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Fight Terrorism, Win
The Department of Defense is looking for fresh ideas on how to fight terrorism.
And they’re holding a contest to find the best suggestions. The winner will receive
a government contract so they can develop their idea. The losers will get brand
new FBI files. But don't even bother entering since I have the winning answer:
music. I'm a shoo-in.
Underwhelmed by Information
Watching the news is giving me a case of information overload. The screen's filled
with fourteen squares, rectangles, crawls, headlines, stock tickers, and a secret
compartment or two if you know where to look. Even the local news is running
a continuous crawl along the bottom now, meaning they’re going to have to come
up with new ways to set themselves apart from the competition. The next step
will be pop-ups on the news. Think VH1 meets CNN.
You Are What You E-mail
E-mail is 30 years old. It took a long time for it to catch on—something
about people needing computers before they could use it—but now 53 percent of
Americans use it daily, spending an average of 29 minutes a day reading and writing
them. And printing them out. Which helps explain why the government is storing
over six billion pieces of paper. Wow, that's even more than my father has in
How to Win a Nobel Prize
The problem with the Nobel Prizes is that they’re too serious. They’re not interested
in everyday discoveries that help our lives, they prefer the esoteric. You know,
like scientists who supercool 2,000 rubidium atoms so they line up into a single
wave or economists who look into the shortcomings of economic markets. It's time
for a change. That's why I’m submitting some of my research now for consideration
The Drunk ‘n Stuffed Museum
Every country needs something to be proud of. That's why the Russians have opened
the Vodka Museum. And here in the U.S. we have the brand new SPAM Museum. And
why not? Over the past 64 years nearly six billion cans of the stuff have been
sold. Now it turns out the meat-in-a-can could be our latest military weapon.
Who would have thought it?
And Now, a Word From
Fay Weldon, until now a highly respected British writer, cut a deal with the
Italian jeweler Bulgari to feature its stores and products in her new book. This
isn't anything that doesn’t happen every day in the movies. Even the New York
Marathon has an official pasta, bagel, athlete's foot cream, and breathing device.
And college football has the Poulan/Weed Eater Independence Bowl, the St. Jude
Liberty Bowl, and my favorite, the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. What I want to know
is how I can get in on this deal.
School Days Are Made
In Belgium a group is trying to help students cut back on their intake of juice
and soda by getting them to switch to beer at lunch. Don't worry, it's so tame
they give the same stuff to new mothers in the hospital and visiting Americans
who wouldn’t know real beer if they drank it. Experts say it’s good for children
to learn to drink moderately and responsibly at an early age. It demystifies
it and teaches them that drinking won’t help them date the Swedish Bikini Team.
Now they tell me.
If God Was My Caddie
I played my first round of golf the other day and I have to say I didn’t embarrass
myself. Too badly. My only disappointment was that in nine holes I didn’t hit
a hole in one. True the odds of an amateur doing this are 1 in 12,600, but Cardinal
Adam Maida of Detroit did it. Of course I'm sure it helps to have good friends
in high places.
Adjusting the Believability
Separating fact from fiction these days is like separating the whites and yolks
from a plate of scrambled eggs. Ten percent of the American public got information
about the presidential campaign from late
night talk show hosts. People are always spouting off something they heard
in a film as if it’s the gospel. And now it turns out that another thing we believe
in, the wind chill factor, has been full of hot air for 56 years. So how come
I don't feel warmer and fuzzier right now?
Women Are Spider Mites,
Men Are Sea Hares
Crossed mating signals are a major cause of hurt feelings, self-esteem problems,
and late night masturbation in adults. The trouble arises because women are much
more subtle about these signals than men. Women flirt seductively, cook romantic
candlelight dinners, and dress sexy. Men, on the other hand, send out signals
which are about as subtle as a Jerry Springer audience. Why can't women be more
like spider mites and men like sea hares? Life would be so much easier.
To Boldly Go Where
Others Think I Want to Go
I’m tired of being second- guessed. TiVo, the new digital video recorder, automatically
tapes shows it thinks I might like. Internet search engines refer me to sites
which might help answer my question but only want to separate me from my money.
And software has features designed to make it act the way it thinks I’m going
to want it to act. What next? Cars, elevators, and waiters second guessing us?
You Are The Color of
The Food You Eat
Two new books say the secret to a healthy diet is to choose your food according
to its color. Yes, Garanimals comes to the dinner table. The authors say blue
is good for the brain, orange is good for the heart, and green is good for their
bank accounts. But what happens if you eat too much of a good thing?
Now Fear This
A study has found that Republicans have three times as many nightmares as Democrats.
Not only that, but they have different kinds. It's enough to give a person oneirophobia,
which is a fear of dreams. Or possibly politicophobia, a fear of politicians.
But that's nothing. There are other things we should all be afraid of. Very afraid.
Intelligence is Better Than No Intelligence at All
Steven Spielberg’s movie A.I. has people wondering about the possibility
of artificial intelligence. Robots don't have it. Yet. President Bush does, thanks
to Dick Cheney. And the Greater North Dakota Association? If they get their way
and change the state's name to Dakota they'll have the most artificial intelligence
Leave Me Alone, I'm Dead
Richard Nixon's dog Checkers is about to be dug up and carted to California to
join his master for eternity. If he'd been stuffed like Trigger he'd already
be there. If he'd been cremated and shot into space like Gene Roddenberry they
couldn't do this. Just because we don't have Richard Nixon to kick around anymore
doesn't mean we should take it out on his dog.
