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Lost In Translation

September 17, 1999

"A classic is a book which people praise rather than read."–Mark Twain

Remember those cheap black and yellow study guides you and your friends used in school? I’m referring to the ones that are claimed by the publishers to enhance and supplement school-assigned reading, but so thoroughly dumb down the works they cover that they replace the need for even buying the real book. That is, of course, unless you have to bring the book to class, in which case the attractive black and yellow cover reminds you that reading it is vaguely akin to criminal activity. Anyway, the times they are a’changin’, and for a new generation, these "study guides" are now available online, and they’re new and improved. Instead of just boring stuff about books and other school crap, the site also includes "study break" links to sites about music, video games, and sports. Now with a simple click of a button, students can skip reading _Frankenstein_ and instead breeze through the summary, the list of characters, and "kewl" answers they can use on essay questions. At least until their attention deficit disorder kicks in.

This was of course, a necessary development because of the increasing number of classic books that can be found online, none of which have links that take students to more interesting sites. Other books now available online include the Idiot’s Guide to the Internet, which, according to designers, has experienced a surprisingly low number of hits. Apparently anyone who needs the guide isn’t able to find it online, proving that it isn’t just book-buyers who are idiots.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

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

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

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

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

37. Your gene pool needs a little chlorine.

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


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

33. Jesus is coming! Look busy!

32. You are depriving some poor village of its IDIOT

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

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

29. My Hockey Mom Can Beat Up Your Soccer Mom


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

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

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

24. WANTED: Meaningful overnight relationship.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13. Hang up and drive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Consciousness: That annoying time between naps.

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

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

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

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

1. Honk If You Want To See My Finger

Died In The Wool

September 10, 1999

What do cartoon characters, hot sauce bottles, barracudas, Albert Einstein, bikini-clad women, piano keys, DNA, the Three Stooges, and famous paintings all have in common? Answer: they’ve all appeared on neckties. Now we can add infectious diseases to the list. A new line of ties features various diseases including herpes, bubonic plague, smallpox, and others. There are, of course, all kinds of advantages to these neckties. In meetings, if you’re sporting a snazzy hemorrhagic fever design, your boss might turn to you and say, "Johnson, this idea is almost as infectious as that tie of yours." Or you could intimidate a client by unbuttoning your double-breasted suit to reveal that you’re sporting none other than the common cold, or the slightly less common hantavirus. The late great comedian Lenny Bruce said tuberculosis was one of the hippest diseases you could get (right below pellagra). Now you can be hip by wearing tuberculosis without the risk and expense of getting it.

The company improved on their idea by expanding their line to scarves and, believe it or not, boxers. Although there are more romantic things you can wear under your clothes or to bed than gonorrhea, consider this: botulism can take you back to that would-have-been-romantic honeymoon in Mexico, cholera can be a memento of a harrowing stopover in Laos, and then there are all the "romance diseases." Mononucleosis is also known as "the kissing disease", in Shakespeare’s time syphillis was called "the French malady", and the word staphylococcus is so suggestive it doesn’t need any other names. What’s the next fashionable move for this company? Maybe a whole line of children’s clothing called "Babies With Rabies". But the malaria necktie will always remain the greatest achievement. Like the corporate drudge job that forces you to wear a silk noose around your neck every day, malaria isn’t fatal; it just makes you miserable for a very long time.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


God would like to thank you for your belief and patronage. In order to better serve your needs, He asks that you take a few moments to answer the following questions. Please keep in mind that your responses will be kept completely confidential, and that you need not disclose your name or address unless you prefer a direct response to comments or suggestions.

1. How did you find out about your Deity?
___ Newspaper
___ Bible
___ Torah
___ Book of Mormon
___ Koran
___ Divine inspiration
___ Dead Sea Scrolls
___ My mama done tol’ me
___ Near-death experience
___ Near-life experience
___ National Public Radio
___ Tabloid
___ Burning shrubbery
___ Other (specify): _____________

2. Which model Deity did you acquire?
___ Yahweh
___ Father, Son & Holy Ghost [Trinity Pak]
___ Jehovah
___ Jesus
___ Krishna
___ Zeus and entourage [Olympus Pak]
___ Odin and entourage [Valhalla Pak]
___ Allah
___ Satan
___ Gaia/Mother Earth/Mother Nature
___ God 1.0a (hairy thunderer)
___ God 1.0b (cosmic muffin)
___ None of the above; I was taken in by a false god

