Thursday, May 31, 2012

Column: There's a pop star in my backyard

Watch out for snakes, Colbie.
Listen to Mix 104.1 all Memorial Day weekend for your shot to win tickets to the Gavin DeGraw/Colbie Caillat show on July 25 at the Bank of America Pavilion. Everyone who wins tickets will qualify for a shot at the grand prize — a Backyard BBQ with Colbie at their house when she comes to town in July!

Hi Ms. Caillat … er, can I call you Colbie? That’s a really interesting name. Is that short for Colbert? No? I had a friend in elementary school named Corbin, but we just called him Corbin. Anyway, thanks for coming here to my backyard and everything.

Sorry I didn’t get a chance to mow the lawn, but it rained for the last few days and I had to work late, and last weekend was just crazy with driving the kids around and napping and such. But as you can see I put these old comforters out for us to eat on and they sort of smush the grass down. Don’t worry, it’s been weeks since we’ve seen a snake … although that’s probably just because the grass is so high.

That smell? Oh, that’s just the grill. I tried to scrape all the black stuff off but darn it if it doesn’t seem just calcified on there at this point. You’ll notice how certain areas of the grill look like they’re on fire and others get no flame at all — weird! Anyway, it shouldn’t affect the hot dogs … I defrosted them a few weeks ago, but hot dogs never really go bad, right?

So I hear you’re a singer? To be honest I haven’t heard any of your songs … I just entered the contest to get the Gavin DeGraw tickets. And even with those it turns out I was actually thinking of Gavin MacLeod. You wouldn’t know it necessarily but he has a wonderful voice — I saw him in a dinner theater production of “Annie Get Your Gun” in the early ’90s.

Come on, Gavin McLeod? From Mary Tyler Moore? I think I have the Chuckles the Clown episode on VHS if you want to borrow it. VHS — it was a video format. How old are you, anyway?

Did you bring your suit? We just got around to opening the pool last week. I know it looks green, but chemically it’s perfect, almost. If you go in it would be great if you could bring the strainer thing in there and scoop out some of the leaves. No? That’s OK, the dogs are in there now anyway. They love a good swim, but they need some help getting up and down the ladder.


Sorry about that … Can I get you something to drink? A lemon-lime soda maybe? It’s the Market Basket brand, but it’s just as good as Sprite, almost. Not as good as those Grand Union sodas with the penguins on them that they used to sell in the ’70s, though. The ’70s — it was a decade. Came before the ’80s. How old are you, again?

Watch out, the dogs are coming out of the pool! Yikes, dogs, do you have to shake off right here? Sorry about your boots, Corbin … Are those suede? You probably shouldn’t be getting those wet like that.

Oh, you have to leave already? Well, glad you could come by … No, you have to pull up to open the gate … no, UP. Then pull the thing back — that’s right. Wow, I’ve never seen anyone get in their car so fast.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

At Large Fake News Tuesday: Lady Gaga/Man-Bat Tour Reportedly In Jeopardy

JAKARTA (CAP) - Faced with opposition from several hard-line conservative groups, Lady Gaga has postponed her Indonesian spring concert tour with her scheduled co-headliner, Man-Bat.

"While we realize that Dr. Kirk Langstrom was just trying to cure his own deafness when he developed his bat sonar extract, the fact remains that it turned him into a hideous man-sized bat hell-bent on mindless destruction," read a statement from the Islam Defenders Front.

"Now, in addition to promoting pornography and satanic values with her music, Lady Gaga is putting the entire population of Jakarta at risk of being terrorized by Man-Bat, and possibly his wife, Francine Langstrom, a.k.a. She-Bat," the statement continued.

News of the postponement has devastated Indonesian fans, who had been clamoring for a live Lady Gaga/Man-Bat collaboration for years.

"Boy George was on the bill too, but we weren't as excited about that," noted diehard Gaga fan Daren Sibarani, who had planned to welcome Gaga and Man-Bat with a flash mob of 124 students, half of them dressed as bats, the other half wearing meat.

"Mostly dead chickens," said Sibarani.

The tour was to have had several stops in Indonesia featuring various performers in addition to Lady Gaga, Man-Bat and Boy George. These included She-Hulk, Boyz II Men, Lady Antebellum and Man Ray, the late avant-garde Dadaist photographer.

