Pandodyssey™ Panda Blog

This is a blog devoted to Giant Panda enthusiasts, environmental wanna-bes and peace loving funimals, world-wide.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Happy trials CP2 & Co. / IIIIIIIIIIIIIIt's FRIDAY!

(woowooowooowooowooowooo!) Stick Alert! Stick Alert! Thanks to bobbie for these distractions, err, I mean, links:

Panda Right on Cue Image Gallery - new and recent pictures of the stick! If you look at image # 6 of this series, there doesn't appear to be any cherry blossom trees in his yard! Poor Tai Shan--wouldn't he look adorable, nestled napping peacefully in pink? (....tooo...cute...!)

With Fans Watching, Tai Shan Thrives
Cub's Routine Brings Boom Times to Zoo

A small group started to form yesterday about 7 a.m., intent on seeing one of the best nature shows in town. On cue, the National Zoo's giant panda cub, Tai Shan, crawled on and nipped at his mother, pranced about the yard, climbed a favorite tree, dangled upside down, got wedged between the branches, worked himself free and, exhausted, finally settled on a comfy sycamore limb to nap. The regulars agreed: It had been a very good morning for cub watching.

Public schools need your support!
Don't forget to cheer on your local underdogs tomorrow!! Who you ask, if you've been living under a rock for two weeks? (Hint: it starts with a George.... (no, not George-Town, try again....nooooo, not George Washington either, keep guessing ....) Game time is 6:07 PM Saturday 4/1.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Affectations Can be Dangerous (WARNING! not Panda related!)

"Affectations can be dangerous." -- Gertrude Stein

A coworker poked his head in my office and asked "Do you know who Isadora Duncan is?" in response to the long pink scarf that I wrapped around myself in today (in preperation for the pending cherry blossom blizzard). Of course, me the cultural cretin, I had not. Thus Wikipedia to the rescue!!

First, I came across the name "Isadora Duncan" on Wiki's List of Unusual Deaths:

"1927: Isadora Duncan, dancer (born in San Francisco and considered the Mother of Modern Dance), died of accidental strangulation and broken neck when her scarf caught on the wheel of a car in which she was a passenger. Her last words before the car drove off were -- Adieu, mes amis. Je vais à la gloire. (Farewell, my friends! I go to glory!)"

WOAH! That piqued my interest but the List was lacking in a lot of important details, so I clicked the full Wikipedia entry for "Isadora Duncan":

"Duncan often wore scarves which trailed behind her, and this caused her death in a freak accident in Nice, France. She was killed at the age of 49 when her scarf caught in the open-spoked wheel of her friend Ivan Falchetto's Amilcar automobile, in which she was a passenger. As the driver sped off, the long cloth wrapped around the vehicle's axle. Duncan was yanked violently from the car and dragged for several yards before the driver realized what had happened. She died almost instantly from a broken neck. The tragedy gave rise to Gertrude Stein's mordant remark that "affectations can be dangerous."

Success, which came easily to Duncan early in life, escaped her in later years:

"By the end of her life, Duncan's performing career had dwindled, and she became as notorious for her financial woes, scandalous love life, and all-too-frequent public drunkenness as for her contributions to the arts. She spent her final years moving between Paris and the Mediterranean, running up debts at hotels or spending short periods in apartments rented on her behalf by an ever-decreasing number of friends and supporters, many of whom attempted to assist her in writing an autobiography, in the hope that it would be sufficiently successful to support her.

"The memoir, given the title Ma Vie, that was meant to have been her financial savior, was published posthumously. Its fervor, if not its prose or its accuracy, won the book critical success; Dorothy Parker, reviewing the book (published in English as My Life), called it "an enormously interesting and a profoundly moving book. Here was a great woman: a magnificent, generous, gallant, reckless, fated fool of a woman...She ran ahead, where there were no paths."

The List
Among the dead on this fascinating list are: 3 conductors who died during a performance, 2 on-air personalities who committed suicide (you guessed it) ON-AIR, and a smattering of inexplicably gross and ridiculous ways to die that make you glad the Darwin Award exists. My favorite: 207 BC: Chrysippus, Greek stoic philosopher, is believed to have died of laughter after seeing a donkey eating figs.

