A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Dear Greedy Bank, Inc.

Dear (insert name of national corporate bank with ghastly high credit card interest rate here):

This is good-bye, farewell and so long to you and your 23.99% interest rate. By the time this letter reaches you, our final payment should be credited to my account. This payment, made through the courtesy of another lender, comes with a lower interest rate that will make our monthly household budget much more manageable.

I must admit that we have shared fun times together while using your credit card. Lately, however, the thought of paying out $2500 in interest charges just to qualify for a $25.00 gift card to my favorite restaurant has gotten old very fast. This is not a business arrangement that I can live with anymore. I can put this in many different terms, but suffice to say that your card does not have a competitive interest rate. You notified me some months ago that new federal regulations would allow you to recalculate my minimum monthly payment on my card, which I guess was another way of telling us consumers, “Bend over and open your anus as wide as you can!”

As soon as I read your notification, I smelled a bush. To be more specific, a bank-lobby-and-big-business-friendly Bush. I am convinced that his administration is behind this latest assault on my wallet, and even if it isn’t, I’ll find a way to connect this to him somehow.

Let me illustrate my reasoning by dissecting your latest statement. I currently have a balance in excess of $XX,XXX. You want me to send a payment of $207.00, of which $205.06 will be applied to interest. This leaves me with a payment of $1.94 towards the principal. This will take me a while, a long while, to pay off. At this rate, it will take me approximately 5,361 months to pay off. Now, don’t go rushing for your calculators. I’ve already figured out how many years that comes to, and I can assure you I have no intention of sticking around until February 2453 to pay my balance off. Mind you, this is a very conservative figure – I didn’t calculate the interest charges in, so the actual pay off time would be something approximating infinity.

So, dear (insert huge national bank with high interest rates and probably kidnaps small furry animals in the night for sacrifices by moonlight), I hope this letter will give you pause to think about your unbridled greed.

Oh, I know I am not acting in good faith in our capitalistic system, and that if I really want to possess things and do activities, I should have no qualms about whipping out my plastic, tomorrow be damned. I can’t think that way any longer. I have learned a long time ago that there is a cost to everything, an economic karma if you will. The loss of my business will be the price you pay for your high interest rates. So goodbye (insert ginormous national bank with high interest rates, but not as high or loathsome as my wife’s bank who [she has told me] stinks of elderberries!)*

*With apologies to Monty Python

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Like Talking to a Wall

In a conference room somewhere in Hollywood, a film producer holds a meeting with some of his production crew.

“Okay, we’re here to discuss our television movie of the week Crisis on the Border, the drama about our latest efforts to bring peace to the Mid-East. Writers, I have to start by saying that I’m not entirely happy with the script. For one thing, the script calls for Israel to launch their first attack into Lebanon while the Hezbollah guerrillas are having a dress rehearsal for the musical 1776. I’m not so sure that we want to romanticize their struggle by showing them staging an American musical. Maybe we can show them going about their daily routine…maybe going to work, going to school, drinking coffee at an outdoor café in Beirut. Wait, what am I saying? We want a historically accurate depiction of the Mid-East peace process, not a Michael Moore documentary. I know! We can show them unloading missiles marked from Iran! That’s it! Okay get to work on that angle!”

“Is casting here? Oh, good...Margeux, am I to understand that our main protagonist is Condoleezza Rice? Great! Let’s try to get Halle Berry for the role. Tell her people not to worry about Condi’s teeth. We can have Industrial Light and Magic darken in a gap for her. For Kofi Annan, how about Morgan Freeman? Now, casting Hezbollah is a problem. I’ve heard that they’re not directly involved in face-to-face negotiations with Condi, that they will be talking to her through the Lebanese parliament. Frankly, I don’t see how Condi can do it, talking about a peace settlement when one of the combatants isn’t even there across the table from you. It will be like she’s sitting there talking to a brick wall...”

