Posts filed under “Popular Entertainment”


Hi, everybody, and, well, here we are, and it’s a brand-new show. This is Al, by the way. A lot of you probably know me from where I fill in for Herb on Herb’s Cooking for One. But Georgina kept saying I should get a real job, so I said fine, and I went to the network and told them to give me my own show, and they told me, no, they don’t need another show from me, and the only reason I’m doing Cooking for One is because Herb is the second cousin once removed of the CEO of the oil company that owns the network, and Herb wanted me, and his cousin said they had to take me. So I said fine, which I seem to say a lot, and I asked the teenager next door how you do one of those on-line video things, and he said it was just like what I do for Herb’s show, but more professional. So here I am. I don’t really know much about how this site works, but if you see a button that says “Send Al money,” click on it.

Anyway, for our first episode, we’re going to upgrade the memory in this laptop. Memory is the stuff your computer uses to remember stuff, like where it put its car keys. Ha ha! The kid next door said people like it if you use humor in these videos. Actually, I have no idea what your computer uses memory for. I don’t think it has car keys. But they say it’s the first thing you should upgrade if you’re having performance issues. The kid next door said that, and he said I should use his joke about Canadian pharmacies, too, but I forgot what it was.

I was going to upgrade Georgina’s computer, but she used some language I didn’t know she knew and told me what would happen if I took her computer apart again, so I’m doing mine instead. Now, upgrading the memory is dead simple, which I know because I watched some guy doing it in an on-line video. But he wasn’t as entertaining as I am. He had the same brand of computer, though, so I know exactly what I’m doing. So first we need a clean workspace, which I’m making right now. I just have to brush the utility bills and potting soil off the dining-room table here, and there we are: clean workspace. Now we turn the computer upside-down like this. If you turn Georgina’s computer upside-down, you find a label on the bottom panel that says “DON’T EVEN THINK IT, BUSTER,” and some day I’ll tell you the story of how I know that. So we set it down here, and we have ten screws to unscrew.

So I have this little precision screwdriver here that I got at the dollar store in a set of ten precision screwdrivers, and this is the one that looks like it will fit these screws best. So I put it in the screw and turn like this. Well, I try to turn, anyway. How are you supposed to get a grip on this thing? Man, they put these screws in tight.

You know what? This screwdriver needs a better grip. And I know just the thing for it. I have this roll of masking tape right here that I was going to use with the potting soil for another project, and I’ll just take off a piece of it like this—well, that didn’t work. Who makes this stuff, anyway? They can’t call it “contractor grade” if it keeps ripping off in little triangles like this. I’ll just stick this one on the handle here, and then get a—well, darn, I still can’t get a strip of it. Am I going to have to rip off eighty-five little triangles of masking tape just to get a big enough wad for this screwdriver? Oh, there we go. About time. Now I just roll it around the handle like this. Well, somehow that all ended up on my finger. I think I had the sticky side facing the wrong way.

Well, forget this. Who needs precision screwdrivers anyway? This is what power tools are for. Here’s my trusty drill, right where I left it in the bag of potting soil, and I’ve got a Phillips-head bit for it. It’s a bit big for these screws, but the power will more than make up for that. We’ll just


looks more like a hole than a screw now, doesn’t it? But still, we got the screw out. I think we vaporized it. Now I just have to do that nine more times, so you might want to hold your ears for this part.


Okay, see, that saved some time. We were going to have to pry the back off with a screwdriver or crowbar or something, but since it broke in two pieces while we were getting that last screw out, we don’t have to worry about prying. And I can replace it with a piece of tin foil or something like that.

