If you like trivia, check out my other site, THE HARRIS CHALLENGE, and play every weekday!

Friday, January 30, 2004

Betting And Punting

The Stardust sports book in Las Vegas is considered the sports book, because it is traditionally the first to post the line on most sporting events, and many other books follow its lead. Bob Scucci, who runs the Stardust book, has been on my radio show many times.

Two weeks ago, I was in Vegas and went to the Stardust because it was a great place to watch the AFC and NFC championship games. Naturally, I said hello to Bob and we chatted for awhile. He told me how much the north end of The Strip is changing for the better, thanks to Steve Wynn's new mega-resort and the Fashion Show mall being in the neighborhood. That's good for the Stardust, so I was happy for him.

He comped me breakfast at their coffee shop. I went to eat, then came back to find a seat in the sports book and put down a wager or two. Since I didn't have a hometown rooting interest, putting some money on the games would make them more fun to watch.

One of my bets was a parlay that included one of those proposition bets. It had to do with which team would punt first in the AFC championship game. Since the Colts hadn't punted once in their two previous games due to their high-powered offense, I bet that it would be the Patriots.

As the game went along, neither team punted for quite awhile. It was well into the second quarter before one of them got in trouble and had to kick it away. Unfortunately, it wasn't the Patriots. The Colts lined up for the punt that would immediately make my bet a loser -- but the ball was snapped over the punter's head! As it rolled deep into their own territory, the Colts' punter, Hunter Smith, ran back and kicked the ball on the ground out of his own end zone, for a safety.

Since I had money on this, I ran over to Bob and asked, "Does that count as a punt?" He replied with authority, "I don't know!" He explained that he didn't think so, that it would probably be considered a muffed punt, but that he'd have to wait until they got the official stats from the NFL.

After a safety, the team that was scored against has to kick off on the next play. But because their regular kicker doesn't do it (the punter does), I raised the question of whether the kickoff counted as a punt. This one, Bob knew: it's not a punt, it's a "free kick." In other words, as far as the Stardust was concerned, there had yet to be a single punt in this game, so my wager was still alive. Whew!

The game continued until more than halfway through the third quarter before the outcome of my bet would be settled. Unfortunately, it was the Colts who were forced to punt at that point, and this time the ball didn’t go over the punter’s head.

That killed my bet -- and made my earlier meal the most expensive breakfast I've ever had.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Race Vs. Place

What makes someone an African-American? Is it their skin color, or their birth geography?

At a high school in Omaha, some students nominated Trevor Richards for the "Distinguished African-American Student" award, which is presented annually on Martin Luther King Day. Those kids, and Trevor, were suspended from school because their posters and petitions caused a commotion.

The problem? Trevor is white -- but he is African-American. He and his family moved to the US six years ago from Johannesburg, South Africa, where he was born. So, technically, he's African-American.

But the school says he's ineligible for the award because he's not black. Now there's a legal distinction that wouldn't hold up in court. I'm not saying that Charlize Theron (another South Africa native) has to be given an NAACP Image Award, but this white kid is more African-American than the US-born black kids in the school, isn't he?

I have never referred to myself as a Russian-American, even though I have ancestors who came from there (just ahead of the Cossacks, in at least one case), but I know plenty of people who invoke their family lineage to boast of being Italian-American, Irish-American, etc. Doesn't matter if their great-great-grandparents got off the boat a hundred years ago, that's what they'll always be. Perhaps it's an attempt to join the melting pot while retaining your original flavor and texture.

Funny that there don't seem to be any Canadian-Americans. Michael J. Fox, Paul Shaffer, and Peter Jennings don't use their heritage to identify themselves. Why is that?

Ironically, every one of these groups puts "American" last. As Russell Means once pointed out to me, the only ethnic group that puts "American" first are the American-Indians. They're the ones who weren't all that thrilled to see those boatloads of immigrants in the first place.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Too Sick For School

"Daddy, my stomach hurts."

That's how it started yesterday morning. Five minutes before the bus was due, my daughter announced to me that her stomach was bothering her. What to do?

My mind immediately raced back to my own childhood when, like every other red-blooded kid, I had faked a mild illness to skip a day of school. But I don't think I did that until junior high or high school, when the stakes were bigger and the anxiety level was higher. My daughter's in fourth grade, and loves school, so it seemed unlikely she was trying to pull one on me. Besides, the day before, she'd gone to the school nurse a couple of times complaining of the same problem. The sick-scales tipped in her favor, so I let her stay home.

Later that morning, on my way to work, I thought back on my youthful hooky history. As an adult, I have a rigorous work ethic. It's an extremely rare event when I call in sick. I can't remember a single year when I used up all my allotted sick days. I have to lose my voice (a vital resource in the radio profession) before I won't go in to do my show. But as a kid, like all kids, I tried to get away with a day off every now and then.

While my school-skipping cons weren't as intricately planned as Ferris Bueller's, they did require some thought.

First, there's the look. Somehow, kids can create the illusion that all blood has left their face -- or that all of it has rushed there. Your hair must be unkempt, and a slight slouch helps, even while remaining horizontal in bed. This is no time for neatness and good posture, but don't overdo it. If you're doubled over in pain or lying lifelessly on the floor in the fetal position with your eyes rolled all the way back, you're not only going to miss school, you're going to learn how little fun the emergency room of your local hospital can be.

Second, an elevated temperature helps. This one takes work. One colleague of mine says she used to hold her head over the heating vent until she felt a little woozy. Then, when her mother would feel how warm her forehead was, she'd know she was too sick to attempt anything academic.

