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What Would George Orwell Think?

May 21, 1999

There’s an apocryphal story about a farmer who lived in California during the Gold Rush years. The farmer happened to hear that a circus was coming to the nearest town and bringing an elephant. Having never seen an elephant, he loaded up his wagon with vegetables to sell and headed off toward town. On the way, his wagon fell into a ditch and he lost all the vegetables he was planning to sell. While trying to get his wagon out of the ditch, the circus caravan with the elephant went by. When asked by friends why he wasn’t upset about losing the money he would have made, he said, "Hang all that, I saw the elephant!" I envy that man for living in such simple times. If he lived today, he would probably have to abandon his crops and let them rot in the fields while he waited hours, maybe even days in line to see the elephant. Worse, he’d have to wait with people dressed like elephants who would entertain each other by quizzing each other with obscure pachydermal facts, and who would occasionally pester him with lengthy explanations of inconsistencies in the movie "Dumbo". Of course, we do have modern-day elephants, and I certainly would like to see the elephant that’s in town right now, a relative of an elephant I saw as a child, but it’s going to be in town for at least the next six months. Sooner or later I’ll be able to get a ticket and step right in without having to stand around so long I start to smell like an elephant. In the meantime, I’ve got crops to take care of.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

You might be a Redneck Jedi if…

You ever said the phrase, "May the force be with y’all."

Your Jedi robe is camouflage.

You have ever used your light saber to open a bottle of Bud Light.

At least one wing of your X-Wings is primer colored.

You can easily describe the taste of an Ewok. ("Like possum…which tastes a lot like chicken.")

You have ever had a land-speeder up on blocks in your yard.

The worst part of spending time on Dagobah is the dadgum skeeters.

Wookiees are offended by your B.O.

You have ever used the force to get yourself another beer so you didn’t have to wait for a commercial.

You have ever used the force in conjunction with fishing or bowling.

Your father has ever said to you, "Shoot, son come on over to the dark side…it’ll be a hoot."

You have ever had your R-2 unit use its self-defense electro-shock thingy to get the barbecue grill to light up.

You have a confederate flag painted on the hood of your land-speeder.

You ever fantasized about Princess Leia wearing Daisy Duke shorts.

You have the doors of your X-wing welded shut and you have to get in through the window.

Although you had to kill him, you kinda thought that Jabba the Hutt had a pretty good handle on how to treat his women.

You have a cousin who bears a strong resemblance to Chewbacca.

You suggested that they outfit the Millennium Falcon with redwood deck.

You were the only person drinking Jack Daniels during the cantina scene.

If you hear, "Luke, I am your father…and your uncle…"

Memo No. 1:
Effective immediately, the company is adopting Fridays as Casual Day so that employees may express their diversity.

Memo No. 2:
Spandex and leather micro-miniskirts arenot appropriate attire for Casual Day. Neither are string ties, rodeo belt buckles or moccasins.

Memo No. 3:
Casual Day refers to dress only, not attitude. When planning Friday’s wardrobe, remember image is a key to our success.

Memo No. 4:
A seminar on how to dress for Casual Day will be held at 4 p.m. Friday in the cafeteria. Fashion show to follow. Attendance is mandatory.

Memo No. 5:
As an outgrowth of Friday’s seminar, a 14-member Casual Day Task Force has been appointed to prepare guidelines for proper dress.

Memo No. 6:
The Casual Day Task Force has completed a 30-page manual. A copy of "Relaxing Dress Without Relaxing Company Standards" has been mailed to each employee. Please review the chapter "You Are What You Wear" and consult the "home casual" versus "business casual" checklist before leaving for work each Friday. If you have doubts about the appropriateness of an item of clothing, contact your CDTF representative before 7 a.m. on Friday.

Memo No. 7:
Because of lack of participation, Casual Day has been discontinued, effective immediately.

Not Exactly Blinded by Science

May 14, 1999

Ten years ago I tried diet soda for the first and last time. It was almost a new decade, and I thought, "Hey, how bad can it taste?" Of course, it tasted like wet cardboard with an aftertaste of mucilage. I swore off diet soda for life. Then, recently, I tried it again. After all, science has made tremendous advances in the last ten years. Sheep have been cloned. New theories about the structure of matter have finally begun to unravel the mysteries of quantum particles. And cheaper, smaller space exploration made it possible to give rocks on another planet the most idiotic names imaginable. My recent experience with diet soda, however, shows how much farther we have to go. It tasted like sweetened wet cardboard, and the mucilage aftertaste was considerably muted. I was also able to take my mind off the taste by reading the nutrition information on the can. It went something like this: Calories-0 Fat-0 Saturated Fat-0 Polyunsatured Fat-0 Polly-Wanna-Cracker-Fat-0 Protein-0 Flavor-0. Then, below that useful information, was a note that said, "Not a significant source of other nutrients." What do they mean other nutrients? It doesn’t sound like it’s a source of any nutrients. However, diet soda does contain, as a friend pointed out, a new chemical that, in a few lucky people, causes a severe allergic reaction and possibly even death. After death, sudden and rapid weight loss ensues. So science may not have perfected diet soda, but they’ve come a long way with dieting.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


If a packet hits a pocket on a socket on a port,
and the bus is interrupted as a very last resort,
and the address of the memory makes your floppy disk abort,
then the socket packet pocket has an error to report.