“Wait! That’s it! This is brilliant! It’s something that’s never been done on television! We’ll cast an inanimate object to portray Hezbollah. Yes, we could get a brick wall to portray them. It would be cheaper, SAG rules be damned, and it would be historically accurate! This is great! Call the art department! Have them buy up every brick in southern California! Wait, I just thought of another scene we could use it in. Where is that...oh, here it is. Scene 89, where Al Gore bursts into the Oval Office with a copy of An Inconvenient Truth under his arms. Yes, a confrontation with the President over global warming! We’ll get another brick wall to portray the President! Again, it would be historically accurate!”

“Okay, people, let’s get out there and get this project moving. Remember, if it tanks, we can always release direct to video with the title Condi Does Beirut. Now get going!”

Friday, July 21, 2006

How Do You Solve A Problem Like George W.?

Dear Laura,

I am writing to tell you that you need to talk to your husband about his behavior this past week at the G-8 summit in St. Petersburg. At the very least, his acts were embarrassing for all US citizens. It also reinforced us as a laughing stock among other countries.

First there was his open mike gaffe. Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against small talk at the dinner table as long as it is polite. However, your husband let loose with language that was more appropriate at a boot scootin’ honky tonk in Austin on a Saturday night, not St. Petersburg. Thank God his buddy, Tony (Blair) realized that the microphone in front of them was on and turned it off before the world heard anything else from our own cowboy. It’s good that Tony has your husband’s back. It’s a shame that he has his own country to run; otherwise, Tony could be free to consult W. on a full-time basis, or at the very least, take Karl Rove out for a walk.

Your husband and his cronies could take a lesson from Ronald Reagan. Remember when The Great Communicator joked about ordering an air strike on the Soviets before he realized that his mike was on? Yeah, that was a big laugh, ha, ha! The Soviets are reaching for their nitro pills with one hand, and pushing the red button for the retaliatory strike with the other, all because Bedtime for Bonzo decided to make a funny! We all could have been toast! I realize that the stakes were much higher then, but it does demonstrate that politicians will never learn.

Then there was your husband’s sneak attack on the German chancellor! You may not have seen this on the Internet, but there is video footage of W. coming from behind Chancellor Merkel to give her a neck rub and shoulder massage. What did she do to deserve this? I pay taxes and I can’t get so much as an affirmative nod on my opinions from the President, let alone a massage! I can assure you that if the average, everyday American male tried this on their female co-workers, they would be facing sexual harassment charges pronto!

Where would the world be now if past presidents engaged in this sort of behavior? For example, what if FDR had offered to give Hitler a nice foot massage. I’m sure Hitler would have appreciated some attention to his aching dogs, especially after all that goose-stepping he did every day. Still, there is no record that this ever happened, and it probably wouldn’t have made any difference in Hitler’s behavior anyway. Yet it would’ve set a dangerous precedent for future Presidents. Think of Eisenhower giving DeGaulle a peck on each cheek, or Kennedy offering to light Castro’s cigar, or Johnson picking Ho Chi Minh up by his ears, or Nixon sending his plumbers over to fix Khrushchev’s kitchen sink. As you can see, the pressure put on future Chief Executives would be staggering.

Never mind that the kids won’t get all of those historical references above; that’s not the point!

I believe you should sit W. down when he gets home and school him on the proper behavior when he is hanging out with the other world leaders. There are certain procedures and protocols that must be observed, and he must be made aware of these rules. Otherwise, he will continue to embarrass us in the world. It’s one thing to start conflicts at will under the guise of spreading American democracy, but it’s quite another when he goes around offering unsolicited services.

Give 'em, hell, Laura!


An Embarrassed American

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Cool Thoughts

As we swelter through another southeastern Pennsylvania heat wave, it is probably best to keep those cool thoughts in mind. We could start with images of winter - the polar opposite of the current hot season.

Images immediately leap to mind from the music of the season. We could start with The Christmas Song with its reminder that "Jack Frost is nipping at our nose." There are also the "chestnuts roasting on an open fire", which adds to the comfortable, homey feeling of the season.

