Friday, December 29, 2006

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of December 25, 2006

Well, everyone, 2006 has been one heck of a year for us here at the CSM, and we didn't even get started until halfway through. Who knows what doing this for a full year could hold?

But enough of that navel gazing nonsense. We need to focus, buckle down, and conquer the task at hand. Which, of course, means that, for the final time in 2006, we need to launch into our weekly awards. Let's get it started!

Future Success Now Award
We give this award to Homeland Security Advisor Fran Townsend, for her belief that Osama bin Laden's continued freedom is not a failure. In fact, she classified it a "success that hasn't occurred yet." Other successes yet to occur include putting a colony on Mars, securing North Korean disarmament, and convincing GDub to read the entire report by the Iraq Study Group.

The Mighty Continue to Fall Award
There are those that say that the closing of a web-based fansite is a tragic, yet beautiful moment. True, those that say such things don't count in the many, but they do exist. That will make, for those individuals, January 31, 2007 a tragically beautiful day, as one of the top Britney Spears fansites, closes. And with so many alcohol fueled nipple slips remaining in her career, too. So long, we hardly knew ye.

Best of Both Worlds Award
This prize easily goes to GDub, for being able to top the AP-AOL poll as both the best villain and best hero of 2006. Just proves that The Decider really does reach across party lines. Honorable mentions for villain included Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, and Karl Rove. Honorable mentions for heroes? Well, the cast of Heroes, which is fitting, given their characters.

Bang Your Head Award
We've got to hand it to the Chinese. Suffering through a slow recovery to their telecom systems in the wake of recent earthquakes, they've found a new way of telling when a quake might strike, by watching a group of head-bangers. No, not metal enthusiasts, but snakes. By observing the snakes, the Chinese scientists can predict an earthquake days in advance. They can also predict another horrifying Poison reunion tour.

Happiness is a Warm Puppy Award
Apparently, in Germany, happiness can also be gathered by selling said warm puppy to a bar owner, in exchange for beer. That's exactly what an unemployed man did while walking his 6-year-old stepdaughter's pet beagle. Funny, we really expected this story to be originating in Ireland, not Germany.

Well, at Least We Know Award
Sometimes, we find out that we needed information we didn't realize we needed. Other times, we learn that the most popular name for dogs in NYC is Max. No word on the most popular name for dogs later redeemed for beer.

Enhancing Stereotypes Award
We give this award to Toxoplasma gondii, which is a parasite apparently found in 40% of the world's population. While dangerous to the unborn and to those with weak immune systems, the overall symptoms of the parasite appear to be causing men to have lower IQs and act more boorish, while women infected with the parasite tend to appear more attractive and confident to the opposite sex. This skews the standard belief that all that was needed to make a woman more attractive was to find a brainy girl, and take off her glasses while letting down her hair.

But He Seemed So Normal Award
This one goes to Mike Tyson, who seemed so normal, refined, and in control until we found out that he was recently arrested for DUI and cocaine possession. Now, we all realize that he's just trying to be like Nicole Richie, but really, the voice already isn't doing him any favors. If only he could find some outlet for his problems... say, boxing, perhaps.

The Canon Is After Me Award
We don't like to admit that, every once in awhile, we surf YouTube. Mostly because 99.9% of the stuff posted on YouTube makes Charlie Sheen look like Lawrence Olivier. That being said, every once in awhile, something brilliant comes across; something that makes us laugh and think. Rob Paravonian has done just that. Enjoy.

Well, that wraps up our final awards for the 2006 calendar year. Remember, it's never too late to make a resolution for the New Year. Our resolution? To keep reading the news while finding the funny, and maybe holding off on shots until AFTER we've updated the CSM. After all, we've gotta balance the coffee somehow. Stay safe out there.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Year End looks ahead

Over here at The Coffee-Soaked Mind, we've been pondering what to do for our final top ten list of 2006. Sure, we could talk about the Top Ten Breakfast Cereals of 2006, or the Top Ten Worst Soda Flavors, but we want to be different. We want to break ground. And, since we've got our weekly awards coming up tomorrow, we've decided to try a new approach. With that said, we now present to you all:

The Top Ten Things to Look Forward to in 2007

10. Academy Award Candidates for 2008
Yes, we admit that we're looking over a year in advance for this one, but we've got a sneaking suspicion that, in an attempt to keep Martin Scorcese from winning an Oscar, the cabal of Spielberg, Howard, Columbus and Eastwood will release approximately seven movies apiece, with the releases falling anywhere from the beginning of October to the end of November. The bigger shock will be when the Best Director Oscar is awarded to first-time director Jennifer Love Hewitt.

9. It's not an election year
True, people are already drooling at the prospect of voting more people out of office, but you have to admit that 2007 being an off-year for campaigning is something to look forward to. The best reason behind this? The lack of political commercials.

8. Cadbury Creme Eggs
You know you look forward to those every single year. Why should 2007 be any different?

7. The New Fall Schedule
Watch as the networks try to figure out how to capitalize on what worked in 2006, only to either simply fail, or to inundate the airwaves with look-alike shows. Expect CBS to continue their trend of fairly pathetic traditional sitcoms, interspersed with reality television, while NBC announces a new game show, where contestants are superpowered individuals competing against lawyers in an attempt to appear on a show within a show.

6. Justin Timberlake
You scoff. Don't deny it, because I can hear you scoffing from over here. And yet I'm here to tell you that JT may just be one of the people you need to watch in 2007. After all, he did single-handedly bring "sexy" back (as he'll tell you), and then was confident enough in its recovery to allow others to finish easing it back to life. In 2007, expect Timberlake to bring back "suave" and "Jell-O pudding pops", while Jared Leto attempts to bring "androgynous" back.

5. Insert Local Sports Team Here
We all know that every new season, there's a revitalized interest in local sports. Every year, the fans believe that the team will be the best its ever been, and that a championship is within their grasp. And, by the end of the season, most of those hopes have been utterly destroyed, causing most fans to curse the names of their hometeam's biggest stars. But have faith... a new season is just around the corner!

4. Sony vs. Microsoft vs. Nintendo
Now that all three console makers have their next-generation machines on the market, a true battle royale can begin, allowing gamers to decide who reigns supreme. The obvious winners? Pepsi Cola and Frito-Lay, for making Mountain Dew and Doritos respectively.

3. That awkward conversation in April
Whether this is with a coworker, family member, close friend, or just some person on the street, you can truly enjoy this conversation for what it holds; a long, uncomfortable pause, followed by one or both parties trying desperately to explain their position while slowly losing more ground with the other. You'll laugh about it. Eventually. Like while drunk in July.

2. KFed suffering crushing defeat
No, I'm not talking about the match scheduled for WWE's Raw on January 1. Ok, I'm not just talking about the match. I'm talking about the concept that everywhere KFed goes, little pieces of his previous life will continue to fall away, until he is left the nothing he was before we ever knew he existed. Somewhere, there's a picture of Kevin Federline, and it just keeps getting more talented as time goes past.

1. The end of 2007
By the time that everything mentioned above has come to pass, or been skipped over because someone stepped on a butterfly, causing all of the future to change, you'll be hoping and waiting for the beginning of 2008. Why? Because every New Year's Day is a chance to start over and go in a new direction, and, just like every previous year, you're going to want to take that chance and embrace it. At least until February.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

More from the Year End

Well, we got ourselves started down this slippery slope, and there's nowhere to go but further on down the road. Anyone who thinks that they can only put together one top-ten list at the end of the year is foolish. In many ways, it's just like eating potato chips. Sure, you could only eat one, but you're just going to want to go back for more, no matter how strong your resolve. So let's get underway with our second list, shall we?

The Top Ten Gimmicks in 2006

10. The PC vs. Mac commericals.
Overall, this gimmick was a great idea that fell a little short in actual execution. Far too many people found the "PC" more identifiable and pleasant, while many found the "Mac" to be rather smarmy and irritating. In many ways, the tone of the ad reflected the tone of many users, and simply reinforced stereotypes about the PC/Mac difference, instead of opening up a new demographic. Still, Apple is reluctant to give up, and they continue to send new commercials to the airwaves, albeit with fewer comments from "Mac". If this gimmick continues, expect to see "Mac" say nothing at all, and possibly get little to no screen time, while "PC" gets winded running on a treadmill.

9. "Indecent" photographs
Celebrities (and even some non-celebrities) the world over had a banner year in 2006 for being shown without underwear, or just in various states of inebriation. Somehow, each time that this happened, it did nothing to hamper their careers, and served in a few cases to revitalize a previously stagnant interest. Of course, Miss Nevada should be able to use her most recent photos to skyrocket all the way into the realm of Hooters waitress, or pop princess. Both seem to require about the same level of talent.

8. Person of the Year
Time magazine created a huge buzz for themselves when they named "You" the person of the year. And we're still talking about it, not just the fact that it was done, but the overall insanity of making such a declaration. If that doesn't prove it's a good gimmick, I don't know what does.