3. Did your God come to you undamaged,with all parts in good working order and with no obvious breakage or missing attributes?
___ Yes
___ No

If no, please describe the problems you initially encountered here. Please indicate all that apply:
___ Not eternal
___ Finite in space/Does not occupy or inhabit the entire cosmos
___ Not omniscient
___ Not omnipotent
___ Not infinitely plastic (incapable of being all things to all creations)
___ Permits sex outside of marriage
___ Prohibits sex outside of marriage
___ Makes mistakes (Geraldo Rivera, Jesse Helms)
___ Makes or permits bad things to happen to good people
___ When beseeched, doesn’t stay beseeched
___ Requires burnt offerings
___ Requires virgin sacrifices
___ Plays dice with the universe

4. What factors were relevant in your decision to acquire a Deity? Please check all that apply.
___ Indoctrinated by parents
___ Needed a reason to live
___ Indoctrinated by society
___ Needed focus in whom to despise
___ Imaginary friend grew up
___ Wanted to know Jesus in the Biblical sense
___ Graduated from the tooth fairy
___ Hate to think for myself
___ Wanted to meet girls/boys
___ Fear of death
___ Wanted to piss off parents
___ Needed a day away from work
___ Desperate need for certainty
___ Like organ music
___ Need to feel morally superior
___ Thought Jerry Falwell was cool
___ My shrubbery caught fire and told me to do it

5. Have you ever worshiped a Deity before? If so, which false god were you fooled by? Please check all that apply.
___ Mick Jagger
___ Rajanish
___ Baal
___ The almighty dollar
___ Bill Gates
___ Left-wing liberalism
___ The radical right
___ Ra
___ Beelzebub
___ Barney T.B.P.D.
___ The Great Spirit
___ The Great Pumpkin
___ The sun
___ Elvis
___ Cindy Crawford
___ The moon
___ TV news
___ Burning shrubbery
___ Other: ________________

6. Are you currently using any other source of inspiration in addition to God? Please check all that apply.
__ Tarot
__ Lottery
__ Astrology
__ Television
__ Fortune cookies
__ Ann Landers
__ Psychic Friends Network
__ Dianetics
__ Palmistry
__ Playboy and/or Playgirl
__ Self-help books
__ Sex, drugs,rock and roll
__ Biorhythms
__ Alcohol
__ Tea leaves
__ EST
__ America Online
__ Mantras
__ Jimmy Swaggert
__ Crystals (not including Crystal Gayle)
__ Human sacrifice
__ Pyramids
__ Wandering in a desert
__ Burning shrubbery
__ Barney T.B.P.D.
__ Barney Fife

7. God employs a limited degree of divine intervention to preserve the balanced level of felt presence and blind faith. Which would you prefer (circle one)?

a. More divine intervention
b. Less divine intervention
c. Current level of divine intervention is just right
d. Don’t know…what’s divine intervention?

8. God also attempts to maintain a balanced level of disasters and miracles. Please rate on a scale of 1 – 5 his handling of the following:
(1=unsatisfactory, 5=excellent):

flood 1 2 3 4 5
famine 1 2 3 4 5
earthquake 1 2 3 4 5
war 1 2 3 4 5
pestilence 1 2 3 4 5
plague 1 2 3 4 5
spam 1 2 3 4 5
AOL 1 2 3 4 5

rescues 1 2 3 4 5
spontaneous remissions 1 2 3 4 5
stars hovering over jerkwater towns 1 2 3 4 5
crying statues 1 2 3 4 5
water changing to wine 1 2 3 4 5
walking on water 1 2 3 4 5
VCRs that set their own clocks 1 2 3 4 5
Saddam Hussein still alive 1 2 3 4 5
getting any sex whatsoever 1 2 3 4 5

9. Do you have any additional comments or suggestions for improving the quality of God’s services? (Attach an additional sheet if necessary.) If you are able to complete the questionnaire and return it to one of our conveniently located drop-off boxes by October 31 you will be entered in the One Free Miracle of Your Choice drawing (chances of winning are approximately one in 6.023 x 10 to the 23rd power, depending on number of beings entered).

