Obsessive-Compulsive Blogging Disorder and its Ramifications

Obsessive-Compulsive Blogging Disorder: where every altercation, interaction, poetic moment, amusing sign, epiphany, and witty observation must be documented in blog and/or photo format and shared with the online world.

Its symptoms are most obvious when the sufferer feels compelled to take a photograph of, say, a menu. Or a flag pole. Or the back of somebody's head. This eccentric behavior is typically waved away by the sufferer as incidental to the more important Big Picture idea, while bystanders remain befuddled by the individual's mysterious and seemingly random actions.


Okay, so fess up-- how many of us here suffer from this? Or not "suffer," per se... Because as far as I know, the only suffering that actually goes on is that of my poor, dear friends. Who have to wait while I grab a giant stack of travel brochures because I got a laugh out of the The World's Largest Ball of Twine attraction...

Or while I spent time sifting through a pile of Jell-O ads from 1935...

Or they're asked to take photos out the window of my car while I drive really, really slowly past a road sign... Or a bridge... Or a pothole.... Or a guy with a mullet.... Or roadkill...

Or, well, you get the drift.

So extreme is my love of blogging, and my desire to gather the very best in the funny for my readers, that I've begun taking my camera with me everywhere I go. I was seeing things that made me laugh and lo!-- no camera. So now I am better prepared.

This also means that while I drive to work, I may very well draw unnecessary attention. I mean, I'm not sure, but I might have made the guy in the truck in front of me just a teensy bit paranoid when I began taking these pics on my commute yesterday.

It wasn't intended to be of my fellow driver and his vehicle, though I can see where that might have appeared the case. I was interested in one of those 11' 6" road signs for my Truck-Eating Bridge post. Only how could he know that on a dark, rainy morning, when a flash is going off in his rearview mirror?

Why, he couldn't! He likely believes I was validating his license plate to report a traffic violation. Or I fell in love with his nifty pick-up truck, being unduly influenced by too many episodes of Top Gear. Or I have never seen a more handsome back of a man's head. I mean, dig that ear!

Now, that's one good-lookin' ear.

For my thrifting blog, I have a little vintage car-shaped planter, which has a little vintage doll that sits in it, and acts a bit like the Travelocity Roaming Gnome or Olga The Travelling Bra. It appears at various cool new antiquing locations, and is my symbol of Road Tripping.

This is fine-- my readers recognize it right away-- only my readers also aren't random people on the street... People on the street who see me in front of an antique mall with my camera and a small pottery Model T with a dolly in it enjoying an elaborate photo shoot. I have noticed passersby watch in eye-brow-raised curiosity, as I try to hold this thing aloft in front of the mall sign AND take a steady picture.

This sort of shot requires time and patience. Meaning, of course, MORE people see me than I would perhaps prefer.

I am considering putting out a sign that reads: "Back Off, I'm a Blogger." Or "Bizarre and Blogging since 2006."

Unfortunately, I think only a small proportion of the folks would know what that meant.

So tell me, my blogging buddies-- do you think you have Obsessive-Compulsive Blogging Disorder?

Are you ever in the middle of a nice dinner out and think, "Hm-- I should blog about how one peanut could kill me. Let me take a picture of my spouse's plate of Kung Pao Chicken"?

Have you ever been caught doing something for your blog which isn't easily explained?

Obsessive-Compulsive Blogging Disorder affects one in seven. If it isn't the seven people you just tagged in your latest meme, well, all I'm sayin' is, don't be surprised if that one in seven is you.

Intervention sessions will run every Thursday after Emoticonics Anonymous.

Vote for this post at Humor-blogs, where the strange and unusual is not only accepted-- it's mandatory.

A Few Semi-Solemn Words on the Truck Cab Graveyard

"WARNING!" Flash, flash-- "CLEARANCE 11 FEET 6 INCHES!"

"WARNING!!!!" Flash, flash-- "CLEARANCE 11 FEET 6 INCHES!!!"

"Yo! You in the Peterbilt!... WARNING!!!" Flash, flash-- "CLEARANCE 11 FEET 6 INCHES!!!--"

And SMASH! Crunch. Grind.

Ah, yes... another one gone to the Truck Cab Graveyard.

Every couple of months, my exit on the Parkway looks like the parking lot after a big Steelers loss-- unmoving, clotted with cars, black exhaust and steaming rage. And then I know:

Some semi-tractor-trailer has gotten wedged under the bridge to Second Avenue again.

The area is like a great Venus fly-trap for large trucks, drawing them down the road under increasingly lower bridges until eventually the truck cab can go no further...

Then the bridge peels off the top to get to the gooey Tootsie Roll center.

The berm along Bates Street looks like the truck cab equivalent of heads on pikes at the gates to a medieval fortress. Twisted metal and large chunks of expensive equipment sit to the side as a way of saying, "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here."

Of course, the flashing yellow signs with the clearance levels should be a warning, as well.

Yet the truckers always seem to miss that part. Why, I've seen truckers plow forward with not a care in the world-- thinking of their loved ones back home... outrunning Smokies... overcome by the stink of pig carriers and diesel... or hampered by lack of sleep...

Only to get lured like a mosquito to a bug zapper under that bridge.

It's the song of the Sirens... the lighthouse lure of privateers on the rocks... or just long hours and a lack of java. But it's a regular feature of my commute.

Then yesterday, I saw a semi headed down the very road toward oblivion.

A quick eyeball estimate-- even from us shorty four-wheel amateurs-- said that Big Mack was never, ever going to clear the 11 foot six area. It'd be like a tin of beans to a can opener.

His fellow commuters watched in rapt anticipation as he went through the first series of warnings... went through the second flashing cries and...


Twenty feet from Ultimate Doom.

He put on his flashers and waited to back up.

I applauded, the claps echoing over my car radio. Yes, this day, the Cab Eating Bridge would not feast on the good travelers of Western Pennsylvania.

Ah, but it will be twice as hungry tomorrow.

Vote for this post at Humor-blogs, where every post has a gooey Tootsie Roll center.

P.O. also Stands for Post Office

In the play "Waiting for Godot," two characters wait for a third dude, named Godot, who's still a no-show by the end of the play. In college, they told us this was an existentialist metaphor for God... But I now think it was a reference to dealing with my local Post Office.

You see, Saturday, I had a package to pick up. A little pink slip tacked to my door indicating I had to sign for the thing in person. So, okay-- I'd pick it up after work right?

Nope! That branch of the Post Office closes at 4 pm. And I leave work at 5.

Well, that's all right, I figured. I'm flexible. Before work then?

In print so small dust-mites would need high-powered reading glasses just to see it, the slip said packages could only be picked up after 10am.

Righty, then! So Saturdays.... How 'bout Saturdays?

Well, on Saturdays, it told me, I could pick up the package between the convenient hours of 10:00 am and 10:07 am...

Oops, I'm sorry-- "10am to noon."

But honestly-- as far as windows of opportunity go, that window is about equivalent to the side vent on a MicroMachines Mini Cooper. Driven by the dust mite with the high-powered reading glasses.

Now, this past Saturday, I had a hair appointment at... 10:30am. Yeppers, smack dab in the middle of the Lilliputian Window of Opportunity!

So with no other recourse, I went to the Post Office at 9:30am with my package slip in hand and hope in my heart.

There was one teller open, and I was the fifth person in line. There was:

  • A tall thin man with a goatee in front of me....
  • A woman with dreds in front of him...
  • A large, hairy spectacled man with a South Park t-shirt and carrying a tower of packages, who was in front of her...
  • And an elderly woman who was first in line.

The elderly woman, she wanted a Money Order. She'd never purchased one before and wasn't quite sure what it entailed, or really, if this was even what she wanted. She might have wanted a wire transfer. Or a Siberian husky. Or a cafe latte no milk.

