How To Screw Up Your Life In 10 Easy Steps
New Fossil Discovery Challenges Darwinian Theory
First Human Cyborg Produced at Bell Labs
John Lee Hooker Letters Found
Dylan Dictionary Stolen
My response to Steely Dan
Townsend Loses Struggle With Squirrel
Origins of Our Favorite Sports
Origins of Some Common Expressions
Origins of Wedding Customs
A Brief History of The Beatles
The New TV Season
New Jersey Law to Require Med Exams for Restaurant Goers
How To Screw Up Your Life In 10 Easy Steps
Following are chapter summaries from a new book by noted family therapist Jarls Fernsten. In his years of individual and family therapy, Fernsten has noted the tendency of many of his patients to do precisely what is necessary to make their lives as complicated and miserable as possible. He has documented and organized his thoughts and observations for the benefit of all people who may not realize how calm and peaceful their life has become, and need to really mess it up to keep things interesting. This book should be read in inadequate light, so that when you’re eyes start to go, you’ll have something else to complain about besides the fact that your microwave oven is once again on the fritz, and less ability to function as you once did.
Chapter 1 – Finding the Right Relationship
Goal: Inflict maximum pain on yourself and those around you.
A growing number of my patients who, as my research and experience indicate, represent an accurate cross-section of the general public, come from dysfunctional environments. These run the gamut from the simple single-parent families with little time or desire for emotional bonding due in part to insufficient income and in part to reading too many Hardy Boys books, to victims of physical, emotional, sexual abuse and exposure to Slim Whitman records. If you are from such an environment, good, this first lesson will come somewhat naturally to you. If not, imagine that you are, but always remember to floss before bedtime.
The key to establishing a destructive relationship is to seek out a partner that’s exactly like your abusive and/or neglectful parent, whether real or imagined. Once you have had an abusive relationship, make sure the next one is similar to the last, and so on. Specific characteristics to look for are inordinate selfishness, lack of respect for people in general, an “I’m between jobs” mentality, and the tendency to overdose on ketchup when dining on McDonalds french fries. Attracting such a person should be easy: simply give in to all of his/her most juvenile desires, and act as much like a doormat as possible. (It may be helpful to actually observe a doormat’s behavior; they are generally rectangular, about the width of a doorway lengthwise, and do nothing as people wipe their filthy feet on them – a very accepting device, the doormat is.)
It’s enormously helpful to select a partner who will be unfaithful to you. This not only increases emotional distress for you and your plethora of children, but goes a long way toward helping you contract certain venereal diseases, and hopefully even AIDS. That way you don’t have to live as long.
Now that you’ve found the right relationship, you’re ready for chapter two.
Chapter 2 – Making Your Relationship Thrive
Goal: Maximize your emotional abuse and solidify lifelong patterns of trauma.
Have you ever noticed how a psychologically healthy person reacts to abuse? They variously find ways of coping with it, remove themselves from the situation, or say “Hey, cut it out”. This is NOT the way to successfully screw up your life. In order to live in the most horrid environment possible, you need to discover and practice the mechanisms that will invite the abuse, accept it gleefully, and guarantee its continuance. These are all based on the same premises, which follow:
1) At this point, you must learn to not just ACT like A doormat, but BE THE DOORMAT. You must establish yourself as the principle outlet for your abusive partner. Remember, no one can satisfy that cute little tendency toward taking out lifelong anger on someone or something like you can, your sweetie’s very own personal punching bag.
2) Give in to his/her every childish whim, and commend him/her for being such a hopeless idiot. From time to time, small presents consisting of wax popcorn may help.
3) When he/she on occasion apologies for the abuse and promises he/she loves you, swallow it hook, line, and sinker. Whatever you do, don’t waste your time looking for signs of change. Especially when he/she makes the transition to thoughts like “you know I only beat you because you deserve it, honey.” Remember, love will always find a way. It just gets lost coming out the Lincoln Tunnel sometimes.
4) Act insanely jealous whenever your sweetie-pie so much as breathes near another individual. This will assure him/her that you are the only one that deserves the rotten treatment, and may even result in decreased utility bills.
Chapter 3 – Knowing Your Future
Goal: Be as misinformed as to reality as possible.
Seek out a good fortune teller. Whether they be crystal ball readers, palm readers, Tarot card readers, astrologers, or anything else you can imagine, these are some of the best people for misinformation. After all, their entire livelihood is based on one of two premises: they either are professional shysters who are profoundly ignorant and hence have no idea what they’re doing, or they’re actually in contact with the spirit world. In the latter case, they have regular dealings with persons who ALWAYS lie and give the worst information possible. If you really want to screw up your life, what better source could you go to?
Chapter 4 – Multiplying Your Problems
Goal: Transfer your incompetence to as many people as possible.
You need a license to drive a car, go fishing, burp in public, and a host of other things that the government has seen fit to regulate, ostensibly to anger and frustrate the anarchists among us. Well, guess what, darling? YOU DON’T NEED A LICENSE TO MAKE BABIES!!! That’s right, anyone with functioning sex organs can procreate and spread their lunacy to the world in general. And, thanks in part to the loving infusion of hormones in our food supply, girls in particular are developing these body parts at increasingly young ages. Why wait until you have the emotional maturity to deal with life as a parent? Why wait until you’re economically viable? Indeed, why wait until you’re married? Just do it, honey! Preferably with multiple partners, none of which you’re married to. That will insure maximum confusion and emotional detachment for all your children*, but you will have to spend more on fast-food take-out. You may even succeed at creating new people that are even more screwed up than you! One thing you never want to do is be responsible for creating an even remotely positive environment for your progeny. So keep poppin’ them out! And let ‘em guess who the father is! That’s surely better entertainment than watching replays of the Kennedy-Nixon debate!
* Many of my patients have opted to dispose of some or all of their children in various convenient ways, such as garbage dumpsters and hotel chains with a sum total of thirteen teeth among the Board of Directors. For suggestions on how to do this, as well as the benefits gained, see my book Life’s Little Inconveniences – Shedding Your Biological Baggage.
Chapter 5 – Becoming and Staying Addicted
Goal: Allow your life to be ruled by harmful substances.
Observe intently the way animals forage for food. They seem to instinctively know what to ingest, and what to avoid. If you really want to prove you’re dumber than the average quadruped with the IQ of igneous rock, simply accept any substance given to you, especially by people who are not articulate in even one language. Most of these substances will make you feel really cool in various ways for a relatively short period of time, then leave you wondering whether you’ve been interred in a mausoleum or are just having another bad hair day. Others are simply toxic for toxicity’s sake, and will have an incendiary effect on your guts in no time flat, with no perceived benefit. It is not necessary to get involved with the latter straight away, but the former are absolutely indispensable to anyone who is determined to live a life of confusion and hopelessness.
Once you’ve successfully become addicted to your substance of choice (read: the choice of your “dealer”), it may be regarded as positive to once in a while engage in some sort of rehabilitation program. This is acceptable, as long as it’s not taken too seriously. If you choose to employ such a self-help program, make certain that you continue to associate with the same people you always have during your addiction, the people that are enabling you and sharing your descent into death. That will prevent any relapse into reality. Those relapses are really nasty; they come with all sorts of annoying baggage like responsibility, wholesomeness, happiness, productivity, and other stuff you definitely don’t want hanging around your hovel of an apartment on weekends when you should be planting styrofoam in your garden.
Chapter 6 – Environment Shmenvironment!
Goal: Find the absolute worst places to spend your time, and even create your own wonderland of crud.
If you really want to make sure to meet the worst possible people you can ever know, choose your entertainment and social spots wisely. I have spent many a pleasant Saturday afternoon in some dingy half-lit bar, gleaning the wisdom of social drop-outs who slur every word through a glass of cheap beer. Consider some of the pearls of wisdom I have picked up as a result: 1) “We oughta nuke the bleepin’ bleeps. Whaddawe got ‘em for, anyhow?” 2) "So what if ye' lost yer bleepin’ lizense, dey can’t shtop ye frm drivin’ yer bleepin’ car!" 3) "The problem wi’ todays kids is dey eat too much o' that bleepin’ fairy food. Wn you n me wuz kids, we ate dirt and we wuz happy o' do it!"
There is just too much to learn from this world’s ignorant miscreants to pass up!
If, on the other hand, you choose to spend your time at public libraries, museums, or simply in the living rooms of people with normal lives, be prepared for the worst. It is exceedingly difficult to recover from the damage good influences can inflict on the perennial bottom feeders you want to emulate, and even harder if you’re trying to put your socks on over your shoes.
Now, as to your physical surroundings, keep it simple. If the landlord fixes something, such as heating or plumbing, break it right away. You want your environment to be a macrocosm of the chaos in your dysfunctional mind. You may even earn a spot on the evening news and have a chance to see your landlord carted off to jail for perceived misdeeds crafted by the media in order to sell their sensationalism to the general public.
Chapter 7 – Eating for Failure
Goal: Compromise Your Physical Health and Lose Your Ability to Think.
There is just no substitute for a poor diet if you really want to foul things up for yourself. Fast food restaurants such as McDonalds and Burger King should always be high on the list of patronized establishments for the person who aspires to worthlessness. Not only will you become morbidly obese, develop diabetes, high blood pressure and other stimulating health problems, and either become permanently constipated or alternately a wreaker of havoc on your septic system, but you may even manage to cloud your thinking ability to the point of making decisions in the manner of tree bark. Plus, since it’s so much more expensive than buying wholesome food at the supermarket, you can even add to your financial woes. How’s that for killing two birds with one stone? (NOTE: If you must shop at a supermarket, be sure to buy only sugary, fattening, salty, pre-processed and artificial products, especially if you are on public assistance. This will have the added benefit of causing hilarious looks of wonder and disgust on the faces of those behind you on the check-out line.)
Following is a suggested daily regimen for insuring the poorest health possible. These are only suggestions. Feel free to make substitutions, but always remember that everything MUST be processed, with extra sugar, salt, fat, and undefined food additives, preservatives, and “spices”, and be absolutely non-organic:
Sample breakast: Fruit Loops with extra sugar, McDonalds apple danish, butter, butter, butter, 3 cups of coffee with lots of sugar-substitute (any brain-frying brand will do) and half-and-half, a six-pack of Budweiser
Sample mid-morning snack: bagel with one pound of cream cheese, 4 more cups of coffee with same additives, 6 Hershey’s chocolate bars, a six-pack of Budweiser
Sample lunch: As many McDonalds Big-Macs as you can fit in your larder, french fries, at least two oversized Cokes, with 6 cookies for dessert and a six-pack of Budweiser. If you throw up, try the same thing again until you get it right. Your body will eventually adjust and make you proud.
Sample mid-afternoon snack: 2 bags Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies, 2 bags Doritos, 3 Diet Cokes (imagine you are as slim as can be in a skimpy bathing suit on a gorgeous beach in the Caribbean as you scarf down your Diet Coke. When you wake up from your stupor, the overwhelming disappointment will virtually guarantee the cycle will never stop.) Top off with a six-pack of Budweiser.
Sample dinner: 4 cans Beef-a-Roni spaghetti substitute (think Italian!), 2 loaves of “Italian” bread made from bleached wheat flour, 3 Oscar Meyer hot-dogs, half a cow, 2 pigs and a chicken, and of course 2 six-packs of Budweiser. Throw in a piece of lettuce to create the illusion that you’re doing something good to yourself. That’ll fool ‘em.
Sample evening snack: A bag of potato chips the size of Cambodia, a six-pack of Budweiser, and a dead squirrel you ran over three days ago (to make the McDonalds lunch seem less attractive).
Sample late-night snack: cup of coffee with requisite additives, the chicken feet and beaks left over from dinner, eighteen Hostess Twinkies and a six-pack of Budweiser
Sample snack when you wake up at 3AM constipated: 2 bags pork rinds, 2 cans Crisco oil, and a six-pack of Budweiser, but make it a Bud Lite (see Diet Coke comments above).
By the way, the real benefit of diet foods, sugar substitutes, and altered fats like Olestra, is that you are perpetually hoping to lose weight, while the reality is that you will eventually have to be buried in the Grand Canyon, if they ever get government funding to get that excavation project going and finally widen it. But thinking about losing weight and imagining you are doing so may theoretically burn .01 calories; thus you may preserve your life for an additional nanosecond, time you can spend pestering people you presume are close to you and ingesting more poisonous foodstuffs.
Chapter 8 – Getting People to Dread Your Presence
Goal: Ensure that no one of quality will ever want to spend time with you.
Into everyone’s life come at least one person who seems to “have it all together,” and who insists on sharing his/her techniques for healthy living with you, in a ridiculous effort to “help” you remove yourself from the maelstrom you’ve so painstakingly engineered. The key to dealing with people like that is to make them want to go away. Bad breath and body odor are obvious methods that go a long way toward isolating yourself from such nuisances, but if you allow your creative juices to flow, you will be able to come up with many new and exciting ways of repelling people that ostensibly love you. You’ll also have the joy of looking at yourself in the mirror and seeing a facsimile of the wicked queen that enjoyed feeding chemically altered fruit to certain individuals she viewed as competition.
Applying the Golden Rule in reverse, think of what would annoy you most, and simply do that to people you want to distance yourself from. For example, do you like having your head slammed against the floor? Probably not. Then, by all means, practice that very thing on the unwanted advice giver. Do you appreciate being screamed at until your ears bleed and you have to take enough Tylenol for the livers of the entire Indian subcontinent to turn to Miracle Whip? Then why not treat your personal Good Samaritan to a dose of high decibel ranting? Do you relish the opportunity to be verbally, physically and emotionally abused? Then have a field day visiting such behavior on the bleeding heart do-gooder in your life.
