Category Archives: History

A Nose for Gold

Have you got a Nose for Gold?

Growing up at the beach, I never had much use for those little dweebes who would pan for gold in Long Island Sound. All they ever got was a plastic container of cigarette butts.

Well, it is Connecticut's "Gold Coast" but that's not quite what they mean.  (Google Image)

Well, it is Connecticut’s “Gold Coast” but that’s not quite what they mean. (Google Image)

And on my one trip to California when I visited a ghost gold town, well, I was still not all that impressed. But at least they got them some gold. Some of them.

I can't even remember if this is the gold miner statue I saw.  (Google image)

I can’t even remember if this is the gold miner statue I saw. (Google image)

But more recently, I’m thinking that maybe I’ll try my, ummm, hand, at gold mining.

Yeah — me!

In fact, it might just be an opportunity for me to work from home.  I may actually be sitting on a gold mine. Really! Who knew!

More than for personal gain, however, I will do it in the name of science.  You see, scientist now think that this type of mining may just save the planet!  It could reduce the need for more environmentally harmful types of mining.

Oh, I guess I forgot to explain the rest.  You see, I just read that scientists are, ummm, mining for gold in unexpected places. Silver, too. And you know, they’ve found some platinum, too.  A veritable jewelry store of precious metals.

Wanna know where?

In poop.  People Poop.

Really! They’re finding all sorts of shit in there! I just read about it in an article entitled:

Scientists Want to Mine Our Poop for Gold

According to the article:

Every year, Americans are flushing a fortune down the toilet. Literally. More than 7 million tons of biosolids—treated sewage sludge—pass through US wastewater facilities annually. Contained within our shit are surprisingly large quantities of silver, gold, and platinum.

I am prodigious poop producer.   I figure, well, I’m golden.

Google Image

Google Image

I’m hiring pan sterilizers if anybody is looking for a job.

81 Comments

Filed under All The News You Need, Bat-shit crazy, Childhood Traumas, Crohn's Disease, Disgustology, Extra Cash, Health and Medicine, Hey Doc?, History, Huh?, Humor, Science, Stupidity, Toilets

Learn and Live? A History Lesson

We all thought it would be different, didn’t we.  After Columbine.  After Aurora.  After Sandy Hook.

But no.  Nope.  Nada.  Didn’t happen

We’ve all gotten used to thinking the unthinkable:  Not a chance for change.  Not with the money the NRA has behind them.  Not with the gun folks getting progressively crazier.

So some creative thinking was called for.

BAM!

Right to the Heart!

 

Naturally, the gun nuts are going, well, nuts.  As reported in the Huffington Post where I found the video:

The National Rifle Association’s New York affiliate immediately condemned the stunt and called for an investigation into whether the organizers violated New York’s gun laws.

“[It is a] felony violation of the Sullivan Act for a person to possess a handgun anywhere in New York without a license. The video clearly shows individual ‘customers’ handling various handguns and doing so in an unsafe manner,” New York State Rifle and Pistol Association President Thomas King said in a press release.

Because, you see, it’s not OK to “handle” a gun, but the 2nd Amendment gives us all the right to own them.  And use them.

*     *     *

Timiny Cricket, a commenter, said that he’d

like to hear about some of the positive examples where a gun scared away someone about to commit a crime or even was used in self defense and saved the owner’s life.

10 Pro-Gun Myths, Shot Down

33 Comments

Filed under Adult Traumas, Awards, Conspicuous consumption, Criminal Activity, Disgustology, Family, GOP, Gun control, Health and Medicine, History, Mental Health, Mysteries, Neighbors, Politics, Stupidity, Taking Care of Each Other, Voting, Wild Beasts

One Good Thing I Can Say

Today, I rise in support of the Gentleman from Missouri.

This morning, when I received a challenge from my friend Mark of Exile on Pain Street, well, I wasn’t sure I was up to it.  I tried, really i did.  But I just didn’t think I had it in me to answer his challenge:

I defy you to say something positive about the GOP. One thing.

