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June 20, 1997

Christopher Waldrop: a man without ideas. Little does he know, though, that a bizarre and ironic adventure awaits him which involves a spaceship, two midgets, a talking doll, a car that drives itself, and a magical slot machine. Then Mr. Waldrop will discover that he really is Santa Claus. First, however, consider the following piece of information. Information which could only come to you in the Freethinker Zone.

What if we reduced the world to a village of just 1,000 people? What then? How would the numbers pan out, eh? It’s an interesting question. The answer, according to the World Village Project, is that there’d be 584 Asians, 124 Africans, 84 Latin Americans, 95 Eastern/Western Europeans, 55 (former) Soviets, 52 North Americans, 4 Australians and 2 New Zealanders. Moreover, in this village of 1,000 there’d be 330 children and only 60 people over the age of 65. There’d be seven teachers and one doctor. 70 people would own automobiles.


All questions are being answered by kids 5-10

 

WHAT IS THE PROPER AGE TO GET MARRIED??

"Eighty-four! Because at that age, you don’t have to work anymore, and you can spend all your time loving each other in your bedroom." (Judy, 8)

"Once I’m done with kindergarten, I’m going to find me a wife!" (Tom, 5)

WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE DO ON A DATE??

"On the first date, they just tell each other lies, and that usually gets them interested enough to go for the second date." (Mike, 10)

WHEN IS IT OKAY TO KISS SOMEONE??

"You should never kiss a girl unless you have enough bucks to buy her a big ring and her own VCR, ’cause she’ll want to have videos of the wedding." (Jim, 10)

"Never kiss in front of other people. It’s a big embarrassing thing if anybody sees you. But if nobody sees you, I might be willing to try it with a handsome boy, but just for a few hours." (Kelly, 9)

THE GREAT DEBATE: IS IT BETTER TO BE SINGLE OR MARRIED?

"It’s better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need somebody to clean up after them!" (Lynette, 9)

"It gives me a headache to think about that stuff. I’m just a kid. I don’t need that kind of trouble." (Kenny, 7)

CONCERNING WHY LOVE HAPPENS BETWEEN TWO PARTICULAR PEOPLE:

"No one is sure why it happens, but I heard it has something to do with how you smell. That’s why perfume and deodorant are so popular." (Jan, 9)

"I think you’re supposed to get shot with an arrow or something, but the rest of it isn’t supposed to be so painful." (Harlen, 8)

ON WHAT FALLING IN LOVE IS LIKE:

"Like an avalanche where you have to run for your life." (Roger, 9)

"If falling in love is anything like learning how to spell, I don’t want to do it. It takes too long." (Leo, 7)

ON THE ROLE OF GOOD LOOKS IN LOVE

"If you want to be loved by somebody who isn’t already in your family, it doesn’t hurt to be beautiful." (Jeanne, 8)

"It isn’t always just how you look. Look at me. I’m handsome like anything and I haven’t got anybody to marry me yet." (Gary, 7)

"Beauty is skin deep. But how rich you are can last a long time." (Christine, 9)

CONCERNING WHY LOVERS OFTEN HOLD HANDS:

"They want to make sure their rings don’t fall off because they paid good money for them." (Dave, 8)

CONFIDENTIAL OPINIONS ABOUT LOVE:

"I’m in favor of love as long as it doesn’t happen when ‘The Simpsons’ is on television." (Anita, 6)

"Love will find you, even if you are trying to hide from it. I have been trying to hide from it since I was five, but the girls keep finding me." (Bobby, 8)

"I’m not rushing into being in love. I’m finding fourth grade hard enough." (Regina, 10)

THE PERSONAL QUALITIES NECESSARY TO BE A GOOD LOVER:

"One of you should know how to write a check. Because, even if you have tons of love, there is still going to be a lot of bills." (Ava, 8)

SOME SUREFIRE WAYS TO MAKE A PERSON FALL IN LOVE WITH YOU:

"Tell them that you own a whole bunch of candy stores." (Del, 6)

"Don’t do things like have smelly, green sneakers. You might get attention, but attention ain’t the same thing as love." (Alonzo, 9)

"One way is to take the girl out to eat. Make sure it’s something she likes to eat. French fries usually works for me." (Bart, 9)

HOW CAN YOU TELL IF TWO ADULTS EATING DINNER AT A RESTAURANT ARE IN LOVE?

"Just see if the man picks up the check. That’s how you can tell if he’s in love." (John, 9)

"Lovers will just be staring at each other and their food will get cold. Other people care more about the food." (Brad, 8)

"It’s love if they order one of those desserts that are on fire. They like to order those because it’s just like how their hearts are…on fire." (Christine, 9)

WHAT MOST PEOPLE ARE THINKING WHEN THEY SAY "I LOVE YOU"?

"The person is thinking: Yeah, I really do love him. But I hope he showers at least once a day." (Michelle, 9)

HOW A PERSON LEARNS TO KISS:

"You learn it right on the spot when the gooshy feelings get the best of you." (Doug, 7)

WHEN IS IT OKAY TO KISS SOMEONE?

"It’s never okay to kiss a boy. They always slobber all over you…That’s why I stopped doing it." (Jean, 10)

HOW TO MAKE LOVE ENDURE:

"Spend most of your time loving instead of going to work." (Tom, 7)

"Don’t forget your wife’s name…That will mess up the love." (Roger, 8)

"Be a good kisser. It might make your wife forget that you never take out the trash." (Randy, 8)

Friday the 13th…

June 13, 1997

Well, it’s Friday the 13th. I’m sure this has happened sometime before in the long history of Freethinkers Anonymous, but I’ve just never mentioned it before. Some people would say it’s dangerous to start pointing it out now, but I’m not superstitious. This is partly because I’m a Sagittarius. Seriously, though, years ago a black cat walked in front of me and…nothing happened! Ever since then I’ve been tempting fate–purposely breaking superstitions to see if anything will happen. I’ve spilled salt, walked under ladders, broken mirrors…There’s a Sri Lankan superstition that looking through a picket fence while you walk by it will make you crazy. I did that, and I’m still completely sane! So now I’m going to laugh off Friday the 13th. Why? Because superstitions depend on belief, and I don’t believe anything will happen to m


Medical Diagnoses

These are quotes taken from actual medical records as dictated by physicians… (They all need to take a remedial English class!)

