Wednesday, December 30, 2009


A new humor anthology, "Laugh Your Shorts Off" has been published and is now available at (link here).

It contains the collected works of every winner of the Humor and Life, In Particular contests for the past decade or so.

I'm in it! My column titled Myth Kids won the contest a while ago - the column is below.

I've ordered my copy. You?

As always - thanks very much for reading.

Myth Kids

Authors Note: I don't know why, but after this piece won the Humor and Life, In Particular writing contest, I never put it back on the blog - that I can find anyway. So, in recognition of the fact it is now part of a newly published anthology of short humor titled Laugh Your Shorts Off - here it is again!

I was walking down Orchard Street the other day, thinking about all the myths my mother told me as a kid, when I met a young man named Newton, who had apple trees growing out of his head.

To describe him is a bit of a challenge. He was tall and slender, clean shaven, and his fruit was neat and recently sprayed. I couldn’t tell his age, but based on his bark lesions I’d guess early twenties.

He said he had swallowed apple seeds as a kid, and these nicely-pruned, fruit-laden trees were the result.

So it WAS true I thought! You shouldn’t swallow the seeds after all. Huh.

He told me he had cherry trees growing out of his ears at one point, and like most rebellious teens he had let his branches grow long and, well, got into some trouble, hanging around places he shouldn’t have been. Power lines mainly.

Before I could get around to asking him the obvious pruning and fertilizing questions that sprang to mind, I realized that he was a Myth Kid!!

Myth Kids are extremely rare – so rare, in fact, that they themselves are considered mythical. They are people who got warned by their mothers of all sorts of terrible things that could happen to them, and then the terrible things actually happened!

He was living proof!

As we strolled in his shade, I asked about his crossed eyes.

“Froze that way – just like Mom said they would,” he explained. “I used to sit really close to the TV all the time and I used to practice going cross-eyed in school. I’ve only got myself to blame really.”

I asked about his scars, assuming they were old hockey injuries perhaps.

“This one here is from when I was running around the house with sharp scissors. And this little one here is from not holding onto my Popsicle stick” he said.

A chill crept up my spine. I thought these were just old wives tales – nothing more.

I worried about my own kids. Had I threatened them enough with implausible accidental injury?

For that matter, had I washed behind my ears that morning, or would potatoes start growing back there? I couldn’t remember, so I feigned scratching my head as I gently probed for sprouts.

As we walked I suggested to him that someone should write about his tragic life. He was about to answer when he yelled “Watch out!” but it was too late. I had stepped on a spider.

A sudden rainstorm began, the spider having been a Daddy Long Legs. The rain sounded nice dripping through his leaves. Another myth confirmed.

I remembered some other admonitions Mom used to say.

“Ever step on a crack in the sidewalk?” I asked.

“Mom will be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. Broken back. My fault.” His remorse was obvious.

“That’s terrible!” I said. “Weren’t medical staff able to do anything?”

“I had eaten an apple that day, which kept the Doctor away. I’ve never forgiven myself.”

“Ever swim right after a meal?”

“I almost drown from cramps every time. Now I don’t even shower for at least 30 minutes after each meal. Terrifying.” he said.

“What do you do for fun?”

“Not a lot. Mom says it’s all fun until someone puts an eye out. That happened to my cousin Twiggy, so I have to be careful.”

I noticed his disfigured hands and asked “Arthritis?”

“Knuckle cracking” he said.

By this time it was dark out so I said I had best be going. It had been an interesting conversation.

As we walked towards the corner he stumbled into a lamp post.

“Are you OK?” I asked, peering into the gloom.

“I guess. My night vision is no good. I didn’t eat carrots as a kid. And could you stop picking my apples please? It tickles.”

This is Mything Children Awareness Month. When a Myth Kid scratches at your door, please give generously.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


As I bask in the glow of a grateful public who are sated at last after my enormous contest win (I just threw up a little bit writing that), I can pause and reflect on what's going on around me.

We gave the kids Nintendo DSi's early for Christmas this year. We are going away (with the kids this time) and wanted them to have something to play with on the drive to the lower mainland, which, depending on conditions, could be either a 3 hour blast or 8 hour hellish nightmare. So it's good to be prepared. I have my knife and fork ready in case we turn into a modern day Donner Party.

Oh how cute - the kids are using their new Nintendo computer thingy's to re-task a Predator drone in Afghanisan!

"Don't blow away another wedding party kids!" I say helpfully.

"Oh, and are you adjusting the bank lending rate this week or will you leave it alone for the holidays kids?" I ask. They really are whizzes when it comes to computers.

Anyway, I'm off to the Cheap Crap For a Dollar store for some last minute stocking stuffers.

I also have to take the dog into the vet since she's more than her usual wobbly self, post-stroke.
She is also draining all the terlet bowls in the house with wild abandon, so maybe she's a little thirstier than usual - which I'll get checked out as well. She's drinking water in the same volumes I anticipate pounding back the Bailey's Irish Cream when we get to my sisters place. Kindred spirits I guess.

