Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Family business.

"Son, if you're going to get anywhere you'd better get your act together."

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

New York's pathetic war history.

Mr. Philbin took issue with me over yesterday's announcement that our home state, specifically my city of origin, sucks at war. He mentioned that our state has West Point, which turned out all those great generals that turned against us in the Civil War, and great New York warriors like the 125th out of Rensselaer County upstate. I noted that I was referring to New York City, really, and admitted that even many New York City natives have made fine fighters when they left the city. It's what happens within the confines of the five boroughs that prove we suck at war. For example:

Revolutionary War: The British land troops unopposed on Loyalist Staten Island while Washington splits his forces. Washington then gets defeated and chased all over town, where he is defeated again and again. It appears the indigenous population is little help. Howe, no military genius, still manages to make Washington look like an imbecile. Washington loses an entire army in the poorly named Fort Washington, northern Manhattan, and Washington flees to New Jersey. If Howe had been smarter he could have finished Washington off then, but he abandoned pursuit. New York City remains in British hands until the end of the war. Everyone Else: 1, New York: 0

War of 1812: New York does not get any fortifications built until it chucks some crap up in a panic in 1814. It would probably have been an easy target for the British, but for the fact (as the great William Bryk explained at length) the citizens of Stonington, Connecticut, were not war pansies, and its mob of farmers and shopkeepers with a few cannon and guts made of solid steel stopped the invading fleet in Long Island Sound. Everyone Else: 2, New York: 0

Civil War: While the rest of the nation was battling brother against brother, New York City decides to hold the worst riot in American history, the Draft Riots of 1863, with the cheerful sight of new Irish immigrants, being forced to go to a war in a country they just entered, fighting bloody through the streets and taking it out on blacks by lynching and beating them to death. No truth that the legend that military shelled the town; why bother? The citizens were doing a fine job of destroying it on their own. Everyone Else: 3, New York: 0

The last native warriors to win a war in Manhattan were
Native Americans, and you see what good that did them.

Spanish-American War: Although Teddy Roosevelt fought bravely (outside New York), his father (inside New York) had bought off a guy to take his place in the Civil War. N/A

World War I: New York sits this one out. N/A

World War II: New York doesn't get involved a lot in this little conflagration either, except to help light up the night for German U-boats during their "American Shooting Season," and to accidentally sink the Normandie through incompetence. But the Brooklyn Navy Yard turned out a hell of a lot of warships, so we'll give the Big Apple that one. Everyone Else: 3, New York: 1

Korean War, Vietnam War: N/A

War on Terror: New Yorkers behaved with unparalleled bravery during the attacks on the World Trade Center. Since then they have crept closer and closer to surrendering to the people who want them all dead. Although from the beginning, the "smart people" in New York were calling for embracing our bloodthirsty enemies with open arms rather than military arms, which is the kind of thing you have to be very well educated to be stupid enough to believe is a good idea. As a war issue, NYC loses again. Everyone Else: 4, New York: 1

Knowing how New York responds to organized aggression, it no longer seems like bizarre fantasy that the Duchy of Grand Fenwick could take over New York with a fighting staff of 20 bowmen and four officers. Of course, in The Mouse that Roared, the Fenwickians had it easy, since New Yorkers were hiding during a massive shelter drill when they arrived. In real life, New Yorkers would ignore the shelter drill and surrender anyway. The Times would be full of pieces about the benefits of living under Fenwickian rule, how much better small European nations are than the United States anyway. And we'd have come full circle.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Decoration Day.

When I was a kid some of the older members of my family still called it Decoration Day, the name that went back to 1868, when the headstones of and monuments to Civil War dead were decorated in their honor.

Wikipedia reports that the name gradually changed from Decoration Day to Memorial Day, and the holiday did not get its official name until 1967. I do think Memorial Day is more descriptive, telling you why you're doing something rather than just what you're doing. "Decoration Day" doesn't explain what it's about. Heck, we got Party City now; we decorate for everything.

Memorial Day both benefits and suffers from its place in the calendar.

According to the US Memorial Day site, May 30 was the original date for the holiday, chosen because it was in the spring (when cemetery decorating usually occurred, flowers being in bloom) and because it was one date that had no Civil War battles, so the day wouldn't be over who won and who lost. (There were so many Civil War battles, I'm surprised they found a date at all.) Since 1971, by federal law, the holiday is officially celebrated on the last Monday in May.

Its spot, though, marks it as the unofficial start of summer, even though summer doesn't start for for weeks and schools are not out everywhere. When I was a kid we sweltered in non-air-conditioned classrooms in June, dying a little inside as the hours ticked by. (Then we walked home uphill in the snow! In bare feet! By cracky! Made men of us!)

That unofficial summer thing helps people to pay attention to Memorial Day, unlike Veterans Day, which tends to go unnoticed and is not a day off for most of us. We always know Memorial Day is coming, we have the day off, we make plans.

