Friday, January 31, 2014

For Your Observational Dining Pleasure

From the Department of I Couldn't Make This Stuff Up comes this latest trend from South Korea: paying to watch a pretty girl eat.

Yes, Dear Readers, online sites known as muk-bang (literally, eating rooms) offer streaming video of people - often attractive young women - eating huge meals while chatting with their audience. One of the stars of the muk-bangs is Park Seo-Yeon, a 33-year-old woman known as "The Diva."

According to the article, Ms Park is "... apparently blessed with the stomach capacity of several elephants and the metabolism of a hummingbird," which would be necessary in order to consume her enormous meals: over a period of a few hours each night, she easily plows through four large pizzas or three kilograms (6 lb) of beef in a single sitting.

If you don't like to eat alone, the Food Network is too tame for you, and the various "reality TV" shows aren't floating your gustatory boat, you may be glad to know that Afreeca TV, the service which carries the muk-bang channels (about 250 of them, more or less), has plans to expand to countries beyond South Korea.

Bon appetit!

Have a good day. Clean your plate ... there are professional muk-bang diners in Korea who need that food.

See you tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

I'll Drink to That!

Yesterday in this space I shared with you an interesting chart that showed the tremendous surge in consumption of hot sauce over the last decade. Hot sauce makes many things taste better, but it doesn't do much to remove the foul taste of current politics and the economic situation from your mouth. For that, you need booze.

You may have seen this map if you followed the link to the article cited in yesterday's post: The World According to Hard Alcohol (click to embiggen) ...

It shows the most heavily consumed hard liquor in various countries, and gives an interesting take on how we choose to drown our sorrows in the different parts of the world. In most of North America the poison of choice is vodka ... except for Mexico, where it's tequila. Vodka and whiskey are the most widely-tippled libations around the world, with rum a distant third and my beloved gin appearing only in The Netherlands (not in the UK, which I might have expected).

So what does it all mean? Who cares? The world is a hard place, and just about everywhere man lives, he (and she) has tried to turn plants into beverages that help to take the bitter edge off a tough life. If you're looking for a good investment, a distillery that produces vodka or whiskey seems like a good bet.

Have a good day. Enjoy your liquor of choice in moderation ... it's another two years to the next election, and you need to pace yourself.

More thoughts tomorrow.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hot Enough for You?

It snowed again last night here in NoVa, and while it's not nearly as cold as it is in garden spots like Minnesota and upstate New York, it's plenty cold and snowy enough to make life miserable. One measure of the bitterly cold temperatures is my electric bill that arrived yesterday, and looks like the place Dominion Power picked to store all its extra digits.

I know I shouldn't be complaining about the cold, because in another six months or so I know I'll be complaining about the miserable damp heat of high summer, but it's my blog and I'll piss and moan if I want to. And I want to.

But I can also use this space to be proactive and think about warmer subjects ... like hot sauce.

I found this fascinating chart the other day ...

Yes, Dear Readers, sales in America of hot sauces of all kinds have skyrocketed since the beginning of the current century, while sales of more traditional sauces have remained relatively stable. The accompanying article attributes this meteoric rise to two things: the burgeoning immigrant population, particularly of Asians and Latinos, who tend to enjoy spicier foods; and the skyrocketing popularity of hot wings, of which we consume some 25 billion each year. For more hot topics, you can go back and review my blog post from last month in which I discussed the world's record-holding hot pepper.

So hoist your bottle of Frank's Red Hot Sauce, Tabasco, Cholula, Sriracha, or your hot sauce of choice and raise a toast to all things hot. You'll be begging for colder temperatures soon enough.

Have a good day. Bring in the brass monkey. More thoughts tomorrow.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Odds and Ends from the News

Tonight President Obama will deliver his "State of the Union" address. He will probably speak for about 45 minutes*, after which Representative Cathy McMorris Rogers will deliver the official GOP rebuttal**, after which Senator Mike Lee will deliver the Tea Party rebuttal***, after which Rand Paul will deliver yet another response on behalf of ... well ... himself****. It will be a good evening to pop a DVD into the player, or fire up the DVR and catch up on your recorded shows, because you already know what everyone is going to say, and none of it is worth listening to. Read all about the blather-thon here.

According to a report on CNN online, a crow and a seagull attacked two white peace doves released by children standing next to Pope Francis last Sunday at St. Peter's Square.

The birds of prey attacked as the doves flew away from the open window in the Apostolic Palace+ ...

This leads to two observations:

First, if you're really interested in peace, it's not a very good omen; and

Second, if the Pope had released those doves anywhere in the United States, someone would probably have shot them before the birds of prey got close.

In another story hitting the news yesterday Eric Lawson, the actor who portrayed the rugged "Marlboro Man" in cigarette ads in the 1970's, has died of respiratory failure due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease ... in other words, smoking killed him. If you smoke, you might want to think about that for a minute.

Have a good day. Forget about the State of the Union address, don't smoke, and keep your distance from doves of peace. The first can be hazardous to your sanity; the last two can be hazardous to your health.

More thoughts tomorrow.


* He could do it in about three seconds by just saying, "It sucks."

