Saturday, December 31, 2011

Cartoon Saturday

And here we are, with the final edition of Cartoon Saturday for the year 2011. What a year it's been, too. So long, 2011 ... don't let the door hit you in the backside on your way out.

Telecommunications giant Verizon scored a major public relations coup by imposing a $2.00 fee on customers for paying their Verizon bills, which it quickly had to scrap in the face of public outrage; the self-important and self-aggrandizing online group Anonymous hacked into the computers of security firm and stole thousands of credit card numbers, which it then used to charge charitable donations; a spree of 21 fires set by an arsonist in Hollywood has caused an estimated $350,000 in damages and led officials to post a $60,000 reward for the capture of the arsonist; GOP presidential wannabes continue their slugfest in advance of Tuesday's Iowa caucuses, flooding the state's airwaves with attack ads; and Egypt's military government has said it will stop its raids on non-governmental organizations and return all equipment and materials stolen in the raids. In a related development, pigs flew.

Aren't you glad Cartoon Saturday is here to give you some relief from the rampant ass-clownery?

As we end a difficult year, with the unemployment rate stubbornly high and Congress unable or unwilling to do anything about it, it's always good to try to look on the bright side of things ...

It wouldn't be Cartoon Saturday without at least one terrible pun, would it ...?

Have you eaten yet in one of those restaurants that use electronic tablets instead of traditional paper menus? How do they work for you? If nothing else, they can help explain some things ...

I wonder if this approach would work on our local HOV (high occupancy vehicles) lanes ...

Texting while driving is pretty stupid, no matter where you do it ...

I've spent much of the last week trying to set up our new A/V receiver. I finally got everything connected properly (at least, I think I did) ... now, I've got to cope with a new "multifunction remote." This is how I see it ...

When we update the stories we tell our children so they can put them in context ...

A new twist on the old joke about the guy who thinks he's a chicken ...

You can do what you want, but we all end up here someday ...

And finally, as people cope with the falling values of their homes and local governments cope with the consequent decline in income from property taxes, we're going to great lengths to enhance the value of our property however we can ...

And there you have it: the final Cartoon Saturday of 2011. Be sure to check out my other post for today, in which I announced the winner of the first annual Ass Clown of the Year Award.

Agnes and I will be staying in tonight, having a nice dinner together, watching movies on DVDs, and sipping champagne in front of the fire ... our new favorite way of ringing in the new year, which will probably arrive whether we're awake or not.

Have a safe and happy celebration tonight, however you plan to do it, and be sure to come back and keep me company in the new year. The ass-clownery doesn't stop, and neither should we. More thoughts next year.


And the Winner Is ...

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner!

The people - or, at least, the quasi-representative segment of them composed of readers of this blog - have spoken, and we are now ready to proclaim the winner of Bilbo's first annual

Ass Clown of the Year Award!

First, the also-rans:

In a tie for Eighth Place, with one vote each, we have GOP presidential wannabe Mitt Romney

and bizarre singer (and also winner of the Kim Kardashian Shortest Marriage Award) Sinead O'Connor (who should win something for that asinine tattoo, also):

In Seventh Place with four votes is annoying GOP gadfly and presidential wannabe Newt Gingrich:

Edging out Mr Gingrich for Sixth Place with five votes is the National Rifle Association for its strong defense of the sanctity of deadly weapons:

Fifth Place, with 14 votes, goes to celebrity train wreck Lindsay Lohan for her fine performance as a role model for young women everywhere:

Fourth Place goes to professional celebrity Kim Kardashian, who netted 16 votes for her unparalleled skill at being famous for ... uh ... being famous:

Finishing Third with 22 votes is The Democratic Party, for its complete disorganization and utter inability to present a coherent alternative to rampaging hyperconservatism:

The runners up, in a tie for Second Place with 43 votes each are the United States Congress (for its complete abdication of responsibility for addressing the country's problems, tight focus on partisan posturing, and blatant sellout to special interests)

and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for its skillful combination of extreme religious bigotry and shameless misogyny:

And now, with appropriate fanfare, it gives me great pleasure to announce the first annual Ass Clown of the Year! With a magnificent First Place showing of 62 votes - nearly the same as the total of second- and third-place finishers - the award goes to

The Republican Party

for its cynical and hypocritical sellout to big business and wealthy campaign contributors, it's complete disregard for any points of view other than its own, it's craven willingness to kiss the backsides of its most extreme members, and its willingness to bring the government to a complete halt to impose its conservative agenda on the nation:

Thanks to all of you who voted! At least here, your vote counts for something.

