The Rules

1) I now carry a little machine with me to which I am willing to give my immediate attention whenever it bleats. You can make it bleat. Do not abuse this power. Remember: It is very easy to get on my mental ‘Regularly Calls For No Reason’ list, but it is very hard to get off that list.

2) It is not permitted to initiate a call and then behave as though I initiated the call. I regularly have phone conversations with an unnamed person to whom I am reasonably certain I could successfully donate bone marrow that go like this:

Me: Hello?
Caller: Hey.
Me: What’s up?
Caller: Nada. What’s up with you?
Me: Nothing.
*long silence*
Me: Um, you called me.

3) A telephone is a tool for exchanging useful information. My father is a perfect telephone user:

Me: Hello?
Dad: Hi. An airplane crashed on my house, and I have to sign some things. Can we move our tee time to eleven-fifteen?
Me: Okay.
Dad: Everything else good?
Me: Yes. You?
Dad: Yes. See you in an hour.

Emulate him.

4) That you can now call me and notify me that you will be thirty minutes late does not mean that it is now generally acceptable to be thirty minutes late. Mom.

5) If I do not answer the phone when you call, the correct response is to leave a voicemail. Hanging up on the voicemail and immediately redialing to make the phone ring again will result in the swift imposition of sanctions.

6) The burden of remembering the codephrase that subtly communicates present inability to speak freely is on you. Here’s the codephrase I’ll be using: “I can’t talk right now.” If I employ this codephrase, getting annoyed at me for refusing to share my end of the conversation with the rest of the airport/traincar/elevator is prohibited.

7) I understand nothing about cellphone finance except for the unquestionable fact that I am getting boned on the bill worse than anyone else in America, which leaves me, rage-wise, permanently just below the ‘Donald Duck’ threshold. For the general good of everyone, discussing cellphone finance with me is forbidden under all circumstances.

8) I have successfully ducked the march of technology for years. This does not mean I am unhappy to have a phone now. Circumstances change, and the phone is a price I am willing to pay. However: My tolerance for talking about how I ‘finally’ got a cellphone is going to be low. One of the first thirty times I hear comedy on the order of “Hey, welcome to 1997!” will be met with a violent response. I have already chosen which one. Remember this when my phone rings and you’re feeling especially clever.


Bachelor Life, Day One:

Cleaned kitchen thoroughly. Played my preferred music at my preferred volume without being sighed at. Moved laundry hamper to proper location, in living room next to personal favorite chair. Ate some leftover baked beans. Did a little laundry. Ordered the two-for-one special from Grin & Bare It. Caught up on some TiVo’d golf lessons. Rampaged though some Halo 2. Washed dishes. Went to bed. Slept okay.

Bachelor Life, Day Two:

Awoke and rose without hitting ‘snooze’ fourteen times. Performed morning ritual without having anyone standing by the door jingling keys and pointedly consulting wristwatch. Went to work. Came home. Snacked. Was rained out on Oakbrook chair retrieval for Gail. Was rained out at the driving range. Ran two errands: One to buy birdseed, and one to buy first piece of fish I have cooked in my own house in seven years. Cooked and ate fish. (Halibut with a lemon-caper sauce.) Did 70 Hindu squats. Got lonely for a snuggle. Called Grin & Bare It again. This time, order was still hot when it arrived. Had a couple of drinks. Watched Sportscenter. Went to bed.

Can hardly wait for Day Three.

* * *

Search Terms That Disappointed People from the last two months or so, with commentary:

I believe this to be the corporation that will eventually be Larry Flynt’s steppingstone to supervillain status. “You have no chance, Mr. Bond! The full might of Hootercom has been unleashed at last!”

how elephant useful for man
guys whacking off
what to do for a strained forearm

I can’t quite put my finger on it, but these three seem to belong together.

Check that. These four.

cat necktie
The guy who invented the fish tie is worth millions, and the creator of Earl the Dead Cat got on Letterman. Somehow, I need to organize a chance meeting betwixt these two titans of industry.

does the pope shit in the woods
What’s funny about this is that I don’t believe I’ve ever used that expression in print.

enjoyed your sucking in the morning
I can’t decide if it’s funnier that it vaguely fits the tune of “I Love Paris” or that my initial assumption was that it was someone looking for Felicia Middlebrooks.

eyeball cancer march birthdays link
Okay, fifth time in a row. Seriously, I am DYING to know what this is about. Have mercy, random disappointed searchers. Fill me in.

boink boink blog
I used to wonder what this was. Then I started wondering how many faithful readers I have that think this crap I scrawl is the actual, wonderful, original boing boing.

darth vader pants


“I needed those trousers today.”