** In which they will take about a half-hour to say, "It sucks and it's all Obama's fault."

*** In which they will say, "It sucks and it's everybody's fault but ours."

**** "zzzzzzz"

+ Much like showboating politicians swooping down on the State of the Union Address.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Deadly Weekend

As if we didn't have the arctic temperatures to deal with, the past weekend has been dangerous for other reasons.

In Columbia, Maryland, a man used a shotgun in a crowded mall to murder two people before turning the gun on himself.

At South Carolina State University, two men got into an argument, whereupon one pulled out a gun and shot the other dead.

No other comment necessary. It wouldn't bring anything new to the argument, anyway.

Have a good day. Know what to do in an "active shooter" situation*. The situation isn't likely to get any better.

More thoughts tomorrow.


* Isn't it grand that a university needs to put out guidance on this subject?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

"Ask Bilbo" Returns!

In last Friday's post, I announced the return of "Ask Bilbo," the occasional feature in which I offer to answer your pressing questions*. I have done this three times before: in October and November of last year (Part 1 and Part 2), and in August of 2011, and it seemed like a good time to try it again.

As of this morning, five of you have sent in questions, and so here we go ...

Q (Angel): "What TV programs do you watch? Do you watch sports, comedies, dramas, news programs?"

A: I don't watch a lot of TV, but my favorite current shows are NCIS, Castle, Sherlock, Elementary, and Dancing with the Stars (when it's in season). I also like Game of Thrones, but am watching it on DVDs because we don't get HBO. Agnes and I are watching a new series on the SyFy network called Helix, which is interesting in a weird and paranoid sort of way. In general, I like dramas and comedies, can't stand Law and Order: SVU and Criminal Minds (both of which Agnes likes), never watch sports, and think most news shows are a waste of time, particularly on Fox (if you can think of it as "news").

Q (Duckbutt): "What sort of fiction do you read?"

A: I prefer nonfiction, but enjoy a lot of fiction as well. I like science fiction, historical fiction, suspense, and thrillers, but will read just about anything that catches my eye. Right now, I'm reading A Dance with Dragons, the last of the published volumes of George R.R. Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" series (on which the "Game of Thrones" TV series is based). Some of my favorite authors are Carl Hiaasen (hysterically funny stories of bizarre people and events in Florida); Rennie Airth (his novels featuring English detective inspector John Madden are wonderful); Carlos Ruiz Zafon (The Shadow of the Wind, Marina, and others); John Dunning (his "Bookman" series is great, as is the wonderful World War II mystery Two O'Clock Eastern Wartime); and Harry Turtledove (who writes superb alternate history novels, especially The Guns of the South and The Man with the Iron Heart). I also recommend Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's novels based on Dante's Divine Comedy: Inferno and Escape from Hell. Oh, and for gritty historical fiction, I very much enjoy the works of Bernard Cornwell. I could go on**, but that's enough for now. Got anything to recommend?

Q (Allenwoodhaven): "How often do you read comments, particularly for older posts?"

A: I read all comments on every post, although I don't always have time to respond to them. I don't often go back and read comments on older posts unless I'm going to refer to a particular post and want to know what the reactions to it were before. If you really want a response to a particular comment, send me an e-mail at der_blogmeister(at)yahoo(dot)com.

Q (Grand Crapaud): "Where do you find those great cartoons for Cartoon Saturday?"

A: I get asked this question a lot. I find new cartoons every day in various places on the Internet, Facebook, and sites like I also scan cartoons I find in newspapers and magazines that aren't available digitally, and many are e-mailed to me by friends who spot them and think I'd like them (I accept all contributions at my e-mail address given above). I have an enormous collection of cartoons, many of them arranged by topic (which is how I'm able easily to pull together cartoons on a particular subject).

Q (Clarissa): "Do you foresee a third party being viable?"

A: This is a question The Bastard King of England asked in one of my previous "Ask Bilbo" posts. Here's what I said at that time, which I think is still true: "No. The two major political parties in America are so entrenched and so well-funded that the chances of a third party being successful are remote in the extreme. The most likely candidate for a new third party is probably a hyper-conservative group growing out of the extreme right wing of the GOP, but while it will be extremely loyal and vocal, it will be too extreme for the vast majority of Americans and would be crushed in a national election except in the most gerrymandered of districts."

So, there you are - your questions answered by the Sage of Springfield. Got any more? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail ... if I get enough, we'll do this again.

Have a good day, and enjoy the rest of your weekend. More thoughts tomorrow.


* About topics other than ironing, too, ha-ha.

** You have NO idea ...

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Cartoon Saturday

Tired of the polar vortex yet? ...

The founder of a now defunct "revenge porn" website was indicted and stands accused of hacking into people's e-mail accounts to steal nude photos to post online; dozens of Arizona prison inmates who allegedly defaced American flags placed in their jail cells have been put on a diet of bread and water by controversial sheriff Joe Arpaio; four people were killed and more than 50 injured in a bombing at a police headquarters in Cairo, Egypt; the Russian government has announced it will continue to extend asylum protection to American traitor Edward Snowden; and JPMorgan Chase boss Jamie Dimon received a 74% pay hike for last year*, even though the bank was forced to pay billions in fines and settlements during that period.