7. Top Ten Lists
Come on. Everyone's doing it. Heck, even your second-grade teacher probably has a top ten list out there somewhere. True, these things have been around since Og first established his list of the Top Ten Animals to Smash With Rocks, but they're never really going away. Besides, on a list of top gimmicks, how can you not include the concept of a list itself?

6. Racial slurs and public apologies
Ah, Mel Gibson, Andy Dick, Michael Richards, George Allen, and Judith Regan, amongst others. You've all started a new trend amongst the movers and shakers in the industry. By simply throwing together a tirade against one particular race (seemingly either Jewish or black works best) and then making public your apology, you can do what other celebrities did by showcasing naked pieces of their body, and you got people to care. Well, except for Andy Dick. But then nobody's cared about him since before NewsRadio went off the air. And nevermind about George Allen.

5. Green Screening
Stephen Colbert did it. The Decemberists did it. And that kicked off a challenge between the two, vying for supremacy in the world of the green screen. How much more brilliant can the concept of getting fans do all of the hard video editing be? The fact that Colbert and the Decemberists were able to get some simple cross-promotion out of the whole deal just shows how good the gimmick was.

4. Wii Would Like to Play
Even if the Nintendo Wii is a really good game system, it's also a really good gimmick. Getting gamers to be active and actually move their arms (and, theoretically, bodies) while playing games is something previously only attempted by Dance Dance Revolution. And while DDR got a whole new generation to look like dorks while dancing to "Staying Alive", the Wii can get everyone to look even more inept while playing a bowling video game. Sure, there's a problem with the straps for the system, but that's still minor when you realize that the gimmick of the Wii may have kept Nintendo from going the way of Sega.

3. Half-seasons for TV
Lost did it. So did Heroes, Studio 60, Prison Break, Veronica Mars, and others. A number of the shows even referred to their last broadcast before Jan. 1 as being their "fall finale". Is this a way to keep viewers hooked and tied into the storylines by offering an extended run of new episodes in a row, or is this just the networks way of fighting cable series, which aren't tied to the same fall-spring schedule? Whichever thought process drove this type of scheduling, it's working, and viewers find themselves anxiously awaiting the new episodes as soon as they can get here. It also allows the networks to try other series that may never have seen the light of day, and possibly discover a new diamond in the rough. Seems to be panning out better than MyNetworkTV is so far.

2. Kevin Federline
Could there be a bigger gimmick than Kevin Federline? First, the man was famous for having slept with Britney Spears, and getting her knocked up (twice). Then he became famous for how bad his "album" was. Now, after receiving another boost for getting a text message informing him of his divorce, KFed is still somewhat in the public eye, and will be appearing (again) on a WWE broadcast. The gimmick behind this, of course, is that people will watch to see Federline get beat up, even if it's fake, which will only serve to keep his star elevated slightly above the likes of Carrot Top and David Arquette. And even with that, KFed can only take the number two spot on this list.

1. YouTubular
You can't argue that, ultimately, YouTube was a gimmick. A brilliant gimmick in hindsight, but a gimmick nonetheless. When started, there was no indication that the site would reach the heights of popularity that it has. And yet it has achieved such greatness that even the almighty Google yearned for it, snapping it up as deftly as only they could. But what really makes YouTube a great gimmick? The fact that you can see evidence and/or trails of all of the previous gimmicks in a video loaded somewhere onto its site. In fact, if you dig deep enough, you just mind find "Lonelygirl15" not wearing a bra while playing a Heroes game on the Wii, all in front of a green screen, as she spouts racial slurs directed somehow at KFed, before launching into her own top ten list.

Now that's a gimmick.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Year End Begins

Ah, that glorious week between Christmas and New Year's. The time of year where a large part of the population exercises their option to stay away from the office, burning through the last days of their vacation time before they lose it all. That simple week where people, still caught in the good feelings (or intoxication) of one holiday are looking forward to repeating the process all over again in a few short days.

But this week carries with it another responsibility, especially for those of us in the blogosphere. Or for people in the media. Or for anyone that's particularly anal retentive. This week carries with it the need for lists... lists in all shapes and colors, detailing various things about the past year. Well, we here at the Coffee-Soaked Mind are going to partake in this practice, as we know the importance of lists. Still, we're not going to play by the same rules as everyone else. With that said, let's get started... we've got a short week, and we still have to plan out the awards for Friday. Presenting:

The Top Ten Things That Didn't Happen in 2006

10. The New York Yankees won the World Series
Few teams in the world of sports can inspire such fervor and hatred at the same time, sometimes even from the same people. And yet, if anyone can do it, it would have to be a team from New York, NY. While the Mets generally are greeted with indifference, the Yankees are one of the teams for the ages, and their fanbase is along the same lines. People seemed to believe that, by simply spending more than anyone else, they were destined for yet another championship. But no, the Detroit Tigers didn't seem to want to cooperate, saving their collapse for the St. Louis Cardinals. Yankees fans are still in something of a state of shock, and owner George Steinbrenner has reportedly been working on ways to revive both Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth, in his efforts to create a zombie baseball team.

9. Young Hollywood forgot about the existence of underwear
The problem with the notion of the celebutantes forgetting about underwear is that it implies they weren't specifically hoping we'd all get to see what their nether regions looked like. No... these geniuses just couldn't be bothered to keep themselves covered. The trend will unfortunately continue until we see Jared Leto running around without any panties under his skirt.

8. Everyone who wanted one got their Playstation 3 without problems
Yeah, great job on Sony's behalf. Hype something beyond any rational expectations to a subset of the population without any real social skills. Then make them wait in line with other people like them, in the hopes that they would get to be one of the lucky few to spend $600 for a video game system. Add some opportunistic thieves and some truly moronic marketing ploys and you've got a recipe for disaster. And yet, nothing will ever quite rival the person who spent $300 for an Xbox box (video game console not included).

7. Voters delivered a mandate to the White House
Sure, plenty of people believe that the large swing in the balance of power was their way of thumbing their noses at GDub and his crew, especially for the way they handled the war in Iraq. Thing is, to be able to thumb your nose at someone, you need to prove that they have any understanding of your viewpoint. So while the balance of power has shifted, it may take another couple of years before GDub even realizes what's happened.

6. "You" were Time's Person of the Year
No, no, no. "You" fell victim to a marketing ploy by a lazy editorial staff.

5. Global warming was the new black
Sure, we had Al Gore. We had "Happy Feet". We had polar ice caps melting, islands sinking under rising ocean waters, and environmentalists warning about the destruction man had wrought. And yet, at the end of the day, global warming still isn't in the minds of the majority. At best, it's become the next navy blue.

4. There was less overall crazy in the world
Any year that features Tom Cruise as heavily as this past did, especially with regards to his marriage to Katie Holmes, is proof that crazy is alive and well. In fact, it certainly looks like crazy went international in 2006, with a little help from Cruise, Mel Gibson, and Kim Jong-Il.

3. Irony finally, truly died
Even though it certainly appears that irony, along with its close relative sarcasm, has been at death's door for quite awhile now, places like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report have certainly been helping to keep it alive. Even better? The fact that members of the GOP have linked their websites to The Colbert Report, not quite getting that the joke is on them... even after the way Stephen Colbert attacked the press at the White House Correspondents Dinner. On the other hand, stand-up comedy may be about ready to be placed on life support, if Last Comic Standing is any representation of the form.

2. Scarlett Johansson and/or Dakota Fanning appeared in every movie released
Not quite. But it certainly felt like it. All year long. Kind of depressing, because one is simply getting overused, making her looks and talents something that people are starting to get repulsed by, whereas the other is one of those creepy child prodigies, the kind that will simply be attached to every possible role for actors under the age of 16 because they don't sound like an off-balance robot with every line.

1. The world ended
Yes, even though it's sometimes shocking to think, even in light of the things that didn't happen over this past year, existence just keeps plodding on. But hey, look on the bright side. Every year we get closer to achieving this ultimate goal, and I'm sure that when we do, there'll be a future generation that escaped Earth just prior to its destruction, so that a movie can be made of the final days. A movie that will, undoubtedly, star Dakota Fanning and Scarlett Johansson.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of December 18, 2006

Welcome to another weekly awards round-up. During this most festive time of December, we want to extend our holiday wishes to Time's "Person of the Year" because, well, they deserve it. So now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's get this show on the road.

Do You Hear What I Hear Award
We give this award to Jessica Simpson, for once again valiantly trying to perform possibly the most famous song of her idol's. The singer attempted a performance of Dolly Parton's "9 to 5" at the live taping of the Kennedy Center Honors. She then recorded a second attempt. Both times, Simpson made it all the way from 9 to around 10:30 or so and has pulled the performance from any showings of the Honors. This, of course, is a sign of Simpson's dedication to quality, previously only rivaled by her appearance in The Dukes of Hazzard.

