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Mass Consumption

December 10, 1999

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

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

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Do You Hear What I Hear?

December 3, 1999

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

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

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

Dear Santa from the world’s women

Dear Santa:

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

I want to slap Martha Stewart!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Get new friends."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(You probably want to smack her yourself!! 🙂

Take My Advice: You Don’t Need It

November 19, 1999

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

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Stay away from prunes." Randy, 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas is Coming

November 12, 1999

One thing that drives me absolutely nuts is the fact that most stores insist on putting out Christmas decorations before Halloween has even arrived. People stand around and laugh and say, "Christmas comes earlier every year!", When I hear that, I want to hit them with the stuff you pull from the inside of a pumpkin and say, "No it doesn’t! Christmas comes at the same time every year, December 25th. Check your calendars!" I then eagerly grab up the Halloween candy that’s been put on discount because stores are trying to make people ignore Thanksgiving and start thinking about picking out an aluminum tree. But there is one part of Christmas that I can never start too early, and that’s the shopping. I’m not a big fan of shopping, and I’m the sort of guy who sometimes procrastinates even on things I enjoy, so I always get started later than I’d like. This year, however, I’ve been going through the assorted junk mail and picking out things for those hard-to-buy-for people on my list. Here are a few things I’ve found:

  • A submarine. I’m not kidding. In two separate catalogs I found a submarine that, for the amazingly economical price of $30,000, will take two people to a maximum depth of 200 feet. A valid scuba license is required. Apparently the designers overlooked the fact that, with the proper safety precautions, a scuba diver can dive to 300 feet, but I guess the submarine is for scuba divers who don’t want to mess up their hair.

  • A wearable computer. You carry a CPU in a backpack, keep the keyboard in one hand, and wear an eyepiece over your right eye to see the screen. According to the designer, you can check your e-mail while talking to your friends. Actually this isn’t for anyone on my list. Anyone who checks their e-mail while talking to friends soon doesn’t have any friends.

  • Chewing tobacco. Hey, it’s economical, and, for those friends and relatives of mine who smoke, it’s the perfect solution. Non-smokers complain that smoking is filthy, disgusting, and rude. Besides, there are a lot of places where smoking isn’t allowed. I figure after a few weeks of watching smokers chew and spit, intolerant non-smokers will be begging them to light up. And if not, I can always get them one of those handy wearable computers.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

"Posterior Automotive Safety Bar Adhesive Papyrus Reflectionary Notations"
(…again….and STILL dern funny!)

41. Could you drive any better if I shoved that cell phone up your ASS?

40. If you can read this – I can slam on my brakes and sue you!

39. Jesus loves you, but everyone else thinks you’re an asshole.

38. 100,000 sperm and YOU were the fastest?

37. Your gene pool needs a little chlorine.

36. You’re just jealous because the voices are talking to me and not you!


34. JESUS SAVES..Then Passes it To Gretzky..He Shoots..He..Scores!

33. Jesus is coming! Look busy!

32. You are depriving some poor village of its IDIOT

31. Save Your Breath … You’ll need it to blow up your date!

30. Forget world peace. Visualize using your turn signal.

29. My Hockey Mom Can Beat Up Your Soccer Mom


27. All Men Are Animals, Some Just Make Better Pets

26. Some people are only alive because it is illegal to shoot them.

25. I used to have a handle on life, but it broke.

24. WANTED: Meaningful overnight relationship.

23. BEER: It’s not just for breakfast anymore.

22. So you’re a feminist…Isn’t that cute.

21. I need someone really bad…Are you really bad?

20. Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.