She and the teller discussed this with the sort of detailed analysis you'd find in a university coffeehouse after a poetic reading. The nuances, the details... rehashed and reexamined. I was reminding myself how I once didn't know how to fill out a Money Order, either, and that this woman was probably someone's beloved grandma, and that patience is a virtue.

"Oh, dear," she exclaimed, rummaging through her purse. "You know, I don't have any cash on me. Do you take checks?"

Grandma... beloved grandma... I chanted to myself.

So she started rooting around for her checkbook. "Who do I make this out to?" She had to find a pen now.

The guy with the goatee-- seeing some time to kill-- started talking to the lady with the dreds. He indicated he was there because he was a victim of identity theft and somebody had been forwarding his mail to an unknown, unauthorized place.

The woman in the dreds, in turn, said she was there because she'd sent a package which never arrived which she needed to trace.

Both of these issues didn't sound exactly easily resolved.

Grandma, meanwhile, was making out the check, when the teller said they'd need her ID. Which, of course, required more rooting in her purse. I zoned out for five minutes and looked back and she was still writing that check.

Grandma... beloved, dear old grandma.... I kept telling myself.

Finally, finally Grandma was on her way, and the hairy South Park guy was up.

Package after package was being processed with the kind of individualized attention airport cavity searches receive. I looked at my watch and saw ten minutes had passed. The line was now out the door.

Meanwhile, the woman in the dreds had gotten in and out of line about three times so far. She was filling out forms and getting back to the head of the line. Filling out other forms and getting back in line. Talking to someone in the back mailroom who was afraid to come face us, and then getting back to the front of the line.

I was wondering if I died whether anybody would notice, or they'd just dust off the cobwebs.

Once the South Park guy had officially mailed a package to everyone on Ebay-- and gotten cash back via a Debit transaction-- the lady in the dreds was finally up. She needed to trace her package. And no, she didn't have her receipt.

"Well, I'd left it in the car and my husband ripped it up and threw it out," she said.

"So you don't have a tracking number?"


"But you want to trace your package?"


And the clerk sent her to go fill out some more forms. I looked at my watch. I had ten minutes.

The goatteed man was trying to figure out where his mail had gone. "I was in Florida, and while I was away someone else came in and got my mail sent to another address. I want to know how that happened."

"It was you," the teller said.

"It wasn't me, I was in Florida. Wouldn't I know if I had changed the address on my mail?"

"Well, then you have a twin! Because it was you who changed the address."

This conversation made the lady cowering in back actually decide to join us. Waiting on customers who were now lined up around the block wasn't apparently as much of a priority as giving witness testimony. "Oh, it was definitely you!" she proclaimed. "If it wasn't, well, he looked just like you."

"I was on a trip!" the man reiterated.

"But, see, I remember you saying something about going on a trip soon," insisted the woman from the back.

This was about the time Rod Serling came in.

Now, you're probably wondering whether I ever made it out of there in time. And the answer is, yes, in fact, I did-- by sheer luck alone.

But the fact remains:

Somewhere out there, a package is being traced with no tracking number... Dopplegangers are out there changing forwarding addresses willy-nilly... And how much do you want to bet, there are people from Saturday still waiting in that line?

Godot has nothing on the US Postal Service.

Vote for this post at Humor-blogs. And don't worry, the vote won't be forwarded to my evil twin.

Jenn Vs. the Giant Hogweed

Not long ago, the backyard was a peaceful English garden filled with roses, hydrangeas and a restrained modicum of plaster fat winged babies...

Then I blinked and somehow it turned into The Lost World.

I'm not precisely sure how it happened, but boy, it happened BIG. Vegetation had sprung up with stalks the diameter of soup cans. Vines like firehoses battled innocent rhododendrons. And Tarzan went swinging by with a yodel and a cheery wave.

"Yeah, hey, how's it hangin', jungle dude?"

So Sunday, I put on my pith helmet, loaded the boar rifle, grabbed a scythe and ventured out into the Back Four. It was better to have-at this before the neighbors started complaining. I mean, Tarzan's yells alone were likely keeping them up at night...

That man really projects.

Plants that looked like giant mutant strawberries-- only without, you know, the benefit of fruit-- had formed a united front in one area daring me to take them on.

In another area, towering prickly stalks had managed to nestle their way in between my true plants, in a sly effort at self-preservation. Once settled, they'd apparently spent time bullying the yard cherubs, punting one fat plaster God of Love to the side in a firm statement on lawn art.

To some it may have been fair dealings. To me, well, this meant war.

Down came the killer vines! Out went the mutant strawberries! "Timmmmmmm-berrrrr!!!" went the Giant Hogweed.

"Save the Rainforest" activists had lined up to protest, but after I showed them a map and assured them that we were actually in Western Pennsylvania and not along a tributary of the Amazon, they hung their heads in disappointment and shuffled along home.

After an hour or so, Tarzan was standing alongside me, blinking confusedly.

"Me just wondering... where vines go?" he queried.

"I'm afraid you're going to have to relcocate, pal," I told him. "You, the chimps and that lion of yours. You made a wrong turn somewhere."

The king of the jungle shook his head sadly. "Me totally bummed."

"Yeah, sorry," I said with a sympathetic shrug, and a pat of his muscular arm.

So this morning I put to the curb, in Hefty bags, Pennsylvania's first tropical rainforest. I mean, I know the chimps were pretty ticked off, but the lion is currently curled up on my front porch in the sun, tail flicking, paw curling contentedly.

I just hope he finds a new place to sun himself by the time the mailman comes. I'm expecting some stuff today.

Oh, and Tarzan? Well, you know, the thing is-- ol' Ralph of the Jungle may not be the brightest ape in the zoo but he does have a certain charm. So I set him up inside the house. He's in there right now testing the weight limit on my chandeliers, and enjoying a nice pitcher of mango iced tea.

As long as no one calls in a noise complaint about this mysterious yodeling, he should be just fine.

Vote for this post at Humor-blogs. A free virtual banana to everyone who participates.

Arte y Pico: Simple Patron of the Arts or Blogging Evil Super Genius?

The Arte y Pico Awards have really gotten around in my blogging circles. In my almost two years of blogging, never have I seen one virtual award sweep the internet the way this one has.

In one way, it's really, really nice-- it's a thoughtful nod of appreciation to one's fellow bloggers for a job well done. For bringing the art of the craft to an audience. It's a way of saying, "Hey, friend-- good job!" I would like to thank my online friend Alice, my pal the Crotchety Old Man and the lovely and very funny ChatBlanc for kindly bestowing these on me recently. Your good-eggishness has not gone unrecognized!

Yet in another way, when you just pop across the virtual street to see your beloved neighbors, and you're suddenly tripping over Arte y Pico awards-- well, it's a bit like a plague of locusts. I think I've stepped on, like, hundreds of these things as I make my journey from blog to blog.

They make a neat tinkly-crunchy noise.

So, in summary, really nice, but better wear thick-soled shoes when you make your way around the blogosphere. It's a plague of locusts with each locust delivering a teeny-tiny Pulitzer.

Now what makes me think the "Arte y Pico" blog owner himself is an Evil Super Genius?

Well, it's because this SEO mastermind wrote right into the rules how anyone who receives the award should link back to the original Arte y Pico page. And we all, for some mysterious reason (or because the rules say so, and made-up rules must always be followed), we go ahead and do it. Oh, and I include myself in this. I did it as well.

Which means that every blogger who distributes this award to their five recipients puts a link to Arte y Pico. And those five bloggers distribute to five bloggers who put a link to Arte y Pico...

And so on...

And so on...

