Saturday, October 25, 2014

Cartoon Saturday: the Halloween Edition

The hits just keep on hitting us ...

A freshman at a high school in Washington state carried a gun into the school cafeteria and shot five fellow students, killing one, before turning the gun on himself; in New York City, a man who was evidently a self-radicalized convert to Islam attacked a group of police officers with a hatchet, critically injuring one before being shot and killed by other officers; the governor of the Mexican state of Guerrero has stepped down after being criticized for his poor handling of the mass kidnapping of 43 students; the television "reality show" Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo has been cancelled by the TLC network after allegations that the mother of the titular star is in a relationship with a convicted sex offender who served ten years in prison for child molestation; and a government report states that in January 1998, government agents and lawyers mistreated former White House intern Monica Lewinsky to get her to cooperate with an investigation into former President Bill Clinton.

Cheer up ... only a week to go and we've made it out of October. But then comes the election ... oy. Better get to the cartoons right away!

This week, we'll feature thirteen* Halloween-oriented, ghostly, monstrous cartoons ... bwa, ha, HAAAAAAAA!!! ...

The aftermath of the party is always rough, even if you're a jack-o-lantern ...

Even vampires are not free of political chicanery ...

Mummies have it tough, don't they? ...

I can't think of a much more terrifying Halloween costume than that ...

The day after can be a letdown, can't it? ...

Scared ... well ... you know ...

Yes, indeed, those are some seriously scary decorations ...

I feel that way watching all the stupid campaign ads, too ...

This was the sort of commentary my father always had about the horror movies we watched at home ...

Sometimes the mirrors just don't work for you ...

And neither does the camera in the phone ...

Colder than a witch's ... uh ... you know ...

And finally, even a spirit can get busted! ...

And that's it for this year's Cartoon Saturday Halloween edition. I hope my little bit of seasonal levity helped take the edge of the yucky week. It looks like it's going to be a nice weekend here in NoVa weather-wise ... which is good because later this morning we're going to a "Trunk or Treat" Halloween party in the parking lot of our granddaughter's school, after which my daughter has visions of me helping her move more dirt and rocks as she continues carrying out her landscaping plans.

These relaxing weekends will kill me yet.

Have a good day. Be here tomorrow for our special Halloween edition of Poetry Sunday ... I've scared up a timely poem for you.


* The usual Cartoon Saturday offering is ten cartoons, but thirteen just seemed like a better number for some reason ...

Friday, October 24, 2014

More Great Moments in Editing

Gonzo Dave called me out two weeks ago on some of my selections for Great Moments in Editing, suggesting that they were not so much editorial faux pas (fauxs pas? fauxes pas? faux passes? whatever) as intentional puns or bits of irony. No matter. They're funny, and that's what counts, eh? Here's our selection for this period ...

There's nothing like a little truth in advertising ...

Things seem to have changed a lot since I went to the prom ...

Aerosol? ...

Bankers' mathematics ... no wonder the economy is so screwed up ...

I wonder if they needed four people with different lengths of fingers to sign the performance ...

Yes, that's how he always sounded to me, too ...

It's what you need for cooking foreign cuisine ...

Or fixing your bilingual hedgehog ...

I've always hated those bones ...

And finally, you just know there's a great backstory here ...

There you have it - another collection of gems found in print and video. Do they reflect poor editing or were they deliberate? You decide. Just enjoy the ride.

Have a good day. Come back tomorrow for the Halloween Edition of Cartoon Saturday.

More thoughts then.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Things That Piss Us Off at Chez Bilbo

Agnes and I are pretty easy-going folks most of the time. Nevertheless, there are some things that really irritate us. Here are a few of them:

- Television news programs that look like 1960's-era disco shows. When the screen is so full of crawlers, flashing lights, fancy animated graphics, and other distractions that you can't concentrate on the news*, how do you learn anything? When the graphics are more important than the news, it's no wonder that the average American is so woefully uninformed**.

- Political robocalls. When the Caller ID says "Not Available" or "Blocked," and when you answer and hear a few seconds of silence before the recording kicks in, you know it's another useless political attack ad that tells you nothing except how stupid and lacking in original thought the sponsors are ... and how little they respect your intelligence.

- Charity solicitations by phone, especially when the local police association calls for donations, The person who calls is usually a police officer who booms out at you with his intimidating command voice: CAN WE COUNT ON YOU TO HELP THE BOYS OUT??