Too much to bear: developers eye panda habitat

The first page of this article in the online version of the Sydney Morning Herald discusses the woefully underpaid Chinese zoologist who is personally responsible for the great panda explosion of 2005 at Wolong. The second page discusses the negative impact of rushing to modernization and the encroachment of humans into the pandas' once remote mountain habitat.

"Wolong's situation is similar to that of many parks and reserves throughout China where masterplans are actually development blueprints, created and financed by tourism companies. Best international practices would, however, have developers respond to guidelines and conditions established by the Chinese government agency responsible for conservation.

The Chinese Government, proud of what it has achieved in panda conservation, has applied for World Heritage listing for 10,000 square kilometres of Sichuan under the title of the Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuary.

"The situation in Wolong is that the [tourism] development areas will be excluded from the World Heritage site, but the key issue we are interested in is if there is any impact on the natural values of the reserve," he said.

As one international conservationist put it: "We're hoping there are going to be too many people watching [development around the creation of the new World Heritage site] to screw it up. They're getting ready to screw it up, but it hasn't happened quite yet."

UNESCO World Heritage List

Monday, March 27, 2006


Miraculous run has done the school's namesake proud.

"It's hard to gauge what this historic win has done for this university located just 20 miles from here, one that is named after one of the framers of the U.S. Constitution, an idealist who refused to sign the document because he wanted the abolishment of slavery included (history lesson courtesy of head coach Jim Larranaga)."

That'll do donkey, that'll do.

George Mason University is located here.

i heart tai shan

From Tai Shan, With Love

"I was at the drugstore, looking for just the right Arbor Day greeting card, when I noticed another shopper intently pawing through the "For That Special Someone" section.
He was wearing dark glasses and a baseball cap, but his distinctive black and white fur, and the faint but unmistakable odor of bamboo, gave him away. It was Tai Shan , the National Zoo's giant panda."

This column appeared on 3/14/2006 in is weird but contains this great poem:

"Judge Leonie M. Brinkema,
Please tell me what you thinkema.
I don't want to raise a stinkema,
Just tell me how you feel.
I may only be a panda
But you have to understanda
That I want to hold your handa
And feed you bamboo, peeled.
P.S: Do you like me?"
- yes - no (check one)

Sunday, March 26, 2006

umm, bamboo, arghhhhhh

Too cute! I love the little ears. :) Newest picture of the stick from our friends at the zoo. Find the latest (March 24) update here.

In international panda news, Taiwan says "no thanks" to China's offer. "A-bian sincerely urges the Chinese leaders to leave the giant pandas in their natural habitat, because pandas brought up in cages or given as gifts will not be happy," Chen wrote in a weekly electronic newsletter, using his nickname."

"China has offered pandas to Taiwan several times in the past as goodwill gestures, but the island has always turned them down, in part because it says its climate is unsuitable."

However according to this msnbc article, the Taiwanese hold out hope. "Taiwan's Council of Agriculture is expected to give an official recommendation on whether to accept the pandas in early April, but local zoos are already investing heavily, hoping they will become the pandas' new home. The Taipei Zoo is building a $6 million climate-controlled "five star" panda enclosure. The private Zoological Society of Taipei has spent more than $100,000 to train zoo staff on the care and feeding of pandas. People can't wait. "At parties, friends come up to me and say, 'Hey, just give us the pandas!' " says Eric Tsao, curator of the Taipei Zoo."

Cute Tax

Pandas bamboozled by march of progress

HE YONGGUO is overworked and underpaid. The man in charge of China's most successful panda-breeding program gets paid less than $A130 a month for working seven 10-hour days a week.
But the rewards are immense. In his six years at the Wolong Nature Reserve, the world's largest panda reserve, he has delivered 48 baby pandas, including a record 16 last year, all of whom have survived.

