Author Archive: Christopher Waldrop

The birds and the bicuspids

May 16, 1997

Spring is in the air, and we all know what that means: a trip to the dentist. It seems that almost everyone I know has had to go to the dentist recently, and for once I’m going along with the crowd. Doomsday is set for sometime next week. I’m not as worried about it as I usually am, though, because last time I went in they were very eager to test out their new laughing gas mask on me, and it made their little reenactment of the Spanish Inquisition…well…almost pleasant. But it wasn’t the REALLY good stuff. The stuff I had years ago when they pulled three teeth was so powerful I lay in the chair for what seemed like hours talking to the vaccum cleaner. It didn’t even worry me when the vacuum cleaner started talking back. Then it grew wings and flew away, so I talked to the parrots on the ceiling instead. I can’t tell you whether the teeth were pulled or not. At one point I remember seeing the dentist, but then I became a ballerina. I was too busy pirouetting to worry about my teeth. No, the new stuff just isn’t as good. It made me feel slightly dizzy and drunk, which the dentist found pretty amusing. So now you know why they call it laughing gas–it gives them a chance to laugh at you.

Now that spring is in the air, enjoy the following piece. And if you happen to get arrested in Bozeman, Montana, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

25 Weird Sex Laws

  • A law in Faibanks, Alaska, does not allow moose to have sex on city streets.

  • In Ventura County, California, cats and dogs are not allowed to have sex without a permit.

  • In Florida it is illegal for single, divorced, or widowed women to parachute on Sunday afternoons.

  • If police officers in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, suspects a couple is having sex inside a vehicle, they must honk their horn three times, and wait two minutes before being allowed to approach the scene.

  • Women must address bachelors as master instead of mister, according to an Illinois state law.

  • A law in Oblong, Illinois makes it a crime to make love while fishing or hunting on your wedding day.

  • In Aimes Iowa a husband may not take more than three gulps of beer while lying in bed with his wife.

  • A law in Alexandria, Minnesota makes it illegal for a husband to make love to his wife if his breath smells like garlic, onions, or sardines.

  • In Bozeman, Montana, you can’t perform any sexual acts in the front yard of any home, after sundown, and if you are nude.

  • A Helena, Montana law states that a woman cannot dance on a saloon table unless her clothing weights more than three pounds, two ounces.

  • Hotel owners in Hastings, Nebraska are required by law to provide a clean, white cotton nightshirt to each guest. According to the law, no couple may have sex unless they are wearing the nightshirts.

  • Any couple making out inside a vehicle, and accidentally sounding the horn during their lustful act, may be taken to jail according to a Liberty Corner, New Jersey law.

  • During lunch breaks in Carlsbad, New Mexico, no couple should engage in a sexual act while parked in their vehicle, unless their car has curtains.

  • In Nevada sex without a condom is considered illegal.

  • In Cleveland, Ohio women are not allowed to wear patent-leather shoes.

  • Clinton, Oklahoma, has a law against masturbating while watching two people having sex in a car.

  • In Willowdale, Oregon, no man may curse while having sex with his wife.

  • In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania it is illegal to have sex with a truck driver inside a toll booth.

  • Hotels in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, are required by law to furnish their rooms with twin beds only. There should be a minimum of two feet between the beds, and it is illegal for a couple to make love on the floor between the beds.

  • In Kingsville, Texas, there is a law against two pigs having sex on the city’s airport property.

  • A Tremonton, Utah law states that no woman is allowed to have sex with a man while riding in an ambulance. In addition to normal charges, the woman’s name will be published in the local newspaper. The man does not receive any punishment.

  • No woman may go in public without wearing a corset in Norfolk, Virginia.

  • In the state of Washington there is a law against having sex with a virgin under any circumstances. (including the wedding night)

  • The only acceptable sexual position in Washington D.C. is the missionary-style position. Any other sexual position is considered illegal.

  • In Connorsville, Wisconsin no man shall shoot of a gun while his female partner is having a sexual orgasm.

Oh, what the heck–here’s something for you spring cleaners:

A peek inside Martha Stewart’s 1997 calendar:

Jan 1: Catch up on gardening–sew leaves back onto trees. Do all cooking for 1997.

Jan 2: Take dog apart. Disinfect. Reassemble.

Jan 3: Align carpets to adjust for curvature of the earth.

Jan 4: Drain city reservoir; refill with mulled cider, orange slices and cinnamon sticks.

Jan 5: Lay Faberge egg.

Jan 6: Freshen air in home by sliding a dozen Dr. Scholl’s shoe inserts into heat pump.

Jan 7: Visit crematorium. Collect dentures. They make excellent pastry cutters, particularly for decorative pie crusts.

Jan 8: Culture ancient DNA into dinosaurs for nieces and nephews.

Jan 9: Receive delivery of new phone books. Old ones make ideal personal address books; simply cross out the names of all the people you do not know.

Jan 10: Finish needlepoint colostomy cozy.

Jan 11: Organize spice racks by genus and phyllum.

Jan 12: Attend workshop on obsessive-compulsive disorders. Take verbatim notes.

Jan 13: Address sympathy cards for all friends with edlerly relatives, so that they’re all ready to be mailed the moment death occurs.

Jan 14: Replace air in minivan tires with Glad air freshener in case tires are shot out at the mall.

Jan 15: MLK birthday. Find out who MLK is.

Jan 16: Sleep 20 minutes. Get new eyeglasses; grind lenses myself.

Jan 17: Using candlewick and hand-gilded miniature pine cones, fashion cat-o’-nine-tails. Flog gardener.

Jan 18: Repaint Sistine Chapel ceiling in ecru with mocha trim.

Jan 19: Update enemies list. Place in hermetically sealed vault.

Jan 20: Remove air, replace with nitrogen.

