Who You Gonna Call? Dustbusters!

Are you troubled by strange creatures that cling to your slippers at night?

Do you experience feelings of dread in the basement or attic, or that one corner by the central air vent?

Have you or your family ever been attacked by a hairball, dirt demon or dust bunny?

If the answer is “yes,” then don’t wait another minute. Pick up the phone and call the professionals... Dustbusters.

Our courteous and efficient staff is on call 24 hours a day to serve all your particulate elimination needs...

We are ready to reprieve you.

Yesterday I found myself tackling a full-torso, free-roaming fibrous accumulation behind the bed. I have no idea how long it had been lurking there, plotting, growing, occasionally sending off sections of itself-- we call 'em "scouts" in the trade-- to check out the potential for full-fledged domestic takeover.

With the scouts typically sucked up and contained fairly quickly, the Class 2 dirt demon had found its information lacking. Its minions never to return. Its nefarious plot temporarily delayed.

That did not prevent it from a full-baseboard, sub-bedframe haunting.

The equipment for the work is pretty straight-forward. A Shop-Vac handheld 350X with a particle inhalation attachment. I call it the Slurper. I shot out only about a half-power oxy-vac ray and, for all its bluster, the dirt demon didn't stand a chance.

Oh, sure, it cursed my name and made idle threats to return again, I hadn't seen the last of it, and blah, blah, blah. But, they all do, don't they? It's a part of the genre. I sometimes wish they'd put a little more originality into the patter. Just to mix things up a little.

Of course, there are also the Class 5 animorphics, which are fun. They get particularly tricky if you have pets. What they like to do is collect in common areas-- say under a dining chair, in a corner, on a windowsill. And then they try to impersonate your beloved dog or cat.

Yep, some of these Class 5 animorphics have gone years pretending to be your dear Mr. Muggles or Captain Meowsers. The most cunning of them have even been known to get the homeowner to take 'em for a walk... buy them little outfits... blog for them.

It's sometimes even hard to convince the homeowner that it isn't Petey Pupperkins there, but his dusty doppleganger. The ower puts up a fight. Then you slurp up the fake Petey leaving nothing behind but a couple old buttons and a paperclip, and they have to admit they might have been mistaken.

The sense of betrayal is what gets 'em.

We'll find ol' Pupperkins down in the basement, tied up with bits of sewing thread and lost twist ties, though, and the clients' relief is all worth it. That's when I ask them to write me a check.

Anyway, I have to go. I've got to tag and bag that dust demon and a couple of animorphics. I don't like to leave 'em together too long before they start to mass and mobilize.

This house is clean.


What can Dustbusters do for your particulate elimation needs? Contact us today!


Bumpits? Bump Its? Bum Pits?

"I've always wanted my head to look like an egg a chicken had trouble laying," said my friend Josette, thoughtfully, "but I'm just not sure how to get the look."

"I've always wanted to have the kind of hair that a 60s blue alien female would wear in a Star Trek episode, so I'll be swept off for four minutes of phaser-love with that hottie, Captain James T. Kirk," said my friend Scoobie.

"I want nothing more in life than to look like Sarah Palin," I announced.

Scoobie and Josette turned to me, faces drained of color.

"What?" I asked. "What?!"

Well, now there's Bumpits, the plastic doo-dad to turn your tresses into topography!

"Go from flat to fabulous, no matter what style you're bumpin'!"

Yes, now don't just bump that style-- turn it into a full-fledged collision with Easter Island archaeology!

Naturally, Josette, Scoobie and I were very excited about the prospects! But then the trepidation set in.

"I don't think I can wear a product called 'Bum Pits,'" murmured Josette, frowning. "It sounds kinda... lewd... for a plastic hair accessory, don't you think?"

"And how are Vince or Billy Mays going to hawk this?" considered Scoobie, turning the product over in her hands. "I wonder if Vince's prostitute problems and subsequent arrest resulted from a misunderstanding of the word 'Bumpits'?"

Josette and I agreed that that could possibly have been the case.

In fact, the very thought took some of the glamor away from the chance to have our hair look like a lead character in Aliens that wasn't actually Sigourney Weaver...

I mean, every gal likes to be treated like a queen, but having to confess that the smoldering E.T. looks we were sportin' were a result of something called 'Bum Pits,' well, we weren't sure we could do it.

So, alas... Scoobie's dreams of romantic interludes with Mr. Shatner, while he sings Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, have blasted off.

And Josette may never get that Chick-or-the-Egg look she'd been clucking about.

And for now, Sarah Palin can rest easy-- there will be no competition from Yours Truly in the style department.

But we'll survive. Anyway, I hear next season hair Plateaus will be In...

Let's just hope they don't name them "'TeauJamz."


Bitter: Twitter for the Disgruntled

So you're on Twitter. And most of the folks you follow there are witty, informed, and fit the fun into 140 characters or less.

Yet there are... those people. People you know and would Unfollow, but with every lamenting Tweet, their cloud of doom and gloom always makes you so depressed, it's like, "Unfollow? Why bother? We're all going to die someday, anyway."