($130.00 Australian = $92.3912 USD for a regular 70 hour work week!) The article points out how in efforts to modernize as fast as possible, the provincial governments of China often prioritize lucrative mining or tourism projects over wildlife protection, making the conservationist's job that much more difficult.

teeny panda art

This panda was painted onto a single human hair. Other works by Jin Yin Hua, Chinese micro artist, include a painting of the Titanic onto a 2 mm long mineral sliver, and a depiction of Muhammed Ali vs. Sonny Liston, onto a pinhead. Visitors to Hua's gallery must use a microscope to view his works.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Got cost effective alternatives to gasoline?

Manure-Powered Plant is Among Largest in U.S.

Coming on the heels of Panda's announcement of several other ethanol plants across the county, the Haskell County plant will be unique in Kansas in that it will utilize cow manure as a fuel source to operate the plant. This project, which is similar to Panda's Hereford, TX project now underway, will annually convert one billion pounds of cattle manure into a clean burning bio-gas used to power the plant's operations.

Panda Energy is quickly becoming one of the country's top producers of ethanol using bio-mass energy such as cow manure to make a renewable fuel. TheHaskell County project is among three fuel ethanol plants announced by Panda Energy.

Did you know?
Brazil has certainly had its share of environmental issues (deforestation of the Amazon, illegal animal trade, pollution), but the South American nation is currently leading the world in alternative fuel usage. According to this article, Brazil has declined in gasoline consumption since the 1970s. Both the United States and Brazil produce approximately 4 billion gallons of ethanol annually, but Brazil boasts that a whopping 20% of its transport fuel market now utilizes ethanol, whereas ethanol accounts for less than 5% of fuel used in the United States. How can this be one might ask? Experts blame a weak national energy policy that doesn't encourage development and manufacturing of flex-fuel cars and fails to aggresively promote higher ethanol usage. (Brazil also produces ethanol from sugar cane, not cow manure. That has got to factor in somewhere ...)

Percentage of world-wide use of alternative fuels? A paltry 1%.

Considering the U.S.'s present energy crisis and a never-ending-war, ought not the U.S. be leading the world-wide effort for alternative fuel use, not following in Brazil's footsteps?

george george of the (suburban) jungle

According to this article from Reuters, noone is working today anyway, and if you haven't gotten your tickets to this weekend's games by now, chances are you can't afford them anymore. Instead, check out some NCAA entertainment today for free. (Besides, aren't you the teeniest bit curious about the local george who fubared everybody's bracket?)

NCAA practice from 12:00 to 4 today, at Verizon Center (the facility formerly known as MCI). FREE.

Today's schedule at the Verizon Center:
12:00 PM GMU (gooOOOO PATs! oh wait, game's not till tomorrow)
1:00 PM Washington
2:10 PM Wichita State
3:10 UCONN

The only real panda related news for today are some adorable red panda pics I found on the National Zoo site. MEH.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

More panda kindergarten

Experts say panda-monium is good for panda cubs
cuz you can't ever have too much panda kindergarten.

How do you tell a boy panda from a girl?

This article from the LA Times discusses the cross-strait panda debate between China and Taiwan. And just so you don't have to click another link, here's the relevant quote:

'Pandas are notoriously poor breeders, with a baby panda the ultimate zookeeper prize. On the flight from Beijing to Heathrow in 1974, Brambell recalls spending much of the time shining a flashlight on the animals' private parts to establish that the two were actually male and female. "We wanted to make sure we really had the goods," he said.'

("the goods" hahahahahahaaaaaa!)



Don't expect another Pandodyssey update anytime soon. I've got a Pandodyssey video to produce, tai shan pics to edit, and now this.

I don't post about rival panda blogs unless they are This blog is an excellent resource for your daily dose of "Awwwwww!" It's packed with pics and video links of all our favorite baby pandas. (clap clap clap clap!) Perfect Wed afternoon fodder!

Wednesday afternoons ... they do have a certain charm about them ....

Up & Running/Two Weeks Notice

Up & Running is back up YAY! (thanks E.) New pics of Tai Shan from our March 18 visit will be available soon!

Two Weeks Notice

"It happens a lot in Washington, even to people with high-paying jobs -- lawyers, lobbyists, high-level civil servants.
Sooner or later the thought surfaces: "I'm not really satisfied. Maybe I should be doing something else for a living."

