Thursday, September 20, 2007


Despite persistent rumors that this blog was shut down due to subversive content, I am still alive and well. I just haven't made the time to blog lately, and really, there's no excuse. The Blog Fodder folder is overflowing, and I promise to try and work through it soon.

I haven't been blading since the 'tar pit' incident, and I may just put the skates away for the year. The mosquitoes are so bad I've dubbed my walks with Cyrus 'the two thousand meter slap'. Then a cold spell whooshed through, bringing with it my annual Winter Depression. I tried bundling up to do a two thousand meter shiver, but guess what? The mosquitoes are still out there!!

This weekend I'll be too busy to blog, but I promise to be back with more caustic commentary than you can swat a skeeter with.

(In fact, I must share a little slice of my Getalife: If I wasn't depressed enough about the impending Ice Age, I was once again reminded of my lifelong regret #1 Never Landed a Job Working as a Comedy Writer. Seems the woman who does my nails said she was waiting to hear what I had to say about the whole OJ thing. When people look to you instead of Jay Leno and David Letterman for humorous commentary, you've missed your calling. Sniff! No one can hear you cry in cyberspace.)

Funfest or bust!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Coffee, Tea, or You Annoy Me

Shadow Yang: ‘He was alone’
By Eric Litke
Sheboygan Press staff

A Hmong man who took his own life on Monday after shooting and killing a former coworker lived a reclusive and quiet existence, devoid of friends and family and cut off from the local Hmong community, neighbors and acquaintances said Tuesday.
I love how being quiet and minding your own business is of note in today's world.

Shadow Yang, 40, who lived alone in the rundown upper flat of a Kentucky Avenue duplex, forced his way into the Rockline Industries plant about 4:30 a.m. and killed 28-year-old Christina Wollenzien, police say. Wearing a camouflage jacket and armed himself with a semiautomatic handgun and 100 rounds of ammunition, Yang shot Wollenzien three times before retreating to another part of the Maryland Avenue plant to kill himself.
Another account mentioned Yang worked in the 'coffee filter division' there. I'm imagining a guy in Urban Camo with a white pith helmet, and instead of the iconic 'shrubbery' stuck all over him; the white coffee filters are glued all over his helmet and shoulders to help him blend in as he stalks his prey...

Somsy Kingpadith, Yang’s downstairs neighbor for the last two years, said the shooting “surprised me and it kind of didn’t.”
Your point being? The only positive here is he killed himself.

“Just the way he carried himself, he seemed like a person that would go to an extreme if he had to do something,” said Kingpadith, 29, who lives at 707 Kentucky Ave., with her husband and four children. “He never really smiled, never talked … kind of creepy in a way.”
What of the name Shadow? Was he dark in mood as a little boy? Change his name as an adult? Interesting.

Kingpadith said she saw Yang only a few times over the last two years, and never once talked to him. She never saw anyone else come or go from his apartment.“It just seemed like there was no one living there,” Kingpadith said.
I'd check around for some other missing people who aren't "living" there...

Vue Yang, a leader in the Sheboygan Hmong community, said Shadow Yang moved to Sheboygan from Detroit about 2001, when he started work at Rockline. He had no family here, and his parents live in Detroit. Vue Yang said he hadn’t seen Shadow Yang since he first came to the community.“He is part of the Yang clan, but he didn’t want to mix with anybody … he never attended any function or social activity, he just stayed by himself,” Vue Yang said. “That’s very unusual. Most of the time when there’s a summer festival or somebody died, or some New Year’s thing, people show up, but for some reason he didn’t come.”
Man, I'm a regular ticking time bomb myself!

But while Shadow Yang kept to himself, he also kept out of trouble, police and Rockline officials said. Sheboygan police had no contact with him outside of a 2001 citation for unsafe parking, and Rockline officials said he had a “very good record” in his five years working as a forklift operator.
His aim with those pointy forks was really good...

He stopped coming to work without explanation in October 2006, and had been unemployed since, said Lt. Jeff Johnston of the Sheboygan Police Department.
He had some blogging to catch up on...