DeadRooster touched on this a couple of weeks back, but I felt it merited further emphasis. The blogger behind Arte y Pico has managed to develop a pyramid scheme of linkbacks all because everyone enjoys sharing the fun of awards. It's brilliant!

Of course, when it comes to what I now like to call the "Arte y Pico Link Enticement Snare" (also known as the "Arte y Pico Paradigm", the "Arte y Pico SEO Strategy", and "Phyllis"), other clever brains have figured this out and have launched similar awards initiatives, also requesting links back to them. Will these have the staying power of the Arte y Pico awards? Time will tell.

The Arte y Pico blogger does have the advantage because he:
  1. Did this first and
  2. Wrote his whole awards page in Spanish so it's harder for us non-Spanish speakers to see the underlying Evil Geniusness of it all
  3. Made a really elaborate, frilly artistic award with winged ladies and other geegaws so we're concentrating on how much we'll have to dust the thing on the virtual mantle... And are paying less attention to the fact he's snuck a link to himself into the darned thing

So Arte y Pico-- created by a simple patron of the arts, or Blogging Evil Supergenius? You decide.

Vote for this post at Humor-blogs. Or, you know, just hand me some Endust for my Arte y Pico awards. Thanks!

Emoticonics Anonymous: A Five-and-a-Quarter Step Program

Since I've been posting regularly on a few forums I've come to realize that...


...I am an Emoticonic. :(

I am addicted to using the little semi-colon and closed-parenthesis symbol willy-nilly online to convey "I am joking here, friends."

As a result, I subject my fellow posters to rivers of smiley-faces dripping down their screen.

I can't help myself. :( It's just when posting, I become concerned that no amount of editing will ensure everyone gets the joke. I worry about angry mobs, villagers with torches pounding down my virtual door, all for the case of a misunderstanding or a casual opinion they might disagree with. :(

And in the stress of it-- I find myself reaching for that semi-colon or colon...

The parens are only a short slide from there. :(

And I know I'm not alone. Heck, hundreds... thousands... maybe even hundreds of thousands of people out there in cyberspace abuse emoticons every day. So how can we put an end to it?

Well, now there's Emoticonics Anonymous, :) the support group designed specifically to gently assist people with Emoticon Addiction and guide us along the path to reducing-- and eventually ending-- the unnecessary addition of smileys, frownies and surprised faces.

The program has easy, step-by-step instructions, that allow Emoticonics to live happier, more emoticon-free lives, no matter what type of feedback we expect to receive. And it all begins with the first step:

1.) Admit you have a problem.

Hi, my name is Jenn, and I am an Emoticonic :) I've abused emoticons for... oh... going on three years now.

2.) Apologize to those you have hurt through your addiction.

Blogcatalog friends, CottageLiving Forum buds, Friends of Cabbages... I owe you all a huge apology :( for littering your forums, and your blog comments, with an endless supply of unnecessary punctuation in the form of goodwill. :) It was my personal insecurity that my online compadres wouldn't understand my tone-- my sense of humor-- that led to such graphics atrocities. I hope you can forgive me. :) :) :)

3.) Begin by writing your first cheeky online sentence emoticon-free.

"If Katie Couric has one more eye-job, her chin will have a navel.".... : .... no.....: ..... must resist.... ;...... must not ..... :) :) :)

Ugh. Off the wagon again!

4.) Do not be discouraged if your first attempt at eliminating the emoticon is not a success. Don't assign blame. Just keep trying.

"If Mark Wahlberg can learn to raise one eyebrow, this means he'll have TWO facial expressions."... : Must try not to.... ; Must not semi-colon......... ;..... NO parenthesis.... NO... NO....

Phew! That was a close one.

5. ) Take emoticon reduction one day at a time. Don't forget to say the Emoticonics Anonymous pledge.

"Give me the strength this day to respect my fellow posters, to post wisely, kindly, logically, to communicate clearly and, above all, to post emoticon-free."

5 and 1/4) Find friends who also have issues with emoticon abuse to act as part of a network.

I hereby invite my fellow Emoticonics to stand up, and share their stories. When you attempt to quit smiley-facing, you do a very brave thing. :) .... (oops... I'll work on it.)

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Questions I Have About the Movie Aliens That I Didn't Have the First Time Around

Did you ever watch a program or film and think, "Yowza! That was great!"...

(Or perhaps without the "yowza"-- your choice, really)...

And then years later, you see that same film or program again and you think, "Was I suffering from the after-effects of some some sort of head impact at the time? Was this when I had my wisdom teeth out and I was on serious meds? What was wrong with me?"

I had this kind of experience in re-watching "Aliens," with Sigourney Weaver last week.

Now, don't get me wrong-- it's still exciting. It's still tense. It's still funny in the right spots. And yes, it does involve more Bill Paxton in whiny toddler mode than I needed-- but that's not so much the issue.

It's just, there are some critical questions I wonder why I never asked the first time around. It'd be like meeting RuPaul at a party, not knowing who RuPaul was, and thinking, "Wow, that lady really knows how to apply make-up," and then moving on to the spinach dip.

(Not that RuPaul doesn't really know how to apply make-up-- well, I mean, maybe RuPaul has a make-up artist now, I don't know. But that's not the point and...)

Where was I? Oh right. Here:

Questions I Now Have About Aliens That I Didn't Have the First Time Around:

  • Why do the Aliens have a lifecycle even more complex than the path through your average IKEA store?
Indulge me on this-- The queen lays eggs. So the eggs can become face-hugging lobsters. So the face-hugging lobsters can make themselves comfy in the upper GI tracts of the entire army. So the army can gestate small alien lizard-things which, if they eat their spinach-- or, you know, Paul Reiser-- they grow up to become well-adjusted adult aliens.

See, the problem I have with this is, any part of this chain of events is destined to fail. Especially in space. On starships. With limited People Num-nums for when they get the munchies.

I mean, if the eggs become face-hugging lobsters and there's no army to nest in-- Well, where are ya? Or, say, the army bursts open with lizard-things and there's no Paul Reiser to nosh on? Again-- there goes the race.

It's too convoluted. I've seen people get health insurance reimbursements that take fewer steps than this. We're talking a race of beings that have supposedly survived hundreds of thousands of years. How'd they ever make it to Alien Resurrection, is what I want to know? Luck! Pure luck.

  • How can acidic blood-- which eats through metal floors and armor-- not at least give the Aliens a serious case of acid reflux?
Alien blood is so acidic, it can eat through steel floors, metal doors, space suits and even the food at Old Country Buffet. But this apparently does nothing to the Aliens themselves. Wouldn't they belch fire occasionally? Wouldn't they be carrying around some family size Malox? And, you know, dentists are all about tooth erosion these days. How are those double-set of jaws not eroded down to little stubs?

Okay, so we allow the idea that the Aliens' bodies shield them somehow from the effects of their own acid. Well, then why aren't we taking the exoskeletons of every dead Alien we can find and making them into protective gear? Why aren't we sewing ourselves some nifty new Alien duds? Ripley, take some tips here. Exoskeleton ponchos are all the rage in intergalactic fashion. You need one.

  • How can an entire space colony be out of contact for 20 years and no one get worried about their Aunt Alice?
The government doesn't seem to be overly worried that a space colony hasn't been heard from for, like, 20 years. Ripley mentions this, and everyone pooh-poohs her concerns. Then, Ripley walks around in her Hanes Her Way some more for a scene or so, and suddenly, it's of ultimate importance she and a Rag-Tag Team of Properly Gender- and Racially-Balanced Troops go check on these folks. So my question is-- where was the concern 20 years ago? No one thought, "Hey, you know, I haven't heard from Aunt Alice on the colony in a while. Maybe I should call and ask how she's doing with those orchids from Betlegeuse I'd sent her."

Just sayin'.

