Saturday, December 27, 2008

How the Gridz Stole Hanukkah

Every Hoochik in Hooburg loved Hanukkah a lot
But the Gridz, who lived on Mount Bubkes, did not.
The Gridz hated Hanukkah, each day and night of it
But please don’t ask why he hated the sight of it.

It could be his yarmulke was on much too tight.
It could be his shmatas didn’t fit him quite right.
But I think the Gridz about Hanukkah was fooled
Because he did not know the meaning, he had not been to shul.

But whatever the reason, his education or fashion,
The Gridz on Mount Bubkes hated Hanukkah with a passion.

Staring down through the darkness, with a sour Gridz punim,
At the warm, lighted windows of the Hoochiks below him,
He saw every Hoochik in Hooburg down lower
Was busy now polishing a Hanukkah menorah.

“And they’re stocking up candles!” he said with a sneer,
“The first night of Hanukkah must be very near!”
“I must stop Hanukkah from coming but, nu,
Just when does it come? I haven’t a clue.”

It’s the twenty-fifth day of Kislev, the Hoochiks remember,
Which is sometimes in the winter, but could fall in November.

“But”, The Gridz said, “the thing which makes me much sorer
Is the lighting of all the Hanukkah menorahs.
Because then! Oy the lights! Oy the Lights! Lights! Lights! Lights!
The thing I hate most! Oy, those eight nights of lights!

And the Hoochiks of Hooburg will sit down for a feast
With big plates full of latkes fried up in hot grease.
They will eat mounds of latkes. They’ll eat soufganiot,
So sweet it would make the Gridz gag in his throat.

And THEN they’ll do something that is as bad as the light.
Each Hoochik in Hooburg will proudly recite.
They’ll recite the whole story of the Maccabees war.
They’ll recite how the Temple was finally restored.

Then Hanukkah songs! Every Hoochik will be singing.
They’ll sing ‘til the old Gridz’s eardrums are ringing.
All the songs at loud decibels. All the lights’ kilowatts.
All THIS made the old Gridz so mad he could plotz!

And then the more the Gridz thought of this Hanukkah shtik,
The more the Gridz thought, “This whole thing makes me sick!”
Why for hundreds of years they’ve been doing it now!
I must stop Hanukkah from coming!----But HOW!?

Then the Gridz got a plan. It’s a plan that just suits ya,
If you’re a Gridz, ‘cause this plan takes a whole lot of chutzpah.
If I find a nice robe and a tallis to grab, I
Can sneak into Hooburg dressed up as a rabbi.

When he looked in the mirror, he stared and he kvelled,
“I look so much like a rabbi that no one can tell.”
Then from up on Mount Bubkes, he started on down
Toward the homes where the Hoochiks lay a-snooze in their town.

When he came to the first little house on the square,
He paused, wondering how he could get inside there.
Then he found he could easily open the lock
For the Hoochiks are trusting and their locks are just shlock.

Then around the whole house he stole and he shlepped
And he found where all of the presents were kept.

He took presents and dreidels and Hanukkah gelt,
Chocolate Maccabees, matches and, he certainly felt,
That the one thing he must be sure to accomplish
Was stealing the candles, including the Shamash.

Then he shlepped to the fridge and he stole every nosh.
He stole all the latkes. He stole applesauce.
He stole sour cream. He stole oil. Oy, gevault!
He stole ALL the ingredients for soufganiot.

Then he packed all these things and he carried his bundles
And tossed them outside to cart home on his trundle.
And then that shlepping, gridzhidiker shnorrer
Said, “Just one more thing. I will steal the menorah.”

And he thought he would get away so easy and slick,
When he heard the small voice of a little Hoochik.
Then he turned around fast and saw a girl about sixish.
It was Sadie Leigh Hoochik, who started to kibbitz.

”Lift with your knees, Rabbi. Don’t strain your back.
Say, why are you taking our things in that sack?”
She stared at the Gridz and said, “Rabbi, gee whiz,
Why did you take our Menorah? What gives?”

But you know that old Gridz was so smart and so slick
He thought up an answer and he thought it up quick.

“Why you see, Sadieleh, this menorah’s no good.
The candle holders are broken, the thing is kaput.
So, I’ll get you a new one that was brought here from Israel.
But don’t worry your head. I can get it for wholesale.”

Sadie thought that this was a cockamamie reason
But it was too cold to stand there, her feet were just freezin’
So she crawled under the covers of her warm little bed,
The Gridz grabbed the menorah, then, quickly, he fled.

He had emptied the house and emptied it quick,
Except for one drop of oil, not enough for one wick.
He went to each Hoochik’s house, playing his dirty tricks
Leaving oil drops too small for their candlewicks.

Before the Hoochiks had wakened, he had everything bundled.
Then back to the top of mount Bupkes he trundled.

And he sat there with shpilkes and wearing a frown,
Waiting all day for the sun to go down.
For sundown would signal the start of the day,
And all of the Hoochiks would be shouting, “Oy vey!”

“For, just about now,” he was Gridzily hissing,
“The Hoochiks are discovering that Hanukkah’s missing.
There’ll be such a tsimis, so much tsuris this night
That, just this one time, I wish there was light.”

He wished he could see all the Hoochiks’ sad faces
When they found Hanukkah gone without any traces.
“But at least I can put up my hand to my ear;
For, when they start crying, THAT I want to hear.”

And he did hear a noise, but it was NOT sad.
He heard people singing and they sounded glad.
They told the Hanukkah story, which they could recite
To the children, without even candles to light.

They recited and sang. They sang and they prayed.
Hanukkah seemed to have come, and it stayed.
He hadn’t stopped Hanukkah from coming! It came!
Some how or other, it came just the same.

What’s more, the Hoochiks worked and they toiled
And gathered up all of those small bits of oil.
They gathered the oil, all those small little bits,
Which made only enough to light one of the wicks.

And the Gridz just watched them and sat there amazed,
For, believe it or not, the oil burned eight days.
And all of those days, the Gridz sat there and pondered
The miracle happening in Hooburg down yonder.

As the Gridz sat there, as the oil was burning,
Finally, finally, the Gridz did some learning.

At sundown, beginning the last Hanukkah day,
The Gridz stood up and smiled a strange way.
“Hanukkah’s not about presents,” he said.
“It’s about freedom to enjoy your religion instead.”

The Gridz learned something important that night.
You might say, finally, the Gridz SAW the light.
So with one final day of Hanukkah to go,
The Gridz took back their stuff to the Hoochiks below.

He too back menorahs and presents and dreidels,
He took back the fry pans, utensils and ladles.
He took back the food and (now this thing may shock ya)
The Gridz, he himself, fried up the first latke.

(Note: This was written about 15 years ago, before "The Putz Who Stole Hanukkah" or Gridz software was written.)

Friday, December 26, 2008

It's Like Life, Only Different

Yesterday (Christmas) was in the 40s, bright and sunny and clear. I went outside to enjoy it, expecting to see the neighborhood children rolling on new skates, riding new bikes, tossing new footballs to friends, or new basketballs into new hoops or new baseballs into new genuine imitation leather baseball gloves, or grooming new ponies. But no. The front lawns and streets were empty. All the kids were inside playing John Madden simulated video football or Wiiing on their TVs. One little girl (I found out later) was feeding plastic carrots to a "life-like" robotic pony. I am not writing this as a wizened old curmudgeon decrying the new technologies. I am jealous that their new toys allow children to enjoy playing at any time, in any weather. Though we did not have a white Christmas, children anywhere were simulating the thrill of employing new sleds, new snowboards or new hockey gear without even having to put on new snowsuits and other winter couture and undeterred by the undependable and inconsistent nature of sunlight and air that we had to deal with when I was growing up. Ain't simulated life virually grand?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Grandmother of 6 Causes Blog Rant