Leadership lessons

May 9, 1997

When we last left our intrepid band of heroes, I was leading them in the direction the truck had gone in an attempt to figure out where our camping site was located. We were lucky in that we all at least knew the name of the place, so if we ran into anyone we could ask directions. Unfortunately, the first sign of human life we found was… "Carl! Get out here!" It wasn’t encouraging.

Next, as we walked through this vaguely residential area, we passed a house that had a blue door, blue shutters, blue curtains, and a blue mailbox. A woman in a blue bathrobe (fortunately her hair wasn’t blue–that would have been too much) came out and got her newspaper. We thought it better not to make contact. Finally, we walked by a friendly looking farmhouse where a man in a baseball cap that said, "Guns don’t kill people–I DO!" was loading some camouflaged boxes into a pickup truck. I was volunteered to ask him if we were headed in the right direction (it was part of my penance). He mumbled something about "on the right" and "crost the railroe tacks" and "half a mall." Not wanting to keep him any longer from consuming a record breaking amount of Skoal, I thanked him politely and we went on our way. Everything was fine–we found the tacks, but after a while, we got worried. It’s amazing how, when you’re lost, five minutes is an hour and ten feet is half a mall. Then we came to a three-way split in the road. This made things even worse–how did we know which one was on the right? I did what I thought any good leader would do. I sent one guy off down one road, and I went down the other. The rest were left to entertain themselves. I can’t describe the relief I felt when I nearly walked into the truck that had our gear in it, followed by the fear that I would be discovered and asked where the rest of the troop was. I ran back–quietly–and gathered everyone together. I made them promise not to tell this story unless they gave me all the funny parts, and in return promised that I would be a better leader. And I lived up to that promise for about three hours, until I tried to cook lunch and set the campsite on fire.

Enjoy this week’s offering.

Evil Overlords

Being an Evil Overlord seems to be a good career choice. It pays well, there are all sorts of perks and you can set your own hours. However every Evil Overlord I’ve read about in books or seen in movies invariably gets overthrown and destroyed in the end. I’ve noticed that no matter whether they are barbarian lords, deranged wizards, mad scientists or alien invaders, they always seem to make the same basic mistakes every single time. Therefore, if I ever happen to become an Evil Overlord:

  1. My legions of terror will have helmets with clear plexiglass visors, not face-concealing ones.

  2. My ventilation ducts will be too small to crawl through.

  3. My noble half-brother whose throne I usurped will be killed, not kept anonymously imprisoned in a forgotten cell of my dungeon.

  4. Shooting is not too good for my enemies.

  5. The artifact which is the source of my power will not be kept on the Mountain of Despair beyond the River of Fire guarded by the Dragons of Eternity. It will be in my safe-deposit box.

  6. I will not gloat over my enemies’ predicatment before killing them.

  7. When the rebel leader challenges me to fight one-on-one and asks, "Or are you afraid without your armies to back you up?" My reply will be, "No, just sensible."

  8. When I’ve captured my adversary and he says, "Look, before you kill me, will you at least tell me what this is all about?" I’ll say, "No" and shoot him.

  9. After I kidnap the beautiful princess, we will be married immediately in a quiet civil ceremony, not a lavish spectacle in three weeks’ time during which the final phase of my plan will be carried out.

  10. I will not include a self-destruct mechanism unless absolutely necessary. If it is necessary, it will not be a large red button labelled "Danger: Do Not Push." The big red button marked "Do Not Push" will instead trigger a spray of bullets on anyone stupid enough to disregard it. Similarly, the ON/OFF switch will not clearly be labelled as such.

  11. I will not order my trusted lieutenant to kill the infant who is destined to overthrow me — I’ll do it myself.

  12. I will not interrogate my enemies in the inner sanctum — a small hotel well outside my borders will work just as well.

  13. I will be secure in my superiority. Therefore, I will feel no need to prove it by leaving clues in the form of riddles or leaving my weaker enemies alive to show they pose no threat.

  14. I will not waste time making my enemy’s death look like an accident –I’m not accountable to anyone and my other enemies wouldn’t believe it.

  15. I will make it clear that I do know the meaning of the word "mercy"; I simply choose not show them any.

  16. One of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation.

  17. All slain enemies will be cremated, or at least have several rounds of ammunition emptied into them, not left for dead at the bottom of the cliff. The announcement of their deaths, as well as any accompanying celebration, will be deferred until after the aforementioned disposal.

  18. My undercover agents will not have tattoos identifying them as members of my organization, nor will they be required to wear military boots or adhere to any other dress codes.

  19. The hero is not entitled to a last kiss, a last cigarette, or any other form of last request.

  20. I will never employ any device with a digital countdown. If I find that such a device is absolutely unavoidable, I will set it to activate when the counter reaches 117 and the hero is just putting his plan into operation.

  21. I will design all doomsday machines myself. If I must hire a mad scientist to assist me, I will make sure that he is sufficiently twisted to never regret his evil ways and seek to undo the damage he’s caused.

  22. I will never utter the sentence "But before I kill you, there’s just one thing I want to know."

  23. When I employ people as advisors, I will occasionally listen to their advice.

  24. I will not have a son. Although his laughably under-planned attempt to usurp power would easily fail, it would provide a fatal distraction at a crucial point in time.

  25. I will not have a daughter. She would be as beautiful as she was evil, but one look at the hero’s rugged countenance and she’d betray her own father.

  26. Despite its proven stress-relieving effect, I will not indulge in maniacal laughter. When so occupied, it’s too easy to miss unexpected developments that a more attentive individual could adjust to accordingly.

  27. I will hire a talented fashion designer to create original uniforms for my legions of terror, as opposed to some cheap knock-offs that make them look like Nazi stormtroopers, Roman footsoldiers, or savage Mongol hordes. All were eventually defeated and I want my troops to have a more positive mind-set.

  28. No matter how tempted I am with the prospect of unlimited power, I will not consume any energy field bigger than my head.

  29. I will keep a special cache of low-tech weapons and train my troops in their use. That way — even if the heroes manage to neutralize my power generator and/or render the standard-issue energy weapons useless — my troops will not be overrun by a handful of savages armed with spears and rocks.