- Door-to-door political flacks who can't answer questions about their candidate's or party's positions and don't know anything that isn't on their script or list of talking points. Before the last presidential election, two ladies showed up at my door to drum up votes for the McCain/Palin ticket ... and couldn't answer a single policy or issue-related question I asked. All they could do was tell me (in so many words) that I was stupid and un-American for not enthusing over the GOP ticket, and for implying that the Democrats might have some ideas worth listening to. Don't tell me what a scum-sucking, bottom-feeding, ethically-challenged dirtbag the other guy is ... tell me - specifically - what your guy (or gal) will do if elected and why I should invest my vote.

- Hard-sell salesmen. And if you think that I hate hard-sell salesmen, you ought to see Agnes. Many years ago, we were shopping for a car for her, and went to a local dealership to see what was available. Within seconds, a salesman attached himself to us like a barnacle to a ship's hull. We told him very clearly that we were only looking and were not going to buy. He proceeded to follow us all over the lot at a distance of about six inches, and every time we stopped to look at a car, he launched into a rapid-fire hard sell routine ("what's it going to take to put you good folks in this car today?"). Within ten minutes, he'd pissed Agnes off so badly that she stormed off the lot ... at that point, he could have given her the car, thrown in free service, gas, and insurance for life, hired a chauffeur, and given her a perpetually paid-up E-Z Pass transponder, and she'd have still told him to go to hell and close the door behind him.

Trust me ... you do not want to see this side of my Very Best Beloved.

Okay, these are a few of the things that piss us off. How about you, Dear Reader ... what are the things that irritate you? Leave a comment and share the grouchiness.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* Which, given the news nowadays, may not be a bad thing after all.

** One might say, "stupid."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Rules for the Modern Man

You may well be tired of reading about various rules in this blog lately. After all, within the last month I offered some commentary on updated rules of chivalry, followed by rules to live by (Part 1 and Part 2). But at the risk of boring you with more rules than the US Code, I thought I'd share yet another set: rules for the modern man.

I first ran across an excerpt of the list on the website of James Michael Sama, the leader of the New Chivalry Movement, and then read the full list - The Unofficial Goldman Sachs Guide to Being a Man - here. Both lists are way too long ... here are a few items that caught my attention, with my commentary (of course):

1. If riding the bus doesn't incentivize you to improve your station in life, nothing will. I can't agree with this one. We have a nice car, but I ride the bus to work every day, and find it a great stress reliever to leave the driving in #%$@! DC traffic to someone else. Plus it gives me time to read (see #6 below) or catch a quick nap on the way to work. Trust me ... you are not too good to ride a bus.

2. You probably use your cell phone too often and at the wrong moments.
 No question about this one. There are a lot of eejits out there who would probably go into screaming withdrawal if they didn't have their phones.

3. Ask for a salad instead of fries. I should have done this years ago. Sigh.

4. Do not use an electric razor. I have yet to find an electric razor that will give a clean, close shave that lasts more than a few hours. If you just need to touch up in the evening or before a big meeting, it's probably okay ... but in general, I think electric razors are a waste of money.

5. Staying angry is a waste of energy. In general, I agree with this one. But sometimes there's a source of anger that just begs to be kept stoked. I have one of those, and he knows who he is.

6. Read more. It allows you to borrow someone else’s brain, and will make you more interesting at a dinner party – provided that you don’t initiate conversation with, “So, who are you reading …” This is a no-brainer. And if you want to be a no-brainer, don't read.

And finally ...

7. #StopItWithTheHashtags. Oh, heavens yes! It would be hard to tell you how sick I am of seeing a hashtag on everything. Let's go back to a simpler time, when the hashtag just told you how much the hash cost down at the local diner.

Do you have any rules you follow for modern living? Leave a comment and let us know.

Have a good day. Remember that "rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men.”

More thoughts tomorrow.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Then and Now

I was born in 1951, a time when childhood and parenting were a lot different from what they are today. My parents spanked us reguarly when they felt we needed it. I went to a parochial grade school where the nuns regularly administered corporal punishment (I still remember old Sister Angelica storming down the aisle between the desks toward a misbehaving fellow in the back, shouting "I'm going to hit you with my fist!!" ... and doing it), rode my bike without a helmet, drank from the water hose, and walked significant distances after dark to and from my friends' homes. Somehow, I survived. So did most others of my generation.

I've seen a number of variations on this "then and now" summary, but this one is pretty comprehensive. It lacks nuance, but is nevertheless useful as a guide to how things have changed over the years. If you are the parent of grade-school or high-school age children today, you may well be shocked and amazed that your parents lived long enough to have you ...

1957 vs. 2014

Scenario 1 (Grade School): Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Mary. Mary hugs him to comfort him.

1957: Johnny quickly feels better and goes on playing.

