I DO NOT Hate Dogs (Or Babies), Actually

My mother is convinced that I hate dogs–or pretends she is convinced so she can annoy me–and mentions this non-fact every time I, ironically, say something pleasant about the little furry buggers.

“I thought you hated dogs,” she’ll say, blithely unconcerned that no such evidence for this belief exists.

“For the bajillionth time,” I will say, with great exasperation, “I like dogs just fine. I just don’t WANT one.”

Of course, I also, according to my mother, hate babies. Because, again, I do not WANT one, and am at a bit of a loss about what conversational topic might appeal to them. I have been unable to interest babies in politics, music or books thus far, and after these conversational gambits fail, we blink at each other a lot, and I’m reduced to saying something inane like “cootchy-coo.”

“I thought you hated babies,” my mom will say, should I ever make a positive comment about one, and for this statement she at least has a small amount of “evidence” at hand. I never played with baby dolls, cooed over babies, or came home from babysitting a-flush with girlish dreams of popping out my very own mini-Me.

“For the bajillionth time,” I will say, with great resignation, “I like babies just fine. I just don’t WANT one. And I prefer them when they haven’t offloaded used food into their britches, and when they are asleep. Other than that, babies are awesome.”

Clearly, what I dislike is responsibility and neediness. Not dogs and babies.

I am fairly good at speaking Cat and Ferret (not that ferrets are particularly vocal, mind you). Moreso Cat. Not just LolCat, which is an annoying recent habit I’ve picked up thanks to Grumpy Cat and LimeCat et al and Can Haz Cheezburger and Internet poisoning in general, but actual Cat.

When I was small, and not very old, we lived next door to the P—s. They were a childfree couple, as far as I know, who, instead of breeding and having lots of kids, collected a large quantity of Siamese cats. Though Siamese tend to resemble each other greatly, especially when swarming around you in a tide of yowl, I think I finally determined there were eight in all. Maybe ten. They were all big, lazy, brown-pointed meezers with the distinctive Siamese voice (nails on blackboard, but still endearing, if you like cats, which I most emphatically did and do).

In addition to the Mob O’ Meezers, there was a long-haired mutt cat who used to beat up on our cat, Socks, who was a marsh cat, and only Siamese from the knees up. Socks was the Most Awesome Cat Ever, and when the neighbors’ mutt cat bit a chunk out of the base of her tail, she endured the indignity with stoicism. Poor kitty. She was small, had a white chin, bib and toes, and a sweet kitten voice. She was also very aware that she’d been rescued and had it damn good in our household. A nicer cat you could not wish for.

Socks was named after the Beverly Cleary book.  We also had a beagle, who I wanted to call Ribsy, because I was seven years old when we got her and I thought that would be awesome. Had I won this battle, it would have been the most ironic name ever, because Brandy (the unoriginal name the dog was eventually saddled with) eventually resembled a  spotted barrel perched atop toothpicks. Also? There were bricks and potatoes smarter than this dog.

Those poor cats. I was relentless in my attempts to befriend them.  They’d be taking a nice kitty kip under the Pitts’ car, and I’d lie on the driveway and carefully drag one out to cuddle it. If it was sufficiently stuporous, it would allow this without complaint. Eventually the cats all gave up and resigned themselves to being loved within an inch of their lives, and even seemed to enjoy it. All but the bastard fluffy one of unknown heritage.

Those cats taught me how to speak Cat, though, and the skill has never deserted me. Not only do I understand Cat body language and behavior (especially “fuck off, I’m trying to take a nap, yo!”), but also the various Cat vocalizations. Alas, my accent is Siamese. So it goes.

