Archive for the 'humor' Category

And now for something completely different

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

To balance out my last couple of posts which have inadvertently bordered on the macabre and gruesome, today we present some comic relief in the form of an incredibly cute video of a baby panda sneezing:

If that’s not enough for you, here’s another “awwwww” photo:

Or you could just go to Cute Overload and be done with it. Our regular (read: “bizarre”) blog programming will return soon.

Creepy advertising

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

Memorial Day weekend is fast approaching, and for many people that means outdoor cookouts with hot dogs, burgers, Bar-B-Q, and other typical “American” food. Coincidentally, today’s post from blog-buddy Supacoo (whose job has relocated her to Germany for the next two years) features a link to the European discount chain ALDI, and offers an entertaining look at how “American” products (and by extension, Americans themselves) are perceived over in Deutchland. Hot dogs in a jar, anyone?

Here is your typical American Housewife, as presented in the German ad:

I don’t know about you, but this woman scares the shit out of me. Look at that evil grin and those demon eyes, not to mention that she’s squeezing something out of a tube onto my sandwich that appears to be silicone drain sealant. After I choke to death on it, she’s going to cook ME for dinner.

Psycho-Wife joins a long and storied history of advertising models who look like they’ve just stepped out of a horror movie. For example, this kid is either eating a plate of spaghetti, or it could be brains. I’m not sure.

Next, the look on the little girl’s face below seems to indicate that she has apparently forced her mother to chop up the family dog in a meat grinder and spread the bloody offal on a sandwich for her:

Whereas there is absolutely no mistaking that this next child is, indeed, the Daughter of Satan:

Mmmm, human hearts on a plate. Bon appetit!

More people who do stuff better than I do

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Which would include roughly 99.97% of the Earth’s population, but never mind that now. If you are a fan of both photography and music, as I am, you will enjoy visiting Steve is an affable English bloke who built a beautiful house on a loch in the Scottish highlands where he lives with his family, including Charlie, a Bearded Collie whom he describes as “somewhat mad”. Steve kept a blog to document the construction of his home, which must be seen to be believed. If I ever had a “dream house”, it would look very much like the 5-bedroom eco-friendly Finnish log home (with integrated recording studio) that Steve designed and built on 200 yards of coastline in a Caledonian pine forest, with views to die for.

Steve’s music is very orchestral in nature; he now composes mainly production soundtracks for film, television, and documentaries after spending many years as a session player in London. Unlike me, he takes stunning photos, which can be seen in great detail (some can be downloaded as wallpaper) on his site. Like me, however, he is an aficionado of Bad Album Cover Art, including this delightfully tacky sample from his collection which has now become one of my favorites:

I’m sure there’s an inspirational message here, but I have no idea what it might be, and frankly, I’m not sure I want to know, as somehow this cover suggests the disturbing possibility that Freddie Gage is a mass murderer who has killed and dismembered his entire family and all his friends. At least he was careful not to get any blood on those white boots.

Vatican announces release of iPope 1.0

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

Here is an Actual News Item:

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Pope Benedict will text message thousands of young Catholics on their mobile phones during World Youth Day in Sydney in July, hoping going digital will help him connect better with a younger audience.

Even though I’m not Catholic, I think it’s great that the Pontiff is adapting to 21st century technology. Since Joseph Ratzinger became Benedict XVI, many spiritually progressive types have been hoping that he would embrace a historic opportunity for the church to finally get with the times, modernize, shake off the dust, roll some bones, and pry open some of those old dungeon doors. Well according to the Reuters article, that seems to be exactly what’s happening, and I can only guess that an IM from His Holiness might look something like this:


Note: Translation Of Papal Message For Anyone Over The Age Of 16:

“Good Heavens! Hello brothers and sisters, it is I, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. I’m so sorry I cannot meet with you face-to-face, but it is certainly great to talk to you nevertheless. Are you aware of my age, sex, and current location at this very moment? I am parked right in front of your house in my Papal Vehicle! Oh my, that is so funny, but I’m only kidding you, I have a message from Your Savior Jesus Christ the Son of God: Don’t be a person who hates others. I’m chuckling to myself now. You should always bless your girlfriend or boyfriend with many hugs and kisses … but be sure to do the right thing! What do I mean by this? I mean don’t smoke any marijuana, or watch pornography, and most importantly, always remain celibate. Honest to God, I mean it, and not only because your parents are watching you, but remember God is watching you too. So if you are sitting in front of your computer without any clothing on, put your pants back on and stop that sinful activity right now, young man! Oh my, that is so funny! Seriously, I must leave you now but I hope you will heed my helpful advice. Remember that you will always be in my prayers. Farewell, and I hope to send you another message at some point in the future.”

If Pope Benedict is able to get some props from teens as a result of this approach, I hope he will use his newfound street cred to go after Christian Rock, which is an oxymoron if ever there was one. (When Jesus returns, I personally think He might be a big fan of Pearl Jam.) And if this unorthodox method of reaching out to young people on World Youth Day succeeds, I can only assume that His Holiness would then take the next logical step: (Click on image for more detail.)

Oh yeah, I am definitely going to Hell for this.

Necisito un alka-seltzer, por favor

Monday, May 5th, 2008

We’re back! Happy Cinco de Mayo from Wind In The Wire.

We’ve timed our glorious return to the Blog Space in honor of this auspicious occasion. Now, I realize that some people may possibly confuse Cinco de Mayo with a similar ethnic holiday also celebrated in the spring, St. Patrick’s Day, but we are here to set the record straight once and for all: St. Patty’s Day is generally observed on March 17th, and involves a great deal of celebration and partying by getting totally drunk out of your mind on Guinness Stout, while in comparison, Cinco De Mayo is observed on May 5th (generally speaking) and involves a great deal of celebration and partying by getting totally drunk out of your mind on Jose Cuervo Tequila. This is an important distinction.

