Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mr. Paterno Goes to Washington

My friend Rob sent me this link:


The House of Representatives passed a bill, HR1715, congratulating Joe Paterno on his 400th win as the coach of the Penn State football team. The bill also commends Paterno on his community service and the graduation rate of his players which is the best in the country. The vote for passage was 417-3. Rob rightfully asked the question: Who voted no and why? Why would you vote “no” on such an innocuous piece of legislative fluff? This is how I imagine the vigorous debate on the house floor by the three dissenters. I will call them Mr. Smith, Mr. Jones and Mr. Johnson.

Mr. Smith: I’m offended at this house wasting time on a bill like this when we have more important work ahead of us, like my bill to refer to anyone who believes in global warming as a “poopiehead”.
Mr. Jones: I agree, uh, not with Congressman Smith’s bill, that’s stupid, but I agree that this Joe Palermo thing is a waste of time.
Mr. Smith: Paterno.
Mr. Jones: Gesundheit
Mr. Johnson: The work of this house should be to ensure that we all have health care for life and plenty of lobbyist money to wipe our asses with.
Mr. Jones: I’m only interested in denying unemployment benefits, keeping health insurance from those that need it and golf outings with my secretary Misty.
Mr. Smith: What happened to Jasmine?
Mr. Jones: I promoted her to my chief of staff
Mr. Johnson: I still don’t see a pile of money in front of me, or a baggie of coke or two Asian hookers.
Mr. Smith: I just want to get the word “poopiehead” into a congressional bill.
Mr. Jones: I’ll vote for this bill if someone has a potato in their shoe.
Mr. Smith: Ha ha! Yeah, or a tuna salad sandwich in their wallet! Anyone? I’m really hungry.
Mr. Johnson: Well, I’m voting “no” so I can leave. I have undocumented Hondurans building an addition onto my mistress’s townhouse and they have to be monitored.
Mr. Smith: I vote “no” too, and would like to add for the official record: poopiehead!
Mr. Jones: “No”. I don’t care what Joe Palermo’s done. If it doesn’t involve screwing this great country for my own benefit I’m not interested.

Congratulations to JoePa on being the first Division I football coach to 400 wins. We are . . . Penn State!

Friday, November 19, 2010


The 80s and 90s were the heyday of VCRs. Whether I was using it to tape David Letterman while I was at work, recording Mystery Science Theater 3000 and circulating the tapes to friends or watching a movie rented from the local drugstore for 99 cents, my VCR was in constant use. Technology has moved forward and now we have DVD players and DVRs. If I was a rich man or semi-rich or middle class or solvent in any way I would already have set my home system up with a DVR to record more hours of programming than I could watch in my life-time and replaced all my old VHS tapes with shiny, new laser-etched discs from the future.

What I am, however, is an occupant of paycheck-to-paycheck island where the palm trees produce $1 packs of chicken franks and the water is filled with those damn Wal-Mart smiley faces. In the living room I do have a DVD player, but I can’t afford a DVR. Last year both my VCRs and my cheap DVD player in the bedroom all died within a month of each other. My sister gave me a VCR she wasn’t using so I at least have 1, but I would still like to have one in the bedroom.

Being an intrepid explorer I logged on to Google to search for a VCR. The initial response from the world’s largest search engine was “You’re still using a VCR? Hey everybody, this doofus is still using a VCR!” I thought that was a bit rude so I tried again. “Oh my God, you were serious? You’re actually searching for a VCR in 2010!” was the answer I received this time. So I said screw Google and tried other search engines with these results:

Microsoft—“Our algorithms are set up to search only for things that are relevant”
Yahoo—“VCRs? Yeah I remember them. They were still popular when I was on top. Good times, good times.”
Ask Jeeves—“Holy crap! Someone is using me to do a search! Yes! See world, I’m not dead yet!”

Unfortunately I had to crawl back to Google like the Alaskan GOP to Lisa Murkowski. I was led to Ebay where many sellers were offering used VCRs for small amounts of currency. So I bought one and when it arrived in the mail I was as excited as a child on Christmas morning who had asked for a toy fire engine and instead got a piece of molded Chinese plastic out of a happy meal. I hooked it up, popped in a tape and pressed play.

The movie I had blindly grabbed is a 1950s low budget sci-fi movie called The Deadly Mantis which is about a giant praying mantis on the attack. It’s been a while since I watched it but I remembered there being actors and scenery. What I was seeing from my new VCR was snow and jagged lines which made it very difficult to follow the plot. I stopped it and pressed rewind. The tape went back for a few seconds and shut off. I pressed again and again and again and again until the three minutes of tape had finally rewound completely. With a sad shake of my head and a realization that technologically I felt like an ape trying to open a nut with a rock, I pressed “eject”. Then I pressed it again. And again. And again. And again.

My tape is still in the VCR two days later. I get up every morning and think “maybe today’s the day” but alas, it’s not to be. This weekend I will have to perform surgery to get my movie back from the belly of the beast.

The Ebay seller was very apologetic and my money was refunded within hours of my contacting them. I’m still without a VCR in the bedroom. My rows of VHS tapes stare at me forlornly, wondering when they will again be a part of my life. Sadly, I have no answer for them.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Zen of Michelle Bachmann

Minnesota congresswoman Michelle Bachmann is back in the news. She did an interview with Chris Matthews where her appearance was glassy-eyed, and she gave the same typical, nonsensical answer to every question. Matthews wondered aloud whether Michelle was under hypnosis.

If only it were that simple Mr. Matthews. No, Michelle isn’t under the influence of an outside force, it’s an inside machine that has shoes clogging the gears. Michelle hasn’t been hypnotized, she’s batshit crazy.

That look in her eyes is a mixture of pixilation, stupidity, paranoia and a gene that scientists haven’t identified yet. It all combines to form the Zen of Michelle Bachmann. It allows her to remain in a state of oxymoronic manic calm that produces her ludicrous conspiracy theories, screaming monkey-with-a-microphone proclamations and unrelenting demands for attention.

Dr. Alan Rabinowitz of the Larry Fine Foundation for Ridiculous Thought, a non-partisan, non-denominational, non-profit, non-fat, low cholesterol think tank, has written a paper that includes a section on Michelle’s brain for the science journal “If the Neurons Aren’t Firing, It Must Be the Wiring”. In the paper entitled “On the Thought Processes of Lower Primates”, Dr. Rabinowitz argues that Michelle’s brain is unique even among other conservatives or other paranoid schizophrenics. When Michelle gives a speech or makes a TV appearance she looks normal: She looks like a soccer mom or a respected business woman. It’s only when you actually listen to what she she’s saying and try to understand how she got from point A to point 32 in a straight line, that you realize the depths of her whackjobian fugues.

So Chris Matthews, the next time you have Mrs. Bachmann on your program, remember you are dealing with a brain that works on a different level from anyone else. You have to ask her questions she can handle like, “What meds are you currently on?”, “Did they change your meds?” and “Have you taken your meds?”