"Not Man Ray the SpongeBob SquarePants character," noted Sibarani. "That would just be silly."

Gaga, for her part, has said she thinks the hardline groups are overreacting, noting that every time Man-Bat has gone on a rampage previously, he's been fairly easily subdued by Batman and his companion, Robin the Boy Wonder.

"Two of my favorite Little Monsters, incidentally," noted Gaga, adding, "Bat-paws up!"

Batman and Robin have both gone on the record as being big Lady Gaga fans, and have reportedly even consulted with her on her fashion choices, particularly the ones involving black molded rubber.

"And I think it's just wonderful what she's done for the LGBT community," said Batman, re-polishing his hard rubber codpiece. "Not that Robin and I would have any sort of vested interest in that."

Batman's promises to protect Indonesia from the Man-Bat weren't enough for the Islam Defenders Front, however.

"We refuse to place the safety of the people of Jakarta in the hands of a vigilante like The Batman," stated an IDF spokesman, "and besides, Lady Gaga is still promoting pornography and satanic values whether Man-Bat goes on a rampage or not."

"Ugh, I hate it when people call me The Batman," responded Batman.

[Read the rest at CAP News.]

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Column: My local congressional race, by the (Face)book

Here in Massachusetts, the Sixth District congressional race between Democratic incumbent John Tierney and his Republican challenger, former state senator and lieutenant governor candidate Richard Tisei, is certainly heating up. Press releases from the campaigns are coming fast and furious, and there’s no shortage of vitriol — witness Tierney’s response to Tisei’s latest poll claims, in which the words “deceptive,” “outrageous” and “desperate” all make early appearances.

But press releases are so, well, pre-Facebook: We all know the real electoral battle will be raged across the social media landscape, amidst the Farmville updates and videos of shark attacks. So how are the two candidates doing on that front? It’s subjective, of course, but here’s my evaluation of their campaigns’ respective Facebook pages.

Frequency: Both candidates seem to be posting about twice a day, and let’s face it, any more than that could get pretty annoying. Advantage: Neither.

Personality: Most of Tierney’s posts feel staff-generated, except for a few standouts like one marking the anniversary of same-sex marriage’s legalization in Massachusetts. Tisei’s feed, on the other hand, seems to have been handled for some time by the candidate himself, or at least someone who does a very convincing Tisei impersonation. Advantage: Tisei.

Cover photo: You can’t judge a candidate by his Facebook cover photo ... or can you? Tierney’s cover shot is a smiling, sunny campaign-trail pic; whereas Tisei’s moody, blue-tinted image, accompanied by text asking (in big block letters) “ARE YOU READY FOR A NEW DIRECTION?” is, frankly, a little scary. Advantage: Tierney.

Other photos: Tisei’s page has a mere 23 wall photos, many of them actually ads touting Tisei or attacking Tierney — along with the requisite picture of Ronald Reagan, accompanied by a note that Tisei interned in the Reagan White House. (One degree of separation!) Tierney, who of course has years as a sitting congressman under his belt, has 41 wall photos and 27 shots from “around the district.” Oh, and one of those wall photos is of a doe-eyed bald baby with a giant Tierney sticker on his arm. Jackpot! Advantage: Tierney.

Comments: Not all that many on Tierney’s page, and the ones that are there tend to be of the “John, you are a true leader” variety — one gets the sense that someone may be spiking comments that are anything but complimentary or bland. Tisei’s, though, offers a little more back-and-forth among his followers, and there are even some comments speaking out against Tisei’s particular stands — one post about fishing regulations has a multi-faceted debate that goes on for 10 comments. Advantage: Tisei.

Likes: In the post-Facebook world, doesn’t it all come down to likes? As of this week, Tisei had 4,120, and Tierney had racked up only 2,616. Advantage: Tisei.

The final analysis: Looks like Tisei’s got the edge in the social media campaign, at least as far as Facebook’s concerned. (We’ll save Twitter for another column.) The congressman better get his supporters clicking their “Like” buttons in addition to getting out their checkbooks. And playing Farmville, of course.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

At Large Fake News Monday: Zuckerberg Still Checking For Ex-Girlfriend Friend Response

PALO ALTO (CAP) - Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whose company suffered a surprisingly lackluster initial public stock offering last week, is reportedly still distracted by the lack of a "Friend" response from the girlfriend who dumped him in college, an event that prompted him to invent the hugely successful social network.

