Friday, December 23, 2011

Almost the Nativity

(For those who arrived late, this is a reprint from 2009.)

I view the Bible as being 100% truthful and doesn't always report 100% of what actually happened. At times, it uses figures of speech and poetic language and just plain leaves some things out. For example, what really happened between Luke 1:26-56 and Matthew 2:18?

Following the angel Gabriel's announcement to Mary that she would give birth to the Messiah, and Mary's hasty, three-month visit with her kinswoman, Elizabeth, she returned to Nazareth and her betrothed, Joseph.

"Joseph?" Mary inquired, as she entered the carpenter's shop.

"Is that the voice of my turtle dove?" laughed Joseph as he picked Mary up and swung her around in joy.

"Careful, you glorified lumberjack." Joseph was a little confused about needing to be careful, so Mary continued: "I've got some wonderful news, oh hubby-to-be! I am expecting a child."

"That's a wonderful, positive attitude, my basket of flower petals. I, too, expect that our God will be gracious and grant to us the blessing of being parents." (Joseph was not the sharpest chisel in the toolbox.)

"You don't understand, my muscular ox. I am, even now, at this very minute, expecting a child."

Joseph tilted his head to one side, squinted, and slowly said, "Yea,, too."

Mary slipped her hands up Joseph's arms and cupped his face. "Let me speak plainly, oh He Who Is Strong of Arm and Thick of Skull. I'm preggers."

The light dawned excruciatingly slowly in the carpenter's mind: "Heyyyyy...what were you doing for the last three months, anyway? I thought you were visiting your cousin Elizabeth. Is there something in the water up there?"

"Joseph," Mary calmly interjected, "I am not pregnant by the effort of any man. God has placed this child within me."


Monday, December 12, 2011

MY FIRST TIME: Episode Four: You can't get there from here

Synopsis: The author and his Beloved, as part of their first-ever, short-term, cross-cultural missions experience, arrived in Panama City, Panama, a day later than the rest of their group.

The first thing to hit me when the sliding glass doors opened -- the doors that separated the stiff, official, will-they-let-me-in-the-country-or-not customs area of the airport from the throng of brown faces looking for someone other than me -- the first thing to hit me was the smell. Not that it was an unpleasant odor, just...different. Certainly pungent. Decidedly piercing. Altogether unavoidable.

The second aspect of Panama to impress itself on me was the heat. This was February. I had left 26 degree Indiana and now walked into 95 degree Panama. Again...not unpleasant, except for the whole tennis-shoes-melting-into-the-concrete phenomenon.

The gringo missionary we would be working with knew the representative of the sponsoring organization that had organized the trip and who was with us (because he stayed behind in Miami, remember?), so we had no difficulty being found. Frankly, even though we had never seen the missionary before, it wasn't hard to pick out the only six foot, four inch, redheaded Irishman that side of the Rio Grande.

We wended our way through the crowds to a large taxi/small cargo truck, which took us to the bus terminal in town, where we booked passage for our six hour bus ride to a town named David (pronounced, Dah-VEED).

Methinks the actual distance from Panama City to David is about 120 miles, but we spent the first three-and-a-half hours of our trip zig-zagging through the narrow, congested, always-in-a-state-of-disrepair streets of Panama City...stopping for every souvenir cart (no doubt owned by a cousin of the bus-driver's wife's shoe salesman's nephew) and stray dog (the other white meat).

To give you an idea of just how exciting it was riding in this fairly-full, vintage bus with an assortment of animals, produce, cranky kids, and large, belching hombres, let me pass on three words: No...Air...Conditioning.

Monday, December 5, 2011

"Hey, Mommy's Daddy!"

I became a grampa Sunday morning.

Well, to tell you the True Truth, I've been considering myself the father of a child who has a child since I first saw the ultrasound picture and could tell how absolutely cool my grandson was:

But just yesterday morning (as James Taylor invades my brain), they let me KNOW you were [here]. Seems that the plans they made [got left behind].

It's true, the little goober came a few weeks early, but all is well and right and good and fine...except for a personal question of my own:

What do I want SkittleKid to call me when he starts talking in a few weeks?

(Yes, it will happen that soon. His mom, AngelFace, is An Educator and will settle for nothing less than a precocious prodigy...reading The Brothers Karamazov at the age of three.)

I've heard plenty of possibilities:

Grandfather - Way too stuffy for a wannabe hippie like me; makes me think of Shirley Temple pouting and crying in a snowstorm

Grandpa - Impossible to pronounce, which is probably what led to the invention of...

Granpa - which no one actually says; it always comes out...

Grampa - which is fine for what it is: the masculine form of Gramma; but I guess I want something less derivative

Gramps - This would be great if I chewed tobaccee, walked with a hitch in my gitalong, and was named Walter Brennan

Peepaw - Kind of cute in a it's-a-shame-Dewey-has-to-wear-Depends-at-such-a-young-age kind of way

I know it will depend on what SkittleKid's tongue can actually navigate, but I wouldn't mind Papa Dewey...except now that I say that out loud, it sort of sounds like you're instructing someone to quickly swallow some kind of illegal pill.

Oh well, whatever he ends up calling me, I'll love it because I love him. And that's the whole, complete, actual, factual, true truth.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Shopping CAN be fun!

'Twas the week before Black Friday, and Beloved and I were stalking around in a department store, looking for things we would only think about considering to contemplate buying if it was 75% off. On a good day, shopping is not on my top ten list of fun things to do, but add to that the dark cloud of We-Don't-Really-Have-Any-Money-To-Buy-Things, and my day was, if not totally shot to blazes, at least sweating profusely from the radiating heat.

The tension...for me, at least...was permanently dispelled as a result of the following scene:

A mid-sized circle of people was passing me, walking in the opposite direction. Well...most of the people were passing me. One young girl was barely keeping up with the group as she hobbled on one foot, trying not to touch the other to the floor, and expressing her frustration in a series of almost-crying whimpers.

A mom-like entity in the middle of the group, pushing a shopping cart, grumpily mumbled, "SOMEbody needs a nap."

With no hesitation and in a clear, purposeful tone, the hopping child declared, "I don't need a nap. You ran over my ankle!"

Am I a bad person for laughing?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Almost the News XIV

Self-Defense Claimed in Baseball-Bat Killing
The defendant testified that "the bat had a knife and was coming at me! I had no choice!"

ADT Settles with Family of Woman Slain in Bed
The arbitration lawyer said it was an unusual location for a settlement to take place, "but, hey, whatever works."

Fiber One Bars Recalled For Nuts
Sane people, however, will still be allowed to purchase them.

Ventura's Suit Over Search Tossed
Two questions: 1) Why would a search motivate anyone to throw the former Minnesota governor's dapper duds?...and...2) When did Yoda start writing headlines?

Wildfire Destroys 72 Reno Homes
Michael Martin Murphy's hit song spent two weeks at the number three spot back in June of 1975, but last week, when played at an extreme volume, it literally brought the house down...several houses, actually.

Man Gets Four Days For Lewd Conduct
...but that's all. After four days, he has to stop.

Possible Gas Leak Prompts Evacuation
Just another Sunday afternoon at my dad's La-Z-Boy.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

MY FIRST TIME: Episode Three: How much is that urinal in the window?

Synopsis: Having overcome the hurdles of a decapitated hawk and a missed connection, Beloved and I finally arrived in Panama City, Panama, to begin our first short-term, cross-cultural mission experience.

This was my first experience using a passport and a visa to enter a different country. My level of anxiety as I shuffled through customs, carefully eyeing the well-armed soldiers as they carefully eyed me, was somewhere between that of a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs and a three-year-old boy needing desperately to go wee-wee.

Funny I should mention that, because the complimentary ginger ale on the flight had turned me into exactly that...except for the three-year-old part.

The good news is, there was a rest room conveniently located a few feet away. The bad news is, when I went through the first of two doors, there was a woman sitting there. I was about to turn around and double-check the sign on the baño to see if the little figure had a skirt, when a fellow traveler said, "It's alright; she's the attendant."

Being only partly convinced that it was "alright," I went through the second door and into the rest room proper. It was a fine and modern facility; fairly clean, I was told, because of The Attendant sitting between the two doors, whose job it was to keep it that way.

Whilst Taking Care of Business, my mind raced with questions: Is Senorita Attendant going to walk in and start cleaning while I'm in here? How much does one tip a person who keeps the paper towel dispenser full and the waste can empty? Would it be impolite to barter?

As I walked past her on the way out, I handed her what I thought was the equivalent of a dollar, but I must have miscalculated because she took one look at my tip, jumped out of her chair, kissed me full on the mouth, and went dancing and skipping down the hallway.

I heard on the news that night something about an upward spike in Panama's national economy...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Amazing Numbers!