“When I dropped them off Tuesday, you swore to me I could have them after five.”


“You have failed me for the last time, Mrs. Kwan.”


(Fine. YOU write the lightsaber ignition sound phonetically.)

* * *

Tomorrow: Eight Simple Rules For Using My Cellphone

Please To Never Come Again

I have the enormous honor of serving as a groomsman in the wedding of two excellent friends in October, a wedding at which the wedding party will be wearing Indian formalwear. (Outsourced-Tech-Support Indian, not Me-Scalpum-Heap-Palefaces Indian.) Last night, the groomsmen accompanied the groom up to Western & Devon to shop for our jodhpuris. I had two goals for this process:

1) That the groom be pleased with the outfits his groomsmen would be wearing in his wedding.

2) That we avoid choosing jodhpuris equivalent to the ones worn by the New Delhi Hilton version of Murph and the Magic Tones, thereby causing merchants to rush over to the shop after we left to high-five the proprietor, laughing themselves sick and shouting, ‘OH NO YOU DI-INT SELL THE HONKIES MURPH JHODPURIS!”

This in mind, we parked on Devon and wandered around shops. Now, I must note that, shopping-wise, we are not Browsing Guys. We are Buying Guys. We don’t mind shopping for clothes, when we have a specific list. “Get brown socks” we can handle. “Find an Indian suit that you like and that is reasonably priced” is a bit tougher for us. We’re dogs. “Fetch”, yes. “Find and decide”, no.

The first thing I had to figure out was what size I am in a jodhpuri. I wear a 52-Regular jacket in a Western suit, which translates to a range of 48-54 in Indian jackets, depending on sleeve billow. As best as I can tell, height is not factored into jacket size on Devon, which fact I gleaned from the absence of anything like a “regular” or “tall” designation, and also, for those of you in the know, from the fact that Pookie and Dr. D wear the same size Jodhpuri jacket.

That settled, the groom went about selecting the style and color. He was looking for something that would match both his musket and the Confederate flag tattoo on his neck. We eventually settled on a lovely blue-gray, which, conveniently, also sets off his eyes. It has silver embroidery where the lapels would be on a Western coat, which is lovely, but I keep worrying that they spelled out “BIG DUMMY” in some sort of bead code.

The next thing was to figure out the exact reasonable post haggling price, at which we failed miserably. We’re good at negotiating for cars, because with cars, we are capable of knowing what the price really is. With these jackets, I think we kicked the crap out of the negotiator, and I think we basically stole them, and I’m 100% content with the price, but I still have a little voice in the back of my head saying “You think you did well, but you left $100 on the table, Mr. So-Smart-White-Boy. The old women who feigned outrage at your pricing giggled until they drooled on their saris after you left.”

We sought restorative food and cocktails, accompanied by a coworker of Pookie’s, her giant camera, and her disapproval of my eating bhuna goat. She tried it, though, because it smelled good. Reportedly, she liked it so long as she could clear her mind of what it was. We bleated at her, of course, but not when she was actually chewing, to be polite.

Open Line Thursday

Request line:

Stories about interaction with homeless people.

Here’s a verbatim exchange from last week:

“My man my man! You got any change?”

“Sorry, boss. I got nothing.”

“I just need fifty cent to get on the train, man.”

“Wish I could help you, man, but I got nothin’.”

“Sure you do. I seen you go in there and get a coffee. Doan tell me you ain’t go not money, man! I got to get on the el. It’s a ‘mergency!”

“None I can spare. Sorry. Please leave me alone.”

“What’s fifty cents to you, rich guy, five minutes work?”

“I don’t want to call a policeman on you.”

“Hey, fuck you, man! Fifty cent you can’t spare me? FUCK YOU!”

Make a fucking scene over fifty cents why don’t you. There oughta be a law. The nerve of that selfish SOB. I actually had to call Honey to come and pick me up, because Mr. I-Can’t-Spare-Fifty-Cents just sat in his hovel and glared at me. Where’s the compassion, huh?

