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One heck of a tangle

February 6, 1998

So I’m taking my weekly shower, and I notice that the shampoo and conditioner – both the same brand made by the same company – have a toll-free number you can call during regular business hours or an address you can write to if you have questions or comments. Here’s the strange thing, though: each one has a different number AND a different address. One’s in New Jersey, and one’s in Illinois. Now, anyone taking the time to call in a comment would, unquestionably, make sure that they had the right number depending on whether they wanted to comment on the shampoo or the conditioner. But what about someone in an emergency situation? Let’s say you get up late, you’re rushing around, and you pour shampoo in your hair without wetting it first (for those of you who didn’t know you were supposed to wet your hair first, I strongly recommend the instructions printed right above the customer service information). Of course, the offices in either state probably wouldn’t be open yet, so you’d have to proceed immediately to some other source of assistance. But let’s say you live on the west coast, and you’re really late. You call the shampoo office in New Jersey, explain the situation and…oh no! In your panic, you actually poured CONDITIONER in your hair without even shampooing first! Chaos! To make it worse, the unhelpful person is now transferring you to the conditioner offices in Illinois. You’ve been moved back an entire time zone and the conditioner people haven’t arrived yet! Hair emergencies of this degree are rare, but let’s face it, it could happen! At this point there’s only one course of action: call the police, ask for the styling department, and hope that trained professionals will arrive before it’s too late.

Enjoy this week’s squeaky clean offerings.

Announcing the new Built-in Orderly Organized Knowledge device (BOOK).

The BOOK is a revolutionary breakthrough in technology: no wires, no electric circuits, no batteries, nothing to be connected or switched on. It’s so easy to use even a child can operate it. Just lift its cover!

Compact and portable, it can be used anywhere — even sitting in an armchair by the fire — yet it is powerful enough to hold as much information as a CD-ROM disc. Here’s how it works…

Each BOOK is constructed of sequentially numbered sheets of paper (recyclable), each capable of holding thousands of bits of information. These pages are locked together with a custom-fit device called a binder, which keeps the sheets in their correct sequence. Opaque Paper Technology (OPT) allows manufacturers to use both sides of the sheet, doubling the information density and cutting costs in half. Experts are divided on the prospects for further increases in information density; for now BOOKs with more information simply use more pages. This makes them thicker and harder to carry, and has drawn some criticism from the mobile computing crowd.

Each sheet is scanned optically, registering information directly into your brain. A flick of the finger takes you to the next sheet. The BOOK may be taken up at any time and used by merely opening it. The BOOK never crashes and never needs rebooting, though like other display devices it can become unusable if dropped overboard. The "browse" feature allows you to move instantly to any sheet, and move forward or backward as you wish. Many come with an "index" feature, which pinpoints the exact location of any selected information for instant retrieval.

An optional "BOOKmark" accessory allows you to open the BOOK to the exact place you left it in a previous session – even if the BOOK has been closed. BOOKmarks fit universal design standards; thus, a single BOOKmark can be used in BOOKs by various manufacturers. Conversely, numerous bookmarkers can be used in a single BOOK if the user wants to store numerous views at once. Only the number of pages in the BOOK limits the number.

You can also make personal notes next to BOOK text entries with an optional programming tool, the Portable Erasable Nib Cryptic Intercommunication Language Stylus (Pencils).

Portable, durable, and affordable, the BOOK is being hailed as the entertainment wave of the future. The BOOK’s appeal seems so certain that thousands of content creators have committed to the platform. Look for a flood of new titles soon.

Dealing With Telemarketers

  1. If they want to loan you money, tell them you just filed for bankruptcy and you could sure use some money.

  2. If they start out with, "How are you today?" say, "Why do you want to know?" Alternately, you can tell them, "I’m so glad you asked, because no one these days seems to care, and I have all these problems; my sciatica is acting up, my eyelashes are sore, my dog just died…"When they try to get to the sell, just keep talking about your "problems."

  3. If they say they’re Joe Doe from the XYZ Company, ask them to spell their name. Then ask them to spell the company name. Then ask them where it is located. Continue asking them personal questions or questions about their company for as long as necessary.

  4. This one works better if you’re male: Telemarketer: "Hi, my name is Judy and I’m with Canter & Siegel services… " You: Hang on a second. [a few seconds’ pause] Okay, [in really husky voice] "What are you wearing?" Telemarketer: [Click.]

  5. Cry out, in well-simulated tones of pleasure and surprise, "Judy! Is that you? Oh, my GOD! Judy, how have you BEEN?" Hopefully, this will give Judy a few brief moments of terror as she tries to figure out where the hell she could know you from.

  6. Say "No", over and over. Be sure to vary the sound of each one, and keep an even tempo even as they’re trying to speak. This is the most fun if you can keep going until they hang up.

  7. If MCI calls trying to get you to sign up with their Family and Friends plan, reply, in as sinister a voice as you can muster, "I don’t have any friends…would you be my friend?"

  8. If they clean rugs: "Can you get out blood? Can you get out GOAT blood? How about HUMAN blood?" Alternate: "Sorry, my floor is made of stone."

  9. Let the person go through their spiel, providing minimal but necessary feedback in the form of an occasional "Uh-huh", "Really" or "How fascinating". Finally, when they ask you to buy, ask them to marry you. When they get all flustered, tell them you couldn’t just give out your credit card number to a complete stranger.

  10. Tell them you work for the same company they work for. Example: Telemarketer: "This is Bill from WaterTronics." You: "WaterTronics! Hey, I work for them too. Where are you calling from?" Telemarketer: "Uh…Dallas, Texas." You: "Great, they have a group there too? How’s business/the weather?!?" Telemarketer: "Sorry, we can’t sell to employees." You: "Oh, Okay. Bye!"

  11. Answer the phone. As soon as you realize it is a telemarketer, set the receiver down, Shout or scream "Oh my God!!!" and then hang up.