"She hasn't accepted it, but she hasn't rejected it either," Zuckerberg told a close acquaintance who spoke to CAP News under condition of anonymity.

"Our research has shown that means I still have about a 28 percent chance of her responding in the affirmative," he told the acquaintance, who had actually asked about the decision to raise Facebook's projected stock price to a range of $34 to $38 from the initial $28 to $35.

Instead of answering the question about the stocks, Zuckerberg simply noted that "until that rejection comes, I'm still in the game," before misting up briefly and then turning icy and sarcastic.
The Social Network, the 2010 David Fincher movie about the founding of Facebook, famously ends with Zuckerberg sending a friend request to the girl - a BU student called "Erica Albright" in the movie - and then refreshing his screen repeatedly as he waits for an answer.

"That's pretty much how he spends every day, still," said another anonymous source within Facebook, who noted that people will often approach Zuckerberg with questions about the business or the latest revenue figures, and he'll just look out the window distractedly as he refreshes his screen over and over.

"I'd say he's giving the business the minimum amount of attention," said the source.

Zuckerberg's distraction has reportedly proven especially problematic given the initial public stock offering, not to mention his recent marriage to longtime companion Dr. Priscilla Chen.

"He just kept refreshing his Facebook page on his smartphone, and she just looked frustrated," said a waiter at the exclusive Caribbean resort where the couple honeymooned. "On the plus side, he accidentally left me a $400,000 tip. Cash!"

[Read the rest at CAP News.]

Friday, May 18, 2012

At Large Fake News Friday: Study - Axe Spray Makes Teenagers Smell Like Crap

WASHINGTON (CAP) - A new study out of the Pew Research Center focusing on Axe body sprays found that, of 100 teenagers using the products, 99 of them smelled "like total crap," according to Pew spokesman Dr. Francis Spitznagel.

"And it turned out the other kid was actually wearing Old Spice," Spitznagel said.

Interestingly, the findings stand in direct contrast to what the teenagers themselves thought of their personal odors, with the vast majority of them saying that they thought they smelled "wicked good."

"Girls totally love it," said Josh Zwybeck, 18, apparently believing the ads that insinuate women will actually lose control of their inhibitions and "go wild" when presented with a teenage boy who has sprayed himself with Silver Fusion or Cool Metal.

"But of course those commercials depict women reacting to what must be a pleasant, even arousing smell, whereas in reality the scent is repulsive," noted Spitzagel, adding, "not unlike crap."

The study attributes the young men's belief that the smell is attractive to a sort of mass delusion, "the scale of which we haven't seen since the one we monitored in 2008, when we found that most teenage girls believed Twilight was a true story."

Spitznagel noted that in many cases, the teenagers in the study even willed themselves to believe that showering - after a long lacrosse practice, for instance - was not necessary as long as they were spraying themselves liberally with Axe.

"In those instances, the teenagers smelled of an almost debilitating combination of Axe and body odor," Spitznagel said, adding that several researchers had collapsed from exposure and begged to be removed from the project, even volunteering to return to the study counting pictures of cats on the Internet.

"In one case the odor almost removed the skin from a researcher's face," said Spitznagel, like "that Nazi at the end of Raiders Of The Lost Ark."

"Nothing sexy about that, nuh-uh," he added.

[Read the rest at CAP News.]

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

At Large Fake News Tuesday: Mitt Romney Nabs Supercuts Endorsement

MINNEAPOLIS (CAP) - GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney this week secured a coveted endorsement from Supercuts, the hair salon franchise with more than 2,000 locations nationwide.

"Mitt Romney is someone who understands the importance of a good haircut," said Supercuts spokesman Mitchell Hanson. "And not just his own hair. If he sees someone who needs a haircut, he'll make sure it gets done. By any means possible."

Romney's hair-cutting past raised eyebrows recently when the Washington Post reported that as a high school student, Romney held down a gay student and cut his hair off. But Romney said he doesn't recall the incident; he suspects because he spent most of his high school career cutting people's hair.

"I was a regular Vidal Sassoon in those days, God rest his soul," said Romney. "As to the trims I gave back then, I don't remember them all, but again, high school days, if I did a poor coif, why, I'm afraid I've got to say sorry for it."