CHICAGO - The wide-ranging public corruption probe that led to the arrest of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich got its first big break when a grandmother of six walked into a breakfast meeting with shakedown artists wearing an FBI wire.
It is not clear from that sentence if the shakedown artists were wearing the wire or the grandmother was, but I’m going to assume it was the latter. Besides, I can leave the discussion of modifier placement to Bill; I’m more interested in why there is a journalistic requirement to identify a woman’s grandparental status. You will never see any of these stories in the news:
The wide-ranging public corruption probe that led to the arrest of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich got its first big break when a mother of 4 walked into a breakfast meeting with shakedown artists wearing an FBI wire.
The wide-ranging public corruption probe that led to the arrest of a father of two got its first big break when a grandmother of six walked into a breakfast meeting with shakedown grandfathers of one each, wearing an FBI wire.
The wide-ranging public corruption probe that led to the arrest of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich got its first big break when an older, childless woman walked into a breakfast meeting with shakedown artists wearing an FBI wire.
Great-grandmothers get the same standing in the press:
Great-Grandmother Uses Gasoline to Fight Off Purse Snatcher
No newsworthy status is conferred by being a mere grandfather, a meager mother, or even just a measly old woman. As near as I can determine, when a woman’s child gives birth, the woman becomes pitiably frail to the point where we are astounded that she can leave the house, let alone fight crime. No matter that a grandmother could be a healthy 40-year-old who could whip my ass if I crossed her - not that anything like that ever happened outside a bar somewhere in Cincinnati. Even if it did, grandmas get a pass. A grandma’s lack of strength and mental ability is assumed to render her immune to prosecution for crime:
A 64-year-old grandmother convicted of obstructing official business by feeding parking meters for strangers is suing the city of Cincinnati.
If an old man obstructs justice, by god, book him, Danno – and beat him up if you want, we don’t care. Just don’t hassle our grannies or we will make it public knowledge and shame you.
My wife is the mother of a childless (so far as we know) girl. Until my daughter has her own kid, my wife cannot get away with crime or even get recognized if she thwarts a bank robbery or busts a political corruption ring.
If Chelsea Clinton had a child, last month would have brought us this headline: "Obama Nominates Grandmother as Secretary of State".
Why do I care about this aura attached to grandmotheriness? Because “Elderly Woman Got Run Over By A Reindeer” would not be considered funny and that song would never have gotten on the radio and the world would be a better place.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Mr. Potter Would Love It

If you read today’s Dinette Set comic, you have dismissed it as not one of the best. If so, you missed the joke. On the surface, Julie Larson has led you to believe that the humor is to be found in contrasting Dale’s idiotic purchase of a large Christmas tree with Timmy sagacious selection of “one big present … or the cash equivalent”. However, thinking a little deeper, you realize that Timmy’s grandma knows it is Santa who determines what the present is, not Timmy; she is cruelly exploiting the boy’s genetically underdeveloped intellect and trauma induced retardation for her own amusement. Though the habitual child abuse by Timmy’s grandparents, which undermines his mental development, is a continuing theme of Larson’s “humor”, that is not the real joke today. You may have noticed Burl’s holiday sweatshirt, which reads: “I stole LuLu’s petals”, making reference to the classic movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”, in which the Bailey family waif has a beloved rose that has lost two petals. The petals become the talisman providing George Bailey his tenuous connection back to his real life. The idea of stealing the poor child’s petals and, moreover, her father’s life, extends the hilarious child abuse theme, but, again, that is not the real joke. If you remember the movie, or read the information in the link, you know that the girl’s name is Zuzu, not Lulu. You may think that Larson has made an error but, no, the wrong name is intentional. Burl obviously bought the sweatshirt at the Crustwood WalMart, who purchased their stock of holiday sweatshirts from China. You know this because you know that the impoverished, exploited factory workers in China do not celebrate Christmas, they don’t know what “It’s a Wonderful Life” is or who Zuzu is and they wouldn’t know that the American name “Lulu” has only one capital “L”, not two. What Burl has done is help WalMart take away American jobs, destroy our economy and lead us to the point where Timmy will be lucky to get even one small present. So, it is not Timmy, it is not Dale, it is Burl who is the real “blockhead” and THAT is the joke in today’s strip. I laugh every time I look at it.

Friday, December 19, 2008

All In the Family

Obama Names Blagojevich Secretary of Protection

Barack Obama has not only made another controversial cabinet appointment, he has created an entirely new cabinet post to do it.
“Today I am announcing my plan to develop a Department of Protection and to appoint Governor Ron Blagojevich of Illinois to head it up as Secretary,” the President Elect announced during a family picnic in Chicago’s Gangland Park.
Obama was asked why he would appoint someone being indicted for federal crimes as Secretary, Obama shrugged off the controversy. “Look…there is a fine line between politics and crime. We should be able to find a common ground between them.“
Obama created controversy most recently by inviting the homophobic ignoramus pastor, Rick Warren to give the inaugural invocation. The President Elect defended that choice by saying that “…what we have to do is to be able to create an atmosphere where we can disagree without being disagreeable and then focus on those things that we hold in common as Americans." Similarly he defended his choice of Blagojevich saying that “we need to open our minds and understand that, what to you and me is corruption and graft … is to others just tradition and family values.”
When asked what the Department of Protection would do, Obama described it as “somewhere between the Department of Commerce and Homeland Security. Look, the United States has many friends out there who we wouldn’t want to see … nuthin’ happen to ‘em. We are in a position to … help some people. If these people show … appreciation … everything is jake. Secretary Blagojevich will be responsible for … seeing that his people visit these friends and … collect such well wishes and appreciation as they care to give ... on a regular basis. The Secretary would hate to… see something happen to them or their families … if you get my drift.”
Blagojevich then took the microphone and promised that, “whatever charges were brought about whatever I done as Secretary of Protection, I assure you I will be vindicated and totally cleared of them.” When it was pointed out that he is not yet Secretary and there are no charges, he responded, “Hey, you know, I’m just sayin’.”

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Happy New Year, Everybody

No, I'm not getting the jump on anything; 2008 is over. Just as I wrote about last year, the lists of what happened in 2008 are already coming out (MSNBC has the dead celebrity lineup on their front page today - last year it didn't come out until after Christmas). Just like everything else in this economy, 2008 has been marked down from 365 days to 350. Hey, the sooner we get past 2008, the sooner George W leaves and Barack takes over, so let's move it.
Seeing as I'm done for 2008, let's just go into reruns; here's another entry I wrote at the end of last year.
Oh, and what was the best thing about 2008 in your opinion?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Holding His Seat

Governor Blagojevich got out on bail last week. A short time later he was seen on the streets of Washington DC, outside the Capitol, holding a cardboard sign saying "Need a seat?" He was heard shouting to passers by:
"Hey, I got one seat! Who needs one seat?

Who wants to buy this Senate seat?
I took it off Obama and I put it on the street
This Senate seat could be my chance to really score
And this Senate seat could bring me jobs and cash galore
So if you offer me what I am due
I’m listening to you

My state is Illinois. We do these kinds of things.
Our sys-TEM of politics, runs like A machine
This Senate seat could help me and my wife retire
It could be yours --- hey, you better not have on a wire
If there’s tapes and the federal men should find them:
Prison bars – I’ll be behind them

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Make Your Own Jokes

Mets acquire Putz in three-team deal

I have no room to make fun of anyone's name and I am sure J.J. and his family have endured all the jokes. But.....I don't know if the guy has been in the majors long enough to be able to approve or reject a trade, but.... if he has, is it wise to move to the major league metropolis where there is the largest concentration of Jewish people in America with a name like Putz? I think not - just as he would not be wise to name his son Harry.
Anyway, feel free to make your own "Putz traded to Mets" jokes in the comments.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Baby You Can Drive iCar