2014: Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces three years in state prison. Johnny undergoes five years of therapy.

Scenario 2 (High School): Jack goes duck hunting before school and then pulls into the school parking lot with his shotgun in his truck's gun rack.

1957: Vice Principal comes over, looks at Jack's shotgun, goes to his car and gets his shotgun to show Jack.

2014: School goes into lockdown, SWAT team deployed, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his
truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

Scenario 3 (High School): Johnny and Mark get into a fist fight after school.

1957: Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.

2014: Police called; SWAT team arrives and arrests both Johnny and Mark. They are both charged with assault and expelled even though Johnny started it.

Scenario 4 (High School): Jeffrey will not be still in class, he disrupts other students.

1957: Jeffrey sent to the Principal's office and given a good paddling by the Principal. He returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again.

2014: Jeffrey is given huge doses of Ritalin. He becomes a zombie. He is then tested for ADD. The family gets extra money (SSI) from the government because Jeffrey has a disability.

Scenario 5 (High School): Billy breaks a window in his neighbor's car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.

1957: Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college and becomes a successful businessman.

2014: Billy's dad is arrested for child abuse and Billy is removed to foster care and joins a gang. Billy's sister tells the state psychologist that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison. Billy's mom has an affair with the psychologist.

Scenario 6 (High School): Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.

1957: Mark shares his aspirin with the Principal out on the smoking dock.

2014: The police are called and Mark is expelled from school for drug violations. His car is searched for drugs and weapons.

Scenario 7 (High School): Pedro fails high school English.

1957: Pedro goes to summer school, passes English and goes to college.

2014: Pedro's cause is taken up by numerous civil rights groups. National newspapers editorialize that making English proficiency a requirement for graduation is racist. The ACLU files a class action lawsuit against the state school system and Pedro's English teacher. English is banned from core curriculum. Pedro is given his diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English.

Scenario 8 (High School): Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from the Fourth of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle and blows up an ant hill.

1957: Ants die.

2014: Local SWAT teams, the ATF, Homeland Security and the FBI are all called. Johnny is charged with domestic terrorism. The FBI investigates his parents and all children are removed from their home. All the family’s computers are confiscated. Johnny's dad is placed on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

It's a different world out there, isn't it?

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Rules to Live By, Part 2

The first half of my list of rules to live by, published last week, was a big hit with everyone - numerous comments indicated that you were waiting with bated breath for the second half of the list. Wait no more, Dear Readers ... here it is!

Everybody is somebody else's weirdo. I guess that would be me, eh?

Never argue with idiots. They drag you down to their level then beat you with experience. This is why I don't like to get into discussions with political and religious zealots.

I have the power to channel my imagination into ever-soaring levels of suspicion and paranoia. Consider the omnipresent bumper sticker: "I'm the NRA, and I vote!" 'Nuff said

The complete lack of evidence is the surest sign that the conspiracy is working. Yes! Yes, it is!

A closed mouth gathers no feet. Corollary: a closed mouth is extraordinarily rare among the nattering classes.

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. It's the combination of malice and stupidity that you have to worry about.

Anything is possible if you don't know what you're talking about. Such as getting a job as a shouting head on Faux News.

It's easier to ask forgiveness than gain permission. It's how we get things done!

It's easier to fix the blame than to fix the problem. See: Congress

When all's said and done, a lot more is said than done. See: Congress. 

For any given large, complex, hard-to-understand, expensive problem, there exists at least one short, simple, easy, cheap answer. It is wrong. And someone on Faux News will be demanding that the president be impeached because he's not doing it.

Chaos, panic, and disorder - my work here is done! Time for another election.

Nothing is impossible for the person who doesn't have to do it himself. Oh, so true.

If everything is going exactly according to plan, something somewhere is going catastrophically wrong. Been there, experienced that.

Fast - cheap - good: you can have any two. This is the Prime Directive of major acquisition programs.

To estimate a plan, work out how long it would take one person to do it then multiply that by the number of people on the project. Corollary: it takes one woman nine months to have a baby, no matter how many men you put on the job.

Warning: dates in the calendar are closer than you think. And they move more quickly than you can imagine.

That's the end of the list for now. Add your contributions in the comments ... there's room for a lot more!

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Poetry Sunday

Halloween is coming up fast, and so today and next Sunday we'll feature poems that celebrate the scary season. Here's the first one ...

A Ghost Story
by Ted Kooser

Her life was plain, her death
a common death—a girl
sewn into the watery shroud
of pneumonia. She was only
another Mary, there
in Illinois, and it was only
another April—the buds
of the honeysuckle folded
in prayer. Forgotten eyes,
forgotten smile, the cowlick
in her hair forgotten;
everything gone. Yet for
seventy years her grave
gave off the scent of roses.

