Archive for the ‘Wednesday Housefly’ Category

Work Is A Good Thing… I’ve Heard

July 8, 2005

Sorry, folks.

Life’s getting busy in these parts, and there’s just too much to do today. I’ll try to have something next week.

I did see, hear and read some really funny stuff (most of it unintentionally so) this week. I’ll see what I can share next time.

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I’ve Been Cheated… Been Mistreated… When Will I Be Hated?

July 1, 2005

Hi, my name is Wednesday…

(Hello, Wednesday.)

… and I make fun of people.

Well, not just people. Sexes, ethnicities, congregations, gatherings, cults (which can be differentiated from congregations only because of a lack of suitable hymnals), celebrities, herds, political parties, boy bands, professions, families, and a phylum here or there… they’re all fair game in my effort to mock all (and offend as many as possible).

And yet you still love me. Well, love’s too strong a word. It’s more of a dependency thing – because those of you who read here regularly also write here regularly, and you know if you hack me off (or make me cry) and I quit, one of you will have to take up the slack. Or, worse still, Al will bring in another of his cronies – ”Where have you gone, Eric Folkes? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you, woo woo woo…” – to fill Fridays. (Actually, Fridays would definitely be funnier if Eric took over. His encyclopedic knowledge of elephant jokes would rock this joint. Al, give him a call when he gets back from his autopsy.)

Despite my best efforts to pith you off, there is no expressed hatred. The silence is deafening. I’ve gotten one – one! – derogatory e-mail from an angry reader, and even she was only angry enough to send the missive secondhand. Here’s a paraphrased snippet I’ve unethically formatted to look like a direct quote:

Dear Al,

Please tell your halfwit, sexist, racist jerk of a “humor” columnist that he is a halfwit, sexist, racist jerk who is not funny. I am woman, hear me roar.

Sincerely,

Amanda Huggenkiss
Feminist At Large

This heartfelt missive confirms several points, the most obvious of which is that all women are born with dwarfish senses of humor. (Modern science has proven that some women, through years of serving humbly in both kitchen and bedroom, can more fully develop their funny bones.) This is why the Bible refers to them as “the weaker sex.”

But the more germane point here – and I like the word germane because before I started seeing it used here, I thought it was merely the name of one of Michael Jackson’s (Ms. Jackson if you’re nasty) countless creepy siblings – is that while I’ve obviously done something to anger this pretty li’l filly (and if hen party didn’t push her over the edge, I’m betting pretty li’l filly just might), it is also obvious that I haven’t done enough to enrage the rest of you.

Naturally, I fell compelled to correct that.

(Did you know that Joe Longhorn tilts toward buggery?)

But I want to do so as tastefully as possible.

(Or that Juvenal Urbino wears women’s thong underwear… that he buys heavily used – and soiled – on eBay?)

After all, people build their careers and lives upon their reputations.

(People like Al Sturgeon, Male Prostitute?)

One cannot be too careful.

(A lesson Mikey learned the hard way during his trip to Europe some time back. Those antibiotics doing the trick yet, sailor?)

Because, reputation aside, you might trod on sacred, do-not-go-there territory.

(Like why one of our contributors is named after fancy mustard? “Let me introduce you to my father, Grey, and my mother, Poupon.”)

Or on too-familiar ground.

(Fill in your favorite lawyer joke here, and remind yourself that Andy chose this “profession.”)

Thanks, folks. You’ve been a great crowd. I’ll be here all week. Tip your moderators.

(Wednesday wets the bed.)

——

(This post and the offensive content within is designed for a somewhat serious purpose. Namely: to give us all pause from the increasingly hostile rhetoric in some of the comment areas. Let’s disagree with dignity, folks, and stop acting like animals. Because you know what that does to Joe…)

TGI Wednesday

June 24, 2005

Floored by the whelming flood of responses (all four of them) to last Friday’s APB sent out by the lord of the houseflies, I have, to quote Douglas McArthur, returned.

Spurred (notice how I work in “Spur” references now that the deserving team won the NBA championship?) on by illegitimate (I could’ve used another word there, but why mention the Pistons?) claims in some of those aforementioned responses, you may question where I’ve been since last you read the Friday installment, scratched your head and thought, “And this the guy who’s supposed to be funny?”