  12. (Jerry Seinfeld version) Tell the telemarketer you’re busy at the moment and if they give you their phone number, you’ll call them back. Telemarketer will say "We’re not allowed to give out our number". You say, "I guess you don’t want anyone bothering you at work, right?". Telemarketer will agree. You say "Now you know how I feel!" Hang-up.

Morning Lessons

January 30, 1998

The snack machine down the hall occasionally has notes on it that say things like, "This machine owes Ellen in office 228 65 cents for M&M’s", or "This machine owes Roger on the 11th floor 50 cents for a chocolate bar". The other day, I noticed this one: "This machine owes Lenny $5 for a superbowl bet." It just goes to show that machines aren’t trustworthy. How can anyone expect a machine that would sadistically torment someone in the midst of a chocolate craving to pay off gambling debts? I happen to know for a fact that they lock up this building on the weekends not just to keep the burglars out but also to keep that particular machine in. It earned quite a reputation at the dog tracks up in Indiana, and was even arrested for trying to sneak into the press box at the Kentucky Derby. Oh, very few people realize just how insidious some machines can be. Lenny, if you’re out there, let this be a lesson to you. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go pay off the elevator. Enjoy this week’s offering – – some more things you should know.

If you toss a penny 10000 times, it will not be heads 5000 times, but more like 4950. The heads picture weighs more, so it ends up on the bottom.

The longest word in the English language, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. The only other word with the same amount of letters is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconioses, its plural. Hydroxydesoxycorticosterone and hydroxydeoxycorticosterones are the largest anagrams.

Los Angeles’s full name is "El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula."

Only one person in two billion will live to be 116 or older

Ben and Jerry’s send the waste from making ice cream to local pig armers to use as feed. Pigs love the stuff, except for one flavor: Mint Oreo.

Al Capone’s business card said he was a used furniture dealer.

Wilma Flintstone’s maiden name was Wilma Slaghoopal, and Betty Rubble’s Maiden name was Betty Jean Mcbricker.

A pregnant goldfish is called a twit.

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

The Ramses brand condom is named after the great pharaoh Ramses II who fathered over 160 children.

If NASA sent birds into space they would soon die, they need gravity to swallow.

Dueling is legal in Paraguay as long as both parties are registered blood donors.

A pig’s orgasm lasts for 30 minutes.

The characters Bert and Ernie on Sesame Street were named after Bert the cop and Ernie the taxi driver in Frank Capra’s "Its A Wonderful Life"

It was discovered on a space mission that a frog can throw up. The frog throws up its stomach first, so the stomach is dangling out of its mouth. Then the frog uses its forearms to dig out all of the stomach’s contents and then swallows the stomach back down again.

Armored knights raised their visors to identify themselves when they rode past their king. This custom has become the modern military salute.

Sylvia Miles had the shortest performance ever nominated for an Oscar with "Midnight Cowboy." Her entire role lasted only six minutes.

Charles Lindbergh took only four sandwiches with him on his famous transatlantic flight.

Goethe couldn’t stand the sound of barking dogs and could only write if he had an apple rotting in the drawer of his desk.

101 Dalmatians, Peter Pan (Wendy), and Sleeping Beauty are the only three Disney cartoon features with both parents that are present and don’t die throughout the movie.

‘Stewardesses’ is the longest word that is typed with only the left hand. The Baby Ruth candy bar was actually named after Grover Cleveland’s baby daughter, Ruth.

A whale’s penis is called a dork.

Armadillos have four babies at a time and they are always all the same sex.

Armadillos are the only animal besides humans that can get leprosy.

To escape the grip of a crocodile’s jaws, push your thumbs into its eyeballs — it will let you go instantly.

Reindeer like to eat bananas.

A group of unicorns is called a blessing. Twelve or more cows are known as a "flink." A group of frogs is called an army. A group of rhinos is called a crash. A group of kangaroos is called a mob. A group of whales is called a pod. A group of geese is called a gaggle. A group of ravens is called a murder. A group of officers is called a mess. A group of larks is called an exaltation. A group of owls is called a parliament.

Physicist Murray Gell-Mann named the sub-atomic particles known as quarks for a random line in James Joyce, "Three quarks for Muster Mark!"

The phrase "sleep tight" derives from the fact that early mattresses were filled with straw and held up with rope stretched across the bedframe. A tight sleep was a comfortable sleep.

"Three dog night" (attributed to Australian Aborigines) came about because on especially cold nights these nomadic people needed three dogs (dingos, actually) to keep from freezing.

Gilligan of Gilligan’s Island had a first name that was only used once, on the never-aired pilot show. His first name was Willy. The skipper’s real name on Gilligan’s Island is Jonas Grumby. It was mentioned once in the first episode on their radio’s newscast about the wreck.

In England, the Speaker of the House is not allowed to speak.

Playing cards were issued to British pilots in WWII. If captured, they could be soaked in water and unfolded to reveal a map for escape.

Ivory bar soap floating was a mistake. They had been overmixing the soap formula causing excess air bubbles that made it float. Customers wrote and told how much they loved that it floated, and it has floated ever since.

Studies show that if a cat falls off the seventh floor of a building it has about thirty percent less chance of surviving than a cat that falls off the twentieth floor. It supposedly takes about eight floors for the cat to realize what is occurring, relax and correct itself.

The saying "it’s so cold out there it could freeze the balls off a brass monkey" came from when they had old cannons like ones used in the Civil War. The cannonballs were stacked in a pyramid formation, called a brass monkey. When it got extremely cold outside they would crack and break away from the stack… Thus the saying.

Your stomach has to produce a new layer of mucus every two weeks; otherwise it will digest itself.

The Sanskrit word for "war" means "desire for more cows."

THIS isn’t a real job?

