Sunday, September 30, 2007

Week in review

  • Iranian President Mahmoud I'vebeenjabbed speaks at the United Nations and (in a move criticized by American right-wingers who decry the lack of freedom in other countries) at Columbia University. President Bush also speaks to the U.N., but no translator was provided.
  • In a House hearing, congressmen criticize sex and violence in hip-hop, but shies away from censorship. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., refuses to the attend the hearing, saying that most "Congressional hearings are wack, and I'd rather get crunk on a budget bill."
  • Nepal's mountaineering authorities are calling for a ban on nudity and attempts to set obscene records on Mount Everest. If naked people literally freezing their buns off on the world's tallest mountain are the worst things your country has to deal with, you're in pretty good shape.
  • A Maiden, N.C., man who bought a smoker at an auction found what he thought was a piece of driftwood wrapped in paper inside. When he unwrapped it, he found a human leg, cut off 2 to 3 inches above the knee. The smoker had been sold at an auction of items left behind at a storage facility, so investigators contacted the mother and son who had rented the space where the smoker was found. The mother, Peg Steele, explained her son had his leg amputated after a plane crash and kept the leg following the surgery ‘‘for religious reasons’’ she doesn’t know much about. The new owner of the smoker was obviously upset, especially when his homemade honey barbecue sauce just didn't work with the leg.
  • Matthew Hiasl Pan's fight to be declared a human in an Austrian court fails. Pan happens to be a chimpanzee, but the Vienna-based Association Against Animal Factories. Pan's argument went astray when he pooped on the judge's desk and began picking bugs out of his hair. Reached for comment, Judge Lance Ito of the O.J. Simpson murder trial simply shrugged and said, "And?"
  • The Atlanta Falcons pick up their first victory of the season by beating the Houston Texans 26-16 before a thrilled crowd of 12 people at the Georgia Dome and dozens more watching at home on television.
  • Amid the antics of the Falcons' DeAngelo Hall, the latest legal woes for Michael Vick and cheaters like the San Francisco Giants' Barry Bonds, baseball bid farewell to one of the classiest team players to ever take the field as the Houston Astros' Craig Biggio played his final game. And if your eyes didn't mist up seeing Biggio reduced to tears when messages from his kids were played on the giant screen in Houston, then you have absolutely no heart. Might want to compare that to Bonds' whatever reaction to playing his final home game as a San Francisco Giant.
  • The world's major philosophers meet in Buenos Aries to re-examine the manta "What doesn't kill me only makes me stronger." It is revised to "What doesn't kill me only makes me bitter and more depressed." The philosophers add that "Behind every dark cloud is a lightning bolt just waiting to strike you in the butt."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Waaay-back Wednesday: Bathtime burglar

As much as I've come to enjoy living in Columbus, I can't get used to the fact that you have to lock your doors around here.

Growing up in tiny Oglethorpe, Ga., we never bothered to lock our doors. We felt safe. Even when we did bother to lock the front door, we were courteous enough to leave a note for friends and relatives such as, "The key is under the flower pot." Good thing many criminals are illiterate.

But once you venture away from the friendly confines of the Oglethorpe city limits — an area some call "The Modern World" — danger lurks. Thieves lurk. Stuff's just lurkin' all over the place. You better lurk out.

The only time I ever heard of anyone almost getting robbed back home was when my Uncle Johnny spotted a man climbing into his bedroom window. He quickly devised a scheme to scare him away.

"Sue! Hand me my shotgun!"

My aunt responded, "Johnny, you know we ain't got no gun!"

My first brush with thievery came when I was in college at Georgia Southwestern in Americus. I had a new car, and — just as I had always done with my piece-of-junk 1978 Celica — I kept the keys under the seat.

On the first day I drove it to school, I returned from classes only to find an empty parking space where I was sure I had parked my car. After a desperate hour of searching, I found the car at the other end of campus with a note from my sneaky ex-girlfriend attached to the steering wheel: "Love your new car. Drives great."

My closest brush with theft came in 1992 in Valdosta, Ga., where we were wise enough to keep the doors to our apartment locked.

