Nobody Expects the Shack o' Inquisition

There are two things I have begun to believe:

1.) That in-between voiceover gigs as Darth Vader, James Earl Jones works for U.S. intelligence. (Come on—Sneakers? Hunt for Red October? Clear and Present Danger? It's so obvious!) I suspect his second-in-command is Gene Hackman.


2.) These intelligence agencies field information gathered through skillfully-trained interrogators, as employed by Radio Shack

See-- a few years ago all I’d wanted was a tidy, little micro-cassette recorder. A simple model so I could conduct a couple of interviews for my Real Job.

So I’d stopped by Radio Shack, and the helpful Radio Shack Guy (shouldn’t they have a hip, funny, self-aware name like the GeekSquad people? Hmm… Radioheads?... Shackies?... )

(The Shack Pack?...)

Okay, so the helpful Shack-Packer aided me in my selection, and then led me up to the counter. At this point, I was happy with the ease of the transaction….

And that’s when the high-level interrogation began.

What was my name? he wanted to know....

And would I spell that that for him?

And how about the ol’ zip code?

Next, street address? Phone number with area code first, please?

Oh, and what’s my shoe size? Any birthmarks or noticeable tattoos?

Okay, it wasn’t quite that bad. (I don't have any tattoos, and my shoe size is average for my height.) But it all got keyed into their system.

I also realized I couldn’t see where my cassette recorder had gone, anymore. It had been tucked somewhere out of view, possibly as leverage for the information they were trying to wring from me.

I was pretty sure in a minute or so, I’d be shoved into a wooden chair with a spotlight shining fiercely into my eyes. And a shadowy figure with a German accent would say:

"Zo… Vat do you plan to do vis zat tape recorder, uh? You are interested in ze listenink in, are you, ja? Making vis ze schnoooopink, Fraulein Thorson?-- Eef zat eez even your real name?! Eez eet? … Eez eet safe?"

Actually, I mentioned that it seemed to be a heckuva lot of information to have to give just for a micro-cassette player. (I even planned to pay cash).

But the Shack-Packer just shrugged, my recorder reappearing from captivity, now in a plastic bag, as he rang up my bill. As if: “Yeah, yeah, ‘nobody expects the Radio Shack Inquisition.’ Tell it to somebody who cares-- and don’t trip over the electroshock treatment cables and dental drills on the way past the manager's office.”

Of course, as a marketer myself, I know it's all just general consumer data. Stuff that's probably siloed in a database that's never going to amount to much except possibly help the Shack-Packers collect girls' phone numbers for potential dates.

I wish them good luck with that.

But as I gathered my package and headed to the door, I could have sworn I heard someone muttering in a deep, familiar bass voice, "Hmm... shoe size, eight-and-a-half, medium..."

“James Earl Jones?” But by the time I turned, he was gone.


And a shame, too. I would have liked to ask what he and Hackman did about 9/11... And also the deal with Star Wars Episode I-III. I mean, what the heck did Lucas do to that franchise, anyway?

Radio Shack has undoubtedly also gotten all the pertinent data about Humor-blogs.

Stealth Mom and the Mayonnaise Infiltration of 82

Home cooking. The words conjure up images of Mom and apple pie. But for some, beneath the warm memories of home and hearth there also lurks a darker underbelly. One of coercion, deceit, betrayal... and condiments.

Yes, today, my friends, I will share with you how my childhood dining was regularly infiltrated by the Stealth Mom-- who I've come to suspect was actually a secret agent for the United Mayonnaise and Sour Cream Council.

My mother, I should begin by explaining, was a very good cook and also a pretty darned honest person all around. And it's important I begin the story like this, because you need to fully understand the confusing dichotomy that Dad and I experienced under her clever double-agent manipulations.

On one hand, you had the loving mom and wife who planned nutritious meals, made fantastic beef barley soup, amazing chili, and drool-worthy baked goods... The mom who did this uncomplainingly, and to whom Dad and I both sincerely owe our gratitude....

And then on the other hand, you had the evil mastermind who plotted to invade our tastebuds and gastrointestinal systems with the handful of deeply detested non-nutrive elements like mayonnaise and sour cream (me), and onions and mushrooms (Dad), in an effort to expand our personal horizons.

See, Mom herself disliked very few foods-- except for lima beans which gave her a dangerous allergic reaction that made her puff up a like an inflatable lawn ornament at Christmas. (The aversion being, then, kinda understandable.)

So as a result of Mom's great love of all that was culinary, she found it simply impossible to believe that my dad or I truly didn't like a particular flavor or texture. She felt it wasn't so much the taste we were reacting to, as in... oh, I don't know... the bad publicity or something.... Food we viewed unjustly as having a shady reputation... Martyred by prejudice...

And so quietly, subtly, she made it her personal quest to prove us wrong.

This was done by slipping disliked ingredients into a meal with the sly ingenuity of a 15th century usurper to the English throne on a poisoning campaign. I mean, when it came to what was in his din-din, honestly, Edward V had to watch his back less than my father and I did.

The irony was that Dad and I could also totally taste-- and often see-- what was lurking in the food.

"Does this tuna have mayonnaise on it?" I'd ask, after a bite of the unpleasant tang, the slick texture, and a survey of the suspicious white coating that no fish in its right mind would find sea-worthy.

"Er, no," said my otherwise honest maternal archetype. "No, just don't worry about it." Big smile. "Have your sandwich. The bread's getting soggy."

But I was not so easily dissuaded. "I really think there's mayonnaise on here," I'd insist, the Mayometer in my brain issuing great whoops of "WARNING WARNING WARNING-- ABORT-- ABORT-- STEP AWAY FROM THE SANDWICH!"-- that there was a contaminated substance lurking.

"Oh, that..." She'd give a casual wave of the hand. "That's just the oil from the way it was packed. Don't give it a second thought. Eat up."

I'd eye the sandwich suspiciously, drilling down with my optical Anti-Condiment Detector and picking up distinct mayonnaise residue through its microscopic lens. "I don't know, Mom... It doesn't look anything like oil. It really looks like--"

"Oh, just eat it already!" she'd finally say, exasperated. And adding, with a narrow expression, "You can't taste the mayonnaise, anyway."

