Too Soon! I Told the First Challenger Explosion Joke

For a lot of Americans, we share a bond of “Where were you when…?” and fill in the blank for some nation-altering event. Where were you when you heard Pearl Harbor was bombed? When you heard JFK was shot? When Neil Armstrong stepped out of the lunar lander? When you first heard 9/11 was happening?

space shuttle challenger

Depending on your age, maybe you weren’t born yet, or not yet cognizant of certain national tragedies and triumphs. At some point in college, I decided I should not date anyone born before the JFK assassination or after the first moon landing, the rationale being: I debuted about halfway between those events, and if we never have anything else in common, at least we both were around (or not around) for those events.

If you are of a certain age, the question is, “Where were you when you heard the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded?” I was a sophomore at the University of Tennessee. Specifically, I was in the entrance lobby of Clement Hall, my dorm, standing near the Ms. Pac-Man game (it was the sit-down version where two players sat opposite each other waiting for their turn.) I ran into my friend Mary, someone I had known since grade school. She asked me if there were any current events that were worthy of mentioning in her journalism class that she was running late for. Someone nearby offered, “Hey, isn’t there a shuttle launch today?”

And here’s where it gets surreal. I, completely unaware of what had actually just happened, jokingly said, “Yeah… and it crashed and blew up!” Mary didn’t believe me, so I urged her to walk around the corner to the TV lounge where a group of students were watching the launch… or rather, they were watching the horrifying aftermath. And my jaw dropped further than it ever had before. Some joke.

I felt a pang of guilt for several hours after, wondering if I had caused the disaster with my flippant remark. I decided that it was way too egotistical of me to assume I had that kind of power, and got over the guilt. In retrospect, it may have been the first joke ever told about the Challenger explosion.

So that’s where I was 31 years ago today. Funny how you remember stuff like that.

¡Punctuation and Grammar Need Work!

symbol swearingI had an idea while I was writing late last night; the middle of the night is my most productive creative time; I’m sort of like Batman that way but without going all vigilante; so behold the Oxford semicolon! Cool, it’sn’t?

Another thing you may have noticed; I was also wondering why the double contraction is not a thing; because it is not. It isn’t. It’s not.
Why not “It’sn’t?”
That’s fun to say out loud, it’sn’t?
Whyn’t try using that? Yes, “whyn’t” should be a legal contraction as well.

¡Henceforth, let’sn’t write without correcting these oversights! ¡And we should start using those upside-down exclamation marks at the beginning of sentences like they do in Spanish!

¡See, when Mexico sends us punctuation, they send us the best punctuation! ¿Don’t you love knowing ahead of time if the words you’re reading are a question, or if you’re supposed to yell them? ¡¡¡We should start using those upside down warning pucnts immediately!!!

!That’sn’t an exclamation mark at the beginning of this sentence; it’s an upside-down semicolon; I think you should have the right to know if a semicolon is forthcoming in a compound sentence. !Sadly, there is no “upside-down semicolon” button on the keyboard; someone should work on that posthaste.

lovely night¡!Now I’m yelling at you; with my new punctuation rules everyone should have seen the yelling and the semicolons in this sentence from a mile away! ¿See how well that works?

¡$%^&¢*€‹›‡! Sorry… That was just me “symbol swearing” at you. ¿Did you notice I had the courtesy to use the Mexipunct at the start of all that profanity? !:Note to reader: I haven’t figured out what to call those upside-down prepuncts yet; “prepunct” seems like a good word; this sentence also featured a completecolon, hence the upside-down completecolon preceding this sentence. In Spanish, they just call this “inverted punctiation”. If you say it like a soccer announcer, and in Spanish, it sounds more exciting.

“¡Estoy utilizando la puntuación invertida en esta sentencia! ¡¡¡¡¡Goooooooooooooooooal!!!!!”

But in English, “inverted punctuation” sounds lame. ¡I’lln’t sleep until this is corrected!

bartolo colon
¿Cómo usted dice los “dos puntos” en español? ¡Bartolo Colon! ¡¡¡¡¡Goooooooooooooooooal!!!!!