Such spurious (spur-ious) responses – as well as those labeling me a “douchebag” (and what do the Lakers have to do with this?) – are best ignored, but I shall not shrink from these queries. (A quick criticism of the Spurs: What, other than Eva Longoria, does Tony Parker bring to the table? I’ve never seen him play well; his skills at the point are a curious blend of Mark Eaton’s agility and Kurt Rambis’ shooting touch. Still, Eva Longoria…)

Wednesday’s Friday absences are attributable to one – ah, but which one? – of the following scenarios:

  • Trying to establish a solid connection between Michael Jackson’s acquittal and the subsequent mysterious disappearance/reappearance of a young Boy Scout in (nearby) Utah.
  • Working as a consultant to help choose the next set of contestants on “Has-Beens Dancing on A Crappy Reality Show,” which is not the title (but certainly should be) of ABC’s summertime hit (it’s crappy, so of course it’s a hit) TV series in which the likes of Evander Holifield compete in weekly dance-offs. (Who’s judging this thing – Michael Flatley?) Future contestants may include James Dobson (who won’t even sway rhythmically as he harangues nearby contestants on why they shouldn’t dance and why they can choose to leave the dancing lifestyle), John Bolton (because he’s not doing anything at the moment), Rasheed Wallace (ditto… and cue Simpson laugh: HA-ha!), Russell Crowe (because hoo boy! – it’ll be fun if he doesn’t win), Courtney Love (because if anybody can wreck the Soul Train, it’s Courtney Love), and Tom Cruise (because he LOVES to dance… he LOVES it, and he doesn’t care who knows it… HE. LOVES. TO. DANCE. Tom Cruise: Kid tested, Scientologist approved.).
  • Quizzing Mark Felt as to whether he really kept quiet all these years because he knew the guys in his bowling league would mock him mercilessly if they knew his nickname was “Deep Throat.”
  • “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” hangover. Would you believe we haven’t seen it yet? Somewhere (most likely in a trailer park) Mark Hamill shouts to no one in particular: “Where could he be?”
  • Working to infiltrate and destroy, if possible, a paramilitary organization that once enjoyed the USA’s support but has, over the years, become an annoying, too-often-violent thorn in Uncle Sam’s fleshy derriere. Its covert tactics involve disrupting all forms of written communication while operating under its own constantly changing rules and guidelines, cleverly burying its key operatives deep within a sea of red tape and bureaucracy, effectively rendering them unreachable until the day they walk into a government facility in some Springfield somewhere and perpetrate random acts of violence. I’m talking, of course, about the United States Postal Service, an organization – and that term is oxymoronic when applied to the USPS – with which I’ve become all too familiar of late.

For now, let me just say it’s good to be home. Thanks so much for caring. If you want to send mail, please consider using UPS.

Force Feeding

May 13, 2005

He is evil. Darkness personified, albeit by something less than a complete person.

He ranks high amongst society’s most feared and loathed – just two steps below Hannibal Lecter and Norman Bates, and just above the Wicked Witch of the West and Michael Jackson.

He (the villain, not Jackson, although if the shoe fits…) is into heavy breathing, asphyxiation, and shiny black codpieces. He fancies capes and carries a space-age light-up phallus that would make Dr. Ruth blush.

And hold on to your escape pods: HE’S BACK.

Yes, friends, the exciting sixth and final film (logically, it’s Episode III) in the Star Wars saga launches Thursday, May 19. And in this movie – officially titled “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” – our friend and foe Darth Vader – the anarchist formerly known as Anakin Skywalker, a.k.a. “Li’l Ani” – both returns and makes his debut. (You’ll see how in a few moments.)

Let me be clear here: You must see this movie. You’ve heard all that stuff about how real Americans fight in wars or serve jury duty or register to vote? That’s crap. Real Americans pay $8 to see a movie even though they know how it’s going to end. (Wonder how many people left “Passion of the Christ” going, “Wow, I never saw that coming.”)

So we know that Episode Three is the one in which heretofore good (albeit a bit whiny and bipolar) Jedi Anakin Skywalker succumbs to the Dark Side of the Force and becomes evil, mostly robotic Darth Vader. We know he turns his back on friends and family – including newborn twin children – to do so. We even know how this ultimately happens: In a fantastic lightsaber duel with his onetime Jedi friend and mentor, Obi Wan Kenobi, Anakin falls into a pit of liquid hot magma (or something). He is badly burned, hideously disfigured and deeply wounded, and only the mechanized Vader suit keeps him alive.

But the devil, as they say, is in the details, and though we know much of the story, we simply must see these events unfold before our very eyes. But in case you’re not (yet) a fan of Star Wars and/or you’ve been living on the remote planet of Yavin, here’s the story in a carbonite-encased nutshell:

Boy meets droids (robots).

Boy and droids meet hermit.

Boy, hermit and droids meet smuggler and nude-yet-hirsute sidekick.

Boy, hermit, droids, smuggler and sidekick get pulled into bad guys’ big round space ship (Death Star).

Boy, smuggler and sidekick meet hot little princess who’s held captive on the ship.

