Thursday, February 28, 2008

Family Circus: My Way

MANY YEARS AGO, while I was working at the PitchWeekly in Kansas City, I had a ritual. Every day I would read the paper, and I would take the Family Circus cartoon from that day's paper and swap out the punchline with the punchline from another single-panel comic from that same day. Usually, Marmaduke or Dennis the Menace. Occasionally, I would use the punchline from one or two days previous to the Family Circus cartoon. But I tried my best to keep to the rules of coincidence, believing that a random other punchline from that day made for a funnier cartoon.

I got the idea from the Far Side, rather from the introduction to a collection of Far Side cartoons. In which, Gary Larson tells the story of how the punchlines were accidentally swapped on his cartoon a couple of times with neighboring single-panel cartoon Dennis the Menace. And each time, the resulting cartoons (especially Dennis) were disturbingly hilarious. Back then, newspapers were laid out onto boards, physically cut and pasted, before being sent to the printer. I'm not sure if anyone even does that anymore, but the upshot being that it was easy to make the mistake then during the cutting and pasting process.

So I started doing this swap myself. And every week at the Pitch, I would photocopy my latest creations and pass them around. This was in the early '90s, before the Dysfunctional Family Circus website came about. The idea for that site was a little different, however, as the makers of the site simply wrote disturbing punchlines (or let readers submit their own) to the existing pictures.

Personally, I like the coincidental comedy better. It's accidentally funny. And, in my opinion, not mean-spirited. While I'm not a fan of Bil Keane's comic, I think it's good-hearted and basically harmless. That's why I like the comedy found when the lines are swapped, versus writing something that subverts the wholesomeness. Somehow, the haphazard nature of coincidence seems funnier to me.

Anyway, I still have hundreds of my original Family Circus creations in my files, and one day I will scan them in and start posting them here. Until then, please enjoy these new ones I've created, both using Marmaduke for the punchline.

The Ol' Tooth in the Eye Gag

SURE! IT MAKES PERFECT SENSE! Why wouldn't you want a tooth in your eye? Everybody knows teeth are good for your eyes!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Every year, after I watch the Oscars, I try to guess what the press will say about whoever hosted the show. Generally, I figure if I liked the host and found them funny, the press will deem that host "not Oscar-appropriate." Mainly based on how much that person is like Billy Crystal, the Oscars all-time favorite host. After that, I like to guess how much the press will blame the host for the low ratings of the show.

The question always asked is, "Why aren't people interested in the Oscars? Why don't people watch?" And after they blame it on the length of the show, they always blame it on the host. The funny thing is, the length of the show NEVER has anything to do with the ratings. The show has always (at least since I've been watching) been a marathon. And the ratings go up and down regardless. Because the main reason people watch the Oscar broadcast is to see how their favorite films did.

Which, I think, is why the ratings continue to go in the dumper. Consider this list of the total box office for the last four years of Best Picture nominees:
2007 -- $357 million
2006 -- $296 million
2005 -- $245 million
2004 -- $405 million
per year average -- $326 million

Seems like a pretty decent take, until you compare that to the previous five years:
2003 -- $725 million
2002 -- $662 million
2001 -- $617 million
2000 -- $636 million
1999 -- $647 million
per year average -- $657 million

Obviously, fewer "regular moviegoers" are seeing the nominated films (half as many as saw the Best Pic nominees in 2003). Therefore, there's less general interest in seeing the major awards, thus fewer Oscar viewers.

Most notably, however, this is the fourth year in a row where NONE of the five Best Picture nominees were among the Top Ten grossing films of that year. Previous to that, it had been a streak of fourteen consecutive years where at least one Best Picture nominee was also in the Top Five in box office receipts. "Well, so what?" you might think. "What does box office have to do with how good a movie is?" The answer to that is "Nothing. Not really."

But if you take a look back in Oscar's past, all the way back to 1980, you'll find that there are only three years in which the Best Picture nominees did not include a Top Five grosser: 1989's Driving Miss Daisy was #8, 1980's Coal Miner's Daughter was #7 and 1984's Amadeus was #12.

Additionally, when you go all the way back to 1980, the number one box office movie of the year has been nominated as Best Picture SEVEN times, winning the big prize FIVE times. (The two times it didn't win? 1998's Saving Private Ryan and 1981's Raiders of the Lost Ark. Sorry Spielberg!)

It is only in recent years that the Oscars have moved drastically away from nominating films for Best Picture that mix critical darlings with public favorites. And the ratings are (understandably) suffering.