If your cursor finds a menu item followed by a dash,
and the double-clicking icon puts your window in the trash,
and your data is corrupted ’cause the index doesn’t hash,
then your situation’s hopeless and your system’s gonna crash!

If the label on the cable on the table at your house,
says the network is connected to the button on your mouse,
but your packets want to tunnel on another protocol
that’s repeatedly rejected by the printer down the hall,
and your screen is all distorted by the side effects of gauss,
so your icons in the window are as wavy as a souse,
then you may as well reboot and go out with a bang,
’cause as sure as I’m a poet, the sucker’s gonna hang!

When the copy of your floppy’s getting sloppy on the disk,
and the microcode instructions cause unnecessary risk,
then you have to flash your memory and you’ll want to RAM your ROM.
Quickly turn off the computer and be sure to tell your mom

These are spelling and grammar errors found on chart review at a hospital on the east coast:

The lab test indicated abnormal lover function.

The baby was delivered, the cord clamped and cut, and handed to the pediatrician, who breathed and cried immediately.

Exam of genitalia reveals that he is circus sized.

The skin was moist and dry.

Rectal exam revealed a normal size thyroid.

The patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia for lunch.

She stated that she had been constipated for most of her life until 1989 when she got a divorce.

Between you and me, we ought to be able to get this lady pregnant.

The patient was in his usual state of good health until his airplane ran out of gas and crashed.

I saw your patient today, who is still under our car for physical therapy.

The patient was prepped and raped in the usual manner.

Examination reveals a well-developed male laying in bed with his family in no distress.

Patient was alert and unresponsive.

When she fainted, her eyes rolled around the room.

The patient lives at home with his mother, father, and pet turtle, who is presently enrolled in day care three times a week.

Bleeding started in the rectal area and continued all the way to Los Angeles.

Both breasts are equal and reactive to light and accommodation.

She is numb from her toes down.

Exam of genitalia was completely negative except for the right foot.

While in the emergency room, she was examined, x-rated and sent home.

The patient was to have a bowel resection. However, he took a job as a stockbroker instead.

The patient suffers from occasional, constant, infrequent headaches.

Coming from Detroit, this man has no children

Keep Off The Wet Grass

May 7, 1999

Lewis Carrol, speaking through one of his characters, said, "Every day I try to believe six impossible things before breakfast." I used to try to do this myself most days, but lately it’s just become too easy. What I mean is that we live in a world where it’s not only easy to believe the impossible, or at the very least the really really weird, but where we’re confronted with it every single day. The other day, while walking across the lovely college campus where I work, I saw three groundskeepers spraying green stuff on the lawn. It hadn’t rained for about a week, and the grass was dry and turning yellow…so they came out to paint the grass green. To make it even worse, the paint they were using smelled like a combination of turpentine and formaldehyde, with a little camphor thrown in. I almost expected to see the Queen of Hearts, or maybe the mayor, come running out screaming, "Off with their heads!" Even if that had happened, I wouldn’t have been surprised. In a world where people actually have to paint the grass green there’s no such thing as the impossible. The really strange thing is they were doing it before breakfast.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

Quick Thoughts

A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk I have a work station.

Can atheists get insurance for acts of God?

If Fed Ex and UPS were to merge, would they call it FedUP?

Does fuzzy logic tickle?

If they arrested the Energizer Bunny, would they charge it with battery?

I believe five out of four people have trouble with fractions.

How come you never hear about gruntled employees?

I don’t have a solution, but I admire your problem.

If a tin whistle is made out of tin (and it is), then what, exactly, is a fog horn made out of?

If quitters never win, and winners never quit, what fool came up with, "Quit while you’re ahead"?

Okay, who stopped the payment on my reality check?

I believe the only time the world beats a path to my door is when I’m in the bathroom.

Do Lipton employees take coffee breaks?

What hair color do they put on the driver’s licenses of bald men?

What WAS the best thing before sliced bread?

If it’s zero degrees outside today and it’s supposed to be twice as cold tomorrow, how cold is it going to be?

Why are they called apartments, when they’re all stuck together?

Why is a carrot more orange than an orange?

Why do they call it the Department of Interior when they are in charge of everything outdoors?

Tell a man that there are 400 billion stars and he’ll believe you. Tell him a bench has wet paint and he has to touch it.

Why do we wait until a pig is dead to "cure" it?

Why doesn’t glue stick to the inside of the bottle?

Do Roman paramedics refer to IV’s as "4’s"?

Whatever happened to Absorbine Senior?

Use this simple exercise to deal with stress:

Picture yourself very near a stream. Birds are softly chirping in the crisp, cool mountain air.

Nothing can bother you here. No one knows this secret place.

You are in total seclusion from that place called "the world". the soothing sound of a gentle waterfall fills the air with a cascade of serenity.

The water is so clear.

You can easily make out the face of the person whose head you are holding under the water.

There now, don’t you feel better?

What’s Next, the Circus?

April 30, 1999

Recently a ban on ice cream trucks in a small community outside Boston was lifted. I first heard about this several months ago, and apparently the people who first crammed it down the throats of the community are already trying to get it restored. What do they have against the ice cream man? Here are their reported complaints:

1. The drivers of the ice cream trucks could be complete strangers, and there’s no way to know what sort of people they are.