That was the giveaway: "you can't taste the mayonnaise, anyway." Which is probably why she didn't get into, say, being a double agent for American national security during the Cold War or anything because, she didn't have her Believable Denial down quite solidly enough.

They would have worn her down too soon.

Well, recently, in discussing old recipes, I've learned that others, too, grew up having to form proper defenses against their own personal Stealth Moms. In fact, such was the popularity of this concept during my formative years and before, that there apparently were cookbooks encouraging mothers to work their mega-mom meal mojo on tricking husbands and young'uns into eating the inedible. So it wasn't just an isolated incident. My mom was part of a movement!

And now I understand that Jessica Seinfeld-- Jerry "No Soup For You" Seinfeld's wife-- has a cookbook out called Deceptively Delicious, and she's marketing the Stealth Mom to a whole new generation.

As an adult, I can certainly appreciate the need to ensure your loved ones get their proper nutrition...

But as a child who lived under the Covert Mayonnaise Infiltration of the 80s, I can only find myself shrieking, "Beware, my little friends! The Stealth Mom is on the prowl... And she has ways of making you eat!"

Do you have memories of mealtime trauma? Were you the child of a Stealth Mom? Of Cabbages and Kings would love to hear from you!

I hear they respect a person's right not to like mayonnaise over at Humor-blogs.

Meet Shearadon and Woolworth

I'd mentioned in a meme earlier this week that many moons ago, in college, I drew a regular comic strip for the school paper starring anthropomorphic sheep who wore basketball sneakers. And a couple of you were sort of curious what that involved. (Understandable because, you know, livestock doesn't usually accessorize.) Well, since Claire of A Little Piece of Me is having a Doodle Week challenge May 8-14, I figured I'd be prepared. I'd get the flock out for Friday, and see if I still knew how to draw 'em.

This would, however, be Shearadon and Woolworth's first debut in color (it looks like I hired an eager kindergartener to color it in, doesn't it?). "Shearadon," by the way, is the one with the Aloha shirt and plaid pants, while "Woolworth" wears the tie and John Lennon glasses. Click the panels for embiggification.

Hope you guys got a chuckle, at least. In the college storyline, Woolworth went off to the university to see life beyond The Meadow and became immursed in literature, existentialism, Marxist theory and penning bad sheep poetry-- while Sheardon didn't so much go to classes, but sure had a great time when he joined one of the frats.

A sheep with a lampshade on his head... Now that's quality humor. :)

Take care, everybody. Have a great weekend and I think I can speak for Shearadon when I shout, "TGIF!"

Shearadon over-submitted his blog trying to get into the Humor-blogs directory. It was a sheep trick.

Raiders of the Lost Barqs

It looked like a bazillion-year-old frozen dinosaur had met dynamite.

Deep brown-red icy chunks dripped down the shelves, the inside of the refrigerator door, and clung to the ceiling like tiny Jurassic stalactites.

This isn't what you expect when reaching for the coffee creamer, let me tell ya.

Excavation of the fridge left me looking accusingly at a number of suspects. The guava jelly my dad sent from Florida last year?... No, that was still hermetically-sealed-- and had it really been a year already? And what's a "guava," anyway? Aren't they endangered?

(Kidding, kidding. I do know what a guava is. They run free over the Serengeti.)

Well, how about the jar of bruschetta topping? No, that seemed all right. Except for... didn't I pick that up last Fall?

And okay, what about that carton of tanger-kiwi-strawbe-cocon-orange juice? Nope. Safe and secure, in spite of its juice-oriented identity crisis.

Then I caught myself doing something that, in retrospect, seems unwise and also fairly gross. Such was my desire to uncover the source of the mess, that before I could stop me, I actually found myself tasting a little bit of the ice. "Hm. Sorta sweet!.. And I still don't know what it is."

It's just good I'm not a forensic analyst, is all I can say.

Well, further archaeological unearthing revealed that the culprit was a can of soda pop which had gotten pushed to the back of the fridge, frozen, and went out with an exuberant display of the laws of physics.

Yet, I also learned that I am apparently just an incredibly disgusting individual. Oh, it's not only the fact that I am stupid enough to taste what appeared to be an exploded T-rex Slushee. (I was not fully-caffeinated at this time, so some forgiveness should be alotted there.)

But the stuff I found in this fridge -- and I had scrubbed it out a number of times previously, too-- seemed to hearken back in time like a poorly-conceived scrapbook of my life.

A bag of two stale pitas, drier than the Sahara in summer, for snack a few months ago when I got in a Greek mood... Tupperware tubbies of meals gone by... Parts of gift baskets celebrating events I'm too old to even recall anymore... This is how I have been living.

What have I been doing instead of attending to the neolithic num-nums in my refrigerator? Well, blogging, probably. But one would think opening the refrigerator and being greeted by an Otherworldly voice growling, "Zuul!" would have gotten my attention sooner.

Alas, no. It took the Big Bang of Buoyant Beverages to help me see something was amiss.

So I sipped life-giving coffee while strolling down the culinary memory lane, saying so long to the pita.... goodbye to the busted beverage.

History is a great way to learn from our mistakes, donchaknow. So I'm hoping that the next time my refrigerator starts whispering in ancient tongues and glowing a bit, I'll know to head it off before the spewing starts.

Oh, and speaking of which-- does this milk seem sour to you?

Here: smell.

The good folks at Humor-blogs are willing to sniff cartons of sour milk anytime.

Meme Time, Meme Channel

So Dead Rooster (or as I like to think of him-- "Le Coq Mort") over at Legally Sane Blogging included me in this meme which is going around. So to honor the Deceased Chanticleer, I have developed today's post.

The Gallo Esta Muerto was, in fact, very strict about the rules of this meme. For an ex-chicken he's still got a bit of spunk left in him, so I'd prefer not to tick him off. Roosters can be touchy. So these are the rules.


  1. Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves.
  2. People who are tagged, write a blog post about their own 8 random things, and post these rules.
  3. At the end of your post you need to tag 8 people and include their names.
  4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment on their blog and tell them they have been tagged, and to come back and read your blog for the whole story.
  5. Those who are late to the table do not get fruit cup

Okay, so I made up that last one, but it's a nice touch, don't you think? :) Now-- on to the eight random facts or habits! Huzzah! (Hey, I saw that-- you stifle that big yawn... We're doing this for the Demised Poultry, remember?)