When I look at today’s GOP, well, I don’t see anything positive.  I see a lot of hate.  I see a lot of stupidity.  I see a lot of folks in office that, well, really should just go back to where they came from.

And I feel compelled to write about it.  To shout from the rooftops, actually.  To get one more person out to vote against the folks who really should not be in positions to impact our lives.

But, you know, I felt bad when I realized that Mark is right.  Because I didn’t always feel this way.  I wasn’t always anti-GOP.  In fact, under the right circumstances, I might have become a Republican.  And today, a Republican showed me exactly why I might have joined the GOP.

Then I found my one positive thing!

Have you heard the news out of Missouri?

A leading contender for the GOP ticket for Missouri governor died last week.  Of course, that’s sad news.  It’s sad when anybody dies.

But of course there’s more to the story.  Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich (R) killed himself.  And suicide is a whole different ball game.

Mr. Schweich had believed himself to be the victim of a whispering campaign, by state GOP chairman John Hancock who was “off-handedly” spreading the word that Mr. Schweich was Jewish.  [It’s a sad statement of life here in America that that should be seen as a problem.]  There was also a nasty radio ad.  And Mr. Schweich was, by reports, a sensitive man.

These tactics have become part and parcel of our political “debates.”

But today, somebody stood up against it.  Against what politics has become.

Former Senator John Danforth was that man.  REPUBLICAN of Missouri.  Senator Danforth is part of the old school of Republicans.  Honorable men — they were all men.  Men who stood up for what was right and what was good.  Men who believed in their country and what we as a nation could do.

In his eulogy for Mr. Schweich, Senator Danforth called out all of us on what we’ve let politics become.  Anything Goes.

I have never experienced an anti-Semitic campaign. Anti-Semitism is always wrong and we can never let it creep into politics.

As for the radio commercial, making fun of someone’s physical appearance, calling him a “little bug”, there is one word to describe it: “bullying.” And there is one word to describe the person behind it: “bully.”

[…]

Indeed, if this is what politics has become, what decent person would want to get into it? We should encourage normal people — yes, sensitive people — to seek public office, not drive them away.

Senator Danforth continued:

We often hear that words can’t hurt you. But that’s simply not true. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said just the opposite. Words for Jesus could be the moral equivalent of murder. He said if we insult a brother or sister we will be liable. He said if we call someone a fool we will be liable to hell. Well how about anti-Semitic whispers? And how about a radio ad that calls someone a “little bug,” and that is run anonymously over and over again?

Words do hurt. Words can kill. That has been proven right here in our home state.

He explained why it happens:

There is no mystery as to why politicians conduct themselves this way. It works. They test how well it works in focus groups and opinion polls. It wins elections, and that is their objective. It’s hard to call holding office public service, because the day after the election it’s off to the next election, and there’s no interlude for service. It’s all about winning, winning at any cost to the opponent or to any sense of common decency.

And then an idea, a promise.  A pledge:

Let’s decide that what may have been clever politics last week will work no longer. It will backfire. It will lose elections, not win them.

Let’s pledge that we will not put up with any whisper of anti-Semitism. We will stand against it as Americans and because our own faith demands it. We will take the battle Tom wanted to fight as our own cause.

We will see bullies for who they are. We will no longer let them hide behind their anonymous pseudo-committees. We will not accept their way as the way of politics. We will stand up to them and we will defeat them.

This will be our memorial to Tom: that politics as it now exists must end, and we will end it. And we will get in the face of our politicians, and we will tell them that we are fed up, and that we are not going to take this anymore.

When Senator Danforth was in the U.S. Senate, it was an institution filled, more or less, with people of principle.  Some of the members I respected the most were Republicans.  They believed in cooperation and compromise.  The loyalty was to America, not to the GOP.

*     *     *

It is vital to have people in office who hold different ideas, different principles.  But it is time that we elect folks who have principles.  Wouldn’t that be great?