Okay, this is a legitimate concern, but rather than banning the ice cream truck, as much a staple of summertime as going barefoot and playing baseball, why don’t parents get out and meet the ice cream delivery person? Maybe things have changed since I was a kid, but when my friends and I would go to buy ice cream, we were always accompanied by an adult. If the parents can’t be there, then how about setting down a few simple rules? Here’s one: The ice cream man never gets out of his truck, and no one else ever goes in. That should prevent a lot of problems.

2. They’re concerned about the lack of nutritional value in fudgesicles and nutty buddies.

Here’s a radical idea: if parents don’t want their kids eating the ice cream, they should say no. If nobody buys the ice cream, the trucks will stop coming. With the ice cream truck, anyway, a boycott is just as effective as clogging up the local legislature with unnecessary laws.

3. Children could get hurt by traffic when they’re chasing after the ice cream trucks.

Children could also get hurt climbing trees, but when have you ever heard of them being denounced as a safety hazard? And although I’d rather not see anyone get hit by a car, is it fair to blame the ice cream truck when some other driver is the one at fault?

4. The music they play is annoying.

The music my hillbilly neighbors play is annoying too. It’s also a lot louder, and goes on for hours, but there’s nothing I can do about it unless it’s after 9PM. Compared to the twangs of "Erlene Done Left Me For A Mule", a few minutes of "Pop Goes the Weasel" is pleasant, and brings back some happy memories of summers long ago.

The ban, by the way, was lifted because of the efforts of a six-year old girl who wrote to law enforcement officials in surrounding areas. She found no evidence of kidnapping, drug peddling, abuse, or injury associated with ice cream delivery trucks. Look for it on an upcoming episode of "Kids Repeal The Darnedest Laws."

Enjoy this week’s offerings guaranteed not to rot your teeth.


Learn all about your personality…

Pick your favorite flavor of ice cream from the following:
1) Vanilla
2) Chocolate
3) Butter pecan
4) Banana
5) Strawberry
6) Chocolate chip

Pick your flavor before you continue…

Don’t peek! Are you ready to learn about your personality? A national manufacturer of ice cream, Edy’s Grand Ice Cream, commissioned an ice cream flavorology study to determine how ice cream preferences relate to personality. The study, conducted by Dr.Alan R. Hirsch (MD), Neurological Director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, revealed that distinct personalities correspond with ice cream flavors.

If you like vanilla, you are colorful, impulsive, a risk taker who sets high goals and has high expectations of yourself. You also enjoy close family relationships.

If you like chocolate, you are lively, creative, dramatic, charming, enthusiastic, and the life of the party. Chocolate fans enjoy being at the center of attention and can become bored with the usual routine.

If you like butter pecan, you are orderly, perfectionistic, careful, detail-oriented, conscientious, ethical, and fiscally conservative. You are also competitive, aggressive in sports, and the take-charge type of personality.

If you like banana, you are easy going, well adjusted, generous, honest, and empathetic.

If you like strawberry, you are shy, yet emotionally robust, skeptical, detail oriented, opinionated, introverted, and self critical.

If you like chocolate chip, you are generous, competitive, and accomplished. You are charming in social situations, ambitious, and competent.

The flavorology research compatibility chart for ice cream lovers:

If your favorite flavor is:

Vanilla – you are most likely to be compatible with someone whose favorite flavor is vanilla.

Chocolate – compatible with butter pecan or chocolate chip.

Butter Pecan – compatible with butter pecan, chocolate and chocolate chip.

Banana – compatible with all flavors.

Strawberry – compatible with chocolate chip.

Chocolate Chip – compatible with butter pecan, strawberry or chocolate.

Never trust a dog to watch your food.
–Patrick, Age 10

When you want something expensive, ask your grandparents.
–Matthew, Age 12

Never smart off to a teacher whose eyes and ears are twitching.
–Andrew, Age 9

Wear a hat when feeding seagulls.
–Rocky, Age 9

Sleep in your clothes so you’ll be dressed in the morning.
–Stephanie, Age 8

Never try to hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.
–Rosemary, Age 7

Don’t flush the toilet when you dad’s in the shower.
–Lamar, Age 10

Never ask for anything that costs more than five dollars when your parents are doing taxes.
–Carrol, Age 9

Never bug a pregnant mom.
–Nicholas, Age 11

Don’t ever be too full for dessert.
–Kelly, Age 10

When your dad is mad and asks you, "Do I look stupid?" don’t answer him.
–Heather, Age 16

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

Don’t pick on your sister when she’s holding a baseball bat.
–Joel, Age 12

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

Never try to baptize a cat.
–Laura, Age 13

Never spit when on a roller coaster.
–Scott, Age 11

Never do pranks at a police station.
–Sam, Age 10

Beware of cafeteria food when it looks like it’s moving.
–Rob, Age 10

Never tell your little brother that you’re not going to do what your mom told you to do.
–Hank, Age 12

Remember you’re never too old to hold your father’s hand.
–Molly, Age 11

Listen to your brain. It has lots of information.
–Chelsey, Age 7

Stay away from prunes.
–Randy, Age 9

Never dare your little brother to paint the family car.
–Phillip, Age 13

Forget the cake. Go for the icing!
–Cynthia, Age 8

You Want To Do WHAT With My Credit Card?