A New Mission Award
This award goes to Robin Hayes (R-NC), who has taken a drastically different look at how to win the war in Iraq. Whereas the overall goal behind the conflict has been to spread democracy, Hayes feels that the war won't be won until the "message of Jesus Christ" is brought to the people of the nation. "Everything depends on everyone learning about the birth of the Savior," Hayes has been quoted as saying. Other things that Hayes believes will end the war include letting the children of Iraq know that there is no Easter bunny, and providing the Iraqi troops with bubble gum. After all, who can be angry when they've got bubble gum?

I Let Mel Gibson Ride Shotgun Award
There's nobody who deserves this award more than Judith Regan, who allegedly blamed having been fired from HarperCollins on a Jewish cabal. Of course, she is now denying heavily the claims of anti-Semitism, and also refusing to acknowledge that perhaps the notion of OJ Simpson telling how he might have (did) commit murder wasn't the best marketing decision. Looks like we've finally figured out where Mel Gibson got the "sugartits" idea, although we still don't know how to say it in Mayan.

Michael Richards is a Grinch Award
Oh, woe is the completely made-up holiday, and those who celebrate it. One high-profile Festivus celebrant is WI Governor Jim Doyle, who has been pictured in the past with his sparse, undecorated Festivus pole. The holiday, created on Seinfeld, held a special meaning for Doyle, who now will not be celebrating the holiday due to Michael Richard's racist commentary. Doyle has been quoted as saying, "What am I supposed to do this year without this completely made-up and relatively new holiday? Celebrate Christmas or something? Screw that." He then slammed a mug full of eggnog and started bellowing "Santa Baby" at the top of his lungs.

I Can't Do That, Dave Award
Drivers in Germany seem to be having more problems than recently, and the culprit behind it all is apparently the satellite navigation systems installed in their cars. More specifically, it's the way that these drivers are blindly following the directions given by these systems, leading to them driving into rivers, construction sites, and the like. This just goes to prove that just because you're old enough to drive, it doesn't mean your smart enough to not listen to a computer that can't see the actual conditions of the road. In a related story, Minnesotans panicked recently at the sight of snow. Which they see 8 months a year.

Killer Queen Award
Well, ex-queen, actually. Beauty queens have been taking a harsh rap recently, with Miss USA almost getting de-throned, Miss Teen USA being turned down as a spokesperson for MADD, and now, the news that Miss Nevada has been stripped of her title. Why? Because of new photos in a "Girls Gone Wild" vein, as the pageant winner is shown exposing herself and engaging in sexual contact with other women. Experts are too busy looking at the photos online to have any comment to give.

And with that little piece of holiday cheer, we wrap up another round of awards, our second to last for the year of 2006. We hope you have a good holiday weekend, and that you don't spend too much time in bars trying to drink away the lingering scent of old people from your nose. And hey, if you do, tilt one back for us. We'll be doing the same for you. Stay safe out there.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Don't tell him it's fake

Oh, Kevin Federline. Why must you continually abuse our minds with your existence? And why do you have to go out of your way to prove that you're even less intelligent and talented than we originally thought (a difficult feat, I know)? With the knowledge secure in our heads that being the ex-Mr. Britney Spears would lead to you vanishing from existence, why did you have to show up anywhere again? And People Magazine? Don't think you're getting off the hook easily, because you're just as guilty.

Sure, we could blame someone else, too, but there's a good chance that they're just trying to give the world what it wants. But we can still blame People for continuing to foist K-Fed on us, and we can blame K-Fed for foisting himself on the WWE.

True, in many ways, this seems like a match made in heaven. K-Fed gets to live out what is, in many circles, a white-trash dream, by getting to dress in leather and pretend to beat the snot out of someone, while the fans get to watch this never-been get trounced like he so richly deserves. But you have to wonder if K-Fed even realizes the nature of a professional wrestling match (and yes, this is after he's already appeared in WWE events). Yes, it's fake. Yes, it's scripted. Oh, and yes, most of the professional wrestlers are huge, musclebound, steroid-enhanced monsters who could break someone like Federline in half if he even thought about stepping off-script.

Ultimately, what does a move like this do for either party? Well, for Federline, it succeeds in landing him more television time, something that's evaporating faster than you can say "divorce text message". For the WWE, they get to promote a match between one of their top talents, and a smarmy punk that never earned a cent that he lived off of. And for John Cena, the man who will be facing K-Fed, he gets the pleasure of (again) beating K-Fed, thereby acting as an extension for all of humanity.

Actually, maybe this is a win-win situation. Just as long as the WWE remembers the problems that once sprang up in the wrestling world around David Arquette.

Because, really? Anything that David Arquette touches turns to rot. Just look at Courtney Cox.

Oh, and a happy belated birthday to Polinaut, since they kind of inspired the CSM to get rolling. They just don't have as much snark, and they tend to stay on subject better...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A swift pat on the back

Every year, Time magazine releases their "Person of the Year" issue. Every year, people can look forward to the end of December cover, to find out who Time has decided to enshrine as the most influential member of the human race for the past twelve months. Every year, there is a decision to be made between choosing an archetype, such as 2003's "The American Soldier", and choosing a caricature, such as 2004's "George W. Bush". This year, Time decided to really put all of its eggs in one basket.

Apparently, Time could do no better than to declare that "You" ("We") are the "Person(s) of the Year". The even used the old trick sometimes found in children's books about including a piece of silver mylar so that the reader could see their own image emblazoned into the magazine. At least, until said magazine is thrown onto a coffee table, and the family dog uses it as a bed. At that point, according to the logic of the mylar, the dog's hindquarters will become the "Person(s Body Parts) of the Year".

But could Time have chosen a better choice than "You" ("Us")? Could anyone have possibly had more impact on the past year than humanity? True, the magazine is trying to say that the "You" ("They") that they are referring to are people like "You" ("Me") who have helped to forge what the internet currently is, it's not like they're really keeping people who don't have blogs or a YouTube addiction from being recognized. Also, it's not like you can put mylar on the internet itself, allowing surfers to see themselves recognized on Time's website, thereby already poking a slight hole in the magazine's recognition of "You" ("Everyone").

But really, we should all thank Time for this honor. Who knew that obsessively conversing about reality television and celebrity nipple slips while eating chocolate cake would help us achieve heights of fame previously seen by people ranging from Bono to Adolf Hitler? And, don't worry, all of you who don't get online and make an impact that way. We still see you standing strong, reading the magazines in the check-out aisles of the grocery stores. We are all "Person(s) of the Year", and we can be proud that we beat out everyone else on the planet, who also was recognized in such fashion.

Just proves that we're all special. Just like everyone else.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Potentially counterproductive

Malaysia is tired. Tired of being saddled with Kuala Lumpur as the name of its capital city. Tired of floating along in the South China Sea. Tired of Indonesia getting all the attention in the neighborhood. Tired of the world just not taking them seriously as a tourist destination. So Malaysia is taking matters into their own hands, and they're planning for 2007 to be Visit Malaysia Year. The goal is to eclipse 20 million visitors to the country in the next calendar year. And they've already started the preparations.

They're getting cleaner toilets. Air-conditioned toilets. Self-cleaning toilets. Better toilets.

Now that's something that a tourism board can get behind, if you catch my drift. After all, what better slogan can there possibly be for a tourism campaign than "Malaysia - Now with Shinier Porcelain". Sure beats the stuffing out of Australia's "Where the Hell Are You?" campaign from this past year.

Needless to say, other countries are beginning to take notice, and we may soon see a rash of improvements as nations around the world attempt to lure in tourists. We could find sparkling crystal urinals installed in Monaco, or self-dispensing soap for sinks across China. We could even see toilet paper used in Jordan.

Obviously, Malaysia is taking the initiative in this potentially global effort, to teach the world a very important lesson; a lesson unheard of by Aesop or Giesl. That lesson?

Don't worry about cleaning the bathroom unless you're expecting company.

And I think that's something we can all identify with.

Monday, December 18, 2006

A mid-career crisis

It's a well-known fact that at a middle point of life, many people go through changes. Men are more stereotypically represented by the mid-life crisis, as the image of a new sports car and engaging in younger activities is more than common. Apparently, we can rest assured that careers follow a similar arc, as Tucker Carlson has recently announced a mid-career crisis, changing something previously tied strongly into his image.

No, I'm not talking about his image-skewing appearance on Dancing with the Stars. I'm talking about his decision to let loose and get rid of the bowtie that has been so iconic to him.

Obviously, this is a huge step in the evolution of Tucker, as he sees the younger audiences that are so important to television being drawn away by other newscasters, such as Bill O'Reilly, Keith Olbermann, and Samantha Bee. The bow tie was a bit off-putting, and didn't seem to mesh with the rather aggressive style he hosts his show. Now, however, the gloves, or more specifically, the outdated pieces of neckwear, are off.