They're bringing down your mojo.

Or maybe you are one of those people, and your mojo is just fine where it frickkin' is, thankyouverymuch.

Well, now there's Bitter-- the new social media that condenses crabbing about everyday minutia into a social media art. It's the only social media platform that asks:

"What are you whining about today?"

Did Bath and Body Works discontinue your favorite lotion and the world is now coming to a scaly-skinned end?

Is the bread on your bologna sandwich stale, thus making you question the value of getting up in the morning?

Have you stubbed your toe and need the Internet to know about the pain and injustice endured by the innocent Piggy Who Went to Market?

Bitter is the venue for you!

Simply sign up today and Bitter's elaborate registration process is designed to give you an irritant to Bite about instantly.

MelNcollie this sign-up sux. took 3 tries to work and then didn't have username i wanted.

Then find Commiserators-- other Bitter users-- with lamentations and woes you can identify with and, if not actually pay attention to, act as a sounding board for your more real and true concerns.

Trade one-upsmanships...

SadSister12 My cat wouldn't eat her Fancy Feast this morning. I wasted a tin for nothing.

EmoShawnelle @SadSister12 Oh yeah? At least you have a cat. Mine died last month in a tragic hairball asphyxiation.

Share critical worries with the Bitterverse...

NervousNelly I think my nose has gotten bigger in the last week. Is that possible? Any doctors out there?

Naysayer56 @NervousNelly
I heard if it's still growing, it pulls nerves 2 brain n causes perm. neurological damage. C ya.


NikeMike My shoelace is untied-- AGAIN!! Will life's complications never end??

So for you, or anyone looking for a perfect online outlet for what's bugs, what gnaws, what chafes unbearably against the last raw nerve--

y'know, like getting less ice cream per container yet paying more...

--choose Bitter! "When life bites... Bite back."

And tell us: What ARE you whining about today? :)


Let's Get Our Old Wives On!

They say trouble come in threes. Who are They? Aw, those Old Wives who always have so much to say when butter won't churn and dogs bark at midnight.

So Friday, I'd told you about my 2009 Mother Nature's Super-Speed Basement Flooding and Spider Relocation Program. Let's call that Old Wife Trouble Number One.

Then, my being sideswiped on Friday morning as I drove to work-- which left my back wheel at a nifty unnatural angle that I've discovered is more artistic than functional-- I believe qualifies for Old Wife Trouble Number Two.

So I ask you folks-- how can we make the most of Old Wife Trouble Number Three? Y'know, if we believed these sorts of things (which we don't, but for the purpose of this post, we're gonna be strong Old Wife Supporters).

I mean, let's forgo the "Jenn Snuffing it in Some Tragic Yet Creative Way" from this list. As that would mean no more blog posts. And I kinda like chatting with you guys three times a week, so I would be dead and bummed out.

Let's get really jiggy with the Old Wife Trouble Three! (And preferably never, ever have to use the word "jiggy" again.) Here are my suggestions:

  • Being stalked by Pauly Shore and tied up and forced to watch Biodome on a loop (credit to Kathcom of MajickSandwich for the Biodome suggestion... I think. :) )
  • Plague of locusts strategically centered on my small sliver of property. Locusts then do Busby Berkley-style musical, in shifts, for 24 hours straight using chorus-line kicks and rubbing their legs together to create harmony. They love Mama Mia.
  • Finding self in situation where I'm in my old high school in my underwear-- and I'm already awake. Having to explain to hall monitor that I have no hall pass, given I have no pockets.
  • Discovering that Tom Cruise is actually my long-lost brother. Wishing I could lose him again quickly before he sets his sights on my sofa.
  • Opening my Netflix to find that the only videos they can now send me are Legends of the Fall, Gigli, and The Notebook. And no, I can't cancel my service.
  • Learning my home is on a rare pit of Pennsylvania SlowSand-- not as quick as quicksand, it takes eight years before you notice it's suddenly sucked your home under in a day.
  • Get papers saying in a moment of sleepwalking, I'd inadvertently married CarrotTop. And he's really happy about it. In fact, he's created some props to show me just how much.

Okay, I have to stop now. I think I just made myself vomit slightly there.

So what suggestions do you have for my very worst Third Trouble?

I will probably somewhat dilute this whole post by sharing some good news I had with you last evening... I found out that I took Second Place in Humorpress' April/May writing contest. You can check that out here.

Congrats also to two fellow Humorbloggers-- VE who came in at a sparkly First Place, and Ann of Ann's Rants, in a very lovely Fifth Place. Way to go, folkses!


Have You Ever Seen the Rain?

"I'm going to check for water in the basement," said my housemate, Scoobie, hopping up from the couch Wednesday evening, and heading to the lower floor.

Now, I didn't openly scoff, but that's only because I caught it pre-scoff, somewhere in the upper uvula.

