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Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

I had what you might call a “virtual interview” on Skype late last night. It was with the good folks at UberStrike — creators of my most favorite new pastime shoot-em-up 3D computer game; the same company that’s been sitting for months in my “blogroll” to the right, and the same one I wrote about here many weeks ago; the same UberStrike game that’s got me hooked for life and fascinated by the inner workings of their well-managed public forum board, on which I have become active these past months.

UberStrike is owned by a parent company named “CMUNE”.

Turns out UberStrike is looking for new, game-hardened writers to become CMUNE-sanctioned reporters in what they call the Cmunity Newspaper”. (Very prestigious stuff if you are an UberStrike gamer like I am.) In other words, UberStrike was looking for Simply Tim and just didn’t know it yet.

So, there I sat in front of my monitor last night well after midnight, jacked into an international Skype chat session with about a dozen UberStrike moderators, getting ready to tell them why they needed ME on the team. Right off the bat — the very first question — I was asked where I lived (UberStrike has players worldwide, where timezones are important) and to tell them a little bit about myself.

Very carefully, I steered my geezer fingers to begin typing: “I’m in USA — North Carolina. I’m retired with lots of time on my hands. And I am wild about UberStrine.”

I pressed the SEND key and there it was, a typo bigger than hell, irrevocable and plain for everyone to see: I had misspelled the company’s name who was interviewing me for a WRITER’S position!

“UberSTRINE” ?  I was absolutely mortified.

Time passed. I recalled that great death scene in the animated X-rated adult movie, Fritz the Cat from 1972, the scene where — one by one —  billiard balls dropped into a pocket, clearing the table, each ball-drop signifying being one step closer to death — my future with UberStrike, like those balls, dropping from sight.

Time passed. I heard Jeopardy music and billiard balls falling one by one. “I’m in USA — North Carolina. I’m retired with lots of time on my hands. And I am wild about UberStrine.” was still sitting on the screen.

Then my fingers began to move. I had no idea where they were heading.

“I even like UberSTRIKE!” I added, pressing the send button once again.  HAHAHAs lit up the Skype screen like a Christmas tree. And just like that, I was one of them. I got the job, which, by the way, is non-paying, gratis.

I think I’m gonna have fun. I’ll keep you posted.

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Today’s Inbox* Humor

We are all familiar with a Herd of cows, a Flock of chickens, a School of fish and a Gaggle of geese, Right?

Less widely known is a Pride of lions, a Murder of crows (as well as their cousins the rooks and ravens), an Exaltation of doves and, presumably because they look so wise, a Parliament of owls.

Now, let’s consider a group of Baboons. They are the loudest, most dangerous, most obnoxious, most viciously aggressive and least intelligent of all primates. And what do you think is  the proper collective noun for a group of baboons? Well, would you believe — a CONGRESS?

Perhaps there’s a new group in the making here: a Congress of politicians…

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*Discovered in my inbox, sent by a friend.

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(circa 2005 — re-edited, images added)

A Review of Sorts

Slung into space...

It didn’t matter where you were in the Florida Centennial State Fairgrounds: the “SLINGSHOT” ride was always visible, towering — Godzilla-like — above the carnival skyline, daring you to rearrange your roving in order to take a closer look. I’d wager to say NO ONE passed by the other-worldly SLINGSHOT without standing silently for several minutes, head askew, looking straight up and wondering what kind of fool would pay $20 to be launched into space like that.

“90 MILES PER HOUR IN UNDER THREE SECONDS! 5 G-FORCES!”

. . .is what a simple black, red and white sign nestled just beneath a $20 ticket price and a hoard of screeching seagulls boasted.

What other kind of fool is there?

“Hey, Pat,” I exclaimed. “Let’s do it!”

Coney Island's CYCLONE

I recalled a similar carny moment forty years prior when we both had stood in front of Coney Island’s infamous wooden-tracked “CYCLONE” roller-coaster ride. Only that time it was Pat who asked ME the same question. “Uh, uh,” I had stammered back then. “Not me.” But to no avail. Literally dragged onto the rickety ride, I remember screaming nonstop and nearly peeing my pants. “Wow, let’s do it again!” Pat had gushed back then, long before those intervening years caught up with her depthless curiosity, or — perhaps – wisdom had merely won out.

