Friday, December 31, 2010

Forget 2010. Tonight I'm gonna party like it's 1999.

Prince's album, 1999, was released way back in October 1982, when 1999 seemed, like, a million years away.

Yet, like Prince himself, I think the album, and particularly the title track, "1999," have held up surprisingly well, don't you?



So, in honor of Prince, instead of partying like it's 2010, I'm gonna party like it's 1999 tonight*, by sharing some classic videos from that year.

First up, Cher's "Believe," which I cannot believe is from 1999.



Followed by a little Ricky Martin, "Livin' La Vida Loca"...



(Ricky, we hardly knew ya.)

And who could forget "Smooth" by Santana, featuring Rob Thomas?



I know I can't.

And before Bieber Fever (and glee), there was... Britney, whose debut single, "...Baby One More Time," from her debut album of the same name, went to Number One on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1999.



Man, I feel old.

To find out what other songs were topping the charts way back in 1999 (I know: cringe), click here.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year...

*Btw, by "party" I mean make and eat some homemade pizza, drink some sparkling wine, watch a bad movie (or two) and be in bed by 11 p.m.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

White House bans topless photos

Of the President. Killjoys.

This makes zero sense to me. Unless President Obama (like the rest of us) isn't looking as good as he did a couple of years ago (when the infamous pic to the right was snapped). And this is a clever way of hiding the fact that the only six-pack on him these days has a "Budweiser" label.

Still a ban on taking shirtless photos of President Obama while he's on vacation in Hawaii seems a bit extreme.

What's wrong with showing a little Presidential skin? Does he now have to wear a shirt when he goes swimming?

I think a buff Commander in Chief is a good thing.

So what do you all think? Do you think photographers should be banned from taking pictures of President Obama in swimming trunks (and nothing else)? Even if it's on a beach in Hawaii? Playing with his kids in the ocean? I mean, it's not like he's entertaining heads of state in the Oval Office in board shorts.

Monday, December 27, 2010

I got over 12 inches last night

And let me just say, it's overrated. (Also, my back is killing me.)

















That, btw, would be our deck. Or what you can still see of it. With all the drifting snow, I think we accumulated over 18 inches of snow out there in the last 24 hours, maybe more.

You guys knew I was talking about snow, right? ;-)

(Note: We shoveled our front walk and around the driveway, which took around 45 minutes, a little while ago. But we're going to let Mother Nature deal with the deck.)

Oh yeah, and the funny weather guy on NBC 4 this morning reported that they got "0 inches of snow in Ft. Lauderdale overnight." Hardee har har. :-(

UPDATED:
OMG, check out this amazing time lapse video of the blizzard, which covers 20 hours in 40 seconds. (Nicely captured, Mike Black.)

December 2010 Blizzard Timelapse from Michael Black on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Felix Navidad (or How to Put a Cat in a Santa Hat)

So for Christmas this year, we (okay, the daughter and I) thought it would be hysterical to take a picture of our black cat, Felix, in a Santa hat. Why? So we could wish our friends a Felix Navidad.*

Get it? Felix Navidad! It's a riff on José Feliciano's Christmas song, "Feliz Navidad" -- "one of the most downloaded and aired Christmas songs in the United States and Canada," per Wikipedia.

Easier said than done.

Let me just say, when it comes to putting a cat in a hat, unless you are Dr. Seuss (or these guys), good luck. Though we came close, as this photo and video (our third attempt at capturing getting Felix to wear a Santa hat) attest.



Note: No humans were injured in the making of this video. And, this evening -- wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles -- the daughter managed to get the Santa hat on Felix!

















Wishing you a Meowry Christmas...



*Also, we were totally jealous of all those rabbit owners who kept flaunting their Christmas outfit-wearing bunnies over on Disapproving Rabbits. And wanted to one up them by putting a cat in a Santa hat.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Funniest ads of 2010

As we look back on 2010, let us take a moment to review -- and chuckle along with -- some of the year's funniest ads (some of the funniest of which only appeared on YouTube).

