Sunday, August 31, 2008
Some people believe that what you name your baby greatly affects what he or she will become in life. For instance, if you name a boy Joe or Mike, he's likely to grow up to be a bartender or a UPS delivery guy. Whereas if you name him Conrad or Balthazar, he's likely to grow up to be a poet or a sommelier.
Jim and Peggy Johnson pooh-poohed this theory. They named their son Rabbitboy, and they hoped he would grow up to be a doctor or a marine biologist. To their dismay, he grew up to be Rabbitboy, a star attraction at carnival sideshows in the 1930s.
At the outbreak of World War II Rabbitboy enlisted in the army. Tragically, while parachuting onto the beach at Normandy on D-Day, Private Johnson's rabbit ears became entangled in his parachute lines, and he plummeted to his death.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Is this drawing an illustration or a work of art?
If it's an illustration, shouldn't it illustrate something?
And if it's art, shouldn't it not suck?
So, in summary, in closing and in a nutshell...
Third possibility: crap.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
I remember it like it was yesterday. Actually, it was the day before yesterday.
I had just gottem home to get ready for school after my early morning paper route. The only thing that keeps me going on these cold winter mornings is the thought of Ma's pancakes. It's tough getting up before the sun to deliver papers, especially with a day of school ahead of me, but I like having spending money.
As I rode my bike up our street, something in the trash in front of our house caught my eye. Something tan and oddly familiar. As I got closer I was able to make it out. Oh, my God, it was Rusty, my old hobby horse! Rusty, on whom I had ridden into so many imaginary battles against the Sioux and Pawnee! Rusty, my small yet majestic palomino stallion on springs!
When I had gotten too big to ride Rusty any more, Dad had put him in the attic with the the old trunks and Grandma. But what was he doing out here with the trash on the sidewalk?
I led my bicycle through the alley into the back yard and went into the house. Ma was at the stove cooking pancakes.
"Ma! What's Rusty doing outside?," I yelled.
"Who's Rusty?" she said, deftly flipping a pancake.
"Who's Rusty? He's only the best little hobby horse a guy ever had, that's all!"
"We had to make room in the attic," she said. "Grandma kept tripping over that damned horse."
If it had to be Rusty or Grandma, I thought to myself...
"And anyway," she added, aren't you a little old for hobby horses? And why don't you get a job!"
"I already have a job, Ma."
"A paper route? You call that a job? You're 32 years old, for Christ's sake!"
Ah, here we go. The Age thing.
"But I go to school, Ma. I can only work part time."
"Dropping in on philosophy classes three times a week isn't going to school," she said. "The rest of the time you watch Judge Judy."
We'd had this argument many times before, and it never got us anywhere.
"I'm late for class," I said.
I slammed the back door and walked out through the alley. I grabbed Rusty from the sidewalk and took him back into the yard. I hopped on my bike and rode to Community College.
By the time I got back home I was starving, since I'd missed breakfast for the sake of a dramatic exit.
The trash still hadn't been collected, so I didn't need to carry the empty cans into the yard. It was one of my chores. I had a hard time picturing Spinoza carrying trash cans into the yard.
I took my bike through the alley and noticed that Rusty was gone! Damn that insensitive woman! And yet he wasn't in the trash, so where was he?
I stormed in and confronted Ma.
"Where's Rusty?" I demanded.
"Who's Rusty?" she asked innocently.
"Don't play dumb, Ma," I said. "Rusty. My hobby horse."
"Oh, him. I put him back out into the trash."
"But he's not there," I said.
"Maybe he galloped off to rejoin the herd," she said coldly.
I went outside to investigate. I looked down the street and noticed a bunch of neighborhood boys playing. They seemed to be in a frenzy. I walked toward them and finally noticed a patch of tan among the bluejeans. It was Rusty! These young hooligans had taken him from our private, personal trash and were now gang-riding him!
I felt violated. I felt nauseated.
I ran up to the melee and rescued my old equine pal, exchanging some harsh words with his kidnappers. What filthy vocabularies for 10-year olds!
I took Rusty home and carried him up to my room. His springs were a little stretched out, but he seemed okay otherwise. If I kept him in my room, Grandma could have her precious "space," and I could keep a link to my childhood.
I looked at my faithful steed.
"One day when I have a high-paying philosopher job I'll be able to get an apartment of my own, and we'll look back on this and laugh, eh, Rusty?"
Some might chalk it up to stretched-out springs, but I swear he nodded.
Friday, August 22, 2008
I think it all started when singer Jennifer Lopez started calling herself J-Lo.
Then it spread to baseball. Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees began calling himself A-Rod, and Jimmy Rollins of the Philadelphia Phillies started calling himself J-Roll.
(I thought about calling myself J-Duff, but decided against it after I sobered up.)
For me, though, things went one step too far when my accountant, Arnold Holden, announced that he would like to be called A-Hole.
This seems wrong.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Hi. My name is Wally, and this is my new column, "Wally After Dark."
Don't expect a lot of exciting stuff here, as I live at home with my mother and I mainly stay in at night watching TV. In fact, when I went outside so Mom could take my picture for the column, I think it was the first time I had been out after dark since that time I saw a mouse in the living room. But "Wally After Dark" sounded like a better title than "Wally On The Couch," or "Wally Watching Cable" so here we are. I thought about calling it "I Cover The Waterfront," but that made no sense at all.
Not a lot happened today. This being summer, I'm off from high school. Mom gave me a shopping list and I went to the supermarket. After that I watched TV. Oh, and on my way back from the supermarket I found a penny on the sidewalk, so actually, today was relatively action-packed. And the penny was heads up, which means you'll have good luck for the rest of the day. At least, that's what Mom says. I sure haven't been lucky with the TV, even with cable. 500 channels, and nothing good is on!
But the penny excitement happened during the day, and this is "Wally After Dark," so... really, I got nothin'.
Maybe Mr. Duffy, the nice man whose blog this is, will let me write about daytime stuff, or change the name of the column. He's usually very reasonable. He's only charging me 10 dollars for every column I write. He says it's very expensive to run a blog.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
I'm always amused when I see those commercials on TV for erectile dysfunction drugs. You've all seen them.
"For erections lasting longer than four hours, consult a physician."
For me, a four-hour erection would be a blessing, though not in the way you think.
I'm a walrus. Call me Wally. That's not my real name; my parents had more imagination than that. But I'd rather not tell you my real name, as I'm trying to keep a low profile.
Do you know what an oosik is? It's the term used in Alaska to describe my baculum, a.k.a. my penile bone. I don't want to get too graphic, but an oosik can be as large as two feet long.
All the time.
Lucky me, you say? I don't think so. I live in Alaska. Native Alaskans are the only people currently allowed to hunt walruses, and an oosik is considered a prized possession. Not just by lady walruses, sadly, but also as souvenirs by tourists. They can be polished and used as handles for knives and other tools.
So, when I go out, I try to disguise my walrusness. I wear a long, hooded, unbelted kaftan, standing upright on my hindquarters. Unfortunately, there's not much I can do to hide my tusks. (Or the bulge in my kaftan.) I thought about having my dentist file them down, but I need my tusks. The longer the tusk is, the more important a walrus's rank is in the walrus community, and my rank is pretty high, if I say so myself. Although if they could see me skulking around in my Kaftan, my staus would plummet. Also, we bull walruses use our tusks to joust with each other to earn the right to mate. And I am NOT giving that up.
One day I went into a bar in the middle of the afternoon. I don't usually drink before cocktail hour, but I was under a lot of stress (as usual), and I thought a beer would take the edge off.
Before I even made it to the bar, the bartender yelled, "Hey! Horse-whale!" ("Walrus" comes from the Old Norse word "hrossvalr," meaning "horse-whale." It's considered a very derogatory term in the walrus world.) "Can't you read?" he said, pointing to a sign on the wall. It read, "No credit. No checks. No semi-aquatic mammals."
"Are you speaking to me?" I said.
"Hit the bricks, Wally!" he said. Again, not my name, but idiots like this guy like to call us that. God grant me serenity!
