from the "WebStuff" Dept.


Vulture Culture

Afbeelding2I posted the International Vulture Awareness Day 2009 over at MetaFilter, but there’s one more thing I couldn’t include on the link-oriented front page.

When I was in high school some 30-odd years ago, I submitted several short verse poems in the style of Ogden Nash to a school literary competition. (One was even titled “Ogden Nash, No Doubt, Is Rolling Over in His Grave”) My at-the-time-topical piece titled “The Panda” (“Just because you’re a gift from Mao / For a bear, you’re a sacred cow”) won 2nd place in Poetry, but I liked my little poem “The Vulture” better…

It’s very common in popular culture
To vent your hate at the ugly Vulture.
Negative opinions rarely vary on
Our feathered friends who feast on carrion.
But here’s a reason to not be so mean:
The vulture helps keep the landscape clean.
So please, let’s all give a great big hand
To nature’s flying garbage man.


100K OK!

If you ever should happen to have the intestinal fortitude to get to the bottom of the page (for the front page that would mean you’re a first time reader – HI THERE! – or haven’t checked in in a few days), you’d see my visitor count numbers. and you’ll see a number just a few hundred short of 100,000.

Now, recently, Mark Penn, a political hack whose work for Hillary Clinton helped make Barack Obama our first woman President or something, wrote a column in the Wall Street Journal (a publication that gets lets respectable every day that Murdoch, Al-Walid* & Co. owns it) claiming that “It takes about 100,000 unique visitors to generate an income of $75,000.” I am eagerly awaiting my check. Oh, wait, that’s 100,000 unique visitors a MONTH to earn $75,000 a YEAR. My 100,000 was since July of ’05, that’s 45 months. And they’re not all “unique” visitors… not to say that each and every one of you who bother to read my blather is not a Special Snowflake of the Most Specialest Kind… but many of you have been here more than once. I hope. And the numbers in Penn’s column are a prime example of How to Lie with Statistics (still one of my favorite books of all time) as explained here by a guy named Waldo who has far more credibility than Mark Penn because he writes for the Virginia Quarterly Review and everybody knows you shouldn’t be exposed to Virginia for more than one quarter of your time.

I can only think of one blogger who obviously is making that kind of money, and that, of course, is Miss Cellania, who, in addition to her own two blogs, is a frequent perpetratorcontributor to YesButNoButYes, Mental Floss and Neatorama (and I hear rumors she’s blogging elsewhere under a pseudonym… Xeni something…) And she’s obviously getting royalties from webcomicker Phil Foglio because the title character in Girl Genius is based on her:

She’s obviously the hardest working blogger on the internet (and still has time to post comments here about my not blogging enough) and the only one who can get away with posting jokes like…

In a train compartment, there are three men and one ravishing young girl. The four passangers join in a conversation, which very soon turns to the erotic.
Then, the young girl proposes, “If each of you will give me $1, I will show you my legs.” The men, charmed by this young girl, all pull a buck out of their wallet. And then the girl pulls us her dress a bit to show her legs.
Then she says, “If each of you gentlemen will give me $10, I’ll show you my thighs.” Men being what they are, they all pull out a ten-dollar bill. The girl pulls up her dress all the way to her undies.
Conversation continues, and the men, a bit excited, have all taken off their coats. Then the young girl says, “If you will give me $100, I will show you where I was operated on for appendicitis.”
Naturally, all three fork over the money, and then the girl turns to the window and points to a hospital in the distance and says, “There!”

(of course, I could never post a joke like that without being subjected to massive amounts of criticism and general derision… but then that’s the usual reaction to most of the things I post)

If you don’t believe she’s also one of the highest paid, then why is there an Amazon link to How I Made My First Million on the Internet on her blog? There’s another reason I know Miss C is quite affluent, but it involves a very tacky reference to Madonna and Angelina Jolie that she would never forgive me for.

And before anyone accuses me of kissing up to this überblögger in the hope that I could become the future Mister Cellania, let me assure you that the only woman who could ever make me abandon my vow of asexuality is Edie McClurg (even though she hasn’t posted anything to her website since 2006). But more of that in a future post….