"Hey cool kids! I didn't think you could aim the Hubble telescope towards Earth! Pan left a little and maybe we can see what the neighbours are building out back there..."

Anyway, this is probably my last post for a few days. Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 21, 2009

First Place!!

I won!! Amazing!

If you check out the first Featured Post over to the left there, you'll connect with a rather startling column that just won First Place in the humor writing competition.

After my interview with Entertainment Tonight and Time magazine, I'll be flitting about the country, promoting my, er, small collection of columns here on this very amateurish blog.

We really do need a sarcasm font don't we??

Recent Headlines and Associated Commentary

A Member (snicker) of Parliament here in Canada recently urged the regulation of the Sex Toy Industry - news story here.

Well it's about time! This ticklish issue is about to blow up!! Yes it is hard to regulate, but with hard, sweaty, pulsating work we can come to some sort of position on the issue!! I'll stop there.

Next Headline:

Tigers Wife to go Clubbing With Friends

Not an actual headline - I just made that up.

More Action News when it occurs to me!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Year in Review

There's some local Kelowna stuff in here which will be irrelevant to international readers, but whatever...

The year it started well enough with the swearing of Obama
But then the tea began to cool and change became a drama
A vote for change let freedom shine, the light of change was glaring
The Yanks don’t want our health care much, which leaves Obama swearing

US Airways found a way to make their planes deliver
They also made a runway on the chilly Hudson River
A flock of geese is now no more, Captain Sully is a hero
The final score was Airbus 1. The flock it numbers zero

H1N1 in the news, from Mexico it’s spreadin’
Hysteria is in the news, despite low numbers deadin’
With shoulders sore we jam the doors of clinics that be jabbin’
The vaccines worse than the H1 curse – but the networks keep on blabbin’

Elections in Iran had the populace atwitter
People protest in the streets (if they could find a sitter)
As people died, they tried and tried, to raise a mighty racket
The leadership remained unhip - Mahmoud Ahmadinnerjacket

The summer haze became a blaze – along the west side track
Many hundreds left their homes to let the planes attack
No one hurt, a few homes burnt but none the worse for wear
A shouted “Thanks!” to the airborne tanks and fire crews that were there

Now you may think that something stinks when it comes to Kelowna’s new logo
The debate reminds of left-behinds from a large, well fed Ogopogo
“It’s a pine cone!” “It’s a starburst!” “It’s a copy!” they all say
After summer smoke which made us choke let’s face it – it’s an ashtray

You may have thought that the fires wrought all the flames that came our way
But the letters soared and debates they roared and the vitriol did spray
Politics? Abortion? Were there bunnies here to see?
No, not really, just a lane of highway called HOV

Gangs and thugs were busy as their bullets sprayed the nation
The Bacon boys collected toys for other gang’s ventilation
Imagine if the bangers had been busy with their trollops
Then bacon could return to being wrapping for our scallops

Controversy reared its head about the Richmond rink
Americans with big, long blades were raising quite a stink
“It isn’t fair!” said our friend Colbert, “You’ll eat our icy dust!”
“Oh yeah?” we say, in our polite way, “Go practice on the bus”

Olympic flames are burning bright, to Whistler we shall go!
If only I had tickets I would sure enjoy the show
I’d love to see the fastest ski and soar and speed and schuss!
I only got lame hockey seats – China/Belarus

Global warming in the news, a Copenhagen riot
The earth has got to cool itself, go on a carbon diet
The polar ice is melting and the water’s on the hunt
Regina will be filled with glee and on the waterfront

Between the beetles, banks and housing the economy did tank
It seemed no matter what we did our balance came up blank
I have a scheme that’s still a dream, creating cash filled barges
I dream of getting just a cut of banking service charges

He drove the holes aggressively, he plowed some fancy divots
His Cadillac it was attacked with golf clubs popping rivets
He cops a plea for privacy to “mend his family – thanks!”
Then Tiger gets back on his cell and texts “How ‘bout it, skanks?”

The deadly toll in Afghanistan’s knolls and roads creeps ever higher
Our Highway of Hero’s is too well used, though our salutes they never tire
It would fill us with joy if our troops would deploy to a region that wants peace
Let our soldiers drive themselves home, let the many convoys cease

Happy 2010

Saturday, December 5, 2009


I've just returned from a run to Costco (a rare one in which I spent less than $500), and I am now looking at a large container of York Peppermint Patties (miniature version).

I have to admit a certain weakness.

Some day, if/when I am in charge of security for the Crown Jewels, or Fort Knox, the following conversation may take place:

Me, in tone of authority: "None shall pass."

Terrorist/Robber/Burglar: "We have York Peppermint Patties."

Me: "Here's the keys - have a good time. Om nom nom."

A Recent Conversation

Here is the transcript of a recent conversation in our house:

Me: "Kids, please flush the toilet after going to the bathroom."

Kids: "Why?"

Me: "So the dog has a clean water dish."

Kids: "Oh. OK."

