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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."

Biography This Week

March 7, 1997

Years ago in the comics section of the newspaper–the only part of the newspaper that I really pay any attention to–there was a special section called "Biography". It was, I think, one of those semi-hip attempts to draw teenagers to the comics. It lasted about six months, but in that period of time, its effect was devastating. Regardless of what kind of entertainer they focused on each week–singer, comedian, actor–that person would disappear completely from the public eye immediately afterward. Their career could be rising, falling, mediocre, successful…it didn’t matter. Once they were featured, they were gone. If out-of-work performers appeared on milk cartons, they would all say "Last seen in: Biography comic strip." It’s not hard to guess, though, why this comic strip cut down everything in its path: they all ended the same way. "<Blank> is destined to be one of the greatest <fill in occupation> ever!"

Enjoy the following piece about some other people who were unquestionably destined for…well…

Darwin Awards II

You may recall last year’s Darwin Award winner: The man who found out moments before making a 300 MPH dent in an Arizona cliff that the JATO (jet assist take off) unit he’d strapped to his car could not be turned off once it was turned on.

Darwin Awards are (by definition) granted posthumously. This citation is bestowed upon (the remains of) that individual, who through single-minded self-sacrifice, has done the most to remove undesirable elements from the human gene pool.

The 1996 nominees are:

[San Jose Mercury News] An unidentified man, using a shotgun like a club to break a former girlfriend’s windshield, accidentally shot himself to death when the gun discharged, blowing a hole in his gut.

[Hickory Daily Record 12/21/92] Ken Charles Barger, 47,accidentally shot himself to death in December in Newton, N.C., when, awakening to the sound of a ringing telephone beside his bed, he reached for the phone but grabbed instead a Smith &Wesson .38 Special, which discharged when he drew it to his ear.

[Unknown, 25 March] A terrible diet and room with no ventilation are being blamed for the death of a man who was killed by his own gas. There was no mark on his body but autopsy showed large amounts of methane gas in his system. His diet had consisted primarily of beans and cabbage (and a couple of other things). It was just the right combination of foods. It appears that the man died in his sleep from breathing from the poisonous cloud that was hanging over his bed. Had he been outside or had his windows been opened, it wouldn’t have been fatal. But the man was shut up in his near airtight bedroom. He was "a big man with a huge capacity for creating [this deadly gas]." Three of the rescuers got sick and one was hospitalized.

[Reuters, Mississauga, Ontario] Man slips, falls 23 stories to his death. A man cleaning a bird feeder on his balcony of his condominium apartment in this Toronto suburb slipped and fell 23 stories to his death, police said Monday. Stefan Macko, 55, was standing on a wheeled chair Sunday when the accident occurred, said Inspector D’Arcy Honer of the Peel regional police."It appears the chair moved and he went over the balcony," Honer said."It’s one of those freak accidents. No foul play is suspected."

[UPI, Toronto] Police said a lawyer demonstrating the safety of windows in a downtown Toronto skyscraper crashed through a pane with his shoulder and plunged 24 floors to his death. A police spokesman said Garry Hoy, 39, fell into the courtyard of the Toronto Dominion Bank Tower early Friday evening as he was explaining the strength of the building’s windows to visiting law students. Hoy previously had conducted demonstrations of window strength according to police reports. Peter Lauwers, managing partner of the firm Holden Day Wilson, told the Toronto Sun newspaper that Hoy was"one of the best and brightest" members of the 200-man association.

[AP, Cairo, Egypt, 31 Aug 1995 CAIRO, Egypt (AP)] Six people drowned Monday while trying to rescue a chicken that had fallen into a well in southern Egypt. An 18-year-old farmer was the first to descend into the 60-foot well. He drowned, apparently after an undercurrent in the water pulled him down, police said.His sister and two brothers,none of whom could swim well, went in one by one to help him, but also drowned. Two elderly farmers then came to help, but they apparently were pulled by the same undercurrent. The bodies of the six were later pulled out of the well in the village of Nazlat Imara, 240 miles south of Cairo. The chicken was also pulled out. It survived.