"Look," I replied calmly, "I'm just a humble pinniped trying to have a beer and retain his oosik."
Now, I'm a big guy, weighing in at about 4,500 pounds. (I really ballooned up after I went off Atkins.) Maybe that had something to do with it, but in any case the bartender thought for a moment and finally said, "Okay, what'll you have?"
"What do you have on tap?"
"Just what you see," he said, pointing to a row of draught beer taps.
I looked at the taps. I couldn't believe my eyes. The tap handles were oosiks!
"What'll I have?" I shouted. "What'll I have? How about a mug of Uncle Herb! Or a pitcher of Cousin Wally!" (Uncle Herb and Aunt Doris had no imagination.)
"Uncle Herb?" said the bartender, confused. "Who's Uncle Herb?"
"He was a prince of a guy who was cut down in his prime and relieved of his bullhood by some murderous Inuit bastard! Along with my Cousin Wally! And now, for all I know, you could be drawing me a beer with one of their bacula!"
"Don't play dumb! Their penile bones!"
"Oh, you mean the handles?"
"Yes, of course I mean the handles!"
"Don't get your whiskers in a bunch, Wally" he replied. "Those are reproductions."
"Yes, really," he said reassuringly. His tone had softened. He poured me a beer and said, "this one's on me."
I sat down. "Thanks," I said. I calmed down as I drank the beer. Then I drank another, and another. The bartender and I got to know each other over the course of the next few hours. I told him my real name and he told me his. His name was Toby. (Apparently he had creative parents.) He wasn't such a bad guy after all.
I settled my tab, left a generous tip, pulled up the hood of my kaftan and headed for the door.
The bartender called out, "be careful out there."
"I will, Toby," I said. "Thanks."
And I was. I took the usual back alleys back to Walrustown, thinking I had made a new friend. And maybe an ally in my fight to hang onto my oosik.
Bad choice of words, but you get the idea.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
"The apartment is huge, but I live in this room and the kitchen -- don't we all live in one room?" she said. One of her guests, Gloria Vanderbilt, nodded in agreement, whereupon Adams complimented her on her blouse. "It's from Takashimaya," Vanderbilt said. "They have a sleeveless one like it."
-- From a New Yorker article on Gossip columnist Cindy Adams
My name is Kodwo. I live in this one room and the outhouse.
"Don't we all live in one room?" I say out loud, rhetorically, for no particular reason and to no one in particular. One of my guests, who is also my Uncle Kwaku, nods in agreement. He and his wife Falala have been living with me in this one room ever since the flood. Along with my cousins, Bango and Zwango, the twins. And Zwanga's dog, Mongo.
I compliment Aunt Falala on the burlap sack she is wearing.
"It's from Tusajigwe," she says.
"Tusajigwe?" I ask. "Your friend from the village in the valley?"
"My friend from the village at the bottom of the lake. She fought me like a jackel in heat for this damned sack!"
"It's very nice," I say. "I notice it's sleeveless."
"You and the mosquitoes both! They're eating me alive!"
I wander to the other end of my one room, where Bango and Zwango are playing checkers. They are missing a few checkers. And marbles.
"King me!" says Bango, grinning like a man who ate beetles for breakfast, which, actually, he did.
If "king me" means "please hit me over the head with an elk horn," then I guess Zwango complies, and the next thing I know the two of them are rolling around on the floor with the dog, trying to keep their heads above the water line.
My hut is not very large, so my one room fills it up entirely, leaving no room, really, for any additional rooms. Does that make any sense? If not, I'm not surprised. I've been under a lot of stress lately.
I wonder if the local witch doctor can give me something to calm my nerves. I decide to go see him immediately. I walk across the room.
"Dr. Olugbenga, can you prescribe something for stress?" I ask.
"I'm sorry, Kodwo. I'd like to, but my hut is under water, as you know, along with my prescription pads." The doctor looks forlorn. "I wish I could help you," he says, "what with you letting me stay here and all."
"Oh, that's okay, Doc" I tell him. Dr. Olugbenga is a good man. But he snores. You get to know who snores and who doesn't when you live in one room. And don't we all live in one room?