April 23, 1999

Recently some very wise bureaucrats in San Francisco decided to take on the problem of homelessness by (I’m not kidding here) giving homeless people credit card machines. That way if you want to give a homeless guy a sizeable (and presumably tax-deductible) donation, you no longer have to fumble around in your wallet and hope he doesn’t see that embarassing twenty while you’re pulling out the torn and stained single. Now you can just whip out your credit card, let him run it through his machine, and preferably use your own pen to sign the receipt. Now the credit card that’s "everywhere you want to be" is also going to be everywhere you don’t want to be.The one that allows you to "discover the possibilities" will now also help you discover the origin of that strange smell.

Maybe it’s not such a bad idea, though. Let’s say every homeless person in the San Francisco area gets his or her own credit card machine. The main reason the majority of homeless people are homeless in the first place is because they have mental problems but, for various reasons, cannot be institutionalized. They can’t hold steady or even temporary jobs because of a severe lack of social skills. With credit card machines, however, they’ll learn a very important, very marketable skill, and at the same time they’ll forget how to handle regular money. Put these things together: impaired mental function, no social skills, and the ability to only handle credit card transactions. Yes, today’s homeless are tomorrow’s retail workers. And what will become of the current retail workers? They’ll probably end up homeless until someone comes up with a plan to give them their own credit card machines.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

1 MAN, 7 WOMAN HOT TUB — $850/offer
1 5-finger, 1 3-finger, PAIR: $15
89 cents
89 cents lb.
GROUND BEAST: 99 cents lb.

The Washington Post’s "Style Invitational" asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. Here are some recent winners (1998):

Foreploy: any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of obtaining sex.

Tatyr: a lecherous Mr. Potato Head.

Doltergeist: a spirit that decides to haunt someplace stupid, such as your septic tank.

Sarchasm: the gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the recipient who doesn’t get it.

Contratemps: the resentment permanent workers feel toward the fill-in workers.

Reintarnation: coming back to life as a hillbilly.

Inoculatte: to take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

Hipatitis: terminal coolness.

Taterfamilias: the head of the Potato Head family.

Guillozine: a magazine for executioners.

Osteopornosis: a degenerate disease.

Burglesque: a poorly planned break-in. (See: Watergate)

Giraffiti: vandalism spray-painted very, very high, such as the famous "Surrender Dorothy" on the Beltway overpass.

Karmageddon: It’s like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it’s like a serious bummer

Glibido: all talk and no action.

Deifenestration: to throw all talk of God out the window.

Dopeler effect: the tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

Intaxication: euphoria at getting a refund from the IRS, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

Abs Of Steel, Nerves of Glass

April 16, 1999

Last week after I celebrated just a few of the reasons April is such a joyous month, someone wrote to tell me that, along with all the other things, April is Belly Awareness Month. Personally I thought belly awareness was a year-round thing, but apparently someone decided that April, when people begin shedding their thick winter clothes and working off the last of the holiday pounds, should be a special time to think about our bellies. Of course you can’t think about your belly without thinking of your belly button. Excuse me. I meant to say navel there. The phrase "belly button" makes me very uncomfortable. See, I’m extremely ticklish, and "belly button" sounds like something that you poke. It’s bad enough that the stupid thing is a repository for sweater lint and who knows what else, forcing me to do an occasional but excruciating baton act in it with an alcohol loaded cotton swab, but to imagine having it poked drives me up the wall. Who thought of the expression belly button anyway? Probably the same person who first divided them into "innies" and "outies", the latter being the only ones that really look like buttons. What happens when you press one of those? Maybe you get a prerecorded message requesting that you insert food for further information. I’d better stop this. Belly button contemplation was a big fad in the sixties, and it’s widely believed to have led to the mass insanity known as the seventies. Enjoy this week’s offerings.

"An Ode To Melissa"
(from "Sonnets from the Pentium")

How do I love thee ? Let me count the ways.
I love thee with every disc and gigabyte
My PC holds, though my friends exclaim in fright
And flee thy messages through cyberspace.
I love thee by my monitor’s steady glow,
As thou lurk through the web like a spider.
I love freely, though thou crash my provider,
And make my surfing so difficult and slow.
I love thee for thy subtlety, and thy speed,
For thou dost come disguised as friendly mail,
Then through the address book thou quickly sail,
And like a living thing thou dost then breed.
Laughing, I have read how thou now mutate!
Virus! We are forever wed! ‘Tis our fate.

You’re just jealous because the voices are talking to me

I have the body of a God……………………Buddha

This would be really funny if it weren’t happening to me

So many pedestrians, so little time

I used to be disgusted, now I’m just amused

Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult

If we quit voting will they all go away?

Politics – from the words "poly," meaning "many," and "ticks," as in small, blood-sucking parasites"

The face is familiar but I can’t quite remember my name

He who dies with the most toys…still dies

Eat right, exercise, die anyway

Illiterate? Write for help

Honk if anything falls off

Cover me – I’m changing lanes

He who laughs last thinks slowest

He who hesitates is not only lost but miles from the next exit

I refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed person

This isn’t my idea of a good time

It’s been lovely but I have to scream now

Uniquely maladjusted but fun

This bumpersticker exploits illiterates

Minimum wage for politicians

Visualize using your turn signals

Where are we going and why am I in this handbasket?