* * *

Pranks you pulled off successfully.

I feel comfortable letting y’all in on this, because this blog is wholly separate from what I think of as my performance art:

Some years ago, I had an idea for the most unbelievable practical joke. It took months – years – to bring the plan to fruition, but, by combining an extraordinary series of misdirections and red herrings with a breathtaking team effort from a small but absolutely loyal inner circle, I now have several hundred people utterly convinced that I am a short, glasses-wearing woman named ‘Cara’. The disguise itself takes several hours to don completely, but someday, in an extra-tedious meeting, I will peel off my mask, rise to my full height, stretch luxuriantly, and stroll out the door like nothing happened. And come that day, my friends, there will be some seriously surprised people in that conference room.


* * *

Places you had to shit.

In one of his wonderful books, all of which I cannot recommend highly enough, Kinky Friedman relates the following story, which I have recreated badly from memory:

“My friend X was in a taxi once, up in Harlem, when the Chinaman driving the cab switched off the meter and gunned the engine. X, alarmed, asked where they were headed. The Chinese driver explained, with some difficulty, that they were going to Chinatown, because he had to go to the bathroom. My friend asked him why he couldn’t use one of the many other bathrooms in Manhattan. The driver communicated, somehow, that his need was for what we foreign devils call a ‘Number Two’. X, still perplexed, reopened the question of why the driver couldn’t stop between Harlem and Chinatown and lay his cable. Why, exactly, did he have to drive like hell all the way across Manhattan to take a dump?

The driver answered, ‘Must go familiar place.’

What a delightful little motto that is, no? ‘Must go familiar place.’

I think of that driver often.”

* * *

Worst alcoholic beverage you ever drank.

Worst in Flavor: A bottle of liquor my father-in-law brought me from China that was made with water from Mao’s well and fermented peas. It tasted exactly like you’d expect liquor made with water from Mao’s well and fermented peas to taste.

Worst in Effect: A friend of mine went on vacation a year or two back, and arranged for a see-the-family layover in his home city of Pittsburgh en route to the glorous wilderness of North Carolina. As he deplaned in Pittsburgh, he was met by his sister, who informed him that while he was in the air, his father had suffered a massive heart attack, and was that very moment undergoing ultra-major surgery on about thirteen organs at once. Needless to say, he canceled the second leg of his flight, and spent his week with distraught family. His dad recovered, and my friend came home, called me, filled me in, and said, “I need to get drunk.”

His words touched my heart. We organized a barbecue, summoned a crowd, and, for a themed cocktail, invented the Widowmaker. Here’s the recipe:

The Widowmaker

Chill a long-stemmed martini glass. Run a lime wedge around the inside of the glass. Fill a cocktail shaker 3/4 full with cracked ice. Pour four generous shots of Gosling’s 151-proof Black Bermuda Rum into the shaker. Shake. Strain the rum into the chilled martini glass. Drink quickly, before it evaporates. Serves one.

A-plus for flavor and effect, F-minus for the next day. Not recommended for amateurs.

* * *

Fights are always fun to read about.

Here’s a question, originally posed in a somewhat different form by Tony Kornheiser, that I’ve been pondering the last couple of days:

In both of our present physical condition, what is the least-powerful weapon I would need to have a strong chance of defeating Mike Tyson in the ring?

There are a number of issues to resolve here:

1) Would anything beyond a firearm qualify?

2) Is a flamethrower technically a ‘firearm’?

3) Would I be disqualified for missing Tyson and winging spectators?

4) What about a nonlethal weapon, like a tranquilizer gun?

5) How fast does rhino tranquilizer take complete effect?

6) Might the CIA have developed some sort of mind-control device I could borrow?

7) Do six ninjas count as “a weapon” the way six onions in a bag are “one item”?

8) What is the exact blast radius of a hand grenade?

9) Would I be permitted to power up my electrified shark cage before the bell?

