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What More Could You Ask For?

December 7, 2001

Some of you wrote to me to thank me for the holiday gift guide. While this should frighten and disturb me, I’m an open-minded guy, and know that people have different tastes. One person’s nose-hair trimmer is another person’s chance to stop having to sit across the dinner table from someone and think, "Geez, you could braid that, put beads on it, and tell people you accidentally inhaled a tennis player." But a few wrote to chastise me for not giving you enough ideas. "I have this friend," you say, "who has EVERYTHING!" Well, if you have a friend who has everything, they neither want nor need anything, right? In fact, you should be hitting them up for stuff. But there’s one thing that I’ll bet even the mythical person with everything doesn’t have. It’s a product so new and yet so amazingly useful that chances are no one has one and everyone will want one–and it’s only $59.95, plus shipping and handling. It’s…a blender that plugs into your car’s power outlet (formerly known as a cigarette lighter). Of course there are many, many, many devices that can now be plugged into a car power outlet, but can you think of one more useful than a blender?

Earlier this year my parents took a trip to Alaska, and came back with photos and wonderful stories of the majestic vistas, pristine wilderness, and rugged beauty of the 49th state. They said there was only one thing that would have made the trip complete: being able to chip off hunks of glacial ice and make blueberry daquiris under the Aurora Borealis. Okay, maybe frozen drinks on the tundra aren’t what you’re into, but think about this: how many times have you been on your way to work and suddenly realized that you’ve forgotten the milkshakes for your 9:00AM meeting? If only there were some way you could whip up milkshakes right there in your car. It would be even better if there were some sort of business that sold milkshakes, or beverages sort of resembling milkshakes but made with a combination of glue, fertilizer, and rendered animal by-products. Wait a minute–there are such businesses, and they’re everywhere! I guess we really do have everything now, and the irony is we don’t need it.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


Christmas With Louise

[This article was submitted to a 1999 Louisville Sentinel contest to find out who had the wildest Christmas dinner. This won first prize]

As a joke, my brother used to hang a pair of panty hose over his fireplace before Christmas. He said all he wanted was for Santa to fill them. What they say about Santa checking the list twice must be true because every Christmas morning, although Jay’s kids’ stockings were overflowed, his poor panty hose hung sadly empty.

One year I decided to make his dream come true. I put on sunglasses and went in search of an inflatable love doll. They don’t sell those things at Walmart. I had to go to an adult bookstore downtown. If you’ve never been in an X-rated store, don’t go. You’ll only confuse yourself. I was there an hour saying things like, "What does this do?" "You’re kidding me! Who would buy that?"

Finally, I made it to the inflatable doll section. I wanted to buy a standard, uncomplicated doll that could also substitute as a passenger in my truck so I could use the car pool lane during rush hour. Finding what I wanted was difficult. Such dolls come in many different models. The top of the line, according to the side of the box, could do things I’d only seen in a book on animal husbandry. I settled for "Lovable Louise."

She was at the bottom of the price scale. To call Louise a "doll" took a huge leap of imagination.

On Christmas Eve, with the help of an old bicycle pump, Louise came to life.

My sister-in-law was in on the plan and let me in during the wee morning hours, long after Santa had come and gone, I filled the dangling pantyhose with Louise’s pliant legs and bottom. I also ate some cookies and drank what remained of a glass of milk on a nearby tray. I went home, and giggled for a couple of hours.

The next morning my brother called to say that Santa had been to his house and left a present that had made him VERY happy but had left the dog confused. She would bark, start to walk away, then come back and bark some more. We all agreed that Louise should remain in her panty hose so the rest of the family could admire her when they came over for the traditional Christmas dinner.

My grandmother noticed Louise the moment she walked in the door. "What the hell is that?" she asked. My brother quickly explained, "It’s a doll."

"Who would play with something like that?" Granny snapped. I had several candidates in mind, but kept my mouth shut. "Where are her clothes?" Granny continued. "Boy, that turkey sure smells nice, Gran," Jay said, trying to steer her into the dining room. But Granny was relentless. "Why doesn’t she have any teeth?" Again, I could have answered, but why would I? It was Christmas and no one wanted to ride in the back of the ambulance saying, "Hang on Granny, Hang on!" My grandfather, a delightful old man with poor eyesight, sidled up to me and said, "Hey, who’s the naked gal by the fireplace?" I told him she was Jay’s friend. A few minutes later I noticed Grandpa by the mantel, talking to Louise. Not just talking, but actually flirting. It was then that we realized this might be Grandpa’s last Christmas at home.

The dinner went well. We made the usual small talk about who had died, who was dying, and who should be killed, when suddenly Louise made a noise that sounded a lot like my father in the bathroom in the morning. Then she lurched from the panty hose, flew around the room twice, and fell in a heap in front of the sofa. The cat screamed. I passed cranberry sauce through my nose, and grandpa ran across the room, fell to his knees, and began administering mouth to mouth resuscitation. My brother fell back over his chair and wet his pants and Granny threw down her napkin, stomped out of the room, and sat in the car. It was, indeed, a Christmas to treasure and remember.

Later in my brother’s garage, we conducted a thorough examination to decide the cause of Louise’s collapse. We discovered that Louise had suffered from a hot ember to the back of her right thigh. Fortunately, thanks to a wonder drug called duct tape, we restored her to perfect health.