And that brings us to the problem with the holiday's place in the calendar; we pay attention in part for the wrong reason -- barbecues and parties, mostly. There are parades, of course, and other public observances, but I've noticed attendance locally has plummeted as 9/11 grows smaller in the rearview mirror. Maybe it's a New York thing. We suck at war. New Yorkers may be tough individually, but get us in a group and we surrender.

I'm as bad as anyone; there's a Mass today for all the town's war dead that I'm not going to be able to make this year, to go with the parade I was unable to make yesterday. My excuses are valid, but excuses don't honor anybody.

I notice that there's a growing campaign against wishing people "happy Memorial Day," and I think that's good. I don't want to stop others from doing fun things on the weekend, but that's weekend stuff; the Memorial stuff is not fun.

I'm sorry I won't be doing my part to honor our dead. I try to donate to veterans' causes and I pray for our fallen fighters, that God will bless their souls, that God will make us more worthy of their sacrifice. Because a nation that worships celebrities, has no respect for the law, and spends its time fighting over whether men can use the girls' room is not a nation that's worth fighting for, let alone dying for.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Death to germs.

We have dogs -- did I mention that? Really? When I started this blog on the old, defunct host site our dog count was exactly: 0. Now it's -- let me take a quick headcount -- yes: 2. How did this happen?

Our dogs don't have cooties, but they do lick everything on Planet Earth, and roll in dirt, so we find ourselves washing our hands a lot. So we go through a lot of hand soap. Here's a new one I had to try:

Purell, the brand name synonymous with germ killing (Catholic Guy and notorious germophobe Lino Rulli uses Purell as a verb on every episode of his show) has now gone into the soap end of the germ-removal business. How's that working out? We'll get to that shortly.

Purell is such an omnipresent brand now that it's hard to remember life before hand sanitizer. When the swine flu and SARS and scares swept the nation in 2009 and 2003, each time the office I worked in installed more hand sanitizer dispensers, which in time were allowed to go empty as the panic died down.

Not that Purell is a bad thing, nor is any other decent hand sanitizer for that matter. When these became a must-have accessory for germophobes I scoffed at first. I said, It may kill bacteria but most sickness come from viruses. I was wrong; they work well against cold viruses (less good against norovirus, though). I think its #1 germ killing ingredient is good ol' booze, actually, but it smells better than dipping your hands in cheap vodka. (I should note that the CDC only recommends alcohol-based hand sanitizers, so what does that tell you?)

You'd think that Purell was pushed on us by one of the big medical consumer product outfits like Johnson & Johnson (sales: $71,890M) or even Medline Industries (sales: $5,100M), but actually it came to us by the plucky guys at Gojo (sales: $305M). Gojo proudly tells us that they are the INVENTORS OF PURELL, which they released exactly twenty years ago in 1997, which product by the way is now also available as a surface disinfectant spray. And of course as the soap.

Okay, so how is the soap? We like it! It scores well on three of the Key Components:

1) Does it clean your hands? You bet your bippy! In fact, I think it would do a good job cleaning your bippy.

2) Does it smell nice? All Purell products smell nice. I've used the hand sanitizer as aftershave.

3) Is it gentle on hands? Well... not really. Most soaps aren't, and my wife reports that the Purell soap is drying. It would be more of a problem in winter, but in late spring, not so bad, but still. I wash my hands so much you could strike matches on my knuckles, and this is not some shea butter concoction that can put some of the moisture back.

4) Does it kill germs? Not more than other soaps, I think, but that's okay. Soap's main job is to separate your skin from the germs so they can be washed away, and this does that just fine.

So I would recommend the Purell soap. We got the Clean and Fresh flavor, but it also comes in Soothing Cucumber and Fresh Botanicals. Maybe they'd be easier on my hands. Might smell too girlie to use on my face, though.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Good morndkjksjszzzzzzzzz

I mentioned a few days ago that I had a tough week coming up. It looked impossible, actually, and while I'd like to say I'm the kind of guy who looks at an impossible situation as a challenge against which I may test my mettle, I'm actually the kind of guy who looks at an impossible situation and either whines or goes back to bed.

So I have options, anyway.

It was all about deadlines, plus a yard that was going to have to be mowed if it ever got mowed at all, plus a lunch meeting on Tuesday, and blah blah blah. The mowing had to be done on the brief window of Wednesday, the only rainless day we had, and the grass was so thick and wet it made another difficult situation for the battery-powered mower.

All that aside: I nailed one huge deadline Monday, another soon after, then a third!, and things were starting to look possible.

Then... daaawwwwwwWWWWG FREAKOUT!

le freak, c'est chic
Actually it started on the weekend, to a lesser extent. The big dog, Tralfaz, started whining and yelping and running up and down the stairs in the dead of night, and could not be comforted, could not be soothed, could not stop mouthing off. He was shaking in fear, it seemed.