Bottling the Fountain of
The world's oldest person died recently at the age of 115 without saying what
her secret of longevity was. If might have been something she ate. Or it could
be that she remained active. Researchers now say that being born in the fall
can extend your life by about 6 months. And that winning an Academy Award will
make you live longer. But there are other things you can do to extend your life
besides moving to France, lying about your birthday, and taking up acting.
Dogestan Part II
Two years ago I was thinking about buying my own town-- Otis, Oregon--and renaming
it Dogestan. Now in central Turkey 11 villages have been put up for sale. In
Australia, the town of Jandowae is selling itself off bit by bit. And Red
Rock, an island in the San Francisco Bay, can be yours for only $10 million.
So how come the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is having such a hard time finding
a place to start his own country?
How to Survive an
Electricity’s in short supply, gasoline’s getting expensive, and it’s taking
two cups of espresso to get going in the morning. Is there any question we’re
teetering on the edge of an energy crisis? If you remember the 1970’s you know
what might be in store: waiting in long lines to get gas, only being allowed
that privilege on alternate days, and sitting around wondering whether wearing
silly buttons that say “Whip Inflation Now” could possibly do anything other
than make you feel like a fool. Here are some handy tips to help you get through
The Politics of
Boredom. And Vice Versa.
Politics is no fun in this country, not for the politicians and certainly not
for those of us who have to live with the consequences of what they do. Or don't
do as the case may be. The solution is for them to think positive, have more
fun, work less, punch each other out, and bite each other's ears off. Hey, it
works in other countries.
Why Your Child’s
Phone Number is Higher Than Their IQ
Cell phones are bad for children. Not because of radiation seeping into their
impressionable little brains, accidents caused by chatting while riding a tricycle,
or the possibility of swallowing one because, well, kids swallow anything that’s
too big to stick up their nose or in their ear. No, it turns out that cell phones
can make them stupid.
Jumping to Conclusions
Isn't An Olympic Event--Yet
It’s easy to jump to conclusions. Just because researchers found traces of marijuana,
cocaine, and a hallucinogenic chemical in clay pipes that were unearthed at William
Shakespeare’s old house doesn't mean Robert Downey, Jr. is Shakespeare reincarnated.
And even though the Winter 2002 Olympics are adding bridge as a demonstration
competition it doesn't mean Yahtzee, Uno, and Go Fish are next. There are other
explanations, you know.
Life, Liberty, and the
Pursuit of New Genitals
Everyone loves getting something for nothing. It doesn’t matter whether it’s
a whistle in the bottom of a Cracker Jack box that doesn’t work or a brand spanking
new set of genitals, free is good. Now if you work for the city of San Francisco
or are enlisted in the British Army you can get your sex reassigned faster than
you can say, “I’d like one of those and three of those. No, better make it two
of those.” And they'll pay for it. Talk about perks!
Thank Heaven For Little Girls
It’s not easy being a girl. In Afghanistan the Taliban won’t let them get an
education. In India, pregnant women are using ultrasound to find out if they’re
carrying a boy or girl, and if it’s a girl many of them have it aborted. At least
in England they have a much healthier outlook—they want girls. In fact, they've
found that by becoming a vegetarian you increase the odds of having a baby girl.
This will lead to some major changes in the English way of life, the least of
which will be pastel-colored dart boards.
A Hero Saves the Sandwich
The son of the 11th Earl of Sandwich has opened a lunchtime delivery service
specializing in—guess what?—sandwiches. Not surprising since his ancestor invented
them. Had he not, we wouldn’t have the hamburger, the hot dog or the cheesesteak.
And we’d be walking around with third degree burns from eating breadless grilled
cheese sandwiches with our hands. Unfortunately the new menu features sandwiches
like grilled prawns in chili jam. Is there no sense of tradition anymore?
It's a Pig's Life
There’s something terribly wrong when pigs are living better than I am. First
one flew first class from Philadelphia to Seattle on US Airways. Then a 150-pound
Vietnamese potbelly pig named Smithfield stayed in the Mayflower Hotel in New
York. I'm really not jealous of them. After all, most pigs still end up on sandwiches
with Swiss cheese and mustard, And hopefully I won't.
Slim Jims - Good Clean
Adolph Levis, the man who created Slim Jims, died on March 20th. You know Slim
Jims, they're the round, orangey, dried meat sticks that have a shelf life of
almost a year, a half life that makes plutonium look like a flash bulb, and you
sneak them as often as you can. People buy over $90 million of them a year. That's
a lot of sneaking.
Happy Birthday to the Original
Ken Carson turned 40 on March 13th. If the name doesn’t immediately sound familiar,
think: “Barbie’s stud muffin.” Yes, that Ken. For forty years he’s played second
fiddle to Barbie, who’s very obviously the star. You have to wonder what she
sees in him. Sure he has a nice smile, keeps himself in good shape, and has never
been Robert Downey, Jr.’s roommate in prison, but that goes for half of—okay,
some of—the men in Hollywood, and you don’t see her hanging around with them.
Hey Kids, Want to be a Virgin
It’s never too soon to start thinking about a career for your daughter, especially
if you want her to have a fully furnished palace, round-the-clock servants, and
public adoration. In Nepal they're looking for a new goddess. It would be a great
experience, would look terrific on a resume, and best of all, what better way
is there to make sure her virginity stays intact until puberty?