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Trouble with Shopping

It can be extremely difficult for a distractible man to focus on purchasing slippers for his wife at the department store, when the slipper department is next to the brassiere department.

I was looking right at the slippers but on the next rack were some bra’s (Ha! Rack. Bra’s…well, see, there I go again). They were nice. The bra’s. I mean the slippers. See the trouble here?

My thoughts while shopping went something like this:

“Well there’s a nice pair. I wonder what the material feels like. Ooh, soft. Nice. She’ll like that. And they’ve got some rubber reinforcement underneath too – that will help when she’s running around chasing the kids.”

“The tips might be a bit pointy - I know she likes a more rounded look - but she can always exchange, I guess. Easy to slip on and off quickly it would appear – that’s good.”

“I’m just not sure of the size. These look about right but I’m just not sure any more. She’s getting back into running and that can affect things as well. I’d hate to see her hanging out the sides. Plus if they don’t fit properly they can cause some back strain.”

I turned to the woman next to me for assistance.

“Excuse me, ma’am, but you look like you’re about the size of my wife – can I compare yours to my wife’s and see if they fit?”

It was at that point I realized I was holding a brassiere and not a pair of slippers. My mind had wandered as usual, and the bra I was holding was for a serious pair of, well, 'gazongas' is the word that springs to mind. I honestly do not remember picking that one up.

My face was still red from the slap, and here I was in the local jail, awaiting charges of Attempted Perversion Upon a Nun.

“I honestly didn’t realize I had wandered over to the other rack, your Honour. Ha-ha – rack, yeah. I laughed too, your Honour.”

“No sir, I don’t recall asking her to "rub them together to see if they generate static electricity". I was probably thinking of the slippers, sir.”

“Yes, sir, it is a first offense and a fine would be most appropriate in this circumstance, and I thank you for no criminal record, sir.”

“Well, Your Honour, I think I’d rather spend some time in jail, but if you think releasing me into my wife’s custody will be best for me then I guess I’ll obey your wishes, although if I had retained a lawyer I’m sure he would be saying that is cruel and unusual punishment right about now.”

“Yes sir, I realize my ear will bend back eventually. Thank you, sir, and I hope you find the tennis balls for your wife without too much trouble. You might want to be careful though, sir, the sporting goods are right next to the swimsuit racks.”

“Yes, us guys have to stick together – I agree. You’re welcome, Your Honour. Merry Christmas to you too, sir.”

Friday, November 27, 2009





to type

due to


i got

Cannot move

much and

ow it


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Flu Shots

So we took the whole family down to my wife's workplace where they very kindly jabbed us with needles free of charge.

My wife and I got the H1N1 and the regular flu one, while our brave kids just got the H1N1.

There were a few tears and some blubbering, but eventually I let them jab me (rimshot).

Actually, due to a small error in planning, they jabbed me three times! I got two half doses of Swinish flu stuff instead of just the one - so that was bonus. I imagine my arm may fall off tomorrow as a result but no matter.

We then went for pizza and checked for leaks in our bodies by drinking various fluids and watching for jets coming out of our arms. No such luck.

So if I cannot type or lift my arms tomorrow you'll understand why. I'm working on some brilliantly funny new material, including what crosses my mind when wandering through the brassiere department at the local department store. So stay tuned.

Waiting for my shoulders to reject me, I remain,

Your humble (and brave) blogger.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Change in Birthday Parties

I picked up my daughter from a party the other day, and while she was getting her boots on I was handed a beautiful Donna Karan handbag filled with lotions, cosmetics, makeover gift certificates, several boxes of candy, and a new transmission.  It was worth nineteen times the value of the toy we had purchased for the birthday kid, and I was hurled into fiery pits of guilt as a result.

Isn’t it the birthday kid who’s supposed to get all the loot?  When did the whole birthday party paradigm change anyway?

I hate to sound like a cranky old codger who’s always spouting off about how things were in THEIR day, but in MY day we went to birthday parties just for the sake of going to a party.

We’d eat hot dogs and cake and Kool-Aid, then we'd revel in the fact that little Billy got a cool set of walkie-talkies that we would destroy in under five seconds, thus freeing us to run around the yard ‘shooting’ each other with sticks.

WE didn’t get anything – it wasn’t OUR birthday.  It was just a party!

Actually, kids attending our parties did get something.  It was a tradition in our house for Mom to insert nickels into the cake before icing it – each piece of cake containing a little prize for every adorable child. 

There were times, however, when kids didn’t listen to the message about the cake currency since they were running around the yard, foaming at the mouth, eyes rolling back into their foreheads in anticipation of a sugar rush that would last several weeks and help induce a national diabetes epidemic. 

Things would go quiet during the cake devourment as one kid or another would turn blue, choking on a nickel that had been inhaled along with their slice of Betty Crocker Double Chocolate Billion-Calorie Nirvana. 

Mom, ever the gracious hostess, would rush around the table, initiating loud “KA-HAACK!” sounds as she Heimliched our choking, cyanotic party guests.  