We'd had rain, sure... And okay, it was coming down like a metaphor for doom in a Creedence Clearwater Revival song,.... And, yes, it was pouring dogs and cats and baby hamsters and enthusiastic emu... And the weatherman was talking record totals and tornado watches and cloud-to-ground lightning...

But the basement had never really gotten water before. Hardly a reason to go all Monk on the situation and--

"Oh my GOD!"

The basement had gotten... um... water.

In The Odyssey, there is this giant deadly whirlpool monster Homer bangs on about-- the mighty Charybdis.

It seemed that in the space of an hour, Char-baby had decided Greece wasn't where it's at anymore, thought it'd be nice to see a little more of world, and had relocated to Pittsburgh.

In the hotbed of social activity and culture that is my unfinished basement.

Water swirled. Boxes were submerged. My art supplies were doing the backstroke. And my paint mixing bowl decided it had always wanted to be a boat, and made a temporary career change.

The spiders in the basement, of which I have many, were seeing their greatest fear in action. Yes, that downspout song they'd heard so much about as mere eggs had finally come horrifyingly true. And at least two washed out eight-leggers were swirling about in Homer's whirlpool, doing eight-legged doggy paddles and unable to hitch a lift on the paint mixing boat.

Scoobie and I started bailing.

Should you ever be in this situation, with a Greek whirlpool monster in your basement, the proper attire for whirlpool bailing is:
  • Pajamas
  • Big rubber boots
You can see by this what a sophisticated operation we were running.

Well, pretty soon, we got the water down to Slip-n-Slide levels. And while one spider was lost to the fatal waters (a moment of silence in his honor, please) the other latched on to a dry box and survived.

He's now suffering Eensy Weensy Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, and has had to go to therapy to work a few things out.

I hardly blame him. I haven't fully recovered myself. And I hear that today, another hard rain's gonna fall...

Okay, yes, I know, that's Dylan and not Creedence. Take it up with the spiders and me later, 'kay?


Extreme Classic Novel Makeover

"The trouble with classic books," modern readers say, "is that they just don't speak to today's generation. It's all about old boring people in starched clothing, rambling on for pages in stilted conversations that don't say anything. Nothing ever happens...

"Where's the action? Where's the sex? Where's the gratuitous violence, and the remakes of the remakes of remakes that we've come to know and pay seven dollars for at the box office?"

Well, now there's Extreme Classic Novel Makeover! Check out just a few of the exciting classic novels being modernized to accomodate our short attention spans, fast-paced technology, and morbid fascination with self-centered people with no original thought who'd sell their grandma into slavery for five minutes on camera.

Let's look inside!...

  • Waiting for Dogot- The existential tale of two people waiting forever for that Taco Bell dog to appear on their computer screens, after an email forward promises it will-- so long as they sent it to five people.
  • Last of the Mojitos- Social worker Natty Bumppo holds a peace negotiations party with a local warring gang only to find relations even more strained when the mixed drinks begin to run out.
  • Jane-Air- The dramatic tale of forbidden love, dark secrets, and the first quality central air-conditioning system.
  • The Old Man and the C- An aging fisherman finds new fishing restrictions encourage a career change as a C programmer. Look for the second book in the series, The Really Old Man and the C++.
  • The House of Seven Clark Gables- Los Vegas celebrity impersonation business faces eviction and a sudden, disasterous lack of character variety.
  • Lord of the Fries- After a nuclear holocaust, local life revolves around a fast food restaurant, where high calorie foods are used as a barter system, and survivors struggle for power and tasty fried potatoes.
  • Atlas GPSed- The philosophical tale of how individuals must find their path in life, even if it involves advanced satellite technology.
  • Call of the Girls Gone Wild- The tale of an aging domestic goddess lured by a life of boob-flashing, booze and competing for male attention against girls half her age.
  • Uncle Tom's Condo- The eye-opening story of social unrest among the condo set as a middle-income family manages to purchase property in an elite neighborhood.
  • The Man in the Iron Chef- An edge-of-your-seat thriller about the arrest and imprisonment of a Japanese culinary artist forced to participate in a regular televised cooking competition or face deadly consequences.

And now, you fans of Extreme Classic Novel Makeover can suggest titles you'd like to see in our Extreme Classic Novel Makeover Library! Just leave a comment below or send your self-exploitative video file to: extremeclassicnovelmakeoversowedonthavetothinkanymoreoftheseupourselves @ extremeclassicnovelmakeover dot com.

See you on the flipped page, friends!

The Urban Legend Retirement Home and Independent Living Center

"Why, I remember when every Christmas shopping season, I used to inspire fear in the hearts of all the young girls," said the hook-handed man, giving a wistful gaze across the retirement home rec-room. "Every time they'd head to their car with packages, they'd look around to see if I was there lurking for them... behind the car... in the back seat. Wondering if I'd ask them for a lift, or to participate in a mall-sponsored event-- and then hijack their car and murder them."

He shook his head sadly.

"Yes, yes, we know dis, Gus," said the Nigerian prince. "We have heard dis a hundred times already." He pointed at the Scrabble board before them. "It is your play, my friend."

