July 23, 2005

The Summer of Ought-Five

OK, THIS IS officially turning out to be a crappy summer. There are many reasons for this, ranging from the heat and humidity to the surgery I had in June to some personal issues which have cropped up lately, but trust me: for whatever grand karmic reason, this is the worst summer I've had in -- Jesus, years.

Unfortunately, it's also left me in a position where -- for the time being -- I can't devote the time to the blog that I once did. This is NOT to say that I intend to close up shop -- I have no such intention -- but I am going to have to take an extended vacation from it while I deal with these issues which have cropped up. I just need a break to deal with these other matters.

I can assure everyone this is nothing to be concerned about, but if this does happen to concern you, feel free to drop me a line and I'll be happy to explain further. As for me, I would think I'll be back sometime around August 15 but no later than Labor Day.

Until then -- thanks, everyone, for reading, and see 'ya round.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 12:15 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

July 13, 2005

Monster Chiller Horror Theatre

FROM Editor and Publisher magazine:

Gallup reports today that its latest poll found that one in three Americans “believe in ghosts.” The numbers: 32% of all adults say they believe that “ghosts/spirits of dead people can come back,” while 48% do not, and 19% are unsure.

An even larger number of Americans believe that houses can be haunted, with 37% holding that position, 46% saying no, and 16% not sure.

I don't mean to be rude, but please: will someone explain to me how more people can believe in haunted houses than in ghosts? I mean, shouldn't there be an equivalency there, regardless of the margin of error that exists within the poll?

I mean, if ghosts aren't doing the haunting, then who -- or what -- is? Carpet salesmen? Your in-laws from Texarkana? Count Floyd? I mean, it's just silly.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 07:00 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Equus

A NEW ZEALAND restaurant owner has caused a stir since offering horseflesh steaks for dinner, the Canadian Press reports. The move was part of a local marketing campaign in which restaurant owners offer uncommon delicacies for their customers.

David Kerr has received lots of complaints and angry phone calls as a result, the wire service tells us, but he has managed to sell some of the horsemeat:

The calls were "pretty lively and disgusting and not comforting for the staff," Kerr said, adding that "there was swearing, cursing, horrible language," compelling him to call the police.

Nevertheless, some customers couldn't wait to chow down when horse appeared on his menu at the weekend. Kerr said he sold 10 horse steak meals on Monday night.

"Some think it is appalling but others are really interested to give it a go and want to know where else they can buy it," he said.

What I want to know is whether this experiment will, in the end, turn out successful for Mr Kerr's restaurant operation. There's no denying that Mr Kerr has garnered worldwide publicity and as such has gained greatly from that; but, on the other hand, he may have also annoyed many of his potential customers, thus perhaps causing lost sales and lost opportunities for growth and profit.

As for me personally, I can't say I see myself eating horsemeat anytime soon. That's not to say I'd rule it out -- for instance, if I was starving to death, I don't see any religious or ethical barriers which would forbid me from chowing down on Hobbes' old nag. But otherwise, I think it would be a wasteful extravagance, and one could do better elsewhere.

After all, I'd bet the stuff's gamey. I mean, really now.

Oh, and you could never order it out on a date, because you could forget about having any fun afterwards. The best you could hope for would be an unpleasant car ride home, you know, one filled with angry silence, because she (or, potentially, he) could not believe you had My Friend Flicka charbroiled and then ate it in front of everyone, including Alan Brady. Then Mel got sick and threw up in the --

But that's another story entirely, isn't it?

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 06:36 PM | TrackBack

July 12, 2005

Still (Somewhat) Here

ALVY: I haven’t been the same since I quit smoking.
GIRL: When did you quit smoking?
ALVY: Fifteen years ago.

-- "Annie Hall"

I HAVEN’T BEEN the same since I quit smoking, and this annoys me greatly. The trouble, you see, is that I’m turning into a particularly disagreeable curmudgeon, the type of person whose sole pleasures in life are making smart remarks and having a decent breakfast on alternate Sundays.

No, no, I mean, more than usual. Yes, it's that bad.

However -- today I discovered that keeping my blood sugar steady has a direct, positive influence on my well-being. Apparently, one of the things nicotine does is convince the body to release sugar and fat into the bloodstream, like carrying around a glucose IV. So as one might imagine, I’m going through more than just nicotine withdrawal – I’m also apparently fighting my body’s long-entrenched sugar habit.

It’s not fun. As a result of the withdrawal symptoms, I’m nervous, distracted, and subject to mood swings -- and also, I might add, bad when it comes to blogging. That bothers me most of all, because I really like blogging and I haven't been able to devote the time I'd otherwise put into The Rant. Hopefully, I'll get the chance to kick things up a notch soon!

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 06:27 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 07, 2005

Terror in London

I SAW THIS excerpt from the latest edition of The Economist first at Andrew Sullivan's blog, but I think the paragraph so spot on that it bears repeating in my own small corner of the Internet.

The newspaper writes:

What the attacks also show, however, is that well co-ordinated though the four explosions were, they were not terribly effective. Chance plays a big role in such attacks. The bombs in Madrid last year which killed 191 people might have killed many more had the station roof collapsed. The September 11th hijackings might have killed fewer than the eventual 2,752 had the twin towers of the World Trade Centre not melted down and collapsed. As The Economist went to press, the toll in the four London bombs was not clear, but the estimate of at least 33 deaths was thankfully far smaller than in Madrid. By the terrible calculus of terrorism, the attacks should thus be counted as a failure—a sign of weakness, not strength.

That is an analysis with which I can only second my agreement. I wish I could write what I truly felt but the words aren't coming out right -- today, I have just felt frustrated and angry and sad all at once.

May God grant peace to those killed, and may He protect the injured and comfort their families in their time of need. And may the British know America stands with them.

Related: Andrew Dodge has thoughts and updates from London.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 07:09 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 05, 2005

Coincidence? I Think Not

SO DIG THIS -- a line of thunderstorms is presently over Syracuse, N.Y., and heading towards New England. Also at present, the driver's side front window of my 1997 Ford Taurus is stuck in the down position.

It is not the first time this has happened to me -- the last time was on April 6 -- but the trouble is the remedy. Namely, there isn't one. You see, the last time I took it to the repair shop, the problem "fixed itself" and the mechanics could find nothing wrong with it. This was at the best shop in the city of Manchester too.

This time around, I've only had recourse to Google, and the suggestions I've found on there don't seem too helpful. Kicking the door in the area of the power motor might feel kind of good, but I don't think it's going to solve the problem.

Anyway, I don't know what this latest trouble signifies, or if it signifies anything at all. Certainly, the combination of my recent surgery and this latest drama doesn't bode well for the future -- after all, these types of things happen in threes, right? But then again, perhaps my Taurus got a signal from Detroit -- for just as I was cursing over my window's malfunction, this press release went over the wires.

Coincidence? I think not.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 06:56 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack