Tuesday, March 31, 2015

This dog whines.

I hate to break it to him, but those "microaggressions" he's complaining about are fleas.

By the way, that's not my dog. My dog is not a whiner, a yenta, a schlub, or a noodge. Tralfaz is a mensch. Or whatever a mensch dog would be. A dogsch.

Monday, March 30, 2015

A very Flintstones mystery.

Fifty-two years ago yesterday the "Swedish Visitors" episode of The Flintstones first aired on TV.

And therein lies a mystery.

Yumpin' Yimminy.
If you remember the episode, you'll recall that the conflict sprang from the fact that Wilma had rented the family home out to Swedish musicians in Bedrock for a music festival. Fred tries to get them to leave, but ultimately everyone becomes friends, and the episode ends with the Swedes serenading the Flintstones as they speed through Bedrock, one of the happiest moments you'll ever see in a cartoon.

That song, "Wilma," was written by Owe Thörnqvist, a genuine Swede, a musician who had been recording since 1953, and apparently the inspiration for the episode. Or so says the generally reliable Mental Floss (which is like Cracked without so many naughty words), in a 2010 article commemorating the series' 50th anniversary. They write:

The episode entitled "The Swedish Visitors" featured a pair of foreign musicians who bunked at the Flintstone home for a short time. The episode was inspired by a record called "Wilma" released in Sweden by Owe Thörnqvist. The chorus "jabadabadooo" sounded suspiciously like Fred's favorite exclamation, and then there was that whole "Wilma" angle... Hanna-Barbera contacted Thörnqvist who insisted that jabadabadooo was a traditional Viking cry, and everything else was strictly coincidental. The matter was resolved by having the singer record an English version of his tune for use on the show.

There were three Swedish musicians, not two---Ole, Ingmar, and Sven---which makes me suspicious about other assertions here. Owe's song was released in 1962, but beyond that it was hard to find more about it. Why do we even HAVE an Internet, if you can't find information on Swedish pop songs from the early 1960s, dammit?!

YouTube posts the song, with this note: "Owe was contacted by the lawyers from Hanna Barbera Hollywood, the makers of the popular TV series The Flinstones, because they think that the name and some of the lyrics was taken from them. They where ready to go to court for copyright issues around this song. Owe answered that the name Wilma was very common in sweden and the 'jabadabadooo' was an old viking sound when you find a woman so there was no copyright in that. The lawyer at Hanna barbera thought that this man (Owe) was wierd or something, but hanna & barbera find this man very funny and speaked to Owe directly and after some talking the asked him to come over to USA and record this song in English for the The Flintstones show. The show is called Fred Flintstone and his Swedish Cousine"

So there's that. Well, I could find the Swedish lyrics to the song "Wilma." I run them here with the song so you can sing along.

Vi hade kåk i Fredhäll, vi hade frid i vårt käll
Vi hade kaffe med doppa och radio med Thore Skogman
Sen fick vi television, då blev det annan fason
Nu är vår tillvaro fylld av en jublande....

Aj-aj-aj Wilma, här kommer Wilma
Yabe-dabe, hon har ändrat på perspektivet
och möblemanget i själva livet
I Wilma, här kommer Wilma
Yabe-dabe, håll för örona och ge hals uti en stenåldersvals

Hon är en ny favorit, hon är en tjej av granit
Så låt oss alla ta efter och valsa i makadamen
Nu är vi grottfolk, hurra! Så ta din käring och dra
långt in i snåret i håret och sjung falle....

Aj-aj-aj Wilma, här kommer Wilma
Yabe-dabe, det är toppen av livets grädde
och du är Wilma och jag är Fredde
I Wilma, här kommer Wilma
Yabe-dabe, håll för örona och ge hals uti en stenåldersvals

Min fru har huggit i sten och hon kan ej komma dän
Nu får jag gnejs-gröt och grus-paj och sandkaka med rabarber
Hon bjöd på lunch häromdan. Det var en stendöd fasan
Och gamla ormar och soppa som smakade ....

Aj-aj-aj Wilma, här kommer Wilma
Yabe-dabe, vi har blivit så primitiva
så det går snart inte att beskriva
I Wilma, här kommer Wilma
Yabe-dabe, håll för örona och ge hals uti en stenåldersvals

Now, through the magic of Google Translate, let's see these lyrics in English:

We had a full house in Fredhäll, we had peace in our source
We had coffee with dipping and radio with Thore Skogman
Then we had television when it became different manners
Now our existence filled with a cheering ....

Ouch-ouch-ouch Wilma, here comes Wilma
Yabe-dabe, she has changed the perspective
and the furniture of life itself
In Wilma, here comes Wilma
Yabe-dabe, hold the ears and neck uti give a Stone Age roll

She is a new favorite, she is a girl of granite
So let's all take after and roll in metalling
Now we are cave dwellers, hurray! So take your crone and pull
far into the thicket of hair and sing Falle ....

Ouch-ouch-ouch Wilma, here comes Wilma
Yabe-dabe, it is the peak of life's cream
and you are Wilma and I'm Freddie
In Wilma, here comes Wilma
Yabe-dabe, hold the ears and neck uti give a Stone Age roll

My wife has hewn in stone and she can not get Dan
Now I get gneiss-porridge and gravel-sand pie and cake with rhubarb
She invited to lunch the other day. There was a stone dead pheasant
And the old snakes and soup that tasted ....

Ouch-ouch-ouch Wilma, here comes Wilma
Yabe-dabe, we have become so primitive
so it is soon not describe
In Wilma, here comes Wilma
Yabe-dabe, hold the ears and neck uti give a Stone Age roll

All righty! So as we can see, this was just a total coincidence, as Owe originally said. Mentions of Fred, primitive living, caves, granite, the Stone Age, television, gravel, gneiss... Pure coincidence. And we do have to agree that Wilma changes the furniture of life itself. But please pull your crone elsewhere.

So I guess it isn't that much of a mystery. But I do have other Flintstone-related questions, such as: 

- Why did it take 27 years for Betty to get a vitamin in the Flintstone vitamins? And why did the Flintstone car have to suffer when she did? 

- Why did Dino talk in one early episode, but never again? 

- Was Bedrock a small town, a big city, a suburb, or what? It seemed to be something different every time. It had an awful lot of TV stations for a small town. And why would Rock Roll write a song about some little nowheresville ("Bedrock Twitch")?

- Why does a grumpy ex-Catholic cartoon-crazed pal of mine get so berserk over mentions of Christ in the comic strip B.C. ("Jesus wasn't born yet in the Stone Age!") while he's never said a peep about Flintstone Christmas episodes and movies?

(Actually, I know the answer to the last one. The thing that bothered him about B.C. was that Johnny Hart meant it. B.C. predated The Flintstones by two years, by the way, if anyone wants to know. Maybe B.C. stood for Before the Cartoon!)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Face-palm Sunday.

As we know, Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday bring out the A&P Catholics. Why? We don't know. Maybe because they're getting something for free.

Ashes and palm leaves. Score!

I wonder what everyone else does with their palms. Some people make crosses out of them. Sometimes the crosses are used to adorn grave sites. Some people, like me, just keep them around the house.

Now what do I do with them?
During the Crusades, palmers were poor pilgrims who made their way to the Holy Land as mendicants, carrying palms as their symbol. It's supposed to be where the surname Palmer comes from. I first encountered the term in Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe, in which a character disguised as a lowly palmer returns to Saxon chief Cedric's home. Maybe I could take my palms and go schlep to the Holy Land.

The thing is, you can't just go pitching palms, or any blessed item. They need to be treated with reverence. For disposal, they must be burned or buried. Traditionally the previous year's palms are burned to make ashes for Ash Wednesday, but our church hasn't been collecting them these last few years. Maybe they had plenty already.

I'll tell you something from my own experience: Even dried out old palm leaves do not burn well. You can take that to the bank. Also, we don't have a fireplace or a fire pit. All we have is a house that could go up like tinder if I keep trying.

So... can I run them through the shredder? No, that would seem to be a violation of the code.

What I did in the past was return them to the earth. I didn't know about the burial thing, so I just ran them over with the lawn mower. Thought that would help speed the decomposition along, you know?

Now you know why the face-palm. And why, unlike my fellow parishioners, I'm not grabbing at the palm leaves as we enter the church today, Palm Sunday. Too much responsibility.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Slow down for tailgating.

Do the speed limit---good & hard.

The thing I hate most about tailgating is that it's just so stinking stupid. Clearly the driver of the red car is a drooling, cursing moron, but he doesn't see it that way. He may think he's being safe for not going around the other car. But as Wikipedia notes, "Tailgating can occur because of a lack of perceived risk in so doing. Thus, it is done unconsciously or negligently, very often by people who consider themselves safe drivers and generally obey the other rules of the road. Evidence shows that more experienced drivers are more likely to be involved in rear-end collisions, possibly because they overestimate their skill and become complacent about allowing sufficient distance to avoid an accident."

When you see two cars locked in like this cruising down a road, don't you suspect that the car in back is being driven by a restless, irritable, ill-tempered egomaniac, the kind who is placidly convinced of the excellence of his driving skills? In other words, the world's worst father-in-law?

Pound sand, tailgate buddy. You may own a piece of the road, but not all of it, and the way you drive you'll eventually be spread over it like a thick jelly.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Love Letters.

"Love Letters"
By Frederick Key

Joey said “A, Emily,
I’ll B around at eight.”
She said, “I’ll C you later then,
With my friend, D, I’ll wait.”
He thought with E’s he’d motor there
And would, F naught were wrong.
But G, the things that happen make
The heart H like a song.
Em was the apple of his I
Like a J, his heart would soar
But he also liked her sister, K,
Which led to L once more.
He called that night and told her “M,
I’m sad N sorry, see? 
O, I've got such a bellyache,
It hurts me when I P.”
He met Kaye in the casino Q
Where passes R had for free.
Although he felt like a royal S
Kaye looked good in her T.
U can’t two-time, he told himself,
This liaison V must break.
“I’ll W dough at craps,” she said,
“If I may X you for a stake.”
Y did Joe finally call it off?
It’s not too hard to Z.
For Emily’s letters were really sweet,
And Kaye’s numbers brought bankruptcy.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

On the Avenue... Fifth Avenue...

What I don't eat for you.

Hershey makes the 5th Avenue bar, but you'd hardly know it. You don't see the Hershey logo on the wrapper. Heck, you almost never see the wrapper. I know only one store in town that sells these.

The history of the 5th Avenue bar is shrouded in mystery, and possibly conspiracy. I'm serious. The Wikipedia page says it may have been introduced by the Luden's company in 1936, but "This date is uncertain because information about this product has been subject to misinformation from The Hershey Company for marketing and perhaps legal reasons."

What the hey? Hershey has sent the history of this thing down the memory hole? What is this, chocolate bar or commissar?

Indeed, Hershey's page has almost nothing to say about their own candy bar. "First introduced in 1936, this chocolate peanut butter bar contributed to the war effort—and is still enjoyed today." Which 1936 war would that be? Was the 5th Avenue bar a major player in the Spanish Revolution? WHAT ARE YOU HIDING, HERSHEY?

As for the bar itself, it's virtually identical to a Butterfinger, which is of course a Nestle candy.

The tragic thing is, the 5th Avenue bar used to have a couple of almond halves on top, which would have differentiated it from the Butterfinger. They removed the almonds in 1988. In John Homans's Wilber Winkle Has a Complaint!, the fictitious Winkle wrote a genuine letter to the actual Hershey's company to complain about the almond situation (this was in 1993). Hershey's claimed that the change was part of a revamping to improve the quality of the bar, and customers liked it better (it's virtual demise on candy shelves by 2015 would seem to expose that as a misrepresentation). Winkle did not let it go, pursuing the matter in letter after letter through most of 1994. They should have listened to Winkle.

Hershey bought the candy from Luden's parent in 1986, says the Wiki article; the better-known Luden's cough drops are now sold by Prestige Brands, which also has Goody's headache powder, Clear Eyes, Dramamine, and a whole potpourri of other OTC medical stuff. Hard to believe that Luden's started out as a candy company.

1965 Life magazine ad. This girl is probably 68 today. Just sayin'.

On the whole I liked the 5th Avenue bar, even though it originated in Pennsylvania. It didn't really make me think of the street.

Hey, I wonder if Hershey's bought Almond Royal too...? Mmmm...

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Fred for 2024 Summer Olympics.

I hadn't heard that Tokyo was getting the 2020 Summer Olympics until recently. Well, good for them! It will have been 56 years since they had it last, and I say a world-class city like that deserves it. In 1964, though, they didn't actually start the games until October 10, because it's so freaking hot in the summer in major cities. In 2020 they're starting July 24, because maybe by then the bright guys at Toshiba will have come up with a weather-control machine.