Bwa, ha, HAAAAAAAA!!!

Have a good day, and enjoy the rest of your weekend. Come back tomorrow for Part 2 of "Rules to Live By." You know you want to.

More thoughts then.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Cartoon Saturday

Halfway through October. Ever seen a month drag its heels so much?

The presence of the ebola virus in the United States continues to drive hysterical reactions among the population, and give Faux News something else to blame on the administration; in Florida, builders accidentally erected a $680,000 vacation home on the wrong lot; Jefferson County (Missouri) Recorder of Deeds Debbie Dunnegan called President Barack Obama "our domestic enemy" and suggested that the Constitution would give the US military the authority to oust him in a coup d'├ętat; best-selling author John Gresham backtracked and apologized after he expressed his belief that some people who view child pornography online are receiving punishments that don't match the scale of the crime; and Mark Driscoll, pastor of the Mars Hill megachurch, was forced to resign because of "arrogance, responding to conflict with a quick temper and harsh speech, and leading the staff and elders in a domineering manner."

Ah, yes ... plenty of good news out there, eh? Luckily for you, ol' Bilbo is standing by with your weekly mental IV of cartoons to help you recover ... this week featuring the most American of heroes - cowboys.

Perhaps the harmonica might have been a better choice ...

Around the campfire, too ...

Mother knows best, even for cowboys ...

Tough decision, but ...

Not a bad way to accessorize the horse, eh? ...

The 2014 version of The Wizard of Oz ...

Yes, I'll bet you would ...

I still think I'd rather get my paper cuts the old-fashioned way ...

Now, THIS is a brilliant invention ...

And finally, this one's no bull ...

And there you have it for our third Cartoon Saturday of this seemingly never-ending month. We're less than two weeks away from Halloween, which is a frightening thought ... especially when you consider that means we're less than 100 days away from Christmas. Oy.

It's going to be a nice, if chilly fall weekend here in NoVa, good for those last lawn care chores of autumn. Agnes and I will be going to the Anniversary Party tonight at Dance Studio Lioudmila, and tomorrow one of her friends will be coming over to collaborate on quilting projects. On the whole, it ought to be a good weekend. I can surely use it.

Have a good day and a great weekend. Come back tomorrow for Poetry Sunday ... the first of two with a Halloween theme.

More thoughts then.


Friday, October 17, 2014

The Second Ass Clown of the Month Award for October, 2014

It's a good thing there are three Fridays this month, because the amazingly well-qualified nominees for our quasi-prestigious award are stacking up fast.

At a time when our major political parties battle with each other to reach new depths of hypocrisy rather than working together to solve the nation's problems, this week's award-winner and her political supporters have achieved a level of straight-faced hypocrisy that makes even the most cynical of observers shake their heads in awe. The award for this period goes to:

Ms Rutledge, the Republican candidate for attorney general in Arkansas, has been discovered to have been registered to vote in multiple states in addition to Arkansas, and even voted by absentee ballot in Arkansas’ general election in November of 2008 – after she had registered to vote in Washington D.C. in July of the same year.

It's no wonder that the GOP is so hysterical about vote fraud ... after all, they seem to have practical experience with it.

For her marvelous display of political hypocrisy, Leslie Rutledge is named as our second Ass Clown for the month of October.

Have a good day. And you'd better have a photo ID ready if you expect to have it.

More thoughts tomorrow.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Three Tickets to Pittsburgh

It's an old joke, but it has something to offend almost everyone ...

Three elderly priests returning from a retreat in the mountains of North Carolina were in a small rural railroad station on their way home to Pittsburgh.

Behind the ticket counter was a very sexy, shapely, well-endowed woman wearing a very tight, skimpy halter top. She made the three priests very nervous, so they drew straws to determine who would get the tickets.

The first priest approached the window. “Young lady,” he said, “I would like three pickets to Titsburg.” He completely lost his composure and fled.

The second priest went up to the window. “Young lady,” he said, “I would like three tickets to Pittsburgh, and I would like the change in nipples and dimes.” He flushed bright red and slunk away from the window.

“Morons!”, the third priest muttered. He stepped up to the window. “Young lady,” he said, “I would like three tickets to Pittsburgh, and I would like the change in nickels and dimes. And, if you insist on dressing like that, when you get to the Pearly Gates, St. Finger’s going to shake his Peter at you!”

They took the bus.

Have a good day. Come back tomorrow to meet our second Ass Clown of the Month for October.

More thoughts then.