1.) If groups like the Beach Boys, Ladysmith Black Mambazo or Clannad are on in the car, my brain thinks I should be able to sing along with them just fine-- in spite of language barriers or lyrics issues. It makes for an interesting ride for my passengers.

2.) I'd included it once in a meme on my thrifting blog, but I cannot express it often enough. If mayonnaise touches my food, that food is completely contaminated. I have mayo fear.

3.) 80s singer Eddie Money filmed his "I Wanna Go Back" video in my hometown, and they cast extras from my high school. One of my best friends made a merry fool of himself in it, dancing "The Swim." Eddie Money's people didn't ask him to do The Swim. It was his own personal flourish. We were so proud (read: made fun of him for weeks and weeks).

4.) I used to know French pretty well but now, after all these years I am left with only the words for sheep, scallops, fish, dress, rooster (coincidentally!), and a few lines from "Le Petit Prince." Needless to say, should I ever be plunked down in Paris and left to find my way home, you might as well just forget about me. Or else look for me at a French market that specializes in seafood and children's literature.

5.) As a kid I was utterly convinced that Bill Cosby and Bing Crosby were the same person. My poor long-suffering mother had to explain the difference numerous times. I also was convinced that Mark Hamill, and skaters Dorothy Hamill and Scott Hamilton were all related.

6.) I find putting jigsaw puzzles together stressful (and yep, I am a high-strung overachiever, why do you ask?)

7.) Growing up, I'd wanted to be Wonder Woman, Batgirl or Nancy Drew-- pretty much in that order. Instead, I'm a marketing writer. Admittedly, it's not as glamorous, but the uniform rides up less.

8.) In college, I drew a regular comic strip called "Shearadon and Woolworth" starring some anthropomorphic sheep, both of whom wore Chuck Taylors. I still doodle the sheep sometimes.

All righty then! That's eight! And now to tag eight of my fellow bloggers who probably won't care one whit (and how can I blame them?) about being all meme-ed up.

Here goes-


1.) Kevin at Pointless Banter because it will annoy him

2.) Shirley of My Thoughts and Proof Positivity because she's always nice to me and will forgive me for including her in a meme

3.) Alice from Honey Pie because she's funny as heck and also she needs a break from sanding her son's plantar wart and from creating tent worm farms

4.) Kathy at The Junk Drawer, because I think she could do something really funny and original with this.

5.) Chelle of Offended Blogger because she's unlikely to be offended by being included here

6.) Sujatha of Fluff-n-Stuff because the woman speaks a bazillion languages and would likely be able to share a really cool eight items

7.) Claire of A Little Piece of Me because Claire might be able to leverage it for her college counseling classes.

8.) Mike of Monkey Fables and Tales because he's just one seriously witty guy... or something.

Have fun with it. Or ignore it. Y'know, whatever makes ya happy.

Did you know that Dead Rooster is a rising star (or crowing bird?) on Humor-blogs?

Introducing Presidential Candidate Bitler

On BlogCatalog the other day, someone posted a discussion, "Obama Mis-spelled as Osama." There, the blogger indicated that because the two names shared some letters, this similarity was both important and detrimental to the United States and Obama's candidacy.

And that got me thinking. Does this mean if a candidate-- just your average joe politician-- named, say, "Bitler" came along, would Bitler have a hard time grabbing the votes?

So as a tribute to Bob Newhart's early stand-up career, I thought we would explore what exactly might happen if a smart, aspiring, regular guy named "George Bitler" decided to run for President... But doesn't realize his unfortunate surface similarities to certain German megalomaniac. What kind of conversation would there be when he meets his new image consultant in person for the very first time?

Well, it might go something like this...

BITLER IMAGE CONSULTANT: Why, George Bitler!-- It's great to finally meet you in person. I really think you've got a bright future ahead of you, George. You know the issues. You have a fresh take on things. It's just, um, there are a few things I think we might need to adjust a little in order for you to truly resonate with the American people...

What's that? Oh, well, no-- your platform is great. But I was thinking more along the lines of... Well, first of all, can you shave the mustache?

Oh, what's wrong with the mustache? Well, George, you know, the mustache is... well, it's a little... SMALL.

Well, yes, I think it looks great, too, George. Yes, yes, very powerful! But see, that toothbrush mustache look went out of style in, well, really, it's... it's been quite a few years now. And it might not have the impact you're hoping for when you go out there and are, um, kissing babies...

No, no, I just think mothers might have a problem with you kissing their babies with that mustache, George. So let's at least think about shaving it off, okay?... Good.

Okay, now, I was looking at some footage of one of your speeches....

Which one? Well, in particular, the one you gave to the airport worker's union. Yes, yes, it was beautiful weather that day. Nice to be outside on a day like that, isn't it?

Well, George, I was looking at that footage and... it's about your body language. I'd like to recommend you tone down some of the arm-waving movements.

Yeah, see, going forward I think maybe the arm swinging, the saluting--

No, no, I understand, George, it is an attention-getter. That it is. But I think what you really want is people to be concentrating on your words, George. Your words...

And I noticed you sorta lost their attention a little at the point that those planes thought they were being waved in.

I mean, we've got you scheduled out at Dullas at least once or twice, and JFK, too, so, well... We're gonna be near the airport, George. So I really think it might be best if you keep the arm movements to a minimum. Maybe just try clasping your hands in front of you, and keeping the salutes a bit more low-key...

No, I really don't think they'll think you're any less patriotic if you don't salute. Just trust me on this, George. Less arm-waving.

All right. Now. I spotted this on the footage, and I can't help noticing it now, too-- you're wearing all beige. Do you... tend to wear all beige often, George?

Ah, you do, hm? You get sweaty and you think it's cooler for you when you're under all those hot lights? Yeah, sure, I can understand that, George. Those lights do get really hot.

But, you see, beige really doesn't... well... you're running for the President of the United States, George, and wearing all beige all the time, well, it says to the American people you're... not easily able to adapt to situations. It kind of looks like... well... a uniform, to be honest, George.

