Category Archives: Humor

Journal Entry in Three Voices 7-22-04

Ha! I already wrote about this

Backstory: For some reason Clare, Andrew and I drove to Illinois from Bethesda in July of 2004. Actually, this may have been when we went for Clare’s 13th birthday where she got her ears pierced. Dean must have gone to South Africa.

We drove halfway to Illinois the first day, stopping in Fremont/Port Clinton Ohio. I don’t recall if I’d planned on having us all keep a journal of our travels or if the events of the day made me want to keep a record of them.

The entries are written on Holiday Inn stationery. I wrote my entry first:


Left home at 11:10 this morning. Had hoped to get an earlier start but no luck. Kids were fine — great first few hours then they began watching LOTR-FOTR. Stopped in good old Breezewood for lunch and gas. Bought too much icky food.

Arrived at Motel in Fremont, Ohio around 7:30. Checked in. Kids wanted to stay in the car.

When I got back Clare was doing something to Andrew’s back. I jokingly asked Clare what she did to Andrew. Then I saw that he had the seat belt all tangled up and around his belly. I helped him escape but was on the verge of calling 911 to get him cut out of the seat belt. He finally did a backwards somersault and slipped free. Dinner was good. Kids watching TV now.


Andrew went next:


We left a lot later than I wanted but we had TV. We ate lunch at a fine place. Then I had to go to the bathroom really really bad. Then we went to a place we went to last time. Then stuff happened and then… I got stuck in my seat belt and I got to do 2 somersaults. It was weird.

Clare was last:

Today was funny… Halloween woke me up. Awwww. Mom was mad. Dad left blah blah. Ok later, Andrew got stuck in the seat belt umm, I have no clue how. He had to do a backwards somersault errr…

Dinner was odd… umm Mom probably told you, a cute kid (adorable) waved. He was 2, then a thunder storm came. I went to our room and am watching TV now.

The seat belt disappeared in his tummy. GTG.


New Blog: A Complete Library of Entertainment, Amusement and Instruction

Another item I brought back from my mom’s house is a book called A Complete Library of Entertainment, Amusement, and Instruction. This book is all one needed in 1903 to be entertained, amused and instructed. For instance, it gives detailed instructions on how to throw dozens of socials, from an advertisement social to a bird social to a beheading social. It also provides guidance on throwing parties including a progressive soap bubble party, a children’s Valentine party and a brownie party. It gives instruction on how to play ping-pong, how to do various exercises and explains both American football and English football rules. Several of the socials, parties, and instructions are accompanied with “full-page half-tone images” and others are paired with simple line drawings.

Three women dressed in warm clothes for a "Northern Social"
An example of the images from the book

I remember looking at this book various times in my life, but it never caught my attention until I took a closer look at the images and some of the content.

So, thought I, what a great idea for a NEW BLOG! Maybe I will actually keep this one going beyond a few posts!

I’m slowly adding content to the new blog, with little, if any commentary. So far you can learn how to put on a Carnival of Nations or a Reunion of Characters from Charles Dickens’ novels. You can also learn how to host a Cat Social, a Bird Social, an All Fools’ Social and a Broken Hearts Social.

Bible stories in words of one syllable

Christmas 1936, my 8-year-old father was given a book of stories from the Old Testament. I don’t know how much he read it, the spine is still stiff. Growing up I’d seen this book around the house but never really looked at it. It wasn’t until I pulled it out of my “to blog about box” this afternoon and saw that it was not just a book of stories from the Old Testament, but a book of stories from the Old Testament written in words consisting of only one syllable. Or so the title claims.

Before I opened the book I wondered if the author shortened all the names in the book to make them one syllable. Noah = No? Moses = Mo? What about place names? Garden of Eden = Yard of Ed?

In reality, there are words with more than one syllable in the book, but the author hyphenated them or, in the case of names, used an apostrophe between the syllables which I think is cheating. (Actually, it was probably really hard to do this.)




15 Ways to a Man’s Heart

I am nearly at the bottom of the last box of memorabilia I brought from my mom’s house — at least the last box from the most recent trip. I’ve still got to sort everything and put things in their proper places, but at least I don’t have any more sealed boxes.

My favorite find yesterday was a Zip-Loc(R) bag of recipes, some clipped from magazines, some handwritten, some typed. There was even a two-page menu for a Swedish dinner party from someone’s high school home economics class (1934).

I liked this particular trifold from Betty Crocker. Especially the 5th page. And the recipe for Spaghetti Loaf with Shrimp Sauce. Yum!

Pop Quiz about Reagan

Have I mentioned that Mom kept everything? Well, she did. I came across this today while attempting to organize my attic office. After Tuesday’s election, I’d not mind Reagan as president again.

Pop Quiz about photo of Reagan

I don’t know why Mom had this and I don’t know what the occasion was but I probably sent it in a letter (remember letters?) to my dad who was a Republican and voted for Reagan.

If you have trouble seeing the image, here’s a text alternative: Photo of Ronald Reagan pointing at his head with his two index fingers. Text: “What is this man saying?” 1. Only my hairdresser knows for sure 2. You reporters may think there is something up here but you are dead wrong. 3. Guess what I am! … A zit! 4. I leave all my most important decisions to my two little Martian friends Bernie and Ernie. Can you see them? 5. If you come any closer, I’ll shoot. 6. Other___________.

In which we do not see Patti Smith and her band

Not Patti Smith
Not Patti Smith
Not Patti Smith's Band
Not Patti Smith’s Band
Also not Patti Smith (or even Captain Kangaroo)
Also not Patti Smith (or even Captain Kangaroo)
Who knew "My Favorite Things" had a long drum solo?
Who knew “My Favorite Things” had a long drum solo?
Are you Patti Smith?
Are you Patti Smith?