Have a good day, and raise a glass to our Ass Clown of the Year, the GOP. If nothing else, they make a great bad example for effective statesmanship.

Stay tuned for Cartoon Saturday, coming up in just a few minutes ...


Friday, December 30, 2011

Justifiable Verbicide, Part 2

In my post titled Justifiable Verbicide on the 11th of December, I referred you to an article about killing useless corporate jargon ... getting rid of expressions like "outside the box," "best of breed," and "value-added." Speaking of added, I added to the original list one of my personal non-favorites, "at the end of the day," while Angelique added "a class act" and Kathy added "the new paradigm" and "cutting edge."

Yep, candidates for justifiable verbicide, every one.

But wait, there's more!

Each year, Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, publishes its List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness. You can read their archive of banished word lists going back to 1976 here, and the List of Banished Words for 2012. In case you don't have the time to read the entire article, here is the 2012 list, with my comments added ...

Amazing. It's not amazing. Lose it.

Baby Bump. You should never, ever use this term to describe a possibly-pregnant lady. Not only is it stupid, but as humorist Dave Barry once said, ""You should never say anything to a woman that even remotely suggests that you think she's pregnant unless you can see an actual baby emerging from her at that moment."

Shared Sacrifice. What none of us is willing to do. If you're poor or middle-class, you don't think anyone else is making any sacrifices; if you're wealthy, you don't see why you should need to sacrifice anything. This term needs to be sacrificed on the altar of uselessness.

Occupy. In my opinion, this is the absolute prize-winning useless word for 2012. It has lost whatever meaning it originally had, and needs to occupy pride of place in the linguistic trash can.

Blowback. This is a term originally used by the intelligence community to refer to the unintended negative consequences of an operation that seemed like a good idea at the time ... like giving weapons to "freedom fighters" in Afghanistan who are now perfectly happy to use them against us. In popular use, it generally just means resistance. And it needs to be junked.

Man Cave. What more can I say? I call my favorite room my study, and I like it just fine.

The New Normal. It's the expression politicians use when they try to get you to accept things that are worse than they used to be. Advertisers use it, too, generally when they try to convince you to buy established products that are both smaller and more expensive than they used to be.

Pet Parent. I wasn't aware of this expression, which refers to people who treat their pets like little children rather than ... well ... like pets. For the record, Nessa thinks this is a dumb expression, too.

Win the Future. This is a worn-out phrase used by both Republicans and Democrats to keep you from realizing that they've hopelessly screwed up the present.

Trickeration. I hadn't heard this expression before, but it seems to have originated with football announcers and analysts to describe what used to be called a trick play.

Ginormous. Bigger than giant, bigger than enormous, and totally useless. Just say huge.

Thank You in Advance. I've hated this expression for years. It's intended to give a go-on jab to someone you figure will fart off whatever you've asked them to do ... as if proactive thanks will make them do their job. Don't bother thanking Congress in advance ... you're wasting your time.

What are your suggestions for more overused terms to be retired in the coming year? Leave a comment and let me know.

And while you're at it, remember that today is December 30th, which means that you're running out of time to vote for the Ass Clown of the Year. I'll accept your votes until 11:59 PM tonight, and the winner will be announced tomorrow in a second end-of-year post to accompany Cartoon Saturday. Be sure to cast your votes now, and don't forget that - because we're using Chicago/DC electoral rules - you can vote as often as you like for as many candidates as you wish. Your relatives (living and dead), pets, and imaginary friends, can vote, too. Get to it!

Have a good day. Use vivid, not tired language, and be here tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday and the presentation of the Ass Clown of the Year Award!


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Literary Light Bulb Jokes

One of the classic types of joke is the one that asks: "How many (insert profession here) does it take to change a light bulb?"

Some of the answers can be trememdously funny, or can be groaners, or - sometimes - both ... like most of these, which deal with literary and research aspects of light bulb change ...

