Mightier Than The Pen

Making The World A Bitter Place

Archive for August 2011

Would You Like Some More Ketchup with That Cucumber Salad, Young Man?

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Today is my eighth anniversary as a lunch lady at John Jay Elementary School. So to celebrate, I decided to give the kids a little extra on their trays. I went crazy overboard on the stewed prunes. You should have seen the grateful, hungry looks I got from every single child! The same look they display when there’s kissing on TV – you can just tell the little dears find the sweet things in life so special.

Why, just the other day I made sure to glaze the cupcakes in date paste just to give a little extra. I could just see those adorable children scrunching up their noses in delight as they nibbled voraciously at the treats. Oh, those children – I could go on and on about them. Never had any of my own, but as a lunch lady I get to feed them better than their own parents, and with federal nutrition guidelines to help me. If a dish needs more vegetable content, I just add ketchup.

That’s how I got the creamed corn to meet the federal standard. Same goes for the pizza and the macaroni and cheese. I even did that once for the lemon meringue pie, but for some reason the color came out wrong. It was only supposed to be a pinkish white, not a dark red. So I didn’t try that again. Tasted wonderful, though, if I say so myself.

I always try to show the children I care, too, by smiling sweetly every time I dollop some goodness on their cafeteria trays. I have a missing incisor and a gold upper canine, plus there’s this persistent rash on my upper lip, so the smile comes out just right, the perfect mix of down-home concern and salt-of-the-earth credibility. The kids always stare at me for an extra second or two before moving on, so I know I’ve made a connection.

Used to be I could take more liberties in what I added to the food, but health inspectors put a stop to that. I suppose they mean well, but gone are the days when I could give a little bit of myself to a child who needed an extra bit of encouragement or grown-up demonstrations of nurturing. No more strands of my bluish hair to garnish their lunch, and no more cigarette ash to add some warmth to the food of a child just gasping for a little more love from his environment.

I’m glad I ended up with this gig, not like my friend Wanda, who’s stuck over at Thomas Edison High School across town – she has to see young people groping each other and engaging in romance right there in public! I’m much happier nurturing the bodies and hearts of the more impressionable ages. You never know what a little bit of input from a trusted soul behind the cafeteria counter can do to the minds and hearts of developing children.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I must add more ketchup to the apple sauce. It’s looking a bit drab.

Written by Thag

August 31, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Christopher Columbus’s Twitter Feed

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Oh, baby. I can’t believe they bought it! #wealth here I come! Long Live the King and Queen!

Anyone know where you can get a decent navigator around here? Crazy Juan’s closed last month. Plague.

Think I should make potential crewmen submit to a physical? Please answer: how many arms do you have…

Gotta remember the jerky. Gotta remember the jerky. Gotta remember the jerky.

You’d think after all the Jews were expelled you wouldn’t be running into them right and left. Some Inquisition*this* turned out to be.

When I get to India, I’m trading Pedro the cook to the natives for someone who can cook. #indigestion

Some guy just said something about the world being flat. Doesn’t he know the Greeks already knew it was round?

And away we go! Sail the ocean blue! On to India!

Oh, %$#@. Forgot the jerky.

Four days out. Not much to report. Canary Islands haven’t sunk yet.

Pedro scored some really fatty mutton while we were loading supplies in the Islands. Maybe we’ll keep him.

Remember that comment about the Jews? I should have said right *to* left. Get it?

Oh, Jesus I’m so bored. Need a volunteer to fall overboard so we can have some excitement.

Wonder how Real Madrid is doing, considering they won’t be established for another five centuries or so.

Burned again. Really must stop sunbathing in the altogether.

With all this talk of mutiny, there’s no one to do the cooking. Plenty of brine for pickling, though.

Land! Land! And it looks fabulous for growing tobacco! Whatever *that* is. This is supposed to be India.

I have an idea: we’ll just ignore the fact that this isn’t India and call it India. Also, let’s spread smallpox.

Smallpox for syphilis: a fair deal?

Goddamn Indians. Not an ounce of chicken curry in sight. #gypped

Farewell, Santa María. *Sigh*. Only foosball table in the fleet.

Well, must be getting home. These Indians don’t take too well to being outgunned and treated with contempt.

What are all these sores?

Written by Thag

August 30, 2011 at 9:06 pm

You Call It a Bedsheet, But I Know It’s a Superhero Cape

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A follow-up to: http://wp.me/pSXPz-g5

Item

Purpose of Item According to:

Normal human Ten-year-old Six-year-old Four-year-old Two-year-old
Computer Computing; communication; work YouTube (The King’s Singers) YouTube (The Muppets) YouTube (Whatever anyone else is watching) Removing all the keys from the keyboard
Car Transport people, possessions Excuse for use of power windows Excuse for use of remote control Convenient setup for kicking Mommy’s back Convenient setup for pulling four-year-old’s hair
Pizza Nourishment Vehicle for delivery of toppings Justification for not eating anything that is not pizza Convenient setup for consumption only of the mozzarella cheese Face paint; hair dye
Oatmeal Breakfast; ingredient in cookies Excuse not to eat breakfast, cookies Excuse not to eat breakfast, cookies Excuse not to eat breakfast, cookies Hair gel
Bed Slumber Storage of books, toys Trampoline, jungle gym Toy car/truck parking garage Access to delicate,easily ripped window screens
Refrigerator Storage of perishable foodstuffs Browsing Jungle gym Place to sit and cool off Pavlovian stimulus for cries of “apple!” and “cottage cheese!”
Kitchen Preparation and storage of food; cleaning used food implements Place that suddenly ceases to exist when breakfast cereal bowl needs washing Default hangout venue Default hangout venue Pretzel procurement area
Schoolbag Transportation, storage of school books and supplies Invitation to two-year-old to empty, scatter contents to the winds Doormat Fashion accessory Randomly selected object that must be used in emulating older siblings
Bathtub/shower Bodily hygiene Acoustic experimentation with spray nozzle aimed at different surfaces Peep show customer impersonation Hydrodynamic experimentation with plastic bottles emptied over the side Toilet
Parents Source of emotional support, provision of basic needs Furniture Furniture Furniture Furniture

Written by Thag

August 29, 2011 at 10:12 pm

Raise Your Hand If You Go Camping to Rub Shoulders with Cows

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We Western Civilization types are so deprived. We have no idea what it’s like to share an abode with a herd of cows: the stench; the mooing mass of mammal; the unpredictable, copious streams of pungent urine (an AWESOME name for a rock band, btw); the dung underfoot (also a good band name, or perhaps a comic book superhero – are you writing these down?).