You should be able to eventually achieve a condition of having no one in your life but individuals who have recently graduated from the College of Pond Scum Aspirants.
Chapter 9 – Making Technology Work for You
Goal: Create problems via modern technology that past generations could only dream of.
One of the best ways of meeting people nowadays is the internet. In times past, to really be deceived as to someone’s identity usually required a mask, some nutmeg, and an abacus. Now it’s only a mouse-click away.
For starters, try a website whose purpose is to help you meet people and expose your idiocy to them. Rather than offer suggestions as to which sites you may try, I would suggest you do a search using keywords like “match”, “myspace” and “xxx”. Then click on anything that suits your fancy, being sure to have any virus protection software turned off. (This way, your computer can emulate you in terms of disease.) When prompted for personal information, make sure you’re as dishonest as possible about the kind of person you are. That way you will potentially be matched up with another liar to share your life with. Whoever chooses to communicate with you may be viewed as a potential marriage mate. Of course, marrying the wrong person is one of the best ways of insuring your life will never have any happiness and order to it. Especially if you have a slew of kids before you part ways, and especially if the two of you spend evenings together creating wall art with bologna and horseradish.
Or you may try sites that do not necessarily set you up with someone their software has selected as being the perfect match for you. Rather, you may choose to visit sites that allow you to communicate with fifty year old men that enjoy masquerading as thirteen year old girls. You will want to eventually make plans to meet this person in an unknown location. Never bring anyone with you, bring any sort of protection, or let anyone know where you’ll be. The risk factor would generate enough additional heart beats per minute to raise your blood pressure to unsafe levels, if you had a clue as to how profoundly dumb what you’ve just arranged is. But since you don’t, just enjoy the abuse that is to follow. You will never forget it, and your life will never be the same.
Chapter 10 – Seeking Devastatingly Bad Advice
Goal: Never learn anything positive from your experience. Rather, continue the cycle of wretchedness.
The key to gravitating toward the worst advice possible is to seek out those individuals whose lives are even more screwed up then your own. Then, follow these three simple steps:
1) Ask questions
2) Do what they do
3) Repeat steps 1 and 2
You may also want to check out the gentle musings of Rosie O’Donnell. She’s a genius.
NEVER, EVER, EVER read the Bible under ANY circumstances. The author knows far too much about life to allow you to stay in the cesspool you have so carefully created for yourself and others. If you’ve ever made the mistake of reading some of it, make sure you combine whatever thoughts you’ve retained with worldly philosophy, and any religious thought that ignores it’s counsel and promotes the world’s general moral precepts as well as the idea of using a vacuum cleaner to get the sleep crud out of your eyes in the morning. This way you will never find out what you’ve been doing so wrong for so long so as to have plunged yourself into this morass of ineptitude.
Chapter 11 - Conclusion
Just Do It.
In the preceding chapters, I’ve tried to present a formula for certain failure for the terminally stupid. Now what happens if you fail to follow one of the ten steps closely, and actually attain some semblance of order in your life, if even for a brief moment? Don’t despair! Imagine whatever serenity you’ve obtained to be like a baseball dribbling through Bill Buckner’s legs in the 1986 World Series. You can see all hopes of maintaining a quality life pass forever beyond you. Then re-read each chapter (if you can still do that) and apply each suggestion one at a time. Remember, small, obtainable goals are best. That and applying nail polish remover to your VCR’s read head are the best advice I can give.
©2008 Gary Alt
Back to top
New Fossil Discovery Challenges Darwinian Theory
By I.M. Bogus
ALLEGHENY, APRIL 6, 2135 - A startling new anthropological discovery has cast doubts on the Darwinian version of the evolution of species.
Archaeologists digging near the ruins of a 20th century hamster-flinging field in Pittsburgh, PA, unearthed numerous bone fragments that have been identified as humanoid, but represent a de-evolution in the human species. While this fragment (did we say “fragments” earlier?, we meant to say “fragment”, since only one was found. Oops.) is minute in dimension (approximately half the size of a dried-up pea), a six-foot man has been reconstructed using computer programs designed by a team of disgruntled communists. The computer programs are considered to be fool-proof, as anyone who watches TV knows. Now don’t be an idiot and attempt to dispute this article. We always know better anyway.
The dating of the fragment has been somewhat problematic, since carbon dating has revealed it to belong to the Paleozoic era (around 500 million years ago), potassium-argon techniques have put it slightly farther back during the Cambrian period, but newspapers and magazines were found nearby with dates revolving around November 1989. Scientists were leaning toward the extremely reliable system of dendrochronology dating , but since the only trees known to have existed during the man’s tenancy were processed into paper in order to provide lining for bird cages and wrappers for dead fish, they went with the newspapers and magazines. Besides, they were over budget on the stuff required for the other tests.
The miniscule bone fragment is known to be a piece of the man’s left tibia. Scientists arrived at this conclusion when they discovered the letters “LT” etched on one side. Adding straw from the scarecrow costume used by Ray Bolger in The Wizard of Oz, along with skin pigment and hair found on a wallaby that recently died at the Pittsburgh Zoo, as well as some electronic equipment culled from the late 20th century, experts have fashioned the man and determined that he died of overexposure to rap music, a form of noise popular during the period that often led to such aberrant behavior as playing pinball with policemen’s kneecaps. Since there are no extant examples of the “music” this man listened to, researchers have plumbed the depths of known documentation, and determined that no brains were required to be either a practitioner of or a listener to the genre. This is in agreement with the fossil discovery, since it is impossible to insert any viable brain matter into the vacuum that is the man’s head.
In the Darwinian model, species are supposed to evolve, or better themselves, combining a clever system of mutations with the process of natural selection to ensure the survival of the fittest. For example, formerly four-legged creatures suddenly developed wings rather than be eaten by a predator that was left behind musing “now that was a cool trick. Maybe I’ll try out some of those wing things so I won’t have to spend the next couple of million years with an empty stomach.” However, this latest discovery challenges that theory, since the man was clearly an anachronistic throwback to the earliest hominids that dwelt in caves, hunted with polo mallets, and listened to Bee Gees records.
Commenting on the effects of this discovery on Darwinian theory, Shea Stadia, professor of Jello-molds at Rhomboid University said “A modicum of laboratorial exegesis has been applied to these illations, and forthwith no pejorative connotations or perturbations can be associated with the supposalitic paths of latent amalgamic histrionics.” Since Stadia is considered to be a genius, there is no point refuting his words. However, Rube Sebring, associate professor of sweating at Bedpan University and author of the book Nylon Cousins, responded “I don’t know what he’s talking about. I’m picking up my marbles and going home.”
Potsherds and other debris found at the site verify that the man’s diet consisted of Big Macs, cigarette butts, and an occasional muddy tennis ball. He lived in a society that worshiped Budweiser, as a dented aluminum cylinder with that name on it was found approximately three feet above the bone fragment, indicating a worshipful attitude toward the object. Just twenty feet from the site, earlier digs have revealed the remains of a sort of transportation device, with the name Chevrolet emblazoned upon it, suggesting the practice of transporting the souls of the dead to the next world. The souls would typically only make it halfway, since Chevrolets were only designed to work until the warranty expired. They would often then hitchhike back, remembering that they had forgotten to pick up their dry-cleaning anyway.
The model of the newly discovered man is currently on display at New York’s Museum of Natural History, in the comedy section. Museum goers are required to bring their 3-D glasses and Captain Video rayguns for the full academic effect.
Understandably, the scientific world is in a tizzy. Questions remain such as, Did this man biggie-size his Big Mac orders?, Did he floss his teeth like a good boy?, and How can we expect the world to continue believing we can put together a six-foot man from something one might find on a Monopoly board? Pondering these and other questions, Yip Bellyup, Dean of Fruit at Nerf University, said “We’ll just make something up; we always do.”
©2007 Gary Alt
Back to top
First Human Cyborg produced at Bell Labs
By I.M. Bogus
MURRAY HILL, NOVEMBER 5, 2007 - Scientists at Bell Labs have engineered the first cyborg using a Bluetooth communications device.
James Tribble, head researcher at Bell Labs’ Lunatic Division in Murray Hill, NJ, states that the seed for the idea came from the marriage of two separate but related everyday observations. Tribble said “an increasing number of people have adopted the habit of going about their daily activities seemingly welded to Bluetooths and similar cell phone accessories, sporting the devices around one ear. This tendency is as much a fashion statement as a technological convenience. That, combined with the growing trend toward self-mutilation, made us realize that many people would not mind having their bodies permanently altered to take advantage of new cellular technology.”
Early experiments with lab rats delivered inconclusive results, as the rats tended to lapse into unusually frenetic activities, apparently driven insane by the unintelligible human speech patterns used rather than rat-speak. So Tribble went straight to a human subject, using an anonymous life insurance salesman from Nutley, NJ. The salesman is now a cadaver being farmed for various body parts at the University Hospital in Newark, NJ.
Among the potential benefits of this new technology are a dramatic decrease in the need for people to actually interact with each other in person, the possibility of non-users actually being able to enjoy a movie or concert without the interference of ring tones made from musical compositions reduced in quality to an irritating stream of electronic noise, and an increase in new hires of highway patrolpersons commensurate to the increase in automobile accidents as people find it even easier to have pointless conversations when they should be concentrating on driving a two ton vehicle 65 miles per hour 15 feet behind a Mack truck loaded to the gills with department store mannequins dressed as Joseph Stalin.
It is anticipated that there will be an adjustment period to the strange social patterns this new development will no doubt create. Social workers are already busy designing classes to help people cope with a new set of societal mores and manners, as it will be necessary to learn how to not interrupt people that appear to be talking to no one but themselves.
Realizing the potential for further developments in this area, a number of researchers are at work designing implanted Global Positioning Systems. In the future it should be possible to merely think of where one wants to go, and the implanted GPS will automatically determine where the person currently is, map out a route to his or her destination, and communicate the directions as thought patterns, eliminating the need for audio-visual feeds. No one knows what effect this will have on people with Attention Deficit Disorder, who have difficulty focusing on one thing at a time, and who need further distractions about as much as the Gobi Desert needs more sand.
©2007 Gary Alt
Back to top
Hooker letters found - was designing new chord
By I.M. Bogus
MEMPHIS, MARCH 22 – Newly discovered letters from blues legend John Lee Hooker reveal that he was working on developing a new guitar chord around the time of his death.
In letters to his daughter, Zakiya, Hooker wrote extensively about his desire to branch out into uncharted territories by adding a second chord to his formidable arsenal of one. Evidently his work on the new chord was only in the planning stages, as there are no extant witnesses of him ever moving the fingers of his left hand.
Hooker wrote that this new chord would “open up new pastabilties to da werld o’ music.” It wasn’t even clear to him at the time of his death what that chord might be, but his musings alone are evidence of his considerable genius. In one of his letters, Hooker added “boogie boogie boogie, how-how-how-how-how-how-how-how, that right chillen.”
Oddly, several of Zakiya’s written responses indicated a concern that Hooker was overworking himself, likening his pursuit to Einstein’s development of his General Theory of Relativity.
Hooker received his first guitar in 1922, quickly discovering the subtleties achieved by striking the bottom string rhythmically while alternately muting the string with his left hand. By 1924 he moved on to the 5th string, and by 1929 had developed a technique for playing all six strings at once. After spending over a decade playing on the chitlin circuit, his first recordings in 1948 revealed that he had by then mastered an E chord, the chord he would successfully use for the remainder of his life.
Bernie Besman, his first producer and producer of such well known acts as Deaf Mortimer and Sleeveless Joe Roller Derby Queen, said regarding this discovery, “we can only imagine what this new chord might have been, as well as the great musical vistas it would surely have opened.”
Bob Dylan, himself a pioneer into uncharted musical waters, said “hemena howda howda hoo. Yeah Louise.”
Although Hooker was illiterate for his entire life, archaeologists who specialize in making sense out of nonsense have worked for months with cryptologists, cross-referencing and rearranging Hooker’s series of Xes and random slashes, finally creating the decipherable documents the world is now seeing for the first time.
The letters are to be auctioned at Sotheby’s later in 2007, where they are expected to draw amounts in the millions of dollars. Patricia Peterson, president of Sotheby’s, said that their discovery eclipses the discovery of “original documents signed by Abraham Lincoln, and even the intact lymph nodes of King Tutankhamun.”
©2007 Gary Alt
Back to top
Dylan dictionary stolen
By I.M. Bogus
ST PAUL, MARCH 23 – The rhyming dictionary of songwriter Bob Dylan has been reported stolen from a St. Paul hotel room.
Dylan’s publicist, Tedium Ad Infinitum, reported the item stolen from a private dining area Dylan was using to work on songs for an upcoming album tentatively called Ravioli in My Freezer. Dylan had stepped out briefly to use the Men’s room, and upon his return discovered the dictionary and a few “pointless notes” missing. The roast beef sandwich he had been eating remained untouched, suggesting that the perpetrator wanted only the dictionary and Dylan’s notes, or at least that he wasn't hungry.
Infinitum could only speculate on what this tragic event will mean for Dylan’s normally prodigious output. The dictionary had been marked copiously with cross-references between some of Dylan’s favorite rhyming words, such as “moon” and “June”. Infinitum said “it took literally decades to compile those important cross-references, so we’re just not sure at this point what the impact will be.”