* If you are unfamiliar with Mark’s blog — run, don’t walk over to his blog. He’s a gifted writer.

54 Comments

Filed under 2016, Adult Traumas, Campaigning, Disgustology, Elections, GOP, History, Huh?, Hypocrisy, Mental Health, Politics, Taking Care of Each Other

How I Became A Famous Humor Writer

You might as well start gagging now. Because as a fake humor expert, I am bound and determined to tell you how it is done.

(Oh no!  I already violated one of the principles of writing — “Show,” don’t “Tell!”  Rats!)

When I wrote my post Trifecta! the other day, many commenters were shocked to find out that I had studied humor writing.

I’m not quite sure how to take that.

I mean, can’t you tell that this has been a life-long pursuit of mine? That I have been through decades of intensive training and Dick Van Dyke show watching?  Doesn’t my brilliant technique shine through? You know, like shinola?

I will stop being an ass now. Although being an ass is fun – and funny (see Steve Martin, for example).  And it comes so easily to some of us …

On to the Public Service Announcement

 PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT!

PSA2

Surprise is an excellent humor technique. Google Image, Natch.

 

When I said that I “studied humor writing” in Trifecta, I applied the first and most important rule of humor writing:

EXAGGERATION

So yeah, I “studied” humor writing. I took a course. One course. Online.

I’d been writing professionally — as a fake medical expert — for years; but it’s very dry. I am not. (Well, sometimes.)  But I wanted to have some fun, and so I started taking writing classes.

Humor Writing I was the second of three courses I took at Gotham Writers Workshop. (The first was Creative Writing 101 and the third was a Memoir course.) You can probably tell by the fact that I took THREE courses from them that I thought they were pretty good – or that I learned enough to justify the cost. Or that the courses coincided with baseball season. Or basketball season. Perhaps Lacrosse.

The first lesson of the class was the hardest, and most fundamental:   Written stories have to be structured differently than spoken ones or they are not funny.

Our first assignment was to tell a funny story you’d told a million times. This’ll be a breeze! I thought. I chose one that I’d been telling for 30 years to tears of laughter. After three days of trying, I posted a question on the online chat room:

“Has anybody else found that they are suddenly no longer funny?”

Everybody in the class felt they were no longer funny.

It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever tried to write.  My hilarious — time tested — story fell flat. Writing that story up made me realize just how different humor writing is from just plain ole writing. And it made me realize that I had a lot to learn. I still do.

Anyway, if you click on the link above, you will get the synopsis of the course. It mentions a few principles of humor writing – ones that I really do use a lot. And the course led me to start this blog – (because what the hell else would I do with the stuff I wrote there?).  I am not sure it would be appropriate to sue Gotham for that, though.

There are lots of techniques and skills that I learned. The ones I use most often are:

The Rule of Three. Things are inherently funnier in threes. The Three Stooges (who I don’t think are at all funny); the Three Little Pigs; the Three Musketeers. The course taught me to look for threes whenever I was trying to be funny. It is something I do consciously now. Because for some reason it really does work. Even when I don’t use threes, I find that looking for them focuses my thinking on the two or four or however many end up in my story.

Snowballing is another good technique. That one I’m pretty sure you can figure out for yourself. Especially after this winter.

It enabled me to find my “voice.” Showed me ways to look at stupid people and present them at their, ummm, most realistic. Dialog. Comparisons to normal life. 

Two of my early blog posts were assignments in the class. They are still some of my best.

Downsizing

Manitoba Bound

I am not promoting or being paid (alas) by Gotham. But I promised to write about my humor writing studies.  The teachers taught me a lot, but much depends on the level of participation in the class.  It was great in the first two, sadly lacking in the Memoir course.

I don’t have any pretenses to being the next Erma Bombeck or Dave Barry.  But if you want to start paying me the big bucks in exchange for some snark, feel free to contact me!