Having just been subjected to the umpteenth breaking news story about today being 11/11/11 (GASP!), I feel it is my duty as part of the blogosphere to inform as many people as possible that tomorrow's date will be...11/12/11!


And you better make note of it now, because this arrangement of numbers representing month/day/year won't happen again for ONE HUNDRED YEARS!

And...oh my goodness gracious me...Sunday will be 11/13/ arrangement of numbers representing month/day/year that won't happen again for ONE HUNDRED YEARS!

But in other news...wait! This just in! Monday will be 11/14/ arrangement of numbers representing month/day/year that won't happen again...ZZZzzz z z z z z z z z z......

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Being on vacation, I just can't bring myself to sit down and compose the next chapter in my first cross-cultural mission experience or write about the latest mangling of the English language perpetrated by SweaterGal and FlatulenceKing (my parents, with whom Beloved and I are staying), so I'm being absolutely lazy and reproducing for the Almost the Truth fan base (all both of you) a list of interesting links that I keep updated on my FaceBook page...


Adam Ben Ezra doing a suhweet solo upright bass cover of Come Together

James Taylor's song, Fire and Rain, makes me feel kinda like the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter.

How unbelievably cool would it be for Paul Simon to invite you on stage to sing one of his songs?

The Beatles in their first TV appearance: The Mersey Beat program in the UK, 1963...She Loves You

Paul Revere & the Raiders perform Ups & Downs on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour:

Beatles & Jackson 5 doing Hey Jude and I'll Be There. This is what started my love for mashups.

Beatles & Jackson 5 together in a masterful mashup of In My Life and I Want You Back.

Come Together & I Love Rock and Roll mashup of the Beatles and Joan Jett.

CLASSIC (i.e., oldish) JESUS MUSIC

Rich Mullins singing his song, Creed

Phil Keaggy & Randy Stonehill doing Sunday's Child and seeming a lot younger than they really are.\

Keith Green, singing Your Love Broke Through

Larry Norman, the man who started it all: The Rock That Doesn't Roll


Rowan Atkinson w/ Not the 9 O'clock News reciting a modernized Apostles' Creed, mostly standing firmish in their beliefs...kind of.

Jello Cubes Being Dropped - High-Speed Video

22 Examples of Refaced U.S. Currency

Barney Fife "reciting" the preamble to the U.S. Constitution

Beatles 3000 is a great parody of historical research and the pompous talking heads who think they are experts.

Back to the Future's Biff riffs on questions he always gets asked

Ma & Pa Kettle do some fancy math


Single episode of "Truth for Life" podcast. My favorite Scottish preacher, Allistair Begg, with an inspiring illustration of worship.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Back in the U.S.S. Earworm

Morning arrived, but I was already awake...with these unbidden songs wreaking havoc on my attempts to sleep Just Five More Minutes.

2 – Angels Unaware (Matthew Ward)
3 – Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (Beatles) Irritation: when the song first came out, the Beatles were all “No, this isn’t about LSD. John’s son, Sean, drew this crazy picture…” And then, years later, in a filmed interview for the “Beatles Anthology” TV miniseries, Paul just matter-of-factly, with no hint that he was rewriting history, said, “…and of course, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds was about drugs…”
12 – Maxwell’s Silver Hammer (John, Paul, George, and Ringo)
16 – Anna (Beatles…which is now getting a little silly, don’t you think?)
17 – While My Guitar Gently—oh for cryin’ out loud…
21 – I Knew You When (1965 hit by Billy Joe Royal,, but my poor unfortunate soul was hearing Donny & Marie Osmond’s version)
26 – Show Me the Way (Peter Frampton)

1 – Saturday Night’s Alright for Fightin’ (Sir Elton John)
3 – Psalm of Hope (Debbie Roth,
8 – Mama’s Pearl (Jackson 5)
15 – The Love of God (Rich Mullins)
19 – Feed the Birds (from Mary Poppins)
20 – Hard to Say I’m Sorry (Chicago, that toddlin’ town)
22 – Beautiful Things (Gungor) Just learned this song the evening before during worship rehearsal; must have learned it well, because now it is all I can hear!
23 – Marian the Librarian (from The Music Man)
27 – Treasure of You (Steven Curtis Chapman)

3 – Sailing (Christopher Cross)
6 – Let’s Dance On (Monkees)
9 – Nashville Cats (Loving Spoonful) Strikes me that these could be flipped around in almost any order, and it would still sound right. (Loving Spoonful by Nashville Cats; Nashville Spoonful by Loving Cats; Spoonful Cats by Nashville Loving…)
10 – Dreamweaver (Gary Wright)
20 – Mother and Child Reunion (Paul Simon)
25 – All Night Long (Lionel Richie)
27 – All Night Long (Lionel Richie) And all DAY long, too!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

MY FIRST TIME: Episode Two: And the Grammy goes to...

Synopsis: While taking off to begin my first-ever cross-cultural short-term mission adventure, the plane decapitated a red-tailed hawk, necessitating a return to Indianapolis instead of a flight to Miami.

While we sat in the plane, which sat at the gate, which housed the ticket agent, who worked for the airline that Orville built, it became increasingly clear that the visual inspection for hawk damage was going to delay us to the point of missing our flight from Miami to Panama City. Beloved and I informed our misnamed flight attendant how important it was for us to get to Miami and asked if there was anything that could be done to help poor, poor pitiful us.

Amazingly, our request resulted in quick action. We were soon hustled onto a plane heading for Nashville, where we would catch a ride to Miami, in hopes of arriving in time to board our flight to Panama City, where we would meet the missionaries with whom we would be working at a church in a jungle on an isthmus that God built.

One happy note: it felt really cool to be carrying a guitar case through the Nashville airport...walking in the steps of Chet Atkins and Roy Clark and thousands of nameless hopefuls.

At this point in the story, the alert reader will have noticed that the alternative plan for getting to Miami was filled with hope, not certainty. The reality of how the plan played out is that we landed in Miami just in time to see our flight to Panama take off. So, we retrieved our luggage, got tickets for the next flight to Panama City (which was the next morning), were given vouchers for dinner and a room at the Miami Luck-shurrey Sweets, and hopped on a shuttle to get there...all while failing to hear our names being paged by the CIY representative who had stayed behind to take care of us.

Said representative joined us at our table while we were eating our Chicken Chord-off Blew...had we known the next ten days would be spent eating nothing but chicken and rice, methinks the choice would have been cheeseburgers.

After being informed of the brand-spanking-new plan for the morning, Beloved and I retired to our room and spent our first evening on the outside-your-comfort-zone mission field in an eighth-floor Miami hotel room, watching Eric Clapton sweep the top categories at the Grammy Awards.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

MY FIRST TIME: Episode One: This is your captain speaking...

Back in my days as a vocational youth pastor/minister/guy, it was positively trendy to take members of one's youth group on short-term, cross-cultural mission trips...get the little whiners out of their comfort zones and show them a piece of the world that doesn't have instant access to high fructose corn syrup.

I sincerely wanted to jump on the bandwagon, and felt like I should have a similar experience myself, so I could recruit student participation with a modicum of integrity. Therefore, Beloved and I signed up to participate in a Christ In Youth (CIY)-sponsored/organized trip to Panama.

The fund-raising was fairly easy. It seemed that everyone in the Southern-Indiana congregation in which I was employed was more than happy to see us go...though several were trying to limit the funds coming in to the price of a one-way ticket. Hmmm...

Funds acquired, bags packed, and prayers said, we boarded our plane in Indianapolis, with plans to fly to Miami where we would switch planes and continue on to Panama City.

About halfway through the plane's ascent, we all heard something - a definite ka-chunk of some sort. I would even go so far as to say that I felt something as well...and not just the warm puddle that formed in my lap, but a disturbance in the Force.

Nobody said anything, and I was cautiously looking in Beloved's direction to Make Sure She Wasn't Alarmed, but when a co-pilot-looking youngster quickly toddled from the front of the plane to the rear, jingling either some keys or prayer beads in his hand, my keen intellect told me that something just might possibly be amiss.

Immediately, the plane went through a series of turns and banks that would have made the great Waldo Pepper jealous. I was about to ask for my third cartoon-decorated air sickness bag (Vomit Envelope; Hurl Holder; Puke Pocket), when the plane's intercom crackled into life:

This is your captain speaking. We appear to have sucked a red-tailed hawk through one of our jet engines while taking off. The ground crew at Indianapolis International Airport report they have found MOST of the bird. There doesn't appear to be any damage to the plane or any negative effect to our controls, but we're going to turn around and land back at Indianapolis so we can make a visual inspection.

You may be surprised to hear this, but not one person out of the hundred or so of us on that plane stood up and said, "C'mon, ya sissy! What are you afraid of? Let's GO for it!"