Personally, I grew up in an apartment with radiators, but rather than expose my flesh to the scalding pipes, I'd go for the thermometer fake-out. This involved convincing Mom that I felt warm but was shivering, thus guaranteeing she'd bring out the thermometer. She'd place it under my tongue and leave for a few minutes to attend to my brother (who knew not to attempt the almost impossible double sick hoax) and father, and get them off to school and work, respectively.

While she was gone, I'd hold the thermometer next to the radiator. Other kids preferred holding the thermometer up to a light bulb. Either way, you have to do it just right, and it takes some trial and error. You don't want to warm it too much, or you'll look like you have a temp of 107 and the next thing you know, you're in the emergency room. Worse, you'll have to stick that thing back in your mouth before Mom returns, and you don't want to scald the bottom of your tongue. You have to time it so that you move that mercury up to about a hundred degrees or so -- the universally agreed-upon level for being sick enough to stay home from school -- and keep it there until Mom re-appears.

Third, use the right tone in your plea. Again, work on this ahead of time so the timber of your voice is a little shaky. Do not clear your throat. Sound exhausted, as if you barely slept all night. For some reason, the higher the register, the more plaintive the plea will sound. Practice a few times in your room before your parental performance. Caveat: don't pretend you have a sore throat if you're going with the stomach ache fake. Pick one direction and stick with it.

Fourth, vomit is magical. You don't actually have to throw up. Acting like you might spew at any time is often enough to earn you a day of rest and relaxation in front of the TV. If not, you might have to add special effects, like pouring water into the toilet while you make hurling noises. Note: under no circumstances should you actually vomit. This isn't a made-for-TV movie about bulimia.

Speaking of vomit, that was about the most unpleasant thing that could happen at school, wasn't it? Some kid who really was sick would blow chunks in the classroom, instantly creating a lesson in odor management. The teacher calls the janitor, who strolls in pushing that big gray barrel on wheels -- the one with a broom sticking out of it (they must come standard as a combo at any school janitor supply store). For some reason, the broom brush would be sticking up, with the handle shoved into the muck, which made no sense. Anyway, he'd spread some kind of sawdust/kitty litter mix onto the mess, and then leave it to marinate for an hour or so. Meanwhile, everyone held their noses and moved to the other side of the room, praying for the bell to ring.

What I didn't know then, but I do know now, is that parents are hip to the phony sick day deal. I'm sure my mother and father just rolled their eyes whenever I thought I was getting away with something.

On the other hand, there were kids like my friend Mark, who was never able to pull a fake sick day because his Dad wouldn't buy it. Mark didn't even bother trying to mount a performance, because the only way his father would let him stay home from school was if his legs fell off and his armpits were on fire. Needless to say, Mark was always at the bus stop.

The bottom line on my daughter's bellyache was that she was fine by the afternoon, and went to school this morning with no complaints. Maybe she thinks she pulled a fast one on me. I don't know.

But I do know that we don't use the old glass thermometer anymore. It was always too hard to read -- having to align it perfectly to see where the mercury meniscus was -- so we've upgraded to a plastic-covered digital thermometer. Besides, we don't have any radiators. Obviously, she has some serious planning to do for next time.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Earthquake Aftershocks

On December 26, the city of Bam, Iran was hit with a horrible earthquake. The number of dead is staggering, somewhere between thirty and forty thousand people, not to mention all the injured and those affected by the ruined infrastructure, disease, etc. Ninety percent of the city's buildings were either destroyed or damaged.

Among those who rushed in to help were several US aid agencies. I don't want this to come off as simply a jingoistic rant, but, good for us! I take my hat off to the doctors, nurses, and relief workers who volunteered their time and risked their lives to go.

Iran is a nation with which America has had a bad relationship for at least a generation. President Bush named them as part of the Axis Of Evil, along with Iraq and North Korea. There's tension over their nuclear weapons program (funny, they admit having one and we haven't invaded!). November will mark the 25th anniversary of the seizure of the American embassy in Tehran by Iranian students, which resulted in 52 US citizens being held hostage for 444 days.

And yet, Americans were among the first to offer aid and comfort to the quake victims.

Sure, the US has propped up evil men who did irreparable harm to that region, like The Shah and Saddam Hussein, just as it has done repeatedly elsewhere (Haiti or Panama, anyone?), only to see those moves backfire.

Still, it would be nice to know that this story has been told throughout the Arab world.

It would be nice to know that Al Jazeera was playing up the role of Americans who rallied to help the helpless in this tragedy.

It would be nice to know that Muslim children in Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia, who are taught from a young age by religious zealots that all Americans are evil, were told instead about our altruistic side in circumstances such as this.

It would be nice to know that many Iranians have discovered that, on a personal level, not all Americans are The Great Satan we have been portrayed as by their leaders.

It would be nice to know that they understand that help is a more powerful word than hate.

Virulent, emotional attitudes are hardly ever changed overnight, but it would be nice to know that some progress has been made. Best of all, it's nice to know that there are people who can reach out a helping hand beyond politics, beyond policy, beyond borders.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

If I Were An Evil Overlord

Being an Evil Overlord seems to be a good career choice. It pays well, there are all sorts of perks and you can set your own hours. However every Evil Overlord I've read about in books or seen in movies invariably gets overthrown and destroyed in the end. I've noticed that no matter whether they are barbarian lords, deranged wizards, mad scientists or alien invaders, they always seem to make the same basic mistakes every single time. With that in mind, allow me to present...

The Top 100 Things I'd Do If
I Ever Became An Evil Overlord

1. My Legions of Terror will have helmets with clear plexiglass visors, not face-concealing ones.

2. My ventilation ducts will be too small to crawl through.

3. My noble half-brother whose throne I usurped will be killed, not kept anonymously imprisoned in a forgotten cell of my dungeon.