Louise went on to star in several bachelor party movies. I think Grandpa still calls her whenever he can get out of the house.

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

November 30, 2001

It’s shopping season again. With Thanksgiving behind us, it’s time to go out and find those special gifts for those special someones in our lives. Since most of us have made bad gift decisions at some point in our lives, I’d like to offer up this year’s special list of products you might not want to consider for those people on your list. [Note: I loathe advertising. However, if you really, really, really want to know, I can provide information regarding any of the products I describe. Whether you think someone you know might want one of them, or whether you just want to make sure I’m not making this stuff up, I’ll tell you where I found it, and how you can order it. And since it’s the holiday season, I’ll do it for free.]

Bucket hat with an LCD message display. This might be vaguely cool if the message display screen were big and red and could display fireworks or something like that, but instead it’s a tiny little gray screen–which stands out remarkably badly on an off-white hat. The appealing bucket shape of the hat, popular among people under twenty and over ninety, will not only garner you a lot of attention, but the pseudo-high tech design will earn you the nickname "Cyber-Gilligan".
Price: $25.95

Giant Cereal Bowls (set of 4): Okay, this has kind of a hip, retro look. Displaying these cereal bowls with their colorful cereal box characters sends a message that you’re…well, a big child. You might get them for yourself to put candy in, if you’re a receptionist in a pediatrician’s office. On second thoughts, that’s just asking for a lawsuit. With their 29-ounce capacity, which is nearly two pounds, think about the message you’re sending if you give these to someone: "I want you to have 300% of your daily requirement of niacin…every day!"
Price: $39.95

Nose-hair trimmer: There are several makes and models available, but my favorite one of all comes with a little light for illuminating those "hard to reach" areas. It also sells for $59.95. Wait a minute. That’s almost sixty bucks–twelve five-dollar bills, or five twelve-dollar bills. For that amount of money, it shouldn’t just trim nose hair, it should make sure it never grows back. Heck, it should be able to braid your nose hair for that much. But the big question on my mind is: why would you put a nose-hair trimmer, of any price, in a holiday gifts catalog? While honesty between friends and family is to be valued, giving someone a nose-hair trimmer as a gift is a little TOO honest. I guess what I’m saying is, You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but don’t pick a nose-hair trimmer as a gift.
Price: $59.95 

Alternate wet-dry model, without light but listed under "Kitchenware" (which I don’t even want to think
about).
Price: $14.99 

Combination AM/FM radio, lantern, flashlight, and television set: Hate having to carry a separate radio and television set when you go out camping to "get away from it all"? Or maybe you’re just looking for fun ways to blind your friends on camping trips Well, with this baby’s 5 and 1/2 inch television screen with a high-power flashlight mounted right on top, all you have to do is convince your camping buddy to take a hiking break and watch the big game, then, when his favorite team is about to score, switch on the flashlight and prepare for hilarity and seared retinas.
Price: $59.95

And finally, from our "gross indulgence" department:

ELVIS PRESLEY’S HAIR. Framed with a picture of The King before he became bloated on fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches, you can have a bit of Elvis’s hair from a haircut he had in 1970. This remarkable relic is a must for anyone who worships Elvis–despite the fact that most people who worship Elvis would have to sell their trailer home to afford it. But let’s not look a gift follicle in the mouth. After all, thanks to new technological advances, a strand of hair is all we need to clone The King.
Price: $695.00

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


Fruitcake Recipe

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups dried fruit

1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup brown sugar
lemon juice
nuts
1 gallon whiskey

Sample the whiskey to check for quality.

Take a large bowl.
Check the whiskey again to be sure it is of the highest quality.

Pour one level cup whiskey and drink.

Repeat.

Turn on the electric mixer; beat 1 cup butter in a large, fluffy bowl.

Add 1 teaspoon sugar and beat again.

Make sure the whiskey is still OK. Cry another tup. 
Turn off mixer.

Break 2 legs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit.

Mix on the turner.

If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaterers, pry it loose with a drewscriver.

Sample the whiskey to check for tonsisticity.

Next, sift 2 cups of salt. Or something. Who cares?  Check the whiskey.

Now sift the lemon juice and strain your nuts.

Add one table. Spoon. Of sugar or something. Whatever you can find.

Grease the oven.

Turn the cake tin to 350 degrees.

Don’t forget to beat off the turner.

Throw the bowl out of the window.

Check the whiskey again.

Go to bed.

Who the hell likes fruitcake anyway?

The Maestro Is Decomposing

November 16, 2001

Some computer specialists in Britain and the United States are currently working on various computer programs that will not only remove the need for humans to actually go to all the trouble of getting together, practicing, and playing music, but they’re actually producing programs that will eliminate the need for humans to even compose music. A program called Sibelius originally allowed composers to write their music as though on a word processor–highlighting, moving, and deleting at will. Now an upgrade to the same program can take a piece of music played on one instrument and play it back as though it were on a different instrument–or instruments. So for all those of you who’ve wondered what "Finlandia" played by a Mississippi jug band would sound like, the wait is over. Sibelius–the program, not the composer, who’s currently spinning in his grave–will also decide which instruments sound best in an arrangement, saving composers all that trouble of having to think for themselves, and all those problematic things like emotion and experience won’t get in the way. Finally, Sibelius will compensate for a player’s ability–or lack of it–in the playback, so now even if you’re a pathetic, incompetent piano player, you can play Rachmaninoff until your friends beg you to turn it off.