"I was in all the email forwards," Gus continued, stroking the prosthetic hook on the table fondly. "I went around the world a million times and back. My tale was adapted into 37 languages. It hit the Inbox and instantly struck terror in mothers, grandmothers, well-meaning aunts and teenage girls...

"They all claimed they didn't really believe my story was true. But none of them wanted to take the chance it wasn't...And passed it along anyway. Now that's power." Gus spelled out the word "p-a-s-t." "That's six points, by the way."

"Bah," grumbled the old man in the business suit next to him. "People stopped believing in hook-handed carjackers ages ago. You're all washed-up, Gus. Things have moved on. People are more open-minded these days. They aren't frightened just because you happen to have a disability. Now, me-- I still make 'em quake in their shiny shoes."

"You, Doc?" Gus gave a bitter laugh. "You haven't scared anyone since 1993. And I'll tell you what's wrong with your tale, too. It's just too much, too outlandish. There's got to be a grain of possibility. A nugget of truth for it to really achieve longevity. You overstepped it."

"No possibility?" queried Doc, scowling over his Scrabble tiles. "Are you kidding me? Business travelers to this day can't go into a bar without wondering whether they won't wake up in a bath filled with ice, missing their spare organs!"

"Maybe in 1993," input the Nigerian prince. "But tings were different then. Milli Vanilli had a career den, too. Times change." He pointed at the board with a bejeweled finger. "It is your play, Doc."

"I tell you," Doc insisted, "execs on business trips in every major city in this country keep a good eye on their drinks, even to this day, to make sure I don't pop a sedative in it and help myself to one of their kidneys."

"Den what are you doing here, wit us?" asked the Nigerian prince with a disbelieving smile. "Is dis de place of de still-relevant? De high powered? De urban legends currently getting all of de action?" He sighed. "No. So da sooner you accept it, my friend, da sooner we can get on wit this Scrabble game, please."

"I passed the business along to my son," Doc continued. "Just because I'm retired, doesn't mean the family business isn't still going strong. You'd do well to remember that, Your Highness. And here." He put down his letters on the board. "I-c-e-c-u-b-e. There. Mark that down in your little notepad, Princey. And it's your turn."

"Fine," said the Nigerian prince, peering over his wooden tiles seriously.

There was silence until Gus broke it. "Don't you miss the old days, Prince?"

"Not really," said the Prince. "I have moved on. My story has evolved and taken many forms. As of 1997, according to Snopes.com, I had created confirmed losses of $100 million in the U.S. in just 15 months. It warmed my heart to tink there were so many trusting and kind souls out dere willing to help a man dey never met move money and liberate a people. I remain honored."

Doc and Gus exchanged looks and Gus shrugged. To each his own, they supposed.

The Nigerian prince clicked a series of tiles down onto the Scrabble board. "O-f-f-s-h-o-r-e."

"Triple word score and everything!" exclaimed Doc, impressed.

"Yes, which reminds me. Perhaps you will allow me some liberties wit dese points," suggested the Prince. "On Tursday, I have de weekly gin rummy game with Lou, you know de guy who was injecting movie goers wit AIDS? And also Mrs. Cluckles, de KFC chicken with two heads. So what I would like to do is if you give me some extra points now, I can transfer dese points over to de weekly gin rummy game-- we are playing to raise money to free my sister, the princess from prison in a neighboring country-- and..."

Doc shook his head. "Same old Prince," he said. "Anyone want a lemonade? I'll get us a round."

"Oh, I'm sure you would, Doc," laughed Gus suspiciously. "No, thank you! I would rather get my own. I only have one kidney as it is, thanks to you... Now whose turn is it?"


So tell me, folks-- What urban legends have been sent to you lately? And have you ever fallen for any?


Putting the Boo in Bamboo

Tree Fear. I was reminded of this dark, chlorophyllic time in Kiddom by a recent post of Kathy, over at the Junk Drawer.

It seems her sunflowers are stalking her, growing unnaturally large entirely too quickly, in their unholy mission to... I don't know... peer in her windows and watch her funk dancing to Nelly.

And suddenly, the image of these sunflowers—waiting... lurking... drooling dry-roasted seeds, even—it took me back to my own leafy, yet funk-free, toddler terror: the slathering, vegetative monster I'd dubbed, "Bamboo."

See, somehow, at about age four, I'd been allowed to watch the horror film Day of the Triffids. (Yes, I know, I know... but it was the 70s. Nobody worried about kid trauma in the 70s. We also ate lead paint chips and rode in the front seat on our mom's lap unseatbelted while juggling knives. You lose little Timmy to a tragic riding-while-knife-juggling accident? Just make sure you have a spare kid, no big deal. Things are different today.)

Anyway, Day of the Triffids is a 60s monster flick where alien spores from a meteor shower grow into man-eating trees, which uproot themselves for some Human Slurpee take-out.

