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Best of the Holiday Spirits to You!

GPOY, as the kids say

GPOY, as the kids say

This really is a gift: the funniest thing I’ve seen in ages. I should start a Tumblr dedicated to this rarefied art form: the inspirational fitness quote, overlaid on a photograph of someone determinedly working their way through a bender.

Originally stolen from TheChive.

Turkey a la Kardashian

Turkey a la Kardashian; it's all natural! We swear!

Turkey a la Kardashian; it’s all natural! We swear!

Unlike the Kardashians themselves, Turkey a la Kardashian is at least comprised of biodegradeable materials. And it’s not high maintenance: a couple of lemons under the skin is as spicy as this dish likes to get! Five minutes and you’re good to go, although we understand certain chefs may prefer to spend a lot more time with the butter and the spice rub.

Then of course there is this season’s biggest hit, the Twerky. (more…)

Wedge Issue

Martha, Martha, Martha! First of all, as Jezebel rightly points out, your phone photos of food are even worse than my own, and constitute an aid to the burgeoning anorexia movement.

Secondly, that is way, way too much dressing.

Thirdly, wedge salad is crap. There, I said it. Sometimes you feel like crap, okay? I get that. I’ve been there. But nobody should be expected to pay for this crap; certainly not the $5 and up you’ll see it priced at (I once saw wedge salad at $14, but the place went out of business shortly thereafter). There’s no amount of pinky-beige dressing that makes it okay to charge for 25 cents worth of iceberg lettuce that can’t even be thoroughly washed because you won’t take it apart. You want to feel nostalgic for “old diner food?” Go to an old diner, m’kay? They wouldn’t dare charge you for this.

And if someone presented this to a hungover me at brunch, what do you think would happen? EH? Well, the plate wouldn’t look any different afterward, and that’s a fact. The nastiest practical joke I ever heard consisted of someone filling an airplane sick bag with Thousand Island Dressing and pulling it out when the plane hit turbulence, to retch ostentatiously in it before spilling it all over the aisle. Yes, vomiting is contagious, in case you were wondering.

That’s probably the REAL reason you can’t take more than 100ml of liquid on a plane any more.

Meanwhile, at the cool kids’ table:

SHOTS

SHOTS

Here’s a tip!

Candle Salad

Candle Salad

According to the blog from which I stole this, the woman who submitted the recipe makes it for her husband Dick. Yes, really. Once again, proof that the housewives of the 50’s and 60’s had a lot of repressed issues, Freudian or not.

Celery: Nature’s Toothbrush!

your colon will be as slick as a water slide

your colon will be as slick as a water slide!

Not sure exactly what kind of patronage those patrons are providing, but I have more than a suspicion the original audience for this delightful poster were denizens of the demimonde.

 

UPDATE: I am reliably informed that this comes from Dark Horse Comics’ series Devil Chef, which I must now keep an eye out for on Amazon.

Spirit Animal

This man is my hero (with a few caveats).

According to the guy who twitpic’d him, this blithe cheese fiend was digging into the wheel of Brie with his fingers and then putting it on crackers. Okay, gross. Dude clearly needs to upgrade to crackers with decent cutting ability; you use the cracker edge like a knife to cut off a piece of cheese and then, coincidentally, the cheese is on the cracker already! How convenient is that? From long experience, I would recommend your quotidian saltines, or a Wasa crispbread, perhaps the rye; although it is not sharp, it has a tensile strength that is truly gasp-inducing. When the apocalypse comes, you’ll be able to build fallout shelters from this stuff. Carr’s are, although lovely, easily shattered by the cheese-cutting operation, and are to be steered clear of in subway picnicking situations.

Also, Miss Manners will certainly back me up on this: stinky cheese should not be shared in enclosed spaces without the consent of those enclosed in the spaces. Also, if your Brie is stinky there’s something wrong with it, so this probably wasn’t Brie but something in the family. God knows I loves me some Chaumes, but the fumes will dissolve window glass. If in fact it was Brie, then he’s probably paying the karmic price for stinking up the subway car, spending the weekend on the bathroom floor, groaning.