**By the time he was admitted, his rapid heart had stopped and he was feeling better.

**Patient has chest pain if she lays on her side for over a year.

**The patient states that there is a burning pain in his penis which goes to his feet.

**On the second day the knee was better and on the third day it had completely disappeared.

**She has had no rigors or shaking chills, but her husband states she was very hot in bed last night.

**The patient has been depressed ever since she began seeing me in 1983.

**I will be happy to go into her GI system, she seems ready and anxious.

**Patient was released to outpatient department without dressing.

**I have suggested that he loosen his pants before standing, and then, when he stands with the help of his wife, they should fall to the floor.

**The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed.

**Discharge status: Alive but without permission.

**The patient will need disposition, and therefore we will get Dr. Blank to dispose of him.

**Healthy-appearing, decrepit 69 y/o male, mentally alert but forgetful.

**The patient refused an autopsy.

**The patient has no past history of suicides.

**The patient expired on the floor uneventfully.

**Patient has left his white blood cells at another hospital.

**Patient has become more demented with urinary frequency.

**The patient’s past medical history has been remarkably insignificant with only a 40 pound weight gain in the past three days.

**She slipped on the ice and apparently her legs went in separate directions in early December.

**The patient experienced sudden onset of shortness of breath with a picture of acute pulmonary edema at home while having sex which gradually deteriorated in the emergency room.

**The patient left the hospital feeling much better except for her original complaints.

You know you are not a kid when…

Just one peanut butter and jelly sandwich doesn’t do it any more.

Driving a car doesn’t always sound like fun.

The average ten-year-old doesn’t have a clue who Bo and Luke Duke are.

Being bad is no longer cool.

You have friends who are married.

You have friends who have kids.

Saturday mornings are for sleeping.

You are taller than the slide at the McDonald’s playland.

Your parents’ jokes are now funny.

You have ever said, "Whatch-you talkin’ ’bout Willis?"

You have owned, and since disowned, Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

Christmas starts to piss you off.

You would rather wear your dirty clothes again, ’cause mom is not there to do your laundry anymore.

Two words: parachute pants.

Naps are good.

Hitting girls is no longer considered flirting.

You no longer do the "pee pee" dance.

You have onced deemed Space Invaders as "The best game ever".

When you know that the machines in the gas station bathrooms don’t dispense balloons.

When things go wrong, you can’t just yell, "Do-over!"

Playboy’s Playmate of the month is younger than you.

The only thing in your cereal box is … cereal.

You actually buy scarves, gloves, and sunscreen.

Your idea of fun parties now include Chips ‘n’ salsa and Snapple.

You leave concerts and ballgames early to beat the crowd.

You WANT clothes for Christmas.

You don’t want a Camaro because of the insurance premiums.

You remember when Saturday Night Live was funny.

You’ve bought an album on vinyl.

You saw Star Wars the FIRST time it came out.

Boiled cabbage, anyone?

June 6, 1997

This is true–and you know you’re in trouble when I start with that: the most critically acclaimed musical this year is one based on the voyage of the Titanic. Take a moment to consider that. Someone took an ill-fated sea-voyage which cost several human lives and set it to music. So I’ve decided I’m going to quit my job and start writing musical librettos (I can’t write the music because I’m about as musically inclined as a boiled cabbage). I’ll start my career with, "Oh the Humanity!", which will be about the Hindenburg. It’s got all the qualities of a good musical: wacky goose-stepping German stereotypes, love stories that can end happily right before they end tragically, and a wacky wisecracking radio announcer. I think the most exciting part will be the climactic ending when flaming performers dive from the laser-lit backdrop.

My next piece will be something on an even grander scale. The ice age, with its wacky caveman stereotypes, easy jokes about men trying to be more sensitive and teenages adapting more easily to a changing world than their parents. And we all know how cute and cuddly wooly mammoths and saber-toothed tigers are, which means Disney will buy the idea. Finally, I’ll conclude my career with my magnum opus–a what-if story about how humanity reacts when the sun explodes. Actually I’ll just be rehashing the Hindenburg story with fewer stereotypes, more love stories, and a wacky, wisecracking astronomer. Hey, if people go nuts over a musical about the Titanic, they’ll buy anything.


I think animal testing is a terrible idea; they get all nervous and give the wrong answers.
— A Bit of Fry and Laurie

A Freudian slip is when you say one thing but mean your mother.

The hypothalamus is one of the most important parts of the brain, involved in many kinds of motivation, among other functions. The hypothalamus controls the "Four F’s":
1.fighting;
2.fleeing;
3.feeding; and,
4.mating.
–Psychology professor in Neuropsychology intro course

What is a committee? A group of the unwilling, picked from the unfit, to do the unnecessary.
— Richard Harkness, The New York Times, 1960

Slogan of 105.9, the classic rock radio station in Chicago: "Of all the radio stations in Chicago … we’re one of them."

With every passing hour our solar system comes forty-three thousand miles closer to globular cluster 13 in the constellation Hercules, and still there are some misfits who continue to insist that there is no such thing as progress.
— Ransom K. Ferm

Madness takes its toll. Please have exact change.

Applying computer technology is simply finding the right wrench to pound in the correct screw.

