The Nada, Nothing, Zip of Writer's Block

I'm certain this happens to the best of bloggers. You have an idea. You sit down to write. A few lines come out and then, nada, nothing, zip. You stare into the abyss. And wait. Maybe you get up, walk around, touch your toes (if you can still see them). Perhaps you're inspired to open the fridge, make a sandwich, and chow down. Still nada, nothing, zip. Tick tock, tick, tock. The theme song from Jeopardy! plays in the background. Finally, desperation sinks in.

Photo courtesy of mymedia.thelot.comPerhaps a little diversion would help...

Now, here's where things gets a little dicey. Only you yourself know what will happen if you distract yourself. If you're like me and think you can handle it, I guarantee you will spend the rest of the morning, or afternoon, or whenever it is you and your PC get cozy, doing anything and everything under the sun except completing your article.

Words of advice: Don't be like me!

Procrastination is very unhealthy. It often leads to massive amounts of unproductive time in front of the PC. This is especially frustrating when one could be doing something fun, like sleeping. Distraction can only cure writer's block if one gets back on track in about fifteen minutes or less. Otherwise, engaging in distracting activities can and often does lead to disastrous consequences.

Like, happening upon a site like this. I cannot believe the audacity of this webmaster and anyone else who multi-level markets this site. Don't sheeple realize if they can buy this, so can a billion others? And if a billion people are trying to peddle something seemingly similar, well then, I'd have to say, at very best, they're peddling poo. But seen in the worst possible light, they're peddling plagiarism. I'm not very good at marketing, but even I can affirmatively state, poo and plagiarism don't sell.

Aren't they teaching anything worthwhile in school these days?

Oh sure. Appeal to people's baser instincts when they're at their weakest. They can't think, they've tried for hours, they've even taken the dog for a walk and cleaned the guinea pig's cage. Still, nada, nothing, zip. Is there anything a frustrated writer can do to cure this malaise?

According to the blogoshpere, plenty. If you don't mind spy ware pop up ads, try The One Word. That ought to do the trick. Or, try this handy dandy educational tutorial. I especially like the suggestion about concentrating, as if that could help when entering the writer's block zone. Doesn't excessive concentration get most people into trouble in the first place? What about the ever reliable Write-O-Matic!? Be careful, though. I hear that one has a possible patent pending. Finally, and my personal favorite, About will lure you with a tantalizing promise of creative writing exercises, then send you to a page with nothing but advertising links. If I could convince newbs to visit pay-per-click sites, why should I care a lick about writer's block? Next.

Sometimes, I happen upon an enjoyable distraction, but that doesn't happen very often. Problem is, that kind of distraction just doesn't help. When I'm done clicking all the funky buttons and examining the minute detail of myriad images, I've still got nada, nothing, zip.

Argh! I'm beginning to go pirate, whatever that means.

Yeah. Wait a blocking minute. That's the ticket! I'll pirate, pillage, and plunge. But I won't let people know I'm doing it. I'll be a little tricky, let them think they're getting good online exposure and making helpful connections. Then, I'll develop a sister site for contests. I'll make unsuspecting bloggers think I just happened upon it and get them wrapped up in the hype. So cool.

Writer's block, shmiter's block. Who needs to write when there are so many easier ways to make money online?

Baseball Hall of Fame Inducts Cal Ripken, Jr.

The year was 1997. Bill Clinton began his second term as this nation's 42nd president. The Simpsons became the longest running animated series on prime time TV. Drive by shooters killed popular rapper, Notorious B.I.G. And, it was the last time the Baltimore Orioles ended the regular season with a winning record.

Ten years? Fo’ real?

Apparently, yes. Gone are the glory days of the black and orange. As far as my childerns’ generation are concerned, dem O’s are a bunch o’losers.

What went wrong? I have no idea. Nor do I plan to speculate.

I grew up in the golden age of the Orioles and the Baltimore Colts. Brookes Robinson was so popular one of my elementary school classmates was named after him. In 1983, the Orioles had just won the World Series. I watched with pride as they staged a Mardi Gras-esque parade through the streets of Charm City with Cal Ripken, Jr. at the helm. My heart swelled with pride.

Today, dem O’s couldn’t claw their way out of a wet paper bag. Our beloved Colts play for another, ahem, unmentionable city (Ravens rule!). And O’Malley still hasn’t fixed utility costs that continue to spiral out of control. How is a battle weary Baltimoron supposed to deal?

Countdown to Cooperstown!

That’s right. This morning, the Iron Man, Cal Ripken, Jr., Baltimore’s own homespun hero, will be inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Cal is just the right mix of legend, consecutive games record holder, and genuine nice guy. In an honor bestowed upon select few, this exclusive club accepted his bid on a first round vote. Can anyone resist those baby blues?

Thousands of victory-starved devotees are currently swarming Cooperstown. These people are intent upon savoring the moment like a cool drink of water on a desert afternoon. Sadly, I will not be among them, but I can hear almost the thunderous applause.

Stand up and take a bow, Cal Ripken, Jr. I hear that people who think Charlestown Community resident, Al Blackburn, resembles you also believe in the Tooth Fairy. No matter what they say, or think, they cannot dispute your stature as the genuine article. A role model and hero.

Thank you for once again instilling pride in the hearts of beleaguered Baltimore fans. This day has been a long time coming.

Jack Angeles

Jack Angeles is an actor best known for his role as Mr. Tuttle, a high school teacher, on Saved By The Bell. Angeles was born in Albany New York and attended Holy Cross College. After college, he studied law and earned his J.D. from the prestigious New York University. Angeles initially planned on pursuing a career as a Wall Street attorney. However, after graduation he visited a friend and

Goatse is a Hoax and Other Internet Disinformation

I had originally planned to do another article about a strange Internet phenomenon called Goatse. To cool Internet people, goatse is yesterday’s news. Me? Never heard of it. Luckily, a person can google just about anything. I quickly learned more than I’ll ever need or want to know about this most disgusting, revolting, sophomoric, cannot look away online experience, otherwise known as goatse.

For those with weak stomachs or traditionally strong moral values, please stop reading this article. In the end, you will be incredibly offended and/or sickened, and I will feel quite guilty for offending and/or sickening you. For everyone’s sake, surf away. Surf away and never look back.