To get your transit picnic right, remember these key things: No stinky cheeses! Or you’ll get mocked all over the blogosphere! And either a knife (really, who does not carry cutlery with them at all times? It is for such emergencies the Swiss Army gadget was invented! Get the one with the corkscrew, of course) or crackers of sufficient strength to both cleave and provide a satisfying textural contrast with the creamy cheese. Bonus points: an actual cloth napkin, because you’ll never get the grease stains out of your $300 leather satchel.

Toe Jam

Well, that’s how you know you have too god damn much money: when you go into a bar in the Yukon, ask for the infamous Sourtoe cocktail, the one with the actual preserved human toe in it, swallow the thing whole including the toe, slam the $500 fine down on the counter, and walk out.

As one does.

The Sourtoe cocktail is a real thing, and has been a real thing in Dawson City since the Seventies, 1973 to be exact, when a severed human toe turned up in a boat. You know, as they do. It’s even inspired a book: The Sourtoe Cocktail Club: The Yukon Odyssey of a Father and Son in Search of a Mummified Human Toe … and Everything Else!

sourtoe cocktail book

Well, being Northerners, it occurred to the locals that the best thing they could do with their toe booty would be to preserve it in salt, then charge tourists outrageous prices to drink a cocktail with this most Goth of all garnishes in it. In the beginning, the cocktail was a beer mug full of Champagne, but soon enough they realized that using expensive ingredients cut into the margin and besides, they wanted to cater to the Bacardi and Coke crowd too, so they allowed people to order whatever they liked, “Sourtoe style” and charged them premium rates.

Sourtoe Cocktail in the flesh

Sourtoe Cocktail in the flesh

The rule was, the toe had to touch the lips, and many a toetippler would pose for commemorative photos brandishing the brown and shriveled appendage like a stubby cigar. Naturally, when tourists are paying $20 a shot for Canadian Club with a toe in it, and $5 a shot for CC without, it behooves one to take care with one’s toes, and to put exorbitant fines on anyone who would masticate or otherwise abscond with or damage said tootsie-section. In the Seventies, $500 was a big fine. Not so much today, as one American tourist reportedly knew. He was the (hero? No. Protagonist? No.) nouveau riche or at least nouveau flush in the first paragraph, who apparently had done his homework (there’s a website whose design apparently dates from the 90’s. The 1890’s) and thought the boasting rights were worth the money.

Hell, any fool can get bottle service, but how many can talk about the time they committed cannibalism legally?

Whine Journalism and how to bring the splashback

You Are What You Drink

You Are What You Drink

“I assumed they were already in the public domain on other wine review sites and liquor store sites.”

So says Canada’s #1 wine writer, Natalie MacLean, in a statement as disturbing as it is wrong-headed. It seems that, despite seeking legal advice (where, in a bar after closing time?), MacLean is under the bizarre notion that just because copyrighted work is posted to the internet, it is thereby stripped of copyright.

Allow me to disabuse her, and everyone, of this notion once and for all.

All original work published online, whether paid for or not, from CNN.com to the humblest Tumblr, is copyright the creator, as of the moment of publication, automatically and by law.

MacLean, as you can see here, has been copiously copy/pasting reviews written by other writers into her blog and website. Previous to this going nuclear in the media towards the end of last month, the posts said “By Natalie MacLean” with only the initials of the original writer, and no link to where the reviews had first appeared. And, apparently, no permission requests whatsoever.

As PalatePress says:

Ms. MacLean’s use of others’ work clearly fails the Fair Use test because she publishes entire reviews, they are appropriated for commercial purposes and her use is not for any of the legally permitted reasons.

There is a difference between an attributed quote, which you can see here or right above this sentence, and is protected by fair use law, and an outright theft. In her defence MacLean claims that she always included the initials of the original writer…which is a bit “other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln” of her.