I had a rare day off and was taking a hot bath with Mr. Bubble (that's a soap, not a man) when I heard the venetian blinds of the living room rustling. I got out of the tub and, sure enough, there was a burglar unhooking my VCR and television — which made up pretty much all of our wordly possessions — from the wall.

"Hey!" I yelled. And at that very moment, he and I both came to a realization: I was nekkid. He gave me a deer-caught-in-the-headlights look that the word "fear" just can't explain.

He dashed out onto the patio, and I followed. Although, like a dog chasing a car, I didn't know what I was going to do with him if I caught him. Fortunately for both of us, he got away. Unfortunately, the fear turned to laughter for several housewives taking their afternoon walks around the lake.

I guess the thought of tangling with a wet, naked man will make just about any guy run like a gazelle chased by a lion. I've got a bum left knee, yet I can guarantee you that no wet, naked man will ever lay a hand on me.

I'll make an exception, though, for Mr. Bubble.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Week in review

  • Famed French mime Marcel Marceau dies at 84 after getting trapped in an invisible box with no air.
  • Adm. William Fallon, the head of U.S. Central Command, says he does not believe current tensions with Iran will lead to war and urges for greater emphasis on dialogue and diplomacy. Apparently, America's first-strike policy applies to countries who are not building nuclear programs and who are not bankrolling, arming and supporting terrorists. But if Iran were annoying, as Iraq was, Fallon is certain we'd blow them off the face of the Earth.
  • Outgoing VA Secretary Jim Nicholson says growing demands from a prolonged Iraq war are taxing his agency and he's struggling to reduce ever-increasing disability claims from injured veterans. He adds that his job would sure be a lot easier if it weren't for all those darn veterans.
  • A study finds that from rural Australia to Siberia to Oklahoma, languages that embody the history and traditions of people are dying. While there are about 7,000 languages spoken around the world today, one dies about every two weeks. In about 14,000 weeks, there won't be any languages spoken.
  • University of Florida officials are criticized after campus police used a Taser on student Andrew Meyer during a forum with Sen. John Kerry. Hundreds more students requested to be Tasered after 15 minutes of hearing Kerry speak but were denied.
  • A new report shows that Americans waste about 38 hours a year sitting in traffic. Another report shows that Americans waste nearly 2,000 hours a year at work when they could be out living life.
  • Nebraska State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha sued God last week, seeking a permanent injunction against the Almighty for making terroristic threats, inspiring fear and causing "widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth's inhabitants." This week, one of two court filings from "God" came to the Douglas County District Court in Omaha. God claims to have an alibi, saying he couldn't have done all the stuff he's accused of by the legislator because he was too busy responding to prayers of athletes requesting help in football games and 14-year-olds taking algebra tests.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Waaay-back Wednesday: The story of Odysseus Bob

This is for you college students out there who may have to read Homer's "The Odyssey" for the first time this year. I'm here to help. Having taken English 201 three times in college, I'm an expert.

I have written an easy-to-understand version of "The Odyssey." Better than Cliffs Notes, it's Chris Notes:

There once was this fellow, Odysseus Bob, who was a real hot shot in his hometown, but he got lost for 20 years on Lake Eufaula after taking off for the weekend with his buddies.
It turns out that he spent years shacking up with this girl Calypso Lou while his boy, Telemachus Joe, was taking care of Odysseus Bob's doublewide, mowing the grass and all. Telemachus Joe couldn't wait for his pa to come home because these drunk rednecks kept hanging out at the doublewide, hitting on his mama, Penelope Sue, and watching wrasslin' and "Jerry Springer" on Odysseus Bob's satellite dish. But Penelope Sue kept hoping her common-law husband would come back someday.

A lot of bad stuff happened to Odysseus Bob around Lake Eufaula. Like there was this one time a one-eyed hillbilly trapped Odysseus Bob and his buddies. Well, when the hillbilly — Larry Polyphemus — asked his name, Odysseus Bob replied, "I ain't nobody."

