You mess with Harpo Marx, you get the horns.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Star Wars Redeux

So, in between my temporary hobby of annoying people on the 2006 Weblog Awards message board, I took in Star Wars the other evening on the telly. That would be Star Wars IV: A New Hope.

Yes, I know it's actually referred to as Star Wars by anyone with a working cerebral cortex, but George Lucas intended it to be episode four in a six film series, despite the confusing fact that he made it first. This chronological disparity explains a great number of problems that crop up in the jump between Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Episode IV, the...erm... first film:

Episode III: Really acrobatic light saber fights
Episode IV: Alec Guinness can barely move and hold his light sabre at the same time

Episode III: Sleek, fast warships with a variety of weapons
Episode IV: Clunky, Soviet-era sci-fi ships that blow-up like a Roman candle, probably from the model glue used to put them together

Episode III: Bizarre varieties of creatures that move freely in space as if completely real
Episode IV: Jim Henson-variety canteena band that play wind instruments despite a noticeable lack of lips

Episode III: Massively complex special effects, including explosions and multiple blaster battles
Episode IV: Large cigar smoke ring added to Death Star explosion - If you listen closely to the explosion, you can hear Castro laughing in the background

Episode III: Natalie Portman as the sexy love interest of Annakin Skywalker.
Episode IV: Carrie Fisher as the sexy love interest to Luke Skywalker, even though she turns out to be his sister... That's the 70's for you, people

Episode III: Annakin Skywalker deals with the Tusken Raiders in a violent, complex battle
Episode IV: Obi-Wan Kenobi scares off the Tusken Radiers by doing his impersonation of a doddering scarecrow

So, the chronology (time thingy for those of you wondering why everything has to be so bloody technical) really mucks things up. For those of you who, like myself, are cineastes (which is French for "film geek"*) here is a link to all the changes they had to make to Star Wars, Episode IV to give it some semblance of occurring after the events in Episode III.

My favourite: "When Obi-Wan makes a call to scare away the Tusken Raiders, it has been changed, due to sounding too closely like a dew back scream. In the 2004 version it sounds more like the Boga lizard from Episode III, although it has always said to be the call of the Krayt Dragon in books and other sources."

I knew it was the Boga lizard! Now, that's attention to detail.

*No, we don't bite the heads off of live chickens. We use mock-ups provided by Industrial Light and Magic.

We Get Hate Mail!

Or more precisely, I get hate mail. I'm surprised it's taken this long, given the touchiness of a few participants in the 2006 Weblog Awards message thread I started. Still, it's about time. I've put in far too much time on it. Frankly, I think I've been too nice to some of the respondents there, but I didn't want to piss off the moderators too much, as they seem like decent types and are hard at work on the awards. Anyway, enough sausage-making...

anonymous.aa8c69b126 writes:

No wonder you weren't nominated...You're not funny.

Ouch, "anonymous.aa8c69b126!!!" What a stinger!

Here was the response "anonymous.aa8c69b126" received, just in case you're wondering:

This message is to thank you for the very first hate mail ever sent to The Dictionary of Unfortunate Ideas. We will be sure to send this along to Earl, as he has a frame prepapred for it. (Hallmark brand - Baby Bath - See:

Apparently we had to work long and hard for it, because it's taken almost two years for someone to send us something negative. It's been nothing but glowing praise up until now and quite frankly, it's getting old. However, it's probably because Tom Cruise, Donald Trump, Ben Affleck, Britney Spears, or their lawyers, etc. don't actually read the blog.

Also, your message will have the honor of appearing directly on the blog, along with your name so that all of your friends and family will be able to share in this special moment with you...the moment where you anonymous.aa8c69b126 bravely stood up and told off The Dictionary of Unfortunate Ideas.

The message will also appear with the special comments of the contributor you directly addressed. We apologise in advance for any foul language, aspersions regarding your personal lineage, and references to your sex life that may occur in this response. Unfortunately, that's the sort of red meat, earthy, brutal response the blogging audiences of today demand. Just know it's all meant in good, clean fun!

Best Wishes and Write Us Again Soon!!!

AUTO RESPONSE 275aas456.2341
The Dictionary of Unfortunate Ideas

Update: I will keep the mail. It's like a restaurant's first dollar bill...or health department warning.

People are so touchy these days!

One of the classic strategies of the no-holds barred comic blogger is subversion. This is right after "flatulence humour" and just before "sexual euphemisms."