4. Shooting is not too good for my enemies.

5. The artifact which is the source of my power will not be kept on the Mountain of Despair beyond the River of Fire guarded by the Dragons of Eternity. It will be in my safe-deposit box. The same applies to the object which is my one weakness.

6. I will not gloat over my enemies' predicament before killing them.

7. When I've captured my adversary and he says, "Look, before you kill me, will you at least tell me what this is all about?" I'll say, "No." and shoot him. No, on second thought I'll shoot him then say "No."

8. After I kidnap the beautiful princess, we will be married immediately in a quiet civil ceremony, not a lavish spectacle in three weeks' time during which the final phase of my plan will be carried out.

9. I will not include a self-destruct mechanism unless absolutely necessary. If it is necessary, it will not be a large red button labelled "Danger: Do Not Push". The big red button marked "Do Not Push" will instead trigger a spray of bullets on anyone stupid enough to disregard it. Similarly, the ON/OFF switch will not clearly be labelled as such.

10. I will not interrogate my enemies in the inner sanctum -- a small hotel well outside my borders will work just as well.

11. I will be secure in my superiority. Therefore, I will feel no need to prove it by leaving clues in the form of riddles or leaving my weaker enemies alive to show they pose no threat.

12. One of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation.

13. All slain enemies will be cremated, or at least have several rounds of ammunition emptied into them, not left for dead at the bottom of the cliff. The announcement of their deaths, as well as any accompanying celebration, will be deferred until after the aforementioned disposal.

14. The hero is not entitled to a last kiss, a last cigarette, or any other form of last request.

15. I will never employ any device with a digital countdown. If I find that such a device is absolutely unavoidable, I will set it to activate when the counter reaches 117 and the hero is just putting his plan into operation.

16. I will never utter the sentence "But before I kill you, there's just one thing I want to know."

17. When I employ people as advisors, I will occasionally listen to their advice.

18. I will not have a son. Although his laughably under-planned attempt to usurp power would easily fail, it would provide a fatal distraction at a crucial point in time.

19. I will not have a daughter. She would be as beautiful as she was evil, but one look at the hero's rugged countenance and she'd betray her own father.

20. Despite its proven stress-relieving effect, I will not indulge in maniacal laughter. When so occupied, it's too easy to miss unexpected developments that a more attentive individual could adjust to accordingly.

21. I will hire a talented fashion designer to create original uniforms for my Legions of Terror, as opposed to some cheap knock-offs that make them look like Nazi stormtroopers, Roman footsoldiers, or savage Mongol hordes. All were eventually defeated and I want my troops to have a more positive mind-set.

22. No matter how tempted I am with the prospect of unlimited power, I will not consume any energy field bigger than my head.

23. I will keep a special cache of low-tech weapons and train my troops in their use. That way -- even if the heroes manage to neutralize my power generator and/or render the standard-issue energy weapons useless -- my troops will not be overrun by a handful of savages armed with spears and rocks.

24. I will maintain a realistic assessment of my strengths and weaknesses. Even though this takes some of the fun out of the job, at least I will never utter the line "No, this cannot be! I AM INVINCIBLE!!!" (After that, death is usually instantaneous.)

25. No matter how well it would perform, I will never construct any sort of machinery which is completely indestructible except for one small and virtually inaccessible vulnerable spot.

26. No matter how attractive certain members of the rebellion are, there is probably someone just as attractive who is not desperate to kill me. Therefore, I will think twice before ordering a prisoner sent to my bedchamber.

27. I will never build only one of anything important. All important systems will have redundant control panels and power supplies. For the same reason I will always carry at least two fully loaded weapons at all times.

28. My pet monster will be kept in a secure cage from which it cannot escape and into which I could not accidentally stumble.

29. I will dress in bright and cheery colors, and so throw my enemies into confusion.

30. All bumbling conjurers, clumsy squires, no-talent bards, and cowardly thieves in the land will be preemptively put to death. My foes will surely give up and abandon their quest if they have no source of comic relief.

31. All naive, busty tavern wenches in my realm will be replaced with surly, world-weary waitresses who will provide no unexpected reinforcement and/or romantic subplot for the hero or his sidekick.

32. I will not fly into a rage and kill a messenger who brings me bad news just to illustrate how evil I really am. Good messengers are hard to come by.

33. I won't require high-ranking female members of my organization to wear a stainless-steel bustier. Morale is better with a more casual dress-code. Similarly, outfits made entirely from black leather will be reserved for formal occasions.

34. I will not turn into a snake. It never helps.

35. I will not grow a goatee. In the old days they made you look diabolic. Now they just make you look like a disaffected member of Generation X.

36. I will not imprison members of the same party in the same cell block, let alone the same cell. If they are important prisoners, I will keep the only key to the cell door on my person instead of handing out copies to every bottom-rung guard in the prison.

37. If my trusted lieutenant tells me my Legions of Terror are losing a battle, I will believe him. After all, he's my trusted lieutenant.

38. If an enemy I have just killed has a younger sibling or offspring anywhere, I will find them and have them killed immediately, instead of waiting for them to grow up harboring feelings of vengeance towards me in my old age.

39. If I absolutely must ride into battle, I will certainly not ride at the forefront of my Legions of Terror, nor will I seek out my opposite number among his army.

40. I will be neither chivalrous nor sporting. If I have an unstoppable superweapon, I will use it as early and as often as possible instead of keeping it in reserve.

41. Once my power is secure, I will destroy all those pesky time-travel devices.

42. When I capture the hero, I will make sure I also get his dog, monkey, ferret, or whatever sickeningly cute little animal capable of untying ropes and filching keys happens to follow him around.