Garbage Pizza In Our Time

Between the first bit of Jeffrey Steingarten’s “The Man Who Ate Everything” and my own ban on some seventy percent of the foods I had been accustomed to ingesting, one of the fronts opened by Operation Eighty Pounds has been the battle with foods I have traditionally disliked. I am proud, today, to report victory over one of the major insurgent groups previously engaged in battle with my established sense of taste: We are, officially, at peace with raw tomatoes. Credit belongs largely to Pizzeria Uno, a loose coalition of farmer’s markets, the slow realization that my true enmity was not for raw tomatoes but for lousy raw tomatoes, and a secret formula, developed by my own black ops agency, for an engineered-mutant variation of caprese salad. Today, tomatoes and I move forward as allies, to confront the remaining menaces of:

* Uncooked green pepper. Through exhaustive peace talks with sauteed representatives, partial success – a stable truce – has been achieved with the ‘cooked’ faction of the bell pepper alliance. The real breakthough came during a lengthy session in Louisiana with our gifted mediator, a stuffed flounder. (I couldn’t identify an ingredient in the delicious stuffing, and made a few inquiries. Imagine my surprise.)

* Organ meats. Some progress has been made. Scouts report tongue to be inoffensive but jerkylike, and a delegation returned from Tru having had a tremendous breakthrough with foie gras, now one of our staunchest allies. (Turned out we needed a sweeter emissary.) Tentative feelers are being sent out to sweetbreads.

* Mustard. The treaty is in the process of final approval and ratification. We expect a very positive announcement within weeks. Breakthrough was achieved by moving outside the realm of the Yellow French’s militancy and appealing directly to the oppressed Creole minority.

* Indian food. Repeated attempts to resurrect peace talks have been rebuffed, and a policy shift on this rogue state, to one of ‘confinement’, is imminent.


Okay, for purposes of personal motivation, we present

This week on ‘Blood & Thunder’

Status report, live from the front lines of Project Omnivore. We have had a breakthrough.

Our first ever All-Request Thursday! Submit the topics you’d like to see covered below. You request it, we’ll write it.

Please To Not Come Again: An Essay On The Buying Of Trousers On Devon Avenue

The triumphant return of Search Terms That Misled People Badly Enough To Land Them Here

Stay tuned….

Free At Last

A week from now, I will have an opportunity I have not had in seven or eight years: Five consecutive days of living alone. While I’m not quite sure if this really due to a ‘business trip’, as I have been told, or to a trial separation, which is my suspicion, I intend to make the best of my temporary bachelorhood. Suggestions welcome.

(By the way, my appearance and financial status are unsuited to arranging illicit sex, I can’t eat real food until I lose another twenty pounds, I have to get up early for work every day, and I quit smoking. I’m thinking of spending my bachelor week building a machine that aids assisted suicide. But I’m interested in your ideas, too.)

Poli Sci

“Honey? HONEY? HON-NEY?”

“Did you yell?”

“Is ‘Karl Rove’ Karl with a C or with a K?”

“I can’t hear you. I’m drying my hair. What?”


“Okay, okay, I turned the dryer off. What, now?”

“Is ‘Karl Rove’ Karl with a C or Karl with a K?”

“He’s the politician, right?”




“It’s eight-fifteen in the morning. Why do you need to know that?”

“I’m updating my Things That Make People I Know Hyperventilate But That I Just Can’t Bring Myself To Care About list before I go to work. Should I put him under K or R, do you think?”

Eye In The Sky

In the interest of picking up a good habit – variety is the spice of life, I hear – I have been taking walks on weekdays, in lieu of eating lunch. I am partial to walking through Millennium Park, because I don’t have to pay a lot of attention to things like crossing streets and fending off beggars. It’s good brain rest.

I have been spending some time, the past couple weeks, inspecting Terry Evans’ Revealing Chicago: An Aerial Portrait, an outdoor gallery of photos of the area taken from one of those small planes that swoop creepily around the downtown area and make everyone look up to see if they can tell whether or not the pilot is a crazed Arab. The photos have titles like “Small businesses, Sunday afternoon. Lombard, DuPage County” and “View of Chicago from Schaumburg” and “Smelt Season. Belmont Harbor, Chicago” and “Green. Chicago River. March 17, 2004“, and are striking and impressive and ripe for satire. That in mind, I suggest a few additions:

IDOT Workers Doing Nothing, Near Addison

Beating A Suspect, 12th District Alley

Injured Bear Carted Away. Soldier Field. Undateable

Urination. Adams/Wabash El Platform. July 3, 2004, 11:48pm

Empty Stands At U.S. Cellular, Sox Up 5-1, Sixth Inning

Fornicating Couple Startled By Airborne Pervert. Gold Coast

Tuesday Afternoon, Body in the Cal-Sag

I am being interrupted. Pick it up here for me, please.