Hmmm...roasting, fire, heat, sweat, sweltering...okay, let's forget The Christmas Song.

How about the candy cane? A sweet, seasonal confection with its minty flavors bursting forth in our mouths as we bite down hard on its stick. Certainly you can sense the refreshing feeling it can bring just by imagining this scene in your mind.'s very hot, and the candy cane would melt in your hands. Eww! All sticky and yucky, it would get on everything you touch. Even the moist towelettes you use to clean yourself would stick to your hands. Okay, redline the candy canes.

How about a winter storm? Let's imagine the worst possible kind with blowing, drifting snow, and the wind howling past the aluminum siding of your house. The snow would accumulate, pile up, snap tree branches and power lines, causing blackouts and energy shortages. No energy to heat your house! You'd shiver even covered with every blanket in the house. Ah, now you're missing this summer heat, aren't you?

I guess it's up to each one of us to think of ways to keep ourselves cool. There is no way one person can suggest any one universal image that will make everyone feel comfortable. As for me, I would think of my favorite winter drink: a nice, tall glass of iced tea! Yes, iced tea all year long! Iced's not just for summer anymore!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Pool (less) Season

If the news on the Internet is any indication, a few heavy items will hit the fan within the next few days. First, there is the publication of a book that Richard M. Nixon was involved with the John F. Kennedy assassination, which was orchestrated by the Mafia.

I’ll bet that even this is beyond Oliver Stone’s wildest imagination! I can’t imagine what Nixon’s motive would have been. After all, both he and Kennedy were Senators and, while I’m not sure what their personal feelings were towards each other, I think it’s safe to say that each thought the other as a worthy adversary in the Senate chamber. Oh yeah, there was the 1960 election in which Nixon might have thought he was robbed of the White House by Kennedy and some obliging Cook County, Illinois voters. Hmmm, I forgot about that one... Maybe Nixon did have a motive.

Or the news that Robert Novak is now directly pointing his finger at Bush advisor Karl Rove as one of the sources who outted CIA operative Valerie Plame. While I doubt that Bush would oust his friend from the administration (although that is what he said he would do to anyone in his administration who was found guilty of blowing Plame’s cover), I believe he will compelled to make some sort of drastic step to rectify the situation. I’m thinking that he will either present Rove with a medal for a job well done; or he will propose a Constitutional amendment making it lawful for Americans to burn gay pride flags at will and as often as they so choose.

Or he could go on national television and say, “My fellow Americans, tonight we are faced with a crisis involving Todd Gunther and his inability to get his swimming pool set up for the summer. He has been unable to do this despite his best efforts, with the kind assistance of his friends and neighbors. I am calling on all of you within the sound of my voice tonight to take your minds off Richard Nixon and Iraq and Karl Rove and North Korea and the war on terror and all the other things I’ve managed to screw up and think about Todd Gunther.”

I wish I could say that the President was wrong again, but I must admit that everything he says is true. The pool season is half over and I have had nothing but trouble in setting up my inflatable pool. I had hoped to have it ready to go during my vacation immediately before Memorial Day. That was seven weeks ago! The instructional video states that it should only take 12 minutes, but it’s taken me seven weeks! I can’t believe this!

I’m able to inflate the ring with air, and get water into the pool. I’ve got that part down pat. My problem has been finding a level spot on my property for the damned thing.

So far this summer I have invested several hundred dollars in sand, lumber, and topsoil in an attempt to level out my chosen area. I just need a simple 16’ by 16’ level square area. This is what I have: a 16’ by 16’ square area that is one inch below level at one corner, one-and-three-quarters inch low at another corner, and two inches lower at a third corner. I have spent way too much time leveling the ground, inflating the ring, hooking up the filter, filling the pool with water, draining it after finding that the ground was still not level, and repeating this process at least two more times.

