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

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


As we head into another captivating and colorful stretch drive, it has become clear that baseball is more than just hits, runs, outs, and errors these days. The game has taken on new dimensions and elements that no one could have anticipated back when the first box scores were invented. The fact is, traditional scorekeeping symbols are no longer sufficient to account for the realities of the modern game. Here are some proposed new ones to help fans in attendance to fully record the action on the field--or in the stands.


(Little beer cup with foam)
---Missed inning while waiting in line for a brewski

(Little empty beer cup upside down, one drop hanging from the cup rim)
---Missed inning while waiting in line to take a leak

---Fell asleep during pitching change

(Little "splatter" doodle)
---Spilled mustard on box score, no idea what happened

(Three little stars)
---Hit in head by foul ball

(Three little Dollar signs)
---Hit in head by foul ball while seated next to lawyer

(Big dollar sign)
---Caught Barry Bonds home run ball

(Three big Dollar signs)
---Hit in head by Barry Bonds home run ball while seated next to lawyer

(Little cork)
---Player called out--bat found to be corked

(Little cork with arms)
---Player called out--upper body found to be corked

(Little red cross)
---Player knocked unconscious by thrown object

(Two little red crosses)
---Player knocked unconscious by drunken fan

(Three little red crosses)
---Player knocked unconscious by delayed drug reaction

(Stick figure with hairy butt)
---Game halted by streaker, male

(Stick figure with boobs)
---Game halted by streaker, female

(Stick figure with boobs and hairy butt)
--Game halted by streaker in San Francisco

(Little hypodermic)
---Player removed from game due to steroid overdose

(Little hypodermic in circle with slash)
---Player removed from game due to steroid withdrawal seizures

(Little hypodermic with handcuffs)
---Player removed from game, arrested for dealing steroids

(“HR” crossed out)
---Long fly ball out that would have been a home run if the batter were still juicing

(Clenched fist)
---Game halted by fight among fans

(Crutches and IV)
---Game halted by fight among fans over valuable record-setting home run ball

(Band-aid, or dove of peace)
---Game halted by “brawl” among players

(Small hole in scoresheet)
---Umpire blew call so badly, scorekeeper stabbed scorecard with pen in fit of rage

(Bat and ball with slash through it)
---Game called because of players' strike

(Umpire’s mask with slash through it)
---Game called because of umpires' strike

(Rx symbol with slash through it)
---Game called because of pharmacists' strike

(Little car or empty stadium seat)
---Left after 7th inning to beat traffic

(Little Gameboy or logo)
---Actual game too slow and boring; missed inning while playing much more exciting MVP Baseball 2005 video game

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


The pollmeisters at Zogby came out with their annual Look At How Incredibly Stupid The Average American Has Become survey, a little exercise that polling companies indulge in each year because they know it will get them more ink than those studies clearly linking rising oil company profits with increased leukemia among orphans.

And while I am second to none in my belief that The Average American continues to resolutely be as thoroughly ignorant as possible of anything that said American does not find either amusing, sexually arousing, or profitable, these surveys make me want to push a pie into the face of Zogby or Gallup or Stripper (a pun on the poll/pole homonym, eh?) or whoever is doing the questioning.

For one thing, they say that 75 percent of Americans can name at least two of Snow White's seven dwarves, while only 25 percent can name two Supreme Court justices.

So? These figures make perfect sense to me. For one thing, the names of the dwarves are inserted into our heads during our earliest years, and thus become part of our formative, and thus strongest and most ineradicable, memories. For another, the dwarves' names never change! It's always the same seven guys! By contrast, the makeup of the Court is forever changing. Just about the time you think you could recite the entire nine, somebody dies or retires and you've got to come up with a whole new mnemonic. A lot of us just say the hell with it, we can always Google the lineup if we need it.

And finally, the dwarves have simple, everyday words for names: Happy, Sleepy, Dopey, Grumpy, Sneezy, Doc, and Bashful. (And no, I didn't have to Google "seven dwarves" for that. Although, to be honest, I'm only partly certain about Sneezy.)

If the dwarf lineup was obliged to follow the rules of reality and mortality as the Court does, all seven of those little suckers would have been long ago dead. There would be an entire new lineup--perhaps the third or fourth such turnover--with new names that, probably, only 25 percent of us would be on top of.

(I like to think the current dwarf assemblage would have names with some contemporary resonance. Something on the order of: Fatty, Horny, Creepy, Junkie, Bipolar, Undocumented, Fearful.)