The graduate with a Science degree asks, "Why does it work? "The graduate with an Engineering degree asks, "How does it work?" The graduate with an Accounting degree asks, "How much will it cost?" The graduate with a Liberal Arts degree asks, "Do you want fries with that?"

Karate is a form of martial arts in which people who have had years and years of training can, using only their hands and feet, make some of the worst movies in the history of the world.
— Dave Barry

I am not a vegetarian because I love animals; I am a vegetarian because I hate plants.
– A. Whitney Brown

A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.
— William James

We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it – and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hotstove-lid again, and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.
— Mark Twain

There’s so much comedy on television. Does that cause comedy in the streets?
— Dick Cavett, mocking the TV-violence debate

If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant’s life, she will choose to save the infant’s life without even considering if there are men on base.
— Dave Barry

Some mornings, it’s just not worth chewing through the leatherstraps.
— Emo Phillips

Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.

Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you recognize a mistake when you make it again.
— F. P. Jones

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.
— Douglas Adams, Last Chance to See

As your attorney, it is my duty to inform you that it is not important that you understand what I’m doing or why you’re paying me so much money. What’s important is that you continue to do so.
— Hunter S. Thompson’s Samoan Attorney

When I told the people of Northern Ireland that I was an atheist, a woman in the audience stood up and said, "Yes, but is it the God the Catholics or the God of the Protestants in whom you don’t believe?"
— Quentin Crisp

Boundary, n. In political geography, an imaginary line between two nations, separating the imaginary rights of one from the imaginary rights of another.
— Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

I think that all right-thinking people in this country are sick and tired of being told that ordinary, decent people are fed up in this country with being sick and tired. I’m certainly not! But I’m sick and tired of being told that I am!
— Monty Python

May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house.
— George Carlin

Sorry, but my karma just ran over your dogma.

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.
— John F. Kennedy

Drawing on my fine command of language, I said nothing.

Always try to do things in chronological order; it’s less confusing that way.

Based on what you know about him in history books, what do you think Abraham Lincoln would be doing if he were alive today?
1.Writing his memoirs of the Civil War.
2.Advising the President.
3.Desperately clawing at the inside of his coffin.
4.David Letterman

Once at a social gathering, Gladstone said to Disraeli, "I predict, Sir, that you will die either by hanging or of some vile disease". Disraeli replied, "That all depends, sir, upon whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

For three days after death, hair and fingernails continue to grow but phone calls taper off.
— Johnny Carson

A slipping gear could let your M203 grenade launcher fire when you least expect it. That would make you quite unpopular in what’s left of your unit.
— In the August 1993 issue, page 9, of PS magazine, the Army’s magazine of preventive maintenance

Calvin: People think it must be fun to be a super genius, but they don’t realize how hard it is to put up with all the idiots in the world.
Hobbes: Isn’t your pants’ zipper supposed to be in the front?

On one occasion a student burst into his office. "Professor Stigler, I don’t believe I deserve this F you’ve given me." To which Stigler replied, "I agree, but unfortunately it is the lowest grade the University will allow me to award."

Don’t worry about temptation–as you grow older, it starts avoiding you.
— Old Farmer’s Almanac

G: "If we do happen to step on a mine, Sir, what do we do?"
EB: "Normal procedure, Lieutenant, is to jump 200 feet in the air and scatter oneself over a wide area."
— Somewhere in No Man’s Land, BA4

The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.
— Plutarch

The only difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad.
— Salvador Dali

I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.
— Hunter S. Thompson

Sacred cows make the best hamburger.
— Mark Twain

"Time’s fun when you’re having flies."
— Kermit the Frog

Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, "Where have I gone wrong?" Then a voice says to me, "This is going to take more than one night."
— Charlie Brown, Peanuts [Charles Schulz]

Left Out?

May 21, 1997

Well, folks, I’ll be on vacation over the next few days, but I promise to be back in time with a new edition on Friday, June 6th. I have to take a vacation from my calendar. I’m left-handed, so someone gave me a Left-Handers’ Calendar last Christmas. Supposedly this thing is written by lefties about lefties and for lefties. However, we’re nearly halfway through the year, and here are a few samples to give you an idea of what most of these things are like:

  • In ancient Japan, a man could divorce his wife if he discovered she was left-handed.

  • Some scientists believe it’s an injury in the womb that causes left-handedness.

  • In France, "passing the weapon to the left" means to die.

  • Jack the Ripper was left-handed.

  • Italian psychiatrist Cesare Lombroso claimed that lefties are psychologically prone to violence and degenerate behavior.

Is this all they could find? Isn’t there anything GOOD about lefties? It’s no wonder lefties are violent degenerates–nobody can say anything NICE about us. Argh, it just makes me want to dress up like an armadillo and rob a liquor store. Then I got this one:

  • The Left Bank district in Paris has traditionally been associated with the unconventional, nonconforming lifestyle of artists, writers, and freethinkers.

I’m glad they finally got something right.


QUOTES ON THE NATURE OF THE UNIVERSE

Carl Zwanzig: "Duct tape is like the Force. It has a light side, a dark side, and it holds the universe together…."

Douglas Adams: "There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened."

Albert Einstein: "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former."

Unknown: "Astronomers say the universe is finite, which is a comforting thought for those people who can’t remember where they leave things."

Edward P. Tryon: "In answer to the question of why it happened, I offer the modest proposal that our Universe is simply one of those things which happen from time to time."

John Andrew Holmes: "It is well to remember that the entire universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others."

Max Frisch: "Technology is a way of organizing the universe so that man doesn’t have to experience it."

Kilgore Trout: "The universe is a big place, perhaps the biggest."

Woody Allen: "I’m astounded by people who want to ‘know’ the universe when it’s hard enough to find your way around Chinatown."