And although we Western Civilization types often “rough it” by going camping, seldom do we choose to camp in areas known for their cattle population. Last week we went camping in a forest. You know, a wooded area not generally associated with kine. Boy, you and your ignorant assumptions:

“Say, mind if I poop here?”

Fortunately, the only evidence they’d left prior to our arrival was old enough not to be a problem, and they only came around in the morning after we’d started packing up. And the kids seemed to take the mooing masses in stride:

"Uh...hi."

But they were well behaved. And so were the cows.

Except when one bull (it was CLEARLY a bull) reacted to the sudden appearance of a car by mounting a nearby female. Hey, can understand. That’s how I react to seeing cars, too. My wife is getting tired of it, though; five pregnancies have been enough for her.

Which is not to imply that our activities in this forest were centered around the bovine, though we did have grilled hot dogs for dinner the night before (probably turkey, come to think of it, so never mind). The divine also played a part. I have never spent so much leisure time in such a beautiful bit of nature. When I was at summer camp and we went on hikes or camping trips, there was always a schedule or some pressure to do stuff or get somewhere. Not here. We looked at the stars. We looked at the sunset. We looked at the trees:

"Daddy, what are all these big green buildings?"

The next night we spent a forgettable time on a rocky, noisy beach. Blech. I’d share photos of that sunset, but that was about the only moment of relaxation in a span rife with escaping children, loud neighbors, exhibitionists, cruddy restroom facilities, misbehaving children and humidity that would make mildew uncomfortable. We were glad to be out of there and on toward the Australian wildlife park, where we fed kangaroos:

"Pellets again? Boy, you humans have no imagination."

We also got to see a koala, a bunch of large bats (flying foxes) with a little baby bat, and a mess of other cool creatures. Then we went to a local swimming hole with half the rest of the population and eventually, home, where the wildlife of our own making decided to trash the place. New rule: if it’s not cleaned up by bedtime, it’s mine. Yes, that includes your favorite LEGO pieces.

Say, is there a way to train these domestic creatures?

Written by Thag

August 29, 2011 at 12:24 pm

How I Tried to Ruin Thursday Night’s Dinner Party

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1. Left staircase unblocked so visiting toddler could tumble down stone steps to basement and crash into precariously stacked heavy items.

2. Managed to get fingertip of right thumb caught in mechanical corkscrew. This resulted in: flirtation with passing out (my brain cannot handle blood or the mere prospect of serious injury – when I took the two-year-old for a blood test a week ago, he barely reacted, while I felt woozy); incapacity to serve or otherwise interact with guests, leaving spouse to assume those duties and ride herd on the children; and the cumulative realization of just how unevolved I feel without the use of my opposable thumb.

3. Seated guests in exactly the wrong way, resulting in crescendoing drama as various elements of the visiting clan vied for position at the same table as the guests of honor. The simmering tension was defused only through the deft ministrations of someone who was clearly not me.

4. Left doors and windows just open enough to allow mosquitoes in, but not quite open enough to allow cool evening air in.

5. Nearly allowed guests to help clear or serve; this threatened our sense of order and the kitchen-dining-room traffic pattern (the bottleneck near Mrs. Thag’s seat is a perennial trouble spot).

6. Wrongly assumed that people would arrive within an hour of the announced start time.

7. Allowed other people near the fudge (MINE! MINE! NO TOUCH!)

8. Let ten-year-old sit out of direct parental sight, enabling him to serve himself some wine.

9. Set the kids’ table with the Dry Clean Only tablecloth.

10. Bought only cheap wine to serve (some inconsiderate guest actually brought a bottle of stupendous 2007 Cabernet. Ah, well).

Written by Thag

August 28, 2011 at 8:49 am

And If Your Politics Don’t Jibe, Make Your Own Damn Table

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Harry Potter Character

Country/Entity

Harry Potter

Israel

Hermione Granger

United States

Ron Weasley

Canada

Lord Voldemort

Iran

Bellatrix Lestrange

Syria

Crabbe and Goyle

Al Qaeda

Ministry of Magic

United Nations

Draco Malfoy

Venezuela

Peter Pettigrew

Palestinian Authority

Cornelius Fudge

Egypt

Rita Skeeter

Turkey

Dolores Umbridge

Hezbollah

Albus Dumbledore

AIPAC

Lucius Malfoy

J Street

Dobby

Micronesia

Kreacher

Iraq

Vernon Dursley

Saudi Arabia

Severus Snape

Lebanon

Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody

Likud

Gilderoy Lockhart

European Union

Luna Lovegood

Fiji

The Quibbler

Fox News

The Daily Prophet

The BBC

Fenrir Greyback

Hamas

Written by Thag

August 27, 2011 at 9:06 pm

Our Concern for Our Citizens Is Measured in Decibels

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Dear Mr. Thag:

Thank you for writing to us to express your displeasure with the late-night outdoor concert near your home. It is only thanks to concerned citizens such as you that we at City Hall can monitor our efforts to make your life miserable. We find it heartening that the events we arrange cause enough trouble to generate a reaction.

As we explained in a response to your previous complaint after a similar event several months ago, we selected the park near your home when the police refused to issue approval for an alternative, more distant park. In this case, we did not bother trying to find an alternative venue, having already established that the park nearest your home provides the ideal combination of disruptive noise and aggravating traffic tie-ups.

