Zhaba Zhournal
Friday, January 30, 2004 
Update alert 
If you're one of the two or possibly three people who actually checks this out on a regular basis, I've attempted to rectify my recent dearth of posting, and make my archive pages look less pathetic, by doing a bunch of backdated posts from January 5th to 25th, including notes on the Golden Globes, election-extrapolating political pundits, the State of the Union address, the mass-media mass-hysteria over Jenjamin (aren't you sick of "Bennifer" as, not only a couple, but a word?), an enormous amount of sports coverage in the form of a post each about figure skating and Pete Rose (when you live in Philadelphia, you take the sports hero...um, legend...um, scandal-ridden yet once-talented embarrassment you can), and the past two Friday Fives. So scroll down the page, and check out the archives, for a retroactive dose of Zhaba Zhournalism.

[ at 9:38 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Imponderables, linguistic edition 
Why is the word "anapest" a dactyl?

Shouldn't a "starlet" be a baby starling?

Wouldn't you think that "baseline" should rhyme with "Vaseline"?

[ at 9:10 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday Five 
You have just won one million dollars:

1. Who do you call first?

J., if I'm not already with him; probably my parents, otherwise. And perhaps my boss...although I wouldn't quit till the first payment was in the bank, thankyouverymuch.

2. What is the first thing you buy for yourself?

A huge, expensive, politically-incorrect full-length fox-fur coat. PETA can go jump in a lake. (If there was any parking on my street, maybe a red Porsche instead, but there isn't. I'd hold off on the Porsche till I moved into a place with off-street parking. Even a house with a garage; I've heard tell of such places.)

3. What is the first thing you buy for someone else?

Pay off all the mortgages on all my family's houses; anything my parents still owe on their house or their beach house, my brother's rowhouse, and the house I live in with J., which is technically in my mom's name.

4. Do you give any away? If yes, to whom?

Hm. Yeah, I guess it would look good if I did. Probably a chunk of change to PBS to keep "Reading Rainbow" on the air forever. (It almost went under last year, I recall, but there was enough grass-roots momentum to get it funded again.)

5. Do you invest any? If so, how?

Do I look like I know anything about investing? I actually have some IRAs, and some other stock-like things, but I have no idea what they're actually called or what they're worth or how to get at them. (Numbers, including money-related numbers, mean almost nothing to me, in the same way that Japanese calligraphy means almost nothing to trained apes.) I just open envelopes a few times a year and say "Huh, I lost money." Perhaps I'd just throw several thousand dollars at the family broker and say "Do something with this." Or, to clarify, "Do something legal with this."

[ at 8:49 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Thursday, January 29, 2004 
Retroactive acronym department 
KFC just ran an ad with the full-screen text image
Nice try, guys. I guess it beats claiming you're part of a healthy diet, though.

[ at 10:06 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Wednesday, January 28, 2004 
Talking to the TV 
During a Today Show story about fertility treatments (is that what they call them instead of "infertility treatments" now?):
Katie Couric: James and Amy had been trying for years to get pregnant...

Me: James, in particular, had been having trouble.

[ at 1:11 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

All the news that we feel like telling you 
There has, as you may have heard, been bad weather here in the northeastern U.S. Those of us in the northeastern U.S. have certainly been hearing about it, much more than we actually need to.

Today, J. woke me up at 7:30 and told me the Today Show, which usually starts at 7, had been preempted till 8 by a "Special Edition" (i.e., a snow edition) of the local news, which he reported thus:
J.: "Hey, it snowed! Hey, it's snowing! Hey, there's snow!" And all they've said about the New Hampshire primaries is "Kerry won, Dean came in second, and then there were some other guys. We're not going to tell you about them. Fuck you. Hey, it snowed!"

Me (picking up the thread): "What, you care about that shit? We'll tell you what to think!"
And, for heaven's sake, it snowed all of two inches. The schools weren't even closed. Two inches of snow, in January, in Philadelphia, is not special-edition-worthy news.

(Here's a screenshot of the local station's Web page, in all its snow-oriented glory. I saved the image with the logical name "snowscreen.jpg," and didn't realize till afterwards that it's appropriate in more than one way...)

[ at 10:30 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Tuesday, January 27, 2004 
Headline of the day (yesterday) 
(I wrote this yesterday, but our Internet connection went down and I couldn't post it.)