Thus, I've been taking my mild disappointment (but not surprise) at our site's failing to get nominated for a 2006 Weblog Awards and channeling it into a message board thread associated with the site. Why? Boredom, my own personal amusement, the amusement of like-minded people exploring the site, and most of all "the classic strategy of comic bloggers - subversion," but I'm repeating myself, of course. Admittedly, it's a diversion and not my best work, but it has been an interesting exercise in much the same way as throwing poker chips into a pack of squirrels at the park is interesting. Most of them don't know what to do with them, but they rush for them anyway, thinking they just might be food.

I think my favourite response was the person who referred to me as a "pompous, whiny douche." I couldn't begin to give such a person enough rope to hang themselves with. I'd pull a muscle trying to unwind the stuff.

What's interesting is that, while I am somewhat disappointed at the majority of the nominations, that the assumption is that I'm complaining solely on the grounds that we didn't get nominated, even though I only alluded to that once at the beginning - which should be quite natural anyway, given that most people like some recognition. Actually, apart from posting for the fun of it, I was complaining somewhat (once, on the thread I think) that the humour blogs weren't for the most part actual dedicated humour blogs (which, BTW, has nothing to do regarding the individual quality of the blogs in question). Considering that the "Best Religious Blogs" category was pulled for that very same reason, it's quite alarming to us dedicated humour bloggers.

I for one would be happy to be beaten senseless in an awards programme by a collection of really funny, well-written, well-designed blogs (and there are a couple in the list that I've mentioned that fit the description, regardless of your political point of view).

Apparently though there is a political divide, at least according to someone at the Bloggies, who suggested once that the Weblog Awards were founded to present a conservative alternative to the Bloggies.

[WARNING! WARNING! - Serious quotient too high!]

(Oops! The humour meter's been set off.) Erm...The sense I've come away with is that there is a great deal of inbrededness to the blogosphere, and that much of it is political. It's a bit like the Iraq Study Group:


Congressman #1 (R): Mr. President, we need to study the Iraq situation.

President Bush: That's a good idea Congressman #1. Who can we get to form the study group? We need some people who know Iraq, who've studied the Middle East. We need people who know military tactics and strategy. We need intelligence experts, who can get to the details of why we're unable to get better information on the insurgents...

Congressman #2 (D): Actually, Mr. President, we were thinking we should tab a bunch of ex-Congressmen and executive officials to do the job, as all those other people have day jobs. Plus, the people we have in mind really enjoy being on television...A lot!

Congressman #1 (R): And it would be BI-PARTISAN!!!

President Bush: Well, that certainly sounds like an impressive word. You people get on that, so I can ignore it later and make you all look like asshats*.


Well, perhaps the Weblog Awards aren't quite like that. There are some rather nice people there working hard to recognise some interesting blogs (despite one or two of them being rather a touch sensitive). Just don't let on to that on the message board...


Stew, how do I turn off this bloody thing!

*The word "asshat" is brought to you in part by the people at FARK

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Radioactive Arsenal? Ah, skip it...

Well, the mystery behind the poisoning of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko has taken yet another insidious turn. Small traces of the highly dangerous radioactive istope that killed Litvinenko have been found at the Emirates Stadium, home to a certain football club which I follow and love and which, thanks to the posts at FC Porto's stadium, are through to the final 16 of the Champions' League.

According to a variety of news sources, traces of polonium 210 were found at the stadium, in Ashburton Grove, Islington, as well as a variety of other places that Mr. Litvinenko visted whilst in London.

If Russian KGB is behind this insidious attack, it can only mean one thing: Putin is a Spurs fan. The fiend.

In an update, several hotel workers have also been found to have been poisoned with the isotope. There's no joke there, only prayers and well-wishes for their recovery. Even Spurs would never stoop so low.


Sorry, there's not much humour there. I'm still recovering from the blatant snub of the 2006 Weblog Awards. After reviewing some of the actual nominees for the "Best Humor Blog," I was surprised to find that a number of barely humourous political blogs were included. (No offense meant to the organizers or the bloggers...You have no idea how many times this site has been referred to as "barely humourous.")

Actually, I wasn't surprised, but I was disappointed. You'd figure that actual jokes per post quotient would count for something in such a category... I mean, in some of the nominees, beyond the occasional gag photo with a link and a snarky comment, there's very little consistent attempts at humour. I mean, nothing personal, but we do that sort of thing in our sleep, here. (Yes, we often sleep while we post...can't you tell?)

