Christmas Your Way

elf

Have a merry, happy, joyous, cheerful, jolly, gleeful, mirthful, festive, jovial, jubilant, frolicsome Christmas. Pick one of the above. Or all of them, if you want. Just don’t get too giddy about it.

While you’re at it, you are free to chose from the same set of synonyms for your New Years.

Happy Masked Extortion Day

scared

Happy Halloween and all that rot. It’s a holiday celebrating… what exactly? Ghouls, ghosts and things that go bump in the night. It’s fun, but essentially meaning­less to most of us. Still, there is a couple things that leave me scratching my scalp.

Kids prowling darkened streets clamoring for candy with the magic words “trick or treat.” Any other night of the year showing up at someone’s front door in a mask demanding goodies or else would be looked at with an unkindly eye. What this boils down to is a festival of extortion for sweetmeats.

Now then, what’s with the costumes folks wear nowadays? What’s so scary about a fairy princess, a bunny rabbit or a Spongebob Squarepants? When did it become a masquerade party? Stranger than that, some people sup­pose it’s clever dressing up as non-beings like dirty laundry, a potted plant or somesuch. Huh? Where are all the witches, spectres and ghastly undead that should be wandering the Earth on All Hallows Eve?

What Toppers Tell Us

wizard

Wizards wore cone hats, or so goes the cliche. Conical hats don’t seem fashionable nowadays, if they ever were. Then again, headgear in general, other than baseball caps and stocking caps, have pretty much gone the way of monocles, spats and white gloves. Sorry, Mr. Peanut.

Sporting a cone atop your bean makes you magical, somehow or other. Witches wore them, right? Either that or it makes you a dunce. At any rate it’s rather a peculiar fashion statement. The statement being “I’m magical, or an idiot.”

Some hats are associated with a calling or profession. There’s a couple other throwback bits of haberdashery which are rather odd-looking in my view. Chef hats and mortarboards. I suppose we can blame the French for the first, which at least serves the purpose of keeping the cook’s hair out of the food.

As to mortarboards as worn by college folk, how festooning your noggin with a square plate is supposed to make you look brainy is a mystery. If that look weren’t goofy enough, what about that tassel dangling over the edge. Whether on shoes or on stripper’s pasties, tassels are just silly-looking on anything other than drapery or flags. Even then.

Dangerous Hot Air

There is a great deal of mis­un­der­standing about how global warming really works. It’s a highly complex and confusing phenomenon which the great unwashed like myself have a hard time dealing with. The problem is the common mistake of confusing the role of CO2 with that of the similar-sounding C.O. TUBE. Here’s how it really works in a nutshell.

The sun blows on the Earth with what is called the solar wind. Normally this is not a problem because we can all use the warmth and energy. However, because of industrial­ization due to out-of-control capitalism, humans have inadvertently overdeveloped a sort-of virtual tube made of congealed air pollution coated with Alar on the far side of the planet. This is the Cosmic Orifice, or “C.O. Tube.”

MGW

This C.O. Tube collects the growing consensus of man­made greenhouse gasses and combines them with second­hand smoke which shoot out through this tube into space. This creates a kind of rocket propul­sion pushing the Earth closer to the sun and hence creates the global warming we’ve all heard about. This melts the polar ice cap, flooding Antarctica and giving us sunburn and skin cancer to boot.

The greatest danger, denied by irresponsible scientists and under-reported by the media, is as the Earth’s orbit grows closer to the sun we will eventually collide with Venus. This will mean the end of reality as we know it and put the kibosh on all progressive plans for a corn-fed, smoke-free future. (You may not believe it, but I polled my friends and nine of ten agreed. It is therefor 90% certain to be true. Or at least 90% true or maybe true 90% of the time.)

What can we do about this? Frankly, I don’t know. All the same, the petroleum-tobacco complex is doing absolutely nothing to rectify the situation, all the while raking in billions in profits, mainly from oblivious, chain-smoking SUV drivers. Sad, but true.

