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Showing posts from February, 2010

Week 2 of 2010 Winter Olympics Swish-Whack Awards

Week 2 of 2010 Winter Olympics Swish-Whack Awards
Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk syndicate
Copyright 2010

It's week two of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, and I'm giving a second round of Swish-Whack, Take That awards. I created the awards in 2004 to honor America's Mariel Zagunis, who won America's first fencing gold medal in 100 years.

The problem was NBC did such a crappy job of covering Zagunis' historic prize, they only spent 30 seconds on her entire bout. So I give Swish-Whack awards during the Olympics whenever someone does something that deserves attention.

Last week, the first Swish-Whack award of 2010 went to Dutch speed skater, Sven Kramer, who asked an NBC reporter if she was stupid, and refused to answer a question ("If you can say your name and your country and what you just won here").

However, the judges had to confer to discuss whether Kramer should lose his Swish-Whack award, after he won gold in the 10,000 meter, but was then disqu…

Swish-Whack, Take That! (The Origins of the Swish-Whack Awards)

Swish-Whack, Take That!Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2004

With the XXI Winter Olympics drawing to a close, I'm getting ready to write my 2nd installment of the 2010 Swish-Whack awards, which I give out at every Olympics. Since Wayback Wednesday is the day I reprint old columns, I thought I would reprint the original Swish-Whack column that gave birth to these highly coveted (by me) awards. This column originally appeared in August 2004.

Although NBC's Olympic coverage has greatly improved (only one "Up Close and Personal" per night, less blathering by Al Trautwig, Elfi Schlegel, and Tim Daggett during gymnastics), I wish they would have shown more fencing.

Fencing is such a cool sport. It's one of the few Olympic sports that's actually based on real fighting and killing skills people used centuries ago (archery, shooting, and the javelin are a few others). All the rest of the sports are based on transportation (rowing, running, swimming), recreat…

Phone It In Sunday: The iPad is a Comedy Gold Mine

When Steve Jobs announced the iPad, Twitter exploded with all kinds of childish humor, including an infinite number of tampon jokes. Leave it to to come up with the actual thought process all of us went through to make our hours and hours of jokes.

See more funny videos and funny pictures at CollegeHumor.

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The 2010 Winter Olympics Swish-Whack Take That! Awards

The 2010 Winter Olympics Swish-Whack Take That! AwardsErik Deckers
Laughing Stalk syndicate
Copyright 2010

I created the Swish-Whack awards during the 2004 Athens Olympics, to shine some light on the sport of fencing, after America's Mariel Zagunis, 19, won America's first fencing gold medal in 100 years.

Even back then, NBC's coverage of the Olympics was so awful, they only showed Zagunis' three points, and then skipped her medal ceremony. The entire coverage of this very historic event lasted for no more than 30 seconds.

So I give out the Swish-Whack awards during the Olympics whenever anyone stuns the crowd, dope-slaps the critics, and does something that the rest of the world should know about.

The first Swish-Whack award goes to Dutch speed skater, Sven Kramer, who won a gold medal in the 5,000 meter race during the first full day of the Olympic games. After the race, Kramer was being interviewed by a reporter from — no real surprise — NBC.

"If you can say your name…

2010 Winter Olympics Preview

2010 Winter Olympics PreviewErik Deckers
Laughing Stalk syndicate
Copyright 2010

As I write this, we're just 24 hours away from the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. I love the Winter Olympics. You can keep your track and field, your gymnastics, your women's softball. Give me downhill skiing, the bobsled, and curling.

To get us into the Olympic spirit, here's a quick look at what's happening around the city with the athletes.

Sasha Cohen recently told sports reporters that the U.S. skaters did not have a chance of winning a medal at this year's Winter Olympics in Vancouver. While I'm all for national pride, I think Cohen's being a little ungrateful to the country where he filmed "Borat" and "Brüno."

I mean, who the heck does this guy think he is to come to our country, make our fellow citizens feel foolish with his crude and juvenile movies, and then to pass himself off as some kind of skating expert, saying, "(The…

Understanding 7 Different Types of Humor

One of my pet peeves is when people say they have a "dry" sense of humor, without actually understanding what it actually means.

"Dry" humor is not just any old type of humor. It's not violent, not off-color, not macabre or dark.

Basically, dry humor is that deadpan style of humor. It's the not-very-funny joke your uncle the cost analysis accountant tells. It's Bob Newhart, Steven Wright, or Jason Bateman in Arrested Development.

