January 31, 2007


What an Alka Seltzer tablet does to a water bubble in the microgravity of space.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut. It's best I didn't. I'd be so damn preoccupied with this kind of stuff.

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January 29, 2007



Sarah Silverman confesses, in song: "I Pooped."

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January 28, 2007



Did the Gasparilla parade yesterday with Salad Boy, riding on the company float. Had a large time. It was a three-cigar afternoon.

The parade had it's usual moments of loonacy. There were the requisite signs begging for beads. Parents exploited their children for booty. And women... well...


The women exploited their own cleavage.

Best sign of the day: "I POOPED TODAY."

I had no idea what that meant. And it may have been too good of an eye-catcher; I was laughing too hard to throw him beads. (An update: Apparently it's somewhat of a catchprase.)

Afterward, Salad Boy he looked at me and said, "I wish we could do this every day."

Click on the gallery of photos and you'll quickly understand why.

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January 25, 2007


Pegged to last night's edition of "American Idol":


Carole Bayer Sager and an impersonator


Nick and Whitey.

Ace and Ted.

Julian and Owen.

Kim and Mike.

Katie and Fish.

Adam and Bob.

Bill and Gopher.

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This version of the "Cheers" theme, found at By Ken Levine, reminds me of the hilarious impressions Phil Hartman used to do of Jack Benny and John Wayne - all in German.

It also reminds me of the story Eric Idle told during the Aspen Comedy Festival a few years back during a Monty Python tribute about the time the group was hired to do a show in German for a broadcast network there even though none of them spoke the language. They figured they needed to do some research, so they made arrangements to visit the country.


"So we went to Germany on a writing recce. Who's heard of a writing recce? They picked us up at the airport and drove us straight to Dachau. All the way there, they kept denying they knew what it was. 'What camp? There is no camp here.' And we got there and it was closing and Graham [Chapman] said, 'Tell them we're Jewish." And they let us in."

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Story of the day, so far:


Chavez Says Castro 'Almost Jogging'

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Wednesday that his ailing friend Fidel Castro is recovering and has been up and walking - in fact "almost jogging" - in recent days.

"Almost jogging." What a great euphemism for "rapidly approaching room-temperature."

Perhaps the track suit qualifies him as an almost-jogger. Then again, I own a set of knives, but that doesn't make me Mario Batali.

How cruel that after decades of glorious revolutionary rule, the iron-fisted Castro's last days will be spent looking like he borrowed Vanilla Ice's wardrobe.

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My buddy Drew sent a couple e-mails yesterday from Iraq. It's always great to hear from him. I know he checks in on the Salad when he can, but he's a busy man. Every letter means a great deal.

When he was based at CENTCOM here in Tampa, Drew and I grew together in our appreciation of fine cigars and good coffee.

Hence the note below:


Senior leadership attributes are typically displayed by subordinates in various ways. This might explain why so many of my Soldiers are smoking cigars these days. I thought this photo was another good representation of how my unit maintains the incredible operational tempo that we keep and can be directly tied to another one of my vices.


This supply of Starbucks will last about a week or so. The great news is the fact that Bob Williams of Wesley Chapel has coordinated with multiple sponsors to provide us with this incredible support.

About the only thing I can say about all this great coffee is…

Gig gig ga Giddy Up!


He also sent me this note:

Subject: Zen mixed with a little Chuck Norris


Thought you could find a bit of irony in this photo that once again shows a beautiful sunset here in the Kirkuk Province mixed with the comfort I get while traveling down these “interesting” roads. Comfort as defined by me means “Combat Power.”


Beauty is definitely in the eyes of the beholder!

Take Care;


For the obvious reasons, these e-mails are have an otherworldly feel to them. I know there's a war. I know Drew's in the middle of the soup. But his being able to give me an inside glimpse of daily life there is surreal.


Get your motor runnin'.

"Wolfhounds don't do anything small."

Thanksgiving in Iraq.

"What sacrifice for the sake of freedom feels like."

"I am amazed by them every single day."

It's who you know.

Month two of deployment.

I'd walk a mile.

Boots on the ground.

Once more into the breech.

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January 24, 2007


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January 23, 2007




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Went shoe shopping for Salad Boy over the weekend.

While he was trying on Escalades, I drifted over the Aisle of Misfit Shoes.


This is Herbie. He wants to be a den-tist.

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An artist named Kipling West in Alberta, Canada is doing weekly drawings based on nonsensical headers on the top of spam e-mail she gets.


The above drawing is titled "Monarch Sauteed."

She writes on her blog:

I am inspired by spam; taking something that is intrusive, annoying & stinky, and seeing beauty (or at least a bit of entertaining weirdness) in it. Spam, like another common commodity, is plentiful, everyone deals with it daily, and it can be a rich fertilizer if cultivated appropriately.

Reminds me of the time Rich at work converted all of his into iambic pentameter.

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January 22, 2007


A friend at work sent me this e-mail:

So, I just sauntered down to the American Correctional Association trade show at the convention center.