This is definitely an article for a slow Wednesday afternoon! I've been thinking a lot lately about what I want to be when I grow up, not what my parents wanted me to be, or what I went to school to be. Things that I sincerely enjoy doing are:
-panda watching
-Writing (aka Panda blogging)
-Cooking (aka making disasters in the kitchen)
-Playing with Deuce & Sassy (aka Duke & Sally)
-Traveling (aka not sitting at a desk working on my fluorescent tan)

So, NOW the question is how do I get someone to pay me to do what I like???

Friday, March 17, 2006

panda kindergarten

This is really a test post. Enjoy more panda kindergarten footage here.

Upon second glance, it might be the exact same footage, but who can tell with all that cuteness?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Free Coffee! NOW! At Starbucks! What are you doing sitting here reading this?? There's no panda news here today!!! GO!

According to this article in the Boston Herald, Dunkin Donuts in Boston is retaliating by offering free cab rides:

Dunkin’ Donuts is taking the coffee wars to the streets - in pink taxi cabs.
While rival Starbucks pledged to offer a free cup of premium arabica coffee today to customers between 10 a.m. and noon, Dunkin’ is offering its own customers free cab rides in downtown Boston. A fleet of five bright pink Dunkin’ Donuts Turbo Hot Taxis will line up in front of the Dunkin’ Donuts at 715 Boylston Street from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and tomorrow.
And in a coffee war marketing twist, the two chains appear to be focusing on their rival’s strengths. Starbucks aims to remind consumers that it still makes a good cup of coffee, in addition to all those chic espresso drinks it’s become famous for.
And Dunkin’ Donuts, known for a good cup of Joe, will be handing out samples of its Turbo Hot coffee, which is made with a shot of real espresso.
It’s unclear how many coffee lovers will jump into a pink cab today and tell the driver to head for Starbucks.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Panda Husbandry

Wanna read up on how to raise your very own panda? Their habitat space needs? What types of bamboo to feed them? How to conduct daily inspections of err, well read on to find out!

This article on panda husbandry is from the Giant Panda Species Survival Plan, based on keepers' research at the San Diego Zoo. It's chock full of all the information you need to raise a healthy panda cub of your own. You know, should you ever need to raise a healthy panda cub of your very own.
Topics include:
housing & exhibit
health & nutrition

a wee bit shoogly?

This is from an article reviewing Scottish television shows, but I'm not entirely sure. In this excerpt, the author discusses his amusing, personal views regarding the panda, the subject of one recent show airing on BBC.

The Panda: as elusive as Jim McLean
THAT'S it over between me and the giant panda. Turns out that cute's all they've got going for them! OK, we humans have got it in for most of the natural world, but we're bending over backwards to help the black and white cuddlies. But do they deserve it? They won't even help themselves. Fussy buggers'll only eat one type of bamboo, which only grows in one place. Not only that, but bamboo doesn't taste of anything. And there's zilch nourishment in it. So how dumb is that? Those guys are practically begging to go extinct. They end up so weakened with their faddy bamboo diet they have to go and sleep for weeks on end in wee caves while they recover. And half their kids die off in the winter because their mother's milk's based on bamboo and it's got nothing in it either.

And all the time David Attenborough is chatting away in the background, and he's not exactly saying "poor wee panda", but his voice goes a wee bit shoogly every time the panda's up against it in the bamboo department. I say: let the panda die out, who needs them?

The author then continues the article with his review of several BBC shows, none of which are available to me. I didn't understand the title, so I looked up Jim McLean (a well respected Scottish football player/manager) but learned nothing as to his elusiveness. I still don't get it.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Cute, I think??

Panda Kindergarten

While I have not yet watched it, this clip passed muster and the "eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" test, per CP2. Happy squealing!

In celebration of Tai Shan Day, I ordered a dress made of real bamboo. "Natural, breathable, and ecofriendly", or that's what the website claims anyway. (The true test will be if Tai Shan is noticeably allured by the aroma of 95% pure bamboo.) This should be a fun experiment.



Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Are U.S. Zoos Getting Out of the Panda Business?

In this Feb. 28 post by the San Diego Zoo's panda team, Don Lindburg emphasizes the value of having giant pandas in the US for more than just a zoo's bottom line.

What is the cost of a giant panda loan from China? All zoos have agreed to pay an annual fee of one million dollars for each pair, and a one-time fee of not more than $600,000 for each surviving cub. But an even greater cost is that of doing research at home and in China. This is an enhancement activity that is mandated by law. All pandas in the U.S. are therefore imported for research purposes, not for breeding or exhibitry.
In my role as giant panda species coordinator for North American zoos, I repeatedly heard comments that the cost of keeping pandas was not offset by the revenues they generated, so I asked for help in doing a cost/benefit analysis of zoos’ cumulative experience. When the bill was totaled for all four zoos having pandas, it indicated that so far the cost of keeping them is substantially more than the revenues they generate. The existing loan agreement for Bai Yun and Gao Gao expires in 2008. Does this mean that unless costs are reduced, a day may soon come when San Diego will be without pandas?
While it is certainly the case that if each species cost zoos more than its capacity to encourage visitation by the public, zoos would soon be out of business. But for us, this is not a commercial enterprise. We are in the conservation business, and the benefits to conservation of giant pandas have been substantial. When we focus on the benefits side of the equation, we see compelling reasons for continuing the loan program.

Newest Tai Shan Update from the Zoo

From the Giant Panda Page at the National Zoo:

March 7, 2006: Tai's Latest Trick
Tai Shan has a new trick. He climbs up the mesh barrier between the keeper area and the yard to hang out and try to get ahold of any conduit or metal he can reach from this position. The first time he climbed the mesh, he let go and fell about six feet to the walkway. Undeterred, Tai shook himself off and went right back up again. This time he slid down with his claws dragging the mesh to slow his descent to the ground. The third time he went up only half the distance. Lessons learned, he now climbs all the way up and down the mesh regularly.

Tai and his keepers are pretty sure he will be able to get up another tree soon. We will need to pick some strategic trees that will allow him to climb while staying in view. The trees will be clothed in leaves soon, and that will add to the challenge of keeping Tai visible for his audience. We may also add some more vertical perching to his enclosures. We all chuckle when we recall the time we could not find Mei Xiang, shortly after her arrival at the Zoo. Just when we were getting worried, we remembered to look up. There was little Miss Mei, hanging like a bat from a pipe in the ceiling, perfectly comfortable upside down, from her newly discovered perch.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

No panda news today

Very slow pandology news day, so here are other bits of distraction that needed to be blogged. obviously.

Don't fuhgeddabout it
I (and probably 100 million or so other cable subscribers) have stubbornly held onto our HBO subscriptions for far too long, waiting with baited breath, for Sunday night -- we'll just call it SEASON SIX. The wait had better be worth it. It can't possibly live up to its own standard. Can it?

Alas, at least HBO gets off to a good start. In the way of a Season Five recap, HBO offers a cool interactive map to whet yous'es (sp?) appetites for guns, bloodshed, and a whole lotta fucking cursing. Also, the map utilizes Google satellite images so if you know anyone who actually lives in NJ/NY (not just your TV friends) you can zoom in on their house. Airs Sundays at 9, on HBO.

You could be the next Douchebag!
Speaking of Season five, NBC aired episode 2 of the most unremarkable season five of The Apprentice to date. (If you missed it, don't bother. It was a snoozefest, despite the "dual firing".)

I'm tired of season five already! If anyone knows someone who would make a good mini-Don (can say "yer fia-hed" and combs their hair waaaay over), download an application here, and send it, along with your audition, to NBC. Or bring it with you to one of several nationwide casting calls. Calls are being held the DC area on Friday, April 7, 2006. (But why at the Mercedes dealership on S. Pickett? If this is yet another example of product placement on this show, I'm going to jam a Gilette Fusion razor into someone's eye!) If applying by mail, act fast: deadline is Thursday March 9, 2006 and the Donald doesn't like to be kept waiting.

