Friday, November 30, 2012

A new kind of advice column

            Most columns offer good advice. My column is unique in that it offers bad advice. So let’s go directly to the Q & A:
            Q: Please give me your advice. How can I stop smoking?
            A: Take up Latin dances. Rumba, samba, cha-cha. It’s almost impossible to smoke in a conga line.
            Q: That’s absurd. Why would anyone do that?
            A: They probably wouldn’t. That’s why it’s bad advice.
            Q. Next question: What’s the best way to get rid of unwanted houseguests?
            A: I differ from conventional wisdom in that I don’t use poisonous snakes. A better solution: exploding bars of soap. BOOM-A-CLEASE is good, or any detonating soap product.
            Q: That’s the worst advice I’ve ever heard.
            A: Thank you.
            Q: Try this one: How can I stop beating my wife?
            A: Wife beating is definitely wrong. As a substitute try wife polishing. WIFE-SHEEN is a spray-on product. Apply with a soft cloth and you’ll bring her to a high gloss in 10-12 minutes. BUFF-A-SPOUSE is also good.
            Q: I’m curious – Does anyone ever take your advice?
            A: Not that I know of.
            Q: An anxious parent writes: Our 14-year-old son is turning to lawlessness – stealing hubcaps, robbing vending machines, extorting lunch money. How can we keep him from becoming a petty criminal?
            A: Why be petty? The Mafia publishes a booklet: Career Opportunities in Organized Crime. A must-read for anyone considering crime as a career option.
            Q: Next question: I need a vacation that’s totally stress-free. Any suggestions?
            A: Adventure, that’s the ticket. Become a cab driver in Naples, Italy. Learn to drive-by-horn, dodge scooters, flee Mafiosi. And as part of the cultural exchange, a Neapolitan cabbie comes to America and drives your car for two weeks.
            Q: That’s supposed to be relaxing?
            A: No.
            Q: Here’s an oft-heard question: I’m afraid to go to the dentist. I can’t stand pain.
            A: Explain to the dentist that if you experience any pain, you will bite him. Give the dentist a crazed, wide-eyed look, then relax and enjoy a pain-free dental experience.
            Q: A woman writes: I want to offer a memorable surprise when the dinner group comes to our house. I know you’re not a chef but I thought you might make a suggestion.
            A: Who needs a chef? Drama is the key – perhaps something in a flaming dessert! First you light it up – KAWUMP – then have your husband enter in a fireman suit and douse it. Your dinner group will cheer and with any luck no one gets hurt.
            Q: Have you ever considered giving good advice?
            A: I tried it once. Couldn’t get the hang of it. With bad advice, expectations are lower.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

You might NOT be a redneck if….

Great premise, huh? For example: You might not be a redneck if you call security when Jeff Foxworthy comes on your property.

Or if you own alligator shoes from a gator you haven’t wrestled.

If you have a Swiss bank account and write checks against it at the grocery store, you probably are not a redneck.

If you wish Larry the Cagle Guy would stop saying, “Git ’er done” and simply do his job, you might not be a redneck.
When you’re asked if you like the Grand Old Opry and you reply, “Oh yes! I love La Boheme,” you aren’t a redneck.

Same if you wish the Georgia Bulldogs would join the Ivy League so they’d get to play Dartmouth every year.

If you enjoy a bubble bath now and then, you might not be a redneck.

Or if you have a sign at the end of your half-mile-long driveway that reads “NO RIFFRAFF, you probably aren’t a redneck.

You might not be a redneck if you wear a polo shirt to play polo.

Or if, when it comes to girls’ names, you reject Candi, Taffi and Brandi in favor of Victoria, you may not be a redneck.

If you buy a French poodle instead of a pit bull, you probably aren’t a redneck. On the other hand, if you try to give a pit bull some kind of coiffure, you may or may not be a redneck but you probably are dangerous.

Who knows – maybe we all have a little redneck in us. It’s good to enjoy life in elemental ways whether one is a redneck or not. The French have a term for it: joie de vivre. Please note that anyone who uses French phrases may be an exemplar of virtue and lead a life of avowed purpose. But, if you’ll forgive me for saying so, this person is probably not a redneck.