Kingpadith said she wished her neighbor had reached out to someone before taking the drastic steps he did.“I wish he would talk to somebody or at least ask for some kind of help that he had to go and do this,” she said. “He was alone.”
So he could have taken more people with him?

The Twin Gripes

Inevitably, the question was asked, "Do you remember everything about September 11, 2001?"

"Of course," I blurted. "I paid a reasonable amount for a tank of gas and I was still proud to be an American."

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Pop Goes the Lawsuit!

Doctor warns consumers of popcorn fumes
By MARCUS KABEL, Associated Press Writer
Wed Sep 5, 7:47 AM ET

Consumers, not just factory workers, may be in danger from fumes from buttery flavoring in microwave popcorn, according to a warning letter to federal regulators from a doctor at a leading lung research* hospital.

The Pop Secret is out! Knew there was a reason I liked Doritos.

A pulmonary specialist at Denver's National Jewish Medical and Research Center has written to federal agencies to say doctors there believe they have the first case of a consumer who developed lung disease from the fumes of microwaving popcorn several times a day for years.

Wait a minute - eating four bags of microwave popcorn a day might be bad for you? It might indicate other health and nutrition problems?

"We cannot be sure that this patient's exposure to butter flavored microwave popcorn from daily heavy preparation has caused his lung disease," cautioned Dr. Cecile Rose. "However, we have no other plausible explanation."

Like his two-pack per day Marlboro habit? Why would you say that, Dr. Rose of Newport Beach, SC, married to an R.J. Reynolds heir?

The July letter, made public Tuesday by a public health policy blog, refers to a potentially fatal disease commonly called popcorn lung that has been the subject of lawsuits by hundreds of workers at food factories exposed to chemicals used for flavoring.

Pop music to the snack cracker companies' ears...

In response to Rose's finding, the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association issued a statement Tuesday recommending that its members reduce "to the extent possible" the amount of diacetyl in butter flavorings they make. It noted that diacetyl is approved for use in flavors by the federal Food and Drug Administration.

The Flavor and Extract lobby is very powerful. That's why there's so many black jelly beans in a bag.

One national popcorn manufacturer, Weaver Popcorn Co. of Indianapolis, said last week it would replace the butter flavoring ingredient because of consumer concern. Congress has also been debating new safety measures for workers in food processing plants exposed to diacetyl.

In a totally unrelated incident, Jiffy Pop Stove Top Popcorn sales are threatening to blow the tinfoil roof off the industry...

The FDA said in an e-mail it is evaluating Rose's letter and "carefully considering the safety and regulatory issues it raises."

Bribes are being prepared now. If you were sick of ethanol kick-backs, just wait!

Fred Blosser, spokesman for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, said it is the first case the institute has seen of lung disease apparently linked to popcorn fumes outside the workplace.

Oh, but we knew about the ones inside all along. Didn't tell the employees. But we knew.

The occupational safety arm of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it is working on a response to the letter.

Because they keep smudging their reply with their greasy 'real butter' fingers...

William Allstetter, spokesman for National Jewish Medical, confirmed the letter was sent by Rose, a specialist in occupational and environmental lung diseases and director of the hospital's Occupational and Environmental Medicine Clinic.

Forget letters that have anthrax fall out of them - the new threat is Mrs. Dash's Butter Substitute

"There have been no other cases that we know of other than the industrial occupational ones," Allstetter said.

Butter not be.

Rose acknowledged in the letter that it is difficult to confirm through one case that popping buttered microwave popcorn at home can cause lung disease.

Like perhaps it's the malignant Maytag Microwave????

However, she said she wanted to alert regulators of the potential public health implications.

You realize every business in America just banned Microwave Popcorn as a CYA that does nothing to address actual employee safety issues...

Rose said the ailing patient, a man whom she wouldn't identify, consumed "several bags of extra butter flavored microwave popcorn" every day for several years.

Bet it's her dad.

He described progressively worsening respiratory symptoms of coughing and shortness of breath. Tests found his ability to exhale was deteriorating, Rose said, although his condition seemed to stabilize after he quit using microwave popcorn.