Is climbing mountains, rather than corporate ladders, more your speed? Well too bad! Better luck next season

Deadline to apply for the next season of Amazing Race has already passed. Airs Tuesdays @ 9, on CBS.
Deadline to apply for the next season of Survivor has also already passed. Airs Thursdays @ 8, on CBS.

Poop. Ah well, i resign myself to at least one more season of living vicariously through the foibles of other deranged folks.

Hey National Zoo, time for a new Stick update!

It's been exactly one week since the zoo's last Tai Shan update. So every day for a week, I click to the Zoo Panda Home page hoping to see new Stick news, only to re-read "February 28: Scent-marking Cub" for the eighth day in a row. Gross! Though this paragraph is cute:

"On another note, Tai Shan has been treating us to some very long and busy play bouts lately. We all just cannot get enough of his prancing and bouncing, especially when viewed from the rear."

Awwww! He's awake! And playing with mom!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Alaska Pipeline Spill Debate

"State, federal and oil company officials said the total amount of oil spilled is still not known, but they discounted claims by an oil industry critic that the spill was much larger than BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. is saying. Industry critic Chuck Hamel, said he learned from onsite personnel that the spill volume is closer to 798,000 gallons, which would make it the second largest oil spill in Alaska, second only to the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill of 11 million gallons in Prince William Sound."

It would appear that this most recent accident comes as no shock to some onsite employees of BP Alaska who have been working toward opening up a dialogue on safetey and environmental issues surrounding drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve for quite some time.

For more Stickiography, a Wonkette blast from the past

In follow up to yesterday's WP chat transcript, i am posting a word search for "panda" on wonkette which brings up Ana Marie Cox's clever and oh-so-wonderfully-hagiographic Tai Shan posts from back in the day (circa late 2005):

Butter is the Color of my True Justice's Heart
[From 10/28/2005:] Reader CB has a suggestion: Pick the Stick! His honorable Butteriness, reigning panda of the National Zoo, combines the constitutional law experience of Harriet Miers with the adorability of John Roberts. "

Baby Panda Throw Down
[From Tuesday 11/11/2005] "Su Lin" vs. Butterstick: So the San Diego Zoo has named their baby panda Su Lin: "a little bit of something very cute." Overcompensate much, San Diego? You want a baby panda throw down?" [...panda fight...too cute!...]

Baby Panda Eats, Shoots, Please Don't Leave
[From Monday 12/5/2005:] "It's been brought to our attention that the Sichuan Wolong Panda Protection and Breed Center now has SIXTEEN BABY PANDAS. To be sure, they all probably have dumb Chinese panda cub names, like "Happy Fuzzy Cat-Bear," and "Gurgling Mammal" and "A Little Piece of Something Very Black and White," and none of them is the Stick, but it begs the question: WHY DO THEY WANT HIM BACK? We have one baby panda..."

Unfortunately a search for "panda" at didn't turn up anything at all. Has Ms. Cox giving up the art of panda blogging forever? Say it isn't so! :(

A million little egos

Regrettably, the Internet is scary place for awards show hosts:

Those big stars just don’t get Jon Stewart
‘Daily Show’ host will be lumped in with Letterman, Rock as Oscar failure'

Jon Stewart, Oscar telecast another slog

Jon Stewart was disappointing host of bland Oscarcast

Memo to Jon Stewart: Keep your "Daily" Job
"Crash" was not only the film chosen Best Picture at the 78th Academy Awards last night; it was also the sound made by the show itself as, metaphorically speaking, it drove into a wall.
It's hard to believe that professional entertainers could have put together a show less entertaining than this year's Oscars, hosted with a smug humorlessness by comic Jon Stewart, a sad and pale shadow of great hosts gone by.

What's black & white and can't take a joke? Hollywood! At the Oscars!

So did anyone enjoy Jon Stewart as host of the Oscars? I DID! ME ME ME ME ME ME!!