  30. I will maintain a realistic assessment of my strengths and weaknesses. Even though this takes some of the fun out of the job, at least I will never utter the line "No, this cannot be! I AM INVINCIBLE!!!" (After that, death is usually instantaneous.)

  31. No matter how well it would perform, I will never construct any sort of machinery which is completely indestructable except for one small and virtually inaccessible vulnerable spot.

  32. If I am engaged in a duel to the death with the hero and I am fortunate enough to knock the weapon out of his hand, I will graciously allow him to retrieve it. This is not from a sense of fair play; rather, he will be so startled and confused that I will easily be able to dispatch him.

  33. No matter how attractive certain members of the rebellion are, there is probably someone just as attractive who is not desperate to kill me. Therefore, I will think twice before ordering a prisoner sent to my bedchamber.

  34. I will never build only one of anything important. For the same reason I will always carry at least two fully loaded weapons at all times.

  35. If my supreme command center comes under attack, I will immediately flee to safety in my prepared escape pod and direct the defenses from there. I will not wait until the troops break into my inner sanctum to attempt this.

  36. My pet monster will be kept in a secure cage from which it cannot escape and into which I could not accidentally stumble.

  37. Even though I don’t really care because I plan on living forever, I will hire engineers who are able to build me a fortress sturdy enough that, if I am slain, it won’t tumble to the ground for no good structural reason.

  38. I will dress in bright and cheery colors, and so throw my enemies into confusion.

  39. All bumbling conjurers, clumsy squires, no-talent bards, and cowardly thieves in the land will be pre-emptively put to death. My foes will surely give up and abandon their quest if they have no source of comic relief.

  40. All naive, busty tavern wenches in my realm will be replaced with surly, world-weary waitresses who will provide no unexpected reinforcement and/or romantic subplot for the hero or his sidekick.

  41. Any and all magic and/or technology that can miraculously resurrect a secondary character who has given up his/her life through self sacrifice will be outlawed and destroyed.

  42. I will not fly into a rage and kill a messenger who brings me bad news just to illustrate how evil I really am. Good messengers are hard to come by.

  43. I will see to it that plucky young lads/lasses in strange clothes and with the accent of an outlander shall REGULARLY climb some monument in the main sqaure of my capital and denounce me, claim to know the secret of my power, rally the masses to rebellion, etc. That way, the citizens will be jaded in case the real thing ever comes along.

  44. I won’t require high-ranking female members of my organization to wear stainless-steel bustiers. Morale is better with a more casual dress-code. Similarly, outfits made entirely from black leather will be reserved for formal occasions.

  45. I will not employ devious schemes that involve the hero’s party getting into my inner sanctum before the trap is sprung.

  46. I will not turn into a snake. It never helps.

  47. I will not grow a goatee. In the old days they made you look diabolic. Now they just make you look like a disaffected member of Generation X.

  48. I will not imprison members of the same party in the same cell block, let alone the same cell. If they are important prisoners, I will keep the only key to the cell door on my person instead of handing out copies to every bottom-rung guard in the prison.

  49. If my trusted lieutenant tells me my Legions of Terror are losing a battle, I will believe him. After all, he’s my trusted lieutenant.

  50. If an enemy I have just killed has a younger sibling or offspring anywhere, I will find them and have them killed immediately, instead of waiting for them to grow up harboring feelings of vengance towards me in my old age.

  51. If I absolutely must ride into battle, I will certainly not ride at the forefront of my Legions of Terror, nor will I seek out my opposite number among his army.

  52. I will be neither chivalrous nor sporting. If I have an unstoppable superweapon, I will use it as early and as often as possible instead of keeping it in reserve.

  53. Once my power is secure, I will destroy all those pesky time-travel devices.

  54. I will offer oracles the choice of working exclusively for me or being executed.

  55. When I capture the hero, I will make sure I also get his dog, monkey, ferret, or whatever sickeningly cute little animal capable of untying ropes and filching keys happens to follow him around.

  56. I will maintain a healthy amount of skepticism when I capture the beautiful rebel and she claims she is attracted to my power and good looks and will gladly betray her companions if I just let her in on my plans.

  57. I will only employ bounty hunters who work for money. Those who work for the pleasure of the hunt tend to do dumb things like even the odds to give the other guy a sporting chance.

  58. I will not rely entirely upon "totally reliable" spells that can be neutralized by relatively inconspicuous talismen.

  59. I will make sure I have a clear understanding of who is responsible for what in my organization. For example, if my general screws up I will not draw my weapon, point it at him, say "And here is the price for failure," then suddenly turn and kill some random underling.

  60. If an advisor says to me "My liege, he is but one man. What can one man possibly do?", I will reply "This." and kill the advisor.

  61. If I learn that a callow youth has begun a quest to destroy me, I will slay him while he is still a callow youth instead of waiting for him to mature.

  62. I will treat any beast which I control through magic or technology with respect and kindness. Thus if the control is ever broken, it will not immediately come after me for revenge.

  63. If I learn the whereabouts of the one artifact which can destroy me, I will not send all my troops out to seize it. Instead I will send them out to seize something else and quietly put a Want-Ad in the local paper.

  64. My main computers will have their own special operating system that will be completely incompatable with standard IBM and Macintosh powerbooks.

  65. I will make the main entrance to my fortress standard-sized. While elaborate 60-foot high double-doors definitely impress the masses, they are hard to close quickly in an emergency.

  66. If one of my dungeon guards begins expressing concern over the conditions in the beautiful princess’ cell, I will immediately transfer him to a less people-oriented position.

  67. I will hire a team of board-certified architects and surveyors to examine my castle and inform me of any secret passages and abandoned tunnels that I might not know about.

  68. If the beautiful princess that I capture says "I’ll never marry you! Never, do you hear me, NEVER!!!", I will say "Oh well” and kill her.