Reuters headline: Democrats Hunt Undecideds in New Hampshire.

Does anyone else picture them in blaze-orange vests with rifles over their shoulders, stalking their prey through the frozen woods? (Like this guy, whose image I swiped from the Cabela's hunting catalogue. I didn't link directly to it because on their site it was conjoined with a picture of a guy with a dead deer on his back, which some people would probably find unpleasant.)

[ at 9:49 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Sunday, January 25, 2004 
Notes on the Golden Globes 
Sofia Coppola, in her Golden Globe screenplay acceptance speech: "I'll thank everyone later because I have to get off the stage." Spoken like a true Hollywood daughter...

(J.'s advice, told to the TV during almost every awards ceremony when some starlet is going on and on and on about her win and the audience is applauding increasingly less-enthusiastically and the orchestra's trying to decide if her rank on the Hollywood totem pole allows them to start the music: "Thank your parents, get off the stage.")

Somewhat later:

Wow, the Golden Globes ended spang on time. The 11 o'clock news started, by the lower-right-corner clock, at 11:00. I think this is unprecedented in the history of televised awards shows.

[ at 11:40 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Talking to the TV, special political edition 
TV commentators, as the New Hampshire primaries approach:

One of them's talking about how polls and pundits and previous performance don't predict victory in N.H.*; me: "Yeah, those wacky voters keep having ideas of their own."

On how "the nation's African-Americans have not rallied behind a single candidate"; me: "Yeah, what with them not being the same person, and all."

*Sorry about all the alliteration in that sentence; I purposely didn't use "primary" again to keep it under control.

[ at 8:33 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday, January 23, 2004 
Friday Five 
At this moment, what is your favorite...

1. ...song?

Song? This I know from nothing. (I'm not a music-listening person. I know, it's pathetic, and I'll have to have my Gen X permit revoked.)

2. ...food?

Can I say "cocktails made with Grand Marnier"? Not that I, you know, drink an awful lot, and don't always eat dinner before or after...

3. ...tv show?

Daily Show Daily Show Daily Show! (That should all be one long uninterrupted string, to indicate how I actually say it when I leap from the couch to change the channel at 7 p.m., when the previous night's show comes on; but I couldn't figure out a way to punctuate/not punctuate/capitalize/not capitalize it that didn't look stupid.)

4. ...scent?

The lack thereof. (When buying soap and laundry detergent and dryer sheets, I'm always on the lookout for "stink-free" products. When I absolutely couldn't find fragrance-free fabric softener, I kept muttering "I reek of mountain-fresh scent.")

5. ...quote?

Argh. I did quotes last week. Go read those.

[ at 8:47 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Hollywood minute half-second or so 
For some reason, it's news that Jen & Ben, or Bennifer, or Jenjamin, or Loffleck, or Affpez [and why isn't there a Jennifer Lopez Pez dispenser?], have Really and Truly Broken Up. [Yawn.] Excuse me, Jen & Ben breaking up is like Michael Jordan retiring from sports or Cher going on a farewell tour; or, hell, the boy crying wolf. After a few times, nobody believes it, or cares; and when it finally happens, it's not even interesting. (Well, the boy getting eaten by the wolf would be interesting, if you like bloody messes.)

[ at 12:51 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Thursday, January 22, 2004 
State, for the record 
When Bush, in the State of the Union address*, misread the Designated Cute Letter-Writing Child's age as "Two...ten" (in digits, "2...10"), I had enough mathematical conversion on the brain to think, "Hey, maybe he was reading it in binary." (J.: "That's an extremely charitable way to put it.")

*That's a link to whitehouse.gov's official transcript, so presumably it won't expire. The bit about the ten-year-old child is the fourth paragraph from the bottom, but the transcript doesn't have the misreading. (I guess if White House transcripts included all the misreadings, they'd be an awful lot longer.)

[ at 10:03 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Wednesday, January 21, 2004 
"Today in History" fact o' the day 
Today is the 80th anniversary of the death of Vladimir Lenin. (Scroll down to the second item of that link.) His embalmed corpse doesn't look a day over 79...

[ at 7:48 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday, January 16, 2004 
Friday Five 
1. What does it say in the signature line of your emails?

My work e-mail has, go figure, my name, title, and company information. My personal e-mail has a line of Perl poetry that's over a year old; I keep meaning to change it, but I don't know what to.

2. Did you have a senior quote in your high school yearbook? What was it? If you haven't graduated yet, what would you like your quote to be?

My high school was a) tiny and b) well-funded, so the seniors each got a whole page to themselves. I don't have my yearbook on me, but I did my page as an illuminated manuscript, and my quotes included:

"Forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit—Vergil" ("Perhaps someday we will look back on even this and be happy"—high school in a nutshell; I didn't translate it in the actual yearbook, though.)

"Sine pluvia nullus arcus—Me" ("No rainbow without the rain"—well, I was an untreated bipolar at the time.)

I only got one quote in my college yearbook:

"If I am not for myself, then who is for me?—Hillel"

I submitted a few others, but that was the only one that made it. I suspect they chose it because Hillel is a noted Jewish sage, and they thought I might be quoting him because I was Jewish, and therefore it would be religiously insensitive not to use it. (I'm not Jewish; but it is one of the quotes I keep coming back to, to remind myself how to deal with life...)

3. If you had vanity plates on your car, what would they read? If you already have them, what do they say?

No car. I think I wouldn't want a vanity plate, because it would make it easier for people to remember and track down...um, not that I'd be trying to escape from the law; but you don't want to give road-ragers or possible stalkers any help, do you?

4. Have you received any gifts with messages engraved upon them? What did the inscription say?

Nup. J. and I did get a cross-stitch wedding sampler from his sister with an alphabet with the letters "I DO" enlarged, and our initials and the date. Which is as much information as a wedding sampler needs, I think; never mind the hearts and doves and inspirational quotes from the Bible and Hallmark Cards writers...

5. What would you like your epitaph to be?

Um...something having to do with having a long, happy, successful life? I don't know. I think it's bad mojo to think that far ahead...

[ at 8:40 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Wednesday, January 14, 2004 
Still here 
I haven't disappeared from the face of the blogosphere; it's just been totally crazy at work. For one thing, our office was supposed to have moved last week. Much of our furniture actually has moved, as well as our DSL and phone accounts. Unfortunately, the tenant of our new office hasn't actually moved out. So we're stuck here with one working Internet connection that's painfully slow and which we're only supposed to use for business or very brief e-mail and news checking, and one working phone line that only rings on one phone. Oh, it's a joy.

And then there was the interval last week when my computer spontaneously and completely died, and my boss had to actually borrow someone's Leatherman and physically take the computer apart to get it working again. (As soon as it was working again, I tried to do a backup of all my data, in case the stupid thing died again; this is when we realized the supply cabinet and all the blank CD-ROMs were in the other office.)

Also, I'm in the middle of one of those Hell Projects that was due last Wednesday, although I didn't know it was due last Wednesday until getting back from the winter break last Monday, and moreover I had somehow failed to observe that half of the project was actually part of the project. (The files were in a different format and the hard copies were bound differently and I somehow just didn't think they counted.) I've hardly been taking breaks to eat, let alone amuse myself online.

So anyway. I'm still around, and I have plenty o' things I want to post about...just no time, and hardly any Internet capability. Maybe I'll write up some of the stuff I've been thinking about and do some backdated posts this weekend. But now, back to work, insofar as is possible...

[ at 2:07 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Wednesday, January 07, 2004 
Production values and the value of productions 
J. and I have commented wistfully on this possibility, and at last it's coming true: there's a plan to make a movie out of the musical of "The Producers." I suppose it might seem like unnecessary overkill; but the movie, however brilliant and hilarious, is also hopelessly stuck in the 60's (Max says he's going to buy a "toy" and returns with a blonde Swedish secretary, the guy who wins the role of Hitler is a fur-boot-wearing hippie named LSD); the musical is brilliant, hilarious, and more palatable. No one's going to top Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder, and Kenneth Mars; but I think the Broadway cast can be just as un-toppable in their own way. (Like "Chicago" backwards: I don't think there's anyone in Hollywood today who could top Gwen Verdon, Chita Rivera, and Jerry Orbach on Broadway, but Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and, of all people, Richard Gere were perfect movie incarnations.)

