Signs of Zombies and My New Zombie Defense Strategy

Yesterday, Austin, Texas news reported that construction signs along one highway began to flash warnings of a zombie outbreak. They're currently blaming hackers, but honestly... Didn't we all know this was coming sometime?

Could the hacker story not, in fact, be a clever cover-up conspiracy for the truth of the situation? Just to prevent mass panic?

I mean, at the first sign of a few snowflakes, we all run off to the store to stock up on milk and bread. As if dry toast and 2% are the keystones to quality survivalist living...

And at any sort of big sports triumph, fans take to the streets, knock over trashcans and set things on fire. Because celebration requires conflagration.

This is the logic of the masses.

So you can see where news about the zombie hoards coming... well, that would have to be suppressed for a while for the safety of the public, first to save people from themselves.

I mean, they might be undead, but zombies should only have to take so much blame.

Now, you may not know this, but I live just on the cusp of Zombie Central.

No, no, not in Austin. But our Monroeville Mall, right outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is famous-- not only for being a key scene in George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead...

And an annual Zombie Walk which benefits the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank (savor the irony)...

But it is also home to The Monroeville Zombies Museum, Gallery and Attraction-- the perfect place for stocking up on all your critical Zombie Defense paraphanalia.

And that is where I purchased the one item that should help me with my latest zombie defense strategy.

My cunning "Monroeville Zombies" t-shirt disguise....

See, I'd previously detailed some preliminary plans for myself to deal with zombie defense, but much of that involved zombie-proofing my home.

This t-shirt, I believe, gives me an added dimension of protection in that, should I run out of supplies like milk and bread, I could possibly make it to the store by showing my solidarity for the zombie cause. By clearly saying, "Hey, I'm one of you." Also, by drooling a bit, walking slowly, and looking vacant...

So basically, how things are before I have my morning coffee.

I'm practicing my shuffle and groan now. And I already have dark circles under my eyes, so that's a plus. And now I have my nifty Monroeville Zombies t-shirt-- so I can be fashionable and possibly not gnawed upon. I might still need to invest in some fake blood or possibly just dip into the Heinz ketchup in my fridge. But I'll deal with that detail when the time comes.

What do you think? Here, I'll show you the general look I'm considering...

Do I stand a chance?

Oh, and because I care about you guys and would hate to think all of my nice readers got eaten by the undead and stuff, you might also want to check out the following Cabbages zombie defense-related posts...
Be careful out there!

UPDATE!!- Well, there have been some folks who felt I didn't look zombiefied enough. So my friend Jaffer was kind enough to use his Mad Photoshop Skillz and make me a little more assimilated to the zombie hoards. It's a good look for me...

Sorta like I've just enjoyed a really nice pasta marinara... Or a neighbor.
Humorbloggers Humor-blogs Bloggerella

Wiperman to the Rescue!

"Would you like me to install those for you? I can do that; it's free," said the man.

"Install" and "free." Possibly the two most beautiful words a girl has ever heard uttered!

I was at the register of the Advance Auto Parts store, new windshield wipers in hand. The current set on my car had once had big aspirations toward spic-and-span visibility and world domination.

But now the rubber was coming away from the blade... The blade was coming away from the wiper arm... And instead of clarity and precision, I'd flip 'em on and they'd just stand there and shimmy like a hoochie dancer: "Hey, baby...How you like somma this?"

Well, fine on form and poise, but the wipe? Gone. Seriously, no wipe. Leaving me with "-ers."

And "-ers", a shiny windshield do not make. "Quit the hip-wiggling, Gypsy Rose. You're making me seasick."

Part of the reason the wipers were in the shape they were, was because I'd had the bright idea to install them myself. Because I had been under the impression that a moderately non-stupid, slightly mechanical person could do it in a jiff.

The calculated measurement of "jiff," in case you were wondering, is about 45 minutes. Jiff must be done on a freezing cold day, but requires the manual dexterity of glove-free hands. Jiff requires the posterior region to sit at length upon an ice-cold car hood.

Jiff may require a hairdrier on "high" to free said posterior from the aforementioned ice-cold hood, depending on humidity levels.

It may also involve Oscar-award-worthy weeping-- though that, I understand, is optional.

But even once installed fresh and new, the one wiper had displayed a nervous twitch when asked to do its duty. Some kind of Wiper Performance Anxiety, I guess... But at that point I was too busy doing the hoochie dance myself in celebration of just having the things relatively where they should be.

Like not rattling around in the trunk.

So would I like this nice man to install these wipers for me for free?

Why, yes-- yes, I would!

Two seconds, and he had the new wiper blades on and working beautifully. And all this while I started to wonder about this marvel in modern customer service.

How had this happened? How had Advance Auto Parts somehow been bypassed by whatever mouse-in-a-maze psychological testing seems to plague my gas company? The gas company who reroutes me through six countries and five siloed service systems, only to ask me for my account number yet another time?...

Or the grocery store visit where cashiers talk around me like I'm InvisibleGirl?...

What Bizzarro World had I entered?

And then-- then he really did it:

"Would you like me to throw away your old wipers for you? Here, let me take that and the empty packaging."

I have to say, I narrowly-resisted smooching him up in a very undignified away right there in the parking lot.

Fortunately, I got control of my better faculties and simply dabbed away my tears of joy-- which froze immediately to my hand because of, well, again, the weather criteria for changing windshield wipers.

Yes, I thanked him... thanked him with gladness and admiration filling my heart... smiled and waved good-bye. Good-bye, you gleaming white knight of auto parts installation... I love you.

He smiled and waved back, said he was just doing his duty, ma'am, and flew off in a mechanic jumpsuited blur.

My faith in customer service... it has been restored. Oh, thank you, Wiperman! My hero!

Humorbloggers Humor-blogs Bloggerella

When the Chow Gets Chatty

My foods are talking to me.

And no, not in a "Syd Barrett Of Pink Floyd Thinks He's an Orange" sort of way. Or even like that hallucinatory claymation cupcake scene in Tim Burton's Cabin Boy. No, I mean they're talking in a hip and witty marketing zen sort of way.

And man, are they chatty!

I guess it started when Arizona Iced Tea began sharing a little philosophy with every bottle. Then not long after, my Snapple chimed in with commentary off the top of its cap.

But recently, I've been unwrapping a Lipton teabag for a nice post-work cuppa, and it's been guessing my mood.

"Unwind the string, unwind your stress," the tea packet advises.

(Gasp!) How did you know, O Wise and Minty Teabag of Wonder, that I am perhaps just a bit high strung?

Could it be because I am buying Mongo-Mint-Uber-Tension-Calmer-Downer(TM) tea?...

Or that I am currently surrounded by a four-alarm bonfire of lavender aromatherapy candles? ...

Or I'll be drinking this tea with a blood pressure pill chaser?...

What was the giveaway? Fess up!

Ah, but my teabags tell me other things, too.

"A minty way to say goodbye to stress," confides the tea.

"I know," I reassure it, "that's why I bought you."

"Like a cool breeze on a hot day," it insists.

"It's -2 degrees here, so don't get me started on the weather, Teabag."

"You've got goodness at the end of the string," it says.

"Okay, now you're just getting cocky."

Then my Heinz Ketchup piped up about how "its what hamburgers dream of." That it's "easier to spell than Worchestershire." And instructs me to "put it on food."

And now, now even the Dove chocolate has started enabling.

"Go ahead, have another :-) " its wrapper tells me, complete with smiley emoticon.

And I find I'm scared, because not only is it a little pushy and flagrantly unconcerned about my diet and health, but it appears to be web-savvy.

Who knows what a high-tech chocolate bar all hepped up on its own sugar high might be capable of?

It could start ordering more Dove to be sent to my home by the caseload.