It was a marketplace of companies who supply all the stuff for building and running prisons: food, healthcare, shoes, Korans, barbed wire, etc.

(I also spotted former New York Police Chief Bernard Kerik. Which made me think -- "So, when a nanny issue blows your shot at becoming Secretary, Department of Homeland Security, you end up at minor trade shows in Tampa.")

Anyway, often these trade shows have companies with opaque slogans like "Integrated Solutions Provider."

Others, like the attached photo, show how to get right to the point.


Looks comfy. I know a few people who could use a set of those Garanimals.

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Hilarious, but harsh.

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Says it all, I think.

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January 21, 2007


I got one of these as a present when I was a kid. I think I played it twice. The second time, I bit the side of the thing and turned it on and just about rattled my molars out of my head.

Another time, my friend Keith and I lost most of the little foam footballs as we tried to see how many we could stuff in our nostrils.

Nice to know things haven't changed.

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January 19, 2007


Because I have driving troubles enough without having to deal with snow and ice.

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January 18, 2007


I keep telling Salad Boy that this is why you go to college.

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January 17, 2007


Press release of the day:


Internet Sensation To Chat Live with Fans Friday, January 19 at 1:35 AM

NEW YORK – January 16, 2007 – "Late Night's" surprise internet sensation; The Horny Manatee will chat live with fans online after "Late Night's" Thursday broadcast at 1:35 AM (ET).

Fans wishing to chat live with the sexy sea cow, can log onto www.hornymanatee.com Thursday night.

The website, which launched in December, after an ad-lib by O'Brien prompted the show to need to buy the domain name has since seen over 20 million hits and has been featured all over the web as well as in The New York Times.

In addition to the "erotic manatee webpages," thousands of fans have submitted their own fan art, poems and songs – some of which have been shown or performed on the show – and in the case of poetry, have been read by the venerable Dean of the Actors' Studio James Lipton. In addition, over 600 Horny Manatee t-shirts have been sold, $5 of each will go to The Save The Manatee Club.

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I'll admit it; I'm trapped in the "American Idol" vortex for a second consecutive season, partly because the Salad clan enjoys it so much, and also because I'm a great appreciator of Car Crash TV.

I will say that last night's premiere was not only supremely cringeworthy, it was particularly cruel to the point of being nearly unwatchable.

Make fun of no-talents all you want. But don't linger on their pain. That's bad form.

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January 16, 2007


As someone who went to Disney World 14 times before I was 13 - including once for one hour - this film about Tomorrowland brought back a few memories.

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January 15, 2007



The Salad Clan made a jaunt north to Gainesville on Saturday to attend the 2006 National Championship Celebration at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

We weren't sure what the traffic would hold. (It was fine.) Or if we'd get a seat. (We did.) Or if we'd be able to see anything. (Stop with the parens, fer crissakes).

Anyway, it was an amazing experience to be in that stadium with 70,000 brethren and only victory on your mind.

I think the hook was set firmly in the boy's cheek about attending UF. At least, it better have been. If he decides to go out of state, all the prepaid tuition will be for naught.

There were a few people from work who went, including my colleague Mike, who e-mailed me today:

Seen on an SUV on I-75 about 10 miles south of Ocala:

Honk if you sacked Troy Smith

He also e-mailed me this Gator-themed motivational poster:


Anyway, you can check out the Flickr gallery of photos I took during our trip by clicking here.

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Pulled through McDonald's in Wildwood on Saturday during a drive north to Gainesville. Saw this weird truck parked outside.


What the hell does that say?


Oddly, that's what I thought it said.

Wait. There's fine print.


So, if they get the live ones, who gets the dead ones?

Know how you can tell these are American turtles?


They wear their hats backward.


Bubba's sidekick.

Goin' mobil.

G'day, mate.

Porn as a windowshade.

Jonathan Livingston Redneck.

Buc off, pal.

Such a dirty mess.

How cheep can you be?

I'm super! Thanks for asking.

Would you like an apple pie with that?

Hearse so good.

Drive fast, take chances.

Riding with Fab the deejay.

Beware of the Death Explorer.

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right.

My other car is a rocket-propelled grenade.

Live long and prosper. In an Altima.

Just two good ol' boys.

Asshats aplenty.

Nicotine is my crash helmet.

Jazz hands moms.

Ugly lug nuts.

Pretty ballsy.

My honor student can kick your ass.

Garfield mudflaps.

Horse and buddy.

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January 14, 2007


Our fascination with sombreros has taken a bit of a siesta of late. But our obsession shall never abate. Never forget, the Salad is the home of The Sombrero Project (and its subsequent parts (Dos, Tres and Quatro and Cinco and Part Seis).

Which is why this Sombrero story we saw in the Arizona Republic about South of the Border, a 350-acre Mexican-themed roadside attraction in South Carolina including a gigantic revolving sombrero, got our attention:


Some people even have their weddings there. As a notary public, or "Pedro of the peace," Pelt figures she has tied the knot for about 500 couples.

She says one couple wanted to get married inside the towering sombrero with a Doberman pinscher as an attendant.