On a related note, the fact that Tucker Carlson has decided to set down the bowtie drops to an all-time low the number of potential bow-tie wearing Halloween costumes for 2007. While we still may see the bowtie by people dressing as James Bond (or Barney Frank), there aren't many more options. Let's hold out hope that someone else will revive this little-used piece of fashion.

If only to give the kids something else to make fun of.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of December 11, 2006

First off, let's just get the ball rolling with a quick Happy Holidays to one and all. See, here at CSM, we're equal opportunity in our holiday greetings, not wanting to exclude anyone from our own brand of festive cheer. Well, except for the people who worship goats while standing around a bathtub wearing swim caps and tuxedos. We're just not sure what the heck's going on there, and we don't know how to wish them a happy anything.

Alright... let's move on. Only 30 more shopping minutes until the end of the awards posting!

Hand Me the Remote Award
In a recent study, the US Census Bureau came to the astonishing realization that Americans aren't exercising enough, as evidenced by the fact that they spend on average 10 hours per day watching television, reading a book, or doing some other sedentary activity. Next year, the census will report that American's are also sick of pointless "studies" that tell them what they already know.

The Kids Are Alright Award
In one of the most brilliant public relations moves ever conceived, Al Jazeera allowed themselves to be "skewered" by The Daily Show's Samantha Bee. Specifically, they allowed Bee to interact with newscasters from their (relatively new) English language channel, in an attempt to garner more viewers. By playing with Bee as opposed to against, Al Jazeera may have opened themselves up to wider exposure than they could otherwise have gotten. In a related story, FOXNews is looking to open themselves up to more viewers by having Sean Hannity appear on an episode of The 700 Club.

Like a Baby Award
We give this to GDub, for a comment made during an interview. True, the linked story features a number of comments about Cheney's imminent new granddaughter, but near the end of the article, there's a question regarding how the President sleeps. His response was, "a lot better than people would assume." The only thing about this that should surprise anyone is that GDub didn't answer the question by saying, "On my side with my teddy."

Midnight in the Garden State Award
We only say midnight because, chronologically, midnight is the start of a new day, and it appears that New Jersey is doing just that. The Garden State recently became the third state to allow civil unions between gay and lesbian couples, with Massachusetts being the only state to allow gay marriage. All four states on this particular boat are in the Northeast part of the country, causing people in San Fransisco to all contemplate moving to the opposite corner of the United States at the same time.

Creepy. Just Creepy Award
We give this to Marc Jacobs, fashion designer. Apparently, in attempting to market his newest line of clothes, Jacobs decided that the most appropriate model for his adult fashions was Dakota Fanning. The 12 year-old. Wearing specially made sizes of adult fashions. While being 12. Nevermind the film being produced that includes a rape scene with her. Nevermind that she's being overexposed so much she makes Scarlett Johansson look unemployed. It's just creepy and wrong that this child is being marketed this way. Meanwhile, keep your eyes peeled for the next big thing, as Fanning will be over-the-hill in the Hollywood sense by the time she has to wear her first bra.

Blondes Have More Fun Award
We give this to Tara Conner, who is in danger of losing her Miss USA crown (and, by now, may have already lost it) for "bad behavior". Apparently, the notion of a 20-year old blonde internationally renowned for her looks engaging in questionable moral activities never really occurred to the pageant promoters. Other things that they never realized? Straight men like the images of women in bikinis.

Leveling the Playing Field Award
This award goes to the Hollywood Foreign Press for their Golden Globe nominations, and specifically for proving once and for all that favoritism in Hollywood no longer exists. After all, I'm sure that nominating people in competition with themselves is merely a tactic to make the other nominees stand out more to the voters. Tune in next year, when Clive Owen is nominated four times for best actor, with the fifth nomination going to Owen's body double from The 300.

With that, we just can't really dig any further. Well, we could, but we're getting sleepy. All of the excitement over whether or not we'd get nominated for an award of our own this week kind of took the wind out of our sails. But hey, we don't play favorites, and we made sure to give the awards to the more deserving recipients. Come on back next week, when holiday festivities will undoubtedly be spilling all over the 'net. Until then, stay safe out there.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

It's in the stars

Insurance adjustors are always trying to spot trends among drivers. They try to figure out which activities lead to the most accidents, what types of road conditions cause the worst driving, and so on. Now, may have stumbled on yet another cause for accidents, and a penchant for somewhat reckless driving.

As our title says, it's in the stars.

That's right, according to the company's president, Lee Romanov, whatever sign of the zodiac you were born under is an indication of what kind of driver you'll end up being. Previously, phrases like "What's your sign?" were reserved for sleazy bars or other pick-up joints. Now, people may start seeing the phrase at sleazy auto dealers and other pickup joints.

This could lead to an interesting future for people hoping to not watch their children saddled with high insurance premiums. Just imagine, a world where Leos and Geminis are the most common astrological signs, because an insurance company pegged them as the safest drivers, compared to other signs. And woe to the people who tried so carefully to give birth to their good driver, only to have the baby come early, and they are saddled with a middle-of-the-road Taurus.

Of course, over in China, there's another study being done. As it turns out, in the Far East, the Horse and the Dragon are better drivers, while the Goat and the Rat get a lot of tickets. I guess our astrology really does matter more than where we live.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Not popular enough to cause a fight

First, it was Mel Gibson, with his anti-Semitic commentary chalked up to a drunken accident. Then it was Michael Richards, with his racist diatribe in response to a couple of hecklers during an ultimately unfunny set. After two incidents that actually sparked some levels of debate and discussion nationwide, we were given the gift of Andy Dick trying to prove that he, like Richards, can make apologies for being racist (when really, he should make apologies for being untalented and still taking up valuable screen time). Finally, there was a report recently that Pauly Shore was physically attacked during a stand-up show, due to comments made, once again, to a heckler.

Only it doesn't seem like that's really the case. Shore no longer registers high enough on anyone's radars to provoke an attack, even if he is a complete jerk to the audience, without paying someone to be part of it. At least, that's according to police in Odessa, TX, who say that the video of Shore being hit in the face was a fake, and that the entire thing was a skit.

Pauly, Pauly, Pauly... when will you learn? We stopped paying attention to you a long time ago, and the notion of you getting hit in the face is not going to bring any pity your direction. In fact, if any of us remember any of the films you made, we might think that you getting punched is a fitting punishment for the pain you caused us. True, you have more influence than Andy Dick (who's "attack" and confession weren't even blips on people's radars), but you're not important enough to get us to feel bad.

Perhaps Pauly Shore would have had more success with his "skit" if he'd channeled a character named "Tony Clifton", and made sure to hire someone who could make the punch look real. If he wants to do this again, I'm sure that there are a lot of people who would be more than happy to make sure that punching Shore in the face plays at the heights of realism.

Just because we still haven't forgiven him for BioDome. Yes, Stephen Baldwin, you're on the list, too.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Making hunting more interesting

Texas State Representative Edmund Kuempel is interested in equality. He doesn't think that people should be denied certain activities just because of handicaps that they may have to deal with. Representative Kuempel is proving his dedication to fairness by introducing a new measure to the Texas legislature that he's hoping will pass quickly in January.

The Kuempel measure is to allow the blind to hunt.

When asked about the measure, Kuempel was quoted as saying, "This opens up the fun of hunting to additional people," which is true, technically. And true, the blind would be forced to hunt with a sighted partner, one who would help them to aim and steady the rifle. But darnit, those blind hunters would be able to pull the trigger, and what can be more fun than realizing that you've just blown a hole in an animal?

Now before anyone gets up in arms about this, I want to make it clear that I am not opposed to hunting. I am, however, opposed to crazy ideas like letting blind people anywhere near a loaded firearm. Or behind the wheel of a car. For the record, I'm opposed to idiots running governments, too, but too many people disagree with me on that notion (course, it may simply be the job that makes otherwise intelligent people turn into idiots, but we haven't found proof of that yet).

Back to the subject at hand. In Texas, there is a good chance that the blind will be allowed to hunt, especially given the overall popularity of hunting throughout the state. This could easily be picked up by other states with large hunting traditions, leading us to a nation of blind hunters, making things even more dangerous for the already on-alert drunken hunter our forefathers knew about. And, in an epic confrontation between drunks and the blind, is there really any winner?

What's next? The deaf are going to be music producers and talent scouts? Oh wait... we already have American Idol.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Three of Four Horsemen Identified

This shouldn't come as much of a surprise, but the folks at Disney, the same folks who originally talked about bailing completely from the project in question, are now promoting both Mel Gibson and his violent vision, Apocalypto. The Mouse is even in an Oscar push, which should be unsurprising given the nature of the film, and Gibson's own track record with the little golden guy. However, the tactic Disney is using to campaign for the film is a bit, well, out of the ordinary.