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Drugz R Guhd

The spam filter at my place of employment, Big Brother, Inc., is usually pretty efficient. I've never received an offer of hundreds of thousands of dollars from the prince of Turfghanstibull or been warned that Oprah Winfrey is planning on changing the U.S. Constitution so she can be not only Queen of All Media, but also of North America.

But every once in a great while, something redonkulous slips through and lands in my inbox.

Case in point is the following bit of lilting literature:

Wellbutrin SR is not habits forming unlike hard drugs.
They changes number of serotonin in the mind, which make you odd for
the few weeks.

You can get discount for your order. Save 11% on your ENTIRE ORDER.
Promo code is expire on 10/4/11.

Strange that the promo code is the word "expire" and that it's only good on one day. But I was sad that I missed the opportunity to save 11% (not 10%...not 15%...but 11%) because I could really use something that would limit my state of being odd to just a few weeks.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Observed Absurdities™ 3 - A Salted Battery

Up to this point, the little sub-set of posts falling under the title of Observed Absurdities™ have included oddities brought to my attention from alert readers around the globe (all the way from Elko, Minnesota to New York, New York!), but today, I offer something I noticed all on my very own.

First of all, you need to be aware of the general apoplexy that overtakes me when I consider how convenience-dependent the North American Public has become. We don't buy heads of lettuce it's Salad-in-a-Bag. Kids aren't sent to school with a sandwich and a Tupperware bowl full of's got to be one of those pre-packaged, cartoon-infested Munchable thingies.

It's even possible to buy peanut butter and jelly it's too much to ask anyone to spread their own peanut butter...with the crusts of the bread already removed!

Knowing how such self-helplessness appalls me, imagine how many blood vessels broke in my brain when I was driving home one day following a van with THIS painted on it:

AAA Batteries

Delivered and Installed

I freely admit that I have a less-than-symbiotic relationship with most power tools, but seriously...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Big Brother is watching.

Toward the end of last month, Beloved and I spent a couple days at the Great Minnesota BragFest, which I've written about before (

The biggest shock to my system this time around, other than the Australian Batter-Dipped, Deep-Fried, Ranch-n-Cheese-Sauce-Smothered Potato Slices, was heading into the Public Rest Room and being greeted by the following sign:

"This restroom is under video surveillance by State Fair Police."

I'm wondering just where the cameras are focused, what out-of-work pervert do they pay (or, more likely, pays them) to monitor said cameras, and...gosh...don't people get sent to jail for that kind of stuff?

Not being one to let a performing opportunity go to waste...and thinking that maybe this was a new recruiting technique for America's Got Talent, I quickly went to work with a little song-and-dance number I keep in my back pocket for just such occasions.

I had just finished the second chorus and was beginning the dance break when my left (jazz) hand was grabbed and put behind my back, where it was greeted by and manacled to my right hand. It seems the State Fair Police (whose uniforms are apparently plain white coats) thought I was busking for dollars without a license.

It took Beloved a few hours to get me released...especially since she didn't miss me until she ran out of money for cotton candy and cheese curds.

But everything's okay now. My parole officer has a very comfortable couch in his office. It's really relaxing and helps me talk to him in our weekly sessions. (But he makes me call him "Doctor." Crazy, huh?)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

CAUTION: Handle With Care, Part 2

When last we met, I was going on and on about an old memory that had been pulled up from the files because I ate a McDonald's cherry pie. This time, let me call your attention to the box in which said pie was delivered to my anxiously awaiting hands.

I'm pretty sure that the phrase "I'm lovin' it" is what's supposed to be associated with the graphic of the canoodling couple...which is satire-worthy enough...but what really got my attention was how appropriately inappropriate the other written message was for the picture: "CAUTION Handle With Care I'M HOT"

Makes me wonder what kind of other consumer warning labels people ought to have attached to themselves...

  • DO NOT CROSS...It's my way or the highway

  • NO SHOULDERS...So don't come to me crying about your personal drama

  • TOP SECRET...Except when the gossip is really juicy

  • DO NOT TALK...Because I'm not listening

  • NO JOKE...I have no sense of humor

  • I'M WITH STUPID...Even when I'm all alone

NOTE: No fair printing up T-shirts without giving me a cut. (COPYRIGHT BAD COP...I take bribes)

Friday, September 2, 2011

CAUTION: Handle With Care, Part 1

I recently indulged in the evil pleasure of a McDonald's cherry pie, and there are two things I want to say about that.

McDonald's cherry pies remind me of McDonald's apple pies which remind me that a few years back I bought a pair of them at a New York City McDonald's so ActorBoy and I could properly be called "customers," for whom the use of McDonald's not-so-public rest rooms were reserved.

It happened six years ago, when the two of us were exploring The Big Apple as part of his beginning his theatre studies. He was 18, moving to a refurbished hotel/dormitory in Brooklyn, and excited about this huge new world that was opening up before his very eyes. I was 48, dropping off my only son in New York There's-a-Victim-Born-Every-Minute City, and decidedly anxious about this huge new world that was opening up before his very eyes.

It's true that my anxiety had a lot to do with taking this fish of mine and putting him in an exponentially larger pond, but I confess that my biggest worry during the four days we spent together there was if my bladder would hold out until we found a Relief Station.

City That Never Sleeps? HA! It should be called The City That Never Pees. I'm convinced this is the reason NYC residents have earned their reputation of being cranky and impatient...they are all fighting incontinence with a fervor that rivals Teddy Roosevelt's charge up San Juan Hill.

Have you ever actually looked at the box that McDonald's pies come in? Well, let me tell time... (stay tuned!)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Abundance and Lack

Beloved and I had just consumed mass quantities at our favorite local Mexican dining establishment (favorite because it's 1] close; and 2] cheap) and were being wheelbarrowed out to our car when I struck up a short conversation with a short person...may have actually been a child now that I think about it.

I complimented him on his hair, of which he had plenty, and how it was swooped up from both sides and formed a ridge along the top of his head. (You know what I'm talking about, right?)

I then bent over so he could see the opposite effect naturally transpiring on the top of my head (seen here in a shot from a wedding I recently officiated):

The closing line to the conversation was, of course, "You've got a faux hawk and I've got a no hawk."

Saturday, August 13, 2011

For Your Consideration...

I just stumbled across a "Star Wars Crawl Creator" on the World Wide Wackfest and, with little forethought and no malice intended, came up with a little something, which you can experience in all its Technicolor glory by clicking the following link:

Enjoy...then make your own! (And some people say that Almost the Truth has no educational value...)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

What the thief is trying to say is...

This isn't a straightforward story.

It all ALL started several years ago when God said, "Let there be..." and there was. But more specifically, this little tale started on August 1, 2007, when the I-35W bridge near the Minneapolis campus of the University of Minnesota collapsed:

  • The bridge collapsed, killing several and critically wounding several more.

  • Four years later, a memorial to the fallen and a message to the standing was dedicated.

  • One or two days later, 22 letters of that message were pried off the granite of the memorial and stolen away.
This morning, the local paper printed a list of those stolen 22 letters, wondering if the thief had hidden a message of his or her own that could be made from those letters.

So of course, I put my friend,, to work and came up with the following possibilities. Feel free to pick your favorite:

- A Urgently Mismanaged Wow
- A Reanimated Lung Wows Gym
- Emanated A Wry, Glowing Sum
- Swung A Grimy Emanated Owl
- Lemmings Wow A Runty Adage
- Urgently Swim A Mown Adage
- Adage Slew A Ingrown Tummy
- Own A Slummy Garaged Twine
- Winnow A Musty, Garaged Elm
- Summon A Wily, Garaged Newt
- A Mismanaged Rug Went Yowl
- A Mum Gently Wows Drainage
- Town Slew A Gummy Gardenia
- A Granulated, Newsy Mom Wig
- Damage A Mewling, Runty Sow
- Nuns Damage A Wormy Wiglet

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Oh, Earworm, you came and you gave without taking

This quarter's collection of morning mind music is a little light for two reasons: 1) I spent most of the month of June waking up with songs from the latest Giant Step Theatre (find us on FaceBook) production (Beauty and the Beast); and 2) when it wasn't that, the most-common thing going through my head upon leaving the Land of Nod was something along the lines of, "Oh come on...I know it's light out, but I don't have to get up for another half hour!"

4 – Living Letters of HOPE (Debbie Roth) I kind of feel sorry for the world when this finally gets released to the public (, because once this puppy gets in your head….
5 – Couldn’t Get It Right (Climax Blues Band)
10 – There is a Way (Debbie Roth. Yeah, yeah, yeah…somebody else sang this in the version that made it onto Christian radio stations, but it was Beloved’s voice I was hearing…over and over…this morning.)
12 – Forever in Blue Jeans (Neil Diamond) “Nothing aROUND but the SOUND of my HEART and your SIGHS…”
17 – I Say a Little Prayer for You (Dionne Warwick) How appropriate: “The moment I wake up, before I put on my makeup…”
20 – Hungry Heart (Bruce Springsteen)
23 – Babe (Styx) I always thought that “Styx” should have been the name for a heavy metal band instead of one that did all these national anthems from Mamby-Pambyland.