Cat Glossary:

Mrp — Howdy!
Prow? — How goes it?
Mew — I are tiny kitten.
Meyow — Hey!
Myow — Oh, you again.
Murt — That feels nice
Prrrr — More of the same, please
Rrrr — Not there.
Hreee! — I see my mortal enemy
MrrrrrEEEEEOOOOOOW! — Me so horny
Meh — Hungry
MEH yeh — I’m not kidding, I haven’t eaten for yonks
RAHR? — I have no opposable thumbs, please open that can for me
Eh YAO, Eh YAO — Front desk calling, this is your wake up call
Fffft! — Come closer and you’ll draw back a nub
Hhhhhrawr — For serious. I will bite you.
Grummm grummm — Makin’ biscuits, v. v. busy.
Moo? — I are tiny cow.
Prrrp! — I am about to race up and down the stairs for no apparent reason.
Mummmm, mummmmm — I love you, man.
Miaou — Hey guys, what’s going on in this thread?
Meow — Pay attention to me
Roop?— Is that for me?
Mao — Workers unite!
Wow wow — I am on the wrong side of the door. Both sides of the door are always wrong.
Mmmrrgggl — I have a mouth full of dead lizard. Is a present. For you.
Mwah? MWAH?! Mwah! — Where is everyone?
Meringue — When come back, bring pie.
Vrrrrrrrr + *butt elevator* — A little lower, a little to the left, oh YEAH, that’s the spot
*headbutt* — I dub thee my number one human, and you better damn well be honored.

And so on. I can speak Cat well enough to actually fool cats and hold conversations with them. I am sure my grammar and pronunciation are both atrocious, however.

I don’t speak Dog well. At all. I understand Dog body language, and would never need Cesar Milan to come straighten out any dog I owned, because any dogs I’ve had contact with know damn well who is the leader of the pack and where the dog potty is located and that jumping up on people, especially people in expensive silk stockings on their way out the door to work or a date, is a big no-no. But I don’t *speak* Dog.

Furthermore, there are types of dogs I like more than other types.

1. Wolfy dogs with pointy ears.
2. Snouter pups without mushed-in faces
3. Curly tail dogs
4. Brown dogs
5. Smooth coat dogs
6. Smart dogs who smile
7. Pugs. I don’t know why.
8. Dogs that do not stick their noses in your personal spaces.
9. Spayed and neutered dogs that don’t hump crap and bleed on stuff
10. Labs and goldens. These are just awesome dogs, even if their ears are all floppy and hangy-downy.

1. Drooly mush-face dogs, because DOG SPIT is the nastiest fluid known to humankind. Fear Factor should have used dog drool as an ingredient on their show.
2. Dogs the size of Volkswagons who lunge
3. Dogs with coats that need more attention than my own hair gets
4. Bitey dogs, because, OW. And rabies.
5. Yappy dogs, who won’t ever shut the fuck up
6. Moppy dogs, who only need a handle to actually be useful
7. Wee-wee piddle-poo dogs who won’t go outside to go, the nasty little bastards
8. Dogs that don’t have black or brown eyes. It makes no sense, I know.
9. Dogs that eat every damn thing, be it people food, carpets, cat poops, house siding, table legs, pants, underwear, used feminine hygeine products, garbage, tin foil, crayons, markers, Barbies, Tinkertoys, Lincoln Logs, doors, bowls, rocks, shoes, linoleum…like Brandy, who ate all of these things except the siding. My friend Lake’s hound was the one that ate siding.
10. Dogs that shiver nervously and look sad all the time

Mostly, the dogs I like are Other People’s Dogs. I can visit the dogs, proclaim them to be truly Awesome, but not have to train, walk or pay the vet bills for them. This suits me just fine.

But no, I don’t hate dogs. Dogs rock. I just don’t WANT one. Can I borrow yours for an hour or two? That would suit me fine.

But I am not throwing that disgusting spittle-soaked tennis ball back to them. Sorry. Ew.

I feel pressured when something loves me unconditionally, won’t leave me alone, and can’t entertain itself without my participation. This applies to relationships, too, though I have been known to pick significant others who can’t love anyone but themselves at all, don’t call ever, and can entertain themselves just fine for months on end, at which point they suddenly recall I might still exist and be good for a laugh and a pleasant night out. I know there is a middle ground.

