You mess with Harpo Marx, you get the horns.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Blame It on Bessie

The Associated Press is reporting that a Swedish university is being given a grant for the equivalent of $590,000 to study (wait for it) "greenhouse gases released when cows belch." Apparently, similar research is already being done in Canada.

If I sound a touch cross, it's only because I've earnt diddly off of this blog* whilst bovine eructation researchers are raking in the notes. I suppose I should just be thankful my job doesn't involve measuring cow gas.

Anyway, regardless of your views on the subject of global warming or research grants, I think the ones who come off the worst in this situation are the cows. They've clearly been made the scapegoats here (if a goat/cow metaphor can truly be said to function in this context). Their lot in life is fairly dim to begin with:

1. Born in a field or barn
2. Subsist on hay and grass and, if they're lucky, the odd handful of sweet feed
3. Live in the outdoors
4. Slaughtered and dismembered for food

Admittedly, aside from number four, it's every vegan's dream. However, number four is a cracker of a condition, and the occasional appearance in a Chick-Fil-A advert here in the States hardly compensates. Yes, in India they're revered and walk the streets freely and all that, but no one ever feeds them curry. It's a brutal case of "so close and yet so far."

Now, along come this lot of Swedish and Canadian researchers who seem determined to demonstrate that cows are leading us on a fiery path of globally intemperate destruction because they can't be bothered to quaff a bit of Beano between grazes. It is "anti-cow" I tell you.

After all, no one has bother to examine the amount of greenhouse gases people put off. What with fizzy drinks, Tex-Mex chili, Sauerkraut, and 15-bean soups one would expect that even a relatively tiny person could produce enough warming whiffy vapours to make Al Gore's eyebrows raise all the way to the back of his neck.

In all fairness, the article does suggest that researchers will be examining the way in which different diets affect the cows' belch-producing output. So, perhaps the goal is simply the modest attempt to moderate cows' affect on the environment. All of this would make sense if not for the fact that cows can produce gas from any and all foodstuffs with the cold-blooded efficiency of a Nazi sausage factory.

Plus, just exactly how does one vary a cow's diet? It's not as if they were all ordering from the menu at the Savoy Grill. Grass, hay, a view varieties of feed...they'll be done in a week. I would expect the conversations to go along the lines of this:

"Ingmar, can we add a bit more Kentucky Bluegrass to Bessie's intake?"
"Jan, OK. I just want to give the rye grass a few more days. She's really unleashed some corkers lately on that stuff."

So, it's all about blaming the cows. Soon, they'll be telling us we need less cows and more chickens, who burp relatively infrequently... and keep an eye out on your 15-bean soup, too.

* I'm not including the Google AdSense revenue because: A) We haven't seen a penny yet, and B) After splitting it with Stew, Nuffy, and Jorge it works out to about 4 pesos Mexican.

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Latest US Campaign Threads

For those of you obsessed with politics (and you know who you are ...because I certainly don't) here are a few of tomorrow's headlines*. And they say serious politics is dead...

  • "Stallone Possibly Endorses McCain, Enthusiastic Mumbling at Rally"

  • "Thompson Withdraws: Returns to 'Sanity of Hollywood'"

  • "Rudy Sightings in Loch Ness, Mt. Everest, and Boca Raton"

  • "Obama Underdog to Face Hillary on American Gladiators"

  • "Romney Vows Further Triangulation"

  • "Ron Paul: 'I'm Really a Republican... No, Seriously, Guys!'"

  • "Edwards Blames Blow-Dryer for S.C. Performance"

  • "Kucinich Transitions to Candidacy for Ambassador to Klingon Empire"

  • "Hillary's Pledge: 'Contract on Obama'"

  • "Chuck Norris Accidentally Breaks Huckabee In Two"

  • "McCain Hammers Romney, Ball-Peen Suspected"

  • "Rudy's Revelation: 'Easy Come, Easy Go'"

  • "Former President Clinton's Shock: 'Obama's Black?'"

  • "Paul Supporters Promise Conniptions and Blackouts"

  • "Joe Biden Found in N.H. Snowbank"
Personally, I can't wait for tomorrow's papers.

*I got them cheap from the man who hangs out behind the local Wal-Mart. I suppose his surprising number of media connections is directly related to the fact that half of his wardrobe consists of newspapers.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

This Academy Spells Quality, "O-S-C-A-R."

