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

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Welcome one and all to Paranoia Playhouse, where our motto is "What was that noise?" In today's production, we ask our faithful patrons to slip on their triple-layer double-cushioned Depends, because it's time to SHIT A BRICK.

The scenario: Hamas has nailed down either 53 percent (CNN), 64 percent (NBC), or 312,168 percent (Fox News) of the vote in the Palestinian election. Woe betide us. Woe particularly betide Israel, and whatever fragments of the Mideast peace process may still exist.

On the other hand...Bah.

I'd like to seethe with rage and impatience and frustration over what seems to be just one more awful and self-perpetuating turn of events in the eternal death dance of the Semites, but..

1) Neither I nor a number of actual experts think this would be such a terrible thing long-term (see History Of Co-Opting, 2005 edition, Encyclopedia de Bob) if it sucked some or the more unprincipled or fanatic or simply deranged but nevertheless ambitious fringe elements into politics where they belong,

2) It makes things tougher for Bush, and I have gotten to the point where I would condone the barbecuing of kittens if it accomplished that end, and,

3) Is it just me, or isn't there something odd, something off-kilter, something that simply doesn't ring true about a so-called "strict Islamist" group, a "hard-line fundamentalist Muslim" organization, whose name begins with HAM? As in popular pork entree?

Somebody is pulling the western world's leg here. I mean, come on. HAMas? What--was "Allah's Bacon Brigade" already spoken for? I'm sorry, but I simply cannot take a pack of so symbolically ambiguous renegades seriously.

And why have our ever-vigilant Republican overseers been so silent on this angle? Are we to believe that such a glaring ideological self-contradiction could just go blithely unnoticed by the Defense and State Departments and the White House?

Then again, perhaps that's exactly what we should expect from a purportedly anti-porn and pro-abstinence BUSH administration.

Dear God, am I the only one who sees the pattern here?

Monday, January 23, 2006


Subscribers to or regular readers of The New Yorker are aware that the magazine began running on its back page a new feature 36 weeks ago called the Cartoon Caption Contest, in which readers are invited to go to www.newyorker.com/captioncontest and suggest a caption for that week's cartoon, or vote on the three finalist submissions for a previous cartoon. I know it was 36 weeks ago because this week's cartoon (cover date January 23) is listed on the web page as contest #36.

The problem is that I'm unable to either enter the contest or vote for a caption because when I click on either option, I get a small, blank window that, whatever I then do, remains a small, blank window. Well, unless I attempt to close it, which seems to work just fine. Now and then they run a cartoon for which one or more suitable captions occurs to me. And yet I am prevented from casting these morsels of wit upon the waters of Conde Nast, publishers of The NYer.

But that's why God gave us blogs, isn't it? The basic end-run technology, every man or woman his or her own media, the publishing industry's lock on print communication neatly picked, removed and thrown aside. So, here's where I scratch that itch.

This week's cartoon shows two shirt-and-tie businessmen in conversation, one of them speaking as he holds his stomach, which is enormous, the unmistakable image being that he is not just pregnant but late term, ready to drop.

Here are my suggested captions. I invite anyone out there to suggest their own. Good luck getting through to the web page.

"I figured it was just one last, harmless fling before my sex-change operation."
"I trace it back to the day after Thanksgiving, when my wife got the big half of the wishbone."
"You bet your sweet ass I'm going with a Caesarian."
"If nothing else, it's given me new respect for the pro-choice argument."
"Actually, the morning vomiting thing isn't much worse than my sophomore year at Florida State."
"Never, and I mean never, stiff a witch doctor."
"Fortunately I was able to locate Marlon Brando's old tailor."
"It goes without saying that my HMO just laughed me out the door."
"The corned beef I'm fine with, but the cabbage turns me into a Macy's parade balloon."
"Apparently the Kaiser surgeons, for some reason, stapled my asshole instead of my stomach."

Sunday, January 22, 2006


Here's todays item de ridicule, reprinted verbatim from Ananova.com:

"A Lithuanian brewer has angered the Catholic Church by using an image of Jesus wearing headphones to advertise beer. The Kalnapilis-Tauras company is offering free CDs of Lithuanian 'ethno-hits' with their beer. And to advertise the promotion, they are picturing a wooden sculpture of Jesus wearing headphones over his thorny crown on the label. Archbishop of Kaunas, Sigitas Tamkevicius, said the labels offended believers. He added that the use of Catholic symbols for commercial purposes, particularly for alcoholic drinks, was 'completely unacceptable and unjustifiable.'"