Babies make me a wee bit nervous. I’m good with them and they like me, and I’m not going to drop them on their heads or anything, but babies are prone to erupt with sticky fluids out of every orifice, and they tend to do so unexpectedly, and I’m one of those people who magically never spill things on themselves because I am so averse to personal filth. If you hand me a baby, I am pretty sure I am going to get biological fluids on me at some point, and this makes me very antsy and unhappy.

Babies also have no appreciation of a good guitar riff.

Babies like repetition and familiarity, and I would go out of my mind reading the same Dr Seuss book over and over four bajillion times. If I liked that sort of thing, and wasn’t fairly certain it would outlive me by several decades, I’d get a parrot. And you know what?  I happen to LIKE Dr. Seuss! I just bought the niece a huge Seuss book with about a hundred Seuss stories all mushed up into one volume. It is a nice thing. I just don’t want to memorize it. I suspect for every Seuss book I learned by rote that I would forget something more important, like my telephone number or some Romantic poet poems or how to make scrambled eggs.

Babies do not speak English. They speak Baby, and it all sounds pretty much the same.

Baby Glossary:

WAH! — I’m hungry
WAH! — I’m no longer hungry
WAH! — I’m thirsty
WAH! — I need to belch
WAH! — I need a change
WAH! — I’m tired
WAH! — I’m not tired anymore
WAH! — Fuck you, bub
WAH! — Hey guys, what’s going on in this thread?
WAH! — Where is everyone? Hello?
WAH! — Some idiot stuck me with a diaper pin, even though no one actually uses pinned nappies any more
WAH! — You won’t let me eat dead moths
WAH! — You let me eat a dead moth and it tasted gross
WAH! — Leave me alone
WAH! — Pay attention to me
WAH! — Phone’s ringing, go get it
WAH! — What kind of idiot sleeps at 2 AM? Entertain me!
WAH! — Hey, it’s 4 AM. Cool!
WAH! — And now it’s 6 AM. Awesome!
— You’re mom, I want dad
WAH! — You’re dad, I want mom
WAH! — Who the hell are you? Do I know you? Do I like you?
WAH! — I forgot what I was crying about, but what the hell
WAH! — I would like to discuss Amway with you
WAH! — I disapprove of this culinary nightmare you are forcing on me
WAH! — This is a hella fugly outfit, and I will not put up with it
WAH! — I’m cold
WAH! — I’m hot
WAH! — Previously, everything was satisfactory.
WAH! — Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior?
WAH! — Who farted?
WAH! — I have been quiet for a whole half hour, and felt the need to remind you that I still exist
WAH! — Is this mic on?
WAH! — I am not fond of strained beets
WAH! — My bum is chapped
WAH! — The babysitter is the Devil
WAH! — That bald man is the Devil
WAH! — Santa Claus is the Devil
WAH! — I’m overwhelmed
WAH! — I am training to be an opera singer when I grow up
WAH! — This room has great acoustics
WAH! — I am cutting a tooth

And so on.

I don’t speak Baby, so I end up running back and forth trying fourteen different things to make the baby stop saying WAH! at me, and, if I am lucky, one works. Babies also have no sense of self-preservation, so keeping them from licking the outlets and drinking Drano can be a full-time job. It makes me nervous, and I probably look like one of those Hindu gods that have arms popping out all over while I’m trying to Make The WAH! Stop.

But I already said that.

Even so, Babies love the heck out of me. They are like cats in this way. Cats always gravitate to the person in the room who has the least amount of interest in befriending or touching them, and do everything but drop a Roofie in your drink to make you warm up to their magnificence. Likewise, Babies and me. The fact that I am not instantly charmed makes them determined to be as Cute and Adorable as possible. They pull out all the big guns in their personal armory to win me over. They smile, try to rub their gooey, boogery hands on me, wave, play peek-a-boo, flirt, giggle, bat their baby eyelashes, coo, and do various other extremely cute Baby things that would make every other woman’s uterus contract with acute Baby Lust pangs. Not me. My uterus is not impressed.