64 Comments

Filed under Bat-shit crazy, Bloggin' Buddies, Criminal Activity, History, Huh?, Humor, Hypocrisy, Taking Care of Each Other, Wild Beasts, Word Press, Writing

TRIFECTA!

When I studied humor writing, I was taught something called “The Rule of Three.”

As the second deity in my holy research trinity, Wikipedia, says:

The rule of three is a writing principle that suggests that things that come in threes are inherently funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things.[citation needed]

That is the only reason there are Three Stooges. Because two just wouldn’t be funny. Come to think of it, THREE haven’t been funny since I hit puberty. But still.

Anyway, the Rule of Three works. Three is funny.

So I was delighted this week to learn that the GOP has adopted the Rule of Three! Yes, It’s true. They are pushing the envelope for legislative giggles. Ba Da DUMB!

Google, Natch!

Google, Natch!

Have you been paying attention? Because here’s what happened just this week:

In the Ring on the Right, we have Michele Fiore, Majority Leader of the Nevada State Assembly who has a whole new take on cancer, cancer treatment and what is apparently cancer of her own mouth:

“If you have cancer, which I believe is a fungus, and we can put a pic line into your body and we’re flushing, let’s say, salt water, sodium cardonate [sic], through that line, and flushing out the fungus… These are some procedures that are not FDA-approved in America that are very inexpensive, cost-effective.”

Photo from Crooks and Liars.com

Michele standing up for freedom with Cliven Bundy’s gang. Yeh Haw! Photo from Crooks and Liars.com

It really is amazing just how inexpensive death can be — there aren’t even any copays!

As my Dad would have said, “There’s a fungus among us.” That line is the only thing I could think of to say in light of this previously unknown cancer disclosure. Thanks, Michele.

Deja vu!

Deja vu!

 

In the Other Right Hand Ring is Idaho Rep. Vito Barbieri (R) who showed once again how the GOP really, truly has no fucking clue about women – literally or figuratively.  Or anatomically.

It all happened at a hearing on Tele-medicine – there is a bill in the Idaho Legislature that would prohibit doctors from prescribing medications that can induce a miscarriage — an abortion — from doing so via telemedicine – an online consultation.   Have you seen how fucking BIG Idaho is?  Or how it is somewhat phallic looking?

As stated in the AP Article:

Dr. Julie Madsen, a physician who said she has provided various telemedicine services in Idaho, was testifying in opposition to the bill. She said some colonoscopy patients may swallow a small device to give doctors a closer look at parts of their colon.

Now wait for it.  Here it comes … Your turn, Rep Barbieri!:

“Can this same procedure then be done in a pregnancy? Swallowing a camera and helping the doctor determine what the situation is?” Barbieri asked.

Madsen replied that would be impossible because swallowed pills do not end up in the vagina.

Allow me to rephrase this:

A man who has been duly elected to office – in the United States of America which office grants him a certain measure of control over many things including women’s reproductive rights, does not understand that there is no direct link from the mouth to the uterus.

The AP article went on to state:

Barbieri later said that the question was rhetorical and intended to make a point.

I’m pretty sure that Rep Barbieri made THREE points:

  1. That he doesn’t know shit from shinola,
  2. That he should just dig a hole and crawl inside for the remainder of his life.
  3. He should try stand-up comedy because I have had too few good belly/vagina laughs lately. Until I read this.
You know where I got the stupid photo, already.

You know where I got the stupid photo, already.

Now you know how there is always a serious guy in the comedic trio? This circus of GOPers is no exception.

In the Other Other Right Ring:  Here is the MO of this trio: Idaho GOP state Rep. Christy Perry!

Christy, is (of course) a good Christian. Being a good Christian, she is “pro-life.” Well, as long as that life isn’t breathing oxygen on its own, anyway.

Because Ms. Perry is apparently pro-life only until a baby is born. Apparently she finds it perfectly OK for parents to deny their children medical care in the name of the Lord. For Religious Reasons. And, you know, for FREEDOM!

Remember at this point in the movie, they are removing his intestinal organs.  There is no camera inside there. No vagina either, come to think of it.