¡!: Re: “completecolon”: There should be a word for “colon” that’sn’t easily confused with that thing in your body up in which they shove a camera to look for lumps when you turn 50; happy birthday to me! /The whole colon/semicolon thing suggests that one is superior to the other. ¿BTW, did you notice I used an upside-down slash to warn you that a slash was coming? ¡You’re welcome!

!There’s a North Dakota and a South Dakota; there’s a North Carolina and a South of the Border; they sound equal. ¡!/But the whole Virginia/West Virginia dichotomy suggests one came before the other and is more important; sources inform me this may indeed be the case! /We should fix that for colon/semicolon. ¡Henceforth, I shall call it the completecolon!

South of the Border
¡Pedro le acoge con satisfacción al sur de la frontera!

:There is an upside-down completecolon at the beginning of this sentence and it means one thing: a completecolon will be used in this sentence.

!There’sn’t a button to make an upside-down completecolon forepunct; if there were, it would just look like a regular completcolon. Let’sn’t waste any more time before getting on that task.

):¡(Note to self: get on that whole “upside-down completecolon” thing; while you’ren’t sleeping, you should also invent a warnpunct for an upside-down parenthesis that doesn’t just look backwards; we’re going to need those too; this sentence used one, and it looked awful in hindsight and foresight.)

¡And we should all start speaking with hashtags!

#weshouldallstartspeakingwithhashtags #letstalkabouthashtagsinanothercolumn #Poundsign #octothorpe

Which Chocolate Chip Cookie, Sausage Ball, or Rock Are You? A Quiz

rock sausage ball cookie

Here’s a Quiz to determine once and for all… Which Chocolate Chip Cookie, Sausage Ball, or Rock Are You? Answer as honestly as you can, and check to see which one you are. You can only be one!

A man leaves New York by train at 7:00 am local time. How long until he is in Philadelphia?
Time is irrelevant to a rock.
The train is in Europe, so he needs to go to an airport first.
He has been in Philly the entire time.

Do you have any pets? What are their names?
Pepper, Love and Stunt.
Charles, Rudy and Nigel.
I have pet rocks named Checker, Mint, and Checker II.

dave matthews rocksDo you think “Are you into Dave Matthews?” is a safe conversation starter for hitting on a stranger, and if so, why?
Yes, way awesome.
No, N’awesome pas.
I love Dave Matthews. He rocks. But you shouldn’t talk about him.

What is your favorite movie spoiler ending?
Harry Potter dies in all 8 movies.
Luke finds out Princess Leia is a rock.
Rosebud turns out to be the real killer.

Can you follow instructions?
Check the box below this one.
Do not check this box if you are a rock.
Check this box if you agree boxes should remain unchecked.

If you were on a table at a party, who would eat you?
Everyone (unless they have gluten allergies).
Vegetarians (but only on a cheat day).
Someone who keeps kosher (but only when no one is looking).

survey buttonsurvey buttonsurvey buttonsurvey buttonsurvey buttonsurvey buttonsurvey buttonsurvey buttonsurvey buttonsurvey button

Goodbye to Some of My “Friends”

trump bibleI said goodbye to some old friends in the past few days.

By “friends” I mean they were friends on Facebook. And by “said goodbye,” I mean I just hit the “unfriend” button and moved on. No explanation needed, although in the unfriending process, the explanation becomes invisible anyway.

I only joined Facebook reluctantly several years ago, when my high school graduating class was planning a reunion. By joining, I was instantly reconnected with a lot of folks from my past. Some were dear friends I hadn’t talked to in years. Some were people I barely knew, but that was cool. Many reminded me of why I had moved on with my life and not looked back much in the first place.

As it turns out, I didn’t even go to that reunion. I haven’t been back to my home town in over ten years, in fact. Hmmm.

It seems that after looking at their posts and seeing their photos and arguing over things both petty and important, I saw the need to begin culling some of them from the list. It’s a wonder more of them didn’t unfriend me first. I can be somewhat… abrasive, I’ll admit. But in getting to know them again, it became obvious… They had changed. I had changed, too. After while, I hate to say it, it became too much work to hang onto what was left of the strings that once tied us together. It’s nothing personal. But I have things I need to do and so do they. It’s okay to move on.