While lawmakers in the ancient, outdated Washington DC Capitol building struggle to save the prehistoric, monolith that is the auto industry, innovators in Apple’s virtual technology world are creating cars that will save the Earth and make the Big 3, and even their foreign competition, obsolete.
Next month Steve Jobs will unveil the iCar, a virtual transportation device that carries people via the internet to any destinations they choose. An iCar owner can get up in the morning and direct her iCar to the nearest iJava shop for a morning pick-me-up and then zoom off to her tele-commuter job. After work, she can make a quick stop at iTunes to pick up some new music and then drop by eBay or any on-line iCatalog store to shop. Then she can visit the iGrocery and get some iFood for dinner or just hit the iHop for a restaurant meal.
Each trip in the iCar costs only 99 cents or a whole package of regular daily travel can be purchased for $9.99, regardless of the virtual distance to be traveled. The iCar also functions as an mp3 player, a GPS device, and a phone. Within months of rolling out the first version of the iCar, Apple will add features making the device a iMac laptop computer. Initially consumers will have to buy the iMac separately to make the iCar work. Jobs hopes to eventually develop an iFlight function that will allow iCar users to travel overseas.
So while GM, Ford and Chrysler are virtually bankrupt, their executives seem unaware or uninterested in the virtual reality of iCars. Congress also should be aware of plans for the iCongress already being visualized that will enable citizens to download their own personally selected laws for just 99 cents per act of Congress. Each of us will then live in our own virtual world that we create in the isolation of our own iHome.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Under Rated

What is the movie ratings system hang up with “language”. I watched a movie yesterday that was rated PG because it had “some language” (“some language” is not as bad as “language”, which might have earned it an R rating).
Every other movie element that we desire has a more descriptive term or at least some modifier to tell you what great stuff you will find. They don’t say “rated R for action, situations, use, bodies and language.” They list violent action, sexual situations, drug use, nudity and language. Yes, they occasionally modify the last one as some language.
I wonder in what sense they mean “some”. In the movie I saw, two people spoke a few lines of French; possibly the ratings board was unsure what language that was (“just some weird language or other”) or they just meant it was only a few lines (“just some foreign words, not enough to be annoying”).
Why not just use “profanity”, “obscene language”, “dirty frickin’ words” or something like that? The people who came up with that non-descriptive term are rated L7 for "some vocabulary".

Monday, December 8, 2008

Every Breath You Take, Every Movement You Make.."

Pushing my cart through the produce section of Kroger yesterday, maybe I should have been prepared for a romantic proposition. But I was preoccupied, merely looking for a bag of salad mix, not a date. The woman came up from behind me and I was slightly startled when, from just over my right shoulder, she said, “I’d better go home with you; I need some of that.” She caught up with me just as she finished her sentence so I was able to see her indicate exactly what she needed. She was nodding her head toward toward my lower torso – no, no, it was toward the two bottles of Kroger brand “Fiber Laxative Caplets” I had in the child seat section of the cart.
The woman was a Kroger employee, about my age, looking a little worse for wear and not very concerned about her appearance for someone spouting pickup lines by the packaged fresh herbs. She was hunched over her own cart filled with random items she was restocking to the shelves. I didn’t know quite how to respond to her seductive offer to split some fiber caps at my pad. I was buying them for my wife (I don’t use them…I have Metamucil powder) and they were on sale. So, to explain that I had good reason for mass laxative quantities, I said, “They’re buy one get one free.”
“Well, you buy the first one and I’ll take the free one,” she said with a cackle. Oh god, was that a wink she threw at me there?
The incident had me so unsettled that I forgot to get the honey-roasted almonds and the pecans I wanted from the produce shelves. I hurried on to the next aisle and there she was, rounding the corner and coming the other way, stocking boxed dinners. I saw her smiling up at me as I accelerated past her.
Later I remembered my almonds and pecans, but only one at a time, so I had to return to produce twice. My stocker was there both times, still trolling for love among the vegetables. The second time I returned she said, with a knowing smile, “ I see you’re only shopping for things in the first two aisles.” She straightened up slightly as if to say, "See anything you like?" I grabbed my nuts and went to check out without looking back.
This odd incident reminded me of one that occurred at a different grocery store some 20 years ago. A much younger woman, actually a girl, probably 16, who also was a store employee, kept appearing in various spots around the store. Each time I saw her, she was looking intently at me and smiling in a way that suggested she wanted to speak to me but was too shy, or perhaps intimidated by me good looks. I had no inclination to strike up a flirtation with a teenager, but it was nice to know I still had some appeal at twice her age. Finally, the girl followed me out of the store and as I was putting my sacks in the trunk, she came boldly up to me under pretence of collecting my cart and asked the question she’d been longing to put to me: “Are you Greg Meyer’s dad?”
So maybe today I misunderstood a woman’s intentions again. And maybe I should ask my wife to go with me to the grocery for protection.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

YY U R, YY U B, I C U R YY 4 me

Alec MacGillis of the Washington Post has found a serious problem with Barack Obama's choices for the team that will help him govern:
"While Obama's picks have been lauded for their ethnic and ideological mix, they lack diversity in one regard: They are almost exclusively products of the nation's elite institutions and generally share a more intellectual outlook than is often the norm in government."
I agree. I know some smart people; some of my friends are intellectuals. But I wouldn't want one to marry my sister or be a Presidential advisor. Consider this telling point: "skeptics say Obama's predilection for big thinkers with dazzling résumés carries risks, noting, for one, that several of President John F. Kennedy's 'best and brightest' led the country into the Vietnam War." Yes, I prefer the C students and drop outs who led us into the glorious war in Iraq (which according to 5th-from-the-bottom-in-his-class John McCain, we are winning). "Douglas Baird, ...noted that whizzes can also have too much faith in their answers." That won't happen if we stick to imbeciles like Cheney and Bush who, when they decided to invade Iraq were open to listening to any advice that agreed with their determined goal.
Come on, please remember that the "failure of intelligence" which doomed Bush does not refer to some Ivy League smart guys making mistakes.

Women Are From Mars

I am NOT turning this into the Dinette Set Curmudgeon but I couldn't ignore today's comic. Even more uncomfortable than Dale's dislocated elbow yesterday is weightlifter guy's dislocated head today. In the second panel he turns his head all the way to the left to look at the "chicks" standing to his right. More awkward than Burl accosting the man in yesterday's comic is the chicks possessiveness today toward the exercise ball and their creepy demand that Jerry "hop off and spray it off." Ewwwww...I think. But the real problem I have with today's comic is the women have no reflection in the mirror in the second panel. The joke is based on the fact that Jerry can not see them in the mirror, which makes no sense...unless the women are actually vampire women from Mars. I suggest this because Earth vampires never have a reflection but Martians can appear and disappear at will*, suggesting that Martian vampires can control their reflections.
*(I base this on my knowledge of "Uncle Martin", a Martian who crashed on Earth and lived among us with his secret known only Tim O'Hara. Based on TV shows of my childhood, half the people in the 60s were living with someone "different-from-us" - a Martian, a witch, a talking horse, a woman reincarnated as a car - and hiding that condition from everyone. Hilarity always ensued. This formula was copied later by Mork and Mindy and then by the Laura Bush sitcom where she lives in the White House with a man comically attempting to hide the fact he has no brain.)

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Awesomeness from Scarletvirago. Hilarity from Dave Barry.

Dining Out

I enjoy the Comics Curmudgeon but he tends to focus on comics which are consistently worthy of mocking and misses the flawed exceptions to generally funny comics. In today's "Dinette Set", the joke is confounding and the artwork is disturbing. Has Dale interlocked elbows with a strange man who is peeved by that action or has Dale merely dislocated his own elbow? Is Burl hugging the strange man or merely putting his arm down the man's pants? I am grateful to Julie Larson for having Burl and Dale state each other's name in the conversation. I am am sure the charcters are often as uncertain of who is who in this strip as I am. I do like the strip, especially the signs and memos in the backgrounds of the frames. But I don't get the joke at all today. I guess I am a ding-a-ling! Huh, reader? Can someone please explain it to me?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Please Stay Home For Christmas

Note to the Eagles, Harry Connick, Jr. or anyone else thinking of doing a cover of the classic "Please Come Home for Christmas" by the immortal Charles Brown: Please don't. If you feel the need to play this song at a concert, just play a recording of the original and sit back.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Not Right Notion?

