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Showing posts from September, 2009

Wayback Wednesday: We're the Rodney Dangerfields of Comedy

We're the Rodney Dangerfields of ComedyErik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2004

On Wednesdays, rather than rehashing a news story, I reprint one of my old columns. I've got 15 years' worth of the damn things, so there's no point in letting them sit moldering in a box in my garage. At least not the good ones. This one is from 5 years ago.

People often ask me what it's like to be a humor writer. It's very simple. So simple, in fact, that. . . uhh, I mean no, it's extremely difficult. It's hard, hard work. So hard, in fact, that only extremely intelligent, highly-qualified people with special skills should attempt humor writing.

Humor writers should be placed on pedestals and revered by society. They should be honored with parades, awarded medals, and have deli sandwiches and fancy coffee drinks named after them. And I'm not just saying that because I'm a humor writer.

Okay, I am saying that because I'm a humor writer.

Humor writing has a …

British Library Denies Use of Scissors to Woman Because She "Might" Stab Staff

The Holborn Library staff is overly paranoid about being stabbed.

At least that's what we're led to believe, after the British library refused to loan a woman a pair of scissors, because she "might stab a member of staff."

According to a story on the BBC website, the Camden Council, located in north London, was forced to apologize to Lorna Watts, a self-employed dressmaker, after they refused to loan her the scissors.

Watts told the Beeb, "I asked why I couldn't borrow a pair of scissors and she said, 'they are sharp, you might stab me.' I then asked to borrow a guillotine (paper cutter) to cut up my leaflets but she refused again - because she said I could hit her over the head with it!"

Actually, the thought never occurred to me until just now. I guess borrowing a cricket bat is out of the question.

Watts then visited three other libraries, and was denied her request in all three locations.

"It's absurd - there are plenty of heavy books I c…

What I Like About Being Married

I was having a discussion with a friend of mine about the question of marriage, and what we thought about the institution of marriage. It was sort of a one-sided discussion, because I'm 42 and have been married for nearly 16 years, and she's 25 and has never been married. I did all the talking.

My friend is sort of ambivalent about whether she'll get married or not. That's not to say she won't have a significant other in her life, she just may choose not to get married.

"What do you like about being married?" she asked me. I actually had to think about it for a minute, because any reason I can give for being married — having someone to come home to, having someone to share my life with, having someone to grow old with — are the same reasons she can give for living with someone, a la Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. (Those two have never married, but they've been together longer than most actual marriages.)

I wanted to think of that one thing that separated …

Phone It In Sunday: The Black Knight Scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail

I had a hard time deciding which is funnier, the Black Knight scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail or the Stoning Scene from Monty Python's Life of Brian. For sheer dark comedy and sword-through-the-headery, the Black Knight scene always wins hands off down. If you've never seen it, watch it here.

If you have seen it, can you name the Pythoner who played the Black Knight? Leave your answer in the comments section.
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Johnson County, Iowa Supervisor Sends F-Word Email to Iowa City Man

Yale Cohn of Iowa City, Iowa was shocked — shocked! — when he received an email with the F-word in it, from Johnson County Supervisor Rod Sullivan.

According to a story in the Iowa City Press-Citizen, Rod Sullivan sent an email to Cohn that said, "F--- you, 'Donny.'" Cohn is known as Donny in the comments section on the Press-Citizen website.

The dispute arose from their sniping in the comments section of Maria Conz's September 15 blog on the Press-Citizen website.

So Cohn sent Sullivan a personal message, which he admits was "sharp-witted and snarky."

That's when Sullivan staggered Cohn with the F-word email.

"I don't believe (my email) was anywhere as near outrightly offensive" as Sullivan's "guttural tactics," Cohn whinged to the Press-Citizen.

Cohn's message to Sullivan was asking why Sulllivan had set his user profile to "private."

"Are you afraid of accountability? Being on the public record? Being caugh…

My Baby Girl is Growing Up, Despite My Best Efforts

My Baby Girl is Growing Up, Despite My Best EffortsErik Deckers
Laughing Stalk syndicate
Copyright 2009

Earlier this week, my wife sent me the text message from Hell, the text message every father dreads getting. The words no father of a daughter wants to hear or read.

"Your daughter has a boyfriend"

My reply was calm, well-reasoned, and rational.


Every father with a daughter reading these words is silently nodding and thinking, "there's nothing irrational about this." Every father who only has sons is snickering, thinking I'm overreacting.

To that, I have two responses: 1) Try to remember what it was like when you were a teenager, and you'll understand my concern, and 2) if your kid ever pokes his nose around here, I'll return it to him in a box.

