In The News

In Retrospect, Our Town Seal Might Be Slightly Racist

whitesboro-seal

Fm: Sheriff Hawthorne
To: Mayor Timmins

Just FYI, some guy I pulled over for speeding said the town seal on our squad car was racist. Just looked at it and it looks like a white guy choking an Indian.

Fm: Mayor Timmins
To: Sheriff Hawthorne

Holy crap! I never looked at it before. What the hell is it?

Fm: Sheriff Hawthorne
To: Mayor Timmins

That’s what I mean. I kind of agree with the guy. It definitely looks like a white guy choking an Indian.

Fm: Mayor Timmins
To: Sheriff Hawthorne

Is he a black guy?

Fm: Sheriff Hawthorne
To: Mayor Timmins

No, he’s an Indian.

Fm: Mayor Timmins
To: Sheriff Hawthorne

I mean the guy you pulled over.

Fm: Sheriff Hawthorne
To: Mayor Timmins

No. Why?

Fm: Mayor Timmins
To: Sheriff Hawthorne

…White cop from Whitesboro… in car festooned with white guy choking Indian… pulls over a black guy… looks bad all around.

Just asked Margaret to look up the town seal thingy.

Fm: Sheriff Hawthorne
To: Mayor Timmins

OK. I’d like to give this guy an answer before I send him off. BTW, got another $140 for the town’s coffers! Lowering the speed limit to 15mph was genius.

Fm: Mayor Timmins
To: Sheriff Hawthorne

Thx! Margaret says it depicts a friendly wrestling match in the 1700s.

Fm: Sheriff Hawthorne
To: Mayor Timmins

There were Indians in Whitesboro?

Fm: Mayor Timmins
To: Sheriff Hawthorne

I guess? Maybe before Hugh White settled it.

Fm: Sheriff Hawthorne
To: Mayor Timmins

The more you learn! OK, I’ll tell the guy it’s just wrestling funsies.

Fm: Mayor Timmins
To: Sheriff Hawthorne

Margaret says they would wrestle the Indian then take his shirt. That’s why he doesn’t have a shirt.

Fm: Sheriff Hawthorne
To: Mayor Timmins

OK. Weird.

Fm: Mayor Timmins
To: Sheriff Hawthorne

Then they’d take his pants. And moccasins.

Fm: Sheriff Hawthorne
To: Mayor Timmins

Shit, Norman. That’s not wrestling. That’s just taking his stuff!

Fm: Mayor Timmins
To: Sheriff Hawthorne

You’re right. He’s totally strangling the dude! How did no one notice this? SMDH

Fm: Sheriff Hawthorne
To: Mayor Timmins

I’m just going to tell the guy it’s a friendly wrestling match. Pretty sure he won’t argue because I stopped him 20+ minutes ago.

Fm: Mayor Timmins
To: Sheriff Hawthorne

Tell him the white guy was gay.

Fm: Sheriff Hawthorne
To: Mayor Timmins

Why?

Fm: Mayor Timmins
To: Sheriff Hawthorne

For diversity? Never mind. Let me know what he says.

Fm: Sheriff Hawthorne
To: Mayor Timmins

I think he bought the friendly wrestling thing, but he wants to know why our traffic citations are adorned with swastikas.

Fm: Mayor Timmins
To: Sheriff Hawthorne

WTF, seriously?

Fm: Sheriff Hawthorne
To: Mayor Timmins

OMG! Never noticed.
:-(

Always Leave Them Wanting More Non-Offensive Comedy

Dear Karl,

On behalf of the University Student Council I wanted to tell you how excited we are about your upcoming comedy show. We look forward to “blowing off some steam” after exams and you’re just the person for the job! With that in mind, here are some notes we had after reviewing your act. We want all students to be able to equally enjoy the show to the fullest, so thank you in advance for incorporating these few suggestions.

