Author Archive: Christopher Waldrop

Space: The Final Marketing Opportunity

February 4, 2000

According to some recent reports, the commercialization of space will be one of the major developments of the next fifty years. Although right now companies are using engineering techniques, new materials, and even drugs developed in space (insert your own joke about weightlesness and sexual-potency pills here), space-hotels and even tours of the planets may soon no longer be mere science fiction. Normally I would say that the last thing we need is the commercialization of anything else, but space is the one thing I can get gung-ho about. Short of a typographical error followed by a series of wacky mishaps, commercial flights are the only way out-of-shape slobs like myself could get a glimpse of worlds beyond. The problem is that, no matter how old I get, the future always seems to be a long way off. Chances are the only way I’ll make it into space is if someone takes my ashes up in a rocket. But in case I do live to see commercial space flight, I plan to buy a trip by writing advertising. With that in mind, here are a few sample slogans I’ve been working on:

  • Mercury: The Last Tan You’ll Ever Need
  • Venus: Carbon dioxide atmosphere, sulphuric acid snow, and plenty of sunlight. It’s Los Angeles without the tourists!
  • Mars: Spot a Martian, and your trip is free!
  • Jupiter: It’s big. Really, really big.
  • Saturn: Ring in the new year…here! (The next planet could be the perfect getaway place, but not many people are going to put up with the jokes they’ll get when they say, "I’m vacationing near Uranus.")
  • Neptune: When we say ‘get away from it all’, we mean it.
  • Pluto: It’s cold. It’s dark. There’s nothing to do. It’s just like North Dakota.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


Three guys are working on a high-rise building project: Steve, Bill and Charlie. Steve falls off and is killed instantly. As the ambulance takes the body away, Charlie says, "Someone should go and tell his wife." Bill says, "OK, I’m pretty good at that sensitive stuff, I’ll do it." 2 hours later, he comes back carrying a 6-pack. Charlie says, "Where did you get that, Bill?" "Steve’s wife gave it to me." "That’s unbelievable! You told the lady her husband was dead and she gave you the beer?" Bill says, "Well not exactly. When she answered the door, I said to her, ‘You must be Steve’s widow.’" She said, "No, I’m not a widow." And I said, "Wanna bet me a six-pack?"


@ 50`F New Yorkers try to turn on the heat.
Canadians plant gardens.

@40`F Californians shiver uncontrollably.
Canadians sunbathe.

@35`F Italian cars won’t start.
Canadians drive with windows down.

@32`F Distilled water freezes.
Canadian water gets thicker.

@0`F New York landlords finally turn on the heat.
Canadians have the last cookout of the season.

@ -40`F Hollywood disintegrates.
Canadians rent videos.

@ -60`F Mt. St. Helens freezes.
Canadian Girl Guides sell cookies door-to-door.

@-100`F Santa Claus abandons the North Pole.
Canadians pull down their ear flaps.

@ -173`F Ethyl alcohol freezes.
Canadians get frustrated when they can’t thaw the
keg.

@ -460`F All atomic motion stops.
Canadians start saying "Cold eh?"

@-500`F Hell freezes over.
The Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup.

It’ll Be Bigger Than…

January 28, 2000

Recently in Singapore a riot started in a shopping mall selling the latest brand of overpriced stuffed toy that adults, desperately clinging to non-existent happy childhoods and gullibly accepting the idea that a stuffed animal will pay for a first-class Hawaiian cruise, will bribe, divorce, and maim each other to get. I really thought this was a passing phenomenon. Now that one type of stuffed toy is no longer being made, I had hoped the rest would become as extinct as many of the animals they resemble. For those people who collected only a small number, reasoning that it was sort of like buying lottery ticket, the fad is diminishing, but there are still a lot of people out there who think stuffed animals are the only way to fill their vacuous, deeply unsatisfying lives.

Since I find it hard to pass up a quick buck, I’ve decided I’ll start producing my own line of stuffed animals. My sewing skills are pretty limited, so I’ll just make little balls of fake fur filled with dirt to keep costs down. I’ll call them Wobocs–that’s WOrthless Balls Of Cloth–and sell them for an absurd price like $10 each. Then every month I’ll send out a newsletter with exaggerated price information "Flemmy, the yellow Woboc, is now worth $16,500!"). You’re probably thinking I’m an idiot, but in case you’re not, just send me $39.95 and I’ll send you a complete information package on how to start your own Woboc production line–right in your very own home! Then we’ll see who’s an idiot.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


OBTAINING AN L.A. DRIVER’S LICENSE

Since driving conditions (and culture)are unique in L.A., you may not have realized that the California Department of Motor Vehicles has now issued a special application and driver’s test solely for the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area. Here it is below:

GREATER LOS ANGELES AREA DRIVER’S LICENSE APPLICATION:

Name: ____________________

Stage name: __________________________

Agent’s Name: __________________________

Attorney’s Name: _______________________

Actual Age: _____ Admitted Age: _____

Sex: [ ] male [ ] female
[ ] formerly male [ ] formerly female
[ ] both [ ] neither

If female, indicate breast implant size: _______

Will the size of your implants hinder your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle in any way? 
Yes [ ] No [ ]

Occupation:
[ ] Lawyer
[ ] Actor/Waiter
[ ] Film-maker/Self-employed
[ ] Writer
[ ] Car Dealer
[ ] Pan-handler
[ ] Agent
[ ] Hooker/Transvestite
[ ] Other; please explain:
___________________________

Please list brand of cell phone: 
________________________
(If you don’t own a cell phone, please explain.)