Princess kisses boy in heat of escape battle. (This looms large and perversely important down the road.)

Boy, smuggler, sidekick, princess and droids escape ship while hermit gets whacked by codpiece-wearing baddie Darth Vader (see above).

Boy hears disembodied voice of hermit: “Run, boy, run.”

Boy runs.

See boy run.

Run, boy, run!

Boy, droids, smuggler, sidekick and princess escape.

Boy returns, blows up bad guys’ big round space ship. Key protagonists and antagonists survive.

(End of first movie, cleverly called Episode IV: A New Hope.)

Protagonists join “The Rebel Alliance” in hiding on Iceland-ish Hoth system.

Princess kisses boy again… with tongue? (File this away.)

Hoth system melts – rebels blame galactic warming.

Emperor scoffs, announces plan to strip-mine Endor for midi-chlorians.

Boy, still haunted by phantasmagorical hermit, flies to swamp planet for Jedi training with green amphibious linguist.

Confused, still-hot princess makes out with smuggler while parked in gullet of wormlike beast.

Stormtroopers bang flashlight on ship’s window, tell amorous kids: “Move along.”

Smuggler, sidekick, princess and British droid are captured by Darth Vader, no thanks to smuggler’s gambling buddy (and token African American) Lando, as played by Billy Dee Williams.

Boy (with other droid) abandons training, linguist and hermit-ghost to attempt daring rescue of other important protagonists.

Others escape without his help.

Darth Vader cuts off boy’s right hand.

Vader (to boy): I am your father.

Boy (to Vader): No-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o!

Boy leaps to certain death, is rescued by princess and others.

(Princess kisses boy on forehead; this is not as creepy but still noteworthy.)

(End of second movie, cleverly titled Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.)

Boy, training nearly complete, goes to rescue others in Tattooine lair of Jabba the Hutt.

Princess wears gold bikini. (This is important for many reasons.)

Protagonists escape.

Hermit-ghost and linguist tell boy of his family tree:

Linguist: Your father he [Vader] is. (Linguist dies.)

Boy: No-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o!

Hermit-ghost: The princess is your sister.

Boy: Yeah, but did you see her in that gold bi… I mean, No-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o!

Boy goes to face Vader, Emperor.

Boy defeats Vader.

Emperor shocks crap out of boy.

Boy, reaching, cries out (to Vader): Father!

Vader (to boy): OK, OK, but don’t try any of that kissing stuff or I’ll kick the Sith out of you.

Vader turns on Emperor and tosses his pale wrinkly butt down a miles-long elevator shaft. (Such elevator shafts are common in Star Wars fight scenes and usually lack any sort of protective guardrails.)

Vader dies in boy’s arms. (Curiously, boy refrains from kissing Vader.)

Good guys blow up bad guys’ second big round space ship (the cleverly titled “Death Star”).

Boy returns to princess-sister, puts arm around her and smiles knowingly at hermit-ghost, linguist-ghost, and Vader-ghost, all of whom roll their eyes.

Camera pans to Lando, who smiles and says: “Colt 45… works every time.”

(End of third movie, cleverly titled Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.)

Ready for a new cinematic challenge (and broker than MC Hammer), Star Wars creator George Lucas decides to produce three “prequels” that tell the story of the fall of the Republic and the fall of Anakin Skywalker. The first two of these “prequels” aren’t very good, so here are brief highlights and lowlights…

Jar Jar Binks, equal parts CGI and racial stereotype, appears and immediately becomes the most hated and pointless Star Wars character since that sniveling Brit on the Death Star who said, “Don’t try to frighten us with your sorcerer’s ways, Lord Vader…”

Jedi Master Qui Gon Jin inexplicably saves Jar Jar’s life… twice.

Li’l Ani wins a pod race that, like the NASCAR action it undoubtedly seeks to emulate, is full of sound and fury and signifies nothing.

We are introduced to Padme Amidala, queen of the Naboo and future wife of Anakin Skywalker (and mother of the princess and the sister-kisser). She, too, is hot.

One of Darth Vader’s Sith predecessors, Darth Maul, appears. He is one spooky dude. Looks like a Chicago Bulls mascot gone haywire.

Darth Maul kills Qui Gon (cosmic justice for Qui’s sparing Jar Jar).

Obi-Wan slices Darth Maul in half. Darth Maul’s pieces fall down a – wait for it – nearby miles-long elevator shaft without guardrails.

The Jedi burn Qui Gon’s body. Jedi Shaft and the amphibious linguist discuss the mystery of Darth Maul and speculate on who else might be eeee-vil.

Senator Palpatine puts a bumper sticker on the back of his speeder: I BRAKE FOR SITH.