I immediately called my wife.

"I blame you for this, you know," I said.

"How'd you leap to that conclusion?" she asked.

"I've been very clear on sev…

"Spotted Dick" Back on the Menu, Childish Customers Warned. This Means YOU

It was one of the few times in a person's life that he or she could loudly use the words "Spotted Dick" and not get into too much trouble.

At least until the canteen staff at the Flintshire Council in Wales started calling it "Spotted Richard" after some of their less mature customers had made childish comments. (In my defense, I have never actually been to Flintshire, Wales.)

In other words, they knocked their Spotted Dick in the dirt. They were Spotted Dickless. They had — um, never mind. I see their point.

But after the firestorm of hate mail that came from as far away as Canada, the canteen staff has reverted the menu item back to the original, proper name. But the BBC says they have warned that if any customers act in a "childish way," they will be refused food.

Spotted Dick is a steamed suet pudding containing dried fruit, originating in the middle of the 19th century. The "spots" come from currants, and "Dick" may have derived f…

Yeah? Well, I DOUBLE Dare You!

Yeah? Well, I DOUBLE Dare You!Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2005

On Wednesdays, rather than rehashing a news story, I reprint one of my old columns. I've got 15 years' worth of the damn things, so there's no point in letting them sit moldering in a box in my garage. At least not the good ones. This one is from September 2005.

I don't know what it is with teenagers these days.

For one thing, they make me feel old, especially when I say Old Geezer things like "I don't know what it is with teenagers these days."

They're so awkward and gangly, but are eager to take on the entire world. A dangerous, yet humorous combination.

I saw a perfect example a few days ago. I was at a stoplight, behind several cars, and saw a 14-year-old kid walking on the sidewalk with his girlfriend. Someone a few cars ahead must have said something to the kid, because he turned around and shot a dirty look at the passenger.

He held his arms out wide, as if to say, "…

Call the Police, There's a Guy in a Mask Who — Never Mind

Mostrose, Michigan High School had a bit of a scare when a man wearing a stocking mask was lurking outside the school. A cafeteria worker spotted the man and sounded the alarm, which caused the school to lock down, and evacuate 180 students from the cafeteria to the gymnasium.

Police would have apprehended the masked man, except it was Montrose Police Chief Darrell Ellis, said a story in the Flint (Michigan) Journal.

Chief Ellis was at the school as part of a classroom exercise. He and a colleague were going to surprise students in a forensic science class. Everything went well in the classroom, but Ellis said he realized something was wrong when he found the lunch room completely empty.

Ellis learned what had happened, called for the all clear, and the lockdown ended 10 minutes after it started.

Ellis and principal Jim Ply praised the worker's action, as well as the students response.

"Er, ah, Ms. Jenkins' swift actions and — uh, jeez this is embarrassing — the students' …
The final moments at the Lacy Leadership Association LEAD seminar. I'll be blogging after every session for the next six weeks.This message was sent using the Picture and Video Messaging service from Verizon Wireless!To learn how you can snap pictures and capture videos with your wireless phone visit To play video messages sent to email, QuickTime� 6.5 or higher is required.

Who Plays I-Spy While Flying Over the Ocean?

In England, the London Daily Telegraph (official motto: dot dot dash dot dash dash dot dot) reported a story of British vacationers (called holidaymakers over there) who had some rather unreasonable, absurd, and stupid complaints.

One woman complained that she was not able to play I-spy with her children on the plane, because the sky was too cloudy, which blocked their view of the sea.

It's the freaking ocean. What can you play I-spy with?

Mummy: I spy, with my little eye, something that is blue.

Little Nigel: Is it the ocean?

Mummy: It is! It is the ocean! Well done.

I spy, with my little eye, something with an overdeveloped sense of entitlement.

It's a freaking plane. You live in freaking England, one of the cloudiest, rainiest countries in the world. The only place more cloudy and rainy than you is Cloudyrainstania. If you want to play I-spy with your kids, try looking at different colored objects in, oh I don't know, the inside of the plane, or better yet, a children's bo…

Wisconsin Ruins a Relationship

Wisconsin Ruins a RelationshipErik Deckers
Laughing Stalk syndicate
Copyright 2009

When I was in high school, in 1984, I nearly had a girlfriend from Wisconsin. It's not that I ruined the relationship, or that there was something wrong with her. Rather, I wrecked lost her, thanks to a tree and a bloody nose. Personally, I blame Wisconsin.