Please check hair color:
Females: [ ] Blonde [ ] Platinum Blonde
Teenagers: [ ] Purple [ ] Blue 
[ ] Skin-head

Men: Please list shade of hair plugs
________________

Please indicate if you have Automobile Insurance:
[ ] Yes [ ] No

If Yes, please explain:

Please check activities you perform while driving (Check all that apply):
[ ] Eating a wrap
[ ] Applying make-up
[ ] Talking on the phone
[ ] Slapping kids in the back seat
[ ] Applying cellulite treatment to thighs
[ ] Tanning
[ ] Snorting cocaine 
[ ] Watching TV
[ ] Reading Variety
[ ] Surfing the net via laptop
[ ] Reading a book or other Newspaper

Please indicate how many times:
a) you expect to shoot at other drivers, _____
b) and how many times you expect to be shot at
while driving ____.

If you are the victim of a car-jacking, you should immediately:
a) [ ] Call the police to report the crime;
b) [ ] Call Channel 4 News to report the crime, then watch your TV; 
c) [ ] Call your attorney and discuss lawsuit against cellular phone company for 911 call not going through;
d) [ ] Call your therapist;
e) [ ] None of the above (South Central residents only).

Please indicate if you drive:
a) [ ] a BMW,
b) [ ] a Lexus,
c) [ ] a Mercedes,
d) [ ] a Cabriolet.

If your answer is d, please add 6 to 8 weeks to normal delivery time for your driver’s license.

In the event of an earthquake, should you:
a) [ ] stop your car
b) [ ] keep driving and hope for the best,
c) [ ] immediately use your cell phone to call all loved ones, or
d) [ ] pull out your video camera and obtain footage for Channel 4?

In the instance of rain, you should:
a) [ ] never drive over 5 MPH,
b) [ ] drive twice as fast as usual, or
c) [ ] you’re not sure what "rain" is.

Please indicate number of therapy sessions per week: ____.

Are you presently taking any of the following medications?
(Check all that apply.)
a) [ ] Prozac;
b) [ ] Zovirax;
c) [ ] Lithium;
d) [ ] Zanax.
If none, please explain: __________________.

Length of daily commute:
a) [ ] 1 hour;
b) [ ] 2 hours;
c) [ ] 3 hours;
d) [ ] 4 hours or more.
If under 1 hour, please explain:

When stopped by police, should you
a) [ ] pull over and have your driver’s license and insurance form ready,
b) [ ] try to outrun them by driving the wrong way on the 405, 
c) [ ] have video camera ready and provoke them to attack, thus ensuring yourself of a hefty lawsuit

Why Should You Never Take a Cell Phone To Italy?

January 21, 2000

Because you’ll have to pay the Roman fee. According to the Wall Street Journal one of the deadly number bugs we have to worry about in the next decade or so is the lack of phone numbers. Apparently because fax machines, modems, and cell phones have used up so many numbers, there’s a very real possibility that all possible seven number combinations (or six number combinations depending on where you live) will be used up. Of course there may be complex solutions involving consolidation of various services, but I have an idea that will temporarily fix the problem. In checking a world-wide list of area codes, I discovered that no place has the area code 666. Of course there are those people who believe "The Exorcist" was a documentary, or who are simply superstitious, but, unlike 13, there’s no real significance to the number 666. It became known as "the sign of the beast" during the reign of the emperor Domitian. The Roman numeral 666 is DCLXVI. Since people in those days were as nutty about anagrams as people today are about dot-coms, it didn’t take much for an upstart religion with a martyr complex to turn that number into the phrase, Domitianus Caesar Legatos Xsti Violenter Interfacit (Domitian Caesar is violently killing the spokespeople of Christ). But for those people who feel uncomfortable with that number, I have a solution: it will only be assigned to top executives at large telecommunications companies. With all the merger mania, these guys have pretty much sold their souls anyway, so it shouldn’t be a problem for them. Besides, who do you think has four fax machines, three cell-phones, two regular phone lines, and seventeen internet accounts? Top execs at one telecommunication company use up more phone numbers than the population of Nebraska. Unused numbers in the 666 area code will be assigned to telemarketing companies.

By the way, I was blasted from a few different directions for last week’s rundown of the crimes and misdemeanors of the United States Congress, even though I didn’t write it. One of the questions was, "If a member of Congress had been arrested on drug charges, don’t you think we would have heard about it?" Probably. But the charges of fraud, bankruptcy, and drunk driving were very likely true in spades, so the drug charges statistic was probably a lie wedged in between several truths–the ultimate way to discredit a piece of information. That’s as close to a conspiracy theory as I’ll get.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


How Many Dogs Does It Take To Change A Light Bulb?

Golden Retriever: The sun is shining, the day is young, we’ve got our whole lives ahead of us, and you’re inside worrying about a stupid burned-out light bulb?

Border Collie: Just one. And I’ll replace any wiring that’s not up to code.

Dachshund: I can’t reach the stupid lamp!

Toy Poodle: I’ll just blow in the Border Collie’s ear and he’ll do it. By the time he finishes rewiring the house, my nails will be dry.

Rottweiler: Go Ahead! Make me!

Shih Tzu: Puh-leeze, dah-ling. Let the servants.

Lab: Oh, me, me!!! Oh Pleeeeeeze? Pleeeeeeze let me change the light bulb! Can I? Can I? Huh? Huh? Can I?

Giant Schnauzer: Broken? Who says? For your information the light bulb isn’t broken until I say it’s broken.

Malamute: Let the Border Collie do it. You can feed me while he’s busy.

Cocker Spaniel: Why change it? I can still pee on the carpet in the dark.

Doberman Pinscher: While it’s dark, I’m going to sleep on the couch.

Mastiff: Mastiffs are NOT afraid of the dark.

HoundDog:ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Chihuahua: Yo quiero Taco Bulb.

Irish Wolfhound: Can somebody else do it? I’ve got a hangover.

Pointer: I see it, there it is, right there…

Greyhound: It isn’t moving. Who cares?

Australian Shepherd: Put all the light bulbs in a little circle…

Old English Sheepdog: Light bulb? Light bulb? That thing I just ate was a light bulb?