Now what you need is a nice strong navy blue, or a brown, or a gray suit, but...

Yes, I know, those are darker colors and will only absorb the lights, George. But, look, we'll get you some fans, bottled water, and a really good anti-perspirant. You'll be fine.

Okay, the last thing I wanted to bring up, and I'm not sure how exactly to do this, so I'm just going to ask... The armband. What's the deal with the red, white and black armband, George?

Oh, you're setting a trend, are you? It's for... for black lung? Oh, I see-- your dad was a miner and it's in memory of American miners who died of black lung. That's really nice, George. So that black logo in the center is...?

Some crossed pick axes. Right, sorta like Lance Armstrong has the yellow rubber bracelet, you have the red, black and white armband with the crossed pick axes...

Well, gee, George, yes, that is a really nice sentiment and... and... a heckuva great cause. But see, I just think in these early days of your candidacy you're going to want to be a little more broad with your causes...

No, no, I think it's a great thing! But, um, I'm just saying it'll be easier for you if you don't wear your causes on your sleeve, quite so literally.

Sure, you know, and plus, we've got a whole team of guys who'll work on promoting your issues and doing merchandising. Right, it's their jobs, they're getting paid for this sort of thing. So, really, if you don't let them at least try to do some new logos and promo pieces for you, well, they're gonna get insulted. It's these artistic types, George. You know how they are.

Yes, of course, we'll certainly take the logo you designed into account when we design our promotions.

Just focus right now, George, on getting rid of the mustache, finding a nice blue suit, toning down the body language and leaving the armband at home. You do that, and the Bitler campaign will pretty much take care of itself.

I bet Bob Newhart would have LOVED Humor-blogs.

The Gasman Cometh

The Gasman is stalking me again. He’s not feeling the love…


We go through this every few months, he and I. I explain that in an ideal world, it would be great to see him…. We could read meters… chat…. put the gas company "hold" Muzak on speakerphone and totally rock-out…

But see, my day job keeps us apart. I have it so I can pay for things like… oh… my gas bill.

Given I get only ten days of vacation in an entire year— most of which goes toward selfish things like Christmas-- the probability of me actually being home for a regular tete-a-tete with the noble Man o’ Gas is somewhat equivalent to Paris Hilton winning the Nobel Peace Prize in Physics.

But the Gasman, oh nooooo, there’s no telling him that. So he sends me letters. And leaves notes. And calls. And once put a big yellow flier on my front door to show the whole neighborhood his great love of me.

Of course, if I went to the Gasman’s house at mid-day, he wouldn’t be there, either. He’s out sitting on my porch hoping... waiting... thinking, “Maybe this time will be different—maybe she’ll be home this one time.”

But it’s not to be.

I’ve tried to explain my neglect of him is nothing personal. I also neglect the mailman, the FedEx guy, the paper carrier and the garbage man. I am an equal opportunity neglecter. Thing is, the Gasman is the only one who wants to hang out inside my house.

So I give him my meter readings online. But every now and then he tells me it's just not enough. Others have hurt him before and now he finds it hard to trust. He must see my meter for himself. So I tell him I’d be happy to meet him at a time that’s convenient for the two of us.

Then he plays hard to get.

He tells me he’s only willing to meet me within a four-hour window. And leaves me taking off half-a-day of work to wait for him, longing for the sound of his work-boots on the steps.

He’s such a tease.

The Gas Company’s solution to our relationship is I either pay a jaw-dropping $3,000 to move the meter outside-- not fiscally feasible-- or I lend them a key to my home.

But we all know how THAT goes. I’ll be coming home and finding the place trashed because the Gasman initially invited over just three close friends… but then some friends-of-a-friend showed up to check out the meter…. and before he knew it, they were having a full-on rave…

I’ll be finding sticky-notes stuck to the fridge telling me I’m out of Cheez-Its and beer. Everything’ll smell like booze, urine and propane. And there’s bound to be a couple of meter readers upstairs in a compromising position, though they'll claim they were "just testing for leaks."

No, thank you.

I wonder sometimes where this exactly this whole thing went wrong. After all, am I not the customer here? Aren't my payments always on time?

But I grab the phone and dial, the automated voice routing me around the world in 90 seconds and back, each country wanting my account number for their own special siloed systems.

Then the Muzak kicks in, blaring so I have to hold the receiver several inches from my ear.

Ah, yes, Mr. Gasman, they're playing our theme.

I shake my head. Pity. It could have been such a beautiful friendship.


If Humor-blogs was in charge of Muzak, you can bet there'd be less Yanni.

Stan Randomdriver and the Turning Point

Hello and hi there, Good People of the Internet! Today we interrupt our regularly-scheduled Of Cabbages and Kings blog post for a very special public service announcement:

There is something that every driver on the road has, but few wish to address. It's lurking inside your vehicle at this very moment... And it's been there all along ... It's called... a "Turn Signal." Its purpose? To help others know when you're ABOUT TO turn. Not AS you're turning. Not AFTER you're already turned into the parking lot, parked and have gone inside for a decaf latte. BEFORE you turn. So please read the manual on your car to find out where your turn signal is located, and use it appropriately.

NOTE: contrary to rumor, the turn signal does not operate through use of telekinesis or psychic projection. You must lift your arm and pull the lever. Thank you.

Okay-- Hi again! Sorry about that, folks! I just had to get that out of my system, and I apologize for the paragraphs o' snark, because I know very well that it is NOT YOUR FAULT that we're discussing turn signals today. I know that my most excellent readers aren't guilty of neglecting the mighty signal because of... oh, I don't know... being afraid that using it too much will burn the bulb out sooner.

I know that this is not about you guys.

This is about the guy on Saturday who was going along at a normal pace and then decided to JUST STOP DEAD in the lane, prior to making a turn he never signaled for.

The guy who made me slam on the brakes and who I, thankfully, avoided hitting, only because I try to leave an appropriate cushion.

The guy who caused MY car to get rear-ended.

This is about THAT guy.