[Times of London] A thief who sneaked into a hospital was scarred for life when he tried to get a suntan. After evading security staff at Odstock Hospital in Salisbury, Wiltshire, and helping himself to doctor’s paging devices, the thief spotted a vertical sunbed. He walked into the unit and removed his clothes for a 45-minute tan. However, the high-voltage UV machine at the hospital, which is renowned for its treatment of burns victims, has a maximum dosage of 10 seconds. After lying on the bed for almost 300 times the recommended maximum time, the man was covered in blisters. Hours later, when the pain of the burns became unbearable, he went to Southampton General Hospital, 20 miles away, in Hampshire. Staff became suspicious because he was wearing a doctor’s coat. After tending his wounds they called the police. Southampton police said: "This man broke into Odstock and decided he fancied a quick suntan. Doctors say he is going to be scarred for life."

"More intelligence-challenged people"

45 year-old Amy Brasher was arrested in San Antonio, Texas, after a mechanic reported to police that 18 packages of marijuana were packed in the engine compartment of the car which she had brought to the mechanic for an oil change. According to police, Brasher later said that she didn’t realize that the mechanic would have to raise the hood to change the oil.

Portsmouth, R.I.Police charged Gregory Rosa, 25, with a string of vending machine robberies in January when he:
1. fled from police inexplicably when they spotted him loitering around a vending machine and
2. later tried to post his $400 bail in coins.

Karen Lee Joachimi, 20, was arrested in Lake City, Florida, for robbery of a Howard Johnson’s motel. She was armed with only an electric chainsaw, which was not plugged in.

The Ann Arbor News crime column reported that a man walked into Burger King in Ypsilanti, Michigan at 7:50 am, flashed a gun and demanded cash. The clerk turned him down because he said he couldn’t open the cash register without a food order. When the man ordered onion rings, the clerk said they weren’t available for breakfast. The man, frustrated, walked away.

In case you’ve forgotten about the 1995 awardees, some of them are listed below:

* James Burns, 34, of Alamo, Mich., was killed in March as he was trying to repair what police described as a "farm-type truck." Burns got a friend to drive the truck on a highway while Burns hung underneath so that he could ascertain the source of a troubling noise. Burns’ clothes caught on something, however, and the other man found Burns "wrapped in the drive shaft." [Kalamazoo Gazette, 4-1-95]

* Same thing up here in MI. Seems some poor fella thought it would be a good idea to "move" a downed wire from his car. Newspaper reports it took a FULL MINUTE of neighbors whacking away at him with a 2×4 to free their freshly fried former friend from the fatal flashing.

* Bowling Green, Ohio, student Robert Ricketts, 19, had his head bloodied when he was struck by a Conrail train. He told police he was trying to see how close to the moving train he could place his head without getting hit.

* In Wesley Chapel, Florida, Joseph Aaron, 20, was hit in the leg with pieces of the bullet he fired at the exhaust pipe of his car. When repairing the car, he needed to bore a hole in the pipe. When he couldn’t find a drill, he tried to shoot a hole in it.

I’ll be seeing you…

February 27, 1997

Well, folks, I am sorry to say I’m not going to be here tomorrow. Sure! If having Friday off depressed me, I’d be in need of serious help. Well, actually…

You may be wondering what I’m going to do with all that time off. Mainly I’m going to be catching up on all the TV watching I’ve missed with my busy schedule. Why TV? Well, let me tell you what I’ll be watching: People’s Funny Home Videos, Funny Home Videos of the World, Disasters Caught On Video, Funny Animal Home Videos, Deadly Animal Attacks Caught on Video, Scary Car Chases on Video, and some show about how to make home videos. After all, vacations are meant to be spent with friends, and with that many home videos, I’m sure to see someone I know. And if I don’t, well, there’s always America’s Most Dangerous Criminals.

Enjoy this week’s offering which involves that other outlet for excess creativity: the answering machine.


Some newly discovered answering machine greetings…

My wife and I can’t come to the phone right now, but if you’ll leave your name and number, we’ll get back to you as soon as we’re finished.

Hello, you’ve reached Jim and Sonya. We can’t pick up the phone right now, because we’re doing something we really enjoy. Sonya likes doing it up and down, and I like doing it left to right…real slowly. So leave a message, and when we’re done brushing our teeth we’ll get back to you.