As Time Goes By

January 14, 2000

The new millenium is now less than a year away, but I find it hard to get excited. This is partly because the new millenium will begin on a Monday. It’s also because, regardless of the advances in health care and the prolongation of life, it’s extremely unlikely that any of us will be around for the most significant events of the next millenium. This is depressing because some very exciting things are going to happen in the next 1000 years. Here’s a glimpse ahead:

2066: Celebrations of 1000 years since the Battle of Hastings are held all over the newly formed Euroasian Collective. However, events are marred by calls to make English the official language of the EAC, and fighting breaks out. The bulk of the fighting force drowns while crossing the English Channel which, due to global flooding, is now 150 miles wide.

2076: Tricentennial celebrations for the United States are held in the new coastal city of Las Vegas.

2145: Computer geeks all over the world celebrate roughly 700 years since Guttenberg invented the printing press…and then laugh.

2146: A huge magnetic meteorite passes close to the Earth erasing all electronic storage devices. Directors at the only two libraries that still have old-fashioned books look distinctly smug. One of them says, "This proves that not only does God exist, but that He also has a sense of humor."

2147: Throwing the existence of God into doubt but proving once again that nothing is more hated by the general public than smugness, mobs burn down the only two remaining libraries that still have old-fashioned books.

2148-2362: Attempts to hold "1000 Years Since the Dark Ages" celebrations collapse due to widespread illiteracy and poor communication. However, people still celebrate the Dark Ages by allowing no historically significant events to happen.

2363: Well-preserved copies of "Star Trek" are unearthed at an underwater archeological dig in the California Sea. People laugh at how ridiculous 20th Century predictions for the future were.

2364: Vulcans arrive on Earth.

2666: People living on the European peninsula celebrate 1000 years since the end of the Black Death. Scientists promise that eventually they’ll also find a cure for the common cold.

2667-2999: Celebrations of the Dark Ages resume.

3000: People uninhibitedly celebrate the new year with the slogan, "7000 Years Until The Y10K Problem!"

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


Can you imagine working at the following Company? It has a little over 500 employees with the following statistics:

  • 29 have been accused of spousal abuse

  • 7 have been arrested for fraud

  • 19 have been accused of writing bad checks

  • 117 have bankrupted at least two businesses

  • 3 have been arrested for assault

  • 71 cannot get a credit card due to bad credit

  • 14 have been arrested on drug-related charges

  • 8 have been arrested for shoplifting

  • 21 are current defendants in lawsuits

  • In 1998 alone, 84 were stopped for drunk driving

Can you guess which organization this is?

Give up?

It’s the 535 members of your United States Congress. The same group that perpetually cranks out hundreds upon hundreds of new laws designed to keep the rest of us in line.


In case you needed further proof that the human race is doomed through stupidity, here are some actual label instructions on consumer goods.

On a Sears hairdryer: "Do not use while sleeping." (Gee, that’s the only time I have to work on my hair.)

On a bag of Fritos: "You could be a winner! No purchase necessary. Details inside." (The shoplifter special.)

On a bar of Dial soap :"Directions: Use like regular soap." (And that would be how…?)

On some Swann frozen dinners: "Serving suggestion: Defrost." (But it’s just a suggestion.)

On Tesco’s Tiramisu dessert (printed on bottom of box): "Do not turn upside down." (Too Late!)

On Marks & Spencer Bread Pudding: "Product will be hot after heating." (As night follows the day…)

On packaging for a Rowenta iron: "Do not iron clothes on body." (But wouldn’t this save even more time?)

On Boot’s Children’s Cough Medicine: "Do not drive a car or operate machinery after taking this medication." (We could do a lot to reduce the rate of construction accidents if we could just get those 5-year-olds with head colds off those forklifts.)

On Nytol Sleep Aid: "Warning: May cause drowsiness." (One would hope.)

On most brands of Christmas lights: "For indoor or outdoor use only." (As opposed to what?)

On a Japanese food processor: "Not to be used for the other use." (I gotta admit, I’m curious.)

On Sainsbury’s peanuts: "Warning: contains nuts." (Talk about a news flash.)

(On an American Airlines packet of nuts: "Instructions: Open packet, eat nuts." (Step 3: Fly Delta.)

On a child’s Superman costume: "Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly." (I don’t blame the company. I blame parents for this one.)

On a Swedish chain saw: "Do not attempt to stop chain with your hands or genitals." (Was there a spate of this happening somewhere? My God!)

Snow What?

January 1, 2000

Recently there was a vague threat of snow in the local forecast. Normally this means the grocery stores are mobbed by people who live within walking distance of the grocery store but who panic at the word "snow". Also, for some strange reason, every time there’s a threat of snow in the forecast, I have enough of those things to last, but I have to go to the grocery store anyway to get that one thing I can’t live without, like deodorant, shoelaces, or a six-pack of MacAnally’s Extra Special Stout, the beer so thick and dark light can’t escape its surface. This time, however, the grocery store wasn’t unusually crowded, and the shelves showed no signs of wild, disorganized looting. This doesn’t necessarily prove that southerners have gotten smarter about snow. It just means that the widely espoused theory that snow reports are a conspiracy engineered by the media and grocery stores has finally reached the most gullible segment of the population. (Also many people had already stocked up for another non-event, and probably figured they’d better use up one batch of emergency provisions before getting another.)

While I was desperately searching for shoelaces, though, a gentleman in a cardigan sweater came up to me and asked, in an English accent, "Excuse me, do you know where I might find the bottled water? I understand there’s a chance of snow and I want to be prepared." He must have been from Southern England. I pointed him in the direction of the bottled water, but explained that, around here, folks prepare for snow by stocking up on bread, milk, eggs, and toilet paper, and he had none of those things in his basket. "Well," he said, "I’d better get them. When in Rome one must do as the Nashvillians do." I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


Words of Wisdom

Never be afraid to try something new (or rethink something old). Remember, amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic.

Conscience is what hurts when everything else feels so good.

