June 2007


Catching Up With “Two and a Half Men”, a Half-Man at a Time

vc174jpg.jpgMillions of TV watchers, most of them male, after spending the fall trying to remember the channel number for ESPN’s Monday Night Football, then spending the next five months trying to decide whether to watch “24” and record “Heroes” or the other way around, had to change their Monday viewing habits again. And as a result, CBS’ “Two and a Half Men” has become one of the summer’s highest rated shows.

And while some questions about the show are unanswerable (like “Wasn’t Charlie getting married at the end of last season? Or was it Alan?”), there are some things you have to know to maximize your enjoyment of this rare survivor of the species hittus sitcomedus. So, I have created a quiz that should seperate the Real Men from the Half Men from the Old Christines. And it is weblished at the Television Department of MSNBC.com.

I’m proud of this trifle because it’s the first thing I’ve gotten onto MSNBC.com this year – I’ve been severely TV-writer-blocked. And it was surprisingly easy to find a number of funny ways to go with the quiz. I don’t think you even need to know the show to have fun with it… (You definitely do NOT have to know who the people in that picture are – it’s from an episode about finding ‘substitutes’ for family members) Come on… Play with me here.


Geeked Out

This may be the Ultimate Web Thingy. It converts pictures (in JPEG, GIF or PNG form) to a table of tiny 1-pixel colored boxes in HTML (web browser language). But the best thing about it is its disclaimers:

Why does it take so long to load?
Tables are an inefficient way of encoding detailed graphics. …

Why does it take so long to display?
Web browsers are designed to display image files; they aren’t optimised for 10,000 cell tables. …

So it’s big, bloated and slow. What use is this?
In its pure form, none. At least none that I can think of.

Ah, the difference between Pure Science and Applied Science… gotta love it.


Something Fishy

See me (or at least my name) in the funny papers…

Especially appropriate after I committed a horrifying series of fish puns in a discussion thread at MetaFilter, first associating various fish with specific high-profile MeFi member names:

Is it a halibut? In that case, you’re with quonsar‘s clique that does things for the halibut.
Is it tuna? In that case, you’re with stavrosthewonderchicken of the sea.
Is it a mackerel? In that case, you’re in the Holy Cult of dios.
Is it a mahi-mahi? In that case, you’re a Double Poster.
As for me, cod is my co-pilot.
posted by wendell at 3:58 PM on June 25

Then being chided by one of the moderators:

You’ve got that all bass-ackwards, wendell.
posted by cortex at 4:03 PM on June 25

After a couple other users attempted to change the subject, I went crazy:

I think your attempts to re-rail this thread into something useful are rather crappie.
Cortex, I thought you played guitar, not bass.
Some MeFites respond quickly to everything that bugs them. I don’t know if that means they’re a shark or a triggerfish.
Some MeFites fight roughie in an argument while others turn yellowtail. Some carp on every little thing while others flounder for the right words, and others act like they’re hard of herring. And others skate on thin ice.
You may thing our moderators are swordfish, hammerheads or suckerfish, but you must admit MetaFlter is a community and we are all groupers.
And you know who’s in charge of the LOLcatfish clique, which is a step up from clownfish..
posted by wendell at 4:59 PM on June 25

I also pointed out posts about Jackson Pollock, Salmon Rushdie and the haircut known as a Mullet, then referred to the site’s resident linguistic maven (appropriately known as languagehat) as Captain Haddock.

I must admit I got really hard albacore. Maybe even batfish insane. You might say I was grunion it into the ground. I wasn’t being koi about it. I was just trying to mako trouble. I was way out on a perch, getting into a pickerel, just waiting for someone to put my head on a pike. I never even said I was sardine. What I did really smelt. It was as if I’d sold my sole. You don’t have to be a brain sturgeon to understand. I was going at turbot speed when I hit the walleye. And it’ll take a long time until I’m whiting out this black mark from my reputation….


That May Or May Not Be Life

One of the worst possible earworms (songs that get stuck in your head) to have is the Sinatra song “That’s Life”. Not so much because it was one of the Chairman of the Musical Board’s most bombastic performances, or that it contains such lyrics as “I thought of quitting (baby), but my heart ain’t gonna buy it.” It’s because of the part of the song that goes…

I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet,
A pawn and a king.