In contrast to the the previous concert about which you submitted a grievance, this one took place on a Saturday night, necessitating that the equipment and barriers be in place during the day. This scheduling allowed us to both occupy large swaths of the green space, rendering one of the only such sizable areas in the city unavailable for recreation on a day with some of the heaviest park traffic, and to block off the playground almost entirely.

An additional consideration involved your status as a resident of the city as opposed to a tourist; we try to impress tourists with our amenities and welcoming atmosphere, and the alternative venues were much closer to several luxury hotels. We remain reluctant to subject such economy-boosters to such a cacophony when they wish to rest. But you, the tax-paying resident, are already heavily invested in staying in the city, and we cannot justify expending assets and effort on your behalf when you’ll probably just vote us out at the end of our terms no matter what we accomplish.

Regarding your concern for the welfare of your young children, and those of other neighborhood families, spare us. Young children don’t even pay taxes, so why should we care about them? As it is, our neglect of the school system should have already clued you in to our manifest lack of feeling for the under-eighteen set. Trying to appeal to our sense of empathy for such parasites is not the way to induce us to do anything.

But thank you again for your feedback. Without the involvement of citizens such as you we would have no idea how well we are doing in our mission to make young families abandon this city. We would much rather play host to transient students and hippies who bring infusions of their parents’ cash instead of trying to drain our coffers with constant demands for improved infrastructure and actual responsiveness from the municipality.

If there is anything more we can do to piss you off, please let us know. Until then, we remain,

Your Municipal Officials

Written by Thag

August 21, 2011 at 11:54 am

Harry Potter and the Slapstick Schizophrenic

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These goblin wars are getting tiresome, thought Harry, gripping the Elder Wand and aiming at a slow-moving goblin across the road. “Anorexia Nervosa,” he whispered. A very thin, pale gray beam shot out from his wand and hit the goblin in the belly. The goblin seemed to waste away before his eyes. But he had to keep moving. Another goblin would surely see where he had cast from. He scurried back away from the hedge and then ran around through the hole in the fence back to Privet Drive.

It had been a month since the magical world had discovered that goblins were no longer vulnerable to “normal” spells. No one had figured out what caused the change – even captured goblin prisoners knew nothing – but Hermione had been reading Muggle psychiatry books, and the names of the disorders sounded like good spells. She and Ron had used Photophobia and Autophagia effectively in defending the Burrow from a horde of invaders, causing the goblins to flee and soil themselves at the slightest hint of light or inducing them to eat themselves.

The discovery proved decisive in turning the tide, but Harry knew the goblins were still numerous and clever enough to present a serious threat. He came back to conduct reconnaissance on Privet Drive alone, in his Invisibility Cloak, not certain whether he felt more threatened by a goblin ambush or the demons of his childhood. The goblins, at least, he could defeat with various forms of insanity; the Dursleys, if they still lived there, were already a few knuts short of a galleon. Harry didn’t know whether a dose of mental illness would make a difference.

Harry incapacitated a goblin patrol with Catatonia and Narcolepsia, then made his way around the neighborhood, half-wishing Hermione and Ron were there with him instead of commanding a counteroffensive to take back Wales and Cornwall. Ginny wanted to come along, but knew the younger ones needed her. Harry checked to make sure his Cloak was still covering him as he edged toward the Dursley’s back window. He thought he heard a familiar voice.

“Well…no, I mean…yes, it would be…no! I want no part of thi – OW!”

Uncle Vernon? Harry momentarily forgot he was wearing the cloak and only peeked in through the window.

Uncle Vernon apparently had a Body Bind curse on him, as he was stuck in an uncomfortable position, and a wizard with his back to Harry was sending electric shocks through the man’s body. The wizard’s posture looked familiar, and Harry recognized Draco Malfoy.

Next to Malfoy was a group of four goblins, each one uglier than the next, and just beyond them, with a look of triumph on his stupidly ugly face, Malfoy’s childhood henchman Goyle. Wonderful, thought Harry. All the people in the world I detest, right in one room. He suppressed an urge to trap them all there, and slid the window open a crack. All of Uncle Vernon’s and Aunt Petunia’s comical efforts to keep their house in tip-top shape finally had one benefit, Harry told himself as the window made not a sound. He shifted slightly to his left and pointed his wand at Goyle.

Coprophagia” he intoned silently. In the dusky light no one saw the brown stream that struck Goyle in the face. Goyle began wiggling his nose and looking around wildly. He then lunged for the backside of the nearest goblin, opening his mouth wide. The goblin yelped and leaped out of the way, bumping into a second goblin and knocking him over into Aunt Petunia’s china cabinet. The cabinet contents came crashing down as Goyle continued to shove his face toward the backside of whichever goblin was closest.

In the ensuing chaos, Harry opened the window further and clambered into the house, closing the window behind him. He aimed a second Coprophagia curse at the only goblin not participating in the melee, then turned his attention toward Malfoy.

But Malfoy had darted out of the room, the better to escape Goyle’s newfound appetite for feces, and Harry could not find a clear path to follow. But he did feel a need to pass gas, and that gave him an idea. He moved around behind Uncle Vernon’s paralyzed form and let go with the most emphatic fart he’d produced in years. It felt good to do something like that for such a constructive purpose, so shamelessly.

Goyle’s nose twitched at the scent and he lunged toward Uncle Vernon, dragging all four goblins with him. As the goblins struggled to subdue the frenzied coprophiliac, Harry moved around them and followed Malfoy out of the room into the kitchen, marveling at the power of the spells cast by the Elder Wand. The difference between his wand and others was even more pronounced in casting the Muggle disorder spells than in producing classic wizard magic. He’d have to ask Hermione about that.

Malfoy was nowhere to be seen.

Written by Thag

August 18, 2011 at 10:57 am

How to Jump on Mom and Dad’s Bed

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1. Jumping on Mom and Dad’s bed may only be done when Mom and Dad are not in the room.

2. If Mom or Dad is in the room, jumping may only be done in such a way that it looks like falling.

3. Accusations of bed-jumping shall be met only with flat denials.

4. When presented with incontrovertible evidence that kids have been jumping on Mom and Dad’s bed, the only acceptable reaction is evasive expressions of ignorance.