6 – Dr. Jesus (Michael & Stormie Omartian)
9 – Baby, You’re a Rich Man (Those Lovable Moptops)
28 – Chains (Having endured almost three weeks of “He must die! He must die! This awful beast must die…” from the Giant Step Theatre production of Beauty & the Beast, The Beatles were more than welcome this morning.)
30 – Western Island/The Broken Pledge (Eric Peltoniemi, about whom I wish to wax eloquent, but what follows is the best yer gonna git. I know Eric from our 7 summers of working together with the Dakota Chautauqua. He wrote all the music, played guitar and acted in the later years, and is the High Exalted Grand Poobah at Red House Records. The album from which today’s earworm emerges, Songs o’ Sad Laughter, is a collection of 12 of the best folk tunes ever written, sung by a man who knows what he’s doing.)

4 – Bluer Than Blue (Michael Johnson)
5 – The Other Side of the World (Rich Mullins)
10 – Afternoon Delight (Starland Vocal Band)
12 – To God Be the Glory (Tony & Donny)
27 – Sailing (Christopher Cross, which has always been a funny name to me: criss-cross)
29 – I’ll Carry On (Rich Mullins)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Good Question

Beloved and I just got back from a long weekend/short vacation with SweaterGal and FlatulenceKing. My brother, Dave McCool, is turning 60 next week and a party was thrown early...just in case he doesn't make it, I guess.

A splendid time was had by all, except the cousin who got blindsided by a stray chunk of piñata. And when I say blindsided, I mean that he is now blind on his left side.

I particularly wanted to attend the wingding to bask in the little-remembered fact that there are people sucking air on Planet Earth who are actually older than I am. It was good to remind myself of that and had the additional benefit of Beloved seeing me looking young and virile in comparison to the walking cadavers that constituted most of the other attendees.

The biggest chuckle, for me at least, came during the drive back to the Land of 10,000 Forbidden Things. We were listening to a James Taylor CD, and Beloved wondered out loud, "Who decided to add an 'S'? Why isn't it Jame?"

And now you know why I love her so.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

For the Follicly-Challenged

I was about to tell you the story of the genesis of what follows, but even the explanation of where it came from doesn't explain from whence it came. Suffice it to say that I must thank SamWise for the germ of the idea...and ask him to please wash his hands better from now on.

If you're familiar with the music of the MopTops from LiverPool, you'll soon realize what tune should be going through your head with these words.

I'm a real no-hair man

Ain't got more than twenty strands

Barber, you should make no plans for me

Have no need for a comb

That's one thing I do not own

Fuller Brush Man, just go home, tee-hee

No-hair man, hair's missin'

We all know my head glistens

No-hair man, I'll never sing lead in a hard metal band

I'm as bald as I can be

On my head, skin's all I see

No-hair man, I'm dandruff-free, that's all

No-hair man, no graying

Do you hear what I'm saying?

Left it all for somebody else to grow what they can

I don't fret 'cause my hair's slim

No-hair man don't pay for trims

Don't you wish you were like him - like me

No-hair man, telling you all

I look like a cue ball

I can shave the top of my head with my bare hand

I'm a real no-hair man

Ain't got more than twenty strands

Barber, you should make no plans for me

Barber, you should make no plans for me

Barber, you should make no plans for me!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Runt Afghan Swami (Fun with Anagrams)

Beloved left me this morning.

Oh, don't worry...she plans to come back as soon as she's had her fill of her siblings and the mountains of Wyoming. Estimated time of her return home: mid-August...2014.

Until what time (if any) she returns, I leave in charge the Scarecrow, by virtue of his...oops...old audio loop...

Until her return, I'll do my best to accomplish something constructive. Take tonight (please): I thought I'd go through some of the piles of papers that tend to accumulate of their own free will while I'm busy know...A LIFE! I was humming along at a fairly decent clip (making music with my lips to a reasonably respectable barber shop?) when I came upon a slip of paper with this Web address on it:

From that point on, any hope of meaningful progress toward feng shui was off the table, out the window, down the drive, and thrown under a bus.

Consider the possible permutations of Beloved's full name, Debbie Ann Brewer Roth:
  • A webbed reborn hinter - Translation: a Christian who doesn't come right out and SAY things...who happens to be a...frog?

  • A thinner robber dweeb - At least I know she'd appreciate the part about being thinner.

What kind of visuals pop into your head with these rearrangements of my full name, Duane Alvin Roth?

  • Radial oven hunt - Gotta be one around here someplace.

  • Devour inhalant - Don't try this at home, kids.

  • Round leviathan - Circular whale?

  • Hot urine vandal - We aim to keep our rest room clean, your aim would...yeah, you've heard that one before.

Well, that's done. Now, I wonder what's about to expire in my queue?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Almost the News XIII

E. Coli Fatal to 10 is Tied to Vegetables
...a fitting punishment indeed.

Man Gets Prison for Growing Pot
Wait...they're giving away prisons to pot-growers now? Talk about a white elephant gift!

Ex-Tijuana Mayor Held in Guns Case
Hope they drilled an air hole for the little guy.

Texas Negates Twins' Recent Strides
In a bold mixture of state autonomy and government health care, the physical therapy that recently helped conjoined twins, Kanga and Roo Hu, to be able to walk was officially poo-pooed by the Lone Star state.

Blagojevich Grilled During His Retrial
The judge had a cheese-brat, and the prosecuting attorney, unfortunately, got some barbecue sauce on his vest. Nevertheless, they were both heard to say, "Rod really knows his charcoal!"

St. Croix Bridge Faces Fall Deadline
It needs to collapse by next Tuesday...or else.

Twin Cities Man May Have Been Somali Suicide Bomber
I reserve the right to be wrong, but I'm pretty sure this should have been stated the other way around.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Recently, while I was waiting for a crossword-based game that shall remain nameless to finish loading on FaceBook, the following advertisement appeared in the margin (as all good FaceBook advertisements are want to do).

Every fiber of my proofreading body was personally offended by what I saw.
"CALIFORNIA Driver Are Being Ripped Off By Not Using This One Ridiculously Easy Trick"

I've got a news flash for are being ripped off by a copy writer who can't compose a simple English sentence.

As if I'm going to trust my car insurance dollars to this company. I can only imagine what happens when you try to file a claim: "We sorry that you're policy does not covers the type of lost describes in you're claime."

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

It looks like Artie is in a funk...

...and rightly so.

It's bad enough that this picture from the 1975 Grammy awards preserves forever Mr. Garfunkel's fashion faux pas of a tuxedo t-shirt...apparently he's not too happy about being the only one who had to stand by the cadaver.

Thanks to for bringing this gem to my attention.

Friday, June 3, 2011

4 8 15 16 23 42

For people who are missing the television experiment in exquisite frustration that was LOST, the title of this post holds wonderful memories. For the rest of you:

1) What?!!? Do you live in a cave?!!?

2) Fret not, what follows should hold the same amount of deep meaning for you as it does for Losties...which is to say, little to none.

A game that some folks enamored with the series have played is to use these omenesque numbers in conjunction with the different books that were referenced on the show. Being at a loss for anything else to post in this space, I thought it might be fun to give it a try.

Being unable to find my copy of Watership Down, I decided to use another touchstone of popular culture, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

So...the idea is to discover a meaningful message in the first word on each of the pages: 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42. Here we go:

Past with no gingerly on shake

Okay, that didn't work out so well. Maybe it should be the 4th word on page 4, the 8th word on page 8...Daylight it out the what missed

Ummmm...the last word on each page? It Dumbledore Hagrid gone the room

That's a little closer to something. How about inverting things and taking the 42nd word of page 4, the 23rd word of page 8...Morning he all to you shake

I know...I must have just chosen the wrong touchstone of popular culture. Let's try the final book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

1st words: Be your daily remembered exclusively Dudley

4/4, 8/8, etc.:The I upsurge charity a the

Last words: Though table he more remarks son (Hmmm...this may be secretly hinting that Harry's father is actually a piece of furniture, but I doubt it.)

Inversion: We as of of inside himself

Okay, okay...maybe the book choice was weak. Let's go with the best-selling book of all time, the Bible. There are a multitude of translations/versions/editions, but I'll go with the copy I've got closest...yes, I'm just that lazy.

1st words: Then but Shechem between but I

4/4, 8/8, etc.: Of of and is the we

Last words: Taken ground strife country day them (Hmmm, Part Two...some foreshadowing of strife in the Middle East, perhaps?)

Inversion: The righteous the brothers his God

Look up the word awesome. I think the last phrase is in the definition.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Almost the News XII

Tax Breaks Dwarf Deficit
A newly-approved tax has brought an end to the decades-long shortage of little people (no pun intended...kind of).