Wow, look at all the little parts in here. They should have these things clearly labeled. This one is the hard drive or “fan,” as some people call it, and this one is the— Well, it might be some sort of pulley. But the memory is this flat card thing here right in the middle. And all you have to do is pull back on these two levers, like this, and it pops right up. You just pull back on these two levers like this. And it… You just pull back on these two levers, and it pops right—

Whoa! Look at it go! And it landed right in the potting soil. Well, memory has silicon in it, and silicon is sand, so I’ll just use that part for potting cactus plants. By the way, you need some kind of full-body armor when you’re potting cactus plants. I learned that yesterday. Anyway, we got rid of the old memory, and all we have to do now is slip the new memory into that thingy with the spring. So I just take it like this, and push it in here, and— no, that’s backwards. I have to pull back on these— Whoa! Right into the potting soil again. Well, I’d better go get this one.… Okay, so I put it in like this. No the other way. No, I guess that was the right way. Now, I don’t want to have this flying across the dining room again, so I’m going to take this hammer and make sure it’s lodged in good… and… tight… like…

Well, that sort of made a hole in the plastic thingy that the memory card was attached to. But anyway, the memory is in there good and solid. Now, on the other video, the guy showed the computer booting up with its new memory, but that was boring, and anyway I frankly don’t think it’s going to happen, so we’ll skip that part, and I’ll go down to Best Buy and see what laptops they have on sale.

That’s it for now. Join me next time when we learn how to connect to a printer. I won’t spoil it for you, but I will say there are some pretty big power tools involved. So until then this is Al saying so long, and happy bits and bytes. There, kid, I came up with a signoff catch phrase. Are you happy?


Hi! I’m Mrs. Phelps, of Mrs. Phelps’ Domestic Helps, the widely syndicated advice column for homemakers, here to brighten your life with a great big heaping helping of helpful hints. You remember—you won a visit from me in that contest in Happy Happy Home, the happy happy magazine for happy happy homemakers. By the way, you could get rid of the squeak on that door with only a little WD-40 and an ordinary mascara brush. Don’t thank me—that’s what I’m here for. Do you get tired of this doormat slipping around like that? Just a little bit of chewing gum at each corner can fix it. Put another wad in the center to be extra secure. I must say, you have a lovely living room. Did you know that you can get rid of those ugly fingerprints on the wall with a simple mixture of chlorine bleach and sulfuric acid? Be sure to wear your gloves, ha ha! So this is your desk. When my desk gets to be a mess like this, I carefully sort everything into stacks, label the stacks, tie them up with good butcher’s twine, then pile them in the fireplace and toss in a lighted match. It’s a great way to keep warm on those long winter nights! And did you know you could get those ugly, crusty old bloodstains off your letter opener with nothing more than a can of ordinary paint stripper? Be careful where you’re pointing that, ha ha! If you want to make the sharp end perfectly safe, just pound it about two inches (or five centimeters) into the desk with an ordinary household hammer. You see, the way you’re waving it around now, you could hurt somebody, and we wouldn’t want that to….


Dear Dr. Boli: My cousin the guitar-strummer recently took up the lute, and now she says she’s going to quit her job at the Metro Mart and travel the world with an early-music ensemble. But what I want to know is this: What is “early music”? Is that that stuff the kids listen to at their orgies? And should I be worried about my cousin’s eternal welfare? —Sincerely, Rev. Angus Dour, Minister, John Knox Real No-Foolin’ Presbyterian Church, Trafford.

Dear Sir: You are correct that “early music,” which is commonly taken to mean the Renaissance and Baroque periods, is just about the latest thing in music. This timeline will make its relationship to the overall musical tradition clear:


As for your question about whether your cousin’s eternal welfare is in danger, you should probably not worry unless she begins expressing an interest in the Romantics, in which case you may have legitimate cause for concern.


ANNOUNCER. And now Runcible Publishing and Finer Meats, Squirrel Hill’s finest publisher and delicatessen, presents…

(Music: “Washington Post” March, in and under for…)

ANNOUNCER. L.C.I.S., the adventures of our brave federal agents in the Library Criminal Investigative Service. Whenever crime strikes our nation’s libraries, L.C.I.S. agents are there.

(Music: In full, then out.)

ANNOUNCER. Tonight we find Agents Pleasant and Cuzzi heading into the Carnegie Library of Grant Borough, hot on the trail of the Swinburne Slasher.