It just keeps getting weirder all the time. Good thing I've got cartoons to help you deal with it.

This week, we lead off with another selection of winter-oriented cartoons in honor of ... well ... you know...

I don't think we're in the Bahamas any more, Toto ...

Zombies are the "in" thing nowadays ...

I think a lot of us can relate to this ...

... and this ...

Sometimes the traditional lineup doesn't work as well as you might think ...

Just don't do any experimenting with them ...

Your ghastly pun for the week ...

An office visit as covered under Nerocare ...

I definitely need my dosage upped ...

And finally for this week, it looks like someone finally cracked the code ...

I hope that you are looking forward to a good weekend. Here in NoVa we are expecting perhaps another inch of snow during the day today ... just what we needed: another snow job, as if Congress wasn't bad enough. Stay in, stay warm, and keep checking in with ol' Bilbo for your daily entertainment.

Have a good day and a great weekend. Tomorrow, the return of "Ask Bilbo," as I answer the first batch of your questions. Be here. More thoughts then.


* That would be a 74% larger raise than I got for the same period.

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Team By Any Other Name, Part II ... and "Ask Bilbo" Returns

Yesterday's post, in which I trolled for suggestions for a new team name for the Washington Redskins, set a near record for comments. I got 11 on the post itself, and four on my Facebook page. Here's a recap of the suggestions:

Angel suggested "Clowns" or "Hookers."

Duckbutt offered "Inerts" or "Big Spenders."

Peggy will take anything but the current name.

Arizona Dave suggested "Beltway."

KathyA said that the name most often called out at games is "WTF."

Anemone wants the name of any majestic bird, such as "Eagles" (already taken), "Hawks," or "Kestrels."

Mike suggested "Yellow Bellies," with the idea that I could profit from all the sap-sucking at games.

Elvis likes "Sentinels" (after the fictional team from the movie The Replacements).

Allenwoodhaven suggested "Disenfranchised" (in honor of DC's lack of voting representation in Congress).

The Bastard King of England offered "Dodos" (probably not the majestic bird Anemone had in mind).

Heidi likes "Remoras" (because the team sucks). This one was my favorite.

Bob offered "Whooping Cranes" (also probably not one of those majestic birds).

Buggie suggested the "Can Twins" (say it quickly); and,

Rob offered "Filibusters."

Wow! Quite a response. Thank you all for your suggestions, none of which has a prayer of being adopted by the hapless Redskins. But it's nice to dream, isn't it?

But that was yesterday, and this is today. Today we turn to a new topic ... actually, to an old topic: we bring back your opportunity to ask the burning questions that are on your mind.

Last October, I ran a post titled Getting Your Answer Straight from the Horse's ... uh ... Never Mind, in which I offered you to ask me a question on any topic. The guidelines, as I wrote them at that time, are these:

"Ask Bilbo a question, and I'll answer it. I, of course, reserve the right to be selective in my choice of questions to answer (not everyone wants to know my underwear size, for example), but I will take on any question and answer it for you. It can be personal, philosophical, about current events, or whatever. Just remember Bilbo's Second Law: don't ask the question if you don't want to hear the answer."

You're up, Dear Readers: what do you want to know? Send your questions as a comment on this post, e-mail them to der(underscore)blogmeister(at)yahoo(dot)com, or - if you're on Facebook - send me a PM or leave a comment on the link. Depending on how many responses I receive, I'll start answering them on Sunday.

In the meantime, stay warm and be sure to come back tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday.

Have a good day. More thoughts coming.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Team By Any Other Name

Well, I'm back. Actually, I was never gone. I was just in a state of cold-induced suspended animation. It's six big degrees outside my study window, and the beautiful white blanket of snow we had at this time yesterday morning is now plowed, piled, sand-strewn, and pretty yucky-looking. The joy of winter, eh?

But enough about snow, let's talk about what we call our sports teams.

Most of the time, we give our teams names that reflect things like powerful animals (Bears, Lions, Tigers, Eagles) or local history and industry (Steelers, Ravens, Brewers). It's important to select the right name, because who wants to cheer for the Fond du Lac Ground Sloths or the Bayonne Loan Sharks? Not so long ago, we changed the name of the local basketball franchise from the Washington Bullets to the Washington Wizards because bullets was deemed an unfortunate allusion to the all-too-frequent fatal exercise of Second Amendment rights on the streets of the city.

The name of the team is a matter of no small importance here in Disneyland-on-the-Potomac, where there is a loud and furious debate concerning the name of the local football team: the Washington Redskins.

On one side of the argument are those who believe the name Redskins is a tremendously offensive slur against Native Americans*, a name that could only be worse if it were changed to something like the Washington Dreaded N-Words. So, what should we change the name to?

We could call them the Senators ... this was the former name of the local baseball franchise that today is called the Nationals, probably because of the realization that senators are hopelessly off-base and out of touch with reality. No, probably not a good choice.

If Senators doesn't work, how about calling them the Washington Representatives? Hmmm ... no, that probably won't work, because then every member of the team would only be interested in running the plays favored in his home district.

We could call them the Washington Republicans ... although it would imply that the team has only one play in its playbook, and continues to use it over and over again even though it doesn't work and pisses off large numbers of potential fans.

