Author Archive: Christopher Waldrop

Mouths wide shut

July 23, 1999

A while back I suggested that the word "totally" be dropped from the English language because of overuse. Now there’s something else I think should be dropped because of overuse. I can’t say it should be dropped from English because it’s not English. In fact, it’s not even a word. What I’m referring to is the grunt. At one time I thought the grunt was only used by teenagers and most people who work in the fast food industry. You’ve probably had the experience of placing an order in a fast food place, no pickles please, or asked the kid stocking the shelves in the grocery store where to find something, and gotten "Unrgh" (the closest approximation in written form) as an answer. Recently, though, I’ve realized that the grunt crosses all boundaries, including gender, age, and apparent economic standing. I’ve gotten into elevators with men in three-piece suits. When I say something like, "Would you please press the button for the seventh floor?" they reply with, "Grulgph." Translated, this apparently means, "Yes, certainly, I’ll be happy to, since I’m a complete jackass who insists on blocking anyone else from reaching the button panel." I’m not sure what the full implications of widespread grunting are, but I’ve narrowed it down to two possibilities: the first is that human speech is making a remarkable leap forward, and that the almost imperceptible differences between one grunt and another carry levels of meaning which I’m not advanced enough to comprehend. The other possibility is that evolution has suddenly thrown itself into reverse. Of course it’s probably neither. Documented cases of teenagers being unable to communicate with anyone older than they are date back to the Roman Empire. Since fast food restaurants and grocery stores are mostly staffed by teenagers, that explains most of the grunting there. As for the men in the three-piece suits, I can only speculate that they’re part of the upper-level management in some large corporation, which means that they are evolutionary throwbacks. But, hey, somebody had to fill the position of Assistant Vice President of Post-Operative Customer Shipping Documentation. I know it sounds unlikely, but it would explain the pickles I found stuffed in my paycheck.

Enjoy this week’s articulate offerings.

You know you work in Corporate America if…

You sat at the same desk for 4 years and worked for five different companies

Your company welcome sign is attached with Velcro

Your resume is on a diskette in your pocket

Your company logo on your badge is applied with stick-um

You order your business cards in "half orders" instead of whole boxes

When someone asks about what you do for a living, you lie

You get really excited about a 2% pay raise

You learn about your layoff on CNN

Your biggest loss from a system crash is that you lose your best jokes

You sit in a cubicle smaller than your bedroom closet

Salaries of the members on the Executive Board are higher than all the Third World countries’ annual budgets combined

You think lunch is just a meeting to which you drive

It’s dark when you drive to and from work

Fun is when issues are assigned to someone else

Communication is something your group is having problems with

You see a good looking person and know it is a visitor

Free food left over from meetings is your main staple

Weekends are those days your significant other makes you stay home

Being sick is defined as can’t walk or you’re in the hospital

Art involves a white board

You’re already late on the assignment you just got

When 100% of your time means 20 hours, with 40 more hours on the other 100% of your time.

You work 200 hours for the $100 bonus check and jubilantly say "Oh wow, thanks!"

Dilbert cartoons hang outside every cube and are read by your co-workers only

Your boss’ favorite lines are "when you get a few minutes" or "when you’re freed up"

Your boss’ second favorite lines are "This isn’t exactly what we need. It may be what we asked for, but things have changed."

Vacation is something you roll over to next year, or you try to use up three weeks between Christmas and New Years because otherwise you will lose it, or you get a check for it every January

Your relatives and family describe your job as "works with computers"

Change is the norm

Nepotism is encouraged

The only reason you recognize your kids and friends is because their pictures are hanging in your cube

Down With Dumbells

July 16, 1999

Recently some football players at a prominent university obtained handicap parking placards in order to avoid paying the university’s $132 annual parking fee, and presumably to avoid the campus parking problems, some of which are caused by people who don’t even go to the trouble of passing themselves off as handicapped but park in reserved spaces anyway. What they did was unquestionably wrong, and I hope they’re all made to at least pay the $1000 fine. What worries me, though, is that some people are using this incident to claim that academics and sports are incompatible. I’ve never been much of an athlete, but I don’t think academics and sports are incompatible. I believe they’ve been made incompatible, because sports once might have been used to help universities raise money to pay for academic programs, but now it’s blatantly acknowledged that all they do is raise money to pay for better sports equipment, scholarships for illiterates, and bigger stadiums.

Okay, I’m exaggerating, but only slightly. In both early Eastern and Western philosophies of learning, there was a belief that keeping the body in shape was as important as keeping the brain in shape, and it’s not a bad idea. What we need is a new way of bringing athletics and academics together. Think of it this way: the teams represent opposing ideas, and the game is nothing more than a debate. Some ideas have their off-years, aren’t pursued as diligently by scholars, and don’t receive the same amount of funding as others. Ideas that are defeated in debate aren’t completely eliminated. Their supporters just go home a little more quietly and think up new strategies. I’m not suggesting professors give grades based on the results of last night’s basketball game, but building a discussion on the success or failure of the team by relating it to, say, Hamlet’s murder of Polonius, would remind the athletes why they’re really in school, and would make the more scholarly types pay a little more attention to the games.