5. It doesn’t really count as jumping on the bed if your body just sort of bounces without an actual space created between your body and the bed.

6. Any injuries sustained in the course of jumping on Mom and Dad’s bed shall be embellished sufficiently to forestall scolding for the manner in which the injuries occurred.

7. Holding stuffed animals or figures and jumping with them means the animals or figures are doing the jumping, so it’s OK.

8. Covers or blankets between the bottom sheet and the jumping child means the jumping occurs not on the bed per se, but on the cover or blanket, and is therefore OK.

9. Under no circumstances may a child graciously accept admonishment not to jump on Mom and Dad’s bed; any such rebuke is to be met with, at minimum, a bitter retort of “Fine!”

10. Pillow fights on Mom and Dad’s bed do not count as jumping on the bed, as any jumping that takes place occurs only as a side effect of conducting the pillow fight and not as jumping qua jumping.

Written by Thag

August 17, 2011 at 10:23 pm

Answer: About sixteen. Question: What’s My IQ?

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Back when I used to waste my time on the web in completely different ways, I participated in an ongoing game called A Question for My Answer. Each player had to formulate a question for the answer supplied by the previous player in the sequence, then provide an answer that the next player would question. Here are a couple of the ones I still remember:

A: That’s “discreet,” not “discrete.”
Q: So, Mr. President, you want a separate chapter about each intern?

A: Just put it in the sink.
Q: Hey, Joe, where do you want this rotting llama carcass?

A: Airplane fartknocker.
Q: And if it’s a girl?

So, the idea here is to involve you, the pathetic reader, in an even more pathetic attempt to create some inane juxtapositions right here, at (checks URL) Mightier than the Pen. I’ll do a few off the top, just so I don’t have to jump straight into the rejection of deafening silence, and i shall end with an answer for you to question. If you are sufficiently moved, please submit your submissions via comment. I promise to moderate things as quickly as possible. Of course that might mean a week and half from now, but it won’t kill you to wait. I hope.

A: Over my dead body!
Q: Mom, do you want a Lady Gaga-themed funeral casket lid?

A: Our payment policy is Net+30.
Q: Wouldn’t it be a shame, Mr. Thag, for this lovely store of yours to burn down, when you could have enjoyed our protection?

A: I got it!

Written by Thag

August 16, 2011 at 10:36 pm

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The Doctor Is Just in It for the Money – Administer Your Own Chemotherapy

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Since you’re always looking for ways to save time and space – not to mention keep things organized – we’re here to offer you the most amazing ideas, items and techniques so ingenious you’ll wonder why no one has ever developed them before! Each of them is the greatest thing since sliced pepperoni!

1. You might use your mobile device much more than your computer, but for certain tasks you still need a good old desktop. Sometimes, though, you need to scrawl a quick set of reminders related to your work, and you need a place to stick them in plain view. To fill just that need, just use a simple magnet that will adhere to the outside of your computer to hold in place the notes you so urgently need. No more Post-It™ notes getting stuck in embarrassing places – just you, your magnet and your disposable note paper, stuck right on the CPU tower where you can see it.

2. Every parent fears lice infestations, but not every parent knows what to do when the little ones come home with littler ones inhabiting their scalps. Toxic creams and shampoos might help, but they’re hell on the eyes and just plain dangerous. One popular remedy has the parent smearing vegetable shortening in the kid’s hair to trap the lice, then extracting the bugs and nits more easily. But why wait till little Geraldine comes home with those unwanted guests? Pre-emptively smear Crisco™ on your darling and send her off to school or camp pre-treated in case they need a good combing!

3. With electricity generation dependent mainly on fossil fuels, the environmentally conscious among us are looking for cleaner ways to function. But we still need to dry our clothes after laundering them. With our revolutionary new product, you can bypass the coal-fired electricity and take advantage of clean, renewable solar energy: simply attach each end of the weatherproof cord at a convenient height, and drape the wet laundry over it. In bright sunlight your clothes will dry noiselessly!

4. Cracking eggs can be a pain and time-consuming, especially trying to make sure no shell pieces get into the food. So when you get a few minutes, crack some eggs and store them in individual containers in the fridge. If you leave them uncovered, then after a couple of days they don’t even make a mess when they accidentally get knocked over!

5. Cut out the middle man: when you prepare chicken, just toss the white meat directly to the raccoons as soon as you get home. Save yourself the trouble of cooking it, and them the trouble of digging through your trash to get it.

6. Ants are persistent creatures; it’s hard to find a permanent, practical way to keep them from invading your home. So burn down your house and forget about the little buggers.

7. Online security and the safety of our personal information are important to all of us. You’re at lower risk of identity theft if you sell off all your assets and ruin your credit rating before anyone else can do so.

8. Dogs don’t clean up after themselves only because they haven’t been trained properly; a dog can be taught to do almost anything, especially the larger breeds. It’s just that their owners are lazy. Next time you encounter a dog going about its excretory business without so much as a plastic bag in attendance, rub the owner’s nose in the pile. Otherwise they won’t learn.

9. Quitting smoking can be tougher than quitting heroin. But if you cut off all your fingers, it’ll be tougher to keep smoking. You heard it here first.

Written by Thag

August 14, 2011 at 9:17 pm

I’m Sorry, Doctor, I’ve Been Exercising Again

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I’ve got to stop exercising before I fall apart.

We had little event for the families of our boys’ sports camp the other night, with a game of dodgeball: campers vs. parents. I’m proud to say the parents held up well. We only lost two of the four games against the pipsqueaks, some of whom were fifteen years old and quite a bit more agile than we old folks. But I rather doubt the pipsqueaks spent the following day, as I did, groaning in pain and soreness. My right leg keeps trying to remind me never to play dodgeball again.

My right shoulder didn’t wait until the next day to make its objection known, however. It felt sufficiently put out that it threatened to dislocate on the spot, just as I was taking aim at the shins of some whippersnapper. Why, when I was his age, I was, uh, I forget. I think when I was his age I was younger.