Life’s Little Emergencies

September 3, 1999

A few weeks ago I talked about how thrilled I was about the prospect of never being able to use 911. What I neglected to mention was that, here is Music City, we have another number to call for more pressing emergencies than 911 would be able to handle. After doing some finagling, I finally managed to get an operator at this place to take some notes on a routine night of calls. Here they are:

2:04PM: Beginning of my shift, and already Ed (not his real name)is on the line. He’s locked his keys in his car. He’s in a panic. I stay on the line with him until the locksmith arrives. Fortunately the wait isn’t long.

4:39PM: A woman just called in because she’s lost in a strange-looking neighborhood. I ask her to describe the area, and realize she’s in the parking garage of the downtown mall. Fortunately she’s on a cell-phone so I’m able to direct her toward the exit. Although she runs into another car on her way out, the important thing is I was there to give her the help she needed when she needed it.

6:25PM: Ed’s called in again. This time he can’t find the keys to his house. Again I keep him on the line until the locksmith arrives, but also talk to him about seeking counseling for his problem. As a chronic key loser, Ed really needs to understand that there won’t always be locksmiths around to let him in. I’ve seen cases like Ed’s before, and the sad thing is he’ll probably end up overloaded with keychains and hanging around the backs of hardware stores.

6:37PM: Phil (his real name) can’t decide whether or not to pop the big question to his girlfriend. I get my supervisor to stall him while I contact our department of Sexperts, Astrologers, And Advice Columnists and advise them we have a Code Black on the line. His call is transferred smoothly. These kinds of calls really bring it home to me why I love this job. In an ideal world, people like me wouldn’t be needed, but as long as we are, I’m proud to be that friendly voice on the other end of the line.

9:47PM: A few minutes before the end of my shift a woman calls in because her neighbors are having a party. They’re not getting rowdy yet, but she’s peeked in the windows, and believes drugs, probably alcohol and tobacco, are being used. I take down the address and realize it’s my house! What’s my roommate doing having a party without telling me? I assure her someone will be there to check into this situation right away. Enjoy this week’s offerings.

How To Attend a Meeting

To really succeed in a business or organization, it is sometimes helpful to know what your job is, and whether it involves any duties. Ask among your coworkers. "Hi," you should say. "I’m a new employee. What is the name of my job?" If they answer "long-range planner" or "lieutenant governor," you are pretty much free to lounge around and do crossword puzzles until retirement. Most jobs, however, will require some work.

There are two major kinds of work in modern organizations:

1. Taking phone messages for people who are in meetings, and, 2. Going to meetings.

Your ultimate career strategy will be to get a job involving primarily No. 2, going to meetings, as soon as possible, because that’s where the real prestige is. It is all very well and good to be able to take phone messages, but you are never going to get a position of power, a position where you can cost thousands of people their jobs with a single bonehead decision, unless you learn how to attend meetings.

The first meeting ever was held back in the Mezzanine Era. In those days, Man’s job was to slay his prey and bring it home for Woman, who had to figure out how to cook it. The problem was, Man was slow and basically naked, whereas the prey had warm fur and could run like an antelope. (In fact it was an antelope, only nobody knew this).

At last someone said, "Maybe if we just sat down and did some brainstorming, we could come up with a better way to hunt our prey!" It went extremely well, plus it was much warmer sitting in a circle, so they agreed to meet again the next day, and the next.

But the women pointed out that, prey-wise, the men had not produced anything, and the human race was pretty much starving.

The men agreed that was serious and said they would put it right near the top of their "agenda". At this point, the women, who were primitive but not stupid, started eating plants, and thus modern agriculture was born. It never would have happened without meetings.

The modern business meeting, however, might better be compared with a funeral, in the sense that you have a gathering of people who are wearing uncomfortable clothing and would rather be somewhere else. The major difference is that most funerals have a definite purpose. Also, nothing is really ever buried in a meeting.

An idea may look dead, but it will always reappear at another meeting later on. If you have ever seen the movie, "Night of the Living Dead," you have a rough idea of how modern meetings operate, with projects and proposals that everyone thought were killed rising up constantly from their graves to stagger back into meetings and eat the brains of the living.

There are two major kinds of meetings:

1. Meetings that are held for basically the same reason that Arbor Day is observed – namely, tradition. For example, a lot of managerial people like to meet on Monday, because it’s Monday. You’ll get used to it. You’d better, because this kind account for 83% of all meetings (based on a study in which I wrote down numbers until one of them looked about right). This type of meeting operates the way "Show and Tell" does in nursery school, with everyone getting to say something, the difference being that in nursery school, the kids actually have something to say.