But wait–there’s more. A program called EMI (pronounced "emmy", as in, "I hope this song wins me an…") will take a composer’s work, extrapolate some stylistic rules from it, and can produce new, original work. That way people can become musical composers without having to worry about all that knowledge, talent, or skill stuff, and all they really need to do is bang on a computer. In fact, EMI has already been used to compose music for pop groups, although for which groups and which songs is being kept secret.

Apparently music companies still want us to think that the youthful, gyrating glitterati in music videos actually write their own music, even though their sapid books of poetry and novels have already proven these kids can barely write well enough to sign their recording contracts. And why only write music for the living? EMI has also been used to write "new" Mozart music. Theoretically it could finish his unfinished opera Zaide, crank out nine more Beethoven symphonies, and literally put the Beatles back together for another White album.

And why stop with music? Literature’s greatest forger, William Henry Ireland, produced a "lost" Shakespeare play, "Vortigern", in less than seven days. If programmers put their minds to it they could make a program that would write new Shakespeare plays in less than seven minutes. Dickens never finished "The Mystery of Edwin Drood"? No problem!

And then there are the implications for painting, sculpture, and architecture. Why not let a computer put arms on the Venus de Milo? It’s not that I’m hostile to technology. For one thing, those hands-free cell phones are hilarious because they make people look like they’re talking to themselves. And if someone came up with a device that would dust the house, vacuum the rug, wash the windows, and rake leaves, I’d be all for it, but there are some fundamentally human accomplishments to which we have to cling.

I know there are technophiles out there who will say, "Who do these composers, writers, painters, and sculptors think they are, anyway, thinking what they do is so important?" To that I can only say, if it weren’t important, why would some individuals spend so much time trying to program computers to do it?

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


COMPUTER PROBLEM REPORT FORM

Please answer the following questions before you call Tech Support:

1 Describe your problem:
1a Now, describe the problem accurately:

2 Speculate wildly about the cause of the problem:

3 Nature of the problem:
A. Locked Up__ B. On Fire__ C. Blank__ D. Strange Smell__

4 Problem Severity:
A. Major__ B. Minor__ C. Trivial__ D. Silly__

5 Is your computer plugged in? Yes__ No__
5a Is it turned on? Yes__ No__

6 Have you tried to fix it yourself? Yes__ No__
6a Have you made it worse? Yes__

7 Have you had "a friend" who "knows all about computers" try to fix it for you? Yes___ No___
7a Did they make it even worse? Yes___

8 What were you doing with your computer at the time the problem occurred?
8a If you answered ‘nothing’ then explain why you were logged in:

9 Are you sure you aren’t imagining the problem? Yes__ No__
9a Do you have any independent witnesses to the problem? Yes__ No__
9b Is there anyone else you could blame this problem on? Yes__ No__

10 Have you given the machine a good whack on the top? Yes__ No__

Now that you have filled out this form, please call Tech Support at 1-800-ON-YOUR-OWN, where Fred and Barney are standing by to give you all the support you need.


INSTRUCTIONS ON REPLACING MOUSE BALLS

This memo is from IBM. It went to all field engineers about a computer peripheral problem. The author of this memo was quite serious. The engineers rolled on the floor! (Especially note last sentence)

Mouse balls are now available as FRU (Field Replacement Unit). Therefore if a mouse fails to operate or should it perform erratically, it may need a ball replacement. Because of the delicate nature of this procedure, replacement of mouse balls should only be attempted by properly trained personnel. Before proceeding, determine the type of mouse balls by examining the underside of the mouse. Domestic balls will be larger and harder than foreign balls. Ball removal procedures differ depending upon the manufacture of the mouse. Foreign balls can be replaced using the pop-off method. Domestic balls are replaced by using the twist-off method.

Mouse balls are not usually static-sensitive. However, excessive handling can result in sudden discharge.

Upon completion of ball replacement, the mouse may be used immediately.

It is recommended that each replacer have a pair of spare balls for maintaining optimum customer satisfaction. Any customer missing his balls should contact the local personnel in charge of removing and replacing these necessary items.

I’ll Wait For The Book

November 9, 2001

One of my favorite philosophical ideas is one put forward by W.F. Hegel, who believed that history repeats itself, first as drama then as farce. This is one of my favorite ideas because I see it in action so frequently. In fact, in some places, such as Hollywood, it’s hard to tell which is the drama and which is the farce. Just about every movie made is guaranteed a double life, either as a sequel, a sequel to a sequel, or a parody of a sequel of a satire on a spoof of a film inspired by a remake. With a moderately successful serious film about Jack the Ripper already playing, work is underway on a comedy version of the same story because, hey, there’s nothing funnier than the brutal murders of five prostitutes in Victorian London. The film is entitled, "Hey Jacko!" and features a wisecracking hansom cab driver who discovers a prostitute who has not only been murdered, but had her dress ripped off, revealing extremely skimpy underwear. As the film progresses more prostitutes get their dresses ripped off, so that parts of the film may be mistaken for a lingerie fashion show. Meanwhile the police department receives a mysterious letter which baffles them as they try to decide whether one word is "kidneys" or "kittens". At first they believe the letter is written in blood, but they later realize it’s barbecue sauce. This leads them to a fellow detective who’s been disgraced because of his addiction to the exotic American food "ribs". (Look for a restaurant tie-in.) The detective, one day away from retirement, agrees to join up with his Sri Lankan partner for just one last case. In a bizarre plot twist, the prostitutes’ underwear turns out to have been designed by the Queen, but she’s been trying to keep it a secret. In an even more bizarre plot twist Jack the Ripper himself turns out to an iguanodon dinosaur brought back from extinction by a scientist experimenting with DNA, and sent back in time by a massive computer that creates sweeping shots of people doing impossibly high flying kicks. A subplot involving Sherlock Holmes was dropped because the film’s target audience of 12-18 year olds have no idea who Sherlock Holmes is.