CUZZI. I think you should talk to the librarian first.


CUZZI. First, because you’re the attractive female half of the team, and that makes people trust you. Second, because it gives me the chance to interrupt you with witty banter.

PLEASANT. It’s not really banter unless I do it too, is it?

CUZZI. What do you mean?

PLEASANT. Isn’t the essence of banter the back-and-forth thing? The exchange of barbed remarks?

CUZZI. Shut up and do your job, Pleasant. Ha ha! See? That’s witty banter.

MR. DEWEY. May I help you?

PLEASANT. Federal agents. We need to see your circulation records for all the Victorian poets, especially Swinburne, Tennyson,—

MR. DEWEY. What did that badge say?

PLEASANT. L.C.I.S. We need—

MR. DEWEY. L.C.I.S.? What’s that?

PLEASANT. Library Criminal Investigative Service.

MR. DEWEY. I don’t think that’s a real thing.

PLEASANT. Well, of course it’s a real thing. It’s an important federal agency. Part of the Department of Education. (Pause.) We even have our own TV show and radio drama.

MR. DEWEY. Kermit the Frog has his own TV show, too, but that doesn’t mean he gets to look at confidential library records just because he and Miss Piggy show up here claiming to be federal agents.

PLEASANT. But we have badges.

MR. DEWEY. I have a badge, too. See? It says “Carnegie Library of Grant Borough.” Sometimes we call it CLOG for short.

PLEASANT. No, I mean the kind of badge that’s a little metal shield thingy.

MR. DEWEY. How do I know you didn’t get that out of a cereal box? I haven’t had any coffee, and I’m not in the mood for these games.

CUZZI. Look, uh—what’s your name?

MR. DEWEY. Mr. Dewey. It’s on the badge.

CUZZI. Look, Mr. Dewey, that’s a computer terminal, right? You can look us up. We have a Web site.

MR. DEWEY. Anyone can put up a Web site.

CUZZI. You can look us up in Wikipedia!

MR. DEWEY. Anyone can—

CUZZI. I don’t have time for this. The Swinburne Slasher is still at large. He may be cutting up another book even as we speak. I’m calling the big boss. — Hello, sir.  — Fine, thank you. Listen, we have a matter of national security here. We need to catch the Swinburne Slasher, and we need information to do it, but this librarian here won’t believe we’re real federal agents. — Yes, sir. I’ll hand him the phone.—Here, talk to him.

MR. DEWEY. Hello? — Fine, thank you. — Yes, but you see the problem is that anyone can just pick up the phone and say, “I’m Donald Trump,” but— Yes— Well, if you want to talk about emergency situations, I haven’t had any coffee in three days. Our supply ran out, and the new order won’t come in for a week. It makes me cranky. — What? — Yes, I suppose that would work. — Yes, I guess that would be fair.—Here, he wants to talk to you again.

CUZZI. Hello? — Yes, I— Five pounds? — Well, yes, I suppose I can— Yes, sir. — Yes, sir. Thank you, sir. — Come on, Pleasant. The big boss worked out a deal. We’re going down to Nicholas to get coffee.

PLEASANT. But…the Swinburne Slasher!

CUZZI. Haven’t you ever bought information with coffee before? Come on before it’s too late!

(Music: “Washington Post’” March, in and under for…)

ANNOUNCER. So once again our dauntless agents of L.C.I.S. face down evil wherever they find it in our nation’s libraries. Tune in next time when Runcible Publishing and Finer Meats presents another adventure of our brave and witty L.C.I.S. agents. Friends, when you’re reading a book, do you find yourself listlessly turning pages, or reading the same paragraph over and over? Decreased reading comprehension is one of the first symptoms of protein deficiency. Runcible Publishing and Finer Meats is your source for everything you need for the optimum reading experience. Runcible reminds you: Don’t forget to eat meat while you read!

(Music: In full, then out.)


Glossary of Television Terms.

Detective Drama: Police with automatic weapons.

Drama: Two people with automatic weapons facing each other.