Masseur Accused of Touching Woman
Ummmmm...isn't that what she was paying him to do?

Medtronic Taps CEO with Global Viewpoint
Depending on how hard they tapped him, that could leave quite a bruise.

After Flat Tire, Woman Hit by Car if being hit by a flat tire wasn't bad enough.

Teen Found After Abduction Report
Apparently, the people searching for the abduction report had better skills than those who were searching for the teen.

Funeral Set After Firefighter's Death
...which makes a whole lot more sense than setting it before the firefighter's death.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Observed Absurdities™ 2 - For Your Throne Room

This was passed along by Queen CanDo, and is so absurd it hardly needs any commentary.

An ad for the REGIO toilet by INAX:

Fit for a king

For those who insist on the highest level of comfort and style, the REGIO toilet by INAX is so much more than just a toilet. REGIO's comfort technologies transform the bathroom into a personal spalike escape. Soft LED lights set the mood, relaxing music melts away stress, an automatic lid uncovers a heated seat, and there's even a dual-nozzle bidet. The Zenlike minimal design is available in brilliant white ($5,900) and black ($7, 350).

I can't help but be curious...

1) What the sam hill is a comfort technology?

2) Just what kind of mood am I supposed to be in, and how is soft lighting supposed to help me get there?

3) Is anyone besides me just a teensy bit nervous about a possible malfunction of the seat heater?

4) Why would anyone within spitting distance of a right mind spend almost six thousand dollars for a toilet with a mechanical lid and an iPod?

5) And why, oh why, does a black one cost $1,450 more than a white one? Is there that much of a difference in supply and demand for the black ones?

This is just my personal opinion...and I reserve the right to be wrong...but I'm pretty sure that anyone who would lay out this kind of dough-re-mi for a toilet should be shaken out of his or her Zenlike trance, taken behind the servants' quarters and horse-whipped...with a real horse.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Observed Absurdities™ 1 - An Ounce of Prevention Pounded by the Cure

Every once in a while, a good-hearted reader of Almost the Truth will bring to my attention something that he or she deems worthy of my brand of skewering. Every once in a greater while than that, I agree with him or her.


ActorBoy brought the wonders of Uloric® to the table. To quote its ad: "Gout's root cause is high uric acid. If you have gout, high uric acid can lead to more attacks. To help reduce attacks, lower your uric acid."

So far so good. The logic is irrefutable: Gout=high uric acid. Lower uric acid=no gout.

To continue with the ad: "ULORIC can help. ULORIC is clinically proven to help lower uric acid to a healthy level."

Yippee-skippy! All is right with the world! However...let's take a look at the ever-popular list of possible side-effects, and I quote: "The most common side effects of ULORIC are liver problems, nausea, gout flares, joint pain, and rash."

Please notice that one of the side effects of the medicine designed to relieve gout is flare ups of gout.

How successful do you think Bayer® would have ever been if they had said, "Got a headache? Take Bayer Aspirin. But, hey, the interest of full disclosure, we feel we should warn you that taking aspirin might make your head hurt."

Monday, May 9, 2011


From the Way-More-Explanation-Than-It-Deserves Department:

Every Friday at my current place of employment, we are required to electronically sign our time cards by a particular time. In order to encourage/force us to comply with said requirement, our manager has initiated a "Turtle Race" in which the last person to sign their time card is declared the "winner" in an email featuring a goofy picture of a turtle.

One particular co-worker (Gigantor the Drummer) has a high percentage of wins, in response to which, another particular coworker (Queen CanDo) created a picture of a turtle with Gigantor's face: "No one can defeat me! I AM TURTLE MAN!!!!"

...which of course led me to compose the following...

(To the tune of the Spider-Man cartoon theme)

Turtle-Man, Turtle-Man
Does whatever a turtle can
Never rushes; never runs
Shell protects him from big guns
Look out! Here comes the Turtle-Man

Is he strong? Listen, man
He could crush you like a can
He’s got power in his shell
He sends villains straight to hell
Hey there! There goes the Turtle-Man.

In the swamp at night
At the scene of a crime
He can snap; he can bite
But he takes his sweet time

Turtle-Man, Turtle-Man
Friendly neighborhood Turtle-Man
Hasn’t got a single lack
Has his home on his back
To him, life never makes him hurry
He hasn’t got a worry
We love the Turtle-Man!!!!!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

There is nothin' like an earworm...

...nothin' in the world. Nothin' else can make you squirm like a never ending earworm!

2 – American Pie (Don McLean)
10 – Maybe Tomorrow (Jackson 5)
15 – Entries have been a little sparse, because I’ve been doing battle with songs from the most recent Giant Step Theatre production, rather than with anything anyone else would recognize. Imagine waking up to “He did it ‘cause he’s a one-eyed jack. He’s a kleptomaniac” or “When you find yourself in the middle of a pickle, it don’t pay to lose yer head” running laps in your brain.
18 – The Things We Do for Love (10cc)
19 – Good News (2nd Chapter of Acts) My earworms haven’t included any early Jesus Music for a while…and welcome back. (The bad news is, I can’t find a clip of “Good News” on YouTube to show you.)
24 – The theme song from I Dream of Jeannie (of COURSE I had no problem finding THAT:
27 – Old Days (Chicago)
28 – Michelle (Beatles)

2 – Closer to Me (Seals & Crofts)
4 – Dem Bones, Dem Bones, Dem DRY Bones…
5 – Take the Long Way Home (Supertramp)
6 – Take the Long Way Home (Supertramp) That’s right…two days in a row. And today, it stayed with me all day long; not just in the morning. Grrrrrrrr.
8 – Whenever I Call You Friend (Kenny Loggins & Stevie Nicks) Even though I lack an ounce of affinity for Stevie Nicks, either as a solo act or with Fleetwood Mac, I admit that this is one of the most-infectious duets devised by mankind.
10 – Reign in Us (Starfield)
15 – I Will Follow You/Sounds of Silence (Chris Tomlin/Simon & Garfunkel) Interesting juxtaposition.
18 – C’mon Get Happy (Partridge Family)
23 – Let Me Love You Tonight (Pure Prairie League)
29 – Bring the Rain (Mercy Me)
31 – Someone Saved My Life Tonight (Elton John)

1 – Psalm of Hope (Debbie Roth hasn’t even recorded the vocals for this yet, but the tune, written by our very own KayJay, got stuck in my head last night and lasted through this morning.)
5 – Midnight Blue (Melissa Manchester)
11 – Kiss on My List (Daryl Hall and John Oates) Trivia: they were never officially billed as “Hall & Oats.” They maintained their individuality, even as they became a highly-successful duo. Another note…when this particular song gets in your head…GOOD LUCK!
13 – Room Noise (2nd Chapter of Acts) If anyone reading these words knows this song, I will personally and unashamedly wet my pants.
18 – That’s Entertainment (from The Band Wagon)
21 – We Are the Champions (Queen)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Come and listen to a story...

Here's the set-up: A person ventures out on the World Wide Wackfest (www) and finds babelfish. Said person then types an English phrase, translates it to a foreign language, copies that translation and translates it back to English. The results can be, in varying degrees, humorous, confusing, unexplainable, thought-provoking, and/or meaningless.

In this case, we got a little bit of it all.

The original phrase was: Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed: a poor mountaineer; barely kept his family fed.

The results are printed here for your amusement, bemusement, ceemusement, etc.

Spanish: It comes and it listens to a history on a appointed man Jed: a poor mountain dweller; he hardly maintained his fed family.

Korean: Jed distinction becomes and about the man talk comes and listens closely: The alpinist who is poor; Defended his family fed. barely.

Dutch: Bowl and lustre to a tale concerning people Jed called: a bad mountaineer; hardly its family kept fed.

French: Come and listen to a history about d' a man called Jed: a poor mountaineer; hardly its family EDF kept.

German: And hear to a history over a man, who comes Jed is called: a poor mountain climber; its family Fed hardly held.

Greek: Come and you hear a history for a individual that is named Jed: one poor mountain as soon as it kept his family feeding.

Italian: It comes and it listens to a history approximately a called man Jed: a poor mountain climber; to mala pain he has maintained its family fed.

Japanese: Jed name can be listed, the story concerning the person it comes, hears: Poor mountain climber; That family fed. was maintained at last.

Russian: It comes and listens to the story about the named person Of jed: poor mountain climber; barely held in control its FED. family.

Chinese: Comes and listens about a person's story to name Jed: A pitiful mountaineer; Had not retained his family fed nearly.

Portuguese: It comes and listening a history on a nominated man Jed: a poor alpinista; it badly kept its fed family.