A is for academics,
B is for beer.
One of those reasons is why we’re not here.
So leave a message.

Hi. This is John. If you are the phone company, I already sent the money. If you are my parents, please send money. If you are my financial aid institution, you didn’t lend me enough money. If you are my friends, you owe me money. If you are a female, don’t worry, I have plenty of money.

(Narrator’s voice:) There Dale sits, reading a magazine. Suddenly the telephone rings! The bathroom explodes into a veritable maelstrom of toilet paper, with Dale in the middle of it, his arms windmilling at incredible speeds! Will he make it in time? Alas no, his valiant effort is in vain. The bell hath sounded. Thou must leave a message.

Please leave a message. However, you have the right to remain silent. Everything you say will be recorded and will be used by us.

….and my personal *favorite*

Hi. I’m probably home, I’m just avoiding someone I don’t like. Leave me a message, and if I don’t call back, it’s you.

Wise men say…

February 21, 1997

There’s an old riddle that goes like this: A man is trapped in a room with only a mattress and a calendar. How does he survive? Simple: he eats dates from the calendar and drinks water from the springs in the mattress. Strangely enough, this has never been tried. There’s another old saying that goes like this: If you put a thousand monkeys in a room with a thousand typewriters, eventually they’ll produce the complete works of William Shakespeare. This has been tried, and the end result was a thousand obsolete typewriters and a thousand dead monkeys. Maybe they should have given them a bunch of calendars and mattresses, but I suspect the result then would have just been a lot more monkeys. Why am I sharing all this with you? I have no idea. Maybe it’s because of an even older saying: A little nonsense now and then Is relished by the wisest men. If that’s true, I must be practically a genius.

Actual questions asked by Actual tourists at various
U.S. national parks

Zion National Park
What is your best parking area?

Mount Rainier National Park
Where’s the road to the summit?

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
Don’t you think the polluted sky makes a much prettier sunset? (Obviously someone who voted for Newt)

Grand Canyon National Park
Was this man-made?
Do you light it up at night?
I bought tickets for the elevator to the bottom — where is it?
Is the mule train air-conditioned?
So where are the faces of the presidents?
Why did the Indians only build ruins?

Everglades National Park
Are the alligators real?
Are the baby alligators for sale?
Where are all the rides?
What time does the two o’clock bus leave?

Mesa Verde National Park
Did people build this, or did Indians?
Why did they build the ruins so close to the road?
Do you know of any undiscovered ruins?
What did they worship in the kivas — their own made-up religion?
Why did the Indians decide to live in Colorado?

Carlsbad Caverns National Park
How much of the cave is underground?
So what’s in the unexplored part of the cave?
Does it ever rain in here?
How many ping-pong balls would it take to fill this up?
So what is this — just a hole in the ground?

Yosemite National Park
Where are the cages for the animals?
What time of year do you turn on Yosemite Falls?
What happened to the other half of Half Dome?
Can I get my picture taken with the carving of President Clinton?

Denali National Park
What time do you feed the bears?
What time do they let the animals out in the park?
What’s so wonderful about Wonder Lake?
Can you show me where yeti lives?
How often do you mow the tundra?
How much does Mount McKinley weigh?

Yellowstone National Park
Does Old Faithful erupt at night?
How do you turn it on?
When does the guy who turns it on get to sleep?
We had no trouble finding the park entrances, but where are the exits?

Isn’t it romantic…

February 14, 1997

February is a weird month, especially since it’s the shortest month of the year. February has more special days packed into it than probably any other month. First there’s Groundhog Day–the second, and never in my life can I remember a time when the famous groundhog was not frightened by his shadow, signifying six more weeks of winter. You would think after millenia of this people would either shoot the groundhog or pick another animal, but snakes aren’t as cuddly and bears, like various movie stars, have been known to maim and kill photographers. Next there’s Mardi Gras. Not only is this the time when people get so drunk you’d think they were practicing for St. Patrick’s Day, it’s also the time when people do completely insane things they wouldn’t do at any other time of the year. These things almost always involve balloons, shaving cream, and donkeys. Because people–usually guys–do these idiotic things, it’s a good thing the next really special day is Valentine’s Day, when a barrage of cards, chocolates, and other goodies give the hung-over a chance to appease their significant others. In fact, very few people realize that Valentine is the patron saint of people who have done very stupid things and need otherworldly assistance when they go crawling back. So happy Valentine’s Day, everybody, and hope you don’t need the help–I understand Valentine is a little overworked this year. Enjoy the following list of statements by people who are beyond help, and how to answer them.