Go Ahead, Lend Me a Hand
The biggest ingrate alive may be Clint Hallam, the man who received the world’s
first hand transplant in 1998 and recently decided to give it back. Hopefully
not to whoever gave it to him in the first place. Doctors in London took it off
and sent it to France. Funny how you can’t ship a filet mignon from one country
to the next because of mad cow disease but it’s okay to wrap up a spare hand,
slap a few stamps on the package, and drop it in the nearest mail box.
A 21st Century Diet Plan
Doctors say that losing weight can bring immediate benefits to our cardiovascular,
pulmonary, and immune systems, not to mention their bank accounts. But you have
to do it correctly. Fad diets, dangerous drugs, and permanently gluing your scale
to 115 lbs isn’t the answer. These simple guidelines are.
If Only Eleanor Roosevelt
Had Worn a Thong
Everyone wonders about their self-worth, and we each have our own way of defining
it. Boomers have net worth, actors have the number of restraining orders for
stalkers, and baseball players can add up how many times they've been in rehab.
Ursula Andress and Eleanor Roosevelt have the price of their bikinis. Guess which
is worth more.
Shoppers need love and understanding too. That’s why Conde Nast is putting out
a new magazine for women about shopping called "Lucky." It's also why
Forest Laboratories is promoting their antidepressant Celexa to help people who
shop till they drop then get up and shop some more. Well, that and they smell
money. Lots of it.
Now That Would Be Entertainment
The XFL is trying to grab viewers using cheerleaders and new rules like no fair
catch on punts, no extra point kicks after a touchdown, and no games played at
the same time as the NFL. If they really want to capture viewers and rejuvenate
football they need to do more. Like create the XXXFL. Face it, nothing sells
like sex. Real live sex.
Money Can't Buy
Everything. Can It?
Maybe money can’t buy love, happiness, or peace of mind, but it can buy a political
office, and once you have that the other pieces fall into place. It can also
buy a winning sports team. True, if you’re Anna Nicole Smith it can’t buy respectability
and if you’re Pee Wee Herman it can’t buy a second chance, but you can't have
everything. Is having money really all it's cracked up to be?
Growing up is highly overrated
There are four stages of maturing, and they’re technically known as: Less Fun,
Even Less Fun, Cranky, and Death. Like television programming, maturing is a
degenerative process with no cure in sight. There are no telethons, actors wearing
colored ribbons at the Academy Awards, or pieces of stale candy for sale at restaurant
counters to help raise money and awareness for this problem. And it’s a shame,
since we all suffer from it. Or most of us, anyway.
The New Name Game
Companies are changing their names at an alarming rate. On March 26th the British
Post Office will change its name to Consignia. Roll it around your mouth a little.
Savor it. Then let me know when you’re done spitting it out and sucking down
a quart of turpentine to get rid of the bad aftertaste so I can continue. But
don’t expect this trend to end anytime soon. Before you know it AOL Time Warner
will combine the words to become AtWar. And that's only the beginning.
When Fast Food Just Isn't
If there’s one thing we don’t have enough of, it’s time. That's why we should
be grateful for new products like Milk 'n Cereal bars, frozen peanut butter and
jelly sandwiches, and macaroni and cheese in a handy push-up tube. Yum, yum!
It doesn't get any better than this, does it?
Sex and the Single Pig-faced
It’s not uncommon for people in Taiwan to try to improve their lot in life by
having moles removed, noses reshaped, or be smuggled out of the country in a
small crate along with 487 now close friends. One man even tried to have his
face reshaped to look like a pig. But considering the average person there has
sex only 78 times a year, I think they have other things to concern themselves
with besides getting pig noses.
How to be a good loser
In the grand scheme of the universe, and contrary to what Ed McMahon and Dick
Clark would like you to believe, we can’t all be winners. For every winner there
must be a loser. It’s like yin and yang, positive and negative, action and reaction,
Bush and Gore. Sorry, the last one’s a bad example—by the time all was said and
done they did a good job of proving they’re both losers. Since at one time or
another we all have to lose, here are a few simple guidelines which hopefully
will make you a better loser.
So you want to be a world
leader, do you?
Face it, running a country isn’t easy. Thus, it should come as no surprise that
Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori faxed his resignation. Or that Queen Elizabeth
II is having problems because she's considering closing the staff bar to save
money. Do you think it was easy for King Mswati III of Swaziland to ask that
the country’s smaller-endowed men come forward to use donated condoms?
'Tis better to give, especially
if you're giving these
There comes a time during the holiday season when we have to look past the glittery
tinsel, the sparkling lights, and the 1,456,975th bad rendition of “The Little
Drummer Boy” and remind ourselves what Christmas is all about: gifts. That's
why I’ve put together a few gift suggestions, each one perfect for the person
who wishes they had everything.
Reinventing the e-wheel
The key to 21st century innovation is to open up a dictionary, point to a word
at random, then put an ‘i’ or ‘e’ in front of it. This instantly attracts investors
and publicity but, as many are finding out, not customers or profits. To do that
you need a good idea. You know, like an e-pen and e-paper.