43. I will maintain a healthy amount of skepticism when I capture the beautiful rebel and she claims she is attracted to my power and good looks and will gladly betray her companions if I just let her in on my plans.

44. I will only employ bounty hunters who work for money. Those who work for the pleasure of the hunt tend to do dumb things like even the odds to give the other guy a sporting chance.

45. I will make sure I have a clear understanding of who is responsible for what in my organization. For example, if my general screws up I will not draw my weapon, point it at him, say "And here is the price for failure," then suddenly turn and kill some random underling.

46. If an advisor says to me "My liege, he is but one man. What can one man possibly do?", I will reply "This." and kill the advisor.

47. If I learn that a callow youth has begun a quest to destroy me, I will slay him while he is still a callow youth instead of waiting for him to mature.

48. I will treat any beast which I control through magic or technology with respect and kindness. Thus if the control is ever broken, it will not immediately come after me for revenge.

49. If I learn the whereabouts of the one artifact which can destroy me, I will not send all my troops out to seize it. Instead I will send them out to seize something else and quietly put a Want-Ad in the local paper.

50. My main computers will have their own special operating system that will be completely incompatible with standard IBM and Macintosh powerbooks.

51. If one of my dungeon guards begins expressing concern over the conditions in the beautiful princess' cell, I will immediately transfer him to a less people-oriented position.

52. I will hire a team of board-certified architects and surveyors to examine my castle and inform me of any secret passages and abandoned tunnels that I might not know about.

53. If the beautiful princess that I capture says "I'll never marry you! Never, do you hear me, NEVER!!!", I will say "Oh well" and kill her.

54. I will not strike a bargain with a demonic being then attempt to double-cross it simply because I feel like being contrary.

55. The deformed mutants and odd-ball psychotics will have their place in my Legions of Terror. However before I send them out on important covert missions that require tact and subtlety, I will first see if there is anyone else equally qualified who would attract less attention.

56. My Legions of Terror will be trained in basic marksmanship. Any who cannot learn to hit a man-sized target at 10 meters will be used for target practice.

57. Before employing any captured artifacts or machinery, I will carefully read the owner's manual.

58. If it becomes necessary to escape, I will never stop to pose dramatically and toss off a one-liner.

59. I will never build a sentient computer smarter than I am.

60. My five-year-old child advisor will also be asked to decipher any code I am thinking of using. If he breaks the code in under 30 seconds, it will not be used. Note: this also applies to passwords.

61. If my advisors ask "Why are you risking everything on such a mad scheme?", I will not proceed until I have a response that satisfies them.

62. I will design fortress hallways with no alcoves or protruding structural supports which intruders could use for cover in a firefight.

63. Bulk trash will be disposed of in incinerators, not compactors. And they will be kept hot, with none of that nonsense about flames going through accessible tunnels at predictable intervals.

64. I will see a competent psychiatrist and get cured of all extremely unusual phobias and bizarre compulsive habits which could prove to be a disadvantage.

65. If I must have computer systems with publically available terminals, the maps they display of my complex will have a room clearly marked as the Main Control Room. That room will be the Execution Chamber. The actual main control room will be marked as Sewage Overflow Containment.

66. My security keypad will actually be a fingerprint scanner. Anyone who watches someone press a sequence of buttons or dusts the pad for fingerprints then subsequently tries to enter by repeating that sequence will trigger the alarm system.

67. No matter how many shorts we have in the system, my guards will be instructed to treat every surveillance camera malfunction as a full-scale emergency.

68. I will spare someone who saved my life sometime in the past. This is only reasonable as it encourages others to do so. However, the offer is good one time only. If they want me to spare them again, they'd better save my life again.

69. All midwives will be banned from the realm. All babies will be delivered at state-approved hospitals. Orphans will be placed in foster-homes, not abandoned in the woods to be raised by creatures of the wild.

70. When my guards split up to search for intruders, they will always travel in groups of at least two. They will be trained so that if one of them disappears mysteriously while on patrol, the other will immediately initiate an alert and call for backup, instead of quizzically peering around a corner.

71. If I decide to test a lieutenant's loyalty and see if he/she should be made a trusted lieutenant, I will have a crack squad of marksmen standing by in case the answer is no.

72. If all the heroes are standing together around a strange device and begin to taunt me, I will pull out a conventional weapon instead of using my unstoppable superweapon on them.

73. I will not agree to let the heroes go free if they win a rigged contest, even though my advisors assure me it is impossible for them to win.

74. When I create a multimedia presentation of my plan designed so that my five-year-old advisor can easily understand the details, I will not label the disk "Project Overlord" and leave it lying on top of my desk.

75. I will instruct my Legions of Terror to attack the hero en masse, instead of standing around waiting while members break off and attack one or two at a time.

76. If the hero runs up to my roof, I will not run up after him and struggle with him in an attempt to push him over the edge. I will also not engage him at the edge of a cliff. (In the middle of a rope-bridge over a river of molten lava is not even worth considering.)

77. If I have a fit of temporary insanity and decide to give the hero the chance to reject a job as my trusted lieutentant, I will retain enough sanity to wait until my current trusted lieutenant is out of earshot before making the offer.

78. I will not tell my Legions of Terror "And he must be taken alive!" The command will be "And try to take him alive if it is reasonably practical."

79. If my doomsday device happens to come with a reverse switch, as soon as it has been employed it will be melted down and made into limited-edition commemorative coins.

80. If my weakest troops fail to eliminate a hero, I will send out my best troops instead of wasting time with progressively stronger ones as he gets closer and closer to my fortress.

