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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

All Hail Ringo!



All hail Ringo!
Posted by Chad Smith on Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A great tribute to Ringo Star.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Against All Odds


Upon arriving in Valencia and learning that Spain ranks second for bars per capita I had in mind the unrealistic goal of stopping for a drink in each and every bar, restaurant, and café (many places fit all three of these descriptions). Another of my goals—a bit loftier and soberer—was to read Don Quijote in the original which proved to be a lot easier than hitting every bar in town. Some would call my quest quixotic: having or showing ideas that are different and unusual but not practical or likely to succeed.That sounds like something a quitter would say.

If you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all. That's a common saying but what kind of attitude is that in life? “I’ve been to one country, why bother seeing another?” Does that sound like sound advice? “The thing about the Louvre, if you’ve seen one historic masterpiece you’ve seen them all.” Did I just equate cafés in Valencia to works of art in one of the world’s leading museums? Maybe I did but have you ever tried to watch a football match at the Louvre? Talk about getting shushed to death. How about we turn this adage on its ear? “If you haven’t been to all of Valencia’s bars maybe you need to get out more?” I think this better reflects my core values.

I could probably reach this improbable goal if I never had more than on drink in each bar...but where's the fun in that? This actually used to be a strategy my friends and I invented back when we were running around the Greek Islands for a few summers. We called it Hit and Run in which we would never have more than one drink in any given island bar no matter what was happening. It sort of kept us a bit less drunk as walking between cocktails burned some alcohol. It also fueled the sort of frantic nature of our nightly forays into one of the best scenes for young people that I’ve ever come across.

Most of my stops in cafés have been for coffee so this isn't a tell-all about binge drinking. I'm sorry if I led anyone on but as I have mentioned before, Spanish bars are mostly  family-friendly places. Many serve as sort of an extended living room for the entire neighborhood where people come to watch TV, read the paper, get a quick bite to eat, and sometimes have a drink or two.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Pink Slip, Orange Hair, Dark Future



I was let go from my job last week. The rodeo clown industry—like everything else—is in sharp decline. It is sad to see that the most American of activities, tormenting livestock, is on the verge of economic collapse. I blame vegetarians. I was fired for several rodeo clown dress code violations. Things like the wrong shade of orange hair and shoes a little too big. They said I was too gaudy for American Rodeo Association standards. They were looking for more dignified, more conservative clowns. The big question is where do I go from here? And do I have to ride in that Volkswagen Beetle with 37 other freaks?

I took my work seriously, as seriously as one can be expected to take a job where a bike horn is considered a fashion accessory. Now I’m in the unemployment line after 25 years of taking bull horns where the sun don’t shine, 25 years of getting kicked in the face by bucking broncos. I endured a lot of pain. You can bet your big happy butt that I was one of those “crying on the outside” clowns but I loved my job. Now all I have to show for the scars is my retirement gift from the clown guild: a gold carnation that squirts water—that and the student loans for Clown College.

The circus would be a big step down at this stage of my career, too minor league, too humiliating—if the word “humiliating” even exists in my vocabulary. Besides, circus clowns wear way too much make-up for my tastes. I don’t want to look cheap. Old and trashy isn’t a good look for anyone.

They won’t let me do children’s parties any more after the...I can’t believe the newspapers called it a “massacre.” I don’t see what the big deal was. I mean, can we all just take a deep breath and put this thing into perspective? It only involved five kids, three of whom have made almost complete recoveries. Lots of things can be dangerous for children: crossing the street, cleaning products under the sink, running with scissors, and riding their bikes. Is setting off a controlled explosion at a birthday party for eight year olds any worse? OK, obviously I’m being a little generous with the word “controlled” here but you know what I’m trying to say.

There aren’t a lot of job opportunities for a laid-off and disgraced rodeo clown. I wanted to work in the automobile safety industry but they said they only use dummies for crash testing. I guess they didn’t bother to look at my college grades on the resume. If there are three words I thoroughly understand they are “dumb it down.”

They say that it’s never too late for a career change. In my line of work I’d say it’s never too soon to start looking for a new job.

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Page from the Fascist Playbook: Pitting the lower classes against one another

Bad hair, worse ideas.


With the whole Donald Trump race-baiting affair making its way through the news cycle we should all take a step back and consider just how this fits into the conservative plan for America as we see it unfolding. First we have created a vast divide between rich and poor beginning with the Reagan tax cuts in the 1980s. Virtually every law since then has added to the misallocation of income favoring those who already have too much at the expense of everyone else. Of course, it’s impossible to win an election when your group represents only the wealthiest 1% of Americans which means that you need to appeal to the prols on other issues besides taking care of their economic needs.

“Social issues” like abortion and “family values” (whatever the hell that means) have become the battle cry of conservatives for years now. Of course, wealthy people never need worry about safe abortion for their progeny because they have always had easy access to abortion. The only thing that making abortion the law of the land did was to extend this same right to the poorer people in America who didn’t have the resources to send their daughters to some other country where abortion is legal. As far as family values, whenever you hear of some group with the word “family” in the title you can rest assured that what they really mean are white, middle class families.

The most deceitful practice of the conservatives is to pit the lower classes against one another, as if one group of the poor is the enemy and responsible for the other group’s misfortune. At the beginning of the financial meltdown when Obama took office conservatives made a valiant effort to blame the whole scandal on deadbeat home owners. Next they went after school teachers, as if those entrusted with the education of our children don’t deserve a position in middle class society. Fast food workers have been constantly pilloried for having the gall to ask for a livable wage, one that doesn’t require them to ask for government assistance to make ends meet. You can forget about anyone on public assistance; they don't even rate as human beings as far as conservatives are concerned.

And now we have a purported Republican presidential candidate spewing the most hateful vile to have come out of the mouth of a politician since Munich…and he’s doing well in the polls! Here is a man who makes Sarah Palin look like Bertrand Russell in comparison and he is polling second among Republicans.

I am supremely confident that there aren't enough racist hicks in America to ever elect someone from this party as our president.