Here’s an idea: divide the football team equally, and assign each side a position on whether it’s right or not to feign a handicap in order to get special benefits. Players should stick to their side regardless of what they believe because firm principles are sometimes based on an understanding of the contrary position. All money raised by this special game will fund the renovation of the ethics department.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

Advice Column On Pregnancy

Q. Am I more likely to get pregnant if my husband wears boxers rather than briefs?
A. Yes, but you’ll have an even better chance if he doesn’t wear anything at all.

Q. What is the easiest way to figure out exactly when I got pregnant?
A. Have sex once a year.

Q. What is the most common pregnancy craving?
A. For men to be the ones who get pregnant.

Q. My blood type is O-positive and my husband’s is A-negative. What if my baby is born, say, type AB-positive?
A. Then the jig is up.

Q. My husband and I are very attractive. I’m sure our baby will be beautiful enough for commercials. Whom should I contact about this?
A. Your therapist.

Q. I’m two months pregnant now. When will my baby move?
A. With any luck, right after he finishes college.

Q. How will I know if my vomiting is morning sickness or the flu?
A. If it’s the flu, you’ll get better.

Q. My brother tells me that since my husband has a big nose, and genes for big noses are dominant, my baby will have a big nose as well. Is this true?
A. The odds are greater that your brother will have a fat lip.

Q. Since I became pregnant, My breasts, rear end, and even my feet have grown. Is there anything that gets smaller during pregnancy?
A. Yes, your bladder.

Q. Ever since I’ve been pregnant, I haven’t been able to go to bed at night without onion rings. Is this a normal craving?
A. Depends on what you’re doing with them.

Q. The more pregnant I get, the more often strangers smile at me. Why?
A. Cause you’re fatter then they are.

Q. My wife is five months pregnant and so moody that sometimes she’s borderline irrational.
A. So what’s your question, dipshit?

Q. Will I love my dog less when the baby is born?
A. No, but your husband might get on your nerves.

Q. Under what circumstances can sex at the end of pregnancy bring on labor?
A. When the sex is between your husband and another woman.

Q. What’s the difference between a nine-months pregnant woman and a Playboy centerfold?
A. Nothing, if the pregnant woman’s husband knows what’s good for him.

Q. My childbirth instructor says it’s not pain I’ll feel during labor, but pressure. Is she right?
A. Yes, in the same way that a tornado might be called an air current.

Q. When is the best time to get an epidural?
A. Right after you find out you’re pregnant.

Q. Is there any reason I have to be in the delivery room while my wife is in labor?
A. Not unless the word "alimony" means anything to you.

Q. I’m modest. Once I’m in the hospital to deliver, who will see me in that delicate position?
A. Authorized personnel only — doctors, nurses, oderlies, photographers, florists, cleaning crews, journalists, etc.

Q. Does labor cause hemorrhoids?
A. Labor causes anything you want to blame it for.

Q. Where is the best place to store breast milk?
A. In your breasts.

Q. Is there a safe alternative to breast pumps?
A. Yes, baby lips.

Q. What does it mean when a baby is born with teeth?
A. It means that the baby’s mother may want to rethink her plans to nurse.

Q. How does one sanitize nipples?
A. Bathe daily and wear a clean bra. It beats boiling them in a saucepan.

Q. What are the terrible twos?
A. Your breasts after baby stops nursing cold turkey.

Q. What is the best time to wean the baby from nursing?
A. When you see teeth marks.

Q. What is the grasp reflex?
A. The reaction of new fathers when they see a new mother’s breasts.

Q. Can a mother get pregnant while nursing?
A. Yes, but it’s much easier if she removes the baby from her breast and puts him to sleep first.

Q. What happens to disposable diapers after they’re thrown away?
A. They are stored in a silo in the Midwest, in the event of global chemical warfare.

Q. Do I have to have a baby shower?
A. Not if you change the baby’s diaper very quickly.

Q. What causes baby blues?
A. Tanned, hard-bodied bimbos.

Q. What is colic?
A. A reminder for new parents to use birth control.

Q. What are night terrors?
A. Frightening episodes in which the new mother dreams she’s pregnant again.

Q. Our baby was born last week. When will my wife begin to feel and act normal again?
A. When the kids are in college.

I Wish I Could Become Comfortably Numb

July 9, 1999

Dentists make your next appointment six months in advance. They have six months to prepare for your arrival. Six months! People take less time to prepare for missions to the moon. Yet, whenever I go to the dentist, I have to sit in the waiting room for half an hour because, according to the receptionist, the dentist isn’t ready to see me yet. Of course I finally figured out that this isn’t true, that really the dentist has been ready for hours and that he’s sitting behind the door giggling while I, in mortal terror of having my gums scraped, my teeth gouged, and my chest crushed by his knee so he can have adequate traction for these delicate operations, quietly sweat and try to thumb through the news magazine on the waiting room table. And it’s always the same news magazine, the one with the cover story "Is Your Dentist Evil? What You Should Know Before You Even Set Foot In The Waiting Room."

The sad thing is that going to the dentist used to be a fun experience. When I was a kid, it meant I got out of school for most of the day. (Now I have to go after work.) If I behaved, I’d get a lollipop, which made me happy in the short term and the dentist happy in the long term. Finally, on those rare occasions when I had to have serious surgery, there were good drugs. I have no memory of having three teeth pulled when I was eight. As far as I remember, I spent the whole time sliding down a marble staircase past ballerinas and a talking parrot. Now it’s different. I get a toothbrush. I get lectured on the importance of flossing. And when major work needs to be done, the dentist pulls out a pencil-sized needle and waves it in my face while he ghoulishly explains that it will "deaden the pain." Recently I had to have some cavities drilled and filled, and I was given the option of being gassed up before the procedure. Remembering my blissful hallucinations of two decades ago, I jumped at the chance. Well, I didn’t really jump, I just continued straining at the leather straps being used to hold me down.