What I have now is a deflated, dry plastic pool, a spot of my property that is now two more inches above sea level than it had previously been (and still not level), and a large mound of leftover top soil that at least is being enjoyed by one of my neighbors. At three years of age my neighbor is easily amused.

That, in a nutshell, is the problem the President mentioned. I guess I should be grateful that my crisis has fulfilled my patriotic duty of diverting everyone’s attention from Karl Rove, Iraq, North Korea and the war on terror, but not Richard Nixon. Mr. Nixon, you’re dead and on your own.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

What’s in the Comics Today?

For those of us who have longed for thumbnail descriptions of the comic strips found in our local newspapers, we present the following guide to the comic strips. Please note: at this time the powers to be have not concocted a ratings system for this pop culture art form. Parents, you’re on your own!

BEETLE BAILEY: follows the misadventures of the all-time champion underachiever in the armed forces. Seriously, Beetle makes Bart Simpson look like Donald Trump. Meet Sarge, Zero, General Halftrack, Miss Buxley, Cosmo, Killer, Cpl. Yo, Hawkeye, Trapper John, Hot Lips...oh, sorry. We’ve crossed over from Beetle Bailey to the closing credits from M*A*S*H.

BLONDIE: features the daily trials and tribulations of the Bumstead family. There is Dagwood, the good-natured, but lazy inventor of huge sandwiches; teenagers Alexander and Cookie, the dog Daisy, and of course the amazing Blondie! The most amazing thing about her is that she has been around for 75 years and she still has a figure that would make Barbie jealous. Honestly, don’t you ladies just hate her guts!

BOONDOCKS: Huey and Riley are two black children living with their retired grandfather in white suburbia. These two are Blank Panther wannabes who were born forty years too late. Wee Pals was never anything like this!

BC: right-wing religious rhetoric thinly disguised as the wacky adventures of a group of prehistoric cavemen. See also Pogo and Lil’ Abner. In other countries, this strip might be accompanied by a strip with cute, cuddly, furry creatures spouting off subversive Communist propaganda. But not here! Not in the good ole U.S. of A.!

DOONESBURY: Classic cutting-edge comic strip that deals with adult themes and situations without resorting to adult language or vulgarity. Many believe it has a liberal bias, but upon closer scrutiny the reader can see other points-of-view at work. Even the main character, Michael Doonesbury, has matured with the strip over the course of 36 years. He started out as a naïve college freshman, but now he can be seen as a naïve conservative.

OPUS: a plucky puffin, mistaken for a penguin, makes his way through the trials and troubles of living in modern day America. Again, many will see a liberal bias at work as our hero grapples with today’s major political and social issues. Originally an immigrant from Antarctica, Opus will sometimes seek out his origins. It doesn’t help matters any that his two previous homes on the comics page (Bloom County and Outland) have been closed.

RED MEAT: not served on everyone’s comic strip plate, but so bizarre that it can’t be ignored. Just a sampling of the characters presented here: Ted Johnson and his dysfunctional family (at the movie theater, they swill cheap scotch to go with their popcorn); Karen, the cute little girl with a jump rope who looks like she just stepped out of a 1950’s Coronet film shown in elementary school; her “best friend”, the psychotic Milkman Dan (Michael J. Nelson from MST3K should
play him if this strip ever makes it to the big screen); and, of course, bug-eyed Earl, an Edgar Allen Poe-ish type character who favors dressing in a southwestern motif. Best eaten raw. Enjoy!

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Court of Public Opinion vs. Brett Myers

Baseball Announcer (BA): We have a time out here in the case of the Court of Public Opinion vs Brett Myers. The lawyers are conferring with the judge with a side bar.

Color Commentator (CC): That’s right, Harry. This will give us a moment to point out that the prosecuting lawyer is dressed in a gray pinstripe dress, with her brunette hair tied back in a bun. She is looking every bit the professional that she is. The defense attorney, on the other hand, is clad in a bearskin slung over one shoulder. The skin, I might add, goes well with the battered wooden club that Myers' lawyer carries around with him everywhere. Still, in this court, his dress and manner does not bode well for his client.