Other than Scrappleface and IMAO, which are quite well-written on occasion (regardless of your political viewpoint) I really struggled to find a consistent thread of humour besides something along the lines of, "look at this picture of James Baker's and Lee Hamilton's heads on monkeys...isn't that goofy?. "

(Sorry, that was the front page for the NY Post today...and on reflection it was rather mistake!)

How about this as a compromise: Rename the category to "Best Political Blog which is on occasion somewhat humourous." Then the selections might hold up. Otherwise, I mean, where was Dave Barry's Blog for Pete's sake? What about Lileks? (Oh, never mind...he's in the Best Individual Blog Category. I guess that outranks us humour peons.)

Oh, and they could bring back Best Religious Blog too, instead of pretending the umpteenth number of submissions they received last year amounted to a "lack of participation." If this is lack of participation, then I suppose the Boston Marathon should close up shop for the pittance they get every year.

Yes, I'm grumpy about it all. Bloody hell, I wrote a novel in this blog! I was even hoping that my incredibly violent interview with Billy Jack would save the day. I suppose I'll need to interview Chuck Norris for us to have a chance next year, should I survive the encounter. Did you know he drives an ice cream truck covered in human skulls? I never imagined...

Update: The organizer of the awards has graciously indicated to me that participation was not the reason that the "Best Religious Blog" was discontinued. Rather, the difficultly in differentiating the religious blogs from the political and other blogs was the reason given. I'd say a lot of other categories have that problem too, but careful readers of this post will have already figured that out. Anyway, thanks for the clarification, Kevin!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I'm a winner anyway!

Hey, I just remembered that I did finish as one of the winners of the National Novel Writing Month contest.

I wonder if the lads at The Dick List can say that, eh?

I know, I'm compensating. Just allow me to work things out in my own way will you?

The 2006 Weblog Awards Doesn't Love Us

Well, I just glanced over at the nominations for the 2006 Weblog Awards and we weren't mentioned in any of the categories we were aiming for. (Sound of bottle smashing against skull) Oh, well.

I'm guessing we either weren't political enough, were too archaic in our visual design, weren't well known enough, or my regular eccentric posting on the Message Board there pissed off a judge or two, particularly the one that contained the phrase "shrivelled bollocks and enormous man-teats" though I can't see why anyone would be put off by that, especially an awards site that nominated Jesus' General in any category.

There is also the off chance that the judges were George Clooney and Danny DeVito fans and that my post of yesterday was ill-timed.

We take great pride in that we do focus on the writing here, although we've been known to splash some graphics up on occasion, most of which we've doctored in the name of satire (satisfied F. Johnny Lee?). The punctuation and spelling may take a miss now and then, but I've seen that from the blogs of major magazines with paid editors. Yes, it is all rather baroque and lengthy writing at times, but it's meant to be. Hemingway we're not but how many funny quotes is he remembered for?

My central impression on first glance at the nominees is, "Oh, all these blogs again," sort of like waiting for the Emmy nominations and hearing that Desperate Housewives has nicked you to the spot again. That's probably quite unfair to the all the nominated blogs, even the ones that might have rude pictures of Teri Hatcher.

My second impression was the same as the first, only more bitter.

As there are no links to all the nominated blogs yet at the site, I don't know if we've truly been outclassed, out popularised, out-politicised, or whether the judges made the selections while stoned out of their flipping minds (although I'd have thought that would be an advantage for us).

I suppose it would help if a set of criteria for judging was somewhere on the bloody site. You know, something along the lines of "We're looking for sites with dazzling graphics, colourful ads, political committment, passable writing," that sort of thing. Most contests have at least some pretense at setting some basic objective guidelines beyond "a blog that appeared this year."

I'm sure this is just all bitter disappointment talking and I'm certain I speak for my comrades in that we congratulate all the nominees (lucky bastards), and appreciate all the tireless efforts of the judges, who almost certainly had numerous choices to pick from and I'm certain held nothing against my complaint last year that November is really far too early for an end of year award, which was made entirely in jest and which only a really bitter, self-righteous, unforgiving sort would hold a grudge about.

(Yes, we do intend to enter next year, as long as there's no fee.)