Awww...poor alpinista...(any relation to Al Pacino?)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

When a Facebook Status Goes Rogue

I really don’t know what causes these things, but let me assure you that I am not making up or almosting the truth about anything that follows. (None of the names have been changed, because nobody’s innocent.) All I did was change my FaceBook status to:

They laugh alike, they walk alike, at times they even talk alike

That’s all it took to inspire the following flurry of comments.

Stephanie Caro They're cousins! Identical cousins, and you'll find ...

Tom Cash ‎"One pair of matching bookends, different as night and day." Man, the Patti Duke Show theme music had to be dug up from the moldy-oldie file. I can't believe I remembered it. We are old.

Leslie J. Sam Helgerson Cookie Monster and Grover?

Dewey Roth SamWise: Close. It's actually Yoda and Grover.
"The Other" Tom Cash wins an "I Knew the Show Title and Still Managed to Include Dewey in a Sweeping Statement of Truth" award.

Tom Cash ‎"The Other" Tom Cash? I thought I was one of a kind!

Dewey Roth Well, you're not the Tom Cash that sang "Take This Job and Shove It."

Tom Cash That was Johnny Paycheck!

Dewey Roth All these years, I've been so very wrong.
But there IS a country singer who stole your name, right?

Theresa Burdette Hagaman You know it still plays on satellite TV - good as ever

Tom Cash Tommy Cash is Johnny Cash's youngest brother. He recorded some singles and albums, but never made it big. His best known song is "Six White Horses" (released in 1969), a tribute to John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, & Bob Kennedy. My personal favorite: "I Didn't Walk the Line" (1965)!

Dewey Roth T-Girl...Beloved and I borrowed the DVDs from the library. It's surprising how FEW plotlines had anything to do with their physical similarities.

Leslie J. Sam Helgerson Tom — When you wrote "...a tribute to JFK, MLK and Bob Kennedy," I thought "Bob Kennedy? How did the game-show host from "Split Second" get into that group?"
Man, things are sure entertaining in my head!

Tom Cash Clarification: John F. Kennedy; Martin Luther King, Jr.; and Robert F. Kennedy!

Dewey Roth're thinking of Tom Kennedy, who also hosted "You Don't Say!"

Dewey Roth ‎...which I loved

Tom Cash You don't say!

Leslie J. Sam Helgerson Dewey — Yes. I know. That's why it struck me so funny. Like that old song "Abraham, Martin, and Wink."

Susan Woodcox Kasdorf But they’re cousins.....identical cousins

Dewey Roth ‎ every way

Barry Gordon PARENT TRAP meets PATTY DUKE...
Margaret Hamilton as Maid / Mrs. Williams...2 episodes

Apryl Dunshee Haden I have no idea what all you old people are talking about...

Leslie J. Sam Helgerson I like the part where Ben-Hur puts the girls in the back seat of his talking car and drives the girls across the parted Red Sea to visit Mr. T, with Bill Bixby riding shotgun. Or something like that.

Tom Cash That only happened after My Favorite Martian employed Mr. Ed, the talking horse, to take Wally and the Beaver to Mork from Ork, who proceeded to get the entire bunch Lost in Space. When Edith Bunker heard about it, she told Archie, who immediately blamed Meathead. Or something like that.

Dewey Roth Jane! Help! Stop this crazy thing! Help! Jane!

Leslie J. Sam Helgerson It's Alive!

Kevin Williams ‎ different as night and day

* * * * * * *

All of which culminated with Leslie J. Sam Helgerson posting on his own wall:

Headline: Facebook status takes on life of its own
Philosophers, Mathematicians perplexed by non-sequitur responses
Congress to investigate, cites possible copyright infringement

With friends like this, who needs television?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Almost the News XI

Teacher Charged with Choking Students
It was decided that charging the choking students by themselves would be too lonely for them. You know, "misery loves company" and all that sort of thing.

Cows Put Down After Escape
The cows that had wandered away from their overturned truck on Interstate 90 were rounded up in quick order and treated to a tongue-lashing that would have made Don Rickles proud: "What's your problem, udder-face? Been eating your own pies? And seriously, this is not the season for leather."

Horse-Boarding Operation Gets OK
Oklahoma officials were shocked at the news today, and released this statement: "We don't really know what horse-boarding is, but it's bound to be WAY worse than waterboarding, and that certainly raised a stink."

Business Group Loses Director
"It was the strangest thing," says assistant director, Arnold Benedict, "he was sitting right there just a minute ago. We took a break to refill our coffee urn, and now nobody can find him."

Gophers' 14-Point Lead Disappears
"It was the strangest thing," says assistant coach, Jordan Michael, "it was sitting right there just a minute ago..."

Police and Military Sweep Tahir Square
...because, apparently, neatness counts.

Who Belongs on Met Council
...because, apparently, they need a pinball wizard or two to make those digit counters fall.

Four Middle-Schoolers Take Top Math Honors
...and they say they won't give them back until the lunch room serves cherry pi.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What's in a name?

The Roth dinner table has never been accused of being boring. In fact, some folks find the frivolity frightfully frantic.

What? Doesn't everybody sing during supper?

One can't help but head toward hilarity when one's mind works what happened the other evening...

Beloved had made some chicken noodle soup, but didn't have enough chicken-broth-making stuff for a whole pot, so she supplemented with some beef bouillon. KayJay noticed the blend of tastes and brought the above truth into the open.

"You got beef in my chicken," said I.

"You got chicken on my beef," offered Beloved.

KayJay rounded it out with, "Two great tastes that taste great together!"

It made me wonder what such a meal should be called. "Cluck and Chuck" was the first thing that came to mind, even though it made no sense to KayJay because she had no idea there was such a thing as a chuck roast.

"Actually, " I ventured, "that would be a good name for a restaurant that specializes in both chicken and beef: Cluck-N-Chuck."

It was only after saying it a few times that we realized what a marketing fiasco it would be to give a restaurant a name that sounds like people getting sick by eating there.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dewey wants...

According to the World Wide Wackfest and a Google search, I've got a long list of wants:

Dewey wants Petey to go away.

Dewey wants Hal to quit drinking coffee.

Dewey wants philosophy to rise above old tired disputes to address new, more vital questions and problems.

Dewey wants an iPhone.

Dewey wants his clients to be happy and confident about their real estate decisions.

Dewey wants to turn his unsuspecting students into a rock band and crew, which will serve as a vehicle to stardom.

Dewey wants to pursue his dream of becoming a singer.

Dewey wants to experiment.

Dewey wants us to evaluate our experiences in terms of their consequences.

Dewey wants to be a baby.

Dewey wants to play.

Dewey wants a sister.

Dewey wants to take schools out of the education business, as traditionally understood, and put them in the conditioning (or parenting) business.

Dewey wants to deny that we can grasp reality through faith or logic.

Dewey wants the design to inspire residents to live without toxic materials, consume less overall, and use resources wisely.

Dewey wants to show families that there is fun for them, too.

Dewey wants company in the slammer.

Dewey wants to be in those old black and white “Thin Man” movies.

Dewey wants reconciliation.

Dewey wants a fast commuter bike.

Dewey wants to help you love the one that counts — yourself.

Dewey wants a productive work environment for city workers who enthusiastically and diligently serve the public.

Dewey wants to bring the philosophical estimate of human knowledge back into its concrete home context: practical problem solving.

Dewey wants to keep the Emersonian theodicy alive under new circumstances and challenges.

And after those last few mouthfuls of gobbledegook...true truth be told...Dewey wants to hurl.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Gloating When the Opportunity Presents Itself

Among the eclectic items on my list of former occupations is disc jockey. To be clear, my activity that falls under that label had nothing to do with the image that just popped into the heads of any readers under the age of 30. I did NOT stand over a pair of turntables in a dance club...nor did I move any recorded disc, 33-and-a-third or 45, for the sole purpose of making scritchee-scritchee-scratch noises.

The chapter of my life when I was a disc jockey involved playing music on the radio, checking dials and meters on said radio station's transmitter, and ripping-and-reading news from teletype machines so that the listening public would be totally informed and prepared for life as we know it.

Contrary to how important that news dissemination aspect of my job just sounded, there were times when I would do exactly what I just described: rip news items off the Associated Press teletype, rush into the studio, and start reading a five-minute newscast that consisted of three minutes of news, one-and-a-half minutes of commercials, and 30 seconds worth of weather forecasting.

Once, that level of intense preparation (cough-cough) led to one of the few moments of embarrassment I've ever experienced.

One of the short reports I was reading involved a legal action being taken against the Bonnie Baking Company. When the phrase, "apparently, Bonnie's loaves are too long" passed my lips, I started laughing uncontrollably and was unable to continue. I tried breathing deeply, biting my lip, and thinking about dead puppies, but every time I turned my microphone back on, I only got two or three words out before my belly went tight, my voice went high, and I had to turn it back off so I could titter with utter abandon.

Now...I told you all that so I could say this...