Then today I made the error of hitting a baseball a few dozen times for some neighborhood urchins to field. The hitting wasn’t much of a problem; I only swung and missed two or three times, and made weak contact about as much. But for some reason my toenail decided to protest. And the skin on the ball of my left hand proved too weak to handle the friction against the handle of the bat; I have a nice-looking blister and the residual dull sting as a souvenir for my efforts.

Tomorrow, like a fool, I plan to take some visitors on a walking tour of some local establishments, a route that entails mounting a formidable hill on the way there and again on the way back. Odds are a stroller or two will need pushing, and perhaps an additional preschooler will require manual transportation beyond the first few steps.

Here I am, thirty-six years old, having painstakingly trained my body to sit at a desk for hours at a time, rising only to attend to excretory needs and fetch victuals to fuel the rigorous regimen. And then, in the space of a few days, I toss all that preparation to the dogs and begin moving my muscles in ways to which they have become unaccustomed. The last time I’d played dodgeball was probably in eighth grade. That would be…wait, I can figure this out…carry the two…twenty-two years ago. Longer than any of those kids have existed. No wonder my body doth protest.

At least I’ve held a baseball bat in the intervening years, although the last time I participated in an organized baseball or softball game was in July of 1992. I remember it like it was yesterday, if you consider the last nineteen years or so a single day. At least my brain still works, and I can type this while sitting. I don’t know what I’ll do when even this becomes too physically demanding a task for me to get thr-

Written by Thag

August 13, 2011 at 9:47 pm

The AP Thinks You’ll Be Offended, So They Won’t Report It

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Yesterday the Associated Press reported that a Romanian dictionary publisher had finally acquiesced to demands that an anti-Semitic slur be labeled as offensive. But the AP declined to mention the epithet in question, as if the English-speaking world would suddenly adopt a Romanian slur when so many good, workable anti-Jew names are already available in English, and when it’s unlikely a native speaker of English would pronounce the thing properly anyway. Read the piece yourself and take note.

In related news, a Tennessee jury convicted George Norton, 36, of Memphis, for a crime. This was considered a coup for the local district attorney, who managed to convince the panel to convict without ever specifying the nature of the crime. Experts anticipate a tougher time for the prosecution when the sentencing phase of the trial begins next week, as juries use the heinousness of a crime as a factor in sentencing. Court sources report that the unspecified crime calls for a mandated legal minimum of six months behind bars of some sort, but is vague on the details.

In sports, a team from the East Coast beat a team from the West Coast in a game involving an object propelled by one side or the other in an attempt to score in some way, but the reporters at the scene couldn’t be bothered to mention the sport, the arena or the identities of the participants. There were apparently some advertisements involving athletic gear companies and beer, and some cheering took place at some point.

The Environmental Protection Agency cited four companies for violating government regulations, but would not disclose which companies, their locations or the nature of their violations. An EPA spokesman refused to comment when asked whether the companies themselves were aware of the enforcement effort.

President Barack Obama vetoed some legislation without bothering to check what it was, and Congressional leaders themselves were not certain, either, as none had actually checked what it was they had sent to the White House. Congressional records are vague on the matter, as the stenographers and other record-keeping functionaries had used generic and non-specific terminology in logging the proceedings surrounding the legislation.

Finally, Italian renaissance artist and sculptor Leonardo da Vinci has been credited with a newly discovered work. The thing, made of some material and about the size of some other things, will undoubtedly shed new light on whatever it is art history experts spend their time talking about, but frankly, if the reporters were diligent about doing their work, we might be able to offer more than some ambiguous notion of seemingly important events.

Oh, and in Romania, many media pundits blamed the Jidan for the hubbub.

Written by Thag

August 11, 2011 at 10:02 am

Comparing Harry Potter Personalities with Baseball Characters

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Harry Potter Character

Major League Baseball Figure

Lord Voldemort

George Steinbrenner

Bellatrix Lestrange

Marge Schott

Neville Longbottom

Yogi Berra

Harry Potter

Derek Jeter

Ron Weasley

Bucky Dent

Hermione Granger

Stan Musial

Draco Malfoy

Barry Bonds

Vernon Dursley

Reggie Jackson

Dudley Dursely

Bill Buckner

Molly Weasley

Tommy Lasorda

Severus Snape

Tom Glavine, when Maddux and Smoltz were his teammates

Albus Dumbledore

Ted Williams

Peeves

Manny Ramirez

Tom Riddle

Pete Rose

Fred and George Weasley

Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris

Rubeus Hagrid

Ken Griffey, Jr.

Horace Slughorn

Scott Boras

Anton Dolohov

Randy Johnson

Lucius Malfoy

Roger Clemens

Cornelius Fudge

Billy Martin

Dolores Umbridge

Bud Selig

Crabbe and Goyle

Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire

Ginny Weasley

Lou Gherig

Gilderoy Lockhart

Alex Rodriguez

Kingsley Shacklebolt

Mariano Rivera

Sirius Black

Thurmon Munson

Dobby

Jeffrey Maier

Minerva McGonnagal

Sandy Koufax

Mad-Eye Moody

Leo Durocher

Remus Lupin

Jackie Robinson

Written by Thag

August 10, 2011 at 3:29 pm

How to Tell Whether You Have Become a Boxing Referee or Parent

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Boxing Referee

Parent

Makes sure both fighters adhere to the rules

Tries to teach you not to fight in the first place

Cultivates expertise in judging eligibility of equipment used in the fight

Tries to teach you not to fight in the first place

Strives to maintain a good view of both fight participants

Tries to teach you not to fight in the first place

Makes sure fighters keep their distance when required

Tries to teach you not to fight in the first place

Stays alert for reasons to stop the fight in the middle, such as a dangerous injury

Haven’t I warned you not to fight?!

Admonishes both fighters to maintain proper comportment during the fight

I SAID DON’T FIGHT!

Rules on fouls committed during the fight

STOP FIGHTING ALREADY!