The bitch is back -- and
Elton John was in court recently where he testified that he spends as much as
$2.15 million a month in living expenses. As hobbies of aging British rock stars
go, shopping until your accountants drop
isn’t so bad. After all, he could have gotten into total body fluid replacement
like Keith Richards. The problem is he’s setting a bad example for the youth
Better living through
It’s unsettling to discover that something as delightfully sinful as chocolate
may actually be good for you. Actually, it's nothing less than a miracle: It’s
can make you live longer, it can make your car ride smoother, and you can get
a good high without having to inhale. Stock up now before it becomes prescription
Is that a durian in your
pocket or were you just in Singapore?
It’s a country! It’s a city! It’s an island! Yes, it’s Singapore, the city of
contrasts, the only place in the world where you’ll find Buddhist temples sitting
next to towering glass skyscrapers, smell the aroma of delicious food mingling
with the putrid stench of durian, and see fine textile shops next to fishing
tackle stores on Arab Street, making it the perfect place for those who want
to look their best when they catch dinner.
Oops!...I forgot to
You’d think any election where young people have the chance to walk around announcing
that they’re all for Bush and Dick and not get sent to their room without dinner
would bring them out in droves. But it hasn't been the case. We need to
interest them in the political process. You know, like have a Celebrity Death
Match between the candidates.
Snoozing through the news
The news is boring. TV newscasters are stoic and unflappable,
couldn’t find an exclamation point if their circulation depended on it, and radio’s
idea of news is telling us the time and temperature for the hundredth time this
hour. Maybe we should take a tip from the Russians and put some sex into it.
Hold the (lo fat, caffeine-free,
Once upon a time if you needed mayonnaise you went down the condiment aisle,
found the brand you wanted, and went home happy in the knowledge that you could
make tuna salad for the rest of the year because you couldn’t resist that deal
on the institutional size jar. Now you not only need to know what brand you want,
you have to decide whether you want regular, low fat, fat-free, cholesterol-free,
caffeine-free, sugar-free, unscented, extra-strength, or clear. Where’s Jolt
Cola when you really need it?
Throw food, not punches
There’s always so much fighting going on around the world. Since it’s obvious
we can’t all get along, we need to find a better way to resolve disputes. I propose
food fights. They’re safe, relatively harmless, and fun. Face it, no one can
go through a food fight and still be in a cranky mood. Well, not unless they’re
being pelted with raw chitlins, hard boiled eggs still in the shell, and last
year’s Christmas fruit cake.
to your health
Some days reading the news is every frat boys’ wet dream. No, Jennifer
Lopez isn’t moving in next door wearing a dress that makes the one she had on
at the Grammies look like a nun’s habit. Come on, we’re talking about reality
here. The news is that drinking beer may actually have benefits other than thinking
you’re witty, offering the remote possibility of sex, and keeping aspirin manufacturers
in business. Alcohol, it turns out, may actually be good for you.
Some see the bra cup half empty,
others half full
Researchers in Australia have devised a Smart Bra which is coated
with an “intelligent” polymer that stiffens when it’s under strain so the straps
and cups adjust depending on how you move. While this sounds like
a wonderful invention, something tells me it could feel a little creepy, much
like cruise control on cars. Think about it: do you really want your undergarments
to have a life of their own?
It's to die for
You can buy a casket online from over 100 sites, all the way from the original,
PeachtreeCaskets Direct.com, where they’ll overnight one with a golf course painted
on it called “Fairway to Heaven”, to trappistcaskets.com where monks at an abbey
in Iowa will hand build a classic Dracula-style coffin to fit your budget, lifestyle,
and loved one. Check them out now and make sure your lawyer puts the URL in your
A Pessimist's Guide to
According to its proponents, optimism brings success, friends, and good
health while pessimism breeds failure and hairy warts on your nose. Optimists
look at pessimists and see the warts on their nose as something they can improve
on. Pessimists look at optimists and thank god they found that website that explains
how to make an AK-47 out of a broom handle, duct tape, and an old Bobby Goldsborough
8-track. It’s all in how you view things.
Forget reading and ‘rithmatic,
what about writing?
In some parts of the country hand printing has actually become more common than
cursive writing. The Post Office says their automated systems kick out 60 percent
of all handwritten addresses, with 10 million of them ending up in the dead-letter
office because they’re unreadable. But it’s not too late. There are ways to bring
good penmanship back besides having Sister Mary Ignatius Himmler smack our knuckles
with a ruler until we figure out how the hell to make a lower case zee.
Caution: Sexual signposts
A man works under the assumption that as long as a woman isn’t snoring she wants
to have sex with him. Women, on the other hand, think that any guy who buys them
a drink, talks to their chest, and casually asks whether they prefer ribbed or
unribbed condoms is only after sex. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Men are just naturally inquisitive. So how can we interpret the sexual signals
people give off so we can keep our egos and body parts intact?
Excuses, excuses, excuses
Excuses can be a wonderful thing. Well, as long as you’re the one making the
excuses and not one of those having to listen to them while trapped inside a
hot airplane that’s been sitting on a runway for 2½ hours. They were the most
creative excuses since the producers of the Rocky and Bullwinkle movie pleaded
not to have to return their salaries to the movie studio. Not bad considering
pilots aren’t hired for their creativity.
and summer not
Open your notebooks class, it’s time to write that traditional back-to-school
essay about what you did on your summer vacation. If you were lucky like Chelsea
Clinton you got to travel. Or maybe you spent it trying to meet members of the
opposite sex by SpeedDating. Eva Brugeura of Palo Alto, California spent her
summer turning kitchen appliances on their side. And in Iowa people flocked to
Nehama to watch tractor square dancing. Hey, it beats staying home and repainting
the barbecue grill. Again.