But they use new drugs these days, and it’s like comparing lollipops and toothbrushes. I felt slightly disconnected, and the holes in the ceiling vibrated with the buzzing air conditioner. Honestly, if dentists keep on like this, they’re going to put themselves out of business.

Enjoy this week’s fillings.

You’ve all heard of the Air Force’s ultra-high-security, super-secret base in Nevada, known simply as "Area 51?"

Well, late one afternoon, the Air Force folks out at Area 51 were very surprised to see a Cessna 152 landing at their "secret" base. They immediately impounded the aircraft and hauled the pilot into an interrogation room.

The pilot’s story was that he took off from Vegas, got lost, and spotted the Base just as he was about to run out of fuel. The Air Force started a full FBI background check on the pilot and held him overnight during the investigation. By the next day, they were finally convinced that the pilot really was lost and wasn’t a spy. They gassed up his airplane, gave him a terrifying "you-did-not-see-a-base" briefing, complete with threats of spending the rest of his life in prison, told him Vegas was that-a-way on such-and-such a heading, and sent him on his way.

The next day, to the total disbelief of the Air Force, the same Cessna showed up again. Once again, the MP’s surrounded the plane. . .only this time there were two people in the plane.

The same pilot jumped out and said, "Do anything you want to me, but my wife is in the plane and you have to tell her where I was last night."

A Texan, a Californian, and an Oregonian go into a bar and each orders a full bottle of his favorite drink. The Texan takes a swig from a bottle of Tequila, throws the almost full bottle into the air, pulls out a .45 and shoots it. He says, "Where I’m from we have lots of Tequilla." The Californian takes a sip from a bottle of wine, throws the bottle into the air, pulls out a little silver ‘Saturday night special’, and shoots it. He says, "Where I’m from we have an abundance of wine." The Oregonian takes a drink from his bottle of beer, throws the bottle in the air, pulls out a Ruger Blackhawk, shoots the Californian, and catches the bottle. He says, "Where I’m from we have too many Californians, but I want to recycle this bottle."

I Love The Smell of Gunpowder In The Morning

July 2, 1999

Unlike Cinco de Mayo, St. Patrick’s Day, or Christmas, the 4th of July doesn’t seem to have spread beyond the United States. Maybe that’s because it’s the symbolic celebration of the day when a group of drunken colonists in what would become the United States decided to take a collective whiz on the King of England. Being Eighteenth Century men, they of course did it with fancy speeches and calligraphy. In the more enlightened Twentieth Century, we celebrate the event by blowing things up. This may not seem like the enlightened thing to do, but consider history: In the Eighteenth Century there were lots of things to shoot. There were abundant small mammals. There were pesky native peoples who, for some reason, thought they had a claim to the area.

Later on, with the native people in increasingly short supply, there were British soldiers, which added the thrill of a target that could shoot back. The advance of history, however, has seen the decline of legitimate targets. This isn’t a bad thing in itself, but history and psychology have both shown that we’re happier and less likely to shoot or blow up the wrong things if we have some way to express our primitive instincts. And if we can combine that expression with a spectacular light show, that’s an added bonus.

Here’s what I suggest: from now on the Fourth of July will be represented by Lenny the Seven-Fingered Firecracker Man who, on the night before the Fourth, will deliver brightly colored packages to everyone’s house, except in areas where they’re illegal, and then Lenny will deliver the packages wrapped in brown paper sacks smuggled over the county line. It’ll be just like Christmas, except the packages will have fuses and we’ll eventually get to blow them up. At Christmas, of course, there’s no need for this, mostly because we work out our primitive impulses in the shopping frenzy, but also because it’s usually too cold to go out and shoot anything.

Enjoy this week’s explosively funny offerings.

Squawks" are problems noted by U. S. Air Force pilots and left for maintenance crews to fix before the next flight. Here are some actual maintenance complaints logged by those Air Force pilots and the replies from the maintenance crews.

(P) = Problem
(S) = Solution

(P) Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.
(S) Almost replaced left inside main tire.

(P) Test flight OK, except auto land very rough.
(S) Auto land not installed on this aircraft.

(P) # 2 propeller seeping prop fluid.
(S) # 2 propeller seepage normal – # 1, # 3, and # 4 propellers lack normal seepage.

(P) Something loose in cockpit.
(S) Something tightened in cockpit.

(P) Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
(S) Evidence removed.

(P) DME volume unbelievably loud.
(S) Volume set to more believable level.

(P) Dead bugs on windshield.
(S) Live bugs on order.

(P) Autopilot in altitude hold mode produces a 200 mpm descent.
(S) Cannot reproduce problems on ground.

(P) IFF inoperative.
(S) IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.

(P) Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
(S) That’s what they’re there for.

(P) Number three engine missing.
(S) Engine found on right wing after brief search.

(P) Aircraft handles funny.
(S) Aircraft warned to straighten up, "fly right" and be serious.

(P) Target Radar hums.
(S) Reprogrammed Target Radar with the words.