  69. I will not strike a bargain with a demonic being then attempt to double-cross it simply because I feel like being contrary.

  70. Finally, to keep my subjects permanently locked in a mindless trance, I will provide each of them with free unlimited Internet access.


May 2, 1997

So many of you enjoyed hearing about Carl last week that I decided to share the story of how it was that I came to be hiking through Carl’s neighborhood in the first place. Years ago, I was, believe it or not, a Boy Scout. In fact, I was leader of a whole troop. Like all good leaders, my primary concerns were having a good time and allowing those above and below me to share in the leadership experience by doing all the important stuff. When necessary, I conveyed information from the adult leaders to my fellow scouts, but usually if it was anything really important, they would tell all of us, so there was never much of a need for me to pay attention. (My leadership example inspired a whole generation of office supervisors.) On this particular occasion, we were going on a survival camping trip, and, somehow, everyone but me knew that we were going to be dropped off and made to hike two miles to the campsite. While the adult leader was explaining all this to me and giving me directions, I was trying to figure out whether a really strange looking stick was a snake or not while at the same time making sure I looked like I was paying attention. The next thing I knew, the car doors slammed, and fifteen boys were asking me which way to go.

Next week: we don’t ever see Carl, but we do get a little help from a local militia group. More thrills, spills, and incompetence to come! In the meantime, enjoy these frighteningly true workplace rules:


If you can’t get your work done in the first 24 hours, work nights.

A pat on the back is only a few centimeters from a kick in the butt.

Don’t be irreplaceable, if you can’t be replaced, you can’t be promoted.

It doesn’t matter what you do, it only matters what you say you’ve done and what you’re going to do.

After any salary raise, you will have less money at the end of the month than you did before.

The more crap you put up with, the more crap you are going to get.

You can go anywhere you want if you look serious and carry a clipboard.

Eat one live toad the first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.

When the bosses talk about improving productivity, they are never talking about themselves.

If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.

There will always be beer cans rolling on the floor of your car when the boss asks for a ride home from the office.

Keep your boss’s boss off your boss’s back.

Everything can be filed under "miscellaneous."

Never delay the ending of a meeting or the beginning of a cocktail hour.

To err is human, to forgive is not our policy.

Anyone can do any amount of work provided it isn’t the work he/she is supposed to be doing.

Important letters that contain no errors will develop errors in the mail.

If you are good, you will be assigned all the work. If you are really good, you will get out of it.

You are always doing something marginal when the boss drops by your desk.

People who go to conferences are the ones who shouldn’t.

If it wasn’t for the last minute, nothing would get done.

At work, the authority of a person is inversely proportional to the number of pens that person is carrying.

When you don’t know what to do, walk fast and look worried.

Following the rules will not get the job done.

Getting the job done is no excuse for not following the rules.

When confronted by a difficult problem you can solve it more easily by reducing it to the question, "How would the Lone Ranger handle this?"

No matter how much you do, you never do enough.

The last person that quit or was fired will be held responsible for everything that goes wrong.

Ah! Wilderness!

April 25, 1997

I understand that a few of you out there are going camping this weekend–or at the very least, planning to enjoy the great outdoors, and I don’t mean renting the video. But while enjoying the great outdoors, remember to be careful when you encounter wildlife. For instance, if you see a sign on a fencepost that says, "Forget the dog, beware of the OWNER", avoid that area. The animal that lives there is very protective of its territory. Or, if you see an animal whose bermuda shorts provide very poor camouflage, be even more careful: this animal has the capacity to latch on to you and suck the life out of you unless you give it some postcards of the area. Then there’s the strangest animal I ever saw–one that I think may be unique. I was with a group on a hiking trip, and we were passing through a moderately civilized area on our way to the campground. We passed a creature standing in a paved part of his territory and washing his car. Suddenly, he saw us, and started yelling in the direction of his nest. "Carl! Get out here! You’ve gotta see this!" We all stopped–none of us had ever seen any kind of animal behavior like this before. He kept on. "Carl! You’re gonna miss it!" I said, "Do you want us to wait while Carl gets his camera?" It was the least I could do–he was obviously more afraid of us than we were of him.

Enjoy these other comments on the great outdoors:

This list is circulating among (US) Forest Service employees. These are actual comments left last year on Forest Service registration sheets and comment cards by backpackers completing wilderness camping trips:

"A small deer came into my camp and stole my bag of pickles. Is there a way I can get reimbursed? Please call."

"Escalators would help on steep uphill sections."

"Instead of a permit system or regulations, the Forest Service needs to reduce worldwide population growth to limit the number of visitors to wilderness."

"Trails need to be wider so people can walk while holding hands."

"Ban walking sticks in wilderness. Hikers that use walking sticks are more likely to chase animals."

"All the mile markers are missing this year."

"Found a smouldering cigarette left by a horse."

"Trails need to be reconstructed. Please avoid building trails that go uphill."

"Too many bugs and leeches and spiders and spider webs. Please spray the wilderness to rid the area of these pests."

"Please pave the trails so they can be plowed of snow in the winter."

"Chairlifts need to be in some places so that we can get to wonderful views without having to hike to them."

"The coyotes made too much noise last night and kept me awake. Please eradicate these annoying animals."

"Reflectors need to be placed on trees every 50 feet so people can hike at night with flashlights."

"Need more signs to keep area pristine."

"A McDonald’s would be nice at the trailhead."

"The places where trails do not exist are not well marked."

"Too many rocks in the mountains."