End of fourth movie, cleverly titled Episode One: The Phantom Dentist.)

Jar Jar is still alive.

Fortunately, so is Amidala.

Amidala falls in love with Anakin, her Jedi bodyguard.

Obi Wan is captured by Saruman.

Anakin’s mother is killed by Tusken Raiders.

Amidala and Anakin, trying to rescue Obi Wan, are also captured.

Amidala’s midriff is exposed. (This is important for many reasons.)

Saruman (a.k.a. Darth Tyranus) cuts off Anakin’s right hand. (Synergy!)

Begin, the Clone Wars do.

(End of fifth movie, cleverly titled Episode II: Attack of the Clones)

Coming next week: A review of the film, or, if I haven’t yet seen it, a list of questions and expectations I have for this new film…

Part Deux: ‘I Made You, Jimmy Kimmel"

May 6, 2005

(Part One.)

Finally, after several Memorable Moments with Mushmouth, they let us into the studio.

The herd of prospective game show contestants, probably about 150 in number, ambled past the darkened, vacant set of the game show. Some paused and basked in the splendor of the scene, kind of a nerd’s version of the emotional arrhythmia a sports fan encounters in the moments after stepping from the shadows of a ballpark’s concourse and into the lighted beauty of the field itself. I’m gonna play there someday!

They led the unsuspecting cattle through a dizzying maze of temporary walls and shadowy backstages, finally stopping in a makeshift conference room where school lunchroom tables sat dotted with stapled pages, each turned upside down, each with two sharpened, Number Two pencils beaming garish, piercing yellow in the gloaming.

Pop quiz!

Twenty minutes to complete the test, they said. No talking, no copying, no cheating of any kind. You are being watched. And please keep distractions to a minimum, if you could.

What grade do we have to make on this? asked a member of the herd.

Whatever puts you in the top thirty, they said. The rest will be dismissed.

With fabulous parting gifts? asked the herd spokesman.

Why don’t we get started, they said.

Twenty minutes flew by as we attacked the 175-question test (and the test launched a couple of counterattacks, including the lobbing of several trigonometry grenades which are certainly a violation of the Geneva Convention). Somewhere around the halfway point, a member of the WBSM team stepped out and said, “Would [Mrs. Wednesday Housefly] please stand up?” My wife, who wasn’t taking the test, stood nervously. “Please follow me,” said the man, and he briskly led her out of the room.

I’m glad we’re keeping those distractions to a minimum, I thought as a cosine exploded sharply and loudly behind me.

Sorry, I said to the people nearby, it must’ve been the chicken.

No talking, they said.

——————–

Mrs. Housefly returned when the twenty minutes ended. As it turned out, the man who came to get her was Terrence, the person with whom she had spoken on the phone several times while arranging this soiree. Terrence, though thoroughly not into girls, was smitten by her charm and Southern Belle ™ accent on the phone and just had to meet her. So while I slogged through the test, dodging a series of booby trapezoids, the missus sat in the green room and chugged Dr Pepper with the show’s production team, delighting them with every y’all that passed her lips.

“Isn’t this fun?” she giggled upon rejoining me after the test. I showed her the swamps under my armpits and the tangent shrapnel in my back, but she was quickly distracted by something shiny. I took what little solace there was in knowing that the experience had certainly come to a merciful conclusion, and we could now be about the real reasons for coming to LA in the first place: touring Dodger Stadium and searching for Julia Roberts.

So naturally, mine was the first name they called from the “keeper list.” Though she denies it to this day, I’m convinced the missus pulled some strings there.

We waved goodbye to the hundred-and-whatever failures as they were herded back out to Mushmouth Boulevard, and I remember thinking at the time how doleful they looked as they shuffled out. As it turned out, they were the lucky ones.

My twenty-nine fellow survivors and I learned that we were to be pitted against one another in WBSM-like competition. We would be brought to the front in groups of three, and we would attempt to curry favor with the judges (the production team) by gutting our competition while being “expressive, energetic, excited, and having a lot of fun.”

My turn came soon enough, and I was put up against Gina, a formidable opponent who, I sensed, would do whatever it took to get on television. The other contestant, Lars, had a captivating personality that was equal parts social anxiety disorder and mental retardation. That he survived the testing round gives me ample reason to question the legitimacy of the whole process.

Gina, a tall, intelligent, extremely aggressive blond with a smile so broad and clenched I kept expecting her teeth to shatter, jumped out to an early lead. She was clearly firing on all synapses, while I was sluggish from sensory overload and the growing, gnawing sense that I didn’t really want to be on TV.

“Michael Bolton!” screamed Gina.

“Correct,” said the host. “Are the other two of you planning to play tonight?”