Q: How many academic librarians does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Five. One changes the light bulb while the other four form a committee and write a letter of protest to the Dean, because changing light bulbs is not professional work.

Q: How many reference librarians does it take to change a light-bulb?
A: (delivered with a perky smile) "Well, I don't know right off-hand, but I know where we can look it up!"

Q: How many book publishers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Three. One to change it and two to hold down the author.

Q: How many editors does it take to change a light bulb?
A1: Two. One to ask, "Do we have to get author's approval for this?" and one to actually change the bulb.
A2: Two, one to change the bulb and one to write a rejection slip to the old bulb.

Q: How many proofreaders does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. Proofreaders don't change light bulbs ... they just note that the bulbs need changing.

Q: How many writers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Two. One to change the bulb and one to tell a long story about it.

Q: How many mystery writers does it take to change a light bulb?
A1: Two. One to screw it in almost all the way in and the other to give it a suprising twist at the end.
A2: Three. One to screw in the light bulb and two to figure out a clever plot that explains how the lightbulb died in the first place.

Q: How many technical writers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Six. One to change the bulb and five to make sure the instructions on how to change the bulb are completely incomprehensible.

Q: How many literary critics does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. Literary critics don't know how to change light bulbs, but will find something wrong with the way you do it.

Any others? Leave me a comment.

On a new topic, time is running out for you to cast your vote(s) for your favorite candidate(s) for Ass Clown of the Year. Balloting closes tomorrow night, December 30th, at 11:59 PM, and the result will be announced on Saturday, December 31st. Vote early, vote often, but vote. It'll be more satisfying than the vote you cast next November ... and will probably have just as much impact on government.

Have a good day. Change a light bulb, so you'll have more light to vote by. More thoughts tomorrow.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

It's About Time

It's been said that we never have enough time, but that we have all the time there is. This is true, at least at this time, and so it's time for me to take some time and write about ... time.

There are two time topics to tell today ... however alliteratively.

The first one comes from my blog fodder file from a year or so ago, and tells of the construction of the world's largest clock in, of all places, Saudi Arabia (which, by the way, is still in a strong third place in the Ass Clown of the Year balloting). It seems that the Saudis are irritated that the standard for world time is the prime meridian running through Greenwich, England, and believe that time should be measured from their little piece of sandy wasteland. The Saudi Binladen Group (yes, owned by the family of the fellow now sleeping with the fishes) is building what is billed as the world's largest clock, with four 151-foot faces illuminated by 2 million LED lights and covered with 98 million pieces of mosaic glass. It will be visible for 16 miles and stand 820 feet tall. This enormous clock, which will also shoot beams of light high into the sky, will show Arabia Standard Time, which is three hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.

This enormous clock, in addition to giving the Saudis something else on which to throw away all that money we pay them for oil, will allow ultra-pious Wahhabis to know to the second what time the next public flogging or amputation of hands will be carried out. This is even meaner than Greenwich time.

The other time story deals with the problem of leap seconds. Next month, the member states of the International Telecommunications Union decide whether to change the world's standard of time. Today, coordinated universal time (UTC) is the official scale used all over the world for time coordination (at least, until the Saudis finish their megaclock). The UTC standard was adopted in 1972 and was based on atomic clocks (which measure time according to the vibration rates of atoms); previously, everyone had used astronomical time, which is based on the Earth's rate of rotation. Unfortunately, the atomic time scale and the astronomical one gradually slip out of sync, requiring occasional additions of one-second corrections. This worked fine for a while, but today, most systems we use for telecommunications - and particularly satellite navigation and timing systems like GPS, GLONASS, and Beidou tend to be confused by these "leap seconds." So in January the ITU will vote on dropping the leap second.

Why should you care? Well, wouldn't you want to know - with the greatest possible degree of accuracy - the exact time at which Congress actually manages to do something? Such a moment would certainly be of great importance to historians and would need to be precisely documented. We can't have any pesky "leap seconds" interfering with the ability to know what time the Congressional Clown Show's latest act begins, can we?

Well, enough about time. It's time to get dressed, take Nessa for a walk, and head off to work. After all, I need to be there on time. And that would be Eastern Daylight Time, which is six hours after GMT, nine hours after Arabian Standard Time, and just way too darned early in any case.