Life in the 1500’s:

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May and were still smelling pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the b.o.

Baths equalled a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually loose someone in it. Hence the saying, "Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water".

Houses had thatched roofs. Thick straw, piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the pets… dogs, cats and other small animals, mice, rats, bugs lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying, "It’s raining cats and dogs,"

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could really mess up your nice clean bed. So, they found if they made beds with big posts and hung a sheet over the top, it addressed that problem. Hence those beautiful big 4 poster beds with canopies.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt, hence the saying "dirt poor". The wealthy had slate floors which would get slippery in the winter when wet. So they spread thresh on the floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on they kept adding more thresh until when you opened the door it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed at the entry way, hence a "thresh hold".

Sometimes they could obtain pork and would feel really special when that happened. When company came over, they would bring out some bacon and hang it up to show it off. It was a sign of wealth and that a man "could really bring home the bacon." They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and "chew the fat."

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with a high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food. This happened most often with tomatoes, so they stopped eating tomatoes… for 400 years.

Most people didn’t have pewter plates, but had trenchers – a piece of wood with the middle scooped out like a bowl. Trenchers were never washed and a lot of times worms got into the wood. After eating off wormy trenchers, they would get "trench mouth."

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the "upper crust".

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey. The combination would sometimes knock them out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a "wake".

England is old and small and they started running out of places to bury people. So, they would dig up coffins and would take their bones to a house and re-use the grave. In reopening these coffins, one out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they thought they would tie a string on their wrist and lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night to listen for the bell. Hence on the "graveyard shift" they would know that someone was "saved by the bell" or he was a "dead ringer".

Your Secret’s Safe With Me

June 25, 1999

Earlier this week the vice-president spent a little time in the fair city of Nashville, and on the fair college campus where I work. This of course meant that, for a while, the place was swarming with Secret Service guys in their inconspicuous black suits, white shirts, sunglasses, and clear plastic hearing aids. It also meant that huge areas were taped off and marked "NO ADMITTANCE". All I wanted to do was get to work. Because the lawns were taped off, I was forced to cut through buildings. Because the buildings were also infested with the SS, I was priveleged enough to meet one. "Hold it," he said, standing up from his chair in the hallway. "Where are you going?" I replied, "The library." This seemed to baffle him.

"Library…library…what floor is that on?" Now, this was a classic opportunity for a sarcastic, toying-with-authority sort of remark, especially since the library is in a completely different building, but, as much as I hate to admit it, I’m a coward when it comes to such things. Every time an opportunity like this comes up, a little voice whispers in my ear, "Remember Groucho." Groucho Marx, on a return flight from Europe, put down his occupation on his customs form as "smuggler". He then sat in customs for five hours while his luggage was systematically shredded. Delusions of authority deprive some people of their sense of humor, and, I could tell this secret service guy was no exception. His eyeballs were jiggling. He’d probably been sitting in that chair drinking coffee for hours. To make it worse, he was probably a bundle of nerves, frustration, and failed ambitions. The top-notch Secret Service guys get to guard the President. This guy was not only assigned to the VP team, but his whole assignment was to sit in an empty hallway stopping librarians. He didn’t have what it takes to be part of the REAL Secret Service. In short, I felt sorry for him. Now that I think about it, maybe I should have told him my tuna fish sandwich was a case of C4 explosive. Being able to arrest me would have given him a feeling of importance, and it would have given me a nice vacation from work for a few hours. Or three to six months. At least I didn’t have any luggage to worry about.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


Ads in Bills:

Have you ever noticed that they put advertisements in with your bills now? Like bills aren’t distasteful enough, they have to stuff junk mail in there with them. I get back at them. I put garbage in with my check when I mail it in. Coffee grinds, banana peels… I write, "Could you throw this away for me, please? Thank you."

Fabric Softener:

My wife uses fabric softener. I never knew what that stuff was for. Then I noticed women were coming up to me (sniff) ‘Married’ (walked off). That’s how they mark their territory. You can take off that ring, but it’s hard to get that April fresh scent out of your clothes.


My wife’s from the Mid-west. Very nice people there. Very wholesome. They use words like ‘Cripes.’ For Cripe’s sake. Who would that be, Jesus Cripes? The son of ‘Gosh?’ of the church of ‘Holy Moly’. I’m not making fun of it. You think I wanna burn in ‘Heck’?

Morning Differences:

Men and women are different in the morning. The men wake up aroused in the morning. We can’t help it. We just wake up and we want you. And the women are thinking, ‘how can he want me the way I look in the morning?’ It’s because we can’t see you. We have no blood anywhere near our optic nerve.


My grandmother has a bumper sticker on her car that says, ‘Sexy Senior Citizen’. You don’t want to think of your grandmother that way, do you? Out there entering wet shawl contests. Makes you wonder where she got that dollar she gave you for your birthday.

Reverse Life Cycle:

The most unfair thing about life is the way it ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot of your time. What do you get at the end of it? A death. What’s that, a bonus? I think the life cycle is all backwards. You should die first, get it out of the way. Then you live in an old age home. You get kicked out when you’re too young, you get a gold watch, you go to work. You work forty years until you’re young enough to enjoy your retirement. You do drugs, alcohol, you party, you get ready for high school. You go to grade school, you become a kid, you play, you have no responsibilities, you become a little baby, you go back into the womb, you spend your last nine months floating… you finish off as a gleam.