Talk is cheap because supply exceeds demand.

Stupidity got us into this mess – why can’t it get us out?

Love is grand; divorce is a hundred grand.

Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.

Politicians and diapers have one thing in common. They should both be changed regularly and for the same reason.

An optimist thinks that this is the best possible world. A pessimist fears that this is true.

There is always death and taxes; however death doesn’t get worse every year.

People will accept your ideas much more readily if you tell them that Benjamin Franklin said it first.

It’s easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them.

I don’t mind going nowhere as long as it’s an interesting path.

Anything free is worth what you pay for it.

Indecision is the key to flexibility.

Make failure your teacher, not your undertaker.

It hurts to be on the cutting edge.

If it ain’t broke, fix it till it is.

I don’t get even, I get odder.

In just two days, tomorrow will be yesterday.

I am an escapee of a political correction facility.

I always wanted to be a procrastinator, never got around to it.

Dijon vu – the same mustard as before.

I am a nutritional overachiever

I believe in youthenasia

My inferiority complex is not as good as yours.

I am having an out of money experience.

I plan on living forever. So far, so good.

I am in shape. Round is a shape.

Not afraid of heights – afraid of widths.

Practice safe eating-always use condiments.

A day without sunshine is like night.

I have kleptomania, but when it gets bad, I take something for it.

If marriage were outlawed, only outlaws would have in-laws.

If it weren’t for me, there’d just be a pile of my clothes on the floor.

I am not a perfectionist. My parents were though.

Truism For Middle Aged Women: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst, for they are sticking to their diets.

Life is an endless struggle full of frustrations and challenges, but eventually you find a hair stylist you like.

You’re getting old when you get the same sensation from a rocking chair that you once got from a roller coaster.

Perhaps you know why women over fifty don’t have babies; They would put them down somewhere, and forget where they left them.

One of life’s mysteries is how a two pound box of candy can make a woman gain five pounds.

It’s frustrating when you know all the answers, but nobody bothers to ask you the questions.

If you can remain calm, you just don’t have all the facts.

I finally got my head together, and my body fell apart.

The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right time, but also to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.

Time may be a great healer, but it’s also a lousy beautician.

Brain cells come and brain cells go, but fat cells live forever.

Age doesn’t always bring wisdom, Sometimes age comes alone.

Life not only begins at forty, it begins to show.

You don’t stop laughing because you grow old, you grow old because you stopped laughing.


Support: Hello, and thank you for calling the Psychic Friends Computer Support Network! How can I help you?

Customer: Hi, I tried to open up a file, but the computer says "Cannot open A:report.doc"

Support: Ah, this file is stored on a floppy disk, isn’t it?

Customer: Wow! How could you know that?

Support: I know many, many things. For instance, this file of yours, it is some sort of report that you are working on, right? In Microsoft Word?

Customer: Unbelievable! You really are psychic! Well, how can I open this file?

Support: I see a . . . I see a . . . I see a message. It is an error message. It says, "This file is corrupted, click here for more details."

Customer: Well?

Support: Do it! You must click.

Customer: Do what?

Support: Say "Click"!!!

Customer: Click!

Support: No, double click! Double click!

Customer: Click Click! Click Click!!!

Support: Now I see another message. "In the future, do not save your only copy to a floppy disk. Save a copy on your hard drive". Ah, the vision is gone. Thank you for calling. If you stay on the line an operator will speak with you about sending your disk in for a file recovery. It is only $45 plus shipping.

Look Back In Lunacy

December 31, 1999

Well, the beginning of the end of the millenium is upon us and, as you probably already know, it’s about a year away. As for 1999, here’s my wrap-up of some significant events:

January: As if belching in public weren’t already a guaranteed way to win friends and influence people, a Japanese brewing company produced a new beer in which the fizz comes from hydrogen rather than carbon dioxide. This allows the drinker to light his belches. The hydrogen also raises the pitch of the drinker’s voice allowing men to sing soprano in karaoke bars. Male soprano singers are needed because there are no women dumb enough to set foot in a bar where men are already belching blue fireballs.

February: In Orlando, Florida, a woman appeared on a nationally syndicated talk-show and proudly admitted to vandalizing her ex-boyfriend’s apartment and car. (She slashed a waterbed and poured sugar in the car’s gas tank.) Prior to her appearance the police had her as a prime suspect but lacked the evidence to prove anything. Fortunately putting her under the bright lights and close scrutiny of a studio audience was all it took to get a confession.

March: Also in Florida a high school principal, after originally refusing the request, decided to allow a male student to wear a gown to the annual prom. The principal’s reversal was based on the fact that he had allowed the same student to wear dresses to other school functions. The principal also, after seeing the dress, realized that it was not, in fact, the same as the one he had just bought for himself.

April: In Indiana (naturally) a man frustrated with a restaurant’s toilet flushing too slowly shot it several times with a semi-automatic handgun. The man was, of course, drunk, and just minutes before had been telling the toilet it was his best friend.

May: Toronto, Canada, a peculiarly normal place as far as news goes, made headlines with a lawsuit against a bank by a customer who claimed to be a Martian. The customer, and his lawyer, alleged that the bank, a local drugstore, and the Canadian army were all part of a conspiracy to assassinate the Martian. Officials responded by saying that, unlike the United States, Canada is very tolerant of aliens.

June: A report came out stating that at least one in three schools in the United States is still using computers that are not Y2K compliant. Although most schools will be closed due to holidays until at least January 3rd, there are still concerns that fire alarms won’t work, buses won’t run, and that teachers will actually have to speak to students.

July: In Illinois at least two people bought a barbecue sauce that was so hot it was described as "thermonuclear". One of the bottles exploded shortly after being opened. The other exploded spontaneously while the woman who bought it was away. County health department officials took samples of the sauce for study, and also to consider the necessity of a barbecue sauce ban treaty.