When it’s your turn, you should say that you’re still working on whatever it is you’re supposed to be working on. This may seem pretty dumb, since obviously you’d be working on whatever you’re supposed to be working on, and even if you weren’t, you’d claim you were, but that’s the traditional thing for everyone to say. It would be a lot faster if the person running the meeting would just say, "Everyone who is still working on what he or she is supposed to be working on, raise your hand." You’d be out of there in five minutes, even allowing for jokes. But this is not how we do it in America. My guess is, it’s how they do it in Japan.

2. Meetings where there is some alleged purpose. These are trickier, because what you do depends on what the purpose is. Sometimes the purpose is harmless, like someone wants to show slides of pie charts and give everyone a big, fat report. All you have to do in this kind of meeting is sit there and have elaborate fantasies, then take the report back to your office and throw it away, unless, of course, you’re a vice president, in which case you write the name of a subordinate in the upper right hand corner, followed be a question mark, like this: "Norm?"

Then you send it to Norm and forget all about it (although it will plague Norm for the rest of his career).

But sometimes you go to meetings where the purpose is to get your "input" on something. This is very serious because what it means is, they want to make sure that in case whatever it is turns out to be stupid or fatal, you’ll get some of the blame, so you have to escape from the meeting before they get around to asking you anything. One way is to set fire to your tie.

Another is to have an accomplice interrupt the meeting and announce that you have a phone call from someone very important, such as the president of the company or the Pope. It should be one or the other. It would a sound fishy if the accomplice said, "You have a call from the president of the company, or the Pope."

You should know how to take notes at a meeting. Use a yellow legal pad. At the top, write the date and underline it twice.

Now wait until an important person, such as your boss, starts talking; when he does, look at him with an expression of enraptured interest, as though he is revealing the secrets of life itself. Then write interlocking rectangles like this:

(picture of doodled rectangles).

If it is an especially lengthy meeting, you can try something like this (Picture of more elaborate doodles and a caricature of the boss).

If somebody falls asleep in a meeting, have everyone else leave the room. Then collect a group of total strangers, right off the street, and have them sit around the sleeping person until he wakes up. Then have one of them say to him, "Bob, your plan is very, very risky. However, you’ve given us no choice but to try it. I only hope, for your sake, that you know what you’re getting yourself into." Then they should file quietly out of the room.

This ain’t kosher

August 27, 1999

Recently a Mississippi school board barred a Jewish student from wearing a Star of David because, they said, it was a gang symbol. The decision was first made by a teacher, and then the school principal. The student’s father is filing a lawsuit against the school board on the grounds of religious discrimination. Now, personally, I’d like to know what gang uses the Star of David as its symbol. Hillel’s Angels, maybe? To make matters even worse, the school’s principle has publicly questioned the legitimacy of the lawsuit because he doesn’t believe the student’s father is very devout in his faith. This statement was based on the fact that the father’s wife is not Jewish, and also what little of the man’s house the principle had seen while burning crosses in front of it. As a final, interesting twist to the story, Pat Robertson, head of the Christian Coalition, has stated that he believes the school board’s decision represents ignorance and religious intolerance, which is his way of saying he approves of it.

Note: The above was written just under a week ago when the story first hit the news. Since then it’s attracted national attention. As a result the Mississippi school board reversed its decision. As part of an apology, a member of the school board said, "We didn’t think we were violating anybody’s rights." This is because it’s generally assumed in Mississippi that Jews don’t have rights. Among the groups that put pressure on the school board were the ACLU, the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, and the Mississippi State Department of Tourism, which was afraid that the sudden influx of intelligent, tolerant, and well-spoken carpetbaggers might damage the state’s image. Fortunately it’s all over now and Mississippi can once again resume its job of making Kansas look progressive.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

"The trick is to stop thinking of it as ‘your’ money." (Tax Auditor)

"The hardest thing in the world to understand is income tax!" (Albert Einstein)

"When there is an income tax, the just man will pay more and the unjust less on the same amount of income." (Plato)

"There are two distinct classes of men… those who pay taxes and those who receive and live upon taxes." (Thomas Paine)

"The Government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend upon the support of Paul." (George Bernard Shaw)

"There is no art which one government sooner learns from another than that of draining money from the pockets of the people." (Adam Smith)

"He who has the base necessities of life should pay nothing; taxation on him who has a surplus may, if need be; extend to everything beyond necessities." (Jean Jacques Rousseau)

