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

Saturday, November 25, 2006


"Don't cheerleaders all over America form pyramids six to eight times a year? Is that torture?"
-- Defense attorney Guy Womack, defending US soldier Charles Graner, accused of such Iraqi prisoner abuses as forcing them to form naked human pyramids.

(AP -- Washington -- 12/15/06) Declaring that "I like the way this guy thinks," President George Bush today signed an order authorizing the use by the CIA and US military of the new Womack Interrogation Guidelines, as suggested by Bush's recently appointed Deputy Attorney General For Intelligence Acquisiton, former defense lawyer Guy Womack. Among the interrogation measures recommended, and the reasoning behind their justification, are:

1. Bleeding prisoners once a month -- because cheerleaders, at least female cheerleaders, well, you know.

2. Getting prisoners so drunk that they pass out cold and are then sexually violated by drunken young male athletes -- another activity cheerleaders are frequently reported being involved in.

3. Hitting prisoners alongside the head with long L-shaped sticks -- because that's routinely the high point in American hockey games.

4. Throwing hard, fist-sized, cowhide-covered balls at prisoners' heads at upwards of 90 miles an hour -- because that happens all the time in major league baseball games, especially if Roger Clemens is playing.

5. Hurling prisoners downhill into trees at 40-60 miles per hour -- a common occurrence in skiing...or are you saying that these terrorist scum somehow deserve better than Sonny Bono?

6. Having prisoners eat worms, goat intestines, squid eyes or live cockroaches -- which countless Americans have enthusiastically volunteered to do if it would get them on some reality TV show.

7. Forcing prisoners to wear dog collars and to be led around on all fours by a leash -- a procedure that more than a few State and Defense Department officials are known to pay women generously to subject them to.

8. Having prisoners punch one another in the face with all their might -- which a number of Americans were more than willing to do for little more than a pack of cigarettes in "Bumfights," a much underrated video series.

9. Stuffing prisoners into supermarket shopping carts and rolling them at high speed into concrete walls -- something that numerous American adolescents seemed thoroughly delighted to do on "Jackass," a popular cable series.

10. Making prisoners stand in line outdoors, in terrible weather, with no restroom facilities or hot food, for hour after hour after hour -- a ritual that thousands of videogamers happily participate in to get their hands on product every time Sony or Microsoft crank out a new XBox or Playstation, not to mention half the American public on the day after Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 17, 2006


Cal versus USC was not supposed to be "the other game" that it has been reduced to. Back in the dawn of the football season, it was ranked by prognosticators right up there with Ohio State versus Michigan. But that was before the men of Troy dropped trou for Oregon State and the Bears picked up the soap in the Arizona shower. In a way, that's a good thing. The only thing at stake for Cal will be the Rose Bowl, not a possible national championship, which means I will bleed out of only one ear if USC takes and holds a lead, as opposed to both ears and nostrils.

The really good news is that I'm not an Ohio St. or Michigan fan or alum. I don't think I could take the pressure. I would need transfusions before halftime. Not only will the national championship probably follow the winner home like a Collie, but the game has taken on downright spooky dimensions. Here's what I mean.

There is an actual punk rock band, evidently of former Ohio St. students, that plays a fairly limited number of engagements in a geographically limited market; to be honest, I'm guessing about that. I ran across them on the Net today. What I do know is that every year, the night before the Ohio St. - Michigan game, they play an event called the Hate Michigan Dance. The name of the band is the Dead Schembechlers, which is a play on the Dead Kennedys, and the name of Michigan's most successful and renowned football coach. I don't know what coach Schembechler's reaction to this has been, or if he's even aware of the band, and now I'll never have the chance to ask him. Because Bo Schembechler died this morning.

And tonight, the Dead Schembechlers take the stage amid more irony than even they can ever have dreaded or hoped for.

There's something about this that should tell me something. And that something is: which way to bet the game.

This is clearly a sign, or an omen, but of what? That powers beyond our feeble ken have thrown their lot with the Ohioans? Or that God has taken Bo in trade for a trouncing of the Buckeyes tomorrow?

Actually, I'm not betting that or any other game, and I couldn't care less which team wins. I'd just like to see one of them playing Cal on New Year's Day. Even if it were to mean that, say, Joe Kapp must die.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


There have been several news reports that the head of Al Qaeda in Iraq released a tape in which he declared that Islamic Jihadists will not rest or give quarter until they have blown up the White House, preferably while George Bush is in residence.

To which I enthusiastically give the only proud, patriotic, and appropriate response:
"Bring it on."
I mean it. Seriously. Please.
Here, I'll hold your djellaba, or whatever the hell you call that coat.

After all, to paraphrase a certain commander-in-chief, if we don't fight them in D.C., we'll have to fight them in Oakland.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Gloria and I were watching the Tigers-Cards World Series game the other week, not because we particularly cared about the outcome, although we have a sort of sentimental attachment to Tony LaRussa because (1) he used to manage the A's, and (2) he founded the Animal Rescue Foundation, and (3) he and I go back to our salad days in the Tobacco Chewing Club at Yale.