[For more of the same, visit Alan’s blog,]

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Oscars for words beginning with R

Someone once said, “A human life is like a single letter in the alphabet. It can be meaningless. Or it can be part of a great meaning.” For me, the R is the noblest of letters and the one I revere.
S is a villain of a letter, hissing with sibilance. B is bland. T needs the companionship of H to do its best work. The letter G can denote gallantry but gives way to ignoble noises like gush, gurgle, gargle and groan.
So it is that for flexibility and force combined with raffishness, I’ll cast my lot with R.
And the Oscars for excellence in words beginning with R go to the following:
Hardest Word to Spell – rhythm. Ask 10 intelligent people to spell the word. None will be able. It is unspellable: five consonants held together by one Y serving forlornly as a vowel.
Most Onomatopoeic – ratchet. My oink-brained dictionary recognizes the word only as a vowel although its principle force is as a pleasingly grating verb.
Word Most Sullied by a Silent Letter – wrong, as in ‘I hate to use the R word but you’re wrong.’ It is technically the W word. The glory-seeking W feigns preeminence when in fact it isn’t even elocuted. Maybe on my deathbed somebody will tell me the purpose of the W in wrong, or wrath, or wreck, or wrestle. The heroic R triumphs over the parasitic W.
Hardest to Pronounce – rural. In fact, the word is unpronounceable even if you live there. One comes no closer than sounding like a car laboring to start on a cold morning. Tigers say the word to one another as a sign of affection.
Best Use of an Accent Mark – risqué. Face it, without the accent the word is nothing, like Mary Moore without her Tyler.
Most Flexibility of Meaning – rascal. It serves as accusation or accolade. When you meet a rascal you don’t know whether to lock him up or invite him for drinks.
Most Pretentious Word for a Simple Concept – risible. It means funny or causing laughter. Nobody ever uses it, which is why it’s useful to stump people.
So anyway, here’s a turn in the spotlight for the letter R. Tomorrow it’ll go back to work heading everything from riot to recherché, from Ramblin’ Rose to Roy Rogers. It’s a letter you can pal around with.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Shakespearean Football

            If the Elizabethans had played the gridiron game, the dialogue would have gone something like this:
            TO YOUR TEAMMATES WHEN THE OPPONENT FUMBLES – Hasten good fellows! Pounce upon the spheroid lest those of careless prospect seek to retrieve it.
            TO A CHEERLEADER – Fie! I revere your womanliness too profoundly to hurl you skyward, perchance to drop beauty’s own projectile. Dos’t thou bounce? I fear not.
            WHEN A COACH SEEKS TO INSPIRE HIS PLAYERS – They castigate you as layabouts. Faith tis better said of the craven sluggards across the greensward. To them belongs calumny, to you glory. Now go forth and commit slaughter with heroism’s own impugnity.
            WHEN A PLAYER LEAVES COLLEGE EARLY TO JOIN THE PROS – Better to embrace the prose than the pros. This noble campus offers you the poetry of education – that which sustaineth when empty stadia confront your diminished talent.
            ORDERING A HOT DOG  - Hail yeoman vendor! Four dogs, that I may consume three and still extend charity’s mite to my abstemious colleague. Mustard atop, and lavishly applied.
            CALLING A PASS PLAY – The coach offers a suggestion: Hurl the piggish projectile downfield then snatch it from the sky. Speaketh the coach: On fourth down with thirty yards yet untraveled, what in hell’s own dominion can we do?
            ON HAVING YOUR PASS INTERCEPTED – Weasel! Marplot! You take unto yourself that which is vouchsafed to another, my boon companion, the wide receiver. Take from me my wife, my stead, but never my football. Drat! The noble quarterback now victim of my own folly!
            THE COACH, AFTER ENDURING A KOOL-ADE DOUSING – Jackals! Douse me in defeat if you must, but not in my moment of triumph. If a headcold attends this treachery then may jeopardy attend your scholarships.
            THE CHANCELLOR, SPEAKING TO THE TEAM AFTER A L OSING SEASON – As I watch our season harden to the consistency of a soufflé, I calculate that brigands of the high road could triple your quotient of dexterity.
            TO A PRIZE RECRUIT – Well done, wrestling those bears. Would’st consider an academic alternative to the bear pits?