81. If I am fighting with the hero atop a moving platform, have disarmed him, and am about to finish him off and he glances behind me and drops flat, I too will drop flat instead of quizzically turning around to find out what he saw.

82. I will not shoot at any of my enemies if they are standing in front of the crucial support beam to a heavy, dangerous, unbalanced structure.

83. If I'm eating dinner with the hero, put poison in his goblet, then have to leave the table for any reason, I will order new drinks for both of us instead of trying to decide whether or not to switch with him.

84. I will not have captives of one sex guarded by members of the opposite sex.

85. I will not use any plan in which the final step is horribly complicated, e.g. "Align the 12 Stones of Power on the sacred altar then activate the medallion at the moment of total eclipse." Instead it will be more along the lines of "Push the button."

86. I will make sure that my doomsday device is up to code and properly grounded.

87. My vats of hazardous chemicals will be covered when not in use. Also, I will not construct walkways above them.

88. If a group of henchmen fail miserably at a task, I will not berate them for incompetence then send the same group out to try the task again.

89. After I captures the hero's superweapon, I will not immediately disband my legions and relax my guard because I believe whoever holds the weapon is unstoppable. After all, the hero held the weapon and I took it from him.

90. I will not design my Main Control Room so that every workstation is facing away from the door.

91. I will not ignore the messenger that stumbles in exhausted and obviously agitated until my personal grooming or current entertainment is finished. It might actually be important.

92. If I ever talk to the hero on the phone, I will not taunt him. Instead I will say this his dogged perseverance has given me new insight on the futility of my evil ways and that if he leaves me alone for a few months of quiet contemplation I will likely return to the path of righteousness. (Heroes are incredibly gullible in this regard.)

93. If I decide to hold a double execution of the hero and an underling who failed or betrayed me, I will see to it that the hero is scheduled to go first.

94. When arresting prisoners, my guards will not allow them to stop and grab a useless trinket of purely sentimental value.

95. My dungeon will have its own qualified medical staff complete with bodyguards. That way if a prisoner becomes sick and his cellmate tells the guard it's an emergency, the guard will fetch a trauma team instead of opening up the cell for a look.

96. My door mechanisms will be designed so that blasting the control panel on the outside seals the door and blasting the control panel on the inside opens the door, not vice versa.

97. My dungeon cells will not be furnished with objects that contain reflective surfaces or anything that can be unravelled.

98. If an attractive young couple enters my realm, I will carefully monitor their activities. If I find they are happy and affectionate, I will ignore them. However if circumstance have forced them together against their will and they spend all their time bickering and criticizing each other except during the intermittent occasions when they are saving each others' lives at which point there are hints of sexual tension, I will immediately order their execution.

99. Any data file of crucial importance will be padded to 1.45Mb in size.

100. Finally, to keep my subjects permanently locked in a mindless trance, I will provide each of them with free unlimited Internet access.

This Evil Overlord List is Copyright 1996-1997 by Peter Anspach. If you enjoy it, feel free to pass it along or post it anywhere, provided that (1) it is not altered in any way, and (2) this copyright notice is attached.

Life's Most Important Questions

We don't have the answers, but we sure do have the questions!