They're taking the time to remind the Academy that Mel Gibson is by no means as bad as Roman Polanski or Woody Allen.

While it's true that drunken, mostly incoherent anti-Semitic ramblings are in a completely different playing field than any sort of sexual contact between an adult and a child (or a parent and their step-child), that's part of the problem. It's a different playing field. The instances aren't similar enough to be compared in such a way, let alone to try and use the transgressions of others as proof that you're guy just isn't that bad.

Although, it's possible that Disney is simply trying to be benevolent, and that the Great Mouse is looking out for us all. How are we supposed to know that they aren't specifically tying Gibson, Polanski, and Allen together to warn us? Isn't it possible that the director of Apocalypto could be part of a group of Men of Crisis who are Frantic as they try to usher in the end times? Could it be that the Disney corporation knows that the Four Horsemen are already amongst us, with Michael Richards filling in for the little-recognized Pestilence?

Or is this just another example of what has become all too prevalent in our world, where the crimes of one person are exploited by an outside organization to make the crimes of another person seem lesser by comparison? Disney has proven, in one swift, calculated move that they aren't above playing dirty to try and get what they want. Which, ultimately, makes them no different from Miramax (no, they haven't been forgiven for Shakespeare in Love).

Now seriously, how do you say "sugartits" in Mayan?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of December 4, 2006

We return for another installment of the Coffee-Soaked Awards. While we don't expect to be quite as long-winded as we were last week, we still aim to please, so let's get the ball rolling, shall we?

So Long, and Thanks for the Raise Award
With another session of Congress almost completed, one pressing issue seems to be hanging over the lame duck legislators. This issue? Whether or not to pass a pay raise. The Dems are claiming that they're going to try and stop the raise from going through, while the GOP believes that the raise is justified as a cost-of-living increase. Other curiosities for many legislators at present include the price of frozen pizzas, and the availability of housing in their home districts.

Keep it in the Family Award
We give this award to former Iowa Congressmen Ed Mezvinsky, who is currently in prison for fraud tied into Nigerian e-mail scams. Mezvinksy allegedly stole from clients and his own mother-in-law in an attempt to find the one 419 scam that was going to lead to his long-term wealth. Mezvinsky even used his son Marc's relationship with Chelsea Clinton to help bilk money to send overseas. With rumors that Chelsea and Marc are contemplating marriage, Ed Mezvinsky was quoted as saying, "I wonder if Bill will help with a loan. I understand that Barrister Mfume needs my help transfering $21.7M."

Everything's Coming Up Rosie Award
This one goes out to Rosie O'Donnell, who has not only reinvigorated her career by appearing on The View, but may get to reprise her role as "large naked woman" on a more full-time basis for Nip/Tuck. O'Donnell has taken the extra screen time to point out her love for Tom Cruise and taken an "I'm better than other lesbians" stance. Barbara Walters was quoted as saying, "That's just Wosie being Wosie. We aw wove hew wowk. Whewe awe my teeth? I'm a newscastew..."

How Embarassing Award
What's worse than showing up to a reception wearing the same dress as another woman? How about when three other women are wearing the gown? And you're the First Lady? This happened recently at a White House holiday reception. When asked about the incident, Laura Bush responded with, "How the hell should I know about it? And since when is this news?" George reportedly had his bedtime story read by all four women, alternating through the pages so as to keep from confusing him.

I'm Not Listening, La La La La Award
This award goes out to GDub, for the way he has responded to the recent study on the way that the Iraq War has been handled. Basically, because the committee, headed up by long-time Bush friend James Baker, told The Decider things he didn't want to hear, he's going to ignore the findings, going so far as to say that "Jim Baker can go back to his day job." GDub has a history of ignoring reports, such as the reports about his twin daughters not following in his own drug- and alcohol-laced footsteps, or that he shouldn't really wipe his nose on his jacket.

Lesbians are Mothers, Too Award
We give this award to Mary Cheney, who has announced a recent pregnancy with her long-time partner, Heather Poe. Conservative groups are fighting over the notion of a gay couple raising a child. Gay rights groups are feeling that this is just desserts for conservatives that sought to ban gay unions. Meanwhile, VPCheney praised his lesbian daughter's pregnancy, because children with only one legal parent fuel his soul machine better than other babies.

Didn't We See This on Studio 60? Award
The recipient for this award is Jennifer Hudson, star of the upcoming Dream Girls. In recent interviews, Hudson proclaimed homosexuality a sin, because the Bible says so, but then also said that she personally has no issues with it, thereby almost exactly mirroring the character portrayed by Sarah Paulson on Studio 60 from the Sunset Strip. When questioned about this, Hudson responded by saying, "Listen, it's not like I'm paraphrasing the words of that Corddry kid."

It's Not the Size Award
After last week's award for the spray-on condoms, how could we not pass an award to the Indian Council of Medical Research, for their findings that approximaely 60% of the men in Mumbai were unable to use condoms set to international standards. Apparently, the international specifications were a little, um, large for Indian men, in some cases by a couple of inches. In light of this recent study, aptly titled, "Indian Men Don't Measure Up", I think it's abundantly clear where the test market for last week's Germans should be. Oh, and to any Indian readers out there? Sincere apologies for using the word "abundantly".

Well, that wraps up another week's look at the news, complete with our scatter-shot approach to delivering the stories to you. We'll see you next week, as we inch ever closer to the inevitable Santa Claus story, and we keep hoping for something white to appear on the ground. Until then, stay safe out there.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Signs of the Apocalypto

First, The Passion of the Christ was accused of being anti-Semitic before the movie ever saw the light of day. Then came the whole experience with the Jewish police officer and the alcohol. Now, the descendants of the Mayan empire have a beef with him.

Things just haven't been going well for Mel Gibson recently.

While Apocalypto and Gibson have received some praise for their usage of the Mayan language, and for the casting of mostly indigenous actors, there is still quite a bit of uproar revolving around the film. The fact that, at least in the trailers, the characters are pictured as being fairly savage, and engaging in the practice of sacrifices makes those of Mayan descent feel that Gibson is once again putting forward a racist epic. The same comments that haunted The Passion of the Christ are now being levied against the new film.

While there may be a hint of truth behind this, I think it's important to underline what Gibson is actually doing, and that is creating an overly self-important film. After all, it's one thing to be reading subtitles for a film that was produced completely by (and for) people that don't speak your native tongue. It's still another to be reading subtitles because the director has decided, ever since he fabricated a story about Scotland, that he's important and powerful enough to film the entire movie using what has mostly become a dead language. What's next for Gibson? Is he going to regale us with a sweeping documentary about the Crusades, with the entire soundtrack in Latin? At least with Latin, a few more people globally will recognize and understand without missing half the action because they're reading the bottom of the screen.

So yes, Mel Gibson has once again made an offensive movie. But not because it may or may not be racist. Apocalypto will be offensive because it will have an extended running time, and it will be used to preen the feathers of an overly egomaniacal director, one who feels that he can get away with the conceit of using a mostly dead language because, well, his film is just so darned important.

Now, how do you say "sugar tits" in Mayan?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

5 Days a Week

That's how many days the House of Representatives may have work, if those rascally Democrats get their way. The new schedule being proposed would have the Reps in Washington by 6:30pm Monday for voting, and leaving around Friday at 2pm. Quite a difference from the work week adhered to last year, by a Congress that managed to work fewer days than the "Do-Nothing Congress" of 1948.

The new schedule is meant to make the House look more like a standard business, thereby causing less of a feeling of displacement. After all, when the standard worker is busy slaving through a five-day work week (sometimes more), why should the elected officials be able to work for three days (at most)? Still, many elder statesment, specifically within the GOP, don't like the concept of actually working for five days straight, with only two days off.

Early criticisms include that the Dems in charge of the scheduling are anti-family, because having to work Monday-Friday weakens marriages. There has also been rumbling that, by forcing more time spent in Washington, the Dems are weakening Congress overall. The line of thinking on that seems to be that increased workload at the Capitol and less time amongst the people who voted for you will cause quicker burn-out, and lead to less efficient lawmaking.

One could actually argue the point that Congress should have a shorter work week, provided that the short week turned into productivity. Not to say that the longer week will provide that either, but at least we know that the schedule held by the House of Representatives last year wasn't anywhere near enough for them to get their work done, as proven by the fact that they didn't do much, aside from pass themselves another pay raise and deny an increase to minimum wage. Still, is a longer work week truly the answer?

Perhaps it would be smarter to force Congress to actually be held accountable for the work that they were sent to Washington to do. Maybe establishing some sort of pay rate based off of achievements, as opposed to a flat-rate for all senators. Let's make Congress more like professional sports, with incentive packages, and possibly even signing bonuses for those legislators primed to take an early lead in governing.