Administers a count to determine a knockout

IF I HAVE TO TELL YOU ONE MORE TIME NOT TO FIGHT, THERE WILL BE NO DESSERT IN THIS HOUSE FOR NEXT MONTH! DO YOU HEAR ME?!

Judges whether a fall takes place as a result of an opponent’s blow

THAT’S IT! NO DESSERT FOR A MONTH! AND NO ALLOWANCE, EITHER! AND I’M CALLING UP GRANDMA AND GRAMPA AND TELLING THEM NOT TO COME OVER TOMORROW!

Determines whether a blow has been struck below the belt

OW! THAT WAS MY LEG! YOU BOYS ARE IN BIG TROUBLE NOW! YOU! GO TO YOUR ROOM! AND YOU! GO SIT IN THE CORNER! NOBODY COMES OUT OR SAYS A WORD UNTIL I SAY SO!

Assesses intentionality of any fouls to determine severity of consequences

Oh, to hell with it. Kill each other. Don’t come crying to me when you get hurt.

Written by Thag

August 10, 2011 at 8:55 am

The Parenting Styles of Baseball Teams

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New York Yankee Parents Small Market Team Parents
Academic expectations Valedictorian; extra weekly allowance for lettering in more than one sport Do homework at least 60% of the time
“Dad, can I borrow the car?” “Only the Maserati or the Bentley; your mother has the Ferrari.” “Sorry, the Corolla’s in the shop.”
Reaction to messy room Hire top-of-the-line cleaning service to make the room look spic-and-span until the kid messes it up within 36 hours. Get kid to clean own room, which will last a full day and a half.
Family planning technique No need; can afford any number of kids Rhythm method; cold showers
Vacation itinerary Tahiti, Aspen, the Hamptons, St. Tropez The Walking Tour of Gary, Indiana Bowling Establishments
Food preparation A selection of offerings from some of the finest chefs available Teach kids to cook; enjoy fruits of their labor for a brief period until they are hired as chefs by the Yankees
When child is sick 15-day Disabled List; call up capable replacement Call up friends to find out the homework
Attitude toward taxes The system is unfair because we pay more than anyone else in taxes, and our taxes pay for your portion of revenue-sharing welfare The system is unfair because a much higher proportion of our meager revenue goes to taxes
Shopping sensibilities Adidas‌‌‌™ Yankee Castoffs™
Ideal economic system Unbridled free-market capitalism Welfare state socialism
Keeping up with the Joneses Ditch the Joneses At least we get to watch Chipper Jones play sometimes
Pets Impeccably trained dogs with someone else hired to walk them Hamsters you can teach some really neat tricks
Health insurance Don’t have; don’t need Don’t have; can’t afford
Sought-after praise for child “Exceeds expectations” “Plays well with others”
Chances of being forced to watch the World Series on TV Better than even Better than even

Flavors Guaranteed Never to Be Made By Ben & Jerry’s

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WARNING: DESPITE COPIOUS REFERENCES TO BEN & JERRY’S ICE CREAM, THIS POST IS UTTERLY, COMPLETELY, AND IN ALL OTHER WAYS TASTELESS, OFFENSIVE AND SHOULD BE TAKEN OUT AND SHOT.

It’s amazing what can come from just shooting the breeze with one’s spouse. Just the other night, when we should have been sleeping, Mrs. Thag and I instead engaged in a bit of intellectual tomfoolery, developing ideas for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavors that will never exist and of course should never exist, if there is any Good and Right in this world. As you know, the jury is still out on that point.

Now, given that Ben & Jerry’s maintain an area of their web site called the Flavor Graveyard (or at least they used to), an In Memoriam to bygone concoctions, the flavors we concocted in our lurid imaginations would instead represent the aborted fetuses, if you will, of Ben & Jerry’s flavors. For the record, no, Aborted Fetus was not one of the proposed flavors. For one thing, it lacks that special brand of cutesy wordplay we have come to expect from those avatars of socially conscious marketing;  it would have to be something more along the lines of “Embryogurt” or “Pitocinnamon” to evoke anything genuinely worthy of Ben and Jerry.

Here, then, are some of the selections we (meaning I, because, there is no way I can allow her reputation to be soiled any further) pulled out of our cerebra (or elsewhere). The challenge lies not so much in coming up with a convincing name as it does in matching the name with appropriate ingredients (yet another reason the Aborted Fetus flavor never really developed past a certain point. If you catch my meaning.) You may feel free, if you lacked the sense to stop reading this post at the beginning, to contribute your own ideas to this surprisingly, uh, fertile intellectual ground.

Malignant Tuber: With freshly irradiated yams

A-O-Kaopectate: Banana-broccoli-liver ice cream with Marmite globs and runny chunks of Brie

Carcinnamon: From the verdant groves of Chernobyl

Hemphysema: For that smoked flavor that never really leaves you

Pedophilbert: (If you think I’m going to give this one any more thought, you’re nuts.)

Flotilla Vanilla: With Marvi Marmalade!

Tomatorexia Nervosa: (Another flavor with a slim chance of my elaborating on it)

Pomme de Terrorist: This extraordinary rendition of French Fries will make your taste buds feel they’ve been waterboarded!

Genocider: Limes against humanity

Carnaval Qaeda: With 72 extra-virgin olives pressed for each pint

Naga-Sake (or Beeroshima): With Atomic Fireballs; 15-kiloton proof

Gang Grape: (You can’t force me to give more details on this one)

Whorseradish: Giving new meaning to the term “root vegetable”

Your turn. If you dare.