This happened last summer, and at the time the problem turned out to be the cable box rebooting itself in the dead of night -- a problem only solved by unplugging everything from the wall and turning off the juice. We tried all that this time and he didn't calm down. Took him outside a couple of times; the first time he peed; an hour later he did nothing, but he did not want to come back inside. Was it some noise in the house? A mouse? We checked everything. I camped out downstairs with him and he ran upstairs and started whining up there. Nothing worked and he wouldn't shut up. Whatever it was, it wasn't bothering the little dog, Nipper. The only thing bothering him was Tralfaz.

It happened again the next night, and the next. We were all feeling zombified during the day and starting to dread the night. Finally, yesterday evening, busy as I was, I took the big knucklehead to the vet. Maybe it was an infection or something. Maybe we needed an exorcist. I was tired enough to try anything.

Tralfaz checked out physically healthy, so the vet suggested we first try melatonin to help him relax and break the cycle of fear -- being afraid of something at night leading him to be afraid of the night, in other words.

That got us thinking... thinking about the bear.

A neighbor around the corner said a mother bear and cubs had been spotted in the area a couple of weeks ago. We had thought that maybe Tralfaz was smelling the bears going about in the nighttime and that that was what was freaking him out. But why would he be willing to go outside, then? Why give us trouble about coming back inside? Why would he not be comforted by our presence? Why isn't Nipper going nuts if the whole joint stinks like wild bear?

When you're constructing a theory you reach for clues that support it; I supposed detectives and district attorneys work that way. My wife remembered taking Tralfaz out back one night before we'd heard about our ursine friends, a night he dashed into the darkness of the far backyard and dashed back out quickly. This isn't unusual, as he enjoys telling the local deer to buzz off. But maybe he had a close encounter of the bear kind, just close enough to terrify him. It would have taught him to fear the bear, a hard-won knowledge Nipper would not have gotten yet.

This also fits the rest of the behavior, as Fazzy has always been most protective toward my wife, and in a time of threat he would not be happy without all of us clustered around. So the sequence: he's downstairs alone whining, I go to camp out with him, and rather than reassure him, he now fears that Mommy has been left alone, and now he has to run upstairs and whine at her closed door, which wakes up Nipper, and later she tags me out so I can get sleep, and the pack is still not united, and once again everyone has a crappy night of sleep.

So last night we decided that if he started acting up again, we would just get him upstairs with us and bring Nipper into the area too, and see if just having the gang together would be enough to calm him down. He would be able to protect us all, and we would all be ready to beat up on the bear if necessary. (And if that didn't work, we could still give him a cluster of canine-chewable melatonin treats and dope him up. Or call an exorcist.)

Friday morning: Tralfaz slept soundly through the night and so did everyone else. Thank God.

So what happened? Well, we had heavy rain that may have washed the bear smell away. Or Fazzy was just completely exhausted after three bad nights of sleep and a trip to the vet's office, which gets him so worked up it's like five hours at the gym. Or maybe he's been sensing a lot of stress from me, stress that I was too tired to feel when I fell into a coma at 10:30 p.m. So we shall see how it goes tonight.

Poor doggies -- they can't tell you what's wrong, and even for an experienced vet like mine, absent any clinical signs of illness, it's all a guessing game. Let's hope this is the end of this particular issue.

I'm keeping the exorcist on speed dial, just in case.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Big bite.

I know you think that Fred is a tower of accomplishment, considering his humble beginnings. Well, as they say, I started out with nothing and I've still got most of it left. 

And indeed, my proudest accomplishments may go back to my earliest days. Schoolwork? Aced it. First jobs? No sweat. Eat a Scooter Pie in one bite? 

Hell, YEAH!

If you're not from the Northeast, allow me to introduce you. The Scooter Pie is a marshmallow / graham / chocolate confection, similar to the MoonPie. In fact, I think nowadays it's identical, since Burry's no longer makes the Scooter Pie, focusing instead on unbranded foods for supermarkets and foodservice. Now the S.P. is made by Chattanooga Bakery, the same outfit that makes MoonPies. In its heyday, and I swear this is true, the Scooter Pie was the biggest cookie of its type around. As you can see above, they used a cartoon giant as its mascot. "Giant of a Cookie"! Yes indeed!

Ironic, though, because it was supposedly named after five-foot-six shortstop Phil "Scooter" Rizzuto.

One day I and the lads were sitting around doing something stupid -- watching a game or playing cards or D&D -- and one of the guys claimed he could shove a whole Scooter Pie in his mouth and eat it. Scoffing was produced, and he was forced to attempt the act, which resulted in a quick shove of the giant cookie in his maw, followed by choking and the spitting back out of said cookie. Taking a fresh Scooter Pie from the box, I unwrapped it and stuffed it in my mouth, and began to chew. And chew, and chew. Some minutes later, I had completely and safely masticated and swallowed that cookie.