“Ha ha!” I retorted.

“Charcoal,” said Lars. And so it went.

“Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme!” said Gina.

“Correct again,” said the host.

Dang, I thought.

“Lou Gehrig,” chimed Lars, and Gina nodded sympathetically as she poured it on.

“Process color!”

“Correct.”

Crap.

“Franklin Pierce.”

“Yes!”

Shoot.

And then it happened. My big break…

“Aveoli.”

Pregnant pause.

“Incorrect,” said the host, and he was as surprised as I.

Lars seized the opportunity first, quickly buzzing in.

“She smells like lavender.”

“Thanks for playing, Lars,” said the host, who turned his gaze on me.

I buzzed in guiltily, glancing up apologetically toward Gina.

Al-veoli.”

“CORRECT!” And the audience, all of whom were beginning to suspect Gina of being either a cyborg or a cannibal, or perhaps both, burst into pathetic applause.

“OK, Wednesday. Make your selection.”

Here it must be pointed out that part of the adolescent charm of WBSM is that every category is titled to provide the maximum amount of titillation via double entendre and insinuation. For instance, the category I chose was:

“I Can See Your Nibbles.”

“Well, thanks,” said the host. “But choose a category.”

The audience guffawed, but I bristled at the host’s attempt to steal my spotlight.

“I’ll be glad to, as soon as you put on a t-shirt.”

The crickets’ chirping told me the sun had set on my game show career. We never saw Julia Roberts, we were only allowed into the gift shop at Dodger Stadium because of construction, we never got to experience an earthquake, a freeway shooting or smog, and worst of all, a member of my WBSM class went on to actually Win Ben Stein’s Money a few months later.

Way to go, Lars.

Part I: ‘I Made You, Jimmy Kimmel!’

April 22, 2005

In response to recent questions and/or criticisms over my past use of a certain archaic term, I feel it may be useful to explain to our faithful readers – and I’m talking to both of you now, so listen up – just how cosmopolitan I truly am.

Yes, I hail from the equivalent of Mayberry, and lack both the means and the gumption (I do have all my adult teeth) to pack up and move to a big city. It’s equal parts disturbing and quaint to know that, as actually happened to one earlier this week, one might attend a meeting and find one’s state senator clad in dirty overalls and a trucker’s hat.

We are a laid-back lot, and that’s not always a bad thing, as anyone can attest who grasps the obvious charm and savoir vivre of Billy Bob Thornton. We move at our own pace and laugh at life’s absurdities, such as… well, never mind. You probably wouldn’t get the humor. So instead, just stand up for the forces of democratic freedom, if you wish.

But I digress. What makes me so cosmopolitan, friends – other than my brushes with celebrities including (and almost certainly limited to) Preacher Roe, Brett Butler (the has-been ballplayer, not the has-been comedienne), Beau Bridges, Handsome Jimmy Valiant, Jerry Clower and Ally Sheedy (who I think lives down the street from me) – is my status as an also-ran.

The year was 1999, and I remember it vividly because those were the halcyon days of yore, back when my wife toiled under the illusion that I knew something about anything. Buoyed by the love of a good woman, I proved my vast knowledge afternoonly by correctly answering at least one or two questions from “Win Ben Stein’s Money,” a campy, low-budget game show on a fourth-rate cable network.

One crisp November day, my wife announced that she had secretly signed me up to audition for a chance to be a contestant on the aforementioned WBSM. We were to visit Los Angeles the very next week, where we would stay in a hotel called The Metropolitan in beautiful, historic downtown Hollywood (also known as Hell). (The Metro’s actual website, which features many, many misspelled words including “experiance,” shows the hotel’s location on a Yahoo! Map whose only other landmarks are nearby trauma centers. ‘Nuff said.)

So like Jed, Elly May and the gang (only without the gang), we began the long journey from Bugtussle to Beverly. Hills, that is. (Except, of course, that we flew, and the authorities in California roped off Beverly Hills when they learned we were from the South, so we never got to go there.)

To say we were overwhelmed by the experiance of downtown Hollywood would be like saying the pontiff-election procedures are a little odd. (What’s all this with the smoke? Who’s electing the pope these days, Cheech & Chong? Is this just an elaborate scheme to get Ricky Williams to convert?)

Still, not wanting to stick out like a severed thumb in the fast-food chili that is America’s great melting pot, we visited the first ethnic restaurant we saw. I’ll say this for Hollywood – their ethnic restaurants are certainly authentic. Nobody in the place spoke English, the menus were printed in their native tongue, and when we finally communicated our order (“chicken”), they grabbed one as it ran by the table, wrung its neck, and tossed its wide-eyed, flopping, feather-covered body on the table. When they turned their backs, we dropped $100 on the table and bolted. (To this day, I have nightmares in which my wife and I arrive at the pearly gates and St. Peter keeps derisively referring to us as “Colonel and Mrs. Sanders.”)