Well, okay, I don't KNOW if his name is Stan or not. I made that up. Y'know, to give him some kind of human element. Because, see, Stan couldn't have missed the tires screeching and heavy machinery colliding behind him. And he just continued pulling his non-rear-ended vehicle into the store parking lot. There he parked, and spun himself into a cocoon until we left.

Meanwhile, the lady who hit me and I went around collecting our bejeebers. You know, the ones that had been scared out of us, and which were spilled along the side of the road.

Stan had tinted windows, so I couldn't even see his face to scowl at him.

On the up side, I have a plastic car. Well, "polymer." Which just means plastic with a serious mark-up cost. So in spite of being rear-ended, my car is essentially fine-- a few scratches. And me, my neck was just a little stiff for about a day.

If my car had not been made of advanced aerodynamic Tupperware, however, I would be even less amused about the situation. I'd be getting estimates and repairs, the lady who hit me would be footing the bill... And our buddy ol' Stan Randomdriver? Why, by now, he would have transformed from cocoon to some kind of moth, winging his way merrily like nothing ever happened, leaving destruction steaming in his wake.

So turn signals. The turn signal is your FRIEND, Stan Randomdriver. Don't ignore it-- Show it some love! I beg of you. For the safety of my fellow Pittsburghers. Run right out and give your turn signal a decent workout today.

Have YOU folks had an encounter with one of the Stan Randomdrivers on our city streets? Share your story. Let's popularize that obscure thing called a turn signal, and make this world a better place!

For comedy which never uses its turn-signal, you might want to check out Humor-blogs.

Tastebuds, Get Packin'

The tastebuds are gonna have to go.

You see, I'm trying to lose a little weight. And initially, I thought I could do this by getting up early to exercise-- you know, to do silly arm-waving movements in my basement for 45 minutes a day? I used to do this regularly.

But now I'm also at work by 7:30am. Which means "early" for me involves a time of the morning somewhere between:

  1. The time when stupid villagers normally choose to try to go kill Dracula, and
  2. The time when the villagers are all either dead on the floor of the crypt, or out-and-about looking a little pale and hungry... (Pretty much like I am when I diet.)

Well, the first week of exercise, I tried tricking myself into getting up super-early. I even set my alarm fifteen minutes ahead so I would not SEE that the clock actually read 4:45am. Because while 5:00am is bad enough, 4:45 is EVIL and WRONG and looking at the clock then will burn out your retinas. Retinas which I will need for reading caloric contents.

The problem with this routine was that I am also not very smart in the morning.

Okay, "not very smart" is an understatement-- I am an amnesiac with an IQ well-below that of the average unschooled hamster in the morning.

I don't know my own name until about 6:00am, and even in getting up and grabbing coffee, I have been known to do things like put the creamer away in the dish cabinet. This makes doing more complex tasks like getting into exercise clothing, while uncaffeinated, virtually impossible.

Sports bras do not serve their greater purpose as scarves, is all I'm sayin'.

So, this has led me to try to eat healthier. Which I have been doing. I've replaced my favorite lunchtime broccoli cheese soup with a bowl of Cheerios and a banana. I've consumed tiny carrots. I've bought soy ice cream as a treat.

And I've grown to hate, just a little bit, one of my friends who is stick-skinny and gets all excited when there are peas on the salad bar. I will eat the salad, yes, I will. But darned if I'm gonna go into end-zone dances over PEAS.

So I think it would go more smoothly if my taste buds were removed. My taste buds and, perhaps, the part of my brain which remembers vividly things like what a hot roast beef sandwich with French fries and gravy tastes like. Because currently I'm going through the grocery store like this:

Me: Must buy more Cheerios and 2% milk.

Brain: OOH! Look! Barbecue potato chips! We love those!

Me: No! NO barbecue potato chips! Cheerios. And 2% milk.

Brain: Oh, that's right-- We're dieting. We're being smart and good and using our willpower and-- HEY! Macaroni and cheese in cute little containers! Do you remember how much we used to love macaroni and cheese-- you know, before we were dieting?

Me: NO. NO macaroni and cheese! Cheerios and--

Brain: Oh, I can still almost taste it-- that cheese all gooey... Maybe baked with some breadcrumbs and sharp shredded cheddar on the top?

Me: (growling) Cheerios. And 2% milk. And bananas.

Brain: WOW, bananas! We like bananas!

Me: Yes, we do. So let's go get some bananas.

Brain: Cool!...



...Hey, you know what goes good with bananas? Chocolate! Chocolate is GREAT on frozen bananas. Remember when we used to have those as a kid? Didn't we just love that?

So this is what I'm up against. If the buds were gone, and if I just couldn't remember what I was missing, I think I could really make this lifestyle shift work. Without taste buds, peas might have a fun texture I could get jazzed about. And without the food-memory part of the brain, cheese and chocolate would never become an issue. The Brain could think: "Hey, Cheerios and milk" and we'd leave it at that.

So-- here's the thing: do you think tastebudectomies are available sort of like LASIK surgery? Because, you know, I think there's a market for that.


Low fat humor doesn't leave a leave a bad taste in your mouth at Humor-blogs.

Which E-mail Personality Type are YOU?

Forwards, spams, scams, notes from family and friends... It all ends up in our email Inboxes and we each have our own way of dealing with it.

So here at Of Cabbages and Kings, our diligent team of researchers... (okay, well, the Jane Austen bobblehead on my desk and I)

...have done an in-depth examination (spending a whole half hour)

...of the way Internet users approach email.

As a result of our exhaustive efforts (30 minutes, maybe 25)...

we have developed a wholly scientific and not at all overly-broad and archetypal list (lightning shoots down from the sky to strike me-- zot!)...

Of common personality types of today's e-mail communicators. Perhaps you know e-mailers whose style fits within these finely-tuned categories (off the top of my head)...

Or perhaps, like me, you're one of them yourself. We hope that you will share your experiences, so we can develop an even more precise (lightly tweaked) analysis in the future.