19. All men are idiots….I married their king.

18. The more you complain, the longer God makes you live.

17. IRS: We’ve got what it takes to take what you’ve got.

16. Hard work has a future payoff. Laziness pays off now.

15. Reality is a crutch for people who can’t handle drugs.

14. Out of my mind…Back in five minutes.

13. Hang up and drive.

12. Smile, it’s the second best thing you can do with your lips.

11. I took an IQ test and the results were negative.

10. Where there’s a will…I want to be on it.

9. It’s lonely at the top, but you eat better.

8. Don’t drink and drive…You might hit a bump and spill your drink.

7. We are born naked, wet, and hungry….Then things get worse.

6. Friends help you move. Real friends help you move bodies.

5. Consciousness: That annoying time between naps.

4. Ever stop to think, and forget to start again?

3. Be nice to your kids…They will pick out your nursing home.

2. Always remember you’re unique…Just like everyone else.

and the #1 bumper sticker of the week…………..

1. Honk If You Want To See My Finger

No Hyenas Were Harmed

November 5, 1999

Ever heard the one about the lawyer and the sharks? Or the one about what you call a thousand lawyers chained to the bottom of the ocean? Or the one about the lawyer who got hit by the ambulance he was chasing? The funny thing about these jokes, aside from their punchlines, is that everyone knows lawyers aren’t all bad. That’s probably why lawyers sometimes tell these jokes to each other, and even those of us who laugh at the jokes know some decent lawyers, people we hope we’ll have by us if we ever have to have a day in court. The jokes really aren’t told about these people, they’re told about the exceptions–the ones who advertise in the bathrooms of restaurants and bars. These days a lot of restaurants and bars make a little extra money by putting advertising in the bathrooms.

Amazingly, every time I go into one of these places, I see the same sign. In very small, black letters, it reads, "Don’t drive drunk." Below that, in huge red letters, is: "DUI? LET ME HELP YOU!" I could wonder why a place that serves alcohol and has no advertising for taxi companies instead gives space to a guy who helps drunk drivers wriggle out of their sentences, but instead I have to wonder why "DUI Dan" and his ilk aren’t doing something more respectable. Aren’t there enough emergency rooms for them to hang out in? Is the job market for pimps so tight that these guys can’t find a place in it? One can only wonder. In the meantime, let’s stop making jokes about lawyers, and for that matter, let’s stop dragging comparatively decent animals like ticks, hyenas, and vultures into it. They don’t deserve to be classed with "DUI Dan", who is of the species homo gluttonous.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

A tourist walked into a pet shop and was looking at the animals on display. While he was there, another customer walked in and said to the shop keeper, "I’ll have a ‘BASIC’ monkey please".

The shopkeeper nodded, went over to a cage at the side of the shop and took out a monkey. He fit a collar and leash, handed it to the customer, saying, "That’ll be $5000." The customer paid and walked out with his monkey.

Startled, the tourist went over to the shopkeeper and said, "That was a very expensive monkey. Most of them are only a few hundred dollars. Why did it cost so much?"

The shopkeeper answered, "Ah, that monkey can program in ‘BASIC’. Very fast, tight code, no bugs, well worth the money."

The tourist looked at the monkey in another cage. "That one’s even more expensive – $10,000! What does it do?"

"Oh, that one’s a ‘C++’ monkey; it can manage ‘object- oriented’ programming, ‘Visual C++’, even some ‘Java’. All the really useful stuff," said the shopkeeper.

The tourist looked around for a little longer and saw a third monkey in a cage of its own. The price tag around its neck read $50,000. He gasped to the shopkeeper, "That one costs more than all the others put together! What on earth does it do?"

The shopkeeper replied, "Well, I haven’t actually seen it do anything, but it says it’s a ‘consultant’."