The day of the life-changing audition finally came, and I found myself, along with about 100 other candidates for the show, standing in the dark on the sidewalk outside the Gower Studio complex. In retrospect, I’ve come to believe this was the first round of elimination. As we stood out there, we were approached by not a few street people. And I can’t stress this strongly enough: There is nothing, nothing, nothing funny about the vicious cycle of poverty, homelessness and severe mental illness in our country, except this: Them people talks funny.

I swear it was exactly like stumbling into a convention of Mushmouth impersonators. With a wallet full of travel cash and a heart unhardened by daily encounters with street people, I was what you might call an easy mark. They swarmed me like mobuhths to a flabuhme, and I handed out money like a lonely sailor on furlough in the Philippines.

I like to think that each of them dined on their very own paralyzed chicken that night.

COMING NEXT WEEK: The exciting con(b)clu(b)sion…

The Devil and Danielle Webster

April 15, 2005

Here in the south, where the love for all things churchy is exceeded only by the love of semi-automatic weaponry and flags from a segregated history, a strange phenomenon is sweeping the land.

I’m talking, of course, about the kudzu-like proliferation of hen parties.

Yes, hen party is a rather archaic, politically incorrect term for a gathering of womenfolk. And somebody in some church somewhere is bound to be offended by its use. (Church people? Offended? It boggles the mind. They’re usually so genteel and peaceful… whoops, didn’t mean to sarcasm my way into Al’s subject matter.)

To which I say:

Hen party.

Hen party.

Hen. Par. Tay.

Today’s hen party isn’t the ladylike, tea-sipping, June Cleavery, mom-do-you-ever-feel-not-so-fresh event of yesteryear. No, Mary Tyler Moore had to go all Capri pants on us and ruin things for everybody. (Except, of course, those of us who still get a little frisky at the thought or sight of Laura Petrie in said Capri pants. Yow.) No, my friends, today’s gathering is a high-pressure sales event, something akin to a Tupperware party hosted by Ron Artest.

Here’s how this gals-only am-scay works. Sara goes to church with Susie, Sally, and Shamequa. (It’s a diverse church, which is how we can be assured that it’s only make-believe.) Sara is a stay-home mom, which means that money is a little tight at her house. Sara’s non-church friend, Satan (she’s a really sweet girl, if a little naughty), introduces Sara to a quick and easy home-based business by which Sara can do her part to help make household ends meet. All Sara has to do is host a (hen) party at her house and invite all of her church friends. Satan – now Sara’s friend, business partner, and soul proprietor (ha!) – will do all the work at this (hen) party.

Sara dutifully invites all of her church friends to this (hen) party. “You don’t have to buy anything, just come over!” she promises. So they do. And Satan puts on quite a show. Fireworks pop. Lasers flash. Fog billows in from unknown origins. Heads swivel 360 degrees on their bodies. Keanu shakes hands with Pacino…

And they buy.

Susie, that dirty-legged trollop, is the first to cave. She simply must have the lavender brooch on page 275. Buying it will help Sara get extra free stuff as the host of the (hen) party, and the brooch is only $48! (It’s $3.50 at Target, but Target doesn’t have Lucifer as the middleman.) But alas! Poor Susie will have to pay shipping costs unless she gets her order over $100. Isn’t there something, any tiny little thing that Sally might buy to help Susie avoid those frightful shipping charges?

Sally feels just gosh-darned terrible seeing Susie – and, in turn, Sara – in such straits. Susie has always been so helpful and kind, and – oh! – her precious little family mustn’t suffer because of these unfair freight fees. Sally owes it to her sister, so in Christian love – O agape, we hardly knew ye! – she drops thirty bucks on a ring that caught her eye (and, she’ll learn later, her nose as well) a few pages back.

And the angels rejoice.

Shamequa, though, is holding her own. Unswayed by the prodding of Satan’s salespitchfork, she refuses to give in. The jewelry catalog is nice enough, but nothing in there really flipped her switch. She politely nods and giggles as the others transact themselves into an eternity of fire and brimstone, but she is resolute in her decision not to buy.

“Shammy,” her suddenly shadowless friends coo, “this jade-studded eyepatch would look so good on you!”

Shamequa does not bite, but it suddenly appears that Sara, Susie and Sally just might. They begin to stalk Shamequa with bloodlust in their eyes. “But we’re your sisters,” they hiss. Shamequa, fearing for her very life, grabs the catalog and turns to the page with the crucifix necklaces. She holds it out toward her undead church friends and quickly recites the incantation that will protect her from their evil:

“The power of commerce compels me!”