We could call them the Washington Democrats ... this would be appropriate for a team that has no playbook at all.

We could change the name to the Washington Lobbyists ... the team wouldn't even need to play - they could just buy off the opposing teams and win by default.

The Washington Evangelicals probably wouldn't have a prayer of winning**.

What do you think, Dear Readers? What would be an appropriate new name for the Washington Redskins, and why? Leave a comment.

Have a good day. Stay warm. More thoughts tomorrow.


* The people we used to call "Indians" in a less-enlightened time.

** Much like the current team.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Placeholder for a Snowy Morning

It is 6:00 AM here in NoVa, where we are digging out from varying amounts of snow. I got up at 4:00 (the usual workday time) and shoveled out our driveway and sidewalks.  We appear to have gotten about four or five inches of light, fluffy snow here, and it took about an hour and a half to clear it all away.

I'm now just about thawed out enough to take my shower and get ready to go to work ... the federal government is operating on a two-hour delay this morning*, and my bus line is running more-or-less on schedule, so I guess I don't have any excuse for not going in. Sigh.

I will try to put up my normal blog post this evening when I get home from work ... otherwise, see you tomorrow morning in this space.

Have a good day. Stay warm. More thoughts later.


* Oddly enough, today's delays in government were caused by inclement weather, and not by Republican intransigence and Democratic ineptitude.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Ass Clown of the Month for January, 2014

It's time to present our first Ass Clown of the Month Award for 2014 ... but first, let's take a look back at some statistics about this quasi-prestigious award.

I have presented the Ass Clown of the Month Award 22 times, and the Ass Clown of the Year Award three times1. There have been a number of dual awards2, several group awards3, and an award to a government4. There have been awards to political figures, countries, traitors5, and idiots6. Some recipients fall into more than one category. Oddly enough, there has never been an award to a woman, other than as a member of a larger group7.

And this month continues that unfortunate trend.

For the first award of 2014, the standout awardee is the self-appointed United States ambassador to North Korea and self-designated best friend of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un,

Dennis Rodman

For acting like a complete moron, embarrassing himself and his country, and giving aid and comfort to a psychotic tinhorn dictator whose idea of statesmanship is based on hysterical threats and whose idea of good government is maintaining slave labor camps for his opponents, the Ass Clown of the Month Award for January 2014 goes to washed-up NBA buffoon Dennis Rodman.

Maybe he can move to North Korea and show it off to his best friend.

Weather update from Disneyland-on-the-Potomac: the Federal Government and just about everything else has shut down for the day in expectation of our first "major" snowstorm of the year, starting about ten o'clock this morning and not ending until late tonight after leaving five to eight inches of belated White Christmas. I have already issued a new brass monkey alert ... if you live around here, bring 'em in ...

Have a good day. Stay warm, and take it easy with the shoveling. More thoughts tomorrow.


1 - The GOP (2011); Wayne LaPierre (2012); The Tea Party (2013).

2 - The Republican and Democratic Parties (March, 2011); Kim Jong-Un and Wayne LaPierre (May, 2013); Ken Cuccinelli and E.W. Jackson (June, 2013).

3 - The Westboro Baptist Church (August, 2011); The GOP and the Democratic Party (multiple awards); The President, Senate, and House (December, 2012); al-Shabaab (September, 2013); the US Congress (October, 2013); and The Tea Party (January, 2014).

4 - China (December, 2013).

5 - Edward Snowdon (July, 2013)

6 - Casey James Fury (August, 2013)

7 - Face it ... there are just some things men seem to be better at, ass-clownery being one of them.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Your Bizarre Anatomy Lesson for Today

I am not making this up, as Dave Barry would say.

During an interview at the Screen Actors Guild awards, actress Jennifer Lawrence was asked about her stunning, strapless Dior gown ...

She complained that the dress, tightly fitted to prevent wardrobe malfunctions, was "pushing (her) breasts into her armpits," resulting in armpit fat that, in turn, created what she called an armpit vagina.

This was, truly, an image that I did not need to have when I think about Jennifer Lawrence. Or any other woman, for that matter.

As it happens, I have written about the subject of armpits before in this space ... in a 2010 post titled "In Praise of the Humble Armpit," I discussed the potential health risks of various deodorants and antiperspirants, and the fact that there are roughly 1,800,000 websites dealing with the underarms of Bollywood actresses*.

The topic of underarms also came up recently in the context of noting the birthday, back on January 5th, of King C. Gillette, the inventor of the safety razor. I noted on my Facebook page at that time that Mr Gillette, were he still with us, would no doubt be distraught over the popularity of non-shaving characters like the entire male cast of "Duck Dynasty," but might be pleased to note that his invention had proven such a hit with the ladies. As a direct result of Mr Gillette's ingenuity, we can see that even comely prehistoric cave dwellers like Raquel Welch (in the classic film One Million Years BC) and the most filthy and downtrodden guttersnipes in Victorian England or peasants and beggars in the slums of King's Landing** feature glisteningly smooth underarms and legs.

And so we see that while Ms Lawrence's "armpit vagina" may be fat, it is certainly well-groomed.

