Fighting Terrorism

Citing security concerns, officials at Pittsburgh International Airport recently dedicated a replica of a Tyrannosaurus Rex by tearing the ribbon with their hands. In a totally unrelated story, FBI agents were called to the scene when passengers boarding a flight noticed a suspicious-looking individual attempting to fit a four-foot-long pair of novelty scissors in an overhead storage compartment.

In Military News

President Bush became upset with Germany this week for refusing to support the United States regarding military action against Iraq. Many Democrats in the Senate responded to the incident by stating, “You know your battle plan sucks, Mr. President, when even Germany turns down your invitation to start a war.”

Dog Park

After watching Kristin’s dog for a week, I have come to the conclusion that two dogs are better than one. Many great comedy legends have come in pairs such as Cheech and Chong, Penn and Teller, and Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman (as seen in the 1987 full-length motion picture “Ishtar”). These groups’ total value is greater than the sum of their parts. For example, when Penn leaves the room all that is left is a curly haired mute fellow wearing a suit quietly preparing for the moment when he will extract his revenge on his cruel comedy partner. I put Henry and Murphy in the same category– despite the fact they haven’t quite achieved the same level of commercial success.

Being a dog isn’t such a bad gig. The more I watch Henry and Murphy, the more I realize how pretty much everything that happens to them is a source of joy and entertainment. When someone comes into the house they can hardly contain themselves. When the phone rings their tails start wagging despite the fact that neither dog is capable of adequately operating a telephone. I highly suspect that if both dogs weren’t fixed as puppies these experiences would be literally orgasmic.

Even when sleeping (which, by my estimates, takes up an average of twenty-two hours of any given day) they take time to enjoy themselves. Both dogs seem to have an active dream cycle. I’m not a licensed pet psychologist, but they seem quite happy in their dreams. They generally dream about playing with their dog toys or making the humans beg to be let outside to go to the bathroom. Either way their tags wag and their feet twitch– something which I will always find amusing.

Maybe I’m developing self-esteem issues here– sometimes I really wonder why these two dogs are so excited by my presence. Its not like I make a habit of keeping large chunks of cooked meat in my pockets. Then I realize why they love me so much– all I have to do is say the words “DOG PARK.” They stop whatever they were doing (the odds favor sleeping) and run around frantically between myself and the front door.

The first step in going to the dog park is to get both dogs inside the car. While I am generally happy with the performance of my two-door Saturn Coupe, I have to admit this is not the most efficient vehicle for transporting large mammals. Getting Henry and Murphy into the back seat is always a challenge. Neither of them like to spend time in such a confined space, but they do understand they will be running around with a bunch of other dogs once the car reaches its destination.

On the way Henry always finds time to shake his body violently enough to ensure that every hair on his body that was even considering shedding itself is now floating about in the interior of my car. The experience is similar to being stuck inside a novelty snow bubble that has just been moved around. Well, maybe without so much water.

For anyone who has never been to a dog park, I would like to point out that the actual experience bears little resemblance to the movie “Dog Park.” No matter how many times I go, I never see Luke Wilson or Janeane Garofalo with their favorite pets. For the most part people walk around and make small talk about their pets. Gossip about scandalous dating triangles among people at the park is a rare occurrence. The last time I went the most interesting person was an older man who sat on a rock and spent twenty minutes intensely drawing a sketch of a minivan in his notebook.

Once we enter the fenced in area of the dog park, the dogs immediately start running around sniffing everything they can get their noses into. I have read that some dogs noses are many times more sensitive than humans. This explains why most people don’t spend more time sniffing their work and living environments. For the next hour or so Henry and Murphy get to run around, socialize with other animals (canine and human), and anything else they can manage to do from within the confines of the area. Eventually, they come over to me, sit down, and look at me as if to say “OK, this ‘dog park’ thing is a blast, but we really have to go home and get back to sleep.”

Cleaning Up

Accused of looting hundreds of millions of dollars from Tyco International, former CEO Dennis Kozlowski now faces federal charges of corruption, conspiracy, and grand larceny. One of the prosecuting attorneys in the case went on record saying, “Six thousand dollars for a shower curtain! What does he think this is, the military?”

Election Coverage

After a close election in the Democratic nomination for governor of Florida, former Clinton administration attorney general Janet Reno conceded defeat to Tampa lawyer and first-time candidate Bill McBride. While generally cordial, she ended her concession speech by saying, “Sure, Mr. McBride seems like a nice enough guy, but when push comes to shove does he have the nerve to send fully armed SWAT teams to extract little five-year-old boys from their bed in the middle of the night? I highly doubt it.”