August: Venice, Italy, introducted a "toilet tax", a charge for the use of all public restrooms. Shortly after the introduction of the tax the waterline of the famous canals mysteriously rose six inches.

September: A 100-million dollar probe to Mars crashed into the planet’s atmosphere and burned up because course-change instructions were sent in feet and inches. The European-designed probe was only programmed to recognize metric measurements. After sobering up, the guy responsible for sending the instructions said, "Boy, I really put my foot in it this time. Um, I mean my meter."

October: As if heroin weren’t appealing enough, medical examiners in Washington state found that users are more likely to contract flesh eating bacteria. The bad news is the disease kills one-third of people who become infected regardless of the degree of medical attention they receive. The good news, especially for fashion models, who are mostly heroin users anyway, is it makes you really really thin.

November: A University of Kansas football player got stuck in a drive-through window at a fast food restaurant after a mistake was made with his order. His defense in court was to say the incident never actually happened. Lawyers everywhere panicked because, if such an asinine defense proved effective, it would put them out of a job.

December: In Jackson, Mississippi, a fake Christmas tree in the capitol building was used to replace a real Christmas tree because of concerns that the real tree was a fire hazard. The fake tree later burst into flames allowing 75 people to be excused from long, boring meetings, so a potential disaster was really just an early Christmas present. An investigation revealed that the man responsible for the fake Christmas tree had previously worked for NASA.

That’s it for 1999–see you after cyber-geddon!

Shop ’til you drop

December 17, 1999

Online shopping has risen dramatically this year, yet it hasn’t really had much effect on shopping the old-fashioned way. Although it would seem obvious that shopping online is easier, faster, more convenient, and sometimes even cheaper, here are a few reasons why people are continuing to shop the old-fashioned way:

The parking

There’s nothing more fun than walking four and a half miles across solid blacktop to get to the store entrance. And what better way to sharpen your reflexes than by outmaneuvering people for a parking space that’s only four miles away from the entrance?

The store clerks

Most store clerks at this time of year were just hired fifteen minutes before you arrived. They don’t know any better than you do where the salad bowls are. And remember: nametags are deceiving. The girl who’s checking you out really isn’t named Jim. Jim walked out an hour ago, and she’s wearing his nametag until she gets one of her own.

The other customers

Some store clerks are naturally obnoxious morons. It’s why they’re working as store clerks in the first place. A few, however, are intelligent, reasonable people who have been turned into obnoxious morons by customers who ask, "Where are the salad bowls?" in a tone that suggests the clerk is responsible for the salad bowls not being at the front of the store under a huge sign that says, "SALAD BOWLS". And of course it’s the other customers who bring…

The children

Follow the cartoonish splat, bang, and yip noises in any large store and you’ll find a herd of small children staring vapidly at the latest straight-to-video cartoon release playing on a strategically placed monitor. The smart parents are the ones who drag their children along with them. The resulting screams and wails effectively drown out the dumb questions of other customers, and the even dumber answers of the store clerks.

Freethinkers Anonymous will be going on vacation until December 31sh, when I will present my year-end wrap up just before Armageddon. Until then, enjoy this week’s offerings.


How To Wrap Presents With a Puppy

1. Gather presents, boxes, paper, etc. in middle of living room floor.

2. Get tape back from puppy.

3. Remove scissors from older dog’s mouth.

4. Open box.

5. Take puppy out of box.

6. Remove tape from older dog’s mouth.

7. Take scissors away from puppy.

8. Put present in box.

9. Remove present from puppy’s mouth.

10. Put present back in box after removing puppy from box.

11. Take scissors from older dog & sit on them.

12. Remove puppy from box & put on lid.

13. Take tape away from older dog.

14. Unroll paper.

15. Take puppy OFF box.

16. Cut paper being careful not to cut puppy’s foot or nose that is getting in the way as she "helps".

17. Let puppy tear paper remaining to be cut.

18. Take puppy off box.

19. Wrap paper around box

20. Remove puppy from box & take wrapping paper from her mouth.

21. Tell older dog to hold tape so he will stop stealing it.

22. Take scissors away from puppy.

23. Take tape the older dog is holding.

24. Quickly tape one spot before taking scissors from older dog & sitting on them again.

25. Fend off puppy trying to steal tape & tape another spot.

26. Take bow from older dog.

27. Go get roll of wrapping paper puppy ran off with.

28. Take scissors from older dog who took them when you got up.

29. Give pen to older dog to hold so he stops licking your face.

30. Remove puppy from present & hurriedly slap tape on to hold the paper on.

31. Take now soggy bow from puppy & tape on since the sticky stuff no longer sticks.

32. Take pen from older dog, address tag & affix while puppy tries to eat pen.

33. Grab present before puppy opens it & put away.

34. Clean up mess puppy & older dog made playing tug-of-war with roll of wrapping paper.

35. Put away rest of wrapping supplies & tell dogs what good helpers they are.


Christmas is just around the corner so here are some gift ideas for those special men in your life! Buying gifts for men is not nearly as complicated as it is for women. Follow these rules and you should have no problems.

Rule #1:
When in doubt – buy him a cordless drill. It does not matter if he already has one. I have a friend who owns 17 and he has yet to complain. As a man, you can never have too many cordless drills. No one knows why.

Rule #2:
If you cannot afford a cordless drill, buy him anything with the word ratchet or socket in it. Men love saying those two words. "Hey George, can I borrow your ratchet?" "OK. Bye-the-way, are you through with my 3/8-inch socket yet?" Again, no one knows why.

Rule #3:
If you are really, really broke, buy him anything for his car. A 99-cent ice scraper, a small bottle of deicer or something to hang from hhis ear view mirror. Men love gifts for their cars. No one knows why.

Rule #4:
Do not buy men socks. Do notbuy men ties. And never buy men bathrobes. I was told that if God had wanted men to wear bathrobes, he wouldn’t have invented Jockey shorts.