"The bride said it was her baby," Pelt said, "and it wore a pink bow on its neck."

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The first of what I can predict will be many superfluous products associated with the Gators' championship:


University of Florida Commemorative Popcorn Tin

This 3 Gallon University of Florida Commemorative 3-Way Popcorn Tin* is the perfect way to celebrate the Gators victory in the NCAA Championship Game. Filled with a 3-way selection of premium popcorn and presented in an officially licensed commemorative tin, this is also the perfect gift for your favorite Gators fan! Proclaiming their status as 2006 National Champions on one side and the team symbol on the other, every Gator fan will want one! Order a tin for a keepsake or as a gift for the Gators fans you know. Filled with the very best of our premium popcorn, this will surely score big!

*Officially Licensed Product of WinCraft, Inc.


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W.W.J.E.? (What would Jesus e-mail?)

Apparently, this.

From: Jesus [mailto:atm9238tmnq@sjfc.edu]
Sent: Saturday, January 13, 2007 3:22 PM
Subject: Toanned CUTEGIRLFS Bhlond Sklim Gfirl Sjhowering

I always suspected Jesus would e-mail from a college campus.


Ncie Bcoobs

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January 13, 2007


The first three "Star Wars" re-cut as a silent movie.

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January 12, 2007



In a further test of my audioblogging skills, here's an interview I did this week with Robert Irvine, star of the new TV show "Dinner Impossible."

The new half-hour primetime series, which tests the skills of one the world’s most experienced and respected chefs with a new culinary feat each week, kicks-off with a two-episode, back-to-back premiere on January 24 at 10 p.m. The series will eventually settle into a permanent timeslot at 10:30 p.m. Wednesdays.

A little background about Irvine from his Wikipedia entry:

A native of England, Chef Robert Irvine began his adventures in cooking upon enlisting in the British Royal Navy at the age of fifteen, where his talent in the kitchen was soon discovered by his superiors.

His culinary skills came to the attention of Prince Charles while he was stationed at the Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, where the Prince was undergoing certification training to fly the Wessex Mark III helicopter, and Robert soon found himself transferred to service as a Leading Cook aboard Her Majesty's Royal Yacht Britannia. He continued his service in the palaces of the Royal Family of England for the next ten years. He has cooked for presidents and prime ministers, for the royalty and celebrities of many nations, accompanied Her Majesty the Queen to locations around the world, and often traveled in the private entourage of Charles and Diana, Prince and Princess of Wales.

Upon completion of his 10-year tour of duty, his travels led him to perform consultant work in Bali, Jakarta and Ho Chi Minh City, before embarking on his next challenge as Executive Chef aboard numerous cruise ships, culminating with the world renowned, five-star MS Crystal Harmony.

Chef Irvine has cooked for several U.S. Presidents, including for state and inaugural dinners, both in and out of the White House, where he has consulted and cooked on an ongoing basis.

Robert Irvine has been Executive Chef for Donald Trump’s Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort and for Caesars Atlantic City in Atlantic City. He was Head Chef of a team of superstar chefs, including Ming Tsai, Todd English and Roberto Donna, at the 2005 Academy Awards dinner for the Children Uniting Nations charity event, hosted by Paula Abdul and Wyclef Jean.

Interestingly, Irvine told me he's planning in August to open his first restaurant, Ooze and Schmooze, on Beach Drive in St. Petersburg across the street from the Renaissance Vinoy Resort.

Here's the phone interview I did.

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I just thought I'd test out this audioblog software I found.

I officially hate the name.

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Anna saw the posting about Brenda Dickson.

She was so taken with the '80s soap opera diva's videos that she Photoshopped an homage.

She writes:


Well, Hello!

How freaking much time is on my hands, I ask myself.

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Got a letter from Willie Drye, author of Storm of the Century: The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 and commentator on the History Channel's "Nature's Fury: Storm of the Century" episode of the series "Violent Earth."

Apparently he took time off from manning the Side Salad North Carolina Doppler 12,000,000 Weather Center to visit the Empire State recently.

As a baseball fan, Willie was chagrined to see how the rich baseball history of Brooklyn has been besmirched.

Hey guys:

I'm wondering if Brooklyn is finally forgetting the Dodgers. A couple of things during the annual post-Christmas trek to New Jersey/New York gave me that impression.

But first, some background.

The Dodgers -- who got their name because Brooklyn residents often had to dodge passing trolley cars -- played in Ebbets Field from 1913 through 1957, then headed west for the 1958 season. With the possible exception of the Baltimore Colts' midnight sneakaway to Indianapolis, I don't think any pro sports franchise shift has been as lamented as the Dodgers' departure for sunny southern Cal.

It was a stunning move that nearly ripped the heart out of New York baseball. Walter O'Malley, who owned the Dodgers at the time, was insisting that he needed a new stadium to keep the team in Brooklyn, even though the Dodgers reportedly were one of the most profitable teams in Major League baseball. But O'Malley got into a struggle of wills with New York city planner Robert Moses, whose stubbornness is legendary. Moses wanted O'Malley to build his new ballpark in Flushing Meadow in Queens.