Still here? Think you can take it? Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Anyway, as I tried to say earlier, this article is no longer about a strange virtual reality phenomenon. Not that goatse, or its gerund form, goatsing, are anything but strange. No, no, no. Just the opposite. To be polite, I will call it the stretching of a private body part not meant to be stretched, leaving it so distorted and disgusting, and the front part of the body so revolting and distended…well…I’m not going to belabor this…

Click here if you have nerves of steel and want to be goatsed.

Apparently, the phenomenon became so huge the image disappeared from the original goatse site. I think someone complained. The poor thing is now up for sale. Isn’t that always the case? Just when the party gets rolling, cops show up and it’s time to go home. Luckily, someone else picked up the banner. Otherwise, those who thought they had nerves of steel would not be uncomfortably writhing in their seats.

Two days ago, as I began searching for blogging communities, I happened upon a story on that had been dug by more than 2,000 people (now over 3,600). That’s a significant amount. Naturally, I wanted to know what the fuss was about. I checked out the story.

Some person from claimed the candidates on the CNN YouTube Democratic Debate got goatsed for about 1/24 of a second. When people start talking about images projected for fractions of seconds, I can’t help but visualize SNL’s Mr. Subliminal. Kevin Nealon certainly had a way with split seconds.

According to beginnorth's article, the goatse image caused Hillary's face to sour. I didn’t have a chance to watch the debates, so I don't know whether Hill pussed or not. It sounded a little odd that something so split second actually produced a reaction, but I guess it's been known to happen. Beginnorth cleverly uploaded an image with goatse on CNN's screen, and asked other bloggers to confirm the goatse. Some did. One was a CBS affiliate in Minot, North Dakota.

What great fodder for my blog, I thought, but couldn’t find any more stories. I spent the next two days tooling around my site and joining communities. Goatse landed on the back burner for later development.

Lo and behold, when I finally returned, the goatse story was buried. Basically, people crushed it into the ground, stomping it like a cigarette, and grinding it into a pulp. Bloggers were angry. Why?

Well, goatse was a hoax. Kindy catchy. Goatse was a hoax that had no blokes. Its friend had a yen to create dead ends. Its deal made me squeal….oh….never mind.

Not only was the whole story a hoax, but its creator later transferred the story to their blog. What I mean is, the original Digg story was not on the person’s blog. I know this because I viewed it myself. The story appeared all by itself on a white page with no links. That alone was a little weird, but newbie me didn’t catch it. Two days later, the story was on the person’s blog on a black page. That blog contains this introduction:

“[Strange blog that no self-respecting blogger will ever read again] is a new blog that is part artistic experiment and part haven for the surreal side of our world. There will be articles, fake and real, but the glue that holds the blog together are the [pun on blog name] that make it up. A detail is simply a bizarre twist on reality. It can be a story or a picture. Fake or real. Funny or scary. Anything.”

Excuse me? Anything? Fake and real? How are people supposed to know the difference? Why don’t we all just close our eyes and dream the news? I hear lucid dreaming is the new black.

Graphics whore rode in on a white horse to defend bizarro blogger’s honor. Calling people sheeple, the person said everyone should have read the front page disclaimer before treating the story as a true news item.

"To me," posted grphxo, "the really provocative parts of this article are not within the article itself, but are the astoundingly clear examples of terrifying human behavior. The fact that many people (even though they watched the entire debate live and never saw the goatse image) believed it to be true. They took their own experience, their own FIRST HAND KNOWLEDGE of the event and toss it out, substituting an internet claim for their own reality, swallowing the fake with ease. Some even claimed “I thought I saw something!” to cover the possibility that they might have missed it."

Problem is, the original story was not on bizarro’s blog. Whoops. Minor detail.

Like I said before, the Internet is turning our society into phishers and byters. One cannot necessarily believe what one reads on the Internet. Some disinformation is accidental, and some, as seen here, is unfortunately intentional. Bloggers have a duty to check out all the facts before posting an article. The new media must take its cues from old media. Fact checking is a basic tenet of journalism. Bloggers must have integrity. If the facts don’t check out, then say it’s alleged. Don’t just copy a bizarro blog item and publish it as your own.

For those who are disappointed this wasn’t an article about goatse on CNN, I have a surprise for you. Again, big disclaimer. This time run, do not walk to your nearest exit.

Do not look at this image if you were the least bit offended or sickened by goatse!

There. I wipe my hands of it.

Click to see Spewed Videos du Jour.

Katie Holmes on the Cover of People Magazine

Does Katie Holmes look happy or what???

"... coming into her own, and turning heads as one of the most stylish moms of the summer" says People Magazine in its latest issue.

Katie "has a serenity about her," says Callie Khouri, her director on the upcoming bank heist comedy Mad Money. "I just think she's in a really happy place. She's obviously in love – with Tom and with her child."

Just look at that photo and I think you'll have to agree.

One in Ten Thousand

Both Alan and I have spotted this tattoo submitted in BMEzine's gallery on July 23 by "CW351".

Its caption read:

Rest In Peace Bro!
Kanji reads "One In A Million", I hope.
(by Brooke, Eye Of The Beholder, Vernon, BC)

Alan writes:

Unfortunately, 万が in Japanese does not mean “One In A Million.” It really means “in the worst case” or “in case of emergency.” The saying is used in the sense of out of 10,000 () times something might happen, a really bad thing will happen in only one () instance. Chinese dictionaries suggest that 万一 (or 萬一) in Chinese means roughly the same as 万が一 or 万一 in Japanese.

It does not have any positive connotations at all. This is hardly the sort of sentiment that someone would want to express to remember a dear friend after their passing, but the poor schmuck has gotten this tattooed on his shoulder.

Anyhow, I still think it is very much a mistranslation and nothing even close to the intended meaning of "one in a million." And it is pretty sad that this is how the guy is trying to honor the memory of his friend.

Perhaps he has “push the emergency stop button” tattooed on the other shoulder.

Cruising to the Beckham Bash

The "Welcome to LA" party for David and Victoria Beckham, organized by Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes and Will and Jada Smith, was "so much fun!" according to one guest and the list of attendees was enough to make a Hollywood Agent drool. Read all about it: Inside the Beckhams' Star-Studded Bash.