And while modern viewers might see the film as a metaphor for the Red Scare and yadda-yadda-yadda... what my teeny tot brain got out of the film was that our nation's friendly forests actually had an insidious plan. To lure us in with shade, and nuts, and something nifty to climb...

Then drain us like K-Mart ICEE machines.

From this, you can probably tell my contact with Actual Nature was not exactly often. I mean, I was from north-central New Jersey. Aside from the potted plants at the mall, Actual Nature only came in any sort of bulk on the annual camping trip to Cape May...

The place where my Tree Fear branched out.

I look now at the campground's web site and feel an ironic chuckle bubble up:

Our wooded park will provide you with the pleasures of the forest, yet you're only minutes away from the beaches and oceans that have made our area famous.

Yeah, pleasure of the forest, all right. Like the grasping tree branches tap, tap, tapping on the roof of the Dodge Family Wagon, where I lay in the overhead bunk bed. Just an inch of fiberglass between me and being sycamore-slurped.

So I named my foliagey fear "Bamboo." To little kid ears, it had all the sound-effects of terror wrapped into its very word. "Bam!": it sneaks up and gets you. "Boo!": well, y'know... just "boo." To a little kid brain, "Boo" gave it the extra edge.

I did not know from gently swaying Japanese garden plants and Zen.

Anyway, my poor parents learned the hard way of my fear of this carnivorous deciduous. During our first thunderstorm at the campgrounds, as coastal winds began to whip, rattle and twist the objects of my concerns, I made my neurosis known with a certain amount of... um... flair.

"Bamboo's comin'... Bamboo's comin'..." I uttered, whimpering and rocking-- probably not wholly unlike the token creepy child in any horror flick of the era.

It was good I was keeping up with the trends.

The parents, well, they finally got out of me what the issue was though a series of 20-questions, followed by some blame tossing about who left Day of the Triffids on...

And then they stacked "Bamboo" into my Fear Pile along with:
  • "Concerns I will slip through the cracks of the boardwalk and drown in the ocean below"
  • "Concerns I will go down the drain with the bathwater"
  • "Concerns I will be eaten by the skeletons on the Pirates of the Caribbean Ride"
  • And mayonnaise.

I'm okay on the first three these days.

But, alas, mayo. (shudder) Give me a man-eating tree any day!

So tell me-- do you recall being afraid of something in particular as a kid? Or do your kids have a fear that simply makes you scratch your head?


The Of Cabbages and Kings Career Test

In this tough economy, downsizing and industry shake-ups mean people are making career switches like never before.

But at Of Cabbages and Kings, we're here to help. So we've designed a simple quiz you can take, to assess your personality and guide you to the job you'd always dreamed of! (If that job is among the slim amount of choices we've predetermined based on our completely non-scientific series of questions and the fact that we're also pulling your general lower calf region. )

Let's get to it, then!

1.) In the morning, when responsibilities await me, I tend to:

a.) Get up and get 'er done
b.) Lie around for a few hours in bed, or possibly a farmer's field, and contemplate the meaning of responsibilities and whether they're socially-constructed
c.) Delegate the responsibility to someone else who'll get up and get 'er done. What do I have these people for, anyway?

2.) When life hands me lemons, I usually:

a.) Make a refreshing and lightly-tart iced beverage from them
b.) Wonder where those lemons came from and why anyone would plant a lemon tree here
c.) Wonder why no one's put them to good use yet, ring for service and lecture that person on the shameless lemon waste in society these days. Then insist on them making me a nice tall, cool glass o' lemony goodness.

3.) If I were to describe my greatest strengths, I would say they are:

a.) Loyalty, problem-solving and strong work ethics
b.) Ability to sit still for hours at a time and not wilt. Also ability to work closely with pork
c.) My keen sense of self-preservation, I look great on a jewel-encrusted chair and I always know who to hire to taste my food for me, even though that particular position tends to be a revolving door, the losers.

4.) If I were to describe my greatest weaknesses, I would say they are:

a.) The fact that I'm likely to be unemployed/am unemployed now
b.) I tend to get a bit gassy
c.) I have no weaknesses, and even if I do, we'll just see what my hired spin doctors have to say about it!

5.) If I have some free time, I like to spend it:

a.) With family, watching films/television, playing sports or reading
b.) Basking in the sun. Or rain. Or hail. Or whatever. I don't leave home much unless someone makes me.
c.) Counting the heads on pikes outside my window, or possibly doing the backstroke in my treasure room

6.) When I deal with other people, I would consider myself:

a.) Pretty outgoing, but with moments of reserve
b.) I keep to myself. Even in a row of others like me. I'm basically very quiet. Largely, because I'm introspective. But also because I have a head, but no mouth.
c.) A person of the people, absolutely. Easy-going. Magnanimous. Beloved. Warm. Kind-hearted. Sympathetic. Unless they annoy me, in which case, they had better not if they know what's bloody-well good for them.

7.) If I went on vacation, I would like to go:

a.) To the beach, or maybe the mountains, but I'm on a budget
b.) What's wrong with it right here? Here's nice. I have roots here. Haven't you heard of a staycation, dude?
c.) My summer palace. Or my winter palace. Or maybe just the far left wing of this place, since I've never actually been over there. I hear it's nice.