"Like mothers, taxes are often misunderstood, but seldom forgotten" (Lord Bramwell)

"War involves in its progress such a train of unforeseen and unsupposed circumstances that no human wisdom can calculate the end. It has but one thing certain, and that is to increase taxes." (Thomas Paine)

"In the matter of taxation, every privilege is an injustice." (Voltaire)

"But in this world nothing is certain but death and taxes." (Benjamin Franklin)

"A taxpayer is someone who works for the federal government but who doesn’t have to take a civil service examination." (Ronald Reagan)

"Does self assessment mean that Australia will becomes a land of untold wealth?"

"There can be no doubt concerning the duty of each citizen to bear a part of the public expense. But the state on its part, insofar as it is charged with protecting and promoting the common good of its citizens, is under an obligation to assess upon them only necessary levies, which are, furthermore, proportionate to their means." (Pius XII)


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.

Tune in, turn on, hang up

August 20, 1999

The Telecommunications Deregulation Act of a few years ago has brought many advantages with it, including reduced rates, a plethora of 10-10 numbers that will not only save you money but also give your phone number to companies you never heard of, and finally it’s broken up the main telephone monopoly and made it into an oligopoly that’s capable of fixing rates, driving small companies out of business, and giving telemarketing agencies free access to unlisted residential numbers. Back in the old days when there was only one phone company, you had two choices: you could deal with them, or you could get a couple of coffee cans and some string.

Nowadays you don’t even have to deal with one of the major companies. There’s a new beast out there called the prepaid phone service. You may have seen the commercials for these. The deal is you pay in advance for a specific amount of local and long distance time, and you pay an extra charge for anything over that time. If you’ve seen the commercials, then you may have noticed the fine print that says, "911 Service costs extra." (For those of you who live outside the United States, 911 is the number to dial in the event of an emergency.) Boy, I can’t tell you what a relief that is. I’ve never had an emergency that required me to call 911, but I’m a very nervous person so I’m always worried that I might have to. But what if I forget the number? What if they put me on hold? What if I get a message telling me to choose an extension and I’m calling from a rotary phone? What if it’s like ordering a pizza and they’ve never heard of my street? What if an ambulance comes for me and I don’t have any money to give the driver a tip? In an emergency, not having 911 will give me a lot less to worry about and I can focus on more important things, like finding a neighbor who will dial it for me.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


Too often, we lose sight of life’s simple pleasures………

Remember, when someone annoys you, It takes 42 muscles in your Face to frown BUT, it only takes 4 muscles to extend your arm and SMACK the asshole upside the head.

Q. What happens if you run out of gas while you’re flying?
A. Personally, we make it a point to take vitamins and get lots of rest before we fly so that fatigue is not a factor. There’s nothing more dangerous than a tired pilot. Next question.

Q. Why do airplanes climb so steeply after takeoff?
A. For statistical reasons. Since the vast majority of accidents occur on or near an airport, the pilot wants to get away from there as quickly as possible.

Q. How do you keep from getting sick while doing loops and spins and stuff like that?
A. It’s a discipline we developed when our instructor once said, "I wanted to throw up, but I wasn’t sure which way it was!"

Q. What causes turbulence?
A. We’re not absolutely sure, but studies indicate that it’s either tea or coffee. All we know is that every time we pour a cup, the ride gets bumpy.

Q. Why do some pilots insist on flying when the weather is bad and they can’t see where they’re going?
A. Because they don’t want to cancel motel reservations at their destination.

Q. What happens when your landing gear won’t go down?
A. Your insurance goes up.

Q. Have you ever had an accident in an airplane?
A. Yes. I once ruined a pair of trousers while landing in a 35-knot crosswind.

Q. Is it true that the FAA can suspend your license at any time, for no good reason?
A. The rumor is a gross exaggeration; they only work weekdays, 9 to 5.

Q. Is it expensive to learn how to fly?
A. Not really. It only costs about $1,000 . . . oh, you mean with an airplane and an instructor?

Q. What is the one basic thing that keeps an airplane in the air?
A. Money!!!

Q. How much does an airplane cost to own?
A. About three times as much as you have!

Q. But, hasn’t the recent enactment of tort reform and product-liability limits made an impact on the cost of airplanes?
A. It certainly has. They used to only cost twice as much as you had!

