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, September 30, 2006

World Domination Bouts



Only on Pay Per View, the greatest fighting bouts of the year! The excitement! The drama! And the stakes are nothing less than---


First bout featuring a battle of the Amazons! One is a strong-willed Secretary of State and the other is an equally ambitious Senator. Yes, it’s the fight we’ve been waiting for:


The second smackdown will pit an arrogant world leader living in denial against a Communist leaning dictator from south of the border. Ay Carumba! It’s:


Then, in the final round, a grudge match! He ruled and kept his cool for years, but now he’s as mad as hell and he’s not going to take it anymore! Recently he showed the world that he’s got teeth! He’s


Mark your calendars! That’s----


This Pay Per View event is not available in the continental United States, or anywhere else for that matter. I just wanted an excuse to type SUNDAY! SUNDAY! SUNDAY! in 14 size script.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


I don’t remember what I was thinking about this morning, but I do remember feeling a tear flow down my cheek. I wasn’t laughing, and I was definitely feeling sad. The presence of the tear got me to thinking about the multiple purposes it serves in our lives.

Is the tear the result of a good memory of an experience that we long to relive, but deep down we know we can’t? Or is it from a bad memory which now makes us wish we could go back, and change the course of the events which happened, perhaps as the result of our own actions? Such is the luxury of wisdom that comes with age.

Is the tear coming from the realization that some of our dreams will never come true, no matter how hard we struggled to make it happen? Is it frustration from a goal we still hold on to, but life has thrown another speed bump into our path? Or could the tears well up when we have achieved a long cherished goal, and our joy overwhelms us?

They can be produced from happiness and from grief. They flow down our face, but deeply cleanse the emotions we feel at the moment. They gather up the dirt of sadness, but leave behind the solution of hope we need to overcome our fears.

Traditionally, western society teaches males to suppress their tears, their fears, and their emotions. Such is the role of being part of “the stronger sex”! This can be quite a burden, not only on the poor fellow who wants to unload their grief, but also on any other fellows in the vicinity who don’t know how to handle such displays. Most likely we will move to stifle the outburst, when in reality we should let it run its course.

There have been several occasions in the past year when I could’ve cried, but didn’t. I think I have moved past the societal expectations of men and crying. I am grateful that my tears have flowed, and will continue to flow when the occasion warrants their use. There are many times when their use is a natural reaction in human beings. There are many times when only I will know my reason for tears.

(Dad, I miss you!)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

First Drafts of Famous Apologies

Recently, there has been a rash of public apologies in the news. The apologies often don’t quite measure up to the offense, or don’t live up to the expectations of the offended. I wondered how much forethought goes into these apologies if they are met with such condemnation by the outside world. I propose the following as the first drafts of famous apologies.


Bill Clinton:
“Yeah, I did her! So what? Can you blame me for wanting to get some? After all, look at whom I’m married to! Ninety percent of you people don’t even like her, and you expect me to sleep with her?”

President Bush:
“Wow, I have screwed everything up big time! I mean, let’s stay the course! Stay the course everyone!”

The Pope:
“Christ! Can’t you people take a joke? By the way, Bitburg, Bitburg, Bitburg!”

Osama bin-Laden:
“I could’ve sworn that they had moved the airport to mid-town Manhattan. I mean, die, Great Satan, die!”

Jessica Simpson:
“I’m sorry I’m so stupid. Now give me that chicken. I’m in the mood for a tuna sandwich.”

Hugh Grant:
“I’m sorry I didn’t get a room!”

George Michael:
“I’m sorry I didn’t get a room!”

Mel Gibson:
“I’m sorry that the Jews control everything. By the way, Bitburg, Bitburg, Bitburg!”

Tom Cruise:
“Oprah, sorry I got so physical with your couch!”

Governor Schwarzenegger:
“I’m sorry I didn’t terminate the jerk that leaked my blood remarks to the media. I mean, I was misunderstood. Ya, my accent got in the way...again!”

Todd Gunther:
“Christ! Can’t you people take a joke?”

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Found: Checks and Balances!

Recently, a few members of the Republican Senate leadership remembered that they still had a vital part of their male anatomy, and stood up to the King-in-Chief on the issue of interrogating suspected terrorists. The rebels, Senators Warner, McCain, and Graham, believe that America’s reputation would be harmed if the Bush administration were allowed to do what it pleased when it comes to extracting information from captured terrorists. The problem is, as the Senators have pointed out, this circumventing of the Geneva Convention (an actual international agreement and not just a punchline used in “Hogan’s Heroes”) could have repercussions on any Americans being held prisoner in other hostile countries.