Near (or at) the top of my list of favorite funny commercials from 2010 is this ad for GEICO, on why a former drill sergeant makes a terrible therapist. (Note: It is also why I would make a terrible therapist.)



Though this ad for Axe, titled "Axe Cleans Your Balls Press Conference," is right up there. I just love how the female reporter explains double entendre. (Again, I can so relate. Also, be sure to check out the original "Axe Cleans Your Balls" ad on YouTube.)



I also love the Bud Light Swear Jar ad, which cracks me up every time.



And while I am not a Minnesota Vikings fan, this NFL Mobile Redzone Ad, for Verizon Wireless, featuring Vikings wide receiver Adrian Peterson, totally cracks me up. (If I only had a dime for every time a football announcer said the words Adrian Peterson, I could have retired this year. Btw, even funnier than the ad are the comments on YouTube.)



Similarly, while not a New England Patriots (BOO! HISS!) fan, nor a Miami Dolphins fan, this ad for DirecTV, titled "Mass Fans," also cracks me up.



Ditto DirecTV's "Opulence, I has it" ad.



And although this ad, titled "Return to the Doghouse," came out in 2009, albeit late 2009, it may be my all-time favorite ad, so I've included it here.



Got a favorite funny ad from 2010 that I did not include here? Post a link in the Comments.

Monday, December 20, 2010

This Nativity scene is definitely not kosher

I heard about this bacon-and-sausage Nativity scene while listening to The Splendid Table this weekend on NPR -- and kept muttering "bacon-and-sausage Nativity scene" to myself while shopping so as not to forget to Google it when I got home.

Behold, the power of pork products!

For unto us a cocktail wiener is born?

We three kings of sausages are?

















(Apparently these people did not know that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were Jewish -- or have an interesting sense of humor/irony.)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

JibJab's annual review of the year that was ("So Long to Ya, 2010")

Another year, another JibJab year in review.

"So Long to Ya, 2010!"

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Note: to see how JibJab's 2010 Year in Review video, "So Long to Ya, 2010," was made, click here.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Good books to curl up with on a cold winter's night

Haven't done a whole lot of reading since my last Book Nook blog post, but some of the books I did manage to read (or get through) were truly outstanding.

These books include (click on the hyperlink to go to the Amazon.com description):

Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg -- One of the most charming books I have read in a long time. Love Flagg's writing style and subtle sense of humor.

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson -- Loved this book, though cannot say exactly why. Yes, the writing was quite good, and you really got a sense of each of the characters. And it brought back fond memories of my times in England. But...

Anyway, here's the description from Publishers Weekly:
In her charming debut novel, Simonson tells the tale of Maj. Ernest Pettigrew, an honor-bound Englishman and widower, and the very embodiment of duty and pride. As the novel opens, the major is mourning the loss of his younger brother, Bertie, and attempting to get his hands on Bertie's antique Churchill shotgun—part of a set that the boys' father split between them, but which Bertie's widow doesn't want to hand over. While the major is eager to reunite the pair for tradition's sake, his son, Roger, has plans to sell the heirloom set to a collector for a tidy sum. As he frets over the guns, the major's friendship with Jasmina Ali—the Pakistani widow of the local food shop owner—takes a turn unexpected by the major (but not by readers). The author's dense, descriptive prose wraps around the reader like a comforting cloak, eventually taking on true page-turner urgency as Simonson nudges the major and Jasmina further along and dangles possibilities about the fate of the major's beloved firearms. This is a vastly enjoyable traipse through the English countryside and the long-held traditions of the British aristocracy.
Frank: The Voice by James Kaplan -- This may be the best biography, or the best written biography, I have ever read (to date), and I'm not a huge Frank Sinatra fan. But I could not put this book down. In fact the spouse and I wound up reading it (same copy, which I bought) at the same time -- and would fight about who got to read it at night. (I reclaimed it when he went off on a business trip for three days, and he is now finishing it.) Kaplan is a phenomenal story teller, and if you appreciate music and/or are a fan of Frank Sinatra, this book is a must read.