Not that I'm suggesting that the top grossing films should duke it out for the Best Picture Oscar. Were that the case, this year's nominees would have been: Spider-Man 3, Shrek the Third, Transformers, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End and Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix. Last year's would have been Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Night at the Museum, Cars, X-Men: The Last Stand and The Da Vinci Code. And the year before that would have been Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe, Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire, War of the Worlds and King Kong.

Wow. Good stuff.

Spam Fourteen: The Death of MegaDick

IT'S OFFICIAL: MEGADICK IS GONE. After two consecutive weeks off the chart, I am officially calling an end to MegaDick's Chart tyranny. Goodbye, MegaDick...and good luck. We may be seeing a new champion rise, however, as WonderCum appears to be filling the void. I'll track those emails next week and see what's what.

In five weeks, the spam intake as doubled. Which is a little startling, because as of Week Nine, I was receiving just under a hundred spam emails a day. Now, I'm getting closer to two hundred. And that's a bit much. The big surprise is that while the total emails have doubled, the Boner Meds have stayed at about the same number. Thus, the declining BMS over the last month.

All the ladies in the house say "Chart!"

1130 emails
BMS = 35% (up 3%)

((1/1)) -- 391 Boner Medication (85 VPXL, 41 Viagra/Cialis, 0 MegaDick)
((2/2) -- 165 Canadian/Online Pharmacy
((3/3)) -- 145 Luxury Replica Watches/Purses
((4/4)) -- 110 We Will Approve Your Loan
((5/5)) -- 88 Online Casino
((6/6)) -- 41 Buy Shoes
((7/7)) -- 38 Say Goodbye to Debt
((8/9)) -- 35 OEM Software
((9/8)) -- 19 Inspecific “Look at this!”
((10/13)) -- 15 Would You Like to Chat & See My Pics?
((11/19)) -- 12 Improve Your Health
((12/15)) -- 11 Stop Smoking
((13/17)) -- 10 Weight Loss/Anatrim/Hoodia
((14/9)) -- 9 Foreign Gibberish (0 German)
((15/13)) -- 8 Validate Your Identity (4 CitiBusiness, 2 PayPal)
((16/19)) -- 7 Human Growth Hormone
((17/17)) -- 6 Pheromones
((18/12)) -- 5 Earn Your Degree
((19/16)) -- 4 Job Offer/Employee Search
((20/11)) -- 3 Valentine’s Day Related
((20/--)) -- 3 Fake Greeting Card (1 Fake Hallmark Notification)
((22/--)) -- 1 Bank Scam (Hong Kong business project)
((22/--)) -- 1 Something About the Bible
((22/--)) -- 1 IRS Notification of Tax Refund
((22/--)) -- 1 All Kinds of Embroideries!
((22/--)) -- 1 Buy Life Insurance

BMS = Boner Medication Saturation
((this week's rank/last week's rank))
-- = new to the chart this week

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Spam Thirteen: The Unluckiest Spam of All!

COULD THE MEGADICK ERA BE OVER? It seems hard to believe, but it might be true. The massive influx of MegaDick was the main reason that I started all this nonsense in the first place. But now, I'm speechless. Despite more than one thousand emails, for the first week EVER, not one single MegaDick email. Not one. In the world of Boner Medication, the torch has now been passed to VPXL, it seems.

And speaking of the world of Boner Medication, I was told three important things this week:
--that my “new schlong will win more prizes”
--that I would be “happy with manpower candy”
--and that there was “Hoariness on the salmon!”
The last of which was a headline leading into otherwise standard boner email chatter. I don’t know what it means, but after reading the email I think only one thing: Yes, I do want hoariness on my salmon.

1,071 emails
BMS= 32% (down 8%)

((1/1)) -- 343 Boner Medication (107 VPXL, 41 Viagra/Cialis, 0 MegaDick)
((2/2)) -- 163 Canadian/Online Pharmacy
((3/7)) -- 100 Luxury Replica Watches/Purses
((4/3)) -- 93 We Will Approve Your Loan
((5/5)) -- 82 Online Casino
((6/23)) -- 73 Buy Shoes
((7/4)) -- 41 Say Goodbye to Debt
((8/6)) -- 27 Inspecific “Look at this!”
((9/8)) -- 26 Foreign Gibberish (12 German)
((9/10)) -- 26 OEM Software
((11/15)) -- 19 Valentine’s Day Related
((12/12)) -- 18 Earn Your Degree
((13/23)) -- 13 Would You Like to Chat & See My Pics?
((13/12)) -- 13 Validate Your Identity (6 CitiBusiness, 2 PayPal, 2 eBay)
((15/14)) -- 9 Stop Smoking
((16/15)) -- 7 Job Offer/Employee Search
((17/15)) -- 4 Weight Loss/Anatrim/Hoodia
((17/20)) -- 4 Pheromones
((19/11)) -- 2 Improve Your Health
((19/20)) -- 2 Human Growth Hormone
((19/-)) -- 2 Kill Your Pain With Soma
((19/-)) --2 Save on Auto Insurance
((23/-)) -- 1 Download and Watch the Stupid Britney Video!
((23/-)) -- 1 Order Lipitor Now