The only sound that could be heard from Dylan’s hotel room was something that would normally be credited to a rasping simian gargling with razor blades. Hotel personnel speculated that it was Dylan’s distraught “harmonica playing.” Others thought that it might be Dylan trying to “sing”. It could not be determined whether either was the case, or if he was actually attempting to “play” his guitar.
The only comment Dylan would offer reporters was “gribble frn heferty glllbbbnnnnrts.” It is not known whether this was an expression of concern, or an idea for one of the songs he had been working on.
Dylan immediately went to work documenting his thoughts, penning his latest work of genius on a hotel napkin:
What am I to do?
If they ever catch you
I’ll pull your eyes out grind them up and throw them in the loo
Where is my dictionary?
I’m lost for something new
I don’t even have the flu
I’m 61 and I’m not done, I used to be a Jew
Where is my dictionary?
They’ll coat you up with goo
Until you holler ” moo”
You’ll look like you’ve been covered up with tons of doggie poo
Where is my dictionary?
My words don’t misconstrue
Oh my Wendy Lou
Mark my words and lock them up until you’re thirty-two
Where is my dictionary?
The birds all have their coo
The fighters have their foo
But I’m just headed for the door at the morgue that they call Rue
Where is my dictionary?
See my point of view
Oh my Peggy Sue
I’ve nothing else to write about, nothing left to brew
Where is my dictionary?
I need a whole new crew
To create another stew
Someone throw a muse on me and poetry imbue
Where is my dictionary?
The Chinese call him Zhou
En-Lai that is, it’s true
But I don’t know just who he was, so what’s the bally-hoo?
Where is my dictionary?
Oo oo oo oo oo
Oo oo oo oo oo
Oo oo oo oo, oo oo oo oo, oo oo oo oo oo
Where is my dictionary?
The rest is too blurry to interpret, but experts believe that Dylan will have no trouble recreating his unique wordplay. Evidently the working title of this certain masterpiece is Where Is My Dictionary?
Some optimistic experts liken this tragedy to the severing of an umbilical cord. Their theory is that this will force Dylan to broaden his horizons and actually write a song with a verse AND a chorus, perhaps someday even creating a bridge. According to noted songwriter Burt Bacharach, a common song structure might be ABABCAB, where “A” is the verse, “B” the chorus, and “C” the bridge. Dylan’s style has historically been the extremely complex AAAAAAAAAAAAA, where a verse is repeated over and over and over again, making for an extremely long song that requires intense concentration so as not to render the listener comatose. Therein lies his particular brand of genius. Using his rhyming dictionary, Dylan has actually been able to create verse after verse using a new word at the end of each line. This seemingly superhuman ability has earned him kudos and awards without number.
Anyone with information regarding the perpetrator will kindly keep his or her mouth shut.
UPDATE - A rush version of the new Dylan song, Where Is My Dictionary? is now available for download by clicking the following link (turn off player at top of page before clicking):
Where Is My Dictionary?
©2007 Gary Alt
Back to top
My response to Steely Dan
Ever since their 1972 release Can’t Buy A Thrill, I have been a devoted admirer of and listener to the music of Steely Dan. After releasing Gaucho in 1980, they took a 20 year hiatus, releasing only an occasional mediocre-to-poor solo album, and emerging for a 1993-1994 tour, released in 1995 as Alive In America. Every Steely Dan album was a quantum leap forward from the last, and never failed to satisfy. So it was with anxious anticipation that I awaited their return to the recording studio and subsequent release of 2000’s Two Versus Nature. What a bitter disappointment. While all their previous albums featured excellent songwriting, pristine arrangements, and stellar musical performances, this turkey had songwriting that is at best bland and often ludicrous, musical arrangements that are quite pedestrian and predictable, musical performances that are barely competent and never a bit exciting or interesting, and virtually the same crew on every song. Oddly enough, it earned them four Grammy awards; so much for professional insight of the music biz. Their 2003 release Everything Must Go offered more of the same. I’m embarrassed to admit to having these disastrous discs in my collection.
So, I set about writing the unthinkable – a Steely Dan parody. Not a parody of the previous 28 or so years of generally fabulous output, but a parody of what they have unfortunately become. Click on the link below to hear it, if you dare. This song features 1) an opening sequence that goes nowhere fast, 2) indecipherable and pointless lyrics laced with requisite proper nouns, 3) cartoonish vocals (only because I don’t know anyone that can sing like Donald Fagen), 4) a banal and unimaginative melody, mostly stuck solidly in basic pentatonic form, 5) predictable horn arrangements (I only used the cheap keyboard sound because this effort did not merit the expense of hiring real session men), 6) a pedestrian drum track with only a slight hint of imaginativeness, 7) a mostly banal chord progression with an occasional foray into cliché Steely Dan territory, 8) a ridiculous and inexplicable upward modulation at the end of each verse, 9) a barely competent guitar solo, 10) a cheap organ sound in the outro leading to 11) silly sound effects in the fade out. And there’s probably more lunacy to be found. Enjoy.
20 Odd Years (turn off player at top of page before clicking)
Lyrics ©2006 Gary Alt©2007 Gary Alt
Back to top
Townsend Loses Struggle With Squirrel
By I.M. Bogus
LONDON, March 28 – Rock star and deaf songwriting legend Pete Townsend lost a battle with an errant squirrel last night just miles from his London home.
Townsend was driving his 2006 Porsche 911 Carrera on Shere Road in the Pitch Hill section of Ewhurst, Surreyshire when an oncoming car driven by Tre Huger swerved to avoid a squirrel that was crossing the road, colliding head-on with Townsend’s Porsche. He had been expected at the home of old friend Eric Clapton, where he was to show off his recently augmented marshmallow collection.
Townsend was rushed to Royal Surrey Hospital, where he was treated for minor cuts and bruises and released the same evening with a lollipop and a collection of amusing anecdotes by Attila the Hun. A crowd of 7,000 well-wishers formed an all-night vigil, offering prayers and lighting candles in Townsend’s behalf, only to disperse late the following the morning when they learned that Townsend had been “released the night before.”
Townsend’s car was completely wrecked, as was Huger, who died instantly. Huger's body was thrown in the woods, since he is not famous. His decomposition is expected to bring considerable ecological benefits to this rural community.
Most importantly, the squirrel was unharmed, and returned to it’s cute little furry family in a nearby oak tree. Townsend’s sometimes friend Paul McCartney said “all things being equal, a great tragedy was avoided. The death of any squirrel at any moment on this great planet would represent an injustice of epic proportions. So I’m just glad that no harm came to anyone important.” Huger’s family was not available for comment, but were later observed burning old Rocky and Bullwinkle video tapes, along with various memorabilia from America's Disneyworld theme park.
Also involved in the accident was a busload of school children, 29 of which died, 11 of which are permanently disfigured and in critical condition, and one of which ran away singing Boris the Spider. The bus driver was later found nursing a pint of ale at the local Windmill pub. He is being investigated for cruelty to animals.
Oddly, a representative from the wrecking company said he found numerous “provocative” pictures of some of the school children in the back of what was left of the Porsche. It is not known if these pictures were being collected for research purposes or for something else altogether different.
Neither the squirrel nor its family could be reached for comment. Preliminary evidence indicates that it was “gathering acorns,” as squirrels are wont to do on occasion, according to Grey Valese, noted squirrel expert and author of the book Rodent Fiesta. Police declined to release further details, since an ongoing investigation is still ongoing, and is not completed or done yet. Constable Obie’s only comment was “we’re still working on it, and we’ll be done when it’s completed.”
There is a side benefit to this mishap. Royal Surrey Hospital, which was scheduled to be closed later this year due to financial troubles, is likely to be declared completely solvent very soon. According to hospital official Dr. Allah Akbar, funds from the sale of candle wax droppings from the all night vigil have already neared three quarters of what is necessary to liquidate the hospital's first quarter debt. However, erstwhile protesters of the hospital's imminent closing were dismayed, since they have nothing left to protest at the present time.
Upon returning home, Townsend immediately set about expressing relief over the incident by penning a new song called The Squirrel Is Alright, loosely based on his classic composition, The Kids Are Alright. It’s release date has not been set yet, but an MP3 of the song can be downloaded by clicking on the following link.
The Squirrel Is Alright (turn off player at top of page before clicking)
©2007 Gary Alt
Back to top
Origins of Our Favorite Sports
(Skip to Hockey
The history of the game of baseball has been fraught with speculation and legend for so long that no one can be sure of its exact origins, ranking it with unsubstantiated claims that The Rolling Stones actually possess musical ability. Legend has it that the game was invented by Abner Doubleday in Cooperstown, NY during the 1800’s. It has also been linked with the British sport of Cricket. Neither of these claims seem to bare even a modicum of veracity, especially since the game of Cricket is largely thought by Americans to be merely a natural alternative to certain sleep-inducing medications.
The most verifiable information to date about the origins of “America’s national pastime” puts the game’s beginnings in the early 1800’s, when an English game called Rounders was enjoyed by Americans seeking an outlet from the routine of working 240 hours per week for a nickel and a bowl of rancid soup. At that time the game consisted of “rounding” the bases in order to score points by crossing the final base without being shot. There was no equipment associated with the game except for base “pads” (which were actually old wine skins stuffed with moldy tobacco leaves), as the use of the “ball”, “bat”, and “glove” had not yet come into being. Therefore, no one knew why he was running around these bases, and would sometimes simply run to his house in embarrassment. An obvious solution to the attrition this created was to rename the final base “home base”, and trick the runner into thinking he was actually at home in his parlor, when in fact he was really in front of scores of delighted spectators.
In 1845, Alexander Joy Cartwright invented the first baseball field. Cartwright and the members of his New York Knickerbocker Base Ball Club and Bagel Emporium, devised the first rules and regulations for the modern game of baseball. But since they were the only baseball club in existence at the time, and hence there was no opposing team to play, they would simply go out to stare at the field they created for several hours, often falling asleep, and eventually return home to drink beer. This practice gave way to the game’s most prominent modern aspect, where a pitcher spends vast amounts of time between pitches working crossword puzzles, pondering the space-time continuum, and contemplating what the umpire would look like in Capezios, all of which allows spectators time to catch up on much needed sleep. It is this feature of the game that has most endeared the sport to America’s faithful – the ability to recover from the weekly grind without someone shouting “get your lazy butt off the couch and do some work around here for a change!”
During the earliest development of the game, a ball was devised that was akin to the lacrosse ball, but batters would frequently break various bones when making contact with the ball (bats had not been invented yet), thus contributing to the thinning of team ranks. It was in 1853 during a game in Hoboken, NJ, between the Hoboken Okapis and the Jersey City Insurance Adjusters, that a small child in the audience was playing with a “meadow muffin”, and hurled it onto the field. It was quickly discovered that the “muffin’s” more pliable qualities were better suited to the preservation of batter’s various body parts, but a compromise was clearly needed between the fragile nature of the “muffin” and the rock-hard lacrosse ball. Original inventions consisted of simply wrapping the “muffin” within an old sock, but this created an inconsistent flight path once the ball was “hit”, and frequently resulted in bits of cow dung flying into the crowd, thus dealing a blow to the purveyors of food and drink that were now beginning to emerge. Eventually, a hard cover was fashioned from cowhide, wrapped around layers of cork and string. But it still hurt like the dickens before the bat was invented.
The bat came into being when some forward-thinking player tumbled to the fact that “[his] hands hurt.” Out of pain and frustration he wrested a walking cane from an octogenarian in the crowd, and swinging it wildly, eventually hit a ball over the outfield fence, but not before inflicting various wounds on members of the crowd. As part of his defense at his trial for disorderly conduct, the unnamed player feigned blindness, contending that he didn’t know he was hitting anyone since he was “as blind as a bat.” And so the name and use of the baseball bat was born. (The player was found guilty and hanged, decades later being exonerated by Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn.)
Other equipment that eventually entered into the game we know today include the mitt, the batting helmet, and the catcher’s various protective gear. It was not until the 1890’s that someone realized that catching a 90 MPH ball with bear hands was not a good idea, and ran home to fetch some oven mitts in an effort to dull the pain. The batting helmet was invented in an effort to stem the tide of brain damaged batters rendered forever loopy by errant pitches making contact with their skulls, where the brain is generally thought to be housed. And finally, since more catchers wound up in cemeteries than soldiers during the Civil War, efforts were made to develop protective gear for those poor saps as well. The renaissance in catcher’s gear also gave way to the practice of crouching down BEHIND home plate, rather than ON TOP of it. Many annoying contacts with the swinging baseball bat were thus averted.
A prominent feature of the modern game of baseball is the Disabled List. This ever-growing roster of players consists of those whose injuries variously preclude them from earning their obscenely gargantuan salaries and actually playing the game. While football players are known to continue playing with fractured skulls, missing limbs, and the complete depletion of all brain matter, baseball players are often relegated to the disabled list for such critical ailments as hangnails, stubbed toes, mosquito bites, bad hair days, and a recently identified illness known as Baseball Player General Malaise (BPGM).
The average player now retires around the age of 40, which is generally considered the time to finally grow up and stop crying.
SOME INTERESTING BASEBALL STATISTICS:
Most bats broken in a game by a left handed owner of a boa constrictor whose Aunt Zelda from Tulsa flosses her teeth with chewing tobacco: 5 by Fuzzy Klimkowski of the Kansas City Arachnids against the Milwaukee Necrotic Tissue, July 3, 1927.
