Onward Bound Humor

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Friday, November 28, 2008

391. Obama's Use of Complete Sentences Stirs Controversy

Stunning Break with Last Eight Years

In the first two weeks since the election, President-elect Barack Obama has broken with a tradition established over the past eight years through his controversial use of complete sentences, political observers say.

Millions of Americans who watched Mr. Obama's appearance on CBS' "Sixty Minutes" on Sunday witnessed the president-elect's unorthodox verbal tick, which had Mr. Obama employing grammatically correct sentences virtually every time he opened his mouth.

But Mr. Obama's decision to use complete sentences in his public pronouncements carries with it certain risks, since after the last eight years many Americans may find his odd speaking style jarring.

According to presidential historian Davis Logsdon of the University of Minnesota, some Americans might find it "alienating" to have a President who speaks English as if it were his first language.

"Every time Obama opens his mouth, his subjects and verbs are in agreement," says Mr. Logsdon. "If he keeps it up, he is running the risk of sounding like an elitist."

The historian said that if Mr. Obama insists on using complete sentences in his speeches, the public may find itself saying, "Okay, subject, predicate, subject predicate - we get it, stop showing off."

The President-elect's stubborn insistence on using complete sentences has already attracted a rebuke from one of his harshest critics, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska.

"Talking with complete sentences there and also too talking in a way that ordinary Americans like Joe the Plumber and Tito the Builder can't really do there, I think needing to do that isn't tapping into what Americans are needing also," she said.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

390. Thanksgiving Letter

I know that you were eager to accept our family’s invitation to Thanksgiving dinner when you found out that the famous Martha Stewart would be joining us. However, due to scheduling conflicts beyond her control, Ms. Stewart finds that she is unable to grace our table this year. With that in mind, there will be a few minor changes regarding the meal and décor, as outlined below. Please be aware of them, and adjust your appetite and dress appropriately. Thank you.

1) Our driveway will not be lined with homemade, paper bag luminaries. After several trial runs and two visits from the fire department, it was decided that, no matter how cleverly done, rows of flaming lunch sacks do not have the desired welcoming effect.

2) Once inside, please note that the entry space will not be decorated with swags of Indian corn and fall foliage. Instead, I’ve gotten our daughter involved in decorating by having her track in colorful autumn leaves from the front yard. The mud was her idea.

3) The dining table will not be covered with expensive linens, fancy china, or crystal goblets. If possible, we will use dishes that match and everyone will get a fork. Since this is Thanksgiving, we will refrain from using the paper Cinderella dinner plates, the leftover Halloween napkins, and my famous Garfield cup collection.

4) Our centerpiece will not be a tower of fresh fruit and flowers. Instead we will be proudly displaying a hedgehog-like decoration hand-crafted from the finest construction paper and macaroni. The artist assures me it is a turkey, albeit one without wings, legs, or a beak.

5) We will be dining somewhat later than planned. However, our daughter will entertain you while you wait. I’m sure she will be happy to share every choice comment her mother made regarding Thanksgiving, pilgrims, stuffing choices, the turkey hotline, and, especially, her husband. Please remember that most of these comments were made at 7:00AM upon discovering that said husband had only remembered to pull the turkey from the freezer at 6:00AM, and that the thing was still hard enough to cut diamonds.

6) As an accompaniment to our daughter’s recital of these events, I will play a recording of Native American tribal drumming. Curiously, the tribal drumming sounds a great deal like a frozen turkey in a clothes dryer, but that only enhances the holiday appropriateness. If our daughter should mention that we don’t own a recording of Native American tribal drumming, ignore her. She’s only eight; what does she know?

7) A dainty silver bell will not be rung to announce the start of our feast. We have chosen to keep our traditional method of assembling when the smoke alarm goes off.

8) There will be no formal seating arrangement. When the smoke alarm sounds, please gather around the table and sit where you like. In the spirit of harmony, we will ask all the children to sit at a separate table. In a separate room. Next door. And I would like to take this opportunity to remind our younger diners that “passing the rolls” is neither a football play nor an excuse to bean your cousin in the head with bread.

9) The turkey will not be carved at the table. I know you have seen the Norman Rockwell image of one person carving a turkey in front of a crowd of appreciative onlookers. Such a scene may occur somewhere in America, but it won’t be happening at our dinner table. For safety reasons, the turkey will be carved in the kitchen at a private ceremony. I stress “private”, meaning “Do not, under any circumstances, enter the kitchen to laugh at me. Do not send small, unsuspecting children, or older, helpful grandparents into the kitchen to check on my progress. I have a very large, very sharp knife. The turkey is unarmed. It stands to reason that I will eventually win the battle. When I do, we will eat.”

10) For the duration of the meal, we will refer to the giblet gravy by its lesser-known name: Kraft Cheese Sauce. If a young diner questions you regarding the origins or makeup of the Kraft Cheese Sauce, smile kindly and say that you know the answer, but it’s a secret that can’t be revealed to them until they are 18.

11) Instead of offering a choice among 12 different scrumptious desserts, we will be serving the traditional pumpkin pie, garnished with whipped cream and small fingerprints. You still have a choice: take it or leave it.

That concludes our list of alterations. Again, I apologize that Martha will not be joining us this year. Come to think of it, she probably won’t come next year, either. And for that, I am indeed thankful.


Monday, November 24, 2008

389. Washington Post Invitational, Week 787

In which we asked you to create words containing the letters M, I, N and E, adjacent to one another but in any order.

Glandmine: A teenager. (Kevin Dopart, Ira Allen, )

Indeterminetable: An airline schedule. (Mike Anderson)

Blesspheming: Damning with faint praise. (Tom Witte)

Ciao mein: An Italian stir-fry with bean sprouts, bamboo shoots and Alfredo sauce. (Roy Ashley, Dave Zarrow)

Mein chow: A German noodle dish. (Duncan Seed, )

Eminenema: A purge of old rap albums from your iPod. (Hamdi Akar)

Cinemoron: Someone who uses his cellphone in the theater. (Hugh Pullen)

Demingle: Sidle out of a boring conversation at a party. (Hugh Pullen)

Emnityville: The locale of many a Thanksgiving dinner horror. (Peter Metrinko, Russ Taylor, )

Meanie-me: A political surrograte who slings mud on the candidate's behalf, letting the candidate appear to be above the fray. (Pam Sweeney)

Errmine: Fake fur good enough to fool an expert, but not your wife. (Lawrence McGuire

Feeminism: Pride in prostitution. (David Garratt, Glenn Dale)

Himnesia: How some women move on after a bad breakup. (Christopher Lamora)

Home-mining: Digging for coins between the couch pillows. (Alli Peterson)

Imenses: Monthly bloat. (Ellen Raphaeli)

Preminisce: To get nostalgic for something before it even happens. (Mike Inman)

Solemnivorous: Taking eating way too seriously. (Gary Heinze)

Melodramamine: A treatment for emotion sickness. (Frank Yuen, Forest Hills, N.Y.)