They sure are cute, though.

In truth, it is the rude sprog wranglers that I truly dislike. The Baby can’t help it if it can only say WAH!, but the parent(s), caregiver(s) and / or grandparent(s) can make sure it says WAH! somewhere other than a restaurant, theater, shopping mall, art gallery, museum, movie or (yes, I’ve witnessed this) a bar. Since I empathize and know that it often takes a while to figure out what the Baby wants, and whether the Baby can even HAVE what it wants, all I ask is that unhappy Babies be taken outside until you parse what the Baby wants and make it happy again.

Please don’t make me dislike your child because you can’t be arsed to remove it when it starts screeching WAH!

Also, don’t be a filth pig and change your child’s diaper on a dining table in a restaurant, or in a dressing room, and leave the manky nappy just lying there. That is grody. I don’t want to see or smell poo when I go out to eat. Is that too much to ask?

I’m even not getting into “Lactivism”. Really. No. Do I enjoy having to carry on a conversation with a stranger who has a baby attached to her boob? Not really. Do I enjoy sitting in a restaurant when there’s breastfeeding going on two feet away from me? Meh, not really bothered, but maybe it could be kept more discreet in fancier places. Do I want to get forty-two comments on how natural it is and how it should be done however, wherever and whenever the boob owner wants? I most emphatically do not. So, nurse on, Lactivists.

Our Panel Of Experts: Advice For The Lovelorn And More

The Panel were contacted and asked to convene in the Star Chamber here at Der Haus of Eclecstacy, and after consuming five boxes of baked cheese cracker snacks, four cartons of Sampoerna cigarettes, half a key lime pie, four thin-crust chicken and bacon BBQ pizzas, a can of Chef Boy-Ar-Dee ravioli, three eggs, two half gallons of Breyer’s ice cream (chocolate mint and french vanilla), a bottle of Godiva liqueur, one and a half bottles of Kahlua, some Jamaican rum that had been imported to the US in 1945, two bottles of Absolut vanilla vodka, a bottle of Stoli, 144 beers of various types, a quart of cheap scotch, some box wine, some bumwine, and some cinnamon-flavoured mouthwash, they all took long naps carefully considered the Topics Du Jour.

Dear Panel:

I would like to hear the blog’s Panel of Experts’ thoughts on this. What techniques are best for holding men’s attentions? And is any man who has to be ego-boosted and coddled to that degree really worth having?

From: cyanidefish

* * *

During the 1960s, I think, people forgot what emotions were supposed to be. And I don’t think they’ve ever remembered. Employees make the best dates. You don’t have to pick them up and they’re always tax-deductible. I had a lot of dates but I decided to stay home and dye my eyebrows.

When I got my first television set, I stopped caring so much about having close relationships. I’m the type who’d be happy not going anywhere as long as I was sure I knew exactly what was happening at the places I wasn’t going to. I’m the type who’d like to sit home and watch every party that I’m invited to on a monitor in my bedroom.

People need to be made more aware of the need to work at learning how to live because life is so quick and sometimes it goes away too quickly. Sex is more exciting on the screen and between the pages than between the sheets. The most exciting thing is not doing it. If you fall in love with someone and never do it, it’s much more exciting. The most exciting love attractions are between two opposites that never meet.

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.

I think that being interesting is interesting. My Superstars are either beauties or talkers. Edie was a beauty, gee! But I always liked my talkers best.



* * *

You know you’ve made it when you’ve been moulded in miniature plastic. But you know what children do with Barbie dolls – it’s a bit scary, actually. You can tell a lot about a woman if you ask her what games she used to play with me.

Ken doesn’t seem to need much coddling. He’s perfectly comfortable with all my high-profile, high-powered careers. Of course, after a few decades, I discovered he was holding me back. I think a good partner grows as much intellectually and emotionally and spiritually as you do, when you are in a relationship.

It’s not so much about looks. Neither of us is anatomically correct, you know.



