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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Word Play

This short story was bought by Every Day Fiction a while back. It brought me $1 which, after the agent's cut and taxes, netted a tidy 63 cents... just enough for senior coffee at McDonalds, and who could ask for more. (Note to IRS: Yes, I claimed it as net revenue.) I always liked it because 23 is my favorite number (you'll see), but you'd never guess why?

Word Play
Seventeen across: Wish it done. Four letters.
Twenty-three down: Baa baa mama. Three letters.
Rob always looked forward to The Sunday Times because it was the best crossword of the week. It kept him hummingly busy most of the morning… and he usually finished it. This, however, was not one of those days.
“Damn! What is Carpenter’s key?”
Good time to grab a coffee, he decided as he stretched like a waking bear trying to throw his back out.
He smiled with smug confidence. This was war: his intelligence and worldly knowledge vs. the cunningly sly and diabolical Sunday crossword.
Bring it on, baby. When I fill in that last square, I am king of the forty-two across: Celestial orb… World. “Where is the Titanic when I need her?
The self-appreciating silliness was interrupted by his cell’s “Macho Man” ring tone.
“Hi hon…
“Yeah, workin the puzzle…
“No. Haven’t cracked it yet, but I will.
“What?  You are done already? No way! Did you use the dictionary?
“OK. Sorry. Hey, don’t be mad now. I was just kidding.
“You’re not coming over? Why not? We always go for brunch on Sunday. Since when is a sale more important than me? Honest, Steff… sometimes I feel you don’t love me as much as a good bargain.”
Feelings hurt, Rob sat, brooding for a minute. And to add insult to injury, he had to admit, she did the puzzle and he was stuck. The Sunday crossword was their ritual competition.
With new fervor, he picked up his paper and pen, determined he would ‘break through.’ But when he he looked at his progress, he could only shake his head at the ink-smeared corrections.
Rob was one of those addicts who always did the puzzle with his silver Cross pen that Steff had given him two birthdays ago. It was simply inscribed, “23 down,” cryptically referring to their little secret that time in the elevator.
He scratched his golden’s ears as she doggedly backed against his leg begging for more.
“Rob loves Steff, Tessie. Does Steff love Rob?
Tess looked back over her shoulder with those soulful dog eyes as if to ask, you’re not done scratching yet, are you?
“I thought so. No answer.”
Sixty-four down: Mother of Jesus. Oh, a gimmie, he thought. Mary.
The crossword’s theme was Happy Daze (spelled D-A-Z-E). He hadn’t figured that out yet but he knew the shaded squares were supposed to say something important when filled.  All he could think of was ‘The Fonz’ and it clouded his mind to the obvious.
“Hi honey,” she greeted, using her key to let herself in.
“Steff! I didn’t think you were coming today. What about the big sale? Aren’t you afraid you will miss a bargain?”
“Don’t think it wasn’t hard but I figured you might need my help with the puzzle.”
“That’s right. Rub it in. This is the first time you beat me in five weeks. Gloat, gloat, gloat.”
Steff smiled, filled her coffee cup, and kicked off her shoes as she curled into her favorite chair with the rest of the paper. Rob liked the look a lot... and for a moment, thought “The hell with the crossword puzzle.”
Steff broke the mood. “Go ahead. Finish if you can. I’ll just read The Times…and if you still aren’t done, I’ll read tomorrow’s paper too when it comes.”
“Very funny.”
110 across: Hood, affectionately. Three letters.
125 across: Hospital infection. Five letters.
“Wait. I may have a breakthrough!"
Wish it done: Will, of course.
Baa baa mama: Ewe.
Mother of Jesus: Mary.”
Hospital infection Staph… Steff?”
Suddenly, he stopped, startled at his revelation.
“I got it,” he beamed. “Solved the damn thing.”
“Yeah? So what is Carpenter’s key, Einstein?
“That would be my brother, Chuck.”
“Oh? Why Chuck?”
“Because he would be my best man…
“And yes. Yes. YES!” he said as he picked her up from the chair and danced her around the room, snapping her head back as he kissed her again and again. 
“I would be the happiest man in the world to marry you.”
After all the kissey-face smooching, hugging and crying had taken its course, Rob asked her how she ever pulled it off.
“I have a friend who knows the puzzle editor. He agreed it would be a wonderful trick…and make a great puzzle. Lots of human interest.”
“And I did make my sale.” She pulled a little blue Tiffany box from behind her back.
“This is for you, my love.”
The tiny inscription inside the ring read, “Second best crossword puzzle worker. First best fiancé.” 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The real post: Why can't we have elected official that really gets things done... like this?

Jayalalithaa Jayaram
Jayalalithaa Jayaram (pronounced any way you want) was in her third term as chief minister in Chennai, India. She was at the blazing height of her popularity. Her party won 37 of the 39 parliamentary seats in this past spring's elections. SHE IS TRULY BELOVED!

The poor have been risen up by the great number of public welfare programs she has introduced... nutritious meals are available for a few pennies and life is much better in her province. She has done so much to make life easier for the lower casts and is held in reverance by all... almost.

Seems Ms Jayaram knows how to stretch a rupee. At a salary of just 1 rupee per month (0.016th a U.S. dollar), she was able to scrape it together and stage an opulent wedding for her foster son for 40,000 guests and then a formal sit-down dinner for 12,800. People were know to say "Amma" (short for Jayalalitha, thank goodness) is God." Jesus fed 5,000 with just 5 loaves and 2 fishes, so maybe they had something there. (Wink, wink God.)