There's a knock at the door. It's my fiancee, Zuna, and her mother, Kajumba.
"Kodwo, I hate to ask you this," Zuna says, "but do you think my mother and I could stay with you for a while? Our hut was eaten by a hungry rogue elephant. We're very upset."
Oh boy. Zuna is a wonderful girl, but her mother is a real piece of work.
"Gosh, Zuna. You know, I live in one room."
"Don't we all live in one room?" she replies.
She's got me there. "All right," I say. "Did you bring any stuff?"
"The elephant ate all our stuff, Kodwo," says her mother with a sneer.
"I'm sorry, Kajumba. I should have known that. Please come in."
They come in and plop down on my straw couch between Bango and Zwango. I suspect this is the closest Bango and Zwango have ever been to a pretty girl, or even an ugly battle-axe.
I introduce everybody, excuse myself and go outside. It's a sad thing when the outhouse is an oasis of solitude.
When I return to the hut things are relatively calm. Aunt Falala has made a pot of tea from bark. It hits the spot and soothes my nerves. I hope it won't keep me awake. I have enough to keep me awake.
Cousin Bango seems to be flirting with my fiancee at the other end of the room. I think this is flirting, anyway, He's rubbing mud all over his face and laughing like a hyena. And yet, Zuna seems to be responding positively. Do I really know this girl? You really get to know people when you live in one room, as we all do, of course.
While Bango flirts with Zuna, his brother Zwango watches angrily. He is whittling something with a knife. It is another knife.
It's going to be a long summer, I think to myself. But since I can't really hear myself think around here, I say it out loud. Uncle Kwaku nods in agreement. I never thought much of Uncle Kwaku, but since he moved in, I see a deeper side to him. You notice things like that when you live in one room. And don't we all live in one room?
Saturday, August 16, 2008
- From the Alaska Statutes, Section 16.05.052: Nuisance Moose
I am a nuisance moose. Or so they tell me.
I remember the first time somebody called me that. I was at a costume party in Anchorage thrown by a prominent proctologist and his wife. I wasn't actually invited, I admit, but I didn't think anybody would mind if I sneaked in behind that couple dressed as Franklin and Eleanore Roosevelt. There was an open bar, and I ordered a pink squirrel. The bartender, a young man, didn't know how to make it, so I guided him through the process. He was putting in way too much creme de noyaux, so I simply said, "Whoa, easy on the creme de noyaux, pal!" He gave me a dirty look, I thought. He finished the drink, and asked me if I wanted him to put a parasol in it. Was he being sarcastic, I wondered? "Uh, no thank you," I said. He had a tip jar on the bar, but I explained that I didn't have any cash on me. (Where would a moose keep cash? I don't want to think about it.) He said, "That's all right, Sir," but as I walked away, I heard him mutter under his breath, "nuisance moose."
Nuisance moose? Me? Hey, I'm just an even-toed ungulate trying to get by. But I was the only moose in the room, so it had to be me. All I did was tell some bartender how to make a pink squirrel, for God's sake.
I walked away, shaken. I had heard that term before, of course, but I had never been called it. It's an ugly, unfounded stereotype which is deeply resented in the moose community. Words do hurt.
Across the room I noticed a distinguished-looking older man on the phone. He was dressed as a large rubber glove. I later learned he was the party host. I fancy myself a pretty decent lip reader, and it looked like he said the words "nuisance moose" into the phone. Maybe I was just being paranoid, I thought.
A young woman walked by carrying a tray of hors d'oeuvres and I asked her what they were. I was quite hungry and my four-chambered stomach was growling audibly.
"Jalapeno Cocktail Fritters," she replied coldly.
"With my ulcer?" I said. "I don't think so. What else is floating around?"
"We'll be bringing out some camembert stuffed shrimp, African chicken livers and frosted cheese with fruit, to name a few things."
"Well, let's see...chafing dish crabmeat, Mediterranean pot stickers, pesto toasts..."
"Smoky cheese bites, curried turkey canapes, sweet potato balls..."