That summer, my mom, my stepfather Tom, sister, and brother went to a camp and lodge somewhere deep in the heart of the Wisconsin wilderness. We were far enough away from civilization that I was actually allowed to walk through the lodge bar despite the alcohol laws, and into the back room where they had some video arcade games. Ideally, we weren't supposed to be there, but it was a slow week, and the odds of the excise police showing up were slim to none.

Each night we would hang out in the back room, and my sister and I would play video games, talking to any of the other kids who would hang out. On our last night, I met a girl my own age, who wa…

Australian Mobile Users Complain About UNSOLICITED Death Threats

A couple days ago, I wrote about a news story by KCRA TV in Sacramento, California not getting how a couple of sky divers might have died. I was worried that the American news media is just getting dumber by the day.

Apparently it's spreading.

Australia's Marketing Magazine just launched this doozy of a headline:

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has received complaints about unsolicited SMS death threats being sent to Australian mobile users.

Unsolicited death threats? Unsolicited death threats?! Are they any other kind?

"This month, we're running a special where you can get unlimited long distance, unlimited texts, and unlimited death threats for $59.95 per month."

Apparently, some Australian mobile phone users were receiving death threats from an overseas location.
“I am about to kill you. If you want to live, contact [] to get information on what you will have to do to live. If you ignore this message, you will die!”
"Can you kill …

Wayback Wednesday: G'Day Mate, Bonzer Hat Ye Got There

G'Day Mate, Bonzer Hat Ye Got ThereErik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2006

On Wednesdays, rather than rehashing a news story, I reprint one of my old columns. I've got 15 years' worth of the damn things, so there's no point in letting them sit moldering in a box in my garage. At least not the good ones. This one is from 3 years ago.

They're called "cringe moments." Those things that we've done in our past that make us squirm uncomfortably like a Baptist at "Brokeback Mountain" as we remember them. We die a thousand deaths as we recall our past cringe moments and break into a cold sweat at the first sparkle of memory. No one likes to talk about them, but everyone has them, me included.

Sorry, I mean, me especially.

Big surprise, right? Believe it or not, most of my moments come from saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. It was a lifelong lesson, but I finally learned it.

I now think before I speak.

People who have known me for severa…

KCRA TV in California Fails to Understand Skydiving, Gravity

KCRA3, Sacramento, California's NBC affiliate, does not strike me as having a lot of common sense.

You can see it in one of their latest stories, 2 Parachutists Die In Lodi Accident, No Word On Cause.

Two parachutists were killed at the Lodi Parachute Center in Acampo after an accident Sunday, officials said.

The San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department said one person was dead at the scene. One person was transported to Lodi Memorial Hospital.

There is no word on what caused the deaths.
Hmm, it probably wouldn't be a stabbing, drug overdose, or romantic murder-suicide pact. What could it be, what could it be. . .?

Now, I'm not a physicist, a parachuting expert, or a coroner, but I'm going to wager a guess that it was caused by massive blunt force trauma preceded by a fall from a very long height.

And you wonder why so many people were upset when Walter Cronkite died.

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Green Business Owner Fined for Not Producing Garbage

We've all been told how we need to reduce, reuse, and recyle, in order to keep things out of the landfills, and help save the earth, right?

From the "Must have missed the memo" files, the Southend (England) city council is fining Mark Howard and his bicycle shop for not producing any waste.

According to the London Daily Mail, Howard takes his commitment to the environment seriously. He reuses old materials like cardboard and pedals or sells old aluminum and steel bike frames as scrap, so he doesn't have any trash. But the council doesn't believe him because they're too busy with an up-close inspection of their own large intestine.

If Howard doesn't pay his fine within 10 days, it will rise to £300, and then he could be taken to court.

Last month, Howard received a letter from the council asking how he disposed of his waste. That's because the garbage collectors noticed they hadn't been picking up any waste. That caused a stir, because they're paid…

Clean Your Den, or No Maidens For You

Clean Your Den, or No Maidens For YouErik Deckers
Laughing Stalk syndicate
Copyright 2009

"Buddy, is your room clean yet?"
"How much have you—oh jeez, you guys! I asked you to clean your room two hours ago. This looks worse than it was."
"Sweetie, you were supposed to help him. What have you two been doing this whole time?"
"But you weren't supposed to be playing. You were supposed to be cleaning your room. Weren't you guys working together?"
"Playing together is not working together. I told you before things go faster if you can both work together. It cuts your work time in half."
"Right, Sweetie, that's called cooperation."
"Yes, Buddy, just like you learned on Sesame Street."
"So why weren't you cooperating?"
"No, I don't care what Ernie and Bert did on Sesame Street today."
"Because I want to find out why your room's not clean."
"What do you mean, she was…

I am One Stupid Person Away From Losing It Completely

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm an easy-going guy. I love people, everyone's my friend, and I can find the good in anyone. My wife says that I attract really odd and strange people as a result, because I'm so nice to everyone.