*did you know that next to Australia’s Rupert Murdoch and his family, the largest shareholder in NewsCorp is Saudi prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, chairman of the Kingdom Holding Company, who told Charlie Rose that he had about a 6-7% stake? As part of my personal policy of denigrating everything NewsCorp does except The Simpsons, I think I’ll just call it “Murdoch, Al-Walid & Co.” from now on.


01ne out of 5ive

I’m still a semi-fan of Merlin Mann in spite of his recent obsession with people who get obsessed with buying expensive cameras, and I really really wish he hadn’t stopped updating his “5ives” site, which was having fun with numbered lists years before it became annoyingly ubiquitous.

Still, as with many such lists (I’m looking at you Letterman), many of the lists of five had one item which stood head-and-shoulders above the others, and it wasn’t often the one numbered 1.

So as a public service to those of you who don’t want to go through the six years of archives, and to inform Mr. Mann what kind of things he should rank higher if he ever starts 5ives-ing again (and to give me a way to recycle a large quantity of someone else’s funny without being accused of plagiarism), I present the Top 01nes of Merlin Mann’s 5ives:

01ne terrible fake name for a James Bond movie
3. Tumbler of Bullets

01ne $#!++y band that play the lounge in that hotel near your airport
5. The Feelin’ Fines

okay, 01ne other $#!++y band that play the lounge in that hotel near your airport
3. Fünk Mechanicz!

01ne thing anyone in earshot should legally be permitted to do to a car when its alarm is falsely blaring
3. Break into trunk, fill with AOL® discs

01ne fake name I like to give at restaurants
1. Mr. Bob Dobalina

01ne terribleperfect fake name for your new pleasure boat
1. Papa’s Li’l Cry for Help

01ne piece of never-passed legislation proposed by Mr. Bush
1. Protection of Words Fewer than Three Syllables Act

01ne comic strip character I loathe
5. Dead Grandpa (Family Circus)

01ne great thing about southern Ohio
1. You get a basement

01ne terribleLOL fake name for a James Bond women
3. Badonka Donk

01ne terriblekinda fun fake name for feminine hygiene products
2. Dressy Drawers

01ne dotcom term that stillwill ALWAYS make me cringe
1. monetize

01ne ass-related word I think I use a lot
2. asshat (n.) – willfully ignorant person

also, 01ne ass-related word I think I use a lotnot nearly enough
1. metric assload (n.) – a lot

01ne stage name I’d consider if I ever became a singing drag queen
5. Margarita Salt

01ne thing I fear I might do if I were a ten-foot-tall monster with metal claws, laser beam eyes, and razor-sharp fangs
1. Undertake bloody rampage on the set of The View

01ne thing I’d like to see engraved on little rubber bracelets
1. nap strong

01ne terrible fake 60’s dance craze
5. The McNamara

01ne California city that sounds kind of dirty
1. Coalinga

01ne terrible fake secret about Seals & Crofts
2. In industry circles, Seals was rumored to have been behind an abortive plot to whack Bread, America, and Poco

01ne reason the terrorists hate us (apart from “our freedom”)
4. those delicious steak fries

01ne terrible fake pledge-week special on PBS
3. Gwen Ifill leads a group of American schoolchildren on a field trip to the Beijing factory where your tote bag was manufactured

01ne song I’d enjoy hearing Tom Waits cover
5. “Theme from Laverne & Shirley

01ne terrible fake reality TV show
2. Project Segway

01ne unusual Top Chef production crew title
5. Clog Wrangler

01ne terrible fake Jane Austen novel
4. Funk and Functionality


Hell-uh-oh Dolly!

On a day when 8-year-olds in Iowa are chanting “Assassinate Obama” on the school bus, I needed to find some kind of evil derangement I could deal with. It was Uber-bloggeress Miss Cellania, Queen of Linklevania, Websurf Kahuna and Black Belt in Google-Fu to the rescue with her latest link collection for, this time some Dreadfully Different Dolls, mixing the eerie, creepy, gross, inappropriate and “do you WANT your daughter crawling into your bed so you’ll keep her safe from the ghoulies every night until she’s 24?”