I see they have not yet selected the site of the 2024 Olympics, and I have an idea for a cooler venue. I was looking at the potential sites: Boston (where most of the residents don't want the Olympics), Rome (hotter than Tokyo), Nairobi (I will personally host the Olympics before Nairobi does)---and then it struck me. I will personally host the Olympics! I'm entering my bid now.

We have a lot of room; we can handle it. The street is a good size for running and cycling events, maybe at the same time. The backyard is good size, if you don't mind the occasional deer poop, and there's a drainage pond nearby that I'm sure can be used for rowing and diving.

It's not like I don't have any history with the Olympics. Au contraire, as we internationalists say. It was young Fred who wrote the lyrics to the Olympics film Chariots of Fire:

I'm running to Paris
What else can I do?
I'll bring home the bacon
Except I'm a Jew

Ah'm runnin for Scotland
Ge oot of mah way
Nobody ca fathom
A word tha Ah say

We're dashing across the sandy beach 
We're sprinting like dogs
We're wearing our training suits of wool
And sweating like hogs

It goes on. Inspirational, n'est-ce pas?

So I think my neighbor and I can get down to the Home Depot for two-by-fours and knock together some grandstands, if the dog stays out of the way. But a small advance from the International Olympic Committee would really help. Come on, guys! We even have a slogan:

Fred 2024: Fire in the Hole

Catchy, huh? Sums up the Olympics and my homemade chimichangas!And remember, however crappy my opening ceremonies are, they'll still be better than the ones from the last two Olympics.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Christmas in late March.

“Spirit!” he cried, tight clutching at its robe, “hear me! I am not the man I was. I will not be the man I must have been but for this intercourse. Why show me this, if I am past all hope!”
For the first time the hand appeared to shake.
"Good Spirit,” he pursued, as down upon the ground he fell before it: “Your nature intercedes for me, and pities me. Assure me that I yet may change these shadows you have shown me, by an altered life!”
The kind hand trembled.
“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!”

Well, I'm glad to see that some people, like Mr. Scrooge, honour Christmas in their hearts and try to keep it all the year. 

At least, so far they appear to be. 

Seen over the weekend while walking the dog. 

Okay, people, I know it was a tough, cold, snowy, miserable winter, and it's even freezing cold this morning as I write this, and the desire to be outdoors taking down decorations was not all it could have been. BUT IT IS TIME, PEOPLE. Yes, it is cold, but IT IS SPRING. All the snow that fell Friday has melted, leaving trace amounts of ice. The clocks have moved ahead. Presidents Day sales are over. The shamrocks have come down. Easter candy fills the stores. The garden centers are stocked and ready to move. 

Santa got to get back to the pole, people. Get the off the peppermint stick.

UPDATE: Mr. Philbin takes me to task for Santa Shaming these people (and there were others) who still have Christmas decorations up, pointing out that maybe they need a little Christmas, that we are at our best when we have the Spirit of Christmas, of hope and giving, all year 'round, and I should cut the crap. I merely note that this case illustrates the fine line in practice between constancy and laziness, between defending to the last ditch and being unwilling to get your butt off the sofa.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Dog reading.

I've been wondering when the dog was going to start pulling his weight around here, and I think I have an answer.

I was watching the Science Channel's Outrageous Acts of Science, which often features things that are not particularly outrageous, not actually acts, and only tacitly interested in science, when they showed a clip of a dog refusing to walk through a screen door when the screen had been removed. It turns out that the dog had no way to tell the screen had been removed; some breeds are naturally farsighted, but because they like to focus the nose on things close up it sometimes looks as though they are focusing their vision on close objects. Or so I gathered; I was just coming back from walking the dog when it was on. (Research I have done since into the vision of dogs has been less than edifying; I guess they suck at the Snellen chart.)

This all put me in mind of the Famous Mr. Ed, the palomino of the eponymous TV show. Mr. Ed could read---but he needed glasses. In fact, fifty years ago this Tuesday, an episode first aired in which Ed demanded contact lenses so he could read without people seeing him wear glasses.

Then I put it all together: The dog needs reading glasses! No wonder he can't read!

With his glasses he can read, and maybe get his driver's license, like those Subaru dogs. (Heck, he already has one license.) And then he can start running errands. Maybe even get a job.

I know he's young, but Bamboo Harvester was only 11 when he starred in Mr. Ed. And mighty fine work he did, too. And Pal was only three when he first portrayed Lassie. Time for Tralfaz to get his act together, as soon as I can find a dog ophthalmologist.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Fighting Meh.

Everyone's going nuts with the NCAA men's basketball tournament---March Mental Illness, is it? I confess I've never liked watching basketball much. Not because I sucked at it; I sucked at football and baseball too, but I enjoy watching them.

Also, my college was not exactly a Division I school. Not Division II, either. Or III. In fact, our division looks more like a late-model Super Bowl. Division XLIV, maybe. I forget. I did not attend a single game for any of the sports in my time there. The Fighting Meh had to fight on without my rooting them on. (Also the Fighting Lady Meh.)

Some of their opponents could be pretty brutal, or so I heard. Here's the rundown on some of their competition in this year's Eastern Thruway-Turnpike Championship Series:

Jersey Shore College of Cosmetic Studies
A bad stretch in midseasons from the Blushing Bandits left them 12-12. Coach Revlon's Curling Iron offense still occasionally startles opponents, and when they get the ol' Alley Goop going they can be competitive.

Ulster County Community College
Look for a big turnout from the "Sixth Man," UCCC's rabid fans, in the first game against the Hamptons. "Being a two-year school makes us something of an underdog," admitted power forward Rob Gyrble. "Everyone's under twenty or over forty. But what we lack in experience we make up for in energy... and vice-versa."

Queens School of Arts
A disappointing year for the boys from the Big Borough, but despite finishing 7-17, they're in the tournament. Coach "Two Coats" Scungilli promises that the Artistes will shellac the competition. While they have a great running game, they've been known to turn into drips late in the third, and then their opponents roll right over them. They may look good on paper, but their backs are to the wall.

Fashion Institute of Technology
The Battlin' Basters hope to keep their opponents hemmed in and tied up with their renowned defense and rebounding. If they can tailor a close one against the Fighting Meh in the opener, they could go all the way.

Culinary Institute of America
A five-game winning streak has left the Chefs hungry for more. But the Newark boys are raring to eat their lunch in the first round. Can the Chefs take a bite out of Newark and avoid the pangs of defeat? Coach Boyardee says "Si, si!"

