Cabbages & Kings

"The time has come," the walrus said, "to talk of many things; of shoes and ships and sealing wax and cabbages and kings."

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Location: Brampton, Ontario, Canada

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I'm a Web-Whore

OK, see that banner thingy near the top of this page? Not that one. A bit lower. The one with the advertisements in it. Yeah, that one.
I'll bet you're wondering what the hell that's doing there, huh?
It's there because I signed on to be a Google Web-Whore. Every time you click on an ad in that banner (and you will, my puppets, you will) I make money. Not much, but money, nonetheless.
But that's not why I did it. Think about it. There's, what, five of you out there reading my ramblings. I certainly won't get rich off this, no matter how many times you click on the ads (and you will, my puppets, you will).
No, I did it because I'm curious.
You see, I don't choose what ads go on that banner. Google, Blogger and the AdSense people have this funky little program that places ads that specifically relate to what a blog is about.
For example, my good friend and fellow web-whore, Gord, has also signed on for this banner ad stuff on his blog at A Little Bite of Magic Cheese. His blog is about magic, so the ads placed there are related to magic. Which is why I giggled my butt off at Gord's insistence that David Blaine sucks, is a hack, disgraces "real" magicians, etc. while there is an ad for Blaine Street Magic at the top of his blog.
So, I'm curious to see what ads will appear on my blog. As you may have noticed, this blog isn't actually about anything in particular. In fact, it is often about nothing in general. What effect will that have on the ad-generator? Will I get ads for bat exterminators? Photo caption software? Kurt Vonnegut books? Sound-proof toilet bowls?
Whatever the ads are, I'm counting on you click on them and make me some money (and you will, my puppets, you will).


. . . And loving it.

86 is deep-sixed.
The shoe-phone is toes-to-the-sky.
Go go gadget sadness.
On September 25 Don Adams died.
I was at work when I read this sad bit of information on the news scroll running on the television in the corner. I immediately felt old when Mike, a young co-worker, said "Who?"
I whipped my shoe from my foot, held it to my ear and said, "Hello, Chief? Smart here," and Mike redeemed himself by catching the reference. (Unlike Chantal later in the day, for whom I had to invoke Inspector Gadget before she knew who I was talking about.) Turns out Mike has an eclectic familiarity with a lot of things, but just doesn't know names. For him, everyone is simply "the guy from that show." For example, Mike pointed out that the guy from KAOS was also the doctor on the Love Boat. Straightening my trivia-geek hat, I said, "Bernie Kopell." It's frightening sometimes, the obscure bits of useless minutiae floating dangerously close to the surface of my mind.
But back to the topic at hand. "Get Smart" was my first introduction to the idea of over-the-top humour. The show taught me that sometimes a joke can be so bad that it's good. They had catch phrases before anyone knew what a catch phrase was. They demonstrated something that Gord has recently re-learned: Sometimes the old jokes work.
I used to rush home from school to watch "Get Smart." It was always the preferred topic of recess conversation the next morning.
Hymie the robot.
Agent 13, hiding in a sofa cushion.
The lovely Barbara Feldon as Agent 99.
"Not the Craw! The Craw!"
"Sorry, Chief."
"Would you believe...?"
And the centerpiece of the show, Don Adams as Maxwell Smart, Agent 86 of CONTROL.
Sadly, the later attempts to revive the series and the characters failed to capture the real spirit of the original. Personally, I blame Andy Dick.
In 1975, Adams hosted a short-lived TV game show called "Don Adams' Screen Test." I made of point of watching that every week, too. I think it ran at 7:30 on Fridays. They would choose people from the audience, sometimes simply drag people in off the street, and have them re-enact scenes from famous movies, opposite professional actors. It was a brilliant piece of entertainment.
Adams' secret agent persona resurfaced with "Inspector Gadget." At first I was resistant to the idea, then it occurred to me that this would be an opportunity to introduce my son to Adams' unique style of line-delivery. More regular Adams viewing ensued in my house.
The absence of Don Adams was blatantly obvious in the tragically Disney live-action film of Inspector Gadget. Matthew Broderick has impressed me with some of his other work, but for me, there is only one Gadget.
(Broderick, more recently, starred in the Broadway production - and the soon-to-be-released remake film - of "The Producers," by Mel Brooks, who, along with Buck Henry, created "Get Smart" starring Don Adams, who later played Inspector Gadget, a character that was later played by Matthew Broderick, who, more recently, starred in the Broadway... --Ah the Circle of Life.)
Anyway, once again, back to matter at hand. Don Adams' death at the age of 83 has made me doubt my faith in the underlying symmetry of the universe, that oft-invoked well of accidental humour. It would have been much more fitting if he had lived just three more years. Do the math. You'll see what I mean.
Farewell, Maxwell Smart. You will be missed... by that much.