January 23, 1998

They’re back. One side of the building I work in looked slightly paler in full sunlight than the other, so the construction workers are back to tear out a few walls. The other day, walking by them, one happened to say to me, "Hey, why don’t you get a real job?" It really made me think. Maybe I SHOULD go out and get a real job. Something in construction. Yeah. I’ve been using my brain too much lately. It’s about time I get a job in which I can be paid twenty bucks an hour to eat doughnuts, drink coffee, and expose almost half of my backside. But I have nobler reasons for considering this occupational change. Hooting at any woman who happens to walk by seems to have gone out of style at construction sites, but there’s still room for improvement. While a question like, "Did you guys see that opera on the arts channel last night?" might at first lead to a comparison of beer guts to see which one of us looks most like Pavarotti from the neck down, it might lead to a thoughtful discussion of Wagner’s dark view of the human condition and his disagreement with Nietzsche. Sure. Who knows? Maybe I could convince them to temper the normal job site joie de vivre with a little after-doughnut meditation time and poetry reading. Sure. Look for next week’s Freethinker edition: my inside guide to a hospital emergency room. In the meantime, enjoy these offerings.

English Lessons

Written by Richard Lederer
Read the entire essay on Richard’s Verbivore Page

Let’s face it-English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat.

We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices?

Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend, that you comb through annals of history but not a single annal? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? If you wrote a letter, perhaps you bote your tongue?

Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell? Park on driveways and drive on parkways?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? How can overlook and oversee be opposites, while quite a lot and quite a few are alike? How can the weather be hot as hell one day and cold as hell another?

Have you noticed that we talk about certain things only when they are absent? Have you ever seen a horseful carriage or a strapful gown? Met a sung hero or experienced requited love? Have you ever run into someone who was combobulated, gruntled, ruly or peccable? And where are all those people who ARE spring chickens or who would ACTUALLY hurt a fly?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race (which, of course, isn’t a race at all). That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible. And why, when I wind up my watch, I start it, but when I wind up this essay, I end it.


One day, a married couple bore twin sons. They couldn’t afford to keep them, however, so they put them up for adoption. One of the boys went to a Spanish family and was named Juan. The other son went to an Egyptian family and was named Amal.

Some years later, Juan became curious about his real parents. After researching and finally locating them, he sent them a nice letter and a picture of himself. Upon receiving the picture, the original mother said, "I’m so glad that he’s happy. And what a wonderful picture. I wish we had a picture of Amal. I wonder what he looks like."

And her husband turned to her and said, "I wouldn’t worry about it. When you’ve seen Juan, you’ve seen Amal."

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

January 16, 1998

In most parts of the world, snow is a natural phenomenon that is enjoyed and treated with respect. However, here in The South (that is, the southeastern U.S., not to be confused with the southwestern U.S., southern Europe, southern Asia, or, for that matter, the entire southern hemisphere) snow is a paralyzing, dangerous event. It results in people driving even more like idiots than they usually do, careening around on ice-covered residential roads at highway speeds so, no matter how much food they already have at home, they can go to their local grocery and stock up on bread, milk, eggs, and toilet paper. In recent years, though, a steady inward flow of Northerners has offset these cultural practices. In order to preserve our proud Southern heritage, the local legislature has written the following Snow Reaction Plan:

1 inch or less: Wild, disorganized rioting in groceries begins. Children are automatically released from school because snow’s myserious beguiling properties will keep them from learning anything as long as it’s coming down.

1-3 inches: Grocery stores set up special barricades to prevent looting. Checkout-people are issued handguns. This is the only time that the "ten items or less" rule in the Express Lane is enforced.

3-6 inches: Cars entering the state are stopped. Any with license plates farther north than Kentucky are refused entrance for fear that drivers with experience driving in snow will interfere with locals intent on causing as many wrecks as possible. Children who have been given sleds by Yankee relatives test their reaction time by careening around assorted wreckage and gasoline fires.

6-9 inches: Salt trucks are fired up and used by public officials as escape vehicles. As snow levels reach the upper limit, the emergency broadcast system is used to inform people that "all hell is about to break loose."

Over 9 inches: The mayor will declare martial law from his hotel room in Florida.

In the words of the Southern Roman scholar Cletus, "Permittet ningitere!" Enjoy this week’s offerings–especially the first one which was a nice trip down nostalgia lane for me.

This frog was really down on his luck. All he had left in the world was this little ceramic figurine his mother had willed him when she croaked. He decided he’d go to the bank and get a loan so he could improve his lot in life. He wrapped up the figurine and hopped on down to the local bank. When he got to the bank, the bank receptionist directed him to a loan officer by the name of Mr. Paddywack. Mr. Paddywack took one look at the frog and knew his day was ruined. "Ok, he said, what can I do for you?"

"Well, I’d like a small loan," the frog said,"so I can get back on my feet."

"We don’t usually lend money to frogs," Paddywack said."Do you have anything in the way of collateral?"

The frog held up the figurine and said, "Well, I have this."

Paddywack rolled his eyes and said, "I’m going to have to ask my manager."

He went to find the manager, and told him, "You’re not going to believe this. There’s this frog out here, who wants money. He has this figurine for collateral. Have you ever heard of something so dumb?"

The manager scowled at him and said, "For Heaven’s sake, it’s a knicknack, Paddywack, give the frog a loan."

A guy driving a Yugo pulls up at a stoplight next to a Rolls-Royce. The driver of the Yugo rolls down his window and shouts to the driver of the Rolls, "Hey, buddy, that’s a nice car. You got a phone in your Rolls? I’ve got one in my Yugo!"

The driver of the Rolls looks over and says simply, "Yes I have a phone."

The driver of the Yugo says, "Cool! Hey, you got a fridge in there, too? I’ve got a fridge in the back seat of my Yugo!"

The driver of the Rolls, looking annoyed, says, "Yes, I have a refrigerator."

The driver of the Yugo says, "That’s great, man! Hey, you got a TV in there, too? You know, I got a TV in the back seat of my Yugo!"

The driver of the Rolls, looking very annoyed by now, says, "Of course I have a television. A Rolls-Royce is the finest luxury car in the world!"

The driver of the Yugo says, "Very cool car! Hey, you got a bed in there, too? I got a bed in the back of my Yugo!"

Upset that he did not have a bed, the driver of the Rolls-Royce sped away, and went straight to the dealer, where he promptly ordered that a bed be installed in the back of the Rolls.