Award Shows:

Can you believe how many award shows they have now? They have awards for commercials. The Cleo Awards. A whole show full of commercials. I taped it and then I fast-forwarded through the whole thing.

Phone-in Polls:

You know those shows where people call in and vote on different issues? Did you ever notice there’s always like 18% "I don’t know". It costs 90 cents to call up and vote… They’re voting "I don’t know." "Honey, I feel very strongly about this. Give me the phone. (Into phone) I DON’T KNOW! (hangs up, looking proud). Sometimes you have to stand up for what you believe you’re not sure about." This guy probably calls up phone sex girls for $2.95. (into phone) "I’m not in the mood."

Answering Machine:

Did you ever hear one of those corny, positive messages on someone’s answering machine? "Hi, It’s a great day and I’m out enjoying it right now. I hope you are too. The thought for the day is ‘Share the love.’" Beep." "Uh, yeah… this is the VD clinic calling…Speaking of being positive, your test is back. Stop sharing the love."

World Leaders:

It is time to elect a world leader, and your vote counts. Here’s the scoop on the three leading candidates:

Candidate A: associates with healers and consults with astrologists. He’s had two mistresses. He chain smokes and drinks 8 to 10 martinis a day.

Candidate B: was kicked out of office twice, sleeps until noon, used opium in college and drinks a quart of brandy every evening.,

Candidate C: is a decorated war hero. He’s a vegetarian, doesn’t smoke, drinks an occasional beer and hasn’t had any illicit affairs.

Which of these candidates is your choice??


Candidate A is Franklin D. Roosevelt,
Candidate B is Winston Churchill,
Candidate C is Adolph Hitler,

Kind of Scary…

We’re Not Really Related

June 18, 1999

You may recall my Uncle Rupert’s failed attempt to drive to Europe, but you may not know why exactly he set out on such a journey. At the time, there was a little skirmish going on known as World War II, and Uncle Rupert was kept out of military service by his flat feet, his twisted kneecap, and his wooden eye. He decided that if he couldn’t be a participant, he’d be a spectator. However, he had a lot of time to think on his trip, and realized that, if he could drive to Europe, the Germans, the Russians, the French, and other miscellaneous foreigners could just as easily drive over and do whatever it was we were doing to them.

For his and Vita’s protection, he purchased, by mail-order, a Reynolds Air-Powered Repeating Long-Barreled Core-Drilled Rifle (some assembly required). Equipped with Uncle Rupert’s own hair-trigger design, this top-of-the-line firearm sat in the corner of the kitchen gathering dust for about thirty years until the fateful day when, over the house, swooping in dangerously close, Uncle Rupert spotted…a great blue heron. Having seen pictures of this bird in the National Geographics in Doc Emmett’s office (specially abridged to remove objectionable native costumes, or lack thereof) Rupert knew it was beautiful, rare, and endangered. Therefore, he would later explain to the sheriff, he thought it’d be the perfect thing to stuff, mount, and put above the fireplace. He grabbed his rifle, and fired. Now, if you’ve ever used a high-power firearm, you know about a phenomenon known as kick. On hunting trips, Rupert usually held the spotlight while his brother held the gun, so he wasn’t quite prepared for the gun’s power. He managed to take out the heron, three windows, and a pot of japonicas before landing finally on the porch. Unfortunately the heron was in no condition to be stuffed, but if you ever visit Rupert ask him about the gun. He’ll proudly show you the pictures of its handsome display case, currently in the possession of the FBI.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

A new computer "virus" is spreading throughout the Internet, and it is far more insidious than the recent Chernobyl menace. Named Strunkenwhite after the authors of a classic guide to good writing, it returns e-mail messages that have grammatical or spelling errors. It is deadly accurate in its detection abilities, unlike the dubious spell checkers that come with word processing programs.

The virus is causing something akin to panic throughout corporate America, which has become used to the typos, misspellings, missing words and mangled syntax so acceptable in cyberspace.

The CEO of, an Internet startup, said the virus has rendered him helpless. "Each time I tried to send one particular e-mail this morning, I got back this error message: ‘Your dependent clause preceding your independent clause must be set off by commas, but one must not precede the conjunction.’ I threw my laptop across the room."

A top executive at a telecommunications and long-distance company, 10-10-10-10-10-10-123, said: "This morning, the same e-mail kept coming back to me with a pesky notation claiming I needed to use a pronoun’s possessive case before a gerund. With the number of e-mails I crank out each day, who has time for proper grammar? Whoever created this virus should have their programming fingers broken."

A broker at Begg, Barow and Steel said he couldn’t return to the "bad, old" days when he had to send paper memos in proper English. He speculated that the hacker who created Strunkenwhite was a "disgruntled English major who couldn’t make it on a trading floor. When you’re buying and selling on margin, I don’t think it’s anybody’s business if I write that ‘i meetinged through the morning, then cinched the deal on the cel phone while bareling down the xway.’"

If Strunkenwhite makes e-mailing impossible, it could mean the end to a communication revolution once hailed as a significant timesaver. A study of 1,254 office workers in Leonia, N.J., found that e-mail increased employees’ productivity by 1.8 hours a day because they took less time to formulate their thoughts. (The same study also found that they lost 2.2 hours of productivity because they were e-mailing so many jokes to their spouses, parents and stockbrokers.)