  • "The Serial Forwarder." Whatever email enters this person's Inbox is so funny, interesting, or important, the Serial Forwarder can't resist sending it to everyone in their email address book. This person tends to send these forwards in clusters, as they go through their own email. So recipients are often bombarded with correspondence over a short period of time. Serial Forwarders also skim and send email quickly, taking no time to remove the email addresses of every other person who has also forwarded the message. This means the message is either one within the other to infinity, like a Russian nesting doll, or you must scroll miles southward to see the message. Note: this is the same person unlikely to ever have sent you a letter, because "stamps are expensive these days.

  • "The Concerned Citizen." Similar to the Serial Forwarder in the penchant for passing along information, the Concerned Citizen tends to lean almost exclusively toward the Public Service aspects of e-mail forwarding. While this type is unlikely to send a hokey joke forward, they will ensure you (and all 300 of their closest friends) are aware that hook-handed men are breaking into cars in shopping malls to steal your kidneys. Concerned Citizens mean well, they really do, but would rather "play it safe" by forwarding, than by accidentally mistaking a real news story for an urban legend-- and then learning their friend or family member is dead and kidneyless. They don't know about

  • "The Ingenue." No matter what spam or scam ends up in this person's email box, they will believe the offer is real. Nigerian diplomats wanting to let them in on a quick cash, winning the Greater Mesopotamian Lotto in spite of never entering it, photographs showing the sinking of the Titanic was all a fake, these good, trusting folks are ready to believe.

  • "The Enigma." This person rarely, if ever, gives context for why they're sending you the link or post that they e-mail. In some way, the piece has reminded them of you. And it is up to you to click and figure out just how it relates. A conversation you had three years ago? Something that may have happened in your local news? A story related to the former boyfriend of your cousin's ex-roommate? No summary, no inkling. Enigma's tend to require more time than other email personality types because the amount of time on your end for deciphering is inversely proportional to the amount of time it took them to write the message.

  • "The Loud Talker." This person has been smart and brave enough to make the leap to computers, but writes everything using capital letters. This could be because they aren't fully familiar with the keyboard yet, or because they think capital letters are easier to read. What they don't understand is that online, writing all in caps is considered shouting. Be very, very careful when you explain to Loud Talkers the online etiquette regarding capital letters. They have accomplished much by learning to go online, and tend to be sensitive about their skills. Any implication of inadvertent wrongdoing may be taken very personally. Loud Talkers have been known to bite.

  • "The Black Hole." This person has a valid email address, and knows how to operate their machine. But any e-mail you send them goes into the vast, matter-sucking void that is their Inbox, never to be seen again. An interesting aspect of The Black Hole is that this same person may contact you months or a year later, indicating they haven't heard from YOU in a while, as if you had neglected them.

  • "The Fountain." This person has a lot to say, and is not afraid to say it. Each email is a novella, encapsulating the smallest details of any particular event. This information is rarely broken up by paragraphs, making it almost impossible to weed through on-screen. The Fountain tends to send these to your work email, so you can get the latest news immediately. Not that you can read it.

  • "The Premature Sender." This person is still learning how to work the computer, and gets a bit over-excited about it. You never get a full email from them. Their communications die in mid-sentence because they clicked the mouse too soon. Expect a follow-up. Or three.

  • "The Second Opinion Forwarder." I fall into this category, I'm afraid. This is the person who sees something that fascinates them personally online, and it's not good enough that he or she has read it themselves. Oh, no!-- it has to be shared with SOMEONE-- whether or not the recipient actually cares about the topic much or not. The Second Opinion Forwarder is also the type of person who, in any crowd, will witness something that is shocking and ask companions, "Did you see THAT?" No one ever has.

  • "The Misinformation Avenger." This is the person who develops deep rage and frustration over the chaotic array of lies, inaccuracies and urban legends received from the Serial Forwarder, the Concerned Citizen and the Ingenue and feels it's his or her personal duty to use the email medium to try to disabuse these people of their notions and habits. The target of the Misinformation Avenger in these cases can range anywhere from mild acquaintances to dear old Mom. No one is exempt from their swift justice!

  • "The Generous Newbie." Generous Newbies have just discovered the wonders of the Internet, and they are prepared to share it with YOU no matter how long you've been online. They may not barrage you with links and posts like the Serial Forwarder, but the ones they send are just great, amazing, hysterical and "Must see!"-- and you have. About a thousand times. From every new Generous Newbie that's come along. Since about 1993.

Which personality types seem familiar to you? Science is demanding to know! (PS- Special thanks to Stoneman and Techfun for their invaluable input on the last two personality types. Cheers, guys!)

At Humor-blogs, they don't send you forwards expecting to see the Taco Bell dog magically appear once it's gone to 400 close friends.

The Great Glass Catnapping of Cubicle 2

An online friend had shared a survey recently. You know, one of those ones where you fill out the questions and it's supposed to tell you something deeply insightful about your personality. In this case it was which Transformer you'd be, if you were one.

Naturally with such a serious, life-enhancing topic ahead of me, I gave it my full attention.

One of the questions it asked was about whether you like to play practical jokes on others. And I had to admit, I had a fairly big one in my history.

You see, I'd organized the Great Glass Catnapping of Cubicle 2.

In my former life in Cubeland, the second cubicle from the front door was that of our receptionist, who kept a rather significant collection of small glass cats. We'll call her Penny. (The receptionist, not the cats. I'm unaware if any of them had names, though I imagine they probably did.)

Well, anyway, Penny kept these cats right by the phone of her cubicle. And because she was the receptionist, her phone was one of the only phones in the office that rang when calls came in.

My job at the time was as Marketing Manager. But you'd be surprised how elastic that title can be. Especially when you're a responsible person who's grown with the company (read: stupid goody-two-shoes), you tend to pick up tasks no one else wants to do, and the tasks never QUITE get taken off your plate again.

So as Marketing Manager, I was as likely to have to write ads, schedule PR tours, and oversee tradeshows, as I was move boxes and ship them, or answer the main line-- depending on who else happened to be around at the time.

Sometimes I would take calls for myself and see if I was in.

Now, Penny, while a nice enough girl, was not terribly excited about answering phones, and was prone to disappearing. So when that main line would ring and she was AWOL, someone would have to grab it, and that someone might just be me.

More times than not, those little glass cats would get in the way as I was making a mad dash for the phone, and they'd go flying and waste another one of their nine lives.