Or, some kid would bite down on a coin and lose a tooth or two, deftly assisted by Mom and her favorite pliers.  

Parents arriving to pick up little Billy would find him quietly biting down on a piece of gauze to staunch the hemorrhaging in his jaw – an effective way for us to keep the little cuss from opening his big yap about hazardous foreign objects embedded in the cake being served.

Wasn’t it amazing that his baby tooth decided to come out during our party?  His and six other kid’s teeth?  “See you next year, and remember what we told you about what happens to a rat-fink now won’t you?  Run along now and thanks for coming!”

Despite the bloodshed, flying teeth and occasional tracheotomy, ours was always a popular party house. 

Nowadays, parents would be horrified at the prospect of having filthy, germ-encrusted coinage ingested by their hypoallergenic, gluten-free, decaf, non-fat children. 

As for goody bags, family attorneys are ready with lawsuits for bruised self-esteem and emotional trauma suffered by their precious snowflake if there isn’t an original Turner painting tucked in with the box of individually wrapped gummy bears and gold Crayola fountain pens in the pure silk Gucci bag we just mortgaged the house for. 

Well let me tell you something.  We didn’t have goody bags back in MY day.  We had sore throats and bleeding gums and plier marks on our lips and we were happy to have them.  If we were to ever get a prize or a piece of candy because we stumbled dizzily into the donkey’s butt with a pin – well that was just the icing on the cake we were about to barf up.

My daughter’s birthday is coming up.  Gold embossed invite is in the mail.  Cake supplied. 

Bring your own pliers. 

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Burning Desire

We’re allowed to burn leaves in our city. If you obey the rules and get a permit you can burn all your yard waste and leaves and all kinds of things. Handy.

I have built sort of a special relationship with flames over the years. Back when we cared not a whit about choking the atmosphere with carbon and other chemicals (those were the days!), one of my first summer jobs was at a local hotel, where my duties included gathering up and burning garbage. This job taught me the joys of pyromania.

I also learned which storage room was used by waitresses changing clothes, how to staple blankets to tables for illicit poker games, how to properly clip and light a cheap stogie, and what vigorous sexual congress sounds like when heard in a basement storage room beneath the fornicatorium. Selling tickets to the above also tripled my wages. But I digress.

To a young lad, an afternoon spent burning the accumulated garbage of an entire hotel was wildly entertaining, not to mention educational. I learned the combustion properties of various plastics, light bulbs, and paper products like commercial grade rolls of toilet paper, for example. On one sad occasion, a ‘dirty’ magazine was burning just beyond the grasp of my singed, horny young fingers.

I would re-enact entire episodes of ‘Rat Patrol’ or ‘Combat’ all by myself, lobbing aerosol spray-can ‘grenades’ into the fire and then running for cover. Since it took several minutes for them to cook off, I would amuse myself by heading inside to the closed lounge where I’d squirt various sodas directly down my throat using the bar squirter hose thing, or steal a scoopful of maraschino cherries from a barrel in the cooler.

After a few minutes of diversion, I would proceed back outside to check on my ‘oven’. I would soon witness a satisfying “Crump!” of an explosion, the shock wave bulging out the rivets of the incinerator and belching skyward huge clouds of burning paper towels, cleaning rags and other experimental effluent. Lovely.

I was ruminating on all these fond memories as I raked this years’ leaf pile on top of the wood waste from last year and set it alight, accompanied by a few ritual Toronto Maple Leaf jokes for good measure.

Things were progressing well when I had one of those moments that are usually reserved for when you see the keys in your car ignition just as the locked door is closing crisply.

In this particular instance, I discovered the large can of WD-40 I had misplaced last summer. A split second later I realized the can was in my fire.

In ‘Matrix’-like bullet time I did several things simultaneously. I performed an interesting lurch with my upper body towards the conflagration, thinking I could remove the blackening can and save myself from imminent fiery death. Simultaneously I performed a twisting motion with my legs as they tried to immediately vacate the area. I appeared to be performing some sort of gyrating break-dance maneuver as the can reached combustion temperature and proceeded to "Crump!" enormously. Robert Oppenheimer flashed before my eyes.

I awoke flat on my back at ground zero, staring skyward through smoldering eyebrows at the large mushroom cloud that was roiling its way toward the lower cumulus. I began asking myself questions like “Where am I?”, “What happened?”, and “What’s that smell?”

Face blackened like a cartoon character, remaining hair blown dramatically backwards, singe marks everywhere, I was miraculously unharmed.


I think my leaf blower converts to a mulcher. I’ll go get the manual.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fashion Week

“We’re live, here in New York City, for the unveiling of an exciting and mysterious line of men’s clothing which called S.L.O.B. Wear, by new designer David Crawford.”

“We say mysterious here on Fashion Television because no one seems to know who this designer is or what kind of fashion he designs, so we’re all looking forward to watching the runway this morning. Over to you Chantrelle!”