Internet Cafe

The scene opens with a wide shot of an average-looking bar. A dozen or so people are sitting around talking. A very typical bar scene.

Two guys walk through the bar. They are wearing nice pants, dress shirts, and ties. They sit down at two empty seats at the bar.

Andy: Bartender, can we get two beers, please?

Bartender: Coming right up.

Carl: I was hoping that we could have been on the 8 o’clock flight home. I can’t believe how picky those guys were about some of the fine points of our proposal for their web site.

Andy: Well, I think we came to an agreement where everyone was happy. I’m sure once we start designing the web site everyone will relax quite a bit.

Bartender brings over two beers. Andy and Carl start drinking them.

Carl looks at the woman sitting next to him. She doesn’t seem to be with anyone else. She is smoking a cigarette. Carl turns towards her.

Carl: Hi there, my name is Carl.

The woman totally ignores Carl and blows cigarette smoke into the air. This infuriates Carl. He leans over to Andy.

Carl: Did you see that? That bitch next to me won’t even acknowledge that I exist. What, is it too much effort to say “hi” back to me?

Andy: Yeah, I saw that. Maybe she doesn’t like the computer geek types.

Bartender: Excuse me, would you two gentlemen like some HELP?

Carl: Uhhh… I suppose. Is she deaf or something?

Bartender: No, not at all. You see fellows, you are in the Internet Bar. In here all the rules of talking to people through Instant Messenger apply. It is quite possible that the woman you contacted is busy doing something else at the moment. Maybe when she has some free time she will respond.

Andy: Are you crazy? She is just sitting there doing nothing! How hard is it to say hi?

Bartender: We don’t like troublemakers in here. If you can’t follow the rules you will be reported and asked to leave.

Just then the woman finishes her cigarette, puts it out in an ash tray, and turns toward Carl.

Woman: Hi Carl, my name is Jenny. How are you doing tonight? Sorry I didn’t respond sooner– I was out smoking a cigarette. So do you have a picture?

Carl: That’s OK, I’m kind of new here. I’m just in town for the night because… why do want to see a picture of me?

Woman: I just want to see what you look like. Hold on, I might have a picture of me you can see.

The woman pulls out her purse and starts looking through a series of pictures. The first one is exactly like what she looks like now, the next is an older picture of her when she was in better shape and sitting in a bikini next to the pool. The last one looks kind of like Brittany Spears. She pulls out the bikini picture and hands it to Carl.

Suddenly a young teenager bursts through the door and starts running around the bar yelling and screaming.

Teenager: Who wants to see naked pictures of Christine Aguilara? I’ve got all your favorite teen celebrities on my site. Come to my web site and see. It’s only 2.99 for the first week! It’s the best porn money can buy! If you aren’t happy….

Two bouncers came over and grabbed the kid from behind. They shove a towel in his mouth to shut him up. They quickly escort him to the door.

Woman: (talking to Carl) This place may be a dump, but at least they have good security.

A bald middle-aged man sits down next to Andy.

Bald man: Hi there, my name is Erin.

Andy: I’m Andy. How are you doing?

Bald man: I’ve been busy getting drunk with all my Sorority friends.

Andy: What? You are a bald fourty-something old man sitting here in a cheap suit.

The bartender looks up at Andy. The bouncers come over and get ready to remove Andy from the bar. The bartender gestures for the bouncers to hold off for a minute.

Bartender: Listen buddy, you are new here, so I’m going to give you a second chance. If you can’t follow the rules for chatting online I’ll have to ask you to leave.

Andy: OK, I’m sorry. I won’t let it happen again. I promise.

The bartender smiles at Andy and the bouncers move back to the door. Andy uncomfortably turns to the bald man.

Andy: I was just kidding.

Bald man: Oh, that’s OK, I like to play games. Especially drinking games.

Andy: Well, I’m a little old for that. And anyway I’m married.

Bald man: I think older men are HOT. They really know what they are doing. And I don’t care that you are married.

Andy: Well, that’s great and all, but I’ve got to get going.

Bald man: Are you sure you don’t want to come over and get drunk with me and my girlfriends?

Andy: Uhh… maybe some other time. Bye.