Years and years ago when our love was still young Dean confessed to me that a particular Patti Smith song (don’t recall which one, but it was sweet) reminded him of me so while I never loved Patti Smith’s music (never took the time to listen, I suppose) I kept her in a special place in my heart and didn’t mind when Dean played her music.

About 5 years ago Dean read an article in the New Yorker praising her tour that year so we got tickets to see her at the 9:30 Club. It was a fine concert and she and her band performed well and were gracious to the fans (unlike Bob Dylan who was an asshole when we saw him earlier that year at the Merriweather Post Pavilion) but it left Dean slightly disappointed — the performance did not live up to the New Yorker review. Plus unless you are a “VIP” you have to stand the during entire performance at the 9:30 Club.

I get emails from the 9:30 Club about upcoming shows. The 9:30 Club is owned, in part, by Bethesda resident Seth Hurwitz (and father of a middle school friend of my son). Seth and his partner also operate the Merriweather Post Pavilion, and promote concerts at most other venues in the Washington DC area including Baltimore. So when I received an email from the 9:30 Club announcing that Patti Smith would be playing the next evening at the Ram’s Head I suggested to Dean that we go. He was all for it. A few minutes and $90.50 ($35 per ticket + $13.50 service fee + $7.00 tax) later we had tickets to see Patti Smith.

We spent the day puttering around the house and considered eating dinner in Annapolis, where the Ram’s Head is, but decided to save some money and eat at home. We left home around 7:15 hoping to arrive in Annapolis about when the doors opened so we could get a good seat.

We arrived in Annapolis, parked the car and walked to Ram’s Head Tavern, giddy with the excitement of doing something unusual. We remarked at the quaintness of Annapolis and wondered if our daughter had ever been there.

Once at Ram’s Head we had to ask where the show was being held and were pointed towards a giant guitar on the wall. We showed the woman at the door our ticket and after a few moments of confusion said. You’re in Annapolis at Ram’s Head Tavern. We said we knew. She said, your concert is in Baltimore at Ram’s Head Live. We didn’t know there was more than one Ram’s Head.

I must have had a look of utter dismay on my face because she said, you don’t want to waste that — here, I have a table for you. She showed us into the music hall and sat us at at small table near the stage where we were treated a Christmas concert by the John Blount-Dave Tucker Big Band.

Luckily we like big band music. We’re lucky it wasn’t country and western.


How I learned that Cokie Roberts lives nearby

So, on Monday afternoon I got a phone call. The ID on the phone display read:


I didn’t answer, but later was curious and listened to the message. Notice that the message did not say “This is a message from your neighbor Cokie”. However, I made a note to be on the lookout for a scared looking black lab if and when I was out and about.

Katie the Missing Lab belonging to Cokie Roberts
Katie -- photo courtesy

That evening just before I left for Alexandria (to teach a class on document accessibility the next morning) I checked the news on my phone. I have a “Bethesda, Maryland” section on Google News and noticed that the Baltimore Sun had an article about Cokie Roberts and her lost dog, Katie. I was a little amused that a newspaper like the Baltimore Sun ran an article about a lost dog. Then I was kind of excited to learn that Ms Roberts lives within a few miles of me. The article (and the message) mentioned Bradley Boulevard which is very close to me as well as Walt Whitman High School (not the one from Room 222) which is where my children went  to school.

I now wonder if perhaps I have passed her in the grocery store or cut her off while driving on Wilson Lane. Truth be told, I would not recognize her. She’d have to accidentally put her groceries in my cart and then launch into a monologue about the benefits of avocados. (I know she is on some TV news program now, but I’ve never really watched it.)

By this morning the news about Katie the dog was on at least 10 media sites including the Washington Post and Huffington Post.

While I sincerely hope that Katie is quickly and safely returned to Cokie (I can call her that, she’s my neighbor and Mary Martha Corinne Morrison Claiborne Boggs is a mouthful) I do find it amusing that it has made such news around here.

UPDATE: I am sad to report that Katie was hit by a car and killed near our local middle school.

Now mom

I have not been living up to my tagline, so thought I would remedy that. Let’s start with a note from my daughter that I recently found in a box of stuff I’ve been meaning to sort. I think she was a senior or junior when she wrote it but definitely high school. It was on her bedside table and I probably didn’t see it until the next morning. I also didn’t freak out.

Now mom
Now mom, Don't freak out that I am blue. I put toothpaste on my face --> it's like some acne thing. You probably have guessed it's toothpaste by the smell.


Strangely appropriate April Fools Day Prank

A while back I wrote about not being able to feed birds because of a rat problem in our neighborhood. I quit feeding birds (at ground-level) and we quit putting any food scraps in the compost heap. We’d not seen a rat all winter so thought we were good. Just now, however, I looked out the back window and saw two brazen rats eating grass seed under the ginkgo tree. I walked outside and noticed a rat-sized tunnel heading towards the center of the compost heap.

I went back inside and fired up the Internet to find a solution to rats in compost heaps. One of the links was “How to get rats and mice out of compost — 8 steps (with pictures).” I clicked the link and I scrolled down the page and was surprised to see pictures of cats, some sprawling, some playing peek-a-boo, among the pictures of rat-repelling suggestions. Surely this is a mistake, I thought, are just they going to tell me to sic my cat on the rats?

Then I remembered today is April Fools day and AdBlock is giving us photos of cats instead of ads.

Here’s a screenshot or three.

I am still not sure what to do about the rats in the compost. I guess we cannot compost anymore. Or seed our lawn.

At least we don’t have bears. Or porcupines.