I haven’t lost my mind – it’s backed up on disk somewhere

Oh, evolve!

You! Out of the gene pool!

Gone crazy be back shortly

If you’re not outraged you’re not paying attention

I do whatever my Rice Krispies tell me to

Dyslexics of the world – untie!

Celebrate this!

April 9, 1999

April is National Poetry Month. It’s also Earthquake Preparedness Month, which in itself explains why it’s Stress Awareness Month. Or maybe that’s because it’s Mathematics Education Month. It’s certainly got nothing to do with April being National Lawn and Garden Month. In case you’re keeping track, April also contains Ocean Week (12-17th), Corn Week (also the 12th-17th), End of Prohibition Day (April 7th), Professional Secretaries Day (21st), Earth Day (21st), Anzac Day (25th), Togo’s Independence Day (27th), National Day of Mourning (28th), and Arbor Day (30th). It’s also the month of Easter and Passover. Rome was founded in the month of April, the Titanic went down in April, and on April 10th, 1924, the first book of crosswords was introduced. We’ve become so weighed down by history and the need to celebrate various things that there’s no day, week, or month, that isn’t overloaded with significance. With all these things to celebrate, or, if you’re firmly anti-ocean, hate secretaries, or think Prohibition was a good idea, not celebrate, is it any wonder that now riots are a way people celebrate AND protest? Well, I’ve had enough. I say it’s about time we set aside a World Nothing Day, a day when absolutely nothing happened, happens, or will happen. Ever. Unfortunately I can’t seem to find a day that’s free. But at least all this explains April Fools’ Day.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

Dept. of the Army
Regulations For Operation Of Aircraft
Commencing January 1920

1. Don’t take the machine into the air unless you are satisfied it will fly.

2. Never leave the ground with the motor leaking.

3. Don’t turn sharply when taxiing. Instead of turning sharp, have someone lift the tail around.

4. In taking off, look at the ground and the air.

5. Never get out of the machine with the motor running until the pilot relieving you can reach the motor controls.

6. Pilots should carry hankies in a handy place to wipe off goggles.

7. Riding on the steps, wings, or rail of the machine is prohibited.

8. In case the engine fails on takeoff, land straight ahead regardless of obstacles.

9. No machine must taxi faster than a man can walk.

10. Never run motor so that blast will blow on other machines.

11. Learn to gauge altitude, especially on landing.

12. If you see another machine near you, get out of the way.

13. No two cadets should ever ride together in the same machine.

14. Do not trust altitude instruments.

15. Before you begin a landing glide, see that no machines are under you.

16. Hedge-hopping will not be tolerated.

17. No spins on back or tail sides will be indulged in as they unnecessarily strain the machines.

18. If flying against the wind and you wish to fly with the wind, don’t make a sharp turn near the ground. You may crash.

19. Motors have been known to stop during a long glide. If pilot wishes to use motor for landing, he should open the throttle.

20. Don’t attempt to force the machine onto the ground with more than flying speed. The result is bounding and ricocheting.

21. Pilots will not wear spurs while flying.

22. Do not use aeronautical gasoline in cars or motorcycles.

23. You must not take off or land closer than 50 feet to the hanger.

24. Never take a machine into the air until you are familiar with it’s controls and instruments.

25. If an emergency occurs while flying, land as soon as possible.

1. Save the whales. Collect the whole set.

2. A day without sunshine is like, night.

3. On the other hand, you have different fingers.

4. I just got lost in thought. It was unfamiliar territory.

5. 42.7 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot.

6. 99 percent of lawyers give the rest a bad name.

7. I feel like I’m diagonally parked in a parallel universe.

8. I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be without sponges.

9. Honk if you love peace and quiet.

10. Remember, half the people you know are below average.

11. Despite the cost of living, have you noticed how popular it remains?

12. Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.

13. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

14. Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.

15. Eagles may soar, but weasels don’t get sucked into jet engines.

16. The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

17. I intend to live forever — so far, so good.

18. If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?

19. My mind Like A Steel Trap – Rusty And Illegal In 37 States.

20. Quantum Mechanics: The dreams stuff is made of.

21. The only substitute for good manners is fast reflexes.

22. When everything’s coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane and going the wrong way.

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

24. A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.

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

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

27. Bills travel through the mail at twice the speed of checks.

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

29. No one is listening until you make a mistake.

30. Success always occurs in private and failure in full view.

31. The hardness of the butter is directly proportional to the softness of the bread.

32. The severity of the itch is inversely proportional to the ability to reach it.

33. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.