The poll also reveals that only 37 percent of us can name the planet closest to the sun--Mercury--while 60 percent can name Superman's home planet--Krypton. Again, this stands to reason. We learn of Krypton from a barrage of media--comic books, TV series and major films--not to mention the Table of Elements. Mercury, by contrast, has only planetariums and the Discovery Channel going for it.

And finally, a mere 42 percent of us can name the three branches of government, versus the 74 percent of us who can name the Three Stooges.

Well hell, we get more satisfaction from the latter than the former, so why not? Actually, the Stooges might work as a memory aid in teaching civics. The three branches could be envisioned as Moe--the bossy, pushy, violent, and arrogant but essentially imbecilic executive--Curly--the asinine, clueless, and pathetically goofy legislative--and Larry--like the judicial, the least amusing and seemingly most pointless of the trio.

The only purpose Zogby's latest serves is to remind us that the more we immerse ourselves in trivia and the less attention we pay to politics, the less likely we are to go nuts.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Let me make sure I've got this straight.

Dangerous liquids, their detection and confiscation, have become the obsession du jour of our varied and almost innumerable agencies in the anti-terrorist sentinal biz. Among the fluid substances that you can no longer take onto a plane in carry-on luggage: everything known to man that is more liquid than an anvil. Among the fluid substances that you can check through in stowed baggage without a care in your evil heart, later detonating by remote control the plastique explosive or anthrax-infused eye shadow or whatever spectacularly deadly concoction you have disguised as a cosmetic happenstance: see above.

And the one substance known to be both flammable and explosive, capable not only of fueling serious destruction just as relates to physical objects, but also known to inflame emotions, provoke misbehavior, and generally induce otherwise law-abiding persons to acts of serious criminal potential? That would be alcohol. Available, for a price, on every flight of any serious mileage, to almost any adult onboard, supplied by and courtesy of the airline.

Hell, stick a little wad of cloth in the neck of that mini-bottle of gin, light it up, and voila: a serviceable, if Lilliputian, Molotov cocktail.

Once again, it appears that I am the only one to perceive the madness.

Monday, August 07, 2006


If it's hot-ass sex and red-blooded violence you're looking for in the media, let me direct you to the August issue of Pediatrics magazine, which is evidently the heir to the machismo editorial legacy of Saga and Argosy and other chest-hair-action men's mags of the 1950s.

According to today's Chronicle, this month's Pediatrics has one article linking teen sex to listening to sleazy sexual song lyrics, and another linking teen violence to watching wrestling on TV.

Study number one, by the Rand Corp., found that 51 percent of kids aged 12 to 17 who listened "to lots of music with degrading sexual messages" while virgins started having sex within two years, as opposed to only 29 percent of those who listened to little or none of such music. Of course, "degrading sexual messages" can either mean "messages that sex is good" if you're the Family Research Council, or "messages that sex is bad" if you're Hugh Hefner.
The encouraging part of this study is that almost 1/3 of even the most wholesomely-reared kids will start having sex no matter what you fill their heads with--Debby Boone, Kenny G, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, nothing dissuades the little weasels.

Study number two, by the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, found that teenagers who watched wrestling shows like "RAW" and "Smackdown" were more likely to engage in violence, "including carrying weapons and fighting on dates." This, of course, raises a couple of interesting hypotheticals.

For one, if the violence-prone kids had spent their free time listening to sleazy lyrics instead of watching wrestling, their dates would probably have gone a lot better, or at least involved fewer contusions. On the other hand, if the kids who listened to sleazy music had also watched wrestling, maybe the sex would have been better, or at least more memorable. And by the way, shouldn't the Baptist Med Center have been conducting the sex-and-music survey? It seems like a classically Baptist issue. For that matter, you'd think the Rand Corp. would be more likely to take an interest in violence than teen rutting.

So, parents, the question is, what in God's name should you do if you come home and there in the rec room is your teen, watching TV wrestling and plugged into an Ipod with a look of unmistakably sleazy sexuality on his/her face?

Fortunately, the answer may lie with another article in today's Chron, which comes--so help me--from the American Academy of Pediatrics, and warns parents of the dangers of putting children in shopping carts, which caused 24,000 injuries to children last year due to falls and tipovers. Get that kid down to the nearest Safeway and get his/her ass into a shopping cart! The fact that they're large gawky adolescents now almost ensures some serious, debilitating mishap.

If you're lucky, it'll be a spinal cord injury, and voila: problem solved.