Apex Technical School
When not repairing air conditioning units or perfecting soldering techniques, the Guys From Apex are shooting hoops like wildmen. Strong on offense and free throwing but weak on D, Apex's games have tended to be high-scoring affairs. A tendency to commit technical fouls may be their undoing.

Newark College of Stenography
The Pencil Pushers haven't been the same since center Dixon Ticonderoga, "Old No. 2," graduated, but they still managed to put together a winning season. Can they take it to the hole against the CIA? They'll have to stay sharp, says Coach Pitman.

Hamptons Celebrity Sciences Academy
Losing center Alvin "Cheech" Marie to a case of acute ennui has really hurt the Fanboys in their last two games. The rest of the team says they can rebound like Jennifer Aniston, but word is that they feel like a Kardashian... Rob Kardashian. Can the Fanboys put it together and find victory...and, yes, love?

Joe's Turnpike Auto School
Joe is not only the president of the school, but also the sponsor, and plays point guard when his knee is not acting up. The Hubcaps had a great year, going 21-3, but there are concerns that the team may be hungover for its big match today at Apex. The team bus driver, also hungover, was warned that failure to appear would mean a forfeit, and has promised to switch over to coffee after this beer.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Thirty seconds of spring.

Because spring is here! We made it!

And that's camera-shy Tralfaz the Bat Hound rustling around in the background.

P.S.: Two to five inches of snow expected today. JACK FROST, YOU BASTARD!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

I love St. Joseph.

I do. We don't know too much about him, and much of what we do know about him were legends made up centuries after his life. For the record, Joseph was not an old man who'd been married before when he met Mary, okay? In some art he's depicted as being quite elderly, but in some art Moses apparently has horns. Don't believe everything you see in art.

We do know St. Joseph was just, no small thing in any age; he was obedient to God; he loved Mary and sought to protect her, even when he had reason to suspect the worst of her pregnancy; he guarded and loved his little family enough to flee to Egypt to protect them, a hard journey to a place that was not exactly the Catskills in their heyday to the Jewish people. He was faithful in dire circumstances, and even in dull circumstances. He was a hard worker and provided for his family---there was no workers' comp, unemployment insurance, or disability back then. We may not know much, but everything we know is good.

He ranks behind only Mary among the saints. Catholic Online says:

Joseph is the patron of the dying because, assuming he died before Jesus' public life, he died with Jesus and Mary close to him, the way we all would like to leave this earth.
Joseph is also patron of the universal Church, fathers, carpenters, and social justice.
We celebrate two feast days for Joseph: March 19 for Joseph the Husband of Mary and May 1 for Joseph the Worker.
He's still a busy guy.

St. Joseph's feast day is today. The Italians love him, but in the U.S. his day gets shoved off the stage by that Irish feller two days earlier. But I always want to take the time to thank St. Joseph.

Years ago I was having a horrible problem, a really deadly one, and I found a flyer from the Josephites, a Catholic group founded in 1871 to minister to the African American community. The pamphlet had a 30-day prayer to St. Joseph to ask for his intercession. I was desperate enough to do it. Within a month of completing it I had the exact answer to my prayer.

It was awful. It was the last thing I would have wanted. It was nothing, in fact, that I wanted. But it was the only thing that would have worked.

And St. Joseph is still a worker.

I wanted an easy answer. Well, St. Joseph never had an easy day in his life. What else should I expect?

When I tell people about this I warn them to be careful with that prayer; it's loaded.

Thanks. St. Joseph.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The tragedy of unrestrained clowns.

Washington, DC, March 18, 2015: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration releases data from 2014, revealing that in 167 road accidents involving clown cars, 3,496 clowns were killed or injured.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Crap Irish riddles.

What's yellow and became High King of the Irish in 1002?
Banana Boru.

Why do they play the bagpipes at Irish funerals?
To make sure the poor feller's dead.

Why are there no Irish car manufacturers?
Because not everything runs on stout.

Why's it called Irish soda bread?
'Coz we used flour and stuff and baked it, soders some bread to eat.

What's green and has three leaves?
A dining room pickle.

What do you call a man-pulled carriage in Munster Province?
A Limerickshaw. 

When is an Irishman not an Irishman?
When he's an Ulsterman, ya great bastahd! [Punching ensues]

How many OCD Irishmen does it screw to put in a lightbulb?
One, but he has to put it in 723 times.

What do you call an Irishman's patella?
A Blar-Knee.

Riddle me this, Begorrahman!
What do you call an Jewish-Irish sprite?
A Leprecohen. 

What do you call a sprite who writes patriotic songs?
A George M. Leprecohan. 

Why do U.S. lawyers make a median salary of $114,300 while Irish lawyers make $46,807?
St. Patrick chased the snakes out of Ireland.

Can I have a pint of Bass, please?
You'll take Guiness and like it, English bastahd! [Punching ensues]

How does an Irish CPA do his accounting?
One potato, two potato, three potato, four...

Who wrote these here riddles?
I did.
Take this, ya bastahd! [Punching ensues]

Monday, March 16, 2015

Headhunting for headhackers.

Many years ago I did a small research job for the New York Observer. I did such an awesome job that the editor never called me again.

The Observer was always an interesting weekly paper, although predictably left-leaning as most NYC-based publications are. Or at least it used to be. They've been under new ownership for a while, and maybe they've moved right. I came across a piece they ran last month about the Obama Administration's "Jobs for Jihadis" program. Maybe you've seem the graphic the government released.

Yeah, America! Get off the freaking stick! 

"The Real Problem with Harf's Jobs for Jihadis Program" is the headline, referring to U.S. State Department Dumbbell Marie Harf. "Much of the well-deserved criticism of Ms. Harf’s gaffe has focused on the insinuation that what is really needed to defeat ISIS and ISIS-like movements is some serious job creation in the relatively poor countries from which ISIS attracts followers. But according to a recent UN report, the Islamic State has attracted some 15,000 fighters from 80 different countries, including western democracies.

"So, even if poverty were a valid excuse for lighting caged prisoners on fire – which it is not – it would remain true that the movement is not monolithically poor, uneducated, and third world. The contagion may have begun that way, but it has spread beyond geographical and socio-economic borders."

Of course, the geniuses at Hope n' Change Cartoons were on this right away:

"What? What the hell?!"
Maybe it's just not such a good idea. 

Jonathan Greenberg's piece in the Observer continues: "Despite tremendous evidence pointing to the fact–and it is a fact–that the people we are fighting are zero-sum barbarians who glory in brutal war motivated by religious fanaticism, our leaders are more comfortable thinking that, deep down, they’d be happier manning the check-out lane at Wal-Mart."