O'Malley also smelled a gold mine in L.A.and wanted to tap it.

O'Malley knew the Dodgers' intense National League rivalry with the crosstown New York Giants was a major part of the team's appeal, and moving the Dodgers to the West Coast would greatly dilute or maybe even extinguish that venerable and valuable rivalry.

Some say O'Malley persuaded Giants owner Horace Stoneham to abandon the Polo Grounds and move his team to San Francisco. And so in one breathtaking stroke, one of sports' greatest rivalries was uprooted and New York no longer had a team in the National League. From 1958 through 1961, the American League Yankees had the city to themselves. In 1962, the New York Mets joined the National League, and in 1964 the Mets' Shea Stadium opened in Flushing, where Moses wanted the Dodgers to build a new ballpark.

HildaChesterBrooklynDodgersBaseballFanHildaIsHereSign.JPGThe Brooklyn Dodgers had some of the most colorful and quirky fans in the game's history. There was Hilda Chester, always somewhere in Ebbets Field with her clanging cowbell. There was the Dodger Sym-Phony Band, a group of local wiseguys with kazoos and a bass drum who serenaded the fans and razzed the opposition.

And there were kids like Maurice Savion, a teenager who sneaked into Ebbets Field without buying a ticket for a Dodgers game in 1947. A cop spotted Savion and took off after him, but the kid was too quick. The relentless cop chased Savion off and on throughout the afternoon, but the kid was always a few steps ahead. He watched the entire game on the run and dashed away after the last out.

So that's what the Dodgers left behind when they pulled out of Brooklyn. Ebbets Field was torn down to make way for a massive public housing complex in 1962. If there's anything baseball fans love more than the game, it's nostalgia, and after its demolition, Ebbets Field became a symbol for a bygone era, a sort of ultimate Quaint Ballpark in the Sky.

Fast forward to December 2006. I'm spending New Year's weekend with my in-laws in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. We're visiting my niece, Alice Gougan, who lives in an apartment overlooking Brooklyn's Atlantic Avenue. I feel compelled to make a pilgrimmage to the site of Ebbets Field. So my brother-in-law, Bob Morrow, and his 12-year-old son, John, and I head for Bedford Avenue.


We spot the housing complex -- a sprawling, monolithic, 20-story thing with not a smidgen of character. On a brick wall in front, in big letters, it says "Ebbets Field." It might as well say "Robert Moses Was Here," because he was notorious for creating these kinds of massive, soulless edifices. It was so big I could get only one wing of it into the viewfinder of my digital camera.

Somebody spots a corner of a small slab of concrete, nearly obscurred by a bush. We find a parking spot, pile out of the car, peek behind the bush, and find New York's tribute to Ebbets Field -- a concrete slab, resembling a tombstone embedded in a brick wall, engraved with a baseball and "1962 This is the former site of Ebbets Field."


That's it. My nephew, John, is much more photogenic than I am, so I snap a picture of him in front of the tombstone-like marker.

While I'm shooting the photo, a woman comes out of the apartment complex and pauses for a moment. This isn't the first time she's seen people taking pictures of kids in front of the Ebbets Field marker. "Is this for the Internet?" she asks.

As near as we could tell -- but we weren't certain -- the marker stands about where the ballpark's right field wall was. That's where the ads for Burma Shave and Gem razor blades were.

Meanwhile, my wife Jane is visiting the Brooklyn museum of history with her mother, sister-in-law Ann Marie, and nieces Emily and Caroline. They know we're chasing the ghost of Ebbets Field, so they're looking for Dodger stuff in the museum. They don't see anything, so they ask a worker.

Turns out there's nothing about the Dodgers on display. Jane said a museum worker told them that the Dodger exhibits "aren't up."

In 1998, when the O'Malley family put the Dodgers up for sale, there was talk of the city buying the team and moving it back to Brooklyn. But the story goes that the family accepted a lower offer from Rupert Murdoch rather than allow the team to go back east. Walter, O'Malley, despised by millions of baseball fans after he moved the Dodgers, apparently needed to believe that he was chased out of Brooklyn and was therefore the offended party.

But now, maybe the cosmic balance has shifted as the team starts its 49th year in La-La Land. Now they've been in L.A. longer than they were in Brooklyn. A tombstone plaque nearly hidden by bushes and nothing about the Dodgers in the Brooklyn history musuem make me think that the long-ago heroes of Flatbush are fading into history in New York.



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The afterglow that came with the University of Florida's win in the national championship game on Monday night has yet to subside.

Least of which for my Uncle Pete, (yes, the one who was in the paper posing with a potato he grew that was shaped like a moose.) He's a massive fan of the Gators. Even has great affection for Steve Spurrier.

Uncle Pete, who breeds hibiscus hybrids, went so far as to create one in honor of UF.

He writes:

"Here it is - GATOR PRIDE.

Beautiful. I will try to get a cutting started for you.