During her term in office, people would regularly stretch face down on the ground and touch her feet. Eat your heart out Mitch McConnell.

So maybe now we have a hint as to why people openly wept when her successor was sworn in to replace "the god" who has been convicted of corruption and sentenced to four years in prison. "Rarely have tears of despair flowed so copiously at a swearing-in ceremony," said one headline.

The new appointee pulled a photo of Amma from her pocked and bowed reverently, then she began to weep. The minister doing the swearing in just 'lost it' and the oath was barely audible.

Amma's people were way more than just sad. There have been 37 self-immolations including a 23-year-old woman who doused herself with gasoline after putting her infant daughters to sleep.

Unfair, you say? One itsy-bitsy wedding and this? Oh, she had also accumulated 660 million rupees during her first term in office and in her grand home, a search revealed more than 10,000 saris, 66 pounds of gold and one gold waist beld studded with 2,380 diamonds, 18 emeralds and nine rubies, to name just a few things. Not bad for making a penny-and-a-half a year stretch. I want that IRA.

After the funeral of the young mother who self-immolated, an official said in an interview that he could fully understand why Amma's admirers might consider suicide. "You see, they do it for love, because of affection."

So, to turn a phrase from one of my favorite movies, Dave, when he asked his secret service watchdog,"Would you light a match take a bullet for me?" it's kinda like that, I suppose. 

Politicians can be forgiven and still revered. We do it all the time. Check out these bad boys we just re-elected. Incumbents win 90 percent of the time.

As for India, people could consider a ban on matches, unless the NRA (National Radical Arson) prevails.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Gosh, why can't we have elected officials like this?

NOTE: Posted prematurely in all my excitement about a great blog post in the works. So this is now 'THE TEASE' to a really exciting, fun and all around darned good post, like later today. And if you think you can hardly wait, how do you think I feel, not knowing what comes next?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

After the elections, we need a laugh.

Thanks Tim Peckham

As if we are not having enough fun yet...

What was your least favorite election ad?

All of 'em. It felt like our only choice was the least bad. We should not have to choose our future by default, with anger and pessimism.

HOWEVER,  if you have just one more moan in you, I think it's time to use it for feeble humor, if that's what it takes. Try these:

Grouch Marx once confessed: "I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I don't know."

An editor sent a telegram inquiry to fact-check old time actor Cary Grant's age: "HOW OLD CARY GRANT?” — to which he responded: “OLD CARY GRANT FINE. HOW YOU?” 
And newspaper headlines gone wrong:
"Beauty Queen Unveils Bust at Dedication Ceremony"
"Dismemberment Killer Convicted: Thank God Jury Could Put Pieces Together"
"Reagan To Have Tissue Removed From Nose"
"Robber Holds Up Albert's Hosiery"
Study: Those Without Insurance Die More Often"
"Legislator Wants Tougher Death Penalty"
"Voter Fears Alert Politicians"
"Defendant's Speech Ends In Long Sentence"

"Missippi Literacy program shows improvement"
"Poison Control Center Reminds Everyone Not to Take Poison"
"Statistics Show Teen Pregnancy Drops Off Significantly After Age 25"
"County to Pay $250,000 to Advertise Lack of Funds"
"Chick Accuses Some of Her Male Colleagues of Sexism" (Her name is Chick.)

Then there is this:

And finally, the doctor is in:

"Hello, is this the doctor?"
"My wife is pregnant and her contractions are only two minutes apart!"
"Is this her first child?"
"No, this is her husband."

Doctor: "You are in perfect health. You'll live to be at least 65."
Patient: "But doctor, I am 65!"
Doctor: "See? What did I tell you."

"Doctor, I don't know what's wrong with me but I hurt all over. If I touch my shoulder here, it hurts, and if I touch my leg here, it hurts, and if I touch my head here, it hurts, and if I touch my foot here, it hurts."
"Hmm... I believe you've broken your finger."

And, saving my favorite for last:
"Sorry to say this but you have maybe three minutes to live"
"Isn't there anything you can do for me doctor? Anything?"
"Well, would you like me to boil you an egg?"

Monday, October 27, 2014

What the heck is this?

Jake, age 10, and mystery thing

This is Jake. His mom took him to a rummage sale and he found this. Had no idea what it was.

Funny, isn't it... his world only goes back 10 years.

Jake knows Gmail but he wouldn't know typewriters.

He knows computer games. But he wouldn't know Pong, and if he did, he would think it was really stupid.

Jake knows YouTube. He wouldn't know VCR... and goes on and on.

My sister's 5-year-old neighbor was zealously helping weed her flower bed so she asked him if he would like to take a peanut butter and jelly break. Needing his mom's permission, my sis said he could use the phone in the garage to call her. After a few minutes, she checked in on him and he asked, "What's this?"

Our world moves on pretty fast. 

 Alvin Tolfer, in his 1970 book, Future Shock, believed the accelerated rate of technological and social change left people disconnected and suffering from "shattering stress and disorientation"—future shocked... maybe like the person who was present at the Wright brothers' first flight of 112-feet in 1903 and also at the 1969 blast-off of Apollo 11 toward our first moon landing.