Then one night Odysseus Bob jabbed Larry Polyphemus in his one good eye with a broken beer bottle and blinded him. Larry Polyphemus ran and told his brothers, "Ain't Nobody done blinded me." They just laughed and laughed and went back to watching their bug zapper.

Then this guy, Aeolus Jim, gave Odysseus Bob a bag of wind and told him not to open it just yet. But his buddies thought Odysseus Bob was hiding some treasure in there like an RC and some pork skins. They opened it and the wind blew them into the back yard of a witch named Circe Mae who turned his buddies into hogs. Odysseus Bob then threatened to beat up Circe Mae if she didn't turn them back into men — which she did, except for Bubba, whom they barbecued.

Then they went by this old shack where the Sirens lived — Jolene, Irene and Irmalene Siren. They sang pretty songs men just couldn't resist. His buddies put in earplugs, while Odysseus Bob tied himself up so that he could hear the Sirens, but could not stop the boat and yield to temptation when they sang Loretta Lynn's "Don't Come Home a Drinkin' With Lovin' on Your Mind."

After some big dude named Hey Zeus slapped Odysseus Bob's Basstracker with a stick of dynamite, killing all his buddies, he washed up on a sand bar called Ogygia where he borrowed a fancy new Jet Ski and went home disguised as an old man by wearing knee-high black dress socks and polka-dot shorts pulled up to his armpits.

Penelope Sue then said that whoever cranks Odysseus Bob's old pickup can marry her, knowing that nobody but he could crank it. He hopped in, tapped the gas pedal a few times, banged on the dashboard and jiggled the key until it cranked. They knew Odysseus Bob had finally come home. He then grabbed a tire tool out of the back and opened up a can of whup-ass on the rednecks.

Then Odysseus Bob kissed Penelope Sue right smack on the mouth and they lived happily ever after.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I was heading south on Veterans Parkway (note, advertisers, that it's not Veteran's Parkway ... there's more than one veteran in this town) with my 7-year-old son in the backseat yesterday when we were sideswiped, hard, by a white pickup truck. OK, accidents happen. Probably a cell phone issue. Um, no.

The white pickup then hopped the curb and proceeded to travel through a stand of small pines across from Lowes about 80 yards until it came to a sudden halt against a bank upon which railroad tracks lie. Problem was, the truck went so far into the pines that you couldn't even see it from the road. I had no idea where it had gone.

A couple of fellows stopped on Veterans and followed the truck's path on foot. I, thinking it was a hit-and-run and that the driver was trying to find some way of getting out of there quickly, went to head them off at the pass at Whittlesey. The truck never emerged. So I, with my 7-year-old Dodger right behind me, headed into the pines until I found the driver acting as if it were a pretty typical situation there with her truck's front end against the railroad tracks and its tail end sticking up.

She was busted up in the face a little, but no big deal. However, she was loopy. My first thought was that she was incredibly high on drugs, and I'm still not convinced she wasn't. The engine was still running, but smoking, so I begged her to shut off the ignition, but she just kind of nonchalantly waved me off.

"I'll just back up," she said as if she'd merely had a little trouble parallel parking.

"Say what?!"

"I'll just back it up."

Whatever, I stepped away and called 911 while she proceeded to blow her engine up. Folks started to see smoke rising from the tracks behind the trees and began to wonder what the heck was going on.

When the fire truck, EMTs and cops got there, it wasn't too easy to explain where the truck was. It's not often you respond to a minor fender bender and the offending vehicle has disappeared. They looked at me a bit strange when I pointed to the large field to explain where the truck was. Finally, they saw the smoke.

As they hurried toward the truck, I warned them this person was high as a kite, in my humble opinion. They eventually got her to safety, and the police officer cited the accident as her fault. My truck's a little scratched up, but no big deal. But they didn't cite drugs or cell phones or anything else as the reason for the accident. They accepted the driver's explanation:

"I sneezed."

Allow me to use my Dr. Evil voice here: "Yeah, r-i-g-h-t."