But seriously, today is a very important day in Mexican history, as it commemorates the historically significant birthday of, day of independence, er, I mean Battle of Hastings, New Orleans, The Bulge, um, well actually, I’m not sure; maybe one of these folks knows what Cinco de Mayo marks:

Ha ha! We’re just kidding! Of course any fool knows that Cinco De Mayo is primarily a regional and not an obligatory federal holiday which marks the initial victory of Mexican forces led by General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín over French forces in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, a date observed in the United States and other locations around the world as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride. Furthermore, any flea-brain yahoo will tell you that a common misconception in the United States is that Cinco de Mayo is Mexico’s Independence Day; Mexico’s Independence Day is actually September 16 (i.e., dieciséis de septiembre), which is the most important national patriotic holiday in Mexico.

And naturally, it goes without saying (as any five-year old kindergarten student is well aware), that although the Mexican army was victorious over the French at Puebla, the victory only delayed the French invasion of Mexico City, and the French occupied Mexico a year later, during which time French occupying forces placed Maximilian I, Emperor of Mexico, on the throne, but the French were eventually defeated and expelled in 1867, and Maximilian was executed by President Benito Juarez five years after the Battle of Puebla.

I mean, who doesn’t know that?? C’mon!

So in the spirit of this day marking the defeat of French forces by the Mexican Army, this blog sternly advises you to step away from that croissant and glass of wine, Francois, and have some chips, salsa, a big ol’ burrito and some cerveza instead. But when you wake up tomorrow morning and face the prospect of going to work with a God-awful hangover after a night of partying, eating, dancing and drinking, just don’t refer to today as “Sicko De Mayo”.


Worst album cover, ever?

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

If only the human race could be so lucky. Oh noooooooooo, there’s more.

Tiger’s tale

Sunday, April 6th, 2008

Any feline fanciers reading this blog may be glad to know that our cat Tiger came home Friday afternoon from the vet and seems to be doing OK. We’ve learned a lot about FLUTD as a result of this experience, and found that it’s much more common than we realized. Our vet has had three cats with urinary blockages brought in during the last week or two, and they all had been on a diet of Meow Mix dry formula; if you have a cat, I would strongly suggest feeding it something else.

Our own cat food budget is about to explode, as our vet has recommended keeping Tiger on Hill’s S/D and C/D prescription diet, which is specially formulated to keep his urinary pH level slightly acidic (6.2-6.4) to prevent the formulation of struvite crystals (the main cause of potentially fatal feline urinary tract blockages). It’s a delicate balance, as if the pH goes too low, a different type of crystal affecting the kidney can be formed. The S/D is about a buck-fifty per can, but it’s worth it if it will keep Tiger healthy.

We also learned that canned food is generally better for cats than dry food, as the extra moisture goes a long way towards preventing urinary problems. In fact, wet food is even preferred over prescription-formulated kibble. Taking it one step further, many vets also recommend that even if you do feed your cat only canned food, add about an extra teaspoon of water to the dish and mix it with the food into something resembling a slurry before you give to your cat. You can’t get too much moisture into their diet.

We’re happy that Tiger is doing better, but the down side is that for the next two weeks we are having to give him four pills a day, consisting of a muscle relaxant and an antibiotic dose twelve hours apart. For those who have never had the joyful experience of pilling a cat, the procedure goes something like this:

1. Pick up cat and cradle it in the crook of your left arm, as if holding a baby. Position right forefinger and thumb on either side of cat’s mouth and gently apply pressure to cheeks while holding pill in right hand. As cat opens mouth, pop pill into mouth. Allow cat to close mouth and swallow.

2. Retrieve pill from floor and cat from behind sofa. Cradle cat in left arm and repeat process.

3. Retrieve cat from bedroom and throw soggy pill away.

4. Take new pill from foil wrap, cradle cat in left arm holding rear paws tightly with left hand. Force jaws open and push pill to back of mouth with right forefinger. Hold mouth shut for a count of ten.

5. Pry claws from back legs out of your arm. Go get the cat from top of wardrobe, pick up half-dissolved pill from floor and drop it into garbage can. Call partner from den.

6. Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees. Hold front and rear paws. Ignore low growls emitted by cat. Get partner to hold head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into mouth. Drop pill down ruler and rub cat’s throat vigorously.

7. Retrieve cat from curtain rail, get another pill from foil wrap. Make note to buy new ruler and repair curtains. Carefully sweep shattered figurines and vases from hearth and set to one side for gluing later.

8. Wrap cat in large towel and get partner to lie on cat with head just visible from below armpit. Put pill in end of drinking straw, force mouth open with pencil and blow down drinking straw.

9. Check label to make sure pill not harmful to humans, drink one beer to take taste away. Apply band-aid to partner’s forearm and immediately remove blood from carpet with cold water and soap.

10. Retrieve cat from neighbor’s shed. Get another pill. Open another beer. Place cat in cupboard and close door onto neck to leave only head showing. Force mouth open with dessert spoon. Flick pill down throat with a rubber band.

11. Fetch screwdriver from garage and put cupboard door back on hinges. Drink beer. Fetch bottle of scotch. Pour shot and drink. Apply cold compress to cheek and check records for date of last tetanus shot. Apply whiskey compress to cheek to disinfect. Toss back another shot. Throw tee-shirt away and fetch new one from bedroom.

12. Call fire department to retrieve the friggin’ cat from tree across the road. Apologize to neighbor who crashed into fence while swerving to avoid cat. Take last pill from foil wrap.

13. Tie cat’s front paws to rear paws with garden twine and bind tightly to leg of dining room table. Find heavy-duty pruning loves from shed. Push pill into mouth followed by large piece of fillet steak. Be rough about it. Hold head vertically and pour a pint of water down throat to wash pill down.

14. Consume remainder of scotch. Get partner to drive you to emergency room, sit quietly while doctor stitches fingers and forearm and removes pill remnants from right eye. Stop at furniture shop on way home to pick out new table.