To take it one step further, Voyager I, launched in 1977, is now in it's 37th year, traveling beyond our
solar system at 35,000 mph. It is 12 billion miles from earth and theoretically, will travel FOREVER!

Humankind has only been on earth for the final seconds of the 'Big Bang' time frame and in that short time, we have not only broached outer space but have developed skills to destroy mankind in the blink of an eye. How 'future shocked' is that?

Back to the Future has to be the first 'gee whiz' movie that had everyone scratching heads and saying, "Oh yeah, I get it."

Fact is, we DO have a working time machine existing today.... and it is not science fiction. I wrote about time and THE TIME MACHINE in this 2012 post. My, how time flies.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


There is this riddle:

A thermos bottle automatically keeps hot things hot. That very same thermos bottle keeps cold things cold... and it never makes a mistake.

The question is: How does it know?

 Life is filled with difficult riddles... so maybe this isn't one of them but hey, life gets tougher:

  • What asks but never answers?
  • What tastes better than it smells? 
  • A poor man is sitting in a pub. He sees that the man next to him is extremely rich.
 "I have an amazing talent," he tells the rich man.  "I know almost every song that has ever existed."

The rich man laughs.

"I am willing to bet you all the money you have in your wallet," says the poor man, "that I can sing a popular song that includes a lady's name of your choosing."

The rich man laughs again and bites, "OK, how about my daughter's name, Joanna Armstrong-Miller?"

The poor man goes home rich.

What song did he sing?

The answers: An owl, the tongue and Happy birthday.

One more riddle: How do you know if you are the rich person in the riddle or the poor person? Lot easier than you might think. Just take this little test.

WHAT YOU MUST KNOW TO SOLVE THIS RIDDLE: The wealthiest 1% of the people in America possess 40% of the nation's wealth. And, since 2009, that same top 1% received 95 % of the economic gains of the recovery. Fifty million of us (15 %) live below the poverty level according to Uncle Sam. And about 3.5 million of us experience homelessness in a given year. So today, If you add up all the money people have, the top half of us have 99 % of all the dollars, the bottom half, just 1%.

Now answer this question to solve the riddle: Do you personally know anyone in the bottom half?

If you answer "NO," then you are one of the "rich."

Just two more questions: How good do you feel about that? Can't we do more for those we don't know?

If all the poor were as sharp, and all the rich were as naive as those in the riddle, then I think things would naturally take care of themselves, but that's not life. WE... are life. Get it?

By the way, if you want to see an interesting new presentation by the United States Census Bureau
that shows how the U.S and World population grows, check this out.

Monday, October 20, 2014


 How rich? It has been said that Bill Gates is so rich that if he saw a $100 bill lying on the sidewalk, it would cost him more in the value of his time than to stop and pick it up. That rich.

 How rich? As rich as Scrooge McDuck, the world's richest avian, by far. The depth gauge of his gold coin cache is about 89 feet! That rich.

If I was this rich, I would follow Bill Gates' great example and try to make the world a better place. I would give money to fight diseases that defy solutions. I would give money to help education. I would give money to help the poor. I would try to do so many things that beg for the want of money. And I would feel good.

But I mean, what would I do with my "left over" billions? Bill Gates has said he will leave his children no more than $10 million (OK, that would be pretty good for most of us) instead of leaving them the billions he could. He wants his kids to still have to work for a purpose instead of being given a silver spoon for life. And he will donate the rest of his fortune good works. Who could not admire him for setting such a great example.

So what would I buy... I don't know because I could buy anything. But I know what I WOULDN'T BUY...

I wouldn't buy this... an untitled work of art by Cy Twombly which is part of his "Blackboard Series" because, I suppose, everything looks like a blackboard with scribbling on it. Asking price is "at least $35 million" at auction. On the positive side, it is a delightfully big work. I could afford it of course, but I feel it wouldn't soothe my soul as say, a large chocolate sundae.

I also am pretty sure I wouldn't buy this really nice Moynat Train Bag. It comes with shoulder straps and is cute as the dickins... a steal at $12,930 (plus tax). It could be a great 'man purse' because it was created with Pharnell Williams, who I really like. But it's just not me.

Then there is this really nice Louis Vuitton limited edition punching bag. Now before I tell you the how much it costs, you should know it comes with boxing gloves, a monogrammed mat to stand on when you punch and a carrying case for workouts when on the road. The price is 'about' $175,000. Hmm, the 'about' suggests to me that there may be some haggling room. I haven't punched the bag in person, of course, but if it is as nice as it looks, I wouldn't be surprised to see it in every Gold's Gym in the country.

I know, picky, picky, picky... but if I could buy and sell Donald Trump, it wouldn't be all bad.

Speaking of filth rich or not, did you know that the wealthiest 1% of the people in the USA possess 40% of the nation's wealth... and seriously, bully for them old chap.

And, since 2009, according to the bean counters, 95 % of the economic gains went to that same top 1%.

That helps explain this: If you divide the United States by wealth, the top half represent 99 % of the dollars, the bottom half... you do the math. And that figure is down from 3 percent before our economic 'oopsie.' Actually, 50 million of us (15 %) live below the poverty level which is $23,550 according to Uncle Sam. About 3.5 million of us experience homelessness in a given year.

So, as an American, a firm believer in the Golden Rule and a person with a bothersome conscience, don't you think we should be able to do better than that?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

*What politician running for office said: "If the people of Providence could read, I'd never get elected." ?