 

*     *     *

 

So you see, our GOP reps really have the world of comedy all figured out. Ain’t it a shame though, that they only know slapstick.

And ain’t it also a shame that we as a nation are always the ones who slip on that damn banana peel?  Because we are down on our asses until we get these folks out o’ Dodge.  And DC.  And out of your statehouse and mine.

56 Comments

Filed under 2016, Adult Traumas, Bat-shit crazy, Campaigning, Childhood Traumas, Conspicuous consumption, Criminal Activity, Disgustology, Elections, Farts, GOP, Health and Medicine, Hey Doc?, History, Huh?, Humor, Hypocrisy, Law, Mental Health, Politics, Science, Sex Scandals, Stupidity, Taking Care of Each Other, Wild Beasts

A Love (?) Story — Revisited

When I tell this story, I always have to put in a disclaimer.  Sort of like Dickens at the beginning of A Christmas Carol, when he says

“It must be understood that Marley was dead, otherwise nothing strange and wonderful could have happened.”

In this case, this fact must be understood:

I was really, really nice to everyone

Promise me you’ll remember that.

Once upon a time, I had a job at a law school.  The most fun job I’ve ever had.  I was the administrative assistant to a student organization, the BSA.  Pretty much the Boy Scouts of America, law school chapter.  The BSA members were 2nd and 3rd year students who did a lot to make the first year students happier during their (relatively miserable and difficult) first year.  They did orientation, taught legal writing, answered questions on where to go, what to do.  The office was large, with comfy chairs and a couch, a full free coffee pot.  A good, friendly place to hang out.  The members did, and so did a core of 1st years who, naturally, tried to become members for their 2nd and 3rd years.

It was a wonderful job.  Basically I answered questions and was nice to people.  Always.  A smile on my face, a laugh, a soft shoulder when needed.  It was easy to be nice in such a fun job.

Substantively, I had to know what was going on with the members’ various activities, because I was the one in the office when the 1st year students had questions.  I had to know what was going on to give the  answers.  Because that was my job.  The BSA members were all nice.  Except Monte.  He wasn’t.  He was a jerk.  Totally uncooperative.  He deserved that name.

Monte was in charge of a very important program that was one of two mandatory moot court programs for all 1st year students.  Essentially, it’s where they learned how to present and argue a case.  A whole case.  They write the briefs and argued the case in front of a panel of judges.  The students had a million questions, and they were also apprehensive, because it was an important part of their first year.  They asked ME all of those questions.

But Monte was in charge and wouldn’t let me know what was going on.  He wouldn’t answer my questions.  He wouldn’t keep me informed or involved.  I invariably had no answer to give to the poor student who really needed one.

Now, it might surprise you to know this, but I really hate to look stupid.  So one day I’d had enough of being unable to help, unable to answer questions I was supposed to answer.  Unable to do my job.  So I took Monte into the back room and politely explained in the nicest possible way, why he had to do things my way.

He responded, and I quote:

“Don’t worry your pretty little head about it.”  And he left.

Me, except I’m blond. And in color.

To this very day I have never been so mad at anyone.

I went back to my desk fuming, steam coming out of my ears, angry tears, the works.  As I stood there, shaking mad, a tall, blond 1st year student entered the office, came up to me and said – oh I don’t remember what he said.  But it was a question about that program.  Monte’s program.

“I DON’T KNOW.  YOU WILL HAVE TO ASK MONTE WHO IS A COMPLETE JERK!” I screamed at the tall, completely innocent blond guy.

He stood there, put his hands on his hips, shook his head and left the office.  He never returned.

I remember it clearly.  Well, except all I can see in my memory is the outline of a tall, faceless blond guy.  Standing there, hands on his hips, shaking his head and clearly thinking “what a bitch she is not very helpful.”

John did not propose then and there.

In fact, we didn’t even cross paths again that we know about during the two years we were there together.  We met again in DC through a guy I was dating who worked with John.  Years after I broke up with the other guy, John asked me out after we met up again at a party.