Douglas Adams: "In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move."

William J. Broad: "The crux… is that the vast majority of the mass of the universe seems to be missing."

Rich Cook: "Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning."

Fred Hoyle: "There is a coherent plan in the universe, though I don’t know what it’s a plan for."

Ray Bradbury: "We are an impossibility in an impossible universe."

Christopher Morley: "My theology, briefly, is that the universe was dictated but not signed."

Edward Chilton: "I’m worried that the universe will soon need replacing. It’s not holding a charge."

Calvin and Hobbes (Bill Watterson): "The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us."

The birds and the bicuspids

May 16, 1997

Spring is in the air, and we all know what that means: a trip to the dentist. It seems that almost everyone I know has had to go to the dentist recently, and for once I’m going along with the crowd. Doomsday is set for sometime next week. I’m not as worried about it as I usually am, though, because last time I went in they were very eager to test out their new laughing gas mask on me, and it made their little reenactment of the Spanish Inquisition…well…almost pleasant. But it wasn’t the REALLY good stuff. The stuff I had years ago when they pulled three teeth was so powerful I lay in the chair for what seemed like hours talking to the vaccum cleaner. It didn’t even worry me when the vacuum cleaner started talking back. Then it grew wings and flew away, so I talked to the parrots on the ceiling instead. I can’t tell you whether the teeth were pulled or not. At one point I remember seeing the dentist, but then I became a ballerina. I was too busy pirouetting to worry about my teeth. No, the new stuff just isn’t as good. It made me feel slightly dizzy and drunk, which the dentist found pretty amusing. So now you know why they call it laughing gas–it gives them a chance to laugh at you.

Now that spring is in the air, enjoy the following piece. And if you happen to get arrested in Bozeman, Montana, don’t say I didn’t warn you.


25 Weird Sex Laws

  • A law in Faibanks, Alaska, does not allow moose to have sex on city streets.

  • In Ventura County, California, cats and dogs are not allowed to have sex without a permit.

  • In Florida it is illegal for single, divorced, or widowed women to parachute on Sunday afternoons.

  • If police officers in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, suspects a couple is having sex inside a vehicle, they must honk their horn three times, and wait two minutes before being allowed to approach the scene.

  • Women must address bachelors as master instead of mister, according to an Illinois state law.

  • A law in Oblong, Illinois makes it a crime to make love while fishing or hunting on your wedding day.

  • In Aimes Iowa a husband may not take more than three gulps of beer while lying in bed with his wife.

  • A law in Alexandria, Minnesota makes it illegal for a husband to make love to his wife if his breath smells like garlic, onions, or sardines.

  • In Bozeman, Montana, you can’t perform any sexual acts in the front yard of any home, after sundown, and if you are nude.

  • A Helena, Montana law states that a woman cannot dance on a saloon table unless her clothing weights more than three pounds, two ounces.

  • Hotel owners in Hastings, Nebraska are required by law to provide a clean, white cotton nightshirt to each guest. According to the law, no couple may have sex unless they are wearing the nightshirts.

  • Any couple making out inside a vehicle, and accidentally sounding the horn during their lustful act, may be taken to jail according to a Liberty Corner, New Jersey law.

  • During lunch breaks in Carlsbad, New Mexico, no couple should engage in a sexual act while parked in their vehicle, unless their car has curtains.

  • In Nevada sex without a condom is considered illegal.

  • In Cleveland, Ohio women are not allowed to wear patent-leather shoes.

  • Clinton, Oklahoma, has a law against masturbating while watching two people having sex in a car.

  • In Willowdale, Oregon, no man may curse while having sex with his wife.

  • In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania it is illegal to have sex with a truck driver inside a toll booth.

  • Hotels in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, are required by law to furnish their rooms with twin beds only. There should be a minimum of two feet between the beds, and it is illegal for a couple to make love on the floor between the beds.

  • In Kingsville, Texas, there is a law against two pigs having sex on the city’s airport property.

  • A Tremonton, Utah law states that no woman is allowed to have sex with a man while riding in an ambulance. In addition to normal charges, the woman’s name will be published in the local newspaper. The man does not receive any punishment.

  • No woman may go in public without wearing a corset in Norfolk, Virginia.

  • In the state of Washington there is a law against having sex with a virgin under any circumstances. (including the wedding night)

  • The only acceptable sexual position in Washington D.C. is the missionary-style position. Any other sexual position is considered illegal.

  • In Connorsville, Wisconsin no man shall shoot of a gun while his female partner is having a sexual orgasm.

Oh, what the heck–here’s something for you spring cleaners:

A peek inside Martha Stewart’s 1997 calendar:

Jan 1: Catch up on gardening–sew leaves back onto trees. Do all cooking for 1997.

Jan 2: Take dog apart. Disinfect. Reassemble.

Jan 3: Align carpets to adjust for curvature of the earth.

Jan 4: Drain city reservoir; refill with mulled cider, orange slices and cinnamon sticks.

Jan 5: Lay Faberge egg.

Jan 6: Freshen air in home by sliding a dozen Dr. Scholl’s shoe inserts into heat pump.

Jan 7: Visit crematorium. Collect dentures. They make excellent pastry cutters, particularly for decorative pie crusts.

Jan 8: Culture ancient DNA into dinosaurs for nieces and nephews.

Jan 9: Receive delivery of new phone books. Old ones make ideal personal address books; simply cross out the names of all the people you do not know.

Jan 10: Finish needlepoint colostomy cozy.

Jan 11: Organize spice racks by genus and phyllum.

Jan 12: Attend workshop on obsessive-compulsive disorders. Take verbatim notes.

Jan 13: Address sympathy cards for all friends with edlerly relatives, so that they’re all ready to be mailed the moment death occurs.