Who doesn't love negative political ads? 

"Not us," says the U.S.A.

Almost three out of four (74%) of the political advertising running til Tuesday, November 4th are all about "the other guy."

So it comes down to this: More and more, we do not use our freedom to vote for who we want, we use our freedom to vote for who we don't want. And the loser... wins.

Sadly, slamming the other candidate works! I guess that's how cynically divided we have become. And that's how we vote. The approval (disapproval) ratings for the most 'do nothing' Congress in our history is in the low teens, the worse ever. We have become as finitely divided as night and day. We don't even know how to spell the word 'kompromize.' And "For the good of the people" has become "For the good of the party."

Seems from Day 1, a congressperson's first priority is to get re-elected. So much of "governing" is spent gathering talking points--at our expense--to use as clubs for the next round of election campaigning. Yes, sincere and zealous candidates exist but the bar has been set so low, it doesn't take much or many to create an ugly, angry, untrusting electorate.

So maybe we've got it right. What thinking person could believe what any politician says today? Strange though, we choose to believe them when they denigrate their opponent. Haven't we gotten that a little backward?

Pearls Before Swine cartoon by Steven Pastis

Most political ads seem to show the opponent looking as if he or she has just had a very bad day. It is often a slightly out of focus black and white photo of a mad or stupid face and bad hair... the worse, the better... with a salacious headline to grab attention.

Half truths and less are highlighted to create the maximum unbelievable worse thing ever, often followed by a delightfully charming photo and closing comment from the opposition who paid for the ad: "I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm. Washington's full of big spenders. Let's make 'em squeal. I'm (insert name) and I approve this message." (That's a real quote.)

And of course, there are millions of outside dollars spent by out-of-state strangers and special interests who don't give a darn about you or your state. They are only in it because they have lots and lots of money and want more. They want the candidate that will be beholden to their wants. These outsiders are telling us who we should vote for! Why? Because it works for them too.

Doesn't all of this sound wrong?

The Jimmy Stewart movie, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, was released in 1939 and is still one people refer to as the way things should work. Truth is, that movie is very dark and only becomes remarkable in the last few minutes when (spoiler alert) one of the "bad" congressmen commits suicide in the cloak room. Yep, politics feel that 'out-of-sync' with every one of us waiting for the next 'got cha!' moment.

The media plays a role in spreading the divisiveness faster and more effectively and spectacularly than at any other time in our history--ratings, you know. Social media outlets give everyone an instant voice without need of fact or proof. We are gullible suckers happy to create sides that divide. Then we elect a President--any President--and tear him/her apart as best we can rather than uniting in even the smallest way to form One nation, under God... Beats me why anyone would even want the job. But thank goodness, some good people still do.

Whether we love or hate the Prez,... (you win some, you lose some) he/she is our leader for four years and deserves more respect than we give. It's the toughest job in the world. We will never all agree on anything but to want him/her to fail so we can say "I told you so!" is to say "Watch me shoot myself in the foot."

*Oh, the quote in the headline came from a Buddy Cianci story in the New York Times. He is the felonious former two-decade mayor of Providence who is again running for Mayor. Cianci, 74, is quite a colorful figure who moved rivers, took bribes, built a mall, was once accused of raping a woman at gun point, championed a popular festival that brought the city ongoing pride, assaulted a guy and tried to jab a lit cigaret in his eye, raised the city's self-esteem and spent five yeas in prison for running City Hall as a criminal enterprise. The sentencing judge called him Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, to which Buddy retorted, "He didn't give me two (expletive) paychecks."

When a restaurant owner ran afoul of Buddy and threatened to make an issue of a perceived unfairness, His Honor warned him, "You don't want to get into a pissing match with me, because you're a cup of water, and I'm Niagara Falls."

Know what? In his seventh run for mayor of Providence, RI, many think he will be elected once again. It's a miracle!

Well here's the bottom line: If we vote based on the ads we see and nothing more, then we get what we deserve. It's the ANGER and HATE that seem to be the constant, and that just kills us. We are always mad... always. And that's how we vote.

God bless the U.S.A. because we sure aren't doing our part.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Who would you root for: Cheerleaders A or Cheerleaders B?

You know in your red-blooded American heart, you love the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Made in America and all that stuff, right? And who doesn't love their football team... except for everybody who doesn't wear a 10-gallon hat and cowboy boots and has a heart big as the dang whole state of everlovin' Texas? So make your choice, but remember,  if you choose wrong, you may wind up rooting for the Bears... or worse, the Cubs.

Cheerleaders A?

Or Cheerleaders B?

Are you kidding me... technology has spoken and the only obvious choice is... Cheerleaders B, the made in Japan darlings that balance and move in sync on gyro-centric balls as they wave plastic pompons. They form circles and squares and giant hearts as they dance to Japan-pop music. (All true.) Makes you want to say "GO PATRIOTS!" or something.

And they are good, though short. The tallest "girl" is only 14 inches tall... as is the shortest. Their hair is specially coiffed of sponge-like material in the latest fashion and most important, as in the Miss America Pageant, they have back-ups in the wings just in case one stumbles and fractures a ball, or something.

Is this the end for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders? Loose heart NOT, America... I have the perfect plan to save this American chauvinist tradition. There is a football league that has gone cheerleader-less since its inception in 1947 that would pay many hundreds of Monopoly dollars for a squad of beauties to turn their hearts.