Really? Quit how? Hazelden Pretzelden?

She said her staff measured airborne levels of diacetyl in the patient's home when he cooked the popcorn. The levels were "similar to those reported in the microwave oven exhaust area" at the quality assurance unit of the popcorn plant where the affected employees worked, she said.

Did the extra exertion of the subject as he pounded on the little metal box screaming "Faster, dammit! Pop faster!" help things along any?

David Michaels, of the George Washington University School of Public Health, who first published Rose's letter on his blog, The Pump Handle, said the finding is another reason for federal regulators to crack down on diacetyl exposure by workers and consumers.

You go, Pop Culture Bloggers!!

"This letter is a red flag, suggesting that exposure to food flavor chemicals is not just killing workers, but may also be causing disease in people exposed to food flavor chemicals in their kitchens," Michaels wrote on his public health policy blog.

Mrumg...wreally? Like these (crunch, crunch) Fakin' Bits I put on my salad every night?

*Funded by the Orville Redenbacher Old Fashioned Popcorn Institute

Monday, September 03, 2007

Veni, Vedi, Visa II

Some events you can attend once or twice, and then you’re bored or at least want a break for a few years. For some reason, I can’t get enough of a local Maxwell Street Days festival. A glorified sidewalk sale near the end of summer has become an annual event for me and Louise, and we now have it down to a science, eating breakfast and dinner with hours and hours of shopping in between.

This year, I decided my theme would be the letter S.

Sandals: The end-of-season half price sale on Minnetonkas is not to be missed! Every year I get at least one pair for the next season. This year I wanted orange.
Seahorses: so far I’ve bought a candle holder and purse with a seahorse theme at the event, so I was on the lookout for anything else that might catch my eye.
Sunglass holder: mine broke.
Scented candles: Love ‘em!
Scarves: scored some nice ones in years past.
Skirt: for some reason I get really good wool skirts at this event. I’m not sure why, as most of the merchandise is summer wear on clearance, but who am I to argue?
Stegosaurus: I have a stuffed Triceratops, Proceratops, Raptor, Tyrannosaurus, Apatosaurus and Godzilla. (Yes, I know… but he’s really cool and makes the trademark roar while his eyes light up red when you squeeze his tummy…) I suddenly decided I needed a Stegosaurus. So shoot me.

So I had no problems with the orange sandals, or the other two cool pairs I found at Jones New York.

No scented candles to be found, and nary a Stegosaur or Seahorse in sight. I did however, stumble into a Speed Racer close out and snapped up a pink baby doll T with the whole gang (including my favorite character, the Mach 5) on it and a Speed Racer coffee mug!

Also got a great deal on a little lighthouse purse that will match my lighthouse scarf and a Route 66 rolling tote bag to replace the one that broke.

When reading fashion magazines, I like to rip out the pages featuring outfits I’d like to try or buy. I keep these in the closet until I assemble the needed pieces. For several years I’ve had a photo of a tall willowy model in a camel-colored tartan plaid skirt (complete w/big safety pin) as a ‘must have’ item on my wish list. When I would spot such an item in a store, it would always be super long – for that tall toothpick-like supermodel. I’d hold it up and watch the fringe drag along the ground. So much for looking cool in tall boots. No one would know I had boots on. Finally, I threw the picture out. I was never going to find it.

Much to my surprise, right on the sidewalk was the skirt! And it was short! Only to my knee. Glancing at the tag, I saw 9/10. Not my usual size, but it looked as if it might fit – and it was 50% off!!
First, a word about me and “50% Off”. I’m reasonably bright. Capable of basic math. Cognizant of the national conspiracy from the President on down to get me to spend my hard-earned dollars, lest the terrorists win. Cerebral enough to recognize the Skinner Box a coupon presents to my psyche. Yet, I still get excited by the words “Clearance” and “percent off”. Where’s my pellet? What do you mean this coupon’s expired?

Anyhoo… I go into the Irish import store and try on the wool kilt. Due to an elastic waistband, it fits. Score! As I’m checking out, I notice the tag says ‘ages 9-10. Children’s Kilt.” Oh. Must be some ‘authentic’ native dress for tweens doing Riverdance. Who cares? It’ll look great with boots all winter.