"What about dessert?"
"Smoked salmon cheesecake. Sir, I really need to go."
"Do you have any bark or pondweed?" I asked.
"Pondweed? I'm afraid not, Sir."
"What about lichen?"
"I guess I'll just chew my cud."
"Whatever," she said as she walked away. She muttered something else, though I can't honestly say what it was. But I can guess.
At some point a couple of guys showed up at the party wearing very realistic-looking forest ranger outfits. They didn't mingle much; they seemed to be looking for somebody. Smokey Bear, maybe!
Shortly thereafter I felt a sharp, burning sensation in my neck, and the hairs on my hump rose as panic set it. I reached up, and felt some kind of dart in my neck! The room began spinning, and then everything went black.
The next thing I knew I was lying on a snowbank in the middle of nowhere. I was cold, groggy, and my head was splitting. There was some sort of tag stapled to my ear.
A man driving a dogsled stopped a few yards away from me.
"Where am I?" I asked him.
"The middle of nowhere," he answered.
"Are you an Eskimo?" I asked.
"I prefer 'Inuit.' Are you a nuisance moose?"
"I prefer 'moose.'"
Friday, August 15, 2008
DEAR DR. BETTY: I'm a big fan of your column, but I never thought I'd be writing to you. Yet here I am.
I'm a 37 year-old aspiring bullfighter. I've been aspiring for many years now, but with bullfighting opportunities being what they are in this country, I still live at home with my mother.
My mother is a safety instructor for the city's recreation department. Part of her job is teaching lifeguards how to resuscitate drowning victims at city swimming pools.
One of the tools of her trade is a ResusciTina Doll: a rubber, female head used to demonstrate how to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. ResusciTina has a wide-open mouth, for obvious reasons, and the cutest eyes you've ever seen.
Well, the other day Mom brought ResusciTina home to show me.
Dr. Betty, I was in love!
I waited until Mom was asleep, then crept down to the living room. Over drinks I found myself confiding in ResusciTina in ways that I never had to a "real" woman. Maybe it was the Jim Beam, but she seemed more "real" than any of the women I know.
Anyway, one thing led to another, and shortly after dawn I proposed marriage.
I hid ResusciTina in the garage and returned to bed. In the morning I blamed her disappearance on the dog.
As a nationally syndicated psychologist, do you feel this is wrong? -- DROWNING IN SHAME IN NEW HAVEN
DEAR DROWNING: This sickens me.
DEAR DR. BETTY: I recently realized that whenever a beautiful woman comes into view, I involuntarily sniff the air. This even happens if I see beautiful women on TV. Is there some biological or anthropological basis for this? Is it a connection to my caveman ancestors? Is it a connection to my noble friends in the animal kingdom? Or is it just an unfortunate habit I picked up in college? -- NOSTRIL MAN IN SAN DIEGO
DEAR NOSTRIL MAN: This sickens me.
DEAR DR. BETTY: I love your column, but in my hometown newspaper it appears on the same page as Word Jumble. My idiot husband, "Gary," LOVES Word Jumble, and on Sunday mornings he always grabs the newspaper from the front porch before I can get to it and takes that section into the bathroom. He doesn't come out for 75 to 90 minutes on average, and when he does, he has a strange look on his face and he throws that part of the paper on the coffee table in front of me. Sometimes his pajamas are on inside-out. And half the time the Word Jumble is still jumbled!
I don't know what the hell he does in there, Dr. Betty, and I don't think I want want to know. But whatever it is, I don't want him getting any of it on your column!
Any advice? -- NOT TOUCHING THE PAPER IN ALTOONA
P.S. Please don't publish your answer to this on a Sunday.
DEAR N.T.T.P: This sickens me.
DEAR DR. BETTY: My sister is insisting that her bridesmaids all wear lavender dresses at her wedding, even though she knows lavender is my least favorite color. I love my sister, but I hate lavender.
Any suggestions on how I can handle this tactfully? -- PREFERS PINK IN PARAMUS
DEAR PINKY: Even this sickens me.