I also read these two books, which deserve honorable mention (though I think Schiff's Cleopatra received more -- or higher -- praise than it deserved):

Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff -- An objective look at Cleopatra, though it really says or tells more about the people around Cleopatra, notably Mark Anthony, than Cleopatra herself, which I found disappointing. (I also found it a bit overwritten.) Still, if you like biographies and are intrigued by the Queen of the Nile, check out Cleopatra: A Life, which the New York Times (and every other publication that reviews books) loved.

Parrot & Olivier in America by Peter Carey -- A charming fictionalized take on Alexis de Tocqueville's travels in America. If you are a fan of historical fiction and dry wit, you will like Parrot & Olivier in America.

And although I haven't read these two books (yet), I want to give shout outs to

Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade
by Justin Spring -- This biography has not only received rave reviews but was included in the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2010 list and is a National Book Award finalist. (Justin also happens to be a friend, and a darn good writer.)

And

I'll Never Be French (no matter what I do): Living in a Small Village in Brittany by Mark Greenside -- which the spouse just read (on our daughter's Kindle -- though he now has a Nook), and adored, and now our daughter is reading (on her Kindle), and is greatly enjoying. Must reading for Francophiles.

For additional book recommendations, click here (which will take you to a list of my previous Book Nook posts).

As always, I welcome your recommendations (many of which I've read, although I don't always post here).

Wishing you good reading...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Merry Christmas gifts

This Christmas, give those you love the gift of laughter with one of these (slightly) naughty but nice Christmas gifts.

First up, forget jewelry or perfume, give the woman in your life what she truly wants, a hot guy with a really cute baby animal -- with the aptly named Hot Guys and Baby Animals 2011 calendar.

As the website says:
Are you sick and tired of seeing studly dudes showing off their perfectly sculpted muscles? Have you had enough of those adorable baby animals flaunting their newborn, fuzzy cuteness? Yeah, we didn't think so.
And speaking of fuzzy cuteness, why not get her these plush fleece sushi slippers from Uncommon Goods to kick back in?

As the description says: "This delectable set of salmon (orange) and tuna (red) rolls are sure to satisfy your cravings for rest and relaxation. Handmade from plush fleece with extra-cushy batting and no-slip, water resistant soles. Truly comfort food for the sole."

And for him, how about a nice warm (slightly naughty) sweater, like this Excited Snowman from Skedouche? (Sadly, I just discovered that the Excited Snowman sweater is out of stock, but make sure to bookmark the site so you can be sure to order your naughty or tacky Christmas sweater next season!)

You can also put some magic back in his life with this Magic Wand Programmable TV Remote from ThinkGeek.

As the retail wizards at ThinkGeek explain:
Our Wand may not make legions of kobold minions explode into flames, but it will learn up to 13 commands from your existing remote controls and map them to particular magical motions. Flick the wand from side to side to flip the channels, twist the wand to turn up the volume. A beam of light will shoot out the unicorn tail hair and magic will happen! The Wand can learn from any remotes in your house and once you master its 13 movements, you can mastermind a symphony of electronic enjoyment from the comfort of your couch. Then, and only then, are you an epic level controller.
And for the pessimist in your life, how about this "This glass is now half empty mug" from Despair.com (which is one of my all-time favorite sites and has the most brilliant FAQ page EVER)?

Last but not least, give your little ones a gift they'll never forget this Christmas, like staph or herpes (pictured at left)!

After all, nothing says "I love you" like a virus! (Achoo!) Especially when it's blown up to thousands of times is natural size and is cute and cuddly and plush!

(A tip of my Santa hat to Friend of the Blog David T. for introducing me to GIANTmicrobes.)

I could go on (and on). But I won't.