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Week in review

  • Burger King announces an effort to make healthier kids meals. The new meals will come with only a toy and no Burger King food.
  • Mitt Romney tells voters that his wife would make "a prettier first lady" than Bill Clinton. He goes on to say that his wife is also a better kisser than Bill Clinton.
  • President Bush's report to Congress grades Iraq as showing satisfactory progress on nine of the 18 benchmarks set for the Iraqi government. Bush also notes that the term "satisfactory" doesn't necessarily mean satisfactory but "trending toward satisfactory." Kinda puts the whole depending on what your definition of "is" is issue in perspective.
  • The title of the new Indiana Jones movie is revealed. "Indiana Jones and the Escape from the Oak Hill Nursing Home" is slated for release May 22, 2008.
  • More than 190 anti-war protesters are arrested in Washington. While we haven't quite put forth the effort it takes to capture bin Laden, thank God we've still got the determination to go after those seeking peace.
  • Three people who mixed vinegar with catfish bait and tried to sell it as heroin have been arrested. Authorities said the three also tried to sell fake LSD. It's part of America's effort to expand the misguided war on drugs also to those who are not selling drugs.
  • In a related story, the Partnership for a Less Drugged Up America releases ads encouraging kids to "Just say no to fake drugs."
  • Barry Bonds' record-breaking 756th home run ball is actioned off for $752,467, or enough to buy Bonds enough human growth hormone for a whole year!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Recurring theme

Actually, two recurring themes here: My co-workers giving me a hard time and my total lack of concern for fashion.

My friend and co-worker Lisa slammed me this week for wearing an Aeropostale T-shirt to work. Not because it's against our dress code to wear such logo T-shirts (because she and everyone else knows that such silly rules don't interest me). No, it was because she said I'm too old to wear Aeropstale. I'm 37. However, I say as long as I'm getting in shape and can fit into clothes designed for teens, then, by golly, I'm gonna do it.

She's not the first co-worker to suggest I need to grow up. Ironically, it's always the ones at least 10 years younger than me who say that. No one older than me has suggested it, though they very well may have thought it. Of course, a lot of the young folks who've often suggested I grow up (such as my former co-worker Erin, who's now in Fort Myers) seem to think that you should graduate high school, then college, get married, have kids, retire and die. Preferably as soon as possible.

I disagree. And, at 37, I don't see much need in any more growing up. Who's the bigger fool: The fool who grows old or the fool who refuses? Put me in the latter category, right or wrong.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Waaay-back Wednesday: Health Coverage Changes

First of all, I'd like to thank you for gathering today in the Dead White Guys Memorial Conference Room for this very important meeting.

Today we're going to discuss changes in the company's health insurance plan. I use the term "changes" in much the same way the company uses the term "efficiency," which doesn't sound all that evil but actually means "ways to make your life more miserable at a faster pace."

In 2005, you will still be able to choose the traditional plan or the green plan, but in our continuing effort to give you more choices we've added the chartreuse plan — or as the provider refers to it, the I-Wouldn't-Get-Sick-If-I-Were-You plan.

Before we continue, I'll present this line chart to show how health costs have affected our company. This sharp-rising blue line shows how much more it's been costing us to insure you peons. This plummeting red line represents the services covered. This stagnant green line shows how much we actually care.

Now, I assure you the company understands the health insurance crisis. Why just yesterday CEO Wink Finklemeyer III expressed great dismay that massage therapy, for instance, is no longer covered under the My-Granddaddy-Founded-This-Here-Company Plan. He has had to pay from his own pockets for the services of Trixie's Magic-Handed Geishas ever since that traffic accident in which he was thrown from the limousine's hot tub.

Well, as you can see, under the traditional plan, you'll still be able to choose any doctor and pay just 20 percent for any medical services with no deductible. All you have to do to get the traditional plan is pay this monthly amount here, which as you see you couldn't afford even if you were Mr. Finklemeyer's illegitimate child. Oops, sorry Jim. Didn't know you were in here.