Written by Thag

August 7, 2011 at 11:09 pm

Raising Kids vs. Rooting for the Red Sox: a Comparison

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Children

The Boston Red Sox

Financial return on investment Ties of questionable taste for Father’s Day Ticket stubs; memorabilia of questionable taste
Reward for continued faith Another pierced body part Bill Buckner; Aaron Boone
Insurmountable obstacles that eventually, somehow, become manageable once they’re over Toilet training; abstinence from homework; adolescence; your own hopeless parental dorkitude October
Associated simple pleasures Dr. Suess; Sandra Boynton; the kid’s cognitive and intellectual milestones Watching the Yankees get beaten by other teams; reminding Yankee fans of 2004
Notable milestones Graduation; wedding; grandchildren Snagging tickets; following a bunch of millionaires you will never meet, whose collective athletic achievements in Boston somehow have some bearing on your life merely by virtue of your wanting the Sox to win
Methods of reminiscing with/about Beer; old photos Beer; old photos
Evidence of your dedication to their proper development Harsh words when necessary Harsh words on radio call-in shows
Advice you’ve given repeatedly, only to have them ignore, with predictably disastrous results “If you keep eating so much candy you’ll get cavities” “Take Pedro out! Go to the bullpen! Take Pedro out! GODDAMNIT! TAKE PEDRO OUT!” ”AAAAAAAAAGH! WHAT DID I TELL YOU?!”
Reaction to substance abuse “You’d better get yourself into rehab, kid.” “Blah blah blah A-rod blah blah blah.”
Derek Jeter Now there’s a role model. Jeter sucks!
When achievement or behavior deteriorates Show loving concern, support; provide help “Trade the worthless son of a bitch.”
Effect of missed opportunities Maturity;  character development Constant revisiting of Babe Ruth deal
Reasons to keep investing emotionally Profound sense of giving; satisfaction from nurturing a person and relationship of eternal value Because the faceless corporation that is a Major League Baseball team really gives a crap for you, the individual fan, beyond the dollar value you represent.

Written by Thag

August 6, 2011 at 11:23 pm

More Tips for Clueless Loser Blogging

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In today’s follow-up to the smash-hit post How to Blog Like a Clueless Loser (a Firsthand Account), we present a list of tips to help you, the novice veteran experienced wannabe writer, maintain your coveted Clueless Loser Blogger™ status, the Golden Sombrero of written communication.

1. Refuse, on principle, to engage in self promotion, believing that the glory you deserve will come to you based on the merits of your writing alone. Marketing is evil! Conveniently, this attitude dovetails with your lazy approach to life in general.

2. Turn people off by finding a way to mention your blog in every casual conversation. Oh, by the way, I have a post about that.

3. Console your self with the thought that while your ineffectual blogging has contributed exactly nothing to your bottom line, at least you have amassed a body of work to which you can refer potential employers, clients, romantic partners, et al. (on this point, see tip number 2). Maybe somebody will discover your blog and offer you a lucrative book deal. Maybe some of your posts will go viral and attract the attention of a major player in online media, and you’ll land a gig with a well-paying client! Maybe you should write fiction, because you seem to be good at coming up with imaginary scenarios.

4. Keep forgetting that you have already blogged about something; when you revisit the topic, do so without realizing that not too long ago you pontificated endlessly on the same subject.

5. Try to provoke readers into commenting or sharing your post by expressing opinions or taking positions so offensive or far-out that people must react. Or at least you think they must. Remember that what you think people must do includes the unlikely showering of attention on your blog specifically, out of all of the millions of repositories of narcissistic ramblings out there. So your gauge of what people must do needs some recalibrating. Don’t despair, however, at least not right away; rile up your tiny audience with outrageous pronouncements in favor of rape, child abuse and rank ethnocentrism. Those things always make people want to hear more from you.

6. Write some fake news stories in the hope that some gullible reader will get excited or alarmed enough to spread the story like wildfire, drawing attention to your skills as a rumor monger, and maybe earning you an appearance on snopes.com. There isn’t enough fake news out there, you know; The Onion and Jon Stewart would be so much bigger if they only knew how to crank the stuff out.

7. Make some of your posts into games or contests inviting readers to showcase their own creativity or cleverness in the comments. Submit most or all of the comments yourself, but feel good about how popular those posts appear to be just based on the number of comments.

8. Choose tags only marginally relevant to your post’s content, on the off chance that some dude browsing the WordPress page for posts about Business will be moved to peruse your post about your weekend fishing trip, which reminded you of the time that your uncle Harry once got his lure caught in the spinning motor of a Kawasaki outboard engine, and since Kawasaki is the name of a company, the “Business” tag is appropriate; also that the random dude who happens to click on your post, despite having the time to browse the pathetic musings of a bunch of semiliterate bloggers, is actually important enough to maybe give you our big break. You know, because people with that sort of influence have nothing better to do than look for witty post titles to click on.

9. Make a game of your stats: see whether you can keep the number of posts and the total number of tags equal. Pretend either of those numbers has any significance whatsoever.

10. Artificially inflate your traffic by constantly referring to posts that attracted better than average traffic, because maybe you missed somebody who actually cares. In the meantime, you can annoy your handful of regular readers by shoving in their faces the stuff they already read and deemed worthy of forgetting.

Glad to be of help. Maybe next time we can discuss where to shove those dreams of what you’ll do when you’re rich and famous, and which bodily orifice is the right choice for you.

Written by Thag

August 4, 2011 at 10:43 pm

How to Blog Like a Clueless Loser (a Firsthand Account)

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1. Start day by pretending to research ideas for a post by reading news, chatting online and playing games.

2. Find inspiration in something completely unrelated to the research.

3. Sit before empty screen trying to figure out how to translate the idea into a compelling blog post.

4. Reject idea; repeat steps 2, 3 and 4 as necessary.

5. Fend off criticism from spouse regarding lack of attention to entities and tasks other than the computer.

6. Use exchange with spouse as fodder for blog post.

7. Rewrite post twice upon realizing how lame it turned out.

8. Repeat step 7 as necessary.

9. Pronounce post done; alert spouse of imminent availability.

10. Spend disproportionate amount of time assigning tags and title.

11. Finally publish post.

12. Share post on relevant social media.

13. Every free moment or every ninety-five seconds, whichever is more frequent, check visitor statistics.

14. Immediately following every check of statistics, swear under breath at cruelty and ignorance of random strangers unaware that they were meant to flock to blog in droves.