Otherwise, we're just going to end up with Congresspeople calling in sick to work, because they just can't bear to face another bill that doesn't directly benefit them or their friends. And do we really need more elected officials acting? After all, that's what campaign season is for.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I'm loving it

Recent news lets us know that McDonald's, long the bastion of grease and a certain flaunting of an unhealthy attitude, has decided that it's time to revamp their children's play areas. They have begun inserting mini-gyms in place of the playlands in a few restaurants already, looking to get the kids stuffing themselves on Happy Meals to stuff themselves into the R Gym for stationary biking or other fitness activities.

Of course, once the R Gym is seen at McDonald's outside of California, people will begin to look differently at the fast-food outlet. They'll stop seeing just the Big Mac, or the Supersize of fries and a soft drink. Instead, they'll see that McDonald's really cares. About our children, and their health. McDonald's wants our kids to exercise, to keep them from becoming obese, and to assert their dominance over other fast-food restaurants in the battle over who cares more about their customers' well-being. After all, Wendy's may have salads, but McDonald's has the R Gym.

Or people will see through the shameless attempt to polish an image tarnished by years of overweight clientele and health risks associated with their food, and ignore the latest publicity stunt. After all, people aren't hitting McDonald's because they want something healthy... they go to McDonald's because they want something quick and inexpensive. So McDonald's? Get your gyms out of our ball pits.

On second thought, keep 'em there. If we can get the kids motivated to do something, it should save you money in the long run. After all, if you keep the future generations thin enough, you won't have to renovate your stores with bigger doors and more clearance around the cash registers. Now that's forward thinking.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Those voters are just crazy

There's a new scientific study out, and it will certainly help fuel the fires of many who find themselves in disagreement (or sometimes outright disgust) at GDub and his administration. The study, conducted by Christopher Lohse, indicates that the more severe the mental illness in a patient, the more likely they were to have voted for the current President.

Of course, this will cause people to jump to the statement that, well, you'd have to be crazy to vote for Bush. We here at the CSM would like to put forward the concept that the only people who are really crazy are those that would like to vote for him yet again... in 2008. We know that he can't run for the office again (at least, not until 2012), but that doesn't stop people out there from thinking that everything will just go smoothly if only we can keep The Decider in office.

Back to the study, though. As it turns out, the connection between the severity of the mental illness and the proclivity to have voted for Bush wasn't discovered until much later in the process. Mr. Lohse was merely trying to gather a way of registering mentally ill voters, and gauging their awareness on things such as current events. Of course, it should also be noted that those who supported Bush had less awareness of the current issues than those who supported Kerry.

Ultimately, as Lohse himself points out, "Our study shows that psychotic patients prefer an authoritative leader.” While GDub may not be the best leader this country's ever seen, it's hard to argue with the notion of him being authoritative. He stands by a concept firmly, refusing to budge, even in the face of facts pointing out the error of his ways. He firmly says how something will go, and proceeds to only change his stance when the winds of change blow favorably for him. He may not come out smelling like roses, but at least we can never accuse him of waffling on the issues.

Still, is it comforting or frightening to realize that the current President holds the favoritism of not only the religious right and big business, but of the more mentally ill portions of our society? Looks like it's time for the Democrats to start embracing their own brand of lunacy.

I hear Howard Dean isn't doing all that much these days. Maybe he should get together with Ross Perot...

Friday, December 01, 2006

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of November 27, 2006

Wow. Another Friday has fallen upon us here at the Coffee-Soaked Mind, and it's another Friday where we find ourselves sitting in front of our computers, as opposed to last week, where we were still soaking up the inherent laziness now associated with the Thanksgiving holiday. True, we deprived everyone last week, but that's why we're going to jump into our awards ceremony without further ado. And without gift bags (not that anyone would accept a CSM gift bag, honestly).

Marriage Made in Heaven, Divorce Made in Kazakhstan Award
The recent news that Kid Rock and Pamela Anderson are already heading down the divorce trail didn't really come as a shock to anyone with a pulse and more awareness than Anna Nicole Smith. However, the notion that the two are getting divorced because of Borat seems a little far-fetched, even for these two epitomes of white trashiness. When reminded that Borat is merely a character, Kid Rock replied with, "Oh yeah? Well, uh, in your face," proving that the wordsmith that once rhymed "out west" with "fake breasts" is still alive and well.

On Second Thought, I'll Just Have Peanuts Award
This award goes to the Department of Homeland Security, for the recent admission of another program to gather information on terror suspects. Called the Automated Targeting System, it includes a number of different subjects based off of travel, such as how the tickets were paid for, history of one-way travel, and even the meals they ate, with all this information being compiled to find a terror score. With this recent development, hospital food is now only four times as unappealing as airline food, a severe drop from recent years.

One Nation Under Our God Award
We give this to all the people in the United States who have an issue with Congressman-elect Keith Ellison (D-MN) for requesting that he be sworn in on the Qu'ran. Apparently the notion of a Muslim being sworn in on his religion's holy book is offensive to the Bible-bangers out there. Nevermind the notion of freedom of religion assured in the Constitution. We simply have to remember that Ellison's request is actually trying to destroy the moral fabric of America. Other things that are slowly destroying the moral fabric of America include unwarrented searches, unjustified attacks, and unattainable electronics.

I Like Kurt Russell Movies, and Universal Health Care Award
This goes out to the growing number of Democratic candidates who are already vying for the opportunity to lose the chance to become President by posting profiles on MySpace and similar sites. This trend has also reached into candidates creating messages for podcasting purposes. Keep your eyes open for Hilary Clinton's profile, which will naturally assure the American people that a) it's time for a new direction for this country, and b) Janet Reno's a man, baby.

This is Not Funny Award
We give this to the people of Ohio, for the way that they unintentionally made things difficult for a news crew during election season. After all, when Borat (he sneaks in everywhere, doesn't he) is the big talk of the country, it can never be easy for a legitimate Kazakh newscrew attempting to create a documentary about voting. The poor newscrew even included a cameraman named "Bolat", who was forced to regale the onlookers with stories about how his mother did not actually drink horse urine. Students at Ohio State University, when informed by the State Department that the crew was legitimate, stated, "Aw, man... we were hoping to score some free beer for being made to look like asses. Hey look, kegger!"

People, People, It's Just a Game Award
We give this to the overzealous gamers who have been experiencing problems with their Nintendo Wii's. Not only have controllers flown from the gamers hands, crashing into (and sometimes through) televisions and beer glasses, but the motion detection technology has also lead to things along the lines of tennis elbow. When asked, some Wiithusiasts were quoted as saying, "Dude, who knew that moving would hurt so much?" They were also shocked that they had enough strength after a steady diet of Mt. Dew and Doritos to cause any damage with the controllers.

The Devil's in the Details Award
We give this to Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, for admitting something about his speech in September which may have cost his country a seat on the UN Security Council. During the speech, Chavez verbally ripped apart GDub, including calling the American president a drunkard, a donkey, and the devil. According to Chavez, the speech was spur-of-the-moment, and none of the accusations were planned. Chavez did not refute whether or not he believed them. Other world leaders are now breathing sighs of relief, by realizing that they can also claim all of the name-calling they've done towards GDub or his Cabinet were simply spur-of-the-moment, regardless of the pages and pages of notes they may have had working the perfect insult into one of their speeches.

Schoolhouse Rockin' Award
Okay, so it's not really rocking, but some schools in Wyoming are trying to get their programs rolling. Students with perfect or near-perfect attendance rates can find themselves eligible to win cars from the schools, in an initiative to increase attendance overall. Students with less-than-perfect attendance records can find themselves entered into drawings to receive roller skates. No word on whether the No Child Left Behind Act will enforce that the students winning vehicles will now be expected to give rides to their less-privileged classmates.

Don't Forget Your Spray Can Award
This award is handed to German sex educators, who are looking into technology to produce spray-on condoms, for easier use and higher customization. While the cost for these products will be higher than that of standard condoms, the hope is that the ease of use would help offset those concerns. The question being raised is how to fit the spray-can into a wallet, just in case.

What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate Award
We give this award to GDub and Jim Webb, for their "conversation" regarding Webb's son, who is currently fighting in Iraq. The two were unable to actually converse for the most part, causing Webb to be tempted to "slug the President". Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed, and neither man was punched or arrested. Webb should be aware from this point forward that "How is your son doing?" is code for "Tell me your son is fine." Oddly enough, GDub saying "There is no civil war in Iraq" is also code, translating to "I love me some pie. Mmm pie!"

Thinking Outside the Globe Award
We give this to Stephen Hawking, for once again pointing out his belief that mankind will need to leave planet Earth if we are to survive. It's a well-known fact that Stephen Hawking is much smarter than most of the rest of the planet, so there may be something to this comments. It's also a well-known fact that wearing a red shirt in space is a bad idea. Expect sales of blue and green fabric to skyrocket.