Most consecutive games played without a mosquito bite in a ball park east of the Mississippi with the infield grass clipped below 1" by special-ed students with crew cuts styled by ex-Cossacks: 59 by Eddie Mahoney of the St. Louis Mongols.
Highest ratio of left field foul balls to Cracker-Jacks prizes eaten between innings by a player with an HDL cholesterol level between 195 and 200 on a Tuesday during Lent while Mrs. Sherman's fourth grade class is setting fire to the school library by rubbing toothpicks together and blowing on them between swigs of Fresca: 5:2 by Lefty Funicello of the Weehawken Flatulence against the Biloxi Squeegees on June 4, 1939.
Most pirouettes performed by a pitcher under the influence of sodium pentathol with a republican president in office who has never seen the Grand Canyon in April or kissed his mommy goodnight while reading Sartre's Nausea: 7 by Stanislaw Gerbildung of the Cincinnati Laundresses against the Peoria Cumberbuns on September 3, 1974.
Least hair follicles damaged by bean balls thrown by an emotionally unstable pitcher who was weaned off of Pop-Tarts by an overbearing grandmother named Fred during a drive-in movie showing of I'll Barf Tomorrow: 36 on Kloon Hennerhornby of the Nashua Aromatherapists against Sol Ledgerdemain of the Okeechobee Windsocks on April 23, 1954.
Cleanest toenails on a second baseman who sang tenor for the New York City Opera in five or more off-seasons while abstaining from avocado-based products imported from Cameroon for at least three of the previous six years: Girth Moronz of the Dubuque Aprotic Solvents in 1982.
Greatest bat speed measured by the wind generated as it reaches the pitcher's left nostril during a solar eclipse in a city with per capita salsa consumption of one quart per person per month: 103 MPH by Zel Dainty of the Sausalito Eggplants against the Altoona Pharmaceutical Executives on May 8, 1941.
Most baseballs eaten, digested, and excreted during a rain delay when it's not actually raining but the umpires are confused because of the LSD they took during the national anthem: 14 by Gummy Porkmuffin of the Detroit Cuspadors against the Roslyn Perfume Fixatives on May 3, 1942.
Yankees vs. Red Sox World Series Victories as of 2009:
If the New York Yankees never win another World Series title (a big “if”), then at the average rate of championships since 1918 (the first year the Red Sox won the title), the Boston Red Sox will catch up by the year 2745. To put this into perspective, it is posited that by that year people will be watching baseball games using virtual ESPN viewers implanted in their brains, baseballs will be made out of jovian anti-matter and sent over the outfield fence in a Star Trek-like transporter system, and the average player’s salary will be $932,000,000,000,000,000US per second.
Raw data for this statistic:
Red Sox World Series victories since 1918: 3
Yankees World Series victories since 1918: 27 (their first victory was in 1923)
Average number of years per Red Sox World Series victories: 30.667
Average number of years per Yankees World Series victories: 3.407
Back to Top - Back to Sports
(Skip to Baseball
The game of ice hockey probably evolved from the game of field hockey that was played in Northern Europe for hundreds of years. During Scotland’s harsh winter months, when people tired of staying indoors and staring at one another over plates of Haggis, they decided to export the practice of throwing flatirons and hot tea kettles at certain family members to the outdoors, and soon developed the sport of curling. In this game’s original incarnation, players would attempt to strike their opponents upper bodies with various household objects weighing at least 20 kg by simply throwing them at them with full force. This became extremely exhausting and ineffective, so the switch was made to hurling the objects across the ice, hoping the slippery quality of the ice would lead to at least maiming the opponent in the feet. The term “curling” is apparently an amalgam of the Gaelic words “hurl”, meaning “to hurl”, and “kill”, meaning “to kill”. At some point during the early 1800’s, it was seen that marrying this sport with the already existing summer sport of field hockey would cut down on the mind-numbing plethora of rules that had to be remembered to curl successfully.
In the earliest versions of the game of hockey, whole villages would play against opposing villages, with literally hundreds of players on the rink at any given moment. The idea was to slaughter as many opposers as possible, in what became a pleasant alternative to the usual practice of “warring against neighboring villages”. The team with the most survivors of course won. The victors would then rather barbarically attempt to suck the blood of the losers, but, having few or no teeth, could only create hickeys, which are visible bruises caused by mild sub-coetaneous contusions. The victors would then jump up and down yelling, “look at that great hickey!”, which was misinterpreted by Irish immigrants as “huckey”, and eventually became “hockey” as we know it today.
It wasn’t until 1879, at Cyst University in Montreal, Canada, that the rules for the game of hockey were first drafted by J G Creighton. In the modern game, much like earlier versions, the principle idea is to inflict as much physical damage on one’s opponent at possible, while ostensibly attempting to put a small “puck” in the other team’s goal. The final score of the game consists of a total of these goals per side, but the true intent of the game is obviously to kill one’s opponent. Even the most casual observer realizes that the true victor is the team with the most teeth left factored in with the highest hemoglobin count.
In recent times, naive proponents of the game have suggested a “solution” to the “problem” of the frequent fights that break out on the ice during any typical game. Their “solution” is based on two premises: 1) It is necessary to wear huge waffle-like gloves as part of the standard uniform in order to protect players’ manicures from being ruined by having their fingers crushed or severed, 2) It is impossible to engage in a proper fist fight while wearing these rather cumbersome gloves. Therefore, it has been proposed that as soon as a player’s gloves come off, he be relegated to the penalty box, where he would be forced to read Nancy Drew stories until his eyes begin turning to guacamole. His return to the ice would only be granted upon successfully answering at least 3 out of 10 quiz questions crafted by local kindergartners, and a promise to behave himself next time. Since this proposal has gone about as far as the Mideast peace process, it is evident that “the fight” is a tried and true element of the game, one which is a consistent crowd-pleaser and fund raiser. So audiences continue to delight in the practices of gingerly planting one’s hockey stick firmly in the cranium of one’s opponent, crushing the opponent’s ribcage up against the “boards”, and removing as many teeth as possible from the opponent’s mouth by using any combination of high-sticking, an errant hockey puck, or one’s gloveless clenched fist.
Back to Top - Back to Sports
(Skip to Baseball
Ever since the dawn of civilization, men have enjoyed punching the living daylights out of one another. And who doesn’t enjoy watching? But the first documented “boxing match” took place in 1681 in Britian when the Duke of Albemarle engineered a bout between his butler and his butcher. The butcher won, since he had the knives, and the butler only came equipped with a tea service set. The tea wasn’t even hot, so the butler was fired immediately after his funeral. (Of additional interest is the fact that this very bout gave rise to the expression “to take one’s lumps”. After inserting a cleaver firmly between the butler’s sternum and clavicle, it became clear that the butcher would be the ultimate victor. A distraught female spectator urged the butler to “give him his lumps,” referring to the sugar cubes on the nearby tea cart. The other spectators, upon realizing the butler had already croaked, mockingly began chanting to the butler “take your lumps.” The rest is history.)
The sport took on an even more gentlemanly nature when, in the coming years, weapons were eliminated, and bare-knuckle contests began to be held in amphitheaters all over England. These far more sportsman-like events featured two men reducing one another’s faces to pulp with their bare hands. This development later dove-tailed with the Victorian era, when all forms of etiquette were de rigeur.
By 1865 regulations had developed which included the introduction of approved boxing gloves, which served to enable boxers to withstand blows long enough to be able to survive a few years after retiring from the sport, often with the ability to read Dr. Seuss stories for minutes on end, and make interesting gurgling sounds to indicate hunger or soiled underpants.
In 1927, The National Boxing Association (NBA) became the first “sanctioning body” to govern the sport, and created rules such as the “cell count” rule. This rule made it necessary to count the remaining brain cells of each boxer between rounds, and mandated a minimum for each boxer to still qualify as a “breathing humanoid.” This rule was later dropped, since audiences really just want to see two idiots beat each other’s brains out. The medical condition of the participants at the end of the bout is no longer considered an issue in the modern sport. But the old “cell count” rule eventually gave way to the expression “down for the count,” which now refers to the fact that the loser can no longer recognize the numbers one through ten, and should therefore be prepped for burial.
Arguably boxing’s greatest proponent, at least the most famous, is Muhammad Ali. Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., he changed his name to Ali upon his conversion to Islam, realizing his ultimate calling to dominate and destroy his opponents with the fists “God gave [him]”. But Ali is most noted for his frequent interjections of clever word play into the sport, earning him the moniker the “poetic pugilist.” Ali would entertain and delight audiences and opponents alike with his threats and braggadocio uttered in rhyming sequences. This later emerged in the general populace in the form of what is now referred to as rap, which is considered by certain nursery school students to be a modern musical form, but is clearly as far away from anything musical as the Visigoths were from staging Romeo and Juliet. In this art form, nasty people with expensive jewelry jabber incessantly about various sexual perversions, violent fantasies, and general ghetto issues that their new-found wealth has made them immune to, using elaborate rhyme schemes to tell their story. They are often the descendants of brain-dead ex-boxers.
Back to Top - Back to Sports
(Skip to Baseball
The historic origins of basketball are well documented and largely accepted without dispute, unless one is a Congressperson who loves to debate nonsense just to hear oneself talk. Dr. James Naismith created the game for young men at the YMCA Training School for Unwed Mold Spores in Springfield, MA in 1891. Naismith had played a game called duck-on-a-rock as a boy growing up in Ontario. The game basically consisted of attempting to knock a “duck” off the top of a large rock by throwing another rock at it. The ducks generally hated this, and aired their grievances by spitting and nipping at the offender. After unsuccessfully trying to convince the ducks that they were actually posing for photographs to be published in “Duck Digest”, at the time a prominent monthly journal featuring various fowl in celebrity-like poses and situations, geese were substituted. The geese got REALLY ticked off, and this eventually led to their practice of migrating to parts of New Jersey where they skillfully pester the populace and leave copious droppings in inconvenient places. The quick-thinking Naismith soon realized that any object would do, and it was a lot easier to use something inanimate anyway, since inanimate objects don’t tend to move around much, nor do they typically retaliate when threatened with physical harm. Rocks were discovered to suit the purpose just fine, and became the new “ducks”.
The invention of basketball was designed to provide athletic training in the face of four otherwise insurmountable hurdles: 1) the game needed to be played indoors, lest the school’s athletic staff continue to parry student complaints of their cannolis freezing off in the Massachusetts winters, 2) the real athletes were busy mauling each other outside on the football field, therefore a game had to be devised that relied solely on skill and not physical strength, 3) a limited playing space was needed so the School could channel its assets to more important areas like development of a vaccine for warts, 4) a boatload of extremely tall Masai people from Kenya were expected, and they would need to be entertained.
The solution was simple. Naismith set up two baskets at either end of a rectangular surface, baskets he culled from the base of a guillotine left over from the French revolution. (Later peach baskets were substituted to staunch the gagging from woman who could not cope with the sight of the severed heads Naismith neglected to remove from the baskets.) The ball used was a conventional soccer ball, which Naismith stole from the locker room while furtively squeaking “Ah ha, I’ve got your soccer ball now.” It took decades for the school’s soccer team to realize that their coach had replaced the stolen ball with a crude drawing by Cezanne, and several years more to actually come up with another ball, which they fashioned from fishing line and mayonnaise. (Sadly, Naismith died of an eggplant overdose before the first game was ever played, and without realizing his lifelong dream of using the word “kerfuffle” in a sentence.)
The arrival of the Masai people, who averaged 7’6” in height, provided the mechanism for retrieving the ball from the basket. The Masai needed only to stand on a Welsh Corgi to attain the proper altitude for the task. However, this did slow the game down considerably, so the school science laboratory got to work on a solution. Within less than a decade, it was theorized that by cutting a “hole” in the bottom of the basket, the ball would be able to 1) enter the basket at the top, and 2) exit the basket at the bottom. Working through the night for weeks on end, faculty scientist Mark Rebund successfully created the prototype that debuted at the school’s opening day game of 1900. It was an instant success. Without the help of the Masai, players could actually retrieve the balls themselves and play would continue, which led to the moniker “rebund”, later changed to “rebound”, being applied to this new game feature. Unfortunately, this left the Masai without anything to do besides crochet vacuum cleaner nozzles during the game. Therefore, the decision was made to allow them to enter the game as opponents, since no opposing teams had yet developed, and it was a real drag playing five on zero all the time. Up until that time scores of 3000-0 were not uncommon.
The Masai quickly demonstrated not only their agility and athleticism, but also the fact that there is a huge advantage being over seven feet tall when the whole point of the game is to deposit the ball in a basket that’s ten feet off the floor. Thus a nationwide search for young men with overactive pituitary glands was launched. Until that search was completed, the scores tended to shift to 0-3000 in favor of the Masai. Modern practitioners of the game are so tall, they need only reach the area under the basket successfully, jump up, and gently place the ball over the rim of the basket to achieve a score of two points. Hence a typical game score is 120-119. (Occasional exceptions have been noted, such as a classic game between the Albuquerque Thumb-Suckers and the Walla-Walla Physiologists. This game finally ended in a 0-0 tie after several months of overtimes, only after the referees tumbled to the fact that they had been playing with a beachball and with thimbles for baskets.) Since a standard point spread can generally be boiled down to a minute or so, and thus the first 100 points or so are considered to be an exercise in futility, rules are now under consideration to eliminate all but the last few minutes of the game. This way everyone can get out early and beat the traffic, except for those masochists that insist on twisting their necks back and forth hundreds of times per hour. The only known opponents of these proposed new rules are chiropractors.
