Saturday, June 25, 2005

Thank You for Being a Friend

I work in radio...which can, once in a while, be fun. But not big-super-goofy-fun. For that kind of fun, you have to have somebody to share your madness--in college it was Absurd Man Dave Hurd, who worked with me on skits, bits, Christmas specials and other radio frivolities. These days, I get my big-super-goofy-fun with my Nebraska friend David Kuskie writing, producing and starring in "The Golden Girls Radio Hour."

This Internet radio series presents the familiar characters of Rose, Sophia, Dorothy and Blanche in all-new adventures. For example, in the latest episode, the girls go on a reality show called "Phobia Quotient" to earn some extra cash.

To fully enjoy our radio show you have to know two things. First, we decided that if Sophia was already 80 when the TV show premiered, she's not going to be the quick-minded, tart-tounged jokester now that she was then. Second, we decided to give Sophia a cheezy catchphrase--a "Sit on it" or "Dy-no-miiiite!" for a 100-year-old woman. So she says "I'm tired" all the time.

Dave and I do all of the voices. I do the production. It's homemade with love. The episode currently on the site runs 15 minutes. There's also a montage of commercial spoofs that aired in past episodes. Have a listen and let me know what you think.

NOTE: Although the idea of Golden Girls Radio is absurd, and the shows are produced by men, the website and show I am shamelessly promoting here is not related to or operated by "Absurd Men Speak" in any way, shape or form.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Some one here is an ass pony


The Perfect Solution

A lot has been said about how our military is under-supplied in Iraq. Many soldiers have gone into battle without proper equipment. As a result they suffer casualties needlessly. Congress has voted to spend the proper amounts of money to get our boys and girls the things they need, but it feels a lot like too little too late.

There was, of course, a better and faster way to get them this equipment. It is a solution that could have had everyone protected on the first day of the war. We should have sent New York City Street vendors in before we rolled into Baghdad.

Any one who has visited New York City on a nice day will have noticed the hundreds of Street vendors who sell sunglasses on the sidewalks. If that nice day suddenly turns to rain, the sunglasses quickly disappear and umbrellas come out for sale in their place. The speed of this switch has been studied by physicists around the world in the hopes that a grand unifying theory might be found, or at the very least a discovery of wormholes in Manhattan.

It is commonly believed that these individuals, "Urban Supply Experts" (USE's), are able to find necessary items and have the ability to distribute them cheaply and quickly. A small group of people will point out that the quality of their product is in question. Rest assured, the Rolex Flak Jacket is 100% Rolex Flak Jacket guts. Guaranteed. Besides even if the quality isn't top of the line, it'd be better quality than what Congress sent them in with.

A second concern may be brought up by nay sayers. What about USE's safety? This shouldn't bother any one at all. The insurgents have more to fear of the USE's than vice versa. Besides USE's are quite adept at counter espionage. At the first sign of trouble USE's rapidly disperse and disappear, camouflaged by their surroundings. They truly are the chameleons of the commerce world. USE's are also highly trained in negotiation. Those captured should be able to extricate themselves from their predicament by offering "before you can see it DVD's and bootleg CD's."

If this program is implemented perhaps it could be expanded in the future. It include early release of American prisoners who have a "knack for getting things." Who wouldn't like to see Morgan Freeman's character "Red" from Shawshank Redemption freed so he could help save lives in today's wars?

My friends, the situation is dire. The solution is in our hands. We just need courageous Representatives willing to use all of America's assets to save lives. Write to them today! Please do not mention The Absurd Men.

Friday, June 17, 2005

We Know You Have Many Choices When Selecting a Blog...

This past December 23rd, I was scheduled to depart out of Denver International Airport around 10am...arriving in Syracuse, NY not too much later that day. This would get me there in plenty of time to join with my family in our traditional Christmas Eve celebration. Candlelight service at church, my one chance each year to see Grandma and all of the relatives, etc, etc. Your basic whitebread yuletide clambake.

However, the morning of the 23rd, the hillbilly airline that takes me from my small midwestern town to Denver got me there over an hour late. (Their official explanation for the delay: "Uncle Joe, he's-a movin' kinda slow.") I missed the flight out of Denver and American Airlines decided to put me on stand-by, with the cheery addendum: "We're overbooked on every flight till Monday!" (Monday being in this case the day AFTER Christmas.) I ended up staying at a Comfort Inn in Denver the night of the 23rd (on my own 53 dollars) and flying out of Denver at 11pm Christmas Eve night, missing the family gathering and church service for the first time in 32 years.

I have done my best to keep the "whimping and whining" portion of all this to a minimum. I don't think anybody particularly likes airline horror stories, and those who do should get counseling. But to understand where I'm going you have to understand what drove me to thinking this way.