For the joke that begins with “I was mowing my lawn the other day…”
A large number of students are from highly-populated urban areas and can’t relate to owning or mowing a lawn. More important, the concept of “ownership” of a lawn is a potentially sensitive issue for students with native American backgrounds whose ancestor’s lawns were stolen, and those students who consider private property inherently classist. Can you set the joke at a community park?

The mailman/vasectomy joke.
Very funny! We would prefer “letter carrier” as there are many women in the postal service who don’t deserve to be left out! Obviously only men can have vasectomies so perhaps you can add hysterectomies to the punch line.

The “Iron Throne” joke.
I love this joke. There was some concern because it refers to Game of Thrones which makes several students feel unsafe because of the show’s misogynistic themes and promotion of patriarchal political structures. I’m not a comedian of course but is there a way it can reference Big Bang Theory instead?

Your new Indian neighbors inviting you over for dinner.
This bit is great because it really celebrates diversity and inclusivity. Where it kind of goes astray (and I realize this is the entire premise of the joke) is when you make fun of their food names like “poppadum” and “vindaloo.” The thinking here is, yes the names may sound funny to an uncultured ear, but those names were around long before America existed. Maybe instead of poking fun at the names you “look for the funny” in how delicious and healthy ethnic dishes can be?

The Caitlyn Jenner/Wheaties joke.
We understand that this is  pretty “tame” as far as trans jokes go but it probably should be dropped altogether. It’s a very trying time for Caitlyn and the LGBTQ community wants to make sure she knows that she has their full support for her very brave and very public endeavor. Go Caitlyn!

Forgetting your twentieth wedding anniversary.
I laughed out loud at this! Then I remembered that the right to marry was exclusively heterosexual twenty years ago, so we might be triggering some feelings for individuals denied the right for so long. Also, suggesting it’s incumbent on males to remember the anniversary smacks of sexism and disempowers women. Again, I’m not a comedian but maybe there’s a way the joke would work if it was your first anniversary and you both forgot it simultaneously?

The joke about everyone standing in Starbucks, staring at their phones.
Although Starbucks does make efforts toward sustainability and environmental stewardship they’re a big corporation and as a result a lot of students won’t set foot there. I’m sure it’ll be easy to change it to something more local (I recommend Larry’s Magic Bean on Forsyth Street). Also “standing around staring at their phones” feels ableist, seeing as some of our students are handi-capable and in wheelchairs. I think “being in line” or “participating in a queue” would work just fine there, but I’ll leave that choice up to you!

Don Lemon/CNN bit.
Absolutely agree that Don Lemon, as a media figure who says/does silly things, is a legitimate target. Unfortunately as a gay African-American he’s had a long struggle to get where he is today and it might be construed by some as picking on him for racial reasons. Admittedly, your bit focused solely on the ridiculous things he’s done in his career but it might be better to play it safe and find another quirky CNN personality to have fun with. Not Anderson Cooper for obvious reasons.

Sumo wrestlers on unicycles.
This feels a bit like fat shaming.

The “quitting smoking in ten minutes” bit
There are some worries that it promotes smoking, though I think the part with the “talking tumor” would be enough to make anyone stop! Unfortunately, there are those who cannot stop, no matter how hard they try, and this reminds them of that failure. I know chewing gum wouldn’t explain the “talking tumor” but that seems like a better fit. Again, you’re the comedian so maybe you have another idea.

Feeding the dog your wife’s cooking.
I know we’ve been pretty “chill” regarding any changes to the act but this one got some folks riled up. Even if you disregard the anachronism of women cooking for their husbands, “owning” a dog is more than speciesist. Maybe you cook a vegan meal and feed it to your best friend who can’t afford to eat well because the minimum wage is so low? (Just spitballing)

Anyway, that’s all for now. Some council members were out so I’ll get you their feedback ASAP – I’m going to bet Jenna will have a problem with the “all you can eat breadsticks” joke because it doesn’t address Celiac disease.

We look forward to the next draft of your act at your earliest convenience.