Meanwhile the detective begins to unravel the mystery when he discovers that "Jack the Ripper" can be rewritten as "carpet hip jerk". The film’s ending was also rewritten. Originally the iguanodon was lured into Loch Ness, but this was deemed too obscure, so instead the detective traps it by impersonating a hyperactive Australian wildlife biologist, then feeds it massive amounts of ribs, causing arteriosclerosis.

The DVD version will come with 108 hours of additional footage, including a documentary about the making of the film, a documentary about the making of the documentary, and a spoof of the documentary. It also includes four additional hours of prostitutes running in their underwear with an optional commentary by one of the cameramen, who keeps repeating, "Oh yeah, this is why I got into this job." Finally, it will also have seven alternate endings, including one in which Prince Albert is stuffed in a can while the dinosaur is eaten by Cockneys. Thanks to a big promotional campaign the film is expected to be incredibly successful until people actually see it.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


28 ways to make a meeting more interesting

  1. Discreetly clasp hold of someone’s hand and whisper: "can you feel it?" from the corner of your mouth.

  2. Draw enormous genitalia on your notepad and discreetly show it to the person next to you for their approval.

  3. When refreshments are presented, immediately distribute one biscuit to each of the attendees, then systematically smash each one with your fist in front of them.

  4. Chew tobacco.

  5. Wear a hands free phone headset throughout, once in a while drift off into an unrelated conversation, such as: "I don’t care if there are no dwarfs, just get the show done!"

  6. Write the words ‘he fancies you’ on your pad and show it to the person next to you while indicating with your pen.

  7. Respond to a serious question with: "I don’t know what to say, obviously I’m flattered, but it’s all happened so fast".

  8. Use ‘Nam style jargon such as "what’s the ETA?", "who’s on recon?" and "Charlie don’t surf".

  9. Reconstruct the meeting in front of you using action figures and when anyone moves re-arrange the figures accordingly.

  10. Shave one of your forearms.

  11. Draw a chalk circle around one of the chairs, then avoid sitting on it when the meeting starts. When someone does eventually sit in it, cover your mouth and gasp.

  12. Turn your back on the meeting and sit facing the window with your legs stretched out. Announce that you "love this dirty town".

  13. Walk directly up to a colleague and stand nose to nose with him for one minute.

  14. Mount the desk and walk along its length before taking your seat.

  15. Reflect sunlight into everyone’s eyes off your watch face.

  16. Gargle with water.

  17. Repeat every idea they express in a baby voice while moving your hand like a chattering mouth.

  18. Gradually push yourself closer and closer to the door on your chair.

  19. Hum throughout the meeting.

  20. Pull out a large roll of bank notes and count them demonstratively.

  21. Bend momentarily under the table then emerge wearing contact lenses that white out your eyes.

  22. Drop meaningless and confusing management speak into conversations such as: "What’s the margin, Marvin?" "When’s this turkey going to get basted?" "If we don’t get this brook babbling we’re all going to end up looking like doe-eyed labradors".

  23. Produce a hamster from your pocket and suggest throwing it to one another as a means of idea-exchange.

  24. Use a large hunting knife to point at your visual aids.

  25. Announce that you’ve run off some copies of the meeting agenda. Then hand out pieces of paper that read: My secret agenda:

    1 Trample the weak 
    2 Triumph alone 
    3 Invade Poland 

    Re-collect them sheepishly and ask everyone to pretend they haven’t seen them.

  26. Attempt to hypnotise the entire room using a pocket watch.

  27. When referring to someone in the room always call them your "homey", "dog", or "G".

  28. Leave long pauses in your speech at random moments. When someone is prompted to interject shout: "I AM NOT FINISHED".

Please Pass The Platypus

November 2, 2001

When most people think of November they think of Thanskgiving. Well, at least people in the United States think of Thanksgiving. People in Canada think of Thanksgiving in early October. This is probably because it gets cold much earlier in Canada, so when the early settlers got together and decided to have an annual harvest feast, they decided they’d better have it before the weather turned bad. That way they could have it outside, and when food supplies got low in January or February, the glorious feast would be a distant memory. In Australia Thanksgiving takes place in May, only there it’s called Mumbo-Flumbo, and instead of turkey they have roast platypus. The celebration also used to include shooting a few aborigines, but this was discontinued in 1978.

