"Humor Me" says Robert S. "Bob" Wieder

Monday, February 28, 2005


I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet. Then I cried because I had no jockstrap, until I met this re-e-eally unlucky dude...

Sunday, February 27, 2005


Here are the latest data from the statistics crunchers at the Baseball Abstract, for those who are perhaps PLANNING IN EXCESSIVELY GREAT DETAIL for their upcoming Fantasy League draft.

The odds against Barry Bonds dying this season from:

Being whacked by a hit man under contract to the Babe Ruth International Fan Club..........2-1

Being whacked by a hit man under contract to the Hank Aaron International Fan Club..........6-1

Gradual wasting away as a result of the ravages of steroid withdrawal..........15-1

Terminal boredom after receiving his 288th consecutive intentional walk..........20-1

A fatal beanball thrown by an enraged pitcher whom he’s homered off of ONCE TOO OFTEN..........30-1

Choking on his own tears while apologizing to the fans for behaving like such an aloof and arrogant asshole.............5,000-1

Friday, February 25, 2005


Thanks to a news item I ran across on the Net yesterday and a short article I saw in USA Today today and the seemingly inexplicable spike in oil prices the last few days, I have come up with a lovely new conspiracy theory. If you've nothing better to do at the moment...

The Net item, which I've encountered once or twice before on legitimate journalistic websites, is about TDP, which stands for Thermal Depolymerization Process, a spanking new technology that, essentially, can break down virtually any organic substance--anything composed largely of carbon--into two or three substances, one of which is crude oil. Old tires, plastic of all sorts, livestock residue, harbor muck, household garbage, agricultural waste, human waste, lumber industry waste, rap CDs, leg warmers, cell phones, can all be turned into cheap petroleum. On paper, where it admittedly won't have much impact, they calculate that just the garbage, rubbish, trash and byproducts generated by America in a year could be converted into about 4 billion barrels of crude, which is damn near how much we burn up annually. It is estimated by some, or at least by me, that the bullshit produced each month by the Bush administration alone could be depolymerized into enough oil in which to boil the entire population of Alabama, thereby killing two birds with one stone. I'm being a buffoon now, but everything about TDP's basic potential seems true.

The USA Today item was about how the three or four auto companies now making hybrid vehicles can't come anywhere near meeting the unexpected and overwhelming demand. And we're not just talking six-month waiting lists for individual customers, but whole fleet orders from rental companies, corporations, municipalities--a backlog the size of a glacier.

And a couple of other things: Palestine and Iraq. There's evidently something about being a citizen of Iran or Saudi Arabia and watching people in nearby or adjacent countries going out and actually voting that causes real insecurity if you're in power and real dissatisfaction if you aren't. The people who currently determine how much to charge for Mideast oil may be starting to suspect that their term in that office will, at some point far sooner than they would like, expire.

So, my current conspiracy theory is that the oil cartels, and specifically the House of Saud, the elephant in the OPEC pantry, sense that perhaps the gravy train is beginning to pull away from the station, that the combination of environmentalism, economics and science will inexorably lead to a reduced demand for their product not just in the long run, but possibly within this decade, and that geopolitical trends may be running against them. So they've decided to jack up the price and gouge while they can, while it's still a sellers' market, to flat out suck up every dime that they can while they can and keep the getaway choppers gassed and ready for that dash to Geneva.

Then again, maybe they've simply realized that the First World is populated by such incurable lifestyle junkies that they can price their petro-oxycontin as high as they damn well please.

thermal depolymerization process -- http://www.mindfully.org/Energy/2003/Anything-Into-Oil1may03.htm

Monday, February 21, 2005


Hunter Stockton Thomas existed and worked on a wholly different plane from other American writers. Two of the most deft character specialists of our time, Johnny Depp and Bill Murray, have not only played him in major films but have laboriously stretched just to try to capture him, that mumbled monotone that managed with no discernible emotion to convey a casual menace as sociopathic as it was principled. How many films can you name about Hemingway, Faulkner or Steinbeck. I can only think of one each for Hammett and Fitzgerald, and as far as almost any living person knows about their actual speech patterns and mannerisms, Leo Gorcey could have sold the roles.
There is no way in hell you could walk through the role of HST. He and his voice and gestures and bearing and demeanor were integral to his own writing. It wasn't just gonzo, or vanity journalism; for that, read Joe Eszterhaz's contemporaneous and flagrantly imitative pieces for Rolling Stone. HST was the essential element in his own reportage and commentary. You only got half of the piece--the savage raving, the fear and loathing--from the printed text. The first time I saw and heard him speak, sensed that context of amused and fatalistic nonchalance, I knew I'd have to re-read Hell's Angels and Las Vegas in that voice to round out the experience.
And then he got tired, and the result was Generation of Swine, like Bob Dylan singing Masters of War for the three thousandth time, because it's what they pay to hear.
Some people evidently suspect that it was all an act, that HST was as much a fabrication is Raoul Duke. I don't think so, but in any case, if it was an act, he clearly stayed in character just a bit too long.
Two last thoughts.
There can be very little doubt that his "suicide" was in fact a revenge killing engineered by Karl Rove.
What the hell is Gerry Trudeau going to do with/about Uncle Duke now?