Meanwhile, Carl is making small talk with the woman next to him. A man in walks in and sits next to the woman. He is wearing a greasy jumpsuit like one you would see at a factory. He is six feet tall, black, and very muscular. He turns and looks at the woman.

Black man: Hey baby! Remember me?

The woman, who didn’t notice the man come, is startled and quickly turns around.

Woman: Oh, God, how could I forget? You are amazing. WINK

Black Man: Thanks-you were pretty good yourself. So what are you up to tonight?

The woman looks over to Carl and sighs. She turns back to the black man.

Woman: Nothing. Want to get together? I’d love to see you again.

Black Man: Great. How about we meet at the same bar as last time?

Woman: I’ll be there in ten minutes. See you then.

The man walks out of the bar. The woman gets ready to leave. Before she gets up she turns to Carl.

Woman: It was nice meeting you, Carl, but I’m really tired. I think I’m going straight to bed tonight. Maybe we can talk some other night.

Carl: OK, have a good night.

The woman runs out the door. The bald man who was talking to Andy moved on to someone else. Andy turns to Carl.

Andy: This place is too strange.

Carl: Yeah, but I think it’s growing on me. I think I had a chance with that last woman. Did you see the picture of her in the bikini? She is good looking.

The camera slowly zooms away as the two are talking.

Carl: Maybe I should get a picture of myself to show people.

Andy: Why bother? Everyone can see you as it is.

Carl: You are missing the whole point.

Andy: And that is?

Carl: Sigh– it’s hard to explain.

Carl and Andy finish up their beers as the screen fades to black.

Raising Security

Faced with shrinking profit margins, airlines in the United States are imposing new fees to help boost their bottom line. At various airports around the country, for example, passengers going through security can pay forty dollars to walk past Federal screeners and submit to an extensive “hand search” by perky eighteen year old women in Hooters outfits.

Gods Playing Poker

Close up of finger pressing doorbell.
Doorbell rings.
Door opens. The view is of the closed door from the outside. Thor is inside and opens the door.
Thor: Jesus Christ! You decided to come after all!
The view changes to inside looking out the door at Jesus Christ.
Jesus: Thor, my child, it is a pleasure to see you again.
Thor: I’m the God of Thunder– I’m not your child!
Jesus: I’m sorry Thor, you are right. I’ve been spending a lot of time around humans lately. Just this morning I produced my image in a tortilla in a small town in eastern Texas.
Thor: I’ve always admired you for that. You take time to make your presence known in so many subtle ways. I seem to have an uncontrollable urge to hit things with bolts of lightning to get my point across. But that’s just me. Patience has never been my strong point. Where are my manners, come on in and make yourself comfortable. The rest of the group will be here shortly.
Jesus: Thank you, and I brought a lovely bean dip I made from scratch this morning.
Thor: Oh no-bean dip and lightning bolts– not a good combination! HA HA HA!!!
Jesus smiles and goes inside.

Doorbell rings. Door opens.
Thor: Allah! I’m glad you finally decided to join us!
Allah: Normally I like to keep to myself, but I got your e-mail message and said, “Why not join them? We all are gods after all– why can’t we all get together for an evening of casual entertainment?”
Thor: Wonderful. Come on in-watch the step there. Jesus is in the living room. Feel free to make yourself a drink and enjoy some of the vegetable platter I set on the coffee table.
Allah: Thank you.

Doorbell rings. Door opens.
Thor: Zeus!!! The god of gods. How is life up at the summer cottage?
Zeus: It’s wonderful, as always. The weather is just perfect and I don’t have any annoying neighbors.
Thor: Great! Everyone else is here, so I guess we can get started.

New scene– the four Gods are sitting at a poker table. The style is just like the “Dogs Playing Poker” poster.

Thor: For the first game it’s going to be straight five card stud with nothing wild.
Thor deals out five cards to everyone. Nobody looks at their cards yet.
Zeus: I fold
Allah: I bet all my chips
Jesus: I fold
Thor: OK EVERYONE, LISTEN UP! This is going to be the most boring game of poker if everyone knows what is going to happen. YES, we are all gods, and yes, we can all be omnipresent if we choose to, but in the spirit of this game we should all refrain from using this power. Agreed?
Zeus lifts up can of beer and begins talking.
Zeus: Thor is right. We all need…
Suddenly Zeus gets hit with a lightning bolt.
Allah: Jesus Christ– why did you have to hit Zeus with a bolt of lightning?
Jesus: That wasn’t me. Personally, I suspect Thor was the instigator.
Allah: Of course it was Thor, you nimrod.
Thor: I’m sorry, I just got a little too excited. And Zeus raising his beer can provided a path for my built up electrical energy to be dispersed. I’ll try not to let it happen again. Are you OK, Zeus?
Zeus laughs heartily.
Zeus: It will talk a lot more than a few bolts of lightning to stop me from playing.