It could go out on a huge spending spree!

I could end up at 300 pounds and in the poorhouse if I don't keep an eye on things! I won't have it, I tell you!

"Too much of a good thing is wonderful," the Dove coos.

"Think without limits," it whispers.

It's like some cacao-powered devil on my shoulder. Telling me the things I want to do but shouldn't.

"Remind yourself it's okay not to be perfect," it assures me.

Yeah, yeah, let the paramedics know that after they get me out of the chocolate coma, okay?

Frankly, my kitchen is getting entirely too noisy, and it's starting to freak me out.

"We can't control the wind, but we can always adjust the sails..."

...Says the fortune cookie that came with my Chinese food. At least the cookies and I go way back. There's a comfort factor there.

But I tell you, if the next cupcake I see wants to have words? I am so taking some vacation.


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Pie Charts, Presentation Hell and the Mind Meringue

Pie charts at two in the morning...

I'd stared at the Powerpoint screen with sleep-bleary eyes-- briefly slipping into more soothing hallucinations of coconut cream pies...

Hot apple pies...

And any other pie that wouldn't make me label the friggin' primary and secondary axis.

Yes, I was drifting away on clouds of mind-meringue at this point. I'd been up for almost 24-hours. It was our corporate user conference. And my supervisor would be giving this very presentation... at 8am this same day.

I'd known this was coming, of course. Why, the presentation had already been approved, photocopied and bound. So naturally my boss decided that 2 am the morning of, was the perfect time to look at it and make changes.

It was some kind of Pre-Presentation Insecurity Syndrome he suffered from. Where only at the very last minute could an intelligent, gregarious and authoritarian personality appropriately channel his inner fears and deep-rooted lack of confidence...

And slough it off on down the Corporate Feudal System to us Marketing Paynims.

A skillful Upper Management Two-fer, really.

The well-conditioned paynim I was, I always questioned my own sanity during these moments. Didn't I remember getting the final approval on this presentation weeks ago?...

And then the final-final approval a few days after that?

And oh-- what about that final-final-final approval just two days ago? Where we revised the revisions of the revisions? I recalled a final-final-final-final approval for that, didn't I?

Well, the mind meringue got in the way and I figured I had to be mistaken.

So at 2am, as my supervisor peered over my shoulder breathing anticipation and cold coffee on my neck-- I figured if I could just make these last-minute additions to the revisions of the revised-revised revisions, things would finally be buttoned down.

Meringue makes you naive.

So I added the pie chart. I put in the data my supervisor requested. And waving goodnight to his beaming thanks, I staggered off to my hotel room for four gritty hours of sandman time.

Six a.m. found me groggy, but all was well. The customers seemed happy... My supervisor seemed happy.... The conference center was at Disney so cartoon bluebirds chirped and some broad in poofy sleeves was in the hall singing something thematic...

Maybe "Whistle While You Work" or "Someday My Contract Signature Will Come."

Even my supervisor's opening session started off all right...

Until we bit into the poisoned pie chart.

Now to this day, I don't know if in my weariness of the few hours before, or my desire to just get the thing done, I'd simply overlooked it...

Or if my supervisor noodled around with it some more after I left.

(Whatever, I'm fully willing to take my slice of responsibility here.)

But when the pie chart came up on the giant projection screen, the title was right... the percentages were right... but the labels read like a RandMcNally Roadmap, big as day:


Even on four hours of sleep I was pretty sure geography had very little to do with our computer software.

Well, most anyone giving this presentation would probably just look at that and try to shift quickly past it. Or perhaps just mention the labels were incorrect, tell the audience what they should be, and move on.

But remember that whole Authoritian/Insecurity Combo Pack?

My supervisor took one look at that mislabeled pie chart, stopped dead and said with the kind of melodramatic horror Vincent Price was so good at:

"This is wrong!... This isn't supposed to be this way!"

Creepy organ chords might have even played, I'm not sure anymore, I was frozen in slow-mo.

Because he met my gaze as I stood there observing from the back of the room, and he extended a shaking, accusatory finger. He tried to add a note of humor to his voice when he spoke, but it fell just a little flat:

"She did it! It's her fault!"

I kid you not when I say that sixty people in the room... customers I'd been dealing with for years and sales reps I'd dealt with every day... all turned around to look at me, their faces pale and blank.

I watched one of my other supervisors-- Jeff-- wince, his beard bristling with what I think now might have been empathy.

Even Snow White in the hallway stopped sweeping and singing, and turned to peer in the conference room door.

I felt my face redden. I felt my head start to swim. So I did the only thing I could possibly do in this sort of situation...

I smiled and waved. "Yes, yes, hi... It was me."

And you know, it was at about that point in my Marketing Paynim career that I thought I might want to get out of the event planning field...

There just wasn't a big enough piece of the pie in it.


If you're interested in more Office-related stories you might also enjoy these tales of puns, pain, pranks, and paperwork...


Classical Gas

"...To avoid termination of service, call immediately to give us your meter reading or arrange for us to gain access to your home," said the lady on the answering machine.

It was my friendly neighborhood gas company, calling to chat and catch up (read: threatening me again). Part of an ongoing saga, where my meter is inside my home, and the gas company simply can't understand why I'm never home to let them in to read it...

Because I am off working so I can pay my jinormous gas bill.

Well, naturally, by the time I got their thoughtful message on Friday evening, the gas company was closed. So I picked up the phone on Saturday and gave them a call.

The automated voice at Gas Company Central said, "Are you calling to report a fire, explosion or smell of gas?"

It was a nice reminder that other people had things worse off than me. I mean, I might be waging the war against an outdated bureaucratic utility system, but at least nothing had gone up in thirty-foot flames.

I waited for Robo-Operator to say what number to press for more options, but I was met with frosty silence.

Then she came back on. "I didn't catch that. Let's try typing in your answer."

"Type in? Type in what? What's going on? Is this a quiz? Does she mean use my touchtone phone to type in something? If so, what are my options and..."

Robo-Operator: "You didn't respond."

Me: "I know, I know, but when did this become voice-activated? Couldn't you mention it's voice-activated?! Otherwise, I'm just some schlub talking to herself."

"I'll put you in touch with a Customer Service Representative," assured Robo-Operator.

Cool," I thought. "That's more like it."

So the line went silent. Silent. So, so silent. No Muzak, no self-aggrandizing marketing message... I stood there, phone pressed to my ear, grooving to absolutely nothing. "Have they cut me off? Am I in a queue? Should I hang up?"

Finally, another automated voice said, "All of our Customer Service Representatives are busy. Please hold for the next available Customer Service Representative."

So I waited. More silence. Waited. Waited. Waited...

Kittens grew into cats and raised more cats that wore little outfits for pictures on blogs and then got too old for photo ops and had to retire and...

Finally: "Emergency services," said a man's urgent voice. "Are you calling to report an explosion?"

"Oh, God, no!-- I'm so sorry!" I had visions of houses with thirty foot flames pouring out of them because I was selfishly blocking the way by trying to keep my heat from being turned off.

"The Customer Service offices aren't open on Saturday," the man told me. "Call back Monday."


But not to be deterred because, y'know, it was -2 degrees out and the thought of having an Alaskan cruise brought indoors, straight to me courtesy of the gas company, was currently unappealing... I figured I'd try to at least give them my meter reading. So I called the number again and spoke loudly and clearly to the Robo-Operator...

Who warms up quite quickly when you actually get to know her.

I asked for the meter reading option, which she assured me could be done 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.

They then asked for my 39 digit account number. I read that off to them. They asked for me to confirm my 39 digit account number. I confirmed it...

They asked for my meter reading. I gave them my meter reading...

They asked me to confirm the numbers of my meter reading. I confirmed the numbers of my meter reading and...