The deed is done. Shamequa awakens to find herself signing (gasp… in her own blood!) an order form for one crucifix necklace, the cost of which allows Susie and Sally to get their orders shipped for free.

Satan smiles as she tears off the pink copy and hands it to Shamequa. “You know, girls, with the money you saved on shipping, you could almost afford those earrings on page 666…”

(NOTE: Obviously, part of the entry above was stretched a bit beyond reality. In the real world, it might not be jewelry, but rather makeup, cookware, spa items, bath items, sex toys (no kidding), candles, decorative items for the home, children’s clothing, more makeup, or even – dare I say – plastic containers for food storage.)

We’ve Upped Our Health, So Up Yours!

April 8, 2005

“To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable.”
(From The Picture of Dorian Gray, written by Oscar Wilde)

——

One out of three ain’t bad. (But which one?)

For purt’near two weeks, another Housefly and I have been meeting at the dawn’s early light to complete activities that might be termed exercise, though certainly only in the loosest possible interpretation of the word.

The other Housefly – who shall remain unnamed, for now – is coping with the end of his gay (and I just might mean that literally… who knows what unspeakable carnalities he dabbled in during all those years of college?) twenties and the onset of the dirty thirties. I, having already coped with my thirtysomethingness as well as a receding hairline (it’s not so much receding as it is advancing down my back… film at eleven!), receding gums (which I plan to parlay into a frivolous lawsuit against toothbrush manufacturers… Coolhand has signed on as my lead attorney and is working on catchy rhetoric: “If his enamel is scarred, the bristles are too hard!” and “He’s got gingivitis; they cannot fight us!” and “Their product is a sham; do you give a dental dam?”), and six-times-an-hour visits to the toilet each night (“Urine on the eights!”)…

Sorry. Grammatically speaking, sometimes it’s best to just start over.

What I was trying to say was this: I have no such illusion of regaining my youthful vim and vigor. I gave up on that when I began to notice a steady loss in stream pressure a few years back (which makes Urine on the eights much more of an adventure for both me and barefooted family members). My decision to exercise was based on the fact that, upon starting work for a company with a dress code that required a little more than sweats and flip-flops, I discovered my Sonic-sized paunch had affected the fit of my dress pants. Also, I began to notice that my heart’s tachometer was pegging out after only 13 or 14 cups of coffee. The obvious solution is NOT drink less coffee but rather get the heart used to operating at such speeds! That may be the most specious reasoning since the marketing meeting that led to New Coke, but welcome to my world.

So, in the brief space I have remaining, let me – your exercise guru – do away with a few Myths of Exercise Programs:

1) You must sweat or at least move frequently to accomplish your goals. Dial H for Hogwash, my friends. The Other Housefly and I have found it possible to not only carry on surprisingly lucid conversation (for such an early hour, of course, and only when the left side of my face hasn’t gone numb, which happens often) during our aerobic interludes (!), we also carry our coffee mugs. (Which, of course, lends support to the whole increased heart rate shtick.)

4) You must wear undergarments to maximize the workout’s effectiveness. You’ll have to ask The Other Housefly about this one, and you might also quiz those good folks whose morning commutes were enlivened by the sight of a 30-year-old lily-white tookus cracking wise at them from the track at the local high school. (It may have been daylight, but the moon was still out, baby.)

G) There’s nothing funny about lifting weights. Sure, just as there really are weapons of mass destruction. We spend a couple of mornings each week lifting weights in my garage. We also use other means of torture, including (but not limited to) a jump rope, a stairmaster, and one of those girly exercise balls. To this point, the highlights of the workout sessions (besides the moon, of course) include The Other Housefly rolling helplessly off the exercise ball and crashing into my lawn mower, and This Housefly (that’s me, you idgit) cursing loudly because I couldn’t get more than three consecutive successful rope jumps.

Well kids, this is where I’d normally tie this up with some cutesy closing line. But it’s five o’clock on a Friday and I’m ready to tie on a six pack. So, as the key club would say: Peace out.

‘Come on, Tamara… We’re leaving!’

April 1, 2005

Thrice in my life I’ve witnessed the social faux pas from which there is no recovery. Yes, friends, today we’re talking about unintentional and unmistakably loud public flatulence.