"It's like all the weirdos and artsy-fartsy types flock to you," she said once. "And you're their king."

(Not quite the fame and notoriety I had in mind, but you take what you can get.)

But on other days, I just get in a mood that can best be described as "frothy." I get my head wrapped around something inane, unjust, unfair, or just plain stupid, and my mental temperature hits 211 degrees.

Just one more stupid thing, and I'll hit 212.

I won't become boiling-over angry, but rather, I'll launch into a foaming-at-the-mouth rant — think Chevy Chase from Christmas Vacation — that makes my wife laugh, which is like taking the pot off the stove. I lose my head of steam, and the boiling water begins cooling of…

John Jorgenson, Grammy-award winning guitarist, playing in Arcadia, IN Friday, Sept. 11 at 8 pm

John Jorgenson is a Grammy-award-winning guitarist who plays “gypsy jazz,” reminiscent of the music played by Django Reinhardt.

Tickets are $25 at the door, or $20 in advance from Bob Foster (reservations may be made on Foster’s cell phone, at 317-691-1207).

The show itself is this Friday, September 11, at 8 PM.

The venue is the Hedgehog, at 101 West Main Street in Arcadia, Indiana (about 10 miles north of Noblesville).

Finally, here’s a a video of John Jorgenson and band, actually covering a Django Reinhardt tune:

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Wayback Wednesday: The Dangers of Daughters

The Dangers of DaughtersErik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2006

On Wednesdays, rather than rehashing a news story, I reprint one of my old columns. I've got 15 years' worth of the damn things, so there's no point in letting them sit moldering in a box in my garage. At least not the good ones. This one is from 3 years ago.

I think it's time to start talking my daughters about the facts of life.

Now, bear in mind, I don't want to have this conversation. If I had my way, my daughters would stay locked up in the house and not be allowed to date, hang out with boys, or become young women until 10 years after I was dead.

However, my wishes have been largely unheeded by Mother Nature and the human life cycle. My daughters continue to grow older, and have begun learning more about the birds and bees. Which is a problem, since none of us have been talking about them.

I blame NBC's "Fear Factor," the reality show that forces contestants to face their fear…

The Ladybag Pocket Urinal for Women. Eeeeeewwwwww!

Sometimes, for laughs, I like to make up sentences that have never been uttered, and never will be again.

I punched Genghis Khan in the throat for cheating at backgammon, spilling the cranberry juice to the floor.

Other times, for bigger laughs, people will come up with these unique sentences all on their own:

Urinating into yoghurt cups while careering down the motorway will be a thing of the past for women thanks to a new German invention for ladies.

That little gem came from the English language version of Der Spiegel, the German newspaper. (And it beat the Genghis Khan thing all to Hell. Ausgezeichnet, Der Spiegel!)

Eva Tinter, a German entrepreneur, has invented the Ladybag as a way to "put an end to nightmare encounters with filthy public toilets, time-consuming queuing and having to relieve oneself into yoghurt cups during car journeys."

Question: is it common for women to pee in yoghurt cups in cars? Is this something plaguing the women of Western Europe?

According to Der S…

British Gardeners Banned From Using Barbed Wire Because It Might Hurt Vandals

British gardeners have been told they can't used barbed wire to stop vandals, because the precious snowflakes might hurt themselves.

Many British home owners have an allotment garden, sort of a community garden, where they can grow vegetables. But in Southampton, members of the Muddy Bottom East Allotment have dealt with damage as often as three times a week, including smashed sheds and water taps left running. So the allotment gardeners lobbied the council to install barbed wire to prevent further destruction.

The Southampton council said no, because they were afraid the criminals might sue if they were injured in the course of causing damage to other people's property.

So instead of trying to catch the little miscreants, the Southampton City Council wants to mollycoddle them and keep them from getting boo-boos on their widdle fingers. It sounds like the MBEA isn't the only place where the vegetables are running free. In this case, they're running the Southampton Council…

Phone It In Sunday: The Cool Table's "Edgar Allen Poe's Basketball Diaries"

I've seen five Cool Table shows when they were at the Indy Fringe Theatre Festival, and thought their last show last Sunday was the funniest show I've ever seen them do. "Dude Date" was hysterical, and I thought Phil Van Hest of "Phil the Void" was going to pee his pants.