On the other hand, some of them turned out be kindred spirits in ways I never would have imagined, and I came to regret not knowing them better along the way. That’s been fun.

The election of 2008 happened just before I jumped on the Faceblogs. But by the time the election of 2012 rolled around, it brought irreconcilable differences to light. Major friendship test right there. And yet, I stayed friends with a lot of people who voted differently from me, who believed differently from me, because at least they weren’t gloating tools about it.

Sadly, the election of 2016 was the last straw. After eight years of putting up with the unrelenting barbs against what I believed in, I did some final fine tuning. I unfriended a lot of folks during the primaries for both parties (and several dispatched with me as well). And as election day approached, I could not believe what some of these folks were posting (and vice versa, I’m sure). The day after the election was sheer carnage. But today, as the orange one was officially sworn in, I could not take it any more. I thought the purge was complete from both ends. I tried to stay off the Faceblogs. And yet… there were arguments. There were people telling me to get over it, people telling me to ignore all that animosity towards the last president, people telling me to suck it up and be nice.

Nope, sorry, that’s too big a fence to mend at the moment. Might even be a border wall, if you think about it.

I can have respectful conversations with people if that respect goes both ways. But more and more, that’s not been the case. (And again, I must reiterate, I have become less tolerant of those who are not tolerant of my tolerances. Sorry.) If I ever see some of these folks again in the real world, maybe we’ll sit down and talk. Maybe we’ll laugh at old times. We can still be friends in real life. But I don’t want to be friends with your online persona. I don’t want to see your unresearched memes or your links to parts of the web that make my skin crawl.

Just because we have a history doesn’t mean we need to have a present. Or a future. It’s nothing personal. Maybe we’ll be friends again. Or at least “friends.” Dunno. (“Shrug” emoticon.)

This is where I get off. This is where I leave you. You know how to reach me, but do you know how to reach out to me?

Postmodern Postmortem: “Waffles and Beer” by Ron Ruelle

An exciting new art retrospective has opened at the Museum of Ron’s Basement, called “The Acrylic Art School Images of Ron Ruelle.” Today we will focus in depth on his signature piece from the “Painting and Mimosas” phase of his career, Waffles and Beer as seen below:waffles and beer

This is believed to be the only copy in existence of this painting, though other interlopers have attempted to recreate it, retroactively and proactively. To say whether any other version is better is a moot point. This is the one and only version done by Ron.

Overall, this is a tremendous departure for an artist primarily known for his cartoon work. Generally speaking, Ruelle has traditionally utilized black lines to separate areas of color in his art, as well as clear areas containing words that represent “spoken” utterances from the characters (or in some cases, objects) in the art.polar bear eating ice cream in snow

None of these techniques were used in Waffles and Beer, with the artist bravely reaching outside his comfort zone (or area of competence) by even attempting such a piece.

The sheer size of the piece, 457.2 by 609.6 (mm), is a theme borrowed from his comics era, in which original art has been created at such large sizes but ultimately intended to be viewed from great distances such as to minimize flaws. An earlier phase that began in the early 1990s reversed this trend by rendering small comics in very large, blurry, sketchy lines that magnified the flaws; even with mixed reviews, art from the “very large, blurry, sketchy lines that magnified the flaws” phase of his career can sell for large sums. Observe how the piece looks when viewed from farther away:

waffles and beer

The necessity to shrink the art or see it from a distance is a technique that has been used throughout history to help viewers better understand art. One is reminded of “The Mystery of the Shrinking House,” a fictional adventure featuring Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators (or more controversially, Hector Sebastian, a name Hitchcock apparently used when he wished to disown his works.) A look at the cover of this book at normal size reveals little. However, shrinking it down, and in turn, shrinking the house even further sheds new light on the story, as the red and white awning on the house becomes increasingly obvious with the shrinkage. Observe this book cover at two different sizes:

three investigators

As the awning on the house becomes the only distinguishing feature, it’s apparent that a sideways chunk of the awning is the clue that holds the secret to a hidden art masterpiece. An article about a piece of art that needs to be shrunk to be appreciated, contains a reference to a book with a cover that needs to be shrunk to appreciate a hidden piece of art.