Monday, September 19, 2005

Some random thoughts that aren't nearly as offensive as they could be...

I saw an ad on TV today. The scene was a couple spending a romantic time in a row boat. The woman was an attractive blond whom I think also does that grapefruit shampoo ad. The guy was on the poor side of average, giving the impression that he's incredibly lucky just to have one chance at a romantic afternoon with this woman.
Then she gets a shocked look on her face and points at the bottom of the boat. Shockingly the boat has sprung a leak. A perfectly round leak about 5/8" in diameter. Almost like someone with a power drill, but no imagination, had deliberately made the hole prior to filming. Water is sprouting up and flooding into the boat.
Eager to prove that he is brave, resourceful and worthy of marriage, the man quickly puts a panicked look on his face, turns and starts rooting through his picnic basket for some sort of repair kit. The woman calmly reaches into her purse, takes out a box of Tampax tampons, removes one from the box and uses it to plug the hole in the boat.
Our hero turns around again to see that the boat is no longer flooding. In fact, thanks to the absorbency of Tampax products, there is no longer any water in the boat. She smiles proudly. He drops the unidentifiable random items he planned to use to stop the leak. The Tampax logo flashes on the screen and some trite voice-over sings the praises of the tampon.
The reason I'm recounting all of this is to point out a specific factor in the performance of the actor playing the guy in the boat. If you see the ad, watch for this. Only guys will recognize it for what it is, but this actor, with a single expression, for a fraction of a second, conveyed the only possible thought under such circumstances.
Just as the guy turned around, his eyes darting over the situation, assessing all of the various facts and their significance, just for the briefest of moments you could see the realization in his eyes.
He's not getting laid tonight.


You know what someone should invent?
A way of sound-proofing a toilet seat.
Stay with me on this; I've given it far more thought than it really deserves.
The shape of a toilet bowl and the materials used to make a toilet bowl combine with the curious side effect of amplifying any sound that is created within the aforementioned bowl. It's basically an echo chamber under a vertical smile.
I've been around long enough to say with confidence that there no possible sounds made within the environment in question that you actually want amplified. These are sounds that you want suppressed.
Ever been in a public washroom and inadvertently perform a musical duet with the guy in the next stall? Kind of like dueling banjos, but with tubas and trumpets. The occasional trombone.


I think they spiked my coffee at work. But I don't know with what. Look at the dancing colours.


Friday, September 16, 2005

Photo Caption Challenge V 5.0

This is the one that started it all. About two years ago, Bill sent out an email with the subject line "There's gotta be a good caption for this" and it had this photo attached.

My personal favourite at the time was: "The origami class desperately awaited their next shipment of paper."

Let's what all you creative little critters come up with this time.

The rules, for anyone new; Look at the picture, think of a funny caption, post it as a comment.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Being relatively new to the blogsphere, I simply chose my favourite of the templates offered by However, this particular template doesn't include the option of a list of links. Several friends of mine now have blogs, some of which, Todd, are more interesting than mine, and I'd like to share them with whoever is reading this.
Yes, the obvious solution is to change the template. But I like the look of this one. It sort of reflects what I've deluded myself into believing I'm going to achieve here. So instead I'll just list links in a post every couple of months...

The BillPages - Bill watches a lot of TV. Bill also follows a lot of news. He reads a lot of books, too. Bill goes through the motions of actually attending a place of employment and collecting a paycheque, but I don't think he actually works. He doesn't have time.

A Little Bit Of Cheese
- Gord is a magician. He is also a funny guy (in every possible sense). Sadly, he can't spell worth a damn. A fun blog, nonetheless.

Anotherstinkingblog - Rob has, for now, taken the graffiti approach to blogging. Sort of guerrilla posting. He's got some interesting stuff.

Playing After Dark - Todd is new to blogging. This blog was named after the theatre production company he and his oh-so-lovely wife own. Check out his blog. It's self-explanatory.

Moral Flexibility - Erik is a gun collector, a zombie hunter, a new daddy and one of the sharpest wits I've ever worked with.

Tisha In China - Litisha has gone from Brampton to China to teach english. A bold and daunting task for an actress who was working the drive-through window at Wendy's two years ago. I'm impressed and proud of her.