And with that, we leave this week behind us. It's been busy, and we're sure that next week will be just as action-packed. Hang on to your Wii, and stay safe out there.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Dude, it's like, your move

Finally, drug testing is being taken seriously, especially at the Asian Games. How can we tell? Well, when the international body governing tournament chess has decided that it's fed up with the possibility of drug-enhanced players, we know that the epidemic is finally going to be curtailed.

Wait. That can't be right. Pardon me while I check the story again.

Yep. It's right. Chess players gearing up for the Asian Games this December are facing the possibility of drug tests after rounds. This really is getting serious.

After all, think about it. Drugs can be used to enhance physical performance, as so many baseball players have proven recently. But can they possibly be used to enhance the game of mental athletes? Could there be a wonder drug out there that will give chess players an unfair advantage over the non-dopers in their little world?

When one thinks of chess, one tends to picture a fairly slow moving game, with very carefully thought out moves. When one thinks of drug use, the notion of carefully thought out is generally carefully tossed out the window. And yet we have to worry about chess players doping for an edge.

Of course, now I can't help but picture chess being played by a couple of stoners. Although I'm sure that checkmate was declared after either a) the first player was able to king one of his pawns, a la checkers, b) the pizza showed up, or c) that really kicking Phish song started playing on the radio.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

And go to your room without dessert

The United States has taken a new tactic in its campaign to bring North Korea around to the GDub way of thinking. Now, instead of simply banning sale and transport of weapons and military supplies, the US is looking into depriving Kim Jong-Il of items such as iPods and Segway scooters. These luxury sanctions are aimed specifically at the North Korean leader, as the items being withheld are purported to be personal favorites of his, and yet are not widely available to the rest of the country.

Let's just slow down for a second, and make sure that we all caught what the US government is proposing. We'll be taking away Kim Jong-Il's toys, thereby beginning what could be termed the first-ever global grounding of a parent angry with the bratty behavior of a child. Not to say that the United States is truly the progenitor of the situation in North Korea, but it certainly looks like we've decided that, until KJI listens to us, he's going to be sent to his room.

And boy, just wait until his father gets home.

But honestly, is this really the best idea the United States could have put forth? After all, Kim Jong-Il isn't widely known for his mental stability, and not giving him free reign to his cognac and Jet Skis. Nevermind that these items will most likely continue to be recieved in North Korea from other nations, making the US motion somewhat frivolous. KJI has been known to fly a little off the handle in the past, and perhaps not allowing him to get his PlayStation 3 from the US could provoke another less-than-stable response from the volatile leader.

Then again, maybe this will work. Maybe after all of the attempts at diplomacy and sanctions, all we really needed to do was take away his toys and lock him in his room until he thinks about what he did.

Or maybe he'll climb out the window and egg the neighbors house, like so many troubled teens before him.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Still not ready for prime-time

But, quite possibly, more than ready for happy hour. We are, of course, talking about former Saturday Night Live and current 30 Rock "actor" (we use the term loosely) Tracy Morgan. Morgan has followed up his lack of overall success with SNL by falling into the "Tony Danza Trap"; namely, he plays a character which shares his first name, and is being outshone by older and once-talented castmates. In Danza's case, it was pretty much everyone he shared screen time with (including Judith Light). In Morgan's case, it's the sudden resurgence of Alec Baldwin into a bankable commodity.

So what do you do when you realize that you're in this situation, and that, even though your show is completely different from Aaron Sorkin's latest piece, even Untalented Cordry gets more laughs than you? Well, you reprise your greatest hits. And, when you're Tracy Morgan, your greatest hits involve driving after having had a few too many at a local watering hole.

This is the second time in the past year where Morgan has been pulled over for drinking and driving. The first time, he was fined $390, a small sum for most actors but surely something placed on a credit card for someone of Tracy Morgan's caliber, and ordered to attend an alcohol education class.

Almost makes you wonder if he ran into Mel Gibson and Robin Williams while there. Although I don't think that's the type of alcohol education the law enforcement officials were hoping Morgan would receive.

Monday, November 27, 2006

That's a lot of books

GDub, the Great Decider of America, is already looking into ways to start trying to rebuild his shattered Presidential legacy. How better to do that than to start looking into financing to build your very own legacy library. And with the current price tag estimated at being somewhere around $500M, supporters are scrambling to gather the donations needed to get construction going.

Of course, what better way to symbolize the waste and decadence experienced by the elite over the last six years than with a legacy library with a cost higher than any previous Presidential library. The library is being planned to go onto the campus of SMU in Dallas, and draw contributions from donors ranging from $25,000 to $20M.

But that's not all. After all, why simply have a library built in your honor, when you can also make sure to endow it with enough money to have scholars and historians write favorably about a time in history that many are already having trouble looking back on without losing a piece of their Thanksgiving meal.

Of course, the money will come pouring in. Partly because, somehow, GDub is still ridiculously popular through most of Texas (Austin gets a pass for having some sense). SMU will benefit from the library. And, possibly most important of all, the donors will all be able to remain anonymous. True, The Decider is faced with trying to raise the money in a political climate which was less than favorable to the GOP, but, well, as we all know from Stephen Colbert, "reality has a well-known liberal bias". Why should reality stand in the way of yet another of GDub's dreams?

Yet, one question rankles. If the money is raised to get this building project off the ground, aren't there better ways of spending it? Say, perhaps, getting a Commander in Chief to stop reading Curious George books, and actually teaching him that Green Eggs and Ham isn't the pinnacle of literary accomplishment?

Course, what do I know? I don't have my own library.

Just a little piece to share

There's a great new feature out on the web. Well, maybe it's not new, but it is new to me. And it allows us all to create our own official seals for things.
For some reason, the image to your left strikes me as a pretty darned good seal for this little blog. We'll keep cobbling things together, and we do apologize for the lack of any updates over the holiday weekend, but we'll get back into everything later today, with some random story that tripped our brains.
That being said, enjoy creating your own seals! We'll see you in a few hours.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Cavuto can spot a hidden agenda a mile away

Recently, on the FOXNews program, Your World with Neil Cavuto, there was what some are calling a glaring omission. The business program completely ignored the role played by parent company News Corp.'s decision to not publish or produce anything in relation to OJ Simpson's admitted push to gather together some "blood money" for his children. After all, why would anyone watching a business news program care in the slightest about a major marketing decision by a large multi-tiered organization.

Thankfully, Cavuto did take the time to point out that the new animated movie Happy Feet carried a hidden leftist agenda, even calling the film an "animated Inconvenient Truth". Cavuto even went so far as to say that he felt Hollywood was trying to "sneak one by us", as if the concept that any movie that could teach children about global warming's possibilities would be a bad thing.

Now, I admit, I haven't seen Happy Feet, so all of my information about the film is relegated to what I've gleaned from reviews and the commercials/trailers. Still, the film is purportedly more March of the Penguins than An Inconvenient Truth. Even with that, the main theme of the film seems to be an acceptance of that which is different, instead of simply plowing ahead and assuming that all that is different is wrong. In many ways, the film could be actually aspiring to teach children (and some of the adults watching) lessons of tolerance for things such as race, gender, and sexuality.

Even with that, Cavuto decided that the controversy behind the animated penguins was because of the right-wing insistance that global warming, regardless of all the evidence pointing towards it, simply isn't happening. So congratulations, Mr. Cavuto. Congratulations on finding a controversy where there wasn't one. What's next? Flushed Away was merely a piece of Green Party propaganda about utopian societies? The Fox and the Hound was really just an animated Jungle Fever? Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny is a disturbing story about two man-children, aspiring for their dreams of rock stardom in a communist manifesto? The Smurfs were a homosexual paradise?

Ok, ignore that last one. It's just too unrealistic, even for Cavuto and the rest of his friends at FOXNews.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

After this, we'll tackle unemployment. Then a nap.

Thanks to the USDA, there will no longer be any hungry people in the country. Now, before we all get excited about the concept of plentiful food for everyone, we need to realize that what's actually happening is the federal government is simply dropping the word "hungry" from their vocabulary. This is due to a survey conducted by the USDA that simply didn't "have a measure for that condition."

The recent obliteration of "hungry" from the government's vocabulary follows trends over the course of the past few years where food-assistance programs have been cut, and the number of Americans who feel that they don't have enough money to purchase the food they need to survive has gone up. But thankfully, those people will no longer have to go hungry. Now they will be described as having "very low food security". That should certainly make them feel better when they're trying to figure out exactly how to make that box of store brand macaroni and cheese last for a week with a family of four.

Part of the problem, of course, is that our current administration seems to actually be gullible enough to believe that, if you simply change what words are used, you can change the condition. They can now add "low food security" to the list of terms that has been applied to change the perception of a condition without changing the condition, much like "insurgency" and "mandate".

Now that the USDA has come forward and removed "hungry" from the government vocabulary, maybe we can get started on some of those other terms that we don't like much either. After all, if we get them quickly enough, then the homeless will only need to make new signs that say "Job security deficient. Low food security. Will work for improved financial standing."