The Vibration Football League of America (VFL) all-stars have played a heartless game for almost 70 years where the only sound in the stadium is the constant whirring of the field as the players jockey for a score. These guys are so good they don't even use playbooks.

For half-time entertainment (which TV viewers can't see anyway because of the demand for advertising dollars) the bicycle-riding robots, Murata and his lovely robot-unicyclist friend Murata Girl (also true) will perform at every game.

PS: The rumor is out, Amazon founder and chief, Jeff Bezos, who recently purchased the Washington Post newspaper, is considering buying the Washington Redskins, changing the team nickname to the Pollywogs (pending approval by the Friends of Amphibians Assn.) and  using not only robot cheerleaders and half-time entertainment but all robot coaches. There will be no silly "hiding-your-mouth-with-a-program" on his team because robots don't move their lips. Aside: there are already great robot ventriloquists in disguise "killing" in Las Vegas. Score one already.

Why not robot players you may ask... because even robots know it is not a good idea to get hit in the head as a game. They may be robots but they have techno-brains and techno-common sense. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

What's bigger than the both of us?

... AN ELEPHANT, of course.

In looking through my "SAVE" files, I noticed a handful of clippings on elephants. My delusional thought: "Hmm... maybe I'll use this one day." Well guess what? Today is the day!

There is no animal on earth that has the majesty and presence of the elephant. Elephants are socially, a lot like us. They cry, play and laugh! They have incredible memories (really), are sensitive and compassionate... if a baby cries, the entire family will rumble and go over to comfort it. Elephants have greeting ceremonies when a friend returns.  They rejoice at the birth... and grieve at the loss of a stillborn baby, a family member, and sometimes, other elephants.

These magnificent creatures are unbelievably more awesome in the wild than demeaned in a zoo or circus. It's just them in their element and you, literally face to face. I've been surrounded by a large herd which walked around our stalled Land Rover... making for a few really uncomfortable, but incredible moments. I was at the rear, seated highest out of the vehicle when a large male stopped and stared at me from about six feet--I could almost touch his trunk... and vice versa-- for what seemed like minutes... then, walked on.

While elephants have no natural predators, they are terrified of... no, not mice... they are terrified of bees, which tend to sting around their eyes and inside their trunks. Recently, scientists have recorded a distinctive call, or "bee rumble" that is used to warn others of swarming bees. When the recording was then broadcast to other herds, some of the elephants fled, even shaking their heads as if to deflect bees.

If you are ever chased by an elephant, you should know that elephants do not run. They can't lift four legs off the ground at the same time. Moving their legs as fast as they can, they break into a brisk walk. However, don't get too comfortable. That brisk walk is still about 11 miles per hour. The average human running speed is perhaps 13 mph... but they know the territory. So your best bet is to stop, make friends and tell a funny elephant story, like:

Guy goes into a snack shop specializing in exotic sandwiches. Sign on the wall says, "We can make any sandwich you want." So the smart-alec customer winks at his buddy and orders an elephant ear sandwich. Snack shop guy says sadly, "Uh, we haven't got elephant ear sandwiches today." Customer says with glee... "No elephant ears, huh?" "Oh, no, that's not the problem." says the shop guy. "We are just out of the big buns."

Whoops! bad choice of stories. Instead:  What’s the difference between a dozen eggs and an elephant? If you don’t know, I’m sure not going to send you to the store for a dozen eggs!

Oh, my God, is he still chasing you? Last chance: What is the difference between a tavern and an elephant's fart? One is a bar room and... are your ready?... the other is a BAROOOM!

SQUASH! (Sorry.)

No, this is not Oklahoma, but it will show you who is in control

Not a joke: An Oklahoma couple on the way home from church ran into an elephant... literally. "I didn't have time to hit the brakes, so I swerved," said the driver as he sideswiped the 8-foot-tall, 4,500 pound beast which had just gotten loose from a circus. No animal was hurt in the making of this story.

My favorite fictional elephants: Babar, Horton and Dumbo, of course.  My jumbo tip of the day: Read Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen... tons better than the movie.

PS: Yeah, published in 2011 but I liked it this much (---------------------------------------------)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What five-letter word becomes shorter when you add two letters to it?

 WORDS... you gotta love 'em because how else could we say stuff?

I know, very lame, but if you love to read and write, you can easily fall in love with the perfect words when you see them.

There is an award-winning documentary, Wordplay , that features NYTimes crossword puzzle editor Will Shortz on their making and solving. Lotta fun if you love words, even if you can't work those NYTimes weekend puzzles.

The Washington Post (thank you for the photo use)  has an annual word contest for the best made-up definitions to real words. This year's winners included:

– Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs.
– Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.
– Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown.
– Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.
– Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.
– Frisbeetarianism (n.), The belief that, when you die, your soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.

This year, 5,000 new words made it into the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary... words like Qajaq, a palindrome full of big score letters (a kayak, as if you didn't know) and ayaya (a type of singing, but everyone knows that) and qulliq, which is, of course, obvious, right?

And BTW, there is now a Scrabble-playing robot that not only can beat you but talks smack. "I am the current king of Scrabble, Victor the Mechanical Marvel. That's Victor the brilliant for short." When losing, he could say, "If I had a dollar for every good word I played, I would still hate you."

Great! That's just what this world needs, a robot jerk.