BA: That’s right, Skip. In the Court of Public Opinion, appearance is everything and substance means squat...okay, it looks like the sidebar is breaking up and the attorneys are returning to their table.

(Judge bangs his gavel.)

Prosecutor: Your honor and esteemed members of the general public, we can plainly see that the accused is guilty as sin and should be punished to the full extent of the law.

Judge: Excuse me, counselor. May I remind you that this is not a court of law? Judgement here is rendered with a mixture of gossip, rumor, half-baked testimony, no presumption of innocence whatsoever, and traditional values. Besides, even if this was the court of law, we don’t have the authority to carry out your suggestion of lethal injection.

Prosecutor: But your honor, we need to send a message to all these brutes that dare to strike women.

Judge: I’m all for sending messages, but there are some puzzling questions that stand out in this case. For example, why did Mrs. Myers bail her husband out of jail?

Prosecutor: Your honor, we see this type of thing all too often in abused spouse cases.

Defense Attorney (DA): Your honor, may I respectfully suggest that she bailed him out because she missed him and wanted to be smacked a few more times.

Prosecutor: Objection!

BA: Ohh, that’s gonna be scored as an error!

Judge (with gavel bang): Sustained! Mr. Og, don’t you realize that your Neanderthal comments and demeanor aren’t helping your client’s case?

DA: (Grunts.)

Judge: Go ahead, prosecutor!

Prosecutor: Thank you, your honor. I also move that Myers' employer, the major league baseball club known as The Philadelphia Phillies, be penalized and/or otherwise sanctioned for their lack of concern for abused women immediately after the Myers incident in Boston.

Judge: Are you sure you want to set this precedent? I know that you believe that the Phillies should have made an example of Brett Myers, but do you really expect employers to hold their employees accountable for misdeeds they may commit off the job? Now wait, let’s think this through. In the Phillies case, sure they could have suspended Myers for a few games, and he would’ve lost a few thousand dollars salary, but this is a drop in a bucket for a ball player with a multi-million dollar salary. Now let’s use your proposal in the private sector. An employer in the private sector could allow the worker to continue performing his duties, provided the alleged crime does not interfere with those duties. Or the employer could suspend the employee without pay, or fire that employee even before he can go through due process in the judicial system. The loss of income might further aggravate the situation in a home setting that is already abusive. Can you see what I’m saying?

Prosecutor: Yes, I can, your honor, but the abused woman must be protected.

Judge: No argument here, but...but what about the abused men? You know, those men who are beaten by their wives.

Prosecutor (laughing): Oh, come on! You don’t really believe that they exist, do you?

BA: Uh-oh. That was the wrong thing to say. Now, the spectators are shouting and jumping over the railing, and they’re coming for the prosecutor. Now the jury is jumping to her defense and now all benches are emptied, and everyone is duking it out in front of the bench. The judge is banging his gavel, but no one can hear him. And, oh my, the defense attorney is trying to drag the court stenographer away...what a mess.

CC: This is incredible, Harry! Not even the court of public opinion can agree on this verdict.

BA: So at the end of this inning, no runs, plenty of hits, and one error. We’ll be back after this word from the makers of sleeveless undershirts.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Fourth of July Shout Out

It’s the wonderful Fourth of July holiday, with all of its great festivities like fireworks and picnics. It is this great time of year when we celebrate the founding of our country and all of its freedoms and rights, particularly the First Amendment.

With this in mind, I have to give a shout-out to someone I left off last week, but I would be remiss if I passed up this opportunity to do it today. So, here’s to you
Rush Limbaugh – sorry to hear about your recent difficulties with the law concerning a prescription that may or may not have been yours. Hey, Rush, Viagra this...!

(We regret that today’s entry must be discontinued, since we fear that Mr. Gunther is taking the First Amendment too seriously. He needs a time out. Come back in a few days. Thank you.)

Happy Fourth, everyone!