Under the green plan, there is a mere $20 co-pay once you meet the $40,000 deductible. Granted, some medical conditions aren't covered — such as heart attacks, diseases, accidents, infections or anything that causes coughing, rashes, fever, sneezing, or sickness in general. However, on a positive note, you can see there's no longer a deductible or co-pay if you're hit in the head by a Death Comet.

Would it kill you people to show a little appreciation?! It's not like we have to provide Death Comet coverage! Anyway, moving on. You'll notice the chartreuse plan is much cheaper, but any services must be provided within network, meaning either Dr. Ralph Fingersticker or Jim Bob's Family Doctorin' and Transmission Service.

Yes, Judy? Ah, that's a good question. Did everyone in the back hear that? Judy asked if we knew that Dr. Fingersticker died in 1935. The answer is yes, but he's the only doctor in town who's charges are "reasonable and customary."

By the way, the vision plan has not changed. The basic yearly exam ("How many fingers am I holding up?") is still absolutely free.

Thanks for coming. And if there are any supervisors in here today, please sign up on your way out for next week's seminar — "Motivating Your Peons More Efficiently."

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Week in Review 22

  • Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) indicates he's reconsidering his decision to resign from the Senate on the heels of a conviction related to a solicitation charge in a public bathroom. Craig indicates his intentions by sitting in front of the chamber and tapping his right foot while putting his left foot on that of Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid.
  • 63-year-old adventurer Steve Fossett goes missing after taking off in a single-plane for what was supposed to be a three-hour tour. Also on board were a professor, a rich couple, a red-headed movie star, an overweight Navy veteran, a pot-smoking hippie in a cango, and some Midwest cutie named Mary Ann.
  • Lauren Caitlin Upton, Miss South Carolina Teen USA, continues to defend her rambling answer to a question at the Miss Teen USA pageant by telling Blawg Wild: "When in the course of human events for the sake of peace in South Africa, I should not have reservations about the quality of judgmentalism at the height of the Cold War activism for pursuit of animal rights and the qualities therein and hereafter and therefore and stuff like that, you know."
  • Disney's "High School Musical" star Vanessa Hudgens, 18, apologizes for a privately taken nude photo making the rounds on the Internet. Millions of males with Internet access accept her apology.
  • Columbus Ledger-Enquirer columnist Chris Johnson apologizes for nude pics that keep appearing at Millions of men and women who accidentally stumble across the photo sue for emotional trauma.
  • A new video from Osama bin Laden appears. U.S. government officials confirm the authenticity of the video featuring the lanky bearded Al-Qaida nut shooting bottle rockets from his rear end.
  • U.S. officials, who had nearly captured bin Laden before getting sidetracked in Iraq, believe the video is helping them close in once again on the terrorist. Particularly revealing in the video is when bin Laden disappears from the video for 20 seconds but is overheard saying, "Yes, did you want that Slurpee cherry or blue raspberry?"
  • America is aghast when a can opener becomes the first product imported from China that is not deadly, has instructions that make sense and doesn't fall apart in 15 minutes. The U.S. government vows it won't happen again.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

This is your brain on ...

My colleague Jenny Chandler, with whom I've worked for over 10 years here in Columbus, looked at me strange yesterday as I was running proofs back and forth to production. People looking at me strange is hardly an unusual occurrence. But she said, "You always look like you've got something cooking in that head of yours."

Do you think this is her way of telling me my brain is fried?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Waaay-back Wednesday: Buffalo Burgers

Another one from the '90s:

I recently read that the federal government is buying millions of pounds of bison meat (that's buffalo to you uncultured folks) to use for making hamburgers in our nation's school cafeterias.

I knew buffalo were still roaming America because I've eaten their wings at several area restaurants. (It's no wonder those big ol' animals can't fly.) But I had no idea that schools were using real meat these days.

Maybe it was because I went to school in an area so poor (we all got free lunches) that we were served those meatless mushy soybean-fungus burgers. If they had used real meat when I was in high school, I wouldn't have ditched school lunch every other day to eat at a cheap back-alley burger joint in downtown Montezuma.