One might also note that the armpit is also frequently used as a term of derision for certain undesirable geographical locations, as in expressions like, Camden, New Jersey, is the armpit of the east coast. This, of course, is a vile slur against an innocent and inoffensive (well, most of the time, anyway) body part.

But enough about armpits. We have a Monday to face. Roll on that antiperspirant and let's get going.

Have a good day. Come back tomorrow, when we will announce January's Ass Clown of the Month.

More thoughts then.


* If you don't believe me, Google it yourself. You will probably want to rip out your cable modem and throw it out the window.

** Watch "Game of Thrones" if you don't believe me.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Mowing the Yard: A Cautionary Tale

Mowing the yard seems like an odd thing to think about in the bitter depths of winter, with the Polar Vortex winding up to take another shot at our collective chins, but I had to share this story with you. It comes from my friend Bob (who is a veritable fountain of funny stories, many of them unsuitable for polite company), and I've seen it in a number of variations before, but it's still funny. And someone needs to compete with the humorous tales spun by Angel over at her blog. Herewith, the story of a lawn-mowing gone wrong ...

We have the standard 6-foot wood fence in the backyard, and a few months ago, I heard about burglaries increasing dramatically in the entire city. To make sure this never happened to me, I got an electric fence and ran a single wire along the top of the fence.

Actually, I got the biggest cattle charger Tractor Supply* had, made for 26 miles of fence. I then used an 8-foot long ground rod, and drove it 7.5 feet into the ground. The ground rod is the key, because the more you have in the ground, the better the fence works.

One day I was mowing the back yard with my cheapo Wal-Mart 6-hp big wheel push mower when I found the hot wire for the fence broken and laying out in the yard. I knew for a fact that I had unplugged the charger, so I pushed the mower around the wire and reached down to grab it, to throw it out of the way.

It seems as though I hadn't remembered to unplug it after all.

Now I was standing there with the running lawnmower in my right hand and the 1.7 gigavolt fence wire in the other hand. Keep in mind the charger was about the size of a marine battery and had a picture of an upside-down cow on fire on the cover.

Time stood still.

The first thing I noticed was my pecker trying to climb up the front side of my body. My ears curled downwards and I could feel the lawnmower ignition firing in the backside of my brain. Every time that Briggs & Stratton rolled over, I could feel the spark in my head ... I was literally at one with the engine. It seemed as though the fence charger and the el-cheapo lawnmower were fighting over who would control my electrical impulses.

Science says you cannot crap, pee, and vomit at the same time. I beg to differ. Not only did I do all three at once, but my bowels emptied three different times in less than half of a second. It was a Matrix kind of bowel movement, where time is creeping along in slow motion and you're all leaned back and BAM BAM BAM you just crap your pants three times. It seemed like there were minutes in between but in reality it was so close together it was like exhaust pulses from a big block 427 Corvette motor turning 8,000 rpm.

At this point, I was about 30 minutes (actually, maybe two seconds) into holding onto the fence wire. My hand was wrapped around the wire palm down so I couldn't let go. I grew up on a farm so I know all about electric fences ... but Dad always had those crummy, low-end chargers made by International or whoever that were about nine volts and just kinda tickled. This one I could not let go of. That 8-foot long ground rod was now accepting signals from me through the permadamp Ark-La-Tex river bottom soil. At this point I figured I'd have to just man up, grit my teeth and take it, until the lawnmower ran out of gas.

Damn!, I thought, as I remembered I had just filled the tank!

Now the lawnmower was starting to run rough. It had settled into a hi-performance loping run pattern as if it had some kind of big lawnmower race cam in it. Covered in poop, pee, and with my vomit on my chest I thought Oh God please let me die ... Pleeeeaze die. But no, the engine settled into the rough lumpy cam idle nicely and remained there, like a big bore roller cam EFI motor waiting for the go command from its owner's right foot.

So there I was in the middle of July, 104 degrees, 80% humidity, standing in my own backyard, begging God to kill me. God did not take me that day ... he left me there covered in my own fluids to writhe in the misery my own stupidity had created.

I honestly don't know how I got loose from the wire ... I woke up hours later, lying on the ground with a bad sunburn and the lawnmower beside me, out of gas.

There were two large dead grass spots where I had been standing, and then another long skinny dead spot where the wire had laid while I was on the ground still holding on to it. I assume I finally had a seizure and in the resulting thrashing had somehow let go of the wire.

Upon waking from my electrically-induced sleep I realized a few things:

1 - Three of my teeth seemed to have melted.

2 - I now have cramps in the bottoms of my feet and my right butt cheek (not the left, just the right).

3 - Poop, pee, and vomit, when all mixed together, do not smell as bad as you might think.

4 - My left eye will not open.

5 - My right eye will not close.

6 - The lawnmower runs like a sonofagun now. Seriously! I think our little session cleared out some carbon fouling or something, because it was better than new after that.

7 - I can turn on the TV in the family room by letting a fart go while thinking of the number four (I still don't understand this).

That day changed my life. I now have a newfound respect for things. I appreciate the little things more, and now I always triple-check to make sure the fence is unplugged before I mow.

The good news, is that if a burglar does try to come over the fence, I can clearly visualize what my security system will do to him, and it gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling all over, which also reminds me to triple check before I mow.