Jan 14: Replace air in minivan tires with Glad air freshener in case tires are shot out at the mall.

Jan 15: MLK birthday. Find out who MLK is.

Jan 16: Sleep 20 minutes. Get new eyeglasses; grind lenses myself.

Jan 17: Using candlewick and hand-gilded miniature pine cones, fashion cat-o’-nine-tails. Flog gardener.

Jan 18: Repaint Sistine Chapel ceiling in ecru with mocha trim.

Jan 19: Update enemies list. Place in hermetically sealed vault.

Jan 20: Remove air, replace with nitrogen.

Leadership lessons

May 9, 1997

When we last left our intrepid band of heroes, I was leading them in the direction the truck had gone in an attempt to figure out where our camping site was located. We were lucky in that we all at least knew the name of the place, so if we ran into anyone we could ask directions. Unfortunately, the first sign of human life we found was… "Carl! Get out here!" It wasn’t encouraging.

Next, as we walked through this vaguely residential area, we passed a house that had a blue door, blue shutters, blue curtains, and a blue mailbox. A woman in a blue bathrobe (fortunately her hair wasn’t blue–that would have been too much) came out and got her newspaper. We thought it better not to make contact. Finally, we walked by a friendly looking farmhouse where a man in a baseball cap that said, "Guns don’t kill people–I DO!" was loading some camouflaged boxes into a pickup truck. I was volunteered to ask him if we were headed in the right direction (it was part of my penance). He mumbled something about "on the right" and "crost the railroe tacks" and "half a mall." Not wanting to keep him any longer from consuming a record breaking amount of Skoal, I thanked him politely and we went on our way. Everything was fine–we found the tacks, but after a while, we got worried. It’s amazing how, when you’re lost, five minutes is an hour and ten feet is half a mall. Then we came to a three-way split in the road. This made things even worse–how did we know which one was on the right? I did what I thought any good leader would do. I sent one guy off down one road, and I went down the other. The rest were left to entertain themselves. I can’t describe the relief I felt when I nearly walked into the truck that had our gear in it, followed by the fear that I would be discovered and asked where the rest of the troop was. I ran back–quietly–and gathered everyone together. I made them promise not to tell this story unless they gave me all the funny parts, and in return promised that I would be a better leader. And I lived up to that promise for about three hours, until I tried to cook lunch and set the campsite on fire.

Enjoy this week’s offering.


Evil Overlords

Being an Evil Overlord seems to be a good career choice. It pays well, there are all sorts of perks and you can set your own hours. However every Evil Overlord I’ve read about in books or seen in movies invariably gets overthrown and destroyed in the end. I’ve noticed that no matter whether they are barbarian lords, deranged wizards, mad scientists or alien invaders, they always seem to make the same basic mistakes every single time. Therefore, if I ever happen to become an Evil Overlord:

  1. My legions of terror will have helmets with clear plexiglass visors, not face-concealing ones.

  2. My ventilation ducts will be too small to crawl through.

  3. My noble half-brother whose throne I usurped will be killed, not kept anonymously imprisoned in a forgotten cell of my dungeon.

  4. Shooting is not too good for my enemies.

  5. The artifact which is the source of my power will not be kept on the Mountain of Despair beyond the River of Fire guarded by the Dragons of Eternity. It will be in my safe-deposit box.

  6. I will not gloat over my enemies’ predicatment before killing them.

  7. When the rebel leader challenges me to fight one-on-one and asks, "Or are you afraid without your armies to back you up?" My reply will be, "No, just sensible."

  8. When I’ve captured my adversary and he says, "Look, before you kill me, will you at least tell me what this is all about?" I’ll say, "No" and shoot him.

  9. After I kidnap the beautiful princess, we will be married immediately in a quiet civil ceremony, not a lavish spectacle in three weeks’ time during which the final phase of my plan will be carried out.

  10. I will not include a self-destruct mechanism unless absolutely necessary. If it is necessary, it will not be a large red button labelled "Danger: Do Not Push." The big red button marked "Do Not Push" will instead trigger a spray of bullets on anyone stupid enough to disregard it. Similarly, the ON/OFF switch will not clearly be labelled as such.

  11. I will not order my trusted lieutenant to kill the infant who is destined to overthrow me — I’ll do it myself.

  12. I will not interrogate my enemies in the inner sanctum — a small hotel well outside my borders will work just as well.

  13. I will be secure in my superiority. Therefore, I will feel no need to prove it by leaving clues in the form of riddles or leaving my weaker enemies alive to show they pose no threat.

  14. I will not waste time making my enemy’s death look like an accident –I’m not accountable to anyone and my other enemies wouldn’t believe it.

  15. I will make it clear that I do know the meaning of the word "mercy"; I simply choose not show them any.

  16. One of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation.

  17. All slain enemies will be cremated, or at least have several rounds of ammunition emptied into them, not left for dead at the bottom of the cliff. The announcement of their deaths, as well as any accompanying celebration, will be deferred until after the aforementioned disposal.

  18. My undercover agents will not have tattoos identifying them as members of my organization, nor will they be required to wear military boots or adhere to any other dress codes.

  19. The hero is not entitled to a last kiss, a last cigarette, or any other form of last request.

  20. I will never employ any device with a digital countdown. If I find that such a device is absolutely unavoidable, I will set it to activate when the counter reaches 117 and the hero is just putting his plan into operation.

  21. I will design all doomsday machines myself. If I must hire a mad scientist to assist me, I will make sure that he is sufficiently twisted to never regret his evil ways and seek to undo the damage he’s caused.

  22. I will never utter the sentence "But before I kill you, there’s just one thing I want to know."

  23. When I employ people as advisors, I will occasionally listen to their advice.

  24. I will not have a son. Although his laughably under-planned attempt to usurp power would easily fail, it would provide a fatal distraction at a crucial point in time.