“Thanks Enoki! I’m seated beside the runway here, waiting for the first S.L.O.B ensemble to be shown, and there seems to be some sort of security breach. There is a large homeless-looking person up on the runway, wearing what looks like an old awning or tent. Oh dear. He’s spinning and twirling around like he’s actually a model! This is hilarious! I think we’ll need a wide angle shot for this fellow. He’s quite large.”

“I’m sorry but my producer has just asked me to describe what he’s wearing and I’m not sure if I can. It’s making me feel quite nauseous. Let’s see. He is wearing a torn and wrinkled blue short sleeved shirt that may have fit him about 100 pounds ago, over top of a torn undershirt, and some really old shorts which have a back pocket torn off. There is also a pair of pliers in the other back pocket. He’s wearing white tube socks and a large pair of old Birkenstock sandals. This is dreadful. I can’t go on. Oh the humanity!”

“Well, as Chantrelle composes herself, let’s look at the next model coming out from behind the screen.”

“Oh, it’s the large homeless-looking gentleman again. Uh, I’m just being told that this is actually the designer himself – David Crawford! Oh my. This can’t be right. This is a fashion runway, not a thrift store aisle. It looks like he’s wandering around eating something. He’s scratching himself too – like he’s just wandering around his own house or something. I’m feeling faint. Over to you Shiitake.”

“My God this is terrible! He’s wearing a beat up old bathrobe and he’s taken his socks off but he’s still in those dreadful Birkenstocks! You can even see the hideous calluses on his heels! Oh! I just got blinded by the flare off his bald spot there. Ouch! This is putting me right off lunch people…thank goodness. Slimming…”

“Now he’s changed into his outdoor gear. He’s still wearing his old shorts, and the same torn shirt, but now he has a flannel shirt over top, and a black down vest, and a sweaty old ball cap to top it off! Dreadful! Hideous!”

“Oh dear – everyone is jamming the exits to get away from here, and it appears the washrooms are overflowing. Everyone is shrieking and rubbing their eyes! Someone call security! We’ve got to get out of here! And I just broke a nail!!”

“Oh no! Now the guy on the runway is bending over like he’s fixing the sink and I can see his underwear and AAAAAACK!! There’s something shiny visible above his drooping shorts! It’s a quarter! Someone has put a quarter into the crack…I’M GOING TO PURGE MY CELERY STICK!…”

Screen goes black.

“Well, our coverage team seems to be having some difficulty with lunch there in New York.

“We’ll be back after these messages. And some Dramamine.”

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I'm wondering if, before automobiles, did roads have passing lanes? Or would you just yell at the guy in front of you to pull over? Would the guy in front actually do so, or would they make rude gestures like today?

If someone cut you off in traffic it would be extremely satisfying to yell out at the person who did it - maybe hurl a horse muffin at them.

I pine for the old days suddenly.

Oasis of the Seas

So the biggest and baddest of cruise ships is now afloat, and I've been reading up on it.

It's quite impressive - as witnessed by these interesting if useless facts:

  • Over 110,000 pounds of ice cubes are produced every day
  • The propellers are 20 feet in diameter
  • There are 16 passenger decks, plus several large holds filled with filth and squalor for the slaves (I'm sorry - crew) to sleep in.

The ship is broken into 8 different neighbourhoods, including Central Park (includes muggers!), Streetscape (includes a No Stabbing zone for the children), and assorted other entertainment areas, such as pools, climbing walls, theaters, alligator pits, punji stick booby traps, and a bingo hall. I may have made some of those up.

In all - it is quite exciting and I can't wait to go for a drool on it when I'm older.

Getting back to the neighbourhood theme - I think to make it feel like a real neighbourhood, what they should do is string up clothes lines between the cabins in this photo so guests can do their laundry.

That would really make it feel like a borough in New York or some other decrepit slum.

I suspect you'd make more friends and meet more interesting people by hanging out your undies each day than you ever would dining with the snobs in first class. Just sayin...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Christmas Light Rap-sody

Also known as "Middle Aged White Men Shouldn't Rap"

So I went to garage and got out a box
I was lookin for lights, not bagels and lox

There was string after string of LED's
Gotta string them up for the Christmas seas'

My fingers got numb and my butt got cold
I arranged them bad, I arranged them bold

I got out the ladder and set it up
All my homies in the hood said "Hey Dude - sup?"

"I am decoratin' this crib of mine
Gonna dress it up for Santa so fine"

Then the time it came to climb it on up
Gotta get them lights to the very top

Now I ain't likin them steps so high
I know from the past I cannot fly

'Fraidy Cat Chicken is what I am
Don't wanna go slidin down, makin a "Bam!"

So I tiptoe up to the view so fine
I clip on the lights then make my decline

I got them up with no injury
But a rose bush did put some prickles in me

Then a breaker blew and a cuss word flew
Gotta have the power for the strings to view

Got a timer for the lights, got a cord or two
Now we're all set up for the Santa crew

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Posting False Start

Like most fathers out there, I also have children.