Zeus deals another hand of poker.
Thor and Allah quickly fold.
Zeus: Hey Jesus, how about we make this game a little more interesting?
Jesus: What do you propose?
Zeus: Instead of playing for chips, we play for people. The winner of this hand gets to have a little fun with one of the loser’s followers. Nothing lethal, but everything else is fair game.
Jesus: Zeus, that wouldn’t be very nice.
Zeus: Oh come on, don’t you ever get tired of being benevolent all the time? Or are you chicken?
Jesus: This may be the two cans of Red Bull I’ve just finished off talking, but you have yourself a deal.
Zeus: Show your cards, beer boy.
Allah: Red Bull isn’t beer, Zeus.
Zeus: Shut up– can’t you see we are trying to play a game here?

Jesus has a full house. Zeus has a straight flush.
Jesus: So who are you going to torment Zeus?
Zeus: Well, there is one of your followers I find particularly annoying. This guy really reminds me of that Job guy from the Bible. Except he lives in Silicon Valley, develops video games, and goes around obsessing about how Jesus does this and Jesus does that and how fricken wonderful you are. Don’t get me wrong, Jesus, I love you like a son, but this guy just needs to learn a little lesson. He kisses your ass and you make sure nothing bad happens to him.
Jesus: I’m going to need another beer. Probably two.
Allah: I already told you that it’s not beer.
Jesus: Allah, why do you have to take everything so literally?
Zeus: Shut up– both of you! Back to my winnings: first of all I’m going to give him a wicked case of acne.
Zeus slaps his hand on the table.
Zeus: Next I’m going to make all of his high priced Internet stock worthless.
Jesus: I get the point. I’m a sissy. Now just stop.
Allah: This isn’t funny anymore Zeus.
Zeus: Hell, I’m just getting started. Now I’m going to disconnect the high speed Internet connection– he is going to have to dial up at 56k. Serves him right!
Jesus: I really mean it– enough Zeus!
Zeus: I know you will just switch everything back once I stop. You will probably even make him even better off than before we started.
Jesus: I am not going to… Well, I don’t … that’s not the point. You are making me angry!
The wind starts blowing and keeps getting stronger.
Allah: Jesus– this isn’t doing anyone any good.
Zeus: Stay out of this Allah. If you were a half way decent god you wouldn’t have your people blowing things up to make you happy.
Allah: Oh, the truth comes out now, huh? Well how about we let your followers live in the crappy desert for a thousand years and see how they turn out?
The ground starts shaking.
Jesus: You want to play chicken, Zeus?
Zeus: With you, patsey boy? Any day!!!
Jesus: I’m not afraid of you!
More shaking and wind.
Zeus: Let’s go all the way, bitch.
Jesus: I’m not backing down.
Zeus: Neither am I.
Incredible shaking and wind.
Massive zoom out to the entire universe. It is shaking violently. Suddenly everything collapses on itself and all is quiet and totally dark.
In quiet, apologetic tones fading out:
Zeus: I’m sorry.
Jesus: No, I get like this sometimes when I drink.
Thor: I might have helped with the destruction thing.
Allah: So are we going to do this again sometime?
Zeus: Of course– we can have it at my house next month. My wife makes those little tiny hot dogs with toothpicks in them….
Jesus: Great– I’ll be there.
Thor: I’m game…

In Box Office News

The low-budget, independently produced film, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” reached the number one spot for box office revenue this week. After being released in April, the feel-good romantic comedy steadily climbed the charts– beating out several movies featuring high-profile actors and state-of-the-art special effects. Taking note of the unexpected success, Hollywood recently green-lighted a similar script involving an engaged couple facing ethnic differences, family conflicts, and time-traveling aliens (played by Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington) who employ their arsenal of futuristic weapons to disrupt the wedding.

In School News

Parents in Aspen, Colorado claim that plans to teach yoga violate federal rulings that bar religion in the classroom. The district’s yoga program was developed after September 11 to help make children feel safer in school. When questioned about this controversy, President Bush responded, “Before we let this issue create a division among us, we need to all sit down and listen to what the little green Muppet fella has to say.”