Even though I returned before the next class began, my principal warned me there would be repercussions for leaving the school grounds to go to Troy's Snack Shack (even though I had a permission slip). What were they going to do? Give me an F in lunch? Or — heaven forbid — put it on my permanent record?

(Editor's note: For more information, please refer to Chris Johnson's Permanent Record, now available online at It's right after the part about his writing "Bocephus rules!" in his 10th-grade English book.)

I'd have probably had perfect attendance at lunch if I could have got a big ol' buffalo burger. But school lunch just didn't cut it.

I remember my first school lunch back in the first grade. I thought it was a pick-and-choose cafeteria deal like Piccadilly's or Morrison's. I was saying things like, "I'll have the mashed taters, please. No cole slaw, please. Is the fried chicken included in the Super Dilly?" But they just slapped whatever they felt like on my plate. Plop! Cole slaw.

I loved eating, but school lunches were too small in those pre-buffalo days. Who in the world eats one slice of pizza? I wanted the whole pizza and breadsticks. And they put gravy on everything. Gravy on mashed taters is great, but not on vanilla ice cream. And milk? Yuck! Who eats pizza and washes it down with milk? Everybody knows you serve beer with pizza.

Another school lunch problem is the seating arrangements. I never knew where to sit. They should have posted signs above each table such as Jocks, Nerds, Cool Kids, Geeks, Young Republicans or Metallica Fans. I could have walked to the correct table every time if I'd have seen a big, flashing sign that said: Boys With Ugly Cars And No Date For Friday Night.

I must confess, though, that I loved school lunch my freshman year. Our cafeteria burned down, and we had to eat in the school gym — even as the P.E. classes went on below us. It was fun to boo and laugh at the students and bet pickles on who'd win the basketball games. But it was dang near impossible to concentrate on eating a taco when Jenny Jerome was playing volleyball.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Week in review 21

  • Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, resigns over the fallout from his June 11 arrest for allegedly soliciting gay sex in an airport restroom. The police report noted that he began getting the undercover officer's attention in the next stall by tapping his foot, which is apparently a signal that you want gay sex in a bathroom. Millions of American men (including this one) vow to never have a tune in their heads in the bathroom that could lead to inadvertent foot-tapping.
  • According to the arrest report, in addition to the foot-tapping, Craig also put his foot on the foot of the officer in the next stall and waved his hand under the stall. Again, in a men's public restroom, this is an apparent request for sex. Then again, as my wife pointed out, in a women's restroom, it merely means your stall is out of toilet paper.
  • Despite having pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges, Craig repeatedly claims his innocence and keeps insisting he is not gay -- an allegation that's followed him since the early 1980s. Indeed, most straight men have to keep announcing "I am not gay," you know, real straight guys like Clay Aiken, Ricky Martin, Liberace and Michael Jackson.
  • A Viennese pathologist claims a physician inadvertently overdosed Beethoven with lead in a case of a cure that went wrong. What a shame, because that St. Bernard made some really cute movies.
  • Dead "Queen of Mean" Leona Helmsley left $12 million to her dog, "Trouble," but not a cent to two of her grandchildren. Trouble, by the way, once bit one of the Helmsley housekeepers, proving that dogs indeed take on the personality of their owners.
  • Mississippi, long plagued by rankings that put its educational system at or near the bottom of state rankings, can finally claim a spot at the top of rankings as it comes in No. 1 for the highest obesity rates in the nation. It becomes the first state with over 30 percent of its population "obese." Mississippi then announces its new state motto: "We may be dumb, but we're fat."
  • Greece fires worsen when someone throws water on the nation instead of sand.
  • At a press conference to announce his resignation from President Bush's Cabinet, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales can't recall whether or not he resigned. Told that the reason for the press conference was to announce his resignation, Gonzales replies, "No comment."
  • "Comedian" Andy Dick allegedly makes inappropriate comments while on stage, gropes patrons, takes women into the men's room and urinates on the floor and on at least one person during a show at the Funny Bone Comedy Club in Columbus, Ohio. All is forgiven when Dick explains that he wasn't trying to be funny; he was preparing to run for a congressional seat.