And the “previously” link at the bottom was something I’d sadly missed. Plush Toys for Grown-Ups. killerrabbit Or at least those, like me, who are chronologically grown-up. I’ve been meaning to get a Monty Python Killer Bunny for a long time, and now I’ve added Weebl Badgers and Viking Kittens to my wish list. (But what I really NEED is a couple of fully-functional Farscape Leviathan Diagnostic Repair Drones. The Roomba is just not enough.)



Lore Fitzgerald Sjöberg (no relation to Data, JFK or Björk), who I have previously singled out as one of the People on the Internet I’d Like to Be When I Grow Up Except I’m Already Older than Them, has converted his on-line kind-of-a-column for Wired.Com into a kind-of-a-video-podcast. Except, unlike 99.8% of video podcasts, his is professionally made, with pre-written scripts, constantly improving technical values, simple-but-skillful animated illustrations of what he’s talkin’ about, and a healthy dose of attitude. Not as much as the fatal overdoze of attitude of (to make an example) Ben “Yahtzee” Crenshaw’s Zero Punctuation, but the Alt-Text target audience contains 60% less caffeine and 70% less carpal tunnel. Which makes it just fine for me.

Lore’s latest Rant Lite is from his pre-dating-everything-on-the-internet-except-Al-Gore-Porn “Capsule Reviews” series, about Logic Puzzles, and my last minor doubt about the awesomeness of his videos, even when dealing with something as trivial as, well, Logic Puzzles, disappeared completely at 1:59 into the three-minute production, where, instead of loudly expressing his disapproval like every other opinionated ass-hat on the Web, he pauses to give a severely disapproving look. If looks could kill, he’d have the inside track for the lead in “Saw 13: We’re Running Out Of Things To Kill People With”.
Lore Does Not Approve
Whoa. And Woah. When you can get your message and a good chuckle across without saying anything, you have truly mastered the art of video commentary and are ready to get in line at the back door of “60 Minutes” to wait until Andy Rooney keels over.

But I need to address the last part of his video where he deals with the scourge upon the logical landscape that is Sudoku. And while he does correctly define the proliferation of Sudoku books as “Paper Kudzu”, he still “looks kindly” upon it and gives it a B+. Obviously, he has not been afflicted, as I have, with a severe, disabling Sudoku addiction that was harder to beat than the five-star 16-by-16 puzzle in the Sunday Tribune.

Yes, my name is Wendell, and I am a recovering Sudokulic. And I did indeed try to solve the Sunday Tribune 16-by-16 puzzles every week (thinking, how hard can it be, I know hex!) only to be reduced to a drooling wreck who never saw the light of day on Sundays, never completing one successfully even those of supposedly two-star difficulty. I’m not proud of that.

I had to cut off my newspaper subscription entirely to get away from the Sudoku. I was buying Sudoku books, ranging from the 99-cent Dell SUPER SUDOKU publications to 400-page collections authorized by Puzzlemaster Will Shortz, who should have been above this kind of thing himself. I was playing Sudoku on-line… at news media sites, game sites, sites that had no reason to feature a Sudoku game but did… did you know the US Mint had a Flash Sudoku game on its site using nine different coin denominations instead of numbers*?

Yes, I have played the Mutant Sudoku Variations, some even more random than the “Farmer’s Pen” variation that Lore used as an ‘it could be worse’ example in his video:
Lore's Sudoku
Cows, chickens, wolves, cabbages, rutabegas, portable TVs, Trader Joe’s frozen Pad Thai dinners, human cadavers and HOPE. Seriously, that is not the worst possible combination I have seen AND PLAYED.

I practiced every anti-social Sudoku-based behavior featured in the not-very-viral “Sudoku Song” video of 2006, except one.

No, I have never worn a light blue suit four sizes too big.