Have a good day. Be careful what you touch.

More thoughts tomorrow.


* One of Andrea's favorite stores.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Cartoon Saturday

It's a strange world ...

A large number of Air Force officers stand accused of cheating on tests designed to measure their knowledge of nuclear weapons procedures; a man shot two women to death in an Indiana grocery store before being shot and killed by police; in other Second Amendment news, a retired police officer in Florida shot and killed a man in a theater who had annoyed him by texting during the show; a Japanese soldier who held out in the Philippines for nearly 30 years, refusing to believe that World War II was over, has died at the age of 91; and 18 people were trampled to death when a stampede broke out at a funeral for a religious leader in India.

It's a rough world out there ... aren't you glad you have Cartoon Saturday to help you get through it?

We lead off this week with a set of cartoons with literary references ...

Well, 50 Shades of Grey may not be literary in the real sense of the word, but work with me on it ...

I'll bet he gets plenty of donations ...

You sometimes have to be careful with those dating site profiles ...

You can sometimes get into a whale of a jam with careless pillow talk ...

Hester Prynne - spin doctor ...

Well, the sign was accurate, right? ...

Remember what we said earlier about those online profiles? ...

Who needs GPS? ...

With the raft of TV shows about life and intrigue in Nashville, this seemed like a pretty good bet for this week's collection ...

And finally, Agnes always knows the right thing to say ...

And there we have it for another Cartoon Saturday. For many of you, it's a long holiday weekend, if one marked by plunging temperatures again. According to articles I've read, the infamous Polar Vortex is going to make a new appearance during the coming week*, leading to more stupid remarks by climate change deniers who don't understand what they're talking about. Read Andy Borowitz's take on that here. We'll be hunkering down with our local grandchildren for the weekend, which is the fun, if exhausting, way to stay warm.

Have a good day and a great weekend. Remember to bring in the brass monkey.

More thoughts tomorrow.


* I wish there were a way to share some of that cold with Amanda, who is experiencing somewhat the opposite problem at the moment down there in too-sunny Australia.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Editorial Gems for a January Friday

I'm feeling lazy, and it's been two weeks since we last looked at great moments in editing, so why not? ...

Food, in all its various forms, is a great source of editorial gems. For instance, why not enjoy a tuna massage today? ...

I wonder how many of the judges were women? ...

Grapeless grapes! I imagine they'd be very low-calorie ...

Nice of them to offer a Cannibal Special breakfast ...

This may be why inept English teachers tend to die out early ...

Well, who else would you expect to issue such a warning? ...

I wonder if it hurt? ...

I didn't know if I wanted to include this one, because it might seem a little ... uh ... corny ...

 But enough about food ... other things sometimes go on sale, too ...

Finally, from the Really Dumb Criminals department ...

And so another week comes to an end. In other news, new entries continue to come in for our Last Supper List compilation, which has turned out to be one of my most popular posts in terms of your responses ... you can look at all the LSL's, including the new suggestions from allen, Kathy and Purple Flowers here.

Have a good day. See you tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Your Last Supper Lists

In last Sunday's post I brought up the topic of the Last Supper List - the list of 12 people, living or dead, real or imaginary, that you'd invite to your Last Supper. I provided my own list, and asked you, Dear Readers, to provide your own. The results were, as I expected, interesting.

Just for review, this was my LSL:

Pope Francis;
Leonardo da Vinci;
Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt;
Dorothy Parker;
Will Rogers;
J. R. R. Tolkien;
George R. R. Martin;
Sherlock Holmes;
Winston Churchill;
Sun Tzu; and,
Niccolo Machiavelli.

And here were some of the others you suggested:

From Elvis:
Thomas Jefferson (a fascinating choice);
Lord Kelvin;
Gregor Mendel (interesting!);
Leonardo di Vinci;
Theodore Roosevelt;
Dorothy Parker;
Emily Dickinson;
Leo Tolstoy;
Thomas Edison; and,
Marco Polo.

From Andrea (all musicians, can you imagine that?):
George Harrison;
Davy Jones;
Elvis Costello; and,
Simon LeBon.

Angel's list included:
George Washington (an excellent choice ... I should probably add him to my own list);
William Faulkner;
Zooey Deschanel;
Conan O'Brien;
Niccolo Machiavelli;
St. Francis of Assisi (he would probably enjoy talking with Pope Francis);
René Descartes; and,
Jane Austen.

Heidi wants to invite authors and humorists:
Dorothy Parker;
Mark Twain;
Dave Berry;
Lewis Grizzard;
Jerry Clower;
Ogden Nash; and,
Will Rogers (ah, Heidi ... no wonder I like you!).

Grand Crapaud's list includes musicians, authors, and spies:
Mata Hari;
Elvis Presley;
Theodore Roosevelt;
George Sand
(a lady, actually!);
Frederic Chopin;
Benjamin Franklin
(I wonder how I missed him for my own list...);
Joan of Arc;

Peggy would invite a lot more people than this, but had to stop somewhere:
My MOM !! (knowing Peggy, I'll bet her mom is a hoot...);
Gloria Steinem;
President Obama;
Margaret Sanger;
Louise May Alcott;
Nostradamus; and,
Billy Joel.