The key sentence here, for purposes of satire, would be the Archbishop's denunciation of the commercial use of Catholic symbols, one of which he evidently reckons to be Jesus of Nazareth. Let us roll up our sleeves with enthusiasm and put a few questions to the esteemed Archbishop, especially since there is not a chance in Hell (a popular and familiar Catholic symbol, evidently) that he will respond.

Q: On what basis does the CC (Catholic Church) criticize the usage of Jesus for purposes of revenue generation when, in point of fact, that very usage has been the basis of the CC's own income, prosperity, financial survival and, indeed, lavish prosperity, over the past 2,000 years?

Q: Since when is Jesus, an historical personage, the symbolic property of the CC? Have the various Protestant denominations been informed of this? Have they been advised by CC attorneys that their invocation of the late Jesus constitutes a usurpation (possibly not an actual word) of an official CC symbol, patent pending?

Q: While we're at it, what about the Cross, which, if Jesus is the symbolic property of the CC, would certainly seem to be likewise, as a sort of liturgical accessory to the Prince of Peace? Is that also under CC copyright, and will angry letters be forthcoming from CC attorneys to goldsmiths and jewelers trafficking therein? If attacked by a vampire, do you need CC authorization to flash the sign of the Cross? What about Crossing guards?

Q: How about that fish symbol so popular in second century Rome and on contemporary motor vehicles? Should the trademark lawyers at Starkist be prepared for an action against Charlie the Tuna?

Q: If I slam my finger with a hammer and yell out "Jesus Christ!", is it simple blasphemy, or a trademark violation?

Q: Does this mean I have to omit the crown of thorns from my favorite S&M outfit or risk an injunction?

As I say, I don't expect any response. And I don't really mean to annoy the good Archbishop. If I truly wanted to ruin his day, I'd make sure someone told him about the Prince of Piece (TM) condoms.

Monday, January 16, 2006


According to an article by St. Petersburg Times staff sportswriter Marc Topkin on January 15, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are considering changing their name, one possible new handle being the Tampa Bay Tarpons, which I personally vote for just because of the marvelous typo potential. Ditto with regard to the opportunity for errant transpositions by the broadcast teams: "And now, taking the field are the Tarpa Bay..." You get the drift.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


"Oh me, oh my
The moon is nigh,
Its crimson shadow
On thy thigh..."

Because we do not have the courage to literally pound ten-penny nails into our flesh, my dear wife and I were coming as close to that penance as we care to, which was to watch a few minutes of the People's Choice Awards on TV the other night, something we did because we watch whatever channel is actually able to transmit a visual image to our kitchen portable, and we caught, I believe, both the high and low points of the broadcast all in the space of the time it takes you to assemble a salad.

The low point was that when we turned on the TV, Jessica Simpson, or somebody on that order--I really can't tell the difference between any two entries in the People rolodex--was singing "These Boots Are Made For Walking," which is a pure case of life imitating a Saturday Night Live skit. She made Nancy Sinatra sound like Ella Fitzgerald. My fillings hurt.

The high point was a commercial which followed the song, but which I missed almost all of because I was still in a semi-hypnotic state, but which I did catch enough of at the end to gather that it was for a feminine hygiene product. I do know, because it jerked me to alertness, that it ended with the tag-line slogan, and believe me this is word for word, "Have a Happy Period." Well, now.

"Have a happy period"? What exactly is the message here? I mean, is this a commercial, or a greeting card? Have cramps and bleeding suddenly become somehow festive, a cause for celebration? And if so, what hasn't? "Congratulations on your root canal!" "Enjoy your upcoming parole!" So, why not "Have Yourself a Wonderful Little Period?" Is the Hallmark company hot on this yet, and if not, why not?

God knows, we celebrate almost any aspect of human existence at the drop of a hat, including the joyous dropping of the hat, so, what the hell...
Have a Happy Period

Or, for the British market:
Have a Bloody Good Time (of the month)

In completely unrelated news...a little girl in Turkey has been diagnosed with bird flu, which she evidently contracted, as she described it, from petting, stroking, hugging and kissing her pet chicken. The good news, fellahs is that apparently, choking is still perfectly safe.

And finally, my legions of fans will be heartened to know that my latest memoir, recounting my personal struggle with urinary incontinence, a battle that drained me in far more ways than the obvious and that I relate as a source of inspiration for others, will be published shortly. Be sure to log onto Borders or Amazon and order your copy of "A Million Little Pisses."