  • What do the Aliens do in-between eating the various army troops and colonies? Do they have any hobbies?
It's been 20 years between the colony of humans getting wiped out, and the new batch of Soldier Munchies arrives. So what have the Aliens been doing all this time to occupy themselves? Snacking is, apparently, out. How do Aliens entertain themselves? Do they have all-night discos? Do the face-huggers just work out a lot, trying to keep limber with push-ups and tail curls? Do they put on plays, like "Little Ship of Horrors" or "Ripley Get Your Gun"? Do they tell stories around the steam grates? I'd like to know.

Otherwise it's got to be a case of, "In space, no one can hear you snore."

Well, folks, those are my big questions about the film Aliens. As always, I'd be happy to hear any of your wisdom, theories, questions, and general chit-chat. Was there a movie YOU saw once, enjoyed immensely and then questioned the second time around? Do tell!

Otherwise, until next time-- in the wise words of Mr. Paxton: "Game over, man."

Vote for this post at Humor-blogs. Or go check on it in 20 years and see how it's doing. Remember-- you'll need flamethrowers.

Brotherhood of the Probable Pummeling

Imminent death. That's what I expected the day three Theta Xi brothers discovered I was the person behind a particular weekly sheep comic strip.

It was in college, right before writing class. And in my comic's storyline a few weeks before, I'd made a cheeky reference to the Theta Xi fraternity and our woolly friends.

It was a common enough campus joke, hearkening back to some unfortunate Sheep Violation Incident in the fraternity's past. (Unfortunate, mostly for the sheep, as I'd heard it). Anyway, the comic got printed and I thought nothing else about it...

Until I had to drop off a new strip after class.

Well, the Theta Xi boys... there were at least three of them in this course. Three largish guys I didn't know very well. And when one of them spotted the drawings, he nudged the two other fellows, drawing their full frowning, squinting attention my way.

I swear, stormclouds rolled in and thunder rumbled overhead.

The central Theta brother leaned in to me, eyes narrowed, as if trying to burn my face deep into his memory. "YOU draw that comic?"

I tried to will myself invisible, but remembered too late that that had never effectively worked. "Yes."

I think I could have finished War and Peace in the painful pause that followed-- which wasn't even appropriate, as Russian literature was covered in an entirely different class.

And suddenly, the clouds parted. Golden sunshine beamed in through the classroom window and a bluebird lit on the windowsill.

The Theta Xi brother offered me a broad, radiant smile, reserved normally for toothpaste ads and game show hosts. "I love that comic! You know the one where you mentioned Theta Xi?"

"Er... I'm familiar with it..."

"I have that on the door to my room. Don't I, guys? Don't I have that taped to the door of my room?"

Yes, yes, they all agreed he had it taped to the door of his room.

I dabbed the sweat from my forehead and neck, careful to not dampen my comic's panels and make the markers run.

This was my very first bit of audience feedback.

So tell me, fellow bloggers and creative-types, has your work ever gotten response from a very unexpected audience? I'd love to hear about it.

Vote for this post at Humor-blogs. If it's working.

Yield to the Power of the Scround

I'd just published the latest post to my thrifting blog and-- beeewwwwwp!--- my computer shut down, the overhead lights winked out, and I heard my housemate in her room say, "Awwww!"

This was at 2:30 yesterday afternoon.

A summer storm had come and went, and took the power with it. I blinked at the blank computer screen a moment, willing it back to life.

Electricity doesn't work on will, in case you were wondering. If it did, Uri Gellar would stop pretending to bend spoons with his mind and would move on to generating something actually useful.

I spent five minutes wandering around my house like a lost soul as it poured down outside, thinking apparently that by pacing from room-to-room, the lights might come back on again.

They didn't.

So-- what to do? Well, I thought, I could finally clean out that one cabinet and-- er, no. I'd need to, oh, see to do that.

I could change the linens-- but no, ditto the darkness issue.

Have a cup of tea and kick back? Well, the stove is electric and so is the microwave. Kibosh the tea.

I settled down in the living room, by the bay window, with a book. The housemate seemed to have a similar idea. And after two hours or so, I began to worry.

And not about whether I'd be able to get up in the morning on time without my electric alarm clock...

Not about the fact my car was trapped in my garage because the garage door was on electric power...

Not about how I would get ready with no blow-drier, no curling iron...

Not about the fact there was a nice steak thawing in the fridge for dinner that might go to waste...

And amazingly, not how I would even know who I was without coffee in the morning.

No, I started to worry-- strangely-- about the scround of peach Breyers ice cream in the freezer. The beautiful, sweet, creamy, as-yet-untouched-by-a-scoop half-gallon of frozen fruity goodness. Fatty, fabulous Breyers ice cream which I hadn't had in years and had planned to treat myself with. And if the power didn't come back in time, well, that scround would be a goner.

Cut off in its prime.

More time passed. The black skies yielded to sun, and still, no hum of the refrigerator. No woosh of the central air. The book was entertaining, and there was at least lunch meat for sandwiches for dinner but...

The scround. What about the scround?

The sun began its decent behind the bigger houses on the street above. My book grew closer and closer to the tip of my nose, and at 8:45 it became fairly obvious that my evening's entertainment was rapidly coming to an end. I brushed my teeth in the dark, still wide awake, still thinking whether I could get away with not washing my hair for one day, and where I could pick up some java, and how I would find matching clothes and...

That poor lost scround.

I lay there in the dark, thinking what I might post today if there was time. And about emails that went unanswered, and visitors ignored and again, what about that coffee and...

Beeeeeewwwp! A huff of air, the beep of an answering machine, the click of the clock.

"Yaaaayy!" cheered the housemate from her room.

Thank goodness, I thought. The ice cream probably made it.

A scround is a terrible thing to waste.

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Celebrating Doodle Week: Doodle Evil

In honor of Claire's DoodleWeek, I thought I would ask my comic strip sheep, Shearadon and Woolworth, to make another guest appearance.

Of course I KNEW I'd be paying for it. Once Woolworth finally let Shearadon out of the Hannibal Lecter mask, Shearadon begged me to mention to you that he is still working on his blog-- Wild-n-Woolly-- really slaving away to reach the Online Sheep Community...

(I personally feel at four posts in four months, he and I differ about the definition of "slaving.")

...Anyway, he asked that I draw your attention in particular to his latest post, a sheep-inspired song parody of a tune from one of his favorite Pink Floyd albums, and the popular tune "Us and Them."

So with this link, I give you The Dark Side of the Loom, and the featured song, "Ewes and Rams."

Please forgive me.

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How To Take a Vacation Without Really Actually

No time to take vacation this year? Me neither. But does it have to get us down? NO!

And that’s because I have pulled together some ideal (absolutely absurd)...

And sure-fire (wholly untested)...

...Alternate Vacation ideas that will have you feeling like you went to a five-star resort (okay, Motel 3 ½ by the Interstate)...

For three glorious, pampering weeks (no AC, but the bullet holes in the walls help get a bit of a cross-breeze)...

Disclaimer: The author of this blog is not responsible for the results you may or may not have in actually implementing anything discussed in this list, or in how your neighbors treat you after said ideas are employed. This blog also is not responsible for any bail costs or public citations incurred related to these helpful tips. Thank you.