After eating, do amphibians have to wait an hour before getting out of the water?
Are there seeing eye humans for blind dogs?
Aren't all generalizations false?
Can fat people go skinny-dipping?
Can I get arrested for running into a Fire House yelling "Movie! Movie"?
Can you be a closet claustrophobic?
Can you grow birds by planting birdseed?
Did Adam and Eve have navels?
Do one legged ducks swim in circles?
Do you need a silencer if you are going to shoot a mime?
Does anybody ever vanish with a trace?
Does the Postmaster General need a stamp of approval?
How can there be self-help groups?
How do they get a deer to cross at that yellow road sign?
How do you know when yogurt goes bad?
How do you know when you're out of invisible ink?
If inert is to be stationary, what is ert?
If a book about failures doesn't sell, is it a success?
If a chronic liar tells you he is a chronic liar do you believe him?
If a cow laughed, would milk come out her nose?
If a dog sweats through his tongue, why does he have armpits?
If a jogger runs a the speed of sound can he still hear his walkman?
If a mute child swears, does his mother make him wash his hands with soap?
If a parsley farmer is sued, can they garnish his wages?
If a stealth bomber crashes in a forest, will it make a sound?
If a synchronized swimmer drowns, does her partner also have to drown?
If a tree falls in the woods, and lands on a mime, does anyone care?
If a turtle doesn't have a shell, is he homeless or naked?
If a woman can be a meter maid, can a man be a meter butler?
If an orange is orange, why isn't a lime called a green or a lemon called a yellow?
If God sneezes...what should you say?
If knees were backwards, what would chairs look like?
If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular?
If olive oil comes from olives, where does baby oil come from?
If people from Poland are called Poles, why aren't people from Holland called Holes?
If soap is used to make you clean, why does it leave a scum?
If someone has a mid-life crisis while playing hide and seek, does he automatically lose because he can't find himself?
If someone with multiple personalities threatens to kill herself, is it considered a hostage situation?
If the cops arrest a mime, do they have to tell him he has the right to remain silent?
If the folks at the psychic hotlines were really psychic, wouldn't they call you first?
If the funeral procession is at night, do folks drive with their lights off?
If vegetarians eat vegetables, what do humanitarians eat?
If white wine goes with fish, do white grapes go with sushi?
If women wear a pair of pants, a pair of glasses, and a pair of earrings, why don't they wear a pair of bras?
If you ate pasta and anti-pasta, would you still be hungry?
If you bear a child, why do you have a cow?
If you can read the marking, isn't that end already up?
If you dive into a pool of dry ice, can you swim without getting wet?
If you have a friend who works for the Psychic Friends Network, should you plan a surprise birthday party for them?
If you keep trying to prove Murphy's Law, will something keep going wrong?
If you put freeze-dried coffee in the microwave, will you go back in time?
If you spend your day doing nothing, how do you know when you're done?
If you steal a clean slate, does it go on your record?
If you take a shower, where do you put it?
If you throw a cat out a car window does it become kitty litter?
If you're cross-eyed and have dyslexia can you read correctly?
If you're traveling at the speed of light and you turn your headlights on, what happens?
Is it possible to be totally partial?
Is it true that cannibals don't eat clowns because they taste funny?
Isn't hot water already hot?
Just before someone gets nervous, do they experience cocoons in their stomach?
Should vegetarians eat animal crackers?
Shouldn't it be some things in moderation?
Shouldn't there be a shorter word for monosyllabic?
Since cats always land on their feet and jelly bread always lands jelly-side down, what happens if you tie jelly bread to the back of a cat?
There are 24 hours in a day, and 24 beers in a case. Coincidence?
What color is a chameleon on a mirror?
What did we do before the Law of Gravity was passed?
What do sheep count when they can't sleep?
What do you do when you see an endangered animal that eats only endangered plants?
What happened to the first 6 ups?
What is a free gift? Aren't all gifts free?
What is another word for thesaurus?
What is the speed of dark?
What part of the monkey do you use a monkey wrench on?
What was the best thing before sliced bread?
What's another word for synonym?
When people lose weight, where does it go?
When sign makers go on strike, what is written on their picket signs?
When you choke a smurf, what color does it turn?
When you open a new bag of cotton balls, are you supposed to throw the top one away?
When you're sending someone styrofoam, what do you pack it in?
When your pet bird sees you reading the newspaper, does he wonder why you're just sitting there, staring at carpeting?
Where are Preparations A through G?
Where do forest rangers go to get away from it all?
Who tows the tow trucks when they break down?
Why are builders afraid to have a 13th floor but book publishers aren't afraid to have a Chapter 11?
Why are cigarettes sold in gas stations when smoking is prohibited there?
Why are the cabs from the Yellow Cab Company painted orange?
Why are there Braille signs on drive-up ATM's?
Why are there never any artist's materials in a drawing room?
Why did kamikaze pilots wear helmets?
Why didn't Luke Skywalker tell Darth Vader to turn to the light side of the Force?
Why do airlines call flights nonstop? Won't they all stop eventually?
Why do bars advertise live bands?
What does a dead band sound like?
Why do fat chance and slim chance mean the same thing?
Why do people who only eat natural foods drink decaffeinated coffee?
Why do they sell a pound cake that only weighs 12 ounces?
Why do we drive on parkways but park on driveways?
Why do we have hot water heaters?
Why do we play in recitals and recite in plays?
Why do you need a driver's license to buy liquor when you can't drink and drive?
Why does bottled water have an expiration date?
Why does your nose run, and your feet smell?
Why doesn't glue stick to the inside of the bottle?
Why doesn't superglue stick to its container?
Why don't sheep shrink in the rain?
Why don't you ever hear about gruntled employees?
Why is a person who plays the piano called a pianist, but a person who drives a race car not called a racist?
Why is a women's prison called a penal colony?
Why is it called a TV set when you only get one?
Why is it so hard to remember how to spell mnemonic?
Why is it that when you transport something by car, it's called a shipment, but when you transport something by ship, it's called cargo?
Why is it, whether you sit up or sit down, the result is the same?
Why is the word abbreviate so long?
Why is there an eject button on the VCR remote? Don't you have to get up to get to the tape?
Why is there an expiration date on sour cream?
Why isn't phonetic spelled the way it sounds?
Why isn't there mouse-flavored cat food?
Would a fly without wings be called a walk?
Before they invented drawing boards, what did they go back to?
Can atheists get insurance for acts of God?
Could someone ever get addicted to counseling? If so, how could you treat them?
Did the early settlers ever go on a camping trip?
Do fish get cramps after eating?
Do infants enjoy infancy as much as adults enjoy adultery?
Do Lipton employees take coffee breaks?
Do Roman paramedics refer to IV's as 4's?
How can the weather be hot as hell one day and cold as hell another?
How come Superman could stop bullets with his chest, but always ducked when someone threw a gun at him?
How come you press harder on a remote control when you know the battery is dead?
How does a shelf salesman keep his store from looking empty?
How is it possible to have a civil war?
How many people thought of the Post-It note before it was invented but just didn't have anything to jot it down on?
How much deeper would the ocean be if sponges didn't grow in it?
If a bus station is where a bus stops, and a train station is where a train stops, why do I have a work station on my desk?
If a case of the clap spreads, is it then considered a case of the applause?
If all the world is a stage, where is the audience sitting?
If Fed Ex and UPS were to merge, would they call it Fed UP?
If it's zero degrees outside today and it's supposed to be twice as cold tomorrow, how cold is it going to be?
If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why does he keep doing it?
If quitters never win, and winners never quit, who came up with, "Quit while you're ahead"?
If the #2 pencil is the most popular, why's it still #2?
If the Energizer Bunny attacks someone, is it charged with battery?
If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth beeth?
If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?
How can overlook and oversee be opposites, while quite a lot and quite a few are alike?
If women ran the Pentagon, would missiles and submarines be shaped differently?
Should crematoriums give discounts for burn victims?
If you have an open mind why don't your brains fall out?
If you play a blank tape at full volume and have a mime for a neighbor, will he complain?
If you try to fail, and succeed, which have you done?
Is there a Dr. Salt?
What do little birdies see when they get knocked unconscious?
What does it mean if you break a mirror with a rabbits foot?
What hair color do they put on the driver's licenses of bald men?
What happens if you get scared half to death twice?
When vultures are on their deathbed, are they ever tempted to eat themselves?
Whose cruel idea was it for the word "lisp" to have an "s" in it?
Why aren't there bullet-proof pants?
Why do they call it disposable douche? Is there a kind of douche you keep after using?
Why do we wash bath towels?
Aren't we clean when we use them?
Why is it when a door is open it's ajar, but when a jar is open it's not adoor?
Why is lemon juice mostly artificial ingredients but dishwashing liquid contains real lemons?