* * *

When it comes to Couture Chaos, this Tacky Terror should take a bow – looks like an over-the-hill Lolita.



Stylishly yours,

Mister B.

* * *

Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Romania.

When I think about relationships, I might repeat to myself slowly and soothingly, a list of quotations beautiful from minds profound – if I could remember any of the damn things.

I require three things in a man: he must be handsome, ruthless and stupid. The best way to keep a man at home is to make the home atmosphere pleasant–and let the air out of the tires. Four be the things I’d have been better without: love, curiosity, freckles and doubt. Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves: you can apply that to relationships, too. In the boudoir, brevity is the soul of lingerie.

In life, everything comes and goes in cycles. Why, every year, back come Spring, with nasty little birds yapping their fool heads off and the ground all mucked up with plants. You may lose in love on occasion, but your time will come.

This would be a good thing for them to cut on my tombstone: Wherever she went, including here, it was against her better judgment. Sometimes one can overthink things. Men are silly things to feel angst about. Like crosstown busses, another one comes along if you wait long enough.

Have a martini, darling.



* * *

Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use. Nothing is less important than which fork you use. Etiquette is the science of living. It embraces everything. It is ethics. It is honor. Manners are made up of trivialities of deportment which can be easily learned if one does not happen to know them; manner is personality—the outward manifestation of one’s innate character and attitude toward life…. Etiquette must, if it is to be of more than trifling use, include ethics as well as manners. Certainly what one is, is of far greater importance than what one appears to be.

There are certain things a lady can do to be more mannerly, however. The attributes of a great lady may still be found in the rule of the four S’s: Sincerity, Simplicity, Sympathy and Serenity. The joy of joys is the person of light but unmalicious humor. She must not swing her arms as though they were dangling ropes; she must not switch herself this way and that; she must not shout; and she must not, while wearing her bridal veil, smoke a cigarette. Be yourself. The most vulgar slang is scarcely worse than the attempted elegance which those unused to good society imagine to be the evidence of cultivation.

A single woman must endure the rapt attention of everyone around her, all will wish to know her business. The pretty young woman living alone, must literally follow Cinderella’s habits. The magpie never leaves her window sill and the jackal sits on the doormat, and the news of her every going out and coming in, of every one whom she receives, when they come, how long they stay and at what hour they go, is spread broadcast.

Training a man is exactly like training a puppy; a little heedless inattention and it is out of hand immediately; the great thing is not to let it acquire bad habits that must afterward be broken. Anyone can be taught to be beautifully behaved with no effort greater than quiet patience and perseverance, whereas to break bad habits once they are acquired is a Herculean task. Ego-boosting? Whereas one believes that this must cut both ways, a little praise is not only merest justice but is beyond the purse of no one.

Selflessness, or unconsciousness of self, is not so much unselfishness as it is the mental ability to extinguish all thought of one’s self—-exactly as one turns out the light.

Being devoted to one’s love is not coddling; coddling is akin to spoiling, and spoiling is a grave mistake. There is a quality of protectiveness in a man’s expression as it falls on his betrothed, as though she were so lovely a breath might break her; and in the eyes of a girl whose love is really deep, there is always evidence of that most beautiful look of championship, as though she thought: “No one else can possibly know how wonderful he is!” Appreciating one’s partner is never unmannerly or inappropriate.

Respectfully yours,

Emily Post (Miss)

* * *

I see myself as an intelligent, sensitive human, with the soul of a clown which forces me to blow it at the most important moments.

A true friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself-and especially to feel. Or, not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at the moment is fine with them. The same applies to a partner. Your partner should also be your friend, man. Friends can help each other. That’s what real love amounts to–letting a person be what she or he really is. Love cannot save you from your own fate, however.

We fear violence less than our own feelings. Personal, private, solitary pain is more terrifying than what anyone else can inflict.