  25. I will not have a daughter. She would be as beautiful as she was evil, but one look at the hero’s rugged countenance and she’d betray her own father.

  26. Despite its proven stress-relieving effect, I will not indulge in maniacal laughter. When so occupied, it’s too easy to miss unexpected developments that a more attentive individual could adjust to accordingly.

  27. I will hire a talented fashion designer to create original uniforms for my legions of terror, as opposed to some cheap knock-offs that make them look like Nazi stormtroopers, Roman footsoldiers, or savage Mongol hordes. All were eventually defeated and I want my troops to have a more positive mind-set.

  28. No matter how tempted I am with the prospect of unlimited power, I will not consume any energy field bigger than my head.

  29. I will keep a special cache of low-tech weapons and train my troops in their use. That way — even if the heroes manage to neutralize my power generator and/or render the standard-issue energy weapons useless — my troops will not be overrun by a handful of savages armed with spears and rocks.

  30. I will maintain a realistic assessment of my strengths and weaknesses. Even though this takes some of the fun out of the job, at least I will never utter the line "No, this cannot be! I AM INVINCIBLE!!!" (After that, death is usually instantaneous.)

  31. No matter how well it would perform, I will never construct any sort of machinery which is completely indestructable except for one small and virtually inaccessible vulnerable spot.

  32. If I am engaged in a duel to the death with the hero and I am fortunate enough to knock the weapon out of his hand, I will graciously allow him to retrieve it. This is not from a sense of fair play; rather, he will be so startled and confused that I will easily be able to dispatch him.

  33. No matter how attractive certain members of the rebellion are, there is probably someone just as attractive who is not desperate to kill me. Therefore, I will think twice before ordering a prisoner sent to my bedchamber.

  34. I will never build only one of anything important. For the same reason I will always carry at least two fully loaded weapons at all times.

  35. If my supreme command center comes under attack, I will immediately flee to safety in my prepared escape pod and direct the defenses from there. I will not wait until the troops break into my inner sanctum to attempt this.

  36. My pet monster will be kept in a secure cage from which it cannot escape and into which I could not accidentally stumble.

  37. Even though I don’t really care because I plan on living forever, I will hire engineers who are able to build me a fortress sturdy enough that, if I am slain, it won’t tumble to the ground for no good structural reason.

  38. I will dress in bright and cheery colors, and so throw my enemies into confusion.

  39. All bumbling conjurers, clumsy squires, no-talent bards, and cowardly thieves in the land will be pre-emptively put to death. My foes will surely give up and abandon their quest if they have no source of comic relief.

  40. All naive, busty tavern wenches in my realm will be replaced with surly, world-weary waitresses who will provide no unexpected reinforcement and/or romantic subplot for the hero or his sidekick.

  41. Any and all magic and/or technology that can miraculously resurrect a secondary character who has given up his/her life through self sacrifice will be outlawed and destroyed.

  42. I will not fly into a rage and kill a messenger who brings me bad news just to illustrate how evil I really am. Good messengers are hard to come by.

  43. I will see to it that plucky young lads/lasses in strange clothes and with the accent of an outlander shall REGULARLY climb some monument in the main sqaure of my capital and denounce me, claim to know the secret of my power, rally the masses to rebellion, etc. That way, the citizens will be jaded in case the real thing ever comes along.

  44. I won’t require high-ranking female members of my organization to wear stainless-steel bustiers. Morale is better with a more casual dress-code. Similarly, outfits made entirely from black leather will be reserved for formal occasions.

  45. I will not employ devious schemes that involve the hero’s party getting into my inner sanctum before the trap is sprung.

  46. I will not turn into a snake. It never helps.

  47. I will not grow a goatee. In the old days they made you look diabolic. Now they just make you look like a disaffected member of Generation X.

  48. I will not imprison members of the same party in the same cell block, let alone the same cell. If they are important prisoners, I will keep the only key to the cell door on my person instead of handing out copies to every bottom-rung guard in the prison.

  49. If my trusted lieutenant tells me my Legions of Terror are losing a battle, I will believe him. After all, he’s my trusted lieutenant.

  50. If an enemy I have just killed has a younger sibling or offspring anywhere, I will find them and have them killed immediately, instead of waiting for them to grow up harboring feelings of vengance towards me in my old age.

  51. If I absolutely must ride into battle, I will certainly not ride at the forefront of my Legions of Terror, nor will I seek out my opposite number among his army.

  52. I will be neither chivalrous nor sporting. If I have an unstoppable superweapon, I will use it as early and as often as possible instead of keeping it in reserve.

  53. Once my power is secure, I will destroy all those pesky time-travel devices.

  54. I will offer oracles the choice of working exclusively for me or being executed.

  55. When I capture the hero, I will make sure I also get his dog, monkey, ferret, or whatever sickeningly cute little animal capable of untying ropes and filching keys happens to follow him around.

  56. I will maintain a healthy amount of skepticism when I capture the beautiful rebel and she claims she is attracted to my power and good looks and will gladly betray her companions if I just let her in on my plans.

  57. I will only employ bounty hunters who work for money. Those who work for the pleasure of the hunt tend to do dumb things like even the odds to give the other guy a sporting chance.

  58. I will not rely entirely upon "totally reliable" spells that can be neutralized by relatively inconspicuous talismen.

  59. I will make sure I have a clear understanding of who is responsible for what in my organization. For example, if my general screws up I will not draw my weapon, point it at him, say "And here is the price for failure," then suddenly turn and kill some random underling.

  60. If an advisor says to me "My liege, he is but one man. What can one man possibly do?", I will reply "This." and kill the advisor.

