Friday, September 30, 2011

Happy 75th, Jim Henson!

If Jim Henson was still alive, he would be 75 this year. It's astonishing to think of what he could have created had he survived, and equally astonishing to realize just how much he accomplished in his short life.

Below is a fun behind-the-scenes video explaining the Google Doodle that was displayed on his birthday a few days ago. It was a pretty silly creation involving digital puppetry you could do yourself. It was really fun, and made me remember all the great times my siblings and I had down at the old ranch we used to go in the summer. There was no TV or video games, so we'd put on puppet shows and sometimes just walk around, hands in puppets, pretending like the world was the Muppets. In another life (or maybe later on in this one), I'd definitely be a puppeteer.

Hope you're doing well in the great beyond, Jim! We sure do miss you down here.

Things Could be Worse

I know, I know, I be sharing all the blogs today, but what can I say? I see something funny, and I want to share it with you, my beloved readers.

A super fun, super duper weird blog I've seen around town is Things Could Be Worse. It's a good place to go when you want to feel better about your own misfortunes. How can you feel bad about disappointing your boss or not getting invited to that party when aspiring vampire artists can't paint self portraits (can't see their reflections!) and a snowman chef is put into danger in every kitchen he ventures? It's just not possible.

Mark Malkoff's Free Cab Rides

Comedic stuntman (or stunt-filled comedian?) Mark Malkoff does it again when he hires a cab for 14 hours and gives as many New Yorkers as possible free cab rides around the city. Sounds pretty sweet but not very funny, right? Well, since it's Mark, there's a little wackiness thrown in there for flavor: costumes, popcorn, and a very prestigious opera singer.

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Aww. Here's a sweet video of Mister Roger's singing "Won't You Be My Neighbor" throughout the run of 'Mr. Roger's Neighborhood.' It's incredible how little changes despite the fact that it began in 1967 and ran until 2001. Clearly, he's the same sweet, caring man the whole way through.

[via Mental Floss]

Support H.R. 2969 - Extending Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Transplant Patients!

Hooray! The companion legislation for the Senate bill on extending health coverage for transplant patients has been introduced to the house by Congressman Michael Burgess (R) and Congressman Ron Kind (D): H.R. 2969. This makes it a truly bi-partisan and bi-cameral bill. So show your support and follow the bills as they move through legislation and let's hope we can get this passed!

A few choice quotes from this Flower Mound Star article on the announcement:

"Although now more mainstream than heroic, renal transplantation offers end stage renal disease patients an alternative to a lifetime of dialysis," said Burgess, who is the vice chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health and Chairman of the Congressional Health Care Caucus. "How incredibly cruel then, that the gravest threat to their newly acquired kidney is an incoherent federal policy that denies coverage for anti-rejection drugs after 36 months and a costlier return to patients and the Medicare system to dialysis."
And from the National Kidney Foundation (for whom I'm doing a walk here in NYC on Oct. 16th. Last year I raised about $700 and met Grizz Chapman. I hope I can do that this year, too!)

"The National Kidney Foundation commends Representatives Burgess and Kind for their leadership on this critically important legislation. This bill, coupled with the companion legislation by Senators Durbin and Cochran, will ensure that thousands of Americans can keep their transplants, allow thousands more to be transplanted, and reduce the need for re-transplants of people who can no longer pay for vital medication and who end up back on dialysis and the transplant waiting list. This legislation is a major first step towards achieving the goal of the National Kidney Foundations 'End the Wait' initiative to find solutions to the organ shortage and eliminate the all-too-long wait for a transplant," said Lynda Szczech, MD, National Kidney Foundation President.
So get to supporting, everyone! We can do this!!

The October Unprocessed Challenge

While I'm not big on "challenges" even though at some point I'd love to do the "write a novel in a month" challenge that takes place in November, I figured I'd give this "unprocessed" challenge a try. Why? Because first of all, I don't eat a lot of unprocessed foods to begin with and second of all, why not? It's only a month and the most I'd be giving up is my some-nightsly Edy's slow churn which, quite frankly, I really should not be eating as much of as I am.

Plus, I've decided to do a "Sundays don't count" rule, as that's football time and my boy (who's going to try the challenge with me) deserves to be getting his snack on when his game's on. That being said, I'll try to help him choose less processed snacks on those days.

And the biggest payoff? Before I know it, it'll be October 31st, aka Halloween, aka biggest candy binge at midnight ever.

What the people proposing this challenge anticipated? No. Will it work out about the same in the end? Yep. And that's all that matters.

... Am I eating the last vestiges of Edy's in my freezer right now? ... Maybe...