BMS = Boner Medication Saturation
((this week's rank/last week's rank))
-- = new to the chart this week

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Family That Plays Together...

...UM, HEY, SERIOUSLY...LIKE, WHAT THE...? I'm embarrassed by some things that my parents did, as I'm sure we all are, but I think these kids have us all trumped.

Friday, February 15, 2008

I Am Who I Am

THE INTERNET CONTINUES TO BRING ME GIFTS. The latest gift that just keeps on giving is the "face recognition" link at By uploading a picture of yourself, the good programmers at MyHeritage will be more than happy to tell you what famous people they think you look like. I did it twice, with two different pictures, one with more beard than the other. (SIDEBAR: Though the strike is over, the strike beard on my face remains. There is no telling what new protest this beard represents. Honestly, it has a mind of its own. And we're currently not speaking. It's a long story.)

Let's take a look at the first results, from the less beard-y picture.

I will admit that Donny Osmond is not much of a surprise, considering the prodigious size of both of our chompers. It's the lower part of the graphic that is most surprising to me, the six and eight o'clock celebs, Dakota Fanning and Judy Garland, both a 64% match. Making this montage even more hilarious to me is Mr. Nine O'Clock, Burt Reynolds. According to this, if Burt Reynolds and Dakota Fanning had a baby, it would look like me.

And I sort of feel sorry for Justin Timberdoodle who ends up, by association, in the same looks group as Burt and Canadian comedian Colin Mochrie. No slight to Mochrie, he's a funny guy, but neither he nor I is one-tenth as sexy as JT. Even on a good day.

Moving on to the beard-y me. What celebs does that guy look like?

Okay. Sean Hayes and Barry Williams, I can totally see. No real surprise there. However, picturing me as the illegitimate love-child of Kyra Sedgwick and Denzel Washington (however flattered I am by that comparison) does seem to be a stretch. The funniest bit of news on this montage, however, is the six o'clock comparison: Missi Pyle, who was at my wedding. Ultimately, considering the similarly large foreheads and teeth, I suppose I can see the comparison. Although I did feel like I had to apologize to Missi.

I'm not sure what it says about me or Missi that she popped up on the more beard-y photo but not at all on the clean-shaven one.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Spam Twelve: The Wrath of VPXL

BIG SHAKEUP IN THE TOP FIVE this week! Canadian/Online Pharmacy continues its rise (from 129 to 208 emails) to threaten the (so far) unchallenged perpetual #1 Boner Meds. It is worth noting that back in Week Six, the Pharmacy emails only totaled 30. My how they’ve grown. Perhaps they’ve been using Manster or Herbal King.

We Will Approve Your Loan and Say Goodbye to Debt (the siamese twins born of Get Out of Debt Free) leapt into the #4 and #5 spots, respectively. The Debt twins, Pharmacy and Online Casino all rode the wave of a record 993 emails (up a gigantic 37% from last week). After a brief refraction period, MegaDick again showed shrinkage to a record low of only 4 emails.

Notable Chart newcomers include Valentine’s Day Related (at #15), Mystery Medicine (#18) and Your Spoose Will Admit This Present (at the bottom of the Chart with a lone email). For fans of embroidery, All Kinds of Embroideries did make a return (albeit a weak one) to the Chart, after a three-week absence.

You can’t shake The Chart!