Children’s Books That Didn’t Make the Cut

  1. You Are Different and That’s Bad

  2. The Boy Who Died From Eating All His Vegetables

  3. Dad’s New Wife Robert

  4. Fun four-letter Words to Know and Share

  5. Hammers, Screwdrivers and Scissors: An I-Can-Do-It Book

  6. The Kids’ Guide to Hitchhiking

  7. Kathie Was So Bad Her Mom Stopped Loving Her

  8. Curious George and the High-Voltage Fence

  9. The Little Sissy Who Snitched

  10. That’s it, I’m Putting You Up for Adoption

  11. Grandpa Gets a Casket

  12. The Magic World Inside the Abandoned Refrigerator

  13. The Pop-Up Book of Human Anatomy

  14. Strangers Have the Best Candy

  15. Whining, Kicking and Crying to Get Your Way

  16. You Were an Accident

  17. Things Rich Kids Have, But You Never Will

  18. Pop! Goes The Hamster…And Other Great Microwave Games

  19. The Man in the Moon Is Actually Satan

  20. Your Nightmares Are Real

  21. Where Would You Like to Be Buried?

  22. Eggs, Toilet Paper, and Your School

  23. Why Can’t Mr. Fork and Ms. Electrical Outlet Be Friends?

  24. Places Where Mommy and Daddy Hide Neat Things

  25. Daddy Drinks Because You Cry

Just When You Thought It Was Safe…

October 29, 1999

There are several ways of creating terror. One of the most popular seems to be to take a group of people (including at least one token minority, one person wearing glasses, and at least one beautiful woman with an aversion to clothes) and put them in a physically claustrophobic situation. (In the United States alone, every twenty minutes there’s a storm that knocks out all the phone lines and washes away all the roads to a house where a murder has just taken place.) Or you could take a small town and let it be overrun by killer rats, bats, birds, bees, fleas, ticks, ants, or aardvarks. Or you could just celebrate Halloween in Tennessee. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Halloween is an annual harvest ritual during which children dress up as characters from last summer’s hit movies and go around harvesting candy. It’s essentially a Christian idea, which is why it’s associated with strange rituals, monstrous creatures, and general lunacy. Although Halloween has become largely secular, its original intent was to supplant the more interesting but less commercially successful pagan harvest rituals. Because Halloween falls on a Sunday this year, the local legislature had a long and heated debate about whether or not Halloween would be celebrated on Saturday, which has the advantage of being a night when children are traditionally left on their own anyway, or Sunday. Since a large number of people attend church services Sunday night, this meant a potential loss of revenue for candy vendors. Fortunately the matter was resolved, and in the final minutes of the session some unimportant stuff about taxes or something like that managed to get through. I’m not sure what exactly the final decision was, even though it was right on the front page of the local paper (under "National News", which is the local paper’s way of saying that the South really did win the Civil War). However, I’ve been told that this year Halloween will actually be celebrated on Saturday night. Anyone seen wearing a strange costume on Sunday night will, of course, be shot on sight. This is a vast improvement for Tennessee. Thirty years ago anyone seen wearing a strange costume would be shot on sight regardless of what night it was.

Enjoy this week’s terrifying offerings.


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

  2. Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year.

  3. On the second day the knee was better, and on the third day it disappeared.

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

  5. The patient has been depressed since she began seeing me in 1993.

  6. Discharge status: Alive but without my permission.

  7. Healthy appearing decrepit 69 year old male, mentally alert but forgetful.

  8. The patient refused autopsy.

  9. The patient has no previous history of suicides.

  10. Patient has left white blood cells at another hospital.

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

  12. Patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia for lunch.

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

  14. Since she can’t get pregnant with her husband, I thought you might like to work her up.

  15. She is numb from her toes down.

  16. While in ER, she was examined, x-rated and sent home.

  17. The skin was moist and dry.

  18. Occasional, constant infrequent headaches.

  19. Patient was alert and unresponsive.

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

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

  22. Both breasts are equal and reactive to light and accommodation.

  23. Examination of genitalia reveals that he is circus sized.

  24. The lab test indicated abnormal lover function.

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

  26. Skin: somewhat pale but present.

  27. The pelvic exam will be done later on the floor.

  28. Patient was seen in consultation by Dr. Blank, who felt we should sit on the abdomen and I agree.

  29. Large brown stool ambulating in the hall.

(In case anyone thinks I’m being hard on the South, here’s a little equal-opportunity ribbing.-CW)

Only in America…can a pizza get to your house faster than an ambulance.

Only in America…are there handicapped parking places in front of a skating rink.

Only in America…do drugstores make the sick walk all the way to the back of the store to get their prescriptions while healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front.