I only wish the Administration would view the nation's enemies with the cynicism and cunning with which it views its political enemies. ISIS-occupied territory would be glass by now. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Grip of winter.

Can you guess what this is?

Yeah, snow. I mean the little black spot in the middle.

Here's what happened, and why I am an idiot:

As I noted the other day, we're finally coming out of winter and the snow is melting. One of the big holdouts around here is the pile at the end of the driveway, where the plowman's labors lay. Several snowstorms wound up as a veritable snow fort, and my Alpine dog, Tralfaz, loves nothing better than to scale it and stand atop, nobly scenting the wind.

It had gotten quite solid as it grew, and I have been able to join him up there, at least when I was wearing my short boots rather than sneakers. Mountain man and mountain dog. It was all I could do to not yodel.

So the other day, while waiting for Tralfaz to stop sniffing everything in the backyard, I stepped up on the snow fort to have a look at my lands. Two steps along my left foot sank clear to sea level. My boot filled with freezing snow. Unfortunately, my right foot remained atop the fort, about three feet higher. The center of the pile had softened up, while the walls remained hard as rock. I was stuck.

But Tralfaz came to help! Fortified by hearing legends of Lassie and Rin-Tin-Tin and Dino, my dog barreled up the snow fort and started sniffing my ear. Then he began to sniff at the hole and put his considerable bulk on the snow, packing it down. In moments I went from being stuck to being really stuck.

After some conversation at high decibels I got Tralfaz moved off and managed to get my other foot off the fort. Now my feet were at equal levels, but one was still trapped. I knew I could lever my trapped foot out, but my boot, being just shoe-height, was not going to come with it. The ground was still cold and wet, non-ideal for walking in stocking foot. Plus, would I ever get the boot out? There is a football and a Frisbee in the backyard somewhere that we haven't seen since before Martin Luther King Day. The snow fort would be the very last thing to melt.

I had to chance it. Out came the wet foot; in stayed the boot, as you see in the picture. I tried to get it out by hand, but the snow was jammed in and cascading, like digging a hole in the beach. And here came the dog! He can dig! Dig, dog, dig! And dig he did! But he's not good at digging in a hole that's already more than two feet deep. His body blocks any snow from actually getting out. Mainly what he's doing is pounding the snow down harder.

Thanks, Lassie! Timmy would have died in the pilot episode in real life!

I limped up to the porch and got the snow shovel. By now Tralfaz was prone on the snowbank, taking a well-earned rest. I did the required surgery, busting out the boot, which is now just fine, thanks. So another exciting episode of Tralfaz comes to an end.

To be fair, I blame myself for getting stuck in the first place, and I blame Old Man Winter for overstaying his welcome next. Tralfaz is actually way down the list. And I do believe he was trying to help---you see his paw in the picture---but it really is all just play to him. The only time I've seen him serious is when he's picking fights with deer or skunks.

Fortunately, the deer are afraid of him. The skunks---eh, not so impressed.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Equal but not separate.

You want to know what's got me furious today? Okay, I'll tell you what's got me furious today. THIS has got me furious today.

You see it there, right? Right? Here, just in case you missed it:

That's right: Some asshat makes his coffee, puts in the Equal, and throws the empty packets BACK IN THE BOWL. What the HELL is wrong with this guy? (I assume it was a guy; guys are stoopiter about these things.) The trash can is so close to this bowl you could literally lean over and drop in the packets. HELLO, DUMBASS! THIS IS CIVILIZATION, NOT THE BARN IN WHICH YOU WERE RAISED! I'm so upset that I'm RESORTING TO ALL CAPS!

Why get so mad over something so petty? you ask. Good question. I'll tell you why. BECAUSE IT IS SO INCOMPREHENSIBLY STUPID.

You know, I honestly could forgive a more horrible error for a more complex task. Say you made a mistake during brain surgery. Well, everyone has an off day! It's really really hard, and a tiny error could cause a person to die. Maybe you accidentally rounded off instead of carrying the 2 and your rocket crashed into the Adriatic. Oopsie! Rocket science is brutally tough! That's why pencils have erasers!

But throwing your garbage on top of the other packets is so utterly thoughtless, so dunderheaded, so loutish, so frigging selfish, that it makes me crazy. It is so easy to NOT the stupid thing, with the trash can eighteen inches away, that it's almost harder TO do the stupid thing. You have to ignore everything you were ever taught about garbage disposal, food hygiene, and congenial behavior to dump your wrapper on top of the other packets. Does this guy do it at home, too? Finish a sandwich from Fat Stupid Sandwich Takeout, ball up the wrapper, and throw it in the fridge? Probably not. SO WHAT THE HELL IS HE DOING HERE?

To top it off, no one in the group that met here was an obvious moron. For all I know this was a brain surgeon doing it. Which is not comforting at all.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Your New Car: The song.

I used to know a guy who once told me he put a ding in his own brand-new car on purpose. He was a nervous wreck waiting for someone else to do it, so he took care of it himself.

My car is a few years old now, but I remember the feeling. And I felt the same way with the previous car, and especially the very first new car I ever owned. For the first few months I washed that car every week, by hand. That’s a record that I’ll never equal.

I was thinking about my old pal while in the parking lot today, and I was struck with the inspiration for a song about his dilemma. A real old-time ballad, like “Mary’s a Grand Old Name” or “My Gal Sal.” Most of those songs started with a verse before the main song, something to set the tone---as anyone who associates the name Katie Casey with “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” could tell you.

Anyway, I came up with the following; I’m back and forth on the melody, but I’m not picky; anything Tin Pan Alleyey would do.

"Your New Car"

[Opening verse, sentimentalish]
Beneath the silver moonlight stands
A girl with golden hair.
The shadows on her face conceal
A rage beyond compare.
She raises up a fist of keys
And runs them down your paint;
Her boyfriend’s car looks just like yours
But this, her boyfriend’s, ain’t.

[Main song]
There’s a smile from the world today,
A new target on the road, they say,
A virgin car to dent and scratch and slime.
They turn corners sharp as you are waiting
At the stop sign, palpitating,
Knowing that it’s just a fact of time.
Tailgaters and rear-enders
And boozy jerks on benders
Are homing in Your New Car.

Looks like there's been apocalypse,
And social structure come amiss,
The streets all look like everything is ruin.
The roads are paved with shattered glass,
Potholes send shockwaves up your ass,
And garbage is what everyone’s been strewin’.
In every parking lot
A shopping cart has got
An eye on you and Your New Car.