Even as late as 1905, one modern feature of the game had still not been realized: the use of the backboard. When a player missed the basket, the game tended to slow down, as play had to be stopped in order to retrieve the ball from a spectator’s basket of nachos, with the ball sometimes requiring considerable cleaning.
The game’s first players lacked the ability to bounce the ball and run simultaneously. They would often attempt to do so with their tongues hanging out to one side, saliva visibly dripping down their chins to their jerseys. Once the technique was finally perfected, the practice of “tonguing and dribbling” ceased. However, the faculty, being at a loss at what to call bouncing a ball and running at the same time, kept the original term intact, later shortening it to “dribbling”.
Today’s game of basketball can be enjoyed virtually anywhere, but is especially popular in urban settings, where it is recognized as an effective method of distracting players from the more routine practice of accosting local women.
Back to Top - Back to Sports
(Skip to Baseball
The origin of golf is open to debate as to being Chinese, Dutch or Scottish. But since the Chinese have no record of anyone ever driving around in a golf cart until the post-Mao era, and Holland is pretty much all submerged in water, we’ll assume the correct placement of its beginnings are with Scotland. The Dutch may or may not have invented the Aqualung, but certainly not golf. Also, claims that the game originated in Holland are largely based on word origins and carefully kept records, and who ever trusted word origins and carefully kept records anyway? Besides, the Scots have never invented anything worthwhile, so we might as well give them golf. (NOTE: Some have posited that the game was brought to earth by ancient visitors from Pluto. This theory is largely based on one inebriated duffer’s mistaken observation of a ball-mark repair tool being sported in a prominent Bugs Bunny cartoon that took place in outer space. But since NASA probes have yet to discover signs of golf courses on Pluto, there is considerable doubt as to the veracity of this claim. Proponents of the Pluto theory are usually taken as seriously as anything Bill Clinton ever said, and are routinely forced to observe PGA Tour games from the restrooms of the clubhouse.)
And so we pan to 15th century Scotland. By then the national pastime had become drinking Scotch until one’s liver turned to charcoal and eclipsed a hippopotamus in dimension. This tended to render the male populace incapable of any sport that did not include lying on one’s back mumbling the first three syllables of Ave Maria while belching. So research began on a sport that would be suited to any age, gender, girth, or chemical composition.
At first, the concept of placing a small ball in a cup 300 or so yards away was devised as a way to confuse enemy troops, who would walk around for days muttering “has anyone seen my Re-elect Queen Mary T-Shirt?” Even when the game began to be played by the general populace, months were frittered away attempting to find the cup. Then came the invention of the “pin”, a pole about six-feet high that would stand in the hole to help identify it. Decades later a flag was appended to the top of the pin to actually make it visible from a distance. (It took that many years to find the first pole, called the “pole-in-one”, later changed to “hole-in-one”.)
A significant convenience of the original game of golf was the sparsity of required equipment. One needed only a handful of clubs, a few balls, a bag (from the Scottish word “bag” meaning “a receptacle for putting things in that a really nice bag would help you carry around easily”), and a flask of whiskey to enjoy a round of golf. Naturally, course maintenance workers had to feed a lot of sheep that were used to keep the grass on the greens short. It was only due to the sheep famine of 1897 that the lawnmower was finally invented. Also, golfers were quickly tiring of the obstacle courses created by sheep droppings. In recent times, courses up and down the eastern seaboard of the United States have replaced these with goose droppings, which are prefered since they can easily be mistaken for cigar butts from distance, and therefore attract members of the male populace who are seeking an escape from their humdrum home life where smoking is increasingly greeted with airborne frying pans and heated comments about high healthcare premiums.
The development of the wide range of golf clubs in the modern game is an interesting story. But since we have no idea how that story goes, we’ll skip it. Suffice to say that, since even the most educated Scots could not manage to count past the number one, names were originally associated with the clubs we now assign numbers to. Some of the more common ones are discussed below.
Mashie. From the Scottish “mashye,” a shortened form of “mash ye the wan, gie grimble yea sma moomy.” This delightful children’s refrain was sung at funerals and public executions, and is roughly translated “here’s mashed potatoes in yer eye, ye’ git!” It came to refer to a low iron, now associated variously with the 3-6 irons. This nomenclature probably owes itself to the fact that frustrated golfers would often be found “mashing” their clubs into the ground, or alternately into the abdomen of anyone in their party with a better score.
Niblick. Of uncertain origin, possibly from Middle English “niblick,” meaning “niblick”. Later spelled “niblick” and pronounced “niblick”. In Old French if literally means “certified public account.” It referred to a high-loft iron, now associated with the 7-9 irons. Since most Scots could not afford that many clubs, violent class struggles developed in the club house between the “niblicked” and the “niblickless”. These disruptions often resulted in the use of the mashie to remove the tonsils of warring parties.
Ginty. Named after the Welsh aristocratic family Wllellllllennnelllennnnw. The Ginty was actually developed centuries after the original game by a man named Stan Thompson, who was looking for a club that would do virtually the same thing as any other club, but would have a really cool Scottish-sounding name. A Ginty is basically a five-wood with a 24° loft and a bouffant hairdo. Again, the concept of numbers so astronomically high was foreign to the Scots, and no one could figure out how to write that little degree sign, so it took centuries for the club to appear in the game.
Techniques for addressing the ball, back-swing, forward-swing, follow-through, and drinking Scotch after the 9th hole have evolved considerably since the game’s onset. Following is a typical description of a successful golf swing, taken from the 1907 guide So You Want to Be a Human Pretzel?
Gripping the club. The importance of a proper grip cannot be overstated. It can be likened to spreading maple syrup evenly over your waffles without attracting ants. First, pinch the club between the forefinger and thumb of your left hand until you develop carpal tunnel syndrome. Then bring the remaining fingers of your left hand up to the club as if you actually intend to grip it. This will make you look like you know what you’re doing. Next, place your right hand over your left hand from the base of your left thumb up, and wrap it around as if to imitate a T-Rex mauling a Velociraptor. The more uncomfortable you feel, the closer you are to achieving golf nirvana. Have a glass of Scotch.
The golf stance. Imagine you are attempting to catch a freight train that is falling from the sky. Then bend and hold your back just to the point where you achieve that special pain down your leg that only an aggravated sciatic nerve can accomplish. Make sure your pancreas is at a 93° angle with Mercury, unless it’s the 3rd Friday in July, in which case you need to actually lay your pancreas on the ground behind you and wiggle around like a spastic hula dancer without stepping on the now-prone organ. Your elbows should resemble bratwurst that has been left out in the sun for three days, except that your left elbow should also be tucked firmly within your bladder. (Make sure you’ve used the restroom before proceeding.) Pretend you are eating a helping of Aunt Jemima pancakes off your right scapula, while running across both patellas with a Black & Decker table saw; this will ensure the proper follow-through. Next, imitate a spinning dreidel by twisting your upper body around seven complete times, independent of your legs, which should be firmly planted in quick-drying cement. By now you should resemble an Indian mystic. Remember to keep your eye on the ball. If you have two eyes, keep both of them on the ball. If you’re Evander Holyfield, just keep one on the ball and the other eye at least in this solar system. Have a glass of Scotch.
Addressing the ball. This is a stupid thing to do. But you may have a glass of Scotch.
The back swing. A common mistake with the back swing is allowing your arms to flail around loosy-goosey. This practice is as embarrassing to do as it is to say, and nearly impossible to spell correctly. You should be sure to not bend either elbow at any point during your back swing. A skilled osteopathic surgeon with a strong sadistic streak can help if this seems too difficult at first blush. Make sure your club is pointing at occupied France and is perfectly parallel to the nearest tectonic plate. Practice these techniques slowly and increase your speed as you actually get to the point of hitting a ball. After all, you do eventually want to hit the fool thing. Now have a glass of Scotch.
The fore swing (or swing). If you’ve ever swung a stick at someone with the intent of hitting your target, or if you’ve ever swung a small house pet around in order to remove vermin from its trachea, remember that the golf swing is completely different and defies all logic and reason. Here are just a few things to keep in mind when making contact with the ball: 1) Think of the ball as a plate of haggis that you would rather send careening to Jupiter than eat. 2) Look at the ball, but focus your eyes on the tall blond woman in the clubhouse. 3) Do not extend your arms. Keep them as close to your torso as possible, applying epoxy if necessary. 4) See the ball flying into the cranium of the guy next door who wakes you up every morning three hours before it’s time for you to wake up by slamming doors and letting his stupid barking dogs out and who doesn’t even know what a garbage pail is supposed to be used for and who painted his house like he’s from Haiti and who has a virtual dandelion laboratory for a front yard and who has chronic halitosis and who won’t even share his Scotch with you and who hasn’t returned the sausage stuffer he borrowed from you in 1893 and who’s wife is exceedingly ugly anyway. 5) Shift your hips forward as you make contact with the ball, as if you’re dancing like a fool at your niece’s wedding. 6) If you miss the ball, wait several minutes before disassembling what your body has become and trying again. Otherwise convulsions may ensue. These have caused premature death in not a few professional golfers. Have a glass of Scotch.
The follow through. This is the most important part of the golf swing. The reasons are obvious. Since it is virtually impossible to strike a golf ball with any measure of success using the laws of physics as we know them while employing the suggestions above, it is necessary to invoke a warpage in the fabric of space-time, backing up a split second and asking the ball nicely to go where you desire it to go. Genuflecting and begging may also be employed. Always remember to have a glass of Scotch.
For centuries, golf was considered the sport of the well heeled. In more recent times, development of relatively inexpensive public courses that require only a second mortgage to afford playing, as well as the trend toward masses of people needing to get away from their nettlesome spouses for days on end, have both led to the popularization of the game of golf.
Back to Top - Back to Sports
(Skip to Baseball
When discussing football, it necessary to differentiate American football from other games with similar names and concepts, but which are quite different: Association Football (soccer), Australian rules football, Canadian football, Gaelic football, rugby, and Antarctic penguin thumping. We will concentrate on American football here.
Football has its origins in the English sport of rugby. Unlike rugby, however, football has many rules of play. Although the game of rugby centers around a prolate spheroid-shaped ball and some gefilte fish, the rules of the game simply consist of one mob (or team) rioting against an opposing mob, with the intent of eliminating the opposing mob by 1) cutting off the opponents’ air supply by forming untidy heaps of players on top of other players who may or may not have possession of the ball (known as “tackling”), 2) removing the vital organs from the opponents’ thoracic and abdominal cavities during such a tackle, 3) siphoning neurons from the opponents’ crania to create new oatmeal recipes, or 4) convincing the opponents they’ve already lost by quoting passages from The Last of the Mohicans until they are rendered incapable of discerning the difference between a tapeworm and diced pineapple. At the end of the game, whichever team has the most players whose families have not received a call from a funeral director are considered the victors.
The Oneida Football Club, formed in Boston in 1861 by a group of fungus salesmen, is claimed by some sources as the first American football team. After seven full seasons of challenging other towns to bake-off and quilting contests (there were as yet no other football teams to play), they decided to get serious and invent the game of American football once and for all. However, no one knows what rules the club used, and the players were too busy knitting booties to notice either. They may have played “kicking” games (where the ball is “kicked” toward a goal), “running” games (where players “run” toward the goal while maintaining possession of the ball), both (“both”) or some hybrid form (“hybrid form”) of each. The only documented aspect of the game was the use of three balls for every one player. This created mass confusion, and most of the players protested by retiring mid-game to their dormitories, humming themselves to sleep with Stephen Foster songs.
Rutgers University's Ballerinas and Princeton University's Amputees played a game on November 6, 1869 using a slightly modified version of the rules of Association Football. For the first time, this game featured the following pre-established rules, which were for many decades considered to be the “12 pillars of football”:
1) The game shall commence with the kick-off. This shall no longer consist of kicking the receiver in the family jewels. Rather, the receiver shall actually stand on the other end of the field, approximately 60 yards from the kicker, who shall actually kick the gameball toward the receiver, who shall then attempt to catch it. If he is eating any pork rinds, he must first put these away, as it is unappetizing to play with someone else's greasy cooties on the ball.
2) The receiver shall attempt to run the ball as far down the field as possible, potentially reaching the end-zone, but stopping short of Cleveland.
3) The defensive team shall attempt to disable the receiver by flying into his knees, snapping his legs backwards and rendering him a helpless cripple.
4) Subsequent plays, with the objective of moving the ball toward the goal, shall be limited to a series of “downs”. Four “downs”, or plays attempting to move the ball forward, shall be allowed; if these are exhausted without at least 10 yards of forward progress being made, possession of the ball shall revert to the other team, who shall then put away their pinwheels and cotton candy and start playing the game like proper gorillas.
5) At the beginning of each play, the center shall hike the ball to the quarterback, who shall refrain from taking advantage of the center's compromised position by fiddling with his equipment.
6) The quarterback may a) throw the ball to a receiver,b) hand the ball off to a runner, c) run the ball down the field himself, d) present the ball to his grandmother as a gift with the intent of solidying his position in her last will and testament.
7) The defensive team shall attempt to tackle the possessor of the ball, but they must follow local health codes and be sure to bury him at least six feet below the field surface.