Strunkenwhite is particularly difficult to detect because it doesn’t come as an e-mail attachment (which requires the recipient to open it before it becomes active). Instead, it is disguised within the text of an e-mail entitled "Congratulations on your pay raise." The message asks the recipient to "click here to find out about how your raise effects your pension." The use of "effects" rather than the grammatically correct "affects" appears to be an inside joke from Strunkenwhite’s mischievous creator.

The virus also has left government e-mail systems in disarray. Officials at the Office of Management and Budget can no longer transmit electronic versions of federal regulations because their highly technical language seems to run afoul of Strunkenwhite’s dictum that "vigorous writing is concise." The White House speechwriting office reported that it had received the same message, along with a caution to avoid phrases such as "the truth is. . ." and "in fact. . . ."

Home computer users also are reporting snafus, although an e-mailer who used the word "snafu" said she had come to regret it. The virus can have an even more devastating impact if it infects an entire network. A cable news operation was forced to shut down its computer system for several hours when it discovered that Strunkenwhite had somehow infiltrated its TelePrompTer software, delaying newscasts and leaving news anchors nearly tongue-tied as they wrestled with proper sentence structure.

There is concern among law enforcement officials that Strunkenwhite is a harbinger of the increasingly sophisticated methods hackers are using to exploit the vulnerability of business’s reliance on computers. "This is one of the most complex and invasive examples of computer code we have ever encountered. We just can’t imagine what kind of devious mind would want to tamper with e-mails to create this burden on communications," said an FBI agent who insisted on speaking via the telephone out of concern that trying to e-mail his comments could leave him tied up for hours.

Meanwhile, bookstores and online booksellers reported a surge in orders for Strunk & White’s "The Elements of Style."

Rejected Hallmark Cards:

So your daughter’s a hooker,
and it spoiled your day..
Look at the bright side,
she’s a really good lay.

My tire was thumping..
I thought it was flat..
when I looked at the tire..
I noticed your cat.. Sorry.

You had your bladder removed
and you’re on the mends..
here’s a bouquet of flowers
and a box of Depends.

You’ve announced that you’re gay,
won’t that be a laugh,
when they find out you’re one
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Happy Vasectomy!
Hope you feel zippy!
‘Cause when I had mine,
I got real snippy.

Heard your wife left you..
How upset you must be..
But don’t fret about it..
She moved in with me.

Your computer is dead..
it was once so great
Don’t you regret installing
Windows 98?

You totaled your car..
and can’t remember why..
could it have been..
that case of Bud Dry?

We’re havin’ a heat wave

June 11, 1999

Or, alternatively, "How about this heat?" Of course nothing beats the classic "Hotter than a two dollar pistol," a phrase that has come to have even greater meaning over the years. As you know, it’s early in the summer and already temperatures are reaching record highs. This has a lot of people talking about global warming. Now, admittedly, I believe in global warming, especially since there’s a lot of strong science behind it, but what bothers me is everyone complains about it. Very few people have given serious thought to some of the potential benefits of global warming. So here are a few:

  • Without icebergs, the Titanic wouldn’t have had a problem.

  • With its new Mediterranean climate, Canada will have a huge tourism industry.

  • Polyester, sales of which have been declining for years, will finally go where it belongs: the back of everyone’s attic.

  • If someone says, "I’ll make you a deal on some beachfront property in Nevada," they’ll actually be serious.

  • Higher amounts of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will take some of the pressure off of smokers.

  • If you punch a guy who says, "How about this heat?" no jury will convict you.

So remember: there’s a bright side to everything. Especially since scientists now believe the sun is putting out more energy now than it was a decade ago, thus adding to the effects of global warming. I think it’s time to buy stock in air conditioning.

Enjoy this week’s hot offerings.

Do you ever feel overworked, over-regulated, under-leisured and underbenefited? Take heart, this notice was found in the ruins of a London office building. It was dated 1852:

  1. This firm has reduced the hours of work, and the clerical staff will now only have to be present between the hours of 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. weekdays.

  2. Clothing must be of sober nature. The clerical staff will not disport themselves in raiment of bright colors, nor will they wear hose unless in good repair.

  3. Overshoes and topcoats may not be worn in the office, but neck scarves and headwear may be worn in inclement weather.

  4. A stove is provided for the benefit of the clerical staff. Coal and wood must be kept in the locker. It is recommended that each member of the clerical staff bring four pounds of coal each day during the cold weather.

  5. No member of the clerical staff may leave the room without permission from the supervisor.

  6. No talking is allowed during business hours.

  7. The craving for tobacco, wine, or spirits is a human weakness, and as such is forbidden to all members of the clerical staff.

  8. Now that the hours of business have been drastically reduced, the partaking of food is allowed between 11:30 and noon, but work will not on any account cease!!!.

  9. Members of the clerical staff will provide their own pens. A new sharpener is available on application to the supervisor.

  10. The supervisor will nominate a senior clerk to be responsible for the cleanliness of the main office and the supervisor’s private office. All boys and juniors will report to him 40 minutes before prayers and will remain after closing hours for similar work. Brushes, brooms, scrubbers, and soap are provided by the owners.

  11. The owners recognize the generosity of the new labor laws, but will expect a great rise in output of work to compensate for these near Utopian conditions.