Now, of course, my friends by then had moved on to something more interesting than watching me eat, like watching commercials. I said, "Hey, I finished it in one bite!" I may have gotten a quick thumbs-up. Maybe not. Jealousy is an ugly thing.

Ah, triumphs of youth! Many times when the road was rocky, the progress slow, I reminded myself that I alone among my friends consumed an entire Scooter Pie with one bite (and many, many chews). Such things keep one warm when the night is at its coldest and darkest.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Man Cave!

Here's another rerun from the old defunct blog, but it's about an idea I had for a TV show a few years ago. It literally came to me in a dream. 

I call it The Man Cave.

The show is about a bunch of pals who hang out in their man cave watching sports, and through wacky misadventures solve crimes and help ladies in distress. They each have a nickname that hints at their character and talents, and each nickname essentially means “Man.” Some would be core characters, others coming on as chance or mission requirements determine. I dreamed up the broad outlines of the characters; here are the details.

Talents and traits
Paul North
Leader guy
Leadership; seriousness; strategic thinking; a real paladin
Joe Slobinski
Funny guy
Unpretentious; resourceful; slovenly comic relief; great gadgeteer
Tirone Peters
Cool guy
Knows all the angles; good with ladies; street-smart; a good fighter
Doggy Moonbeam
Laid-back guy
Surfing; honest; friendly; not always reliable, but strong-hearted
Zack Rigg
Strong guy
Thick but unfailingly loyal; determined; physically strong; galoot
Bobby Gristel
Regular guy
Expert at ropin’ and ridin’; a guileless straight-shooter; tough
Hector Garcia
Ladies’ guy
Dazzling to women; Spanish-speaking; dancer; experienced liar
William Wentworth-Figg
Classy guy
Upper-class toff; can pass in any higher social circle; culture expert; charming jewel-thief type
Harold Blatz
Smart guy
Computer expert; scientific; fat; logistical; geeky
Colin Corker
Scrounger guy
Sticky-fingered cockney; can get anything; demon at the wheel
Peter Burke
Outdoors guy
From the Outback but at home in any wilderness; cheerful; a survivor
Artie McSlydes
Crooked guy
Underhanded fighter; knows a million dirty tricks; untrustworthy but ultimately loyal
Vito Aiello
Shady guy
Has great connections; can cook really well; street-smart (like Bro, but in other neighborhoods); good driver
Frank Flatt
Veteran guy
A cop and security expert; solid but wise; always resists illegal missions but will help out anyway

They don’t go looking for trouble, really---trouble comes looking for them. They have varying degrees of comfort with one another’s moral codes, but at heart they all want to help people (especially any female people) in a jam. Like The A-Team, without the hunting from the U.S. Army. As in Mission: Impossible, each character’s abilities allows him to fulfill a particular function on their adventures. 

Paul ("Man") would say something like, "We'll have to call in a few of the boys for this -- stealing back Allison's family's jewels to save their ranch! Hombre, send a text to Playa, Guy, Hombre, Dude, Chap, and Mate . . . I have a plan." The episode would focus on those men; others might appear in support roles, or as unexpected help when the fat's in the fire. Other episodes might stress other characters.

I’m not saying they all go riding around in a Man Mobile or something. That would be silly! They each have a car that reflects their personal type. Man has a sporty sedan; Bloke has a black taxi; Dude has a dune buggy; Guy has a beat-up hoopty wagon; Chap has a Bentley; Cowboy drives the pickup; and so on. You get the idea. 

I think it would have been great for the Spike channel, except now they're all MMA and Cops.

Is it a stupid idea? Of course! So what? It's TV. People who think TV is all genius shows these days are cherry-picking, or overestimating the quality of what they happen to enjoy. Besides, every adventure show looks dark and miserable these days, stupid or not -- I say, bring back the fun. 

This show could be really big. Consider the great buddy adventure comedies in TV history. Legendary shows like The Kids from C.A.P.E.R., and The San Pedro Beach Bums. TV people, if you want big-time success like that, drop me a line. Or have your people call my people. As soon as I get some people.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Double O No.

Too late, Bond remembered selecting his corkscrew watch
instead of his laser watch that morning.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

There was be blood.

I gave blood again. Must be a mania.

Just a pint. What the hell, the skeeters have already gotten about half that much off me.

As regular readers may recall, I am willing to give blood because it's a charitable act that doesn't cost this skinflint a nickel. In fact, they give you free cookies. Lorna Doones. Oreos. Oh, yeah.

This time I agreed to go when a friend asked me. It was a blood drive organized in memory of a young man who died in a car crash. Under the circumstances it was something I would normally want to do, but maybe wouldn't have signed up for, just in case. Something might come up. You know how it is.

I'm like a lot of people when I'm asked to do something.