I work, for a bit longer anyway, in the Media portion of the Media-Political-Legal Fear Industry Triad. Sometimes, I have to watch video feeds that provoke nightmares.

Like the last twenty-four hours.

In these cases, my brain does its best to protect me with gallows humor, and sometimes it comes up with some things that, I am embarassed to admit, are really, really funny. Yesterday, though, it hit me with something for which I was not prepared. So I discussed it with one of my advisors.

DISCLAIMER: If you are a sensitive person who does not appreciate serious gallows humor, stop reading this minute. Come back tomorrow. I mean it. I am a horrible person. Go away. Go read something tasteful and poignant. Monday I’ll write something you’ll like. Stop now. Get back. There will be no complaints tolerated for anything read beyond this point.

BloodAndThunder: Is it too early to post a couple of shameful, tasteless thoughts I’ve had while monitoring bombing coverage?

Not Pookie: I don’t think so.

Not Pookie: But that’s me.

Not Pookie: You don’t come to me not knowing the answer ahead of time, now do you?

BloodAndThunder: I come to you figuring you’re the next-most-likely to be in favor.

BloodAndThunder: And if you said “Uh, I’d wait”, then I know.

Not Pookie: One or two people might not react well, but otherwise…

BloodAndThunder: I’ll disclaimer it.

Not Pookie: Wait, just how tasteless are we talking, here?

BloodAndThunder: Well, I debated it, and I didn’t with, say, duck sodomy.

Not Pookie: Heh heh

BloodAndThunder: Here’s, I think, the baddest of the lot:

BloodAndThunder: deeda doo doo, deeda doo doo, deeda doo doo doo


BloodAndThunder: BLAM

Not Pookie: Oh … My … God

BloodAndThunder: You see.

Not Pookie: OK, I’m thinking.

BloodAndThunder: (laughing)

Not Pookie: As long as you preface it, I think you’re OK. How many people have seen Trigger Happy TV?

BloodAndThunder: I don’t know. But that image just fucking KILLS me.

BloodAndThunder: I think it’s the “WOT?!”.

Not Pookie: agreed.

Not Pookie: I am so going to hell.

Not Pookie: You first, but still…

Not Pookie: (weeping)

Not Pookie: Yeah, I’m sorry, as tasteless as that is, you just have to go for it.

BloodAndThunder: I can hear him in my head. “HELLO?”

Not Pookie: As can I.

Not Pookie: Now I have this image in my head of all the news footage, the walking wounded, and a guy in a chipmunk suit walking through the frame…

BloodAndThunder: (laughing)

BloodAndThunder: Or a guy in a full burqa, carrying a lit bomb.

BloodAndThunder: “Excuse me, Paddington station? Yes, not from around here, can you help me?”

BloodAndThunder: “Sorry, lost. Paddington Station?”

Not Pookie: Oh, that’s … wow.

Not Pookie: Ooh! Ooh! I got it!

Not Pookie: “Foreign Guy, Reading From Phrase Book”

BloodAndThunder: (laughing)

BloodAndThunder: (yes, already)

Not Pookie: “Would … you like … to go … to … the Dees-co … after … the bombing?”

BloodAndThunder: Trigger Happy TV Too Hot For TV!

BloodAndThunder: I may just post this transcript.

Not Pookie: Hey, wait, I didn’t agree to be identified.

BloodAndThunder: I’d protect your identity.

Not Pookie: Okay. I just had to adjust briefly to the idea.

BloodAndThunder: Yes. And the whole conversation is funny as shit, which is the important thing.

Not Pookie: Sold.

Not Pookie: I’d edit for flow, but you need to keep:

Not Pookie says: You don’t come to me not knowing the answer ahead of time, now do you?

BloodAndThunder says: I come to you figuring you’re the next-most-likely to be in favor.

Not Pookie says: Wait, just how tasteless are we talking, here?

Not Pookie: The important concept was “Nah, I think you’re … wait, just how … ”

BloodAndThunder: The point where you went from “Why would you ask?” to “Uh-oh. Why would you ask?”

Not Pookie: ‘zactly.

(Yes, I sent a donation as penance.)