15. Arrange for SPCA to collect mutant cat. Call local pet shop to see if they have any hamsters.


Seriously, we would never trade Tiger for a hamster, as we love him even though he’s pretty damn useless right now … although not quite as useless as this cat.

On a totally unrelated topic, let me leave you with this useless joke: A Viennese fellow is walking along the Karntner Strasse and notices a banana peel lying in his path. “Alas,” he sighs, “now I must slip and fall down!”

Shocking photo!

Monday, March 31st, 2008

WiTW Exclusive!


A young boy is shown about to fearlessly jump on the back of the gigantic flying beast in this exclusive pic taken by Mr. Toast during a brief mini-vacation last weekend in Galveston, Texas. However, shortly after this photo was snapped the colossal Columba Livia Domestica took flight and was last seen heading out over the Gulf of Mexico. Florida beware!

Superdelegates explained

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

I discovered “Red State Update” today, a series of tongue-in-cheek parodies of redneck politics. (Sadly, even though it’s a joke, some folks actually think like this.) But we won’t worry about that now; Jackie and Dunlap finally clear up the confusion behind those mysterious “Superdelegates”, and delve into the heretofore unspoken relationship between politics and comic books. Damn, this stuff cracks me up.

Thanks and a special tip o’ the Toast hat to Gwen at The Super Happy FunTime Blog!

Cheese Closure of the Pygmy Love Queen, and Other Favorites

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

Since a number* of readers of this blog are known to spend lots of time in Libraryland, I figured y’all might be interested in the following news item which I ran across today:

The Bookseller magazine has announced the shortlist for the Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year. Here are the titles:

  • I Was Tortured By the Pygmy Love Queen
  • How to Write a How to Write Book

  • Are Women Human? And Other International Dialogues

  • Cheese Problems Solved
  • If You Want Closure in Your Relationship, Start With Your Legs
  • People who Mattered in Southend and Beyond: From King Canute to Dr Feelgood

Vote for your “favorite” in this poll; you may also wish to alert your acquisitions staff, as no doubt you’ll be getting lots of requests for these titles at your own local library.

I’m certain that it was difficult for the editors to come up with only these six finalists, as there are so many to choose from every year. Who could resist curling up at night with last year’s odd-title winner, the thrilling “Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification”. Then there’s the classics, like “Fish Who Answer the Telephone” (1937), “Explosive Spiders and How to Make Them” (1881), “Manhole Covers of Los Angeles” (1974), or 1981′s “New Guinea Tapeworms and Jewish Grandmothers: Tales of Parasites and People” by Robert S. Desowitz, of which one reader says, “Parasites are not only interesting study objects, but you can write very funny stories about them as well.”

Turning to the ever-popular self-improvement category, we have such page-turners as “Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun” (1995), “My Invisible Friend Explains the Bible” (1971), “Teach Yourself Alcoholism” (1973), and the intriguing “Sex After Death” (1983).

My personal favorite, however, has to be a lightweight treatise from 1954 entitled “The Coming Disaster Worse Than the H-bomb, Astronomically, Geologically and Scientifically Proven, The Coal Beds, Ice Ages, Tides, and Coming Soon, a Great Wave and Flood Caused by a Shift of the Axis of the Earth From the Gyroscopic Action of Our Solar System”. I can’t wait for this one to come out on DVD.

* I believe that number is “two”

Today’s Bible lesson

Monday, January 21st, 2008

In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth and populated the Earth with broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach, green and yellow and red vegetables of all kinds, so Man and Woman would live long and healthy lives.

Then, using God’s great gifts, Satan created Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream and Krispy Creme Donuts. And Satan said, “You want chocolate with that?” And Man said, “Yes!” and Woman said, “and as long as you’re at it, add some sprinkles.” And they gained 10 pounds. And Satan smiled.

And God created the healthful yogurt that Woman might keep the figure that Man found so fair. And Satan brought forth white flour from the wheat, and sugar from the cane and combined them. And Woman went from size 6 to size 14.

So God said, “Try my fresh green salad.” And Satan presented Thousand-Island Dressing, buttery croutons and garlic toast on the side. And Man and Woman unfastened their belts following the repast.

God then said, “I have sent you heart-healthy vegetables and olive oil in which to cook them.” And Satan brought forth deep-fried fish and chicken-fried steak so big it needed its own platter. And Man gained more weight and his cholesterol went through the roof.

God then created a light, fluffy white cake, named it “Angel Food Cake,” and said, “It is good.” Satan then created chocolate cake and named it “Devil’s Food.”

God then brought forth running shoes so that His children might lose those extra pounds. And Satan gave cable TV with a remote control so Man would not have to toil changing the channels. And Man and Woman laughed and cried before the flickering blue light and gained pounds.

Then God brought forth the potato, naturally low in fat and high in nutrition. And Satan peeled off the healthful skin and sliced the starchy center into chips and deep-fried them. And Man gained pounds.

God then gave lean beef so that Man might consume fewer calories and still satisfy his appetite. And Satan created McDonald’s and its 99¢ double cheeseburger. Then said, “You want fries with that?” And Man replied, “Yes! And super-size them!” And Satan said, “It is good.”

And Man went into cardiac arrest.

God sighed and created quadruple-bypass surgery.

Then Satan created HMOs….

(source: unknown)

Chiken’s revenge

Friday, January 11th, 2008

Still yet more proof that I have way too much time on my hands: After ruminating on yesterday’s post for a while, this fell out of my head today (with a little help from Photoshop).

There’s nothing like the concept of interspecies annihilation to get the ol’ creative juices flowing, I always say. I suspect this is one reason why some people are vegetarians.

The Cornhole Song

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

Discovered this today while surfing the web, and it seems fitting to wrap up the year with. I swear this will be my last Cornhole post.

Happy New Year, everybody! Here’s to a great 2008!