Pick-up lines heard around the world and possible responses

I know how to please a woman.
A-> Then please leave me alone.

I want to give myself to you.
A-> Sorry, I don’t accept cheap gifts.

May I see you pretty soon?
A-> Don’t you think I’m pretty now?

Your hair color is fabulous.
A-> Thank you. It’s on aisle three at the corner drug store.

You look like a dream.
A-> Go back to sleep.

I can tell that you want me.
A-> Yes, I want you to leave.

Hey, baby, what’s your sign?
A-> Do not enter. Or Stop.

I’d go through anything for you.
A-> Let’s start with your bank account.

May I have the last dance?
A-> You’ve just had it.

I would go to the end of the world for you.
A-> Yes, but would you stay there?

Your place or mine?
A-> Both. You go to your place, and I’ll go to mine.

Your body is like a temple.
A-> Sorry, there are no services today.

Is this seat empty?
A-> Yes, and this one will be too if you sit down.

What’s it like being the most beautiful girl in the bar?
A-> What’s it like being the biggest liar in the world?

Haven’t I seen you someplace before?
A-> Yeah, that’s why I don’t go there anymore.

If I could see you naked, I’d die happy.
A-> If I could see you naked, I’d die laughing.

Don’t ask me…

February 7, 1997

Every once in a while something makes me stop dead in my tracks and say, "Why is that?" Unfortunately most of these things aren’t enough to make a whole edition by themselves, but going through my notebook, I realized I had enough of these things to choke a horse. So, without further ado, I present my Why Is That? List: Most, if not all, of the people who use the expression "enough to choke a horse" have absolutely no idea exactly how much that is. Why is that? Hamburger buns and bagels always come pre-cut so that one half will fit perfectly into a regular toaster and the other half will not. Waiters who work the least expect the biggest tips. Fast food places can be run by trained chimpanzees–but instead they hire teenagers. Why is that? Whether I stop at the local gas station at noon or at midnight, or any time in between, the same guy is always there. Some of the video store’s New Releases were made before I was born. Video tapes can record up to six hours, but movies longer than two hours are put on two tapes. Why is that? A single beer in any bar costs as much as a six-pack does at the grocery. Trucks with those "How’s My Driving?" stickers are driven by courteous, cautious people. Trucks without them are driven by extras from "Mad Max". People in sitcoms have luxurious, multi-bedroom apartments, eat every meal in restaurants, and have no jobs. Why is that? Everybody lives in the city that has the world’s worst drivers. Vending machines will reject freshly minted bills at least three times before taking them. As soon as someone asks you to define a word you’ve used all your life, you realize you haven’t got a clue what it means… You and I probably both know why most, if not all, of these are true, but let’s face it: sometimes being able to ask why is more important than knowing the answer. If nothing else, it’s less stressful.

This is the transcript of a radio conversation between a U.S. naval ship and Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland in October 1995. Released by the Chief of Naval Operations, 10.10.1995.

U.S.: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the North to avoid a collision.

Canada: Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.

U.S.: This is the Captain of a U.S. Navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.

Canada: No. I say again, you divert YOUR course.


Canada: We are a lighthouse. Your call.

Sometimes, it seems like some people are just plain *doomed*. If you don’t believe it, consider these weird deaths:

* A fierce gust of wind blew 45-year-old Vittorio Luise’s car into a river near Naples, Italy, in 1983. He managed to break a window, climb out and swim to shore — where a tree blew over and killed him.

* Mike Stewart, 31, of Dallas was filming a movie in 1983 on the dangers of low-level bridges when the truck he was standing on passed under a low-level bridge — killing him.

* Walter Hallas, a 26-year-old store clerk in Leeds, England, was so afraid of dentists that in 1979 he asked a fellow worker to try to cure his toothache by punching him in the jaw. The punch caused Hallas to fall down, hitting his head, and he died of a fractured skull.