Then there are the creative baby names. There is Apple Blyth and Peaches Honeyblossom, Fifi, Trixibelle and Little Pixie, Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lilly, North "Nori" West, Sabbath Page, Zowie, Seven Sirius Benjamin and Blanket. These are real celebrity children names.

Everyone knows Salonpas, Topiaz, Xarelto, Prolia, Xeljan, Fluticasone, Bremabecestat, Gedatolisib, Lulumab pegol, Nexbolizumab Uprosertib Orilotimod, etc... the names you see in the drug aisle of any pharmacy and in many television commercials. These are all made-up names courtesy of the manufacturer... and they have to follow all the rules of drug made-up names. Can you believe doctors have to know all this stuff?

Great words are used in pick-up lines: "If I told you that you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?" and "I must be Lightning McQueen 'cause you've got my heart racing."

But the best words are the clever ones. British politician Michael Foot was put in charge of a nuclear-disarmament committee and the news item carried the headline: "Foot Heads Arms Body"

Bennett Cerf, a pretty sharp critic and poet from the early days of television,  was always noted for great word use:

The Detroit String Quartet played Brahms last night. Brahms lost.

Gross ignorance is 144 times worse than ordinary ignorance.

Mary had a swarm of bees
And they, to save their lives,
Went everywhere that Mary went,
'Cause Mary had the hives.

Schubert had a horse named Sarah
He took her to a big parade
And all the while the band was playing
Schubert's Sarah neighed.

And my favorite:

Shake and shake the catsup bottle
None'll come, and then alot'll

PS: This is my 400th blog post. Who would'a thought... Oh, and in the headline, "What word becomes shorter if you add two letters to it... answer is "short." Now don't you feel silly?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Fruitcake Idea: One simple step to a balanced budget--GUARANTEED!

Fruitcake: the gift that lasts a lifetime

Ho-Ho-Ho, the longest shopping season of the year has officially begun, and I'm not talking Hanukkah. It's still summer and I just saw my first Christmas ad on T.V... a really clever 'subliminal' spot  by Wal-Mart. Really! You'll see it, I'm sure.

But this isn't about that. It is about balancing our national budget. I can't believe how utterly simple it will be... and it won't cost any of us one cent more than we will spend anyway. We will do it in just two years if we start now. Blow your mind? It should.

Wall Street Journal feature writer, Joe Queenan for President, please. He notes that returned goods cost U.S. retailers $267.3 billion last year in lost revenue. Yeah, enough that if Returned Goods, Inc. was a real company, it would rank Number 3 on the Fortune 500 list, behind  only Wall-Mart (of course) and Exxon.

Now here's the deal: if you, grandma Jones, Aunt Anna, your next-door neighbor and everybody doesn't return that fruitcake, or the bad tie, the windshield ice-scraper with a mitten attached, the shoe shine kit or anything for the next two years, so many problems are solved effortlessly. Don't take back that bridesmaid dress or the jumbo T.V. just purchased for the Superbowl and then returned to Best Buy. Don't take back ANYTHING! So you re-gift, ok? Uncle Herman has been freezing his fingers to the bone scraping ice off  his windshield... and if that's not amazing enough, Uncle Herman lives in Miami.

That means every retail sale is good and $267.3 billion is a real gain because it has already been spent... and every business prospers and hires more workers and the Dow Jones tops 25,000 and Social Security is fixed and the unemployment rate is down below 4 percent and all teachers get raises and education prospers at all levels and the Cubs win the pennant and... and... and...

I call it the Fruitcake Movement... a win-win kind of thing. And it is soooo simple. OK?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Dumb lawsuits, dumb crooks, dumb games, dumb everything

Darneded if you do, darned if you don't, but really, darned if you mess with Kanye West.

Now I'm not one to feel Weird Al Yankovic is really weird... anyone who can top the Billboard charts with his new comedy album Mandatory Fun (first time that has happened in 50 years) has to be pretty sharp, but then again...

Why would he not wrap his arms around Kanye for supplying wonderful new parody ideas?

Weird Al says, in 2006, Kanye threatened to sue me because I DID parody his song "Gold Digger."

This year he DIDN'T parody anything from Kanye... and Kanye DID sue him for $20 million claiming "severe mental distress" for not being parodied.

All this played out in a Rolling Stone article and The Daily Currant comments:

West claims the omission from Yankovic's album has caused him to "barely find to strength and focus to work on his genius music."

"I just can't comprehend how anyone can parody music album without including the greatest solo artist that's ever lived," West told Rolling Stone magazine.

"Yeezus (Kanye's latest) is the greatest album of all time. To parody Pharell is just foolish. Pharell is a parody of himself. Have you seen his hat? That hat alone is an offense to fashion and I know fashion. I'm the greatest fashion designer of all time."

"Not since Malcolm X has someone been persecuted like this."

As Weird Al's album soars to No. 1 on the Billboard charts, Kanye couldn't help but be Kanye. He tweeted, "If it wasn't for my lawsuit @AlYankovic wouldn't be #1. I turn everything to gold. I even turn water to gold. I am gold."

Shame on you Weird Al, for not using great material. (Or, is Kanye the smart one getting all the press?) Good luck with the lawsuit.

Now about the dumb cattle rustlers: Or how many cows can you fit in a car?

The answer is four... one wedged between the front and back seat, facing forward--presumably helping drive--and three on the folded-down back seat and trunk of the Proton, a Malaysian car about the size of a Honda Civic.