I also apologize for yelling in the spoiler alert. It’s hard to take back what I said and how I said it, because it’s hard to uncapitalize something once you’ve read it.

As for “Waffles and Beer,” this piece jumps off the controversy bridge with its name, as the original inspiration for the beverage in the painting was orange juice, or possibly a mimosa, but the title of the painting suggests it was changed to beer at some point. Observe the hyperrealistic bubbles, not seen in orange juice, possibly seen in a or orange juiceThe painting also goes off the perspective rails at first glance with the giant, hovering fork and knife, which suggest they are at great height, unable to cast a shadow over what must be a very large waffle. fork and berriesAlso, the details buy a ticket on the hindsight train, with the berries seeming like they should be bigger, unless they are the size of, say, large dogs, and the waffles are the size of a house, if that house were not shrinking like the one on the book cover..waffle and berries

Things also spin off course from the textural merry-go-round when looking at the golden flakiness of the waffles… will syrup be added, or would a pat of butter, some powdery white substance, and cow-sized fruit be enough to make this an important part of your nutritious breakfast? If you look closer..waffle and berries

Closer…waffle and berries

Too close!waffle and berries

Then, the artist’s good manners leap off the judgment pier when it becomes clear that he is already eating, but has not placed the napkin on his lap.napkin

Finally, the reader is run over by metaphorical bumper cars, by the simple question: Do the waffles and beer signal a literal desire to have waffles and beer for breakfast, or something deeper, such as the desire to consume these delicacies for a later meal such as lunch, dinner, or even tomorrow’s breakfast?

The artist leaves that interpretation to you, as he has reached his total required word count and wishes to be left alone with his late night snack of beer and waffles.

Things That are Bad to Step on Whilst Barefoot (In no Particular Order)

Some things are just bad to step on or in, especially when not wearing boots, shoes, or galoshes. The author does not condone stepping on any of these for fun or by accident. Call your doctor immediately if this happens to you.

spilled coffee groundsCoffee grounds. Dry grounds that missed the coffee maker will stick to the soles of your feet and the caffeine will seep into your system just before bedtime.

Chicken poop. Any poop, really, but especially chicken poop. There’s a reason they specifically call someone a “chickenshit.”

Chicken poop with hay mixed in. Although it’s fun to pull on the hay to see if you can remove the entire clump in one piece.

pile of Lego blocksLego blocks. Parents know this to be true.

Duplo Blocks. Not as sharp as regular Lego blocks, but big enough to be ankle breakers.

Those really tiny Lego blocks they make for babies to hold with their tiny little hands. These can also seep into the soles of your feet if you don’t act quickly.

Wet cement. Do you know how much heat is generated as cement dries?

Lava. Do you know how much heat is generated when lava is born?

Hot coals. Do you know how much heat is generated when you perform a stupid ritual like this?

Spent Fireworks. Do you know how much heat is still there even after several minutes? Celebrate your independence safely.

Bed of nails. These do not generate much heat unless they have been sitting out in the sun for hours.

slim goodbodySomeone’s entrails. To be honest, this is indicative of a much worse problem.

Your own entrails. To be honest, this is indicative of a much, much worse problem.

Endive salad. To be honest, this is only on the list because I often confuse the words “entrails” and “endive,” with one being being something you eat in a salad, and the other being something you eat if you are a zombie.endive salad

Gum. Unpleasant though it may feel, when this seeps into the soles of your feet, it will make your blood smell like spearmint, which is actually kind of cool. Except you can’t smell it unless you’re bleeding. Which is so not cool.

The ashes of a famous serial killer. When this seeps into the soles of your feet, it will let him take over your body.

A bottomless pit. Although to be fair, since there’s no bottom, you’d never hit the floor. But you would probably scrape yourself on the sides something fierce, and it would be hard to climb out without your shoes.

The ocean, after a freighter from Denmark capsizes and spills millions of Lego blocks into the sea, and they wash up on on the beach and in the shallow surf. This will ruin your vacation.

dogs in motion
Pets. In the interest of kindness, you generally should not step on your pets. As a helpful reminder, remember this palindrome: STEP ON NO PETS.