* George Schwartz, owner of a factory in Providence, R.I., narrowly escaped death when a 1983 blast flattened his factory except for one wall. After treatment for minor injuries, he returned to the scene to search for files. The remaining wall then collapsed on him, killing him.

* Depressed since he could not find a job, 42-year-old Romolo Ribolla sat in his kitchen near Pisa, Italy, with a gun in his hand threatening to kill himself in 1981. His wife pleaded for him not to do it, and after about an hour he burst into tears and threw the gun to the floor. It went off and killed his wife.

* A man hit by a car in New York in 1977 got up uninjured, but lay back down in front of the car when a bystander told him to pretend he was hurt so he could collect insurance money. The car rolled forward and crushed him to death.

* Surprised while burgling a house in Antwerp, Belgium, a thief fled out the back door, clambered over a nine-foot wall, dropped down and found himself in the city prison.

* In 1976 a twenty-two-year-old Irishman, Bob Finnegan, was crossing the busy Falls Road in Belfast, when he was struck by a taxi and flung over its roof. The taxi drove away and, as Finnegan lay stunned in the road, another car ran into him, rolling him into the gutter. It too drove on. As a knot of gawkers gathered to examine the magnetic Irishman, a delivery van plowed through the crowd, leaving in its wake three injured bystanders and an even more battered Bob Finnegan. When a fourth vehicle came along, the crowd wisely scattered and only one person was hit — Bob Finnegan. In the space of two minutes Finnegan suffered a fractured skull, broken pelvis, broken leg, and other assorted injuries. Hospital officials said he would recover.

* While motorcycling through the Hungarian countryside, Cristo Falatti came up to a railway line just as the crossing gates were coming down. While he sat idling, he was joined by a farmer with a goat, which the farmer tethered to the crossing gate. A few moments later a horse and cart drew up behind Falatti, followed in short order by a man in a sportscar. When the train roared through the crossing, the horse startled and bit Falatti on the arm. Not a man to be trifled with, Falatti responded by punching the horse in the head. In consequence the horse’s owner jumped down from his cart and began scuffling with the motorcyclist. The horse, which was not up to this sort of excitement, backed away briskly, smashing the cart into the sportscar. At this, the sportscar driver leaped out of his car and joined the fray. The farmer came forward to try to pacify the three flailing men. As he did so, the crossing gates rose and his goat was strangled. At last report, the insurance companies were still trying to sort out the claims.

* Two West German motorists had an all-too-literal head-on collision in heavy fog near the small town of Guetersloh. Each was guiding his car at a snail’s pace near the center of the road. At the moment of impact their heads were both out of the windows when they smacked together. Both men were hospitalized with severe head injuries. Their cars weren’t scratched.

* In a classic case of one thing leading to another, seven men aged eighteen to twenty-nine received jail sentences of three to four years in Kingston-on-Thames, England, in 1979 after a fight that started when one of the men threw a french fry at another while they stood waiting for a train.

* Hitting on the novel idea that he could end his wife’s incessant nagging by giving her a good scare, Hungarian Jake Fen built an elaborate harness to make it look as if he had hanged himself. When his wife came home and saw him she fainted. Hearing a disturbance a neighbor came over and, finding what she thought were two corpses, seized the opportunity to loot the place. As she was leaving the room, her arms laden, the outraged and suspended Mr. Fen kicked her stoutly in the backside. This so surprised the lady that she dropped dead of a heart attack. Happily, Mr. Fen was acquitted of manslaughter and he and his wife were reconciled.

* An unidentified English woman, according to the London Sunday Express was climbing into the bathtub one afternoon when she remembered she had left some muffins in the oven. Naked, she dashed downstairs and was removing the muffins when she heard a noise at the door. Thinking it was the baker, and knowing he would come in and leave a loaf of bread on the kitchen table if she didn’t answer his knock, the woman darted into the broom cupboard. A few moments later she heard the back door open and, to her eternal mortification, the sound of footsteps coming toward the cupboard. It was the man from the gas company, come to read the meter. "Oh," stammered the woman, "I was expecting the baker." The gas man blinked, excused himself and departed.