You see, I've come to the realization that everything you experience ON THE PLANE is getting nicer and nicer, while every other part of the air travel process makes you feel like a Russian in line for the weekly distribution of rutabegas. Airlines have been serving drinks and showing movies for a long time, but now more than ever the selection is better on both counts. At least 2 airlines I can think of offer in-flight Directv. Others offer 8 or 10 channels of video entertainment from big-time TV networks. On my last flight I noticed that the coach seats were bigger and comfier. Many airlines no longer serve meals, but airline food that was an improvement. All in all, the actual air travel process--getting from point A to point B--is generally good. Yet recent improvements have come on the heels of takeovers, bankruptcy announcements and other shakeups.

There needs to be some more consistency here. One way to achieve that would be to make the entire process as customer-oriented as the actual flight. My advice to United, American, etc:
  • Come up with a price list and stick with it. Make a roundtrip flight from Denver to L.A. $250--anytime, any seat, any travel agent or website. Kick William Shatner's haggling ass to the curb.
  • Don't overbook. Just don't do it.
  • Those little TV's in the waiting area that are hard-tuned to CNN? Yeah...nice try. People who want news can buy a paper. Use those TV's to show "Spongebob", "Blue's Clues"--something that will settle down all of the sugared-up brats who can't seem to stop running around me and my baggage in a circle for no reason.
  • Put the in-flight audio system on the chairs in the waiting area. (This is so we don't have to listen to a roomful of children tell Blue that her bone is buried in the hall closet.)

These steps would serve as a message to the American air traveler: "We want to do things right. We want to treat you fairly and decently." Sadly, the airlines won't take my advice. They'll keep making the in-flight service nicer and nicer as the ticket-buying and pre-boarding process gets worse and worse--until one grim future day when the other shoe drops.

The year is 2037. With each and every United States commercial airline in Chapter 11, the government steps in and revamps the in-flight service program across the board:

  • The in-flight video entertainment will consist of an episode of "F-Troop," displayed on the cabin wall via a Bell and Howell 16mm movie projector. The same episode will run on all flights. It will be the one where the Indians dress up like hippies and sing "Mr. Tambourine Man."
  • In-flight audio entertainment will consist of the flight attendant asking, "Did anybody bring a CD?"
  • Beverage service will consist of Diet Mr. Pibb, served in a child-size Dixie cup. No refills.
  • Alcoholic beverage service will consist of an 8 oz. can of Utica Club beer.
  • Snack will be a handful of "Soup and Oyster Crackers," shoveled into your hand out of a large barrel.

And as you're watching Ken Berry sneeze--while simultaneously choking down the diet Pibb and trying to get the cracker dust off your Tom Clancy book--take consolation in this:

At least you're not taking the bus.

The Stella Awards

Proving once again that the truth is far more interesting, scary, and absurd than fiction...I share with you now the winners of the annual Stella Awards. The Stella's are named after Stella Lieveck who spilled hot coffee on herself and successfully sued McDonald's. That case inspired the "Stella Awards" for the most frivolous, successful lawsuits in States.

This year's awards go to:

5th Place (tie) - Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas was awarded $780,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store. The owners of the store were understandably surprised at the verdict, considering the misbehaving toddler was Ms. Robertson's son.

5th Place (tie) - 19 year old Carl Truman of Los Angeles won $74,000 and medical expenses his neighbor ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Mr. Truman apparently did not notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he tried to steal the hubcaps.

5th Place (tie) - Terrence Dickson of Briston, Pennsylvania was leaving a house he had just robbed by way of the garage. He was not able to get the garage door to go up since the automatic door opener was malfunctioning. He couldnot re-enter the house because the door connecting the garage to the house locked when he pulled it shut. The family was on vacation and Mr. Dickson found himself locked in the garage for 8 days. He subsisted on a case of Pepsi he found and a large bag of dog food. He sued the homeowner's insurance company claiming the situation caused him undue mental anquish. The jury agreed to the tune of $500,000.

4th Place - Jerry Williams of Little Rock, Arkansas was awarded $14,500 and medical expenses after being bitten on the buttocks by his neighbor's Beagle. The dog was on a chain in it's owner's fenced yard. The award was less than the plaintiff originally sought because the jury felt the dog might have been provoked at the time, since Mr. Williams, who had climbed over the fence into the yard, was shooting it repeatedly with a pellet gun.

3rd Place - A Philadelphia restaurant was ordered to pay Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania $113,500 after she slipped on a soft drink and broke her hercoccyx (tailbone). The beverage was on the floor because Ms. Carson had thrown it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier, during an argument.

2nd Place - Kara Walton of Claymont, Delaware sued the owner of a night club in a neighboring city when she fell from the bathroom window to the floor and knocked out two of her front teeth. This occurred while Ms. Walton wastrying to sneak in the window of the Ladies Room to avoid paying the$3.50 cover charge. She was awarded $12,000 and dental expenses.