The Year Of Living Vicariously

August 13, 1999

Someday I’m going to travel to exotic and faraway places.

In the meantime, though, I get by reading travel literature. I’m a travel-story addict. And I’ve learned a lot not only about the world but also about the fine art of travel writing, an art that delicately balances fact and fiction, although the delicacy of the balance depends on how much the writer is being paid. Here are a few of the most important rules of travel writing:

  1. No matter where you go, always go on a whim. This will really irritate people who, even if they were to buy their tickets a decade in advance, still could not afford that dream trip to Bora Bora. But never mention that "whim" is travel writer code for "company expense account." A travel writer’s whims are not only paid for by someone else, they’re also tax-deductible.

  2. If you’re in an especially exotic place ("exotic" is defined as "no four-star hotels") mention over and over again that you speak the local language, be it Ibo, Tamil, Sinhalese, or Tonga. Make it very clear that anyone not able to speak either the local language or French will never have the exciting and fulfilling experience you’re writing about.

  3. If it rained the whole time and you were stuck in your hotel room with a tropical disease, make the airport sound like the most incredible place in the country. Then spend your last night in the hotel bar talking to people who have just arrived and base your article on what they plan to do.

  4. If you’re a guy and staying on a tropical island or peninsula, make sure you spend at least one night drinking with a tourist from another country. For example, if you’re from the United States and you’re in New Guinea, find a Canadian and buy him drinks on a whim. Be sure to mention that he was crude, barbaric, and rude to the locals, and that you quietly disapproved of his behavior.

  5. I have no advice for women travel writers. Or married travel writers. According to travel magazine stories, only single men travel.

  6. When writing a "travel on a budget" piece, don’t mention that you only visited the hostel or tent where you claim to have slept. Do, however, mention the lack of toilets, the holes in the roof (if there’s a roof), and the foot-long rats. This will discourage anyone who really thinks they can see Brazil on fifty cents a day.

  7. When writing about travel anywhere in Western Europe, Greece, or Australia, don’t mention historical landmarks, museums, or local points of interest. The focus of your story should be nightclubs. Be sure to mention what a fabulous dancer you are.

  8. The exception to the above rule is Amsterdam. People travelling to Amsterdam might be pleasantly surprised to find there’s a Van Gogh museum they can visit in between smoking dope at a cafe and cruising for hookers in the Red Light District.

  9. The only reason to visit Africa is to do something idiotic like crossing the Sahara on a dune buggy. According to travel writers, there is really nothing interesting in Africa. This is because nightclubs are not very common there.

  10. The life of the travel writer is one of perpetual, albeit mandatory, vacations. So even if your "vacation" is in some stinking backwater hellhole, remember that your trip is being at least partly financed by a travel agency that makes its money by selling package deals to people who want to visit this hellhole. Make the best of it because, if you screw up badly enough, the next hellhole may be your permanent destination.

Button slogans

  • Well, this day was a total waste of make-up.

  • Make yourself at home! Clean my kitchen

  • Who are these kids and why are they calling me Mom?

  • Don’t bother me, I’m living happily ever after.

  • Do I look like a freakin’ people person?

  • This isn’t an office–it’s Hell with fluorescent lighting.

  • I started out with nothing & still have most of it left.

  • I pretend to work. They pretend to pay me.

  • I’ve found Jesus. He was behind the sofa the whole time. (No doubt scared to death.)

  • If I throw a stick, will you leave?

  • You! Off my planet!

  • Therapy is expensive. Popping bubble wrap is cheap! You choose.

  • Bottomless pit of needs and wants

  • If I want to hear the pitter patter of little feet, I’ll put shoes on my cat.

  • Does your train of thought have a caboose?

  • Errors have been made. Others will be blamed.

  • And just how may I screw you over today?

  • And your crybaby whiny-assed opinion would be . . .?

  • A PBS mind in an MTV world.

  • Allow me to introduce my selves.

  • Whisper my favorite words: "I’ll buy it for you."

  • Better living through denial.

  • Whatever kind of look you were going for, you missed.

  • Suburbia: where they tear out the trees & then name streets after them.

  • Adult child of alien invaders.

  • Do they ever shut up on your planet?

  • I’m just working here ’til a good fast-food job opens up.

  • I’m trying to imagine you with a personality.

  • A cubicle is just a padded cell without a door.

  • Mall whore: I can suck the numbers right off your credit cards

  • Don’t worry. I forgot your name, too!