Rule #5:
You can buy men new remote controls toreplace the ones they have worn out. If you have a lot of money buy your man a big-screen TV with the little picture in the corner. Watch him go wild as he flips, and flips, and flips.

Rule #6:
Do not buy a man any of thosefancy liqueurs. If you do, it will sit in a cupboard for 23 years. Real men drink whiskey or beer.

Rule #7:
Do not buy any man industrial-sized canisters of after shave or deodorant. I’m told they do not stink – they are earthy.

Rule #8:
Buy men label makers. Almost as good as cordless drills. Within a couple of weeks there will be labels absolutely everywhere. "Socks. Shorts. Cups. Saucers. Door. Lock. Sink." You get the idea. No one knows why.

Rule #9:
Never buy a man anything that says "some assembly required" on the box. It will ruin his Special Day and he will always have parts left over.

Rule #10:
Good places to shop for men include Northwest Iron Works, Parr Lumber, Home Depot, John Deere, Valley RV Center, and Les Schwab Tire. (NAPA Auto Parts and Sear’s Clearance Centers are also excellent men’s stores. It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t know what it is. "From NAPA Auto, eh? Must be something I need. Hey! Isn’t this a starter for a ’68 Ford Fairlane? Wow! Thanks.")

Rule #11:
Men enjoy danger. That’s why they never cook – but they will barbecue. Get him a monster barbecue with a 100-pound propane tank. Tell him the gas line leaks. "Oh the thrill! The challenge! Who wants a hamburger?"

Rule #12:
Tickets to a Vikings game are a smart gift. However, he will not appreciate tickets to "A Retrospective of 19th Century Quilts." everyone knows why.

Rule #13:
Men love chainsaws. Never, ever, buy a man you love a chainsaw. If you don’t know why – please refer to Rule #8 and what happens when he gets a label maker.

Rule #14:
It’s hard to beat a really good wheelbarrow or an aluminum extension ladder. Never buy a real man a step ladder. It must be an extension ladder. No one knows why.

Rule #15:
Rope. Men love rope. It takes us back to our cowboy origins, or at least The Boy Scouts. Nothing says love like a hundred feet of 3/8" manilla rope. No one knows why.

Mass Consumption

December 10, 1999

It’s been said that tragedy and disaster build character, and make a person more aware and more appreciative of life. Then again, my parents told me eating my brussels sprouts would build character, when all it really did was make me sick. I can’t think of any successful person who has credited their strength of character and determination to brussels sprouts.

But I digress. Tragedy may build character, but experiencing so many disasters it becomes part of life can actually make a person more superficial. As an example of this I hold up Southern California. Ever since the settlers set their tents up in the shadows of those big white letters, Southern California has had so many earthquakes, riots, floods, and fires they’re not even newsworthy anymore. But what is the biggest concern, according to various commentators, among the beleaguered residents of the West Coast? Holiday pounds. Yes, the warm climate means that affluent Angelinos have to put in extra time on their stair-steppers because they can’t put on bulky clothes to hide their holiday bulk. Those that can either go skiing or visit relatives back East, but for the clumsy and the ones who just don’t like their families, there’s no hope. Actually there’s no hope for anyone who’s so obsessed with their own bodies. Please take my blessing this holiday season and binge. Remember: everything taken to excess is bad for you, and that includes moderation.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


To: All Parents
CC: Good little boys and girls
From: Santa Claus
Subject: Contract Negotiations, NORTH POLE

I regret to inform you that, effective immediately, I will no longer be able to serve the Southern United States on Christmas Eve. Due to the overwhelming population of the earth, my contract was renegotiated by North American Fairies and Elves Local #209. I now serve only certain areas of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan. As part of the new and better contract, I also get longer breaks for milk and cookies, so keep that in mind. However, I am certain that your children will be in good hands with your local replacement who happens to be my third cousin, Bubba Claus. His side of the family is from the South Pole. He shares my goal of delivering toys to all the good boys and girls.

However, there are a few differences between us, such as:

  1. There is no danger of The Grinch stealing your presents from Bubba Claus. He has a gun rack on his sleigh and a bumper sticker that reads: "These toys insured by Smith and Wesson."

  2. Instead of milk and cookies, Bubba Claus prefers that children leave RC cola and pork rinds (or a moon pie) on the fireplace. And Bubba doesn’t smoke a pipe. He dips a little snuff though, so please have an empty spit can handy.

  3. Bubba Claus’ sleigh is pulled by floppy-eared, flyin’ coon dogs instead of reindeer. I made the mistake of loaning him a couple of my reindeer one time, and Blitzen’s head now overlooks Bubba’s fireplace.

  4. You won’t hear "On Comet, on Cupid, on Donner and Blitzen…" when Bubba Claus arrives. Instead, you’ll hear, "On Earnhardt, on Wallace, on Martin and Labonte. On Rudd, on Jarrett, on Elliott and Petty."

  5. "Ho, ho, ho!" has been replaced by "Yee Haw!" And you also are likely to hear Bubba’s elves respond, "I her’d dat!"

  6. As required by Southern highway laws, Bubba Claus’ sleigh does have a Yosemite Sam safety triangle on the back with the words "Back off". The last I heard it also had other decorations on the sleigh as well. One is a Ford logo with lights that race through the letters.

  7. The usual Christmas movie classics such as "Miracle on 34th Street" and "It’s a Wonderful Life" will not be shown in your negotiated viewing area. Instead, you’ll see "Boss Hogg Saves Christmas" and "Smokey and the Bandit IV" featuring Burt Reynolds as Bubba Claus and dozens of state patrol cars crashing into each other.

  8. Bubba Claus doesn’t wear a belt. If I were you, I’d make sure the wife and the kids turn the other way when he bends over to put presents under the tree.