And Mike's comment was classic Mike: "I've been trying to come up with a list and still can't come up with anyone. I prefer to eat by myself."

A few comments on these lists:

Authors, poets, and musicians feature prominently on many of your lists. Somehow, this doesn't surprise me ... these are figures I also like, and if you've decided to follow my blog, chances are you are likely to enjoy them as well.

American history is well-represented. I think we could make up a special Last Supper just with Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, and the three Roosevelts (Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor)

There are not many religious figures, but those that made the lists would probably be fascinating to sit next to (Pope Francis and Saint Francis of Assisi). 

Very few modern political figures show up on your lists. No problem - I don't like many of them, either.

I think the idea of the Last Supper List is a really interesting one that gives insights into our personalities and interests. Thanks to all of you who submitted your lists ... I think I know you better  and like you more now. If you're ever in the general area of Disneyland-on-the-Potomac, let me know and we'll make our own miniature Last Supper with as many as we can get together.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Secure Download

This was one of a series of photos on the topic of "innocence" that I received the other day from my friend Bob. Given some of what's out there on the internet, I think this young lady may have the right idea ...

I am continually amazed at the computer literacy or, at least, the level of comfort with computers, shown by my grandchildren. I like to think I'm pretty computer-literate, but sometimes they're so far ahead that it scares me.

Tomorrow we'll take a few minutes to parse the various Last Supper Lists you provided. For now, it's time to drag my poor, sagging rear end into a new day. Sigh.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Training Officers to Be Gentlemen*

I found this interesting story from Time Magazine online yesterday: Becoming an Officer and a Gentleman: Air Force Academy Seeks Help to Teach Cadets Finer Points of Finer Living.

Yes, Dear Readers, although an act of Congress can make one an officer in the armed services, it requires special training to make today's officer a gentleman.

It seems that the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs has issued Contract Solicitation Number: FA7000-14-T-0013, titled "Social Decorum Training Program at the US Air Force Academy." You can download and read the actual Performance Work Statement (PWS) here, in case you were considering putting in a bid. Here is the Background/Scope section from the PWS ...


Cadet Social Decorum Program. The contractor shall be responsible for administering, planning, and continued development of a comprehensive etiquette training program. The contractor shall provide areas of instruction and mentorship that include military, business, communication, dining, social and professional etiquette. The contractor shall present a syllabus and comprehensive training programs (seminars, workshops, lectures, briefings, and hands-on practical sessions) for all classes of cadets covering a broad range of topics related to etiquette and military customs and courtesies. Contractor shall support planning sessions and review meetings related to the Cadet Social Decorum Program.

SCOPE. Topics of instruction shall include but are not limited to: Social activities, event planning, personal correspondence (invitations, RSVPs, thank you notes), writing social correspondence, receiving lines and introductions, civility, behavior, basic hygiene, uniform wear and maintenance, appropriate civilian attire, posture, basic manners in a myriad of settings, common courtesies, telephone etiquette, table etiquette (settings, seating, decorum, conversation), the art of conversation (tact and diplomacy, small talk, use of proper language style, body language and non-verbal communication), social conduct in stressful situations, leadership roles outside the military structure, and ceremonies. Proper conduct and dress for functions such as USAFA Ring Dance, sponsor visits, USAFA graduation and commissioning ceremonies, dining-ins, dining-outs, events at commander’s and general officer’s quarters and formal and non-formal events in the community. The list above is not all inclusive but it does provide some examples."

I think that the fact that the Air Force sees a need to train its newest officers in ordinary social graces - including civility, basic hygiene, common courtesies, and the art of conversation is a poor comment on our society. What are parents teaching their children nowadays?

It's been widely reported that many college graduates, particularly athletes, nowadays can't read at a high school level, do basic mathematics, or write coherently. That's a failure of priorities in our system of higher education. But the fact that the specially-selected students we are training to to fly multi-million dollar aircraft and satellites, to manage contracts worth billions of dollars, and to lead others into war require supplemental training in basic social graces is pretty disheartening.

One can argue that warriors don't need to understand which fork to use with which dinner course, or the intricacies of etiquette in various social settings ... but they really ought not to need special instruction in common courtesy or how to carry on a social conversation.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* I use the term in its generic sense to include female officers, of whom there are many in today's armed services.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Monday Odds and Ends

I don't have anything in particular on my mind this morning, so how about a few random observations about things going on in the world?

Dennis Rodman, America's most embarrassing emissary and the best (and probably only) friend Kim Jong-un ever had, is back and apologizing for his idiotic behavior. He ought to have stayed in North Korea.

A family whose mother died during a vacation visit to the island of St Maarten received a coffin containing the wrong body, although it had been dressed in their mother's clothing. Because the macabre mix-up was discovered at the receiving funeral home in New Jersey, authorities are investigating the possible involvement of Tony Soprano.

This past Sunday was the 13th annual "No Pants Subway Ride," celebrated in various major cities around the world. Given the sort of behavior one sees every day on the DC Metro trains, I doubt anyone would have noticed.

Yesterday's post titled The Last Supper List generated some interesting guest lists. I'll give it another day or two to see if anyone else comments, then offer some comments of my own on the topic.