And now, by popular request....
How do we gauge popularity? By how many friends we have? How many times your
cell phone rings in a restaurant? How much money you make? Politician’s have
a popularity rating system, and it’s not based on how many interns are under
their desk, how many lobbyists fly them to fancy resorts, or how many Buddhists
give them money for their campaign. No, they get votes. If they’re popular they
receive a lot of them and are elected. If they’re not they have to continue working
in that crappy law firm and raking in millions. It’s a tough life.
Signs of the times
I recently took a trip up the California coast and back down the center, and
if there’s one thing I learned—aside from the fact that there isn’t enough salsa
in the world to make a three-day-old half-eaten burrito that rolls out from under
the car seat taste as good as when it was fresh—it’s that there are way too many
signs in this world.
I'll take Ass-Backwards Solutions
for $500, Alex
As I watch the cars whiz by I realize it’s true: we do have a love affair
with our cars. What I can’t figure out though is how we manage to keep that affair
from our significant others. And not wind up in the emergency room with exhaust
pipe burns in delicate places. But now, thanks to the high price of gasoline,
people are starting to examine this affair of the heart. And like any relationship,
breaking up is hard to do.
What a Wonderful Life It
As human beings we've got an awful lot of things backwards.
You'd think that after all these years on earth—after all,
researchers estimate intelligent life has inhabited this planet
for, oh, eight or ten years now— we'd have figured it out a
little better than we have. Think again. We work too much,
play too little, and think inhaling deeply as we walk through
the fragrance department counts as stopping to smell the roses.
But it’s not too late. I have a plan.
You're not getting older,
you're....okay, you're getting older
Like death, taxes, and Cher’s appointment with the plastic surgeon, getting
older is a certainty. Of course, it still beats the alternative. So as long
as we’re all getting older—and no matter whether you’re two or 72 you are—we
might as well know what we’re getting ourselves into.
Conversation has gone to the
There’s a book out called How to Speak Dog which tries to teach us humans to
communicate with canines. The author, Stanley Coren, claims a dog has the vocabulary
and intelligence of a two-year-old. This might not be so bad if it converted
into fourteen dog years, but I don’t think it works that way. Thus, it turns
out dogs are perpetually stuck in the terrible twos. Let’s see the SPCA use that
as a sell point for their next puppy adoption campaign.
Confessing a Guilty
We all have our guilty pleasures. These are the secret things we indulge ourselves
in, usually sneaking them when no one’s around, overdoing it when we do, and—for
god’s sake!— never letting on that we do it. Most guilty pleasures are pretty
innocuous. Some people sneak chocolate, others read Harlequin Romances slipped
inside the cover of the Oxford English Dictionary. I watch “Change of Heart.”
So That's What's The Matter
With Kids Today
If you can trust two recent studies, and I can’t think of a single reason why
you should, two of the biggest problems facing kids today are that beer is too
cheap and cars have too many seats. Believe it or not, people actually got paid
to come up with these conclusions. What I can’t figure out is how I get their
Everything You Always Wanted
to Know About the Stock Market But Were Too Busy Connecting to
E*Trade to Ask
Lately it seems as if all you hear about is the stock market, the stock market,
the stock market. It's enough to make you pray for a steady stream of Cuban kids
heading to the U.S. on rafts just so we have something different to hear about
for a change. But since you're determined not to be the last person on your block
to throw every spare dollar you have into the stock market, you might as well
learn something about it before you take the plunge.
Dropped By, Tuned In,
I've seen the future of sex and it was all I could do to stay awake.
It was Erotica USA 2000, a traveling exhibition that's billed as "The World's
Largest Erotic Consumer and Trade Show." It was hip. It was risqué. But
above all it was a reminder that if the experts think size matters enough that
they brag about it then I'm in big trouble.
They're Not Just For Soccer Players Anymore
We spend a lot of time trying to discover who we are and what we
should be doing with our lives. Maybe not as much time as we do
trying to have sex, sitting on hold for the next customer service
representative who appreciates our business, or standing in front
of the mirror trying to get kernels of microwave popcorn from between
our teeth, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less important.
The End of Eating As
We Know It
If scientists at the Defense Department have their way we’ll soon
be slapping a patch on our arm in lieu of downing a Big Mac, fries,
and large Coke. This means one day you’ll be able to walk into
a drugstore and say “Supersize it!” and they will, unlike now when
they laugh because you’re standing in front of the condom counter
when you say it. Think of it as a self-feeding Power Bar only better—after
all, you don’t have to taste a patch.
Littering the Streets
With Art or Who Loosed The Moose?
Rhode Island has adopted a tourism mascot, and not surprisingly
it’s Mr. Potato Head. Before you go calling this a half-baked idea,
think about it. What else would the country’s tiniest state use
to represent it, Mr. Magnifying Glass? Tiny Tim? Tater Tots? They're
not the only one putting sculptures all over the place. Come June,
Toronto will be littered with 400 9-foot-tall fiberglass moose.
The reason they’re using the moose is that it symbolizes their
national pastime, which is drinking Moosehead Beer. That and no
one knew what a Labatt is. One big difference, though, is that
they’re calling theirs an art exhibit rather than a desperate attempt
to call attention to themselves.