"We cannot accept your meter reading at this time. Please talk to a Customer Service Rep about your account or visit us on the web at"

I slammed down the phone.

Now, at this point, I think I went just insane enough that optimism shone through. I was determined to find a loophole here. So I thought, "Okay, if you people won't take my reading via phone, I will go to and give my reading there. That'll work right?"

I imagine you know what happened.

"Invalid meter reading," it said, after I spent twenty minutes entering passwords and account numbers and waiting for things to load.

Gas Company-- 1. User-friendly customer service-- zippo.

Now I will have to take half a day of work off this week to let the gasman into my house. Because they only make appointments in four-hour windows, Monday through Friday, from 8am to 4pm.

Yes, one half-a-day of my whopping ten days vacation a year, sacrificed to the Utility Gods.

The whole thing sorta gives me indigestion.

Hm. Maybe that's where they're getting the natural gas...

They must be making billions.

Update: I called just now and they are closed for Martin Luther King day.


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Office Pranks, Pens, and the Shrinkwrap Trap

We stared at the shrinkwrapping machine much the way cavemen might have looked at the first wheel. Fascinated... seeing the promise... but recognizing it as one more damn thing to make cave-life all that more complex.

Of course, it wasn't cavelife we were talking about. It was Cubicleland. My first real job out of college. Equally tribal, political and cut-throat-- only, caves have the benefit of full-walls.

Bummer for us, really.

The shrinkwrapping machine, we were told, was going to make shipping product all that much more professional.

What I personally felt would be more professional would be not having the same person shipping the product (namely me), as answering the main telephone... ordering the office supplies... user-testing the product... making all the product icon graphics... and writing the software manuals.

But I didn't mention that part.

So, one of my supervisors at the time-- we'll call him Jeff-- demonstrated how to use this machine with a sort of zest he'd apparently summoned up from somewhere deep-- possibly in the Big-Toe Region.

He showed how I should ensure each software manual was safely entombed in plastic, then add those manuals to a box that got the shrinkwrap treatment again.

It was a Brave New World in Product Packaging! And gosh, you could almost hear the music from 2010: A Space Odyssey playing...

Only we weren't allowed music in the office. Y'know, because it clashed with the overall atmosphere of deep depression and abiding wheel-spinning futility.

Well, interestingly, Jeff was also a bit of a practical joker. He was one of those quiet, placid pools of a person, where miles underneath, there lurked steamy magma just waiting to bubble up to the surface.

It didn't bubble up much-- again, probably due to the aforementioned depression/wheel-spinning futility-- but every now and then something would overcome him and-- gloop!-- volcanic fun.

Now as Technical Writer Office Manager Shipper Receptionist, one of my first tasks every morning was to check the company answering machine and distribute the messages that had come in overnight.

I was usually only roughly-caffeinated at this point, but that was okay because I'd worked out a system where I tried to spend as much of my morning on autopilot as possible.

The way I figured, the less I actually contemplated my daily routine, the less I would want to throw myself on the railroad tracks below the office building windows. I always assumed the office windows didn't open for a reason.

So, this one morning, I went to check the messages, pushed the button on the answering machine only to discover...

The answering machine wouldn't talk to me.

Pushed again?


Once more?


The light was on. Plug was in. Power was fine. Pushed the button and...?...


And that's when I discovered that at some point between the day before and this morning, someone had encased the answering machine in a thin, tight, virtually-invisible layer of shrinkwrap. I knew instantly who the culprit was. I also knew this shrinkwrap trap had been set for me.

Thus, began my plot for revenge.

It was as I made the day's first pot of coffee, I developed my scheme. It had to be subtle. Personal. Inoffensive yet unquestionably making the statement that in Cubeland, one Technical Writer Office Manager Shipper Receptionist Practical Joker reigned supreme.

I went into Jeff's office and took...

His favorite Cross pen.

For two years, this pen had been Jeff's trusty weapon. Where King Arthur had Excalibur, and Milton had his red Swingline stapler, Jeff had this slim, beautifully-weighted Cross pen.

He twiddled it in thought in meetings. He drafted memos and diagrammed ideas with it. He even used it to sign our paychecks. It was a constant companion to his workday. His own personal Yes-man in stylus form.

And ohhh, I shrinkwrapped that baby like nothing had ever been shrinkwrapped before! Shrinkwrapping perfection! The seams were almost undetectable to the unsuspecting naked eye.

Then I put it back on his desk.

Jeff came in not long after, and I waited to hear some exclamation emanating from his office...


Jeff went to get coffee just as I made a second pot. He said good morning to me with a smug smile, his beard bristling merrily as he considered his own office prank genius.

So we stood, two smug cyphers poised around the Coffeemate and artificial sweetener. We chatted. It was stilted as he waited for me to mention how some joker had shrunkwrapped the answering machine. But that confession would not be his. I was biding my time.

Disappointed, he headed back to his office, and I to my cube.

There I waited.... And waited.

Hours passed. Jeff stepped out to the men's room and I slipped into his office to see if he'd found my little trap.

But (gasp)-- impossible!-- there was the pen, and the shrinkwrap was still intact!

Of all days, Jeff had had no occasion to write. No occasion to push that button at the end of his slim Cross beauty and discover the Nib Blocker to beat all Nib Blockers.

I went about my day, but found myself unnaturally alert to any potential groan or laugh from our ranks-- which didn't happen much anyway under the grim Dickensian sort of office tone. Yet, the clock ticked on. I had not been rewarded.

Then, about one in the afternoon, my intercom buzzed. "Jenn, could you come in here for a minute?"

Ah, there it was, I thought. But he didn't seem to be laughing. Had I gone too far with the pen retaliation? Was my original attacker not, in fact, Jeff at all?...

Had I shrunkwrapped too rashly?

I entered his office on numb legs and he asked me to sit down. I tried to gauge his mood. Would I get lectured? Would I be fired? No, I learned, there was a new writing project to do. But I couldn't quite hear what he was saying, because there, in his unsuspecting hand was that perfectly shrinkwrapped pen.

I choked back a giggle and straightened my face. Must pay attention, I thought, as I forced myself to jot down project notes and be the efficient, serious employee that had somehow set me up as the office's Chief Cook and Bottlewasher.

But as the discussion progressed there was a technical aspect I wasn't quite visualizing. Putting my tech writer hat on, I asked a few detailed questions...

And that's when Jeff decided to pop the pen to draw me one of his helpful diagrams.

Push... no click.

Push... no click.


At this point I was struggling with internal laughter combustion. If I'd exploded in an earth-shaking rattle of laughter, office coffee and bodily fluids, I wouldn't have been a bit surprised.

And without moving his head... without so much as a flinch... Jeff's eyes lifted to me. His beard bristled, hinting at a smile somewhere under the fur.

"Niiiiiiiice," he said.

I wiped away a few tears and managed to thank him, somewhere between the now-releasing hysteria.

"How long?" he asked.

"Oh, God-- hours and hours and hours."

And the funny thing is, the shrinkwrapping machine and I came to terms with each other after that. Jeff and I, too. Every time I'd look at one or the other of them, I'd think about Cross pens that wouldn't write, and answering machines that went silent.

I guess it just goes to show, even in the deepest, darkest grimmest of caves-- sometimes a little glimmer of light can shine through.

If you have a moment and want to read more office pranks tales, you might enjoy these past posts:

12: The Cabbages Version of TV's 24

I'd gotten hooked on Fox's 24 via Netflix, that supreme video rental service that means the only time you actually have to get out of your comfy chair is to grab the next glorious red movie envelope from the mailslot.

Also, maybe, to pee. But mostly, just to pop a new film in.

I negate the whole restroom usage, see, as a part of the theme I'm working up to. We all know that Jack Bauer of 24 never has to use the facilities. Ever.