Most importantly, these Senator’s actions show that the Constitutional concept of checks and balances is alive. The concept is probably not well; I can only imagine it was found in the deepest, darkest recesses of the Capitol building. Checks and balances – they usually travel as a pair – has been neglected lately. It wouldn’t surprise me if they were found shivering and hungry somewhere between a stack of reel-to-reel tapes labeled “Nixon’s Legacy” and the battered, bruised body of Justice with her scales twisted around her neck. I hope they can be nursed back to health, because they will need their strength in the political battles that lie ahead.

Checks and balances will need their strength to go up against the other White House pets like “Rubber Stamp”, “Arrogance”, “Petty Vindictiveness”, and, of course, “Karl”. The Bush administration has tried to stuff checks and balances back into the pumpkin where Alger Hiss’ microfilm was found, whenever they have called anyone who questioned them “appeasers” and “traitors”. This trick simply will not work, and I’m sure that once we wipe the pumpkin seeds off of them that checks and balances will be itching for a fight.

Of course, checks and balances can’t do this alone. They need help from you, yes, YOU, Mr. and Mrs./Ms. American voter! Yes, here comes the sales pitch! I will not try to influence how any one casts their vote in the upcoming Congressional elections, but I will say consider the advantage of checks and balances in your life. Before you pull the lever, pencil punch that card, or dangle your chad, think about checks and balances.

Just think how important it is in our lives. It separates the tyrants from the benevolent rulers, and the foolish kings from the wise leaders. It enables the legislators – the officials you elect – to go to the President and say, “Now, wait a minute, Mr. Bush. Maybe we’re all acting a bit hasty here. Maybe we should step back, look at the situation again, and consider all of the possible consequences of our actions. We should talk this over civilly without name calling and character...Mr. President, please put Dick and Karl back in their cages...”

This is your chance, America! Bring back checks and balances and restore their vitality so that they can serve all of us again. Once this is done we’ll see if we can get Justice off life support.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

My (Continuing) Spanish Education

One common belief in the recent immigration debate is that Hispanics come to this country, take American jobs and don’t even attempt to learn the English language. Some reports – buried deep in this country’s newspapers where no one will ever see them – dispute this last belief. Hispanics do try to learn English. Unfortunately they face the prospect of not enough class space to meet demand. Then state governments cut the funding for expanding these classes.

Of course, since we are all fair-minded Americans, we who speak English as our primary language are learning how to speak Spanish.

As Foghorn Leghorn would say, “That last sentence was a joke, son!”

As for myself, I’ve begun watching the Spanish language network Univision to see how much I can comprehend. I don’t watch the soap operas or the sports events, but I have seen the morning newscast. The version I see is actually a half-hour condensation of their hourly newscast originally produced the night before. The news is evenly balanced between serious stories (Univision dutifully sent reporters to New York and New Orleans to mark the anniversaries of the 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina) and fluff.

So far I can say that I’ve learned two things in my continuing Spanish education. First, I am remembering more from my high school Spanish classes with each broadcast. Second, Univision has some of the hottest babes working on that side of the Rio Grande. I’m undecided as to which of these realizations has more relevance to my life.

The broadcast is usually co-anchored by two very attractive women with plunnnnging necklines. Once in awhile a guy in a suit and tie will be sitting front and center; he’s okay too. Otherwise females dominate the news team. Most of the field reporters, the main sports reporter and the meteorologist are women. Don’t get me wrong – I am not complaining.

I dare say that there has not been this much cleavage on a network news show since Jane Curtin ripped her blouse apart during a “Weekend Update” segment on Saturday Night Live. This got me wondering how dressing like this could have affected the broadcast icons of the past. For example, what if during the climax of his story on Joseph McCarthy, Edward R. Murrow suddenly crossed his legs to reveal that he was actually wearing fishnet stockings. How different would our perception of Vietnam have been if Walter Cronkite had worn a frilly pink chiffon cocktail dress? Or what if David Brinkley showed up one night wearing mascara and rouge? Fortunately, I don’t have to speculate on these thoughts for very long, thanks to the women on Univision.

The newscast does have a flashy-dressing male. He is their astrologer, Walter, who has his own segment, “Walter y la estrellas”. Many times Walter will dress conservatively in a nice suit, but most times he will be clothed in some outlandish outfit that he must have inherited from Liberace. Every time I see Walter I find myself thinking, “To hell with my horoscope! Bring on the el tiempo senorita!” Or it could be “senorita el tiempo”; I’ve forgotten which word order is correct or even comprehensible. The weather senorita is named Jackie. All I can say is that she could stand in front of her weather map, predict forty days and forty nights of rain, and I would still be smiling.

On the weekends I watch Univision’s version of American Bandstand. The songs are naturally up-tempo, but unfortunately the lyrics are sung too quickly for me to understand what they are singing. When this happens I just concentrate on the body language of the young dancers. I have no problems understanding what they are communicating.