It's North, It's White, but
is it Great?
Canada, for those of you who slept through four years of geography,
is the big country to the north of the United States that Bob and
Doug McKenzie made famous. It encompasses 3,849,674 square miles
and is inhabited by 427people, putting it on par with the Atlantic
Ocean. The good thing about it is it keeps the Arctic glaciers
out of Minnesota. The bad thing is that it’s too much like the
United States, and I say that in only the most derogatory way.
And the Winner Is... Everyone
The Grammies are over and the Academy Awards will be here before
you know it. If it feels like we’re being bombarded with awards
shows, well, we are. According to Variety there were 332 entertainment
awards ceremonies last year, which is up from a measly 252 the
previous year. To put this in perspective, if you were to lay the
trophies handed out in the past twelve months end-to-end starting
at Hollywood Boulevard they’d all be pawned by Jan-Michael Vincent
before you reached Sunset Boulevard.
Learning to Be Mr. Right
What do women want in a man? If I could answer this with any semblance
of certainty I’d be rich, famous, and hated by women everywhere.
The simple fact is I don’t understand women any better than I understand
quantum string theory, why you have to pay to lift free weights,
or why anyone would think a remake of Charlie’s Angels is a good
idea. It would seem that after being around women all my life—starting
with my mother, who happens to be a woman—I should have a clue,
but I don’t.
Baring Your Soul --
and Much, Much More
People in glass houses shouldn’t, well, they shouldn’t do a lot
of things. Take it from Daniela Tobar, a 21-year-old actress in
Santiago, Chile who’s spending two weeks in an 8-foot by 8-foot
glass- enclosed building while people watch her go about her life.
I suspect throwing stones is the least of her worries. Guys drooling
on the windows is probably one of the most.
It's a Small Cyberworld
The Internet causes brain damage. I’m not sure how, and I’m not
sure if it’s reversible, but there’s no question it’s worse than
anything a dippy little cell phone could do even if you glued it
to your ear for the next four years and listened to Moviefone 24-hours
a day. Okay, maybe it’s not that bad, but it’s close. The town
of Halfway, Oregon has renamed itself Half.com. Rabbis have banned
ultra-orthodox Jews from using the Internet. And you can now get
doctors to bid online for the honor of performing your next surgery.
How else do you explain this?
It's Freezing Over, Is
It’s snowing like crazy here, and just the fact that I’m looking
out the window and seeing it instead of watching it on the Weather
Channel makes me realize crazy is the imperative word. It makes
me wonder why people live where they do. They put up with frigid
temperatures, blazing heat and humidity, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes,
and no coffee shop within walking distance. Why would anyone voluntarily
put themself through that? Probably because most people like
Carless in Detroit
I’m in Detroit—the Motor freakin’ City—and I can’t get a rental
car. This is like being in Los Angeles and not being able to see
a movie, discovering that every restaurant in New Orleans is out
of gumbo, or having a waiter in Paris not look at you as if you
have the lowest IQ ever recorded while pretending not to understand
what it is you just ordered. It just isn’t right. And it’s all
because the North American International Auto Show is in town.
Something To Look Forward
Well, we made it into the new year and absolutely nothing happened.
And I do mean nothing. The most hyped event since the last one
no one cared about except the media turned out to be a dud. Surprise!
Surprise! So now that the dawning of the new M-word is behind us,
the question begs: What do we have to look forward to? The truth
is, it doesn’t take a genius to see what’s coming. To prove it,
I have my own predictions.
Look Ma, No Wires!
Just before Christmas I broke down and bought a cell phone. While
this may not sound like a big deal to you, for me it feels like
I should be standing in front of a group of people at a 12-step
program watching them nod their heads and chant "Hi, Mad Dog",
all the while wondering what buying a cell phone has to do with
overeating. I know, I know—I’m pitiful.
Burying The Past
As humans, we have a natural urge to want to make our mark and
be remembered in future generations. This is why the Pharaohs built
the pyramids, Shah Jehan built the Taj Mahal, and Kevin Costner
made Waterworld and the Postman. Okay, so some people have a better
understanding of what will stand the test of time than others.
Last year people buried an estimated 10,000 time capsules. To put
that in perspective, that’s 5,000 for every man, woman, and child
that gives a rat’s ass.
Is Biggest Best?
Philadelphia has a new claim to fame—it’s been crowned the flabbiest
city in the United States. So instead of conjuring up images of
the Liberty Bell, American Bandstand, the signing of the Declaration
of Independence, and Rocky Balboa beating the crap out of a side
of beef, from now on when we think of Philadelphia we’re going
to picture people waddling down the street stuffing cheesesteaks
in their mouths and chasing it with a side order of scrapple. It’s
official, the City of Brotherly Love is now the City of Brotherly
One Vote, One Auction
Online auctions are huge. In the last few months people have tried
to sell a baby (which got a $109,100 bid before it was stopped),
a kidney (which was up to $5.7 million, proving that the sum of
the parts is indeed greater than the whole), a large quantity of
high-grade marijuana (giving new meaning to selling to the highest
bidder), and even a dying man’s body. That’s why I’m going
to put my vote up for auction. It’s time to make the "e" in
eBay stand for election by posting an online ad that reads: "For
sale: one vote. Original owner. In excellent condition. Only used
once every four years."