We live almost every minute of his day with him and this man never sleeps, grabs a bit of take-out, and never takes five and goes to the restroom. Not only does he heal from extreme torture from a Chinese prison within less than half an episode, but he must have steel kidneys and a concrete bladder. He should be studied. With these sort of regenerative powers, he could probably apply for a spot in the X-Men, or on Heroes...

Y'know, if the whole government agent gig falls through.

Anyway, I was wondering just how the day of an average person-- say, mine-- would go, if we applied the overall principles of 24. We'll call it 12, since it's probably going to be a pretty short-running series.

  • 5:30 am- Alarm goes off. Intrepid marketing agent, Jenn Flauer, slips silently into the kitchen and discovers-- gasp!-- the coffeemaker automatic perk button wasn't turned on!! Time is of the essence. Uses elaborate system of pullies and counterweights to push On button. Dramatic music plays as coffee perks.
  • 5:45 am: As coffee is consumed, Jenn Flauer frowns at computer screen and taps computer keys. What is this? is not accepting user login! Could it be anti-humor terrorists have infiltrated the sanctity of Humorbloggers' walls, raging a war against the humor cabal using the Humorbloggers' own secret weapons (whoopie cushions and rubber chickens)?
  • 5:50 am: Oopy, no. Heh, heh. My bad. Just had a typo in the login.
  • 6:00 am: More frowning and typing, critical for all super-secret marketing agent endeavors. Also, answering blog comments. "Thank... you... for... stopping.... by..." Could that contain a secret coded message? Viewers are unsure.
  • 6:10 am: Program goes entirely on hold for bathroom break as coffee kicks in. Plays exciting adventurous music in a loop.
  • 6:15 am: Back at the computer, more frowning and typing.
  • 6:20 am: Agent Jenn Flauer heads into the shower. As water is running, she believes she hears a strange sound coming from somewhere else in the house. Could it be the forces of Evil set upon destroying the Marketing Agent Way of Life and All That Is Peachy? Grabs towel and metal cherub lamp as weapon...
  • 6:30 am: Source of noise is furnace which was acting wonky before, but more so now that it has a cherub lamp rammed through it. Jenn Flauer picks up cell phone with urgency, "Hello, Heating Guys? Got a hot situation for you to take care of, ASAP! How soon can you get here?... Three weeks from now?... Perfect! Keep me posted."
  • 7:00 am: Showered and dressed in super-cool agent clothing and slimming backpack filled with grappling hooks and, um, pens.
  • 7:15 am: Speeding through commuter traffic, cursing at pedestrians dressed in black in pitch darkness determined to jaywalk across four-lane highways. Perhaps they are intentional obstacles put in place to track Jenn Flauer's ETA at the super-secret Marketing Agent offices?
  • 7:20 am: Jaywalker identified as hospital worker for local health care center. After significant eye-gouging and truth serum injections to obtain information, subject confesses she just thought it would be quicker to cut across the street away from the crosswalks.
  • 7:30 am: Jenn Bauer sweeps into Super Secret Marketing headquarters and starts frowning and typing at computer.
  • 8:30 am: Frowning and typing.
  • 9:30 am: Frowning and typing.
  • 10:30 am: Intermission music for restroom break
  • 10:40 am: Frowning and typing.
  • 11:30 am: Crisis! Should lunch be chicken noodle soup or chicken and dumplings soup? The fate of today's whole caloric intake rests in the balance!
  • 11:45 am: Decision processes requires two meetinga and three phone calls. Cheeseburger and fries consumed from local diner helps avert crisis at the last minute.
  • 12:30 pm: Frowning and typing.
  • 4:00 pm: Frowning and typing interrupted due to super-secret marketing emergency. Web content document comes in from client needing to be revised by close of business. One hour to go! There are typos, no formatting, and an excessive use of the word "innovative." What to do?
  • 4:05 pm: Action-oriented music plays in loop as bathroom break needed to cope with crisis.
  • 4:10 pm: Program resumes with frantic search for key to revision problem. Jenn Flauer turns to her trusty marketing assistant Joey.
Flauer: "The only thing that can save this project now is a thesaurus. I hear there's someone named Roget who might be able to help. Find Roget now."

Joey: "But I think he died in the early 20th century!"

Flauer: "Don't argue with me, Joey, just do it! And keep me posted."

  • 4:30 pm: Joey does an exhaustive search of the internet and discovers that while dead personally, a copy of Roget's thesaurus has been tracked down online. It only needs a super-secret user registration. Joey frowns and types, working to hack into the program. In seconds, Joey announces, "We're in!"
  • 4:35 pm: Jenn Flauer uses her extreme knowledge of technology to instantly understand the online software and find appropriate synonyms for "innovative." The words start pouring across the screen: "Inventive... ground-breaking... pioneering... original... new... novel.... modern... leading-edge." Jenn Flauer frowns at them and types them into at appropriate intervals throughout the client document.
  • 4:45 pm: The document is taking forever to save. It seems to be corrupted! Frowning. Typing. Will the document be sent to the client in time? "Joey, I need you!"
  • 4:50 pm: Joey hits the computer and does a "Save As." The document saves perfectly with a new name. Jenn Flauer is incredibly grateful. "Good job, Joey. I couldn't have done it without you." Frowning and typing sends the email with updated document off to the client just in time.
  • 5:00 pm: As darkness sets in, Jenn Flauer is commuting home. More jaywalkers step in front of Jenn Flauer's car. The audience knows, just because the previous violators were innocent of malintent doesn't mean these new ones aren't. Pull them aside for questioning, hanging them by handcuffs and giving them electric shocks in the local Panera.
  • 5:15 pm: Torture session reveals that not only are they innocent of plotting against the Marketing Agent but they are the long lost step-brother of Agent Flauer. Pick up dinner from Panera, to maximize time.
  • 5:30 pm: End credits.

Sooo.... think it has a future? :)

The Name Game: Product Marketing (Curios)ities

What is in a name? Well, some Shakespeare chap had quite a lot to say about it once. Plus, there are marketing folks who get the big bucks for making grown adults say words like "Snuggie" or "PediPaws," so there must be something to it.

Yet, ya ever buy a product, use it for forever, and then suddenly really think about it?

Like, half your life, you've been using this product every day and ZOT! In a lighting-bolt moment, you wonder: "Wha-? What the heck's that all about?"

Yeah, that's this post. Like the Infusium conditioner bottle...

Or In(fus)ium, rather.

What is with the gratuitous parenthesis? Have they been Hooked on Phonics as a part of some obscure reading literacy cult?...

Are we supposed to say that part of the word in more hushed tones? The way our grandmothers would whisper words like "female problems" or "cancer"?

This has to be the only product on the market who hopes you'll not only buy their product, but also diagram it in a sentence.

I mean, I'm a grammar nerd, so I'm totally down with that. But still-- the shower isn't really the place for clear thought on prepositional phrases and simple predicates...

No chalkboard, you see.

Note the wholly unnecessary word at the top of the bottle: (moistur)ologie. The, er... French study of moisture. Is that, like, a class you can take at the Barbizon Beauty Academy or something? (Moistur)ologie 200? You take it right after Ear(comb)ing Physiques 101 and (Mullet)ectomie 130.

Then I started questioning a product that's been around longer than most of our grandparents...

Head & Shoulders. We all know it, it's a household name. But isn't the name just a tad overly-ambitious? I mean, what on earth went on in that first marketing brainstorming session?

I see them all sitting around the table: "So what shall we call this new dandruff shampoo?"

"Well, it's for the head," one enterprising marketing exec would say. (We'll call him Adman A.)

And everybody nods at the wisdom of this statement. "For the head... yes, yes, excellent..."

Adman B: "But all shampoos are for the head!"