Seriously, I'm sure it's a thankless job picking from so many. We're just looking for a little love and validation from the judges (and the bump on the hit counter), but I'm sure everyone who had a site in wanted that as well. How many of them had interviews with the "real Billy Jack" though?

On to The Bloggies (which I'm afraid we have even less of a chance in, as they tend to favour snazzy, intensely graphical, well-traveled sites). In the meantime, we'll continue to do things our way here, for better or worse. (Yes, worse...all right, we know!)

OK, I've wasted enough time on business. Back to the nuthatch that is DOUI. Come and stay awhile.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Partying like it's 1999!

I don't want to get too immersed in the entertainment world, for fear we'll be labeled as one of those blogs that posts pictures of Britney and Paris in various knickerless states (or so we've heard), but for the sake of our old, presumably incarcerated friend Jorge Carlito Viejo, it was interesting to see that George Clooney has been hitting the town, and the limoncellos, pretty hard with Danny DeVito.

This would have to be the strangest couple to be seen in the city of fake lights since Drew Barrymore wed Tom Green. (I know what you're thinking. "Waitaminute," you're saying; "This comparison is all wrong. Green and Barrymore were married, whereas Devito and Clooney are just platonic pals!" You are assuming of course that Green and Barrymore ever touched each other.)

The most alarming part of the CNN article where Clooney describes the party-harty attitude of these two ageing hipsters, is where Clooney says that all he can remember of the "brutal" night is that he and DeVito were doing shots of limoncello. Not knowing the two gentlemen, I can't say that there will be mobile phone shots of the two dressed heavily in leather and chains, or in a Japanese bathhouse with a randy sumo wrestler, but heaven knows, I'd want to know exactly where I was all night if I were someone whose photo would easily circumnavigate the globe a 1000 million times were I to suddenly turn up in something less than my customary Armani. (I hope they didn't spend much time in the loo, that's all I can add to the subject.) Such pics would possibly be the only thing more embarrassing to Clooney than his short stint on The Facts of Life (if only for the hair).

Anyway, it does get one to thinking what this odd couple would be up to on such a friendly, liqueur-fueled rat pack adventure. Here's a suggested itinerary:

5:00 p.m. - Wake up (Clooney - DeVito being older has already been up since 4:45)

6:00 p.m. - Meet Danny DeVito at Bob's Big Boy for some Big Boy Famous Belgian Waffles and a couple of sides of Brawny Lad.

8:45 p.m. - Hit the clubs. Drink up all the limoncello in the San Fernando Valley, except Rhea's stash in the cellar (3rd level, just past the moat).

10:15 p.m. - Stand on the sidewalk and mock paparazzi by threatening to moon them, then throw empty bottles at them as they prepare to snap pictures. Refer to the National Enquirer photographer as Sheila, even though her name is Gladys.

12:30 a.m. - Ditch paparazzi by spreading a rumour that Britney Spears just pulled into a club down the street in a Hummer, and wearing a mini skirt. Try not to get trampled.

12:45 a.m. - Loudly denounce George W. Bush while "draining the monsters" into the Gloriosas at The Beverly Hills Hotel and Bungalows.

12:55 a.m. - Loudly ask just what the hell a "bungalow" is. Is it drug paraphenalia for short people? Have Danny get really upset over this suggestion.

1:25 a.m. - Crash the stage at The House of Blues for a duet of Slim Pickens favourites.

1:30 a.m. - Loudly denounce House of Blues bouncers fom street. Threaten to take up the issue with co-owner Dan Ackroyd.

1:45 a.m. - Nap on bench on Sunset Boulevard. Drugs: Geritol (DeVito only). Do NOT befriend winos (remind Danny what happened last time).

2:30 a.m. - Prank phone call Brad Pitt pretending to be Jennifer Aniston wanting to get back together.

3:30 a.m. - Dinner: more limoncellos and a side of tofu.

4:30 a.m. - Bluff way into Cedars-Sinai Medical Center pretending to be Dr. Doug Ross and his assistant Igor. Deliver baby and/or perform vasectomy. Pick up nurse (Clooney only).

6:30 a.m. - T.P. Julia Roberts Malibu mansion.

9:00 a.m. - Fall asleep on the Haunted Mansion ride in Disneyland. Have butlers pick us up indiscreetly (Porsches, not the Lamborghinis).

10:00 a.m. - Retire for evening, morning, whatever.