The Yarn Harlot - Stephanie I have known since forever. Her blog focuses on one of her many habits; knitting. But don't let that scare you off. She has some very funny stuff on there and parts of it have been compiled into two books, available at quality literary retailers everywhere.

What's This Song? - Daphne is the orphan, still searching for her roots. She loves concert blisters and leather boots and she knows one fact; her act is to get loose. And we're just musicians, here to thin the thickness of your skin.


The Return of Billy Pilgrim

Kurt Vonnegut was on The Daily Show last night.
He is old and frail and seemed a bit unsteady on his feet. He also looks about eight feet tall. The most physically imposing frail old man I've seen in quite while. He spoke slowly in that way that old people do, making you lean forward a bit, trying to catch every word, almost making you resent the effort required just to carry on a conversation with this person. But in this case, it was worth the effort. Every word that came out of that old, frail mouth proved that the mind of Kurt Vonnegut is still young and vibrant and doesn't miss a thing.
I first started reading the books of Kurt Vonnegut during the latter part of my high school life. His storytelling technique is random and somewhat easy-going. Whenever I tried to read a non-Vonnegut novel after reading a couple of his books, I had to make an effort to readjust to a traditional (and comparatively boring) narrative style.
The thing about Vonnegut is that he steps about three feet to side and views the world from there. Then he'll point out something that was there all along, but you hadn't really noticed it. "The sky is blue," Vonnegut would say (for example) and I'd pause and look and consider his claim. "Look at that," I'd mutter. "The sky is blue. Why didn't I notice that before?"
Jon Stewart, the host of The Daily Show, apparently had similar experiences to my own, with the works of Vonnegut. Stewart is, when you get right down to it, simply a comedian who found the right hook and got lucky. He has interviewed senators, governors, ex-presidents; I think the Pope was on the show once. He has consistently looked them right in the eye and, while showing them due respect, let them know that he is on the same level as them and they are no better than anyone else. Kurt Vonnegut sat to desk with him last night and I thought Jon Stewart was going to actually bow down at Vonnegut's feet.
Vonnegut opened with a comment about how everyone has been picking on President Bush and saying bad things about him, so he's decided that he'd take this opportunity on television to some thing nice about the president. "He's not the dumbest person at the top level of the government," he declared. "The Secretary of Defense is the dumbest person at the top level of the government." He then presented an argument against the war in Iraq that I haven't heard before.
Think about that. With all of the opinions, rants, protests, etc. opposing various American activities in Iraq (and the surrounding areas), they all boil down to different presentations of the same basic facts. The Vonnegut points out a couple of other (obvious) facts and it's a whole new perspective. He didn't say, "This is wrong," or "This is warmongering," or "This is evil US aggression." His point was simply, "This is dumb."
He had his own lesson in democracy for the people of Iraq, based on the American model, because America perfected democracy.
1. After the first hundred years, you should free your slaves.
2. After about a hundred and fifty years, let your women vote.
3. During the early stages of your democracy a certain amount of genocide and ethnic cleansing is perfectly acceptable.
Another obvious note in the "Let's bring 'em democracy" boondoggle, based on known facts but not really identified before. Move three steps to the side and take another look.
The show was ending as Vonnegut pulled a folded and crumpled piece of paper from his pocket. It was his list of "Liberal crap I've heard enough of." Because they were out of time, Jon Stewart promised to post the list on the Daily Show website. Maybe I'm just too impatient, but it's not there yet.
I'll be checking every few minutes, just to find out what other obvious aspects of life have been eluding me.
Wow, the sky actually is blue.


"My lawyer smokes crack." - - "My lawyer's on crystal meth."

With all the tales of rape and murder and snipers and so on following the near-instantaneous collapse of society during the bureaucratic cock-up that was the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, it's expected that there will eventually be criminal charges filed against someone, or several someones.
The first ones hit the news today. The Louisiana State Prosecutor has filed murder charges against the owners of a nursing home in Katrina's path. Thirty-four patients/residents drowned when the hurricane hit Louisiana. At the press conference, the prosecutor stressed that distinction. "They drowned. Drowned. Did you get that? Is that clear enough for you? Drowned. They didn't die of natural causes. They drowned."
The owners of the nursing home are a cute couple. Their mug shots were on the news. The husband looks like some mutant hybrid of Danny Aiello and Nick Nolte. The wife looks like a combination of Doris Roberts and, well, Nick Nolte. They evacuated, but left all of their bed-ridden patients behind.
Their lawyer explains that they are completely innocent. That's what lawyers do, talking out of their asses like that. He says that they did not personally receive any mandatory evacuation notices. Therefore, apparently, when they themselves fled like rats ahead of the hurricane, they had no legal obligation to bring along the elderly and invalid people whom they were being paid a lot of money to care for.
Here's a fund-raising idea for hurricane relief. At a dollar per person I'm sure we could make billions of dollars, selling tickets to line up and kick this guy right in the nuts.
"Wait," I hear you cry. "It's not his fault he's insane. Mental illness is a tragic disease and needs to be treated with compassion."
True enough, but he's not just insane. He's an insane lawyer. Therefore we all need to line up and kick this guy right in the nuts.
And his clients, too. Because they are morally repulsive.