That's what the shifty Australian cattle rustlers used to make their bold get-away. And it worked... except the darned car broke down with all the weight and the rustlers had to run away singing Come a ki yi yippee yippee yi yippee yay,  Come a ki yi yippee yippee yay ... likeWoody Guthrie in his Chisholm Trail song.

I guess cattle rustlers today aren't of the same breed as in the Old West. (By the way, all cows ok... but just cant stop talking about their excellent adventure.)

So how about a new Olympic Sport, maybe?

That's the thought in India as Kabaddi has swept the nation selling out stadiums and drawing big  T.V. Ratings.  Kabaddi is a mix of tag and Greco-Roman wrestling played by two seven-men teams in basketball-like jerseys on a court about tennis-sized.

It's sort-of like dodge ball for grown-ups. Players called raiders attempt to tag opponents and get back to their own side of the court without getting tackled. If they succeed, the tagged players are 'out' and the raider's team gets a point. If the raider gets tackled, then that team gets a point.

What makes it more interesting? The raiders have to hold their breath the whole time they are in enemy territory running around trying to tag the guy with the ball. To show they are not sneaking a breath, they must continually yell "Kabaddi! Kabaddi! Kabaddi!" 

Didn't the Japanese have a game kinda like that where they said "Tora! Tora! Tora!"?

Monday, September 8, 2014

We are sooo very sophisicated today.

Left: Non genetically altered raccoon. Right: The real thing.

Give me a tough-talking raccoon, a tree-like humanoid, a man stronger than an ox, a regular looking guy hero and of course, a beautiful girl in a very sexy tight-fitting outfit and you have The Guardians of the Galaxy, a top-draw movie these days.

And if that's not realistic enough for you, try the No. 2 draw, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles starring, among others, Whoopi Goldberg and of course, Lorenzo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael. Heros today are so different than Roy Rogers, Gene Autrey, Lash LaRue or The Lone Ranger.

Lash LaRue
I guess we can rest easier now that we know we are getting real. How naive we were to think a guy dressed in black wielding a bull whip could save anyone. I thought that image was dispelled in the first Indiana Jones Movie.

We are sooo more sophisticated than that.

And yet, we still don't know it all. Maybe that's why National Geo has introduced a new T.V. series on getting back to basics called Going Deep. It will feature big names such as Professor Shoelace who will teach us to tie shoes and other notables explaining how to make ice cubes, how to shake hands, how to climb a tree and how to light a match.

Actually, it probably will be fun to watch as it stars a funny David Rees offering a new take on things we take for granted, like how to dig a hole... or a grave. I know I'm watching. I do hope there is an episode on how to write cursive.

One is never too old to learn, right? 

Monday, August 25, 2014

BREAKING NEWS: Black LabraDane Finds Home

2-year-old Lily

... OURS!

Yep, this pretty girl was in a "kill" animal shelter but was recognized as too good to be wasted. So her path was from one foster host to us, just a few days ago. Two months before, she was abandon and found wandering without identification, sadly not wanted.

Her teeth are sparkling white and she acts like a two-year-old puppy. She is gentle, quiet and affectionate. So we're calling her Lily and saying August 22nd  is her birthday. She is a Labrador-great Dane mix, a trim 75 pounds--taller than our 65-pound English Lab Abby, and longer than our golden, Tess.

Tess & Abby with Honest Abe
Tess and Abby, as you can see in this actual photo, campaigned with Honest Abe propelling him to victory in 1860. Still they remain remarkably youngish 8-year-old working dogs bringing comfort to so many in crisis situations as part of HOPE Animal Assisted Crisis Response. But we may need new blood in a few years--it takes that long--so enter Lily.

Lily has work to do. As a young girl, she hasn't had much social integration. She only knows 'Sit," and barely that.

She is the kind of black that you hold navy blue slacks against to be sure they aren't black. She has one white splash on her chest... her paws and legs are 'Great Dan-ish.' She pulls on the leash, shows a hesitation with men and is still an unknown work in progress... but we think she has promise. Our dogs accept her... especially Abby, our dominant girl. And she likes them. So far, so good.

Wish us luck.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

If you think it isn't nuts out there, read on:

The Costa Concordia

Is this boat half sunk or half afloat?

Obviously, Rome's Sapienza University has a very optimistic view of things.

Needing someone of note to speak on emergency procedures for a criminology seminar, it chose Francesco Schettino. You may remember him as the Captain the Costa Concordia when it ran aground in 2012 costing 32 people their lives.

The Captain, logically, was a great choice considering he was in the first lifeboat.  Can't do much better than that.

Official note: On the lifeboat, he was told to "Get back on board, damn-it!" by his supervisors, ruining his day for sure. Legal proceedings against him are ongoing. Whatever happened to the old "Captain must go down with his ship" thing? New shoes Captain?

Are you Lonely and like to laugh? Check out It says "Clowns are often feared and hated, which makes finding the right person a real challenge. It's no fun looking for love when you're a clown. Behind all the makeup and red nose is a lonely heart."

Picture that romantic first date: Barnaby Buckles knocks on your door and presents you with your very own red nose, then holds open the door of his mini-clown car and you, in your 'first date best' climb in the front seat. You hear him walk to the driver's side (Clomp, clomp, clomp-- size 38 shoes, you know) as few dozen of his buddies pop up from the back seat, introduce themselves... then squirt you with seltzer. You wonder, "Will the fun never stop?" Answer: "Never!" as you ride into the most delightful future you could imagine.