A moment of depression settles over the room.

Adman A: "Ah, but ours is so powerful it will encompass the whole, er, headal-neckal-shoulderial region!"

Adman B: "How's it do that?"

Adman A: "Well... er... some people have longer hair than others. Plus, we want to let everyone know how much better it is than the competition. We'll call it... Head & Shoulders!"

After that, they went to work on the athlete's foot cream, "Toe & Ankle," the eyedrops product, "Retina & Eyelash" and the nosespray, "Septum & Sinus."

Those last three products really didn't take off as well as they were hoping.

Of course, it's also highly possible the name was intended to be a subtle indicator to men with hairy backs that by using this product, they can have smooth, silky and flake-free backhair.

Unfortunately, I have not been blessed with back hair, so I realize I'm only using 50% of this product's full potential.

Head & Shoulders then got me thinking about our local restaurant chain, Eat 'n Park. At first, when I moved to Western PA, and I'd hear people talking about this, I thought they were saying "Eaton Park."

Sounded classy. Like some upscale housing development with lawn art restrictions.

But it turned out, Eat 'n Park's a family restaurant, sort of like Kings or Denny's. So you go there and first you eat and... then you park?

Now me, personally, I prefer to park, then eat. Saves on gas. Unless we're talking the 50s phrase "parking," meaning "making out in the car.:

Which, now I think about it, could explain some of Eat 'N Park's continued popularity. In the 1950s, Lover's Lane might have seen a serious drop-off in attendance once word of a make-out restaurant got around.

Last, I just wanted to share with you all why I am not fit for high society...

See these? I bought these. Never, ever put me in charge of choosing wines, or whatever has cheerful packaging will win out.

I mean, I'm in marketing myself. I know better. But someone could pretty much create a new vintage called Chateau de Arsenic 2009 and if it were in a fun bottle, I'd be looking at it in the store, "Ah, adorable! This must make it a fine vintage worthy of consumption!"

Actually, these weren't too bad. Only, as proven, I know absolutely nothing about wines. Pepto-pink packaging and cartoon sheep are enough to sway me.

"Yes, Madame, we have an excellent Dom Perignon available today..."

"Ah, mais non, Monsieur. Not por moi. Instead, I sink I shall have... zat pink one."

Do you folks know any product names that make you say, "Huh?"

Does anyone else get caught up in the moment of good-lookin' packaging? I'd enjoy chatting about it in a moment of pleasant (humour)ologie and (camarad)erie.

Check what I'm up to at Humorbloggers

What's Your Grocery Shopping Style?

The supermarket-- the microcosm of today's humanity!

Step inside its walls and you discover a strange place of wonder and Wonderbread... Of Press-n-Seal and personality... Of power strips and power trips!

The more we examine the techniques of our fellow shoppers, the more we discover that we are all, perhaps, not quite as unique as we may think. So look below and you may recognize some of these most common Grocery Shopping styles from your own supermarket adventures.

Or-- you just might discover that you yourself are one of the Grocery Shopping Personalities listed below!
  • The Speed Demon- Busy and loathing actual interactivity with other humans, this shopper can go from 0 to 60 in two seconds from the store entrance. This shopper knows what he/she wants, where it is, and the grocery store serves as one giant obstacle course before the checkered flag goes down and they race over the Finish Line. The Speed Demon is that blur the other shoppers see, and that gust of wind that blows the produce bags and makes the scales teeter. The Speed Demon is an irritation to members of some of the other shopper categories below, who deem it bad etiquette to cause sonic booms around the egg cartons.
  • The Social Butterfly- From the moment this person steps through the automatic doors, it becomes a two-hour episode of "This Is Your Life." Yes, everyone they've ever met seems to already be there, waiting to greet them-- so it becomes less a case of grocery shopping, and more like a class reunion. Why, Social Butterflies don't even have time to squeeze the tomatoes before someone is calling their name and causing them to forget all about Jersey Homegrowns. Hugs and kisses ensue. First grade teachers, old neighbors, aunties, plumbers and college sweetheart's cousin's former roommates can be found within the aisles to prompt a nice sprawling catch-up session. But be warned-- don't get tangled up in their elaborate tapestry of reminiscence and askew shopping carts-- you may never make it out of the store yourself!
  • The Codependent Caller- This person has been sent to the grocery store by another friend or family member, and has absolutely no idea why he's/she's there. This shopping type is unable to take two steps down any aisle without grabbing their trusty cell phone and ringing for support. You can recognize them by the philosophical questions they ask. "No Pulp? Some Pulp? Or Xtreme Pulp?" So absorbed are Codependent Callers in getting the precise item they'd been sent for, they generate an actual Force Field Bubble which blocks out all outside stimulus but the groceries and the person on the other end of the line. But beware, Codependent Callers come out in full-force during the Christmas holiday season. Encounter one of these well-meaning souls along with a Social Butterfly, and expect serious traffic jams in frozen foods. The bubble will prevent them from ever hearing you say, "Excuse me..."
  • The Zen Shopper- This person is at One with the Universe and therefore has no special agenda, or plans for their day-- ever. This means if they need to examine every single carrot in that bag of baby carrots, or weigh the yin-yang benefits of soup contents, they can do it. They might want some fruit, or a birthday cake, or corned beef hash, or lightbulbs, but they really aren't sure-- they figure they'll know it when they see it. They love life, have all the time in the world, and view grocery shopping as just another calm, fascinating, fancy-free moment in this beautiful world. The trouble with Zen shoppers is, because the universe knows no bounds to them, they also tend to spread out. The Zen shopper is most likely to determine the ideal time to remove all outerwear... is in the door way. Watch out for unexpectedly outstretched arms in mid-coat-removal.
  • The Survivalist- This person treats grocery shopping as an extension of a nuclear bomb training drill. At the first sign of snow, the year 2000 problem or strained relations with Russia, this person heads to the grocery store to stock up on everything from toilet paper, bread and milk to batteries, generators and tinfoil. You can recognize them because they're the ones dragging two shopping carts filled to the rim with canned goods and other items with no real expiration date. While they can be found frequenting bulk purchase stores like Sam's Club, they occasionally hit regular supermarkets for variety, as well as for rolls of toilet paper smaller than grain silos.
  • The Minimalist- In contrast to the Survivalist, the Minimalist only picks up the very things that will be used for that day-- and this almost always involves fresh vegetables and something of the soy and or goat-by-product family. If asked, they will explain to you how much better it is to have everything fresh every day, and will be happy to share with you recipes for healthy eating. They will come away with one small canvas reusable grocery bag of items-- yet still somehow spend about as much money as the Survivalist.
  • The Shepherd- Unable to find a sitter for the children, the Old Woman Who Lives in the Shoe is forced to strap them all in the mini-van and heads to the store. Tired and trying desperately to tune out their cries long enough to find the right coupon in her Advanced Portable Coupon Distribution System, she finds herself spending 80% of her time trying to round up the anklebiters. Eventually, she is forced to abandon her endeavor with a proclamation: "Okay, that's it! Forget it! Everyone, stop what you're doing and headto the mini-van. We're all going back to the shoe!"
  • The Invisible Man- You never actually see him because his groceries... are delivered. He pays more to avoid every one of the groups above-- and he laughs... laughs... OH how he laughs!
What kind of grocery shopper are you? Or is there a shopper type missing from this list you'd like to include? Go ahead and share it!

Me, mostly I am the Speed Demon, though I have had my Zen Shopping moments on days off.


Heat Surge Inspires Rogue Amish, Plus Vince Moonlights from ShamWow

Fans of the absurd... the surprising... the "what the holy heck fer cryin' out loud is that about?"... would do well to take note of the recent wave of commercials hitting television this new year.

