives 150 Mile Ride inside Car's Engine.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Asked for a Comment, Grim Reaper Replies "Doh!" 

Keith Richards turned 60 on Dec. 18.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Combatants Order in Pizza, Brownies 

Long Battle Over Medical Marijuana Seen Ahead.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Europe's Biggest Fishtank Burns Down.  

"It's such a sad day. The worst day ever," said the museum's director, who did not add, "Have you got any tartar sauce?"

Monday, December 15, 2003

Meanwhile, My Genetically Engineered Turducken Goes Unrecognized by the Nobel Prize Committee 

Scientist Formulates "Perfect" Christmas Turkey.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Do You Think He Already Knows About the Surprise Party We Were Planning? 

Sunday, December 14 is Nostradomus' 500th birthday.

But he doesn't look a day over 350 . . .

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Critic's Notebook 

From the Tri-County Courier-Journal's Weekend Arts & Literature Supplement Section (Reprinted with permission.)

Book Nook
by Elliot Nook

As the only book reviewer at the only newspaper in the Tri-County area, it is my job — my duty, really — to scout the literary landscape on behalf of what passes hereabouts for the "reading public". A collection of my weekly columns, "The Best of Book Nook, Volume II," was released three months ago by Vainglory Publishing ("From your typewriter to your bookcase in 30 days or your money back!"). However, owing to their lackluster promotional efforts I find myself obliged to place professional responsibility before personal interest and review the book myself. Rest assured, dear readers, that I will employ the same razor-sharp insight and rigorous critical standards here as I do to any book that crosses my desk not written by me.

To say that this book doesn't live up to the youthful promise of "The Best of Book Nook, Volume I" is a masterpiece of understatement. To begin with, there is the book's cover. That its ink-smudged fingerprint pattern is intentional came as a surprise to me, and the rationale for it provided by Vainglory's summer intern ("Uh, edgy? Maybe Post-modern?") still sounds a little fishy.

Aesthetics aside, the absence of my name, photo or the book's title on the dust jacket is somewhat troubling.

Once inside, "Volume II" reflects the author's descent into the dark torment of middle-age discontent. Gone are the linguistic bravura and far-reaching literary references that enlivened "Volume I." Review after review disintegrates into little more than a furious rant about the author's frustrated literary ambitions, lost youth, and toxic disdain for his subjects, his audience, himself and his employer's lousy dental plan. But can you blame me for being bitter? Twice first runner-up for Tri-County Community College's "Most Likely to Get Published" award (it's all politics), stuck here, reviewing books by morons intended for cretins.

Critiques of first novels tend to be especially harsh, as seen in this excerpt:

"Just what the world needs, another crypto-autobiographical whine about a sensitive, misunderstood young writer's unhappy childhood and bittersweet sexual awakening. Oh, merciful God, when will it stop?"

While space considerations prevent me from fully cataloging the publisher's multiple sins of omission, it strikes me that a dozen years' worth of weekly columns should stack up to more than 56 pages. Anyone as familiar as I am with this writer's oeuvre will struggle to comprehend the absence of two thirds of my trilogy on Sidney Sheldon as well as anything from 1993, 1995 and 1996. What little is left of the chapter covering my early life wouldn't fill an "About the Author" blurb, which is also missing.

The book suffers from several baffling editorial choices, chief among them, arranging the material thematically, rather than in chronological order, thereby tossing together columns written months and even years, apart. This preposterous contrivance exposes the writer's habitual lazy writing, formulaic repetition, frequent use of hackneyed catchphrases and painfully unsuccessful attempts at wit. This sampling from the Summer Reading chapter is characteristic:

1997: "If you're going to the beach this summer and have to choose between taking a hat and Jackie Collins, take the hat."

1998: "If you take Tom Clancy to the beach with you this summer, for God's sake make him leave his shirt on!"

1999: "If you take Stephen King with you to the beach this summer, he'll write enough on the walk from the car to the sand to keep you reading until Labor Day. Also have lots of sunscreen handy (spf of 15), and keep him lathered up, he burns easily."

I now see how wrong I was. King needs an spf of 45. Minimum.

Recent columns' focus on cookbooks, celebrity tell-alls and "Far Side" desk calendars might indicate that the author is finally listening to his editor and giving readers what they really want. Suspiciously often, however, a novel gets reviewed only after the movie version of it has become available for rental on video. This "coincidence" goes a long way in explaining the repeated references to 'Meryl' and 'Clint' in his "book" review of "The Bridges of Madison County."

Likelier than new-found pragmatism, this merely signals the writer's having made a conscious decision to take the three martini lunch-fueled path of least resistance and just mark time in this cultural cul-de-sac while awaiting death's sweet embrace.