[Read more about the challenge and sign up for yourself (if you want to, of course!) at Eating Rules]

Arya the Corgi Mix

Baboom! Ending with Arya, a corgi mix. Not a corgi mixed with a poodle, but pretty darn cute regardless. Rolling in the hay has never been cuter, and less about sexual innuendo.

[Daily Puppy]

Bella Kai the Goldendoodle

The Daily Puppy's Bella Kai further proves my point about adorable goldendoodles. Also, they must be getting pretty darn popular if I can find so many great pictures of them! Hopefully popularity will mean that in x amount of years when I get a puppy, it won't cost me $5k. Also, I'd like to get one from a shelter, so here's hoping they have -oodle mixes there! What if they had a goldencorgidoodle?!

Bodie the Goldendoodle

Ok, prepare for the onslaught of puppy posts. Deal with it!

First is Bodie the Goldendoodle, proving my point that goldendoodles are probably the cutest breed mix out there, excepting poodle+corgi, which I've never seen before but would probably be so cute it would destroy us all.

[Daily Puppy]

Eponymity: Immortality through Nouns!

Wanna Live Forever? Become A Noun from NPR on Vimeo.
I'm loving this catchy tunes about eponyms and their creators. True, no one likes the guillotine, but I really do love cardigans! Especially the cardigan Welsh corgi!

Underground Park?

This proposed underground park in the Lower East Side sounds like exactly the kind of thing New York hipsters will love.

"I need a place to write my ironic contemporary oboe music, but parks are so last week."
"Falco, I heard about this totally hip underground park in the LES. Hasn't even been funded yet. It's that cool."
[Mustaches explode.]

Anyway, I think it could be neat, and I like the idea of it not having skin-destroying UV rays, so I'm in!

[How Stuff Works]

Feel Good Puppy Friday!

Ok, so there will probably be a lot of dog-related posts tonight. But can you blame me? We still have 11 more to go get to 30 posts for the month.

Anyway, I love corgis and I love happy endings, so this story about a lost puppy who was adopted by a kind, old woman and lived happily for ten years only to be reunited with his original owners after she passed away definitely tugged at my heartstrings.

Can we all just let out a collective "Awww!"

[A Place to Love Dogs]

Cute Puppy Friday!

Instead of posting a bunch of pictures of Daily Puppies (which I'll probably do later tonight), here's an actual video of puppies to enjoy moments before your weekend begins!

The video is from Animal Planet's "Dogs 101" and discusses the changes puppies go through as they grow up. Adorbs!

Allie Brosh is Writing a 'Hyperbole and a Half' Book

So I was thinking about these great Kate Beacon comics, and then I was like "Wow, I haven't read anything at Hyperbole and a Half in a why, what up?" So I went there and saw that like, four months ago she posted that she was writing a book! Clearly, this book must be taking up a lot of her time, and that is why she has not been posting lately. Also, apparently everyone is doing a book these days! And everyone said print media was dead.

So (very belated) congrats to Allie for getting a book deal and I look forward to reading it (in 2012) and also for her to be done with it so she can post more!

Hark! A Vagrant = Funny and Informative

Ok, maybe not so informative, but it's a really funny comic strip by Kate Beacon often based on historical or literary figures. I've certainly remembered a lot of stuff I learned in college while reading it, mainly because you have to in order to get some of the jokes (though not all). I really enjoy her interpretations of Nancy Drew covers, and one comic strip called "Tiny Hermione" which isn't really a joke, but is really adorable. This is another great example of how random and fun it is.

My friend Hillary Busis just did a great interview with her for because of her new Hark! A Vagrant book. I'm sure it's great!

Baddass Way to Stop Serious Poachers

If you're a rhino lover, check out how the conservationists at the Rhino and Lion Reserve in Krugersdorp South Africa are protecting their rhinos from parasites and poachers alike.

They've discovered a chemical that is toxic to both parasites that feed on rhinos as well as humans. However, the chemical is not toxic to the rhinos themselves. If a horn is taken from a rhino that has been given the treatment, it will sicken any human who ingests it, and glow pink in an airport scanner even if it has been ground up. Baboom - poachers poisoned and punished!

The full article is on Discovery News.

[via Mental Floss]

Electric Car Sharing Program Launches in Paris!

Ok, it launches next week, but the present tense is so much more exciting!

Also, how cool is this? Not only does Paris have its wildly successful bike-sharing program (which the BF and I saw buzzing around the city the entire time we were there), but now it will have an electric car sharing program, for when you need to take longer journeys. What a fantastic idea!