Jon Stewart was FUNNY last night (As was Chris Rock but this blog is only four months old so a year ago is, in blog years, ancient history). It's not Stewart's fault that the majority of his in-house audience was comprised of a million little egos who don't watch cable, and if they do, don't understand that the Daily Show is not a fake news show. (see satire : n. 1. A literary work in which human vice or folly is attacked through irony, derision, or wit. The branch of literature constituting such works. 2. Irony, sarcasm, or caustic wit used to attack or expose folly, vice, or stupidity.)

So when Stewart said "I am a loser" and all you heard were those annoying figurative crickets chirping, it was a desperate bid for an easy laugh from a robotic audience that couldn't crack a smile at "... and that is why I think Scientology is right..." or chuckle at "the Oscars are a chance to "see all your favorite stars without having to donate any money to the Democratic party." It's called self-deprecating humor, Hollywood. If you ever watched the Daily Show you would know these things and maybe next year, not be caught on camera furtively glancing around yourself, left to wonder whether or not to laugh.

Where IS a director when you really need one?

What I found particularly NOT funny but Tom Shales of the Washington Post seemed to get uhh, very excited over shall we say, was Streep-Tomlin's impression of a Robert Altman film, as Shales puts it: "replete with overlapping dialogue, half-finished thoughts and constant interruptions. This was a piece of presentation that must have taken weeks to master in rehearsal; it was a double virtuoso performance."

Kudos to Streep & Tomlin for treating their roles as Oscar presenters with dignity and honor commensurate to the award they presented. (meaning, they didn't stumble up there and slur their lines-what can I say? The bar for award presenters is low.) But Tom (shaking my head), while it was a great performance, it wasn't funny. It was an impression--an original and lively impersonation of the work that typifies Altman, well written, clever, and smartly executed--but it wasn't funny.

Maybe Hollywood is out of touch with the rest of the world. Maybe their dresses/tuxes are too tight. Maybe the federal government, the FCC or ABC has put a complete damper on televised spontaneity. Whatever the problem is, YOU, MEDIA PEOPLE, quit trying to pin the blame on the host, the ONLY person at the damn event who IS trying to find the humor in all of this!

So, what do the Oscars have to do with pandas? Absolutely nothing, except that I suggest no host for next year's Oscars, just a live feed to the panda cam.

Whatever the case, JON STEWART YOU didn't fail. Your botox-numbed, self-absorbed in-house audience did. The rest of us? We were laughing our asses off in the comfort of the EST zone.

More on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart

From the ever sharp eye of CP2:

'Stick Chat
(ok, it's actually a chat about Blackberries, but is hosted by Ana Marie Cox, formerly of Wonkette fame, who has moved onto bigger things, but is still apparently an ardent Tai Shan fan. To give credit where it's due, Ms. Cox may be the first Tai Shan blogger. BTW, we have 2 extra Tai Shan viewing tix for 3/18 if you wanna come Ms .Cox!)

Washington Zoo: Please take back the blog! The new guys hardly give the 'stick any coverage at all! We need you!

Ana Marie Cox: Apparently the new Wonkettes have decided that Butterstick was my "thing," and so they've given up the kind of constant, adoring hagiography that The Stick deserves. When the Stick leads the revolution, they will be the first against the wall. No, seriously: The Stick revolution will consist of rolling around in bowls. No worries.

[As an aside, here is what the new Wonkettes had to say in a WP chat on 3/1/2006:]

[Burlington, Vt.: Three words: Mo' Butterstick now.

David Lat: While we adore Butterstick -- who doesn't? -- we feel that this particular meme is uniquely Ana Marie Cox's. So our failure to talk more about "the Stick" reflects a conscious editorial decision on our part to chart our own path here at Wonkette. Our standard for Butterstick items is that we'll talk about that diminutive panda if there's a news hook. For example, we recently did an item about pandas eating up zoo budgets, based on a New York Times piece. If Butterstick goes into Iraq and unearths WMDs, OF COURSE we'll write about him. But we generally don't do "Stick for the sake of Stick" coverage, wisely leaving the Stick shtick to others (e.g.,]

"Stick for the sake of Stick" is what pandodyssey is ALL about! Now back to the post already in progress.