  9. And finally, lovely Christmas songs have been sung about me like "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer" and Bing Crosby’s "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town." This year songs about Bubba Claus will be played on all the AM radio stations in the South. Those song titles will be Mark Chesnutt’s "Bubba Claus Shot the Jukebox" and Cledus T. Judd’s "All I Want for Christmas Is My Wife and My Trailer Back."

Sincerely Yours,
Santa Claus
(Member)
North American Fairies and Elves Local #209


MERGER NEWS!

Continuing the current trend of large-scale mergers and acquisitions, it was announced today at a press conference that Christmas and Chanukah will merge. An industry source said that the deal had been in the works for about 1300 years, ever since the rise of the Muslim Empire. While details were not available at press time, it is believed that the overhead cost of having twelve days of Christmas and eight days of Chanukah was becoming prohibitive for both sides. By combining forces, a spokesperson said, "The world will be able to enjoy consistently high-quality service during the Fifteen Days of Christmukah, as the new holiday is being called." On the downside, massive layoffs are expected, with lords a-leaping and maids a-milking being the hardest hit. 

As part of the conditions of the agreement, the letters on the dreydl, currently in Hebrew, will be replaced by Latin, thus becoming unintelligible to a wider audience. Also, instead of translating to "A great miracle happened there," the message on the dreydl will be the more generic "Miraculous stuff happens." In exchange, it is believed that Jews will be allowed to use Santa Claus and his vast merchandising resources for buying and delivering their gifts. One of the sticking points holding up the agreement for at least three hundred years was the question of whether Jewish children could leave milk and cookies for Santa even after having eaten meat for dinner. A breakthrough came last year, when Oreos were finally declared to be Kosher. All sides appeared happy about this. A spokesman for Christmas, Inc., declined to say whether a takeover of Kwanzaa might not be in the works as well. He merely pointed out that, "Were it not for the independent existence of Kwanzaa, the merger between Christmas and Chanukah might indeed be seen as an unfair cornering of the holiday market." "Fortunately for all concerned," he said, "Kwanzaa will help to maintain the competitive balance. He then closed the press conference by leading all present in a rousing rendition of "Oy, Come All Ye Faithful."

Do You Hear What I Hear?

December 3, 1999

Now that Thanksgiving is past (in Canada it was past about a month ago, whereas here in the U.S. it’s just gone by, and of course most other countries don’t celebrate it at all, mainly due to the lack of turkeys) the holiday season is officially upon us. Actually it’s just the Christmas season that is officially upon us, and that is celebrated outside the North American continent. Thanksgiving has never been a popular export, mainly because it doesn’t have any catchy songs like Christmas. Christmas, in fact, has a complete monopoly on catchy seasonal songs, even though there are only about five decent ones. The monopoly is maintained by saturating the culture with these songs. Just browsing through a few small record shops, I found that you can buy 435 different copies of Bing Crosby singing "White Christmas". Each one is the same recording. In fact most probably have the hiss and crackle of the original. They’re just in different packages, different compilation albums, and a few, due to bad editing, have been attributed to Bing Cosby.

More recent holiday songs, including "Workin’ Two Jobs", "There’s No Better Time To Convert Than The Holidays", and "Silver Credit Cards" for some reason have failed to catch on. The most popular music in stores this season, though, isn’t related to Christmas at all. Songs from "Jesus Christ Superstar" in both original and muzak versions can be heard everywhere this time of year. As you know, this magnificent rock opera is about a group of hippie tourists who sing and disco dance their way to Golgotha. It’s got religious hypocrisy, riots, violence, and lots of catchy music. In other words, it’s exactly like holiday shopping.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


Dear Santa from the world’s women

Dear Santa:

I rarely ask for much. This year is no exception. I don’t need diamond earrings, handy slicer-dicers or comfy slippers. I only want one little thing, and I want it deeply.

I want to slap Martha Stewart!!

Now, hear me out, Santa. I won’t scar her or draw blood or anything. Just one good smack, right across her smug little cheek. I get all cozy inside just thinking about it.

Don’t grant this wish just for me, do it for thousands of women across the country.

Through sheer vicarious satisfaction, you’ll be giving a gift to us all. Those of us leading average, garden variety lives aren’t concerned with gracious living.

We feel pretty good about ourselves if our paper plates match when we stack them on the counter, buffet-style for dinner.

We’re tired of Martha showing us how to make centerpieces from hollyhock dipped in 18 carat gold. We’re plumb out of liquid gold. Unless it’s of the furniture polish variety.

We can’t whip up Martha’s creamy holiday sauce, spiced with turmeric. Most of us can’t even say turmeric, let alone figure out what to do with it.

OK, Santa, maybe you think I’m being a little harsh. But I’ll bet with all the holiday rush you didn’t catch that interview with Martha in last week’s USA Weekend. I’m surprised there was enough room on the page for her ego. We discovered that not only does Martha avoid take-out pizza (she’s only ordered it once), she refuses to eat it cold (No cold pizza? Is Martha Stewart Living?) When it was pointed out that she could microwave it,she replied, "I don’t have a microwave."

The reporter, Jeffrey Zaslow, noted that she said this "in a tone that suggests you shouldn’t either." Well, lah-dee-dah. Imagine that, Santa!

That lovely microwave you brought me years ago, in which I’ve learned to make complicated dishes like popcorn and hot chocolate, has been declared undesirable by Queen Martha. What next? The coffee maker?

In the article, we learned that Martha has 40 sets of dishes adorning an entire wall in her home. Forty sets. Can you spell "overkill"? And neatly put away, no less. If my dishes make it to the dishwasher, that qualifies as "put away" in my house!

Martha tells us she’s already making homemade holiday gifts for friends.

"Last year, I made amazing silk-lined scarves for everyone," she boasts.

Not just scarves, mind you. Amazing scarves. Martha’s obviously not shy about giving herself a little pat on the back. In fact, she does so with such frequency that one has to wonder if her back is black and blue.