Romney says he estimates he probably gave a hundred or more haircuts to friends, classmates, teachers, administrators and groundskeepers at the exclusive Cranbrook private school, never charging them, citing the Mormon requirement of good citizenship.

"I suppose I may have been overzealous about a few of those trims, like some of my fellow Mormons have been about their number of wives and promoting their magic underpants," he said.

"It's like the old joke about the Boy Scout who helped the old lady to cross the street even though she didn't want to go," Romney said. "Except in this case the Boy Scout holds her down in the middle of the road and chops her fruity blonde hair off." At that point Romney's spokesperson abruptly ended the interview.

Oddly, subsequent conversations with Romney's former classmates and surviving Cranbrook staffers reveal that none of them recall the candidate having had a penchant for hair-cutting, or even owning a scissors.

"In fact, I think had to borrow a scissors the time he held that kid down and cut his fruity blonde hair off," said one former Cranbrook student who said he witnessed the incident that Romney doesn't remember, and has been in therapy ever since.

But some sources close to Romney say he's kept up his hair-cutting hobby to this day. The Boston Globe reported that when his children were younger he used to cut their hair, and would even get involved in trimming the fur of the family dog Seamus, often while the dog was on the top of the family car.

"He loved it - he would just jump right up there and lie on his back waiting for the shears," recalled Romney's wife Anne. "And the dog enjoyed it too."

[Read the rest at CAP News.]

Saturday, May 12, 2012

At Large Fake News Saturday: Success Of 'Avengers' Leads To Run On Shields, Mallets

HOLLYWOOD (CAP) - In the wake of the success of Marvel's The Avengers, which has taken in more than $600 million in worldwide ticket sales, manufacturers say they can't keep up with the demand for Captain America shields, Thor hammers and Iron Man metal helmets among the movie's target audience, 40- to 55-year-old men.

"I got the last one they had!" said Mark Pender, 41, a Boise accountant and father of two, as he brandished his official stainless steel Captain America shield while waiting for the No. 17 bus on Bannock Street in Boise. "It makes a neat clangy noise when you hit stuff against it," he noted, whacking it with his lunchbox as other white-collar commuters looked on with looks of barely contained jealousy.

In small towns and big cities all over the country, the streets are filled with middle-aged men carrying Avengers paraphernalia, according to Buck Frearson of the Super Hero Merchandise Co. of Spartanburg, S.C.

"These Thor mallets are about 12 pounds each, so they're not that easy to carry, but we've already sold more than 400,000 of them," said Frearson, hefting a hammer up by its strap and noting that men can be seen lugging them along the streets of Chicago and New York City in "staggering numbers."

"The only downside is the people who've accidentally broken their noses spinning them around," said Frearson, who, amid rumbles of a class action suit, says his company has started including warning labels that state, "Do not spin these around near your nose."

"Gods of Thunder these people aren't," he noted.

The run on Avengers merchandise by men in mid-life shouldn't be surprising, according Dr. Francis Spitznagel of the Pew Research Center. His study of the Avengers' opening weekend audience shows it was 80 percent made up of males who have been dreaming about this movie since they first read an Avengers comic book when they were 9.

"And the other 20 percent were wives and children dragged there by them," noted Spitznagel, who commented that it's the same demographic for whom improbably busty superheroines were invented.
The demographic isn't entirely male, though - for instance, New Jersey mother of three and Avengers fan Barbara Linebach, 42, was wearing a skintight Black Widow jumpsuit as she pushed her daughter, Madison, 4, down the produce aisle of the Barnegat, N.J. Safeway this week.

"I haven't been this excited about a new outfit since I bought those assless chaps for the Van Halen tour," said Linebach, adjusting the jumpsuit where her midsection kept protruding from between the top and the pants as frightened stock clerks scurried behind the deli counter.

[Read the rest at CAP News.]

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Column: The tube according to Osama

Fox News “falls into the abyss as you know, and lacks neutrality too.” CNN “seems to be in cooperation with the government more than others.” That was how Al Qaeda … rated several American TV news outlets, according to documents made public today.
Los Angeles Times, May 3
To: The Joint Chiefs of Staff
From: Combating Terrorism Center
Regarding: Osama bin Laden’s journals


Although reports have attributed critiques of American news networks to an Al Qaeda operative, Osama bin Laden’s personal journals — confiscated following the raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan — would seem to indicate that the criticisms may actually have come from bin Laden, who apparently spent several years in his bunker doing nothing but watching American television.