1st Place - This year's runaway winner was Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Mr. Grazinski purchased a brand new Winnebago motor home. On the trip home from a OU football game, having driven onto the freeway, he set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver's seat to go to the back and make himself a cup of coffee. Not surprisingly, the RV left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Mr. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not advising him in the owner's manual that he could not actually do this. The jury awarded him $1,750,000 plus a new Winnebago motor home. The company has since changed their manuals on the basis of this suit just in case there were any other complete morons buying their recreational vehicles.

Can something be done to stop this or are we in such a downward spiral that there is no end in sight? Here in Derry they speak of a "claim culture". It's rampant and there are equally absurd stories to relate. When I speak to locals about they say "...but sure, we learned it from you!" An example of a negative American export I guess. Balanced, though, by Disney and Coca-Cola.

The "sue yr. ass culture" leads us down a slippery slope of fear and loathing until one day we may very well find ourselves doing nothing. JUst think of all the things that could happen if you stepped outside?: accidents, reprisals, claims and counter-claims. Perhaps that will be our solution: don't do anything. Don't go outside, don't eat at restuarants (or anything from a store for that matter), and for godsakes do not engage with other people without a reliable and independent third party (it's your word against theirs remember).

I have to get going. It's been raining here for close to four days now and I'm thinking about suing Mother Nature via the Dept. of the Environment. Three days is far too long, given all of our modern technology. I mean Russia uses chemicals despersed by jets to clear the air of clouds before important ceremonies. Why can't our gov't provide the same? We have more money than the Ruskies? This is absolute shite. I can't believe that in this day and age our gov'ts will allow it to rain, snow, storm, whatever, for any length of time. I mean, for Chrissakes, I'm getting married in a couple weeks! Something needs to be done. Someone must be held accountable for all this weather!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Greetings From Huskerland U.S.A.

My old college chum Dave Hurd has kindly invited me to join the ranks of Absurd Men. This must be how Ringo felt when the boys welcomed him into their little band. In future posts I hope to :

  • Answer the question, "Why does the American air travel system hate me?"
  • Introduce you to a strange, fantastic land where people talk about the weather a lot
  • Rant and/or rave

But right now I have to get back to work. More to come.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Making the Grade

So Newsweek came out with their top 1000 US High Schools list. By itself that's a great idea; find the best schools in the country, make a list and let the public see where those schools are. The downside of course is that the criteria for Best School seemed a little limited.

"Public schools are ranked according to a ratio devised by Jay Mathews: the number of Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate tests taken by all students at a school in 2004 divided by the number of graduating seniors."

I went to a Private School so my alma Mater was excluded out right. It would never make that list anyway. It only offered 4 advanced placement classes and not many students took them (we had 6 students in the Clalc 1 course).

We need a comprehensive list of great schools, public and private. I'd like to rank the best 1000 High Schools in the country too. My list will also use a seemingly ambiguous and arbitrary criteria. Simply put it will rank the schools according to how much fun it is. Fun will be determined by the ratio: number of students involved in suicide divided by the number of Water Slide rides taken by the school's student population.

So I encourage my old stomping ground, Seton Catholic Central, to bulk up on amusement park rides, cotton candy machines and games. The school has recently moved to a new building. It would be nice to see it spend some money to make the education experience more fun.

Perhaps they could outfit all the classrooms with strippers to help students answer questions correctly. The cafeteria could be outfitted with McDonald's and their wonderful playground. Gym class could be replaced with a pie eating contest. You get the idea.

Most of these things would end up paying for themselves. Everyone in the community could be invited to the school to enjoy the great new innovations in fun that Seton would be at the forefront of. This would be a tremendous benefit to the community. As we all know townies flock to carnivals. They would end up subsidizing the students, and who knows they may even pick up a little "book learnin" too.

If Seton is creative enough it could find itself close to the top of my Top 1000 schools list, maybe even #1.

Pray for us.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

A Lovely Fantasy

I dream of one day finding and giving a wedgie to the guy who used to bully Bill O'Reilly. No one becomes as big a dick as O'Reilly without outside help. Whoever it was released this giant ass on us and deserves, at the very least, a keel hauling.

In the interest of fairness, someone please, find my bullies and give them wet willies.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

A Few Words on Deep Throat

This story has calmed down a little bit after a week, which is fine by me. A majority of the stories that have come out about the Watergate informant have been focused on whether the guy was a hero or not. Everything I have read about it has overlooked what I consider the most important issue. For decades the words Deep Throat have appeared in high school text books, causing giddy laughter from countless students across this great nation.

Let us remember the real importance of the Great American Mystery. Deep Throat provided precious escape from boring history lessons, escape that will most likely wane and disappear as new textbooks are printed and given to our children. Will they be able to forgive us?