Blake said that the body was the soul’s prison unless the five senses are fully developed and open. He considered the senses the ‘windows of the soul.’ When sex involves all the senses intensely, it can be like a mystical experence, man! I believe in a long, prolonged derangement of the senses to attain the unknown. Yeah! I think the highest and lowest points are the important ones. Anything else is just…in between. I want the freedom to try everything. Our pale reasoning hides the infinite from us. Drugs are a bet with your mind. It’s like gambling somehow. You go out for a night of drinking and you don’t know where you’re going to end up the next day. It could work out well or it could be disastrous. It’s like the throw of the dice. Where’s your will to be weird? Of course, I’m probably not one to talk about the benefits of drugs and shit.

Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.

This is the strangest life I’ve ever known.

Oh yeah, a righteous chick loves you when you get fat and hairy and can’t fit into your leather pants anymore. Your old man should love you, too, despite your exterior flaws. Love the mind, the spirit, not the container. But don’t totally, like, neglect the container. Destruction of the container affects the beautiful things within.


The Lizard King

* * *








* * *

My heart is a gypsy–continuously searching for a home, fighting within itself, wondering whether it is weak or even right for that matter to be searching in the first place. Loneliness is what it feels like. Other women think I’m a slut. They just want to be like me. They’re seeing the glamour icon but don’t realize…there are more facets to me besides spreading my legs.

When I am asked my advice about someone’s relationship problems, I always look at both sides and totally understand their fears of the unknown…and Whenever there is any type of “adult” stigma surrounding the fear, the worst is always assumed. I, like, hate that shit. Human sexuality has a specific nature, We are more likely to be satisfied with the outcome, if we work with our biology rather than against it.

Feminism? Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition!

Who says porn queens can’t be cosmically correct? Let there be pleasure and ecstasy on earth and let it begin with me.



Dear Panel:

I have a sofa. It isn’t an expensive sofa, nor a designer sofa, but I like it. My problem is that my three cats also like it…as a toilet. We can’t figure out which cat is the culprit, and we’re at our wits’ end. We love our cats, but we also like our sofa. We assume that even if we removed the sofa, the new sofa we’d get to replace it would not be immune to being mistaken for a litterpan. Can you help?


Dear (Anonymous):

Ah, the game of What Cat Shat On That. We have played that game before. You have my sympathies. There are a few things you can try.

Since removing the cats or the sofa as solutions are both out, your choices are more limited. We thus suggest that you try isolating your cats from the sofa. Place two of them in a room together, shut the door, and let the third roam free. This presumes that you have litterboxes in both the free-range area and the enclosed area. If the first cat does not indulge in Sneak Pewpin, try this arrangement again with the other cats. If three weeks go by and there are no poops on your sofa, that, in and of itself, is a major success. If three weeks go by and no one falls for the Crap Trap, it’s time to reverse your system. Two cats out, one cat in. Eventually one will break down and decorate your sofa. The process of elimination (no pun intended) will help narrow down your list of suspects. Once you identify the Stealth Doodymaker, you can strive to separate Guilty Party from sofa. That should cut down on the spot cleaning and cursing you’ve endured so far.

Another way to deal with the Random Poo-By: cover your sofa with aluminium foil. For some reason, cats dislike the sound it makes when they walk on it. Most cats. They have to walk on it to get into position to let fly the bowels of war, however. So this may stop the annoyance. Of course, you may have a strange cat who enjoys chewing tinfoil. This is a bad thing, and is to be discouraged. Tinfoil is not a food. If you have one of these contrary beasts, covering up your sofa like a leftover is not the solution for you.

There are chemical solutions to your problem, but, like the tinfoil solution, this can be thwarted if you have a Weird Cat. (For some reason, Siamese and Tonkinese tend to be prone to Weird Cat Syndrome, but no particular breeds are immune.) On the off chance that your cat is not weird, head to your local pet supply emporium and request sprays that make your furniture smell unappealing to all but the strangest animals (and hounds–hounds will eat anything).