I went through with it, even though I have a lot of work to do (thus all the retreads this past week from the old blog) (probably next week too). In fact, we had a power outage Friday that helped me get my work done not at all. It was the opposite of helpful. It cost me a couple of hours. So I was behind in my work. Still, when I say I'm going to do something I always aim to do it.

When I got to the blood drive yesterday they had brought in a couple of bloodmobiles, cramped buses that seat five bleeders at a time. It started to rain, so I got to sit in the rain while I waited to be called aboard. There were two intake rooms in the back of the bus, smaller than any bathroom you've ever been in. I was examined (blood pressure, iron test, paperwork, etc., all above board) by a phlebotomist who was a big guy like me; if someone had opened the door we'd have tumbled out like the end of the cabin scene in A Night at the Opera

The staff was good and the procedure easy. I'm glad I can do something like this, especially as a lot of people cannot these days. I'm not talking about rampant blood diseases or hepatitis. New York Blood Center says you cannot donate for a year if you got any piercings or tattoos (unless the tattoo was applied in New Jersey -- I guess they have higher standards in Jersey tattoo parlors). As we know, kids today, in addition to getting on my lawn, are all out there piercing and tattooing themselves all the time, until they all look like psychedelic porcupines. They'll never be able to donate blood. But I can.

If you can, consider looking for a blood drive in your area. Nice ol' ladies, including a grandma friend of mine who is fighting cancer, may need some of that blood. This is one charity that cannot spoil the recipients or be skimmed by fund-raisers. There's no substitute for human blood. Think about it.

I'm not asking you to make an appointment. I'll leave it up to you. I don't want to hear your scream when donation day arrives.

Saturday, May 20, 2017


Greetings, graduates! I am very honored to be here to speak to you on the momentous occasion of your graduation from Hard Knox University. Give yourselves a big cheer! Or just groan and mumble.

You should be very proud of yourselves. As we know, the school of Hard Knox is the toughest school around. How tough?
  • The school colors are black and blue.
  • The bullying program is: Any kid not being bullied enough will get bullied by the school nurse.
  • It has the only university cafeteria with a "kill your own" lobster tank.
  • The lunch special? Nails.
  • "Schoolbook" means the character who has the latest odds at Aqueduct.
  • The mascot is a rabid wolverine. An actual rabid wolverine.
  • The playground is covered with broken glass---on purpose.
  • The student adviser is a guy named Knuckles with a two-by-four, whose advice is always "Man up, crybaby."
That's how tough.

As I look out over your bruised and surly faces, I am reminded of some other great Americans to graduate from the school of Hard Knox rather than from some sissy college. Jack Dempsey. Thomas Edison. Alvin York. Ty Cobb. Carbine Williams. Audie Murphy. Hulk Hogan. Liberace. I could stand here for hours and hours naming famous alumni, and you'd be tough enough to take it. Even though it's a hundred degrees today and your robes are made of sheer poreless plastic that must make you feel like a Thanksgiving turkey in a Reynolds oven bag. But I won't.

Yes, the school of Hard Knox turns out men and women, not boys and girls. Fighters and scrappers, not whiners and weasels. Metal, not marshmallow. Oftentimes when I am in a jam, I think back to what we always said in my undergrad days: "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Unless it cripples you, debilitates you, or otherwise leaves you unable to function." And then I remember how we got so tough---by not quoting stupid ideas from failed philosophies at one another.

So, in closing, I would like to thank you for having me, but I'm sure you didn't want me here today. Because we're so tough at HKU that we only do things we hate. Now set your black eyes on the future and limp toward it, assured that however miserable life will get, and it will, that as a graduate of the school of Hard Knox you can take it. And dish it out, too.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Meme Fridays!

We're taking it easy this morning with a fresh batch of photos for you to laugh at, pass around, or completely ignore.

Old school

For your friend who wonders what the world owes him, or for the person
making a commotion over, well, nothing

They call him Ferocious B

Now you know

Thursday, May 18, 2017


I am risking my blog here, as it is hosted by Google, but Google has done something that the phrase "chilling effect" was designed to describe.

Here's a mandatory alert:

And do I need to say it? Language alert.

Maybe you saw this Tuesday:

"See how machine learning is helping us tackle gender bias in movies." I thought this had to be one of their jolly April 1 gags, running a little late, but no, Googs is serious. Why is this terrifying to a people brought up in a society where free speech is not just an enshrined right, but one granted by our Creator? Let's see.

--The fact that Google whipped up a Bias Nanny algorithm tells me that they feel we cannot be trusted to recognize bias on our own. In other words, like the poisonous snowflake culture in our universities, Google thinks we're too dumb to know bias and hatred when we see it. So they will help us be better. That's even assuming that the damn thing works, despite the fact that it's predicated on what has to be opinion; there's no mathematical "science" that can prove bias in film, hard as people keep trying. Why would filmmakers not fight back against this? A statement like "Your film shows female characters 16.56% less than males, with passive dialogue 36.98% more often than males..." Etc. etc. data data data. As a director, screenwriter, are you going to let Google tell you your artistry must be "adjusted" to be in line with proper thinking?