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Photo Caption Challenge V4.0

It's that time again.

Look at the picture, think of something funny, post it as a comment.

Monday, September 05, 2005

If half a tree falls on a fence, does it still make a hell of a mess?

About a month ago, a tree in my parent's backyard, finally gave in to gravity. It had, apparently, been rotting a bit inside and a particularly heavy rainfall was the catalyst for splitting the trunk down the middle, simply under its own weight.

The tree itself was more than forty years old and had provided an admirable amount of shade over the years. In its collapse it took out a good portion of a chain link fence that had almost as many years to its credit. Family and friends descended on the house to help with reducing the huge chunk of lumber into manageable pieces. On my side of the family, I'll admit that my wife and son did most of the hauling while I played with the chainsaw.

Once the fallen part of the tree was dealt with, there remained the half that was still standing. With only half a trunk, it was no longer a viable tree. It had to come down.

Enter Dave Jones. For those of you out there who know Dave Jones, this isn't him. This is a completely different Dave Jones who has been removing damaged trees from residential yards for about twenty years.

Completely ignoring gravity, he flew to the top of the half-tree and began removing branches. It was a sight to see, as he apparently levitated around the tree, a chainsaw artist, seeking the perfect toothpick that he knows must be lurking within the huge piece of wood.

Climbing vertical surfaces like a lemur with steel-toed boots, he was the envy of all the neighbourhood squirrels.

Despite his determination to ignore gravity, he made remarkable use of several other laws of physics. Tying a rope to a branch, he then looped that rope around a lower part of the tree before anchoring it to the ground. When he cut off the branch, it swung down on the rope, within inches of the roof of the house, before coming to rest within reach of his assistants on the ground.

He created many heart-stoppingly close non-impacts with swinging branches and the roof, simply based on his visual assessment of where to tie the rope. Never hit the house, but my parents held their breath on more than one occasion.

Friday, September 02, 2005

One for the road runners...

As some of you may have guessed, being a brilliant writer of much-beloved comedies pays something on the low end of squat. It is for that reason that I have a somewhat day-like job as an Operations Director for a reasonably major player in the security industry. Gotta pay the bills. Among other things, I dispatch alarms and move a fleet of cars around the Greater Toronto Area, like a squad of puppets at my command, ready to do my bidding without question. Bwwaaahhahahahaha!!! Excuse me. Sorry about that.
Some of the readers of this blog are also in related businesses. This one is for them...
(Parts of this list were blatantly stolen from other lists; some were not.)


You have the bladder capacity of five people.

You find youself using radio 10-codes in conversation with your friends and family.

You believe that 50% of people are a waste of good air.

When you go out for dinner with your family, you drive completey around the outside of the restaurant before parking your car.

You find humour in other people's stupidity.

You haven't used the express lanes of the highway in years because you never know when you'll have to change where you're going.

You believe in the aerial spraying of Prozac and birth control pills.

A cop has ever pulled you over just to say "Hi."

You disbelieve 90% of what you hear and 75% of what you see.

You have your weekends off planned for a year.

You know the location of every 24-hour coffee shop in the city, as well as which ones have the best washroom facilities.

You believe the government should require a permit to reproduce.

You refer to your favourite restaurant by the intersection at which it is located.

You have ever had to put the phone on hold before you begin laughing uncontrollably.

You think caffeine should come in IV form.

You find out a lot about paranoia just by following people around.

Whenever you enter a building, the first thing you look for is the alarm panel.

People flag you down on the street and ask you directions to strange places.

Cleaners are the bane of your existence.

You do not see daylight from November until May.

You've ever referred to Tuesday as "My weekend."

You believe that unspeakable evils will befall you if anyone says, "Boy, it sure is quiet tonight."

adopt your own virtual pet!