I received this email yesterday:
Dear Fellow Blogger,
It is my distinct pleasure, as the president of Americans for Limited Government, to invite you today to become a key member of the exciting new conservative “bloggers central,”
At ALG, we recognize the critical role you as a blogger play in gathering, assimilating, and disseminating news and commentary. And I, personally, am deeply grateful to you for taking the lead in fighting some of the most important battles our country has faced over the past decade, and more.
"Me?" I asked aloud as I turned around to see if they were addressing someone behind me, "invited to 'conservative bloggers central'?
Have they read my blog? Have they read this conservative view? Well, come to think of it, that is about limiting government - limiting their intrusion into someone's personal life. And I am all about limiting government by prohibiting participation by anyone named Bush, Cheney, Rove, Alberto Gonzales, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld......
So I guess my "fellow bloggers" at NetRightNation are hitting their target market with the email.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I Rot the Songs

In a group I belong to, 3 of us out of 10 friends have the same birthday in December. My older friend Bill (Everything You Know About English is Farkakteh) celebrates the day after I do. I have several other friends born around the same time (late November through mid-December), meaning all are Sagittarians. I am more into words than astrology, so what interested me most about this calendaric coincidence is that it would make a good country song: “All My Friends Are Sagittarians”, kind of like “All My Exes Live in Texas”. Now, the majority of people I know are not Sagittarians, but “Some of my friends, but not all and none of my close family, are Sagittarians” doesn’t work so well as a song. Also, I know that ‘friends” does not rhyme with “Sagittarians”, but “exes” doesn’t exactly rhyme with “Texas” either (though it works better than Steve Miller’s “rhyme” of “Texas”, “facts is” and “justice”), but I pronounce the words as “frenz” and “Sagittarienz”, giving the song a hip-hop flava. What I want to write is a country, hip-hop, pop, folk fusion song. I am struggling with it because I can write a parody song given some one else’s tune, but coming up with a completely original song is tough, which is why I’m a number jockey in Cincinnati, not a tune smith in Nashville.
Much of the typical Sagittarian traits apply to me: Interested in philosophy and religion, impulsive and independent, procrastinate, natural comedians (sometimes exaggerating their adventures to entertain people), but sometimes offend by speaking without thinking, and can be argumentative or blunt. Sagittarians are susceptible to hip troubles and leg pain. Okay so far, but also, Sagittarians are great athletes, big-game hunters and fishermen. HA! All these traits ought to be worked into the song, unless they don’t rhyme. But like I said, I’m having trouble; in fact I pretty much just have words that rhyme but have nothing to do with the zodiac or my real friends. Here’s what I have so far:

All my friends are Sagittarians
We have affinity for philosophy,
Sometimes we act like horse rear ends
Comedians, contrarians, some quinquagenarians
All my friends are Sagittarians

I know some Rastafarians
Braided, bearded, hairy men
Need ganja? They are carryin’
They grow it: they’re agrarian

This woman’s name is Marian,
She is a librarian
‘Til her body turns to carrion
She’ll be Sagittarian


One pretends she’s a thespian
She also is a lesbian
She won’t eat meat or marry men
She’s a vagitarian

So, not all my friends are men
Some are more ovarian
And even imaginary friends
Of mine are Sagittarians


We’re characterized as mutable,
Think everything’s disputable
We’re blunt, unlike our arrow,
Don’t follow the straight and narrow

We’re impulsive but procrastinate
We’re honest but exaggerate
Legs hurt from the brains we’re carryin’
We are proud Sagittarians


See, it’s pretty lame. I invite you to make a much better song, produce it and upload to YouTube and link to it in the comments. When some record label or artist buys it, we’ll split the profits. Or just write some lyrics in the comments. Here’s some leftover words you might use:
Bavarian, Aryan, clarion, barbarian, Bulgarian, Hungarian, non-sectarian, sectarian, Wagnerian, centenarian, grammarian, libertarian, vegetarian, proletarian, seminarian, Unitarian, veterinarian, authoritarian, disciplinarian, egalitarian, humanitarian, octogenarian, parliamentarian, totalitarian, utilitarian, septuagenarian, begins and ends, portends.

(I was going to use the Sagittarius image from this site, because it's pretty right on, but I couldn't get past the misuse of "your" instead of "you're".)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Absolute Creepiest Thanksgiving Image Ever

Judgement Day

CONTEST RESULTS - click here to see contest

When the Rapture, comes, the winners will ascend in "the twinkling of an eye". The decision is easy: the winners believe, the losers don't. The Day of Atonement, an annual event for my people, is more subjective. We have a little over a week to make a case for being written in the Big Book of Life. I have a greater appreciation of God's task during that week, as I judge who shall win the book "How to Profit From the Coming Rapture." Does God consider extending the time to let us atone? Does he wish that more people tried to get saved? I know I did.
But God and I have made commitments and as it is written, so shall it be done.
I was looking for (1) the best creative writing, (2) an amusing comment about the book and a (3) choice of Rapture companion on the all-expenses-paid trip to salvation and WHY. Cali's entry was a clear winner for creative writing the moment I read it. It not only is a creative poem, it is a perfect sales pitch for the book so it combined (1) and (2). (Cali - please email me your email address for HBG to contact you at - jbunyan @ Oh the irony of the entrant most likely to not be left behind winning this book. Cali, will this be left out on your coffee table?
Bill created a very nice parody, but could not beat Cali's. Nevertheless, I was most amused by his comment about his own work: "(Yeah, me loves a good Apocalypso tune . . .)" and his popular description of the 16 hooves of the Apocalypse: "Eight hoof, twelve hoof, horseman four!", so he wins best comment but also combined (2) and (1).
The choice for the final category was not so much about the who as it was the WHY. Therblig realized that if Bush/Rove could go, anyone could, even Therblig himself, and he stated it so poetically that he really qualified for (3) and (1). (Therblig I also need an email address for you).
Thanks for playing everybody!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Born To Be Wilde

Read this then scroll on down to the book giveaway entry and enter the contest.

My daughter, the psych major at Ohio State, is getting into the habit of emailing me her class papers to edit. I was in college before computers; I typed papers on an actual typewriter and did not have the luxury of sending them through the intertubes to my parents for editing. And, believe me, the lack of Spellcheck® and proofreading was starkly evident. If you are a regular reader of this blogmess you are familiar with my lack of editing prowess.
So it is incongruous for my daughter to ask me to edit her stuff, but even weirder that yesterday my roommate from college, who still lives in LA, emailed me two college essays to proof for his son. I guess because I have occasionally been paid for writing they think I can influence their success by adding a comma and changing a sentence structure here or there.
The subject of writing influence was brought to my attention by my friend and (much more talented and successful) fellow writer, Bill Brohaugh over at Everything You Know About English Takes Up Too Much Space to Write Out the Entire Name of Your Blog.
He used an amusing “on-line gadget” to determine that some of my writing is mildly similar to L. Frank Baum or Edgar Rice Burroughs (whom I assume was an assassin or mass murderer since they always use his middle name). My parody of “Take me Home Country Roads was oddly found to be wildly channeling Oscar Wilde. I thought it more similar to John Denver, but who am I to question the internet.
I have to say that I like Bill’s gadget better than the one my sister found some years ago that said I write like a girl. Well, Oscar Wilde was similarly inclined, wasn’t he. Nevertheless, my masculinity is not threatened; I mean, it's not as though I've carried that memory with me for 5 years and still recall the mocking comments that followed. What worries me is that I might edit a paper for my daughter or my friend’s son, the colleges will run an analysis and accuse the poor kids of plagiarizing a convicted sexual offender or a mass murderer. That would be embarrassing.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Devil You Know

(This has nothing to do with the "Profit From the Rapture" book contest in the previous entry* - but read this anyway, then scroll down and enter the contest)