Welcome to your Alter-Cation!:

  • Turn your house or apartment into a mini-putt-putt course, just like they have at the shore! Finally put that dusty exercise equipment to use as challenging holes of mini-golf. Transform it from treadmill to windmill, and savor the challenge of rolling that ball down a moving walkway at up to 50 mph! Need a sandtrap? Why, you might already have one in the house: your furry friend Mr. Meow won’t mind-- much. But beware of the water traps! You may just need to call Roto-rooter if you actually DO get a hole in one. Because once that ball gets wedged in, well, your average plunger just isn’t gonna do it. Your personal mini-golf course will make every day after a long day of work feel just a little bit more like a holiday.
  • Borrow photos from other people’s vacation trips and Photoshop yourself into them. Then make a Powerpoint presentation and run a new location each evening. Plant "souvenirs" around the room (purchased earlier at Pier One) to haggle for based on that night's theme. Make sure you charge yourself at least 500% more than you paid for the item. And don't forget to send yourself postcards to let you know how much you're enjoying yourself!
  • Host your own Mardi Gras parade. This requires some planning, but is very much worth the effort. Make papier mache figures of jesters, kings, queens and crocodiles and position them along your driveway, linked together on child’s wagons. You could also use pre-made pinatas, or your kids' larger stuffed animals. Get all of your family friends to stand along side the driveway and beg for beads. (Not Grandma, though-- just give her the beads. No one wants to see that.) Get the neighbors involved, too. Show them how fun Mardi Gras can be. The lady down the street who gardens in that spandex catsuit-- she'll be all for it. Get the local kids involved to sell Kool-Aid Hurricanes from their lemonade stand.
  • Go to Not-Hawaii. Put your kids' earth science knowledge to good use by resurrecting that volcano experiment in the garage. Eat nothing but Spam sandwiches and pineapple rings for a week. Play Don Ho's "Tiny Bubbles" on a loop, for background atmosphere.
  • Create your own fishing lodge! Drag a simple kiddie pool into your livingroom and fill it with cold water... Add several boxes of frozen fish sticks, looped with rope or ribbons... And cast away, my friends! Once you get that big catch, pop the fish sticks in the oven according to directions on the package and serve. The fish you catch yourself always taste so much better, doesn't it?
  • Transform your abode into the Vegas strip. Card games abound. Or, if you aren't savvy on games like poker and blackjack, use what you have on hand for new, creative Vegas gaming stations. Think Old Maid where the Maids are Wild. Sudden Death Monopoly. Buckaroo racing. Hungry Hungry Hippo or Connect 4 Slots. You're limited only by your imagination. And what about the shows, and fine dining? Encourage family and friends to put on comedy skits or showcase their dancing and karaoke skills. Use those refrigerator leftovers for scrumptious all-you-can-eat buffets! What, that taco meat's been around for three weeks already? No problem-- a little food poisoning is all a part of the Vegas adventure.

See? It's that easy to get away without ever leaving your home. I hope these tips will find you feeling more relaxed in no time!

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Shutterbug Pop and the Runaway Train

I've been thinking of getting a video camera.

Of course, knowing me, I will likely end up spending less time using it to capture meaningful holiday moments and unique historical attractions-- and more time figuring out how to do stop-animation film of, say, Marshmallow Peeps staging an Easter-time jailbreak or something.

But to each his own.

The thought of the video camera, however, brought back memories of the last real family trip my parents and I took together-- a trip to Disney, in my 17th summer...

And how the Frontierland roller coaster made a, er, lasting impression on my Pop.

I believe I mentioned last week that during the 80s, my father had a very high-tech video camera. Which meant it was roughly the size of a Victorian steamer trunk for a six-month voyage. And this being my last trip with the folks before permanently flying the nest, the Pop was determined to document ALL the memories using this fine example of technology.

So, as we passed through Frontierland, and waited in line for the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride, my father decided that it would be pretty cool to film being on the ride.

Now, I don't know if you're familiar with this ride or not, but it's styled like a runaway train, rolling through jagged Old West mountains and dry desert terrain. And is it fast! Many a set of Mickey Mouse ears-- and a zippity-do-da-dinner-- has been a casualty of this ride.

Having explored this ride previously on a band trip, I was well aware of this fact. But see here's the thing:

My dad is a very intelligent man, but he is not what you'd call "A Listener." I've learned over the years that I have about a five-word limit on my part of any conversation before he's already delving into more important things.

It's sorta like using Twitter. I know I'd better get what I have to say out in the allotted characters or it's all a no-go.

(Now I think about it, I probably became a writer so I could complete full sentences.)

Anyway, so when the Pop was explaining his plan for the Best Family Video Ever, I was getting out phrases like...

"But Pop, this is fast and--"

"Really fast, Pop! I don't think--"

"The curves, you see, are quite--"

"It winds, Pop, centripetal force, and--"

No dice. The five-word limit was still in place.

So as we strapped ourselves into the car-- Dad in the center with the electronic steamer trunk hoisted onto his shoulder-- well, I admit, I felt a certain smug anticipation. I mean, I know why I didn't stop him, but why no one else gave it a shot, I really can't say.

Or why he didn't pay attention to the signs saying "Secure Your Belongings, This is a Super-fast Ride and YOU, Sir, Still Seem to be Holding Very Expensive Recording Equipment."

Some footage apparently is worth the risk.

So the ride began at a nice enough pace. We chugged up the hill, the Pop smiling benevolently at Mom and me with the glow of a cameraman destined for home movie greatness.

And then we got to the top and Pop's whole perspective on the matter shifted.

So did the video camera.

As we roared around the turn-- the sounds of Jethro Tull's Locomotive Breath seemed to come to my ears-- and the camera had decided it would prefer to bow to the forces of physics over the force of one very determined tourist from New Jersey.

It took a feat of astounding strength for my father to even retain his grip on the machine-- so fast were we clattering over the rails, around horseshoe bends, and s-curves, with animatronic buzzards fluttering in wait.

The Pop managed through sheer will alone to force the camera into a spot of relative stability back down into the car, onto his leg. The ride, two thrilling minutes for some-- two terrifying minutes of destruction and potential lawsuits for another-- slowed at the station, the engine letting out a steamy sigh of relief.

My father did, too. We exited and Pop rose, only to notice his upper thigh had taken on a brand new feature...

A Victorian steamer trunk-sized, camera-shaped bruise.

I used my five word allotment:

"Told you it was fast."

Pop didn't find it nearly as funny as I did.

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Me Gets No Cookie

MobileMe. That’s Apple's online email and web access service, formerly known as “Dot-Mac.” It’s at Me.com. And the Me-centricness of it all, in the middle of this increasingly self-absorbed, Me-oriented world...

Well, I'm finding I hate Me… just a little bit.

Not entirely without cause, either. First my Dot-Mac webmail was down for over two days while they put Me in place. Meaning I had no idea who was emailing me. Let alone Me.

And now that Me is up, Me looks good, but Me is spotty in terms of service...

Plus there’s the way Me makes me sound like Cookie Monster…

Which is fun for a while, but I doubt it’ll catch on.

Less charming, is one of my email addresses and my iWeb pages now all have alternate Me versions. As if more people in this world need a reminder that it’s all about Me... er, them.

So now if I tell folks I've got an @me on my email address, they're gonna look at me (and not @Me), like I've got a serious self-fixation. And they're going to think it's my fault, too-- not Me's.

I might as well just drive around in a car with a license plate like "2Cute4U" and sweats with the word "Hottie" written across the bum. Me has made me one of those people I don't so much like.

And MobileMe-- well, it sounds less like a web app and more like a new book from Gilderoy Lockhart, the resident narcissist in Harry Potter. Possibly writing about his grand adventures of wizarding on the road.

"You can read all about the famous Gilderoy Lockhart's magical road-trip in my newest book-- MobileMe... Eight weeks already as a Number One best seller on the WitchWeekly book list...

SURE, I'll autograph that for you! And here's a signed headshot I just happened to have with me."


Well. Enough about Me... Let's talk about YouTube.

Seen any good videos lately?

Humor-blogs: gratuitous links, one link at a time. Rock the vote.

The SouthernMost Bigfoot in the U.S.A.

Loch Ness has Nessie... The New Jersey Pine Barrens has the Jersey Devil... And the Florida Everglades has... the Skunk Ape.