Only in America…do people order double cheeseburgers, large fries, and a diet coke.

Only in America…do banks leave both doors open and then chain the pens to the counter.

Only in America…do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and put our useless junk in the garage.

Only in America…do we use answering machines to screen calls and then have call waiting so we won’t miss a call from someone we didn’t want to talk to in the first place.

Only in America…do we buy hot dogs in packages of ten and buns in packages of eight.

Only in America…do we use the word "politics" to describe the process so well. "Poll" in Latin meaning "many" and "tics" meaning "bloodsucking creatures."

Only in America…do they have drive-up ATM machines with Braille lettering.

Doctor Strangelove

October 22, 1999

This is true: a British professor at the University of Reading is linking himself together with a computer, but, unlike Stephen Hawking, he’s actually doing it voluntarily. The professor first designed and became an implant recipient for computer chips last year so that his computer, as well as computerized security systems in the university’s buildings, will recognize him. And after their next upgrade, the computers will be advanced enough to recognize that he’s completely insane. The advantage of the computer chips is that his secretary can find him no matter where he is on the university grounds. The disadvantage of the computer chips is that his secretary can find him no matter where he is on the university grounds. His next big plan is to directly hardwire his own brain to his computer.

In explaining his reasoning for this, the professor said that too many scientists believe a computer program will do exactly what it’s expected to do. (The only scientists who actually believe this are ones who aren’t using computers yet.) The professor claims that such connections will enhance human brainpower and allow us to sidestep a possible takeover by machines, rather than being blindsided by it like him. Of course, if machines do take over the world, it goes without saying that they’ll start with people who are "computer friendly" and, even more important, "compatible".

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


1. What language is spoken in France?

2. Give a dissertation on the Ancient Babylonian Empire with particular reference to architecture, literature, law and social conditions – or – give the first name of Pierre Trudeau.

3. Would you ask William Shakespeare to:
a. Build a bridge
b. Sail the ocean
c. Lead an army

4. What religion is the Pope?
a. Jewish
b. Catholic
c. Hindu
d. Polish
e. Agnostic (check only one)

5. Metric conversion – how many feet are in 0.0 meters?

6. What time is it when the big hand is on the 12 and the little hand is on the 5?

7. How many commandments was Moses given? (APPROX.)

8. What are the people in America’s far north called?
a. Westerners
b. Southerners
c. Easterners
d. Northerners

9. Spell – Bush, Carter, and Clinton.

10. Six kings of England have been called George, the last one being called George the Sixth. Name the previous five.

11. Where does the rain come from?
a. Macy’s
b. 7-11
c. Canada
d. The Sky

12. Can you explain Einstein’s Theory of Relativity?
a. Yes
b. No

13. What are coat hangers used for?

14. The Star Spangled Banner is the national anthem for what country?

15. Explain Le Chateliers principle of Dynamic equilibrium – or – spell your name in block letters.

16. Where is the basement in a 3 story building located?

17. Which part of America produces the most oranges?
a. New York
c. Canada
d. Wisconsin

18. Advanced math, If you have 3 apples, how many apples do you have?

19. What does NBC (National Broadcasting Corporation) stand for?

* You must answer three(3) or more questions correctly to qualify

The Blithe Nineties

October 15, 1999

Although some may think it’s a little premature, I think it’s time to start saying farewell to the nineties. Overall it’s been a good decade, if you like social, political, and natural disasters. But it’s the little things I’m going to miss. Here’s a short list of things that should go away with the nineties, and probably will:

  • Piercings, tattoos, and other body art. Once upon a time getting a tattoo was something sailors and Harley owners did. Then it became a sign of distinctive individuality (or a sign that you were drinking with the wrong sort of people). Getting a tattoo made you stand out in a crowd–at least until everyone else started doing it. The same goes for piercings. As for other "body art", including the insertion of hemispherical pieces of plastic under the skin in the forehead and cheeks (no, I’m not making this up), that seemed to fade out once people realized they looked like aliens from "Star Trek".