April 18, 1997

Another thing I’d like to see go out with the 90’s is the urban legend. I know that every culture has its own myths and legends, but we wouldn’t still be reading _The Iliad_ if the Greeks defeated the Trojans using the "Good Times" e-mail virus. And no one really believes that a diver was inadvertently sucked up by an airplane and then dropped–along with several hundred gallons of water–on a raging forest fire, do they? Or that one grocery store beat its coupon-stealing competitor by raising all its prices to $1,000,000 plus the actual prices of its items and then giving customers coupons for $1,000,000 off? And of course the internet has made it worse by allowing these things to keep on going. They appear spontaneously, are in perpetual motion, and cannot be destroyed. If they could be harnessed, they’d be a better source of power than the one invented by that guy in Texas who created a cold fusion reaction in his garage and then mysteriously disappeared…

A few more things that should go out with the 90’s:

  • Conspiracy theories. The real conspiracy is centered around convincing people that any government or agency thereof is competent enough to do half the things they are given credit for.

  • Sequels, follow-ups, and spinoffs. Are we really so pressed for ideas that we have to base everything on something else? Oh, that reminds me, look out for next week’s edition: Uncle Rupert and Ivor get together and try to swim to Canada!

Why it takes a license to drive

The following are a sampling of REAL answers received on exams given by the California Department of Transportation’s driving school (read: Saturday Traffic School for moving violation offenders.)

Q: Do you yield when a blind pedestrian is crossing the road?
A: What for? He can’t see my license plate.

Q: Who has the right of way when four cars approach a four-way stop at the same time?
A: The pick up truck with the gun rack and the bumper sticker saying, "Guns don’t kill people. I do."

Q: When driving through fog, what should you use?
A: Your car.

Q: What problems would you face if you were arrested for drunk driving?
A: I’d probably lose my buzz a lot faster.

Q: What changes would occur in your lifestyle if you could no longer drive lawfully?
A: I would be forced to drive unlawfully.

Q: What are some points to remember when passing or being passed?
A: Make eye contact and wave "hello" if he/she is cute.

Q: What is the difference between a flashing red traffic light and a flashing yellow traffic light?
A: The color.

Q: How do you deal with heavy traffic?
A: Heavy psychedelics.

Q: What can you do to help ease a heavy traffic problem?
A: Carry loaded weapons.

Spam, spam, spam…

April 11, 1997

I was plum out of ideas this week, so hungry for something that I almost considered sending out something serious. But seriousness and Freethinkers go together like tuna fish and jelly beans. Then I remembered that this is National Poetry Month. So I dug through my archives for the spam haiku one of you sent me some time ago, and let me take this opportunity to say a sincere thank you, because they have given us the perfect way to celebrate. But before I let you see the poems themselves, I’d like to say a few words about Spam and its cousin product, the other great source of corneal protein, Treet. For those of you who have never seen Treet, it’s a cheaper version of Spam made by a different company. Treet is my personal favorite, because I always cheer for the underdog. And Treet is obviously putting some market pressure on Spam because Spam is starting to branch out into new varieties. There’s Lite Spam with less fat, Low Sodium Spam, and new Pepper Spam. Considering similar trends in product development, the future of Spam is as unlimited as its list of ingredients. We can look forward to Seasoned Spam, Cheddar Spam, Taco Spam, Sour Cream ‘n Onion Spam, Strawberry Spam, Fried Spam Sticks, Teriyaki Spam… The possibilities alone make me want to wax poetic.

Ode to Spam

Ears, snouts and innards,
A homogeneous mass–
Pass another slice.

Pink tender morsel,
Glistening with salty gel.
What the hell is it?

Cube of cold pinkness
Yellow specks of porcine fat
Give me a spork, please

Old man seeks doctor:
"I eat SPAM daily," he says

Highly unnatural,
The tortured shape of this "food"
…A small pink coffin.

SPAM can do it all.
Need a fake amputation?
SPAM can do it all.


Something else to make you want to open a poetic vein:

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

  • A conclusion is the place where you get tired of thinking.

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

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

  • He who hesitates is probably right.

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

  • No one is listening until you make a mistake.

  • Success always occurs in private, and failure in plain view.

  • The colder the X-ray table, the more of your body is required on it.

  • The hardness of the butter is proportional to the softness of the bread.

  • The severity of the itch is proportional to the reach.

  • To steal ideas from one person is plagerism; to steal from many is research.

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

  • Two wrongs are only the beginning.

  • Work is accomplished by those employees who have not reached their level of incompetence.

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

  • Monday is an awful way to spend 1/7th of your life.

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

  • The light at the end of the tunnel is the headlight of an approaching train.

More famous quotes…

April 4, 1997

You may remember Ivor–the guy who e-mailed me out of nowhere sometime around the Christmas holidays and started reminiscing about wacky adventures he and I had had in Cancun. The fact that I have never been within a hundred miles of Cancun didn’t stop me–I emailed him back and asked how Gretchen and the kids were. That was the last I heard from him–until recently. Yesterday, that is, Thursday, I got another message from him. Just a quick one–it said, "Hey! Ready for the weekend? Gonna ‘pull the parachute out of kerosene’, eh? Nudge nudge!" He was probably speaking figuratively, even though I’ve never heard this expression before and have no clue what it means. Not that that ever stops me. I wrote back: "Yeah, it’s gonna be a big weekend. I’m ‘painting my hard hat pink’, if you know what I mean. I’m ‘filling my bathtub with lawnmowers’. I’m gonna ‘ignore the instructions on salt’–wink wink. I’m ‘feeding licorice to squids’. This is weekend’s gonna be a ‘tree stump full of tapioca’–right? Yeah. I’m gonna ‘strap wigs to my feet’ and ‘wallpaper the dog’. Strange–I still haven’t heard back from him. I guess I really knocked his hamster out of his cactus that time.

The Top 15 Pick-Up Lines Used by William Shakespeare

15. "How about a little Puck?"

14. "Of course, ‘Romeo and Gertrude’ is just a working title.

13. I might be persuaded to change it for you, M’Lady."

12. "Et tu, Cutie?"

11. "Shall I compare thee to a brick outhouse?"

10. "If I whispered in thine ear that thou hadst a body of beauty unknown but to the heavens, wouldst thou hold it against me?"

9. "Wouldst thou care to join me in forming the beast with two backs?"