Yours truly,

Brendan Birdsaw Clemmons

Odyssey Dawn Belongs On Charlie Sheen’s Sofa

Odyssey Dawn sounds like a porn star name. I’m not quite sure why they went that route. It seems to buck the trend of naming military operations something that kind of makes sense. Desert Storm makes sense. Uphold Democracy makes sense. Provide Comfort makes sense. Odyssey Dawn? Porn star name.
Naming military operations is something the Germans started doing in World War I. Other countries caught on and by World War II America was naming operations too. But we were new at the game and not very good at it so we went with names like Alpha and Leader. Kind of dull and they didn’t say much about the actual operation. That was intentional because giving too much away was considered a bad idea after British intelligence came to realize that Operation Sea Lion was Germany’s plan to invade Britain.
By the time we were in Vietnam operation names were being used more for public relations, although they still weren’t particularly descriptive. Furthermore, names like Masher and Flaming Dart angered the anti-war crowd.
Nowadays clever operational names are par for the course. Usually, anyway, I have no idea what happened with regard to Odyssey Dawn. Here’s how Slate explains the naming process:

For a big deal like the Iraq War, staff officers compile a list of two-word nicknames that seem appropriate, and their commanding officer picks one, keeping in mind that it may be used to sell the public on the validity of the undertaking. Then he submits his choice to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for approval and then the Secretary of Defense for a final OK.

The more minor operations – which I presume Odyssey Dawn is – there is a different protocol, which actually might explain how they arrived at Odyssey Dawn:

The Joint Chiefs of Staff assign each command agency in the Department of Defense a set of two-letter alphabetic combinations–Southern Command, for example, has BL and KE, among other pairings. (Or, at least, it did as of 2002. The document list is classified.) The first word of each nickname must start with one of these designated pairs; the second word is random.

Regardless of how they got there, Odyssey Dawn is a name that seems to fail the guidelines laid out by Lt. Colonel Gregory Sieminski in a 1995 article for Parameters the quarterly for the U.S. Army War College:

First, make it meaningful.


Odyssey Dawn is not particularly meaningful, but is an excellent porn star name.

Second, identify and target meaningful audiences.


The audience in this case is the world community, and especially Arabs. A good name can send them a calming message. Operation Civil Shield or Operation You Asked Us To Do This, Remember? might reassure the Arab street that we’re not going on another Middle East adventure. Odyssey Dawn doesn’t do that. Porn star name.

Third, be cautious of fashions.


In other words, don’t get stuck with a clichéd convention like the very popular verb-noun combination: Provide Hope, Provide Comfort, Provide Relief or Uphold Democracy. They managed to evade that with Odyssey Dawn’s noun-noun combination. But it still makes no sense and sounds like a porn star name.

Finally, make it memorable.


Oh, it’s memorable alright. Odyssey Dawn, Jenna Jameson and Shyla Stylez in No Guy Zone.