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

35. Two wrongs are only the beginning.

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

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

38. A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.

39. Plan to be spontaneous — tomorrow.

40. How many of you believe in telekinesis? Raise my hands …

41. If at first you don’t succeed, then skydiving definitely isn’t for you.

April is the cruellest month…

April 2, 1999

I’ve been had. I’ve been conned, duped, hornswaggled, deceived, bamboozled, and a victim of ledgerdemain. I’m a rube, a mark, a bumpkin, a yokel, an easy target, a swain. Why am I all these things? Because I, like so many others, have tried one of the currently popular herbal remedies. Specifically I’ve been taking gingko which, according to the literature on the side of the bottle, is supposed to make you smarter. I’ve been taking the stuff two and three times a day for over a week, and I have yet to see any real effect. I certainly don’t feel any smarter. The sad thing is I should have known better. When I was first offered gingko with the promise that it would make me more intelligent, I should have remembered the old local joke about the city kid and the country kid. The city kid and the country kid, so the joke goes, were walking through the forest when they found a pile a rabbit pellets (for those of you who live exclusively in urban areas, these are droppings, and, as in urban areas, they’re left everywhere and no one’s required to clean them up). The city kid asked, "What are those?" The country kid replied, "Those are smart pills. Go ahead and try one." So, after eating five or six, the city kid said, "These taste like s–t!" The country kid said, "You’re getting smarter already." Well, at least I have enough intelligence to figure out that an herb can’t make someone smarter.

Hey, maybe it’s working after all!

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


* * * HOLY GRAIL * * *

As is.
$50 or best offer.

I got it cheap at a flea market. It’s the real McCoy, and I thought I was getting a great deal. But it turned out not to be so hot from my point of view. I’ll explain, because I don’t want anyone saying how I cheated them if it wasn’t what they expected.

First, the Grail sheds a pure and holy light. That’s okay, and it’s quite a conversation piece, but it’s damn annoying when you’re trying to sleep or watch TV. Covering the grail with a cloth does not seem to help for some reason. (We have been using white samite; perhaps this is the source of the problem?)

Second, only the pure of heart can touch or even look upon the Grail. Needless to say I do not qualify. This means that we haven’t been able to dust behind it on the mantel since we put it in there. Therefore anyone who wants to purchase the Grail will have to come and carry it away themselves; we will not deliver it.

Third, every month or so since we have had the Grail, three white-clothed women have made a silent and eerie procession through our house. They also glow with a pure and holy light, and they have no consideration for any guests who happen to be living in the downstairs room. It sure is a good thing that they are silent, because I think otherwise the neighbors would surely have complained. We got enough weird glances as it is. To top it off, one of the glowing babes is carrying a spear which continually drips blood. True, the blood vanishes ere it touches the floor, but nevertheless I get queasy at the sight of blood and these women traipsing through my house with their cloth and blood and light and stuff at all hours of the day and night are really getting on my nerves.

Anyway that’s the scoop. Perhaps someone else out there knows how to deal with these problems and would like to take the abominable cup off my hands?

Sister Mary Barbie: This spiritual Barbie comes with jointed knees and neck for genuflecting and praying, mini rosary beads, a mini bible and a black sequinned nun’s habit (after all, she’s still Barbie). Pull the string on her back and she says nothing because she has taken a vow of silence.

Rabbi Barbie: So, why not? Women rabbis are on the cutting edge in Judaism. Rabbi Barbie comes with tiny satin yarmulke, prayer shawl, Teflon, silver kaddish cup, Torah scrolls. Optional: tiny mezuzah for doorway of Barbie Townhouse.

Admin Barbie: Works twenty hour days for little pay (80% of Admin Ken’s salary), and is the lowest on the totem pole despite being the one that actually runs the group. Comes with mini laptop. Pull the string on her back and she’ll schedule a meeting with your other dolls, replace the toner cartridge in the laser printer, co-ordinate a re-org and a move, and order airline tickets for Admin Ken.

Temp Barbie: This smartly dressed, intelligent, hardworking and enthusiastic Barbie is ready to go right out of the box, but usually goes untouched for at least a day while everyone tries to figure out why they bought her. Pull the string on her back and she’ll stuff envelopes indefinitely, all the while wondering why she got a liberal arts degree. Comes with mini resume and mini filing cabinet filled with the past five years worth of US Tax Code revisions which need to be collated.

Ripped-Off-In-The-Divorce-Settlement Barbie: Pull the string on her back and she unloads a torrent of insults and death threats for her ex’s new wife. Comes with a hatred for all men, and a Malibu Barbie tan (except for a white band on the ring finger of her left hand).

Twelve-Step Barbie: Pull the string on her back and she says, "Hi, I’m Barbie and I’m an alcoholic." Comes with a "One Day at a Time" bumper sticker, a 30-day chip and a pack of smokes.

Birkenstock Barbie: Finally, a Barbie doll with horizontal feet and comfortable, if ugly, sandals. Made from recycled materials.

Bite-The-Bullet Barbie: An anthropologist Barbie with pith helmet, camera, detachable limbs, fake blood and the ability to perform surgery on her-self in the Outback.

Blue Collar Barbie: Comes with overalls, protective goggles, lunch pail, UAW membership, pamphlet on union-organizing and pay scales for women as compared to men. Waitressing outfits and cashier’s aprons may be purchased separately for Barbies who are holding down second jobs in order to make ends meet.

Homegirl Barbie: Truly a fly Barbie in midriff-bearing shirt and baggy jeans. Comes with gold jewellery, hip-hop accessories and plenty of attitude. Pull cord and says things like "I don’t think so," "Dang, get outta my face," and "You go, girl." Teaches girls not to take crap from men.

Transgender Barbie: Formerly known as G.I. Joe.

Robotic Barbie: Hey, kids, experiment with an autonomous two-legged walking machine! After falling over she says "Control theory is hard. Damn these spike heels anyway!"