Congratulations! You completed the Of Cabbages and Kings Career Test!
Now, let's find out what the right career for you might be!

Simply tally up your total points according to the following chart:
  • If you answered "a.," receive 1 point
  • If you answered "b.," receive 2 points
  • If you answered "c.," receive 3 points

If your score is 15 to 21-- You are a King, or some other form of royalty. Pursuing work is so below you, unless you can find yourself an out-of-work army looking to help you take over an already-floundering country, a royal seeking a significant other on eMonarchy.com or a C-level position in the banking industry where they might not notice the difference.

If your score is 12 to 14-- You are a Cabbage. You have your fans, but it's only because they understand your extremely subdued, low-key lifestyle. You don't have many on-the-job skills, but that doesn't really bother you. You're a loner who enjoys sitting, sunbathing and contemplating existential philosophy. Consider a career as a poet, a paperweight, or see if you can get adopted by a King.

If your score is 7 to 11-- You are one of the millions of regular-Joe drones in the work force, and probably have been downsized so some King or Cabbage could have your job and get absolutely nothing done. What career is right for you? How should I know? I'm a regular-Joe drone, too. So take what you can get. And good luck out there!


Aerobics for the Hopelessly Uncoordinated

It's biased, I tell you. Biased! Aerobic workouts are great for the heart, good for burning calories and help get that ol' blood pumping. But what they are not good for are those millions of people in the world like me who are Coordination Impaired.

Instructors like Denise Austin and Kathy Smith make a 40-minute work-out look like a well-rehearsed stage production of A Chorus Line. Me, I turn it into the Tasmanian Devil hunting Wabbit. Arms and legs flail willy-nilly. Elbows jar at rakish angles. Feet kick in random convulsions. Forest creatures flee in my wake.

And this is only in my basement at home. Just imagine the kind of damage I could do if I actually subjected an aerobics class to me. They'd be Grapevining left, and I'd be off-stage right, trying to figure out how I spun myself into the coat closet.

So that's why I think we need Aerobics for the Hopelessly Uncoordinated. Something tailored specifically to the full-body-heave aerobics crowd. And while I'm not a licensed fitness trainer and would, obviously, need to work with one for any formalized instruction, I thought you all might enjoy seeing the sort of program I'm thinking about:

Warm up-- Get into your exercise clothes.
A great way to burn calories before the official exercising ever even begins is to try to actually get into some spandex exercise clothes.

First, put on the sports bra. Yes-- I'm well-aware a good 60% of Cabbages readers are men. But you don't think this excludes you, do you? Bah! No! You want to be a part of this class, you have to put some effort into it just like the rest of us. No whining!

I'll even give you some instructions on how it works. Think about it like taking a latex glove with all the fingers cut off...

Then try to stretch it over the head and shoulders of... oh... the Statue of Liberty.

Now that you're halfway through getting your sports bra over your head, note how you can't see, and you can't seem to find the right arm holes because somehow there are now 137 of them... This is a good time to do a few stretching moves.

It is also the ideal time to contemplate your greater place in the cosmos and how you will be spending the rest of your days on this planet trapped in the dark, half naked, with spandex on your head...

How your family or friends will find your lifeless corpse on the floor of the workout area, dried up and tangled in something black and clingy, and they won't be able to scrub that image from their minds for the eulogy...

Ah! There! That gave you the motivation to wrench the rest of the way into the sports bra, didn't it?

What, your muscles are strained from pulling this silicone inner tube over your head? And you say you can't breathe?

Perfect! Congratulations! Now do the same thing with your spandex shorts and you be well on your way to part two of the Aerobics for the Hopelessly Uncoordinated-- the Workout.

The Workout-- Freestyle Flailing.
Where so many aerobics workouts go wrong is by assuming you need to do all these different, specific moves to work various muscle groups. But anyone who is uncoordinated knows: simply by trying to follow the instructor, We the Few, the Proud, the Dangerously Clumsy are working more muscles at a time than all those graceful people who actually know where their feet and arms should go.

In trying to keep up... in trying to figure out why we'd ever want to put this foot behind that foot and do a shuffle-hop-step-clap-step-clap-step... we have managed to do two extra squats, wrapped our foot behind our left ear, elbowed our retina, and dislodged our colon.

And that's all in the first five minutes of the program! Just think of the kind of things we can get done if we can maintain that pace for the full 40.

And that's why I've developed Freestyle Flailing. See, when the instructions get too confusing, and you already have two black eyes and a bruised glutius maximus, you can choose to substitute the official move for any of these fun and exciting alternate moves which also will look ridiculous:
  • Modified Pee-Wee Herman Dance
  • Ride Thumbing with Feeling
  • Man Trapped in Box Mime Routine
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Mock-er-ena
  • The Bull-dance
  • Baby-circles
  • The Wave (not as visually stunning with just one person, but good for the thighs)
  • Stanley Cup Playoff High-Fiving
  • The Hokey Pokey
  • The Hand Jive
  • Develop-Your-Own
With Freestyle Flailing, you have a much greater choice in just how you wrench your back. And greater choice means less frustration and more days of working out once you get out of traction!