--And that's the point: Google is here to turn our badthink into goodthink. You dopes in the audience, you dummies making movies! How dare you sit there and think your movie is not full of gender bias? (Next up: race bias, Islamic bias, LGBTQRSTU bias....) We can scientifically prove that you, director, are a chauvinist pig, and we can make sure the whole world knows it. Guess what that'll do to your career? Guess what'll happen when our search engines show your home address...?

--I say, so what if there is bias in some movies? There's probably biases all over the place in every work of art. SO WHAT? We're free to think as we like, are we not? Uh, no, actually, you're not anymore... the reason we need this is to teach you not to think bad, otherwise the machines will correct you -- movies now, books later, online conversation next, actual conversation next...

--What's the endgame in all this, Googs? It's a rabbit hole with no bottom. Now University of Michigan students are feeling oppressed by fucking wood paneling. So you add that to your little algorithm and now every film that shows wood paneling is a nightmare of oppression. Then what? "Vinyl flooring is an affront to my people!" Well, the victim has absolute moral authority to dictate the terms, right? But where does it end? (Hint: Hell.)

--Well, fuck your machines, Google, and to hell with your newthink. If I wanted to play in that sandbox of insanity I'd go back to school. I say our right to think and speak as we want is granted to us by our Creator, not you, not the government, not even by others who might be offended, and by fighting against that right you are acting as an enemy of freedom and the God who created it. You know what that makes you?

People who hadn't noticed when you quietly dropped your "don't be evil" motto, presumably in exchange for an "evil is okay" one, might start to notice when you start policing them. Stop "training" us, Google. You can have all the money in the world, but it's still above your pay grade.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


[Another rerun from the old, nonworking Web site....]

Have you ever noticed (wow, look who's the new Andy Rooney) that kids' TV shows and books and songs and crap are all focused on the importance of friends? It's been starting to bug me lately.

There are reasons for all that friend stuff, of course. Sharing and cooperation do not come naturally to small children, who are just as likely to whack each other with hard toys as play together. (Maybe more so.) And if you have a hit show or movie, you want to sell them more than just Cookie Monster dolls. You want them buying Ernie, Bert, Elmo, Oscar, the big yellow loser, Telly, Kermit, Bob, Guy Smiley, Mr. Hooper, whatever. Lightning is nothing on his own; you have to have Mater, Sarge, Fillmore, Luigi, Flo, Ramone, Sally, Red, blah blah blah, the whole damn town. (And when you're telling the story it's vital to note that the hero's friends just happen to be exceptionally good at whatever they do--Guido's the world's fastest forklift, for example--or at least are able to hold their own in the big fight, like Pumbaa.) You need friends!

Friendly friends!

So it's nice to teach children to get along with others, but it would be nice to teach them that they can and ought to be able to stand on their own two feet as well. However, since our education system still takes a dim view of loners, I suppose that's not going to change. 

So to cash in on the current zeitgeist, I've composed the lyrics to a song that I think could be used in schools everywhere, or perhaps as the theme song for a great kids' show about a bunch of individuals with distinct personality quirks who have to do everything together.

You gotta have friends
Friends to the end
Around the bend
You’ll never mend
Without friends.

On your own
You’ll never handle it alone
You’re useless you see
To any degree
That’s why you nee
d your friends.

If you’re not cooperatin’
You want to be an individualist
You’ll see it’s just exasperatin’
And then you’ll really get pist

Nothing matters without friends
Nothing's fun without a group
Not even a poop
You must have a troop
Of friends!

You can write me in care of the site for information on how to send me my royalties. I'll handle the music myself; I never collaborate.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Feather your nest.

Two outdoor phenomena this weekend of note: My wife groomed the dogs on the porch, and once again a robin is building a nest under the deck. There may be a connection here.

Tralfaz, the large dog, is very hairy but has settled into more refined, mature hairiness. Nipper, the little guy, is just a fuzzbomb every day. It's the softest, sweetest hair and it is all over the house. If you come over and it's in your lasagna, trust me when I say we did everything to prevent that but it happens anyway. It's a force of nature.

Therefore, on Sunday it seemed to my wise Mrs. that it would be a good idea to give him (both of them, but mainly him) the Furminator treatment outside, where his tufts of hair could go wafting away and not clog up the vacuum cleaner brush for a change. And so she did, and a fine job of it she made, too.

When I was coming up the path later, I saw these tumbleweeds of puppy fur on the grass in front of the porch, and my first thought was What kind of weed is that? even though I knew what she'd been doing. It just made for a lot of ground cover.