I Was In Vietnam Too: A True Story

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I served along side Richard Blumenthal in Vietnam, and like him I still have vivid memories of those days where I served my country so valiantly. I’ll never forget the one afternoon we found ourselves surrounded by what we assume was Viet Cong. We were in the cafeteria at Harvard, preparing for what we in the military call “grub”: sirloin steak, mashed potatoes, truffled string beans, some lobster bisque, salad, Key Lime pie and Jello. I was famished – the last time we’d eaten was in the morning, and it was already nearly half-past noon. For two or three hours we’d been stapling papers and organizing folders. I even had to read several chapters of a book. We were numb. Exhausted. And our nerves were on edge because Richard was certain the VC would attack at any moment. As you know, they were guerillas and blended in with the populace. Presumably they were all over the campus in Cambridge. That’s the thing with the VC, you always had to be on guard.
I was only a few bites in to my meal, I mean “grub,” when Richard sat bolt upright and dropped his silverware. He had an uncanny sense for trouble. “Incoming!” he yelled. We dove under the table. He was certain the VC would be shelling us at any moment. We prepared ourselves for the concussive effects of the mortar rounds and wrapped our cloth napkins around our heads to protect us from fragments. We stayed under the table for what seems like an eternity, but was actually several minutes. Lucky for us, the attack never materialized. Finally, Richard gave the all-clear. We resumed eating our grub, which by now was a little cold. But that’s the kind of sacrifice you make when you are in enemy territory and serving your country as we noble warriors did.
We resumed our lunching. Richard’s eyes scanned the horizon, evaluating any threats that might be materializing. To me it looked like a bunch of Harvard students milling about. But he saw danger. “The VC could be anywhere,” he said, “Looming in the distance, waiting to strike. Or 14,000 klicks away.” I chewed my delicious, mouthwatering, albeit lukewarm sirloin tensely and barely enjoyed it. Richard inspired me with his fearlessness and ate his meal in a leisurely fashion. When it was over, we left the cafeteria, which Richard called “Vietnam” and took a refreshing nap. I will never forget those times. Semper Fi.

Somebody Saw Something, Said Something

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I know, I know. New York is a target and the terrorists hate our freedoms (but I’m certain they love our foreign policy) and something terrible is bound to happen in the city some day. Yes, and there’s not much you can do about a determined, evil person who has opted to engage in martyrdom operations because some sexually frustrated old man with a beard and spectacles radicalized him. But if we’re going to pull the fire alarm and close down Broadway every time someone litters, well, even the half-assed terrorists have already won.

The Headline That Wasn’t – 05.07.2010

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For many years I’ve thought that coming up with headlines for the NY Post was one of the greatest jobs in the world. To be paid for puns is lovely. I haven’t been paid for puns since I stopped working on billboard advertising. Most puns are godawful: Hail Caesar and five other new salads is a good example of a pun you should be put to the sword for.
Occasionally the Post comes up with something brilliant. And to be paid for puns that half the city gets to see. That’d be a sweet gig. Anyway, it occurred to me that I have Photoshop and know how to use it well enough that I too can come up with NY Post headlines whenever I want. Though the pay is crap and I don’t have their circulation.

A Trillion For Your Thoughts

After the recent release of the 2011 Federal Budget there was no shortage of complaints from all over the political spectrum. Of course, one of the biggest grumbles is that it’s 192 pages of incredibly boring fiscal drudgery. The fix? Make it entertaining! Some of America’s top entertainers offer their ideas on how the Office of Management and Budget could spice up this dreary affair:
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CARROT TOP Comedian
“I would have a page in the budget that has a big bite taken out of it. Then I would have the President hold it up and say, ‘This must be page ate!’ Get it? It’s like they ate the page, which is a pun on the word eight.”
gibson.gif
MEL GIBSONFilm star
“The budget, like a movie, needs to keep the viewer riveted. Every chapter should infer that a shadowy network controls the economy. We keep people guessing until the very end, and then we go off on Jews and call our publicists.”
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KIM KARADASHIANFragrance
“I would pepper it with inexcusable spelling and grammatical errors, like my Twitter updates hases.”
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QUENTIN TARANTINODirector
“I’d have you reading about the Department of Labor, then a quick flashback to the Department of Veteran’s Affairs expenditures in 2007, then back to present-day Department of Labor, and then suddenly you’re looking at a blood-spattered chart highlighting the Department of Education’s purchase of laptops in 2005.”
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DIDDYMusician
“I would record myself saying “Uh huh” and “Mmmm Hmmm” over the 2009 Budget, and release it as the 2011 Budget.”