The summer sky unmasks the sun
That bakes your car until it's done.
Then autumn pits, and muddies up your wheels.
Winter’s ice and salt are horrid,
Springtime's rain and floods are florid.
All nature’s turned against you now, it feels.
Birds with diarrhea
Are really glad to see ya
As you come near in Your New Car.

[Glissando, leading to big finish]
When parking at the job
You know some big fat slob
Will fling open his door and leave a scar.
So take a hammer to it,
Don’t make someone else do it
Put your first ding on Yoooouuurrrr Neeeewwww Caaaaaarrr!

Maybe your new car. Sure as hell not mine.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Spring in the air?

Look, don't spread it around, but I think the White Witch's power must be waning. I've actually spotted lawn on my lawn.

Could be the Great Thaw?

Some people say there is no White Witch. Some even say that there is, but she might actually be kind of okay if you got to know her.

I have my doubts... Sure, she looks nice here...

...but I remember her back in the day.
Wait, sorry; had the wrong one. THIS was her back then
Obviously I'm getting confused. There's just been too much snow and ice for too long. I'm going to go iron my swim trunks and start thinking warm thoughts. I just wish I knew why this winter seemed to drag on so endlessly.

"Ha ha hee hee ha ha!"

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Health is disgusting.

At a meeting the other day a young attendee brought a plastic cup filled with some green sludge. He drank it throughout the meeting. As he seemed a levelheaded sort in other regards, I asked him what the cup full of slime had been.

"Um, I forget exactly," he said. "Spinach... no, kale. Kale, mango... lemon juice, it's very lemony... It's really healthy. I feel better already."

"It had to be healthy," I noted, "since it was so repulsive."

I went on to applaud him for forcing down something that looked that bad. He maintained that it tasted pretty good, and again, that it was healthy.

"Lots of things that are healthy look horrible," I said.


"Like a human spleen. A perfectly healthy human spleen looks pretty disgusting when you're holding it in your hand."

He was willing to concede the point. I knew the kid was levelheaded.

I had nothing nearly so healthy for lunch. In fact, for dinner I had a double BBQ burger with the potato chips right on it from Jake's Wayback. It may not have been healthy, and I'm sure it wasn't healthy for the cow. But unlike the green scum juice, or the human spleen, it absolutely looked great.

Now I have to outlive the kid. Just on general principles.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Angry letter to the IRS.

Dear {so to speak} IRS:

My name is Frederick Key. What's yours? Never mind; I'm sure you'll lie about it anyway.

I am writing to complain about one of your idiot compliance Nazis, or whatever you call them. "Auditors," is that the euphemism? One of them was kind enough to pay a call following my filing of my 2014 tax return, and let me say that I am furious---furious!---about how rudely we were treated.

If this so-called auditor had just been rude to me, or even my wife, I would have been able to bear it with equanimity, as one does the ravings of some poor lunatic. But the fact that he was rude about my son has left me outraged.

This "auditor" failed to even try to understand the special circumstances regarding my boy, Tralfaz, and his peculiar condition. To start, your goon should understand that despite his large size, Tralfaz is severely developmentally delayed. He has never been able to walk upright, and continues to go about on all fours. He has developed a great deal of speed and strength by doing so, which is a blessing, but try as we might we cannot teach him to stand. It is no wonder that his clothes fit poorly. And it was cruel of your flunky to make fun of him for it.

Further, Tralfaz's developmental delay has rendered him incapable of speech, something else your thug should have been more sensitive about. We find that Tralfaz makes his needs known, however, as one may to kind and loving parents. No wonder your lunkhead could only get vague sounds in response to his prodding.

Finally, it was completely uncalled for when your punk began ridiculing our boy's overgrowth of hair. It is well known that hirsutism is linked to such developmental delays as a tragic circumstance of his form of genetic disease. Had we had a moment's kindness from your snarling creep we would have explained that we head the local chapter of the charity to benefit similar victims, and we might have solicited a donation from him. But now, we're not even inclined to tell you what the charity is. We're that mad.

All this said, can it be any wonder that Tralfaz defended himself from your ruffian in the only way our poor, helpless boy could? I have no doubt that the bite marks on your idiot's leg will heal long before the emotional scars he inflicted upon us will. And we're not paying for his pants.

Poor Tralfaz is still traumatized and will only touch his food if we coax him with treats.

All that said, I am sure that after this unfortunate bullying session by your assassin, you will accept our donations to Tralfaz's charity as deductions, as well as our son's dependent status and the extra healthcare costs involved (doctors, medicine, squeaky toys, etc.). We are as honest as anyone who works for your organization, and we expect you will treat us as you would expect to be treated yourselves.

And feel free to pound this up your refund hole.

Yours etc,.

F. Key

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Lent me your ear.

Lent has been a total disaster so far.

I'm a bad Catholic.

Okay, not a total disaster, because I haven't completely gone to decadence and depravity and decay, but I have failed to do anything Lenty. I had thoughts of extra Masses; no dice yet. Confession? Has not happened. Give up sugar? Yeah, it was an interesting idea.

What mainly bugs me is that I always aim to do some spiritual reading through Lent (Advent too), almost always scripture. One year I read the Gospels. Another it was the Epistles. One Advent I read Acts. Proverbs and Wisdom made for a contemplative season. Last year I read the Psalms. This year I skipped the Good Book and went to a book recommended by the pastor about invigorating the church.

I got about four chapters in and totally gave up.

What could be so hard about a contemporary book, as opposed to the Bible? It was one of those rah-rah type things that always seem to misunderstand the reasons cradle Catholics have drifted from the fold. The author confuses what people say in surveys with the facts on the ground; he seems to have zero insight into modern culture and its poisoning of the wells of faith. I have more to say about that topic, but another time, as I am too busy wallowing in my own sin.

So it wasn't doing it for me. So why not pick up another book? This would be a great time to reread some C. S. Lewis or G. K. Chesterton, or try to get through Augustine or John Henry Newman or The Cloud of Unknowing again. But no, I have flailed, and I have failed.

If only I had vowed to spend Lent killing every monster in Letter Quest. Then I'd have been a tremendous success.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Princess Interviews: Part IV.