It's a Wonderland of Weirdness for one low price!... (Plus enough shipping and handling charges to pay for college tuition.)

Let's start with my personal favorite: the Heat Surge Fireplace, specially hand-crafted by our good neighbors, the trustworthy Amish...

The Heat Surge electric fireplace.




But look!-- beautiful Amish-built frames in your choice of wood tones, surrounding a gorgeous, cost-efficient, warming electric fire!

"How do the Amish do it?" the commercial asks us excitedly. "They're not telling!"

Well, of course they're not telling... What with the main selling point of the Amish lifestyle being that whole "no technology, no electricity" sort of thing.

Either, we've got some unique sect of Rogue Amish out there-- driving around in shiny Porsches, enjoying their flatscreen TVs and learning the electronics trade in between barn-raisings...


They're in charge of fireplace wooden frame-making and have absolutely nothing to do with the assembly of the Heat Surge. Assembly, I might add, going on in the background of this rather startling commercial.

I can just see it now: "Do you want us to put something in this box?" asks Jacob Farmer, Amish Fine Craftsman, brushing off the sawdust from his latest creation. "We can do you up some nice drawers for it? Or a good place to store your potatoes?"

"No, no. Just the frame is fine. Here's your $3."

But as the commercial continued, I was educated with one more surprising fact about this tried-and-true society-- the unexpected racial diversity that seems to have crept into Amish culture!

"Is that Amish Craftsman... black?"

Well, I became distracted from that puzzlement, because the Heat Surge commercial was followed quickly by an ad for "the Snuggie." It's the latest innovation in Personal Warmth Technology!

Okay, it's a blanket with arms... Or a long, fleecy hospital gown, depending on how you think of it... Or, well, something nice to wear to your next Druidic Henge Raising.

Yes, for those nights where you're up reading with your bare arms out over the covers-- there's no need to deal with the slipping and sliding of willful traditional blankets. Now there's a solution for that evening chill. Just slip your arms through the arms of the Snuggie, and say goodbye to the cold of Old Man Winter!

Or just wear something with sleeves to bed.

I also noticed Vince of ShamWow! fame seems to have turned from his ShamWow! roots and is now advertising for something called "SlapChop." Fans of Vince can rest-assured he is still using his patented line, "Now, we can't do this all day," to show us the urgency of ordering a product that will be run 50 times a day on stations across the country for the next six months.

But he seems a quieter, calmer Vince somehow. Less like squinky-eyed Dick Tracy character, and more the reassuring purveyor of Minced Veg Necessity.

I feel he's hiding a secret sorrow.

Perhaps on the heels of a painful break-up with "Flo," the perky Progressive Insurance sales girl, Vince has had to rethink his life. Is hocking super-absorbent shammy cloths made in Germany enough, without someone to soak up those spills with?

Is there any point to dicing your own salsa if there's no one to share the tortilla chips?

What if no one out there will ever really "love his nuts"?

Yes, Flo is off on a tropical vacation with the Dyson Vacuum spokesman. One of those whirlwind romances she insists won't lose suction, but we all know it will eventually.

While Vince-- alas, poor Vince!-- he must use the ShamWows! to soak up his copious tears. It's lucky they're so gosh-darned absorbent. (sniff!)

Hang in there, Vince. We're pullin' for ya!


Tips for Looking Cool While on Dial-up in 2009

It takes a special sort of someone to still be on dial-up in 2009. Someone who charts their own course... Sets their own pace... Bravely eschews the fads and, um...

...Just doesn't get much time off work to have something better installed.

Okay, yes: I'm talking about me. I admit it-- I am still on dial-up here at home. (Hangs head, shuffles feet.)

On the plus side, see, my house is over 100 years old. So, with computer access technology that's slightly newer than Atari Pong, I'd say it evens out.

I mean, even on dial-up, the Victorians would totally have loved the computer. They'd be... oh... reading Charles Dickens e-books... And ordering rolls of busy floral wallpaper.

And, hey, if their online order took a half hour to process?

No big! Remember, these people spent two days driving twenty miles down the road. They could spend a day churning butter. A half hour? T'is to laugh!

Still, being on dial-up in a high-speed connectivity world sometimes requires special tactics...

Coping mechanisms designed to help you look up-to-speed, when in fact, you're being passed on the internet highway by energetically Web-surfing turtles.

So for you-- you five other people out there on the Internets on dial-up, making with the Googles-- I give you my Top Tips for Feeling Good About Your Dial-up Connection and Still Looking Cool in 2009:

  • Think of your dial-up as a great opportunity for multi-tasking. For instance, click on a page to load. Now go make a seven course meal for 20 people. Come back. Re-connect because it stalled out in the middle due to inactivity. Set the table, greet your guests, serve three of the courses, then check in again. With dial-up , it's not that you're taking longer to do one thing-- it's that you're getting to do MORE things at once. Share that point with the ungrateful naysayers at your party. (Give those guests the dinner rolls that fell on the floor and got lightly licked by the dog.)
  • Did you really want to see those 24 MB photo files of your aunt's cats in drag? Of course you didn't. With a high speed connection, you'd have to endure every last blurry, furry, incomprehensible shot. But with dial-up? All you have to do is make an educated guess of what's probably in the pictures. Be vague. "Mr. Fluffy is so funny, isn't he? LOL." The Aunt is happy... You don't have to spend time wondering if that's a tail or part of a new feather boa... And all is right with the world.
  • Remember all that time you'd otherwise be just wasting on YouTube. Yep, with dial-up, temptation to check out the original 80s video of "Somebody's Watching Me" by Rockwell, or that Bugs Bunny cartoon where Daffy Duck has his beak blown off twelve times, or the latest Angry Kid claymation-- well, it's virtually whisked away. Angry Kid would be Angry Senior Citizen by the time you'd get things buffered on dial-up. And you know this. So perhaps you decide to go outside and actually- gasp!-- meet people. Dial-up might just make you a real Casanova, if you work it right. Make sure you use the socialization defense when friends want you to see this new cool video. Remember-- you are too busy living life for such silliness!
  • Save the money that you would otherwise spend on Internet shopping. If it takes you an hour to order it, you're less likely to buy it, right? And did you really need that ionic hamster wheel, anyway? Or that portable swiss cheese de-holer? Or that Ethnically-Diverse Barbie with special United Nations Ombudsman Action? No! We're in tough economic times, people! It is fiscally wise to remain far, far away from that coveted bulk collection of hand-tinted turkey buzzard etchings. All these high speed people will be in the poor house surrounded by their QVC diamonettes, while you, Dial-Up Diva are counting your dough! Consider yourself savvy.
  • Think of the great exercise you're getting with all the running back and forth to the computer. You're on-the-go, you're working off calories. You clock ten miles a day just running from floor to floor, checking to see if the page has finally loaded. So you, you can enjoy that ice cream sundae with hot fudge those fatty-fats on high speed shouldn't have. You're slim and in the game.

I hope you, five other remaining people on dial-up who got here via the Googles, that you've found these points above a helpful way of reinforcing your decision to remain on dial-up. And remember, dial-up still lets you do a lot of worthwhile things on the Internet, all you have to do is remain


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Driving Lessons in the Chevy Titanic

Take one 16-year-old. Tuck her behind the wheel of a car roughly the size of the Titanic, and about as nimble. Toss in a middle-aged lady with perfectionist tendencies and a nervous condition. Now put them all on the jam-packed streets of North-Central New Jersey, and send the kid off on her first driving lesson.

I was that sixteen-year-old. And the middle-aged perfectionist, jumpy as a chilled Chihuahua?

My mother.

Yep. Welcome to Disaster, population-- two.

The car had been my grandpa's-- an early 80s steel Chevy Caprice Classic luxury car in two-tone blue. Its front seat was the relative size of a La-z-Boy sectional sofa. The back seat was so far away, you needed to dial a long distance area code, just to chat with anybody back there.