Whenever someone asks us the “how did you two meet?” question, well, I make sure I tell the story.  Because John claims I fired nuclear weapons at him, which is a slight exaggeration.  And it makes me look bad.

Really, I didn’t shoot at him.

But hey, my husband can never claim that he didn’t know I could be a bitch.  And that has been worth its weight in gold (or nukes) for almost 30 years.

*    *    *

This is an old piece that I’m replaying for Valentine’s Day because, well, it’s one of my favorite “love” stories.  And because there are lots of new followers who didn’t read it.  If you already read it, you can stop here.  See?  I told you I was nice!

60 Comments

Filed under Adult Traumas, Bat-shit crazy, Christmas Stories, Criminal Activity, Family, History, Holidays, Huh?, Humor, Law, Stupidity, Wild Beasts

One Badass Broad

In 1973, I went on a field trip with my high school acting group.  To London.  To a week of plays in London’s West End.

Because I was far too cool to be a tourist, I did almost none of the typical tourist things while I was there.  (I was an idiot.  There is a reason folks want to visit the Tower of London, etc.).  There was one exception, though.  I went to Madame Tussaud’s — the famous Wax Museum.  While there, I was still too cool to be impressed by how realistic the wax figures were.  Well, until something happened to really make me smile.

My friends and I had just about finished touring the museum, when we entered the exhibit for The Royals.  From behind me I heard the sweetest voice.

“Mummy!  That’s Our Queen!

A little English boy, no more than four had entered the exhibit.  He wore navy blue shorts and suspenders, and his cheeks were as rosy as a young English boy’s should be.  He lit up the room with his pride.   In his Queen.

“Yes, Darling,” replied his Mum.  “That’s our Queen.”

From Madame Tussaud's Website

From Madame Tussaud’s Website

At that time, Richard Nixon was President of the U.S.  I was quite sure that there was no little boy in my country who would speak with similar pride about Nixon.

The image of that boy comes to mind every time I see Queen Elizabeth.  And I always smile.

Today I read something about the Queen, though, that makes me smile even wider.

The Huffington Post reported a delightful anecdote about a visit from the newly-late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to the Queen’s Scottish castle, Balmoral.  The story was recounted by Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, who was the British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.  He’d been told the story by both the Queen and the King, and relayed it.

“After lunch, the Queen had asked her royal guest whether he would like a tour of the estate,” wrote Cowper-Coles, who is said to have heard the tale from both Elizabeth and Abdullah themselves. “Prompted by his foreign minister the urbane Prince Saud, an initially hesitant Abdullah had agreed. The royal Land Rovers were drawn up in front of the castle. As instructed, the Crown Prince climbed into the front seat of the front Land Rover, his interpreter in the seat behind.”

Queen Elizabeth and King Abdullah.  Photo Credit, Associated Press (but I got it from the Huff Post)

Queen Elizabeth and King Abdullah. Photo Credit, Associated Press (but I got it from the Huff Post)

Little did Abdullah know, however, that his driver for the day would be none other than Elizabeth herself.

“To his surprise, the Queen climbed into the driving seat, turned the ignition and drove off,” Cowper-Coles wrote. “Women are not — yet — allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, and Abdullah was not used to being driven by a woman, let alone a queen.”

Not to mention a queen who can drive like the wind. According to Cowper-Coles, Elizabeth didn’t just drive the SUV, but rapidly whizzed along the estate’s roads as she chatted, prompting Abdullah to become increasingly anxious.

“Through his interpreter, the Crown Prince implored the Queen to slow down and concentrate on the road ahead,” the diplomat said.

Queen Elizabeth II is one badass broad.  On behalf of drivers of my gender, as well as men far more enlightened than King Abdullah, I bow to you.  I’d curtsey but I’m not that kind of girl.

58 Comments

Filed under Driving, History, Huh?, Humor, Hypocrisy, Stupidity, Traffic