I'd say New York should do that, but I guess that's pretty much what taxis and services like Zip Car are for... but they aren't electric, plus this seems way cheaper. 4-8 Euros? I'm in! Although, I wonder if 30 minutes is enough time.

What do you think? I know my parents love walking and taking the subway around Paris, I wonder if this would be something they'd be interested in.

[Scientific American]

Sad Monsters, by Frank Lesser

Check out this hilarious excerpt from 'Sad Monsters' by Frank Lesser (of 'The Colbert Report' fame) over at Gawker.

Frank's been answering questions in the comments section for the past thirty minutes, and those answers are almost as funny as the excerpt itself!

Anyway, if you think that bit is funny, buy his whole book! Also, he's a nice guy, so if you only thought it was second-funniest book about sad monsters you've read this fall, you should still buy it. You can do that here.

Units of Memory

Apparently our brains deal in units of memory, just like we deal with units of time, space, and ice cream sandwiches (10 ice cream sandwiches = 1 unit).

This Science Daily article has the full story. To measure what the unit of memory was (125 milliseconds, btw), they trained rats to believe that one room was actually multiple rooms by using different lighting schemes - i.e. the white room became the blue room became the yellow room, etc. Then, they would switch (or 'teleport' to use the article's parlance, which it clearly only used to try to get the reader's attention. Oh wait, it did get my attention. Drat!) from one room to another, and measure how much time it took for the rat's brain to switch from the memory of one room to the next. They noticed that the rat's brain never held onto both memories simultaneously, but rather switched rapidly back and forth between the two. Therefore, we have individual memory units, and they each take a certain amount of time to process.

So basically, all I'm saying is that we're a lot closer than we think to all getting Eternal Sunshine'd.

[via Neatorama]

Say What? People Watch Funny Women, Too?

The great blog "Go Into the Script" posted a link to this Salon interview with movie producer Lynda Obst about female-driven comedies and how "Bridesmaids" has given her hope that Hollywood will finally acknowledged what we all know is true: that a great, female-driven movie will do not only well, but outstanding at the box office. Towards the end of the interview, she also talks about how many new female comedies and projects are being pitched and developed in television now, which is great. Of course, she glosses over the fact that most writers in television are male, but that's ok, we'll forgive her. She probably didn't want to get bogged down in the sad realities when her exciting predictions for the future are so optimistic.

GITS's favorite quote was, "Every time a woman's movie does well, it's a brand-new fact." The article cited a number of other female-driven movies that did great recently, including "Sex and the City" "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" and "The Devil Wears Prada" and how Hollywood ignored them, deciding that they were flukes. 'Bridesmaids' however, may have changed that idea, and if that means Hollywood's buying more scripts by women, then that's great. Now as long as they do well at the box office, too, then maybe these 'flukes' will become the new norm.

This would be great for me, because I've got plenty of hilarious female-driven comedies to sell. Hear that, famous producers? Call me!

Padfoot up for Adoption

If only I lived in England, I'd love to adopt Shadowberry (Padfoot, aka Sirius Black) from the Harry Potter movies. He looks like a sweetie, and since he's so old, he probably wouldn't mind lounging around my apartment all day. Considering there has been a flood of applications to that shelter since Berry's former owner posted the notice, though, I'm sure he and his friend Porridge (great dog name) will find an excellent home.

[Huffington Post]

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Banks to Charge for Using Your Debit Card

Say what?

Say yes, fo realz. Because Congress sided with merchants over the fact that banks were being ridiculous by charging them fees for people using their debit cards to make purchases, (and said, "Hey guys, stop doing that. Charging people random fees is not your job. Making loans and investments is your business. Maybe you should work on that instead of screwing everything up and destroying the economy? Again?) now banks are handing those equally ridiculous fees onto us.

Bank of America is going to start charging customers $5/month any month that you use your debit card to make a purchase. Just in case you're wondering, that = every month. Why else have a debit card? Oh, you're thinking, I'll just take out the money and pay with cash. But wait! They still charge $3 ATM fees. What if I use my credit card? Nope, credit cards also get charged with annual fees. Basically, banks are sucking you dry of all of your hard-earned money instead of giving you interest on the money you so kindly lend to them.

And the GOP wants to regulate them less?

Gawker has a solid write-up and references to articles on all this business going down. 

Ironic Nostalgia Just Went Meta

The proof is below:

IT'S THE 90S! from Everything Is Terrible! on Vimeo.

Product Placement and CBS

I love that CBS is PO'd at Ashton Kutcher right now because he had stickers for all the businesses he's invested in on his character's laptop on "Two and a Half Men." While I think that's kind of a douche move, I just can't believe CBS is pissed about it. CBS, the same people who retroactively and blatantly put product placement in reruns of "How I Met Your Mother." I know, I know, they're just angry because they're not getting any of that sweet, sweet product placement money, but, still, do you really want to remind people that you tried to promote "The Zookeeper" at all?