Cabin John, Md.: A 19th century composer was asked, "Would you prostitute your art?" He replied, "Repeatedly." If they're buying, you go right ahead and sell. Do you have room for oleaginous Butterstick gooiness on your new blog?

Ana Marie Cox: I should pick the Stick more on the personal site, it's true. I've been making do with the National Zoo's quasi blog ( which can be amusingly semi-pornographic in its details. The other day a friend and I were discussing the dangers of being able to see the panda cam on your Treo...

hagiography - hag·i·og·ra·phy, n. pl. hag·i·og·ra·phies
Biography of saints or a worshipful or idealizing biography.

Gasp! Is pandodyssey a hagiography?

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Cute but Costly

Cute but Costly
The San Diego Zoo may have the hottest panda program in the United States, but it says it cannot continue to pay $1 million a year to rent the black-and-white fur balls from China. The zoo is among four nationwide that have told China they want to renegotiate the fee when their contracts are up, starting in 2008.

“There's always been this misperception that a lot of people thought you are making money on pandas. That has never been the case,” said Simmons, who added that officials from other cities sometimes call asking how to get pandas because they want to boost ticket sales.

Hardly news to us in the dc area: mind-boggling traffic but FREE entry to the National Zoo to see the pandas!

Did you know the Smithsonian Institution began as a gift, bequeathed to the United States from James Smithson (1765-1829) to create "an Establishment for the increase & diffusion of knowledge." Today, SI includes 18 museums, 140 affiliate museums, and 9 research centers. The SI collection? 143.7 million objects, artworks and specimens, the vast majority of which the public can see for free! Hand's down, there's no better deal in the district, maybe in the world.
Find out more about the Smithsonian Institution.

Wilderness Training for Pandas

More on Xiangxiang, the four-year-old panda undergoing wilderness training in China. He will be the first giant panda to be released completely into the wild after training in captivity.

"We trained Xiangxiang with the aim of removing his dependence on humans for food so he'll get a chance to know his peers in the wild," he said. "Now, Xiangxiang, is good at choosing the right food that ripens in different seasons, he also has an ability to choose food that tastes best," he added."

Education, even for pandas, doesn't come cheap: the wilderness training program has an estimated cost of 300 million yuan (37.5 million US dollars).

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Panda Do-Gooder Does GREAT

Amanda the Panda recalls kids' courage
Zimmerman's new book tells about children's spirit, faith.
JoAnn Zimmerman, otherwise known as Amanda the Panda, answered that question for Sara, Chris, Shani and many other cancer patients in her book "From the Heart of a Bear," published to coincide with Amanda the Panda's 25th anniversary.

Amanda Cares Inc. started in 1980 when Zimmerman quit a successful career in banking to become Amanda the Panda and visit children with cancer in hospitals and their homes. Today, the program focuses on giving support to grieving families who have lost a loved one.

Zimmerman said the book celebrates the lives of children and should be beneficial to anyone who knows a child with cancer."When someone's child has cancer, we think we don't know what to say or what to do, but this book gives a glimpse that they are children first and cancer patients second," Zimmerman said.The second half of the book focuses on what Amanda the Panda does today to help grieving families through weekend camps, support groups and activities.

The title of this post was originally "Mamas don't let your babies grow up named Amandas" because the first time I'd ever heard of Amanda the Panda was when CP2 and I visited Tai Shan in December. We met a vivacious young woman in line who introduced herself to us as "Amanda, as in y'know, like Amanda the Panda"?

I nodded in the affirmative, partly because the only words coming out of my mouth that day were "Tai Shan!" and the letter "EEEEEEEEEEEEEE....!" But also partly because rather than look ignorant and ask, I just WAS ignorant and pretended. How lame of me. But NOW I know Amanda the Panda and I think she's awesome. Thus, I had to change the title to give credit where its due. Accordingto the site, they have been in operation for 25 years, is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, and receives no federal, state, or local government funding.


More info on Amanda the Panda in the Des Moines, Iowa area.
(And just to clarify, our zoo friend Amanda was not the same Amanda of this article.)