"The Name is KiKi"

Fresh from BMEzine's gallery is this piece:

The owner claims this is name for "KiKi" and it is done by Flecha (Arrow in Spanish) in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Sure, if the tattoo is based on the gibberish font downloaded from the internet. However, the "i" are not even correct.

Adam Sandler Pounds Potter at the Weekend Box Office

Doctored Phot of Adam Sandler and Daniel Radcliffe duking it out at the weekend box office
Okay. I'm late on this. I know. Can anyone keep up with all the breaking news on the Internet? Come to think of it, I have been more distracted since I started this blog. Is it any wonder? Now I understand why most stories are reduced to a sound byte here or a video clip there. There's simply too much information to process. Eventually, I'll get the hang of things, but for now, please be patient while I develop a rhythm.

I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, the new flick featuring Adam Sandler and Kevin James, trounced Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at the weekend box office, to the tune of $34.2M v. $32.5M. The statistics already are obsolete. The part that interests me is how the take compares to previous Sandler blockbusters. Kinda shabby. And those didn't include Jessica Biel, sexiest woman alive, semi-nudie scenes. Hmm. Could be a sign we've only seen round one of Harry Potter and the Pounding of Potter Mania.

I forgot about second runner-up, Hairspray, rounding out the field at $27.5M. Just like Ross Perot tipping an electorial win for Clinton in the 1992 presidential election, Baltimore's own star-studded musical may have tipped the weekend gross in Sandler's favor. Unlike the presidential elections, in the movie biz, there's always next week. Critics can spend the rest of this week pondering and analyzing whether Sandler's triumph was a blip on the radar screen, TKO, or down for the count.

Quite accidentally, while phishing around YouTube, I came across this amazingly funny SNL skit. Saturday Night hasn't been this good since Phil Hartman, rest his soul, was one of its stars. I can't get over how much Travolta, who must have been guest hosting, looks like his Saturday Night Fever self. And Sandler's Epstein is a riot. Yes, under that Kotter fro is the voice of Shrek. And the suprise appearances from major TV stars of Kotter's time...well...I'm not going to spoil it. You'll just have to watch.

If anyone knows who played the part of the principal, will you please let me know? This time, I'm for real.

Lindsay Lohan Arrested Yet Again

That thing that looks like a clothesline across her face is really a plexiglass shield - from what- I don't know
I don't know why I'm doing this. Maybe I have blog bite envy, or maybe I've just spent too much time at my laptop.

This story broke not too long ago on, of all places, FoxNews. Yep. Suspicion of DUI and cocaine. Awwww, and coming on the heels of her picture perfect day at Polaroid Beach with unidentified BFF. Michael and Dina are probably spewking (unless I've scooped them as well).

I just want to hold the post time over the slackers on the left coast. Unless one of those bloggers is up at 6:39 a.m., I've got this field all to myself. Details on this one to follow.

Okay, I'm back. It's 6:15 p.m. EST. Did my little blog item even get a first page search result on Google? No. Did anyone leave a comment? No such luck. Sigh. I pinged it, and Digged it, and posted it everywhere. Guess there's more to getting noticed than just being an early bird. Perhaps the pundits are right. Perhaps content does count. It's not just being the first to go to press afterall. So much to learn. So little time.

Right now, there is nothing but Lindsay's arrest plastered across every form of news media in the known world. She has/had a guest spot on Leno tonight...wonder if it got cancelled. Duh. She probably won't make it to her own movie premiere this evening. Predictions are rampant about the impending demise of her career. Could the situation be any more dire?

I'm getting pretty disgusted with all the news coverage devoted to Hollywood bad girls. Someone should develop a cable entertainment channel, call it Party Hollywood, and do nothing but cover the Hollywood party scene. The camera crew and bevy of hot hosts could then act as a third eye at all the high profile gatherings in and about town, impromptu and scheduled. They'd not only attend award shows, club parties, parties at the Playboy manse, backstage parties, and premieres, but also troll the streets of Brentwood, Bel Air, Venice, Fairfax, even Malibu ready to video partying at a moment's notice. For filler, they could broadcast images of party girls Paris, Lindsay, Britney, Tara, Nicole, Kimberly, Shannon, and any other lollipop joining the fray. I'll bet if someone had thought of this sooner, they might have caught old firecr**ch speeding after that driver and, who knows, might have even saved her tail by nipping that fateful argument in the bud.

But then who would everyone gossip and make videos about?

The Internet Celebrity Circuit

My husband is pressuring me to look for a real job. But I aspire to become an Internet Celebrity. If not me, then who? If not now, then when?

I'm thinking, if VH1 made a short about Mr. Pregnant, they'll broadcast just about anything. Some of Preggers' tubes are chuckle worthy, but some are just plain outrageous. If his rambles are a blueprint to blogging for profit, I may want to give my latest fancy some second thoughts.

On the other hand, Preggers struck a familiar chord with this one. If Letterman doesn't eventually offer this guy a guest spot, I'll eat my wiki.

More Nominations for Michael Peña

I first saw Michael Peña in the Oscar winning movie "Crash" where he played a Latino who had managed to get his family out of a "bad" area but was still facing discrimination because he had tattoos and "looked like a gang member". He won an ALMA award for " Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture" for his performance.

This year he has received two ALMA nominations and has won a Black Reel Award for "Best Supporting Actor" in Walkout , the true story of a young Mexican American high school teacher, Sal Castro (played by Michael) who mentors a group of students in East Los Angeles. His students decide to stage a peaceful walkout to protest the injustices of the public school system.

British Invasion of Katie and Peter

It's not Becks and Posh. It's not an interminable flashback to Princess Diana. It's not even the Painting Smoocher. This time, I'm afraid the American soil onslaught consists of far more inconsequential protoplasm.

I'm referring to none other than Katie and Peter. Who are these people and why should I care? Is anyone watching this reality show?

Putting aside how they are individually unrecognizable and therefore must forever traverse the entertainment world as their sickeningly cute linking moniker, does either one possess even an iota of talent? Besides having the hots for one another, I mean. If one could even call that a talent.