8. "My heart, it pines, as my trousers tent."

7. "Without thine companionship, dear lady, I fearest I’d spend the evening with pen in hand, if thou knows what I mean."

6. "Hey, Baby, can Ophelia up?"

5. "Is this a dagger I see before me? Nay! I’m merely happy to cast eyes upon thy beauty!"

4. "But soft, what light through yonder trousers breaks?"

3. "Wouldst thou away to yon Motel 6 with me?"

2. "O! Prithee sitteth upon my visage, and perchance to let me divine thy weight."

and the Number 1 Pick-Up Line Used by William Shakespeare…

1. "Do me, or not do me. THAT is the question."


Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Plato: For the greater good.

Karl Marx: It was a historical inevitability.

Machiavelli: So that its subjects will view it with admiration, as a chicken which has the daring and courage to boldly cross the road, but also with fear, for whom among them has the strength to contend with such a paragon of avian virtue? In such a manner is the princely chicken’s dominion maintained.

Hippocrates: Because of an excess of black bile and a deficiency of choleric humour.

Jacques Derrida: Any number of contending discourses may be discovered within the act of the chicken crossing the road, and each interpretation is equally valid as the authorial intent can never be discerned, because structuralism is DEAD, DAMMIT, DEAD!

Thomas de Torquemada: Give me ten minutes with the chicken and I’ll find out.

Timothy Leary: Because that’s the only kind of trip the Establishment would let it take.

Douglas Adams: Forty-two.

Nietzsche: Because if you gaze too long across the Road, the Road gazes also across you.

B.F. Skinner: Because the external influences which had pervaded its sensorium from birth had caused it to develop in such a fashion that it would tend to cross roads, even while believing these actions to be of its own free will.

Carl Jung: The confluence of events in the cultural gestalt necessitated that individual chickens cross roads at this historical juncture, and therefore synchronicitously brought such occurrences into being.

Jean-Paul Sartre: In order to act in good faith and be true to itself, the chicken found it necessary to cross the road.

Ludwig Wittgenstein: The possibility of "crossing" was encoded into the objects "chicken" and "road", and circumstances came into being which caused the actualization of this potential occurrence.

Albert Einstein: Whether the chicken crossed the road or the road crossed the chicken depends upon your framme of reference.

Aristotle: To actualize its potential.

Buddha: If you ask this question, you deny your own chicken-nature.

David Hume: Out of custom and habit.

Salvador Dali: The Fish.

Darwin: It was the logical next step after coming down from the trees.

Emily Dickinson: Because it could not stop for death.

Epicurus: For fun.

Ralph Waldo Emerson: It didn’t cross the road; it transcended it.

Johann von Goethe: The eternal hen-principle made it do it.

Ernest Hemingway: To die. In the rain.

Werner Heisenberg: We are not sure which side of the road the chicken was on, but it was moving very fast.

Jack Nicholson: ‘Cause it (censored) wanted to. That’s the (censored) reason.

Pyrrho the Skeptic: What road?

The Sphinx: You tell me.

Henry David Thoreau: To live deliberately … and suck all the marrow out of life.

Howard Cosell: It may very well have been one of the most astonishing events to grace the annals of history. An historic, unprecedented avian biped with the temerity to attempt such an herculean achievement formerly relegated to homo sapien pedestrians is truly a remarkable occurence.

Ronald Reagan: I forget.

Mark Twain: The news of its crossing has been greatly exaggerated.

Zeno of Elea: To prove it could never reach the other side.

The 90’s? They were groovy…

March 28, 1997

I used to think that the most original thing to come out of the 90’s would be nostalgia. Then I started looking back, and realizing that, so far, we’ve had a pretty original decade. (I know the decade has at least three more years to go, but people were thinking about how to define the 90’s in the late 80’s, so I’m actually a little behind.)

However, as with all decades, there are some things that should be dropped when the new one begins. Like beanbags, bellbottoms, and lace headbands from its predecessors, the 90’s can be remembered for:

  • Really big pants. Has anyone noticed that the same kids who laughed at their parents for wearing bellbottoms now wear pants big enough to be hot air balloons? That is, of course, if there were such a thing as DENIM hot air balloons…

  • Infomercials. Anyone who complains about "channel surfing" (another 90’s invention) does not realize that its only purpose is to escape from the bow-tied guy with the bad Australian accent showing his multi-permed buddy how to use the new home plumbing repair kit, available for only fourteen easy payments of $49.95!

  • Piercing. I’m all for expressions of individuality, but…I remember the days when, if you could "pinch more than an inch", it meant you had to lose weight. Now, if you can pinch an inch, you can pierce it too. I know a lot of ancient cultures practiced piercing, but they were also smart enough not to practice slam dancing at the same time. If you can’t figure out why piercing and slam dancing don’t go together, you probably financed the local hospital’s new wing.

  • Exercise machines. All right, these aren’t exactly a product of the 90’s. I used to think, though, that some of the newer machines were original–until I looked through a book about the Spanish Inquisition.

Enjoy this week’s offering.

Very Short Books

1) A Guide to Arab Democracies
2) A Journey through the Mind of Dennis Rodman
3) Amelia Earhart’s Guide to the Pacific Ocean
4) Career Opportunities for History Majors
5) Contraception by Pope John Paul II
6) Detroit – A Travel Guide
7) Different Ways to Spell "Bob"
8) Dr. Kevorkian’s Collection of Motivational Speeches
9) Easy UNIX
10) Ethiopian Tips on World Dominance
11) Everything Men Know About Women
12) French Hospitality
13) Bob Dole: The Wild Years
14) How to Sustain a Musical Career by Art Garfunkel
15) Mike Tyson’s Guide to Dating Etiquette
16) Mormon Divorce Lawyers
17) One Hundred and One Spotted Owl Recipes by the EPA
18) Popular Lawyers
19) Staple Your Way to Success
20) Tasty Bile Recipes
21) The Amish Phone Book