  • The word "virtual" I thought I could wait until next year, but I can’t. I’m virtually sick of the word "virtual". I virtually want to throw up every time I hear it now. As long as it was a word for computer geeks, that was okay. Most of those guys live in virtual reality anyway–at least when they’re not hanging out at any fast food restaurant that provides free refills. But when I hear someone in a car accident say, "That other driver was virtually out of his mind!" I virtually think taking the bus would be a good idea.

  • Lists. So far I’ve seen the Greatest Sports Players of the Century, the 100 Most Overstocked Classic Books, the 100 Greatest People of the Millenium, and the 50 Television Characters Whose Shows Are Still Profitable. Please, if you’re even remotely thinking of putting together yet another list, ask yourself whether it’s really necessary, or whether it’s only virtually necessary. I’ll set an example by stopping this one right here.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

Dear Mom and Dad,

Our scout master told us all to write to our parents in case you saw the flood on TV and worried. We are OK. Only 1 of our tents and 2 sleeping bags got washed away. Luckily, none of us got drowned because we were all up on the mountain looking for Chad when it happened. Oh yes, please call Chad’s mother and tell her he is OK. He can’t write because of the cast. I got to ride in one of the search & rescue jeeps. It was neat. We never would have found him in the dark if it hadn’t been for the lightning.

Scoutmaster Webb got mad at Chad for going on a hike alone without telling anyone. Chad said he did tell him, but it was during the fire so he probably didn’t hear him. Did you know that if you put gas on a fire, the gas can will blow up? The wet wood still didn’t burn, but one of our tents did. Also some of our clothes. John is going to look weird until his hair grows back.

We will be home on Saturday if Scoutmaster Webb gets the car fixed. It wasn’t his fault about the wreck. The brakes worked OK when we left. Scoutmaster Webb said that a car that old you have to expect something to break down; that’s probably why he can’t get insurance on it.

We think it’s a neat car. He doesn’t care if we get it dirty, and if it’s hot, sometimes he lets us ride on the tailgate. It gets pretty hot with 10 people in a car. He let us take turns riding in the trailer until the highway patrolman stopped and talked to us. Scoutmaster Webb is a neat guy. Don’t worry, he is a good driver. In fact, he is teaching Terry how to drive. But he only lets him drive on the mountain roads where there isn’t any traffic. All we ever see up there are logging trucks.

This morning all of the guys were diving off the rocks and swimming out in the lake. Scoutmaster Webb wouldn’t let me because I can’t swim and Chad was afraid he would sink because of his cast, so he let us take the canoe across the lake. It was great. You can still see some of the trees under the water from the flood. Scoutmaster Webb isn’t crabby like some scoutmasters. He didn’t even get mad about the life jackets. He has to spend a lot of time working on the car so we are trying not to cause him any trouble.

Guess what? We have all passed our first aid merit badges. When Dave dove in the lake and cut his arm, we got to see how a tourniquet works. Also Wade and I threw up. Scoutmaster Webb said it probably was just food poisoning from the leftover chicken, he said they got sick that way with the food they ate in prison. I’m so glad he got out and become our scoutmaster. He said he sure figured out how to get things done better while he was doing his time.

I have to go now. We are going into town to mail our letters and buy bullets.

Don’t worry about anything. We are fine.

love, Your Son

Everybody’s A Critic

October 8, 1999

After several years of slogging along in this job, I have finally made an important decision. I’ve decided what I want to be when I grow up. I want to be a movie critic. After reviewing all the possible options, and after reading a rant in which a movie critic complained that the movie critic field is overstuffed with no-talent hacks, I realized it’s the perfect job for me. Since, according to the collective wisdom of movie critics, 99% of the planet’s population is composed of no-talent hacks, and since the critics can’t agree which hacks are really talented, I figure I’m either a no-talent hack myself (which would make me perfect for the job) or I’m a moving target (which is a good thing for a movie critic to be, since all the stars of explosive action films are, in real life, completely incapable of hitting moving targets).