How does this relate to Mrs. Robin in the back? As you know, birds will use a lot of found objects in their nest building. She used a big string of polypropylene twine as part of her nest, and it dangles down like a bell pull.

I suggested to my wife that the bird might be smart to use some of Nipper's puppy fuzz to make for a soft, warm egg-hatching environment.

Mrs. Key then wrote the dialogue for this endorsement:

NIPPER™ brand fuzz hatches eggs 43.7 % faster than other nest stuff!*
*Based on actual studies of actual birds by bird scientists.

Nipper would be thrilled to know he had helped foster new baby birds. He tries to catch and eat any birds he sees on the lawn. Hasn't caught one yet, fortunately.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

L'art du tennis: edition puppi.

We're all getting ready for the French Open starting on May 22. I suppose that statement would be true if we actually were getting ready for the French Open. We are actually watching the Mets getting clobbered by mediocre teams and getting rained on. We have nothing against tennis but we've never followed the game.

The little dog, Nipper, seems to be a fan of tennis, or at least tennis balls. His favorite toys are tennis balls, especially the ones made for dogs that can squeak. He will chase one anywhere. He will catch it and try to kill it and strip it of its pelt. He's a real artist at work. And I'm not just talking about his perky tennis-ball-fuzz-colored poop.

Here are some of his works, which I think the French might want to hang in that Louvre thing they have. Contact me about fees, French people; I am quite reasonable.

"Eye of the Beholder"

"The Comet"
"Piège de sable"

"The Scream"

"The Treachery of Tennis Images"
Coming in July: Frisbee exhibit.

"Il ne Volera Pas"

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Up in my grille.

Crest makes toothpaste for kids. Well, good, I say. I don't remember toothpastes specially made for children when I was the target audience. It's possible they were around and my parents just figured there was no reason I needed a toothpaste with Batman on the tube or whatever. "Let him use Pearl Drops! Make a man of him!"

Nowadays, I'm not swayed to buy something because the Disney Princesses or Pixar's Cars are on the label, but surely others are. Here, boys! You can have teeth like Mater's! 

Trucks got teeth!

The idea of a non-mint toothpaste has some appeal. Everyone wants to be minty fresh, but no one wants his breakfast to taste that way. Would it keep your Cap'n Crunch from tasting like peppermint? More important for grown-ups, would it keep your orange juice from tasting like poison?

Sadly, no; according to the boffins at the American Chemical Society, it's the sodium lauryl sulfate that makes your OJ taste as bad as... well, as bad as OJ Simpson acts*. And the chemical is found in kids' Crest toothpaste.

I did notice that, unlike regular adult non-whitening Crest, there's no seal of acceptance from the American Dental Association on the tube. That's not necessarily a deal-breaker; other Crest products have the seal, including some children's products, so you'd figure this is probably good too, right? Maybe it's pending. Maybe Procter & Gamble didn't want to pay the $15 Gs in application fees. Maybe it would have had to run over McQueen's grille.

Certainly I think children's toothpastes are a good idea if they get kids more willing to brush the Sugar Babies out of their cavity-prone choppers. If it's the Fruit Burst or Bubblegum flavors that does it, or just having Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater there as moral support, either way I endorse this toothpaste. Just don't expect it to make a man of your little boy the way Pearl Drops** would.


*I wonder what kind of toothpaste OJ uses in jail? Do all toothpastes taste bad to him because he is OJ? 

**Pearl Drops is also not ADA-accepted, by the way.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Shred your identity.

I enjoy using my shredder. It's weird to enjoy destruction so much. Only I and guys who abate asbestos get so much wholesome fun out of wholesale destruction. 

For security, we are all supposed to shred documents we don't need, generally after 4 to 7 years, but some we have to keep anywhere from a couple of days to forever, according to this list from H&R Block. Got to protect your identity. Security through annihilation. I've also taken a big sack of paper down to Staples for their shredding service via Iron Mountain -- 99 cents a pound, as of yesterday -- when I cleared out the file cabinet last time. It feels good to shred.

You may remember the "Blue in the Face" episode of That's so Raven. Raven's father, Victor, becomes somewhat obsessed with his new shredder. Dad winds up shredding her chem homework, and Raven's salvage attempt leads to an unstable chemical reaction that paints them both blue the next day. Okay, not a great example of the joy of shredding. But it is an example of how powerful said joy can be. It's the only episode of any show I know of that explores the topic.

Here's a photo that's been making the rounds online:

Now, I'm sure there is a perfectly innocent explanation for why a hearse would be toting around a wood chipper. But it does make for an interesting idea. I mean, you could really shred your identity, if you get my drift.

Not that I'm rushing things, but . . . I have a neighbor with whom I have been having some issues, mainly because I am a normal guy and he is lower than plankton turd. I am pretty sure he will die in jail one day, but just in case I should go first, I would like to hire this hearse/chipper service.