I don’t listen to the radio much anymore so finding new music artists that I like has to be somewhat serendipitous. My best talent scout has gone off to college and I no longer get to suffer through her music in the car or in my house in order to find the few gems in “contemporary” music (I’m usually late to the party. By the time I asked to copy Allie’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” CD, she told me no one listens to that anymore).
I do listen to Bob and Tom in the morning to provide a little comedy stimulus and that’s where I first heard Todd Snider (who has been around a while).
They found a store with a sign that said their beer was coldest.
So they sent in Brad 'cause he looked the oldest.
He got a case of beer and a candy bar, walked over to where all the registers are
laid his fake I.D. on the counter top.
The clerk looked, and turned to look back up and stopped.
He said "Son, I ain't gonna call the cops, but I'm gonna have to keep this card"
the guys both took it pretty hard.
Not that I ever tried to buy beer when I was underage, but I, um, had a, uh, friend who did. Todd even had a song that connected to the accountant/mathematician side of my brain.
They say 92 percent of everything you learned in school was just bullshit you'll never need
84 percent of everything you got you bought to satisfy your greed
Because 90 percent of the world's population links possessions to success
Even though 80 percent of the wealthiest 1 percent of the population
Drinks to an alarming excess
Though there is somewhat of a kinship between Todd and my inner flower child,
Tree huggin’, love makin’, pro choicin', gay weddin’, widespread diggin’ hippies like me.
Skin color-blinded, conspiracy-minded, protesters of corporate greed,
We who have nothing and most likely will ‘till we all wind up locked up in jails
By conservative Christian, right wing Republican, straight, white, American males
I am a child of the 60s and Todd is much younger
My old man says the Woodstock generation
Found a way to make this nation
Open up its eyes and take a look around
And he says my generation
Ain't good for nothing
and has had quite a different lifestyle from mine.
I came in off a dead end street
Walked in slow and took a back row seat
I knew I had nothing new to say
So many people looking so burned out
I couldn't help feeling bad about just having to be there anyway

A friend of a friend from work came in
I never have known what to make of him
He'd always seemed to be so insincere to me
You know I've always been afraid of a 12 step crowd
They laugh too much and talk too loud
Like they all know where everyone should be
So when we went to his concert last night at a small theater in Covington, KY, we wondered what kind of crowd to expect. I told Karen it would probably be young, unemployed, recovering alcoholic, drug addicted, lazyass hippies.
We walked in off a Covington street, anticipating unwashed losers we’d meet, I knew we would feel so out of place. But so many people looked just like us, recovering hippies who were fifty-plus, with gray in their hair, age on their face.
Then when a friend of my in-laws came in, it made me laugh, made my head spin, this just would not seem to be where such old folks would be. I’d really picture them in the symphony crowd, where the music’s instrumental and not too loud, where blue-hairs go, not young dudes like me.
Seriously, friends of my wife's parents? at a Todd Snider concert? That was just wrong. More young people came in later. It ended up being a broad range of ages and, on the surface, not what I expected. I really wanted to ask some people if they were unemployed, recovering alcoholic drug addicts but Karen stopped me. Probably they were just former tree huggin’, peace lovin’, pot smokin’, barefootin’ folk-singin’ hippies like me.

*Mr. Snider does have a song for the Rapture

Monday, November 17, 2008


Click here for contest results
Three (count 'em) ways to win a copy of this book:
How to Profit From The Coming Rapture” (“Getting Ahead When You’re left Behind”) by Steve and Evie Levy (I’m assuming that’s “lee-vee”) (as told to Ellis Weiner and Barbara Davilman) is “The investment guide the Antichrist doesn’t want you to read”. I imagine the Prochrist doesn’t really want you to either, but they had me at the title.
I am not going to ascend when the Rapture comes. I have been assured of this by experts (I am chosen, not saved). I have read “Rapture Ready” and learned that I am not. So I need this new book.
As explained on the back cover, “about 1.5 billion people will join (Jesus) in Heaven. Five billion of the rest of us…will still be here, with questions…Including…What real estate to unload when the sun turns black and the mountains start shifting.”
Inside the book is a “Rapture-Tribulation Timeline” followed by a careful, chronological explanation of what will be happening on Earth and how you can be prepared and make some bucks along the way.
For example, when the Third Temple is built, if you have stocked up on kippot, and tallit, you can set up a little concession stand or gift shop and make a nice profit.
Now, that’s actually getting ahead of the story. You need to read the book from the beginning to understand the progression of events and do all the necessary things, in the proper order, to make the most out of your opportunities prior to Armageddon. (Knock, knock. Who’s there? Armageddon. Armageddon who? Armageddon married in the morning. These types of jokes are just one reason I will not see you in Heaven)
Odds are that some of you don’t need the book because you are saved. I still think you will find it funny, imagining the rest of us trying to cash in on famine and pestilence while you are strumming harps and eating ambrosia. I don’t think you will be punished for reading it, like you would for reading, say, Harry Potter, which promotes witchcraft and for which royalties go to the Devil. This book does not encourage people to hang around for the Tribulation and hook up with the Antichrist ("you'll come for the hail of fire but stay for the river of blood!"); it is a survival book in the event you don’t get called up to the majors. (Caution: I am clearly not well stocked with grace or faith, so don’t take my word for any of this).
Anyway, how can you win a copy of this book?
1) You can write a short, creative item (song, haiku, couplet, whatever) about the End Times (e.g. “On the First Seal of End Times, the Rapture brought to me, the Antichrist and a blasphemy.”)
2) If you will or would just like to ascend during the Rapture, tell me what celebrity would you want to travel with and WHY (don’t forget the why). The celebrity must be alive as of the date and time of your comment but need not be saved or even morally upstanding.
3) Write some other amusing comment about the book, the Rapture, the End Times, a related topic or about this review.
That’s right – three books will be given away. The contest ends, Wednesday, Nov. 26 or when the Rapture begins, whichever comes first. Click on comments and begin.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Shaking Things Up

People in California today participated in the largest disaster drill ever. The massive mock drill tested preparedness for the consequences that would befall the state if Proposition 8 were overturned. At the sound of warning sirens, couples simulated the breakdown of their traditional marriages and staged sham divorces. Some smeared themselves with acrimony and disgust such as might be spread throughout the state if gays were to join in real matrimony.
In schools, teachers scrambled to distribute materials to instruct students in tolerance, promote rejection of the bible and demonstrate the benefits of homosexuality.
State police rushed to churches, synagogues and mosques to point unloaded guns at clergy and simulate forced performance of nuptials for same sex couples.
State officials addressed the people, saying that an actual crisis was unlikely but that they were proud of the readiness displayed in today's drill.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I Never Meta, Man

1. The first rule of Fight Club is: "Don't talk about Fight Club." That should be the first rule of blogging. Blog entries should not be about blogging.

2. According to Harvey Logan in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (one of the movies I guide my life by) there are no rules in a knife fight. Likewise, I guess there should be no rules in blogging; so rule number one is nullified.

3. Nevertheless, blog entries about blogging bother me.

4. As do blog entries that are lists of random thoughts or lists of things to do before dieing or any of those "meme" things that people assign you to write about.

5. But that's just me and I should get over it.

6. Still, as for the random thoughts, isn't that what "twitter" is for?

7. I can't say because I don't really get twitter. That's one of the signs that I really am getting old. I kept up with computers and email and blogging and im (though I really don't im) but the new stuff is passing me by. I don't twitter or podcast or watch tv shows on a telephone or tiny iPod screen.

8. I do burn my feed but I don't really know what that means and it makes me think that, somewhere, cattle are angry at me about this.

9. And "meta". I need to let you know that I don't fully understand the use of "meta"; though I did figure out that it is different from "meme".

10. So I'm getting old and I probably should make a list of things to do before I die (or, before I die, I should make a list of things to do?)
I wonder how many will involve beer? How many will involve pie? Give me your thoughts on that.

Monday, November 10, 2008

This is My Body - You Want a Piece of Me?

JERUSALEM - Israeli police rushed into one of Christianity's holiest churches Sunday and arrested two clergymen after an argument between monks erupted into a brawl next to the site of Jesus' tomb.
This is the picture with the story:

Look at the white haired guy on the right. Thst's not some Greek Orthodox monk, that's Kris Kringle fighting for control of Christmas.:

The supposed "War on Christmas", to me, is more about the conflict between Jesus Christmas and Santa Christmas than it is about non-Christians trying to get rid of "Merry Christmas". Maybe Mr. Sawyer was right about Kris being prone to violence.