[As for the game, there are] Two sides to every story. I'm glad we are on the right side this time. The GATORS destroyed them. Why??? HEART---COACHING--MISTAKES--No question,---- GATORS-----all of them-----not just one------TEAM-TEAM-TEAM. All this and Ohio thought it would be a breeze. Once again, it was all of the above.

The more I see of Meyer, the more I like him. As they say, Life goes on.

I still love Spurrier... wish him the very best... it is time to move on, GO GATORS!!!

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My friend Anna had the very good fortune of going to the MacWorld Expo this week in San Francisco.

She sent me this photo of "the masses trying to take a sip from the iPhone Kool-aid. Just a small sample of those armed with cell cameras, video devices, etc. who were getting up close to the phone in its rotating glass case."


My question: if all these guys were here, who was available that day to rip people off at Circuit City? These guys?

Anna also saw a rather unique boutique iPod accessory, something I call the iShitYouNot.


It's actual name is the iCarta iPod toilet paper dispenser:

She says:

How to know you either*

a) have too much money


b) need professional help

*toilet paper not included

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January 11, 2007


Back in the 1980s, back when "Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous" infected the national consciousness like an earwig, people kinda took themselves and their accessories too seriously. Just like they do now.

Former "The Young & the Restless" actress Brenda Dickson apparently felt that she had elevated personal style to the level of professional life guru. And she had some videotape laying around, so she decided to share all that she had learned. Which wasn't much. But she had great clothes, big hair, enough makeup for 1,000 Jersey strippers and a self-portrait over the living room couch that's bigger than the one of Mao in Tiananmen Square. So why not?

Enjoy these clips. Follow her advice and you too can live a life that's a mile wide and a quarter-inch deep:

"The shoes are classic. You can wear them with almost anything. Notice the slit?"

"Let's go into my bedroom ... where I keep my exercise equipment, and talk about ... exercise."

UPDATE: That was Brenda 20 years ago. This is Brenda Dickson-Weinberg today. And this is what her career used to be.

Hat tip: Kat

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I don't get a lot of people asking for interviews. So when I do, I take their requests very seriously.

Like this one I got from a guy named Matt Clarke:

Hi, I like your site. I write a comedy blog, I wondered if you wanted to take part in an interview to highlight your site. My blog is http://mrjoeblogs.blogspot.com.

Kind Regards,

Joe Blogs

(Please include any picture at all that you want to add to the interview)

I'm a trusting soul. So I replied:

JeffAndWonderBread.jpgName: Jeff Houck
Age: 41
Location: Tampa, Fla.

I have two guiding precepts by which I guide my soul:

1. "To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch... ; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!" - Emerson

2. "Don't fruit the beer." - Man Law

Sum up what your blog is about.

Sombreros. Hula skirts. Adventures in traffic. Exploiting my sole offspring's quirky behavior for the purpose of garnering endless amounts of attention for myself. Sharing things that make me laugh so hard, milk shoots out my nose - even when I'm not drinking any!

Why are you doing your blog?

Because, for reasons that aren't exactly clear, friends, colleagues, neighbors, ex-neighbors, bus drivers, pilots, artists, hookers, former British Special Forces troops, Wonder Woman fanatics, redneck homosexuals, lingerie-wearing vegitarian shiksas and marathon cyclists consider me the eastern seaboard repository for everything they think is repulsive, stupid and hilarious. I am their cultural Dempsey Dumpster. As the recepticle for all the cultural lint they dispose into my mental trap - and as someone who has a dark talent for noticing the weird and ridiculous in every day life - I find that blogging allows me to reduce the resulting psychological pressure generated by the combined geothermal idiocy. If I didn't blog, my head would explode from too much stimuli. And that would be bad.

In short, I blog to help mankind.

What's the funniest entry on your blog?

That's like asking, "Which person in rush-hour traffic would you like to stab in the heart with a No. 2 pencil?" The choices are endless and too complex to whittle down.

That said, here are a few highlights:








What is your writing style?

Perhaps Fritalian.

How much would you sell your blog for?

A half-used carton of cheap trucker speed.

What do people commonly say about your site?

"Please reacquaint yourself with the distance stipulations mandated in the temporary restraining order."

Why should someone visit your site?

To protect themselves against the inevitable global plague of bird flu.

Climate change is caused by man. Myth or reality?

Climate change is indeed caused by man. A very powerful and sexy man. A man named Charles Nelson Reilly.

Are there any blogs you enjoy reading?

Corporate Casual

Regret The Error

The Sneeze

The Percy Trout Hour

I Don't Like You In That Way

The Food Pornographer

Post Secret

Veiled Conceit

Retro Thing

Cupie Spew

What would you have written on your tombstone?

"Refrigerate after opening."

Would you go on a reality tv show?

You mean I'm not on one now?

What one website would you recommend and why?


Tell us a random funny story that comes to mind.

I dated a woman in college who had a drinking problem. (Wait. It gets better.)