I wish the biz would stop trying to force acts like this down the throats of the American public. How these people play together and stay together is of no concern to me. I already know the answer. It's called moolah, as in money makes the world go around. And when this British import's fifteen minutes expire and the do re mi dwindles to regular people proportions, nubile Katie and comely Peter will be faced with the same challenges as the rest of us. Then again, with celebrities, this usually boils down to whether it's worth putting up with each other's nonsense, or time to move on to the next titillating prey. I know. I know. They have a new baby. Does this romp get any more mediocre?

Yeah. That's right. I've seen this one act play before. If anyone knows whether My Fair Brady is still in production, feel free to drop me a line. On second thought, don't bother.

Click to see Spewed Videos du Jour.

Stupid Shorts

Hanzi Smatter reader and frequent commenter Ulas has snapped a photo of this pair of boxer shorts.

There are two characters, 鹿, clearly printed above the English word "Dragon".

鹿 literally means "horse & deer", however in Japanese, they mean "stupid" or "idiot/fool".

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes Really Look After Their Friends

A quiet couple arrives in the USA, not knowing anyone and hoping to meet some people who could help their careers. It's a tough situation but, help is at hand, your buddies put on a big party for you and invite all the people in town you could ever want to meet.

Well, maybe the Beckhams don't quite fit that description, but even so, getting to meet a few hundred Hollywood A Listers isn't all that easy to arrange. So having friends who can put on a party, invite the biggest names in Hollywood and have them actually come isn't bad at all.

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes along with their good friend Will and Jada Smith are doing just that for David and Victoria Beckham. It reminds me of the late 1960's when another young Englishman, Michael Caine, was treated similarly by Shirley MacLane. She arranged a party for him where he met a ton of Hollywood A Listers and his career was off to a great start. Of course being incredibly talented helped him to build that career into what it is today.

Anyway, here is the scoop on Tom, Katie, Will, Jada, David and Victoria and the big party: Tom & Katie to Throw Party for the Beckhams

Harry Potter and the Spoilers Final Battle

The battle to protect the secret ending of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final installment in the famous J.K. Rowling series, recently morphed into full blown Armageddon. This time, the ante involves more than just copyright infringement, breach of contract, or tortious interference with business practices.

No, I'm afraid the very soul of Hogwarts is on the line. This is not, I repeat, NOT a drill.

Rowling's fantasmical concoction of muggles, wizards, and witches is a unique benchmark in popular literature. No other work of fiction can claim simultaneous creation through pages and celluloid. Book parties, book store campouts, stroke of midnight release dates, numerous virtual Hogwarts communities, contests, games, and touring buses texture the layers of its spellbinding mystique. Proof of the series' cultural icon status include its immensely popular main characters, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger, as well as the movie actors who portray them, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson.

For each new installment, its extremely fortunate publisher, Scholastic, employs more and more creative marketing techniques to induce Potter mania. This strategy always includes strictly enforced restrictions on public distribution. By placing each new cash cow in a, shall we say, chamber of secrets, Scholastic perpetuates a highly successful method to build media buzz, along with enchantment in the collective hearts of Harry's loyal fans.

But now the swill has hit the fans. Sorry, pun intended.

Of all unlikely places, the stench permeates Baltimore like a thick cloud of deatheaters on a muggy playground afternoon. Yesterday, the local rag's front page headline, The Spell is Broken, hearlded unauthorized delivery of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in Davidsonville, Maryland, to one Jon Hopkins (not to be confused with Johns Hopkins, notable Baltimore philanthropist), ostensibly the cousin of one Mary Carole McCauley, local rag reviewer. Along with Michiko Kakutani, reviewer for the New York Times, Ms. McCauley gave away plot tidbits, cloyingly refused to reveal what happens to who, then tartly dubbed the ending predictable. I don't know how others will interpret this, but to me, her little cat out of the bag means Harry doesn't die.

Now Taking Bets in VegasTo make matters worse, some lowlife uploaded individual page images of the entire book for free distribution. Authenticity is questionable, but that didn't prevent thousands of downloads. Then, someone tried to sell a copy of the unreleased book on eBay. Webmasters claimed no responsibility. They were just doing their jobs. Yah-vold!

I wonder if this will change the odds in Vegas.

Rowling and Scholastics are so outraged, they're not only seeking injunctions, they're also issuing heart wrenching appeals to leagues of loyal followers. "I'd like to ask everyone who calls themselves a Harry Potter fan to help preserve the secrecy of the plot for all those who are looking forward to reading the book at the same time on publication day," implored Rowling.

Aw, isn't that nice? Let's make the fans feel like filthy rotten mugbloods if they dare disobey the midnight dissemination edict. Can anyone else picture Peeves pounding a framed version of the edict into Hogwarts Castle?

Wait. There's more.

Israeli citizens are gearing up to join the ranks. Merchants who plan to participate in the release date by operating their businesses on the Jewish Sabbath are suffering a terrible backlash. A segment of the population is deeply offended while people in Tel Aviv don't much seem to care. Muckety mucks are now involved and they're taking names.

Will everyone please take a deep breath? Slowly...exhale...Ahhhh.

Harry Potter is just a figment of J.K. Rowling's imagination. And while I have the utmost respect for the woman and her ability to weave such an enthralling tale of good versus evil -- in the world of wizardry no less -- in the end, Harry Potter is just a well-constructed fairytale. Certainly, people responsible for violating contract agreements and the author's copyright should pay and I imagine they will. What sticks in my horcrux is how we, the fans, are so easily manipulated to eschew the story's final conclusion before an arbitrarily decreed deadline -- a deadline mandated solely to create media and consumer frenzy -- simply because the people in charge appealed to our basic human desire to share a simultaneous moment as a homogeneous community, albeit contrived.

Listen up, people. This isn't Woodstock!

For those of you who can't wait until the witching hour to learn the fate of Harry and friends, or because of religious reasons won't be able to grab your copy at the stroke of midnight, I've discovered a link to the ending. But I have to warn you, the person who wrote it also babbled something weird about Islam on a linked page.

If this is the kind of person you would trust to violate J.K. Rowling's copyright and Scholastic's business practices, then by all means, be my guest.

Interview with John Travolta and the other Members of Hairspray

Great video of interviews with the cast members: Hairspray: Big Hair, Big Cast. John Travolta, Christopher Walken, Michelle Pfeiffer, Queen Latifah and Nikki Blonsky.