Now that we've done some flailing Our Way, let's move on to the last step in the program-- the Cool Down.

The Cool Down: Shouting Out Dried Blood Stains.
Ahhh... the relaxing cool down. This is the part of the program where we can take the time to wipe up those pools of blood from our head injuries, before they leave a permanent stain on the floor and walls. Take your time... now stretch for that blood spatter... hold it! There. Doesn't that feel good? Now start scrubbing the blood, sweat and tears from that sports bra.

Next-- pack ice on that wrenched knee... Gauze it... tape it... keep taping it. Ah! Yes, note how it now looks like a cancerous knot on a 100-year-old elm tree and you can't walk without the other knee bumping into it? Perfect!

Sure, it'll make getting those spandex shorts off difficult... but that's the final part of our stretching exercises.

I hope you've enjoyed these Aerobics for the Hopelessly Uncoordinated. We at Of Cabbages and Kings believe in promoting better health.

Now... can someone help me out of this spandex? Call the Emergency Rescue, we might need the Jaws of Life.


What To Expect When You're Exorcising and Other Keyword Curiosities

"Evil baby growls"... Those are keywords that helped a single Google searcher reach Cabbages, time and time again...

If it were just once, I might toss it away in the ol' mental filing cabinet with other common searches like: "name of Rooster on Bugs Bunny and Tweety show" (that's Foghorn Leghorn, my friend)...

The "i spend too much time on the internet" cries of help (you can get it here, kind searcher)...

And the "office prank revenge" needs... (this way, folks, if you please)...

See, it's frustrating to me, because I know can assist these people! Google, oh Google, why must the discourse be so one-sided?

But my "evil baby growls" bud has come back to Of Cabbages and Kings every week or so, seeking out what must be assumed to be only the very rarest of evil infant information.

And every time the keywords crop up, I find myself wondering:

"Great Googly-Moogly, what the hell are you looking for, O Searcher?"

And wishing I could just ask.

Now, initially, I was thinking it might be a sound effect file for a video he or she is crafting...

Some YouTube bit where a beloved young'un tests the aerodynamic capabilities of Spaghetti O's after calculating angle of trajectory, distance, and air-sauce resistance... And then laughs maniacally, in a spine-tingling voice well beyond its years.

Family humor at its finest.

Ah, but now I'm starting to think that's just too simple. I mean, what do most people turn to the internet to look up? Why, health information, news, and mommy blogs!

I suspect this person has a demonically-possessed infant and is trying to tell what the different Evil Baby Growls mean.

Sort of the "What To Expect When You're Exorcising" handbook.

Oh yes, I can see it now:

Babies cries are very versatile. They may cry because they're hungry, they're wet, they don't feel well, or they just want attention. In the case of a baby that happens to be possessed by the Forces of Darkness, however, this adds an extra challenge for Mommy and Daddy to interpret. Sometimes, Baby's true meaning can be fairly subtle. For instance:

  • "Rrrrrrrr, I'll swallow your soul!" can mean you need to use more Holy Water, or it can mean the baby is just hungry.
  • The spitting of a split-pea by-product can mean the child needs a few more Latin explusion verses read over him or her by a qualified person of the cloth. Or that the child enjoyed Gerber strained peas for dinner, and it's backed up a little.
  • "Mwaaahaaahhaaaathe End of the World is nigh, foolish mortals!" might mean the demonic minion inside your little bundle of joy is trying to undermine your courage. Or that those stewed prunes you gave him for supper are going to shortly cause you to evacuate the room.

Smart parents will learn to watch for cues to determine the cause of each, and adjust their actions accordingly.

So, I guess what it comes down to is this: I may never know what my "evil baby growls" searcher is looking for. But I hope, if he or she comes across this post, that the visitor will leave me a comment and let me know.

The curiosity is getting to be too much. And if it's the infant demonic possession? I'll be glad to hear it. Because this means there's a serious niche market on the web that needs to be filled, and I think I could be the one to write it!

All I'd need would be to interview a few pediatricians, a couple of clergy, and-- oh, maybe a Hazmat jumpsuit.

Have you folks had any search terms you've wondered about recently? I'd be glad for the laughs.

The Bureau of Character Complaints is Now Open

Apologies all around... That's what I'd owe them. Long diatribes about how I regretted the pain and anguish I caused them...

Sincere explanations for why I snuffed their parents... Or robbed them 14 times at gunpoint... Or launched them into space without a decent pair of shoes... I'd be moved to deep professions about how I never planned to do it again.

Lies, all of them, of course. Because I'd do it again just the same in an eye-blink.

But they wouldn't need to know that, would they?

Still... Yesterday, as I laughed manically, plonking down yet another barrier to peace in my main character's way, I thought:

What if, as writers, we really did have to answer to the people we created, for the choices we made in their lives?