Minding Everyone Else's
We all have the meddling gene. But like the baldness, snoring,
and chocolate craving genes it’s more dominant in some of us than
others. Some people aren’t content to meddle in the small, normal
way. Politicians fall into this category. Activists fall into this
category. And a group in Ellicott City, Maryland called the Halloween
Association falls into this category. They're trying their damnedest
to start the holiday season by putting us all in a bad mood. Their
idea is to switch Halloween to the last Saturday in October. Now
this is a dumb idea.
This past weekend I went on my first camping trip in more years
than I care to think about and I’m happy to report that I not only
survived but had a good time. It might have been the fresh air.
It might have been the good company. It could be the lingering
effects of the tequila-drenched campfire sing-along that covered
every song K-tel ever put on a compilation as well as a Flemish
version of "The Itsy Bitsy Spider." But deep down inside
I suspect it had a lot to do with the fact that there were bathrooms
50 yards away.
[Your Ad Here]
If it seems like it’s getting harder and harder to get away from
advertising, well, it is. What started as Adam putting a handbill
up in the Garden of Eden for his famous ribs is now a battle to
find an empty two square inches of space in which to plunk down
an ad. It’s a damned good thing advertising people don’t look down
during sex or they’d realize that a condom is the perfect place
to advertise mutual funds ("Looking for a bigger growth opportunity?"),
Pennzoil ("Lower friction for longer-lasting lubrication"),
or McDonald’s ("Supersize it!").
The Big Whoops!
It might be the alignment of the planets, but there’s been a lot
of "whoops!" going on lately. Someone at Lockheed
confused metric with English measurements and caused a $125 million
Mars spacecraft to rendezvous a little too close to the planet.
Like right into the surface. "Whoops!" In Japan,
some workers tried to put 35 pounds of uranium in a 5.2-pound tank. "Whoops!" To
err may be human, but let's try to stop short of a meltdown, okay?
Blondes - An Endangered
It’s hard to think that blondes may be going the way of the horse drawn carriage,
the passenger pigeon, and families eating dinner together, but it’s true. According
to a book that just came out, blondes may not make it to the end of the next
millennium. Well, none that are alive now will, that’s for sure. Personally,
I think we should start protecting them while we still can.
Throwing Vegetables For World Peace
People seem to like days that honor causes. There’s Random Acts
of Kindness Day, Bike to Work Day, and Buy Nothing Day. National
Admit You’re Happy Day was supposed to be August 8th but,
well, it didn’t happen. Sure, a few people woke up, stretched,
and once they stopped hacking and realized they hadn’t coughed
up their intestines admitted they were happy to be alive, but this
certainly wasn’t the mass show of ecstasy the planners had hoped
Watching Our @*!#*$&^! Language
There’s little question that we’re turning into a foul mouth bunch. It’s
nothing to turn on the TV and hear prime time sitcom characters telling each
other that they suck. Or David Letterman doing his best to conjugate the word
ass at least once in every sentence. Or even see billboards and newspaper ads
for an airline named after an untouched babe using the word shag more ways than
Tracy Lords—or even the House of Lords—has done it. Don’t get me wrong though,
I’m not complaining.
I'm Too Lazy to Come Up With a Title
Admit it: we’re humans, therefore we’re lazy. Why do you think
one-third of adult American women are overweight, 14 percent of
children are obese, and you can’t fit into those pants you bought
three months ago? You can tell me I’m crazy, that you work 14-hour
days six days a week, but in your heart you know the only reason
you’re doing that is you’re too lazy to find a job where they treat
Home Is Where Your Passport Is
For the past two years I haven’t stayed in any one place longer than two months.
It’s kind of an A.D.H.D. thing—Attention Deficit and Housing Disorder. It started
when I left the east coast to move to San Francisco. Somewhere along the 4-week
trip across the country something snapped. I mean, changed. Suddenly the idea
of settling down sounded about as appetizing as tuna Jell-O. Even when it has
canned fruit cocktail suspended in it. So since I got here I’ve been house-sitting
and subletting and generally a rather transient fellow. Hey, it may not be a
great life, but it’s my life.
Heir to the Porcelain Throne
For the past twenty years the Japanese have been relieving themselves
in Washlets, the most sophisticated, high-tech, complicated toilets
in the world. They have heated seats, warm-water bidets, and other
features so advanced that it will be at least another five years
before anyone figures out what all the buttons do. These toilets,
which cost between $600 and $3,500, are so popular that 40 percent
of the households in Japan have at least one. Now it turns
out that the wiring in some of the older model Washlets can get
worn and, well, catch fire, giving new meaning to being in the
If I Only Had Einstein's Brain
A team of neuroscientists at McMaster University in Canada went
over Einstein’s brain with a fine tooth comb, which is more than
he ever did with his hair when he was alive. It turns out that
his brain is very much like yours and mine only much, much smarter.
It’s average size, average weight, and looks like a soggy gray
cauliflower that’s been sitting on a Las Vegas buffet table way
too long. They did, however, discover something interesting.
Women Are From Venus, Men Love to
Summer is upon us. You know summer, that’s the time of the year when our thoughts
turn to lying on the beach, getting a tan, taking long walks in the late evening
sun, and pulling out the grill and charring anything that will sit still long
enough to be marinated, including beef, chicken, Uncle Al, the dog, and whoever
it is at the radio station who seems to think we want to hear that stupid sunscreen
song every hour. As if anyone with more than three brain cells even wanted to
hear it a second time.