The next morning, the driver of the Rolls picked up the car, and the bed looked superb, with satin sheets and brass trim. It was clearly a bed fit for a Rolls Royce. So the driver of the Rolls begins searching for the Yugo, and he drove all day. Finally, late at night, he finds the Yugo parked, with all the windows fogged up from the inside. The driver of the Rolls got out and knocked on the Yugo. When there wasn’t any answer, he knocked and knocked, and eventually the owner stuck his head out, soaking wet. "I now have a bed in the back of my Rolls-Royce," the driver of the Rolls stated arrogantly.

The driver of the Yugo looked at him and said, "You got me out of the shower to tell me THAT??"

A small town prosecuting attorney called his first witness to the stand in a trial-a grandmotherly, elderly woman. He approached her and asked, "Mrs. Jones, do you know me?"

She responded, "Why, yes, I do know you Mr. Williams. I’ve known you since you were a young boy. And frankly, you’ve been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife, you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you’re a rising big shot when you haven’t the brains to realize you never will amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Yes, I know you."

The lawyer was stunned. Not knowing what else to do he pointed across the room and asked, "Mrs. Williams, do you know the defense attorney?"

She again replied, "Why, yes I do. I’ve known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster, too. I used to babysit him for his parents. And he, too, has been a real disappointment to me. He’s lazy, bigoted, he has a drinking problem. The man can’t build a normal relationship with anyone and his law practice is one of the shoddiest in the entire state. Yes, I know him."

At this point, the judge rapped the courtroom to silence and called both counselors to the bench. In a very quiet voice, he said with menace, "If either of you asks her if she knows me, you’ll be in jail for contempt within 5 minutes."

Look out, 1998!

January 9, 1998

In the time that that Freethinkers Anonymous has been available to the entire world via the web, I’ve gotten three messages from people who just happened to stumble across it. One of those was a notice of a copyright violation. One was a question about our "organization" from the head of the International Freethinkers Association in South Africa. As for the third and most recent one, the one that greeted me when I turned on my computer for the first time this year, I’d like to share it share it and my response to it with you. But first, let me just say how proud I am of the underwhelming response to my rants and offerings. As a cultural icon, I’m practically nonexistent. No fifteen minutes of fame for me. I’m working toward a much harder goal–fifteen years of obscurity. I’m comfortable and secure with that. There’s an old saying: When fools attack you, you must be doing something right. The rest, despite bad grammar, spelling, and questionable a priori philosophical deductions, speaks for itself.

From: heather rasp
To: Christopher Allen Waldrop

Hello there,old man. I want to say something about the word freethinker.Do you know, you cant be free and thinking at the same time.They are opposite things.It is like saying Chickenbeef (Dont know why this example) Let say you are in Mcdonalds.You are thinking what to eat.Why? You are not free to eat them all, that’s why! I also suspect you a little bit.There is something fishy about the name.Are you atheist? communist? You better tell us that you are a normal usual citizen ,so that I can read your discussions more relaxedly.Sometimes It feels like listening to a lecture from a guy about whether to use ketchup or mustard for hotdog. And one feels like the guy is a vegeterian anyway. Sorry I have to stop because I am going to McDonalds’ now. Hungry a little bit. By


From: Christopher Allen Waldrop
To: heather rasp

Hey there yourself,

Nice to hear from you, and I take it from your message that you’ve been reading my web page (well, actually it’s maintained by someone else, so I guess technically the web page is a joint effort).

Did you know that the Freethinkers were a 19th Century German group founded to promote the ideas of religious freedom and tolerance? Not that I’m trying to sway anyone to any particular religious, philosophical, or economic view. The idea originally was to send funny, weekly messages out to my friends, but in the interest of protecting anyone from ever having to admit that they were actually a friend of mine, I made the list anonymous. And since the members had different religious, philosophical, and economic backgrounds, I wittily referred to them as Freethinkers–not because they were members of a 19th Century German sect, (I don’t think anyone on the list was even born in the 19th Century, and while I wouldn’t exclude Germans, I know of no one in that region of Europe who is receiving these weekly offerings at this time) but because the right to think freely is the beginning of acting freely. I also consider thinking freely to be a basic existential right–one which it is very difficult to impose upon excepting the use of certain chemical substances, hypnosis, and possibly mind control devices which have not yet been invented. To use your own example, we may be limited by what we finally choose to eat at McDonald’s, but we at least do have the right to decide between the Big Mac and the McNuggets; or, for that matter, whether we just want to get a cup of New Coke and pour it into our car’s radiator. And if they took that choice away, (although it would be very poor customer service) there’s almost always a Burger King nearby. Let’s imagine, though, that in some bizarre totalitarian regime we HAD to eat at McDonald’s and a goose-stepping clown came out and told everyone what they HAD to have. It would take some pretty fancy technology to deprive us of our ability to imagine having a Big Mac while eating McGruel (oh, cruel totalitarian regime that would deprive us even of miniscule cheeseburgers!). And if the technology to do so were used by Ronald and Friends, well, it’s highly unlikely that you and I would be having this conversation in the first place.

Thank you for your thoughts, and have a pleasant new year.

Freethinkers–The Final Edition

December 19, 1997

This special second edition for today is being brought to you as the last Freethinkers Anonymous Edition for 1997. And what a wild and weird year it’s been too. I hope you’ve all enjoyed it, and to conclude things, I would like to share with you this final offering that I think sums up 1997 better than anything else.

And have a happy new year, everybody!

