We've Moved!

The Accidental Blogist has become The Long Cut and moved here.

Come on over!

Moving On Up

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A couple of weeks ago I complained about being stuck using the free Blogger service for my blog. Submitting posts is often slow, changing sidebar items is tedious, and photo uploading is unnecessarily complicated. The gold standard for blogging now seems to be TypePad. TypePad, unfortunately, is a pay service. In my post I lamented that paying for blogging was not something I could justify right now.

Shortly after that post a very kind Accidental Blogist reader contacted me. It seems that TypePad was offering a Buy One / Get One Free deal to renewing members. This wonderful person offered me their free one-year account. Giving it about, oh, a second of thought, I accepted. I am now the owner of a TypePad Plus account, which comes with three weblogs. The Accidental Blogist, Ipso Photo (my photoblog) and I Have a Headache (the missus’ blog) will all be making the big move.

I cannot express the incredible amount of gratitude I have for the wonderful benefactor who is making all of this possible. As most blog authors (or at least the ones that don’t get 10,000 daily hits) will tell you, some days you wonder, “why bother?” That’s why getting feedback and comments can make a bloggers day. Somebody is out there reading your stuff. I see this gift of TypePad as one person’s belief that my writings and photos have some value. I now feel that it is my job, at least for the next year, to continue to try to improve my writing and my photography, if only to justify this gift I have been given.

New Address, New Name

I’m going to use my move to TypePad as an opportunity to change the Accidental Blogist name. While I originally stumbled onto Blogger (and blogging) by accident, I think I’ve kind of outgrown the word accidental. It gives the impression of a bumbling novice. And the word blogist (which isn’t really a word) might be better than “blogger,” but it still was starting to grate on me. So my new blog will be The Long Cut, as in not the short cut, as in taking your time and looking around. The Long Cut is a song off of Uncle Tupelo’s last album, Anodyne and my seven-year-old says it describes the routes I take while driving. I also think it describes my writing. As the song says, If you wanna take the long cut, We'll get there eventually.

So please follow me over to TypePad and bookmark the new site. Ipso Photo will remain on Blogger a little longer until I get it to look how I want it to look, but The Long Cut is ready to go. It’s not perfect, but as I learn more of the TypePad way of doing things I hope to continue improving the site.

See you there!


Never at a Loss for Words

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Last weekend the whole family packed into the minivan and took a trip to Barnes & Noble in an attempt to stave off cabin fever. While there we picked up Scrabble. It has been so long since I’ve played Scrabble. Since the last time my vocabulary must have improved greatly, because I was on fire last night. I knew it was going to be a good night when I started off the game with sundry. Sundry, people. I don’t think I’ve ever used that word in my life, and yet my brain looked at the jumbled letters on my rack and came up with sundry. Granted, it wasn’t a rack-clearer, but still. Sundry! I went on to lay down plenty more five and six letter words. Later on, in desperation time (I carried three i’s for most of the game) I came out with vim. Vim!

It amazes me that my brain has been storing words that I never use. Just how big of a change this is cannot be understated. I finished off grade school with nine straight trimesters (three year's worth) of F’s in Spelling. That’s F F F F F F F F F. The only reason I got accepted into Holy Cross High School was that they combined my Spelling grades (F’s) and my Grammar grades (A’s & B’s) for an “English” grade of C. In my Freshmen year of high school, where Vocab was taught one quarter and English the next then Vocab then English, here’s what my report card looked like: F B F B. So you could say that Vocab was never really a strong point for me.

I think my spelling ability is even picking up, which is weird because I've been assuming that using Spellchecker as a crutch has made it worse. Some of this might come from my seven-year-old constantly asking me how you spell things. He's like a walking pop quiz.

So bring on Ms. Anne Marie Byrnes and her Vocab tests. I’m ready.

[I’ve left out the fact that I whooped the missus’ butt in the above Scrabble match since she was in an drug-induced pre-bedtime trance for the game and wasn’t really in the mood to play, especially against someone who was getting a little too excited about the word vim. And if I've spelled anything wrong in this post, please be gentle.]


No Tell, No Sell

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Monica Yant Kinney has a piece in today's Philadelphia Inquirer about former New Jersey governor (and former Dubya environmental beard) Christie Whitman's new "tell-all" book, It's My Party, Too: The Battle for the Heart of the GOP and the Future of America.

It's been a few years since Christie got the boot from Bush for not exactly following the administration line on the environment (who knew they had one!) as the EPA Chair. That's a big no-no in the Bush cabinet, especially when your job is to be an important impotent figurehead for the dismantling of decades of environmental progress.

So Whitman must still be mad, right? Juicy book, right? She's had a couple of years to let stew her anger at the Republican Party and their "social fundamentalist" (her words). And what has she been doing since being evicted from Washington? According to Kinney,
She cochaired Bush's reelection campaign in New Jersey, knowing her man could never win her state. She bopped around the country stumping for Bush.
In November, just before the election, Whitman gave Bush another Scottish terrier puppy.