I really should research what that particular tartan means. I’ll bet it corresponds to the “Coupon-Wielding Cheapskate Clan” or the “Short Sarcastic Lassies of the Lowlands”.

I've Been Reading/Watching

Need to report on all the things I’ve been reading/watching from way back when it was too rainy to go outside. Now, it’s too mosquito-y to go outside.

Tara Road – movie with Andie MacDowell
After reading Circle of Friends (loved it) and seeing the movie with Minnie Driver (loved it, but why change the ending?) I must question whether the book had such a happy ending. But who cares? Just cute escapist chick movie. I love Andie, so I give it an A- for feel-good no-brainer.

Screamers – System of a Down
The Diary of Immaculee

Nothing like a rainy weekend and some documentaries about genocide to make you feel good! Jokes aside, these were both very informative and eye-opening. I wish Diary had been longer and more in-depth. It certainly made me realize how violence can happen anywhere, with any excuse. There’s a lot more I would like to know about – how she left the country, etc. and I realize it would take many more hours to discuss that. I plan on getting her book to see if it covers her whole life more effectively.
Screamers: B+
Immaculee: B-

NOVA specials
Kingdom of the Seahorse….Awwww! About time males took some responsibility for reproduction. B+
DNA: Secret of Photo 51 Gee, I want to be a woman scientist when I grow up! No wonder Lisa Nowak went nuts. There’s just no respect for women in science. A for outrage.

Becket Movie w/Richard Burton Peter O’Toole
Love costume dramas in castles! Love the relevance of the topic: we still can’t get a priest into a courtroom to face civil laws. A.

Wonderful Tonight – Autobiography of Pattie Boyd
In case you don’t know, Pattie Boyd was the model who married George Harrison of the Beatles, only to leave him for Eric Clapton. Do you need any more name dropping than that to pick up this book? I certainly didn’t. I give the book a B. I give the vicarious thrills an A. This is pretty much every woman’s fantasy. Well, at least mine. I’d love for Robert Plant and Klaus Meine to get into a fight over me. Oh, let’s throw Steve Perry, Alice Cooper, Sammy Hagar and David Coverdale in there too. Just for good measure. May the best rocker win.

Speaking of rock-wannabe’s…
A cute book is Mom, Have You Seen My Leather Pants? by Craig A. Williams
Craig writes about his experiences as a teen musician in the 80s. Hysterical! B.

The Bourne Ultimatum - Movie
Mr. Right and I went to see this, despite my dread of public movie theaters. The movie was great, I give it an A! It was so refreshing to see the anti-24. Perhaps Bourne signifies our nation’s conscience?

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (in progress)

Dear Ms. Rowling:

As I am not yet finished with this book, I realize this comment may be premature, however…

I don’t care if you kill off Harry, Hermione, Ron and the whole kit and caboodle at Hogwarts – in fact, if you did, I would only respect you more for teaching little ones that good never does triumph over evil. But how could you be so callous as to off that innocent little fluff-ball Hedwig? People dying? Tough toenails. Animals*? Not allowed!!!

Girl Who Cried Through Dances With Wolves Because Wolf and Horse Were Shot

*Includes Magical Creatures

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Pigs Fly!

From the "They're Handing out Earmuffs in Hell" dept.:

LOS ANGELES -- Owen Wilson, hospitalized after an apparent suicide attempt, has dropped out of the upcoming ensemble comedy "Tropic Thunder."
The 38-year-old actor will not appear in the DreamWorks movie, already six weeks into production in Hawaii. Sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to comment, told The Associated Press that Wilson was to have a cameo role in the film. "Tropic Thunder" stars Jack Black, Robert Downey, Jr., and Ben Stiller, who is also directing.

Who could have guessed that Owen Wilson would be the high-risk bet to not complete a picture due to personal demons/drug use? I mean, if Robert Downey Jr. is still upright... Whew! Owen must really be a mess.
For great Owen coverage, see: OwenWatch