The Year’s Best Actual News Headlines

1. Include Your Children when Baking Cookies
2. Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says
3. Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
4. Safety Experts Say School Bus Passengers Should Be Belted
5. Drunk Gets Nine Months in Violin Case
6. Survivor of Siamese Twins Joins Parents
7. Iraqi Head Seeks Arms
8. Prostitutes Appeal to Pope
9. Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over
10. British Left Waffles on Falkland Islands
11. Lung Cancer in Women Mushrooms
12. Eye Drops Off Shelf
13. Teachers Strike Idle Kids
14. Enraged Cow Injures Farmer With Ax
15. Plane Too Close to Ground, Crash Probe Told
16. Miners Refuse to Work after Death
17. Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant
18. Stolen Painting Found by Tree
19. Two Sisters Reunited After 18 Years in Checkout Counter
20. Killer Sentenced to Die for Second Time in 10 Years
21. Never Withhold Herpes Infection from Loved One
22. War Dims Hope for Peace
23. If Strike Isn’t Settled Quickly, It May Last a While
24. Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures
25. Deer Kill 17,000
26. Enfields Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide
27. Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges
28. Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead
29. Man Struck By Lightning Faces Battery Charge
30. New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group
31. Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft
32. Kids Make Nutritious Snacks
33. Chef Throws His Heart into Helping Feed Needy
34. Arson Suspect Held in Massachusetts Fire
35. Ban On Soliciting Dead in Trotwood
36. Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half
37. New Vaccine May Contain Rabies
38. Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…

December 19, 1997

A few years ago Santa won a massive law settlement granting him royalties from the use of his image in the media covering a period of no more than twenty-five years. This was a mere fraction of the total duration of copyright violations according to his lawyer, but the amount was still Santa’s biggest financial gain since he signed a contract with Ebenezer Scrooge to use Christmas to boost sagging holiday profits. Unfortunately, Santa invested most of his new wealth in liposuction, a home in southern California, a fleet of red and green BMWs, and various other expenses which, for legal reasons, I can’t share with you. But by the time he was released from the Betty Ford Clinic, he was nearly destitute, the elves had signed a lucrative contract with a leading toy company, and the reindeer had finally been granted long sought after asylum under the Scandinavian Animal Protection Agency.

Mrs. Claus, whom Santa had divorced to pursue a short-lived fling with a supermodel, is now living on a Greek island and refuses to have anything to do with her former husband. To make it even worse, Santa, under the advice of a therapist, has, well, turned bad. He’s sold most of his North Pole property to oil companies, he’s booked himself in sleazy malls to make a few extra bucks, and, worst of all, he’s using his ability to watch over people when they’re sleeping or awake to provide invaluable demographic information to catalog companies, and, when the price is right, tips to America’s Most Wanted. Maybe that’s why Christmas, the time that is supposed to bring out the best in people, instead brings out their baseball bats. Why people recklessly grab for things that, in their right minds, they wouldn’t give their worst enemies, but now give their dearest friends, parents, or other relatives. Why there are fistfights over parking spaces and cases of pneumonia from people waiting all night outside malls for opening time. So I’ve got an idea for this Christmas: lock your doors, seal your windows, and if you have a fireplace, keep a huge fire going all night long. Santa has given us so many surprises over the years–I think it’s about time we return the favor.


Whereas, on or about the night prior to Christmas, there did
occur at a certain improved piece of real property (hereinafter
"the House") a general lack of stirring by all creatures therein,
including, but not limited to a mouse.

A variety of foot apparel, e.g. stocking, socks, etc., had been
affixed by and around the chimney in said House in the hope
and/or belief that St. Nick a/k/a/ St. Nicholas a/k/a/ Santa
Claus (hereinafter "Claus") would arrive at sometime thereafter.

The minor residents, i.e. the children, of the aforementioned
House were located in their individual beds and were engaged in
nocturnal hallucinations, i.e. dreams, wherein vision of
confectionery treats, including, but not limited to, candies,
nuts and/or sugar plums, did dance, cavort and otherwise appear
in said dreams.

Whereupon the party of the first part (sometimes hereinafter
referred to as "I"), being the joint-owner in fee simple of the
House with the parts of the second part (hereinafter "Mamma"),
and said Mamma had retired for a sustained period of sleep. (At
such time, the parties were clad in various forms of headgear,
e.g. kerchief and cap.)

Suddenly, and without prior notice or warning, there did occur
upon the unimproved real property adjacent and appurtent to said
House, i.e. the lawn, a certain disruption of unknown nature,
cause and/or circumstance. The party of the first part did
immediately rush to a window in the House to investigate the
cause of such disturbance.

At that time, the party of the first part did observe, with some
degree of wonder and/or disbelief, a miniature sleigh
(hereinafter "the Vehicle") being pulled and/or drawn very
rapidly through the air by approximately eight (8) reindeer. The
driver of the Vehicle appeared to be and in fact was, the
previously referenced Claus.

Said Claus was providing specific direction, instruction and
guidance to the approximately eight (8) reindeer and specifically
indentified the animal co-conspirators by name: Dasher, Dancer,
Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen (hereinafter
"the Deer"). (Upon information and belief, it is further
asserted that an additional co-conspirator named "Rudolph" may
have been involved.)

The party of the first part witnessed Claus, the Vehicle and the
Deer intentionally and willfully trespass upon the roofs of
several residences located adjacent to and in the vicinity of the
House, and noted that the Vehicle was heavily laden with
packages, toys and other items of unknown origin or nature.
Suddenly, without prior invitation or permission, either express
or implied, the Vehicle arrived at the House, and Claus entered
said House via the chimney.

Said Claus was clad in a red fur suit, which was partially
covered with residue from the chimney, and he carried a large
sack containing a portion of the aforementioned packages, toys,
and other unknown items. He was smoking what appeared to be
tobacco in a small pipe in blatant violation of local ordinances
and health regulations.

Claus did not speak, but immediately began to fill the stocking
of the minor children, which hung adjacent to the chimney, with
toys and other small gifts. (Said items did not, however,
constitute "gifts" to said minor pursuant to the applicable
provisions of the U.S. Tax Code.)

Upon completion of such task, Claus touched the side of his nose
and flew, rose and/or ascended up the chimney of the House to the
roof where the Vehicle and Deer waited and/or served as
"lookouts." Claus immediately departed for an unknown

However, prior to the departure of the Vehicle, Deer and Claus
from said House, the party of the first part did hear Claus state
and/or exclaim: "Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!"
Or words to that effect.