You ask, I answer

Friday, December 28th, 2007

In a comment to my last post, Sphincter asked: “BTW, what happened with the Cornhole Game?” Now you should know that I take these sort of questions from my readers very seriously, mainly because I realize that if I don’t, and as a result were to lose just one reader, this would … well, it would cut my audience in half, basically, and that would be tragic. So without further adieu* let me present — complete with color photos! — the conclusion to the Great Christmas Cornhole Caper of 2007:

Completed “naked” cornhole set prior to being painted, with a closeup of the retractable leg area. Look at the detail! Look at the craftsmanship! Look at how I forgot to remove my cutting guide lines!

After applying a primer coat and base layer of lovely slate-gray paint, I next proceeded to deftly add the mind-boggling complex design pattern atop the boards. (Ignore that big ugly overspray of day-glo orange on the front there in the left photo. OK, I had to repaint it, but I’m prepared to suffer for my art.) Finally, I applied several coats of Minwax Polycrylic® to seal and protect the finish, and give it a lustrous shine. Because that’s just how I roll.

Christmas morning: L&T opening the elaborately boxed and wrapped corn bags while the boards remained cleverly hidden in the garage. Initially, since they had no concept of the game, I played a little joke on them by pretending that the bags alone were their complete present. This kept everyone in a somewhat bewildered state (major source of bewilderment: trying to remain polite while wondering whether to call 911 for medical assistance since I clearly appeared to have lost my mind) for several minutes until I piped up with “Oh wait! I almost forgot, there’s something else that goes with it!” I’m such a kidder. The boards then appeared through the back door, and as they say, “the crowd went wild.”

While Cornhole is not exactly an indoor sport, we nevertheless risked damage to our windows, fine china, cats, and other breakable items by setting up the targets in the living room in order for me to demonstrate the detailed, highly complicated rules of the game, which can be summarized thusly: try to toss the bag through the freakin’ hole. In the photos above, Dead-Eye Brady takes aim; he shoots, he scores!! Seriously, the game set was a huge hit, especially with the kids. We’ve heard that they’ve held family back yard tournaments nearly every night since Christmas and L. is talking about making Cornhole sets for all their friends, and (unlike Mrs. Toast and I, barbaric heathens who live in near-seclusion) they know a whole bunch o’ people, mostly through their church back home near Austin. At this rate, if their enjoyment of the sport catches on, I may turn out to be singularly responsible for the spread of Cornhole into East-Central Texas, which will mean that if there was ever any doubt before, there’s none now:

I’m going to hell.

*Exactly what is “adieu”, anyway? And why should there be no further of it now? I’ve never been able to figure this expression out.

Feeling Ducky

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

Gah … I don’t know what the heck has happened to me, can it really be that I haven’t posted a blog entry in nearly three weeks now? I hope I remember how. Where’s the “any” key I’m supposed to press again?

But even though my output has been less than stellar lately, I’ve still been visiting my Blog Buddies and trying to stay in touch with what y’all are up to. So let me say Happy Birthday to little Aiden O’Brien who is celebrating his big first birthday along with his family today! Yay!

I also received email this week from a young man by the name of Aaron Johnson, who despite being a fine cartoonist, is obviously deranged because he happened to mention in his message that he actually enjoys reading this here blog. (I presume that means “when I get off my lazy ass and actually write something in it”.) I am shocked! As further proof that Aaron’s bizarre sense of ironic humor and sarcasm closely matches my own, he sent me a link to his web site. Now if you’re one of the so-called “normal” people, you probably think there is no daily comic strip to be found anywhere in the civilized world that draws a spot-on parody of the wild and wacky, fun-filled, rock-em-sock-em world of the Professional Photographer, AND features a picture-snapping duck as its main protagonist.

Well my friend, you would be wrong.

This man has got the camera angst nailed, people. And because the day is close at hand, here’s his tender look at the joyous Christmas holiday from the perspective of a portrait photographer:

These are just a few samples. You’ll find over 300 of the strips archived for easy free viewing on his site, and nearly all of them are very clever if not downright freakin’ hilarious. What I find especially refreshing is that unlike many artists who feel they need to put virtual locks and chains on their work, Aaron magnanimously welcomes viewers to “link, post, copy/paste, or save the strips to their own sites, blogs, forums, newsletters, etc.” Whether or not you take photos professionally, for fun, or have a cardboard sign reading “Will Shoot 4 Food”, you’ll get a kick out of What The Duck. Check it out if you get a chance. Tell him Mr. Toast sent you.

News Bulletin

Friday, November 16th, 2007

Washington, DC — Congress today announced that the office of President of the United States of America will be one of numerous jobs outsourced to India as of January 1, 2008. The move is being made in order to save the President’s $500,000 yearly salary, as well as a record $521 Billion in deficit expenditures and related overhead that his office has incurred during the last 5 years. “We believe this is a wise financial move. The cost savings are huge,” stated Congressman Thomas Reynolds (R-WA). “We cannot remain competitive on the world stage with the current level of cash outlay,” Reynolds noted.

Mr. Bush was informed by e-mail this morning of his termination. Preparations for the job move have been underway for some time.

Gurvinder Singh of Indus Teleservices, Mumbai, India will assume the office of President as of the new year. Mr. Singh was born in the United States while his Indian parents were vacationing at Niagara Falls, NY, thus making him eligible for the position. He will receive a salary of $320 (USD) a month, but no health coverage or other benefits.

It is believed that Mr. Singh will be able to handle his job responsibilities without a support staff. Due to the time difference between the US and India, he will be working primarily at night. “Working nights will allow me to keep my day job at the Dell Computer call center,” stated Mr. Singh in an exclusive interview with The Toasted Times. “I am excited about this position. I always hoped I would be President.” A Congressional spokesperson noted that while Mr. Singh may not be fully aware of all the issues involved in the office of President, this should not be a problem as President Bush had never been familiar with the issues either.