This subject came to mind this week because the eldest Junior Housefly has developed a habit – from his mother, to be sure – of audibly passing gas in public. He often tries to cover it in conversation, but he inevitably pauses just prior to the moment of pollution, glances furtively toward his audience to see if he was caught, then picks up the discussion where he left it as if nothing ever happened. He did this just last night, when the preacher came for a visit and Junior farted up a conversation about the preacher’s laptop computer. (“Is that the – BRONK! – mouse?”) Though he knows he just violated social norms, he is too stubborn to give in. He locks his eyes on some far off (possibly imaginary) object, poorly camouflages a sly grin, and tries to cover with many words the obvious sensory evidence of his foul deed.

It’s enough to bring tears to his old man’s eyes. Sometimes literally so.

This step-on-a-duck-and-cover routine starts early (nature or nurture?), but it apparently never leaves us. The three offenders in the aforementioned cases of boisterous, accidental and very public flatulence tried unsuccessfully to act as if nothing had happened. Remarkably, in all three situations, I managed to muster enough restraint to stifle my soon-to-be raucous laughter.

The first such situation occurred on a weeklong high-school trip, one of those affairs in which you’re eating a lot of fast food and/or potluck fare, then jumping on a bus and getting jiggled around for up to nine hours a day. The effects on the adolescent G/I tract are not unlike what happens when you drop a 2-liter soda down a flight of stairs. Something wicked this way comes.

(Holy cow. The guy in the office next to mine just did “gym teacher’s handkerchief” – covering one nostril and exhaling mightily through the other in a brazen attempt to launch some sort of mucus rocket into our work environment. I half expected to hear a dull THUD on the wall separating us. Nice. If somebody slips and falls in his office later, I’m going to have to testify.)

Back to our story. In this particular situation, the laughter was fairly easy to stifle. The flatulent party was a female buddy, the kind of girl who was sweet and funny and kind and had an aura that drew people to her. Bless her heart (literally), this young girl weighed well over two bills, a fact with which she was as comfortable as she could be. A small group of us had been sitting on a grassy knoll at a rest stop, enjoying some sunshine and fresh air while trying to shake the effects of four hours on a rickety school bus. Our buddy got up to go to the restroom, and… yeah. To her credit, she seemed to recover quickly. To ours, we never brought it up again, though we did laugh – but not in a mean way – once she was out of earshot.

The other two occurrences at butt crack bridge, however, did not involve someone for whom I cared. Rather, it was quite the opposite. The first instance happened at my wife’s company picnic at a nearby state park. This Neanderthal, the husband of one of the employees, showed up in plumber’s jeans and seemed to make it his business to keep his business within our purview all the livelong day. I kept offering to pay people to introduce themselves to this guy under an assumed name. “Hey, good to meet you. I’m Harry Trousercleavage.”

There’s really no story to tell here. The guy stood, didst clap a thunderous fart (second Chaucer reference this week, baby!), then hoisted his jeans, spit a stream of what I hope was tobacco juice, and turned and looked at us as if to say, “I know yew liked that, sweetcheeks!” As he turned and walked away, he dropped a couple of squeaky aftershocks that almost certainly registered on the Richter scale.

And isn’t this the best justice that could be meted out? Somebody whose obnoxiousity (I know, I know) is larger than life gets a little payback via public humiliation of his own doing. Which brings us, briefly, to the third installment of Methaneleak Theatre. Annoying college student is about one-fourth as intelligent as he thinks he is. Annoying college student drives most people away with his know-it-all personality and general vapidity. Annoying college student makes a less-than-salient point in class, peers knowingly over the rims of his eyeglasses (from the Skippy from Family Ties Collection, available at your nearest Woolworth’s), pauses to let the full depth of his stupidity manifest itself, then bends over to grab a book from the bag beside his desk.

Poetic justice, my friends.

(P.S. – Please note that there is one more episode that I chose not to mention today. It involves one of our loyal readers – who shall go unnamed – who once forgot that an attractive young woman was lying in the floor of his living room watching TV. He eased slowly out of his chair, lowered his buttocks toward the floor, and broke mighty wind just inches from this young lass’s head. Thus, today’s headline.)

Is It Wednesday Yet?

March 31, 2005

Dear Readers,

You may have noticed that there was no Wednesday entry yesterday. (At least, there was no Wednesday entry from me.) This is because I am disorganized and, believe it or not, kind of busy on three different fronts.

The somewhat humorous column that typically arrives at your doorstep on Wednesday will arrive on Friday this week, as our Book Editor has graciously granted permission for me to post on the same day he does. To that end, please make this note in your PDAs, your Day-Timers, your Franklin-Coveys and the like:

Beginning next week, the books column will make its weekly appearance on Wednesdays. The humor column will run on Fridays.

My apologies for the inconsistency. Please tune in tomorrow for an explosive monologue about flatulence… and whatever I decide to write about.

— Wednesday Housefly

P.S. — Apologies to Coolhand for interloping on his Thursday turf.