As for my Spanish language skills coming, well, that may take awhile. I have relearned that nuevo means “new”, and that Philadelphia is spelled with the letter “f” instead of the letters “ph”. I doubt that Joey Vento would have a cow if he knew this; he’d go for the entire herd! My progress is slow, but I will continue my daily studies relearning the Spanish language. I feel it is the least I can do to make myself more aware of other cultures beyond my own. Many people might say that I would be a better man for honing my language skills. Still, others who know me very well might say that I would be a better dirty old man for watching Univision. To those I say, “Gracias!”

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Anger Therapy

Guess what segment of the population has ticked me off now? Here’s a clue:

Q. How many letter carriers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A. Three. One to hold the ladder, one to screw in the bulb and one to figure out the zip code!*

It seems that the USPS managed to lose three of my bill payments last month, one of them being the mortgage payment. Now I’m getting hit with late fees, and it wasn’t my fault. How about this one?

Q. How do you sink a submarine full of letter carriers?
A. Knock on the hatch!**

Ohhh, that was fun! I just recycled a blonde joke and substituted the word letter carriers. This process of making jokes to work through my anger at the postal service is sooo satisfying. Also, it’s much more legal than blowing up government property, which I would never advise people to do. I wonder if this would work for other people. I can just imagine what an anger-riddled personality like Osama bin-Laden would write:

“These two infidels walk into a bar, sit down next to a Jihad fighter, who blows himself up! The bar is destroyed and everyone is killed. Ha ha!”***

Okay, I guess this militant, extremist type of comedy doesn’t translate to our culture very well. Wait, let’s try it this way: “These two letter carriers walk into a bar and sit down next to a Jihad fighter...”

(In the name of good taste, we are discontinuing Mr. Gunther’s anger therapy for today.)

*With apologies to Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang.
**With apologies to Playboy Magazine.
***With apologies to everyone else!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Was It Something We Said, Pakistan?

Recent events in Pakistan lead me to believe that we can no longer count them as allies on the war against terrorists. Consider just three of these events:

A. Pakistan decided to stop searching for Osama bin-Laden. Everyone believes he is hiding in the eastern part of their country, but the Pakistani government doesn’t feel like looking for him anymore.

B. Pakistan has called a truce with the recently re-energized Taliban. Hmmm...

C. Every time our government calls Pakistan we get a busy signal. Then when Pakistan does call back, they reverse the charges!

Okay, I made up that third event, but still things don’t appear to be that friendly between our two countries anymore. These developments will make extradition of bin-Laden a little trickier than we originally thought. Of course, we are getting ahead of ourselves since in the last five years we haven’t been able to apprehend him. Justice is a moot point when you can’t locate the accused.

The futile search for bin-Laden is making the United States intelligence and law enforcement agencies look very bad. I can favorably compare their efforts to that of the Keystone Kops, but even that one might be a stretch. Come on guys! We can’t find some old guy sitting in a cave with all of the satellite surveillance cameras available to us? Oh, that’s right, all that technology is being trained on law-abiding Americans. I keep forgetting that fact.

I wonder if the Bush Administration saw this coming, or were they blind-sided by Pakistan’s apparent about face. Shouldn’t they be required to give us two weeks notice like this:

Dear U.S.A.:

We are tired of playing with you and we are going to play with the radicals that you love to hate. Farewell, you great Satan!



P.S. Osama says hello and he sends his hatred.

Or did this all spring from some misunderstanding between the United States and Pakistan? Was it something we did, or something we said to make Pakistan go to the other side? Okay, so there was that war where we pushed out your hateful Taliban regime, then left your country in a shambles while we toddled off to destroy some imaginary weapons held by another country, but is that any reason to bring them back to power?

Pakistan, are you getting tired of our American influence in your world? Do you despise our values, our religious beliefs, our Starbucks, our McDonalds, our Wal-Marts? Truth be told, some of us are tired of those things too, but that’s not the point.

The point is today, on the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on American soil, those of us who are not possessed with extremist thought should find common ground to make the world more secure for everyone – Christian, Muslim, or Jew. That is not likely to happen. What will most likely happen is a solemn moment to remember our dead, and then their memory will be exploited by people on both sides bent on achieving their extremist goals. We will most likely hear calls for more vigilance, which will be interpreted by the other side as more saber rattling.

No, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be secure in a hostile world. There’s also nothing wrong with questioning policies that are destroying the lives of innocent people here and abroad. There’s also nothing wrong with moderate, common sense notions of peace for all mankind.

Friday, September 08, 2006

God Bless Steve Irwin

Eventually, some people may find Steve Irwin’s death by a stingray barb ironic given his lifelong dedication to conserving the world’s wildlife. It will always be seen as tragic; he had many more years ahead of him to spread the good word about our responsibility to save the world from ecological abuse. He has been denied the privilege to live out those years with his young family, and now it’s left to the rest of us to carry on his work.