I thought I would never beat the Sudoku monster, either the unsolvable five-star puzzles or my addiction to them, but then I saw something in, of all places, the xkcd webcomic.
I realized that Sudo, the programmer’s term for a command that overrides everything, is part of the word Sudoku. And then I realized that it wasn’t really my fault. I had no control over the Sudoku because it was a Sudo Ku. Once I realized that I carried no responsibility for my Sudoku addiction, it was suddenly easy to beat, as if I had switched over from a Unix-based system to Microsoft Windows. Once I accepted Bill Gates as my Personal Savior… but that’s a story for another time. It’s like a 12-Step Program but you only have to go up to 9. Except on Sunday, when it’s 16.

I’ve been Sudoku-free for over seven months now, except for that incident last week when I was waiting for my car to have its brakes done and there was a newspaper in the waiting room, but I paid my price for that; when the bill for the brakes came, it had all nine digits from 1 to 9 unrepeated.

I did develop a secondary addiction to the xkcd webcomic, but the “Secretary of the Internet” series a couple weeks ago made that easy to kick.

*Removed from the US Mint site after I quit Sudokuing, possibly because I had singlehandedly provided half the traffic to the feature.



OFFICIAL SITE FEATURING SKATING SANTA, RON PAUL, A POTATO AND EXTRA IRONY. which made me think of e.e.cummings, but then I discovered THIS. Another Literary Myth Busted. BACK TO ALL CAPS.


Secondary Twittage

One of the coolest things about Twitter is writing replies to people A LOT more famous than I am (and once every hundred times getting a reply back). I’m talking people like Wil Wheaton who have 16,000 other followers. Especially when they respond strongly positively to something I have since forgotten saying. Woot!
Is that all? Of course that’s not all! Click Here.


7 Girls 7 Cups?

As part of my ongoing policy of being an attention whore, I thought I’d pick up on xkcd’s latest meme-on-demand (I probably should put this in the FunnyPaperless blog, but it’s still kinda “beta”) and go for the first Google listing for the phrase “7 Girls 7 Cups”. Why? Well, I honestly feel everyone should have their own cup, whatever they plan to do with it, seven’s a lucky number (and was the standard number of primary cast member in an ensemble sitcom before “Friends”) and the lower right-hand corner of the grid is a comfortable place for me.

Oh, did I mention that the cups are Burger King collectors cups from this summer’s “Iron Man”, “Hulk” and “Indiana Jones” promotions? If you’re really nice to me, you get Shia LeBeouf in “Indy”, if not you’re gonna get Hulked.

I just hope I don’t end up regretting this.

UPDATE: That didn’t take long.



Google put this ad in my Adsense box:

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Should I be insulted?


Doogie Horrible, MD

I don’t usually endorse things I haven’t seen and I am NOT a Joss Whedon fanboy (Buffy was regular viewing for me, Firefly was not – yes, I was the real reason it was canceled). But this does look like a MAJOR INTERNET EVENT:

(1) otherwise ‘mainstream’ content producers need to be encouraged to go the D.I.Y. route, just like this. It is absolutely vital if we ever hope to see the Media become less Corporate.
(2) it’s a wonderfully funny concept that looks to be the right length to NOT wear out its welcome.
(3) three words: Neil. Patrick. Harris. I believe that, in time, he will replace Mickey Rooney as the Most Successful Former Kid Star Ever (if not him, who? Jodie Foster?) and this is an important step in that direction.
(4) an opportunity to laugh at Nathan Fillion without making Fillion Fans mad at me (In this, he’s supposed to be funny)
(5) the use of the word BLOG in the title

Ah, but I am delighted to see that Whedon, Harris and company are not the only ones to keep themselves busy during the strike… STRIKE.TV promises to show off various video adventures The Creatives have done away from The Studios. Some familiar faces in the Teaser video (yes, that IS Bob Newhart, who I admire almost as much as the late George Carlin, although/because he is essentially the Anti-Carlin… there is a dream team-up that should’ve happened). For now, it’s only for accredited Union members to participate (and Teamsters don’t count), but promises to widen its scope if it survives long enough. There is one thing about the whole thing that is hopelessly naive: “Strike.TV is donating all profits from the first three months to the Actors Fund, which aids Hollywood crew members affected by the Strike.” They obvious don’t know that no web site has EVER made any profit in its first three months – more like three years, amirite?