If you’ve got melted chocolate all over your hands, you’re eating it too slowly.

Chocolate covered raisins, cherries, orange slices, and strawberries all count as fruit, so eat as many as you want.

The problem: How to get 2 pounds of chocolate home from the store in a hot car. The solution: Eat it in the parking lot.

Diet tip: Eat a chocolate bar before each meal. It’ll take the edge off your appetite and you’ll eat less.

A nice box of chocolates can provide your total daily intake of calories in one place. Isn’t that handy?

If you can’t eat all your chocolate, it will keep in the freezer.

But if you can’t eat all your chocolate, what’s wrong with you?

If calories are an issue, store your chocolate on top of the fridge. Calories are afraid of heights, and they will jump out of the chocolate to protect themselves.

If I eat equal amounts of dark chocolate and white chocolate, is that a balanced diet? Don’t they actually counteract each other?

Money talks. Chocolate sings.

Chocolate has many preservatives. Preservatives make you look younger.

Q: Why is there no such organization as Chocoholics Anonymous? A: Because no one wants to quit.

If not for chocolate, there would be no need for control top pantyhose. An entire garment industry would be devastated.

Put "eat chocolate" at the top of your list of things to do today. That way, at least you’ll get one thing done.

Why 2K?

June 4, 1999

Now that the year is almost half over, I’ve started thinking about the Y2K bug. Okay, this may seem a little late, but compared to the Department of Energy, the Pentagon, and Romania, I’m way ahead of the game. What worries me most about the Y2K bug is not the dire predictions and the possible failures of banks, electricity and water providers, and planes in midair. What worries me is that nothing will happen. I’m worried that the Y2K bug is going to turn out to be as dangerous as an ant under a magnifying glass on a hot July day. Although they’re small in number, there are people who are stocking up on everything from gasoline to guns in preparation for nothing short of armageddon. The year 2000 is, for them, the big one, the one they’ve been waiting for all their lives, when they’ll stop being outcasts and start pushing the rest of us–if there are any of us left–around. And when people really think something is going to happen, they have a tendency to try and make it happen. Back around the last millenium, some people got really worried that the Muslims, who were basically content to leave other faiths alone, might turn violent. So they staged a little event called the Crusades that make the French plan to celebrate the year 2000 by floating multicolored glow-in-the-dark eggs down the Seine look, well, a little less stupid. The result was, of course, violent Muslims. (Interestingly the Crusades also resulted in the end of the feudal system in Western Europe, but I doubt as much good would come from the disappearance of a few million bank accounts.)

Of course, even if we make it past the year 2000 without some problems, there’s still the year 2001. Then after that there’s the year 2012 which the Mayans, various interpreters of Nostradamus, and several wacko prophets are claiming is the REAL big one. Maybe it’s not such a bad idea to stock up on a few necessities like toilet paper and hand grenades. From here, it looks like it’s going to be a long millenium.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

To: Trojan Army Listserv <>

Hey Hector,

This was forwarded to me by Cassandra–it looks legit. Please distribute to Priam, Hecuba, and your 99 siblings.





The "gift" is disguised as a large wooden horse about two stories tall. It tends to show up outside the city gates and appears to be abandoned. DO NOT let it through the gates! It contains hardware that is incompatible with Trojan programming, including a crowd of heavily armed Greek warriors that will destroy your army, sack your town, and kill your women and children. If you have already received such a gift, DO NOT OPEN IT! Take it back out of the city unopened and set fire to it by the beach.




I hate to break to you, but this is one of the oldest hoaxes there is. I’ve seen variants on this warning come through on other listservs,one involving some kind of fruit that was supposed to kill the people who ate it and one having to do with something called the "Midas Touch." Here are a few tip offs that this is a hoax:

1) This "Forward this message to everyone you know" stuff. If it were really meant as a warning about the Greek army, why tell anyone to post it to the Phonecians, Sumerians, and Cretans?

2) Use of exclamation points. Always a giveaway.

3) It’s signed "from Poseidon." Granted he’s had his problems with Odysseus but he’s one of their guys, isn’t he? Besides, the lack of a real header with a detailed address makes me suspicious.

4) Technically speaking, there is no way for a horse to overwrite your entire city. A horse is just an animal, after all.

Next time you get a message like this, just delete it. I appreciate your concern, but once you’ve been around the block a couple times you’ll realize how annoying this kind of stuff is.

Bye now,


The Top Ten Signs You Have A Cheap HMO

10. Annual breast exam conducted at Hooters.

9. Directions to your doctor’s office include, "Take a left when you enter the trailer park."

8. Tongue depressors taste faintly of Fudgesicle.

7. Only proctologist in the plan is "Gus" from Roto-Rooter.

6. Only item listed under Preventive Care feature of coverage is "an apple a day".

5. Your "primary care physician" is wearing the pants you gave to Goodwill last month.

4. "Patient responsible for 200% of out-of-network charges" is not a typo.

3. The only expense covered 100% is embalming.

2. With your last HMO, your birth control pills didn’t come in different colors with little M’s on them.

and the Number 1 Sign You’ve Joined a Cheap HMO…

1. You ask for Viagra. You get a popsicle stick and duct tape.

What Do YOU Use ‘Em For?