Besides, the Broadway show is a) expensive and b) almost impossible to get tickets for, and even if you do get tickets, there's no telling who's going to be playing the lead roles by the time you actually see it. (And also c) in New York, requiring considerable travel time and expense for anyone who doesn't live on the mid-Atlantic East Coast.) So filming the two original stars, with the original Broadway director directing, and enabling everyone who can get to a movie theater to see it for $8 or so, is actually—I'm running out of superlatives—well, it's a great idea, and a valuable service to that part of humanity that loves movies, musicals, Broadway, and the intersections thereof.

[ at 9:37 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Tuesday, January 06, 2004 
On ice 
Sports Fact o' the Day: Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding were 24 and 23, respectively, at the '94 Olympics. Gosh, these days, that's practically the age when we take them out and shoot them.


I mean, people are amazed that Michelle Kwan is still competing at the near-geriatric age of 22. Jeez, skating is turning into women's gymnastics...

[ at 10:47 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Monday, January 05, 2004 
But what about a triple word score? 
This is totally silly and pointless, so of course I had to post it:

Pholph's Scrabble Generator

My Scrabbleİ Score is: 19.
What is your score? Get it here.

[ at 5:31 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Don't take that to the bank 
No one in our office got paid last week, because the bank somehow lost all the account information for our entire company. My boss called them this morning, spent a lot of time on hold, and finally got through to someone who said "We know there are problems, we're having a branch emergency." He asked to talk to our account manager; "She'll have to call you later, she's talking to the police right now."

I can hardly wait to see how it all turns out...

[ at 1:06 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

TV oddities 
The "Today Show" aired a clip swiped from Aljazeera* TV news. The crawl [of course they have a crawl] goes from left to right, just like ours. It initially seemed counterintuitive; but, come to think of it, I think it'd actually be easier to read right-to-left text that came at you with the beginning of the words first.

*Don't tell me I'm spelling or capitalizing or word-separating it wrong, and it should actually be "Al Jazeera" or "al-Jazirah" or some other Roman-alphabet Anglicized transliteration. On the English edition of their own Web site they call themselves "Aljazeera," and that's good enough for me.

[ at 10:41 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

What are the odds? 
Pete Rose has finally admitted he bet on baseball. J.'s version of his thought process: "I want to get into the Hall of Fame before I die, and I've tried everything else, so I might as well try the truth." (It's so crazy, it just might work!)

[ at 10:25 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Book and Cover Dep't 
Intro to "Today Show" segment on plastic surgery—lists some celebrities who've had it, then "And Michael Jackson? You be the judge."
J.: If I were the judge, I wouldn't focus on the surgery.
Later in the segment: "aesthetic," rather than "cosmetic," surgery. Is that so it'll sound less fruity to men, or so it'll sound less flaky to insurance companies?

[ at 9:45 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Sunday, January 04, 2004 
So, Britney Spears goes to Vegas, gets drunk, gets married, and files for annulment in the space of twelve hours or so. But don't you forget for one minute that, as our illustrious president said after the Massachusetts same-sex marriage decision, "Marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman." Yep, can't let those homosexuals insult the "sanctity of marriage" that soooooooooooooooo many straight people are soooooooooooooo committed to. I mean, Heaven forfend that two persons of the same gender who have been in a committed, monogamous relationship for fifty years should be guaranteed the legal right to, say, visit each other in the hospital when they're dying; but let us give the full benefits of the laws of the city of Las Vegas, the great state of Nevada, the United States of America, and, indeed, every country on Earth to a hop-buzzed pop tart who can figure out where to sign her name on a marriage license.

The boldface and links around "sacred" and "sanctity" in Bush's quotes are relics of the post I originally cited them in, which was titled "Psst...church and state, anyone?" But I've decided the emphasis works just as well here, because I can't get Matthew 7:6 out of my head: "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs." And in looking up the reference, I found out it's part of this oft-quoted passage:
1"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

6"Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.

Matthew 7:1-6, NIV

(This has long been one of my pet peeves, or at least superficially-domesticated peeves, about marriage in this country. If I let this peeve out of its cage, I'll probably go down the street biting people, though, so I'll keep it reined in, and only vent in writing, in cyberspace, for now...)

[ at 4:53 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Yes, that's me.


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