Most other places don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, but for them there are plenty of November events to celebrate. According to my research, November is Good Nutrition Month, Peanut Butter Lover’s Month, National Pepper Month, National Stamp Collecting Month, International Drum Month, and Slaughter Month. In addition, the first week of November is National Fig Week, the second week is National Split Pea Soup Week, and the third week is National Geography Awareness Week, when we learn that Mumbo-Flumbo is something I just made up. The fourth week of November is National Cookie Week, National Game and Puzzle Week, and National Make Up Your Own Week Week. And finally, among all the other significant November dates, there’s November 20th, which is known as Absurdity Day. This is completely unsubstantiated and confirmed only by the sort of vague research that most university students do in preparation for their midterm papers–which are often due in early November. I wonder how many of them will mention Absurdity Day, National Pepper Month, or Mumbo Flumbo. Considering the way these things get around, I may have just created a new holiday.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


If you yelled for 8 years, 7 months and 6 days you would have produced enough sound energy to heat one cup of coffee.
(Hardly seems worth it.)

If you farted consistently for 6 years and 9 months, enough gas is produced to create the energy of an atomic bomb.
(Now that’s more like it!)

The human heart creates enough pressure when it pumps out to the body to squirt blood 30 feet.

A pig’s orgasm lasts 30 minutes.
(In my next life, I want to be a pig.)

A cockroach will live nine days without its head before it starves to death.
(Creepy.)
(I’m still not over the pig.)

Banging your head against a wall uses 150 calories an hour.
(Do not try this at home…maybe at work.)

The male praying mantis cannot copulate while its head is attached to its body. The female initiates sex by ripping the male’s head off.
("Honey, I’m home… What the….?!")

The flea can jump 350 times its body length. It’s like a human jumping the length of a football field.
(30 minutes…can you imagine??)

The catfish has over 27,000 taste buds.
(What could be so tasty on the bottom of a pond?)

Some lions mate over 50 times a day.
(I still want to be a pig in my next life…quality over quantity.)

Butterflies taste with their feet.
(Something I always wanted to know.)

The strongest muscle in the body is the tongue.
(Hmmmmmm……..)

Right-handed people live, on average, nine years longer than left-handed people do.
(If you’re ambidextrous, do you split the difference? And does this take into account that most older people were "switched’ at birth– meaning that right-handers only seem to live longer?)

Elephants are the only animal that cannot jump.
(OK, so that would be a good thing….)

A cat’s urine glows under a black light.
(I wonder who was paid to figure that out?)

An ostrich’s eye is bigger than its brain.
(I know some people like that.)

Starfish have no brains.
(I know some people like that too.)

Polar bears are left-handed.
(Who knew?!)

Humans and dolphins are the only species that have sex for pleasure.
(What about that pig??)

Now You Know Jack

October 26, 2001

The jack o’lantern is one of the most common and recognizable symbols of Halloween, but few people know its origins. Actually the origin is an apocryphal story, which is another way of saying it’s probably not true. Supposedly a drunk named Jack had an encounter with Mephistopheles on a dark and lonely road one night, and the demon threatened to take Jack’s soul.

Well, maybe it wasn’t Mephistopheles since he was off helping Dr. Faustus at the time. Maybe it was Beelzebub. After all, he had a devil put aside for Freddy Mercury, so you’d think he’d want to deal with somebody like Jack personally. Then of course there was Lilith…but I digress.

Anyway, Jack tricked the demon up a tree by saying his soul was in it, and drew a cross on the trunk so the demon couldn’t come down. Being an opportunist, Jack then said he’d release the demon on the promise that his soul would never be taken. The demon agreed. Jack eventually died but was denied admittance to Heaven. (This may not have had anything to do with his being the town drunk. Maybe he was tolerant of different religious faiths. Maybe he lived what is euphemistically called an "alternative lifestyle". Maybe he drove a buggy with one of those "Darwin" salamanders. I really don’t know. He might have been a nice guy, but there are so many things that will get you kicked out of Heaven.) Amazingly enough he found more sympathy at the gates of Hell.

They didn’t want him either, but Lucifer, who was known for lighting up peoples’ lives, kindly gave him a candle to use while wandering Limbo, and Jack put it in a turnip he was carrying. Of course this doesn’t explain why people, having switched to the larger, more affordable, and conveniently hollow pumpkin, put similar lights out on their doorsteps as a way of welcoming guests, but I like to think it may have something to do with the belief that Jack’s quest for a final resting place is a lonely one, and it’s a show of sympathy. Or maybe people do it to welcome all lonely wanderers, knowing they may be in the same position themselves someday. After all, there’s a little Jack in all of us.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


Quotes taken from actual Federal Employee Performance Evaluations

"Since my last report, this employee has reached rock bottom and has started to dig."

"I would not allow this employee to breed."

"This employee is not really so much of a has-been, but more of a definite won’t be."

"Works well when under constant supervision and when cornered like a rat in a trap."

"When she opens her mouth, it seems that it is only to change feet."

"He would be out of his depth in a parking lot puddle."

"This young lady has delusions of adequacy."

"He sets low personal standards and then consistently fails to achieve them."

"This employee is depriving a village, somewhere, of an idiot."

"This employee should go far, and the sooner he starts, the better."

"Got a full 6-pack, but lacks the plastic thingy to hold it all together."

"A gross ignoramus — 144 times worse than an ordinary ignoramus."