The Brothers Grimm have been a great source for all kinds of Disney crap, and longtime readers know we at FredCo. are trying to help Disney find their next princess by going through some of the Bros. Grimm stories they may have overlooked. Previously we've interviewed princesses from "Lily and the Lion," "The Goose Girl," and "The Golden Bird," but we've had no joy. Today we're rolling up our puffy sleeves and pulling up our velvet hose, prepared to interview not one but 12 princesses, all from the timeless Grimm classic, "The Twelve Dancing Princesses."


Interviewer: Good day, Your Highnesses. Thank you for coming in.

[Babble of princess voices]

Int.: Uh, one at a time please!

Princess 1: Shut it, you idiots! I'll do the talking.

Int.: Thank you. 

Princess 1: I'm the eldest. I'm in charge.

Princess 12: Yeah, and thanks to you we got busted.


Int.: Uh, if we could focus...

Princess 4: I think we would make awesome Disney princesses! We can dance, and sing... and skate!

Int.: If you could tell us a little about your story...

Princess 7: Here's the deal: Every night we went dancing in secret with these fabu princes who lived in a magic palace underground---and not just dancing, if you get my drift---and the only clue our stupid king father had was that our shoes were full of holes. Good thing he didn't check our---

Other 11 Princesses: SHUT UP, MARGARET!

Princess 7: These dopey boys from other kings' castles kept coming a-courting, so Dad said fine, find out what my daughters are up to after I lock them away at night.

Int.: No one knew you were sneaking out of the castle?

Princess 10: Secret passage.

Princess 4: See? What a great story!

Princess 2: It's all a metaphor.

Princess 4: Don't say that. Allegory is boring.

Int.: So these boys staying with your father never saw you sneak out.

Princess 1: No, and to make sure, we drugged them so they slept soundly. 

Int.: Ah. That's... interesting. 

Princess 7: Yeah, and when Dad asked them after a few days what the deal was, they were all like, I dunno, pops. So he cut off their heads. 

Int.: Your father beheaded other kings' sons?!?

Princess 1: Father had issues. He also had the biggest army around. 

Int.: Well, this got dark in a hurry.

Princess 7: Finally this old crippled soldier with an invisibility cloak followed us and ruined everything. Then Matilda had to marry him and the rest of us never got to see our hunky underground princes again. 

Princess 8: All because the royal cobbler sucks. I mean, really? Shoes wearing through after one night? 

Princess 3: Well, they were dancing shoes, and we had to walk through the enchanted forests to meet the princes. 

Princess 4: Oh, what a wonderful story it could be! You could clean it up a little, couldn't you? Say, instead of Dad going all ISIS on the local kings' sons, maybe he could just pitch them into the moat!

Princess 1: But you ought to know -- Barbie beat you to us. 

Int.: Huh?

Princess 1: Yes. Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses. Released 2006. Sorry. 

Princess 7: They sure cleaned the hell out of that for the movie. We were just high-spirited. Not unindicted co-conspirators. 

Princess 1: Nor were we nameless entities, consigned to some grotesque soldier's story. 

Int.: And the name of the soldier in the story was...?

Princess 1: [unintelligible]

Int.: Sorry?

Princess 1: I said, he didn't get a name in the story, either. 

Int.: Well, frankly, I think we'd rather be talking to him. 

Princess 1: You wouldn't say that if you met him! I had to marry him, you know! Leaves his underwear everywhere, never puts the throne down...

Princess 4: You have to help us! Mattel is never going to use us for a "Barbie on Ice" spectacular! You have to get us into to see Mickey! 

Int.: Maybe some other time.


Is Princess 2 right, that the story is a metaphor? Well, I think I know what her underground prince metaphor! Keep your set tuned to "The Wonderful World of Fred" for future installments of the Princess Interviews!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Old folks.

I've noticed that how we deal with old people in general has a lot to do with how old we actually are, maybe more than how old they actually are. As you creep toward oldness you think about these things.

From my experience and my observation of others, here's how I see it breaking down. Your mileage may vary. And remember, it's not the years, it's the mileage.

In as much as you are aware of anyone outside yourself, you like old people. You're both bald, incontinent, gassy, toothless, occasionally cranky for no reason, and can be perfectly happy when things are soft or quiet. But Mommy still rules. Old people rating: A-

The old people in your life are AWESOME. Grandma and Grandpa will do anything for you. They don't have to work, so when you're around they're all yours. Old people rating: A+

Old people still want to spoil you rotten, which is excellent! But they're also starting to expect things, which sucks. They don't like the way your parents are letting you get away with stuff, not like when they were kids, and they can be really irritable and tied up with their own silly problems. Hey, Grandma, if I'm a brat, who spoiled me? Old people rating: B-

Old people are kind of okay. At least they're not your parents. In fact, one thing you have in common with old people is that they hate your parents' generation too. That's got to count for something. Old people rating: C

Old folks are a waste of time. You want to go go go! and they want to moan moan moan. They smell, too. The only reason you can stand seeing them is you hope to get a good story for your friends, who are the most important people on earth. Old people: the sooner they croak, the better. Old people rating: F

Amazing how much better the old timers are all of a sudden. They're willing to babysit! That excuses everything else ever. Sometimes the things they say actually seem to make sense. Not often, but sometimes. Old people rating: C+

Thank God for old people. They know the score. They've survived so much. And they're still around. They prove that you can live through things and not die. That's very comforting. And you'd rather go to their funerals than your own. Old people rating: A-

These are your people, your contemporaries. You grew up with them, you love them. But because of that you tend to judge them as people, not a class, and you can't believe how some of them could get to be this age and still be so frigging stupid. Familiarity breeds contempt. Old people rating: B-

You're not quite sure you're old. You think you're more like those babies. But no one thinks you're cute. Oh, well. The old people around are respectful, at least. Or fearful of your grim visage of their own face yet-to-come. Old people rating: A

Thursday, March 5, 2015

How old is this bus, anyway?

One way to tell if your commuter bus is 20 years old:

Looks 90's to me. Early 90's.

I could be wrong -- that fabric may have been something bought up cheap on sale, and the bus is only 10 years old. Or it may have been ahead of its time (it is a little Bugle Boy-esque) and the bus is actually 30 years old. Or they may have reupholstered the 70's-era seats, and the bus is 40 years old. Who knows? Buses all look like people who get to a certain stage of decrepitude and go into a holding pattern.

All I can say is, the moment I saw this, one familiar tune popped into my head:

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


Spent a bunch of time today getting all my tax stuff together.

"But Fred," you say, "don't you big-time writers have people for that?"