Well, it was about the twentieth time they toppled over and scattered-- expending more lives than they had-- that I decided I couldn't take it anymore. And since Penny was once again nowhere to be seen, something in my brain just sort of snapped.

I popped the little glass cats in my pocket one-by-one, and took them back to my office.

The first kidnapping note used a number of different fonts in Microsoft Word, misspelled some things, and explained to Penny that she had been the victim of cat burglary.

It also said, she should wait for further communication from the catnappers. This was great, because it kept her at her desk for a while and she actually had to answer the phone a little. Plus, Penny made a fuss about the missing cats that I could hear a whole room away.

I waited a day. I had things to do after all, and this was an enjoyable reprieve. Also, I needed to work out my gameplan. Then, and only then, did I leave her the second note.

I'd decided that, since never returning the cats would just be cruel, I'd be happy enough making Penny work a bit for getting them back. So this note gave clues as to where the first cat could be found. I would release a few each day.

Ah, that week was a glorious one, with the usual stresses of the day soothed by Penny's shocked and amused exclamations about each new set of instructions.

Penny found cats in potted plants.

Penny found cats at the printer.

Penny found cats in the refrigerator.

Penny found cats shrink-wrapped in the mail room.

All the while, Penny was on a mission to find out which of us was the catnapper. Why, she marched around like a blond Perry Mason, grilling everyone, accusing us each in turn with a mix of good humor and hatred.

Eventually, she made it around to me. But I had planned for this, too. I just laughed and told her, "Oh, yes, it's me." Which she promptly didn't believe, turned on her heel and stalked off.

About three days into the catnapping plot, Penny's and my mutual supervisor came to my office and said, "It's you, isn't it?"

I told him it was, largely because he was already grinning, and said if it was a problem, I'd quit and come clean.

Truth was, this was the most levity our tense little office had seen in a long time. And it turned out that other folks were sick to death of those darned glass cats, too, every time they needed to get something from Penny's cube. SO "on-board" with the scheme were they, in fact, that someone in customer service gave a full confession for the crime. And suspects in IT were not bothering to deny their involvement.

Penny wasn't sure WHO to believe anymore.

So, with the plot now cleared at the upper management level, I decided to give it a big finish. I confided in just one more person, and asked him for a favor. I was a little surprised at his enthusiasm.

Ah, the next morning, I heard Penny exclaim, "The MEN'S ROOM! I am NOT going in the men's room! If they think I'm going in the Men's Room, they're crazy!"

She went in the Men's Room.

Penny never did find out for sure it was me, by the way. In spite of the fact that by the end, everyone else had been let in on the joke. Maybe she'll read about it on a humor blog someday, and maybe not. But the Great Glass Catnapping went down in corporate history as the most elaborate office prank our business had ever seen.

I'd like to say in the end the cats found a more suitable home than in the way of the phone, but really, how rare is it in life that lessons are actually learned? What did change , however, was the fact I smiled now as I'd knock them over grabbing the phone. And sometimes that's enough.

PS-- that survey my online friend shared? The Transformers one?

I'm 68% Optimus Prime.

Did you know two of those glass cats might still be hiding over at Humor-blogs?

Driving Miss Crazy

I ended up behind a Student Driver today. Poor kid was going about 15 miles an hour, with even the exhaust spewing the stench of sweat, PowerAde and terror.

It reminded me of my own early driving days, and a particular trip where I returned home, not entirely sure I’d ever be allowed IN Canada again.

See, I’d learned to drive during my senior year of high school, taught by my mother. Now, I do believe Mom had my best interest at heart. But what a shy, nervous, overachieving nerd-girl like myself needed was a guiding hand… a calm voice… a vote of confidence.

And Mom’s guiding hands were mostly busy clinging to the door-handle while her voice shrieked, “Do you SEE THAT STOP SIGN?! STOP! STOP!!! For the love of Mike, STAAAAHHHHHP!!!!”

This usually started about halfway down the driveway.

So I went off to college with a license, but with very little real driving experience…

Also, a small eye twitch, when I’d hear someone say the word “stop.”

And when I graduated college, I got a job, as luck would have it, not far from my apartment. REALLY not far from my apartment. Like, I could see the office building, if I stood in my bathtub on tiptoes and peered out the window.

I was at that job about four years before the company moved locations and I suddenly had to have a car. So I took some driving lessons from AAA as a refresher, and was surprised to learn their teaching techniques varied quite a bit from my mother’s own unique style.

I’d only had my car about a week, when my supervisor decided that, great! Since I was going to this tradeshow to set up the corporate booth-- and since shipping a booth meant you could never be sure the booth wouldn’t accidentally be sent to Zimbabwe--I could just drive the booth to the show.

DRIVE the booth…

In a several ton moving vehicle…

An SUV, specifically…

Five hours north…

To Toronto.

You know: the one in Canada... A whole other country.

I said, “Okay, I’ll do it,” hoping he didn’t notice my eye starting to twitch. And I learned I’d be driving with a coworker, to help with the booth cases.

It concerned me somewhat that the coworker had children to support.

Or as I was thinking of them at the time, “the bereaved orphans.”

Well, my coworker ended up driving about half of the way before we stopped for gas, and she suggested I take the wheel the rest of the way into Toronto.

And once again, I didn’t want to admit the idea of driving this large, unfamiliar automobile on a road where there were, like, OTHER LIFEFORMS was somewhat of a concern to me considering my skill level.

So I got behind the wheel. Things were actually going very well on our way into Toronto. We joked, we listened to the radio, and two and a half hours went by with me not killing so much as a moth in the grill.

I was feeling good.

Then came the hotel parking garage. Or as I shall call it, my Waterloo.

Yes, my coworker had agreed to have the booth cases taken into the exposition hall, while I parked the SUV. And such was my relief over having made it into Toronto so smoothly—not so much as missing an exit—that I was already thinking happy thoughts of dinner.

Little did I know that the parking garage required you to take a ticket first. So I pulled in, and realized I was a bit too far away to reach the ticket. I opened my door and stepped a leg out of the car, to grab it and…

My foot slipped off the brake.

Did I mention that it was an underground parking garage, where there was a bit of a, well, SLOPE DOWN?