To make matters worse, she harbored great fear of her horribly judgmental mother and would drink to excess on the nights before her mother came to visit. Despite her own history of alcoholism, her mother blamed me and my flippant nature for her daughter's drinking. The mother and I did not get along..

One Saturday night while her mother was in town visiting, I cooked dinner for my girlfriend, her mother and my girlfriend's two roommates, who also detested the mother. My girlfriend spent the entire evening interrupting dinner so she could run to the bathroom and heave into a toilet to relieve her stomach of the alcohol she ingested the night before. Instead of showing concern for her daughter's condition or seeking medical help for her, the mother attempted to dismiss the vomitous episodes by denying there was a problem.

"Well," she said between bites of dinner as her daughter wretched only a few feet away. "My daughter has always had an acidic stomach."

I looked incredulously at the roommates as they stifled a laugh.

"Hmm," I replied. "I didn't know her stomach was Jewish."

The mother fixed a death gaze upon me.

"You know," she said with a clenched fist on either side of her dinner plate. "I have never appreciated your sarcasm."

She got up from her chair. The dinner abruptly ended. I left soon after. I never again saw the mother, who two weeks later picked her daughter up in the middle of the night and took her to California to get away from me.

I love that story.

Had any supernatural experiences?

See above.

What advice would you have given yourself 5 years ago?

"Take whatever they offer - be it a million dollars, a moon pie or sex with a porcupine - just so you can get the hell out of Fort Pierce."

Can you tell us a joke?

A dog goes into a telegram office, takes out a blank form and writes: "Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof."

The clerk examines the paper and politely tells the dog: "There are only nine words here. You could send another 'Woof' for the same price."

The dog replies, "But that would make no sense at all."

Tell us just one of your favourite actors, actresses, comedian, song and film.

Actor: Bugs Bunny

Actress: Bugs Bunny (when he'd dress up like a girl bunny.)

Comedian: Richard Pryor

Song: "Xanadu" ("The love, the echoes of long ago, you needed the world to know, they are in Xanadu.")

Film: "Wolf," starring Jack Nicholson. I could watch that damn thing on a loop for days with toothpicks to keep my eyelids open.

What's the most incredible thing that's ever happened to you?

1. Watching the birth of my son.

2. Winning a Linda Ronstadt album in 1978 by being caller No. 3 on WLCY-AM when I was 13. It's the one where she's wearing roller skates and tube socks on the cover. That's hot.

And finally, what would you wish for with 3 wishes?

1. I wish we could all live in the mountains, at high altitudes. That's where I see myself in 5 years.

2. That some day we'll find it: the Rainbow connection. The lovers, the dreamers and me.

3. I wish I had never been broiled!

Now it's your turn! Ask me one question, anything you like.

Do chicks find it erotic that you still live with your mom?

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January 10, 2007


There's a fine line between a word puzzle and porn spam:

From: Natalie [mailto:erdledtju@stiftungsfonds.org]
Sent: Sunday, January 07, 2007 2:07 PM
To: Houck, Jeff B.
Subject: CUTEGIRNLS Sulut With Bhig Nratural Bcoobs
From: Jo Manning [mailto:haradakjjq@ara-net.co.jp]
Sent: Tuesday, January 02, 2007 11:06 PM
To: Houck, Jeff B.
Subject: Blond CRUTEGIRLS Tleen Shows Tuits Tdeasing & Pjosing

Reminds me of the countless frustrating Tuesday nights I spent watching watch the scrambled Cinemax signal during puberty.

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Oh, how I love me a good visual marching band joke.

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JeffHouckBlowingBubblesInCollege.JPGWho is this person?

And what have you done with him?

Thanks, Jacqueline for that stroll down memory lane.

I so enjoy the idea that my acne, my detestable owl-like eyewear and my penchant for posting notes on my forehead are now on display for Flickr freaks to enjoy 22 years hence.

What a goob I was. And my, how little has changed.

Ten days shy of 42 and I can feel liver spots bursting on the back of my hands as I look at these photos.

Which reminds me, I've been meaning to listen to "The Joshua Tree."

Posted by Jeff at 04:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



...you're last.

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January 09, 2007


I have a one-track mind at the moment.


You too can write a message in back hair.

Hat tip: Kat

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For my Gator Nation bretheren out there, I created a Flickr photostream of all the newspapers I could find today that featured the Gators prominently on their front pages.

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"Are the Gators just gonna win everything this year? Football, basketball, 'Dancing with the Stars'?"

-Fox Sports announcer

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January 08, 2007




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January 05, 2007



Tired of hearing "Fergalicious" blast whenever your cellphone rings?

Try a David Lynch ringtone on for size.

Be sure to click on "Teeth."

Imagine that one going off in the middle of a meeting.

Hat tip: Rommie

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The First National Bank of Crazy just called.

James Brown's widow is overdrawn on her account.

Hat tip: Kat

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* Kim Jong Ill

* Nancy Pillowsi

* Mousey Deng

* Rudolph Hilter

* Adolph Titler

* Yasser Arafatass

* Anwar Borat

* Josef Ballin'

* Arnold Schwarzenegafricanamerican

* Pol Potty

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Photos of our New Year's gathering are up on Flickr.