Edgar Allen Poe's Basketball Diaries - watch more funny videos

Apparently several members of the Cool Table are heading off to Los Angeles to see if they can make it as actors, including Lindsey Fisher. Paige Smith (McHale in this video) is sticking around Chicago. I'm not sure who else is taking off, but while I wish them all the best, I'm sad to see them go.

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British Garbagemen Refuse to Empty Recycling Box Over a Maggott

British garbage collectors — called binmen over there — have made international news when they refused to empty an every-other-week recycling box because it contained a maggot.

When John Harlow, the bin owner, called the Warwick District Council to complain, he was told it was against council rules for contractors to handle "live animals," and that the box's contents would only be collected if he dumped it into the garbage can instead.

The staff member at the council had called the maggot livestock, which is why the binmen wouldn't handle it.

"I live in the country and see livestock like sheep, pigs and cattle regularly but there were none in my box," Harlow told the London Daily Mail. "It is hardly surprising the odd maggot gets into the rubbish when they only collect the bins every two weeks."

In more shocking news, the Council apologized for the screwup and told the Daily Mail, "we are sorry Mr. Harlow has experienced problems with the service…

TV Rots Your Brain. Read a Newspaper Instead

TV Rots Your Brain. Read a Newspaper InsteadErik Deckers
Laughing Stalk syndicate
Copyright 2009

"Have you ever thought about DirecTV?" said the message. My wife had just IMed me while I was at work.

"Uhh, no, no I haven't," I replied, getting defensive. "And so what if I have? There's nothing wrong with that. Dr. Phil says fantasies are important to having a healthy relationship. I mean, sure I walk through Best Buy with sunglasses on, but that's because it's so dang bright in there."

"What are you talking about?" she wrote back.

"All right, all right. Sometimes I think about DirecTV when I'm watching our other TV. But that's perfectly normal, isn't it?" I was rolling now. "I once had a TV accuse me of looking at other TVs, but I said 'hey, just because I bought a TV from the electronics store, doesn't mean I can't look at the ads once in a while.'"

"You're weird," my wife m…

Post-Rapture Pet Care for Christians. . . by Atheists

When the Rapture comes, and you're taken up to Heaven, won't you rest a little easier knowing your cat or dog will be taken care of?

Sure, they'll be taken care of by atheists and other people who were left behind, but you've got to take what you can get.

At least that's what atheist-run Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, a post-rapture pet care business is saying. They are offering a solution — at least tongue-in-cheek – that they will take care of cats and dogs of people who are taken up. For a small fee, of course.

The London Daily Telegraph said this idea was " irreverent attempt to cash in on the belief – widespread among US Christians – that the pious will be carried up to heaven by God in a sudden swoop, leaving unbelievers to endure the seven-year reign of the anti-Christ on Earth."

"You've committed your life to Jesus. You know you're saved. But when the Rapture comes what's to become of your loving pets who are left behind?" says t…

Wayback Wednesday: Successful Writing Secrets

Successful Writing SecretsErik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2004 (Originally published June 2004)

On Wednesdays, rather than rehashing a news story, I reprint one of my old columns. I've got 15 years' worth of the damn things, so there's no point in letting them sit moldering in a box in my garage. At least not the good ones.

Despite my complaints that I don't have many readers or get enough feedback from them, I actually have some great readers who write to me on a regular basis.

Some of the more persistent readers ask me if I would like to refinance my home, buy male enhancement pills, or tell me that they know of another reader -- usually a hot Russian woman -- who want to meet me.

It's feedback like this that makes my life of writing worthwhile. Of course, getting paid would make it more worthwhile, but that's a topic for another column.

But occasionally, some people say they are breaking into writing, and would like to know if I could offer any tips…



Vicki Walker, an accountant from Auckland, was fired for sending "confrontational" emails that had capitalized, bold-faced, and red letters.

She was fired by text message.

Not really. But she was awarded $17,000 for unfair dismissal, and is going to lodge an appeal for additional compensation, said an article in the New Zealand Herald.

Walker is now calling for greater protection for white-collar workers when they are in a dispute with big corporations.

"I am a single woman with a mortgage, and I had to re-mortgage my home and borrow money from my sister to make it through," she said. "They nearly ruined my life."

New Zealand's Employment Relations Authority determined that Walker was unfairly fired.


Walker's former employer, ProCare Health, said that Walker had a negative effect…