Well that didn't make any sense at all. Lemme work on that. I'll get back to you.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Digestive System as Taught by a Plumber

The shortage of qualified surgeons in this country has led to drastic measures being taken.

Here is a transcript of a lecture given recently to new surgical interns by Master Plumber Fred Johnson of Johnson’s Plumbing and Heating.

“Let’s go over the design plans briefly before we begin our operation, fellas.”

“We’ll proceed from the top, here at this access panel, and then move way down to the waste stack, here.”

“Behind the access panel opening you’ll usually find several enamel or porcelain fixtures in a curved array, with multiple small valves supplying fluid to the fixtures and the upper end of the system.

“Solids and liquids introduced to the system are pushed into the drain by this auger unit, down a three degree slope, to a 90 degree ell-coupling here. Be careful working around this elbow area since touching the inside of the pipe will cause the system to immediately back up.”

“Now, below this fitting there are two 3/4 inch drain lines, which converge here in this flow control valve. This valve is responsible for separation of gas, liquid and solid mixtures, as well as functioning as a PA system for the entire structure.”

“We’ll only concern ourselves with the fluid and semi-fluid lines at this point people. We’ll let the gas fitters work on the other line later.”

“Past the control valve we come to a central reservoir which holds all the in-feed from the drain line above. This tank has control valves – one at each end - and after suitable mixing has occurred, the contents of the tank are slowly drained through the lower valve into a 1 inch sewer line here.”

“This sewer stack is approximately 28 feet long, made of flexible tubing, and winds around the central interior of the structure, through several 90 degree bends, elbows, and 45 degree offsets. As it proceeds, some of the material inside the structure is siphoned off using various branch lines.”

“Just so you’re aware, another system is responsible for filtering liquids in this structure. The system has two replaceable strainers here at the back. Waste liquid drains from these filters into a P-trap holding tank here and hence to one of two different exit valves, depending on the structure. This is what we male plumbers call the fire sprinkler system. That’s a bit of anatomy humour there.”

“Other tanks contribute fluids and chemicals to the mixture as it moves down the stack, but generally the material continues without interruption.”

“The processed material then enters this 2 inch stack, which is in essence another, larger holding tank. This tank regularly empties, usually into a municipal waste system, through this flow control valve, here. Yes, the exterior valve can look like a politician, Joe – good one!”

“This plumbing system operates with high efficiency, but can occasionally slow to a crawl, or speed up beyond system capacity. The reasons for slowing down can be anything from too much cheese entering the system to a lack of water irrigation, which can also lead up to a complete blockage and pipeline shut down.”

“The system can also work at extremely high speed, particularly after a ‘hot wings and beer night’ at the local pub, or if the system is contaminated by a previously untested curry.”

“When working on these pipes, care must be taken with open flames or spark-producing tools since the system can vapour-lock, and flammable gases are known to accumulate on a regular basis. Venting is as important here as in any plumbing system, so remember that as you solder or weld anything.”

“So that’s it folks! Any questions before we begin our operation on this patient? No? Good.”

“Someone get my work gloves and I can get started with the pipe cutters. We need a work light in here! Who’s got the snake?”

“We have to hurry people – the electricians next door need help with their brain surgery.”

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Santa Sabotage

I have completed one of the greatest acts of sabotage known to this neighbourhood.

Speaking as a guy with a childish sense of humour (sorry - I'm being redundant), I came up with a devious plan involving a neighbour's inflatable Santa.

Operating under the cover of darkness, moving like a shadow, as only a grossly overweight, huge man dressed in one of his kids ill-fitting Ninja costumes can, I slithered (well, stomped) towards my target.

Carefully I sliced a small hole in the backside of Santa, and inserted (ahem) the working end of an old whoopee cushion. I then glued the edges of the rubber to the fabric of Santa, for a good, air-tight seal.

Feeling much like a Proctologist now, and acting like one too I suppose, I squirted liberal amounts of lubricant into Santa's new, er, opening, then made my escape, just as a great brapping plume of air made its escape from Santa.

It was fantastic! A great, thundering raspberry rent the air and did not stop! As I swished branches over my footprints and safely made my escape, huge volumes of wet-sounding wind escaped from Santa's new posterior. Awesome!

You know, with a wine cork and some fishing line, I could amuse myself endlessly with dog walkers, carolers, newspaper deliverers - all sorts of people! Oh the imagination runs wild!

It's a good thing I'm a mature man with the resources to carry out such a dastardly scheme.

Young guys just don't have the experience for this sort of thing.

The Shower

The shower head in our en-suite bathroom recently went kaput. We think children may have been involved. Regardless, the darn thing leaked all its pressure out, such that it mainly dribbled instead of showered.

Handy Man sprang into action and it was off to Home Depot!

Pick replacement head of suitable size, return home, excitedly replace head in shower.

This was a great assignment for me in that it was short, simple, and able to be accomplished in mere minutes. There was no measuring or cutting, only simple screwing on of the new head.