It’s not the end of the world…

January 31, 1997

So I get home late and decide I’ll be chivalric and make dinner. There was a time when I used to consider myself something of a cook, and even now I like to imagine I’m one of those chefs with their own show that make a complete meal in half an hour–minus the three hours their assistants spend baking that twenty-pound roast, chopping all the ingredients, and pretty much preparing everything that can’t be done in thirty seconds or less. Spaghetti was on the menu–simple enough. A trained chimp can make spaghetti, and I should have gotten one rather than trying to do it myself. I was in such a hurry that I kept missing steps along the way, and for every step I missed, I had to add another pot to the stove. At one point, I had seven pots on the stove at once. Two not on burners, three on burners with various spaghetti parts in them, and one full of boiling water. The pot with boiling water had another pot in it with burned-on meat that I was trying to soften up before I went at it with the steel wool. A note to all you guys out there: cooking something on "High" will not make it cook faster. Even if you’re one of those guys who believes there are varying degrees of well-done, you have to admit that "charcoal" is not one of them. Finally, after narrowing my number of pots down to just two (one for sauce and one for what had been spaghetti before it over-boiled into mush) I managed to serve up a complete, tasty meal. The best part is I did it in less than half an hour–minus the three hours it took me to decide to order pizza.

When the end of the world arrives, how will the media report it?

USA Today:

The Wall Street Journal:

National Enquirer:


Microsoft Systems Journal:

Victoria’s Secret Catalog:

Sports Illustrated:


Rolling Stone:

Readers Digest:

Discover Magazine:

TV Guide:

Lady’s Home Journal:

America Online:

Inc. magazine:

Microsoft’s Web Site:


Party time…

January 24, 1997

The other day at an office party a fellow Freethinker happened to mention that we never have office parties of the kind you see in movies–the sort of parties where you REALLY get to know the people you work with. Well…maybe it’s better that things aren’t like the movies. After all, there are some pretty strange comments flying around even the current dull and boring office parties. Here are a few things I happened to overhear at the last one:

"How would you like to work on my large database?"
"Have you met —-‘s monkey?"
"I never get out of my office."
"Is this crap homemade?"
"No, this is storebought crap."

This kind of witty repartee is the exception to the rule, though. Mostly it’s a lot of shop talk, and if the punch were spiked, it would be teary, broken, confessional shop talk. People confessing a deep and profound love for their computer terminals, supply managers telling gruesome tales of paperclip and post-it-note misuse, administrators yelling out the REAL reason no one got raises last year…As funny as some of it would be, I can’t help thinking that maybe it’s better that no one spikes the punch. When you work side-by-side with someone for forty hours a week, there are some things you just shouldn’t know.

And now for the weather:

+50 / +10 (Fahrenheit / Celsius)
* New York tenants try to turn on the heat
* People from Ontario plant gardens

+40 / +4
* Californians shiver uncontrollably
* Albertans sunbathe

+35 / +2
* Italian cars don’t start

+32 / 0
* Distilled water freezes

+30 / -1
* You can see your breath
* You plan a vacation in Florida
* Politicians begin to worry about the homeless
* Manitobans eat ice cream

+25 / -4
* Lake Ontario water freezes
* Californians weep pitiably
* Cat insists on sleeping on your bed

+20 / -7
* New York water freezes
* San Franciscans start thinking favorably of L.A.
* Green Bay Packers fans put on T-shirts

+15 / -10
* You plan a vacation in Acapulco
* Cat insists on sleeping IN your bed with you
* B.C. residents go swimming

+10 / -12
* Politicians begin to talk about the homeless
* Too cold to snow
* You need jumper cables to get the car going

0 / -18
* New York landlords turn on the heat
* Newfoundlanders grill hot dogs on the patio, yum!