  61. If I learn that a callow youth has begun a quest to destroy me, I will slay him while he is still a callow youth instead of waiting for him to mature.

  62. I will treat any beast which I control through magic or technology with respect and kindness. Thus if the control is ever broken, it will not immediately come after me for revenge.

  63. If I learn the whereabouts of the one artifact which can destroy me, I will not send all my troops out to seize it. Instead I will send them out to seize something else and quietly put a Want-Ad in the local paper.

  64. My main computers will have their own special operating system that will be completely incompatable with standard IBM and Macintosh powerbooks.

  65. I will make the main entrance to my fortress standard-sized. While elaborate 60-foot high double-doors definitely impress the masses, they are hard to close quickly in an emergency.

  66. If one of my dungeon guards begins expressing concern over the conditions in the beautiful princess’ cell, I will immediately transfer him to a less people-oriented position.

  67. I will hire a team of board-certified architects and surveyors to examine my castle and inform me of any secret passages and abandoned tunnels that I might not know about.

  68. If the beautiful princess that I capture says "I’ll never marry you! Never, do you hear me, NEVER!!!", I will say "Oh well” and kill her.

  69. I will not strike a bargain with a demonic being then attempt to double-cross it simply because I feel like being contrary.

  70. Finally, to keep my subjects permanently locked in a mindless trance, I will provide each of them with free unlimited Internet access.

Cliffhanger!

May 2, 1997

So many of you enjoyed hearing about Carl last week that I decided to share the story of how it was that I came to be hiking through Carl’s neighborhood in the first place. Years ago, I was, believe it or not, a Boy Scout. In fact, I was leader of a whole troop. Like all good leaders, my primary concerns were having a good time and allowing those above and below me to share in the leadership experience by doing all the important stuff. When necessary, I conveyed information from the adult leaders to my fellow scouts, but usually if it was anything really important, they would tell all of us, so there was never much of a need for me to pay attention. (My leadership example inspired a whole generation of office supervisors.) On this particular occasion, we were going on a survival camping trip, and, somehow, everyone but me knew that we were going to be dropped off and made to hike two miles to the campsite. While the adult leader was explaining all this to me and giving me directions, I was trying to figure out whether a really strange looking stick was a snake or not while at the same time making sure I looked like I was paying attention. The next thing I knew, the car doors slammed, and fifteen boys were asking me which way to go.

Next week: we don’t ever see Carl, but we do get a little help from a local militia group. More thrills, spills, and incompetence to come! In the meantime, enjoy these frighteningly true workplace rules:


DILBERT’S LAWS OF WORK

If you can’t get your work done in the first 24 hours, work nights.

A pat on the back is only a few centimeters from a kick in the butt.

Don’t be irreplaceable, if you can’t be replaced, you can’t be promoted.

It doesn’t matter what you do, it only matters what you say you’ve done and what you’re going to do.

After any salary raise, you will have less money at the end of the month than you did before.

The more crap you put up with, the more crap you are going to get.

You can go anywhere you want if you look serious and carry a clipboard.

Eat one live toad the first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.

When the bosses talk about improving productivity, they are never talking about themselves.

If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.

There will always be beer cans rolling on the floor of your car when the boss asks for a ride home from the office.

Keep your boss’s boss off your boss’s back.

Everything can be filed under "miscellaneous."

Never delay the ending of a meeting or the beginning of a cocktail hour.

To err is human, to forgive is not our policy.

Anyone can do any amount of work provided it isn’t the work he/she is supposed to be doing.

Important letters that contain no errors will develop errors in the mail.

If you are good, you will be assigned all the work. If you are really good, you will get out of it.

You are always doing something marginal when the boss drops by your desk.

People who go to conferences are the ones who shouldn’t.

If it wasn’t for the last minute, nothing would get done.

At work, the authority of a person is inversely proportional to the number of pens that person is carrying.

When you don’t know what to do, walk fast and look worried.

Following the rules will not get the job done.

Getting the job done is no excuse for not following the rules.

When confronted by a difficult problem you can solve it more easily by reducing it to the question, "How would the Lone Ranger handle this?"

No matter how much you do, you never do enough.

The last person that quit or was fired will be held responsible for everything that goes wrong.

Ah! Wilderness!

April 25, 1997

I understand that a few of you out there are going camping this weekend–or at the very least, planning to enjoy the great outdoors, and I don’t mean renting the video. But while enjoying the great outdoors, remember to be careful when you encounter wildlife. For instance, if you see a sign on a fencepost that says, "Forget the dog, beware of the OWNER", avoid that area. The animal that lives there is very protective of its territory. Or, if you see an animal whose bermuda shorts provide very poor camouflage, be even more careful: this animal has the capacity to latch on to you and suck the life out of you unless you give it some postcards of the area. Then there’s the strangest animal I ever saw–one that I think may be unique. I was with a group on a hiking trip, and we were passing through a moderately civilized area on our way to the campground. We passed a creature standing in a paved part of his territory and washing his car. Suddenly, he saw us, and started yelling in the direction of his nest. "Carl! Get out here! You’ve gotta see this!" We all stopped–none of us had ever seen any kind of animal behavior like this before. He kept on. "Carl! You’re gonna miss it!" I said, "Do you want us to wait while Carl gets his camera?" It was the least I could do–he was obviously more afraid of us than we were of him.

Enjoy these other comments on the great outdoors:


This list is circulating among (US) Forest Service employees. These are actual comments left last year on Forest Service registration sheets and comment cards by backpackers completing wilderness camping trips:

"A small deer came into my camp and stole my bag of pickles. Is there a way I can get reimbursed? Please call."

"Escalators would help on steep uphill sections."

"Instead of a permit system or regulations, the Forest Service needs to reduce worldwide population growth to limit the number of visitors to wilderness."