I’m a writer. I write for a living. That still leaves me time for several hobbies, one of which is seeking out people who have stolen my writing and posted it elsewhere without permission, attributed or not, and having their websites taken offline with no warning. And now, in case any of you also write and value your own talent and original expressions (paid or unpaid), I am going to teach you how to do it too. I wish we didn’t live in a world where you had to have these skills, but selah, we do.

  1. periodically, take the first sentence of each of your recent posts and put them in Google, in quotation marks. In the case of this post, I’d put “So says Canada’s #1 wine writer, Natalie MacLean, in a statement as disturbing as it is wrong-headed.” in the Google box. See if it brings up any posts which you, yourself, didn’t make.
  2. if so, read the posts and see if you think it’s fair use (ie they took a snippet of your post and directed the reader to your post via a link to get the rest of the info OR they then went on to discuss the point you made. Either way, a direct link to your site is indeed necessary). If it is, fine.
  3. if, instead, they have NO original content on their post at all, but instead either pretend they wrote it themselves or link to you in the (hopefully vain) hope that you’ll think that a link from an internet thief is somehow acceptable, you have my permission and encouragement to go Full Metal Raincoaster on them. We call these people sploggers, spam bloggers, when we don’t call them something worse, and wreaking vengeance upon them is easier and more polite than you think: why, even Canadians can master this!
  4. if you’re really nice, or you think there has been a simple mistake, search the website for contact details for the blogger/admin and if you don’t find any, leave a comment on the post explaining that it is your content and you are asserting your copyright, and would like it removed. If you can’t find any contact details or leave a comment, well, that’s telling, isn’t it?
  5. determine where the website is hosted. WhoIsHostingThis is the easiest tool to use, although there are plenty of others.
  6. find contact information for the web host, which is almost always easily available online (or nobody could contact them to get hosting, now could they?). If they have an Abuse email, use that. If they have a DMCA or Copyright email, use that. Here is what you email them:
  7. send a polite email explaining the situation simply. I guarantee, they get a dozen of these a day, so don’t waste their time. Say “My post HERE (link) dated X has been copy/pasted after publication to a site hosted by you HERE (other link) dated Y and I hereby assert my copyright and request to have the infringing material taken down.” If you are as mean as me, you’ll have looked around the site and may add “I believe a great deal of their content has been similarly stolen, which I am certain is against your terms of service, FYI.” Of course it’s against their terms of service: it’s against the law!
  8. if you really want to put the cherry in the Manhattan, add an actual DMCA Takedown Notice. You don’t need a lawyer for this, nor does it take more than five minutes, but it works Every! Single! Time! Poof: instant website outage! This includes some general guidelines if you feel like writing it yourself, and this is the template I myself use because I am lazy and do these a lot. Once you do one of these, there will be no stopping you.

Web hosts are legally obliged to take offline copyright-infringing content, and they don’t really give a rat’s ass how “important” the blogger is in his/her niche. If they don’t act on a DMCA notice, they risk losing their entire business, and they are not going to take that chance. That’s why this is the heavy-handed, but more productive, way of dealing with copyright infringement. It’s rare that anyone with a blog is stupid or ignorant enough to think they’re really allowed to do this, so asking them is often a lesson in fruitlessness. When their web host removes their entire site from the internet, that teaches them a lesson they won’t forget.

Now, go forth. Go forth and Google, and I raise a toast to your splogger-hunting success!

EDITED TO ADD: if you’re super-extra nasty like I am, go to the stealing site, click on their ads, not the ad itself, but the part that says “Ads by Google” or “Federated Media” or whatever, and report them there. Every ad network has a way to report sploggers, and when they confirm what you say, they will pull all their ads and probably NEVER let that person have another ad account. Hit them where they live, people!

Hat tip to the ever-vigilant Marquis Wine Cellar on Twitter

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