My favorite: Charlie Boy's marshmallow near-poisoning.

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January 03, 2007


Will someone please put Gerald Ford in the ground already?

Line of the day came from my friend, Karen:

"His funeral has lasted longer than his presidency."

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The Salad is No. 2 with a bullet on Google for the phrase, "caught exposing breasts."

Interestingly, the only thing standing between me and No. 1 is this story:


Man Arrested For Exposing Breasts

A Cincinnati man has been charged with public indecency for exposing his breasts.

Jerome Mason, a 23-year-old from Over-The-Rhine, appeared in court Tuesday after being cited for public indecency just after midnight on April 22nd.

It's unclear if the man has breasts that are larger than the average male's or if he has breast implants.

As tremendous as this story - and the writing - is, I think the Salad deserves the top spot. Jerome's story is so ... 2005.

Posted by Jeff at 09:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


...but it would appear that I've fixed the commenting function in the Salad Bowl.

Subtle message: Fire away. The last comment in the Salad before the system went belly up was on Oct. 30.

So it took me a while. I've been busy.

Want to do a trackback? Click on the time link at the bottom of each post (Next to the word comments). It should give you a page for just that entry. Copy that page address from your browser and do whatever you like with it.

This fix is a Schwety family recipe. Our URLs are here for your pleasure, ladies.

Posted by Jeff at 09:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


On the last legs of my 41st year and just three days after the start of a year with a number so futuristic that I had to look at it on the screen during Dick Clark's broadcast the way a dog looks at you when he's trying to make sense of what you're saying, I am reminded that life is not an endless commodity. Not by a longshot.

First came news this week that Ed Filo, former writer for the Stuart News, had passed away from a series of strokes at age 55.

Ed was quite the character when I met him in the early 1990s while we both were covering Port St. Lucie city government. I was working for the Palm Beach Post. Ed was filling in between beat reporters at The News. I jokingly called Ed Hawaii Fi-Lo and told him that his curly hair and bushy moustache reminded me of a young Samuel Clemens. Very little seemed to phase him.

While I was banging out stories on my TRS-800 laptop, he did crossword puzzles during city meetings. Didn't take a lot of notes until he had to. I regularly beat him on stories. He didn't seem to mind. In retrospect, I think Ed had the right outlook. It was a city meeting, for God's sake. In Port St. Freaking Lucie.

Life is short, Ed was telling me by completing No. 1 Across. Do your crosswords.

Then today I found out that Michael Browning, a former colleague of mine when I worked in the Accent section at The Post, had died last weekend at age 58.

MichaelBrowning.jpgAlthough he sat in front of me in the newsroom, I didn't know Michael very well. He came to the Post during the months that I was getting ready to leave to work at FoxSportsBiz.com.

His reputation through the door was huge. He had worked for 20 legendary years at the Miami Herald, from which the Post was absorbing an inordinate number of refugees. He had been in China during the student revolt. His writing was symphonic and lyrical. I was in awe.

And, in an example I try to follow to this day, he was never in the office. Why? Because the stories aren't in the office. Not the good ones, anyway.

One of the reasons I left the Post's Accent section was that I could see I would forever be a designated hitter punching out ground balls while Ted Williams was at the plate. I wasn't resentful in the least. He was a great hire. But I knew it was time to move on if I was to make any hay.

Scott Eyman at The Post wrote a lovely obit for Michael. So did Marc Fisher at The Washington Post.

But I like the idea that the best obituary a writer can have is his own work. That's the one thing that stays behind after you assume room temperature.

I particularly liked this story about suddenly having to care for his aging mother. It's a better story than the premise sounds. Magnificently better.

Even in the dark moments of the story, Browning found light in the concept of caring for his mother's dog, which was so flea-bitten, he considered putting it down:

Tippi the dog has turned into a remarkable pet in his own right. He needs to be walked daily, which is good for me and him both. He has killed a fruit rat and, spectacularly and noisily in the dark, a very large raccoon that was trespassing in the yard. It was not a pretty spectacle. The raccoon objected loudly. But the raccoons have relieved themselves in my pool so often that I couldn't feel much sorrow.

Still, Tippi has a dark side. I hope he doesn't develop a taste for fat, sleeping men.

As if that wasn't enough mid-life male journalism death, I also heard the unfortunate news that Dave Hunter, my former roommate while I was at the Anchorage Times, had passed away a month or so ago.

Dave was an interesting guy, to say the least. He had been editor of the entertainment magazine at The Sun in Gainesville when he was recruited to be features editor in Anchorage. He was one of the first people I met in Anchorage and we arrived on the same day in February to minus-10 degree temperatures.

Dave was a big guy who loved to have a good time, which fit in well with my sensibilities.