I can't believe that all these years I've been going down there to visit my dad, I've been spending my time getting some sun, stuffing myself at seafood buffets and being hit in the head with parrots. And I could have been slogging through the swamp looking for signs of a missing link between humans and apes.

How did I miss this shining opportunity for scientific investigation... mystery...and guys dressed up in gorilla suits?

Oh, wait, that's just a Scooby-doo episode... But still. I feel I've been really lax here.

According to FloridaSkunkApe.com (yes, all the cool, hip, with-it monsters have web sites these days), the Skunk Ape got his name due to the horrible stench he exudes when you stand downwind of him.

And, heck, who can't sympathize with that? The thing's supposedly covered entirely with hair, in a sweaty, tropical climate with no AC... He can't just pop in to the local CircleK convenience store for a stick of RightGuard, can he?

I can see that discussion now:

SkunkApe: Rowr!
(translation: "Hi, my name is George. I'm looking for your personal care section.")

CircleK Cashier: Oh, for Pete's sake, this is the THIRD time this week!

SkunkApe: Rowr?
(translation: "I'm afraid we may have miscommunicated in some way. I had asked for your personal care section, and this is the first time I've been to your beautifully-appointed store of convenience.")

CircleK Cashier: I know, I know, I've heard it all a million times-- you've got a loaded weapon and you're not afraid to use it.

SkunkApe: Row--rr.
(Translation: "This fellow needs to work on his listening skills.")

CircleK Cashier: Look, I'm fed up with this. Just take the money. Here, just take it! I don't care any more. This is a crummy job anyway, and I've only got 47 bucks in cash. Take it. And don't come back!

SkunkApe turning money over curiously in his hands: "Rowr!"
(translation: "Excellent! I will eat this later along with the leftover hamburgers I get from the Gator Gulch Saloon dumpster. Thanks, pal!"

CircleK Cashier, to the SkunkApe's back: And dude, costume's clever enough, but take a bath! You reek, man!

So I think if folks are really looking to catch the SkunkApe, what they need to do is strew Bath & Bodyworks gift baskets all around the swamp, in the SkunkApe's typical turf. Then set up video cameras. It's an invasion of privacy, sure-- but while the SkunkApe is standing there hydrating and ex-foliating, the cameras will get all the proof they've been looking for.

Mystery solved!

PS- Because this tickled me so much, I thought you guys might also enjoy checking out some news footage on swamp guide David Shealey and his dogged pursuit of the SwampApe.

Favorite quote:

"It baffles me when people say, 'It looks like a man in a monkey suit.' And I say, 'Well, that's what one looks like, and I'm sorry if people don't believe it. That's just too bad, that's the way it is!'"
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How William Shatner Ruined Road Safety

In this day and age of $4.00 gas and emissions concerns, carpooling is good for the environment, AND the wallet. But, Friends of Cabbages, I urge you to think long and hard about choosing the right carpool companions. And this is why.

At my previous job, the office was roughly a 45 minute commute during weekday traffic, and one of the guys in my department-- we'll call him "The Knave"-- he lived not-so-far from me, and he didn't have a car. So rather than him taking two buses and spending three hours each day just getting to work, we carpooled. He paid for some of the gas.

Now the Knave, who I actually work with at my current job as well, is a good guy-- funny and self-aware. My friendship with him runs toward the similar-sense-of-humor-only-he-likes-to-test-me-occasionally dynamic. There's some Little Brother Instinct that bubbles up occasionally in him, and when his actual siblings are not available, it extends to ME. Most of the time, I'm prepared for this...

But sometimes I am poorly-caffeinated and driving.

Like the day he decided to introduce me to William Shatner singing "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds."

Were you aware William Shatner had a brief singing career?... If you can call the enthusiastic spoken word crescendos and dénouements of the former Captain James T. Kirk "singing"... yes, in fact, he did! You can enjoy one hysterical video example of his stylings by clicking here.

At the time, I was not aware of this. And while manning my Saturn one morning, I really didn't have a proper handle on what was about to ensue...

Meaning, I didn't slap the Knave's hands and fling the disk from his grasp when he started messing with my CD player.

Imagine: it's early morning. The sun is just creeping over the Western Pennsylvania Appalachians, a mist hanging heavy along the roadway and the coffee still steaming in the travel mug in the cup holder...

I am thinking about the work day ahead of me... copy to write, projects to wind up...

And then comes Mr. Shatner bursting from the audio system shouting at a million decibels, in iambic pentameter:

...The GIRL with ka-LEI-do-scope EYESSSSS!!!

And that's when I ran off the road.

So, if you plan to carpool, think about who you choose to ride with. Do not permit them access to your sound system, no matter how they beg, or how groggy you may be.

Most of all, just say "no" to all things Shatner while operating heavy machinery. It is for your safety, as well as the safety of your fellow drivers. Drive carefully-- and Shatner-free.

Thank you.

Picture yourself, in a boat, on a river, using your portable laptop to vote for this post over at Humor-blogs. :)

Bully for Me: The Fourth-Grade Recess Showdown

Bullies. Harry Potter had Dudley Dursley... Ralphie Parker had Scut Farcas… And in terms of these epic battles of Good versus Evil, fought and lost on the Great Playground of Life-- why, me, I had Tanya “Teeny” DeLuca.

Teeny was, in fact, really small. But what she lacked in size, she more than made up for with a troublemaker’s finesse.

Her procedure was like that of a barracuda. This thin fish with razor-sharp choppers slowly, carefully sidles up to its potential meat and then-- BANG!-- shoots in for the kill. Atypical behavior for your average grade-schooler, okay. But this Wild Kingdom episode played itself out over and over again, for myself and every other member of the fourth grade.

Oh yes, no one was truly immune from the torment, the fists, the cornering after class. But it wasn't long before she'd honed in on Yours Truly as one of her extra-special targets.

In retrospect, I can hardly blame her. With braces, glasses, good grades and a chronic case of politeness, I see now that it was just another well-worn scene in this, our natural world. Cheetahs pick off the injured gazelle... Bullies trounce the gangly nerd-girl in the brown plaid and loafers.

It’s the circle of life.

Her first move in class was, as I think back on it, a exercise in Bully Genius. Not surprising, really, because she'd been honing her skills for about two years now on the mean streets of suburban Jersey.

It's good to have a hobby.

This particular day, she'd bided her time until our teacher was out of the room, and then reached across the aisle from her desk to mine, and seized my hand. In a second, she'd dug her fingernail into its surface, deeply enough to make it bleed.

Holding on with the power of a constrictor, she worked feverishly to rub her pencil point neatly into the wound while I struggled.

"There!" she hissed, smile peeling back over glistening white predator teeth. "I put lead in there! You have lead poisoning now! You're going to die."

"Oh no! Lead poisoning!" I cried, cradling my arm as she released it. I recall wondering whether the school nurse had an antidote for that... Or for the death thing. I could see the silvery graphite there in the wound, imagining particle by particle seeping into my blood. I cried and mourned my untimely demise. I'd had such big plans. And now they were gone, snuffed out at age 8 by lead poisoning.

"And if you tell, you'll really get it," she warned.

Worse than death by lead poisoning? Oh good gravy, did the tortures ever end?

I spent the rest of the day not feeling very well, convincing myself it was the poison seeping into my system, and too afraid to tell anyone what happened. By evening, my mom had set me straight about that whole pencil graphite not actually being lead issue. And my world seemed a brighter, cheerier place once more. In the world of Kiddom, trauma could wash away like chalk paintings in summer rain.

But Teeny, oh, she wasn't done with me yet. Later that week she cornered me on the playground with a couple of hulking sixth graders at her side, pummeling me with foul words I’d never heard before. Every couple of days thereafter brought brand new perils.