The new head is, erm, OK I guess. It's kind of like this:

What we got:
What we wanted:

I'm thinking there's some sort of Lo-Flo device within the inner workings of the thing, kind of like a diseased prostate thing maybe, that I might be able to subtly remove/bash out, such that our shower could have more force behind it.

Stay tuned for Shower-ectomy reports as they happen!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Gift Guide 2009

Given the state of the economy, Santa Claus will be delivering various lengths of two-by-four lumber in lieu of toys this year. Environmentally friendly!

Collect all eight exciting lengths! Ideal for bashing your sister or the dog! Fun for the whole family. Batteries not included. Tweezers sold separately.

It has been that sort of year, but it appears things are starting to come around, such that we can maybe afford beans for Christmas dinner instead of pine beetles and dirt. Life is good! Consume! Celebrate!

So, given the wretched economic state (Michigan), what do you get everyone for Christmas?

Here is a guide to the most sought-after gifts I could make up for members of your family.

Dad: Dads are great to shop for. They’re all simple clunks and are pathetically easy to satisfy. A pair of pliers. A beer mug. Some fresh and exciting new lingerie from Bruce’s Secret catalogue, page 17. Whatever. Don’t worry about Dad. Anything works for him.

Mom: Definitely trouble here. Poor clothing gift choices, for example, will be exchanged, returned, frowned upon, or crammed down your throat complete with hanger, depending on the size you chose for your blushing bride.

A subscription to Facebook might be nice for her since I hear everyone talking about that particular magazine. There’s also a new one called Twitter that might work as well although I think that title slyly refers to the recipients rather than the content.

There is one gift category that defies all logic and explanation in the female realm, one that wins women’s hearts and minds every single time, and that is, of course, quality kitchen utensils.

Ha-ha, I’m lying! It is diamonds! Whew – I just ducked a frying pan as I was typing that.

Yes, diamonds will bring heaps of praise upon you for the rest of your life, which could be quite short if you actually took my kitchen utensil comment seriously.

Size wise, ‘bigger’ seems to work for all women. ‘More’ also works.

As to selecting between ring, necklace, earrings or, those wildly erotic things that some women have in their belly buttons, the answer is a definite “Yes!”

Understand, men, that spousal gift-giving will result in either a frank exchange of viewpoints, perhaps involving gunfire, or a wild, monkey-like romp around the bedroom. This should keep you entertained for some time, like it will your wide-eyed and slightly repugged children if you don’t lock the bedroom door


Moving on to the Young Children category, you are pretty safe if your gift selection includes any or all of the terms “Nintendo,” “Playstation,” “Hannah Montana,” “Jonas Brothers,” “Any Other Empty-Headed Twit from TV,” or combination of the aforementioned. So that’s good.

For children over age 10 or so, I have no idea since my kids aren’t that old yet. I suspect, however, that as they get to the sullen, ‘My Parents Are Dorky Idiots’ stage of development, anything you get them will be dreadfully bad for your relationship unless it is the latest style of jeans costing 3000 dollars that will be worn exactly once then tossed callously on the floor of their room, never to be seen again because it’s not cool and because it is buried beneath the mountain of items that archaeologists will later call ‘strata’ but which parents today call “Oh-my-God-what-happened-in-here?!”

I know that was a run-on sentence but it’s the economy. Punctuation is expensive.

So that’s that I guess. I’m off to trim up some two-by-fours, and I think I may slice up some two by tens since the kids have been so good this year. I don’t want to spoil them like rich kids though, so I’ll keep them under a foot long. Merry Christmas.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Travel Writing

I’ve been meaning to do more travel writing, and not just because I heard you can cadge free trips for doing so.

All the great writers of the world - Hemingway, Shakespeare, Stalin - got free airline travel to far off places and wrote about them for fun and profit. Why not me?

Just to show that I (and my family) are worthy of several international junkets, let me tell you about Disneyland, truly a magic kingdom where dollar bills are made to magically disappear at a magically fast pace.

I took the family there once, and we experienced a wonderful world of joy until our money ran out about an hour later. After that, we enjoyed many of the free activities that are available on site, such as trash and coin picking up, washroom visiting, letting the kids shine shoes until the cops come along, and of course the many free parades where grandmothers nod off on benches and leave their handbags slightly open.

Meanwhile, my wife and I were debating whose kidney to sell so we could enjoy a hot dog.

We also suffered severe brain damage by going on the ‘It’s a Small World’ boat ride, the only ride we could afford, where an endless array of loud speakers played the incredibly sweet, repetitive song ‘It’s a Small Annoying World After All’ over and over and over!

The ride starts off pleasantly enough. You meander along in your small boat through scenic world vistas while listening to the treacly, skull-numbing song It’s a Small Price to Pay for Not Having Your Kids Barf After All.

Something like that.

Then the song starts getting to you, and you realize there is no escape. After the 17th repetition of It’s OK to Spend Money After All, you begin to notice subtleties in the music you didn’t hear before. Like the sound of gunshots from the staff room as long-term staff (one hour) begin blasting their toes off with powerful handguns rather than submit their ears to another minute of this brain-mushing torture.