Fruity Propaganda

appleaday

An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Which might mean an apple at every meal will repel Dr. House’s entire staff. If everyone in the country ate apples every day we wouldn’t have any doctors at all! Then where would we be? Can an apple write a prescrip­tion or take out your appendix? Where do apples send these doctors away to?

What fruit keeps interns at bay? Will pineapples stop nurses in their tracks? Do chiropractors fear bananas or gooseberries more? What I’d most like to know, what fruit will ward off a coroner?

Lastly, what would happen if a doctor ate an apple?

Cave Chef

cavechef

How did cooking ever start? It’s not like it’s an obvious thing to do, dash perfectly good food in a roaring fire then drag it out and eat it. How did cavemen come up with it? I’m also curious how they figured out some things which are deadly when raw are safe when cooked. Serendipity? Trial and error? I wouldn’t want to belong to that test kitchen.

Then again, they figured out if you lobbed a virgin in a volcano you’d get good weather, avoid plague and pesti­lence, and win the lottery. Caveman science worked in mysterious ways.

Animal Lifestylez-z-z-z-z

sleeping

Most pets, and farm animals gener­ally, sleep a good deal of the time. Dogs lay around all day and night and cats are constantly napping. They’re not very active at all. Gerbils, ham­sters, cows, pigs, you name it they pretty much spend their days not doing much of anything other than eating and sleeping.

People on the other hand are awake 2/3rds of the time, which is a lot more by contrast. I wonder how this com­pares to wild animals. Humans are up and at it more than most it seems. Rather flies in the face the notion that people aren’t active enough now-a-days. Compared to other domesticated animals we’re busy as beavers. I mean, if you’re exercising to the point it hurts, might that be a sign you’re overdoing it?

The Fake Drake Equation

epps

Ever see NUMB3RS? I rather like it, though I’m somewhat dubious about some of the math. Not that it’s phony, but how does professor Epps come up with the formulas and logarithms so fast? Though mostly I wonder, where does he get the values to plug in?

It reminds me of the Drake equation that was supposed to calculate the likelihood of extraterrestrial life com­municating with Earth:

N x fp x ne x fl x fi x fc x fL = ?

N is the number of stars in the Milky Way galaxy; fp is the fraction with planets; ne is the number of planets per star capable of supporting life; fl is the fraction of planets where life evolves; fi is the fraction where intelligent life evolves; fc is the fraction that communicates; and fL is the fraction of the planet’s life during which the communicating civilizations live.

The problem is there is only one value that is even close to being know, the number of stars in the galaxy. The rest is pure guesswork. So, without good information to put in the equa­tion, it’s worthless. All we know for sure is there’s at least one chance of it, Earth.

Sittin’ Through Sit-Coms

sitcom

“Beautiful people behaving stupidly” is how someone described the TV sitcom. These characters say and do things no sensible person would do in real life. If they did, I doubt the reaction from the rest of us would be laughter, but annoyance.

Back in the day, sitcom characters were basically nice folks with minor flaws in odd situations. Think of Rob and Laura Petry. Nowadays the lead characters are often selfish, sneaky, dishonest, stupid and lazy. Think of Kramer and George Costanza. Current sitcoms seem to revolve around people having sex, trying to have sex, talking about sex, talking about trying to have sex, or talking about not having sex.

Maybe I’m just an old curmudgeon, but I don’t care about these character’s sex lives. I don’t even like these char­acters. Then again, if they were real people they probably wouldn’t much care for me in return.

Gee, I Wonder…

g

Can somebody explain the letter G to me? Not what the letter is, but why the various forms. I mean, a cursive capital G doesn’t look much like the formal version. How did it get that way? And what’s with the two differ­ent lower case versions? Where did that second really odd-looking one come from?

To go off on a needless tangent, why two different sounds? Like the hard G in go and the soft G in tangent for instance. Wouldn’t the letter J work just as well in the second case? Now, it’s not a bad as the letter C which doesn’t even have a sound of its own. It sounds like a K or an S. Its only distinct sound is in combination with an H, as in church. At least it always looks like a C, so I’ll give it that.