Dinner Roll Barbie: A Barbie with multiple love handles, double chin, a real curvy belly, and voluminous thighs to show girls that voluptuousness is also beautiful. Comes with a miniature basket of dinner rolls, bucket o’ fried chicken, tiny Entenmann’s walnut ring, a brick of Dreyer’s ice cream, three bags of potato chips, a T-shirt reading "Only the Weak Don’t Eat", and, of course, an appetite.

Mobile Home Park Barbie: Comes complete with hair in rollers and pregnant. Accessories include two toddlers. When you pull the string on her back she asks where her gov’t support check is. Some Mobile Home Barbies come with surprise Ken or G.I. Joe since they often give her surprise visits when they come into town.


" March 26, 1999

Right now Shakespeare is the hottest writer in Hollywood. This isn’t the first time a writer who’s been dead long enough for his works to be public domain has become the toast of Tinseltown, and with good ideas in short supply, there’s going to be even more grave digging over the next few years in an attempt to appeal to jaded audiences made up of mostly teenagers. Who’s expected to be the next author whose books no teenager will read but whose movies will be more popular than baggy jeans and nose piercings? According to some, it’s going to be Kafka. I have no idea why, and, frankly, I don’t think it’s going to work. In addition to the film that was vaguely about Kafka’s life that bombed at the box office a few years ago, some Kafka story scenarios will show why he’ll never by a Hollywood darling:

The Metamorphosis: Okay, the "troubling dreams" of Gregor Samsa mentioned in the first sentence could make for a really cool opening sequence, but the story goes rapidly downhill from there. The main character, as you know, finds that during the night he’s been mysteriously transformed into a giant dung beetle. It might be popular with some, but every male out there remembers that, sometime between the age of twelve and fifteen, this happened to him. He went to sleep one night a normal kid and woke up hairy, gangly, and with the ability to consume anything. No wonder everyone thinks the story’s actually about a cockroach.

Address To The Academy: A talking orangutan tells the scientists who gave him human intelligence what’s wrong with the human race. Everyone who is or has been a teenager knows what it’s like to know everything and have to stay in school anyway. Besides, smart-assed simians are already a dime a dozen in movies these days. Josephine the Singer, Or, The Mouse Folk: The mysterious popularity of a mouse who is just like every other mouse is examined. The only thing the examiner is able to conclude about her is that she contributes absolutely nothing to society. With its present conclusions it won’t go over well with prom queens, rock stars, or CEOs, but with a completely different ending and some catchy songs Disney might make a go at it.

The Penal Colony: A sadistic madman has created the ultimate torture device. This is one scenario Hollywood has done and redone for years. It’s called Oscar Night.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

Advancement opportunity:
Crap job.

Entry level:
Really crap job.

No experience necessary:
The mother of all crap jobs.

Administrative assistant:
Crap job with a title.

Ground floor opportunity:
Crap job with a company that will file bankruptcy within a year.

Progressive company:
Employees get to wear jeans every other Friday.

Team player:
Must deal with dangerously territorial co-workers with rabid

Upbeat personality:
Must neither threaten us with any kind of lawsuit nor use the drug and alcohol rehab benefit within the first year.

Word processing skills essential:
There’s a crippling case of carpal tunnel syndrome in your future.

Public relations:

Professional appearance important:
$20K/yr job that requires a $100K/yr wardrobe

Pleasant telephone manner:
Be the voice of 1-900-HOT-TIME

Salary range $24,000 to $32,00:
The salary is $24,000

Jeans job!
Minimum wage temp job in concentration camp conditions.

Will train:
Prior conviction of a felony or two no problem.

B.A. required, master’s preferred:
Must be an M.A. willing to work on a B.A.’s salary

Civil service:
This job was filled from the inside six months ago.

Women & minorities encouraged to apply:
White males need not waste the stamp.

Outstanding benefits package:
Health insurance.

Tons of variety!
We took all the heinous tasks no other employee would do & rolled them into one job.

Top-notch communication skills:

Beautiful offices in attractive location:
Brand new ticky-tacky windowless building where the picture frames all match the carpeting.

Woman-only job with the responsibilities of management & wages of a migrant worker.

Executive secretary:
The most powerful position in the company

You’re looking at a minimum of 80 hours a week from now until we force you into early retirement.

Salary commensurate:
We’ll pay you whatever the hell we feel like.

Salary negotiable
We’ll take the lowest bidder.

Competitive salary:
We’ll pay you up to 10% more than your last job and not one penny more.

Competitive starting salary:
Ten cents above minimum wage.

Pleasant atmosphere:
A staff of pod people.

Professional atmosphere:
Zombie pod people.

Fun, creative atmosphere:
Pod people from hell.

Dynamic atmosphere:
Zombie pod people from hell.

Gal Friday:
Anyone who actually applies for this job deserves it.

Open to very broad interpretation since no one really knows what this means.

An Anagram, as we all know, is a word or phrase made by transposing or rearranging the letters of another word or phrase. The following are quite clever. Someone out there either has way too much time to waste, or is really deadly competition at Scrabble.