Have a good day. More timely thoughts tomorrow.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Words We Learned This Year

Hey, I just discovered that my 2000th post and my Blogoversary will probably fall close together, and maybe even on the same day! How cool would that be?

Well, okay, I thought it was cool. Never mind.

As we creep tiredly down the home stretch toward 2012, it's a time for reflecting on the year gone by. It's a time for lists - lists of the good, the bad, the best, the worst, the top news stories, etc, etc. Being a linguistics buff, I thought this particular list was especially interesting: Ten Words We Learned in 2011. In case you don't want to read the entire article, here's the list ... with my commentary, of course:

Supercommittee. Well, it turned out to be less super than expected, and the expectations were pretty minuscule anyhow. If Congress acted by the same laws they impose on the rest of the country, truth in advertising laws would have required the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to have been called The Grand Assembly of Useless Windbags. The only thing it accomplished was to create a half-assed website, the final entry on which was an admission of defeat.

Rapture. The world didn't end. Again. Better luck in 2012, "Reverend" Camping ... perhaps you can hook up with the Mayans and try again.

Cone of Uncertainty. It has to do with the projected path of hurricanes. It may also refer to the sort of hat that should be worn by certain presidential wannabes. See "Oops" and "Uzbeki-beki-beki-stan-stan" below...

Endgame. I don't know how I missed this one for my Justifiable Verbicide post a few weeks ago. Is there such a thing as a "startgame?" I thought not.

Bunga Bunga. The only thing for which Silvio Berlusconi will probably be remembered. Related to Bada-Bing?

Tebow. I thought it was the end of the boat opposite from the stern, but I guess I was wrong. And it even has its own website. Oy.

Gunwalking. Just another black eye for those with a near-sexual fascination for their rights (not responsibilities) under the Second Amendment.

Human Microphone. Similar to the old party game in which one person whispers a message to another, and the message gets passed from ear to ear until the last recipient gets a message that is totally unrelated to the original one.

Oops. What Texans ... and everyone else ... ought to be saying about Rick Perry.

Ubeki-beki-beki-stan-stan. Even given the miserable foreign policy credentials of the average Republican presidential wannabe, Herman Cain hit new heights (or is it, plumbed new depths) of ineptitude about the world we live in.

Well, that was 2011 in words we learned. Or re-learned. Or learned to hate. What words are on your list of the top expressions of the past year? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail and let me know. And while you're at it, you don't have much time left to vote for your favorite candidates for Ass Clown of the Year. The top three vote-getters so far are:

The GOP - 43 votes;

Congress - 42 votes; and,

Saudi Arabia - 35 votes.

Newt Gingrich is at the bottom of the leader board with a mere three votes.

So get cracking, folks! Cast your votes now ... since we're using Chicago/DC voting rules, you can vote multiple times for multiple candidates, and your pets, deceased relatives, and imaginary friends can vote, too. Balloting closes at 11:59 PM on December 30th and we'll announce the results on December 31st. Vote early, vote often ... let your voice(s) be heard!

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


Monday, December 26, 2011

Have Yourself a Digital Little Christmas

Well, Christmas is over for another year. The packages have been unwrapped, the gifts examined and gushed over, the big dinner eaten, and all the pretty wrapping paper stuffed into bags and set out for the trash collector. And we'll do it all again in another 365 days or so, because that's what we do. Unless, of course, you are a Nigerian Islamic radical, in which case you'll blow up a few churches because you are a stupid psycho who thinks it's okay to kill people who don't believe the same way you do.

Christmas customs around the world vary quite a bit, don't they?

But my post-Christmas rant is not about religious bigots who are busy creating their own hell. It's about digital movies.

There was a time, not so long ago, when you went to the movies in a theater. You sat in a soft chair (usually behind someone large enough to block your view), ate overpriced popcorn, and then went home with the memory. Then the movies came to you on television. Soon they were available on VHS (or Beta) tapes you could buy or borrow to watch whenever you wanted. Then came DVDs. Then came Blu-Ray discs. And then came the digital download.

This is why God invented aspirin.

One of the gifts Agnes gave me for Christmas was a "combo pack" of the movie Cowboys and Aliens (the 21st century successor to such low-tech film classics as Billy the Kid vs Dracula). The "combo pack" includes a DVD, a Blu-Ray disc, and a coupon which allows me to obtain a digital copy of the film to play on my home computer, laptop, or tablet. How cool is that? Next, they'll be beaming the movie directly into my skull via satellite.