Well, it's that time of year again, when jolly old Oscar leaps to the forefront of Hollywood's line of sight just long enough to obscure the massive egos craving his cold, golden attentions. That also means it's time for the annual tradition where I review the Academy's nominees for Best Picture. As usual, they are slightly more eccentric than one would expect. That's greatness for you, I suppose.

Atonement - This is the story of Robbie (James McAvoy) a young actor, trapped in a Hollywood historical drama having nothing to do with Jane Austen. Despondent, he seeks solace in the willing arms of Cecelia (Keira Knightley), who is on the rebound from a bad breakup with Simon and Garfunkel. Together, they are called up to military service in World War II, Robbie as an infantryman, and Cecelia as the service technician for a squadron of Vaught Corsairs.

Whilst Cecelia is handling the lube jobs for half of Britain's aviators, Robbie unexpectedly wins the war in 1942 when he accidentally manages to lob a hand-grenade into Adolf Hitler's port-a-loo. The German High Command (Richard Attenborough), stunned at this major setback a full two years before D-Day, decides to have Robbie stand in for the little psycho. Robbie at first refuses, until he receives a "Dear John" letter from Cecelia, who has run away with the 1st Canadian Infantry Division (Saracens).

The war continues, many people are blown to bits in extreme slow-motion, and slowly but surely Robbie manages to grow a weed of a Chaplin moustache. Eventually, Cecelia and the Canadian 1st Infantry reach Berlin a full 6 months before the Russians. Confronted with his massive guilt complex, his ex-lover, and her twenty thousand boyfriends, he completes the atonement of the title by stabbing Von Ribbentrop in the gut with a shiv. Together, he, Cecelia, and the Canadians, all disguised as Eva Braun, escape to Switzerland and form a chocolatier collective.

Juno - The story of a young woman named Juno (Ellen Page) who unexpectedly becomes preganant after a spending a fortnight on an American college fraternity row. Uncertain as to whom the father is or whether in fact he was an actual student or just someone hanging around for free beer, she devises a cunning plan to secure the future of her unborn child.

Unfortunately, this cunning plan fails when she is unable to obtain the necessary tools, including a Vaught Corsair, a nuclear fusion reactor and a small black hole. Instead she puts the baby up on the black market, selling her progeny for a pack of Ultra-Light smokes and half a case of Zima.

Twenty years later, her son, Zippy (Alec Baldwin), now the President of Coors Brewing, tracks her down in Los Angeles, where she has parlayed her sad story as an unwed mother into a regular guest spot on Dr. Phil. Zippy, enraged at the way his mother has been exploited and confused by her claims that his father is Bobcat Goldthwait, attacks Dr. Phil in an Indiana cornfield in a biplane. Dr. Phil escapes by the skin of his moustache, Zippy is institutionalised, and Juno writes a tell-all book about the events which makes Oprah's Book Club List.

Michael Clayton - George Clooney returns to the silver screen after an absence of nearly twelve seconds to star in this cracking original thriller from Warner Brothers about a soulless barrister who faces a crisis of conscience. Michael Clayton (Clooney) works in a prestigious New York law firm, Clooney, Pitt, and Damon, where he "fixes" cases by drowning the opposing witnesses in legal documents and Mountain Dew Game Fuel.

After his latest case goes awry when his star witness is bombarded by a Junckers Ju 290 (Bet you thought I was going to write Vaught Corsair), Clayton determines that he will have his revenge on the Luftwaffe, which is when this taut courtroom drama surprisingly veers off into a World War II film.

Fortunately, just before the Battle of the Bulge, Clayton is talked to his senses by an overworked Keira Knightley and returns to the courtroom to face his greatest nemisis, legal genius Arthur Edens (Ruth Buzzi). Edens, noted for making his closing arguments from the horizontal stabiliser of a Vaught Corsair (Ha!), continually flusters Clayton's attempts to win the case, until Clayton luckily notices that Edens is sitting on an old container of TNT, left over from Wile Coyote's (Julia Roberts) studio stock. Clayton blows the case, along with Edens, wide open, wins the trial, and gets the girl (Carl Reiner).

No Country for Old Men - The Coen Brothers' latest foray into the world of crime, madness, and unceasingly brutal violence with an entertaining edge revolves around the fortunes of a psychotic man with a suitcase full of money and a nail gun with an unlimited ammunition cheat code.

Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) is out conducting his daily serial killing prep activities when he stumbles upon a suitcase containing $1 billion U.S., all in quarters. As he is quite mad, Anton believes the loot to be a small bear named Roscoe, whom he becomes rather taken with. Anton and Roscoe are soon pursued by Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), who believes the suitcase full of quarters to be his estranged wife Jean Tom Bell (Vanna White). Ed pursues Anton, Roscoe, and Jean across the hellish wasteland that is West Texas, specifically downtown Lubbock.

Soon, they are all pursued by Mickey Rooney, who, invigorated by his athletic turn in Night at the Museum, and firmly convinced that the suitcase full of money is Judy Garland, flies a Vaught Corsair right through the front window of a Phoenix, Arizona Starbucks.

With Mickey safely several hundred miles away, Anton confronts Ed Tom, and his nephews Huey Tom, Louie Tom, and Dewey Tom, in a bloodbath that can only be described as "Caligulian." Amazingly, everyone is killed, including several people in the front three rows of the preview cinema. Despite this, Roscoe and Jean Tom Bell escape and are married in Las Vegas by an Elvis impersonator (Sandra "Tom" Bullock).

There Will Be Blood - Daniel Day Lewis plays a plucky down-and-out prospector named Jed who strikes oil whilst shooting at some food and overnight becomes the leader of a multimillion dollar petroleum company with both Dick Cheney and Hugo Chavez on the Board of Directors.

Shortly after Dick and Hugo strangle each other with garottes, Jed travels to Hollywood where he purchases a mansion (Terry Wogan) and outmanoeuvres an annoying banker named Drysdale (Ken Lay) and his sexually ambigious secretary, Jane Hathaway (Flipper).

Realising that yet another Beverly Hillbillies spoof is a comedic cul-de-sac, Jed changes his name to "Spike" and takes a Vaught Corsair to the Himalayas to "clear his head" and to also attempt to photograph the legendary Yeti. After six months of practice photography with Nepalese courtesans and Robin Williams, Spike, who has since changed his name to "Hef," finally gets his chance to photograph the great Abominable Snowman at a Cold Stone Creamery in Kathmandu. Unfortunately, distracted by the incessant pummeling the Yeti delivers to his bean, he forgets to take off the lens cap, load the camera with film, and, for a period of at least 120 seconds, to breathe properly.

In hospital, Hef, now called "Rosamunde," is so impressed with the efficiency of the blood transfusion team, that he declares that he will dedicate his life to the perservation of blood products. Unfortunately, the transfusion team (Pauly Shore) has filled Rosamunde, now called "Lefty," with Heinz 57 Steak Sauce, which, while highly tasty, proves of little use in the complex task of transporting oxygen and nutrients to Lefty's vital organs. Lefty, now referred to as "Stinky," is cremated and his ashes scattered to the winds (Jeremy Clarkson).


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Rotten Morning Radio - Take 2

So, I'm driving The Littlest Fando to school today and the morning DJ we're listening to decides to tell a story about a party she had where tacky gifts are exchanged. The punch line is an air freshener with the scent of "Lick Me All Over."

Nothing starts a school day like the unexpected reference to "adult" novelties, does it? Must have been some do, that.

The gormless pillock should have known better. A punchline with the word "lick" in it is barely tolerable for this blog, much less a morning show that school families tune into. It adds further evidence to the theorem that most "entertainers," and I use the word very loosely where morning radio is concerned, have all the inhibitions of Madonna in a Ken Russell film.

Meanwhile, over on another station, one of the guests is trying out some standup material about the complexities of hotel dry cleaning. The morning hosts laugh so hard that, if not for their complete fakeness, I would have thought they having seizures. I'm sitting in the car not even cracking a smile and these two are rolling around in the studio acting as though they're going to wet themselves. The "joke-teller" laps it up in a way that a serious comic never would. The humour of morning radio is all too often, as Doug Henning used to say in his inimitable voice*, "Illuuuushhhion."

I immediately turn off the radio. Where'd I put that new Radiohead CD?

*Stew does a dead on impersonation of the late Henning. I mean, an impersonation of him before he passed on. Anyone can to the other sort if they've got the right moustache. Unfortunately, we don't have audio set up on this blog. Also, Stew's appearances her of late have been only slightly more frequent than those of Sasquatch.

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