-5 / -21
* You can HEAR your breath
* You plan a vacation in Hawaii

-10 / -23
* American cars don’t start
* Too cold to skate

-15 / -26
* You can cut your breath and use it to build an igloo
* People from Miami cease to exist
* Canadians lick flagpoles

-20 / -29
* Politicians actually do something about the homeless
* People in NWT and Yukon think about taking down screens

-25 / -32
* Too cold to kiss
* You need jumper cables to get the driver going
* Japanese cars don’t start
* Ottawa Rough Riders head for spring training

-30 / -34
* You plan a two-week hot bath
* Pilsener freezes
* Bock beer production begins
* NWT residents shovel snow off roof

-38 / -39
* Mercury freezes
* Too cold to think
* Canadians do up their top button

-40 / -40
* Californians disappear
* Your CAR insists on sleeping in your bed with you
* Quebecers put on sweaters

-50 / -46
* Congressional hot air freezes
* Alaskans close the bathroom window
* Green Bay Packers practice indoors

-60 / -51
* Walruses abandon Aleutians
* Sign on Mount St. Helens: "Closed for the Season"
* Ontarians put gloves away, take out mittens
* Boy Scouts in Saskatchewan start Klondike Derby

-70 / -57
* Glaciers in Central Park
* Hudson residents replace diving boards with hockey nets
* Green Bay snowmobilers organize trans-lake race to Sault Ste. Marie

-80 / -62
* Polar bears abandon Baffin Island
* Girl Scouts in Saskatchewan start Klondike Derby

-90 / -68
* Edge of Antarctica reaches Rio de Janeiro
* Lawyers chase ambulances for no more than 10 miles
* Ontarians migrate to New York thinking it MUST be warmer south of
the border

-100 / -73
* Santa Claus abandons North Pole
* Canadians pull down earflaps

-173 / -114
* Ethyl alcohol freezes

-297 / -183
* Oxygen precipitates out of atmosphere
* Microbial life survives only on dairy products

-445 / -265
* Superconductivity

-452 / -269
* Helium becomes a liquid

-454 / -270
* Hell freezes over

-456 /-271
* Quebec drivers drop below 150 KPH on 400 series highways

-458 / -272
* Jean Cretien renounces a campaign contribution

-460 / -273 (Absolute Zero)
* All atomic motion ceases
* Canadians start saying how it’s a tad nippy outside


January 17, 1997

Winter has finally arrived in Nashville, so lately I’ve spent a lot of time watching the Weather Channel, and listening to weather reports on the news, just so I know what’s not going to happen during the course of the day. I think all this is starting to really affect me, though–I’m actually starting to find these weather reports interesting. I had to slap myself awake the other night because I was mesmerized by those little H’s and L’s buzzing across the screen. As my last defense against completely losing my mind in a cold front, I started thinking of ways to make the weather more interesting. With all those graphics they have, the weather isn’t far off from being more than a giant video game. People by the millions would tune in to hear updates about Ralph the intern and Lisa the anchor blasting each other with hurricanes, gale force winds, and tornadoes. It would be a lot more interesting than what’s really going on. The problem is it would upset too many people. There would be bets on where the next tornado would touch down, there would be under-the-table payments for rain to wash out baseball games, and schoolkids would flood the office with mail begging for snow. Maybe it’s better just to leave it alone. Besides, there’s something reassuring about the weather report. It does my ego a little bit of good to know that, even if I can’t predict the weather, neither can anyone else.

Enjoy this week’s offering.

From a newspaper contest where entrants were asked to imitate "Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey."


My young son asked me what happens after we die. I told him we get buried under a bunch of dirt and worms eat our bodies. I guess I should have told him the truth–that most of us go to Hell and burn eternally–but I didn’t want to upset him.

It sure would be nice if we got a day off for the president’s birthday, like they do for the queen. Of course, then we would have a lot of people voting for a candidate born on July 3 or December 26, just for the long weekends.

Democracy is a beautiful thing, except for that part about letting just any old yokel vote.

Home is where the house is.

Often, when I am reading a good book, I stop and thank my teacher. That is, I used to, until she got an unlisted number.

As you make your way through this hectic world of ours, set aside a few minutes each day. At the end of the year, you’ll have a couple of days saved up.

It would be terrible if the Red Cross Bloodmobile got into an accident. No, wait. That would be good because if anyone needed it, the blood would be right there.

Give me the strength to change the things I can, the grace to accept the things I cannot, and a great big bag of money.

The people who think Tiny Tim is strange are the same ones who think it odd that I drive without pants.

For centuries, people thought the moon was made of green cheese. Then the astronauts found that the moon is really a big hard rock. That’s what happens to cheese when you leave it out.