Well, not so fast, buckaroo. I sat down at my computer this morning to download my digital copy, a process that used to be quick and simple: you put the disc into the computer, selected the connection to the download website from the disc menu, poked in your 9,796-character redemption code, and the electrons marched down the digital highway to your computer and arranged themselves in proper formation for future viewing.

But that was obviously too easy. Now, there's a system called Ultraviolet, designed by the great-grandson of the Marquis de Sade, which requires you to give up vast amounts of personal information to create multiple accounts in order to not allow you to download the movie for which you have paid. It took me a great deal of time and agony to work my way through Ultraviolet's insanely complicated system, only to be petulantly told that my redemption code was rejected because it had already been used ... obviously by someone who carefully opened up the shrink-wrapped case, copied the code, downloaded my movie, and cleverly re-sealed the package.

I took a few minutes to send a blisteringly uncomplimentary e-mail to the Ultraviolet feedback address, where it will probably be outsourced to some Nigerian psycho who will try to blow up my computer for not acknowledging that Ultraviolet is the final and ultimate revealed way to get your movies.

It didn't take long to get over that Christmas spirit, did it?

But I'm going to take a few deep breaths, center myself, and spend my last day of Christmas vacation doing as little as humanly possible. I'm going to relax, watch my movie (from the Blu-Ray disc, of course), eat leftover Christmas dinner, and generally vegitate before having to return to the office tomorrow.

And who knows? - perhaps, in spite of all expectations to the contrary, someone at Ultraviolet might contact me with an apology and my digital download.

And Dracula might beat Billy the Kid, too.

Have a good day. Enjoy the rest of the holiday season.

More thoughts tomorrow.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Guest Post - Merry Canine Christmas, 2011!

Hey there, again! It's me, Nessa!

Merry Christmas!

Bilbo and Agnes are still asleep, and so I thought I'd get on the keyboard and share some of my thoughts with you while they rest up for the busy day that's coming up. I should do that, too (rest up, I mean), but we dogs have our jobs to do, too ... and that means making sure that this Santa character who breaks into houses at Christmas time gets chased off. I know he usually leaves stuff, rather than stealing it, but nobody comes into this house without my hysterical barking and sniff of approval. Those reindeer are just lucky I can't get up onto the roof ...

I told you last year what we dogs think about at Christmas time. You can go back and read it here if you're new to this blog since then ... go ahead and read while I go downstairs and check out the chimney again. I'll be back.

Okay, I'm back. No sign of that Santa person. Good thing, too ... somehow I think that if I barked loud enough to scare him off, it would wake up Bilbo and Agnes, and even though I was doing the right thing, I might get yelled at and told to be quiet. It's not easy being a watchful dog sometimes.

But let's get back to this Christmas thing. I haven't seen anything in the past year that would make me change my mind about it. You humans are still acting dumb (Bilbo thinks some of you are so dumb that he has a special award for it ... he even let me vote!). I'm not sure about this Congress that Bilbo keeps ranting about ... to hear him talk, it seems to be about as useless as a bunch of cats, except that cats can catch mice and this Congress thing doesn't look like it could even catch a cold.

The whole thing about giving each other gifts is pretty nice, and I like it (especially since Agnes always makes sure that I get a nice big bone or a new toy or something, too), but why do you have to wait all year to be nice to each other for a couple of days? It seems to me that you ought to be able to be nice all year long. What's the matter ... are you waiting for someone to pat you on the head and say, "Good Person!"?

And then there's this dumb thing about whether or not you should celebrate Christmas at all. Instead of thinking about this as a time when you have an excuse to act the way you should all year, lots of you spend time arguing about whether or not it's unconstitutional (whatever that means) to have a nativity scene, or even use the word Christmas. Did you know that in Bilbo's home town of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, they used to call it Sparkle Season instead of Christmas? How stupid is that? And don't talk about how the season is going to the dogs ... you don't see us acting that dumb.

So from this old dog's perspective, here's what you should do today:

Be nice to each other.

Make sure your children have a happy day full of wonder and joy and love ... they'll have a lot of years ahead to get bitter and cynical on their own.