In the springtime…

March 21, 1997

Yesterday was the first day of spring. Also yesterday, someone who shall remain nameless said, "Let’s see what this will do…" Four people from the tech department then spent two and a half hours trying to undo what had been done. Of course, we’ve all at one time or another followed the "Let’s see what this will do…" impulse, but it’s always best to take some precautions. I learned this valuable lesson from, of all people, Uncle Rupert. A few years back, in the spring, the kudzu vines in Uncle Rupert’s backyard leafed out and started their warm-weather rampage. For those of you who don’t live in the south, kudzu is a vine that grows at the rate of about half a foot an hour and suffocates anything in its path. Well, Uncle Rupert had some leftover fertilizer (the kind used for making homemade bombs–but that’s another story) and decided to throw it into his kudzu patch. The resulting vegetative explosion covered his driveway, his car, and three of his dogs completely disappeared. He managed to hold back the runaway vines with a lawnmower, some lighter fluid, and a pack of matches. Fortunately, a sudden overnight freeze followed by four weeks of continuous rain (in other words, typical spring weather in Tennessee) saved the rest of us from the plant peril. So now, whenever I say, "Let’s see what this will do…" I do three things:

  1. convince someone else to try it while I stand far back

  2. wear protective clothing, and

  3. keep a lawnmower handy.

Unfortunately none of these measures saved me from the glaring looks of the tech department. Enjoy these other examples of intelligence in action:

The Smithsonian Museum’s phone answerers usually get questions like "How do you get there?" "When are you open?" Etc. More detailed questions get shunted to departments such as Anthropology. But every so often, you get funny ones. Here are some Cordelia Benedict of the Smithsonian’s telephone information services and Marilyn London of the anthropology outreach and public information office have gotten over the years:

There’s a mastadon in my back yard. Can you send some scientists to dig it up? "There was literally a mastodon buried on her ranch," Benedict says. "She was right. We referred her to the vertebrate department, I think."

Do you have the Original Bible? You know, 10 Commands, tablets, Moses, etc?

What’s the name of the guy who invented the wheel? ("How do you know it was a man?" London replied.)

Where do you keep the flying saucers you’ve captured?

Can a small plane land on the Mall? The caller was sure it could since "all those planes in the Air and Space Museum had to get there somehow."

Is Fawn Hall’s underwear on display? This from "two men in a Texas bar who obviously had a lot to drink," says Benedict.

Where is the Ark of the Covenant? (Try Indiana Jones movies.)

Does the Smithsonian display Civil War planes?

Is the Smithsonian interested in buying the carcass of Bigfoot?

Will the Smithsonian sell the starship Enterprise, used for the popular "Star Trek" television show? "She only wanted it if the transporter was in working condition," Benedict says. (The only life-size Enterprise at the Smithsonian is the space shuttle of the same name).

Can the Smithsonian set up a caller with a hula teacher? "Actually, I tracked one down for her," remembers London. "We have a curator involved in South Pacific and Hawaiian culture, so she knew one."

How do you say "I’m thinking of you" in Apache?

Can you send "all the information you have on human evolution, even the secret stuff?" from a grade school letter writer.

How about the coin George Washington tossed across the Delaware River?

Could the Smithsonian take a "petrified whale" off a caller’s hands? He was referred to paleontology. "I told him that means `very old biology,’ and he said, `good because this is a very old whale,’" Benedict recalls.

And one of Benedict’s favorites: an offer to donate a collection of potato chips resembling "famous people and animals."

The shortest distance…

March 14, 1997

I’ve gotten a lot of criticism for not using sidewalks. And not just from Going Nowhere, the official Sidewalk Society of America. Close friends have yelled at me from across long distances to say, "Hey, why aren’t you using the sidewalk?" I ask: Why bother? First, grass is a lot softer to walk on. Sure, it can be damp sometimes, but if the grass is wet, the sidewalks will be covered with enormous puddles ranging anywhere from a few inches to several feet in depth. Grass is also made to be walked on. Millions of years of evolution have made grass the perfect walking material. And even if you’re environmentally conscious, grass is not even close to being endangered. Grass also provides you with the shortest distance between two points. Every nine-year old in the world knows that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. The ones that don’t grasp this simple fact grow up to be sidewalk designers. Sidewalks inevitably take you as far from where you want to go as possible, then lead you back around. A five-minute walk becomes five hours if you follow the sidewalk. Come to think of it, they’re the perfect excuse. The next time your boss says, "Why are you late?" just answer, "It’s the sidewalk’s fault." People who use the sidewalks are people who are going to classes, meetings, or jobs that they really don’t want to go to. Maybe it’s about time I give sidewalks a second chance.

Speaking of second chances, enjoy this bit of nostalgia…


while in high school, you and all your friends discussed elaborate plans to get together again at the end of the century and play "1999" by Prince over and over again

the phrase "going courting", to you, means fighting an unjust traffic ticket or playing tennis

you know, by heart, the words to any "Weird" Al Yankovic song

you took family trips BEFORE the invention of the mini-van. You rode in the back of the station wagon and you faced the cars behind you.

you knew all the words to Billy Joel’s "We Didn’t Start the Fire", but it really didn’t hold any meaning for you until about the third verse

you’ve ever conversationally used the phrase "Jane, you ignorant slut"

you watched HR Puffenstuff as a child, but now that you’re older, you really understand that it would have been much better had you known about drugs at the time

you remember the days when cocaine was just fine in powderform, thankyouverymuch

the Brady Bunch movie brought back cool memories

you remember the first time "Space: Above and Beyond" aired – it was called "Battlestar Galactica"

songs by Debbie Gibson still haunt you to this day

three words: "Atari" "IntelliVision" and "Coleco". Sound familiar?

you remember the days that hooking your computer into your television wasn’t an expensive option that required gadgets – it was the ONLY WAY to use your computer!