Respectfully Submitted,
s./ The Grinch


‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the casa,
Not a creature ws stirring — Caramba! Que pasa?
Los ninos were tucked away in their camas,
Some in long underwear, some in pijamas,
While hanging the stockings with mucho cuidado
In hopes that old Santa would feel obligado
To bring all children, both buenos and malos,
A nice batch of dulces and other regalos.
Outside in the yard there arose such a grito
That I jumped to my feet like a fightened cabrito.
I ran to the window and looked out afuera,
And who in the world do you think that it era?
Saint Nick in a sleigh and a big red sombrero
Came dashing along like a crazy bombero.
And pulling his sleigh instead of venados
Were eight little burros approaching volados.

I watched as they came and this quaint little hombre
Was shouting and whistling and calling by nombre:
"Ay Pancho, ay Pepe, ay Cuco, ay Beto,
Ay Chato, ay Chopo, Macuco, y Nieto!"
Then standing erect with his hands on his pecho
He flew to the top of our very own techo.
With his round little belly like a bowl of jalea,
He struggled to squeeze down our old chiminea,
Then huffing and puffing at last in our sala,
With soot smeared all over his red suit de gala,
He filled all the stockings with lovely regalos —
For none of the ninos had been very malos.
Then chuckling aloud, seeming very contento,
He turned like a flash and was gone like the viento.
And I heard him exclaim, and this is verdad,
Merry Christmas to all, and Feliz Navidad!


December 14, 1972
My dearest darling John:
Who ever in the whole world would dream of getting a real Partridge in Pear Tree? How can I ever express my pleasure. Thank you a hundred times for thinking of me this way.
My love always,
December 15, 1972
Dearest John:
Today the postman brought your very sweet gift. Just imagine two turtle doves. I’m just delighted at your very thoughtful gift. They are just adorable.
All my love,
December 16, 1972
Dear John:
Oh! Aren’t you the extravagant one. Now I must protest. I don’t deserve such generosity, three French hens. They are just darling but I must insist, you’ve been too kind.
All my love,
December 17, 1972
Dear John:
Today the postman delivered four calling birds. Now really, they are beautiful, but don’t you think enough is enough. You are being too romantic.
December 18, 1972
Dearest John:
What a surprise. Today the postman delivered five golden rings, one for every finger. You’re just impossible, but I love it. Frankly, all those birds squawking were beginning to get on my nerves.
All my love,
December 19, 1972
Dear John:
When I opened the door today there were actually six geese laying on my front steps. So you’re back to the birds again huh? These geese are huge. Where will I ever keep them? The neighbors are complaining and I can’t sleep through the racket. Please stop.
December 20, 1972
What’s with you and those freaking birds?? Seven swans a swimming. What kind of damn joke is this? There’s bird poop all over the house and they never stop the racket. I can’t sleep at night and I’m a nervous wreck. It’s not funny. So stop those freaking birds.
December 21, 1972
O.K. Buster:
I think I prefer the birds. What the hell am I going to do with 8 maids a milking? It’s not enough with all those birds and 8 maids a milking, but they had to bring their damn cows. There is manure all over the lawn and I can’t move in my own house. Just lay off me, smartass.
December 22, 1972
Hey Shithead:
What are you…..some kind of sadist? Now there’s nine pipers playing. And Christ do they play. They’ve never stopped chasing those maids since they got here yesterday morning. The cows are getting upset and they’re stepping all over those screeching birds. What am I going to do? The neighbors have started a petition to evict me.
You’ll get yours !
December 23, 1972
You rotten prick:
Now there’s ten ladies dancing. I don’t know why I call those sluts ladies. They’ve been balling those pipers all night long. Now the cows can’t sleep and they’ve got diarrhea. My living room is a river of shit. The Commissioner of Buildings has subpoenaed me to give cause why the building shouldn’t be condemned. I’m calling the police on you !
December 24, 1972
Listen Fuckhead:
What’s with those eleven lords a leaping on those maid and ladies? Some of those broads will never walk again. Those pipers ran through the maids and have been committing sodomy with the cows. All twenty-three of the birds are dead. They’ve been trampled to death in the orgy. I hope you’re satisfied, you rotten vicious swine.
Your sworn enemy,
December 25, 1972
Dear Sir:
This is to acknowledge your latest gift of twelve fiddlers fiddling which you have seen fit to inflict on our client, Miss Agnes McHolstein. The destruction, of course, was total. All correspondence should come to our attention. If you should attempt to reach Miss McHolstein at Happy Dale Sanitarium, the attendants have been instructed to shoot you on sight. With this letter please find attached a warrant for your arrest.
Law Offices of
Badger, Bender and Chole

Eat lead, Comrade!

December 5, 1997

I recently discovered a way that pinball could bring about world peace. I usually only play pinball on days when I’m stressed (and when I happen to have a spare quarter or two). The other day, I tried out a new machine that had apparently been installed over the break. This game was designed to cause more stress than it could possibly relieve. The designers are headed for a lawsuit if they don’t put a sign over this machine that says, "If you are a Vietnam veteran, or suffer from any form of post-traumatic stress disorder, you may not play this game." The rocket-launch sound effects, the explosions, the electronic version of "Flying High", were enough to give anyone shell shock even without The Voice. Most pinball games have voices–they say taunting things like, "You missed!" and "Play again!" This one said, "Eat lead, Comrade!" and "Now you d-d-d-die!!!" Amazingly, though, I came away from it feeling peaceful and relaxed. During the American Civil War, an anonymous gentleman said, "If we were civilized, we’d settle this dispute with a good game of poker." But poker takes too long to learn, and it’s too easy to cheat. Pinball, on the other hand, is something the U.N. should really look into. Enjoy these holiday offerings.