The hood? Planes would mistakenly try to fly in and land if the hazard lights were on.

Mom insisted this car would be better for lessons than Dad's zippy little Honda Civic because here, she could reach the gas pedal and the brake "if there were problems." Mom was anticipating problems. And that got me nervous.

Then she had me drive to the only somewhat open area our city had to offer. The parking lot of Two Guys Department Store.

Two Guys went out of business not long after this-- nothing to do with my driving, I assure you. But Mom felt the fact that practically no one went there anymore, would assure the safety of the locals, as well as ourselves.

In other words, this was the place I could do the least damage. Her confidence in me was inspiring.

So, in an effort to get my driving mojo going, I popped some tunes into the cassette player-- Chicago's Greatest Hits, as I recall (it just didn't get cooler than "29 or 6 to 4"!... )

(I know, just go with me on this, okay?)

And I took turn after turn around the ol' parking lot.

This went well for a while. I didn't run up over any concrete medians...

I didn't hit any pedestrians exiting Two Guys...

I didn't even wipe out any of the confused seagulls in the parking lot. I mean, we were hours from the shore-- those birds clearly had enough problems of their own without getting flattened by a giant living room on wheels.

And that's when Mom felt it was time for me to take to the Real Streets.

What Real Streets have that parking lots do not, I learned, were stop signs.

And while I did well-grasp the concept of the stop sign and how to approach them, with every stop, my mother aged just a little bit more.

It was that question of confidence again, and what with the Not Having Any. So about 300 yards away from any stop sign, and me going a whopping 15 miles an hour, my dear mother would turn pale and white-knuckled...

And start with the screaming.

"Stop, stop, stop, stop stop stop STOOOPPPPPPP!"

"I see it, I see it, I'm stopping-- fer Pete's sake, Mom!" I'd turn a scowling, blanched face on her.

"Well, I didn't know you saw it! How would I know you saw it?"

This would go on for about an hour or so, until she'd tell me to drive home and-- heart racing, weak-kneed and hands now trembling-- I'd park safely in the driveway and practically fall out of the car in my effort to get away from it.

Grateful to be free of gear shifts and steering wheels and multi-ton death traps.

And stop signs.

Especially stop signs. Even the sight of red made me twitch a little.

Well, needless to say, my desire to drive at all was lessened considerably after just a few lessons. It was probably some kind of Pavlovian response.

See, while Pavlov's dog heard a bell, thought "food," and would drool-- I'd take one look at that blue luxury liner out front, picture icebergs piercing it through, leaving my dad a childless widower... and I'd feel my hands start to sweat.

My last lesson with Mom, thus, became my last lesson for a good reason. This was where that iceberg hit.

We decided to go a more residential route-- one with winding turns to give me some practice. And by this time, I was fully terrified of making any mistakes. I mean, this road had stop signs, yield signs, curves, curbs, bridges...

And my mother--- sitting wide-eyed, stiff-as-a-board and clutching the armrest in case of doom, from the very moment we pulled away the house.

Well, things started out all right. I was, however, afraid to accelerate beyond 15 miles per hour because I felt that at a crazy 20 or 25, I was bound to screw up somehow... And Mom would be shrieking, putting on her flotation device and readying the life boats.

Then I glanced in my rearview and noticed the giant stream of cars behind us.

I was holding everyone up.

"I'm holding everyone up," I said. And, remember, this was New Jersey. Not exactly The Land of Patience and Harmony. So folks were starting to lay on the horn to express a certain amount of displeasure at my keeping them from hot, fresh bagels and bowling and White Castle hamburgers.

So my mother got the bright idea that they'd be a lot more understanding if they just had a better bead on the situation.

In other words, Mom started turning around and mouthing dramatically at them, "She's a student driver, she's a student driver."

Now, I don't exactly know how many of the folks could lip-read, but Mom didn't need to lip-read herself to see just how they felt about student drivers doing 15 miles per hour and keeping them from their Nathan's Franks.

"He just gave me the finger!" she exclaimed with a shocked gasp.

So she went searching in the glovebox for a piece of paper and a pen to write "She's a Student Driver" on it and put it in the window.

She never got the chance.

By this point, I was such a nervous wreck and so flustered from the horns honking, that at a curve where I mean to brake--

I hit the gas.

Up, up, up an embankment we went, right into the middle of someone's lovely green yard.

Finally, my mother had something truly legit to scream about. "Stop, stop, STOP, ohmigod, ohmigod STOP!!" And with that, she wrenched the wheel from me and tamped down hard on my foot as it was going for the brake.

Let's just say we made a serious impression in that person's lawn.

Mom made me drive home that day, but it was very silent in the car. No "25 or 6 to 4"... No "Make Me Smile..." And definitely, definitely not "Feeling Stronger Every Day."

I got out of that driver's seat and I didn't get back in it again until well after college, when I took lessons from AAA. My teacher was surprisingly a very calm woman, who had a sweet disposition and nerves of steel.

It took me three lessons to work out my Pavlovian reaction to stop signs. But I almost never break out in a sweat while driving these days...

Yup-- King of the world, Ma!

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What's Sprouting Up at Cabbages?

Meme-ish fun, lovely shiny awards, and any other newsworthy goodness from the desk of Old King Cole Slaw... See what's the latest!...

9/16/11- Cosmic news!-- I have just published my first book. It's a humorous science fiction tale called There Goes the Galaxy. Folks who enjoy the humor and tone of Cabbages are likely to enjoy this novel. It's available on Amazon in print an ebook versions, and in the UK in ebook only right now. To find out what it's about, check out my book website at: 

1/19/11- Some happy news on the writing front! A post originally published here at Of Cabbages and Kings, called "Lewis Carroll Tests Out Jabberwocky" has been included in the latest edition of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America magazine, The Knight Letter. Being the Alice in Wonderland fan I have been since childhood, I'm still mentally recovering from the delight and honor of this.

10/15/10- Well, I wrapped up the thoroughly-scrubbed draft of my humorous space-adventure novel last evening. Just need to integrate some hand-written changes, and I'll be ready to start showing some folks. Woot! 

12/11/09- I received the kindest doodle for my birthday last week from TJ of A Look in a Creative Mind...

And creative, she is! With it went this poem...

Lady Jenn was about to go on a wordy trip
That would be filled with adventure, stories and laughter.
With a matching purse and hat and also a cape slung around her back,
she walked towards the door and she knew that she could write another folklore.

Before she could walk away, she was held back by good friend and King Cabbage.
He was frantically jumping around when he told her this little message:
Happy Happy Birthday My Dear Jenn.
May your life be filled with lots of Love, Luck and Zen!

I've never had anyone write me a poem before-- or do watercolor art for me, for that matter! So thank you again, TJ! You've done Old King Cole Slaw and me proud. :)

6/21/09- A Cabbages post, "Of Bullets and Bad Comma: A Tale of Grammar Noir" won Second Place in the April/May 2009 Humorpress writing contest! I think Old King Cole Slaw and I are still in shock. You can read all the winning stories here.

5/11/09- Holy BAFTAs, Batman! Two nice people gave awards to Cabbages this weekend...
The first is the very down-to-earth and funny Hammy of The Blah-Blahs and the Yada Yadas, with the "Right Scrap Award." The info on the award is that it's "bestowed upon a fellow blogger whose blog’s content or design is, in the giver’s opinion, brilliant. And when accepting this auspicious award, you must write a post bragging about it, including the name of the misguided soul who thinks you deserve such acclaim, and link back to the said person so everyone knows she/he is real. "

So, I'm including that here in honor of Hammy because he is not only real, but he's pleasantly delusional and reads my blog. I am also, according to the rules of the award, to share 10 honest facts about myself with you. I may do that in a future post, if I can fabricate 10 honest facts, and if so, I'll link to it from here.
The second kind person who gave an award to Cabbages was Etta Rose, of Sanity on Edge with the "2009 Friendly Blogger Award." It's funny how she has noticed how, in 2009, my plan has been to be friendly. Where in 2010, I've been thinking of trying out "Moody" and then 2011, I thought perhaps I'd go for "Sleepy and a Bit Confused." What do you think? Anyway, thank you to Etta Rose for thinking of me and my little home here in the Cabbage Patch.