you remember "Friday Night Videos" before the days of MTV

a predominant color in your childhood photos is "plaid"

you see teenagers today wearing clothes that show up in those childhood photos, and they still look bad

you remember when music that was labeled "alternative" really was

you were shocked and horrified at the Challenger explosion (which you were probably watching in school at the time), and yet, when someone mentions the name "JFK", the first thing you think of is "Oliver Stone"

you, yes you, sat down and memorized the entire lyric sheet to "It’s the end of the world as we know it"

you can’t remember when the word "networking" didn’t have a computer connotation to it as well

you’ve recently horrified yourself by using any one of the following phrases:

  • "When I was younger"
  • "When I was your age"
  • "You know, back when…"
  • "Because I SAID so, that’s why"
  • "What is this noise on the radio?"
  • "Just can’t (fill in the blank) like I used to

You can’t remember a time when "going out for coffee" DIDN’T involve 49,000 selections to choose from

Schoolhouse Rock played a HUGE part in how you actually learned the English language

Kids that work in restaurants and supermarkets are starting to annoy you by calling you "sir" or "ma’am"

you’re starting to view getting carded to buy alcohol as a GOOD thing, and you’re ready to marry the next person who cards you when you want to buy cigarettes

flashback: it was your first chance to vote in a presidential election, and you were SO disappointed because, just for laughs, you really wanted to vote for Gary Hart

the first time you heard the candidates names, you were pumped because you thought MICHAEL Jackson was running for President, not this Jesse character.

you ever dressed to emulate a person you saw in either a Duran Duran, Madonna, or Cyndi Lauper video

at one point during your teenage years, you walked with a noticeable tilt to one side due to the number of plastic rings on that arm

"Celebration" by Kool & the Gang was one of the hot new songs when you first heard it at a school dance

the first time you ever kissed someone at a dance fell during "Crazy for You" by Madonna

there were at least three people in your school that voluntarily went by the names of "Skip" "Buffy" "Muffy" or "Dexter"

you ever owned one of those embarrassing crimping irons

you used to hold in your head the thought that all those gold chains on Mr. T actually looked kinda cool and the thought that Mr. T made millions seemed rational to you at the time

you remember with pain the sad day when the Green Machine hit the streets and made your old big wheel quite obsolete

the phrase "Where’s the beef?" still doubles you over with laughter

you read the "Hot Video Games Player’s Secrets" guide for Mortal Kombat just so you could find the hidden screen, and play Pong again for old time’s sake

honestly remember when film critics raved that no movie could ever possibly get better special effects than those in the movie TRON.

you ever had nightmares about the giant red evil robot Maximillian from the Disney movie "The Black Hole" and those blender attachments he had for hands

you were convinced for years that Batman was a mildly overweight man with a moderate beer belly who wore his underwear outside of his clothes and talked strangely

(female) you thought Sean Cassidy was "dreamy", lusted after "Ted, your ship’s photographer" on the Love Boat and Chachi, or, to keep it fair to the comically interested, thought Fred was just a hunk on Scooby Doo

you’re still occasionally suffering flashbacks from your 21st birthday party

you’re starting to dread you’re 30th birthday, and have even begun going into denial about it’s possibility

you’ve ever said "I’m a vegetarian" and immediately had someone call you a hypocrite by saying "Nice leather jacket you have there…and gee, is that a suede bag…those shoes leather, too?"

you’re starting to believe that maybe 30 isn’t so old after all, and it’s those people over 40 you have to look out for

you freaked out when you found that you now fall into the "26 – 50" age category on most questionnaires

you have begun to lust after women (or men) that it would be socially inappropriate for you to date due to their age

your hair, at some point in time in the 80’s, became something which can only be described by the phrase "I was experimenting"

this timeline appropriately describes actual events in your life: Star Wars opens, you are still in single digit ages, and you think the creatures are WAY cool. Empire Strikes Back opens, you are now in early double digit ages, and you are convinced that the special effects are much better, the characters are cool, and you want one of every collectible out there. Return of the Jedi hits the theaters…you are now a teenager, and you cannot get your eyes off Princess Leia or Han Solo. You fantasize forever and ever about it, and send off to join every fan club for them on the planet, hanging posters, photos, and "teen"-type magazine spreads all over your walls and lockers at school.

you’ve ever shopped at a Banana Republic or Benetton, but not in the last five years, okay?

you can’t remember a time when "hitting the outlet stores" didn’t mean going to an electrical warehouse

you’re starting to believe (now that it wouldn’t affect YOU) that maybe having the kids go to school year-round wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all

you’re doing absolutely nothing with anything pertaining to your major degree

you won’t walk into the place where you once knew every bartender on a first name basis because "there’s too many kids there"

going to keg parties no longer involves hiding out in the woods when the cops show up

you want to go out dancing, you really, REALLY do, but your back hurts, sorry

(male) you’re starting to think that Corvettes really look good, and aren’t REALLY for guy’s going through a mid-life crisis. That’s not YOU.

you’re starting to get that "why aren’t you married yet" shpiel, not just from parents, but now from friends that are married

you’ve recently horrified yourself by groaning as you get out of bed, not because of a hangover, but because it genuinely just hurts to do so

you’re finding that you just don’t understand more than half the lingo used on MTV any more

you never wanted to be gagged with a spoon

U2 is too "popular" and "mainstream" for you now

you ever used the phrase "kiss mah grits" in conversation

When someone mentions two consecutive days of the week, the Happy Days theme is stuck in your head for hours on end

you remember trying to guess the episode of the Brady Bunch from the first scene

you ever used the phrase "don’t make me angry…you wouldn’t LIKE me when I’m angry" when trying to frighten someone off

you had ringside seats for Luke and Laura’s wedding (on General Hospital)

you remember "Hey, let’s be careful out there"

your parents wanted you to attend medical school, but you decided it was pointless since Quincy got all the babes, anyway

you know who shot J.R.

this rings a bell: "and my name, is Charlie. They work for me."

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