Good Wife's Guide

Purportedly printed in a 1955 issue of Housekeeping Monthly and a home economics textbook:

  1. Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready, on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home, and the prospect of a good meal (especially his favorite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed.
  2. Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh looking. He has just been with a lot of work weary people. Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.
  3. Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives. Gather up schoolbooks, toys, paper, etc., and then run a dust cloth over the tables. Over the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.
  4. Prepare the children. Take a few minutes to wash the children's hands and faces (if they are small), comb their hair, and if necessary, change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part.
  5. Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet.
  6. Be happy to see him. Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.
  7. Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first -- remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.
  8. Make the evening his. Never complain if he comes home late or goes out to dinner, or other places of entertainment without you. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure, and his very real need to be at home and relax.
  9. Your goal: Try to make sure your home is a place of peace, order and tranquillity where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.
  10. Don't greet him with complaints and problems.
  11. Don't complain if he's late home for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through that day.
  12. Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or have him lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.
  13. Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity.
    Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him. A good wife always knows her place.

    Author unknown

Best Country Song Titles Ever

Velcro Arms, Teflon Heart
Mama Get The Hammer (There's A Fly On Papa's Head)
She Got The Ring And I Got The Finger
Guess My Eyes Were Bigger Than My Heart
I May Be Used, But Baby I Ain't Used Up
If You Can't Bite, Don't Growl
She's Actin' Single I'm Drinkin' Doubles
I Keep Forgettin' I Forgot About You
If My Nose Were Full of Nickels, I'd Blow It All On You
Who's Gonna Take The Garbage Out When I'm Dead And Gone?
She Walked Across My Heart Like It Was Texas
If Love Were Oil, I'd Be A Quart Low
Thanks To The Cathouse, I'm In The Doghouse With You
They May Put Me In Prison, But They Can't Stop My Face From Breakin' Out
If I Ain't Got It, You Don't Need It
You're The Reason Our Kids Are So Ugly
I Wanted You To Leave Until You Left Me
Did I Shave my Legs for This?
I'm The Only Hell Mama Ever Raised
If You Don't Leave Me, I'll Find Someone Who Will
Hold On To Your Men Cause She's Single Again
She Got The Gold Mine And I Got The Shaft
You're Going To Ruin My Bad Reputation
You Done Tore Out My Heart And Stomped That Sucker Flat
I Got Tears In My Ears From
Lying On My Back in My Bed While Crying Over You
She Feels Like A New Man Tonight
At the Gas Station of Love, I Got the Self Service Pump
Get Your Tongue Out Of My Mouth, Because I'm Kissing You Goodbye
She Made Toothpicks Out Of The Timber Of My Heart
If Fingerprints Showed Up On Skin, Wonder Whose I'd Find On You
When You Leave Walk Out Backwards, So I'll Think You're Walking In
I Fell In A Pile Of You And Got Love All Over Me
I Gave Her the Ring, and She Gave Me the Finger
I Changed Her Oil, She Changed My Life
Walk Out Backwards Slowly So I'll Think You're Walking In
How Can You Believe Me When I Say I Love You, When You Know I've Been A Liar All My Life?
My John Deere Was Breaking Your Field, While Your Dear John Was Breaking My Heart
I've Got Hair Oil On My Ears And My Glasses Are Slipping Down, But Baby I Can See Through You
You Were Only A Splinter As I Slid Down The Banister Of Life
I've Been Flushed From The Bathroom Of Your Heart
I Flushed You From The Toilets Of My Heart
Get Your Biscuits In The Oven, And Your Buns In The Bed
Your Negligee Has Turned To Flannel Nightgowns
I Don't Know Whether To Kill Myself Or Go Bowling
You're a Hard Dog To Keep Under The Porch
My Wife Ran Off With My Best Friend, And I Sure Do Miss Him
If Whiskey Were A Woman, I'd Be Married For Sure
Make Me Late For Work Today
How Can I Miss You if You Won't Go Away?
I Would Have Wrote You A Letter, But I Couldn't Spell Yuck!
I'll Marry You Tomorrow, But Let's Honeymoon Tonight
If You Leave Me, Can I Come Too?
Don't Believe My Heart Can Stand Another You
How Come Your Dog Don't Bite Nobody But Me?
Let Me Sleep On Your Pool Table 'Cause There's Another Man In My Bed
Author unknown

Movie Cliches

A detective can only solve a case once he has been suspended from duty.

A man will show no pain while taking the most ferocious beating but will wince when a woman tries to clean his wounds.

A single match will be sufficient to light up a room the size of RFK Stadium.

Action heroes never face charges for manslaughter or criminal damage despite laying entire cities to waste.

All bombs are fitted with electronic timing devices with large red readouts so you know exactly when they're going to go off.

All beds have special L-shaped cover sheets which reach up to the armpit level on a woman but only to waist level on the man lying beside her.

All telephone numbers in America begin with the digits 555.