This photo was taken at the now-defunct Birdhouse in Bird Creek, Alaska. The Birdhouse was covered in panties and bras and all sorts of unmentionables. We had just spent the better part of an afternoon climbing nearby Bird Peak. We were tired. We were thirsty. And the Birdhouse was perfect, what with all the sawdust on the floor and the bar that was slanted because of an earthquake's upheaval. (Dave is wearing his ever-present white cap. We're sitting with climbing mates David Futch and his girlfriend at the time, Ruthie.)

Tourists filing off buses walked past us, taking photos of "the locals" as we drank in the corner. And yes, that's a boot cast in my right arm. Someone left it behind as a souvenir. I felt the need to use it as a coolie for my bottle of Chinook beer. It worked well, although it made my lips scratch.

Our former editor, Randolph Murray, did a lovely job capturing Dave's essence in a recent column.

Randolph writes:

It had only snowed 8 or 10 inches overnight, on top of the 8 or 10 feet we had already had since October, when I got a call at my desk from Dave, who was usually one of the first people into the office every morning.

"I can't get out of my garage," Dave reported.

"What do you mean, you can't get out of your garage?"

"I mean I can't get out of my garage. The door won't open. The motor just hums but the door won't go up."

"Well, Dave, you may just have to walk outside and shovel the snow and ice away from the door. It didn't snow that much last night but it may have drifted up over at your place," I suggested.

"That's what I thought too," Dave said. There was something curious in his voice, like he was trying to stifle a laugh.

"It's not the snow." Pause. "Randolph, there's a moose leaning against my garage door. A full-grown, 1,200 pound moose! He's standing under the eave of the house with his gigantic rump pressed up against the door.

"And everytime I try to get the door to open up, it just vibrates up against him. The moose is getting a massage! I think he likes it."

By this point we were both laughing.

"Dave, Dave, you're going to be trapped in there all day. You're going to have to go out there and chase him off."

"You come out here and chase him off! Wait'll you see the size of this thing!"

Well, eventually, after Dave quit using the electric garage door to give Mr. Moose a massage, the big brute got bored and ambled off down the street, freeing Dave and his car.

And providing me with the best true excuse I ever heard for being late to work.

Posted by Jeff at 06:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



* Platform didn't comply with Americans With Disabilities Act regulations

* Noose made with skin-irritating, non-organic natural fibers

* Pageantry of the ceremony detracted from the solemnity of Gerald Ford's funeral

* Request to see "The Aristocrats" one last time was denied

* Lighting for camera phone video failed to meet Director's Guild standards

* Was not allowed to sing, "Adieu, adieu, to you and you and you."

* A pair of "Oops! I Crapped My Pants" briefs was not made available

* Wanted to be executed by the "Will It Blend" guy

* There were no shots of Britany Spears asleep at the hanging

* Trauma from seeing the hanging video made Oklahoma more susceptible to Boise State's "Statue of Liberty" play

Posted by Jeff at 05:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


I've stated before on numerous occasions: I get the best e-mail.

Like this exchange I had with my friend Kate. In between her pinup photo sessions,(seriously, Kate, even Bob Guccione wouldn't have combined a robe, a glass of wine, a fireplace and a pint of Ben & Jerry's), she and I occasionally play verbal handball.

For some reason, she decided, out of the blue, to tell me yesterday about a close encounter a family member had with the head of the Cathols. Kate gets very animated when relatives make CNN.

She writes:

My brother and sister-in-law were in Italy and stood in line starting at 6 p.m. to catch the Pope's midnight mass on Christmas Eve.

Michael said it was worse than Lollapalooza and Wembley Stadium during a soccer match *combined*.

"Imagine 3,000 people trying to get through the doors of your local church. The doors to the Bascilica are taller but they are not wider. And dude, no one acted Christlike. 'Cept for me."

Michael had old Italian women kicking him in the legs. A few Germans pushed at his torso. And an Asian dude side tackled Chelsie. Don't kid yourselves - pilgrims are in it to win it.

At any rate, here is Michael and Chelsie's 3 seconds of fame. I timed it. Watch the center, right hand side of the clip and at :04 seconds - :07 seconds you can see them. Michael gets cut quick but you can't miss Chelsie's big ass grin as she looks back at my brother. I kept hitting the restart button underneath the player window - not just to see my relatives seeing the Holy See, but because church music never gets old.

Pope Fever - catch it - blessed a couple of children and Michael swears he put in a good word for his "Heeb sister." So now I guess we're covered. Just in case.

Here is the link.

To which I replied:


I high-fived JPII when I was 17 in Vatican Square as he passed by in his pope mobile.

As I tried to get another high-five a few minutes later, two nuns kicked a chair from underneath me in an effort to get closer.

Bitches gotta know when to stop.

To which she replied:

Okay, that made my green tea come out through my nose.

Which reminds me - what's up with the dreidel biscuit? Is your dog Jewish? What's going on there...?

To which I replied:


The dogs' names are Abraham and Lincoln. You do the math.

Seriously, a friend at work gave us the cookies. I was merely demonstrating that they had been deployed - kind of the way Castro holds up a newspaper to prove he's not dead.

Posted by Jeff at 05:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



... doesn't suck.

For a larger view, click here.

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