Think of the biggest number you can. Now add five. Then, imagine if you had that many Twinkies. Wow, that’s five more than the biggest number you could come up with!

I bet living in a nudist colony takes all the fun out of Halloween.

The only stupid question is the one that is never asked, except maybe "Don’t you think it is about time you audited my return?" or "Isn’t is morally wrong to give me a warning when, in fact, I was speeding?"

Once, I wept for I had no shoes. Then I came upon a man who had no feet. So I took his shoes. I mean, it’s not like he really needed them, right?

When I go to heaven, I want to see my grandpa again. But he better have lost the nose hair and the old-man smell.

I believe you should live each day as if it is your last, which is why I don’t have any clean laundry because, come on, who wants to wash clothes on the last day of their life?

I often wonder how come John Tesh isn’t as popular a singer as some people think he should be. Then, I remember it’s because he sucks.

Whenever I start getting sad about where I am in my life, I think about the last words of my favorite uncle: "A truck!"

If you really want to impress people with your computer literacy, add the words "dot com" to the end of everything you say, dot com.

I like to go down to the dog pound and pretend that I’ve found my dog. Then I tell them to kill it anyway because I already gave away all of his stuff. Dog people sure don’t have a sense of humor.


I don’t know about you, but I enjoy watching paint dry. I imagine that the wet paint is a big freshwater lake that is the only source of water for some tiny cities by the lake. As the lake gets drier, the population gets more desperate, and sometimes there are water riots. Once there was a big fire and everyone died.


I once heard the voice of God. It said "Vrrrrmmmmm." Unless it was just a lawn mower.


I gaze at the brilliant full moon. The same one, I think to myself, at which Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato gazed. Suddenly, I imagine they appear beside me. I tell Socrates about the national debate over one’s right to die and wonder at the constancy of the human condition. I tell Plato that I live in the country that has come the closest to Utopia, and I show him a copy of the Constitution. I tell Aristotle that we have found many more than four basic elements and I show him a periodic table. I get a box of kitchen matches and strike one. They gasp with wonder. We spend the rest of the night lighting farts.


If we could just get everyone to close their eyes and visualize world peace for an hour, imagine how serene and quiet it would be until the looting started.

Shooting my mouth off…

January 10, 1997

I have big lips. I know that sounds like a weird thing to say, but it’s something that so troubled me during my childhood that I would sometimes press my mouth closed to make me look thin-lipped. My parents overlooked the incredible advantage they gained by this (it shut me up for a while) and instead reassured me, as parents will do, that I would eventually grow into my lips. When I was in college, actresses with oversized lips became very popular and friends informed me that women were spending huge amounts of money to have lips like mine. I had to remind them that, despite the insistence of store clerks, waiters, and my Aunt Molly, I’m not a woman. Besides, none of Hollywood’s leading men have ever felt the need to spend a few thousand dollars on shooting their faces full of collagen. Over the years, it’s simply something I’ve come to live with, and once I got used to buying Chapstick by the crate, I even discovered advantages to oversized lips. I can do great impersonations of famous rock stars. Lip-readers can understand me from a couple of miles away. And these facial protuberances have actually kept me out of quite a few fights. They scare bullies off because, let’s face it, one good punch and these things could explode.

Enjoy this week’s offering.

The British Military writes EPRs which are officer fitness reports. The form used for Royal Navy and Marines fitness reports is the S206. The following are actual excerpts taken from people’s "206s"….

His men would follow him anywhere, but only out of curiosity.

This Officer is really not so much of a has-been, but more of a definitely won’t-be.

When she opens her mouth, it seems that this is only to change whichever foot was previously in there.

He has carried out each and every one of his duties to his entire satisfaction.

He would be out of his depth in a car park puddle.

This young lady has delusions of adequacy.

When he joined my ship, this Officer was something of a granny; since then he has aged considerably.

This Medical Officer has used my ship to carry his genitals from port to port, and my officers to carry him from bar to bar.

Since my last report he has reached rock bottom, and has started to dig.

She sets low personal standards and then consistently fails to achieve them.

He has the wisdom of youth, and the energy of old age.

This Officer should go far – and the sooner he starts, the better.

This man is depriving a village somewhere of an idiot.

Works well when under constant supervision and cornered like a rat in a trap.