Coloring Outside the Lines
Any day now it will be safe to buy crayons again. Stop worrying,
there’s no e.coli contamination. And no, they haven’t been found
to cause cancer (except maybe in laboratory rats that inject them).
What has been discovered— hold onto your coloring books, kids—is
that crayons can cause massive breakouts of political correctness.
Learning the Value of a Dollar
According to my parents it came down to three simple rules: Money
doesn’t grow on trees, the harder you work the more money you’ll
make, and no, you can’t have a bigger allowance. As it turns
out they were right about two out of three, which is pretty good.
Actually what’s good about it is that I actually admit to my parents
having such a good record. It could get me ostracized from the
League of Ungrateful Children if word gets around.
Read This Before You Get Married
If you ever find yourself lying in bed in the morning and you stop
coughing long enough to say to yourself, "You know, maybe
I was wrong. There really isn't much of a difference between men
and women," give me a call. Not only is there a bigger difference
between the two sexes than all the light years between Mars and
Venus, but I have the proof. To find out for yourself, all
you have to do is find a couple who is about to be married and
get yourself invited to both the bachelor party and the
Don't Ask Me, I'm Running a Fever
As far as I can tell, the only good this virus is doing is to boost the economy
by making me buy truckloads of tissues followed by caseloads of trash bags to
cart the used tissues away in, thereby assuring that the trashmen have plenty
of work. Of course this also means forty innocent trees were cut down to make
the Puffs Ultra-Medicated Dolphin-Free tissues, a few hundred barrels of precious
fossil fuel were depleted to make the plastic trash bags, and the city landfill
is going to be clogged up that much sooner. Face it, being sick is environmentally
When Bad Food Goes Good
Life’s become way too complicated. Not only do you have to choose which of the
movies at the new 48-multiplex you’d rather fall asleep during, stare at the
Prevue Guide so long waiting for all the channels to scroll by that you fall
into a trance and never get to see an actual show, and try to decide which lame
imitation of pizza you want to have delivered, but somehow you have to figure
out which foods are safe to eat today and which ones aren’t.
Famous Last Words
People have uttered some very interesting last words. Right before
he died, Douglas Fairbanks declared, "I've never felt better." H.G.
Wells said, "Go away...I'm all right." Obviously they
were both wrong.
If you’re like most of us, you look for a mate who’s compatible,
who you want to spend your life with, and who will put up with
your counting peoples’ toes to make sure they have five on each
foot. If you’re President Clinton, you look for someone who
will stand by you even when you repeatedly show incredibly bad
taste in your choice of liaisons. And if you’re Elizabeth
Taylor or Mickey Rooney, you pretty much just look for anyone you
haven’t married yet.
Back to School Special
You can tell summer’s over. The barbecue grill’s been unused for weeks, movies
are coming out with fewer asteroids and more plot, and the newspaper’s filled
with Back to School ads for $200 sneakers designed by NASA for Nike’s money-making
program. That makes it a good time to sit down and talk to your kids about
the importance of an education. Try to sneak it in during one of the (True
Statistic Alert!) 10,000 commercials the average kid will see over summer
Are We@The End of Punctuation As
We Know It?!
Punctuation’s a nice thing. Well, it used to be, anyway. If it wasn’t
for punctuation we’d have nothing to break up those run-on sentences, set off
a series of thoughts, or show that we’re excited!!!!!! But nowadays punctuation
and its kissing cousin, symbols, are being usurped and changed for very nonpunctuational
Let Them Eat Salsa
The United States government has just made it easier for us to
eat a balanced diet. How did they do this? Not by requiring brewers
to add 14 essential vitamins and minerals to beer. And not by passing
a law that says no one can get up from the table unless they finish
all their Brussels sprouts. No, they simply declared that from
now on, salsa is a vegetable.
Those Darn Sexual Myths
The truth is, no one understands sex. This is amazing since we
think about it constantly, we lust after it whenever we can, and
believe it or not, people actually study it in school. Some as
an official major. But for something we spend an inordinate amount
of time trying to achieve, you’d think by now we’d have a better
grip on it, so to speak. Or at least a better understanding of
Some people take their food way too seriously. Hey, I like eating
as much as the next guy (okay, I may not like eating as much as
the next guy—look at the size of him!—but I do enjoy it the same
amount) but that doesn’t mean I get bent out of shape when my radiccio
touches my fennel root. Well, not unless it touches it like that,
in which case I demand to see its driver’s license to make sure
it’s of legal age.
Why Johnny Can't Read Good
In the past, spelling was a particularly thorny problem in the English language,
but not anymore thanks to the advent of the spell checker. In the early days
of personal computing, word processors didn't have spell checkers. Of course
floppy discs were hand carved out of stone then too. The first spell checker
I used made me run each file through a separate program which then checked it
against a massive dictionary of 251 entries, putting its vocabulary on par with
Sylvester Stallone's. As the software progressed, so did the spell checkers.
Unfortunately Sylvester Stallone didn't.
Why Johnny Shouldn’t Go to College - It’s now being revealed that education
is bad for your health. This came to light in a study published
in the February issue of American Demographics magazine (motto: "They
cut down trees for this?") which claims that the more
education you have the less sex you have. Who would have thought
you’d trade one sheepskin for another?
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