Well, imaginary person who is so good for my ego, I scrub my own toilet, so you tell me what a big shot I am. I do spring for an accountant, but that's a sacrifice I'm glad to make. I used to use TurboTax, but they had a problem with the New York returns a few years ago, and I had enough of going it alone. It's not that my accountant is perfect, it's that he does something TurboTax cannot do---sign the return. If the IRS or the New York Comptroller comes after me, my accountant has to come with me to explain.

I do not want to cheat; it's just that the tax codes in the nation and my state are so preposterously complex that every taxpayer could probably be indicted for a felony just by accident. Everyone hates our tax code, but everyone's afraid to do anything about it. Parents are afraid to lose dependents deductions; homeowners are afraid to lose the mortgage deduction; politicians are afraid to the power to grant favors and punish enemies. The corrupt IRS, clearly incapable of dealing honestly with citizens or even telling the truth, certainly doesn't want to lose its privileges. It's become a horrible, snarled mess, and the entire country is so paralyzed with fear of what could replace it that nothing gets changed.

This is unbecoming to a supposedly great and free people.

In The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody (published 1950), Will Cuppy wrote about George III that "George once said wars were useless. The news from America didn't seem to upset him greatly. When he heard of the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, George said: 'It's nothing.' But Lord North, his Prime Minister at the time, resigned. George sometimes forgot what all the fuss had been about. The colonists, it seems, had to 'pay taxes to which their consent had never been asked.'"

Then in a footnote, Cuppy writes, "Today we pay taxes but our consent has been asked, and we have told the government to go ahead and tax us all they want to. We like it."

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Other films dissed by the Academy.

Okay, it's been more than a week, and I'm almost over the Academy Awards screwing over my entry in the Best Documentary Short category. Me and Clint Eastwood got hosed, yeah. But I'm a forward-looking guy, and I'm thinking about the Google Science Fair now. 

Anyway, we know that a lot of fine movies and movie makers got overlooked by the Academy this year. Others who should have won,, if there was any justice in Hollywood, include:

The Delicate Pain of Butterflies

Jonathan Thipplewaithe, Hungarians in the Moonlight

Theresa DelVulva, El Cid and Nancy

Ice Bukkit, Electric Boogaloo XI: Born on the Boogaloo

Minerva Screemstress, Planet of the Llamas

Herschel Levinski, Like I Should Care

Nabba'i miniṭēra ēbaṁ ēkaṭi mukha phasakāni nāṭā'i (Ninety Minutes and a Blooper Reel, Bangladesh)

Mark Thyme, Outrage and Pepper; or, The Fantastical Adventures of My Right Fibula 

Gerard Daint and Alice Comely, Updog (from Les Miserables)

LeShay Tee, "(The Hills Are Alive with) Big Pimpin'"

Miscellaneous Household Garbage 2 (Pixar)

Why the Academy Awards Suck So Hard

Monday, March 2, 2015

Cold hands, warm cop.

As I described the other day, I have spent a lot of time standing outdoors in one of our most brutal Februaries on record while I wait for the dog to do... something, anything. After a while the thin gloves I had were not preventing the frostbite from endangering my delicate digits. I had work gloves, driving gloves, and some goofy cloth gloves, but nothing really useful for sub-zero temperatures. So I had to get something that would actually keep the meathooks warm.

After looking around online and trying unsuccessfully at the Army-Navy store, I happened to see a pair of what were billed as Canadian police gloves in the Vermont Country Store catalog. Hmm---cops have to hang around outside all the time, and every last bit of Canada is north of here. "The supple leather lined with thick, protective pile is a style that’s been keeping Canadian policemen’s and dog sled champs’ hands warm since 1947," says the text. Kind of pricey---but what the hell. Let's try them.

You're under arrest, eh?
I have two problems with them:

1) They're lined with fluff and really thick. Like, you can't make a fist while wearing these. Forget getting your finger in a trigger guard; I don't think you could fire a Nerf gun. I know there are lots of different kinds of police officers in any police force, but can any of them perform their duties with no manual dexterity?

2) On that note, I looked up some pictures of Toronto cops, traffic cops, Mounties, etc., and none of the winter pictures showed gloves like these. I don't want to call the folks at the Vermont Country Store fibbers, but...

Anyway, they are the warmest gloves I own, and I still have all ten fingers, so I'm going to call it a win. They're not super warm, though; standing outside in a Saskatoon winter for eight hours, I think my hands would still get plenty cold. If they get damp the chill seeps in quickly. And if I get mugged while wearing them, I will be helpless to beat off my attacker. Even if I could punch him it would feel like a pillow fight with very small pillows.

Still, while this terrible winter drags on---March 1st it snowed six inches!---I'm grateful to have them.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Thoughts on the McDonald's drive thru.

What's so special about Special Sauce? Is it really that special? Isn't it just like mayonnaise with hypertension?

Sometimes they tell you to pay at the first window. Sometimes they tell you to pay at the second window. Do they not have adequate staff to keep the first window open all the time? Is it a crowd control mechanism?

I like pickles.

This line is taking a long time. Is someone up there waiting on an order of fries individually basted with Special Sauce? Because the other guys were always the "Have It Your Way" guys.

Not sure that that girl got my order right. She seemed to be a little distracted. I'm sure I heard giggling. My order was funny, but not that funny.

Speaking of funny: Do people really yell into the face of the clown at Jack in the Box? Maybe that used to be a thing but not anymore. Hard to believe that a modern chain would expect people to talk into a clown's face, except ironically.

Damn, what's going on up there? Someone interrogating the manager about the contents of the Special Sauce?

They sell Taco Bell condiments in the stores, and now McDonald's coffee, but not Special Sauce. Hmm.

About that clown thing -- let me check the phone... Nearest Jack in the Box is... 523 miles away. Shoot.

Do I know anyone who lives in California who would know about shouting into the clown? Lots of Jack in the Boxes in California.

Or would that be Jacks in the Box?

I know I was hungry when I got on this line. Not so hungry now. Did I eat something without thinking?

Is there relish in Special Sauce? I may be onto something here. This could blow the lid off the whole Special Sauce cartel.

Did I swallow my gum? Maybe that's why I'm less hungry.

Jacks in the Boxes, maybe?

You'd expect giggling if you were giving your order through a clown head.

I'm almost sure I wasn't chewing gum.

Could I pull off the line? I could have driven to the nearest Jack in the Box by now.

Wait -- that Odyssey is getting two... three... four bags... tray of drinks... Okay, he's the bastard who's holding up the line. Everyone stare daggers!

Now I'm hungry again. Those pickles sure are tasty.