Story of the Christmas Angel

Not long ago and not far away Santa was getting ready for his annual trip…but there were problems every where… four of the elves got sick, and the trainee elves did not produce the toys as fast as the regular ones so Santa was beginning to feel the pressure of being behind schedule….then Mrs. Claus told Santa that her mom was coming to visit…this stressed Santa even more…when he went to harness the reindeer he found that three of them were about to give birth and two had jumped the fence and were out heaven knows where…more stress.

And then, when he began to load the sleigh one of the boards on the sleigh cracked and the toy bag fell to the ground and scattered all the toys…so, frustrated Santa went into the house for a cup of coffee and a shot of whiskey…but he found that the elves had hit the liquor cupboard and there was nothing there to drink…and in his frustration he dropped the coffee pot and it broke into hundreds of little pieces all over the kitchen floor… he went to get the broom and found that mice had eaten the straw it was made from.

Just then the doorbell rang and Santa cussed on his way to the door…he opened the door and there was a little angel with a great big Christmas tree. And the angel said: "Santa, where would you like me to put this Christmas tree??"

And that, my friend, is how the little angel came to be on top of the Christmas tree.

Martha Stewart’s Holiday Calendar

And You thought you were Ready for the Holiday’s?

December 1
Blanch carcass from Thanksgiving turkey. Spray paint gold, turn upside down and use as a sleigh to hold Christmas Cards.

December 2
Have Mormon Tabernacle Choir record outgoing Christmas message for answering machine.

December 3
Using candlewick and hand gilded miniature pine cones, fashion cat-o-nine-tails. Flog Gardener.

December 4
Repaint Sistine Chapel ceiling in ecru, with mocha trim.

December 5
Get new eyeglasses. Grind lenses myself.

December 6
Fax family Christmas newsletter to Pulitzer committee for consideration.

December 7
Debug Windows ’95

December 10
Align carpets to adjust for curvature of Earth.

December 11
Lay Faberge egg.

December 12
Take Dog apart. Disinfect. Reassemble.

December 13
Collect Dentures. They make excellent pastry cutters, particularly for decorative pie crusts.

December 14
Install plumbing in gingerbread house.

December 15
Replace air in mini-van tires with Glade "holiday scents" in case tires are shot out at mall.

December 17
Child proof the Christmas tree with garland of razor wire.

December 19
Adjust legs of chairs so each Christmas dinner guest will be same height when sitting at his or her assigned seat.

December 20
Dip sheep and cows in egg whites and roll in confectioner’s sugar to add a festive sparkle to the pasture.

December 21
Drain city reservoir; refill with mulled cider, orange slices and cinnamon sticks.

December 22
Float votive candles in toilet tank.

December 23
Seed clouds for white Christmas.

December 24
Do my annual good deed. Go to several stores. Be seen engaged in last minute Christmas shopping, thus making many people feel less inadequate than they really are.

December 25
Bear son. Swaddle. Lay in color coordinated manger scented with homemade potpourri.

December 26
Organize spice racks by genus and phylum.

December 27
Build snowman in exact likeness of God.

December 31
New Year’s Eve! Give staff their resolutions. Call a friend in each time zone of the world as the clock strikes midnight in that country.

I’m ALWAYS thankful for a holiday.

, 1997

Folks, tomorrow is the American Thanksgiving, which means I won’t be here Friday. In fact, most of you, with a few exceptions, won’t be here Friday–wherever here happens to be. There are, however, those Canadians out there who celebrated their Thanksgiving back in October. When I think about it, having it that early in the winter makes a lot more sense–especially down here where the October weather is still nice enough that no one would have an excuse for not getting out and exercising off a few of those holiday pounds. Hmm, maybe that’s why we have it so late. Or maybe the real reason our Thanksgiving comes a little less than a month before Christmas is so we can get that extra boost of energy for holiday shopping. With the cookies, cakes, fudge, and other healthy foods going around as Christmas approaches, though, that seems like a really lame excuse. Maybe the real reason is because America’s real motto is the same as my own: Everything in excess is bad for you, and that includes moderation. Enjoy the following excessive offerings, and Happy Thanksgiving no matter when you celebrate it.

How to Prepare a Thanksgiving Turkey

Step 1: Go buy a turkey
Step 2: Take a drink of whiskey (scotch) OR JD
Step 3: Put turkey in the oven
Step 4: Take another 2 drinks of whiskey
Step 5: Set the degree at 375 ovens
Step 6: Take 3 more whiskeys of drink
Step 7: Turn oven the on
Step 8: Take 4 whisks of drinky
Step 9: Turk the bastey
Step 10: Whiskey another bottle of get
Step 11: Stick a turkey in the thermometer
Step 12: Glass yourself a pour of whiskey
Step 13: Bake the whiskey for 4 hours
Step 14: Take the oven out of the turkey
Step 15: Take the oven out of the turkey
Step 16: Floor the turkey up off of the pick
Step 17: Turk the carvey
Step 18: Get yourself another scottle of botch
Step 19: Tet the sable and pour yourself a glass of turkey
Step 20: Bless the saying, pass and eat out

Have a GREAT Thanksgiving everyone.

I went to McDonald’s yesterday and said, "I’d like some fries." The kid at the counter said, "Would you like some fries with that?" – Jay Leno

The second day of a diet is always easier than the first. By the second day you’re off it. – Jackie Gleason

Never raise your hands to your kids. It leaves your groin unprotected. – Red Buttons

Advertising: The science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it. – Stephen Leacock

Did you ever notice when you blow in a dog’s face he gets mad at you? but when you take him in a car, he sticks his head out the window. – Steve Bluestone

Have you ever noticed? Anybody going slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac. – George Carlin

I would live to speak a foreign language but I can’t. So I grew hair under my arms instead. – Sue Kolinsky

You have a cough? Go home tonight, eat a whole box of Ex-Lax, tomorrow you’ll be afraid to cough. – Pearl Williams

I’m desparately trying to figure out why kamikaze pilots wore helmets. – Dave Edison

Never moon a werewolf. – Mike Binder

A group of chess enthusiasts had checked into a hotel, and were standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an hour, the manager came out of the office and asked them to disperse. "But why?", they asked, as they moved off. "Because," he said, "I can’t stand chess nuts boasting in an open foyer."