It is not, for the love of GOD, people, the Black Knight scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I swear, if anyone says Monty Python is "dry humor" is going to get a smack.

Here are some other types of comedy you may have heard and are just tossing around, willy-nilly.

Farce: Exaggerated comedy. Characters in a farce get themselves in an unlikely or improbable situation that takes a lot of footwork and fast talking to get out of. The play "The Foreigner" is an example of a farce, as are many of the Jeeves &…

Outback Steakhouse Has a Potty Word in Its Children's Menu

My family and I went to Outback Steakhouse in Castleton (an area on the NE side of Indianapolis), and the kids were working on the word search in the children's menus.

I managed to find my own word that is probably not that family friendly.

(Note: I'm not complaining, I thought it was pretty funny.)

Stay classy, Outback.

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Why My Wife is Awesome

This is the entry I submitted to the Indiana Ballet Company's presentation of Romeo & Juliet. In fact, I won, so I get to take my lovely bride, Toni Deckers, to this weekend's performance of Romeo & Juliet.

(Oh God, did I just undo years of manliness?)

One of my favorite baseball stories, from Michael Lewis' Moneyball illustrates what love is for me.

Scott Hatteberg was a professional baseball catcher. That's all he had ever known. Every spring, summer, and fall, since he was 10, you'd find him crouched down, behind the plate, playing catch with a guy 60 feet, 6 inches away. All the motions, the throws, the knowledge becomes second nature when you spend 22 years of your life doing it.

In fact, at the peak of his career, Scott Hatteberg was the catcher for the Boston Red Sox — no mean feat. It meant he was one of the best.

But after a serious injury and surgery to his throwing arm, Scott could barely throw the ball back to the pitcher's mound, let alone throw…

Wayback Wednesday: You Know, It's Just. . . "It"

You Know, It's Just. . . "It"

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 originally published in 2003. That's why Paula Abdul is still one of the judges.

RYAN: Welcome back to another episode of American Idol, where lots of pop superstar wannabes show their stuff to our panel of judges, Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson, and Simon "Scowl" Cowell. Let's go inside the judges' room and see if we can find America's next American Idol.

PAULA: Hi, I'm Paula, and I'm speechless. Let's see, your name is, uhh, Lucy-Anno?

LUCIANO: It's Luciano. And I'm going to sing the aria from "Rigoletto."

(Luciano sings for 10 seconds)

PAULA: Wow, I'm speechless. I don't know what to say. I'm just stunned into complete silence. I mean I just can't think of anything to say.

RANDY: That wasn't bad. But …

How Google's Super Bowl Commercial REALLY Ended

Google had a great commercial on the Super Bowl last night, telling a story just through searches. I could imagine the stages of life the searcher was going through as he looked for answers to important questions.

But how did it really end?

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The Reluctant Evolution of a Computer Geek

The Reluctant Evolution of a Computer GeekErik Deckers
Laughing Stalk syndicate
Copyright 2010

I've been amazed at how far computers have come from the first days I used one.

I was 13 years old, when my dad paid nearly $3,000 for a Radio Shack TRS-80 home computer.

"It'll be great," he said. "I'll be able to type my articles on here, and won't have to retype them if I find any mistakes."

My dad was (and still is) a psychology professor at Ball State University, trying to earn tenure at the time. The way to do that was to publish one research article in an academic journal every year.

I realize this is not stretching far back into computer history, and that some of you are old enough to still remember painting on cave walls as an early form of Instant Messaging. Still, I was around for the early stages of the personal home computer.

Back in the late '70s and early '80s, writing a journal-quality article involved a lot of typing and retyping. It was n…

My Interview with Bill Scheft, David Letterman's Head Monologue Writer

Several months ago, I had the chance to interview Bill Scheft, the head monologue writer for The Late Show with David Letterman, and author of Everything Hurts and The Ringer. Scheft has been Letterman's monologue writer for the last 18 years.

A typical day for a monologue writer is the kind every comedy writer would like to have.

"I wake up, then I have some coffee and six Vicodin, and then I go," said Scheft. "No, that's not true."

Scheft has a pretty humane schedule, given the typically rigorous schedule a late night writer goes through. He works on his fiction writing in the morning, and then goes into work around noon, and works from noon to 8.

"I start writing jokes, and Dave's already gotten a good packet of them from the other guys who work on the monologue," said Scheft.

Around 2:00, Letterman has a bunch of jokes in hand, and he has 20 - 30 jokes put on cue cards. From there, they whittle it down to the best 10 ideas for the opening monol…