All grocery shopping bags contain at least one stick of French Bread.

An electric fence, powerful enough to kill a dinosaur will cause no lasting damage to an eight year old child.

Any person waking from a nightmare will sit bolt upright and pant.

Any lock can be picked by a credit card or a paper clip in seconds. Unless it's the door to a burning building with a child trapped inside.

Cars and trucks that crash will almost always burst into flames.

Creepy music coming from a graveyard should always be closely investigated.

Dogs always know who's bad and will naturally bark at them.

During all police investigations it will be necessary to visit a strip club at least once.

During a very emotional confrontation, instead of facing the person you are speaking to, it is customary to stand behind them and talk to their back.

Even when driving down a perfectly straight road, it is necessary to turn the steering wheel vigorously from left to right every few moments.

Everyone knows the words to every song you want to sing and will sing along with you. They can even carry the solo part so that they can sing the song back to you, even if they have never heard the song until you sang half of it.

Guns are like disposable razors. If you run out of bullets, just throw the gun away. You can always find a new one laying around the next time you need one.

If you need to reload your gun, you will always have more ammunition -- even if you haven't been carrying any before now.

Having a job of any kind will make all fathers forget their son's eighth birthday.

If you decide to start dancing in the street, everyone you bump into will know all the steps.

If your town is threatened by an imminent natural disaster or killer beast, the mayor's first concern will be the tourist trade or his forthcoming art exhibition.

If a large pane of glass is visible, someone will be thrown through it before long.

If being chased through town, you can usually take cover in a passing St. Patrick's Day parade at any time of the year.

If a killer is lurking in your house, it's easy to find him. Just relax and run a bath. Even if it's the middle of the afternoon.

If a phone line is broken, communication can be restored by frantically pressing the cradle switch and saying, "Hello? Hello?"

If there is a deranged killer on the loose, this will coincide with a thunderstorm that has brought down all the power and phone lines in the vicinity.

If staying in a haunted house, women should investigate any strange noises in their most revealing underwear.

Interbreeding is genetically possible with any creature from elsewhere in the universe.

It is not necessary to say hello or goodbye when beginning or ending phone conversations.

It is always possible to park directly outside the building you are visiting.

It does not matter if you are heavily outnumbered in a fight involving martial arts -- your enemies will wait patiently to attack you one by one by dancing around in a threatening manner until you have knocked out their predecessors.

It's easy for anyone to land a plane providing there is someone in the control tower to talk you down.

Kitchens don't have light switches.

When entering a kitchen at night, you should open the fridge door and use that light instead.

Make-up can safely be worn to bed without smudging.

Many musical instruments, especially wind instruments and accordions, can be played without moving the fingers.

Medieval peasants had perfect teeth.

Most people keep a scrapbook of newspaper cuttings, especially if any of their family or friends has died in a strange boating accident.

Most dogs are immortal.

Most laptop computers are powerful enough to override the communication systems of any invading alien civilization.

Mothers routinely cook eggs, bacon and waffles for their family every morning even though their husband and children never have time to eat it.

No matter how badly a spaceship is attacked, its internal gravity system is never damaged.

Once applied, lipstick will never rub off -- even while scuba diving.

One man shooting at 20 men has a better chance of killing them all than 20 men firing at one.

Police Departments give their officers personality tests to make sure they are deliberately assigned a partner who is their total opposite.

Rather than wasting bullets, megalomaniacs prefer to kill their arch-enemies using complicated machinery involving fuses, pulley systems, deadly gases, lasers and man eating sharks that will allow their captives at least 20 minutes to escape.

Should you wish to pass yourself off as a German officer, it will not be necessary to speak the language. A German accent will do.

Stripping to the waist can make a man invulnerable to bullets.

Television news bulletins usually contain a story that affects you personally at that precise moment.

The Chief of Police is always black.

The ventilation system of any building is the perfect hiding place. No one will ever think of looking for you in there and you can travel to any other part of the building you want without difficulty.

The Eiffel Tower can be seen from any window in Paris.

When they are alone, all foreigners prefer to speak English to each other.

When you turn out the light to go to bed, everything in your room will still be clearly visible, just slightly bluish.

When a person is knocked unconscious by a blow to the head, they will never suffer a concussion or brain damage.

When paying for a taxi, don't look at your wallet as you take out a bill. Just grab one at random and hand it over. It will always be the exact fare.

Word processors never display a cursor on screen but will always say: Enter Password Now.

You can always find a chainsaw whenever you're likely to need one.

You're very likely to survive any battle in any war unless you make the mistake of showing someone a picture of your sweetheart back home.

30 Books Every Kid Should Read Before Graduating High School

This list was inspired by a story about a high school teacher in Virginia who says that she doesn't have her students read "Catcher In The Rye" anymore, because she doesn't think it is relevant to their lives. I couldn't disagree more. It is the teacher's job to get the kids to relate to a great story. You don't have to have grown up on the Mississippi River to enjoy and learn from "Huck Finn," do you? Of course not. Here then, is a list of 30 classics that should be must-read for every American kid:

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Alice In Wonderland
All Quiet On The Western Front
Black Like Me
Brave New World
Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee
Catcher In The Rye
Charlie & The Chocolate Factory
Diary of Anne Frank
Fahrenheit 451
The Grapes of Wrath
The Great Gatsby
Gulliver’s Travels
The Hobbitt
Little Women
Lord Of The Flies
Lord Of The Rings
Moby Dick
Old Man & The Sea
Old Yeller
Oliver Twist
Pride & Prejudice
Robinson Crusoe
Romeo & Juliet
Tale Of Two Cities
To Kill A Mockingbird
Treasure Island
The Yearling