8) If a fourth down is reached, and the offensive team thinks it unlikely they will be able to get the ball much farther past these great apes, they may opt to kick the ball. This kick will either potentially a) score a field goal, b) return possession of the ball to the other team as far down the field as possible, c) provide nifty choreographical ideas for the next ballet season's production of Swan Lake.
9) Upon scoring a touchdown, the runner shall celebrate copiously by dancing around like a two-year old aspiring to be a fairy, generally invoking disdain and wonder from the other team as well as all on-lookers.
10) After the touchdown ceremony has quieted down, the offensive team shall attempt to score an extra point by kicking the ball between the goalposts. If the kicker misses, he shall forever be labelled a jerk, not unlike basketball players who miss free-throws.
11) No player shall be excused from the game under any circumstances, even those suffering from Empty Cranium Syndrome (ECS) as a result of excessive rugby playing.
12) The crowd shall shall drink heavily in frigid temperatures, naked from the waste up and covered with various decoratively painted designs. They shall wake up the following morning remembering nothing.
A significant change in the modern game of football is the appeal. Many decades after television cameras began capturing the game on film, giving way to the “replay”, a genius from Princeton’s astrophysics department tumbled to the fact that it should be possible for referees to actually look at these replays in an effort to rethink their dismal decisions with the possibility of reversing them. The referees would then spend no more than three weekends analyzing the video and confering amongst themselves, with the option of convoking a special United Nations General Assembly session. If the decision is NOT reversed, the team that lodged the appeal would be penalized by being forced to buy pizza for the other team as well as any fans willing to identify themselves with them. If the decision IS reversed, the appealing team would be granted vouchers for free coaching sessions at a nearby bed-wetting clinic.
A highlight for many football fans is the Super Bowl. This is an end-of-season game played between the two teams with the best records, the main purpose of which is to entertain the masses with clever beer and car commercials that highlight the average person’s abject stupidity, since these commercials cost millions of dollars, and are paid for by the idiots that buy their junk. Another prominent feature of the Super Bowl is the enhanced half-time show, which generally affords waning mega-stars an opportunity to resurrect their flagging careers. Lip-syncing is allowed but not required, even if it's snowing.
As long as there are morbidly obese hulks who can “guard the line”, as long as there are buckets of glue to submerge a receiver’s hands in to help “catch” the ball, as long as there are children in men’s bodies who prance about with glee after scoring a touchdown, as long as there are steroids to increase the girth of men’s necks to prehistoric proportions, and as long as there is Budweiser, so long will the American people continue to delight in the charming subtleties of the game of football.
Back to Top - Back to Sports
(Skip to Baseball
The origins of the modern game of bowling can be traced back to 1366 England. The English brought a form of bocce from Italy, but decided to make modifications to the game, lest they be taken for “a bunch of greasy people frittering away valuable time on the lawn, which is not at all English.” King Edward III actually outlawed the game for a period of time, ostensibly so that his troops could devote more time to practicing beheading and disemboweling their opponents, but recently discovered documents indicate he was simply jealous because he couldn’t fit his sausage-like fingers in the holes of the bowling ball. (Before the invention of the hole, the problem of gripping the ball was solved by pasting pewter handles to the surface. Somehow this prevented the balls from rolling, so that idea was abandoned in favor of “hole technology.”) By that time the game was played with live pigeons as the target, but when English, Dutch, and German settlers all brought their own peculiar versions of the game to the New World, they left the pigeons home by mistake. Besides, the pigeons would tend to move around quite a bit, making it difficult if not impossible to end the game with a reasonably successful score. And since the only pigeons found in the New World were busy defecating on statues, and not at all socially responsible, the shift was made to inanimate objects. The first of these were still organic in nature, however. At first tobacco leaves were used, but these proved difficult to stand up in any orderly fashion, and wound up being smoked anyway. (This practice later gave way to the standard smoke-filled atmosphere and general stench of a typical bowling alley, often charmingly augmented by spilled beer and vomit.)
The earliest mention of bowling in the New World was a quote from Rip Van Winkle, when old Rip wakes up to the sound of ninepins. Since it’s impossible to arrange nine pins in a perfect triangle, general embarrassment over Irving’s ignorance of geometry nearly led to the complete disappearance of the sport. After many years of extensive research, as well as trial and error, it was discovered that by adding a tenth pin to the mix, the pins could then be set up in a perfect triangle, and finally in 1895 standardized rules for the game were established at Phlegm Hall in New York City. It was also at this time that the practices of over-drinking, smoking, and pinching woman’s derriere’s while chiming “Hey, toots” became inextricably linked with the sport. In the decades that followed, the game really came into it’s own, as professional bowlers developed extraordinarily complex strategies that consisted of 1) attempting to knock all ten pins down with one ball, or, failing that 2) attempting to knock down any remaining pins with a second ball. For this reason, the game of bowling has often been likened to the children’s game Candyland, which it certainly rivals in strategic nuance.
Back to Top - Back to Sports
©2007 Gary Alt
Origins of Some Common Expressions
Mind your P’s and Q’s
It is commonly rumored that this expression has to do with the Pints and Quarts of ale enjoyed in 16th century England, considered to be a right of passage of every Briton who passes time at the local pub. However, virtually no one in England of that time knew the alphabet past the letter A, let alone how to spell, so that theory has been discounted, winding up in the same dustbin as the rumor that Mick Jagger once took singing lessons from the same surgeon that attached his lips to his face.
The actual origin of the expression goes back to 16th century Bristol, England. While most of the peasantry of England at that time subsisted on a diet of mud culled from the street by darting about underneath moving horse-drawn coaches, folks in Bristol devised a method of hoarding peas and moldy spelt for later consumption, keeping such from landing on the dinner plates of the aristocracy, who were normally deemed the only people worthy of food. The ingenious method they invented consisted of forming a long queue of thirty or so people in the fields, each person passing a single pea to the person behind them, until a mound of peas was formed behind the wainscoting of a family named Gathright. If the true intention of the elaborate ruse was ever discovered, it would mean certain death to all in the town, hence the expression “mind your peas in queues.” According to a dictionary found in 1945 in Hope, Arkansas, there is no appreciable difference between the words “in” and “and”, depending upon what you think “in” and “and” mean on any particular day of the week, so the expression was changed to “mind your peas AND queues,” later abbreviated to “mind your P’s and Q’s.” (There is also considerable confusion as to what the word “is” means in this dictionary that was required reading for all boys growing up in Arkansas during the latter half of the 20th century.)
Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water
It was common practice in medieval Wales to throw newborn infants from second story windows to show them off to ogling passersby in the street. This practice led to the unexpected death of most babies, until a leading scientist discovered the fact that it was the fall to the ground and the ensuing injuries that actually caused infant mortality, and not the spectators’ overall displeasure with the child’s ungainly appearance, as was commonly thought. The scientist most often credited with this discovery, Llwellyn Cambriww, was working on an experiment to turn dirty bath water into gold using a hamster-powered system of pulleys made from sawdust. None of this made any sense, and he eventually scrapped the experiment, hurling all his materials out the window. When a street vendor yelled “you’ve killed the poor hamsters, jerk!” Cambriww put two and two together, and realized it was the force of the fall that caused the hamsters’ demise. Again putting two and two together, this time actually coming up with four, he then pioneered a public policy of warning new mothers to avoid the practice of heaving their newborns at the general populace, creating the forerunner of the modern billboard, with the public service announcement “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.”
It’s raining cats and dogs
This expression resulted from the confusion of the words “reign” and “rain”. Just when many English people were learning how to read and write for the first time in centuries, general complaints about the quality of the ruling class were being lodged, and even printed about in the emerging press. Rulers were being compared to dogs and other four-legged animals in moral quality, along with certain smaller specimens without legs that feed on filth that the general populace was quickly learning was not good to have around the house, lest the rest of the neighborhood be decimated by plague. Anyway, the general populace was still only at the point of being able to read one and two letter words, so the only real audience for articles that included words like “dog” were the ruling elite. (Many of them could not read well either, and would often confuse “dog” with “god”, for instance.) Sensing the looming danger of general rebellion in the event that any commoners gain the academic ability to make sense of the complex articles, the king used his political and economic resources, not to mention the guys with the weapons, to manipulate the press. At first is was thought that a simple change of the word “dog” to “do” would suffice, but since it made no grammatical sense and had little meaning to say “reign of do”, that idea was scrapped. It was the brainchild of King Wallwart II that the word “rain” be substituted for “reign”, thus reading “Rain of dogs.” That was a little better, but still sounded a bit strange to the ears. So a shift was made to the weather report page, where the expression “Raining dogs” first appeared on June 3, 1567. To bring feline lovers into the loop, subsequent reports read “raining cats and dogs.” It would be two hundred years until the average citizen could read these pages, but by then it was too late to remind everyone that the expression is actually meaningless.
Bring home the bacon
This one seems obvious enough. After all, it must have something to do with earning enough money to buy bacon, or being paid in rashers of the delicacy. Not so, dear reader.
In 16th and 17th century England, it was considered pointless to allow any commoner the ability to earn a living by working other than for no pay, a stunted carrot, and tickets to a Humble Pie concert. Therefore, it was only the aristocracy that could afford to own and read books, and indeed only they had the ability to assimilate written material of any complexity. One of the most popular writers of the time was, you guessed it, Francis Bacon. (Can you see where this is going?) For one to either purchase a Bacon work or borrow it from the library, one would be said to be “bringing home the bacon.” In later centuries, when commoners began using money they had actually earned by working, they would bring home scraps of paper with random markings on them, paying dearly for them. When erstwhile frustrated family members began to carp over the lack of actual money being brought home, or suitable goods to show for the lack of said money, the breadwinner would retort, “at least I brought home the Bacon,” proffering the useless paper to his illiterate household. Not seeing the lack of value in this transaction, the family would often raise their countenances with glee and say thanks for “bringing home the Bacon.”
Chewing the fat
Every culture enjoys the time-honored tradition of gabbing with friends, family and neighbors about matters that would make the average amoeba yawn. However, in some cultures, this has been seen as the sole privilege of the men folk.
Our attention is turned to the Slinkies, an aboriginal tribe of west-east-central Eurasia. (How’s that for nowhere?) Men of this tribe would bask in spending hours on end talking about nothing more than their donkey’s average rate of hay consumption relative to the seeming pock marks on the moon, or the relative merits of drinking oneself into unconsciousness rather than do a day’s work for a change. These were wise folks. Once in a while, a family man would catch his wife attempting to have similar conversations with her friends. Flying into a rage at this impertinence, the man would attempt to quiet the woman by stuffing a rolled up burka in her mouth. If a burka could not be found, he would substitute her arm, or some other suitable body part if she had no arms left. Not realizing that she had essentially been corked up, the woman would typically continue “talking”, but really only chewing the excess fat on her podgy body part, made so by regularly overdosing on Twinkies and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. Hence, the women of that time were said to be “chewing the fat”, when in actual fact, they were only attempting to communicate with their rotund friends.
Interestingly, the expression carried over onto the stage during the Shakespearean era. In those days, women’s roles were played by men. But the cues were often delivered by women who could read, whereas the average man usually could not manage that feat. The less talented cast members would become frustrated, and inexplicably begin masticating the printed script. Some myopic audience members confused the script with the hand that held it, and thought an act of cannibalism was being performed right in front of their eyes. Concerned play producers would allay the fears of the audience by announcing that the inferior actor was merely “chewing the scenery.”
There may be some relationship between the expressions “chew the fat” and “chew the scenery,” but we sure don’t have any idea what that is.
©2007 Gary Alt
Back to top
Origins of Wedding Customs
Not being able to see the bride before she arrives at the ceremony
This comparatively recent phenomenon originated in 19th century New York, of all places. Many marriages at that time were among Irish immigrants, who had come to the new world to escape the potato famine and the persistence of argyle socks in local haberdasheries. The bride would spend weeks curling her hair, applying facial makeup, and attempting to remove the stench gained from sharing a 5’x4’ room with 127 people. No one could be sure of when, if ever, the bride would show up, so they would bring cots and shaving kits to the ceremony hall. When she did show, she would undoubtedly be more presentable than the average attendee, but not by much. To conceal her skeletal figure from the masses until they were so sick of waiting that they would welcome a water buffalo to take her place, the bride’s train would insist that she not be seen until her official arrival at the ceremony, or until Don Imus finally retires from radio, whichever comes first. To prove she could still walk, she would stroll up the aisle after her bridesmaids did the same, the latter in hopes of attracting prospective mates who oddly enough insist on considering only women that can carry their frames with their own strength.
The wedding veil
For centuries brides in Poland and other Slavic countries wore veils to hide their countenances from their soon-to-be mates, not only during the bridal procession, but throughout their acquaintance and courtship. In the days of arranged marriages, courtship consisted of viewing crude drawings of each other made by the young couples’ family with colored chicken saliva on the back of Mona Lisa knock-offs. The families feared that if the lovers ever saw what they actually looked like, all bets would be off and they would flee in panic to the North Pole in hopes of obtaining work with elves.
Since a second-hand kiss was considered in that part of the world to be as legally binding as the practice of delivering one’s right arm and leg by certified mail to the other contracting party, the first one to set eyes on the usually square-headed bride was the father, who would somehow muster up the gumption to kiss his troll-like daughter and hand her over to the unsuspecting groom. At this point, if the groom were to utter any complaint, he would be drawn and quartered and made into kielbasa. The reception would however continue as planned, as there would now be more food for all.