You notice after the 29th repeat of It’s a Small Price to Pay for a Hotdog You Are Getting Very Sleepy After All, that you are still only one third of the way along the winding, butt-numbing route.

The people in the boat ahead of you, who boarded their tub with traces of joy on their faces, are now starting to dribble blood from their ears as they search for ways to use the emergency fire axe on their shipmates in order to escape the din.

Meanwhile, the musical number It’s Good To Vote For Dick Cheney Who Sits On The Disney Board After All continues, getting louder and louder, and you find there is no throttle on the boat to make it go faster. There are no ejection seats or life rafts or signal flares either. You are stuck in it and forced to look at stupid little robots shouting their stupid song It’s a Long Way to The Exit So Hand Us Your Wallet You Fat Slob After All and why is my face twitching again!?

We learned our lesson that first day, and for the remainder of the trip we just stayed in our hotel room and watched the Disney Channel on TV. We had Disneyland representatives come directly to our room every few hours to take piles of cash from us by humming the song It’s Like Water Boarding After All, which worked out great since it kept us from getting sore feet and the kids didn’t urp up corn dogs and we had ready access to beverages for washing down our anti-psychotic medications.

So, airlines and exotic hotels! What do you say? Comps on their way?

Tell you what. You undo these straps I’ve been gnawing on, and then I can get started on the Hawaii piece right away. Deal?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Leaning Pines Home for Aging Rock Stars

This column took First Place in the recent Americas Funniest Humor contest! Yes, they were desperate for entries...

As general manager of the Leaning Pines Home for Aging Rock Stars, I take great pride in keeping the lines of communication open with you all. It is yet another reason why we are the preferred assisted living destination among the aging rock star population.

To that end, I will be publishing this newsletter from time to time, charting the various goings-on in our wonderful community. I hope you enjoy this first edition, which was co-edited by a very young-looking Mr. Rogers (Kenny, room 114)

  • Staff report Mr. Floyd (Pink, room 113) has successfully used his walker to move to the far side of the room. Well done Mr. Floyd!

  • Another set of dentures was found on the karaoke microphone this week. Please ensure you take your personal belongings with you when finished in the rec. room.

  • We have heard from The Doobie Brothers! After moving from here, they arrived safely at the China Grove Long Term Care Facility, down around San Antone. Staff there report shortages of medical marijuana, as the brothers heroically continue their battle with glaucoma, which has sadly struck all members of the group.

  • Mr. Jagger (Mick, room 110) threw his back out again in the garden this morning. Staff report him walking funny and had no choice but to wet his lips and stick him to the window so he doesn't wander off again.

  • New tenants Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show are being treated by Dr Goldstein and The Nursing Squad. Their physical therapy includes knitting hats for Mr. Jagger, or, as we call them here, covers for the Rolling Stone.

  • Mr. Cooper (Alice, room 109) has asked staff to please stop asking him if he is alright. He reports he always looks that way. We have already spoken to him about the snake he smuggled into his room last week, as well as his growing black widow collection, both of which contravene regulations.

  • Clients are reminded to please wait their turn when hearing aid batteries go on sale next week. ‘Rushing the stage’ tends to get all the walkers tangled up.

  • Mr. Seger (Bob, room 204) reports he had a successful night movement yesterday. Way to go Mr. Seger!

  • Mr. Plant (Robert, room 119) reports his trip to the bathroom had “…been a long lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time.” Better luck next time, Mr. Plant.

  • Mr. Gibb (Barry, room 109) came down with a fever last Saturday night. Quick intervention by staff prevented a tragedy. His hair is expected to stay alive.

  • Would whoever keeps stealing the Viagra pills from the dispensary please refrain from doing so. We need these medications to keep the male patients from rolling out of bed at night. These are serious medications and are not to be used for ring toss games or towel hanging competitions.

  • Maintenance staff report several gallons of black and white paint have gone missing from the paint locker. Would Mr. Simmons, Mr. Stanley, Mr. Criss and Frehley please report to the office.

  • If anyone knows the whereabouts of Mr. Osbourne (Oswald, room 666), last seen doddering off towards the main gate, please contact security. Kitchen staff would also like to speak with him about the mutilated chickens discovered in his room.

  • Mr. Townshend (Peter, room 119) reports he has glued together the ukulele he damaged during last week’s recital. He sincerely apologizes for his behaviour.

  • Pharmacy staff report that laxative medications were somehow switched with the anti-diarrhea meds earlier this week, for which they are deeply sorry. Clients who turned a deep purple as a result of this mix-up are now a whiter shade of pale, much to our (and their) relief. Patients who received the laxatives are asked to contact maintenance for repairs to their bathroom ceilings and/or toilets. We apologize for the error.

That just about wraps up this first edition of the Leaning Pine News.

Watch for the second issue that will have pictures and highlights from this week’s big Guitar Pick Tiddlywinks Tournament!

We’ll also have some tips on how to keep your hair from falling into your custard at meal times.

Until then!