Monday, February 14, 2005


(I apologize to those who've already been exposed to some of the following thoughts via an e-mail I sent a few days ago. Then again, I should probably apologize to anyone who stumbles across it while meandering through the blogosphere.)

In the process of reading an online piece by a colleague in the sporting press, I came across the early betting line on the next Superbowl, which was referred to as Superbowl XL. This caused me, a person with obviously not very much on his mind, to wonder why they had chosen that enumerative option. XL. It's a perfectly valid way of Roman Numeralizing 40, of course, but not the only one. Why not, say, Superbowl XXXX, which sets a considerably more salacious and intriguing tone, or at least reads like a brand of manly bootleg whiskey? On the downside, XXXX somehow calls to mind Vin Diesel and stolen car crashes, which is perhaps not the image the NFL wants to project as it walks yea through the valley of FCC commissioners. By comparison, "Superbowl XL" sounds like the sporty deluxe model Superbowl, with the 6-cylinder engine and leather steering wheel cover.

And what are they going to do nine years from now? Will the 49th installment of the NFL's annual marketing orgy be referred to as Superbowl XXXXIX, which is more letters than a lot of football fans and current American presidents can handle? Or do they go with Superbowl IL, which is lean and simple but which reads like the postal address of a desperate-for-attention small town in Illinois?

And is anyone really ready to deal with Superbowl L, which comes across like a kind of drunken slurring of "Superbowl"? Superbowllll...zzz.

Not to mention Superbowl LIV, about which you can already hear Jay Leno saying, "What's the deal with this? I thought the Superbowls were all live!"

And as for Superbowl LIX, let's not even go there.

Friday, February 11, 2005


My work--to the limited extent that I have, or do, work--brings me into contact with a steady stream of odd Actual Reality glimpses, presented in either journalistic, anecdotal, or statistical form. To my knowledge, everything here is factual. At least, I have media sources for every item, for whatever that’s worth.

Among the items recently discovered to have been stolen from the Memphis, Tennessee police department evidence room are 116 kilos of cocaine, 559 pounds of pot, 66 guns, and $147,000 in cash.
Asia Securitex 2004, a trade show for security companies selling anti-crime technology, was held in Hong Kong last summer. In the first 48 hours, two laptops worth $2,500 and a $260 mobile phone had been stolen from the show.

In Baghdad's walled-off Green Zone, the maximum security enclave for Coalition officials and western contractors, there are at least 7 bars, including taverns run by GE, Bechtel, and the CIA.

According to Premiere magazine, Jesus ranked as the 100th most powerful personage in the film industry in 2004. Mel Gibson, who made around $450 million off of Jesus, ranked 10th.

Tim Berners-Lee, who is credited with inventing the World Wide Web but who insisted it never be patented, was honored with the Millennium Technology Prize last year, worth $1,200,000--an amount that, had he patented the Web and charged users 1/10th of a cent per hit, he would now be banking roughly every 4 days.

The town of Hildade, Utah has 13 police officers. Seven of them are polygamists, with more than one wife.

If you spend less than $15 at the supermarket, you don't cover the cost of having a live cashier ring up your purchase.

“Pole pox” is a rare but documented malady afflicting pole dancers, an allergy to the nickel used in the chrome poles that produces seriously painful skin inflammation and unsightly red rashes, not to mention some colorful worker's comp claims. OSHA should jump on this, so to speak.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


I'm well aware that this premise has been beaten to death by everything from Mad magazine to Letterman's Top Ten List, but the fact is that the so-called National Pastime continues to threaten to become the National Naptime. Major league baseball has become a kind of Nytol with box scores. That's one of the reasons for the emergence and spread of Fantasy Leagues: to create some contrived reason for us to take interest in a game that increasingly fails to hold our attention on its own merits. With that in mind, it is, once again, time to offer up some innovations that will get fans, and even non-fans, really watching the games again.