Oh, there was.

And so, the car began to roll forward, me half-in, half-out of the car. And there I was, being dragged alongside this SUV in the middle of a parking garage in the Great White North, while my coworker was waiting for me, having a glass of wine in the plush hotel lounge.

Just after I drove through the wooden arm barrier, I managed to get the vehicle to come to a stop-- my leg bleeding, one shoe lost, the driver’s side mirror bashed, and the wooden arm in splinters on the ground.

The next twenty minutes involved me tearfully explaining to some parking authority officers-- who my mind over the years has recorded as Mounted Police-- what exactly had happened that caused damage to the City of Toronto’s property.

Not knowing the local laws, I recall wondering if you could be ejected from Canada for this sort of thing.

Well, the Mounties were actually really nice to me. Probably because I was bleeding on their concrete and I only had one shoe. So they wrote up the accident and didn’t put me in the pokey over the cost of the arm or anything.

After locating my errant footwear, I headed up to the lounge. My coworker eyed me and said, “What took you so long?” I was limping a little and still bleeding, with eyeliner and mascara streaked into circles under my eyes.

I sat down and ordered a Molson, eye twitching. "The drivers around here are crazy ."

Breaking through the barriers at Humor-blogs, one clickthru at a time. :)

Pineapples and Pen Pushers

"You can slice a pineapple in mid-air!" enthused the voice on the TV, advertising Miracle Blade Knives.

I stopped what I was doing and tried to think of a scenario where anyone would NEED to slice a pineapple in mid-air...

Possibly if a poorly-armed Polynesian gang moved into the neighborhood.

Or if I were part of a troop of fruit-juggling circus performers, and the act needed some serious spicing up.

Otherwise, it makes you wonder just a bit what the brainstorming sessions for these made-for-TV products look like.

Ah, picture it... The lead product marketing manager stands at the front of the oval table. "So, people, what sets this product apart from the competition? What do these knives DO? "

A small voice pipes up from the peanut gallery around the table, "Well... they cut food, Sir...?"

"Of course they cut food!" the boss snaps. "All knives cut food. I don't want to market knives that make eating easier. I want to market knives that can... oh, I don't know... cut through concrete blocks, or something."

"SuperMegaChop already does that, Sir," one marketing flunkie points out.

"Okay, then--" continues the lead marketer musing a moment. (I like to think of him as played by Brian Doyle Murray in a bad toupee.) "I want a knife that can... saw through a car hood!"

"MarvelBlades beat us to it, Sir," another lackey says. "They also market the MarvelGlue to put it together again, and the Marvel UltraSuedoShammyPlus to buff it out."

"Fine, fine, fine. Then I want a knife that can--"

"Cut a pineapple in mid-air, sir?"

"Smithers, you're a genius!"

I also always get a kick out of the ad for Gevalia Coffee (or rather, Kafe, for those of us whose finely-tuned tastebuds prevent us from spelling anything in English). Have you seen this one?

The employee is sitting in his office trying to look like he doesn't need to be downsized, when his friend comes in and brings him a cup of coffee. Aw, what a nice gesture, we think. What a wonderful colleague. But this guy, our executive, HE TURNS IT DOWN.

Does he say he's cutting back on coffee? That he's just had a cup?

Why, no. Instead, he says, he's "going to get his own." And he does it in this smooth, cocky tone of voice that makes you think he either skunked his coworker who's been trying to poison him to get that office with the window... or coffee's the keyword for him to go have a morning tryst with Lydia, the office supply girl.

Anyway, he grabs his coat and goes outside, where he completely passes by lovely cafes and well-stocked coffee carts. Instantly, he steps onto the bus (like anyone ever gets a bus that quickly in the city) and...


Yes, in the end scene, we see him sitting there on his comfy sofa, sipping his beloved Gevalia Kafe in a moment of quiet reflection, the cares of the day washing away. Of course, it also looks like it's about 9am , so his cares were probably related to the bus ride IN.

The irony here is, the next thing Gevalia tells us is how if you sign up to receive Gevalia, you'll get a handy travel mug.

No one has apparently told our executive about the travel mug.

Nope. He's just blissfully unaware that when he gets back to the office after his refreshing coffee moment, clients will be burning mad looking for him...

He'll have missed the entire brainstorming session on kitchen knives....

And Brian Doyle Murray's going to finally remember he'd meant to fire the guy three weeks ago.

It's just as well, because he'll never get another coffee or donut in that office again. And who knows WHAT he'd get for the Secret Santa at the holiday party. I'd imagine it'd be travel mug. Every year for the rest of his tenure.

So, tell me folks-- what commercial have YOU seen which makes you wonder how it ever got on the air? Inquiring minds want to know. :)

And now, with this limited time offer-- Humor-blogs! Free with just $4 million bazillion dollars in shipping and handling. Oh, or entirely free-- just click here.

RSS Feed-- Now With 100% More Not Crashing!

So, um, you good people who subscribed to Of Cabbages and Kings? You wise, you free-thinking, you... er... nine... people or so?...

Um... can I ask you to all make like a Britney Spears song and hit me, baby, one more time with the RSS subscribey goodness?

I know it's an absolute pain, and I hate to even bring it up. But somewhere along the line, my feed went wonky. And now it's de-wonked. But it's also at a totally different address.

It's here:

Right now I have the old repaired feed set up as a redirect (which is how original subscribers are getting to this now). But that turns into a pumpkin in the near future. And pumpkins make for bad feed reading-- too unwieldy. And orange. And with the potential to rot. Meaning, we'd never get a chance to chat again.

Which would also mean it'd be just me here talking to myself. And I only do THAT in train stations and crowded buses, where I can get a really good echo going.

While we're at it, I want to thank Umesh from the BlogCatalog forums for helping diagnose my tech issues. You can go visit his profile here-- --and check out his blogs, and say nice things about his x-treme tech skillz and stuff.

Thanks Umesh! And thanks to you all, too, for subscribing in the first place to my wee, weird little patch of the blogosphere. As Denis Leary once said, "it warms the cockles of my heart-- or maybe somewhere in the sub-cockle region."

Talk to you soon!

They're always up, running, and being funny at Humor-blogs.