Then the tide turned in one single day.

Recess had never actually been much fun, even when it wasn't Bully Season. Because the school was afraid of some kid getting injured on the playground and being sued, they ripped out all the swing sets and jungle gyms so we wouldn't hurt ourselves. We also weren't allowed to run, use balls, bats, or other sports equipment, play hopscotch, jump rope or climb the trees...

They considered wrapping us all in bubble wrap, but were concerned about heat rashes.

Cards were forbidden because it was gambling. An out-of-control set of jacks could poke out an eye.

This left us wandering around the macadam like a bunch of laid-off union workers-- bored, surly, and looking for anything to liven things up a little.

Josette and I would pretend we were characters from Star Wars or The Dukes of Hazzard-- pretty much anyone less likely than we were to have their lunch money stolen-- and hope we were invisible.

But Teeny's keen graphite-colored eyes could see.

I don't know what it was exactly that set her off this day. The offending glint off my bottle lenses in the sun? The haughty snap of my elastic argyle knee socks? The overconfident rattle of the metal lunchbox in my hand?

But Teeny DeLuca was ready to rumble.

She cornered me at the flagpole, pushing, and spitting out filthy names like tobacco juice, which I was convinced she chewed in her off-hours. And as I looked down at her contorted little mug sneering up at me, suddenly I realized...

This wasn't fair. I didn't deserve this.

Just because I got good grades, and wore thrift store clothes, and couldn't see, and had crooked teeth, and stringy hair and maybe wasn't exactly the social butterfly of Classroom 18, it didn't mean I had no right to exist...

Just because I didn't have dock worker epithets... or fists of fury... or a bunch of sixth graders with anger management issues ready to back me up, didn't mean I had to take this...

I mean, what did I have?

I had a durable, metal "Dukes of Hazzard" lunchbox.

Ah, that wonderful, wonderful sound! The glorious clatter of lunchbox on outstretched fist. The contact made her cold, marble-like eyes fly open wide with shock and renewed rage. She tried again, knuckles flying, but for every punch—wham! The Dukes struck again.

This battle-- Teeny versus the Dukes went on and on-- possibly until our fourth grade moving-up ceremony. By this point, a crowd had formed around us and Teeny was beginning to realize their overall sentiments were not exactly on her side.

"You put down that lunchbox and fight fair!" she spat, anger and now fear creeping into her voice.

But I’d put up my Dukes for the first time in my life, and I wasn't stopping now.

Then suddenly my fourth grade teacher, Mr. Ciccetti was there, guiding me away. Someone else had a hold of Teeny, who was kicking and struggling, still ready to finish the round.

The bell rang and we were officially sent to our corners.

I heard words like "suspension" soar over the crowd like a paper airplane. And that's when I started to cry. Not only would I have suspension for fighting in school, but my lunchbox was dented. My parents were not going to take kindly to this. First lead poisoning, and then public execution. All before I was ten.

And to think I’d shown such promise.

That's what ran through my head as Mr. Ciccetti escorted me into the school. He held the door for me, as I walked through the threshold to certain doom, tears streaming down my face and speckling my steamed-up glasses.

I remember how he smelled warmly of cologne as he leaned down and asked me just one single question:

"Did you really hit her?"

"Yeah," I breathed in-between hitching sobs.

His mustache rippled a bit, finally turning up at the ends. "Good."

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Of Cabbages and Kings Official Questions You Never Actually Asked

You have questions.

Okay, well, maybe you don't...

But in honor of Cabbages' one year-- er-- sorry, five month-- anniversary, I thought I'd answer all the questions you don't have... or might have... or would have asked... if you didn't have a lot more important things to think about during the course of the day...

Like why we sniff milk we know is probably soured. And stuff like that.

So here goes.

Q: Who is that nameless cabbage up there in your header?
A: Why, that's no nameless cabbage-- that's "Old King Cole Slaw"! He's the Of Cabbages and Kings official mascot. And he prefers to be referred to as His Royal Cabbageness. (He's got a bit of a big head.)

Q: I've seen that cabbage mascot singing and driving a car, yet it has no hands, no feet, and is also a vegetable. How do you explain this?
A: The Department of Motor Vehicles does not discriminate when handing out drivers' licenses. If the driver is able to complete the proper tests, the driver is issued a license regardless of the number of appendages or its flora or fauna status. I can't believe you'd even ask such a thing! Really! The noive!

And as for questioning his musical abilities, doesn't he have a right to express himself in song? Plus, there are plenty of vegetables out there who sing and drive. Virtually any celebrity news story will confirm this.

Q: Where do you get your graphics?
A: Off the back of a truck, in an alley, in this dodgy part of town, right next to the Fake Designer Purse shop. But shhhhh, don't tell everyone, or it'll get really competitive...

Okay, no, actually, I make them myself in Microsoft Word using the program's shapes tools. This is because I am cheap-- er, creative, yes, creative!-- and the only royalty issues I want to have to deal with is that cheeky monarch cabbage up there.

Q: How much truth is really in your memoir posts?
A: Well, I take a soft nougaty center of verity, surround it with a thin outer layer of rich creamy fillers, add some gooey transition sentences to hold it all together, and drop in the nuts. A lot of nuts.

Q: What is the answer to the meaning of life?
A: You'll have to take this up with Douglas Adams. Unfortunately, he's deceased. So while he's possibly in a good position to know, that may not be abundantly helpful to you at present.

Also: 42.

Q: Are all those people you mention in your stories real?
A: Yes, but their names have been changed and their identities shrouded in mystery. That's unfortunately what happens when you become friends with a humor blogger. You don't want everybody knowing that you know one. The Witness Protection Program has been really helpful for them.

Q: What is your favorite color?
A: Are we really sinking so low as to ask a question as shallow as that?

Q: Well, yeah. Can't we?
A: 'Kay... green.

Q: If you were stuck on a deserted island...?
A: Hey, come on now. Don't you have anything more constructive to ask than cheap teeny-bopper-style interview questions?

Q: Hey, who's asking the questions here?
A: Well, a fictitious reader, really. Which is sorta what's starting to concern me.

Q: Do you talk to yourself often?
A: Yes, all the time. I grew up as an only child. I mean, if I didn't talk to me, who would? It's only if I ever start answering myself that I need to worr.... um.

Q: How have you been feeling lately?
A: Not so good, apparently...

Q: Lie back on the couch and tell me about your family...
A: Okay, I am outta here!

Q: Do you have a question for Of Cabbages and Kings?
A: Just share it in a comment below and we'll try our best to answer it. Or not. Sort of depends on how strong the meds are that they put us on.

Q: Why are we talking about ourselves in plural now?

Thank you.

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1980s Rewind: The Lost, the Grody and the Totally Awesome

Come with me back in time...

To the era when MTV was new, Michael Jackson still had a nose, and a t-shirt reading, "Where's the Beef?" evoked high fashion and big laughs.

There are some excellent lists of "What it Was Like to Grow Up in the 80s" out there, but I figured today we'd tackle some of those details left unmentioned-- Cabbages style. So grab your jeans jacket and hold onto your slouch socks, my babies, because we're about to drive our muscle car up over that hidden ramp...

Can I get a "yeeeee-haw"?

  • Shoelaces so funky, tying them was taboo. What was it about the 80s that had us so focused on our footwear? Even though Velcro had just been invented, the boys preferred these enormous fat shoelaces in their high-top sneakers. Sometimes two sets in two different colors, like red and black. But in spite of spending all that time lacing up those shoes, you never TIED them. Oh, no. You tucked them inside your shoe with no knot, no bow. That way, when you went to play kickball, your shoe would also soar up, up, up... giving an all-new meaning to those “Air Jordans.” Many a recess created one-shoed boys. Also the clomping and scuffing noise in the hallways was astounding. Note: Girls often had rainbows or hearts or smiley faces or unicorns printed on their shoelaces. We tied our shoes.