Baltimore Premieres Hairspray Hooplah

My temples are starting to throb. Yep. I'm starting to get a headache. I know I can't stop the beat, but could you please turn down the volume?

Baltimore hasn't felt this much celebrity buzz since John Travolta and Joaquin Phoenix came to town. Oh yeah. Ladder 49. Filmed in Pigtown. Of course, that was before Martin O'Malley and the General Assembly cut funding for Maryland's fledging film industry. Wasn't that supposed to be a division of The Department of Business and Economic Development? No wonder director Adam Shankman filmed the Broadway version in Toronto.

Poor little Charm City. Right when this latest incarnation of Hairspray goes mainstream Hollywood, Baltimore gets blackballed from its own tender story of overweight hons, Dick Clark wannabes, and civil rights riots. You gotta love a town like that. Takes a licking and keeps on ticking.

I heard Hairspray progenitor John Waters gave Shankman carte blanche on production. As great as Waters is, I'm a little peeved. I think he compromised the location because Hollywood power games aren't his cup of tea. As reflected in films like Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, and Desperate Living, John has been and always will be quintessential Baltimore . His claim to fame is sticking with a genre he invented when Tarantino was pre-pubescent. If Edith Massey was alive to see what Hairspray has become, she'd lock up the Owl Bar and throw away the key.

Speaking of Hollywood mind games, none of the local premiere hype mentions John Travolta or his lovely wife, Kelly Preston. I hope their conspicuous absence isn't related to all the mean-spirited blogging. After Saturday Night Fever, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for John. Zac Efron, Amanda Bynes, Nikki Blonsky, Brittany Snow, Elijah Kelley...they're all very nice, but not in John's league. Love ya, Vinnie!

I have to think Queen Latifah may show. Reports of P. Diddy in town and living large are starting the make the rounds. That and a surprise appearance by Nicole Richie at an Annapolis fast food restaurant. When do celebrities like that ever come within partying distance of Pigtown? There must be more in the works than meets the eye.

Dare I dream of Michelle Pfeiffer or Christopher Walken sightings? Now that would be something worth jumping the light rail to Charles Street. Then again, the thought of fighting celebrity hungry masses for a fleeting glimpse of Tinseltown satellites only contributes to the pounding between my ears.

With everyone inundating downtown, this may be the perfect night to catch Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. May not even have to pre-buy the tickets.

Farewell Lady Bird Johnson

Lady Bird Johnson in front of White House
Our nation's flags are flying at half staff, a tribute to former first lady, Lady Bird Johnson, who died on July 11, 2007 at the ripe old age of 94. I wasn't old enough to appreciate the finer points of this true Southern Belle, but from what I understand, she was a fine upstanding citizen who dutifully towed the line in a very tumultuous time of American history.

Since last Thursday, I've promoted relevant clips of Lady Bird, the better half of former President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Back then, the press had enough sense to keep rumors of Johnson's infidelities out of the mainstream media. Back then, the American public naively imagined their presidents as decent faithful men. We were blissfully happy in our ignorance. What difference did it make anyway?

Some short years ago, we finally learned the truth about Lady Bird's pain. How noble of her to suffer in silence. Truth be told, this relatively recent discovery places her in the same awkward category as Hillary Clinton: Women who trade money, lifestyle, or power for the pain of being married to an unfaithful man.

The unrelenting press coverage of Bill's marital indescretions was a significant factor contributing to the level of distraction required by Al Qaeda to successfully plan and eventually execute the horrific events of 9/11. Many others have expressed similar opinions. This lesson about the delicate nature of our executive branch is one today's journalists would be wise to learn and never forget.

Likewise, we should never forget our honorable and genteel former first lady, Lady Bird Johnson a/k/a Claudia Alta Taylor.

Click to see Spewed Videos du Jour.

Whacked by Wikipedia

My oh my oh my oh my oh my. I really had no idea Wikipedia was such a battlefield. Sure, I had heard rumors to that effect, but now that I've experienced my own personal Waterloo, I can safely say they are NOT rumors. Anyone who tells you anything to the contrary is flat out lying or involved in the Wikipedia conspiracy.

In the first place, the site is not designed to be navigated by wee ordinary folk. Forget about locating a meaningful start tutorial. That place is set up like a house of mirrors. Click here, go there, read this, think about that, get fed up, have lunch, try all over again, and by the way, ha ha ha, we're smarter than you.

Is it too much ask for a relatively simple way for newbies to post articles? The sandbox? Puh-leeze. What am I, a house cat?

Then there's the problem of determining whether your material is wikiworthy. You'd think a simple reference search would provide a simple answer, but not so. Even the search process is turned inside out, probably to send sniveling wannabes waddling out the URL.

They weren't getting this wannabe packing so fast. My tenacious side took control, plowing me straight ahead, rules thrown to the wind, bull in a china shop, and all that good kind of stuff. I'm just gonna do it, I thought. Honestly, in my mind "have channel" or "got channel" are catch phrases worth fighting for. Boy, was I ever wrong. For the record, here is my first carefully constructed paragraph preserved for prosperity:

“Have channel,” “got channel," and grammatically correct derivatives combined with “channel” are catch phrases connoting inexplicable appeal, noteworthy capabilities, and favorable perception of staying power of a person or format engaged, utilized, or employed in the media industry.

The rest of the article was basically commentary designed to arouse interest in phrase usage and origination. All in all, a good hour or so pathetically spent navigating ill-conceived linkage and buffering the rough edges of my little two paragraph gem.

Now for the piece de resistance about Wikipedia: they have bot patrols and volunteer editors on standby with nothing better to do than hex questionable articles, most of the time just as quickly as they're posted. If contributors can navigate their way to the right page -- and that's a very big IF -- they can protest inevitable removable, but the hex acts like the kiss of death. Once an article tastes its slimy pucker, chances of a reprieve are generally slim and none.

As I attempt to make sense of being whackipediaed, my article hangs in limbo awaiting the final blow. What really creeps me out is the way this stepford community functions. It's kind of like grade school, but with geeks in charge who are out for blood. Lording over those who dare enter without the secret codex (thereby destined to suffer gory acts of ultimate destruction), they lurk and linger, poised to pounce at the mere click of a mouse.