"He doesn’t have ulcers, but he’s a carrier."

"I would like to go hunting with him sometime."

"He’s been working with glue too much."

"He would argue with a sign post."

"He brings a lot of joy. . . whenever he leaves the room."

"When his IQ reaches 50, he should sell."

"If you see two people talking and one looks bored, he’s the other one."

"A photographic memory but with the lens cover glued on."

"A prime candidate for natural de-selection"

"Donated his brain to science before he was done using it."

"Gates are down, the lights are flashing, but the train isn’t coming."

"Has two brains: one is lost and the other is out looking for it."

"If he were any more stupid, he’d have to be watered twice a week."

"If you gave him a penny for his thought, you’d get change."

"If you stand close enough to him, you can hear the ocean."

"Takes him 2 hours to watch 60 minutes."

"The wheel is turning, but the hamster is dead."

Submitted For Your Approval [Part 2]

October 19, 2001

Last week I left myself and fellow Boy Scouts with a terrible choice: drag one or more of our Scoutmasters from the back seats of their car, where they were sleeping peacefully after letting the heater run for an hour before they retired, or face a possible bear (or maybe even the dreaded Pig Man).

Scoutmasters come in two types, and we had both. Mr. Hendrickson, who represented the more common type, was a jovial, easygoing man who told fart jokes and was a Scoutmaster, I think, to have a reason to get away from his wife on weekends. Mr. Radnewski, the second type, was a prickly outdoorsman who could cook eggs in catalpa leaves, start a fire with a sliver of flint and a pocketknife, and who always wore a red and black hunter’s coat with a dog-eared copy of "How To Build A Pine-Needle Jacuzzi (And Other Fun Ways To Rough It)" in the pocket. The only other adult around was Alvin’s grandfather, who was also the only adult sleeping in a tent. Waking him up was simply not an option because he was scary enough when he was awake. He had hair like Albert Einstein, but the resemblance ended there. He smoked constantly and drank coffee all day. This explains why he’d answer any request for help or information with, "Not before my coffee."

Mr. Hendrickson was a heavy sleeper, so we decided to try Mr. Radnewski, who could be awakened by the sound of a snake slithering across a rock. As it turned out, he could also be awakened by ten adolescent boys creeping toward his car. "GO TO SLEEP, BOYS!" It was a non-negotiable order. If the woods had been on fire, we would have taken our tents down to the lake and pitched them underwater. Finally we convinced Alvin to wake up his grandfather. "All right," he said, "but you guys come with me." Approaching the tent of Alvin’s grandfather was a harrowing experience, made worse by the fact that the mysterious sound got louder as we got closer. In fact, as it turned out, the sound was coming from the tent. Then we realized it was coming from Alvin’s grandfather. Among his other eccentricities, Alvin’s grandfather had a sinus condition. As we would later learn, on previous camping trips Alvin’s grandfather had kept the other Scoutmasters up all night, which is why they slept in their cars, and left him out to keep us up all night.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


Life’s Reflections

Never raise your hands to your kids. It leaves your groin unprotected.

I’m not into working out. My philosophy is no pain, no pain.

I’m in shape. Round is a shape.

I’m desperately trying to figure out why Kamikaze pilots wore helmets.

Do illiterate people get the full effect of alphabet soup?

I’ve always wanted to be somebody, but I should have been more specific.

Ever notice when you blow in a dog’s face he gets mad at you, but when you take him in a car he sticks his head out the window?

Ever notice that anyone going slower than you is an idiot, but anyone going faster is a maniac?

You have to stay in shape. My mother started walking five miles a day when she was 60. She’s 97 now and we have no idea where she is.

I have six locks on my door, all in a row. When I go out, I lock every other one. I figure no matter how long somebody stands there picking the locks, they are always locking three of them.

One out of every three Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of two of your best friends. If they are OK, then it must be you.

They show you how detergents take out bloodstains. I think if you’ve got a T-shirt with bloodstains all over it, maybe your laundry isn’t your biggest problem.

Ask people why they have deer heads on their walls and they tell you it’s because they’re such beautiful animals. I think my wife is beautiful, but I only have photographs of her on the wall.

A lady came up to me on the street, pointed at my suede jacket and said, Don’t you know a cow was murdered for that jacket? I said I didn’t know there were any witnesses. Now I’ll have to kill you too.

Submitted For Your Approval [Part 1]

October 12, 2001

Our lives, in retrospect, can be seen as a series of stories. With that in mind, I often think that certain events, or stories, from our lives seem more like the products of certain writerly imaginations than others. For instance, because I grew up watching reruns of "The Twilight Zone" I would sometimes, in the middle of something, think, "Wow, this is kind of like a Rod Serling story." Then the inevitable climax would come, and afterward it would seem more like James Thurber or Erma Bombeck.

A good example would be a Boy Scout camping trip I went on when I was fifteen. I was old enough to know better, but one of my fellow Scouts, Alvin, managed to reduce not only me but every member of the troop under the age of sixteen to quivering, mindless panic. Most of us were in Boy Scouts because it was fun and we liked camping. Alvin was in Boy Scouts because his grandfather was a Scoutmaster and so he could study the effects of fire on small animals.