It goes without saying that any time a cat stops using its litterpan that there may be an underlying physical reason. UTIs tend to lead to Dribbles Of Doom all over your house. Stress can lead to the poo scootin’ boogies all over your furniture. Take your beasts into a vet to rule out a physical ailment first thing, and if our solutions fail to stop the problem, don’t hesitate to write back.


Tha Prof

* * *





M. Meezers


Dear Panel:
I am desperate. I like this girl, a LOT. She’s beautiful, and smart, and popular. And, well, I’m not. Not that I’m ugly or anything, or stupid, but I compare myself to her and I feel like I couldn’t possibly stand a chance with her. I’m really, really, shy, but I’ve tried sending her flowers, and writing poems and sticking them in her locker, sending her funny haikus on Twitter, and leaving comments on her Facebook, Tumblr, LiveJournal and MySpace profiles, and she won’t respond to me. What should I do?!

Call me…Ishmael.

Dear “Ishmael”:

Even in this hurry-scurry modern era, the most worthy females of good social standing cannot help but be duly impressed by the niceties of good breeding. If you cultivate a familiarity with the differences between a salad fork and a dinner fork, this is a type of knowledge that should, as they say in the vulgar vernacular, do the trick.

Actually, that is but a wry jest on my part. It is not the juggling of forks that makes one mannerly, but character and honor. You may be frightening the young lady with your tactics. Your wooing is rather persistent, given that you have had little response to spur you on. Perhaps being more reserved in demeanor is the answer.

If this fails, you should attempt to ingratiate yourself with her chaperone. Leave your calling card when visiting if the family is not receiving visitors on that particular day. Work on your bowing; a gentleman knows all the different forms, from the slightest inclination of the head to a nodding acquaintance, to the deepest bow, which includes lowering yourself onto one knee, and which should be reserved only for royalty. It is possible that your poetry lacked a certain refined grace, or that your posies were chosen rashly, without regard for the subtlety and romance a knowledge of the symbolism of flowers would provide.

If all else fails, take up the lute. Ladies do love a musician.

With warm regards,

You may call me…Emily.

* * *

Hey man, why be so uptight?

Chicks love it when you write poetry. “Death makes angels of us all, and gives us wings, where we had shoulders, smooth as raven’s claws.”

They eat that shit up, man.

Also, drugs are good. Make even the most uptight, repressed, middle-class chick into a righteous woman. I should know, right? But, hey, they are illegal. If that harshes your mellow, you can try other things. Tequila can help ease you out of your shyness and let you tell the world that you’re ready and willing to do just about anything.

You will notice the benefits of tequila almost immediately, and with a regimen of regular doses of tequila you can overcome any obstacles that prevent you from living the life you want to live.

Shyness and awkwardness will be a thing of the past, (well, shyness anyway) and you will discover many talents you never knew you had! Stop hiding behind your shyness and start living, with tequila. Tequila may not be right for everyone. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use tequila. However, women who wouldn’t mind nursing or becoming pregnant are encouraged to try it.

Side effects of Tequila may include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, incarceration, erotic lustfulness, loss of motor control, loss of clothing, loss of money, loss of virginity, delusions of grandeur, table dancing, headache, dehydration, dry mouth, and a desire to sing Karaoke and play all-night rounds of Strip Poker, Truth Or Dare, and Naked Twister.

Tequila. Leave Shyness Behind.

Emily also has a point about the musician thing. Man, I’m dead, and chicks still make pilgrimages to my tomb, dude.

Peace, love, and leather pants,


Dear Panel:

I’m a stand-up comedian. I’ve been doing stand-up at the local improv for the last three years; ever since I graduated High School. I use to make some people laugh, but now they mostly look at me like I’m a freakin’ retard. I was thinking about going to improv school, but with my job at McDonald’s, I just can’t afford it. How can I learn how to be funny, for free?


Dear Shecky:

When John Cleese tired of questions about where he got his jokes from, he resorted to, “I buy them from a little man in Swindon.” The truth is much more prosaic. Jokes are about 10 per cent inspiration and 90 per cent whittling and crafting – much of it in front of an audience. So, keep practicing!