Happy Christmas shopping!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cliff Lee to Phillies, Mets doomed; Jets suck; totally know how this guy feels

I don't know about Hell, but the Greater New York City area is certainly freezing over -- and I ain't just referring to the weather. Rather, I am referring to the breaking news that Pitching Ace Cliff Lee has re-signed with the Phillies. WTF?! That is so unfair. I wasn't thrilled about the idea of Lee signing with the New York Yankees (which I never really thought he'd do). But the Phillies, the team that dumped Cliff Lee just the other season?! And besides, the Philadelphia Phillies already have three aces in Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels! That's like stacking the deck! I cry "foul"! The New York Mets are now totally SCREWED, as are every other team in the National League. Why not just give the World Series trophy to the Phillies now, why don't you? Feh.

And speaking of cold, hard realities, what is with the New York Jets (of New Jersey), who don't seem to be able to catch a ball even when it's handed to them? WTF is up with that?! It has gotten to the point where I can barely watch Jets football. Just too painful. (And the New York Giants, who now own the stat of being the team with the most picks, ain't a whole lot more fun to watch.) If I'm Rex Ryan, I'd have Offensive Coordinator Brian Shottenheimer standing out there in the Jets practice facility with a hose and/or a snow machine -- heck, on an ice-skating rink -- making his wide receivers and tight ends practice catching the dang football in the worst possible conditions until they can do it 100 times in a row.

Lastly, I just came across this short video on YouTube, whose alternate title should be "Ever Had One of Those Days?" and had to share -- as I think we can all relate to what this guy is thinking. (LOVE the shots of his face.) Note: My daughter, who just had her winter band concert (she plays the clarinet), heard the video and thought it sounded like cats being tortured. (Am happy to report her band sounds A LOT better than these guys.)



Am now off to hibernate work.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Most annoying Christmas songs

We are not even halfway through the month of December, and I am already sick of Christmas music. And I like a lot of Christmas music! But these songs, which may or may not have seemed so annoying the first few times they were played on the radio (or in a department store), would test anyone's Christmas spirit when listened to dozens of times over the course of a few days, week after week, year after year.

Are these five Christmas songs the most annoying (and/or overplayed) Christmas songs ever? Though "ever" might be a bit harsh. (After all, one person's most annoying Christmas song is another person's best Christmas song ever.) You tell me -- and feel free to add to the list.

First up, Wham!'s "Last Christmas" (which has since been covered by Taylor Swift -- equally annoying -- and Cascada, though only Wham!'s version features big '80s hair and classic '80s threads).



Next, Paul McCartney and Wings' "Wonderful Christmas Time" (which may have been annoying right from the get go).



And although Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You" is way less annoying than Sir Paul & Co.'s "Wonderful Christmas Time," Carey's Christmas classic is still way overplayed, which earned it a spot on the list.



Ditto Christina Aguilera's "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" (though the other 142 versions, by other artists, also annoy me).



And enough with John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)."

I am sure I am leaving out some annoying/overplayed Christmas song. So please feel free to add to the list (by leaving a comment. Bonus points for including a link to the music video).

Note: To see last year's Christmas music post, which featured such Christmas classics as Alvin and the Chipmunks' "Christmas Don't Be Late" (aka "The Hula Hoop Song") and a mashup of the Snow Miser and Heat Miser songs, click here.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

You gotta know how to fold 'em

Some of us (me) were born with the folding gene; others of us (the spouse, our daughter) were not. But even those of us blessed with the ability to neatly fold clothes have (admit it) struggled with folding fitted sheets.

I learned to fold fitted sheets from my mother, using the two-person, hold-the-sheet-by-the-corners-width-wise-and-then-fold-corner-to-corner-and-bring-the-half-folded-sheet-to-the-other-person-to-finish-folding method, which worked pretty well -- as long as you had someone helping you. But what to do when/if you were alone? In my case, I emulated the two-person, corner-to-corner method by spreading the fitted sheet on my (queen-sized) bed, going from one side of the bed to the other. Very inefficient, but it works.

But now, thanks to my friend, Justin, and Jill Cooper of www.livingonadime.com, my days of running around the bed to fold a fitted sheet are over! Behold, the power of "How to Fold a Fitted Sheet"!