As the website says, "Everyone loves a clown... let a clown love you. You don't have to be named Coco to join." Really. (Sorry clowns. I know you are serious... but always funny.)

Want to get in on the newest trend? Who doesn't. Well, a natural leader stripped naked in New York's Times Square a few days back in his campaign for the "Right to be Nude in Public." He says nudity is a form of expression and he, unselfishly, wants that freedom for everyone. Seems he is fighting your fight, not unlike the NRA, wanting everyone to have all the guns they want, anywhere they want them, all the time. 

He could form the new NRA (Naked Rights for All) or join forces with the old NRA and become the strongest gun/fun lobby in Washington. On second thought, joining forces wouldn't work. Where would you carry your pistol? If this catches on, as I'm sure it will, it could put Speedo out of business.

It is said, after a while, humans start to look like their dogs. I know we do. Well, rest easy dog lovers, there's a new app that employs facial recognitio to match dogs with their owners. So if your dog is ever lost, you post a picture of yourself and anyone who sees a dog looking like you will return it immediately. "Hey look. That dog... the one that's smelling the other dog, looks exactly like that guy in the app."

Oh, I see... you don't post YOUR picture, you post your dog's picture. Well, excuuuse me! Actually, it could work either way. 

 No he doesn't... Uncle Sam only wants 29 percent of you. It seems that the other 71 percent would fail to qualify for military service because of physical, behavioral or educational shortcomings. That, in itself, is a sad fact.

So there you go, America. Those 29 percent would be fighting for all the rest of us. Here's a tip: Always... ALWAYS appreciate the men and women who serve... and a "Thank you for your service" is most deserved to each and every one of them.

To leave your family and serve is to put your life on the line... and that comes with a cost that we, as a country, have to work harder to repay.

So, to all of you service people, past and present:


Monday, July 21, 2014

It must be true, I saw it in the newspapers

Leave it to the media to report the facts. Would they lie to us?

For 30 years, The Weekly World News had a proud place as one of the supermarket tabloids prominent at most checkout lanes. And it was popular, bought by 1.2 million people a week at one time. As we became "more sophisticated," it lost its edge and ceased as a paper in 2007. But my, oh my, the stories its crack team of reporters brought us, week after week, all with scintillating photos, artwork and bold, eye-catching headlines:

  • Bigfoot Kept Lumberjack as a Love Slave
  • Chimp's Head Put on Human Body
  • Fat Cat Owns 23 Old Ladies
  • Heaven Photographed by Hubble Telescope
  • Mermaid Cemetery Discovered
  • Abe Lincoln Was a Woman
  • Cuba Launches Shark Attack on U.S.
  • Dog with Human Hands Composes Magnum Opus
  • Ghostly Titanic Docks
  • Garden of Eden Found
... and it goes on and on. My personal favorite, however, is the story of a cruel surgeon who reattached a pair of "Siamese twins" after they failed to pay their medical bill. As an aside, I did know the owners at one time of the Weekly World News and its sister publications. They told me the WWN staff always had fun... and that some (a few) of the stories are true! Wadda 'ya think?

Today we have The Onion that lampoons what often passes as news today. Latest on-line issue reports God has pledged $5,000 for cancer research, the Brazilian government has posted listings for 12 soccer stadiums for sale on Craigslist, and a Special Report: "Majority of UFO abductions committed by alien that person knows."

This stuff could never happen in real life, could it?

Hmm. Check out this story in The Wall Street Journal: "Russians Hear News That's Good for Kremlin." The scary part... this is real. It's called putting a spin on the terrible tragedy of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, shot down over Ukraine with 298 lives lost.

Kremlin controlled airwaves have been giving the Russian people an idea of who to blame? Hint: Anyone but Russia or the separatists it is backing.

Many on the street say they believe the United States has had a hand in it to provoke a war with Russia. Others are sure it was the Ukrainians. "It has to be them. They just keep asking for trouble and for war, and they blame Russia for everything."

"I think Ukraine is responsible. It's their ridiculous nation."

Conspiracy theories air on state-run television... the U.S. engineered genocide in Rwanda in 1994 and are now doing the same in Ukraine to foster its interests... the downed aircraft was filled with corpses... dispatchers ordered the plane to a lower altitude to make a better target... "the next act could be an assault on a nuclear plant or terrorist act in Europe... and says one, "They will blame Putin. Who will be the new sacred victim?"

Another on-the-street interviewee said "This was definitely a provocation and America is to blame. Whatever America gets involved in, it messes it up."

The crowning touch: State-run television ran an uncorroborated interview with a woman who said Ukrainian government forces crucified a 3-year-old boy and then dragged his mother behind an armored vehicle until she died. Calls for the state channel to retract the story were ignored.

For me, I choose the more believable one about the redneck vampire that attacked a trailer park... or the 500 foot-Jesus that appeared at the U.N... and I say, it's about time!

PS: I forgot to mention that Weekly World News  did have an insight into politics. It noted that UFO aliens backed Obama, that space aliens backed Bush for President, that Romney was voted President of Mars, Dick Cheney is a robot and, an alien confided in Clinton and Bush that five U.S. Senators are space aliens. (Hmmm, that might explain a lot.)