A doctor made it his regular habit to stop off at a bar for a hazelnut daiquiri on his way home. The bartender knew of his habit, and would always have the drink waiting at precisely 5:03 p.m. One afternoon, as the end of the work day approached, the bartender was dismayed to find that he was out of hazlenut extract. Thinking quickly, he threw together a daiquiri made with hickory nuts and set it on the bar. The doctor came in at his regular time, took one sip of the drink and exclaimed, "This isn’t a hazelnut daiquiri!" "No, I’m sorry", replied the bartender, "it’s a hickory daiquiri, doc."

A hungry African lion was roaming through the jungle looking for something to eat. He came across two men. One was sitting under a tree and reading a book; the other was typing away on his typewriter. The lion quickly pounced on the man reading the book and devoured him. Even the king of the jungle knows that readers digest and writers cramp.

There was a man who entered a local paper’s pun contest. He sent in ten different puns, in the hope that at least one of the puns would win. Unfortunately, no pun in ten did.

A guy goes to a psychiatrist. "Doc, I keep having these alternating recurring dreams. First I’m a teepee; then I’m a wigwam; then I’m a teepee; then I’m a wigwam. It’s driving me crazy. What’s wrong with me?" The doctor replies: "It’s very simple. You’re two tents."

A man goes to his dentist because he feels something wrong in his mouth. The dentist examines him and says, "that new upper plate I put in for you six months ago is eroding. What have you been eating?" The man replies, "all I can think of is that about four months ago my wife made some asparagus and put some stuff on it that was delicious…Hollandaise sauce. I loved it so much I now put it on everything — meat, toast, fish, vegtables, everything." " Well," says the dentist, "that’s probably the problem. Hollandaise sauce is made with lots of lemon juice, which is highly corrosive. It’s eaten away your upper plate. I’ll make you a new plate, and this time use chrome." "Why chrome?" asks the patient. To which the dentist replies, "It’s simple. Everyone knows that there’s no plate like chrome for the Hollandaise!"

You call this a benefits package?

November 21, 1997

A lot of people say they’d like to be eighteen again. I used to think what they meant was that they wanted an eighteen-year old body and a forty-year old brain, bank account, career, etc. This is because, in my foolish youth, I thought that, whatever the responsibilities, worries, problems adults had to cope with, there were compensations. Now I’m a little older and a little wiser. Admittedly, life was rough as a teenager, but what I didn’t know at the time was that the problems wouldn’t go away, or even just be replaced by others. They’d mutate, and then other problems would be added on. Worries about pimples would become worries about thinning hair. Worries about money would…well, I should have seen that money wasn’t going to get any simpler than it was in those days. And school–the bane of teenage existence–was wonderful compared to work. At school, you were fed, you got free medical care, there were art classes, free time, and if you were like me, you got all the sleep you had missed the night before. There’s not an employer on the planet who offers a benefits package even close to that. Let’s face it: if anybody has compensations, it’s teenagers. Now I know that when adults used to say, "Life isn’t fair" to me, they weren’t doing it to be cruel. They were doing it because, as a teenager, I was a living example of how unfair life really is. Enjoy this week’s offerings that, hopefully, you’re old enough to understand.


I teach fourth grade at Westlake Elementary School in Ventura County, California. As a fun assignment, I gave the students the beginning of a list of famous sayings and asked them to provide original endings for each one. Here are some examples of what my students submitted.

The grass is always greener when you leave the sprinkler on.
A rolling stone plays the guitar.
The grass is always greener when you remember to water it.
A bird in the hand is a real mess.
No news is no newspaper.
It’s better to light one candle than to waste electricity.
It’s always darkest just before I open my eyes.
You have nothing to fear but homework.
If you can’t stand the heat, don’t start the fireplace.
If you can’t stand the heat, go swimming.
Never put off ’til tomorrow what you should have done yesterday.
A penny saved is nothing in the real world.
The squeaking wheel gets annoying.
We have nothing to fear but our principal.
To err is human. To eat a muskrat is not.
I think, therefore I get a headache.
Laugh and the world laughs with you. Cry, and someone yells, "Shut up!"
Better to light a candle than to light an explosive.
It’s always darkest before 9:30 p.m.
Early to bed and early to rise is first in the bathroom.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a blister.
There is nothing new under the bed.
The grass is always greener when you put manure on it.
Don’t count your chickens — it takes too long.

10 words that don’t exist, but should

  1. AQUADEXTROUS (ak wa deks’ trus) adj. Possessing the ability to turn the bathtub faucet on and off with your toes.

  2. CARPERPETUATION (kar’ pur pet u a shun) n. The act, when vacuuming, of running over a string or a piece of lint at least a dozen times, reaching over and picking it up, examining it, then putting it back down to give the vacuum one more chance.

  3. DISCONFECT (dis kon fekt’) v. To sterilize the piece of candy you dropped on the floor by blowing on it, assuming this will somehow `remove’ all the germs.

  4. ELBONICS (el bon’ iks) n. The actions of two people maneuvering for one armrest in a movie theater.

  5. FRUST (frust) n. The small line of debris that refuses to be swept onto the dust pan and keeps backing a person across the room until he finally decides to give up and sweep it under the rug.

  6. LACTOMANGULATION (lak’ to man gyu lay’ shun) n. Manhandling the "open here" spout on a milk container so badly that one has to resort to the `illegal’ side.

  7. PEPPIER (pehp ee ay’) n. The waiter at a fancy restaurant whose sole purpose seems to be walking around asking diners if they want ground pepper.

  8. PHONESIA (fo nee’ zhuh) n. The affliction of dialing a phone number and forgetting whom you were calling just as they answer.

  9. PUPKUS (pup’ kus) n. The moist residue left on a window after a dog presses its nose to it.

  10. TELECRASTINATION (tel e kras tin ay’ shun) n. The act of always letting the phone ring at least twice before you pick it up, even when you’re only six inches away.

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