  • Hair with its own zipcode. A girl in my junior high class said she used an entire can of hairspray on her hair each day, proving there really was something stronger than the Law of Gravity—80s Aquanet. I myself wasn’t quite that zealous, but I did experiment one year with bangs (for my British friends, “fringe”) which curled up high enough to tune in the aerial television set. If you wanted to wear a ponytail, you wore it in a banana comb, thus creating a sort of hair-covered mohawk look. You still teased your bangs.

  • Murder, mayhem and mustaches. Every night there was at least one detective program on television. Hart to Hart…. MoonlightingMagnum, P.I.… Simon and Simon…. Matt HoustonRemington SteeleProbeRiptide… The list went on and on. And there was an 80% Chance of Mustache on at least one detective per program. One noticeable exception would be on Remington Steele, though I think Stephanie Zimbalist might have waxed.

  • Paranoid Playlists. "Who Can It Be Now?"... "I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me"… "Eye in the Sky"… "They're Coming to Take Me Away..." Pink Floyd's entire "Wall" album... Kids in the 80s grew up in a time so paranoid, even our pop music was nervous.

  • Safety pins plus beads equaled awesomeness. I recall spending amazing amounts of time putting small colored beads onto tiny safety pins and giving my chums these personalized works of, er, art. These went on our sneakers. If you were a girl who didn’t have any friendship pins, you were a girl without any friends. (Yeah, yeah, you could just make a bunch for yourself, but that was cheating. Also, don't forget-- each of us tried to have our own signature beads and beading style!)

  • Made-for-TV horror movies that still cause nightmares. The 80s were great for cheesy, original, made-for-TV movies that scared the Kool-aid out of us kids. Like Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, where those little monsters lived in the fireplace. Or the Trilogy of Terror with Karen Black. Or Don't Go To Sleep with Valerie Harper. Or From the Dead of Night with Lindsay Wagner. Bad choices had ramifications. Even kid characters faced danger and possible death. No one was spared. And for some reason we, as kids, were allowed to watch ‘em.

  • You started each school year with a new Trapper Keeper. This school binder had a place for everything, and everything in its place. Also, you could get it in cool rainbow, unicorn, tiger, denim or heavy metal looks. What they never told you was that in order for it to organize you, you actually had to be organized. So my Trapper never quite held up to its hype. I was a scholastic slob. Even the Mead Corporation could not save me.

  • Blindingly fluorescent was cool beans. Girls -- and even guys-- willingly sported sweatshirts, tiny jogging shorts and socks in retina-burning, day-glo colors normally reserved for hunting season. During eighth grade band, the entire flute section seemed to pulse with color conflict, as Suzy, Kelly and the gang sat side-by-side in a vibrating rainbow of fluorescent shades. No wonder our band director got cranky.

  • No one ever got hurt in ten car pile-ups. On television shows like the A-Team, CHiPs and the Dukes of Hazzard, cars would jump, flip, roll and even blow up from 37 different camera angles, but the passengers were never hurt. We know this because they would have a voice-over discussion about it, where even cold-hearted bank robbers asked their steely-eyed partners if they were all right. This made it non-violent. Also, Stephen J. Cannell seemed to think we wouldn't notice if both Hunter and the guys from Riptide used the catchphrase, "It works for me."

  • Underwear went outer. Socks were pulled up over our pantlegs, belts went over our sweaters and boustiers went with skirts. I recall parents lamenting that, "Next, kids would be wearing their boxers and tightie whiteys over their jeans." Then Marky Mark showed up with his drooping drawers and visible undies. Yet, somehow we never quite saw that coming.

  • The Rules about Rots and Rulez. At least in my school, things were broken into two categories. They either rotted, or they ruled. Decomposition, while a natural process, apparently had negative connotations for teenagers. Probably due to a bad experience in Earth Science classes. But since we were high school kids and, thus, optimists at heart, most things ruled. And honestly, ANYTHING could rule. You could get an "A" on your essay, find your misplaced Velcro KISS wallet, or get the new Yngwie Malmsteen album on sale, and it would all rule equally. Whereas Doug Sherman who sits behind you in homeroom and snaps your bra each morning... well, he rots.

So what springs to mind when YOU think the 80s? Drop me a comment-- I'd love to hear about your totally rad memories.

They built this city on the funny, over at Humor-Blogs.

Watch the Birdie -or- Head Impacts, Avian-Style

I entered the National Aviary this weekend and looked around with some trepidation... Our fine, feathered friends would be flying around loose, wouldn't they? Roosting, pecking, having the run of the place like extras in that Hitchcock movie? Sure, they would. And while I'm a big fan of nature, I also recalled what happened the last time I was in a setting such as this...

Although the memory's probably a little fuzzy due to the head impact.

Wait, I'll explain.

When I was about 14, my parents and I were vacationing in Florida, and one of our holiday splurges was visiting Parrot Jungle in Miami. The place was packed with all creatures beaked and winged. Cockatiels, toucans, parrots, parakeets, macaws... Why, this facility really knew how to give you the bird.

Now, this was also the time of the our very first camcorder. And my Pop has always been one for love of the gadgets. So this camcorder was absolutely state-of-the-art 1986-- the latest VHS technology, portable as a small suitcase, and weighing slightly less than a toddler filled with oatmeal and Ovaltine. Oh, how Pop loved that machine!

Anyway, so we followed the paths around Parrot Jungle, giving seed to these birds, gently ruffling a few feathers, and at one point I even got to hold a white cockatoo on my arm... All very cool.

Then we reached the flamingo pond. And my father decided to make his film debut.

I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but the Pop has always enjoyed showcasing his many talents in public places. For instance, at any keyboard or organ store in a mall-- or, you know, the music section at Best Buy-- Pop will entreat the locals to an impromptu concert of either classical music, or original freeform compositions. Just to give everyone else a taste of the good life, you know.

Well, at the flamingo pond, ol' Dad decided to demonstrate his range in acting. Because he is nothing if not versatile. So he handed me the camcorder, helped me hoist it onto my shoulder using ancient Egyptian pulley techniques, posed in front of those long-legged pink birds, and summoned his very best flamingo imitation.

The routine went on a few minutes, and so immersed was I with trying to keep this cinder block of a recording device on my shoulder, I failed to notice the creature behind me.

As I saw later from the shaky footage, the assailant was a red and blue macaw. And I call him the assailant because this macaw was apparently not nearly as impressed with my father's performance as my father was. No, somewhere along the way, he must have decided that ten minutes of this guy standing on one leg in Bermuda shorts, pretending to squawk and eat crustaceans was more than one family ever needed in their home video collection.

On that point, the macaw and I were agreed.

So somewhere between Pop's feather flapping and Pop's shifting to the other leg in true flamingo-style, the macaw leapt off the fence behind me and took flight...

A little low.

I don't know if his gauges weren't calibrated right or not, or when he prepared for ascent he just hadn't accounted for the proper airspeed, velocity, the right amount of lift, or you know, the fact that my big head was there in his path.

But we have this really interesting footage of the Pop, marred by a huge THUD as the camera-girl got struck hard in the noggin with a large swiftly-moving parrot. We hear the camera operator shriek, "OWWW! What the--?! HEY!!!!" as her vision swimmed a bit and she saw stars...

Or birdies...

And we see the perpetrator, still unyielding from the low-flying course he'd charted, skimming from my spinning head across the camera, tail-feathers sweeping over the microphone with an enthusiastic woosh.

But, you know, that's show business for you, isn't it You think you've finally made it by securing the starring role, and then you get totally upstaged by the supporting actors.

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