Other qualifications include the fact that I can use words like "insouciant", I’ve seen a few movies in my life, and I was frequently beaten up on the playground as a child. I also have perfect vision, although even if I didn’t, I could still be a film critic. Many film critics, you may have noticed, wear glasses, and they use their thumbs to rate movies because those little stars are just too darn hard to see. The advantages of being a film critic include free popcorn, being able to write for a newspaper but never having to dig deeply into complex issues (actually this is an advantage of working for most newspapers), and being part of show business without ever having to worry about being caught in the back of a corvette with a large halibut wrapped in leather. In fact, movie critics are involved in bizarre scandals all the time, but you never hear about them because, well, no one cares.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

An Engineering Tribute

The US Standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That’s an exceedingly odd number.

Why was that gauge used?

Because that’s the way they built them in England, and the US railroads were built by English expatriates.

Why did the English people build them like that?

Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that’s the gauge they used.

Why did "they" use that gauge then?

Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.

Okay! Why did the wagons use that odd wheel spacing?

Well, if they tried to use any other spacing the wagons would break on some of the old, long distance roads, because that’s the spacing of the old wheel ruts.

So who built these old rutted roads?

The first long distance roads in Europe were built by Imperial Rome for the benefit of their legions. The roads have been used ever since.

And the ruts?

The initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagons, were first made by Roman war chariots. Since the chariots were made for or by Imperial Rome they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.

Thus, we have the answer to the original question.

The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches derives from the original specification for an Imperial Roman army war chariot.

Specs and Bureaucracies live forever.

So, the next time you are handed a specification and wonder what "Horse’s Rear"came up with it, you may be exactly right. Because the Imperial Roman chariots were made to be just wide enough to accommodate the backends of two war horses.

Now, there’s even more…

There’s an interesting extension of the story about railroad gauge and horses’ behinds.

When we see a Space Shuttle sitting on the launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are the solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at a factory in Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs might have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line to the factory runs through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than a railroad track, and the railroad track is about as wide as two horses’ behinds.

So a major design feature of what is arguably the world’s most advanced transportation system was determined by the width of a horse’s rear!

Now you know what’s "behind" it all

Many of you have heard Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and others speak of the "Homosexual Agenda," but no one has ever seen a copy of it. Here is a copy obtained directly from the Homosexual Headquarters. It reads as follows:

The Homosexual Agenda

6:00 am Gym

8:00 am Breakfast (oatmeal and egg whites)

9:00 am Hair appointment

10:00 am Shopping (preferably at Neiman Marcus or Nordstom)

12:00 PM Brunch

2:00 PM 1) Assume complete control of the US Federal, State, and Local Government, as well as all other national governments, 2) Destroy all healthy marriages, 3) Replace all school counselors in grades K-12 with militant homosexuals who seek to recruit children for the homosexual lifestyle, 4) Bulldoze all houses of worship, 5) Secure total control of the INTERNET and all mass media, and, 6) Be utterly fabulous

2:30 PM Get forty winks of beauty rest to prevent facial wrinkles from the stress of world conquest; aroma therapy

4:00 PM Cocktails

6:00 PM Light Dinner (soup, salad [arugula & balsamic vinegar dressing], Chardonnay.

8:00 PM Theater

10:30 PM Cocktails in a charming neighborhood bistro.

12:00 am Bed (dujour)

Survival of the Fattest

October 1, 1999

According to a plethora of recent and not-so recent studies, an overwhelming majority of Americans are overweight. One study even went so far as to say that 90% of Americans "exceed the minimum requirement for obesity." There’s just one thing I’ve never been able to get out of these studies, though: what exactly is their standard of normality? What’s healthy, or, as some put it, "ideal"? If only 10% fit into the category of "normal", I’d call that pretty abnormal. I’d also suspect that their standard of measure is a group of translucent supermodels with heroin addictions.