Be safe and happy, even if it's only for one day a year.

And chase a cat or a squirrel or something. It may not be as satisfying as chasing one of those Congress persons, but you probably won't go to jail for it.

On behalf of all dogs everywhere, have a very merry Christmas and a wonderful holiday season. And remember us while you're at it ... like I told you last year at this time, you may not love each other except this one time a year, but you can always count on us to love you, no matter what.



Saturday, December 24, 2011

Cartoon Saturday - The Christmas Edition

Well, the Christmas holiday is off to a flying start ... yesterday I came down with the Cold from Hell, just in time to have to miss the Christmas dance party. Agnes fixed me her standard cold and fever remedy - a big mug of hot rum spiked with a dash of tea, followed by a dose of NyQuil. I was in bed by 9 last night, and didn't get up this morning until 6:30. Still feel out of sorts, but much better than yesterday.

But you didn't come here to listen to my problems ...

Thousands of people in Moscow demonstrated for fair elections amid claims of electoral fraud in the balloting that returned Vladimir Putin to power earlier this month; professional self-aggrandizing windbag Donald Trump has changed his political affiliation from "Republican" to "unaffiliated" and publicly denounced GOP behavior; "" has been placed on the "permanent reserve" list to prevent its use as an online porn address; The French Ministry of Health has announced that the government will pay to remove silicone breast implants from about 30,000 women over concerns that leakage of the silicone filler could lead to a rare form of cancer; and in Egypt, the savage beating of "The Girl in the Blue Bra" by military police has rallied women to protest government oppression in the wake of the revolution earlier this year that was supposed to eliminate ... government oppression.

Peace on Earth, good will toward men, blah, blah, blah...

You may not believe it, but hyperconservative Republicans do, in fact, celebrate Christmas ...

What would Cartoon Saturday be without at least one gawd-awful thematic pun ...?

Better check your plan if your true love gives you those calling birds ...

It's all in how you look at it ...

Oh, heck, how about another pun ...

The parts that don't make it into the history books ...

Lots of businesses are cutting back on their Christmas celebrations and bonuses this year (unless, of course, you are a Wall Street tycoon or a major banker) ...

There are decorations and there are decorations ...
And finally, I'm sure you've wondered about this, too ...

You can learn about frankincense and myrrh here. Be sure to read all the pages.

And that's it for this year's Christmas edition of Cartoon Saturday. I hope you have a safe and relaxing holiday with your families and friends, and that the spirit of Christmas will help carry you through times that are politically and economically difficult. Hang in there, and keep visiting Santa Bilbo for the latest commentary on all the naked emperors out there.

Have a good day and a Merry Christmas! More thoughts tomorrow.


Friday, December 23, 2011

More Editorial Gems

I'm on "vacation" today, which means there are a million chores to be run so that we can enjoy the two days of Christmas celebration tomorrow and Sunday. That being the case, in the interest of sparing time, we'll just take a look at a few more great moments in editing ...

What would you keep in a hundred-year old computer cabinet ... an abacus?

There goes the neighborhood ...

I imagine it can be tough for real estate agents to keep coming up with jazzy ways to describe tired properties, but this one went a bit far ... and can't spell, either ...

If only it were this inexpensive ...

Sometimes, you've just got to call a spade a ... pointy shovel ...

You just know there's another story here, but you probably don't want to hear it ...

Is certain death a pre-existing condition ... ?

I'm reminded of the movie, A Mighty Wind ...

There's an art to descriptive language ...

And finally, a gift idea for that hard-to-shop-for fellow you don't like very much ...

Turning to the current standings in the Ass Clown of the Year balloting, the top five places on the leader board are:

The GOP - 39 votes

Congress - 36 votes

Saudi Arabia - 34 votes

The Democratic Party - 17 votes

Lindsey Lohan - 14 votes

We have a new entry in the voting this week, as GOP blowhard and presidential wannabe Newt Gingrich has received a single vote ... clearly cast by someone who actually listens to what he's been saying. On a related topic, you may want to closely study this picture of Mr Gingrich ...

... and then go back and read my post from June 21st of this year. Coincidence? I think not.

Be sure to vote for the Ass Clowns of your choice today ... and tomorrow ... and every day between now and December 30th. Let your voice (and your pets' voices, and the voices in your head) be heard!