Mr. Singh will rely upon a script tree that will enable him to respond effectively to most topics without having to understand the underlying issue at all. Using these canned responses, he can address common presidential matters. “We know these scripting tools work,” stated the spokesperson. “President Bush has used them successfully for years, with the result that some people actually thought he knew what he was talking about.”

Bush will receive health coverage, expenses, and salary until his final day of employment. Following a two-week waiting period, he will be eligible for $140 a week unemployment for 13 weeks. Unfortunately he will not be eligible for Medicaid, as his unemployment benefits will exceed the allowed limit. Mr. Bush has been provided with the outplacement services of Manpower, Inc. to help him write a resume and prepare for his upcoming job transition. According to Manpower, Mr. Bush may have difficulties in securing a new position due to a lack of any successful work experience during his lifetime. A greeter position at Wal-Mart was suggested due to Bush’s extensive experience at shaking hands.

The Legend of Nablopomo

Thursday, November 8th, 2007

A lot of my blogger friends have been very prolific recently, having decided to write an entry in their online journals every single day for the next month. I am very happy for them, and look forward to reading their posts with great anticipation. Last year I participated in the blogging frenzy myself, but after much reflection and gnashing of teeth, I have decided not to join in again this year. For one thing, my output lately has been pathetic — only a paltry few posts during the month of October, and this is the first one for November — so I have very little faith in my ability to come up with a post each day this month. And even if I did, they would be truly horrible. To give you a perfect example of this, a friend in the UK (whom I refer to as “The Madman Across The Water”) recently sent me a spot of British Humour (hah!) that goes like this:

“Council tax re-valuers want to charge us more if we live in a nice area. So, that ought to mean discounts for those of us who live in rough areas. We have a huge council house at the end of our street. The extended family who live there is run by a grumpy old woman with a pack of fierce dogs. Her car isn’t taxed or insured, and doesn’t even have a number plate, but the police still do nothing. Her bad tempered old man is famous for upsetting foreigners with his racist comments. A shopkeeper blames him for ordering the murder of his son and his son’s girlfriend, but nothing has been proved yet. All the kids have broken marriages except the youngest, who everyone thought was gay. Two grandsons are meant to be in the Army but are always seen out in nightclubs. The family’s odd antics are always in the papers. They are out of control. I mean, honestly – who would want to live near Windsor Castle?”

Now keep in mind that had I been participating in the Big Blog-athon this month, that bit of piffle you just read above would have taken up an entire post, people. Worse yet, since groaning about Nablopomo is one of the most popular topics to write about during Nablopomo, there would be at the very least several entries expressing the general theme “I have nothing to write about, but I’m posting anyway”, as I did ad nauseum last year. I might even be reduced to posting full-color photos of my big toe. There would be a great hue and cry in the comments of “For the love of God, someone stop him before he posts again!”

No my friends, it would not be pretty, and you should thank me for not writing every day. I am doing you a favor, honestly.

However, since Nablopomo is a hot topic in the Blogosphere right now and thousands of people are participating, I thought I would write at least one post about it as there seems to be a lot of confusion about what “Nablopomo” means and how it got started. While many people think it stands for “National Blog Posting Month”, I know the true story.

In reality, NaBloPoMo was the name of the wise chief of a small, relatively obscure group of Indians who lived in upstate New York in the early 1800′s. NaBloPoMo of The PoCoNos, as he was known, was different from most other Indians of his day who were warlike and uncommunicative; instead, Nablopomo was well-educated and had traveled extensively, and taught his people advanced language skills which they would use in creative, often sarcastically humorous ways.

One day in the late fall of 1807, the Pocono Tribal Council had gathered for one of their big pow-wows. There was an exchange that went something like this:

Indian #1: “All hail Nablopomo, our wise and well-educated Chief!”

Rest of Indians (in unison): “Huzzah!”

Nablopomo: “Thank you my brothers.”

Indian #2: “Tell us, oh wise Nablopomo. The sun sinks low in the sky and the days are becoming short. Our people are bored and restless and in need of an activity which will bring them together in peace and harmony. What shall we do?”

Nablopomo: “I have a vision. I want all the tribe to go into the forest and gather tree bark and berries. We will grind up the tree bark with water, pound it into a paste and press it into thin sheets. After it dries into parchment, we will mix the berry juice with animal tallow and make it into ink. Then, every day for a month, we will use chicken feathers dipped in this ink to record every detail of our lives. We will write down all of our thoughts about every thing that happens to us or anyone we know, and then attach these writings to the log of a big tree in the center of camp. Each day, the tribe will gather at this big log, or “b’log” as I will call it for short, to read these writings.”

(Indians look confused and murmur nervously amongst themselves. Finally one speaks up.)

Indian #3: “But Nablopomo, the cold of winter approaches and this is surely much work and effort to do these things you ask. How will it benefit the tribe?”

Nablopomo: “We will all feel really good about ourselves and have a great sense of accomplishment.”


Nablopomo: “And maybe we’ll bake cookies.”

Rest of Indians (in unison): “Huzzah!”

Nablopomo: “Hey, don’t bogart that peace pipe.”

And so it came to pass that every day for the next month, Nablopomo and his tribe indeed wrote down everything that crossed their minds, and posted their thoughts on the big log for all to see. They posted recipes for pemmican and caribou, and drew pictures of their family and pets.

There was also much gossip about members of other tribes. For example, among the nearby Buffalo-Spear clan was a young squaw who was said to have been able to calm savage beasts with her lovely singing voice, and mesmerize young braves with her lithe movements. But then her singing became mostly just grunts and moans, and when she tried to dance she stumbled about clumsily and nearly fell over. She began wearing skimpy buckskin outfits and staying up all night. Finally, tribal elders were forced to take her two young papooses away from her. It was just embarrassing, really, but for some reason all the tribes were fascinated by her erratic actions and wanted to write about them.