Oh, wait. I'm sorry. I should have referred to them as "shelter-impaired".

Monday, November 20, 2006

Act Locally, Think Globally

Finally, an idea for world peace that I think all of us can get behind. A California couple tied to the Baring Witness peace movement has come up with a way to get the world to focus on the concept of peace. They are advocating a global orgasm to help achieve their goals.

The couple, Donna Sheehan, 76, and Paul Reffell, 55, have not only studied evolutionary psychology, but they have also partnered sex and activism together in the past. Most notably, Sheehan organized 50 women to form together to spell the word "Peace" in their birthday suits in 2002. The two are hoping that the "incredible feeling of peace" during and after orgasm may help promote world peace and possibly even bring an end to wars.

This may, of course, seem like the agenda of 1960's holdovers, people that never really gave up the "free love" feelings of that era. But you can't really argue with the message. If the couple is able to gather enough people worldwide to achieve sexual gratification on the same day, that's a pretty satisfying achievement. If it leads to the rapid spread of peace across the planet, all the better.

Unfortunately, due to the timing of their global orgasm, a fair portion of the people who could (and otherwise probably would) participate will have their hands locked around their PS3 controllers, and have already experienced their personal heights of pleasure, simply by being part of the small numbers to get their game consoles when they were released. But hey, if the whole global orgasms to stop war thing works, maybe we can look at energy prices next. After all, it's not like most people will be driving while they participate (although they might, just to be able to join in).

Friday, November 17, 2006

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of November 13, 2006

We return for another round of Coffee-Soaked Awards in this, the week before Thanksgiving. Next week is a short week for us here at the Excerpts, so we may have a couple of weeks before the next awards (or you may get some on Wednesday, and have to wait a week and a half before the follow-up installment). Either way, we should get this weeks awards rolling, so let's get this show started.

The Man Upstairs Award
We give this to out-going Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, James Inhofe (R-OK) who stresses that there is no reason to worry about global warming. Part of his reasoning for this is that he seems to have found evidence that it's only the northern hemisphere that's warming (isn't that the side where the US is?). His other bit of reasoning is that we have no need to worry because "God's still up there". Representatives for God have confirmed that he is indeed "up there" but that is largely because it's so much cooler where the air is thinner.

Much Ado About Nothing Award
This award goes to the town of Bracciano, Italy, for the huge amount of work they've undertaken to make themselves presentable, from street sweeping to changing menu items. Why all the work? Well, the town is hosting the wedding of Tom Cruise to Katie Holmes this weekend. The town believes that this is a chance for them to be remembered and noticed worldwide. Not wanting to be outshone, Assisi has offered to host the divorce of Britney Spears and Kevin Federline, if only to give them another excuse to empty the public ashtrays.

Much Ado About Something Award
This goes out to Sony, which has created yet another fervor with the release of their Playstation 3 video game console. Shoppers eager to get a console on the first day faced cold temperatures, long lines, and, in some cases, arrests in attempting to secure the $500 machine. While many who purchased the system were doing so for their own use, some were hoping to make a quick buck by selling it off on eBay. In an interesting coincidence, waiting in line for days without any sense of personal hygiene didn't worsen the chances of any of those waiting to acquire dates in the near future.

Putting Sexy Back in the News Award
Stephen Colbert was recently named to People Magazine's "Sexiest" list, joining the likes of George Clooney and Taye Diggs. On his own show, Colbert proceeded to mock James Dean for being left off the list, due to no longer being alive. Others that Colbert could have mocked? Rasputin, Alexander the Great, and Marc Anthony. After all, nobody can convince us that the last guy listed by us is still alive by any means.

A Rose by Any Other Name Award
Recently, while bemoaning the notion of OJ Simpson receiving a television special called "If I Did It", set to be aired on FOX, Bill O'Reilly made the comment that FOX Broadcasting and FOXNews were not affiliated. In fact, he made it sound as though it were undeniably true that the two were different organizations. In his defense, O'Reilly also doesn't think that Trump Tower, Trump Plaza, or Ivanka Trump were all created at the impetus of the same person.

Penguins in Rhinestones Award
We give this out to the book And Tango Makes Three, a book currently in hot water in Shiloh, Illinois, for having the audacity to relate for children the (true) story of two male penguins who raised a chick of their own together, without any female penguins being involved. Some parents are complaining that the book, written for 4-8 year olds, should be moved to a more mature section because of the homosexual themes. Oddly enough, many of the parents who complained later went home to watch "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy", prefering that their gays not be covered in feathers, once again leaving Elton John in the dark.

A Step in a Direction Award
Continuing the gay theme, we're going to give this one out to the Pentagon, for recently reclassifying homosexuality. They previously had homosexuality listed as a mental disorder, but now it is being classified as a "condition" similar to bed-wetting or fear of flying. While this doesn't change the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, it could lead to gays about to be discharged pointing out that it was a much more satisfying way to make a mess of the sheets.

Wonder Why Award
In recent conversations about why the GOP lost so many seats this past year, Rep. Adam Putnam (R-FL) pointed out that "white rednecks...didn't show up to vote for us." Perhaps this could have a little to do with referring to them as rednecks? Jeff Foxworthy and Bill Engvall were not able to be reached for comment, while Ron White proceeded to make jokes about why he divorced his wife.

Thank You Award
We give this, in our eyes deservedly so, to Sasha Baron Cohen, who recently came out to defend himself from all of the attacks springing up about Borat. Cohen pointed out in a recent interview that the joke is not, and has never been, on Kazakhstan. The joke has always been on the people who believe the Kazakhstan he portrays could ever exist. Nationwide, millions of people without any sense of irony are scratching their heads as one, trying to determine where this parallel-universe Kazakhstan could possibly exist.

Well, that wraps up our awards for another week. Enjoy the weekend, and we'll see you on Monday. Stay safe out there.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A little bit country, a little bit Liberace

Not wanting to draw any ire from their viewers, a television talk show based out of Nashville has decided to "uninvite" Delta Burke and Leslie Jordan from appearing on their show. The reason behind this? They thought that the plays the two were promoting might be considered offensive to their viewership. Just what in these plays could be seen as offensive? The fact that the plays deal with gay subject matter.

Of course, the overall thought that is being brought out is that the shows might be a little too gay for the homeland of country music. In all fairness, a lot of things are too gay for Nashville, and the country as a whole. Heck, the notion of Eric McCormick is a little too gay for a number of people, and he isn't even gay (something he felt the need to force down people's throats time and time again during his tenure on Will & Grace).

The "uninviting" from the show under such auspicious circumstances does cause a few people's radar to go up nationwide, as people pretend to be outraged and appalled that anyone in Nashville could think that anything was too homosexually driven to appeal to their viewer base. Many of these people will, naturally, act very self-righteous about the whole episode until it fades away, and they can go back to loving homosexuals as long as they fit the caricatures they've been forced into for years. They'll have their homosexual heroes like Carson Kressley and Sean Hayes (or Ellen DeGeneres and Portia di Rossi for the lesbians out there), but will shudder at the notion of someone like Daniel Craig or Nicole Kidman possibly turning that page in their lives. Just shows how far this country really has to go on this particular issue.

But hey, at least we can rest easy knowing that the LPGA has been proactive on an issue of their own. Good for them on drug testing... although the chest hair should've been a tip-off. Still, it's not as bad as a cloned horse.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

They'll make an opera out of anything

Well, not really, but one of the newest operas to gather some buzz doesn't help to dissuade that opinion. We've had operas about barbers, women named Carmen, and uncles from Boston. Now, we're being given an opera about that little-exploited subject, the news pundit. That's right, folks. Igor Keller has penned for us the majesty that is Mackris v. O'Reilly to fill that gap in our opera collection.

For those of you who luckily were able to avoid the tawdry details of the actual court case (which was settled, thankyouverymuch) about which the opera has been written, it's the story of the alleged sexual harassment experienced by Andrea Mackris, former FOXNews producer, at the hands of Bill O'Reilly, current FOXNews talking head. O'Reilly of course denied these allegations heavily, but that's not going to stop Keller. After all, he must be taken some levels of artistic license to be able to stretch anything that Bill O'Reilly may or may not have been involved with into a 31-part opera. Heck, the loofah/falafel incident doesn't even happen until part 27.

Of course, if this opera turns out to be a success, we might be able to expect that future theatrical endeavors will be undertaken to chronicle storied events from our recent past. For example, we can wait with baited breath to see Ain't No Bribe High Enough chronicling the Jack Abramoff story, or I'm Still Standing, featuring Karl Rove. We may also see new remakes of classic films, such as Never Say Never Again starring "Gin" Rummy, or Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, with the title characters renamed George and Dick.

Wait a minute. Let's just stop this insanity before it gets out there too far. After all, do any of us really want to be forced to suffer through the new series on VH1's Celebreality, Political Fit Club? I know I don't.