In the opinion of my personal henchman, my article got hexed for good reason. Let the following verbatim explanation stand as a warning to those delusional enough to think they possess original wikiworthy material:

"The point is that Wikipedia is an encyclopedia. We try to be as inclusive as possible with regard to who can do what, but this site is not merely a repository of random information. Subjects of articles need to already have a degree of notability that can be verified from reliable sources--this is not the place to go to help something become notable. If the phrase does achieve notability, then there will likely a place for it here, but not now."

Noble project. Whacky execution. But who am I to judge?

Media Big Lights Shine on Jet Set Show

The internet is my generation's brave new world. As I spend more of my free time in cyberspace, I can't help but notice an emerging new form of media. Is my blogging badge flashing? Feel free to surf if this is old news.

No, I'm not talking about chat rooms, instant messaging, or more of the same old same old packaged to look like new (like podcasts from World News they even know about podcasts...nevermind). I'm talking about the next level of broadcasting where basically anyone with something worthwhile to say can find an audience. In a nutshell, a new vehicle to gather the masses and create a unique sphere of influence.

This morning, as I pondered this development, I thought up a new phrase. At least I think it's new. Perhaps even catchy. I've decided to refer to anyone or anything with legs in this new media as have channel or got channel as in, "that girl's got channel," or "they really have channel," or "that news anchor doesn't have channel," like, "Go switch that channel." Right after I publish this post, I plan to do a Wikisearch just to see whether someone else grabbed the naming rights. If not, it just may be worth trying to coin this phrase.

That pretty much would eat up whatever free time I have left for today.

But I digress. This post is supposed to be about the Jet Set Show, not some corny phrase I'm trying to ignite (like fetch from Mean Girls, my efforts likely will be for naught).

The Jet Set Show is more than just a videoblog. It's an emerging social network in the guise of web digest light fueled by pop culture news, games, contests, entertainment, and just a touch of je ne sais qua. Steering the minions through unchartered waters is Zadi (pronounced zah-dee for those of you inclined to pronounce as zay-dee... you know who you are...), this generation's incarnation of pretty and perky. Zadi's got channel. In spades.

Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks so because a whole new virtual reality is taking root and beginning to blossom over there. Jet Set boasts numbers of 50,000, but I think their subscribers are way more than that. Zadi recently said they're looking for new correspondents, which in my mind means if they can pay a salary, they've arrived. Or got channel. Whichever floats your boat.

Click to see Spewed Videos du Jour.

Mika Brzezinski is My New Hero

Way to go, Mika! Hold firm to your journalistic integrity. Shred and burn if it makes you feel good. Don't let those workplace bullies run ramshod over you. Wench? I think not.

We all know Paris was overdone. Just because you checked out on camera doesn't make you wrong. Every cerebral person in the world had already beat you to the punch. MSNBC was just too money grubby to care.

This imbed is dedicated to Mika. Long may your tube live in eclat.

Stick a Fork in Netflix

Everyone who hasn’t heard about the Netflix Blockbuster smackdown, please stand up. Sit down little old lady in the back who still gets her videos from the public library.

stick a fork in NetflixNetflix was nice, but I sometimes waited up to four days for new videos. That was entirely too much turnaround time. In my zeal to watch five years worth of missed releases, each passing day was precious. Finally, the fundamental components of corporate America won me over. I quietly migrated to the dark side and have been satisfied ever since.

Better product, better service, more customer satisfaction. This credo spawned and continues to fuel the economy. Its lure is like a siren song. Unlike my hairdresser who refuses to switch to Blockbuster on some theoretical root for the little guy moral ground, I have nothing to prove.

I won’t go into details about why one service may be better or worse. No, it’s with sadness today I report on Netflix’s demise. A new ad campaign touting five videos a month for $4.99 PLUS unlimited downloads right from your computer. Oh yeah. They’re going down.

Will someone please throw Netflix a life saver? My personal favorite is cherry.

Update 2011

Haha. Looks like the joke's on me. Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy, closed most of its brick and mortar stores, and is dying a slow and agonizing death while Netflix reigns supreme. Netflix figured out a way to stream directly through TV and playstation systems. Now no one cares how long it takes to get replacements by mail, they can watch videos on demand on their PCs. Pretty ingenious. Corporate America could learn a thing or two.

It's the Chip Franklin Show

There’s a dearth of good daytime radio shows in Baltimore. A big city? Hah. Like I said before, Baltimore likes to think it’s a big city. No hon, we’re small potatoes. And dangerous. Ooooo. Pigtown's got a little bad boy edge go’n on.

When Chip Franklin took over Alan Prell’s morning radio spot, I was saddened. Alan had become part of my morning routine. He was Uncle Al the kiddies’ pal, a good compliment to Ron Smith in the afternoon. In my mind, no one could replace little Ally. Chip had a long road to hoe.

It's Chip FranklinTwo parts stand up comic, one part political manifesto, let’s just say, Chip Franklin took a lot of getting used to. After a number of years, I’m finally comfortable. His sidekicks are a hoot. Sherry, Mickey, C4, Schmuck, oh yeah, he’s for real. Debates with flags, movie ratings, celebrity posers, the show is an exercise in good fun. There are days when the topics are compelling and days when I switch channels, but overall, not too shabby.

I rarely have time to call in or send e-mail. I just comment out loud as I'm driving to wherever. I probably should stop doing that, although with the advent of hands free it's no longer weird. Today’s program included a segment about whether violence in America is any worse than when people Chip’s age (me) were growing up. Chip said it wasn’t and Sherry disagreed.

I’m with Sherry on this one. Violence in America is much worse than when I was a kid. I'm not talking about street fights and gangs, that's always been bad. I'm talking about meaningless hordes of innocent victims violence. Terrorist violence. Violence for the sake of violence.

IMHO the media bares part of the blame. When is the media going to develop a policy requiring cold blooded killers to be referred to as “the sick twisted vermin murderer?” Why does the media give sickos the notoriety they crave? Just look at Virginia Tech. Did the networks have to replay the video or report the killer's name? What about that nut in the Amish schoolhouse? Cover of People and countless others. Then there's the “I want to be famous” tube. Thousands of hits and still going strong. At first I thought it was funny and then I wanted to hurl. Someone memorialized John Lennon’s killer in a movie. Sickening. I can't understand where the oodles of this sick stuff comes from. American Psycho, the new Elisha Cuthbert flick, I could go on and on. Did we ever see or read stuff like this in the 60s?