She goes on to tell us that "homemaking is glamour for the 90s," and says her most glamorous friends are "interested in stain removal, how to iron a monogram, and how to fold a towel." I have one piece of advice, Martha:

"Get new friends."

Glamorous friends fly to Paris on a whim. They drift past the Greek Islands on yachts, sipping champagne from crystal goblets. They step out for the evening in shimmering satin gowns, whisked away by tuxedoed chauffeurs.

They do not spend their days pondering the finer art of toilet bowl sanitation.

Zaslow notes that Martha was named one of America’s 25 most influential people by Time magazine (nosing out Mother Theresa, Madeline Albright and Maya Angelou, no doubt).

The proof of Martha’s influence: after she bought white-fleshed peaches in the supermarket, Martha says, "People saw me buy them. In an instant, they were all gone." I hope Martha never decides to jump off a bridge. (Actually this might not be such a bad thing if she’ll take all her "glamorous friends" with her.)

A guest in Martha’s home told Zaslow how Martha gets up early to rollerblade with her dogs and to pick fresh wild blackberries for breakfast. This confirms what I’ve suspected about Martha all along: She’s obviously got too much time on her hands. Teaching the dogs to rollerblade. What a show off!

If you think the dogs are spoiled, listen to how Martha treats her friends:

She gave one friend all 272 books from the Knopf Everyman Library. It didn’t cost much. Pocket change, really. Just $5,000. But what price friendship, right?

When asked if others should envy her, Martha replies, "Don’t envy me. I’m doing this because I’m a natural teacher. You shouldn’t envy teachers. You should listen to them." Zaslow must have slit a seam in Martha’s ego at this point, because once the hot air came hissing out, it couldn’t be held back.

"Being an overachiever is nothing despicable. It is only admirable. Never lower your standards," says Martha. And of her Web Page on the Internet, Martha declares herself an "important presence" as she graciously helps people organize their sad, tacky little lives.

There you have it, Santa. If there was ever someone who deserved a good smack, it’s Martha Stewart. But I bet I won’t get my gift this year.

(You probably want to smack her yourself!! 🙂

Take My Advice: You Don’t Need It

November 19, 1999

I don’t know why I started reading advice columns exactly. Maybe it was because they’re on the same page as the horoscopes. (I read the horoscopes to know exactly how my week ISN’T going to go–so far I’ve failed to have celestially scheduled spiritual insights, haven’t come into sudden wealth, and have no idea how to take a vacation from myself. But hey, maybe I’m reading the wrong horoscope.) As real advice, these columns are useless, but as entertainment, they’re pretty fun. For example, a woman who was having trouble fending off an admirer was advised to"show a little less cleavage." Where the hell did this come from? All the woman said was that she had a potential stalker, never mentioned her clothing, but somehow the keen insight of an advice columnist was able to tell from her handwriting that she dresses like a slut. What would a man with a similar problem be told to do? Stop wearing that thong out in public, regardless of whether or not you actually own one. Speaking of men, a man who felt down, listless, and unhappy with his life was told to get out more, spend some time in the sunshine, and meet new people. Manic depressives, throw your lithium away! Suffering from clinical depression? Put those sleeping pills and alcohol back in the cabinet–all you need is a trip to the beach. But for some real advice, the best thing is to switch on the radio. Just the other day I heard a"doctor" tell a woman that if she converted to her boyfriend’s religion, God would strike her dead. How the boyfriend avoided being struck dead is a mystery. How the"doctor" has avoided being struck dead is an even bigger mystery.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


Bill Gates stated: "If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry, we would all be driving $25 cars that got 1000 miles to the gallon."

In response toBills comment’s, General Motors issued a press release stating: If GM developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics:

  1. For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash twice a day.

  2. Every time they paint new lines on the road, you would have to buy a new car.

  3. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway and you would accept this, restart and drive on.

  4. Occasionally, while making a left turn, your car would shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would reinstall a new engine.

  5. Only one person at a time could use the car, unless you bought "Car95" or "CarNT", but you would have to buy more seats.

  6. Macintosh would make a car powered by the sun,reliable, five times as fast, but would only run on 3% of the roads.

  7. The oil, alternator, and temperature warning lights would all be replaced by a single "general car fault" beep.

  8. New seats would force everyone to have the same size butts.

  9. The airbag would ask "are you sure" before deploying.

  10. GM would require everyone to purchase a complete set of deluxe Rand Mcnally road maps (now a division of GM), even though they neither need nor want them. TO refuse this option reduces the performance of the car by 50%.

  11. Every time you buy a new car, you have to learn how to drive all over again because the controls operate nothing like the old ones.

  12. You’d press "start" to shut off the car.


"Never trust a dog to watch your food." Patrick, age 10

"When your dad is mad and asks you, ‘Do I look stupid?’ don’t answer." Hannah, 9

"Never tell your mom her diet’s not working." Michael, 14

"Stay away from prunes." Randy, 9

"Never pee on an electric fence." Robert, 13

"Don’t squat with your spurs on." Noronha, 13

"Don’t pull dad’s finger when he tells you to." Emily, 10

"When your mom is mad at your dad, don’t let her brush your hair." Taylia,11

"Never allow your three-year old brother in the same room as your school assignment." Traci, 14

"Don’t sneeze in front of mom when you’re eating crackers." Mitchell,12

"Puppies still have bad breath even after eating a Tic-Tac." Andrew, 9

"Never hold a dust buster and a cat at the same time." Kyoyo, 9

"You can’t hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk." Armir, 9

"Don’t wear polka-dot underwear under white shorts." Kellie, 11

"If you want a kitten, start out by asking for a horse." Naomi, 15

"Felt markers are not good to use as lipstick." Lauren, 9

"Don’t pick on your sister when she’s holding a baseball bat." Joel,10

"When you get a bad grade in school, show it to your mom when she’s on the phone." Alyesha, 13

"Never try to baptize a cat." Eileen, 8

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