All they'd have to do is back the contraption up to my neighbor's house, aim it at his porch, and load me in. I'll leave him with something to remember me by.

Just make sure I'm really dead first. As we learned from That's so Raven, premature shredding is a no-no.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Worst ever knock-knock jokes.

Knock knock.

Knock knock.
Who's there?
[no one; it's a ring 'n run]

Knock knock.
Who's there?
Mary Jane. Ask me again and I'll tell you the same.
That's not a joke. That doesn't even rhyme.
Bite me.

Knock knock.
Go away.

Knock knock.
Who's there?
[sound of vomiting from the drunk left by the ding dong ditchers]

Knock knock.
[nobody's home]

Knock knock.
Knock knock.

Knock knock.
Who's on first?
You're in the wrong joke.

Knock knock.
Who's there?
Yes. [Pete Townshend, Keith Moon, Roger Daltrey, and John Entwistle enter]

Knock knock.
Who's there?
Yes. [Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Chris Squire, Alan White, and Rick Wakeman enter]

Knock knock.
[nobody's home]
WOOOOOOOOOO! [security system works like a charm]

Knock knock.
Sorry to have disturbed you, Mr. Sartre.

Knock knock.
Who's there?

Knock knock.
Who's there?
Boo who?
We're finally getting somewhere with these jokes.

Knock knock.
I have a shotgun.

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
Do I go around asking you questions?

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
Come back another time. I’m in the shower.
Okay, I’ll just---hey, wait a second!

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
Walter who?
Walter ya waiting for? Open up!
[Gunshots through door.]

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
Land shark.
That bit is pretty old, isn’t it?

Wait for it….
Well, now I’ve lost interest.

Knock knock.
No Indian jokes, please.

Knoque knoque.
Qui est là?
Bonjour, Jacques. La plume de ma tante est sur le bureau.

Knock knock.
What’s there?
A door knocker.

Knock knock.
Whom is there?
Grammar Police. Please come along quietly.

Knock knock. Who’s there? I’m on the wrong side of this door.

Knock knock.
Beat it. I can’t open the door because of all this @^#%@&#!! snow.

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
Fuller Brush Man, selling a full line of Fuller Brush products, including cleaning products, personal care products, specialty products for laundry, outdoors, and cleaners for stone, brass, wood, and other surfaces, since 1906, in keeping with our longstanding motto of “Make it work, make it last, guarantee it no matter what.”
Fuller Brush Man, selling a full line of Fuller Brush products, including cleaning products, personal care products, specialty products for laundry, outdoors, and cleaners for stone, brass, wood, and other surfaces, since 1906, in keeping with our longstanding motto of “Make it work, make it last, guarantee it no matter what” who?

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
Girl Scout, selling cookies.
I’m a little busy; could you just slip some under the door?
Slip cookies under the door? They won’t fit.
Not even Thin Mints?

Kconk Kconk.
Boy, someone got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.

Knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock.
OCD Clinic; may we help you?

Knock knock.
Where's there?
Didn't you read the manual?

Knock knock.
Who's there?
Yo, it's the dog. C'mon, lemme in.
Okay, let me...hold on just a second!
You're not Fifi. You sound like that Yorkie next door.

Knock knock.
Who's there?
Doctor who?
Most people just call me the Doctor.

Knock knock.
Hooz their?
Dictionary salesman.

Ding dong.
Who's there?
What's with the ding dong?
I upgraded.

Kock kock...
Hey! This is a family blog!
Phew. Yo, 'tsup Chanticleer?

Knoxj knoxk.
Whos; thereed?
Keybord repairmn.

Knock knock.
This is the pregnant lady.
Well, I got the joke, at least.

Where's the rest of it?
I like to get right to the point.

Knock knock.
Who's there?
John Who?
No, John Woo, the director.
What a crap joke.
Didn't you read the title of this blog entry?

Knock knock.
Ouch! Ouch!
Sorry! Why isn't your door here?

Knick knack.
Who's there?
Sue who?
Sue Venier.
Sue Venier Who?
That statuette of the doe-eyed kids playing guitar you bought in Branson.

Knock knock.
To get to the other side.
Damn---I must have got lost.

Boing boing.
Who's there?
Satisfaction survey from Rubber Doors Company, m'am.

Knock knock.
What's the password?
"Papa-oom-oom-oom-oom-ooma-mow-mow, Oom-oom-oom-oom-ooma-mow-mow, Ooma-mow-mow, papa-ooma-mow-mow, Papa-ooma-mow-mow, ooma-mow-mow, Well, don't you know about the bird, Well, everybody knows that the bird is the word, A-well-a, bird, bird, b-bird's the word."
Okay, come in.
This @&*@#&! speakeasy has the worst password ever.

Knockity knock knock knock!
Do you think that's perhaps a bit too fey?

Kids today.

Jokes mostly run on old blog. Some even more worst knock-knock jokes may be found here, if you must.