Following are 10 of bin Laden’s journal excerpts that bolster this opinion, for your eyes only:
 1) “Fox and Friends is as lacking in neutrality as the rest of the network’s programming, which is emblematic of the American arrogance and hubris. And who is doing the picking of Brian Kilmeade’s neckties? That person should be beheaded and his body defiled.”

 2) “Two and a Half Men: Ashton Kutcher, bah! I have a mind to order a fatwa against him, because of his conceit in believing he could take the place of Charlie Sheen, and also because I feel that eventually he will hurt Demi, whom I loved in ‘Striptease’ and would gladly make one of my many wives.”

3) “The Big Bang Theory: These wispy faux men would not last for a day in my ranks. Also, the one who argues that Superman is mightier than Green Lantern is foolish beyond all folly. Death to him!”
4) “House: I find this surly physician appealing! Also, he made me realize that I may have hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia. (Although my wives have thought I was a hypochondriac ever since I got obsessively neat after watching that Monk marathon last year. Curse them … Demi would believe in my ailments!)”

 5) “Glee: This show is so gay. In fact, these are some of the happiest people I’ve ever seen on television. Praise be to Glee!”

6) “The O’Reilly Factor: What is this No-Spin Zone he speaks of endlessly? I am beginning to think it is not a real place.”

7) “Undercover Boss: I once did this with my new recruits — masqueraded as one of them so I could see how truly dedicated they were to our glorious cause. Until one of the lieutenants tried to strap a bomb on me, and I was like ‘Hey, Osama here! Undercover boss! Good job, carry on everybody!’”

8) “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: “It is not fair that Americans should enjoy quality late-night humor while our brothers around the world are experiencing comedy of the most miserable level. Based on this, with the permission of God, we will continue to inflict Jay Leno upon you until the suffering of our people abates.”

9) “Deadliest Catch: Sadly about fishing.”

10) “The Voice: Terrible — these people have the voices of a hundred spitting camels being mauled to death by a Caspian tiger. Except for Dia Frampton, whose tones are like a blessed emissary of Allah and whom I would like to be one of my virgins when I arrive in paradise, many, many years from now. Oops, hold on, someone’s at the door.”

A version of this column originally appeared at CAP News. Check out other satire from me and CAP in “Net's Best Satire, Vol. 1,” available at Amazon and

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

At Large Fake News Wednesday: Avengers Buzz Spurs Plans For Wendy & Marvin Movie

HOLLYWOOD (CAP) - Anticipation over the release of Marvel's The Avengers has studios scrambling to bring other superhero properties to the big screen, including a live-action film featuring Wendy and Marvin from the Super Friends TV series.

"These are some of the most beloved characters in the history of the comics, or at least the Saturday morning television versions of the comics," said producer Martin Shafer. "Who will ever forget their adventures doing, you know, all those things they did with the Super Friends?"

"But in the movie you'll learn a lot more about them," said Shafer, pointing to a picture of the duo from the 1970s series. "You'll learn why Marvin had this big M on his shirt, and you'll see the origins of their torrid romance ... um, unless they're brother and sister, in which case, not so much. Also, I'm pretty sure that's a dog."

Asked point blank if he knew anything about the Marvin and Wendy characters beyond what was shown in the picture, Shafer paused for several seconds and then admitted that didn't. "But I do know that the rights to the characters had lapsed, so I bought them," he added.

Shafer, who also plans to direct the film, says he had hoped to cast Zac Efron, most recently of The Lucky One, and Jennifer Lawrence of The Hunger Games as Marvin and Wendy, but negotiations have proven difficult, given that he did not know who their agents were. However, he said, "I do have tentative agreements from The Situation and Tara Reid," the latter of whom appeared in Shafer's Human Centipede sequel.

Shafer noted that Reid would satisfy his investors' concerns that the movie's Wendy be sufficiently well-endowed so as to fit in among the more modern, improbably busty superheroines. "We will not be making the same mistake as the Superman reboot, which critics and fanboys agreed suffered from a lack of bosoms," he said.

[Read the rest at CAP News.]