Dormitory: Dirty Room
Evangelist: Evil’s Agent
Desperation: A Rope Ends It
The Morse Code: Here Come Dots
Slot Machines: Cash Lost in ’em
Animosity: Is No Amity
Mother-in-law: Woman Hitler
Snooze Alarms :Alas! No More Z’s
Alec Guinness: Genuine Class
Semolina: Is No Meal
The Public Art Galleries: Large Picture Halls, I Bet
A Decimal Point: I’m a Dot in Place
The Earthquakes: That Queer Shake
Eleven plus two: Twelve plus one
Contradiction: Accord not in it

This one’s amazing:
"To be or not to be: that is the question, whether tis nobler in
the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune."

In one of the Bard’s best-thought-of tragedies, our insistent
hero, Hamlet, queries on two fronts about how life turns rotten.

And the grand finale:
"That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." –
Neil A. Armstrong

A thin man ran; makes a large stride, left planet, pins flag on moon!
On to Mars!

We Don’t Need No Education

March 19, 1999

Recently I was reading some short essays by people remembering teachers who changed their lives, and decided it was time I should stand up for the teachers who, with their extraordinary lack of dedication and ineptitude, make absolutely no difference in the lives of everyone. Coach Tiddle was just such a teacher. I have no idea what he was a coach of–maybe it was an honorary title. At my high school, male teachers seemed uncomfortable with the title "Mister", so after the school day was over they would all go stand around by the football field and become honorary coaches. During the day, Coach Tiddle taught geometry, which is appropriate, since he was an almost perfect sphere. Coach Tiddle only taught geometry in the sense that he guided us through what was in the textbook. Questions were to be directed to Miss Arkham down the hall who helped the Math Team win a Good Effort award every year at the local Math Mania Marathon. It was in the spouting of peculiar bits of wisdom that Coach Tiddle really excelled. The first day he explained to us why we had a dress code using himself as an example. "I’m a big hairy man. If I came in wearing just shorts and sneakers, it would be kind of distracting." I kept this and other aphorisms in a thick notebook under the title "Tiddle’s Tidbits". Unfortunately most of these pearls are lost now, along with what little I learned about geometry, but here are a few I still remember:

"Leonard, would you please close the window? The air conditioner isn’t big enough to cool the outside. Maybe we can get a bigger one to do that."

"You’ll notice that this is an isosceles triangle. Those are really hard to climb."

"How do we measure from Point A to Point B? We could have somebody walk it, but there’s probably a river with piranhas, alligators, and sewage in the way."

"The best thing you can do with a cone is fill it up with ice cream. I like strawberry, chocolate, and homemade peach. My favorite is pralines and cream."

"Why do we even have obtuse angles? If I were an angle, I’d want to be right, or acute. Obtuse sounds like something nasty."

"I’m 43. That’s a prime number. I thought about getting a t-shirt that said, ‘Proud To Be Prime’, but in three months I won’t be able to wear it."

Maybe Coach Tidwell didn’t teach me much about geometry, but he taught me a bigger, much more important lesson. I’ll let you know when I figure out what that lesson was.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


Don’t squat with your spurs on.

Don’t interfere with something that ain’t botherin’ you none.

Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.

The easiest way to eat crow is while it’s still warm. The colder it gets, the harder it is to swaller.

If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin’.

If it don’t seem like it’s worth the effort, it probably ain’t.

It don’t take a genius to spot a goat in a flock of sheep.

The biggest troublemaker you’ll probably ever have to deal with watches you shave his face in the mirror every morning.

Never ask a barber if you need a haircut.

If you get to thinkin’ you’re a person of some influence, try orderin’ somebody else’s dog around.

Don’t worry about bitin’ off more’n you can chew; your mouth is probably a whole lot bigger’n you think.

Always drink upstream from the herd.

Generally, you ain’t learnin’ nothing when your mouth’s a-jawin’.

Tellin’ a man to git lost and makin’ him do it are two entirely different propositions.

If you’re ridin’ ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it’s still there with ya.

Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.

When you give a personal lesson in meanness to a critter or to a person, don’t be surprised if they learn their lesson.

When you’re throwin’ your weight around, be ready to have it thrown around by somebody else.

Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin’ it back.

Always take a good look at what you’re about to eat. It’s not so important to know what it is, but it’s sure crucial to know what it was.

The quickest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back into your pocket.

Never miss a good chance to shut up.

ON TESCO’S TIRAMISU DESERT – Do not turn upside down. (Printed on the bottom of the box.)

ON MARKS & SPENCER BREAD PUDDING – Product will be hot after heating

ON PACKAGING FOR A ROWENTA IRON – Do not Iron clothes on body

ON BOOTS CHILDREN’S COUGH MEDICINE – Do not drive car or operate machinery

ON NYTOL (A SLEEP AID) – Warning: may cause drowsiness

ON A KOREAN KITCHEN KNIFE – Warning: keep out of children

ON A STRING OF CHINESE MADE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS – For indoor or outdoor use only.

ON A JAPANESE FOOD PROCESSOR – Not to be used for the other use.

ON SAINSBURY’S PEANUTS – Warning: contains nuts

ON AN AMERICAN AIRLINES PACKET OF NUTS – Instructions: open packet, eat nuts.

ON A SWEDISH CHAINSAW – Do not attempt to stop chain with your hands.

ON A PACKET OF SUNMAID RAISINS – Why not try tossing over your favorite breakfast cereal?

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