A professional comic’s routine may be based on true personal experience, but real experience doesn’t tend to come conveniently complete with a punchline. That’s why most comics are outrageous liars. It’s also why pathological observational comics may even begin to provoke ‘hilarious’ denouements by deliberately forgetting their wedding anniversaries or leaving their children in the supermarket. We’ll assume that they did not do these things in actuality, though the “leaving of children in supermarket” thing is comedy gold, and probably a good idea to adopt in real life.

Jerry Seinfeld compares telling a joke to attempting to leap a metaphorical canyon, taking the audience with him. The set-up is the nearside cliff, and the punchline is the far side. If they’re too far apart, the listeners don’t make it to the other side. And if they are too close together, the audience just steps across the gap without experiencing any exhilarating leap. The joke-hearer gets far more pleasure from the joke if he or she has to do a little work. Whether or not Jerry Seinfeld is actually funny is a debate we should address at a different time.

A very cheap and easy way of making people laugh is to throw in some swear words. It’s become something of a tradition among the more iconoclastic comics to write a routine that is ostensibly aimed at depriving taboo words of their power to shock, but which conveniently harnesses the power of shocking words to make us laugh. George Carlin says, ‘Shock is just another form of surprise, and comedy is based on surprise. This is a noisy culture… If you want to be heard, then you have to raise your voice a little bit. If swearing is the only thing going for you, it won’t last long.” This, from the guy who brought us “seven words you can’t say on television.” So don’t fucking swear just to fucking swear.

Timing is everything. Ask anyone who resorts to the “pull out” method of birth control. It can go well, but it’s a tricky procedure. And, if in the hands of an amateur, it can go very badly indeed. Surprise is often worked into a joke through the “pull-back and reveal” technique (which is totally unrelated to the “pull out” method, just to be clear). The joke focuses your attention on a particular angle or detail of the scene, then suddenly pans out to show you the whole, surprising picture. Very often the success of these jokes hinges on the joke-teller’s subtle control of rhythm: a beat here, a breath there. The difference between a funny story and a joke is often verbal economy. It’s not that long, wordy jokes can’t be funny, but if too much is explained, there’s no logical leap for the audience to make, and the paradigm shift which elicits laughter is lost.

If nothing else, learn what words sound funny. Neil Simon had one of his characters explain it thusly: “Fifty-seven years in this business, you learn a few things. You know which words are funny and which words are not funny. Alka-Seltzer is funny. You say Alka-Seltzer, you get a laugh. Words with K in them are funny. Casey Stengel, that’s a funny name. Robert Taylor is not funny. Cupcake is funny. Tomato is not funny. Cookie is funny. Cucumber is funny.” Observe:Wombat, kazoo, yoghurt, Port-a-Loo, Sasquatch, pantomine, jelly doughnut. I am a comedy GOD.

Other tips: Pick your moments. It’s easiest to tell a joke when everyone’s relaxed and enjoying themselves. Telling a joke to relieve tension is a high-risk strategy, but potentially hilarious. Besides, there’ll be other funerals. Know where you’re going–the punchline–before you start. Don’t be tempted to over-elaborate. Eddie Izzard makes it look easy, but remember that one man’s surreal flight of fancy is another man’s rambling, incoherent humiliation. Project a demeanour of relaxed confidence–it gives your listener permission to laugh. You can try deadpan, but social joke-telling usually requires the teller to laugh too. Enjoy it. If your entire self-esteem is resting on whether people laugh at your joke, then you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. On the other hand, you are showing signs of the borderline personality disorder that characterises all the best comedians, so perhaps you should consider telling jokes for a living. Whatever you do, refrain from prop humour. Smashing watermelons is so passé.

By the way, I have been reciting this entire post in the voice of “Uncle Arthur” on Bewitched. People are currently piddling their drawers from Kalamazoo to Palo Alto. Top that, motherfucker.


Uncle Paul