  • Adults are just kids who owe money.

  • I work 40 hours a week to be this poor.

  • You say I’m a bitch like it’s a bad thing.

  • Macho law forbids me from admitting I’m wrong.

  • Nice perfume. Must you marinate in it?

  • Chaos, panic, & disorder–my job here is done.

  • A woman’s favorite position is CEO.

  • Everyone thinks I’m psychotic, except for my friends deep inside the earth.

  • Is it time for your medication or mine?

  • Does this condom make me look fat?

  • Earth is full. Go home.

  • I plead contemporary insanity.

Not Waving But Drowning

August 6, 1999

There’s a shortage of lifeguards around the country this summer. Considering that most of the lakes, beaches, and community pools I’ve visited over the years were lifeguard-free, this is surprising, but I heard it on the radio so it must be true. Apparently lifeguards on TV outnumber real lifeguards by a staggering amount. (The same, interestingly, is true of police officers, private detectives, advertising agents, and wealthy, wacky people in their twenties who live amusing, catch-phrase laden lives.)

Part of the problem seems to be that businesses in malls are offering better wages and better benefits. They allow teenagers to sit in an air-conditioned room and do nothing, rather than forcing them to sit in the hot sun and do nothing. For some reason it’s also easier to ignore someone whose taco was put together incorrectly than someone being attacked by a shark. But at least lifeguards don’t have to wear hairnets. The shortage of lifeguards has forced those beaches and pools that seem to think they’re necessary to raise the wages they offer, and this has in turn drawn applicants who–I’m not kidding here–don’t know how to swim. Fortunately most of them have been turned away, but for safety’s sake, always swim with a buddy, never lose sight of the shore, and make sure you swim in areas with signs that say, "Swim At Your Own Risk", "Warning: Dangerous Undertow", and "Beach Off Limits Due to Biohazard".

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

How to Have Fun at Wal Mart

  1. Take shopping carts for the express purpose of filling them and stranding them at strategic locations.

  2. Get boxes of condoms and randomly put them in peoples carts when they don’t realize it.

  3. Set all the alarm clocks to go off at ten minute intervals throughout the day.

  4. Run up to an employee (preferably a male) while squeezing your legs together and practically yell at him "Where are your tampons?". (It’s especially effective if you’re also a male.)

  5. Try on bras over top of your clothes. (Ditto.)

  6. Make a trail of orange juice on the ground, leading to the restrooms.

  7. Walk up to an employee and tell him in an official tone,"I think we’ve got a Code 3 in housewares," and see what happens.

  8. Tune all the radios to a polka station; then turn them all on and turn the volumes to "10."

  9. Challenge other customers to duels with tubes of gift wrap.

  10. Re-dress the mannequins as you see fit.

  11. Test the fishing rods and see what you can "catch" from the other aisles.

  12. Put M&M’s on layaway.

  13. Move"Caution: Wet Floor" signs to carpeted areas.

  14. Set up a tent in the camping department; tell others you’ll only invite them in if they bring pillows from Bed and Bath.

  15. Contaminate the entire auto department by sampling all the spray air fesheners.

  16. Nonchalantly "test" the brushes and combs in Cosmetics.

  17. When someone asks if you need help, begin to cry and ask, "Why won’t you people just leave me alone?"

  18. Look right into the security camera, and use it as a mirror while you pick your nose.

  19. Take up an entire aisle in Toys by setting up a full scale battlefield with G.I. Joe’s vs. the X-Men.

  20. Ask other customers if they have any Grey Poupon.

  21. While handling guns in the hunting department, suddenly ask the clerk if he knows where the anti-depressants are.

  22. Switch the men’s and women’s signs on the doors of the restrooms.

  23. Dart around suspiciously while humming the theme from "Mission Impossible."

  24. Set up a "Valet Parking" sign in front of the store

  25. In the auto department, practice your "Madonna" look with various funnels.

  26. Hide in the clothing racks and when people browse through, say things like "pick me !! pick me!!" and scare them into believing that the clothes are talking to them.

  27. When an announcement comes over the loudspeaker, assume the fetal position and scream, "No, no! It’s those voices again!"

  28. Go to an empty checkout stand and try to check people out. If you see people waiting in line at other checkout stands, be sure to yell, "I can help you over here!"

  29. Drag a lounge chair on display over to the magazines and relax. If the store has a food court, buy a soft drink; explain that you don’t get out much, and ask if they can put a little umbrella in it.