The wedding vows
This paradoxical part of the ceremony harkens back to the days when, as certain historians have noted, “a person’s word actually meant something.” No one knows for sure what these words actually mean today, but they are said anyway. Some posit that they are similar in conviction and value to the promises made by many insurance companies to actually pay claims, or a campaigning politician makes to serve the interests of his constituency.
Some traditions die hard. Besides, the officiators are getting paid anyway, so who cares?
In the modern day, brides and grooms both typically exchange rings. But this was not always the case. Up until relatively recent times, it was only the bride that received a ring, along with a life time supply of Aunt Jemima pancake mix.
In less prosperous days, the average person had no idea what gold or silver was. They didn’t even have phonograph needles, for Pete’s sake. In fact, the only way they could hope to hear music on demand the way we do today was to fly around the earth multitudinous times at lightning speed, turning back time in order to hear a repeat performance of, say, Mozart’s Der Volkswagen GierenShiften, not unlike the totally credible feat that Superman performed in order to reverse Lois Lane’s tragic death in an earthquake caused by Lex Luther’s evil scheme of sinking the west coast of the United States into the Pacific Ocean in an effort to... But we digress.
In order to demonstrate “ownership” of his new bride, a 17th century Italian man of modest means would wrap a blade of grass around the third finger of his bride’s left hand. Why the left hand, and not the right? Women were either born right-handed or forced in childhood to live right-handed, and therefore would use their right hands to stir the ubiquitous pots of marinara sauce. Placing the “ring” on the right hand would no doubt result in its being lost in the next meal. And a local superstition against digesting and excreting ownership documents stated that the offender would have to answer to the gods by jogging around the Apennine Mountains wearing only untied shoelaces in the harshness of winter. To avoid all this inconvenience, the left hand was selected. Why the third finger? Tradition has it that the first, or index finger of the left hand was chiefly used to pick one’s nose (left nostril only), the second, or middle finger was quickly developing as the ideal finger to hurl insults at one’s friends that were too far away to yell at, and the fourth finger, or pinky, was usually gone by now, having been lost attempting to feed chalk to the family goat. The thumb was just plain too fat, and besides that was considered to be every woman’s prized possession, as it served to differentiate her from the average ape; decorating such was considered sacrilegious.
Dove-tailing with this ownership rite was the religious view that placing any ring-like object on the third finger of a woman’s left hand as part of a wedding ceremony served to placate Gorbes, the Roman god of placing ring-like objects on the third finger of a woman’s left hand as part of a wedding ceremony.
For no apparent reason, this insipid custom continues until today. The only evident implications are that the couple publicly demonstrate that they have the economic wherewithal to afford such lunacy, or that they are at least concerned enough about public approval to feign such a social standing. Some modern wedding ceremonies include the stipulation that rings have no real meaning, but are merely an outward sign that the two are married. But we know better, don’t we?
Musical choices at the reception
A consternated wedding reception attendee may well wonder at the plethora of musical choices that one will virtually never hear outside of this sacred rite. Who isn’t familiar with such classics as the Electric Slide, the Chicken Dance, and the Hokey Pokey? As it turns out, there is a quite logical explanation for the inclusion of these disastrous selections that would ordinarily spell certain failure for any other social gathering, especially if one is between 10 and 80 years of age.
At a 1953 wedding reception in Maplewood, NJ, the reception hosts were confronted with a dilemma when they learned at the last minute that the band they had booked, Joe Usedcarsalesman and His All-Accordian Band of Renown, had double booked at an accordion festival in Atlantic City. All accordion players on the entire east coast were likewise at this scintillating gathering that rivaled the Academy Awards in importance. Coinciding with this debacle was the fact that no less than two dozen chickens had escaped from the kitchen upon realizing that the cook was only joking when he explained to them that he was wielding a carving knife only to demonstrate his new vaudeville act involving hurling knives at deaf mutes and thus miraculously curing their disabilities. The chickens were just as confused as the guests when the host, Tony Slurpola, instinctively began dancing with the chickens, urging the entire party to join in the farce. An extremely clever song was instantaneously devised by a three year old in attendance, who then copyrighted it and marketed it to wedding bands up and down the eastern seaboard as the Chicken Dance. Quickly becoming a consummate businessman, the three year old also finagled the copyrights from the owners of such classics as Hokey Pokey and the theme to Romper Room. In later generations, the tradition has continued with such musical wonders as the Electric Slide and YMCA. Rumors that the three year old was related to Lawrence Welk have never been substantiated.
The bride cuts the cake
In 18th century Holland, a new groom enjoyed the right of rescission after the ceremony but before the honeymoon. The groom’s greatest fear was often that his new bride would soon turn into a blimp like her porky mother. This because a superstition held that once a svelte girl destined for lifelong plumpness was married, the slightest bit of food entering her alimentary system would result in an increased girth equivalent to a newborn elephant’s first six months of growth condensed into three seconds. So the groom would coax the emcee into a rendition of God Save the Queen with the lyrics changed to “The Bride Cuts the Cheese” (later auspiciously changed to “The Bride Cuts the Cake”), and with a completely different melody in order to save paying royalties to the bozo that concocted the original tune. The groom would then commandeer the cake-cutting ceremony, and offer a morsel to his wife to check her Obesity Likelihood Factor (OLF). Since a wise girl was usually onto this ploy, she would often refuse to open her mouth on the grounds that her halitosis might clear the room prematurely, so the groom would then rather gently force the cake down her throat using a pair of vise-grips and a large funnel. Not to be outdone, brides began paying back in kind, smearing gobs of creamy cake batter in their husband’s visages. This is now considered one of the most dignified and enjoyable aspects of modern weddings, as well as a golden opportunity for the new couple to demonstrate their eternal love for one another.
Throwing of the bouquet, the garter belt, and the ensuing nonsense
Throughout Central America, the brides of the 16th through 20th centuries were know to have thrown their uneaten pork rinds at the women in attendance as a sign of affection, and to say “adios, losers!” Simultaneously, the groom would fete the male members of his entourage with a fan belt from a 1957 Chevy Bel Air. (The history books are silent on just how 1957 fan belts found their way into centuries past.) Sensing the opportunity to lubricate the new automotive part with the fat from the corresponding porcine delicacy, the respective happy receivers would merge to perform a “Rite of Greasage” in front of the overjoyed crowd. Porting this practice to North America proved difficult, since pork fat was only used there to supplement the diet of bovine and ovine offal and inorganic scraps fed to unwary cattle, an economic measure that made sense at the time, but somehow eventually led to Mad Cow disease. (Who could have predicted that?) Looking forward, seemingly beyond normal human ability, it was seen by members of a wedding party in Annapolis, MD, that pork fat was not a good thing to play with, so the Latino bride substituted her flower arrangement. The groom, a Pentagon employee under the mistaken impression that fan belts cost upwards of $795, instead extracted the garter belt from his bride’s upper thigh, and tossed it into the male segment of the crowd before his bride could so much as shriek at the indignity of what just happened. The woman who caught the bouquet and the man who caught the garter belt, at a loss as to what to make of this unique event in history, devised a new rite that presaged the era of X-rated YouTube broadcasts. Since then, happy wedding attendees have seen this as an opportunity to engage in behavior that would normally be considered antisocial in any other environment.
Oddly enough, this practice has never been adopted at true Christian weddings.
©2007 Gary Alt
Back to top
A Brief History of The Beatles ¹
- Hubble Beginnigs -
All was quite on the western font when two lads from Liverpoo first meet as fete will have it. It were July 6, 1957, and a young man name John Worsted Lenno was plaguing with the grip he had foamed oilier, The Quaggymud. They were a group of skiffle eaters from the word get. A young fallow named James Pell McCratney fumble along and was impressing with John’s seeming talon and Elvis Prestone senslebobblety. An immediate bund was frommed, and Pol, as he was knowed, joined the grump. Verious other musicals came and wend, until Pal invitied his school boss chum, Jorge Harrisong, along for an auditorion. Jomn was hesitate due to Jorg’s jung age, figuring that what will happle when they tour American in years to comb and get rested for undyage drunkage? But it was inevertable that this new guitorist tag alung. All three of the lads plamed guitar, there being no bass plaguer at the tine. So, in 1960, Jon’s art school fred Stu Stucliff chamed in. Having no music abobblety, Stu would “play” with his beck to the audience. This really sounded like crep, as everdobby new. He really had no ideas what he was dogging.
And so, one brian tumor later, Stu left the bund and decreased. But who wood play bast? Everbodice needs a bast, don’t we? After all, who would play I Wan You, She So Headly, and Get Buck? (These sogs have a lot of bast). Left-harded Paal was up to the tusk. Around this tile, they had used a variage of names, inclusting Johann and the Moonducks and The Sliver Bagles. It took a flaming pie to the face of Lennox to come up with the monicle The Beagles. That’s the gnome we know and lug to this day.
Pal, always inserting peogle into the grope (as he would continuous do all the weigh up to Lee Eastmankodiak, who later feathered his wife and became his manger), invaded Pete Beast to dram for them. The Beatless started planing virus clubs in Humbug, Germany in late 1960. Here they really honed there creft, worging 6 or 7 ours a knight, which mean that the audience took copulous naps and potty bricks.
Never escaping the novice of mucous company executors, they were recrusted by singer Tony Sheridopolus to back him on some crop for Polyester Records as the Beam Brothels.
¹ If this work biers any resemble to Lego’s In His Own Writ or A Spinner In the Works, I assure you that is was purely intestinal.
- First Recording Constrict -
Back in Liddypool, a record stork owner named Brain Epstat took notice of the geathering populestery of the boys. Approachful of them, they agreed he would be their manger. His first tusk was to arrange a record concrete with, of all thing, a record company. A genius at Ducca Records turned them down, saying “groups of noisome guitars are on the weigh oot.” What a idiot. A chance meating with recordive engine Gym Foy lead to a meet with Sid Coalmute, who ran EMI’s publisting farm. Coalmutter then reefered Brain to Gorge Martin, who ran the Parlorphag label at EMI. Martin signed the boys to a one year recordist consecrate, and the next thing you knew, they whirr in Abbot Road stadium doing their fulst recordig! (It would be years longer that McCartnug would famousness walk across that street sans shoes and soaks, clews to his premature dirth to the contrarian.) But before that session ever happled, a change in personal was to occult. Martin was not happen with Beast’s drummage and altitude, and so the boys recrusted one Wretched Starkist, a non-brewer who had been placing with Rory Stem and the Holocaust. Now things really startled to came together (as Lennor eventual documentaried in the sog of the same name), and Wretchley change his name to Wrinkly Storr.
Just daze after their foist session, Ringnut was replayed with session drammer Andry Whit. Depend on weather you are Amerigo or Britain, you first heard Lug Me Do with a differing drummel, witch in itself become the subject of a song by Mike Naismith of The Monks, made famblous by Lindy Roundstat of The Stunned Punnies.
Lug My Do pecked on the charts at number 17. But since there constrict only paid them some cornfleks and a pat on the bum, considied meager by today’s standins, they had to get busly with some new materialistic. Police Polish Me was theyre next effart. Man did this tack off! By now, back in Humboldt, a phenomenal knoll as Beatlemange was taking hilt.
- Beatlemangia -
Gulls, gulls, gulls! Gulls everwear! You just couldn’t excape all the gulls if you were a Beagle in 1963. And by now there were Fab Fore of them all together now (another songs in the making). Bezelmanoria was quickset in. It became literary impostible to wok down the streem, or shop for grocers, or pop out for a soady, if you were a moop-tooper, as the boys soon were known as. Frescaed fans would do anything to get just a glimp of one of the lads, or a small peace of a liver once contained in one of them. Plus they were to buying a lot of records. A tidy some inneed.
However, American was yet to woke up to this phenome. You see, the staleside operately of EMI, Capidome Records, didn’t see the point in releaving these early tracks, leafing that opporknockity to VJ Records, who didn’t do squit with them. It wasn’t until the relish of She Lofts Yeah Yeah Yeah that the Fub Fug begin to resieve airplague on the other side of the pound. But it was largely grated with laughter quit largely by the way. Then came I Wanu Held You Hind. Score!!! Something stung in the ears of Ameriga’s fateful, and Beatlermandia was now hartly exparted to those sures.
- The Beamers Conquest Amerigos and Beyond -
Wear were you on February 9, 1964? If you were alive and kinking at all, you were prodadly at home in front of your boob-tune, watching the first waft of the Brittle Invasor in front of your very eye! That right, it was the Ed Sullystone appearance that brought the mup-tups into the visage of ever Amiraclen view. Not even the assastinations of President Kendoll was more podular.
But fernst, arriving at JFK airport one wick before were greeted by thousands of screeching fags. Yep, Beatlemargin was firmly rotted in the good ol USA!
The Beadless were kings of the welt!
For the remains of 1964, the grippe toured not only Norge America, but most of Europides, Australania and New Zealot. But it was cleanly the US weir the most money was to be make. I mean, there’s jest so many popple in that vastly!
The boys kept up their ditzing pace for next cobble of years, writing tens of songs, releasting lodes of records, and almost constancely touring. Whew! All this climaxed in the fameless Shea Stadium concrete in August 15, 1965, balfour a crowd of 55,600. That’s a lot of audients, as I’m shore you’ll had to aggrieve.