--After each home run, all the players on the batter's team, including the batter, must do tequila shots--the hefty two-ouncers.
--If a pitched ball hits the batter, before proceeding to first base the batter gets one free throw of the ball, from a distance of fifty feet, back at the pitcher.
--Any woman who successfully streaks topless completely across the outfield wins a season ticket.
--Replace the tedious seventh inning stretch with a public burning of George Steinbrenner in effigy.
--Instead of uniform numbers, put the players' salaries on the back of the uniforms, to aid the fans in assessing, and loudly commenting on, various players' actual value.
--One in every hundred game balls, inserted at random and unmarked, is chemically rigged to explode upon impact.
--If any pitcher blows a lead of five or more runs, the game will be halted while the pitcher is taken to a "hot seat" near the dugout and subjected to a massive electric shock.
--All outfielders will be required to play their position on Segway transporters.
--During the "dead time" while relievers take warmup pitches, liven things up with Alarmingly Obese Umpire Wind Sprints.
--Four words: Randy Johnson on crack.

Any further suggestions will be most welcome.

Saturday, February 05, 2005


There was a time, if you lived in the Bay Area and gave even a fraction of a damn about sports, that the idea of having to generate interest in the Superbowl was laughable. Certainly, I enjoyed many hours of chuckles just imagining such a problem.
For a number of years, either the Raiders or the 49ers were involved, which made intense interest automatic. For another number of years, if the Raiders or 49ers were not involved, the Cowboys or Broncos were, which was equally automatic: you painted your body in the colors of the opposing team and stayed awake the entire night before, fired by anticipation and cheap antipathy. Sometimes it was the Rams who wired you up for the game, based on our traditional tribal loathing for them, although without the vindictive high that attached to rooting against them when they were still in L.A.
In recent years, however, it's been difficult. The Raiders made it to the Big Corporate Blowout two years ago, but things were so grimly irrelevent back in 2001--the Ravens vs.Giants--that I had to go with my congenital antipathy for New York City and the fact that an old friend was once one of the Ravens quarterback's high school teachers.
This year, I am flat-out desperate. But after much soul searching, I have managed to contrive an excuse for giving a shit who wins the game tomorrow. And I am going contrarian with this. My choice is, of course, based on a pro-Niners spitefulness, but it is not the obvious selection: T.O., the bad seed who spurned and split. Rather, I'm rooting for the Eagles for a different pitifully petty reason: a victory by the Patriots would be their third in four years, hefting them up a notch on the Dynasty meter and putting them almost on a par with the 49ers. Certainly, a Pats win would to some extent lessen the sheen on the Niners era of greatness.
It's not a prideful thing I do, but is no worse than Miami fans who root, year in and year out, against any team that dares threaten to run the table.
Anyway, when you get right down to it, I like the average eagle one hell of a lot more than I do the average patriot.
Go birds!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


The anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision recently came and went (as do we all), and there was a quite sizable march against abortion in San Francisco, and a lot of hand-wringing on both sides of the issue. One charge that I heard leveled by the anti-abortion faction was that since Roe became law in 1973, an estimated 45,000,000 abortions had been performed. I found this number startlingly and even suspiciously large, but both sides evidently agree on the total. And one side, of course, is really steamed about it.

The offended side pointed out that this figure, 45,000,000, was roughly the same as the total population of 17 states. Their website displayed this on a map of the United States. As it happens, most of the states in their 17 were red ones: Texas, Idaho, Oklahoma, Mississippi and the like. Right away, you start to see those 45 million in more pragmatic, even cynical terms. You might even ask yourself, "Would that in fact be my idea of a dream come true? To live in a land with the equivalent of TWO Texases, Idahos, Oklahomas, et cetera?"

Look around you, in either the local or national sense, and ask yourself, "Exactly how wonderful would it be to have another forty five million people here?" Except that it would actually be more than that, because many of those extra people, starting in 1973 (at the rate of 1,406,250 per year; I did the math) would have grown up and, around 1990, begun having their own kids. Right now today, we would have 16,875,000 additional people aged 21 to 32, the prime breeding years. So the real total of extra people would probably be well over fifty million.

Fifty million more Americans than there are now?
I'm just tossing out numbers, now, but I reckon that would mean approximately:
---30,000,000 more cars on the road
---30,000,000 fewer available parking spaces
---four more people, on average, per supermarket checkout line
---42 more minutes to complete a typical Bay Bridge crossing
---20,000,000 more unemployed people looking for work
---56 kids per classroom in grade schools and high schools
---four months more waiting time for good theater tickets
---30 percent more trailer parks than there are already
---2,000,000 more convicted felons out on early parole due to prison overcrowding
---4,000 more Starbucks
---7,500 more rap groups
---five more hours per week waiting on Hold
---three days in line to take your kids to the next Harry Potter movie...

If you think housing is too expensive, education too competitive, jobs too hard to find, crime too rampant and everything too crowded as it is, just take all that and add about 20 percent. My advice to pro-choicers: Pray for the prolonged good health of John Paul Stevens. And to abortion foes: Be careful what you wish for.