15. Argue with spouse over alleged addiction to computer.

16. Every two or three futile checks of statistics, rail at Higher Power of choice; challenge fairness of universe; bargain with Higher Power for lucrative traffic levels; rediscover own puniness in grand scheme of things.

17. Resolve to really knock ’em dead next time.

18. Find spouse already asleep for the night.

Written by Thag

August 3, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Satisfaction Guaranteed or No Money Back!

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I. Introduction

1. Thank you for purchasing our product. This would be the part where the manufacturer was supposed to include a series of dire warnings regarding the hazards of improper use – don’t operate while intoxicated, don’t ingest, the usual – but frankly, the manufacturer couldn’t care less about this documentation. At least that’s the impression we technical writers got from their attitude toward our work. The very fact that this manual got past them indicates the value they place on it.

2. Which is just as well, because, seriously, what idiot actually reads the manual? We all know the manual is for looking up solutions to problems that crop up along the way, not for Reading Carefully Before Using. We tech writers aren’t idiots; we know better than to expect your attention for as long as it takes to read a whole goddamn manual when you want to just start USING THE $%#@ PRODUCT ALREADY.

3. The manufacturer was in a similar rush: to GET THE PRODUCT RELEASED ALREADY so they could start tallying profits, none of which would go to the lowly technical writers. We were just subcontractors, after all, no one whose opinion on quality of documentation should be taken seriously. So we apologize for the slapdash, half-assed manual you now hold. Deadlines are deadlines, you see.

4. So if you find this minor work of literature inadequate, join the club. Perhaps you will consider communicating your displeasure to the manufacturer, such that next time, we might have time and motivation to do our assigned task properly.

II. Product Features

1. We haven’t a clue. No one from Engineering deigned to talk to us for more than a few seconds, and the people from Marketing don’t know a gasket from a griffon vulture. So we’ll tell you what we know: it’s kinda beige-ish, has a power cord that connects in the back, so we suppose it’s supposed to use electricity somehow, and it comes in a nice box.

2. The people from Marketing kept waxing orgasmic about something called a “user interface,” which, for all we know, could mean anything from a bunch of colorful stickers to a full-blown holographic environment. You tell us if you ever figure it out, OK?

III. Setup

1. Probably you’re supposed to plug it in somewhere. After that, we’re kinda fuzzy on what to do. But it’s a good bet you don’t want to operate heavy machinery with this thing in the way.

2. If something bad happens while you’re trying to set up the product, it wasn’t our fault. Blame lies squarely in the lap of the ninnies in Marketing and Management, who ramrodded this pathetic excuse for a manual through the wasteland that once was Quality Control. Please sue them.

IV. Maintenance

1. Shower regularly. Floss daily, preferably twice. Always wash your hands after using the toilet. Make sure you drink enough water, and don’t overdo it on the carbohydrates. Exercise routinely. As far as the product’s maintenance, your guess is as good as ours. Just in case, get some lubricating oil; if it’s of no use on the product, you can use it to clean the high-powered rifle you will be driven to purchase and use on the aforementioned ninnies. Not that we are suggesting anything.

2. Keep the product away from corrosive substances, such as NY State politics.

V. Troubleshooting

1. Hoo boy. Ya got us there. Package the damn thing up and demand a refund, along with the amputated genitals of senior management.

VI. Upgrades

1. We haven’t the foggiest. There is no way could even know whether upgrades are relevant to this product. It might be disposable, come to think of it.

VII. Congratulations! You’re now as ready as we ever were to use this product! We wish you as much enjoyment as is relevant. After all, it might be a do-it-yourself immolation kit. “Enjoyment” is probably the wrong term for that. “Success” might work better here. Either way, good luck.

Written by Thag

August 2, 2011 at 10:25 pm

WARNING: Do Not Read This Manual

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CheeriosThank you for purchasing Cheerios™. Please read all instructions carefully before use.

CAUTION: CONTAINS SMALL PIECES. KEEP OUT OF THE REACH OF CHILDREN WITH MONUMENTALLY STUPID PARENTS, WHO DON’T REALIZE THAT IT’S OK FOR A LITTLE KID TO EAT CHEERIOS™.

ALLERGEN INFORMATION: MAY CONTAIN TRACES OF CHEERIOS™.

CAUTION: PRODUCT MAY PRESENT FIRE HAZARD IF DOUSED IN GASOLINE. DO NOT DOUSE IN GASOLINE.

WARNING: PRODUCT COSTS WAY TOO MUCH. DO NOT PURCHASE UNLESS UNDER THRALL OF MARKETING THAT INSULTS THE INTELLIGENCE OF MOST PRIMATES.

WARNING: IF THE PACKAGE SHOWS EVIDENCE OF TAMPERING, RETURN IT TO THE RETAILER AND MAKE A SCENE.

1. Please read all instructions carefully before using. Yes, we know we said that already. You wouldn’t believe how forgetful some users can be.

2. To open the package, slide a finger under the edge of the upper flap and detach the adhesive. If you get a paper cut, we are not liable. Stupid klutz.

3. Unlike some cereal manufacturers, General Mills prides itself of inner packaging that does not force the consumer to choose between carefully cutting open the bag with scissors and trying to tear open the bag by hand, sending contents flying, and ending up with a bag so mangled it inspires the envy of wolverines. Simply grasp the sides of the inner bag near the top and pull gently with both hands.

4. Dispense cereal into receptacle of choice. Ideally, Cheerios™ are shoved by the handful directly into the mouth, but it is also possible to consume using a spoon, possibly even with milk, from a bowl. Please refer to the instructions that come with those products for more information.

5. Repeat step 4 as necessary until gluttony is achieved.

6. Upon finishing the contents of a package, you may use the box in a school diorama, or as a makeshift building block. DO NOT USE AS BUILDING BLOCK IN ACTUAL BUILDING CONSTRUCTION. USE ONLY AS TOY.

7. Buy more Cheerios™. Mortgage your home if necessary. Please refer to your mortgage lender for more information.

Written by Thag

August 1, 2011 at 9:39 am