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Am I the only one to notice that there seems to be a profusion of almost comically ironic names and titles in the news lately? The GOP has been a hotbed of this phenomenon for awhile now, with the leading human obstacle to all things progressive being a guy named DeLay, who was preceded by another Republican of clout whose name seemed as if it had been explicitly designed as a description of the party's doctrinaire hardnose wing: Dick Armey. And now, vying to replace DeLay in the Majority Leadership role, we have a guy whose name is street slang for marijuana--Blunt--and another whose name, no matter how he chooses to pronounce it, comes across as a crude euphamism for male sexual readiness--Boehner--and, should those seem too frivolous, there is the California candidate, one Jerry Lewis. And the less said about the GOP junior Senator from Idaho, Mike Crapo, the better.

Meanwhile, on the cinematic front, we have "Brokeback Mountain," whose verbal resemblence to the phrase "Broke m'back mountin'" seems rather too precious to be purely accidental for a film about sex between two, um, cowpunchers.

In a completely different vein -- Jay Leno in his monologue last night noted that Jack Abramoff and Monica Lewinsky both went to Beverly Hills High School, an absolutely delightful coincidence, if indeed it was purely coincidental. Then again, maybe they both took the same Social Studies class. In any case, they seem to have learned the same life lesson: that the way to gain leverage or points with men in positions of power is to slip them an irresistible something extra under the table. Leno's line, or at least that of one of his writers, was that the difference between the two was that Jack only wanted the president's ear. Which is a nice punchline, but I would have added that Monica only smeared a dress, not an entire political party.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


For the possible amusement of anybody who happens to stumble upon this blog, here are three items that I, perhaps in similar fashion, recently stumbled upon while negotiating the Net.

First, this news, taken verbatim, from http://www.suntimes.com/output/news/cst-nws-bad03.html --

"INDIANAPOLIS -- State transportation officials are considering a 'bad driver surcharge' that would fine drivers who cause accidents that lead to traffic jams. The fee is meant to reduce the number of traffic-snarling crashes on Indiana's most congested highways and roads, the Indianapolis Star reported. 'If you have a driver that's causing problems, that takes use of the roads away from others,' said Thomas Sharp, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Transportation. 'The whole purpose is to keep traffic moving.'''

Imagine: inflicting actual punishment on motorists whose slipshod, inattentive, pushy or bonehead driving causes others to be imprisoned in traffic jams. I don't know who came up with this concept in Indianapolis, but if anybody wants to circulate a petition to bring them west to run California, I'd sign.

Frankly, I would love to see such vehicular assholes sued by every other single driver who was, thanks to them, frozen in gridlock, who was made late for work or an appointment or who simply needed to get to a restroom. I can't remember which standup comic used to do a take on this with the tagline that, after crawling along for 40 minutes to cover 3 miles, when you finally got to the accident site your attitude was that by God, somebody had BETTER be freaking dead. I won't go quite that far. But nailing them with a harried commuters' class action suit for inconvenience-related damages? You bet.

I'm more ambivalent about punishing potential suicides, specifically those whose threats to jump from freeway overpasses, major bridges and the like wind up shutting down high-density thoroughfares. On the one hand, my heart goes out to someone with so little regard for their life. On the other hand, hey, you want a reason to kill yourself, you inconsiderate bastard? My lawyer will make sure that you get one. Decisions, decisions, philosophically speaking.

Meanwhile, at http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1527891/posts
we read that, with the opening of its latest penal facility in Crawfordville, the state of Florida now has 3 faith-based prisons. Three, I say. According to this item, the Florida state prison system puts a lot of stock in faith, its power to reform and remake and so on. Nevertheless, I notice that they still have armed guards, high walls and razor wire. Faith clearly has its limits. Plus, evidently, those doing long stretches of years in confinement are expected to have more of it than those blessed with freedom and prosperity. Go figure.

And finally, for those parents of teenage sons who find it next to impossible to get them conscious, dressed and at the breakfast table each morning, there is a company that is promoting such provocative breakfast cereals as "Cheery HOs," "Internet Porn Flakes," and, for the gay youth, "Great Nuts." That should make Junior rise and shine. The entire product line is viewable at http://www.mainstreetsonoma.com/cereals.html

Monday, January 02, 2006


According to a recent CNEWS report, the World Health Organization is taking great pains to avoid stigmatizing any particular countries or locales when naming the threatening--and if the echolalia of the media means anything, the inevitable--epidemic of bird flu. Specifically, WHO feel that it's important to shun such appellations as the Spanish Flu (not to be confused with an aphrodisiac that makes your nose run) or Asian Flu, fearing that it could unfairly taint the image and reputation of those geographical entities, possibly with negative economic consequences. In response to which notion, the thought occurs: Yeah, we've seen how that Typhoid label forced the Catholic Church to pretty much eliminate references to Mary from the liturgy altogether.