During National Public Radio's recent coverage of the in-process tsunami (one of the results of Japan's mega-earthquake), the news anchor was interviewing an expert on such matters and stumbled her way into a reason why American broadcast journalists really ought to be educated beyond "which button do I push?" or "which camera do I look at?"

NPR's employee (courtesy of several foundations, a government grant, and viewers/listeners like you): "What sort of effect can we expect in Hawaii? We're monitoring several Web cams and it looks like right now they've got big waves, but not hugely big."

Hugely big?


And is that wave of water expected to be moistly wet?

* * * * * * *

Congress recently voted to stop giving money to public broadcasting. I'm not saying there's any connection here, but...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

This is so lightweight I can't even be bothered to think of a title for it

I went to a high school speech meet last Saturday:

The Persuasive Relay will begin in five minutes. That will be followed by the 100 yard Sarcasm Duo.

I suppose that sometime in the future I need to give this the full Almost the Truth treatment, but in deference to me needing to start work in three minutes (and my general laziness) I just want to share the most humorous phrase I heard all day:

European urologist

And if you don't understand why that's funny, I'm pretty sure you're wasting your time hanging around this blog.

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Little More Knowledge

The curiosity of one of my co-workers, QueenCanDo, was aroused by yesterday's post, and she said I should do more research on brominated vegetable oil. I replied, of course, that because she was the one who was so all-fire curious, she should do more research.

She did. And this is what she found. (And here is where she found it: With thanks to Matthew Alice of the San Diego Reader, I steal the following:

Mr. Matthew:

Here is a query that has been torturing the curiosity lobe of my poor little brain for months. What, exactly, is brominated vegetable oil, and why do soda companies put it in their drinks? It seems citrus is a favored flavor to which to add the...uh...zesty tang? of brominated vegetable oil. I have asked top chemists from the most prestigious institutes in the San Diego area and have stumped them all. The stumper is, why combine bromine, a toxic element at best, with vegetable oil, which seems like a gross substance to be adding to fizzy thirst-quenching drinks?

—Rene Hayden, Normal Heights and UCSD

Until we looked into the matter, Rene, Squirt was the official soft drink of the 1999 Robitussin-Matthew Alice Invitational. Well, we forgot to send the invitations anyway, so I guess it doesn't matter.

Brominated vegetable oil is a semi-disreputable substance that in the U.S. and Canada can legally be added (in amounts no greater than 15 parts per million by weight) to citrus-flavored drinkable substances. More than 100 countries ban it; the World Health Organization can't even bring itself to say the letters BVO — but you know how touchy those foreigners can be. Spend all day eating yak yogurt or Vegemite and you think you know cuisine.

Anyway, without brominated vegetable oil, your favorite lemony-limy soda would look like the Gulf of Alaska in the wake of the Exxon-Valdez. To get fat-soluble citrus flavorings to waft evenly throughout a can of sugar water thickened with seaweed or tree gum, you have to make the specific gravity of the flavor droplets match the specific gravity of the rest of the goop. Bromine has two, maybe three distinct advantages. First, bromine atoms weigh a ton. Pound a few into the vegetable oil molecules, lighten with a soupçon of citrus oil, and you've got a darn near perfect match for the sugar water. Second, bromine ionizes at the drop of a hat. And third, brominated vegetable oil gives lemony-limy-citrusy drinks the hazy appearance we gullible shoppers associate with fresh, tangy, real-fruit taste. BTW, the drink need not be fizzy. Check out your next tub-o-Gatorade for the telltale BVO.

Bromine is extracted from sea water. You don't want to know how. In its liquid or vaporous form, it's lethal. But once you've got the stuff, you're set to make light-sensitive surfaces for photographic paper, lead-eating additives for gasoline, fire-extinguishing material, agricultural fumigants, and lots of other handy stuff. Until 1975, you could make sedatives too. But science got suspicious when droves of overmedicated people were wheeled into psychiatric facilities, diagnosed as loony but actually suffering from bromism — so much serum bromide that they couldn't stand up or remember their names.

The down side of our oil-soluble friend is that it can build up in fat cells. Fat cells in laboratory pigs, anyway. How big a leap it is from pig science to people science is still in doubt. And not much happened to the brominated pigs anyway. Conservative countries banned BVO, we just limited its use. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, never too shy to yell "Fire!" in a crowded supermarket, lists BVO as an additive that "may pose a risk and needs to be better tested." They put BVO in the same slot with aspartame and quinine; though it must be safer than Olestra, saccharin, and sodium nitrate, things they say no rational person would consume.

One extrapolation from the pig studies was the estimate that a 165-pound adult would have to drink 353 12-ounce cans of soda per day for 42 days to have detectable bromine in his/her fat. Laughable, you say? Your intrepid investigator has read the medical report of a man whose diet included three or four liters of BVO'd soda every day. In a month, he was in the ER with confusion, headaches, tremors, memory loss, and fatigue. By the time he was correctly diagnosed two months later, he couldn't walk and was pretty much down for the count. Luckily, the diagnosis of bromism and six hours of hemodialysis brought him around.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Little Knowledge

If a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, then it just may be possible that a lot of knowledge is absolutely catastrophic. I recently found out far too much about Sun Drop® Citrus Soda.

It started out, as most of my journeys of discovery do, innocently enough.

I was casually strolling toward the self-checkout lane at my local ginormous-box grocery superstore when I heard a nasally voice, emanating from somewhere around knee level, ask, “Would you like a free bottle of Sun Drop® Citrus Soda, sir?”

I looked down toward the source of the sound and saw a ginormous-box grocery superstore employee reaching his hand up to offer me a coupon.

Well, a display of the soda in question was right there, and the coupon for a free bottle was right there, and the available spot in the self-checkout lane was right there…so sure, “I would like a free bottle of Sun Drop® Citrus Soda, yes sir.”

We had pizza for dinner that night, which was an excellent opportunity to open my free bottle of Sun Drop® Citrus Soda and give it a test run. It tasted like Dr. Pepper/Seven Up Inc. was trying to come up with its own version of Mountain Dew®, but missed the mark because they gave Sun Drop® Citrus Soda some actual…you know…flavor.

The similarity to Mountain Dew® made me curious as to whether Sun Drop® Citrus Soda was caffeinated. It was exactly at this point that I should have beaten myself about the head and shoulders with a blunt object and gone to bed with my curiosity sternly rebuked, but nooooo, I picked up the bottle and read the list of ingredients: carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup [Is that corn syrup that is high in fructose content, or fructose corn syrup that has been violating the controlled substance act?], and contains less than 2% of citric acid, orange juice concentrate, sodium benzoate (preservative), caffeine, natural flavors, acacia gum, yellow 5, ester gum [Do you remember her? Nice gal.], brominated vegetable oil.

None of these ingredients surprised me except for that last one. What the farnsworth is “brominated vegetable oil”? And to be more precise (because I have a fairly firm grasp on what vegetable oil is), what the farnsworth does it mean to brominate something?

Rather than do the sensible thing and distract myself with an episode of Alias Smith and Jones on Hulu, I attacked the slippery slope of “a little knowledge” and consulted

In its normal helpful style, told me this about what it means to brominate:

[broh-muh-neyt]–verb (used with
object), -ated, -ating. Chemistry: to treat or combine with bromine.
You would think this would satisfy me to no end…but you would be wrong. And what follows is the bit of knowledge that I really wish I would have avoided:
[broh-meen]–noun Chemistry:
an element that is a dark-reddish, fuming,
toxic liquid and a member of the
halogen family: obtained from natural
brines and ocean water, and used chiefly
in the manufacture of gasoline
antiknock compounds, pharmaceuticals, and dyes.

They’re treating or mixing vegetable oil with this stuff and putting it in my Sun Drop® Citrus Soda, which I am pouring over a pile of ice and allowing to slide down my throat.

I’ve finally gotten a grip on the True Truth the Apostle Paul recorded in Philippians 1:21: “…to die is gain.”

Monday, February 28, 2011

Fab Four FaceBook Fandango

I unilaterally declared February "Beatles Name That Tune" month and posted a different bit of Mop Top lyric as my status update on FaceBook every day (except Sundays). What no one in his or her right mind would have anticipated is how the whole list holds together as a semi-coherent conversation...which is the only kind of conversations I have, anyway.

Oh yeah, I’ll tell you something I think you’ll understand. I've been in love before, and I found that love was more than just holding hands. Love you every day girl; always on my mind. One thing I can say girl: love you all the time.

When you told me you didn't need me anymore, well, you know I nearly broke down and cried. Suddenly, I'm not half the man I used to be. Woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head. I look at the floor and I see it needs sweeping. Pools of sorrow, waves of joy, are drifting through my open mind, possessing and caressing me.

Life is very short, and there's no time for fussing and fighting, my friend. There's nothing you can do that can't be done; nothing you can sing that can't be sung. With our love, we could save the world; if they only knew.