Various tributes have noted his exuberance, his vitality with which he lived his life and worked to complete his mission. That mission was nothing less than for people to understand all of the Earth’s creatures – no matter how beautiful, dangerous or ugly – around us. It was easy to see the love and passion he had for our planet and all of its inhabitants.

Educating all of us about the world’s creatures is just one part of the legacy he left behind. We should pay attention to preserving all of the world ecosystems since they will affect these creatures. It should stand to reason that anything that adversely affects the world’s wildlife will eventually move up the food chain and adversely affect mankind.

Remarkably, there are people who will dispute this common sense. There are those among us who believe that no special attention should be paid to the environment, that the nations of the world should not have to enact special laws (i.e., global warming) to protect it. I’ll call this attitude Falwellian, after Jerry Falwell, since he has defined this idea as a part of his version of born-again Christianity.

The Reverend Falwell believes that we don’t need to save the Earth since God has promised us a better world. Well, I got some news for you, Jerbeaux. Before God gives us this better world, there will be many generations of children who will be born, and will deserve to grow up in a clean, ecologically complete environment. Steve Irwin realized this and he spent his entire life teaching us this idea. His death is not only a loss to conservation efforts, but also to the world, and to all of us that live in it.

May God bless you, Mr. Irwin.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Birthday Tributes

Today is my wife’s birthday and I’m leaving today’s entry open to anyone who wants to wish her a Happy Birthday. I believe we can start things off with birthday wishes from her immediate household. So our first wish is from...

Meredith (our little girl): “Meow, meow, meowwwww!”

Translation: “Mommy, my treat plate is empty and the grass in my grass pot is dying!”

Okay, Meredith. That’s not exactly what I had in mind, but I’m sure Mommy will appreciate your message. Also, your request will be processed in the order in which it was received.

Now here’s a message from our son Stephen...

Stephen: “Meow, meowwww. Meow!

Translation: “Mommy, our box needs to be scraped out too!”

Thanks, Stephen! My, we certainly have one track minds today, don’t we?

Now, it’s my turn...

Dear Anne Marie:

From that first moment I met you (remember you closed the door in my face) until now I have realized that you are a very unique woman, different from all the other women I have known. You have a wonderful love of life that has rubbed off on me. You understand me with my highs, my lows, and all of my moods in between. You are always ready to express your love and share the fun moments of life with me.

I am grateful for all these things, and for having you in my life. Happy Birthday from all of us!

Love Always,

Todd, Meredith and Stephen

Monday, September 04, 2006

My Labor Day

Dear Diary,

We returned this morning from my mother’s home in central Pennsylvania where we spent three days of our long Labor Day Holiday weekend. This is the final weekend of the summer season, making it the last opportunity for many people to have a barbecue. There is one small problem with cooking out three days in a row: the monotony of the menu.

For example:

Saturday menu: hamburgers (with/without cheese), hot dogs, potato salad, macaroni salad, chips, pretzels, and maybe fried chicken.

Sunday menu: all the chicken was eaten yesterday, so today we have hamburgers (with/without cheese), hot dogs, potato salad, macaroni salad, chips, pretzels.

Monday menu: anything but hamburgers (with/without cheese), hot dogs, potato salad, macaroni salad, and chips, please!

I offer this as the only possible explanation of why Anne Marie had a craving for a pizza steak sandwich. For those outside our area of southeastern Pennsylvania, this is a variation of the traditional cheesesteak sandwich with pizza sauce slapped on top. So upon our return to our home neighborhood, we set out to find a pizza steak.

Normally, this is no problem in our neighborhood, since there are no less than four pizzerias within two square miles of our house. I have concluded that, somewhere in America, there is a zoning law that requires this many pizza restaurants to exist in such a small area. All other townships, boroughs, villages, and hamlets in the country have since adopted this variance as a good idea. I have no proof that this is true, but I dare anyone to come up with any other explanation for this economic phenomena.

Now, I’ve always thought that Labor Day was primarily a holiday set aside for the workers of this country, particularly the unionized workers. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not against everybody celebrating this holiday, because I realize that not everyone wants to work in a union shop, or is fortunate enough to belong to a union and enjoy the benefits of membership. However, when we go searching for a pizza steak and find that all four of our pizza shops are closed for the holiday, then I have to wonder if the holiday is a good idea after all.

I don’t object to the shops giving their employees time off to barbecue with their families, and for all I know they may have opened later in the day. Still, I doubt that all of these mom and pop restaurants are a closed union shop! In any event, we went way out of our way and finally found a pizza shop that was open, where my wife got to satisfy her craving. I really shouldn’t complain about this adventure, particularly since she paid for lunch.

Tuesday’s menu: half-eaten hamburgers (without), blackened crisp hot dogs, a lot of potato salad, a spoonful of macaroni salad, a potato chip or two being carried off by ants, and soggy pretzels when someone spilled their beer. Bon Appetit!