We know about all of this today because the writings of Nablopomo and The Poconos are all that survived of the tribe. Sadly, because they were so busy making parchment and ink, and writing and posting for the entire month, they neglected to gather food and supplies or to insulate their teepees in advance of the rapidly approaching harsh winter, and the entire tribe perished of cold and starvation during a terrible blizzard in early 1808.

There is a great lesson to be learned here, and that lesson is this: “Nablopomo and The Poconos” would make a excellent name for a rock and roll band.

Serio-comic tragedy

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

It’s not often that events in a newspaper comic strip are reported in the “real” news, but there’s considerable buzz in the media this week about the death of a character in the “Funky Winkerbean” strip. Creator Tom Batiuk has never shied away from tackling “serious” issues such as teen pregnancy, alcoholism and censorship, but the recent storyline concerning Lisa Moore and her battle with breast cancer since 1999 is certainly one of the most ambitious subjects to appear in the “funny pages”. As the end has grown ominously closer in the last month or so (and despite a mountain of letters and emails from readers pleading with Batiuk to spare her), Lisa finally succumbed to the disease in the strip published last Thursday, crossing over the veil of tears hand-in-hand with Masky McDeath (looking strangely like The Phantom of the Opera). An archive of the last month of the series can be found here.

The storyline has generated a surprising amount of controversy; some readers have sent angry letters of complaint to their newspapers, feeling that weighty matters such as disease and death are inappropriate alongside the likes of Garfield, Dagwood, Hagar the Horrible, et. al. Others feel anything that increases cancer awareness is a Good Thing, and anyone who has had to deal with the grief of losing a loved one to the green monster couldn’t help but be touched by the delicate way Batiuk has handled it with his characters. As one commenter on The Comics Curmudgeon put it:

At least FW puts a more human, imperfect face on death and dying, and one that includes struggle, regret, suffering and attempts at closure. It sucks to lose someone from cancer; it’s not easy and it’s not pretty. But there is a certain grace in surviving the struggle, getting through the deep dark emotional stuff, and moving on … not stuff I really want to read in the “funny” papers, but I give FW snaps for dealing with all the imperfect, unfunny aspects of illness and death.

Batiuk has stated that his reasoning for pursuing the plotline was inspired by his own personal battle against prostate cancer, and he has also released a book entitled “Lisa’s Story: The Other Shoe” which contains all the strips from her initial diagnosis up to her passing, along with source material on breast cancer including early detection, information sources, support systems, and health care. Proceeds will be donated to cancer research.

Following this traumatic event, Batiuk will kick off an all-new story line for the strip with the launch of Funky Winkerbean: Generation Next. The flash-forward storyline follows the lives of the characters 10 years into the future, focusing on the sons and daughters of the strip’s original core group. Les Moore, who was an awkward teen when the series began in 1972, will be nearly 50; at the end of this week, his newly-elder character was previewed talking to a psychologist about the events following Lisa’s death.

FW is not the only strip to face “non-funny” issues; For Better Or For Worse is dealing with one of it’s central characters suffering a stroke, and “B.C.” frequently takes on religion. Perhaps we’re seeing the start of a trend; since so many of the funnies are now taking a serious bent, allow me to suggest a few plot lines that the other strips might like to explore:

Dilbert: Fed up with years of abuse by his pointy-headed boss, Dilbert finally “snaps” one day, and brings a semi-automatic rifle to the office where he shoots The Boss, Dogbert, and several other co-workers to death.

Blondie: Dagwood, Blondie, Herb and Tootsie become swingers. They’re engaged in a serious wife-swapping orgy one night when Alexander and Cookie return unexpectedly and catch their parents en flagrante delicto. Years of therapy and marriage counseling follow.

Garfield: Garfield and Odie slip out of the house unnoticed by Jon, who is busily trying to woo his latest girlfriend. The dog and cat are picked up by animal control officers and euthanized after three days of efforts to determine their owner are unsuccessful. (Look carefully at the image on the right: do you see either of them wearing a collar, ID, or rabies tag? I didn’t think so.)

Dennis The Menace: Up until now, Dennis has been frozen in time as a mischievous five-year old. Announcing a “new direction” for the strip, the creators begin aging Dennis in real time; he becomes a juvenile delinquent, starts smoking crack, joins a teen street gang, and is finally shot by police while holding up a liquor store. However, he recovers from his wounds, finds religion, and goes on a mission to show his former gang-mates the Healing Power of Jesus.

Marvin: The cute, rascally, lovable, sagacious babe is unexpectedly and tragically taken by SIDS.

The Lockhorns: This one is almost too obvious. Leroy divorces Loretta so that he can carouse with the shapely young women he is frequently portrayed as flirting with in the strip. Unfortunately however, his new-found freedom doesn’t last long: he has a heart attack and dies while having sex with a 22-year old on a cruise ship, and since he was always too dim-witted to keep up with paperwork, he never bothered to update his will after divorcing Loretta and she gets everything. (At least he doesn’t have to eat her cooking any more.)

Beetle Bailey: Beetle and Sarge are sent to combat duty in Iraq where they are seriously maimed by an improvised explosive device.

Peanuts: Charlie Brown is arrested for illegally downloading mp3′s. The rest of the Peanuts gang attempt to organize a musical show to raise funds for his defense, but in an ironic plot twist, the kids are foiled when they realize they don’t have performance rights for the tunes they want to sing. Chuck is released from the slammer only after paying a $220,000 fine to the RIAA.

The Family Circus (man, you can see this one coming, can’t you?): Since a recurring theme of the series is that seven-year-old Billy often substitutes as cartoonist and draws the Sunday strip in a childish scrawl, authorities decide to investigate the family for possible violation of nepotism and child labor laws. They discover that, not only is little Billy drawing the strip that appears in US papers because Big Bill is frequently too drunk to hold a pen, the child has also been forced by his father to crank out a full-time knock-off comic called (loosely translated) “Carnival of Relatives” in Chinese that appears daily in Peking, Hong Kong, and a variety of other Asian markets. Obtaining a subpoena for the cartoonist’s hard drive, investigators are subsequently shocked to find obscene photographs of 3-year old Jeffy and 5-year old Dolly, and realize that Bill is a major player in the kiddie porn market. Bill claims that the real culprit is an invisible gremlin named “Not Me”, but police arrest him anyway. In the final strip, as he is led off in handcuffs, he tells the audience to “bite me”, and kicks Barfy on his way out the door for good measure while the ghost of Dead Grandpa Al hovers in the background, hanging his head in shame.