[TV Squad, Buzzfeed]

Neutrinos Faster than Light?

Although this 'The Week' article about neutrinos possibly being faster than light (but how different, really, are they from light? And just because they can travel faster than it doesn't mean we can travel faster than it, so why would that make time travel seem more feasible?) is pretty interesting, prompting all of my parenthetical questions.

That being said, it has one of the weirdest endings of an article I've ever seen:

"We will continue our studies and we will wait patiently for the confirmation," [says physicist Antonio De Rujula]. "Everybody is free to do what they want: To think, to claim, to dream." At least for now, he adds, "I'm not going to tell you my dreams."
Who's asking about your dreams, Rujula? Now I really don't want to know about them. Sounds like they're pretty disturbing, but you secretly want to tell us because you want to see our reaction, which is why you told us you wouldn't tell us them without us even asking. Is that what's going on? Or did the interviewer get all creepy and ask, "Hey buddy, what'd you dream about? Hot stuff? Science-y stuff? Hot sciencey-stuff?" in which case they may have just been hitting on you.

Unemployment Greeting Cards

Wow, these unemployment cards are even sadder than being unemployed. The only good that can come of this is that someone is being employed to write these in the first place. Although, from what little experience I've had in the greeting card business, they're probably an underemployed freelancer. Where are those greeting cards, am I right?

"I'm sorry you're working two part-time jobs and still don't have enough money to pay for Pop Tarts..."

Oh, wait, there's one more good thing that can come of this: unemployment greeting card money. You lose your job. Your friends/parents/cat lady down the street each send you $20. Now you're like, "What job?" You're making bank!

[ABC news article via Gawker. Also worth it to go to the Hallmark site just to look at these cards and cry a little. They're so terrible.]

Sheep Acts like Dog

In your cutesie post of the month, here is a fun article about a sheep that acts like a dog!

Wow, talk about a sheep in wolf's clothing, am I right?!?

(Yes, I've been bad about blogging this month, so you'll be getting a lot of these posts over the next two days)

[Animal Tracks via Neatorama]

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Guess Where I'll be this Weekend?

Here's a hint:

(Not, not in a baby stroller pushed by Jeremy Piven. I wish!)

(No, I don't wish. That'd be super creepy and uncomfortable.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Support S.1454 on PopVox!

S.1454 is the Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act of 2011, and you can send a letter to your congressperson very easily here at PopVox. You can also put your comments on their page to show your support. Isn't that great?

Once the bill has been introduced in the House, you can then support it there, as well.

The site is pretty cool because it shows all the bills in Congress and lets you support them and send letters to your congresspeople to show your support. How awesome is that?

Does anyone else know of a bill you'd like the Artful Stew readers to support? I went ahead and supported the American Jobs Act today, too!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The 10th Anniversary

Here are few videos and links from the anniversary memorials today.

Paul Simon sings "The Sound of Silence" in New York.

Bill Clinton speaks about the sacrifice of the citizens on United 93.

A Place to Love Dogs remembers the service dogs who helped the day of and in days afterwards.

And Dan Meth created a video of all the cameos the World Trade Center made in films throughout the years.

Twin Tower Cameos from Dan Meth on Vimeo.

The Atlantic consolidated speeches by President Obama and President Bush, as well.

As of now, the memorial at the World Trade Center is too crowded to get a close look, but I'd like to see it in a few days, when the crowds clear, especially the crowds of "Truthers" protesting outside. The hundreds of servicemen and women in the area has been comforting, though. It's incredible that they all came out on this day. Security has certainly been stepped up for today, as well, with police helicopters patrolling above and at least one or two policemen and women on each corner.

Yesterday, I went to a baby shower with several coworkers. We talked about where we were when it happened and how we felt. Several were living in New York at the time, some just starting classes, others debating whether to stay in the city or move to the suburbs. They said that it took years to readjust after September 11, 2001. They said they've a rush of that same panic and fear whenever we've had another close call - like the attempted Times Square bombing last year - or even when several blocks are closed suddenly and unexpectedly.

I moved to New York four years after it happened, when the city was more or less back on its feet. I moved to the Financial District eight years after it happened. I feel very close to this city and to the event, much closer than in 2001. I've been here for over six years, after all. However, I know that as much as I sympathize with my coworkers, friends, and family who were here, I can never feel what they felt. I can only hope that it doesn't happen again, and that they never have to feel that panic, fear, or sadness that they felt ten years ago ever again.