Espionage Drama: People with East European accents and automatic weapons.

Fantasy: Zombies with automatic weapons.

Irony: A man waiting with his automatic weapon ready to fire while his enemy sneaks up behind him.

Medical Drama: Doctors with automatic weapons.

Romance: A man with an automatic weapon and a woman with an automatic weapon on the same side of the fight.

Science Fiction: Aliens with automatic weapons.

Serial: Any fictional series in which every episode ends with multiple automatic weapons aimed at the hero.

Suspense: One person with an automatic weapon and one person without facing each other.

Tragedy: An automatic weapon out of ammunition.



The music world was stunned today when eccentric rap star MC II Kule used the I-word in what some are describing as a drunken rant about his former friend and college roommate, rap-jazz fusion artist Felonious Thelonious.

“Yes, I say he’s inauth-ntic, and I believe that on the evidence any critic would reach the same conclusion,” Mr. Kule was quoted as saying. “Let facts be submitted to a candid world.”

Any hopes of a speedy reconciliation were dashed when Mr. Thelonious, responding to the accusations, used the P-word, describing Mr. Kule as “a bit of a p-seur.”


…you are the man on the store loudspeaker singing a country song about how much more real your life is in real America with your forty acres of corn and your tractor and your barn and your little white church where your daddy and mama got married and your beat-up old Ford and your dog named Bud, and you are using pitch correction.


If your television show has been running for, say, twenty or thirty years, and you have finally, in a moment of weakness, allowed your romantic leads to marry, you can always create romantic tension all over again by separating the couple. The separation is most easily accomplished by having the female half of the pair declare that she “needs space.” This is inherently plausible, because everyone knows that a female television character periodically “needs space” even though she lives in a Manhattan apartment the size of a cathedral. With careful management, you can build a season-long story arc on the foundation of the woman’s need for “space.” Then, for next season, there’s always amnesia.


You bring up a Web site in your browser, hoping to savor the delectable nuggets of entertainment and information to be found there. The first thing you see is a picture—let us say a picture of an okapi—with two or three paragraphs of information beside it. Your interest is piqued. You have always admired okapis from afar, and have been waiting for an opportunity to be better informed on the subject of okapis. You feel as though a long-vacant space in your mind is filling up, and your deepest longing is about to be satisfied: at last, you will soon be up to date on okapi-related matters—

And then suddenly the picture and text make a mad dash for the left edge of your screen. Before you can catch them, they are gone, and you had not even finished the first paragraph. In their place appears something else—something about new fashions in organic fertilizer or six International Style gas stations to see before you die. What happened to the okapi?

You have encountered that pampered darling of Web designers, the slider. Web designers are in love with the slider. They salivate over sliders the way chocolate addicts salivate over triple chocolate mousse cake. “There is literally no better way to make your website look totally stunning,” says the Web site of a company that sells a slider plugin for WordPress.

But does anyone who is not a Web designer like sliders? Anyone at all? Are there any readers who, coming upon a Web site with a slider on the front page, shout, “Hallelujah! At last, here is information presented in the exact form in which I was hoping to find it!”?

Dr. Boli believes that no one likes sliders as a consumer of information; that they are adored only by what one might call the pushers of information: people and organizations that want to put information out there, without actually thinking through the question of whether it is information anybody wants to pick up once it has been put out there.

But Dr. Boli could be wrong. He has been wrong in the past. He was, for example, wrong about ebooks once; and before that, he recalls having been wrong about something to do with Franklin Pierce, though he cannot recall what it was at the moment.

So he puts this question to the Internet at large. Do any of you reading this right now actually like sliders? Vote by commenting below. Web designers may comment, but they must in fairness identify themselves. This survey will produce data exactly as scientific as those produced by other Internet surveys and quoted by respectable journalists as definitive, so vote as often as you like.

One interesting datum Dr. Boli will mention: the Web site he mentioned earlier, the one hawking a slider plugin for WordPress with the claim that “There is literally no better way to make your website look totally stunning.” does not use sliders.