This has got to be only the tip of the iceberg, and there must be a ton of other possibilities. Readers?


Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Avast, ye scurvy dogs! Today is “National Talk Like A Pirate Day“, a day scalliwags o’ all stripes ha’bn celebratin’ for many a’year now. So fly yer Jolly Roger, hoist a pint o’grog and talk like a Pirate today, matey!

Courtesy o’ them fine swashbucklers over at The Unclyclopedia, herrrrrrrrre’s some facts n’ historrrrrrry about this here special holiday:

• The Beginning – The Great FSM creates all that is, including his chosen people, the Pirates.

• 1756 – The Dread Pirate Wesley single handedly defeated the entire Spanish Armada in single combat.

• 1778 – The Continental Congress passes the first budget of the United States, budgeting 10,000 doubloons for defense, 5000 pieces of eight for social programs, and additional booty to highways.

• 1796 – George Washington makes his farewell address, saying “Aye me mateys, it were good being captain of this fine ship of state.”

• 1957 – First U.S. underground nuclear bomb test is conducted, shivering timbers as far as 500 km. away.

• 1959 – After Nikita Khrushchev is barred from visiting Disneyland, he threatens to “keel haul” a man dressed in a Goofy suit.

• 1970 – Pirates the world over rejoice at Oldsmobile’s launch of the Cutlass Supreme.

• 1982 – Feared corsair Patch-Eyed Pete posts first recorded instance of an emoticon, P-) to an online bulletin board.

• 1985 – First pirate movie released. It is rated ARRRRRRRRRRR!!!!

• 1989 – “Pirate radio” goes on the air and is fined for gratuitous use of the words “scalliwag” and “booty.”

• 1995 – First Talk Like a Pirate Day. It rapidly replaces Talk Like a Ninja Day, which involved people saying nothing so as to conceal their presence.

Now if you’ve been a landlubber fer too long to remember how t’ talk like a pirate, you might want t’ look at this Pirate Speak Translator website. And finally, ‘ere’s a little Pirate Joke t’ get ya in the mood:

A pirate walked into a bar and the bartender said, “Hey, I haven’t seen you in a while. What happened? You look terrible.”

“What do you mean?” said the pirate, “I feel fine.”

“What about the wooden leg? You didn’t have that before.”

“Well, we was in a battle and I got ‘it with a cannon ball, but I’m fine now.”

“Well, okay, but what about that hook? “What happened to your hand?”

“We was in another battle. I boarded a ship and got into a sword fight. Me ‘and was cut off. I got fitted with a ‘ook. I’m fine, really.”

“What about that eye patch?”

“One day we was out a-ridin’ the waves and a flock o’ sea gulls flew over. I looked up and one of ‘em shit in me eye.”

“You’re kidding,” said the bartender, “you couldn’t lose an eye just from some bird shit.”

“It was me first day with the ‘ook.”


Holiday shopping, already?

Sunday, September 16th, 2007

Judging by the many catalogs that have begun arriving in our mailbox over the last couple of weeks, retailers are going straight from “Back To School” to “Christmas”. The official holiday shopping season now apparently starts immediately after Labor Day, with Halloween and Thanksgiving only minor diversions on the path to rampant consumerism.

So as a public service to any Wind In The Wire readers who might like to get a jump start on their holiday gift-buying, I’ve decided to present a few suggestions straight from the latest catalog I received, one of those stores that specializes in “As Seen On TV” items. The products and pictures are real, but I’ve taken some, er, “creative liberties” with the descriptions. Enjoy.

Note: To make this interesting, one of the items below is the actual, honest-to-goodness, un-retouched description of the product pictured. Can you guess which one?


Who needs crisp, pressed clothes? The button-down look is “out” and the casual “rumpled” look is “in”. You can easily add that crinkly look to your outfit with these special vacuum bags that suck out all the air and leave shirts, dresses and suits looking like they’ve been slept in for a week, but they’re still clean! Clothes can also be conveniently frozen for later use.


Losing your hearing and eyesight? Welcome to the 21st century, Grandma! But with this special amplified phone with extra-big buttons you can still call the Home Shopping Channel any time you like without having to put in your hearing aid. Now only $19.98, marked down drastically from the former price ($20.02).


Distant relative to the “Tribble” of Star Trek fame, this critter lives in your bathroom and eats slime for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You may never have to clean your sink again. Loves people too, in fact will occasionally jump out of the sink and attach itself to your foot (right photo), but a couple of good smacks will send it back where it belongs. Can also be trained to fetch your paper, pipe, and slippers if you have a lot of patience and are into that sort of thing.


What a hilarious prank, makes a great holiday gift. Comes in a 32 oz. tube with handy applicator plunger. Squeezes out easily and hardens to a black, rubber-like consistency, guaranteed to clog any commode ever made. Marked down 25%, so get one for all your friends!


Say hello to Fred, our idiot brother-in-law. He’s not too smart and doesn’t have a job, so we’re trying to find him a home. (He used to be an electrician, but lost his license because the last house he worked on burned down, so that’s why there’s “no wiring”). As the illustration shows, he doesn’t require much; just shove him in your closet, cabinet, or attic and feed him every now and then.


Have you heard? The “Geek Chic” look is IN this season, and if you think regular glasses make you look nerdy, wait until you slip on a pair of these extra-large coke bottles. You won’t be just “four-eyes” any more; with interchangeable and stackable lenses, you can go all the way up to “twelve-eyes”! Special headlight included to find your way around dark basements or while holed up in the computer closet.