“No way, Tim,” said Pat emphatically in the here and now, watching the SLINGSHOT fling two screaming passengers hundreds of feet into the air in a matter of nanoseconds. “Some rides are best taken from a distance.”

“Aw, come-on, Pat,” I pleaded. “Remember when we went last year on that Bush Gardens ride — the one that flipped us upside down in cork-screwy loop-de-loops? That was FUN!”

“Not the same thing,” she said. “No, YOU go on. I’ll wait over by the corn dog stand.”

Left brain: NO! Right brain: NO!

Now, undecided about taking the Florida Stare Fair SLINGSHOT ride sitting next to a total stranger, I began checking out the structural integrity and underlying engineering principles of the SLINGSHOT ride; my brain started clicking. (I do exactly the same thing while sitting in the window seat of a Delta airliner just before takeoff: Flaps down? Engine connected firmly to the wing? Any sounds of screeching metal against metal? Brownish fluid dripping from the wingtips? Ground crew appears alert and on top of things?)

The SLINGSHOT consisted of a two-passenger seat suspended dubiously on two metal guy wires that hung down from either side of twin erector-set towers (sturdy masts of super-cranes that once worked on mile-high skyscrapers or perhaps in a shipyard?). A 20×20-foot spring assembly, made up of literally HUNDREDS of individual and tightly-coiled steel springs, was hydraulically winched down immediately before every launch sequence using a classic Rube Goldberg pulley system. The cocking process took a couple of minutes, during which time I was able to clearly note the whites of the passengers’ eyes flashing like disturbed stars just before going supernova.

And then, without warning of any kind, WOOOOSHHHH!

Here is a YOU Tube video of the SLINGSHOT ride. In this version I notice a cage surrounding the two riders has been added. The one my sister and I watched was an open air two-seater. You get the idea…

Just like a ball bearing hurled from a gigantic slingshot, the terrified passengers TWANG! into deep space, clamped firmly to their seat by restraining devices similar to vice grips. At the apogee of the flight, the chair seat turns briefly upside down in near zero gravity before plummeting back to the earth in true bungee-cord freefall fashion. Major screaming going on here. Up and down. Springs creaking. Up and down again. Way MORE screaming, passengers gyrating like yo-yos amid a sudden cloudburst of corn-dog-colored confetti.

The seagulls go wild.

Mercifully, the passengers are lowered to the ground, where a zillion springy coils are once again compressed, waiting for the next forty-dollar twosome. . .

What could possibly be more terrifying than THAT?

A nighttime SLING... That's what!

No thanks. Pat was right: “Some rides are best taken from a distance.”

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My buddy, Oscar the Heron ignoring me.

My father was an Oscar William Jr. I came very close to being named Oscar William III. Imagine that. Oscar William the Third has a regal ring to it, right? But the surname was never to be: Dad didn’t want his son to have a moniker whose name, ending in “Third” rhymed with … well — by golly, you get the idea.

My favorite place (complete with discarded slipper).

A while back I introduced you to Oscar the Blue Heron, a resident grouch with whom I share a mutual respect. Very skittish and prone to taking flight at the slightest provocation, Oscar and I have learned to tolerate each other’s presence over the years. When our schedules don’t overlap, Oscar sits on the end of my dock waiting for hapless bait fish to swim by. He was apparently sitting there for quite a while during my recent visit to see Mom!

The end of my dock is one of my most favorite places in the world. A place to watch the clouds. A place to unwind. A place to commune with nature and — like Oscar — fish for my dinner. A place to contemplate my infinitesimally unimportant place in the universe. A place to take off one’s slippers and sniff the roses. An unsullied place with a shared and implicit air of sacrosanctity surrounding it like a shroud.

Boy, was I wrong.

Gift from Oscar

I like to think Oscar was upset that I left him alone, that he missed my companionship and terse conversations, that he was anxious that my place to sit had remained empty for too long. That he was — worried. But when I returned home from my visit to see Mom, I was reminded that Oscar the Heron might have felt otherwise about his abandonment. Perhaps, Oscar the Heron was — just plain angry!

Perhaps … Dad was right after all.