Been away so long I hardly knew the place. Gee, it's good to be back home. When I'm home everything seems to be right.

Who finds the money when you pay the rent? You know how hard it can be. The wild and windy night that the rain washed away has left a pool of tears crying for the day.

Would you believe in a love at first sight? The minute you let her under your skin, then you begin to make it better.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. My love don't give me presents. And in my hour of darkness, she is standing right in front of me.

The girl that's driving me mad is going away. The man with the foolish grin is keeping perfectly still. And of course, Henry the horse dances the waltz!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

How gifted is that doggie in the window?

Reading is a wonderful thing.

Through the magic of the printed (or pixelated) word, a person can go from being ignorant to being informed; unlearned to knowledgeable; not even knowing what it is you don't know to knowing something you never even knew you didn't know.

An article by Jesse Ellison in the February 21 issue of Newsweek has, like Paul Simon said in "Sounds of Silence," planted a vision in my brain that still remains.

The bad news is, the vision is not all that attractive. But first, the info, and I quote:

Labs [as in Labrador Retrievers] can detect colorectal and bowel cancer with 98 percent accuracy by examining stool samples, according to a recent study. The current technology is correct only 10 percent of the time.
I'm just...I mean, I really...when the farnsworth has it been determined that Labradors can do that?!!?

Firstly, if the current technology can only correctly detect colorectal and bowel cancer with 10 percent accuracy by examining stool samples, how could we determine the dogs' accuracy? "Hey, Melvin, Fido here says the donor of this sample has cancer. Better run it through our technology again...not that we can trust it the second time any more than we could the first time."

Secondly, how does one go about training a dog to know the difference between a stool sample from a cancer victim and a stool sample from someone without cancer? How many years of medical school (and boxes of Beggin' Strips) does that take?

Thirdly, how does Doctor Doggie communicate his or her findings? It brings to mind the comedy sketches skewering Lassie...

Bark! Bark-bark!

Lassie! What is it, girl? What's wrong?

Woof! Arf-arf! Yalp!

What?!!? Timmy fell in the old, abandoned well and has multiple cuts and contusions, with a possible hairline fracture of his right femur?

Fourthly, think about how dogs sniff each others' hind parts when they get together. All this time we thought they were greeting each other or trying to determine if they had met before. In reality, they're just performing medical screenings for each other.

Fifthly, maybe the high percentage of accuracy stems not from the superiority of a canine's diagnostic skills as contrasted to a computer's, but the superiority of the canine's methodology of examination. Maybe we humans could be just as accurate if we "put our noses to the grindstone," so to speak.

Which leads me, sixthly, to revealing that the title of the article quoted above is "Are Dogs Stealing Our Jobs?" and answering the title's question with a question of my own: Who would want that crappy job, anyway?

For the record...pun intended.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hey, how's the weather treatin' ya?

The January 10 & 17, 2011 issue of Newsweek shared some statistics (garnered from America's Health Rankings) that put my hectic life on hold and led me to ponder the cause, ruminate on the reason, and consider the source.

The stats were on binge drinking, defined as men pouring five or more drinks down the hatch in a single sitting (or, for women, four or more sexist). The title of the bar graph was "Binge Drinking Prevalence, 2010," and listed state names and a percentage.

What the award-winning team of journalists at Newsweek failed to inform this reader on was what the farnsworth the percentages actually meant. For instance, Minnesota, which came in third (c'mon, Sven, you're not trying hard enough!), was listed at 20%. Does that mean that 20% of Minnesotan drinkers are binge drinkers? Or does it signify that Minnesotan drinkers binge it up 20% of the time? Or...could it possibly be true that one in every five residents of the Land of 10,000 Entitlement Programs is a binge drinker?

Whatever the significance of the percentages, what caused my pause to reflect were the names of the top four binge-drinking states: Wisconsin (23.2%), North Dakota (21.5%), Minnesota (20%), and Iowa (19.4%). If we could get South Dakotans educated enough to know how to open a brew, the Upper Midwest would have a solid lock on the top 10% in the nation!

The burning question is, does living here in the tundra drive a person to drink, or does a propensity to over-imbibe coincide with the lack of good judgment it takes to put down roots (in the 5 weeks of the year when the ground is thawed enough to do so) here in The Nation's Icebox?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Ask a Silly Question

Years ago, when I was earning a living subsistence by working with youth in a local church (i.e., The Youth Pastoring Daze), there was a particular day in which I went with a particular youth to visit her grandmother in a particular hospital. (Notice, it was not General Hospital. Nowhere near that much drama.)

While talking with the patient, I asked if the doctors and nurses were being good to her. Her reply was not only an education on the difference between her generation and mine, but an occasion for me to drop to my knees, clasp my hands over my heart, and cry from laughing so hard:

"In sixty-two years of marriage, I never once undressed in front of my husband, but around here, people come in and look at whatever they want to see!"

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Hey! Look me over; lend me an earworm

It happens once a quarter: I post a list of those snippets of songs who force their way into my head while I am trying to sleep for just five more minutes.

1 – Yesterday (The Beatles)
9 – Younger Than Springtime (from South Pacific)
13 – America the Beautiful
15 – Daybreak (Barry Manilow) An earworm that actually made sense! Well, it would have made sense if daylight savings time hadn’t ended. As it is, day doesn’t actually break forth into all its splendor until I’m on my way to work.
16 – Good Morning (Beatles) Wait a minute…this is getting spooky.
17 – How Great Thou Art (There…that’s more like it)
20 – Babe (Styx)
21 – Midnight Blue (Melissa Manchester)
22 – Babe (Styx) Yes…again. Honestly…the lyric is “Babe, I’m leaving; I must be on my way,” so LEAVE ALREADY!
27 – Don’t Worry Baby (The Beach Boys)/Be My Baby (The Ronettes) This is a mash-up I’d like to hear the cast of Glee do. It really works.

1 – Castles in the Air (Don McLean) This was pre-American Pie, and if anybody reading these words also has his vinyl album, Tapestry, I think I may wet myself in shock and amazement.
3 – Dreidel (Don McLean, again) I tried to ignore this, so as not to repeat artists so quickly, but I had to tell the truth. And I know why McLean is insisting to have residence in my cranium: I listened to a couple of his albums while putting up the Christmas tree November 29th. Now, why are his songs still inflicting themselves upon me? Is it because they are so hauntingly beautiful and unique, or is it because my brain is just that feeble so as to accept any imprint whatsoever? (Don’t answer that.)
8 – Tonight’s the Night (Rod Stewart)
20 – Night and Day (Sergio Mendes and Brazil 66)
27 – Sweet Georgia Brown/Cantina Theme (from Star Wars) Unusual mash-up, I know, but try it…you’ll see that my subconscious is fairly genious.
28 – We Need a Little Christmas (The blame for this rests squarely on the shoulders of the Christmas episode of Glee that I watched last night.)
29 – Angels from the Realms of Glory (“Come and worship. Come and worship. Worship Christ the newborn king!”)

3 – For Once in My Life (Stevie Wonder)
5 – Evensong (Dave Burkum, who is the lead pastor at my church [] and wrote this song, which is used for our Sunday EVENing service…get it?)
9 – At the Hop (Danny and the Juniors)
11 – Vehicle (Ides of March) And, yes, you are correct…this is not the first time this little number has appeared on this list.
13 – The Air that I Breathe (The Hollies) Of course, this being January in Minnesnowta, the air that I breathe tends to make my lungs freeze…the whole situation’s brought me to my knees.
14 – Bound to Come Some Trouble (Rich Mullins)
18 – Tired of Waiting (The Kinks)
20 – Jessie’s Girl (Rick Springfield)
24 – Smoke of a Distant Fire (Sanford-Townsend Band) Yes, I had to look up the name of this one-hit-wonder ensemble.
26 – How Majestic Is Your Name (Michael W. Smith)
31 – Everlasting God (“You are the everlasting God…the everlasting God…You do not faint, You won’t grow weary…”) My subconscious probably felt the need to remind me of this True Truth because it knew I was going to wake up to YET ANOTHER SNOW STORM!

Friday, January 28, 2011

I reserve the right to be wrong, but...

According to my exhaustive research (i.e., reading an article by Daniel Gross, "Digging Out of that 'Big Hole'," in the January 31, 2011 issue of Newsweek), the Chief Executive of these United States of America (long may they wave) made a statement concerning the current economic situation that gives me pause.

To quote the article:
In early January, [President Obama] said, "We've got a big hole that we're digging ourselves out of."

Now...I've never claimed to be the sharpest pencil in the box, the brightest bulb in the pack, nor the fuzziest peach on the tree, but it would seem to me to make an awful lot of sense to follow the advice of my dear grandpappy, Ol' Reliable (I don't recollect I've ever mentioned Ol' Reliable before):

When you find yourself in a hole...STOP DIGGING!