It was late, we’d eaten our beef stew and apple cobbler, and spent three hours running through the woods hitting each other with sticks to get the sugar out of our systems. Of course we had to have at least an hour of lying in our sleeping bags laughing about nothing, but during a lull Alvin sat up in the middle of the tent and said, "Did you hear that?" We hadn’t heard anything. Then we listened. It was a slow, rumbling sound, a sound from the depths of Hell…or from a really bad case of indigestion. "Oh man," said Alvin. "It’s a bear!"

Now, we were in an area where the chances of encountering a bear were slightly less than the chances of pulling a living trilobite out of the lake, but Alvin’s rapid repetition of, "Oh man oh man oh man" had a strange, hypnotic effect on us. The sound, which I can only describe as a deep, eerie growl which rose in pitch and volume, sank away, then returned every thirty-seconds didn’t help. An earlier campfire story about a mysterious "Pig Man" rumored to roam the woods, and who Alvin’s brother helpfully suggested was more likely the source of the noise than a bear, just made things that much worse. We were lucky that none of the younger Scouts wet themselves. We were also faced with a choice: wake up the Scoutmasters, whose anger at being dragged from the back seats of the cars might make us wish we’d faced the bear, or simply face the bear. We decided to put it to a vote.

Next week: The "unbearable" Scoutmaster, the benefits of sleeping alone, and how to build a pine-needle jacuzzi.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


The following is an actual question given on a University of Washington chemistry midterm. The answer was so "profound" that the professor shared it with colleagues, which is why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well.

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle’s Law, (gas cools off when it expands and heats up when it is compressed) or some variant.

One student, however, wrote the following:

"First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing with time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving.

I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let’s look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Some of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there are more than one of these religions, and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell.

With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially.

Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell. Because Boyle’s Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand as souls are added. 

This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. Of course, if Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Ms. Teresa Banyan during my Freshman year– "…that it will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you."– and take into account the fact that I still have not succeeded in having sexual relations with her, then #2 cannot be true; and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and will not freeze."

THIS STUDENT RECEIVED THE ONLY "A" GIVEN

Too Freezin’ Funny

October 5, 2001

Words are, so to speak, my medium and stock in trade, so occasionally I stop and wonder: what is the most important word, at least in the English language? Of course the words that immediately occupy most of the top ten slots are words that generally aren’t used in polite company and that, when movies with them are shown on certain television stations are replaced by such creative alternatives as "frozen", "holy smokes", "dog", "diddley", "smithereens", "slush", "tail", my personal favorite "fruitful", or the simple bleep or the even simpler silence, which gives a really interesting effect when an individual is screaming his fruitful head off about kicking the slush out of some dog’s tail. These words are also known as "four letter words", which I don’t understand. A majority of them, certainly the most important ones, do have four letters, but some have five, one has as many as nine, and another, which is sometimes hyphenated, has twelve. (And if you know what I’m talking about, you have a dirty mind.)

Why are these words not for use in polite company? I’ve never understood that either, though it may have something to do with the situations in which you use them. Some scientists think that these four-, five-, nine-, and twelve-letter words are a sort of instinctive response to stress, and that their origins may be traced back to the earliest human speech. In other words, things a prehistoric hunter could say in the bush when his hunting partner accidentally stabbed a stone spear through his foot could not be said back in the grass hut while wearing his best loincloth and enjoying an elegant meal of roast mammoth. This was known as doing the opposite of what your instincts tell you, which we know today as "politeness".

But I digress. The most important word, though, may be one that doesn’t fall into the category of scatology; in fact, the most important word may be one of the smallest. The word I think is most important is "so". Aside from its many other uses, "so" is a word that precedes most jokes. For example: "So a priest, a minister, and a rabbi walk into a bar, and the bartender says, ‘So is this a joke?’" When said sarcastically, the word "so" conveys the complex concept "Why is this important to me?" And when used by itself, it becomes a request for silence and an announcement that one is about to begin speaking. This probably also dates back to the earliest speech. When hunters from different tribes met each other in the woods, the tension could be broken if one of them said something like, "So…" This would immediately get the other hunter’s attention, and the first one could then say, "This mammoth goes into a grass hut…" Sometimes I imagine myself being awarded a Nobel Prize (hey, a guy can dream, right?) or addressing an esteemed group such as the United Nations. In these dreams the U.N. members are all being loud and rowdy, particularly the delegation from Liechtenstein, so to quiet them down I stand at the podium and say, "So…how many of you aren’t from around here?"

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


With Happy Hour still several hours away, here are some thoughts to keep you going.

I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they wake up in the morning, that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day.
–Frank Sinatra

The problem with some people is that when they aren’t
drunk, they’re sober.
–William Butler Yeats

An intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with his fools.
–Ernest Hemingway

Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.
–Ernest Hemingway

Time is never wasted when you’re wasted all the time.
–Catherine Zandonella

Non-Drinker: a weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure.
–Ambrose Bierce

Reality is an illusion that occurs due to lack of alcohol.
-Anonymous 

Drinking provides a beautiful excuse to pursue the one activity that truly gives me pleasure, hooking up with fat hairy girls.
— Ross Levy

A woman drove me to drink and I didn’t even have the decency to thank her.
–W.C. Fields

What contemptible scoundrel has stolen the cork to my lunch?
–W.C. Fields

When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.
–Henny Youngman

Life is a waste of time, time is a waste of life, so get wasted all of the time and have the time of your life.
— Michelle Mastrolacasa