4/19/09- I would like to thank the Academy... er... okay, Babs Beetle... for the "Zombie Chicken Award." I realize as a result of this award, that I have been very diligent about planning human-based anti-zombie techniques, but extremely negligent in planning for the possibility of poultry-based zombie plague. Which has actually given me an idea for Wednesday's post. Now the rules of this award are as follows:

“The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken - excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all…”

As you all know, I try not to hit my fellow bloggers up with having to address these awards, as most of my blogging buds have said they don't care for them. So I will brave the wrath of the zombie chicken myself. If you don't hear from me Wednesday, well... You'll know what happened.

I hope you'll think of me whenever you see a bucket of extra-crispy.


3/27/09- Do you know what goes well with Cabbage? Lemonade! (Just go with me on this, 'kay-- I'm working up to a theme here). And Cabbages would like to thank Skye of Weekly Injection of Chuckles for the "Lemonade Award." The award is apparently for blogs that show "great attitude or gratitude." It's true that while I'm sometimes grumpy, Old King Cole Slaw has a really upbeat disposition. It's hard to keep a good veg down, I guess. Thanks, Skye!

3/22/09- Cabbages received one of the really nicest awards from Margo over at Life in the Short Lane. It's one of those that just makes me feel extremely grateful and, well, sappy.

It's the "Beautiful Heart" award, for "bloggers who put their hearts, mind and soul into their blogs and give us a glimpse into their worlds. They are positive and may not realize it, but are leading by example. They inspire with their words, educate and inform. They entertain and uplift with their humor. They are welcoming, helpful and friendly and no one is a stranger, whether you’ve commented once or a million times. They are ever so wise and giving. Most of all, they have Beautiful Hearts."

Sniff... (dabbing at eyes with tissue) it's like the Hallmark channel but without Meredith Baxter Birney and Patty Duke. So... you know... good.

3/13/09- Did you know Of Cabbages and Kings now is at its very own URL? Yup, the site is now located at -- So any of you nice people who are linking to Cabbages, if you could kindly update your links, Old King Cole Slaw and I would be really thankful.


3/09/09- Of Cabbages and Kings celebrated it's one year bloggiversary! Woo-hoo! Cake, nachos, and birthday punch for everyone!!

(Hmm... maybe that punch and nachos wasn't such a good combination idea... Queasy cabbage...)


3/03/09- Looks like EttaRose of SanityonEdge is suiting up Cabbages with a new pair of jeans with this kind Sisterhood Award. And best of all, it was a 100% guilt-free, meme free award.

Y'know, I hope these are the kind of Traveling Pants that fit just anybody... I've been hitting the Rosemary and Olive Oil Triscuits a bit heavy recently.

Thanks, EttaRose!


2/27/09- Cabbages received a wonderful, unexpected write-up article on the blog. Blogger Marvel Goose takes unique look at what possesses a gal who loves antiques and Victoriana to decide to give the ol' funny bone a workout by writing a humor blog. You can check it out here, iffn you're interested.

2/27/09- Faith of the Quarter Life Crisis blog kindly awarded Cabbages the "Love Ya" award.

Many thank yous, Faith! You're a good egg, and it's terrific to be appreciated


1/02/09- Ah, sweetie-dahlings, DrowseyMonkey has started the New Year by awarding little ol' Cabbages this to-die-for "Your Blog is Fabulous" award. And when I think "fabulous" I just want to put on my LeCroix couture, do lunch, have a Stoli and wonder about all the people who aren't as fortunate as I am to have a LeCroix outfit and this fabulous award.

It also makes me feel like PR-ing something.

Thank you, Drowsey, sweetie-dahling, for this lovely award. (For those confused, many apologies! Check out "Absolutely Fabulous" on BBCAmerica. It will all come clear. :)

12/29/08- Meg from Prefers Her Fantasy Life-- while filled with hoppy cheer-- (read: her favorite brewski in a cool new Beatles glass Santa brought her)-- she awarded Cabbages this excellent "Blog Love" award.

And just look at that fine vintage typewriter! Why, that's the kind of nifty typewriter a writer should have, dontchathink? Y'know, fer lookin' all legit and serious about grammaricatin' 'n' stuff.

I promise, Peg, to grammaricate on it in your honor.


12/08/08- I'd like to thank my blogging friend Olga the Traveling Bra for making the nifty-cool graphic of me in the Santa hat, which I've now added to my profile here, on my other blog, and on Twitter. You know, Olga is extremely talented, and I just don't know how she does it! I mean, she blogs, she designs graphics and she doesn't even have any fingers. It's really impressive!

9/23/08- My friend, the beloved Crotchety Old Man, has kindly bestowed upon Cabbages the "Brainy Blog!" Award this week. I don't think this cabbagehead necessarily lives up to this high honor... I mean, remember, I'm the person who went out accidentally wearing two entirely different shoes once. And when faced with Hemingway in my writing class, I made the grand faux pas of telling my professor I'd rather read Gregory McDonald's Fletch books. But dear Crotchety is generous, as well as sweetly delusional. And that's what we, his readers, love about him. Thank you, Crotchety!


8/18/08- So, like, this super-cool dude, Crotchety Old Man, has, like, totally given me this awesome "BFF"-- Blogging Friends Forever-- award? Which is mega-bitchin' because, like, it looks just like the sorta credit card I used when I bought my Juicy Coiture hoodie and that pink purse so I could carry my teacup poodle Rocko around? So, like, ohmigod, now we're gonna have to buy matching bling with our names on them or something... I haven't cried this much, but you know, happy crying, since, like, Cabbages got offered its own fragrance and it SO smells hotter than Paris Hilton's.

8/14/08- UnfinishedRamblings kindly bestowed upon Cabbages the "Brillante" award. You can see it here looking very shiny and opalescent, kinda like the cool faceted crystal that used to hang from my rear-view mirror in my car, which eventually I had to take down because I was afraid it would use the sun to set my car's upholstery on fire. I miss that crystal. But now I have this much safer award. Thank you! Please forgive if like the "Kick-Ass Blogger Award" I don't forward it on. I've actually had my fellow bloggers thank me for the LACK of award, given this busy Awards Season. So I want to give everyone a little respite.

08/11/08- Cabbages received the "Kick-Ass Blogger Award" from both Jay of TheDeppEffect, and Sebastyne of I had no idea it was such common knowledge that I had attempted TaeBo once, spraining the aforementioned body part in a tragic Roundhouse Kick Accident that left me incapacitated and forced to relearn things like sitting, and gin rummy. I appreciate Jay's and Sebastyne's kind support over what ended up being a challenging, emotional, and somewhat purplish time for me.

Now I know this would normally be the part of the shebang where I should pass these awards on to five others. But I'm a little afraid to risk it at this point-- I mean, most of the bloggers I know are still smothered under Arte y Pico awards. So I will merely let it end here with a huge, huge thank you all for reading and for thinking of me. To be honest, just having folks who seem to enjoy reading the blog is more award than I could ever wish for.

Now... where did I put my foam chair donut?


Check out the review of Cabbages, entitled "Of Cabbages and Kings and Other Funny Things." Click here. Thanks so much to Mary Ward for such a thoughtful review.