  30. Go into the dressing room and yell real loud…Hey, we’re out of toilet paper in here!

Nobody Got An Eye Put Out

July 30, 1999

This morning I turned on the radio and heard a sound that raised the hairs on my arm. It was a child chanting, "Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary…" over and over again. Apparently this was recorded at a camp and the child was performing a game he and his friends put each other up to late at night. You may be familiar with it: someone goes into the bathroom, turns the lights off, closes his or her eyes, stands in front of the mirror, and turns around thirteen times (although the number varies) while chanting the name of some dreaded figure. After the thirteenth (or whatever number) rotation is finished, the child opens his or her eyes and will see the figure invoked in the mirror.

In my neighborhood, it was the Bell Witch, the name given to a poltergeist who supposedly tormented and murdered members of the Bell family. For some unknown reason I went along with this one night, having been triple dog-dared into it, and I can honestly say I have no clue what the Bell Witch looks like. Apparently the idea is not to invoke some dreaded figure from the past. The idea is to get some moron into the bathroom alone, get him or her to close his or her eyes, spin around and make a lot of noise, and, while this is going on, sneak into the bathroom yourself and, when the other person is finished, grab them and scream loudly. Sadly, though, I was always a victim and never a grabber, and I think my chances for ever being a grabber have long since slipped away. When kids grab each other in a dark bathroom, it’s goodnatured fun. When adults do it…well…the less said the better.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


Calories can be burned by the hundreds by engaging in strenuous activities that do not require physical exercise.

Exercise…………………………Calories burned per hour

Beating around the bush……………………….75
Jumping to conclusions……………………….100
Climbing the walls…………………………..150
Swallowing your pride…………………………50
Passing the buck……………………………..25
Throwing your weight around
(depending on your weight)…………………50-300
Dragging your heels………………………….100
Pushing your luck……………………………250
Making Mountains out of molehills……………..500
Hitting the nail on the head…………………..50
Wading through paperwork……………………..300
Bending over backwards………………………..75
Jumping on the bandwagon……………………..200
Balancing the books…………………………..25
Running around in circles…………………….350
Eating crow…………………………………225
(astoundingly crow is calorie-free)
Tooting your own horn…………………………25
Climbing the ladder of success………………..750
Pulling out the stops…………………………75
Adding fuel to the fire………………………160
Wrapping it up at the day’s end………………..12

To which you may want to add your own favorite activities, including:

Opening a can of worms ……………………….50
Putting your foot in your mouth……………….300
Starting the ball rolling……………………..90
Going over the edge…………………………..25
Picking up the pieces after…………………..350

Let’s all get out there and burn some calories!!

Corporate Lessons


A crow was sitting on a tree, doing nothing all day. A small rabbit saw the crow, and asked him, "Can I also sit like you and do nothing all day long?" The crow answered: "Sure, why not. " So, the rabbit sat on the ground below the crow, and rested. All of a sudden, a fox appeared, jumped on the rabbit and ate it.

Moral of the story:
To be sitting and doing nothing, you must be sitting very, very high up.


A turkey was chatting with a bull. "I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree," sighed the turkey, "but I haven’t got the energy."

"Well, why don’t you nibble on some of my droppings?" replied the bull. "They’re packed with nutrients."

The turkey pecked at a lump of dung and found that it actually gave him enough strength to reach the first branch of the tree. The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch. Finally after a fortnight, there he was proudly perched at the top of the tree. Soon he was promptly spotted by a farmer, who shot the turkey out of the tree.

Moral of the story: Bullshit might get you to the top, but it won’t keep you there.


All the organs of the body were having a meeting, trying to decide who was in charge.

"I should be in charge," said the brain, "because I run all the body systems, so without me nothing would happen."

"I should be in charge," said the blood, "because I circulate oxygen all over, so without me you’d all waste away."

"I should be in charge," said the stomach, "because I process food and give all of you energy."

"I should be in charge," said the rectum, "because I’m responsible for waste removal."

All the other body parts laughed at the rectum and insulted him, so so in a huff, he shut down tight.

Within a few days, the brain had a terrible headache, the stomach was bloated, and the blood was toxic. Eventually the other organs gave in. They all agreed that the rectum should be the boss.

The moral of the story?
You don’t have to be smart or important to be in charge… just an asshole!!!!!

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.