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What is Karl the Curmudgeon Upset About?

What is Karl the Curmudgeon Upset About?
Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk syndicate
Copyright 2010

"I'm getting tired of all the sloppy grammar people use these days," lamented Karl, my friend and part-time curmudgeon.

What are you thinking about?

"That," he said, gesturing at my face wildly.

I still don't know what you're talking about, I said. That's some grouchy mood you're in.

"Gaah! You're killing me, Kid!" I knew what he was talking about. I just couldn't resist. "Don't end your sentences with a preposition," he said.

Fine. That's some grouchy mood you're in, jerk.

"Ha, ha," he deadpanned. "You know what I mean."

We were sitting in The Yodeling Mountaineer, a Liechtenstein bar and grill, watching the Lichtenstein national soccer championships on satellite TV. Mauren was facing Eschen for the Liechten-Stein national trophy. Eschen was beating Mauren 2-1.

You know that's not a real rule, right?

&…

Fishers, Indiana Seeking Google Fiber. Made Me Sing Lady Gaga

This past Sunday, I joined 199 of my fellow Fishers residents and we shot a video, singing about the virtues of the Google Fiber network, to the tune of Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi." Mercifully, we weren't in the video very long, and you can barely see me, and only if you know where to look (hint: I'm NOT the guy at the beginning of the video. That's Caleb, and that really is him singing. The whole thing was put on by the Town of Fishers and the Fishers Chamber of Commerce.)

Yes, I even sang. That's how bad I want this. I sang a freaking Lady Gaga song! Now, if I can sing a Lady Gaga song, you can certainly take just 3 minutes to show Google why Fishers deserves the fast, new fiber network they're going to give to a few lucky cities or towns in the United States.



You can read more about Fishers' quest to get some of that Google Fast Fiber at the Professional Blog Service blog.



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Wayback Wednesday: Making Technology Easy

Every Wednesday, I republish old columns from years past. I've got 16 years of the things sitting in the garage, so they might as well serve some other purpose. This is one I originally published in 2004.

I used to be a technology whiz when I was younger. I could explain the difference between digital and analog stereo systems. I could explore the inner workings of my Macintosh computer. And I even knew how to program my VCR -- no mean feat 15 years ago.

Even today, I try to stay current with the latest technological trends. After all, technology has become such an integral part of our lives. We can watch TV on our computers. We can listen to the radio on devices the size of a pen. Cell phones, PDAs, and wireless laptops make it possible to communicate across vast distances without being tied down by cables and cords.

Even this column is made possible through email. While most people are reading this online, there are a few thousand people who read it in an honest-to-God real newspap…

Phone It In Sunday: Your My Documents from Back of the Class

From those crazy kids at Back of the Class. It's Abbott and Costello meets the Laptop. Apparently it's been on Funny Or Die for a year, but someone just now told me about it.

This is why I will only teach people about computers if they have a bare minimum of computer skills. If you can read this, you have them.

Your My Documents - watch more funny videos

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Shut Up Back There: A Movie Etiquette Guide

Shut Up Back There: A Movie Etiquette GuideErik Deckers
Laughing Stalk syndicate
Copyright 2010

I rarely go to movies anymore. My wife and I go about once a year, and take the kids a second time, but that's about it. Part of it's the prices of the tickets and concessions, part of it is the general schlock they put out, but mostly, it's the rude and obnoxious people who sit near me.

I can't stand movie talkers. The annoying people who yammer on with a running narrative of the film, or something they forgot to do.

"Ooh, jeez, I can't look. I think this is where he gets shot! Marnie said he gets shot here."

"Does he die?"

"She didn't say. By the way, that reminds me, we have to get Marnie a birthday card before we get home."

"And some milk. We're out of milk. You know what sounds good right now? Pancakes. I'll make pancakes for breakfast tomorrow. But I'll need some eggs and—"

"Oh God, she shot him! I can't belie…

Indiana Student Suspended for Just Saying No

Indiana Student Suspended for Just Saying NoErik Deckers
Laughing Stalk syndicate
Copyright 2010

I thought we were safe here in Indiana. I thought we didn't do Zero Tolerance. Turns out the stupidity and harm of this blinded-to-logic-and-reason way of thinking has hit the Hoosier state.

Seventh grader Rachael Greer, at River Valley Middle School in Jeffersonville, Indiana (a suburb of Louisville, Kentucky), ran afoul of the Zero Tolerance thick-headedness last week for — wait for it — briefly handling a pill handed to her by another student.