Too smart for your own good? Use our patented Brain Zapper to kill off brain cells faster than drugs or alcohol, with none of the needless expense or vomiting. Will lower IQ by at least one point for each zap. Successfully tested on executives of large corporations like Enron, as well as many current members of the Bush administration.


Grocery bill not high enough? Get this huge but lovable hungry freakin’ dog! This monster will tear through a 40-pound bag of dog chow every day (left photo), scratch your door to smithereens trying to get out (right photo), and then poop all over your lawn (not shown). Quantities limited, order today!


Never worry about a tree jumping out into the road and biting your car again with our exclusive Tree Alarm. Simply install the receiver unit in your auto, place a transmitter on each tree you wish to avoid running into, and you’ll be alerted whenever you’re within 400 feet of it. Also works great with telephone poles, parking meters, and elderly persons. One 9-volt battery per tree (sold separately) required. Last chance, so stock up!


Husband often out of town on business? Boyfriend too busy watching football to call you? Who needs him when you’ve got the “Rock-N-Go” (formerly known as the “Rock-N-Come”)! Here’s just a few of the many, many reasons why this product is much better than a man:

• Always there only for your pleasure
• Won’t ask you to bring it a beer
• Easy to turn on or off
• Won’t get you pregnant, give you a disease, or make you watch NASCAR
• Your mother will never ask you what it does for a living
• Doesn’t snore, belch, or fart
• Won’t cheat on you or flirt with your friends
• Understands if you’re not in the mood

Order The Orgazmatron today – “satisfaction” guaranteed!


For the guy who wants the sporty look of a beard but is “facially challenged”, here’s just the thing: the Hercules Hook Beard Marker™. Throughout history, men with beards have been ascribed various attributes such as wisdom, sexual virility, or high status, and some religious groups actually require one. With our patented laser pen, you’ll be a dapper dan in mere seconds! Semi-permanent, but can be removed with ordinary household battery acid.


Tired of carrying pails of water around your house? Use this nifty product instead. It’s easy!! Just …

1. Haul it from the garage, pantry, or wherever you store it
2. Unroll the hose, taking care to get all the kinks out
3. Remove your kitchen sink faucet and attach the hose adapter with a 9/16″ crescent wrench
4. Attach the hose to the adapter with a dual-spanner Phizzer valve (not included)
5. Turn on the water and check for leaks, re-tighten all connections
6. Water your plants (right)
7. Shut off the water at the sink and remove the Phizzer valve, taking care not to strip the threads
8. Roll up the hose, taking care to not kink it
9. Clean up the water from inside the hose that you spilled all over the kitchen floor in step #8
9. Store the hose back away again
10. Re-attach your kitchen faucet

Now, wasn’t that easier than carrying a pail of water all of three feet from the sink to your plants?


For those who might need a little more fiber in their diet, try a tasty brick for dinner with some flava beans and a nice chianti. Special Tungsten Carbide blade quickly cuts bricks into thin easy-to-serve slices with no muss or fuss. Also works well on overcooked meat loaf and holiday fruitcake. Makes a great gift!


Get a jump on that next school or craft project with this huge 6′ x 6′ poster board. Can be stored under the mattress until needed. 25% off! (Extra shipping charges may apply.)


Yes, you too can have the Britney Spears “look”, as seen on the recent MTV Video Music Awards! This video details all the steps necessary, including gum-smacking, partying until dawn, shaving your head, and flashing your private parts for the camera. Special cheese-puff and margarita diet guarantees fast results!


Tough-skin mitts remove a very thin outer layer of potato so there’s more for everyone to enjoy! Peels a potato in eight seconds! Thick, waterproof rubber gloves are safe to use and won’t result in nicks or cuts.


If you have a child who’s been “grounded” but sometimes sneaks out of his room, you need this item! Keeps the door locked securely so he can’t get out, and will sound a loud alarm and jolt him with a 120-volt shock of electricity if he tries to grab the doorknob. For complete protection, all you need to do is board up the windows. Also indispensable for keeping your teenage daughter away from that nasty thug of a boyfriend she hangs out with.


MP3 players keep getting smaller, and this one’s so tiny it fits right into your ear. Huge 128 byte “giga-memory” will store portions of many of your favorite songs! Buy two for stereo.


Unique one-of-a-kind item, and what a bargain too! You’ll save 60 percent when you order Gladys, our annoying next-door neighbor who thinks it’s OK to just “pop in” anytime she feels like it as long as she brings a couple of glasses of her lousy watered-down iced tea. She’ll yack and yack and won’t shut up, and is harder to get rid of than a toenail fungus. But we’ll be more than happy to stuff the old bat into a box and send her to whoever ponies up $14.98. First come, first served!


Mornings can be hectic, and often you’re in such a rush to get to work that you don’t even have time to drink your coffee. Instead, just plug in this Good Housekeeping coffee sprayer, and in seconds you’ll have a fine mist of 100% Arabica coffee ready to inhale the caffeine directly into your lungs. Ladies, give your man a quick snort o’ Joe as he runs out the door on the way to the office, just like in the photo. Also perfect for college students! Now 20% off!


Can’t figure out how to get rid of that pesky mother-in-law or irritating co-worker? There’ll be nothing left but her hat and shoes (first photo, right) when you stuff her into the Patio Body Trunk. Patented secret chemical formula speeds decomposition with no messy dismembering (second photo) required. Note: offer void where prohibited.


Spontaneous combustion, nasal blockage, toxic contamination, ultrasonic radiation … who knew ordinary dryer lint could be so dangerous? You don’t want to touch that shit with a ten-foot pole, so here’s the next best thing: a 3-foot vacuum attachment that sucks lint and swallows too! Can also be used to remove chrome from trailer hitches! Only $9.98!

So which one do you think is “real” … hard to tell, isn’t it?