May 28, 1999

It’s been said that things come in threes. Actually it was my Great Aunt Vita who told me that, and she also told me that the Earth was only six thousand years old, that the sun revolved around it, and that rubbing a lima bean on your hand will remove warts, so maybe she wasn’t the most reliable source of information. This week, however, three unusual things have drawn my attention and then remained on the surface of my mind. This probably says more about me and Aunt Vita’s continuing influence than anything else, but…Before I digress any further, here are those three things:

  • In a fast food restaurant there’s a small note at the bottom of menu over the cash register that says, "Picture menus available on request." Who is this for? Obviously it’s for people who can’t read. But if it’s for people who can’t read, how are they supposed to read the note?

  • Last Friday I received a note from the building manager: the air conditioning would be turned off for repairs over the weekend, so the manager wasn’t sure whether it would be really cold, really hot, or normal. I was advised to "please dress accordingly." Accordingly to what?

  • And the third thing was…well, there was no third thing. I was deliberately leading you on in the hopes that something would happen while I was typing. Has anybody got any lima beans?

Arizona: But It’s a Dry Heat

Arkansas: Litterasy Ain’t Everthing

California: As Seen on TV

Colorado: If You Don’t Ski, Don’t Bother

Connecticut: Like Massachusetts, Only Dirtier and With Less Character

Delaware: We Really Do Like the Chemicals in our Water

Florida: Ask Us About Our Grandkids

Georgia: We Put the Fun in Fundamentalist Extremism

Hawaii: Haka Tiki Mou Sha’ami Leeki Toru (Death to Mainland Scum, But Leave Your Money)

Idaho: More Than Just Potatoes…Well Okay, We’re Not, But The Potatoes Sure Are Real Good

Illinois: Please Don’t Pronounce the S

Indiana: 2 Billion Years Tidal Wave Free

Iowa: We Do Amazing Things With Corn

Kansas: First Of The Rectangle States

Kentucky: Five Million People Seven Last Names

Louisiana: We’re Not All Drunk Cajun Wackos, That’s Just Our Tourism Campaign

Maine: We’re Really Cold, But We Have Cheap Lobster

Maryland: A Thinking Man’s Delaware

Massachusetts: Our Taxes Are Lower Than Sweden’s (For Most Tax Brackets)

Michigan: First Line of Defense From the Canadians

Minnesota: 10,000 Lakes and 10,000,000 Mosquitoes

Mississippi: Come Feel Better About Your Own State

Missouri: Your Federal Flood Relief Tax Dollars at Work

Montana: Land of the Big Sky, the Unabomber, Right-Wing Crazies, and more Big Sky

Nebraska: Ask About Our State Motto Contest

Nevada: Whores and Poker

New Hampshire: Go Away and Leave Us Alone

New Jersey: You Want a @*#%! Motto? I Got Yer @*#%! Motto Right Here

New Mexico: Our Aliens Are Better Than The California Kind

New York: You Have the Right to Remain Silent, You Have the Right to an attorney…

North Carolina: Tobacco is a Vegetable

North Dakota: We Really are One of the 50 States

Ohio: We Wish We Were In Michigan

Oklahoma: Like the Play, only No Singing

Oregon: Spotted Owl… It’s What’s For Dinner

Pennsylvania: Cook With Coal

Rhode Island: We’re Not REALLY An Island

South Carolina: Remember the Civil War? We Didn’t Actually Surrender

South Dakota: Closer Than North Dakota

Tennessee: Tennesseein’ is Tennebelievin’

Texas: Si’ Hablo Ing’les (Yes, I speak English)

Utah: Our Jesus Is Better Than Your Jesus

Vermont: Yep

Virginia: Who Says Government Stiffs and Slackjaw Yokels Don’t Mix?

Washington: Help We’re Overrun By Nerds and Slackers

Washington, D.C.: Wanna Be Mayor?

West Virginia: One Big Happy Family – Really

Wisconsin: Come Cut Our Cheese

Wyoming: Wynot?

A priest was called away for an emergency. Not wanting to leave the confessional unattended, he called his rabbi friend from across the street and asked him to cover for him. The rabbi told him he wouldn’t know what to say, but the priest told him to come on over and he’d stay with him for a little while and show him what to do. The rabbi comes and he and the priest are in the confessional.

In a few minutes, a woman comes in and says "Father forgive me for I have sinned. I committed adultery." The priest says: "How many times?" The woman answers: "Three times." The priest tells her, "Say two Hail Marys, put $5.00 in the box, and sin no more."

A few minutes later a man enters the confessional. He says, "Father forgive me for I have sinned." The priest says, "What did you do?" The man asnwers, "I committed adultery." The priest asks, "How many times?" The man replies, "Three times." The priest tells him, "Say two Hail Marys, put $5.00 in the box, and sin no more."

The Rabbi tells the priest that he thinks he’s got it so the priest leaves. A few minutes later another woman enters and says, "Father forgive me for I have sinned." The rabbi says, "What did you do?" The woman replies, "I committed adultery." The rabbi asks, "How many times?" The woman says "Once." The rabbi says, "Go do it two more times. We have a special this week, three for $5.00."

What Would George Orwell Think?

May 21, 1999

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

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

You might be a Redneck Jedi if…

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

Your Jedi robe is camouflage.

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

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

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

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

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

Wookiees are offended by your B.O.

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

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

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

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

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

You ever fantasized about Princess Leia wearing Daisy Duke shorts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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