Listen and You Won’t Hear T

often

Is it me or are more and more people pronouncing the word often with a hard T? I remember being taught as a schoolboy the T was silent. Perhaps my dictionary is out of date, but it confirms it:

often (AW fen, OFF en)

You don’t pronounce the T in listen, do you? How about the L in half or walk? Who pronounces the first R in February? What on earth would I do with a word like knight?

I suspect the folks who pronounce the T in often are the type who say either as eye-thur. I understand this originated with King George of England, who being German could never come to grips with the idea English EI is not like German EI, the latter of which is pronounced eye.

But this is a matter of no great importance or weight (pronounced wait not white or wheat. Go figure).

What Everyone Wants

threes

The three things everyone wants in any service are fast, good, and cheap.

Getting all three is called a miracle.
Getting two out of three is called a good deal.
Getting one out of three is called a poor deal.
Getting none of the three is called a government program.

I wrote that joke and I’m not in prison. Which shows you not all jokes start in prison, despite the urban myth. Why anyone would imagine convicted felons are good joke writers is a mys­tery to me.

Small Expectations of Everyday Things

stamps

Ever notice the new peel-and-stick postage stamps have that perforated-like edge even though there’s no reason for it? It’s a throwback to the old lick-and-stick sheets of stamps that were perforated to tear and separate them.

It’s a vestige of a bygone era. People expect stamps to have that serrated edge, or they wouldn’t seem like stamps. Sort of like the grillwork on a car, which used to be radiator trim. The radiator isn’t right there in the grillwork any more. In a lot of cases, cars get more cooling air from below the grill in an opening in the bumper area. People just expect cars to have a grill, so they do.

The ipod has something of a pseudo-vestige, the controller clicks when you work it. There’s no real reason for it to do so, but people like hearing a click when they push buttons. Lets them know it’s working. Apple had to add on the clicking sound because the controller gizmo doesn’t make a sound otherwise.

Olny Dmub Plpoee Buy It

spelling

This has been going around the email net:

Olny srmat poelpe can raed tihs.

Cdnuolt blveiee taht I cloud aulaclty unesdatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm.

Tihs is bcuseae the huanm mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe…

To which I say, This pliatcarur pisoprootin is lleagry nnneosse.*

It’s a trick. It only works if you jumble the letters in a particular way so they’re easy to decipher because they’re common words and expected in the sentence. It’s easy to read because there are clues, such as letter pairs kept together and a similar number of syllables. Plus, words under five letters are deciphered simply. Here’s a sentence using words from the quote jumbled differently:

Inprmaott lteerts, aricdcnog to pnaamnoehl rascceherh plopee, mteatr bsueace sramt ploepe allutacy utrensnadd oedrr. **

Not as easy, eh? Bet you can’t figure out the following without some effort:

Seteneven frerams form atneohr crutony peesttord arligny oevr ieptmord ibreecg luctete.***

Stumped? Answers:
* This particular proposition is largely nonsense.
** Important letters, according to phenomenal research people, matter because smart people actually understand order.
*** Seventeen farmers from another country protested angrily over imported iceberg lettuce.

Fuzzy-Wuzzy

conan

This is an illustration I did for Conan O’Brien vs. Bear, but they didn’t go for it. I did an alternate version, but I liked this one better and though I’d use it here. I suppose they didn’t think their audience would get the bear reference. I’m sure one-time Suckster Owen would.

You Think In Your Head…

think2self

What’s with the expression, “I thought to myself”? Is there another way to think other than to yourself? Can you think to someone else, or to your dog, or to a chair? Perhaps you can, which would explain why people often want to bounce an idea off you.

People also claim to be thinking out loud, but really they’re just talking. And to listen to some folks prattling on, it’s clear that just because they’re talking doesn’t always mean they’re thinking.

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