I think the real turning point for gratuitous violence was Deliverance. In its day, the movie was shocking. Today, it’s kiddy fare. A true example of how debased and desensitized we Americans have become.

Update: 10/23/07. About a week after I wrote this piece, WBAL announced Chip Franklin's imminent departure. Chip seemingly vanished into thin air less than two weeks later. I heard he took a gig in el Lay, although the shock of his departure -- occurring so close to the time I finally became comfortable listening to his show -- threw me for a loop. What are the odds of something like that? I didn't bother researching his transition out west. Just licked my wounds and moved on. Today, more than two months later, I am finally ready to close the book on this odd turn of events. On 8/15/07, Chip sent me the following "Dear Jane" e-mail:

I had been saving it in my que, knowing it was the follow-up to this article, but too numb to care. It goes without saying what effect Chip's departure has had on the Baltimore talk radio scene. But I don't much care. Now that my car has Sirius radio, I listen to vinyl gold and 70s oldies. It's a better bet they won't be leaving town any time soon.

Smelling the Cybersoup

So much to choose little time. The life of a blogger is measured in bits and bytes, bursts of inspiration, and superhuman powers of determination.

We neophytes suffer most. Caught between our dream of becoming part of the cybersoup and our day jobs, we phish and plunder, take a little something from column A and column B, roll it together in a shiny new package of originality, then hover and pray for a loyal following. Our goal? To finally tell our day jobs "Buh-bye."

Even then, the pressure to produce will remain. Now that's a challenge.

Honestly, the cybersoup is steaming. I only wish I had enough time to savor each and every tasty morsel. Unfortunately, reality beckons. Deadlines and other obligations loom. Alas, I have ignored them too long and now must pay the piper. Which essentially means blogging in spewklight.

Things could be worse, I suppose. After last night's McAfee purge, Blogger insisted on locking me out and would not relent no matter how many times I changed my security settings. Luckily, a little bird told me to store my cookies in quarantine for possible later restoration. I just tapped back into McAfee and voila. But there's not enough time to rant about that.

There's a terrific interview of John Travolta on MoviesOnLine about his role in Hairspray, which is going to be in theaters in the US on July 20th.

He describes how he evolved his version of Edna Turnblad including how she looked, what she wore, her accent and all the various bits that defined her.

From watching the preview, this is a must-see movie.

And I'm so glad Travolta got to play the part!

A culture is only as great as its dreams, and its dreams are dreamed by artists. — Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard

George "Cloo-me" In: Hunk or Has Been?

This off the cuff rant is not mean-spirited. I LOVE George Clooney, why, I'm one of his biggest fans. From the first time I fixated on those dark lush lash lidded patch of doe eyed browns and perfectly chiseled chin, I was hooked but good. Maybe that's the ...err...problem.

You see, I'm also on a collision course with middle age. Ouch, that's gotta hurt.

George, we hardly knew ye. On second thought, strike that. George Clooney has been a major motion oscar winning ER swilling hunka hunka burning Hollywood super star for longer than the combined terms of Clintons and Bushes. For years, I've followed all the interviews, all the movie clips, all the premiers, and all the inside jokes. I've fantasized myself cavorting with George, Brad, Julia, and sidekick Richard Kind at poker games, yachts, and of course, movie sets. Outspoken? Yes. But at least he puts his time where his mouth is. Not too many celebrities can say that about themselves.

Lately, I'm seriously beginning to wonder if this sexy star has become a nova of his former self. Not even a mention in People mag's 2007 sexiest men alive issue. Recently snapped shirtless revealing, shall we say, elderly manhandles. A pathetic YouTube jab about the death of his beloved pot bellied pig. And what about that interview on Jay Leno? Were those flashes of turkey neck?

Ah well, the vultures are lurking. Looks like George would do well to circle the wagons. Or finally settle down with some hot babe. Marriage isn't the raw deal he envisions, even if his first crashed and burned. Once those pecs start to sag, it'll be too late. He'll just have to settle for gold diggers.

Earth to George: Warren got Annette on the way down. Capitulate before it's too late. You've still got time. And that entrancing smolder.

Click to see Spewed Videos du Jour.

Elizabeth Moss

Actress Elizabeth Moss is only 23 but she has a filmography longer than your arm and she's already been nominated for a Young Artist Award and an Independent Spirit Award. That's quite some stats!

Next up is a starring role in the TV Series "Mad Men" and two movies in post production, El Camino and New Orleans, Mon Amour. Busy Girl!

Bill Clinton and Bob Barker

Bill Clinton is stumping for Hillary in New Hampshire. Last week, I heard on the radio that some people in the Live Free or Die (Hard) state (sorry, Bruce & Co., but that is one lame movie title) are mistaking old Bubba for The Price is Right cheerleader emeritus, Bob Barker. Could this be fodder for another separated at birth?

I still can't believe I wasted the time it took to compose this video short, but I did. What I won't do to get noticed. How much sleep will I loose before throwing my hands up in disgust? What's next? Branded TV shorts?

For better or worse, take a gander at my initial foray into video broadcasting.

Corey Feldman

Corey Feldman was one of the most successful child stars in the mid-late 1980s. Born on July 16, 1971, Corey acted in successful movies during the 1980s, was a teenage hearthrob, and a regular on the Hollywood party circuit with his best friend at the time, fellow washed-up celebrity Corey Haim.Early SuccessFeldman began his movie career with a minor role in the 1979 movie, Time After Time.

"Muffins" Are Food for Thought

Last night, I had my own personal experience with strange Internet trends. I have yet to understand why people are entertained by them or continue to perpetuate them. Perhaps someone with a lengthy list of fancy college degrees could convince their Congressperson to fund another pork barrel project, a study to determine why we humans waste so much time on frivolous endeavors that make no sense and add nothing to world productivity. This of course would be a worthless pursuit in itself, but let's not focus on that right now.

I'm referring to a video posted on YouTube some time ago entitled Muffins. I had never seen said Muffins, nor had I heard anyone refer to any Muffins phenomenon until last night. I was just told to go watch the muffins video. So like the good little soldier I am, I did.