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(circa 2005)

Today, as Buster looked on, I snipped down 9 of my remaining 10 tomato plants and carried them to the compost pile. I could hear Buster chattering nervously overhead while I turned the pile over with a pitchfork. The final tomato plant is still about one month away from bearing tomatoes. Who knows, could be Old Man Winter will put an end to them before either Buster or I get to enjoy them.

I have begun raking freshly fallen acorns around my deck into a pile far removed from my garden — a peace offering of sorts. But Buster has so far chosen to ignore the acorns and prefers watching that last tomato plant, instead. Buster Boy, my advice to you: forget the tomatoes and start collecting as many acorns as you can because it’s gonna be a cold, hard winter, and those whiskers fringing your nose have already turned snow white.

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By golly, Buster is becoming a gardener. He probably doesn’t know it yet, but that’s what he’s learning to do by watching me. Ever since he found his way home after his lengthy Lake Gaston Foggy South Shoreline Cruise, I’ve begun removing every near-ripe tomato from my tomato vines before he has had a chance to play his silly, vindictive games. Now he has resorted to grabbing the green ones and — instead of eating each one half-way and leaving the carcasses where I’ll find them — he is carrying them off the patio and hiding them in my flower beds! I know this because I am finding tomato tops neatly packed in-between my hostas and ferns with just a wee cap of green tomato stem sticking out.

I’d like to think that Buster is just burying them like acorns for a winter harvest, in which case Buster is too stupid to realize they will rot in the ground before he has a chance to eat them, but — deep down in those dark seedy places where thoughts like table scraps decompose — I know better than that. What Buster is really doing is PLANTING his own crop of tomato seeds for next year just so he won’t have to deal with terrible me.

Which is fine, because next summer I’m going to steal all of HIS red tomatoes, take one bite out of each and every one, and leave them grinning face-up in the sunshine just like he’s been doing to mine this summer. Oh, what a tangled woof I weave!

On the other hand, perhaps I should just let sleeping squirrels lie.

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Today’s Quote

“If you drink, don’t drive. Don’t even putt.”

–Dean Martin

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Today’s Groan

–submitted by Analee

A young man was a slow worker and found it difficult to hold down a job. After a visit to the employment office, he was offered work at the local zoo. When he arrived for his first day, the keeper, aware of his reputation, told him to take care of the tortoise section.

Later, the keeper dropped by to see how the young man was doing and found him standing by an empty enclosure with the gate open. “Where are the tortoises?” he asked.

“I can’t believe it,” said the new employee. “I just opened the door and WHOOOOOSH, they were gone!”

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Tim says: Okay. Here’s a couple more of my favorite tortoise jokes:

A snail was crossing the road when he was run over by a tortoise. A policeman came along and asked him how it happened. “I don’t know,” replied the snail, “It all happened so fast!”

 

Q: What does a snail say when it’s riding on top of a tortoise?
A: “Wheee! We’re really moving now!”

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Sometimes I wonder about things. Like right now I’m wondering about jokes, and how they get started. I mean, does someone, somewhere, actually sit down with a pen and a piece of paper and say to themselves: “Okay, now I think I’m going to write a joke about a farmer’s daughter. . .”? I suspect jokes have been around since the moment two or more human beings gathered in the same place at the same time. After all, what good is a joke if there’s no one to tell it to or play it upon?

I think way back at the beginning of time there was a single source for all jokes: a bug with no name, a tree maybe, or some bush that did nothing but tell jokes and laugh 24 hours a day. After a while, someone came to listen and laughed, too. And took notes. From that beginning, those jokes took on a life of their own, having been retold over and over again, ritualistically passed along and changed from generation to generation as some kind of weird rite of social passage.

Nowadays, the Internet has become the media of choice for joke telling, an electronic breeding ground of sorts, where ka-ZILLIONS of joke particles are broken down and digitally reassembled each and every nanosecond of each and every day. Could be that some of these joke molecules get lost in transit, hitching rides to who knows where with other lost bits and pieces, melding and frolicking until — in the mysterious birthing process of cyberspace — an entirely new and unrecognizable joke species emerges.

I don’t know where jokes come from, but I think the bug with no name must still be watching and laughing along with us.