That might explain why, according to Kinney, the book reads less like a tell-all and more "like a pitch to get elected again."

It might also explain why the book was ranked at #6526 this morning on Amazon.


The Evening, It's What It Was Late In

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After spending half my Martin Luther King, Jr. day off in a seemingly never-ending trip to BJ's and the other half waiting to get my truck towed (which, I think, is how the good Reverend would have wanted his birthday commemorated), I realized that I was at risk of not posting anything today. I'm too tired to think of anything original (or anything inspiring for MLK Day) so I'll give you some of my favorites from a recent McSweeneys list:
Popular Songs Renamed Along the Lines of the Cattlemen's Beef Board Ad Campaign "Beef, It's What's for Dinner."

Me, It's What's for Leaning On

Back, It's What Baby Got

The House, It's What's Burning Down

Alles, It's What California's Über

The Street, It's What's for Dancing In

The Dust, It's What Another One Bites

U, It's What I Would Die 4

London, It's What's Calling

Brooklyn, It's What There's No Sleep Till

The Volume, It's What's Pumped Up
Sorry, that's all I've got today. Please find a blog that actually put some thought into a post for today, like this one or this one.


Nellie Whoa-ed

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What is this, high school?
Sen. Ben Nelson finally has succeeded in getting President Bush to stop calling him by the nickname "Nellie." Bush had been referring to the Nebraska Democrat as "Nellie" since 2001. Nelson disliked the nickname and had asked the president to stop using it. The president likes to give people nicknames. He has called Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, "Pootie-Poot," while aide Karen Hughes gets "High Prophet." But Bush heeded Nelson's request to scrap his moniker, and at the recent White House Christmas party, the president referred to Nelson as "Benny."
The "Presidential Wedgies," however, will continue.

I hope that acting like a pompous quarterback and doling-out stupid nicknames to other world leaders becomes part of Dubya's ignominious legacy.


Pithy Playoff Prognostications 2

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Last Week: 2-2 (Overall: 2-2)






Photo Friday - 01.14.05

Each week Photo Friday posts a photo assignment. Your mission is the creative interpretation of the week's theme. When you're done, post the picture you took to your website and submit your link to Photo Friday.

Photo Friday is about challenging our participants to be original and creative within the constraints of the week's theme. It's not a competition. Anyone with a camera and a place on the internet to post pictures can participate.

This week's challenge: Signs

Click on photo to enlarge.
click image to enlarge

Strange Neighbors.

17th & Walnut, Philadelphia, PA.


Keyboard Confessional

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high performance

After going months without copying someone else's idea, I'm going for two in one week. This is a little different since Amanda at MouseWords hoped her Confessions post would start a meme (which, for you non-blogging normal people out there, is an idea that you take from another blog and put your own - from the French for I can't think of a single thing to write today). I learned of it from eRobin over at the award-winning Fact-esque.

The whole idea of answering these questions is to "de-snob." Now take a look at the words under my title banner. Go ahead, I'll wait. There's no way I'm going to de-snob, it's my bread and butter. But I will answer these questions to prove that, while I remain better than you, I'm not a total jerk.

CD I have in my car that I roll up the windows to listen to

While I don't have a CD player in the truck, there is one in the Kia minivan. If you're not embarrassed being seen driving around in a Kia minivan, then you aren't going to be embarrassed by listening to any kind of music. Never mind that, as the missus will tell you, it's a miracle any time the window-up button on the Kia actually works. Right now the power locks keep trying to trick us into locking our keys in the van. No lie, the van hates us more than we hate it - and that's a lot.

Anyway, I have a very low tolerance for bad music but I will say that I'll leave 10cc's "I'm Not in Love" on (and sing along to it - loudly) if WXPN plays it.

Book I read flat so no one could see the title

Some of the books I read last year had some real touchy-feely titles, even thought their content wasn't. I admit I tried to hide the cover of Anna Quindlen's Blessings while on the train.

Crappiest song ever sung at karaoke

I've only ever sung one song on karaoke, on the system that we got our seven-year-old for Christmas. Of the three crappy songs that came with the system I chose Say My Name by Destiny's Child. As a joke. Honest.

Bad movie I watch repeatedly

Robby Benson's One On One. It plays on CMT every once in a while. And if it were on TV more I probably wouldn't turn off Benson's Ice Castles either. This is what happens when you grow up with five older sisters controling the remote.

Article of clothing I love though I know it's wrong

Without a doubt my running tights. The two-year-old even laughs at me for wearing them. Coming in a close second would be my High Performance Underware. That's right, High Performance.

What I order at the bar when no one is listening

Manhattan. If people are around I'll just get a 7 & 7 so I don't look so pretentious. If I'm ordering beer, it will always be something pretentious.