Come Fly With Me

Growing up, I was taught to give up my seat on public transportation to the aged, infirm, pregnant, female or anyone else in greater need of the seat than I (females were frail and weak back then). Now, when I travel by air, request an exit row or other seat with legroom and learn that they are all taken, I find upon boarding the plane that they are taken by average bodied able people. Do these people look at me, leap up and say, "oh, here, your aged, long legs need this seat more than I"? They do not.
Delta is the main tenant of our airport so I may get a better shot at the good seats now that they may be charging extra for it. (Even more appealing is the possibility of new seats that will be comfortable even for tall people).
I understand the charges for baggage (extra weight means extra fuel cost) and food (if you don't eat, it saves money)and even choice seating (supply and demand). But here are a few charges I want to impose:
You want to recline your seat into my knees, or even further, into my face? Give me $20. I paid for the seat and I figure that includes the airspace as well.
If you stick your carry on into the bin above my seat, that's $15 to me, buddy. Since I always get an aisle seat, I am one of the last to board when Delta loads by "zones", but I expect my bin to be empty. There is no room under the seat in front of me - that's for my feet.
Likewise, since I'm in the aisle seat, if you are in the middle or window seat, I'll let you out to go to the restroom for $5 - okay, first trip is free, but after that.... oh, and if you are a terrorist who needs out to hatch your terror scheme, I want $50 - American!
Finally, it will cost the flight attendants $10 each time they hit my elbow or knee with the damn food/drink cart. Plus a free alcoholic beverage for the pain.
It is quite possible my premium seat fee, if not my entire ticket cost, will get paid for by the time I reach my destination.

(Scroll down two posts and enter the annoying contest - only a few days left).

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

R E S P E C T - Find Out What it Means To Me.

In case no one picked up on this the past few months, I wanted Barack Obama to win the election. I went so far as to vote for him: just doing what I could to help the man out. What a wonderful acceptance speech it was, espousing

“a desire to move beyond the bitterness and partisanship of the recent past.
Our nation must rise above a house divided. Americans share hopes and goals and values far more important than any political disagreements. Republicans want the best for our nation. And so do Democrats. Our votes may differ, but not our hopes…Two hundred years have only strengthened the steady character of America. And so as we begin the work of healing our nation, tonight I call upon that character. Respect for each other. Respect for our differences. Generosity of spirit. And a willingness to work hard and work together to solve any problem…I was not elected to serve one party, but to serve one nation. The president of the United States is the president of every single American, of every race and every background. Whether you voted for me or not, I will do my best to serve your interests, and I will work to earn your respect.”

Oh, wait, that was George Bush’s acceptance speech in 2000. Later he claimed to “have a mandate” (from the fewer than 50% who voted for him?) and that he had earned “some political capital…and I intend to spend it.” He was so partisan and divisive, that the defeat of his party was assured this year, no matter how old and pathetic a guy they dragged out to try and get our sympathy.
I hope that Barack Obama can stick to his promise. I believe he intends to – I wonder about the Democrats in Congress. I hope that those Republicans or others who would like to see him fail can somehow rise above those feelings and try to help the country move forward and become a better version of ourselves.
Personally, I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself without Sarah Palin to mock. For a few weeks I’ve got college football to occupy me, but then what? It may take her months to resurface in the news and will people take her seriously enough to make her actions mock-worthy? I know, I should rise above it, but as my friend, Mary Tom, said, “(Mocking Sarah is) harder to quit than a bad crack habit.” I don’t know how hard quitting crack is, I haven’t tried to quit, but putting down the Palin pipe is tough.
Jason Henderson has given me permission for one day to savor: “Republican brothers and sisters are very hurt and afraid, so after this celebration we should spend some time showing them we're interested in making a better world, and not dancing in the end zone. But 24 hours is a decent time to dance.” So get a load of this: “One night, Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter went to her hotel room to brief her. After a minute, Palin sailed into the room wearing nothing but a towel.” Wow. Which one is gay (not that there’s anything wrong with that), Schmidt or Salter? Did someone complain about that or were they just…um…revisiting the image later and got caught?
The real bad part of the article is about Palin’s spending money buying up clothes for the family like Nieman Marcus was her back-to-school, shopping source. Well, that, and the going rogue with the Ayers thing.
She really was unprepared and unqualified to be on a National ticket.
But I’m putting all that aside now. I would be happy to meet with her anytime, anyplace and show her my respect and my desire to work together in a towel.

Hey, don’t forget to enter the contest in the previous entry below.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Annoying Contest Results

Thanks to everyone who entered this book contest - I enjoyed all the suggestions of new things I can get irritated by.
Let's all link to the contest now and read the last part, where the actual challenge is posed: "identify some modern thing that is truly annoying and write a brief description of why." Some of you may be annoyed to realize that you overlooked the last part of that. They are all fine things to rant about, but I was looking for the rant itself.
Susan's attack on punctuated but uncapitalized titles explained that the inconsistency makes it annoying. bill the annoyer amused me by explaining that "meta-annoyance is really annoying" which provided a solipismic "why" and he probably annoyed Susan by not capitalizing his name. Scarletvirago also stated why her annoyance was annoying in a humorous, self-reflective way.
Cali made me laugh by getting enraged because people "waste" a left turn availability and leave Cali stuck for another light cycle, and then she remarked that that road rage is annoying. A lot of meta-annoyance going on.
But no one was able to surpass my favorite entry that made me laugh the most even though it might have been unintentional. Jenny wrote, "Here's what's really annoying*: When someone leaves an asterisk without explaining below that it means."
That it means ...what? I am pretty sure she meant to write "..what it means." but the way she typed it made it perfectly illustrate the annoyance of being left hanging (along with the unexplained asterisk she included).
So Jenny is the winner. Jenny, I'll send the publisher your email and they can contact you for the address to send the book to.
Watch this space for another contest coming soon.

A Book Review and a Contest

ANNOYING UPDATE: The contest is over. Click here for results.

Well This Is Irritating
For some reason, I’ve been asked to review a book called “is it just me or is everything shit?” subtitled, “insanely annoying modern things,” by Steve Lowe and Alan McArthur with Brandon Hay.
I wouldn’t be irritated about being chosen to review a compilation of annoyances except that my sister once gave me a book called, “The Pocket Encyclopedia of Aggravation.” Am I so curmudgeonly that people think I am constantly jonesing for an annoyance fix? Or am I so laid back that people think I need a whole book of aggravating things to get me worked up to a mild lather?
“is it just me or is everything shit?” is an alphabetic list of those “insanely annoying modern things”. Some are longer pieces, such as “Xenu”, about what a scam Scientology is, or “Hitler, People Calling Each Other”, mainly about Bush calling people Hitler when perhaps he should be looking inward; these seem like a collection of essays the authors thought might go into some kind of book. Others are rather short such as “Toast, Overpriced”, which, in its entirety says, “There’s a lot of overpriced toast out there”, which are just there to fill out that book they wanted.
As you read it, you will recall Andy Rooney and “Didja ever notice….” Or Earl Pitts intoning, “You know what makes me sick? You know what makes me so angry…” except this is a whole book instead of one short bit.
Putting a bunch of annoying items together invites the reviewer to find the book itself annoying. I mean, if you read it for a while, you start to pick up on their vibe and think, “You know what’s insanely annoying: essays on insanely annoying stuff!” The list does not include “Blogs” specifically but does include “Self Examination columns”: any kind of writing in which the author observes him or herself doing something and writes about it as if everyone shared that interest. Yet that is the basis of this book, “Hey, we thought of some stuff we find annoying and you should too.”
If you are going to be out some evening with friends and you need something to pontificate about with a sense of superiority, read a few of these items and them bring them up over drinks. “Hey, what’s up with this people calling each other Hitler? And why is toast so pricey?”
In the end, though, these guys have identified a bunch of contemporary shit that does need to be called out (James Blunt, Botox, Dubai, Energy Drinks, among others) and they write about them in a humorous way that will make readers say, “Yeah, that’s what I would have written, if I was literate!” But you are not and you did not, so buy this book.
Or win a copy from me. In the comments, identify some modern thing that is truly annoying and write a brief description of why. The winner, as determine by the annoying panel of judges (me), gets a free copy of the book. The contest ends, not Sunday, November 9, but when I say it does. Then I will post the winner, who will need to send a mailing address to the publisher. Only residents of the US or Canada are eligible to win. You might find that annoying.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I Write the Songs

This one was second place is the recent Washington Post Style Invitational (See "Report from week 785" after the description of the current contest)
(To the theme from "The Beverly Hillbillies")

Come and listen to my story 'bout John McCain,
Senate maverick barely floatin' his campaign.
He couldn't use a running mate with credibility,
So he went for youth and sex and selected Sarah P.
Palin, that is. Pit bull. Hockey mom.
Well, the bump in the polls was lookin' pretty big,
But was Palin pushin' change or puttin' lipstick on a pig?
They kept her under wraps, wouldn't let her on TV
Till she finally sat down to have a chat with Katie C.
Couric, that is. Gotcha girl. Media e-lite.
And now the voters are questioning the judgment of McCain
As Palin speaks in tongues that commentators can't explain.
And if those two thought it was as bad as it could be,
They don't have a clue to fix our e-conomy.
(Black Friday that is. It's a free fall. Market meltdown.
You vote Barack, now, y'hear? -
this last part was omitted in the results - for space reasons?)

"That One" was among the "honorable mentions"

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I've Got To Get Down To Swingtown

I didn't think I was going to have time to write an entry today, but thanks to Joe Biden, my grocery shopping is all taken care of and with Sarah Palin putting down the blacktop sealer on my driveway, I have a few moments to sit at the computer.
I live in Ohio which is either a "battleground" state or a "swing" state (depending on your news source) and the candidates are relentless and shameless in pursuit of our votes. I told Sarah we're a swing state and I added a wink and a "you betcha"; but she pulled out her rifle and told me to back off, so we're going with "battleground" for now. John McCain, on the other hand, was willing to put his lifelong commitment to being heterosexual on hold if it would get him my vote. "I'll pitch or catch, I don't care," he grumbled, "this is a crisis and we'll do whatever it takes."
Barack Obama offered to review my tax returns from last year and sit with me and deduct with me and get a few exemptions for me and fight for me and knock on IRS doors for me and...I told him to shut up and just fill out the amended return. He came up with an additional refund for me but, strangely, he had it sent to my neighbor. "We need to spread it around," he told me.Sarah just finished my driveway and came in and told me that Barack Obama has been palling around with Pittsburgh Steelers and University of Michigan football players. She says he doesn't understand real Ohio sports. Joe Biden, having returned from Kroger, tossed a hunk of real American cheese at her head and now this place really is a battleground.
I'll be glad when the election is over and these four stop sucking up to us here in Ohio. No, John, no, I wasn't asking you to do anything. Stand up, John.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Country (First) Rogue

Sarah Palin has 'gone rogue", ignoring the script and relying on her own instincts. Who would have thought that using one's own words and ideas would be a bad thing for a politician to do? But our Sarah has her own agenda, starting with recording her own pop songs. The RNC is pretty unhappy about it but here are the lyrics to Sarah's new Nashville chart topper:

Almost Heaven, West Virginia
Blue Ridge Mountains
Shenandoah River -
That’s my kids names
Named by Todd and me
If we have a new one,
Name it Zamboni

I’m a lone, maverick rogue
In charge of me, I belong
Lipsticked pitbull, hockey mama
Real well-clothed, maverick rogue

These advisers gather round me
Think this lady’s, a stranger to the city
Want to script me, no matter how they try
I prefer my own shit
Made up on the fly

I’m a lone, maverick rogue
In charge of me, I belong
Lipsticked pitbull, hockey mama
Real well-clothed, maverick rogue

I hear the voice:
Real America, they love me
The media just filters all the words that I say
And reading my own hype I get a feelin
That I should abandon John McCain, John McCain

I’m a lone, maverick rogue
In charge of me, I belong
Lipsticked pitbull, hockey mama
Real well-clothed, maverick rogue

I’m a lone, maverick rogue
In charge of me, I belong
Lipsticked pitbull, hockey mama
Real well-clothed, maverick rogue

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I Love LA

My vacation in California is over but I will savor the memories of another week in that land of crazy people. I saw, or, actually, smelled the hotel manager and desk clerk smoking marijuana in a room behind the front desk. I saw a bride in a full length, traditional wedding dress traipse across a hundred yards of beach to stand with her tuxedoed husband in wet sand having their picture taken. I saw a store called "Grant's for Guns", with crudely painted pictures of handguns on the exterior and a large sign saying, "Great Halloween Ideas" (I imagined a suggestion that starts with the question, "Are you tired of gaggles of costumed trick-or-treaters on your doorstep? Well....."). I saw a man get a ticket for riding his bike on the Redondo Beach pier where there are no fewer than ten signs imploring him to "Walk Your Bike In This Area". No doubt bike walking will be the subject of a proposition in the next election there.
California governs by propositions. I don't know how many there are on the ballot this year but there are numbered ones and lettered ones that go as far as "Proposition DD", leading me to believe there are at least 30 lettered ones. The one getting national attention - and national contributions - is Prop 8 which seeks to ban same-sex marriage in California.
One of the arguments used to promote the proposition is that, if same-sex marriage is allowed, any church which refuses to perform such a marriage will be sued by the gays. And they'll win because of the liberal (i.e. immoral) judiciary, you betcha. Just like all those lawsuits against clergy for refusing to perform legal interfaith marriages and those lawsuits against the Catholic Church for refusing to recognize legal divorces.
The most compelling argument for legally forbidding same-sex marriage is that God intended marriage to be between a man and a woman for the purpose of procreating (Proposition 9 on California's ballot is the Pro Creating Amendment). Yes, clearly allowing gays to marry will undermine this purpose and cause heterosexuals to stop having children. Or, wait, is it that denying gays the right to marry will force them into heterosexual unions, producing children like "normal" people? Either way, it is a clearly logical point.
Following on this lead, I am proposing an amendment to the Constitution to ban sex outside of marriage, masturbation, contraception and childless marriages, all of which controvert God's will that marriage and sex are intended for procreation, not random, hedonistic pleasure and any variation hinders my ability to have a real marriage.
They must be stopped at all costs. We must get funds from throughout the nation and we need passionate volunteers. To heck with spending money, time and energy fighting poverty, or helping people find jobs or get medical care. Forget being passionate about helping people - let's direct all that toward stopping people from being happy because their happiness makes us itchy and cranky.
I feel sorry for that poor couple I saw on the beach, having their wedding degraded by knowing that somewhere in California, two homosexuals are getting married at the same time. It will probably render them unable to consummate their marriage and have babies.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Surfin' Safari