 

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Tim says: as many of you know, I hosted Tips du Jour (a daily newsletter that contained — among other things — a clean daily joke or two) for nearly 10 years. Like the tips themselves, every day I received hundreds of reader-submitted jokes. Jokes of all kinds and flavors. Some I passed along, some I didn’t dare. Like a doctor whose fingers were superglued to a patient’s wrist, I was permanently affixed to the humor-pulse of the Internet. Oftentimes, I received the very same jokes that I had edited in Tips du Jour (I cleaned up a lot of them) and had re-launched into the primordial joke-ooze of cyberspace months or even years before. I could tell because my edits, known only to me, were still in there, apparently accepted by the Charon-like Internet ferryman.  When that happened — when the jokes came full circle and returned home to roost in my inbox — like that bug with no name, I laughed all over again.

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Phone Phooey

There is a new Hewlett Packard TV commercial out there I don’t understand. Evidently, some new bell and whistle now makes it possible for me to zip a picture directly from my cell phone all the way to my home printer from anywhere in the world.

Why would I want to do that?

Okay. I am standing in the middle of the Grand Canyon. I snap a picture using my handy-dandy cell phone, but instead of emailing the picture to any number of recipients and let them print the silly picture, I decide to click a button on my cell phone. Two thousand miles away, my HP printer begrudgingly comes to life, in theory, spitting out a perfect color picture of the Grand Canyon right there in my empty office.

What good is that? If you are like me, your printer is most likely out of at least one color of ink, and chances are good the photo-paper tray is empty. In which case, how would I know that from two thousand miles away? Maybe these technology mongers just want us to use more ink and more paper.

I gave up my cell phone a year ago. The keys on my Blackberry were too tiny to use, the screen was too small to see, the $85 per/month contract was too expensive, and I was unable to pay only for the minutes I used. Turns out, after a year of cell-phoning, I had amassed a whopping grand total of 48 minutes of air time. That’s 4 minutes per month, at roughly $21 per minute. Even the Blackberry rep agreed I didn’t need a cell phone, cheerfully refunding me $100 when I returned the unit. There wasn’t a scratch on it.

I recall many years ago Mom — who will be 92 on December 23 — telling me that although the world was rushing ahead of her, she didn’t care one iota about trying to keep up.

By golly, I know exactly what she means.

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George the Iguana

I once had a girlfriend who convinced me to buy her an iguana. The critter started out as a cute green thing who sat happily atop his electronically heated $70 iguana “breeding” stone. The cage cost $130. The next day, as I watched the new pet stretch out for a limb that was propped in the corner of his cage, and while he pulled himself up on the branch, he reminded me of the cartoon character, George of the Jungle.

That’s how George got his name.

George was not a finicky eater, but after a year or two he could put away a quarter-pound of fresh broccoli in a single sitting. By then, his new cage cost $350.00, in which sat a much larger and expensive breeding stone. George didn’t move around much, which was fine by me, because on those rare occasions when my girlfriend allowed him to roam the household, I would often find claw marks on the antique furniture, and an assorted collection of broccoli-colored gifts on the carpet.

And then one day George the Iguana and my girlfriend were gone, along with his cage, my microwave oven and TV.

I still miss George.

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Ah, Insomnia

Sometimes when I wake up in the middle of the night, my brain begins to think rather than falling back to sleep. Like last night, when I woke up puzzling over a Dean Koontz novel I had been reading immediately before nodding off.  A sputter here, a synapse there, and — bingo, I began wondering where the story would go next.

Too late. I was wide awake.

I have often found that taking a very, very hot shower helps prepare me for a re-visit by the Sandman. Something about the influx of heat and the sound of the shower striking my skull — I think — is what does it. My bathroom happens to have one of those shower-chairs sitting in the bathtub, which makes taking a steamy, lazy shower a pleasant experience. “Pssssssst”, went the hot water. IN came the heat. SLOOSH went the water-sounds on my bald head. So pleasant. So nice. “AHhhhhh.” Just a little bit longer. . .

About an hour later I awoke screaming under a deluge of ice-cold water. I had comfortably fallen asleep in the shower chair, listening to those water-sounds pecking like rain on a copper roof, inside my bald head.

Man, oh man, I was so wildly awake even Dean Koontz couldn’t help.

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