Whichever it turns out to be, if you take only one collection of my book review columns to the beach with you next summer, make it "The Best of Book Nook, Volume II."

Friday, December 05, 2003

Paradise Lost 

West Virginia becomes last state to get a Starbucks.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

I Sure Hope My Secret Santa Reads This LA Times Article 

Nothing says 'holiday' like a bacon-scented air freshener. Except, maybe, a mermaid outfit.

The Albino Bowling Action Figure is my favorite (hint, hint).

"Yellow Peril Lane" is the Current Front Runner 

Lawsuit seeks to rename Texas street now called Jap Road something — anything — else.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Only Because His First Choice, Shit For Brains, Was Already Taken 

An Illinois man has legally changed his name from Raymond Allen Gray Jr to
Bubba Bubba Bubba.

ABBA 2004 

Press Release
December 1, 2003
Solvang, California

We are pleased to announce that as of noon today we have submitted the necessary legal documents and tax dodge forms to establish a political action committee called Anybody But Bush Again 2004 and hereafter known as and commonly referred to by its acronym ABBA 2004.

First off, we wish it to be known that ABBA 2004 is in no way associated with any political party — major, middling, minor or fringe — currently running, planning to prepare or preparing to plan to run a candidate for the presidency of the United States in 2004. Our purpose is simply to closely track, and periodically publish our opinion on the likelihood of electability among the emerging contenders. We will quantify our opinions, and lay odds when appropriate. We do this free of any party affiliation, ideological baggage or agenda beyond assisting in the defeat of George W. Bush in the upcoming presidential election.

On a lighter note, our legal department insists that we state publicly and for the record what is surely clear to everyone else. Despite the purely coincidental resemblance of our acronym to the name of the 70s Swedish pop combo ABBA, we are in no way associated with them — either individually or collectively — their record label or any of the dozens, it turns out, tribute bands and websites devoted to them and their music, and do not have, seek or imply their endorsement for our use in any manner or for any purpose that could bring us financial or material gain. You'd think this would all be obvious, but you know legal departments, a couple of threatening letters from Scandinavia and they get their briefs all in a bunch.

We would also like to take this opportunity to distance ourselves from wags who have noted with relish that an outfit with the same name (but no relation) to Swedes who sang English phonetically is opposed to an American president who delivers his speeches in much the same way, albeit without the complex harmonizing and catchy backbeat. There has also been some loose talk about our organization's having some sort of Scandinavian-style socialist agenda. To this we say, meningslös ljudföljd!

With the necessary legalities out of the way, we can proceed to our first order of business: choosing an appropriate theme song.

"Take a Chance on Me" and "So Long", both from the self-titled 1975 album "ABBA", each got lively responses from some staffers, but the former was deemed 'Awfully risky' by Gil in accounting and the latter 'A bit presumptious, maybe' by Ellie and Gregg, who never agree on anything. Gil thought that "Take a Chance" was 'Upbeat and optimistic', but he has a huge crush on Jennifer, who suggested it, so his opinion is a little slanted. "S.O.S.", also from 1975's "ABBA" was met with some initial enthusiasm but on further discussion was dismissed as 'Kinda desperate'.

Jason thought that "Waterloo" from the 1974 album of the same name had potential, but it was decided that the historical reference was probably too 'oblique' (Jennifer's word), and would be lost on too many people to be worth it; Matt said it was 'Like, totally lame', and, even though nobody else in the room expressed such a strong opinion, there was a lot of me-too headshaking when he said it. "Watch Out" from that same release got everybody pretty excited until we realized that all we knew about the song was its title, and until Matt fixes the 8-track tape player in his El Camino, we can't give it a listen. "Hasta Mañana", also from "Waterloo", had a few boosters, but was ultimately thought to be too similar to Schwarzenegger's famous "Terminator" catch phrase 'Hasta la vista, baby' and would confuse people. "The King Has Lost His Crown" from "Voulez-Vous" came up a couple of times but it might be better as a victory song, should W actually be unseated, and even then not entirely appropriate.

All in all, "Move On" from 1977's "The Album" brought the fewest objections, if only lukewarm enthusiasm.

Clearly, we're still far from a final decision, and in the spirit of grassroots democracy and interactivity (our website, abba-2004.org, should be up by Christmas), we invite your thoughts and feelings on this matter. Your vote counts!

We look forward to keeping you up-to-date and informed about our progress and opinions with press releases, editorials and announcements of events throughout the coming months.


Sven "Golly" Larson-Nelson-Peterson
Executive Director
ABBA 2004

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?