These reports blame a variety of factors, most commonly increased food production, a better standard of living, the fact that Americans consume more junk food, and overlook the fact that these sort of statistics have only been kept for about thirty years now, exactly the time period when most people moved off their family farms and into more sedentary desk jobs. Admittedly, exercise machines have become a booming business, but usually they’re only used a few times and then put in the closet or under the bed, where they’re conveniently designed to fit. This is because homo sapiens, unlike the hamster, is a practical species. When we exert force, we want to actually get somewhere. In fact, in the early days of mammalian development, the rodents who eventually became us were quite content to sit around nibbling grain and staring at rocks, and would only get really active when a hungry dinosaur came around. The dinosaurs, of course, were always on the go, and it says something that they’ve been extinct for several hundred million years.

As we progress into the next millenium, the studies on obesity are only outnumbered by the claims that the world will end from some terrible catastrophe such as another ice age, or a worldwide famine. In the event of either of those possibilities, the ones who will survive will not be the emaciated wonders, but the ones who can hold out the longest. Maybe the authors of those studies, who are, presumably, "normal", had better start bulking up.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

  1. Follow your dream! Unless it’s the one where you’re at work in your underwear during a fire drill.

  2. Always take time to stop and smell the roses and sooner or later, you’ll inhale a bee.

  3. Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me, either. Just leave me alone.

  4. If you don’t like my driving, don’t call anyone. Just take another road. That’s why the highway department made so many of them.

  5. If a motorist cuts you off, just turn the other cheek. Nothing gets the message across like a good mooning.

  6. When I’m feeling down, I like to whistle. It makes the neighbor’s dog run to the end of his chain and gag himself.

  7. It’s always darkest before the dawn. So if you’re going to steal the neighbor’s newspaper, that’s the time to do it.

  8. A handy telephone tip: Keep a small chalkboard near the phone. That way, when a salesman calls, you can hold the receiver up to it and run your fingernails across it until he hangs up.

  9. Each day I try to enjoy something from each of the four food groups: the bonbon group, the salty-snack group, the caffeine group and the "What-ever-the-thing-in-the-tinfoil-in-the-back-of-the -fridge-is" group.

  10. Into every life some rain must fall. Usually when your car windows are down.

  11. Just remember: You gotta break some eggs to make a real mess on the neighbor’s car!

  12. When you find yourself getting irritated with someone, try to remember that all men are brothers and just give them a noogie or an Indian burn.

  13. This morning I woke up to the unmistakable scent of pigs in a blanket. That’s the price you pay for letting the relatives stay over.

  14. It’s a small world. So you gotta use your elbows a lot.

  15. Keep your nose to the grindstone and your shoulder to the wheel. It’s a lot cheaper than plastic surgery.

  16. This land is your land. This land is my land. So stay on your land.

  17. Love is like a roller coaster: When it’s good you don’t want to get off, and when it isn’t, you can’t wait to throw up.

One day, a young man went to apply for a sales job at a major department store. He told the sales manager that he didn’t really have any experience, but he was willing to try his hardest to learn. The manager liked his attitude and decided to give the guy a chance.

At the close of business the next day, the sales manager decided to stop in to see how the kid was doing on his first day.

He asked, "How many sales did you have today?"

The salesman answered, "One."

"How come only one," asked the manager. "Most of my salesman have 20-30 per day! How much was the one sale you made?"

The salesman answered, "$133,344.00"

"WHAT!?! What did you sell?"

"Well, a guy wanted a small fishing hook, so I sold him a medium fishing hook, then I sold him a large fishing hook. Then he needed a rod, so I sold him a light action rod, the upgrade to a medium action rod, and then changed it to a fully balanced combo. Then I told him he was going to need a boat, so I took him to the boating department and sold him a 14-foot motor boat, then upgraded him to a 20-foot cabin cruiser. Then I told him that his Volkswagen wouldn’t be able to tow the boat, so I took him to the car department and sold him a sport utility vehicle."

"A guy came in for a fishing hook and you managed to sell him all of that?" asked the manager.

"No, he came in for a box of tampons, and I said, "Hell, your weekend is shot anyway, why not do some fishing?"

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