"Trails need to be wider so people can walk while holding hands."

"Ban walking sticks in wilderness. Hikers that use walking sticks are more likely to chase animals."

"All the mile markers are missing this year."

"Found a smouldering cigarette left by a horse."

"Trails need to be reconstructed. Please avoid building trails that go uphill."

"Too many bugs and leeches and spiders and spider webs. Please spray the wilderness to rid the area of these pests."

"Please pave the trails so they can be plowed of snow in the winter."

"Chairlifts need to be in some places so that we can get to wonderful views without having to hike to them."

"The coyotes made too much noise last night and kept me awake. Please eradicate these annoying animals."

"Reflectors need to be placed on trees every 50 feet so people can hike at night with flashlights."

"Need more signs to keep area pristine."

"A McDonald’s would be nice at the trailhead."

"The places where trails do not exist are not well marked."

"Too many rocks in the mountains."

Legendary…

April 18, 1997

Another thing I’d like to see go out with the 90’s is the urban legend. I know that every culture has its own myths and legends, but we wouldn’t still be reading _The Iliad_ if the Greeks defeated the Trojans using the "Good Times" e-mail virus. And no one really believes that a diver was inadvertently sucked up by an airplane and then dropped–along with several hundred gallons of water–on a raging forest fire, do they? Or that one grocery store beat its coupon-stealing competitor by raising all its prices to $1,000,000 plus the actual prices of its items and then giving customers coupons for $1,000,000 off? And of course the internet has made it worse by allowing these things to keep on going. They appear spontaneously, are in perpetual motion, and cannot be destroyed. If they could be harnessed, they’d be a better source of power than the one invented by that guy in Texas who created a cold fusion reaction in his garage and then mysteriously disappeared…

A few more things that should go out with the 90’s:

  • Conspiracy theories. The real conspiracy is centered around convincing people that any government or agency thereof is competent enough to do half the things they are given credit for.

  • Sequels, follow-ups, and spinoffs. Are we really so pressed for ideas that we have to base everything on something else? Oh, that reminds me, look out for next week’s edition: Uncle Rupert and Ivor get together and try to swim to Canada!


Why it takes a license to drive

The following are a sampling of REAL answers received on exams given by the California Department of Transportation’s driving school (read: Saturday Traffic School for moving violation offenders.)

Q: Do you yield when a blind pedestrian is crossing the road?
A: What for? He can’t see my license plate.

Q: Who has the right of way when four cars approach a four-way stop at the same time?
A: The pick up truck with the gun rack and the bumper sticker saying, "Guns don’t kill people. I do."

Q: When driving through fog, what should you use?
A: Your car.

Q: What problems would you face if you were arrested for drunk driving?
A: I’d probably lose my buzz a lot faster.

Q: What changes would occur in your lifestyle if you could no longer drive lawfully?
A: I would be forced to drive unlawfully.

Q: What are some points to remember when passing or being passed?
A: Make eye contact and wave "hello" if he/she is cute.

Q: What is the difference between a flashing red traffic light and a flashing yellow traffic light?
A: The color.

Q: How do you deal with heavy traffic?
A: Heavy psychedelics.

Q: What can you do to help ease a heavy traffic problem?
A: Carry loaded weapons.

Spam, spam, spam…

April 11, 1997

I was plum out of ideas this week, so hungry for something that I almost considered sending out something serious. But seriousness and Freethinkers go together like tuna fish and jelly beans. Then I remembered that this is National Poetry Month. So I dug through my archives for the spam haiku one of you sent me some time ago, and let me take this opportunity to say a sincere thank you, because they have given us the perfect way to celebrate. But before I let you see the poems themselves, I’d like to say a few words about Spam and its cousin product, the other great source of corneal protein, Treet. For those of you who have never seen Treet, it’s a cheaper version of Spam made by a different company. Treet is my personal favorite, because I always cheer for the underdog. And Treet is obviously putting some market pressure on Spam because Spam is starting to branch out into new varieties. There’s Lite Spam with less fat, Low Sodium Spam, and new Pepper Spam. Considering similar trends in product development, the future of Spam is as unlimited as its list of ingredients. We can look forward to Seasoned Spam, Cheddar Spam, Taco Spam, Sour Cream ‘n Onion Spam, Strawberry Spam, Fried Spam Sticks, Teriyaki Spam… The possibilities alone make me want to wax poetic.


Ode to Spam

Ears, snouts and innards,
A homogeneous mass–
Pass another slice.

Pink tender morsel,
Glistening with salty gel.
What the hell is it?

Cube of cold pinkness
Yellow specks of porcine fat
Give me a spork, please

Old man seeks doctor:
"I eat SPAM daily," he says
ANGIOPLASTY

Highly unnatural,
The tortured shape of this "food"
…A small pink coffin.

SPAM can do it all.
Need a fake amputation?
SPAM can do it all.

 

Something else to make you want to open a poetic vein:

  • If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.

  • A conclusion is the place where you get tired of thinking.

  • Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.

  • For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism.

  • He who hesitates is probably right.

  • Never do card tricks for the group you play poker with.

  • No one is listening until you make a mistake.

  • Success always occurs in private, and failure in plain view.

  • The colder the X-ray table, the more of your body is required on it.

  • The hardness of the butter is proportional to the softness of the bread.

  • The severity of the itch is proportional to the reach.

  • To steal ideas from one person is plagerism; to steal from many is research.

  • To succeed in politics, it is often necessary to rise above your principles.

  • Two wrongs are only the beginning.

  • Work is accomplished by those employees who have not reached their level of incompetence.

  • The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard.

  • Monday is an awful way to spend 1/7th of your life.

  • The sooner you fall behind, the more time you’ll have to catch up.

  • The light at the end of the tunnel is the headlight of an approaching train.

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