If I did not already have a set of sheets in the dryer when I watched this video early this morning, I would have done a load. And even though it took a few tries, and my fitted sheet didn't look as neat as Jill Cooper's, the technique absolutely works.

Bonus folding video, for those of you who have always wondered what the best way to fold a t-shirt was:



Btw, if any of you understands Japanese, let me know what she says!

Sayanora and happy folding!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cat gets back massage (video)

Sure, I could have written about the 30th anniversary of John Lennon's death and his newly released final interview. (Thirty years?! Wow, I feel old.)

Or I could have chosen to blog about the death of Elizabeth Edwards at the too-young age of 61. (So sad.)

But I didn't. And you know why? Because on a sad day like today what the world really needs is... a video of a cat getting a massage in a shiatsu back and neck massage chair.

Cat gets a back massage | akilli.tv

Hey, it was either the cat getting a massage or pink fluffy unicorns dancing on rainbows.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sleep Camp

Feeling tired?

Ever feel that naps are wasted on the young?

Wish every day was National Go-Back-to-Bed Day?

Or that you could just hibernate for the winter?

Are you at the point where the thought of a good night's rest sounds even better than a good night of sex?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then you need to attend Sleep Camp. That is, as soon as the spouse and I work out a few details and open it. But I'm pretty sure we have a can't-miss concept here. After all, who wouldn't want to learn how to get a better night's rest, especially if it meant taking a few days off from work in some beautiful locale where you didn't have to do anything but relax?

Think of Sleep Camp as a kind of a co-ed, exercise-or-not spa vacation, where the main (and only) goal was to sleep for at least eight hours a day. Where you would learn which mattress and pillow was right for you. And where instructors would hold classes with names like How to Grab 20 Winks, Nap Like a Nipper, How to Sleep Anywhere Anytime, and Learning to Sleep with a Snorer -- and would teach you easy exercises (for lack of a better word) and tricks that would help you get to sleep faster and have sweet dreams, when they weren't giving massages and waiting on you hand and foot.

Sounds like a dream to me.

But let me ask all of you, if such a camp existed, would you sign up?

(Of course now that I've revealed our brilliant idea someone is bound to steal it, but I'm too tired to care right now.)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Finally, a cure for UGG boots

I have never owned a pair of UGG boots, and frankly, until recently, had never been much tempted to own a pair. In fact, I have fond memories of hanging out in Santa Barbara with my friend, Larissa, making counting how many women we saw wearing UGG boots and mini skirts (in 60-plus-degree weather) into a drinking game. But that was before I beheld UGG Bailey Button Triplet Boots and suddenly
felt the irresistible pull of UGG boots.

Thank goodness, though, for UGGCITRIN, the only vaccine for the UGG boot virus.



[A big THANK YOU to Friend of the Blog (FOB) Another David S. for letting me know about UGGCITRIN.]

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Best Hanukkah song EVER (UPDATED with more great Chanukah music!)

I flip my latkes in the air sometimes sayin ayy ohh spin the dreidel
Just wanna celebrate for all eight nights singin ayy oh, light the candles

We say al hanissim
Oh yea for all eight nights
Then we play dreidel
By the candlelight

And I told you once
Now I told you twice
Bout the miracle
Of the candlelight

Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, begins tonight at sundown. And if I wasn't already Jewish (though I grew up celebrating Christmas), I might consider converting, at least for Hanukkah, after hearing "Candlelight" by the Maccabeats -- which is dynamite -- about the Hanukkah miracle. Seriously, best Hanukkah song EVER. (Sorry Adam Sandler and Orrin Hatch.)



[Major hat tip to FOB Rosita for sending this to me.]

I don't know about all of you, but I can't wait to hear what the Maccabeats have in store for Passover.

In the meantime, Chanukah Sameach!

UPDATED: This Chanukah music mashup video featuring Jewish a cappella group Six13, just sent to me via commenter Chana, is so good, I had to include it here.