…where, I for one, get caught in a loop of words that start with a ‘P’.

I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a prophet, a pundit, a puppy, a punster, a pussy, a puzzle, a painter, a pacman, a palmist, a planter, a plumber, a pack mule, a punk, a placekicker, a pimp, a peacekeeper, a pornstar, a prankster, a point guard, a prawn, a policeman, a private eye, a prune, a programmer, a pickpocket, a punisher, a puritan, a placebo, a piledriver, a powderpuff, a power plant, a pipefitter, a paperboy, a paramedic, a paralegal, a parapsychologist, a paradigm, a paradox, a pair of pants, a populist, a projectionist, a podiatrist, a pathologist, a paperhanger, a postmaster, a proofreader*, a park ranger, a Prime Minister, a prime number, a perfectionist, a pomegranate, a parking lot attendant, a Price Is Right showcase model… STOP ME BEFORE I ‘P’ AGAIN!

*and not a very good one, as my own blog demonstrates



At times when I have extreme difficulty generating actual humorous matter for this blog, it’s nice to know that I can always steal generously from my personal nominee for Funniest Person on the Web: Lore Sj√∂berg. First of all, you have to admire the audacity of somebody who takes his nom de blog from Data’s evil twin on Star Trek. [Like I should talk. I’m the kid on The Simpsons who throws up a lot,] But also, he has just plain never failed to make me giggle like a schoolgirl. That is why I have made it a point NEVER EVER to meet him in person. Anyway, for umpteen months now, he has been doing a weekly commentary for the Wired.com website: Alt Text. It is not clear whether this title is intended to refer to Alternative Text, Altered Text (like any of us who’ve ever dealt with editors know too well) or Text that came to him while praying at the Alter of Shecky, the ancient God of One-Liners. Or if he just has the bad habit of falling asleep at the keyboard and landing on the ‘alt’ key. Is that all? Of course that’s not all! Click Here.



I first noticed that sign at a local McDonalds more than 6 months ago.


Life Imitates T-Shirts and Mob Dramas

Politics makes strange bedfellows… which is not supposed to give you unpleasant mental images of politicians having sex, although you can certainly apply the Fortune Cookie practice of appending every statement with “…in bed” to most political soundbites. But I digress.

Many months ago, when I was promoting my favorite t-shirt printers on this blog, I was especially infatuated with this design…

Now, if politics today were not absurd enough, apparently that political alliance is for real!
Ben Stein Among Al Franken’s Famous Campaign Contributors. With a steady flow of news like this, the long campaign road to 2008 might be a little more tolerable.

BUT, I still am not amused by the Clinton/Sopranos mash-up video (youTubish) that introduced the winner to the Campaign Song Contest. I mean, the Clintons have spent the last 15 years denying accusations that they had people rubbed out… (I’m also not thrilled by the choice of songs – doesn’t anybody in the campaign staff know that Celine Dion is Canadian?!?)

If they were going to go for current pop culture iconography, how about the season finale from “Lost”? With Bill in a scraggly beard but Hillary repeating Jack’s lines:
?We made a mistake. We were not supposed to leave.?
?Yes, we were.?
?We have to go back, Bill!?

Or for a song contest, why not an “American Idol” bit? It would’ve been awesome to see Bill and Hill in Randy and Paula’s seats and Simon as himself, making snide cracks about Republicans that Hillary wouldn’t dare to, then qualifying it with “Of course, I’m not registered to vote in this country…”

Or get some young hunky dude to do a reverse-gender version of the “Obama Girl” video for Hillary. Because Fantasy is so popular right now.

Or just do a version of YouTube self-proclaimed idiot TheWineCone’s Award Acceptance Speech, which I just discovered because I was looking for something culturally ubiquitous on YouTube, which was the worst idea I’ve had all day. Not to mention the fact that I seem to be writing the way TWC talks. Crap.