According to a story on WAVE3's website (Louisville's NBC affiliate), Rachael said her incident happened on February 23, when another girl in her class came into the the girl's locker room carrying a bag of Adderall pills, a prescription ADHD drug. The girl told Rachael and another girl about the pills, and she stuck one in Rachael's hand. Rachael said "No, I'm not taking this," handed it back, and went to gym class.

Ra…

Sean Penn Thinks I Should be Jailed if I Say "HUGO CHAVEZ IS A DICTATOR"

I never agree with Fox News. Never, ever, EVER, EVER.

Except now.

They're dropping the hammer on actor Sean Penn (You may remember him from such movies as "Milk" and "I Am Sam." And for beating the hell out of news photographers), because Penn wants to have journalists jailed — jailed! — if they dare say "HUGO CHAVEZ IS A DICTATOR."

Chavez, the president of Venezuela, is often called a dictator by the American press. (They're doing it here, here, and of course, the Irish are doing it here.

So needless to say, it gets Sean Penn's panties in a bunch when someone in the media says "HUGO CHAVEZ IS A DICTATOR." If we're not careful, it may make him get all punchy. His latest punch-up could result in him spending 18 months in jail. (That's Penn there with the dictator President Chavez in 2009.)

In the media's defense, when I Googled "Hugo Chavez dictator," the first 20 or so results that came up were all news stories about…

Wayback Wednesday: Another Reason Not To Order Pea Soup

Another Reason Not To Order Pea Soup
Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2004

Every Wednesday, I republish old columns from years past. I've got 16 years of the things sitting in the garage, so they might as well serve some other purpose. This is one I originally published in 2004.

If I had to give one important piece of advice today, it would be this:

Tip your waitstaff.

These people are your waiters and waitresses, bartenders and baristas (that’s Italian for"person who pours you a fancy $4 cup of coffee and then has the stones to ask for a tip afterward”). They are the people who have devoted this stage of their career path -- and in some cases, their entire careers -- to serving you, providing you with nourishment, and making sure you have a pleasant dining experience.

And yet they do it for less than $2.50 an hour, plus tips. So you would think that diners would remember this, and tip their waitstaff appropriately. Unfortunately, many diners have the keen awareness of…

Phone It In Sunday: FunnyOrDie.com's Presidential Reunion Video

Funny Or Die did a great job pulling together every presidential SNL actor for this great reunion video.


Funny or Die's Presidential Reunion from Will Ferrell

SNL veterans will remember that Phil Hartman was President Reagan in the 1980s, but he was murdered by his wife in 1998. Older veterans will remember that Joe Piscopo played Reagan before that (1980-84), but is no longer funny.

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Viking Settlers Found in Utah. Sort Of.

Viking Settlers Found in Utah. Sort Of.Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2010

Erik is out of the office this week, so we are reprinting a column from 2003. Apparently, they had computers back then, because we were able to retrieve this from what archaeologists call a "floppy drive."

One of the problems with our educational system is that teachers continue to give students bad information. We're not talking small mistakes, but huge epic mistakes that completely undermine American history.

Whenever anyone tells me that Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492, I always explain how Columbus actually landed on the island of Hispaniola in 1492 (what is now Haiti and the Dominican Republic), and then in Jamaica in 1494. I also explain how, despite what we've been told, Columbus never actually stepped on North America.

Never ever. Ever. Not even a little.

In fact, it was Viking explorer Leif Eriksson, son of Erik the Red (who I was named for), who landed in Ca…

Wayback Wednesday: Validation! I Crave Validation!

Validation! I Crave Validation!
Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2005

Every Wednesday, I republish old columns from years past. I've got 16 years of the things sitting in the garage, so they might as well serve some other purpose. This is one I originally published in 2005.

Writing is a psychologically dangerous profession. We writers tend to be insecure anyway, which is why we choose such an isolated activity. But we open ourselves up to criticism and rejection whenever we let other people read our stuff. We send it out to be evaluated, judged, and deemed "suitable for publication" by people who believe they're qualified to do so.

These people are called editors. We writers have more. . . colorful names for them.

The problem is that writers take rejection personally. It's not just that our work wasn't good enough or the right fit for that publication. We think there's something wrong with us as people. Our souls are stained. We've got some fu…