Fast food item I adore

I don't even know if Roy Rogers still makes them (since the only surviving RR in South Jersey is at a turnpike rest stop), but they used to make Strawberry Shortcakes with a warm biscuit at the bottom. Mmmm-mmm. And I miss their Double-R Bar burgers, too.

A TV show that is a good example of the downfall of civilization that I love anyway

Around the Horn on ESPN. Four sportswriters yelling and insulting each other. Makes Crossfire look civil, I can't stand anyone on it, and yet I can't stop watching.

eRobin added two of her own questions to the list:

Advice I Give My Kids Even Though It Makes Baby Jesus Cry

Both boys have been raised knowing this: We don't hate anyone... except the Yankees. (It used to be "...except the Yankees and the French," but then all the war-mongers started hating the French and since they were one of the few countries who dared question Dubya I'm pretty cool with them now.)

Good Cause I Just Can't Support

I used to boycott oil companies that screwed people over, but that's getting harder and harder to do. First it was Shell, for profiting off of apartheid and civil wars, than it was Exxon for telling us they were done cleaning up the Valdez mess long before the cleanup was anywhere near done. But now Shell's got some weird partnership going with Texaco (which is now merged with Chevron) stations and Exxon merged with Mobil. I guess I could just go to the Hess, but I'm sure if they haven't already done something evil they will soon. And, frankly, the world's fascination with their toy trucks scares me. For the time being I go to Texaco, since I can't figure out exactly what their agreement with Shell Oil is. Plus the guys at my station are pretty cool.


Shephen, Ehh

You've given Stephen A. Smith the title of "General Sports Commentator" at the Philadelphia Inquirer even though he knows little but basketball and you've used him as the basketball go-to guy on SportsCenter, where he starts most of his answers with "I don't know, but..."

What else could you do to pump Stephen A.'s ego? I know, give him his very own "opinion/personality" television show on ESPN2 (the network responsible for me unnecessarily having to know who Jim Rome is). Oh, and make sure you make it "much like the Bill O'Reilly Show".


State of Mind

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Saturday night the missus and I watched Garden State, the first DVD in my quest to watch 52 interesting films this year. Garden State was directed and written by Zach Braff, who also stars in it. Pretty impressive for the young star of Scrubs, a show that I would watch if I remembered to watch something other than sports and the Food Network.

Braff plays Andrew “Large” Largeman, a b-list Hollywood actor who has spent most of his life medically sedated by his psychiatrist father. The death of his mother brings him back home, sans-meds, to the Garden State (my home state, though the movie takes place in North - not my South - Jersey). While home he quickly meets up with some of the unmotivated friends he left behind in Jersey, least ambitious of them being the gravedigger Mark, played by Peter Sarsgaard. While looking for non-paternal psychiatric help Large meets up with Natalie Portman, another patient who quickly becomes a romantic interest to a guy who’s been too sedated to be interested in anything. Braff rides around with Portman and Sarsgaard in his sidecar motorcycle, trying to figure out what it’s all about.

I’m a big fan of Mike NicholsThe Graduate, and the first half of Garden State has a very Graduate-like feel to it. Early on Braff’s Large is seen from above, lying in his bed, seemingly oblivious to his father’s voice on the answering machine. This made me think on the scene in the Graduate with Dustin Hoffman floating in his parent’s pool while his father tries to talk sense into young Benjamin.

The second half of Garden State gives up its Graduate-like oddball-ness for (somewhat) touchy-feely conversations and a romantic happy (somewhat) resolution. That’s not to say that it doesn’t give up all of its peculiar ways. The writing was still a breath of fresh air and included some great acting from Braff, Portman and Sarsgaard. The film moved quickly and had plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, many dealing with a childhood friend who’s set for life because of his one invention: Silent Velcro. It’s definitely a great debut of both writing and directing from Braff. Everybody knows that young actors in Hollywood “really want to direct” but this guy has shown he has what it takes on his first try.

Two other things: the Garden State soundtrack is really, really good, and Zack Braff has a pretty interesting Garden State blog.

Next up for me is Woody Allen’s Annie Hall, a movie I should have seen a long time ago but somehow never did.


Yankee Rebellion

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(Maybe) You heard it here first:

Randy Johnson won't get the Yankees to the World Series (it will be the BoSox again) and Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran won't even win the Mets the NL East division (looks to me like the Braves are once again the team to beat). I'm still not convinced that the Mets will finish ahead of the Phillies. The Pedro signing looks about as good as the deal the Phillies got when they signed Kevin Millwood and Beltran, who was on fire the second half of 2004, still only hit .267 last year. For that he gets a seven-year $119 million contract.

Meanwhile it looks like the Big Unit (pictured above) is having some trouble adjusting to the Big Apple.

[If my predictions (which may change as more players switch teams) prove incorrect, this post will mysteriously disappear from my archives.]