Have a good day. Be here tomorrow for the Christmas Edition of Cartoon Saturday.

More thoughts then.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Of Seasonal and Political Solstices

Today is the Winter Solstice - the shortest day and longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, and the official start of winter. If Seasonal Affective Disorder is your thing, today is your day. The phenomenon of the Winter (and Summer) Solstices is governed by the tilt of the earth as it rotates on its axis ... at the Winter Solstice, the northern hemisphere is tilted away from the Sun, resulting in shorter days and longer nights ...

Religions and cultures around the world have many different rituals and ceremonies that revolve around the Winter Solstice. Many of them deal with concepts of rebirth, or with the emergence from darkness to light, as the days will now begin - however slowly - to get longer, if not warmer. Because it takes a long time for the oceans to heat and cool, at the date of the Winter Solstice the seas are still relatively warm from the summer; thus, the coldest winter days don't usually arrive until mid-February, when the oceans have had a chance to cool down significantly. For the same reason, the hottest days of summer don't usually arrive until August, although the Summer Solstice actually occurs in June.

It occurs to me that perhaps we need a political, rather than a seasonal solstice. Right about now we could use a little tilt on our political and social axes away from cold, darkness of spirit, and hyperpartisan discord, and a resultant emergence from the darkness of partisan rancor to the warmth and light of ... well ... bipartisan rancor.

Stranger things have happened.

Have a good day. Spend those extra hours of cold and darkness cuddled up with your loved one. Or your spouse, whatever.

More thoughts tomorrow.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Mondegreens and Other Lyrical Thoughts

If you've managed to grit your teeth and stick it out with me for any length of time, you know that I love language in all its various permutations and combinations, and especially puns and other word-based humor. One of the interesting things you can do with language is create mondegreens, or song lyrics that have been (often bizarrely) misunderstood. One of the classic mondegreens is "there's a bathroom on the right" ... which, in the original song by Creedence Clearwater Revival, actually read "...there's a bad moon on the rise."

For the fast-approaching holiday season, here's a collection of mondegreens from popular Christmas songs ...

"Deck the halls with Buddy Holly;"

"We three kings of porridge and tar;"

"On the first day of Christmas my tulip gave to me;"

"Later on we'll perspire, as we dream by the fire;"

"He's makin' a list, chicken and rice;"

"Noel, Noel - Barney's the king of Israel;"

"With the jelly toast proclaim;"

"Olive, the other reindeer;"

"Frosty the Snowman is a ferret elf, they say;"

"Sleep in heavenly peas;"

"In the meadow we can build a snowman, Then pretend that he is sparse and brown;"

"Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, you'll go down in listerine;"

"Oh, what fun it is to ride with one horse, soap and hay;"

"O come, froggy faithful;"

"You'll tell Carol, 'Be a skunk, I require'."

On a somewhat related topic, consider the song Frosty the Snowman and the lyric quoted above. You may have noted over the years that there are two versions of the song "Frosty the Snowman." One version (which, I think, was the original) contains the lines

In the meadow, we can build a snowman

And pretend that he's is Parson Brown.

He'll say, "Are you married?", we'll say, "No, man,"

"But you can do the job when you're in town."

In the other version, that same section reads,

In the meadow we can build a snowman

And pretend that he's a circus clown.

We'll have lots of fun with Mr Snowman

Until the other children knock him down."

Why do we have two versions of the song? I believe - without evidence, but with strong suspicion - that the Parson Brown version was frowned upon by rigidly upright religious types who didn't think it was appropriate for young people singing Christmas songs to think about things that related (however tangentially) to ... gasp! ... sex.

There's a similar change of lyrics in Jimmy Buffet's song Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes ... the original song contains the line ...

Good times and riches and son-of-a-bitches,

I've seen more than I can recall.

... which morphs in another version into

Good times and riches, some brooms and some switches,

I've seen more than I can recall.

For the record, I think the original is the one that makes sense, but I suspect that the use of the term son-of-a-bitches was too much for the tender ears of some listeners.

And now, lest I impose too much on your tender ears ... and eyes ... I'll take Nessa for a walk and head off to work.

Have a good day. Post your favorite mondegreens in the comments. More thoughts tomorrow.