Um. Yah. Next.

Muffins kinda reminded me of the old joke No Soap, Radio which I first heard at about age eight and recently heard again from my twelve-year old. Yikes. How can something so dumb stick around for so long? Why, the No Soap, Radio joke is practically a cultural phenomenon. For some reason, I find this notion particularly troubling.

The dumbing down of America. The pundits are probably right. Americans are becoming dumber. Pretty soon there'll be no one with any brain cells left. We'll all be forced to survive using archetypal images and primal urges. Oh yes, the day is coming. Just take a good long look at our President.

For those of you who never heard of this cultural phenomenon wannabe, I've dedicated Today's Spewed Videos to the original Muffins and its progeny. If these snippets aren't enough, you can find plenty more on YouTube by searching the name of the video.

I really am very curious to know why this little gem didn’t die the slow agonizing death it deserved. Tributes to Muffins continue unabashed. If only the people who created this drivel could find a way to profit from it. Now that would be something I would stand up and applaud.

Click to see Spewed Videos du Jour.

Kelly Preston - Broken Bridges

I just saw the movie "Broken Bridges" starring Kelly Preston. A great movie and awesome performances by everyone in the cast. Kelly was outstanding.
She is soon to be starring in a movie with, not only her husband John Travolta, but also with her daughter Ella Bleu Travolta! The movie is called Old Dogs and also stars Robin Williams and Matt Dillon. It will be released in 2008.

Lewis "Scooter" Libby Controversy Shakes Faith in American Justice

How can a man so publicly involved in the most recent presidential quagmire continue to use Scooter as his moniker? To me, the mere mention conjures up images of hazy country club poker rooms filled with blue bloods having a good 'ol boy time, or a crusty brown insect scurrying furiously across the kitchen floor to avoid a whack from the broomstick. Either way it isn't pretty.

Perhaps that's the point.

No, I don't mean if Libby hadn't bantered his juvenile sounding nickname about the White House all would be right with the world. I'm referring to how one's opinion of the controversy depends upon which side of the political apple cart one stands. It's particularly difficult to intelligently debate the issues when political affiliation so easily tips the equation. Consequently, in trying to remain objective, I have come to view the Libby controversy through a different set of colored glasses. Like I said, it isn't pretty.

Libby got a raw deal, a harsh sentence for way too much prison time. Two years after the story broke, I continue to question whether his actions rose to the level of criminality for which he was accused, or whether the real culprits were his superiors for whom he was forced to take a powder. I decided to put these questions to rest when a jury of his peers issued their verdict. In that I implicitly agreed with the process, it became inconsequential whether I agreed with the verdict.

And perhaps that's the real point.

The American justice system is by far one of the best in the world, if not THE best. If I didn't believe in the system, then I can't very well remain a good little American doobee now can I?

Do I like how our President waited until the final appeals court triggered a jail countdown before invoking executive power to commute Libby's 30-month sentence to probation and a fine? No. Does it matter that he disseminated his royal edict right before the 4th of July holiday, a week when most Americans are vacationing or too distracted to care? Yes. Do I care that our President continues to ponder the possibility of a full no-holds barred pardon? Most definitely.

Leave it be, Dubya, you've done enough.

The most distressing issue, the one Constitutional Fundamentalists and Liberal Democrats likely will shake until they're blue, namely Herr Bush's failure to consult Department of Justice guidelines before giving little Scooter a noogie and a pat, is the one I can't ignore. If Bush had even bothered to follow the process, he certainly would have known Libby's case lacked necessary key factors for a presidential pardon. Sadly, the American people will never know whether that would've made any difference in the outcome of this case. But then why bother with such formalities when it's so much easier to dictate what he in his infinite wisdom decides? The Decider is the anointed one answering to none. He practically said so himself.

Lewis Libby's crimes are as real as Bill Clinton's, yet the Conservative Right deceptively tries to play both sides. In their zeal to protect little Scooter, poster boy for the Bush administration, an administration so power cocky it's become reminiscent of the Nixon era, they've become oblivious to their own hypocrisy. There's a real danger in that; hoping the American public won't notice them trying to wolf down country club cake on the streets.

I'm here to say we've noticed. Proceed at your own peril. It's only the shining example, survived more than 225 years, well-crafted American justice system at stake.

Click for Spewed Videos du Jour

Blogging: Not for the Faint of Heart

No, I have NOT been on vacation. Apparently the work force is shutting down. It'd gotten so bad at post time, FoxNews feeders were prowling for tips. But unlike everybody and their brother who decided to celebrate 4th of July by taking the entire week off, I decided to tool around a little.

I don't know what I had hoped to accomplish because by the looks of this site it hasn't been very much.

I'm so itching to get this site off the ground I can feel the spiders. My ultimate goal is to redesign entirely, however, that will cost money I'm not sure I want to spend. Most bloggers probably grapple with such decisions after developing a more consistent writing schedule, but me? Nah. I want to run before I walk.

In the meantime, I keep torturing myself with free HTML tutorials. There's about a billion of them online, largely impossible to implement by complete dummies like me. I could switch the site to advanced script, but then I wouldn't be able to switch it back. On the other hand, I can't use the tutorials I keep finding until I do.

So far, this minor technicality hasn't stopped me from searching for workable script, hence the lack of recent entries. I'm either an eternal optimist or plain stubborn idiot. Such a perfect poll topic. Too bad there's only one subscriber (my husband probably).

Back to stuff that matters....whatever that is.

And Finally, Germany Says "Scientology's not an Issue...

Do you believe the latest "news" (any more than you believed the earlier reports) -- boy what the press will do for a "scoop"

So after all the hype last week, today we have the spokesman for the German Finance Ministry saying " will not be permitted to film at the Bendlerblock but this has nothing to do with [Scientology]," Olbermann told Reuters.

"We welcome the fact that such a film is being made. We don't think it would be appropriate to film there."

So what was that circus about last week?

Oh well. Chalk it up to free publicity.

A culture is only as great as its dreams, and its dreams are dreamed by artists. — Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard

See it - "Sicko"

"If we have the money to kill people (with war), we've got the money to help people."

~ Former British MP, Tony Benn