So let’s be careful out there!

Ron’s Manifesto : Agree or Move On

I like you. At least I want to like you. But we need to see eye to eye on some things. I would hope you and I agree on at least most of this stuff. If we don’t, we should no longer remain friends, because this is core stuff in my head. Goodbye in advance if you disagree with my Manifesto .

stevia is yuckyStevia is awful. I would rather eat food that is super unsweet, or suffer the bad health consequences of real sugar, or take a bath in a tub full of the pink fake sugar, or drink a gallon of high-fructose corn syrup, than to even be in the same aisle at the grocery store with this stuff. You know this to be true.

Black licorice is better than red licorice.

I don’t like fennel. Food that tastes like licorice, but is in fact not licorice, is bad.

Except for sausage. Fennel is often found in sausage. Sausage is good.

kardashiansWhat I know and/or care about the Kardashians could be engraved on a grain of rice in very large type. They should not matter to you, either.

To shake things up at sporting events, we should occasionally sing the Preamble to the Constitution from “Schoolhouse Rock” before games.

hockey ballThere are too many bowl games in college football. They should get rid of most of them and keep these:
• Rose Bowl.
• Sugar Bowl.
• Cotton Bowl.
• Citrus/Orange Bowl (those are redundant, so combine them and let four teams play a round robin, one quarter per pair, for a total of six ten-minute quarters. You know you’d watch that!).
• Peach Bowl.
• Cereal Bowl because that should totally be a thing, because that was funny to me as a kid and will never be not funny.
• Toilet Bowl, which is kind of like the Cereal Bowl, but was like a hundred times funnier to my seven-year-old self. I drew a cartoon about it once, probably.
• Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl because it has the coolest name.
•And bring back the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl, but send the two teams who were the biggest disappointments that season and shower them with scorn and humiliation… and rancid beef probably, I don’t know.
Even after looking at this very short list, doesn’t the world “Bowl” seem kind of stupid looking and weird sounding? I rest my case. Too many of them.

Speaking of quarters, if you said “there can’t be six quarters in a game, there can only be four quarters,” then I shall reply, “fee and foo, behold what was in my pocket! Six quarters!”
Speaking of speaking of quarters, there should be exactly two designs allowed on the back of United States 25-cent coins: The 1976 Bicentennial one with the with the fife and drum corps, and the other regular one, which has an eagle on the moon or something. I can’t remember exactly what it looks like, because, and I cannot stress this enough… THERE ARE TOO MANY STUPID DESIGNS ON THE BACK OF OUR MONEY! If you wanted to make counterfeit coins, why copy an existing design when you can just put Chester Cheetah or some other spokescharacter on there? Who would notice? Seems legit.

Same thing with pennies: Two designs: the one with the wheat and the one with the Parthenon from Nashville.

el camino
Everyone secretly wants to drive an El Camino. If you say you don’t, you are living a lie, and I can’t abide by liars.

So, are we cool?

Cheer Up! Lots of People Didn’t Die in 2016 !

dumpster fireEveryone keeps referring to 2016 as the dumpster fire that never quit burning. It seemed like every few days someone who made a brilliant mark on this world died. But it wasn’t all bad… here are some folks who didn’t die in 2016 . (I waited until 12:01 AM, January 1 to post it just to make sure no one on the list died at the last minute.)

james stewart
James Stewart

catwoman joker
Cesar Romero and Eartha Kitt

bob denver
Bob Denver (Little Buddy!)

Abraham Lincoln
Abe Lincoln

helen keller
Helen Keller

This inflatable dinosaur and friends

kurt cobain
Kurt Cobain

lemmy motorhead
Lemmy from Møtørhead

ronald reaganRonald Reagan

ray nitschke
Ray Nitschke

styx albums
That Guy from Styx (No, that other guy)

charles schulz
Charles Schulz

matchbox flying bug
The Guy driving this car

jon lovitz
Jon Lovitz

Paul Newman
Paul Newman

nighthawks edward hopperJames Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart and that guy behind the counter in that famous painting.

Doesn’t that make you feel better?