I’d rather have a bottle in front of me, than a frontal lobotomy.
–Tom Waits

24 hours in a day, 24 beers in a case. Coincidence?
–Stephen Wright

When we drink, we get drunk. When we get drunk, we fall asleep. When we fall asleep, we commit no sin. When we commit no sin, we go to heaven. Sooooo, lets all get drunk, and go to heaven…
— Brian Rourke

You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline – it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.
–Frank Zappa

Always remember that I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me.
–Winston Churchill

Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.
–Benjamin Franklin

If you ever reach total enlightenment while drinking beer, I bet it makes beer shoot out your nose.
–Deep Thought, Jack Handy

Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza.
–Dave Barry

The problem with the world is that everyone is a few drinks behind.
–Humphrey Bogart

Why is American beer served cold? So you can tell it from urine.
–David Moulton

Give me a woman who loves beer and I will conquer the world.
–Kaiser Wilhelm

I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer.
–Homer Simpson

Not all chemicals are bad. Without chemicals such as hydrogen and oxygen, for example, there would be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer.
–Dave Barry

All right, brain, I don’t like you and you don’t like me – so lets just do this and I’ll get back to killing you with beer.
–Homer Simpson

If I had a nickel for every beer I’ve bought, I’d buy more 
— Priscilla Marsh

Also known as ‘frigidus vulgaris’

September 28, 2001

Hypochondriacs are people who only think they’re sick all the time, but what do you call someone who gets sick at the drop of a hat? Some people, including myself, seem to get a cold in late September and carry it around until early April. No amount of vitamin C, citrus juice, hot tea, garlic, chicken soup, or bloodletting with leeches to decrease an imbalance of green choler and other humors will cure this seasonal affliction. To all of you who suffer from this viral monstrosity, and for anyone who’s ever just had a plain old cold, the following poem is dedicated:

"An Ode To The Cold"

Infections are caused by organisms that precede us By several branches on the evolutionary tree, So one would think they neither want nor need us, Yet they insist on invading at each opportunity.

The Black Death decimated Europe by a third While all people could do was pray and cower. For the human race it seemed the end of the world, Though the bacillus bacteria called it their finest hour.

The plague was finally beaten by fire and cats Which helped to clear the infested expanse Of filthy housing, fleas, and their pet rats, But it would be centuries before the next advance.

Pasteur made a breakthrough with Leeuwenhoek’s device, Revealing a bestiary previously unknown. Scientists invested in petri dishes, agar, and mice, And the world’s bacteria let out an almost audible groan.

Just underneath, though, viruses rocked with laughter; They found the newfangled vaccines morbidly funny. While trillions of bacteria were dispatched to the hereafter Hepatitis and influenza gave Science a run for its money.

Above all, one slimy germ reigned supreme, One disease stood out from the poisonous fold. Scientists ran tests, took notes by the ream, But nothing could conquer the common cold.

It’s the Napoleon of diseases. As it spreads everywhere It’s as daunted by antibodies as a tank by a gazebo. It lives on porcelain, doorknobs, or drifts through the air, Unstoppable, unbeatable. Chicken soup? A mere placebo.

Vulgar as it is, nothing makes it balk. The cold sips 200 proof penicillin, spars with phagocytes for fun. Smallpox met its match in Koch, polio was defeated by Salk, But the cold has no Nelson, and may never be outdone.

We’re stocking syrups and vitamins in the Northerly latitudes Because winter is coming and the cold is close on its heel. Red-eyed, sneezing, we reach for our medical platitudes, And we see each other and think, "You look how I feel."

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


Friends, I have a condition often found in folks of my age. The scientific world is frantically searching for a cure. This is an ailment many of us suffer from and may not as yet have been diagnosed. However, now you may be able to discuss it with your loved ones and try to explain what really happened to you all those times you tried so hard to accomplish something and failed.

It’s called the "Butfirst Syndrome."

It’s like when I decide to do the laundry – I start down the hall and notice the newspaper on the table. Okay, I’m going to do the laundry –

Butfirst I’m going to read the newspaper. After that, I notice the mail on the table. Okay, I’ll just put the newspaper in the recycle stack, Butfirst I’ll look through that pile of mail and see if there are any bills to be paid.

Now where’s the checkbook? Oops! There’s the empty glass from yesterday on the coffee table. I’m going to look for that checkbook, Butfirst I need to put the glass in the sink.

I head for the kitchen, look out the window, notice my poor flowers need a drink of water. I put the glass in the sink, and darn it, there’s the remote for the TV on the kitchen counter. What’s it doing here? I’ll just put it away, Butfirst I need to water those plants.

Head for door and Ack! I stepped on the dog. The dog needs to be fed.

Okay, I’ll put that remote away and water the plants. Butfirst I need to feed the dog.

At the end of the day:

Laundry is not done, 
Newspapers are still on the floor, 
Glass is still in the sink, 
Bills are unpaid, 
Checkbook is still missing, 
The dog ate the remote control. 

AND, when I try to figure out how come nothing got done all day, I’m baffled, because I KNOW I was BUSY ALL DAY! I realize this condition is serious………and I should get help…… 
Butfirst I think I’ll read all my e-mail.

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