Panel Report: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

From the onset, the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy established seventeen years ago under the Clinton Administration has been controversial.
Over the last several years this panel has analyzed the policy and conducted thorough observations of militaries all over the world. The panel has come to the conclusion that the policy is outdated and needs to be modified by all branches of the armed forces, with the exception of the 223rd Tactical Heterosexual Artillery Brigade, for obvious reasons.
Reasons we should alter the current policy:

  • Of NATO’s 26 member nations, 22 currently permit openly gay individuals to serve. France has gone so far as to demand that all their soldiers be bi-curious in the event of a long siege.
  • In the European Union, only Greece forbids homosexuals from serving. This strikes the panel as weird because they have an island called “Lesbos” and all the famous ancient Greek military guys were super gay. Especially Transvesticles.
  • Russia and China outright forbid homosexuals from serving, so when we go to war with Russia and China we’ll be able to rally gay troops by pointing and saying, “Those guys hate your freedoms and your alternative lifestyle. Charge!”
  • In the seventeen years the policy has been in effect, over 13,000 members of the armed services have been discharged. These are soldiers who were trained at great expense to the taxpayer and who we will need to shoot at other people when the Mayans attack in 2012.
  • Numerous studies have offered conclusive proof that air-to-ground missiles are deadly regardless of the sexual orientation of the launch-button-pusher.
  • People should probably be used to the idea seeing as Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. aired over 40 years ago.

Benefits of altering the current policy:

  • The Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy runs the risk of inciting gay soldiers to be like Oscar Wilde and say outrageously witty things to their superiors. This is not good for discipline.
  • Assuming they live up to the stereotype, gay soldiers will make the barracks more comfortable by color-coordinating things. We also believe they have access to discounts on scented candles that the heterosexual community does not.
  • While their straight counterparts are off-base getting drunk and impregnating Okinawans, gay soldiers will use their weekend passes to quietly go antiquing.
  • When observing enemy troops via Predator drone, it’d be cool to have someone in the room who can come up with hilariously caustic comments about their wardrobe, like those guys on the Bravo network.
  • The United States Government could sell Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to the Las Vegas tourism bureau, and recoup some of the cost of discharging 13,000 perfectly good soldiers.

Panel Recommendations:

  • We recommend not kicking gay people out of the armed forces unless they insist on running around in chaps when they’re supposed to be sniping the enemy.
  • We recommend coming up with a catchy name for this new policy of not caring about the sexual orientation of soldiers because all governmental policies need a catchy name. Some ideas:
    Operation About Face.
    Let’s Just Focus On Killing The Bad Guys, Then.
    OK, But Not In The Humvee.

Al Complaina: Osama Speaks

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Recently, al Qaeda CEO Osama bin Laden went on a tirade about America’s complicity in the climate crisis. Some media outlets have speculated that such a stunt represents the organization’s desperation to stay relevant. However, this is not the first time Al Qaeda’s opinionated chatterbox has strayed beyond his usual comfort zone in order to vent some fury. In fact, when it comes to the sassy Saudi no one is safe.
BARISTAS LEAVE TOO MUCH ROOM FOR MILK (May 2007)
“And now we laugh, seeing how America has lost its credibility and is viewed as a tool of the imperialist, colonialist empires, and one that most notably leaves too much room for milk in its venti coffees, even when its citizens specifically stated that they desired nothing more than a large black coffee. Even as Bush continues his warmongering abroad and assists the Zionists in their occupation of Palestine, he helms a so-called democracy that is unable to simply fill the cup all the way to the top. One that cheats its own citizens by leaving an inch of room for milk in a $2.50 cup of coffee, when not a single millimeter of room was wanted.”
FACEBOOK REDESIGN (October 2009)
“Where is the justice in changing the layout on the faithful user? Where is your precious “freedom” for which you fight and die, when you too find yourself cast from your area of comfort, into an unfamiliar land, like our Palestinian brothers for whom we shall never rest? You leave us with no choice but to become a fan of “Bring Back The Old Layout Or We’re Gone.”
TIME OUT NEW YORK KEEPS RECOMMENDING RESTAURANTS IN BROOKLYN (November 2008)
“All praise is due to Allah, who built the heavens and earth in justice, and created man as a favor and grace from Him and who in his infinite wisdom saw to it that Time Out New York would cover all the glorious and wonderful events and dining venues in New York City. But the cancerous touch of the Deceivers has made it such that one will read with great interest about a restaurant opening – only to realize that the restaurant is in Red Hook or Park Slope, where Manhattanites can not be bothered to go. And so just as the Deceivers mislead you about their plan of oppression in the Middle East, they also mislead about their plan to promote Brooklyn. Presumably because the writers all live there and really want it to be hip.”