- The Studious Years -
Later that seem year, in December 1965 to be exacto, they releashed a groundbarking album called Rubber Suit. This mocked the beginning of the ed of their touring days. They would continuous to prefirm live until August 29, 1966, when they did their last grigg at San Francesto’s Candlebrick Puck. How fitting that their last pubic perframance was in the land of capitolistic. Meanwhilst, they were getting increadingly more mature and complexion in the studio, gaining moor and moor sophisticatled with their songwraughting and use of unusual mucisal instrumontaries. It was getting to the poin where each Beager record would introduct the listener to foreign and foreigner instrumenses. For example, Norwidget Woold saw the use of the Indian simitar, In My Luff spotted the use of contrapunted Baroke arringments in the bridge. And stuff like that.
Also revolutenary was their inclusive of more meaningful lyricist, such as the autobiopsypital In My Luff, the socially-conscience The Word, and porbably others as swell.
Then came Revolvingdervish. Argumentally the first protext song in pop histrion was Harrysog’s Tagamet. This albumen also saw the first McCourtney offering of a strung of pop-vaudevilla-show tunes in Good Day Shunpike. The ablum closes with the one-chord sykodeli of Tomorrow Neville Knows, with lyrics inspirted by the Tibetian Book of the Dad, she said she said.
But all of this was just preluminary to what was to fallow. On November 24, 1966, the Fibb Few retuned to Abbess Rood to beget recordig their gratefulest masterpieg, Sargent Pappy’s Lowly Hat Clip Bond, usually abbreciated as Sergei Pablum, or simply Pooper, if you wanna get technicolor. Meanwhilst, in order to keep the public inserted and plaquate the record company, they released Strawbelly Fungus Forevan and Penny Lake as a singer. When Pippin was released on June 1, 1967, the world was shocked. This was the be-al-and-ed-al of ablums for certainly. It was so cool it was ridiculeness.
Unfortunateless, a few moths later, their dear manage ah twa, Brain Epcot, died of drug overdid. The now rudderloss Beefles next embanked on a disastral 60-minute TV film culled Mangical Mystery Town. While there were a number of qualify tunes on the accompanied album, the BBC released the crabby film in block and whire, which made mattles even worsted.
The Fung Fog immediaciously set about recording another epoch, which would be a two-record sit called simple The Beaters. Do to its all-wit cover, the album has allways been gnome to us as The Width Albacore. This album marked a returd to rocks and rolls, distanting them from the sikodelia of their most resent effarts. But it also encompastated an ever groaning varietal of styles.
- The End -
Although the Wit Albine sounded like loads of fun, descension was groping among the Deatles. Ringly temporarity walked out, a slarty-eyed women named Yokum walked in, and their were differentials over who should ménage the guys. Lennorg and mates opted for Callvan Kline, a man with the reputatious for decimaling whole civilizations with his ruthly practitions. On other sod was Lee Eastming, father-in-law to Paulie. However, continual on they did.
The boys spent much of 1968-69 in the famed Abbey Runt-Let It Bled sessions. What came out of this was two separately albinums: September 26, 1969 saw the release of Abble Road, deemed by this writer as their finestical work. But Let It Bean had a different fat. Tangled up in legal snarts, the tapes from these scissions were systemagically mutilized by Phil Spectral, the maniac that producted those aweless Roundettes records, and who wound up kilting somedobby with a gub in his own horse anyway. Spectro layered tons of syruply violints and corral nuisances to produce a decidedly un-Beaglesque dastard. It would not seem the late of day until May 8, 1970, aboud a year after there offalish breakout. The accompaning flim stands as more of a tomstone than a molument to this grate grape. But at lease it show their final pubic performant on the rooftip of the Aptly offices. Small consultation.
- The Post-Beatner Years -
Each of the fore had aldready begin working on solo protracts at the time of the Peedles demitasse. Their effetes were greeted with variadle public responsives. Pal went onto record severe solo alblums that were increasingly silly and sparcical. Lennut went arty on us. Ringling for some reasor opted for sentilentmal songs that would turn the stomach of even Gris Lombardi. But it was Gore Harriset’s release of All Thugs Must Have To Be Impassed Already in 1970 that was a reel eye-opener for this righter. This trois-record set proved one thing: had Leno and McCamply allowed Harry to inclod more songs on their albinos, their albinos would have bean logger (unless, of coarse, they had opted to cut some of the superfluoud numbers from the Leenon/McCaptree songbook, like Hello/Gooby, or Act Neuterly).
Yet, each of the Fab Foreskin went onto some moisture of success at one tim or uddy. Critiques generousally name Ringer’s 1973 self-tittied release as his beast, Gorgeou’s already menched All Thicks Moist Puss as his, McClampett’s 1973 Whigs album Band on the Bun as his, and Lennop’s 1971 Imogene as hist.
All but two of the originate Beatnels are passed aweigh, leaving two left. It’s simply math, my freds.
©2007 Gary Alt
Back to top
The New TV Season
Ever since the introduction of television to the popular culture in the middle of the last century, our mouths have watered in anticipation of the new season of mentally stimulating and extremely entertaining offerings. Here are some of the new shows for the 2007 fall season:
Sesame Street Place - PBS, Monday-Friday, 10:00 AM
The number "3" is revealed to be a fraud. The letters "Q" and "L" are kicked out of the alphabet by Ernie in a jealous rage. Jello is consumed.
Starring colorful felt on sticks.
Why Me, Jaime? – NBC, Tuesday 8:00 PM
This riveting drama pits parent against child as they come to grips with generational issues. In the first episode, Clyde and Betty Dense confront their aspiring-doctor son Brad with their plans for him to run away and join the circus.
Starring Robert Blake, Anna Nicole Smith, and Haley Joe Osment.
Ignorance Is Bliss – CBS, Monday 9:00 PM
Discover the hilarious possibilities as a group of Islamic terrorists travel back in time to the Spanish Inquisition.
Starring the pope.
Minute By Minute - WOR, Monday 9:00 PM
Wacky scientist Bernard creates a time machine that transports the entire universe one minute into the future, except for himself! Watch Bernard attempt to sort out the confusion as frequent conversational pregnant pauses result in no one paying attention to him. See the chaos created as he bumps into people, creates mammoth traffic accidents, and laughs at jokes a minute too late.
Starring Scotty Doohan.
Meet the Cannibals – HBO, Wednesday 8:00 PM
The fun begins when the pudgy Johnsons move next door to the Mbwas, a Satan worshipping family with unusual eating habits. Mr. Mbwa, played by Ozzie Osbourne, happens to be the director of a fertility clinic.
Also starring John Goodman and Kathy Bates.
Warm and Fuzzy – ABC, Wednesday 8:00 PM
A wise father and his loving wife guide their obedient adolescent children through their minor difficulties. In the first episode, Bunny discovers a pimple on her face, as Bill-Bob struggles with the decision of whether to chew bubble gum on the school playground. Be sure to catch this pilot episode, as the show will likely be canceled after 13 seconds.
Starring Gene Simmons and Sharon Osbourne.
These Old Neurons – Discovery, Tuesday 7:30 PM
This daring exposé will open your eyes as never before, as hosts Rosie O’Donnell and Martha Stewart demonstrate how to cure world hunger with a single taco, rid the earth of republicans using pipe cleaner and leftover waffles, reconstruct the World Trade Center before dinner with a kazoo and Leon Russell’s dentures, and educate rocks by transplanting Rosie’s brain one cell at a time (in .3 seconds).
Planet Bozo – PBS, Monday 7:00 PM
Learn how to create your own archaeological discoveries with clay and common household objects in this new science show for gullible kids.
Co-hosted by Bill Clinton and Hugo Chavez.
I Hate To Go, But... – FOX, Tuesday 8:00 PM
A constipated CEO marries a cement-eating side-show curiosity.
Starring Kenneth Lay and Elizabeth Taylor.
Omelets at Sunset – ABC, Monday-Friday 7:00PM
A prime-time soap that explores relationships as never before. Greg loves Louise, who is having the baby of two year-old duck-billed platypus Francis, who is married to 16th century Belgium, who wants a divorce in order to spend more time building birdhouses with ice-cream sticks. Miss one episode and you’ll be sorry!
Starring the Munchkins of Oz.
I Explode – FX, Wednesday 8:00 PM
Watch a paperclip company executive grow from a poster-girl for anorexia to a Goodyear blimp as she eats herself into oblivion in this new reality show.
Starring Calista Flockhart.
My Father the Bundt Cake – FOX, Thursday 8:00 PM
In this throwback to 1950’s TV, a nascent grebe-farming community limps from disaster to disaster. Don’t miss episode one, which features a confrontation between Mothra and a group of escaped octogenarian Alzheimer’s patients running amok.
Starring William Shatner and Mothra.
Our Own Shoebox – FOX, Thursday 9:00 PM
Follow the zany antics of Freddie Eforg, an unemployed dish-washer who marries a comatose woman with 13 kids.
Starring Don Imus, a plastic dummy, and George Forman’s kids.
Brats Know Best – CBS, Thursday 8:00 PM
Make room on the sofa for the whole family to watch the Rude kids hurl clever insults at their stupid parents Geek and Geekette.
Starring newcomers Bobbie Young and Jane Megawyatt.
The Corpses – MTV, Thursday 9:00 PM
This new phase reality show will have you howling with laughter, as you watch a decomposing family struggle with its own issues of dysfunctionality.
Starring Bob Hope, Mae West, and Abraham Lincoln.
Go Jump In a Lake – ABC, Friday 8:00 PM
Each week a new group of psychotic college students compete to determine who can drown the fastest in this new reality TV offering.
Hosted by Jack Kevorkian.
All These Giblets – CBS, Friday 7:30 PM
Someone has hat hair. But who?
Starring no one in particular.
Three's a Few – NBC, Friday 9:00 PM
It's a laugh a minute as roommates Lani, Squeegy and Froom share various romantic interludes with anyone that suits there fancy at the moment. No one ever gets STDs, has unwanted pregnancies or inflicts any serious emotional wounds, just as in real life.
Starring all the Rs in the Manhattan White Pages.
©2007 Gary Alt
Back to top
NEW JERSEY LAW TO REQUIRE MED EXAMS FOR RESTAURANT GOERS
By I.M. Bogus
TRENTON, Sep. 12 – A bill to require all New Jersey restaurant patrons to present medical credentials before dining has passed both state legislative houses, and is on its way to Governor Corzine’s desk.
The bill, first introduced into the state Assembly in 2005 and finally passed by that body this past May, was a response to an earlier State Health Department regulation that mandated a battery of medical tests be performed in a restaurant’s foyer area adapted for that purpose before diners could so much as enter an eatery. The New Jersey Restaurant Association had protested those rules on the grounds that they were economically unfeasible, would discourage patrons from dining out, and might even be interpreted as making it illegal for their ubiquitous rats to feed off table scraps, grease drippings, and plaster remnants from the crumbling walls.
Stan Popelka, owner of The Raving Onion, a popular restaurant in Hackensack, was among the first restaurateurs to begin the rigorous alterations to his restaurant that would bring him into compliance with the Health Department’s rules. Popelka had spent $23 million on a high-tech medical examination area, complete with blood draw facilities, EKG equipment, an adjoining lab for fluid analysis, and a satellite antenna for watching paramecium races on TV. Since his restaurant ordinarily nets approximately $13 per year offering vodka-infused hot dogs, Popelka was just at the point of figuring out how to pay the army of phlebotomists he would soon have to put on the payroll, when the rule was suspended pending the outcome of the legislative bill, and the arrival of new inexpensive frying machines from Ethiopia.
At the heart of the new legislation, which Governor Corzine has said he will sign, is concern over the food choices of the average person relative to their specific health profile, folks who don’t know enough to fasten their own seatbelts without the government subtly recommending it. For example, diabetics will not be permitted to order sugary foods, and persons with high blood pressure will not be given the combination to mandatory locks on salt shakers. Children with virtually any health profile will be force-fed asparagus and brussel sprouts by a team of steroid using waiters, and only allowed to have dessert once they can demonstrate they they’ve licked their plates clean and are not hiding any healthful foods in their socks.
It is anticipated that certain wrinkles in the new law will be ironed out in the courts, such as whether restaurant staff can be sufficiently trained and licensed to interpret medical records, or if professional medical personnel will need to be on hand. This is generally seen as the province of erudite jurists with a left leaning agenda.
Commenting on the potential economic repercussions of the new law, Red Herring, president of the New Jersey Restaurant Association, said, “I can foresee an order of onion rings costing $87, and Cherries Jubilee commanding three of four hundred dollars. If something isn’t done to allay the costs, we’ll have to start charging policemen ten cents or more to get fat on our donuts.”
In practical terms, the new law will likely require a complete overhaul of the restaurant industry. For example, a patron with high-cholesterol intent on consuming a meal before passing out will likely have to wait for weeks for his or her cholesterol to decline to acceptable levels, which may then require sleeping arrangements during the waiting period. Therefore, restaurants will need to not only hire medical staff, but expand their real estate holdings to accommodate lodging facilities.
New Jersey politicians, considered leaders in the practice of legislating in order to protect people from their own stupidity, are famous for having already enacted such laws as the notorious “Runny Egg” law that placed restrictions on cooking temperatures and times of the dairy product, banned trans-fats, and made it a crime punishable by death to serve orange glazed yak hooves to pygmies.
The senate version of the bill would have required glaucoma tests for anyone with a palindromic name that starts with "B" and has an "O" in the middle. Consensus was reached on the assembly bill when it was determined that the senate version was really silly and not at all good for attracting out-of-state patrons who like bacon.
Oddly enough, the chief backers of the bill from its inception have included the FDA, AMA, and Communist China.
©2007 Gary Alt
Back to top