I grew up along the coast of Southern California – lived here until I was 30 - but I have never ridden a surfboard. It’s not because I never got around to it like people who live in New York and have never been to the Statue of Liberty. I deliberately never surfed on a board. I prefer to body surf like a real man.
I confess that one reason I didn’t board surf was that you have to buy a board and then some accessories like a tether that straps the board to your leg so that your board can drag your lifeless body to shore after a particularly rough wave. You also, for some reason, need a wet suit, I presume that's because it keeps you warm in the cold water of the Pacific. This is your first confirmation that today’s surfers are not real men; body surfers don’t need no stinkin’ wet suits. (Note: to see board surfers who are real men, watch “Endless Summer” and the early parts of “Riding Giants”, featuring surfers from the 50s and 60s.).
The equipment, accessories and apparel make surfing somewhat like golf, which I don’t do either. Furthermore, when you surf on a board, you catch a wave, then fall off and get pummeled by said wave. When you body surf, you are in the wave from the start and get pummeled relentlessly without having to fall off first, which is why body surfing is superior to board surfing in the same way as luge is superior to skiing.
Today my friend Marshall and I were riding the waves in Newport Beach. The waves here were bigger than the waves in Redondo were on Wednesday, which is to say that there were actual waves here: 2 – 4 feet, breaking at 12 second intervals on the SW facing beach with late night and early morning low clouds and fog, burning off by noon. Back in the day, I would have been riding the 4-footers, but I’m a little slower and less agile now, so I stick with the smaller ones.
After the first round of surfing, we got out and started throwing the Frisbee. At this point my legs said, “Wait, what? You’ve been walking around beach cities all week and now you want to run after a flying disk? I’m sorry, no.” So we went back in the water to surf some more and punish the upper parts of our bodies. It was about noon and the tide was going out. As we got further out, we turned to each other and almost simultaneously said, “the undertow is really strong.” Within seconds I was out where I could barely stand up and I hadn’t gone there by choice. I started swimming directly back to the shore, without making much progress. A huge wave broke behind me and I let hit hit me and tumble me mercilessly because it was tumbling me back to safety. When I got ashore, I looked back and saw Marshall still too far out. I knew he knew what to do: just float on his back and paddle to a safer spot; but I was worried. Right then a couple of surfers just happened to be heading out to a spot near Marshall. I saw him swim to one of them and hitch a ride on the board back to shallow water.
We both had recognized the danger of the strong tide and gotten out of it. It scares me to think what can happen to someone who has never been in the ocean and encounters that. I also realized that the board surfers are pretty good guys – real men I might say.
(Yes, yes, I know that they could also be real women.)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Missing You-th

I’m in the midst of my 3rd annual pilgrimage back to the beach.
My sister and I sat on the sand at Redondo, looking at the ocean, listening to the waves, feeling the warm breeze, smelling the salt spray and thinking how much we missed it all. We wondered why we ever left Southern California. Oh yeah, nobody would pay me to sit on the beach. Even when I lived there, the need to pay for a house, groceries and a car to drive to the beach, kept me too busy working to actually go to the beach. And my wife and I vacationed with family who lived elsewhere because we could stay for free. Now that I am a wealthy corporate executive, living off the sweat of hard working, middle-class Joe-the-Architects in Ohio, I can afford to come back and vacation at the beach cities I used to live near and sit in my own sweat on the hot sand, doing nothing.
My sister and I sat on the deck of Kincaid’s at Happy Hour, sipping $4 Happy Hour wine, eating half-price expensive appetizers like buffalo prawns and baked brie with nuts and sweet goop on it, listening to the waves lap against the pier, smelling the salt spray, watching the sun go down and thinking how much we missed it all. No, wait, when I lived here I couldn’t afford Kincaid’s, even at Happy Hour. The budget for the house, groceries and car to go out with left us about $25 a month for “entertainment”. My wife and I went out for pizza and iced tea.
I drove South on the 405 from the LA airport toward Newport Beach, in the middle of five lanes of sun-bleached asphalt, bounded on either side by fried, brown foliage; up ahead were overpasses of gray concrete, with a backdrop of bluish-brown haze, all stitched together by black electric wires strung across frames of steel. I could feel the hum of traffic and electricity and see the heat shimmering off the road. I realized I was passing El Segundo as the thick odor of crude oil enveloped me and I thought how much I missed all that too. I guess when certain things are imprinted on you in youth, even the foul odor of El Segundo or the LA Harbor, they can evoke nostalgia for the idiotic joys of lazy youth from 40 years ago. I think Proust said that.
Maybe I can convince the architects to give me cell phone network hookup for my laptop and I can direct their finances from just south of lifeguard station 7 on Redondo Beach from now on.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

In The Jailhouse Now

In Blue Ash, Ohio, an 89-year-old grandma was arrested for not giving some kids a football back after it landed in her yard. I live in Blue Ash, Ohio, which is a suburb of Cincinnati. I don't know these people but I have fewer than 6 degrees of separation.
The football incident was a culmination of an ongoing dispute - Grandma Jester has warned the boys that they will lose their balls if she gets ahold of them. The woman has confiscated 3 or 10 of the kids' balls, depending on who you ask.
It was one of the dads who called the police. Is that really the lesson he wants to teach his children? If little Jimmy came to me and said "Mrs' Jester took my football and won't give it back," I would say, "Did she tell you not to let it land in her yard?" "Yeah, but..." "Did she tell you that she would keep it if it did?" "Yeah, but..." "Yeah, but I'm sorry, it's your own fault." Bitter old people keeping kids balls that go in their yard is an American Tradition. It's part of the fabric of our great society. "Mr., can we have our ball back," is the dialog of Americana. If we lock up Crotchety Old Ball Keeper, we are no better than godless communists. Hopefully those boys are sleeping uneasily tonight, with visions of a bitter old grandma coming after them in the dark to grab their balls and never let go.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

If You Show Me a Sign, I'll Be Willin'

The election is coming up soon, so I need to decide who I'm voting for. I don't just pick willy-nilly, I do research. I go out and look at yard signs. Yard signs are the most important and, to me, the most influential element of our political process. Oh, I get a lot from buttons and bumper stickers, but yard signs are bigger, so I put more stock in them.
As I walked around past the lake, I saw a large number of "Obama Biden" signs. By the time I reached the point where I turn back toward home, I was convinced; Obama is the one for me. But then, on the way back, I started seeing the "McCain Palin" signs and noticed that they have a nice, clean font. I was really starting to lean that way when suddenly I saw the yard sign that made up my mind for good:

"Sibcy Cline - For Sale". Finally honest politicians who admit what they really are about. Not like that Barack Obama. Regarding Bill Ayers, I have heard Barack Obama explain that he has condemned the things that Ayers did as part of the Weather Underground. I have heard Obama explain that he merely served on a board with Ayers, along with prominent Republicans. However, John McCain keeps saying that "we need to have Obama fully explain the full extent of his relationship with Ayers. So, no matter what detail Obama has given, there must be something more - perhaps Obama and Ayers are secretly married and Michelle is just a front. I don't know.
And I don't know what party Sibcy and Cline belong to, but it doesn't matter. They fully disclose that they are for sale - give them enough money and they will vote your way - no pesky party platform to tie them down.
This November, I'm voting Sibcy Cline.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Barack Star Trek

Many years ago, Gary Burbank satirized Papa George Bush with bits about “Bush Man”, a superhero parody of Batman. It was fun to write and Gary did a great GHW Bush voice. He also did H. Ross Perot perfectly, which caused all his writers to vote for Perot so we could write 4 or more years of Perot bits (which we did even though Perot lost). If Gary was still on the radio, I would be tempted to vote for McCain, just because Sarah Palin is fun to parody and her manner of speech seems easy to write ... and mock. None of the other candidates have that quality to the same extent.
I have gotten a little better feel for the cadence of Barack Obama’s speech, particularly his pauses. If I were to try and write out how he would voice my previous post idea, it would be close to this:
John … Governor Palin did stand up to … corrupt members of her own party … and kick them out…for which I applaud her. Uh, you…Senator…have indeed gone up against…your own party members…and I admire that. So … John…why would I stand up … and oppose those leaders of my party…whom you have reached across the aisle to…and embrace those Republicans … whom you and Governor Palin…have found to be … corrupt and wrong? It doesn’t make sense.
It still needs work, but in listening to him, I realized that Senator Obama’s speech cadence is the same as that of Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise. (Though Barack’s cadence may be that of Capt. Kirk, the timbre of his voice is more like Spock.) Thinking about Barack as Kirk, I noticed another thing: John McCain is Dr. McCoy: “Dammit, Barack, I’m a war hero, not an economist!”
“McCain … we are beaming down … to an unexplored planet … named Alaska, where … we will meet a woman … who … serves no other purpose … than to look good.”
“Dammit, Barrack, there’s one thing troubling me about this mission.”
“What is it … John?”
“Why am I wearing the red shirt?”