Time for another quick review of the most interesting SPAMmail subject lines:

attend the pricing (did I miss out on free tickets to see Bob Barker?)
Laura and I are into it. (you don’t think it’s THAT Laura, do you?)
The surviving militant workers who had led the 1917 revolution were now needed in the factories, as cadres in the army or as commissars to keep the administrators operating the state machine. (which would have been good if it were from an internet pharmacy selling Reds, but it wasn’t)
Big your piano, be a real man (Pianist enlargement?)
It always was all right, but before each of Ulysses’s visits he never failed to check it. (Homer’s? Tennyson’s? Joyce’s? the Union Army’s? NASA’s? Which Ulysses?!?)
My quasiparticle himself marital (quasiparticle is my new favorite word)
Go hide thee behind the arras. (Dang, is Shakespeare writing Spam now?)
By the time of the next election this government will have closed over one third of the entire Post Office network. (Does that mean less junk mail? No such luck.)
Perry, Lionsgate plan fifth Madea feature (A showbiz headline about Christian moviemaker Tyler Perry? Of course, it’s a spam selling v!agra.)


Green Greens the Green Way

This just tickles me in the way it shows that everything is interconnected. With all the talk about that #1 Greenhouse Gas, Carbon Dioxide, it behooves us to remember that we human beans exhale CO2 all the time. So the tip from Bon Appetit through Epicurious, via Megnut, to “Put your fresh greens in a big plastic bag, gather up the neck, blow a little… carbon dioxide… inside, then seal it up quick (and) they’ll stay bright, firm, and flavorful for at least a week,” is as environmentally helpful as it is culinarily.

On the other hand, the negative side-effects of the new fat-blocking drug Alli, seems to have inspired ecologically minded MeFi member “leftcoastbob” who commented in email “Hurray for oily residue! Maybe now we can all quit worrying about our dependence on foreign oil. How much fat do I need to eat before I can be a self-sustaining Hummer owner? Helloooooo, Mickey D!”

In semi-related edible issues, Pixar + Patton Oswalt + cute rodents + wacky chefs? The first REAL must-see movie of the Summer, better to wait in line for on the 29th than an iPhone AND way better than the Pixar pixies’ attempt to combine internal combustion engines and Larry the Cable Guy (although that didn’t turn out too bad).

And for those of you who bow at the altar of Bacon (not Bacon or Bacon or even Bacon), here is the making of the ULTIMATE baconburger. Even Carl’s Jr’s Western just got PWNED!


Free as in Lunch

We now return you to the usual level of middle-brow whimsy…

All seriousness aside… I get ideas. Ideas for funny things that I cannot or choose not to do myself. Sometimes I suggest them to people I know who I think could do them (but never do), but mostly they just fade away in my faulty middle-term memory. Well, not any more. I hereby dedicate this new category of the blog to “Big Ideas” which I present publicly for ANYBODY to make something out of, asking nothing in return except for a “based on a big idea by Wendell Wittler” credit.

Yep, free, no royalties, no enforceable copyright, no Intellectual Property… hey, there is NOTHING Intellectual about my ideas. And now the first three BIG IDEAS:

(1) Somebody should do a new version of the Diana Ross and the Supremes song “Love Child”, only substituting for the title the less delicate “Bastard”:

…no child of mine will be bearing
The name of shame I’ve been wearing
Never meant to be
Scorned by society!
Always second best
Different from the rest

(2) A parody of “300”, with nods to “Revenge of the Nerds” and “Idiocracy”. The 300 geniuses of “SMARTA!” take on millions of Averagepersons. I couldn’t come up with a very intelligent version of “Tonight we dine in Hell”, probably because my eating habits are among the least intelligent things about me, but if you can, the concept is all yours.

(3) The semi-obscure but very cool and funky song by Kid Creole and the Coconuts “Endicott” has in its refrain 40 statements about Endicott:

Endicott’s up by 5 o’clock
Endicott’s givin’ it all he got…
Endicott’s wish is her command
Endicott don’t make no demands
Endicott’s always back in time
Endicott’s not the cheatin’ kind…
Endicott’s got ideas and plans
Endicott’s what you call a real man…
Endicott keeps his body clean
Endicott don’t use nicotine…
Endicott stands for decency
Endicott stands for quality… etc.

So how about a web-based quiz “Are You Like Endicott?” 2.5 points for every statement you can answer YES to (one is repeated “Endicott loves [insert her name] so…”, it would count as 5) and the result is your percentage of Endicott (conversely, add up the NO answers and get your Kid Creole percentage).

More BIG IDEAS as I get them…