Actually, we were mainly watching the game with a sense of relief that no matter what the outcome was, the A's couldn't lose it.

And it occurred to me, as the TV broadcast crew were discussing switch hitting, that before the year 1860 or so, nobody on the face of the earth knew, or cared, which way another human being swung a bat. I'm not even sure there was such a thing as a bat, unless you're talking about airborne rodents, before 1860. Well, there was cricket, of course. When did cricket start?
Come to think of it, why is there a sport named after an insect?
And for that matter, why is there an item of baseball equipment named after an airborne rodent?
Why am I getting so far off the track?
What makes me think there is a track?

It just struck me that here was a very isolated and specific capability of the human physiology--to swing a club-shaped object on a lateral level with extraordinary speed, power, and pinpoint accuracy--that had virtually no cultural significance or value for most of human existence--unless, perhaps, you were a competition lumberjack--and then overnight, historically speaking, it suddenly did, and still does.

There's something vaguely quirky about that. Although this is probably a phenomenon that dates back to the stone age: the odd and largely useless application of physical ability that suddenly rises from utter pointlessness into highly-valuable status due to technological or cultural demand.

Go back far enough, and it's the ability to rub two sticks together, never previously considered much of a plus around the cave until it became a sudden fast-track to the much-sought-after gift of fire. Fast forward far enough, and it's having the quickest thumbs on the block when it comes to video gaming, a subject I won't even attempt to pretend to be conversant on.

My favorite example, actually, is dialing a phone, an application of human dexterity that existed not at all until Bell's invention in 1876, and which with the imminent domination of cell phones will have become a veritable physical anachronism by 2008 at the latest. Here you have a circular hand motion that rose from irrelevance to the level of almost universal application and even indispensability, and then back again, all in something like 135 years.
That's not a tremendous lifespan. There are people in the Balkans almost that old. It's like the Pony Express of physical dexterity.

Readers of this site are invited to contribute their own favorite Handy But Singularly Specific Physical Skills, such as Putting for Par, Negotiating Men's Briefs in Order to Urinate, and something you're engaged in right now, Manipulating a Mouse.
I've already got dibs on Tying a Necktie.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Anyone who knows me knows that I would be unable to resist bringing the Actual News Item below to the attention of those persons unfortunate enough to be reading this blog, any more than I could refrain from immediately coming up with the following possible headlines for it:

Kill This Crazy Bastard Before He Screws Things Up For All Of Us
Adding A Colorful New Dimension To The Whole "Volunteerism" Concept
The Sperminator
Paging Angelina Jolie!
The Ultimate Stocking Stuffer
Test Pilots Wanted: Must Have The Writhe Stuff

And now the item...

Women wanted to test sex machine

A Serbian man who has invented a sex machine for women is appealing to western women to test his device.
Nesa Proka, from the central town of Krusevac, made the appeal after failing to find any willing Serbian women.
He has taken out a patent on what he says is the "ultimate sex aid" for lonely women after spending three years working on it.
The machine, which runs on a 390 volt electric engine, simulates sex and has a seven and a half inch artificial 'penis'.
He said: "My sex machine has an artificial penis that can make up to 180 moves in a minute. A man can only manage that intensity of movement for about five seconds but the machine can do it for as long as the woman wants.
"And it comes with a set of controls to fully regulate the speed and intensity a woman for individual sex."
But Proka said he would have to market it in the west because he had not been able to find any Serbian woman to test it out.
"Western women are more liberal. I couldn't find a woman here to try the sex machine," he told local daily Glas Javnosti.
But he did admit that some local women were curious about his invention and a few had come into his garage where he keeps it locked away just to look at it.
One reportedly told the newspaper: "If I had a machine like that at home I would never go outside the front door."

Also, as your reward for actually reading through the above, the following I have plucked from the Defective Yeti website, 10/27/06 posting. Don't know who he(?) is or where she(?) got it from, but it's an occasionally recurring feature. It's a sampling of highlight quotes pulled from negative film reviews. It's amusing.

The Bad Review Revue

School for Scoundrels : "To call it slight is to slight the word 'slight.'" -- David Elliott, SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE

Man of the Year: "Many actors were paid to pretend Williams is still funny." -- Chris Hewitt, ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS

Employee of the Month: "It's simply too depressing that people sat in a boardroom, read this script and said, 'We're ready to go!'" -- David Gilmour, GLOBE AND MAIL

One Night With The King: "Dear Lord, why must Your most ardent followers unleash such bad movies in Your name?" -- Josh Bell, LAS VEGAS WEEKLY

Flyboys: "If the current legroom in economy class doesn't make you resent the birth of the Wright Brothers, Flyboys certainly will." -- Michael Booth, DENVER POST

The Grudge 2: "Likely to induce deja vu. Not the cool, eerie deja vu, but the 'Hey, isn't that exactly what happened in the first movie?' deja vu." -- Michael Ordona, LOS ANGELES TIMES

The Covenant: "Movies like this are why we have eyelids." -- Colin Covert, MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE
[ link | Bad Review Revue]