And that's all for now. Another week beckons, and I need to get ready to face it. Sigh.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Last Supper List

We all know about the idea of the "Bucket List" - the list of things we want to do or accomplish in live before we "kick the bucket." I wrote about my own bucket list in a post back in February of 2008, and updated it in August of that year. There was even a movie based on the idea of the bucket list, called - appropriately enough - The Bucket List.

There's also the somewhat newer meme (well, newer to me, anyhow) of the "Last Supper List," or "LSL" - the list of 12 people - real or imaginary, living or dead - you would invite to your own Last Supper. I first heard it expressed this way on a recent episode of the TV show Castle, and in googling the term, I found this interesting Last Supper List by author Deborah Busby.

I actually took a swipe at a version of this topic way back in 2007, in a post titled The Ultimate Dinner Party, Part 1. My five-person guest list for the Ultimate Dinner Party was:

Leonardo da Vinci;
Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt;
Dorothy Parker; and,
Will Rogers

I asked for readers to offer their own Ultimate Dinner Party guest lists, and received only one (I had a lot fewer readers back then). Reader Anonymous (actually a work colleague and friend of mine) suggested this interesting list:

Martin Luther; and
Pope John Paul II.

Now, the whole idea of the Ultimate Dinner Party is to gather together a group of really interesting people for really interesting conversation over a really good dinner. For this reason, I think that a 12-person Last Supper List would generate a group too large for really interesting and interactive conversation. Of course, the original Last Supper guest list was dictated by the number of apostles, and the dinner was held for a very different reason, but that's neither here nor there.

All that having been said, has my Ultimate Dinner Party list changed in the seven years since I wrote the last post? Let's say that I was willing to turn my UDP into an LS (which I probably wouldn't, for the reason given, but let's roll with it, shall we?) ... what would the new guest list look like? Here's Bilbo's 12-person Last Supper List:

Pope Francis (who wouldn't want to meet the pope who is singlehandedly trying to drive the Catholic Church back to its roots?);

Leonardo da Vinci (he could probably count for half the guest list all by himself);

Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt - the greatest president of the 20th century, who led the country through the Great Depression and World War II, and the fascinating First Lady who was his eyes and ears;

Dorothy Parker - the witty, wisecracking lady who was a mainstay of the famous Algonquin Round Table ... I'd love to trade witty commentary with her, although I'd surely come out second;

Will Rogers - if you've been reading this blog long, you know that Will Rogers is one of my most revered heroes ... witty, perceptive, and a keen political observer and commentator with a common touch;

J. R. R. Tolkien - The Lord of the Rings is one of my all-time favorite works of literature ... I'd love to talk to him about how he wrote it, and to compare his thoughts with those of the next guest;

George R. R. Martin - I'd love to pick his brain on how he researched and plotted the Song of Ice and Fire series;

Sherlock Holmes - who needs to play a game of Clue when you can invite history's greatest detective?;

Winston Churchill - statesman, writer, and brilliant orator ... I'd just be afraid he'd monopolize the conversation;

Sun Tzu - one of the world's great strategic thinkers; and,

Niccolo Machiavelli - his insights into twisted politics could provide valuable insights into our current dysfunctional Congress.

If I had to reduce the guest list to five, my picks today would be:

Pope Francis;
Leonardo da Vinci;
Dorothy Parker;
Will Rogers; and,
Niccolo Machiavelli.

So, Dear Readers, who would be on your Last Supper List, and why? Leave a comment and let us all know. It'll be a helluva party.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Cartoon Saturday

It's been another great week ...

Police in Pennsylvania and Maryland are seeking the individual who chased another motorist for 15 miles along Interstate 70 before running him off the road and shooting him dead; thousands of people in West Virginia have been forced to use bottled water after a toxic chemical spilled into their drinking water supply; in China, where the air is already horrifically polluted, the government is set to ban indoor smoking by the end of the year; New Jersey governor Chris Christie continues to try to extricate himself from the "Bridgegate" scandal; and bizarre basketball figure Dennis Rodman continued making an ass of himself as a self-appointed ambassador to North Korea.

I surely do hope cartoonists don't stop drawing cartoons, because we surely do need them ...

This week's collection of theme cartoons looks back to the hideous cold of the past week's Polar Vortex and features everyone's favorite formal birds - penguins ...

Sometimes, being a penguin can have its advantages ...

Casual Friday at the South Pole ...

There are certain family resemblances for penguins ...

How "fight or flight" works for those who can't fly ...

And another look at the family resemblance thing ...

Turning to other topics, sometimes practical jokes can be both cruel and on-target ...

Everybody's got to start someplace ...

This would definitely be a hairy situation ...

American Horror Story, the Next Season ...

And finally for this week, a look at real upward mobility ...

And so it goes. We're only halfway through January, and we've already had intense winter cold, political scandals, road rage, and assorted shenanigans of all sorts. Welcome back to 2013.

Here in NoVa this weekend, we're looking at rain and temperatures in the low 60's ... perfect weather for taking down the Christmas tree and - perhaps - finally getting to the theater to see The Desolation of Smaug. Yee, HAH!

Have a good day and a great weekend. More thoughts tomorrow.