JAY LENO RETURNS TO TONIGHT SHOW (January 2010)

“For ten long years our mujahedeen fought the great power of the Soviet Union with nothing more than simple weapons. Through patience and steadfastness we bled their economy until there was no more blood in its veins. Through patience and steadfastness we brought a superpower to its knees. And through patience and steadfastness we shall bring the armies of the West to their knees. That we have patience and steadfastness is known to all. But if you think for a minute that I’m going to sit through another “Jay Walking” segment, you’re fooling yourself. I honestly don’t know what Jeff Zucker is smoking, Peace Be Upon Him.”

Runners-up to Hopenhagen

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Although Hopenhagen is the ultimate winner in the UN Climate Change Conference contest, we should certainly acknowledge the other great cities of the world that didn’t make the cut:
Optimemphis
Moscwow
Glimmerick
Wishtanbul
Dusseldream
Budabest
Beliepzig
Prayjing
Detroit

This seems like a remarkable Photoshop opportunity

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If we lived in North Korea we wouldn’t dare say anything about this photograph which was taken of their Dear Leader at the Dongbong collective farm (snicker, snicker). Instead, we’d be afraid of being sent with our families to a labor camp. And so we’d be forced to bite our lip and put on one of those grim faces like the men behind him – completely missing out on a great opportunity for some crass comedy.
That’s why totalitarianism sucks.

How the Smart Grid is Different

Aware what the apostrophe is for and exactly when its use is called for.
Knows not to place all its capital in one mysterious hedge fund.
Can name the capitals of all fifty American states and eleven Canadian provinces.
Able to draw from a large pool of memorized quotes.
Speaks French fluently in the sense that it can speak French and not the American definition which means “I can say bonjour and mention the weather.”
Defended itself before the Supreme Court and won!
Refuses to watch reality television programming.

Michael Jackson Is All That Is Happening

I haven’t been following the Michael Jackson funeral-a-thon for a couple reasons. One is that I’m accessing the internet through a horrible connection offered by the public library. The library’s asthmatic connection is further strained by the gold-piece collecting efforts of several World of Warcraft players and a girl updating her Webkinz page. Apparently libraries have replaced internet cafés as places to go and not read. For the record, two of the three WoW players are well overweight and should go outside and run around a lot.
The other reason is the absolute hypocrisy that the media is putting us through. For the last decade or so Mr. Jackson was mocked, belittled, laughed at and generally denigrated as a freak show by any outfit you can name. Then suddenly he dies, and it turns out the media loved him all along. The bizarre behavior, the melting nose, financial chaos, the awkward camaraderie with young kids – all forgotten and/or redefined as superstar quirkiness.
Now, it’s too bad he’s dead, but people have gone nuts. This is like Anna Nicole Smith times ninety. They’re going to make a Papal funeral seem like an impromptu clambake.
What seems like an insane ceremony is underway. I’m only experiencing it via the play-by-play updates I see on Twitter, but I’m finding the tweets astounding. It sounds like a circus, with SWAT team escorts and Staples Center and throngs of fans and helicopters and gold coffins – and the best part: LA’s mayor asking for money from Mr. Jackson’s fans to offset the costs of the memorial service they’re putting on.
So, you have the mayor of a city that can’t afford it in a state that is bankrupt, spending a fortune on a memorial service for a musician who just a couple weeks ago was pretty much considered a laughing stock by lots of people.
And they’re asking the very same people who bought millions of songs in the days since his death to cough up even more money to pay for all this stuff. Just can’t beat it.