Why, one of my friends' heroes has been stuck on a Wild West desert plateau for years.

I think he'd have some interesting things to say about that.

"Ya murdered my family. You put my gal in jeopardy. Then you killed ma horse and left me on a narrow precipice with no food 'n water...

"Did you know about my inner ear problem? Did think about ma fear o' heights? Did you know I was allergic to prairie grass and gopher dander? Did you ever bother to ask me about that? Did ya? DID YA?!

"NAW! You were too busy gittin' all distracted with fact checkin' and Feelin' the Muse and creatin' historical credibility and atmosphere way th' hell back again in Chapter One! Chapter One, fer Pete's Sake! Them's is done in Chapter One, Lady! Find closure and let it go!

"So now, my equilibrium's been off for five years, my sinuses are a-killin' me and I've been balancing on a six-inch ledge while the buzzards peck my head. Goldurn it, woman-- git me offa this rock!"

I imagine there'd have to be a Bureau of Character Complaints to handle it all.

And I can see it now. There'd be a reception room just filled with impatient, surly and world-weary fictional characters. Some suffering from gunshot wounds. Some in mourning clothes. Some undead. Some just really pissed.

A little girl with a doll would step into the room.

Little Girl: "Hello. I'm Sara Crewe. I'd like to register a complaint. My father got amnesia in World War I and forgot all about me. So I was left penniless and forced to work as a servant girl in a cold attic and nearly died of mistreatment. Things worked out for the best at the end, but I would like to get an apology from Frances Hodgson Burnett for the middle of the book."

Receptionist: (sighing) "Sign in here and take a seat."

After a lot of rubber stamping of paperwork, the receptionist would finally stand up and announce to the collective before her:

Receptionist: "Okay-- in the interest of efficiency, we're going to break you into groups. Abused orphans over here...

(And half the cast from Dickens' books would move that direction, along with Harry Potter, Lemony Snicket's Baudelaire children, and young Miss Crewe)

Receptionist: "White hat cowboys over here... Misunderstood black hat cowboys over there...

"Native Americans treated as cannon fodder? Here are some towels and you follow Dr. Green, please...

"Characters with unsatisfying endings looking for rewrites, that room...

"If you committed murder and feel it was out of character, or you have a more believable alibi than your author gave you credit for, that room there..."

"Unless you're a Butler.... Then you need to go to Cliched Killers in room 12b...

"No, not you, Mr. Jeeves. You go to Overintelligent Servants Purposefully Stationed Far Below Their Capabilities Yet Illogically Content with Lack of Upward Mobility. Just follow those Shakespearean court jesters-- yes, they'll show you where to go."

Ah, yes. We would all have a lot to answer for, wouldn't we?

Do you know a character with a complaint-- or do you have a character who needs some closure? Send 'em along!


TV Shows Consolidate in Clever Downsizing Move

Downsizing: the workload hasn't gotten any smaller, but now there are fewer people to handle the same number of tasks. And these pressures affect our lives in some unexpected ways. One area that's being hurt by budget cuts is the upcoming television line-up. Yes, with cutbacks, fewer TV programs with costly, big name stars must still do the job of many. So television executives have chosen to tackle the challenge in a brand new, innovative way. They've created a whole new idea for programming-- TV show consolidation.

And we, here at Of Cabbages and Kings, were lucky enough to get a sneak peek at some of the series consolidations in the works:

  • Dead Like the Reaper. Two teams of grim reapers compete to see who can send the most souls back to hell. But when young reaper Georgia Lass meets Sam Oliver from the opposing team, will reaping go from grim to groovy?
  • Dexter Morgan's Laboratory. In this Cartoon Network feature, serial killer Dexter Morgan and his sister Deb-Deb solve crimes, all while following the trail of fellow serial killer and Dexter's archnemesis, Mandark. By making this program a cartoon, it's cut the rubber corpse and fake blood budget significantly.
  • The Ghost Dog Whisperer. Is your poltergeist pooch keeping you up nights? Is your deceased doggy getting ectoplasm all over the livingroom rug? This series helps pet parents get that restless Rover to play dead once and for all. When you want to teach a dead dog new tricks, who you gonna call? The ghost dog whisperer!
  • Jon and Kate Plus 24. See how a dysfunctional couple with a large family balances child-rearing with preventing terrorism on American soil. Can Jon and Kate stop a nuclear holocaust in time for the PTA meeting? Find out in this edge-of-your-seat series.
  • 30 Rock from the Sun. A group of aliens come to earth and run a successful TV comedy show, dealing with a difficult star, an obnoxious boss and snoopy feds who suspect they're aliens and would like to dissect them. Because many of the Hollywood writers behind this show are, in fact, extra terrestrials themselves, the studio is pleased to report this has been done on a shoestring budget.

These are just a few of the programs slated for the coming months. While the recession may affect our wallets and our lifestyle, today's TV execs have proven, it doesn't have to reduce our programming fun!