DEAR DR. BETTY: Is it tacky to re-gift presents I've received? -- FRUGAL IN TOLEDO
DEAR FRUGAL: I may vomit.
DEAR DR. BETTY: I notice you have a very low threshhold when it comes to being sickened. What's your problem? -- CURIOUS IN SEATTLE
DEAR WISEASS: This sickens me.
DEAR DR. BETTY: Your column about crossdressing appeared one day late for me. Had I known you were sickened by the idea of a man wearing a pink chiffon dress with matching pumps, I would have stopped, but as it was, wearing them that extra day cost me my family, my house, my string of polo ponies and my U.S. Senate seat.
God bless you. -- SARCASTIC IN KEY WEST
DEAR SARCASTIC: This sickens me.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
In January, the Garden State warned hunters and residents near a toxic waste dump in Ringwood in North Jersey to limit their consumption of squirrel after the feds thought they found lead in a dead squirrel. Officials now say it was a false alarm.
That's good news for members of the Ramapough Mountain Indian Tribe and others who like squirrel meat.
- New York Daily News
I first got turned on to squirrel meat by my friend Tonto. I visited him at his trailer one day and he was frying up something on the stove. Frankly, I was hungry, and it was no coincidence that I showed up at lunchtime.
"Would you like a sandwich, Kemo Sabe?" he asked. ("Kemo Sabe" is a running joke we have. I'll explain some other time.)
"Sure, Tonto. Thanks," I said.
I grabbed a Pabst Blue Ribbon from the fridge and sat at the breakfast nook. Tonto brought over two sandwiches consisting of meat, melted cheese and fried onions on a long roll. Ah, cheesesteaks, I thought. My favorite!
I dug in and chowed down, washing down the hot sandwich with cold beer. Did life get any better than this? Well, maybe for some people, but not for me.
"This steak is dee-lish, Tonto," I said. "You're a regular Chef Boyardee!"
"Thank you, my friend" he said.
"What's your secret?" I inquired offhandedly. It's not like I go around collecting recipes. It's just something I say during a free meal. And it WAS good.
He said, "Are you sitting down?" (This was another running joke: I'm not very tall.)
"Yes, you crazy bastard, I'm sitting down! Now what's your secret???"
"You're eating squirrel."
"I beg your pardon?"
"You're eating squirrel."
I thought about saying "I beg your pardon?" again, but didn't bother. The trailer began spinning, and it wasn't a problem with the cinder blocks.
I took a long swig of my Pabst. "Squirrel? I'm eating squirrel??? I think I'm going to be sick!"
Then Tonto pointed out how different cultures have different acceptable and unacceptable menu items. Like, for instance, you might eat a cat in China, but you wouldn't eat a cow in India. He made a good point, but still.
"But Tonto, we're in New Jersey!"
His one-word reply spoke volumes. Do I need to say more? New Jersey? Eating squirrels? What could be more natural? The why and the wherefore I cannot explain, but somehow the two go together like Pamplona and The Runnung of the Bulls.
"I see your point, my Native American brother! May I have seconds?"
We ate and drank (mainly drank) into the night and had a great time, as usual, ending up in a friendly fistfight, also as usual.
Since that day I've been eating squirrel on a regular basis. And it's not just for lunch any more! It tastes great, and hell, the price is right. I rigged up a squirrel trap behind my trailer and I've now got a freezer full of squirrel fillets.
And while it's true that I don't usually go around collecting recipes, I did get one from Tonto before he unexpectedly relocated to New York City in the middle of the night for reasons that remain murky. I'm dying to try it out over the Holidays.
It's a squirrel stuffed inside a chicken, stuffed inside a duck, stuffed inside a turkey. It's called a "turduckensquir." I can't wait!
I don't know if he's pulling my leg or not, but Tonto claims that in New York, a Holiday delicacy is a cockroach stuffed inside a mouse, stuffed inside a rat. It's called a "ratmoucock." He says some people like to substitute a pigeon for the rat ("pigmoucock") for a more traditional birdlike appearance. (Do pigeons have giblets, I wonder?)
Sounds disgusting to me, but to each his own, I guess.