993 emails
BMS= 40% (down 8%)

((1/1)) -- 393 Boner Medication (113 VPXL, 37 Viagra/Cialis, 4 MegaDick)
((2/2)) -- 208 Canadian/Online Pharmacy
((3/8)) -- 60 We Will Approve Your Loan
((4/-)) -- 56 Say Goodbye to Debt
((5/4)) -- 50 Online Casino
((6/5)) -- 44 Inspecific “Look at this!”
((7/3)) -- 32 Luxury Replica Watches/Purses
((8/7)) -- 24 Foreign Gibberish (14 German)
((9/17)) -- 23 Stock News
((10/6)) -- 16 OEM Software
((11/13)) -- 11 Improve Your Health
((12/10)) -- 10 Earn Your Degree
((12/8)) -- 10 Validate Your Identity (3 eBay, 3 CitiBusiness)
((14/14)) -- 8 Stop Smoking
((15/11)) -- 7 Weight Loss/Anatrim/Hoodia
((15/-)) -- 7 Valentine’s Day Related
((15/26)) -- 7 Job Offer/Employee Search
((18/14)) -- 4 You Have Messages
((18/-)) -- 4 Mystery Medicine
((20/17)) -- 3 Pheromones
((20/17)) -- 3 Human Growth Hormone
((22/14)) -- 2 View My Profile/Pictures/Vote For Me
((23/12)) -- 1 Buy Shoes
((23/26)) -- 1 Dating Site: Interested Ladies
((23/17)) -- 1 Would You Like to Chat & See My Pics?
((23/-)) -- 1 All Kinds of Embroideries!
((23/-)) -- 1 You Are A Sweepstakes Winner!
((23/-)) -- 1 Find A Fling in Your Area
((23/-)) -- 1 Order Lipitor Now
((23/-)) -- 1 Internet Business-In-A-Box
((23/-)) -- 1 Give The Gift Named “Most Romantic Gift”
((23/-)) -- 1 Your Spoose Will Admit This Present
((23/-)) -- 1 Trackstick GPS Now Available

BMS = Boner Medication Saturation
((this week's rank/last week's rank))
-- = new to the chart this week

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Give Yourself the Finger

DID YOU KNOW THAT LACK OF PROPER MASSAGE can bring on problems? Well, it can. Apparently. That's why you (probably) need a Vibra-Finger! It has a novel design that allows localized massage know..."needed areas." Also, it's hygienic and costs only $9.95. Upon first glance, it may not be obvious what the Vibra-Finger is for. I mean, it doesn't exactly say. It just tells you, parenthetically, that this Vibra-Finger is "full length." Which, and I don't think I'm going out on a limb, brings to mind only dirty uses for this finger that you plug into the wall. Because I read the big words first and the highlighted words next, I ended up a little confused when I found out that this paucity of massage could create "soft, irritated gums" resulting in loose teeth and bad breath.

What the? So you put this in your mouth? Really?

It wasn't until I found the other ad for the Vibra-Finger, which clearly spells out what the Finger is all about. It leads with the headline Dentists Recommend Daily Gum Massage and inserts (ahem) the words "gum massager" between the Vibra and the Finger.

Even though the product resembles a human finger hacked off and attached to an electric knife handle, this ad reassures with the promise of increased and improved circulation, and that the experience is "cleansing and refreshing", also that the product makes a gift that is both "different and useful." One of the bullet points beneath the product title reads "Sanitary -- Fits in Your Hand", which seems to imply a causal relationship. As if anything that fits in one's hand is automatically far more sanitary than products that are larger.

Most outstanding in this particular ad, however, is the creepy clip-art doctor in the upper right corner, who finds it necessary to tell me that the Vibra-Finger is for my "personal use."

A couple of thoughts on this. While this ad has the clearest language describing what the Finger is used for, it is the most salacious, I think. Because the creepy doctor's words supersede all. FOR YOUR PERSONAL USE. I feel like he's about to wink at me and add, "You know what I mean by personal use, now don't you?"

As if I need to be told! As if I might be tempted to share my finger with others! Or I might pilot this mechanical finger into the mouths of visitors to my home or strangers on the street. Or as if, at a party say, me and my hippie buddies would pass the Vibra-Finger around like a hookah, taking turns putting it in our mouths. Only later to realize, "Oh shit! This thing isn't for public use! We're doing it wrong!"

Now, put those images out of your mind, completely out of your mind, and only look at the product as I repeat a few words from the boxed text, the part announcing the "special gift offer", where the ad encourages me to buy "one for myself and one for a friend." Okay, now, imagine it's your birthday party and you're opening gifts. And one of your friends excitedly pushes their gift into your hands. "Open mine next!" You agree and when you open the box, you see this item inside.

Responding to your stunned silence (and the silence that has descended upon the entire party), the gift-giver says, "It's a gum massager!"

More silence.

"I have one too! It's fantastic!"

A few days later, when that same friend asks you, "Have you used your Finger yet?" How do you respond:
a) by running away.
b) by laughing uncomfortably and then running away.
c) by throwing up.
d) by saying, "What is your fucking problem, man? What the fuck did you give me a vibrating finger for? That's the creepiest fucking thing I've ever seen!"
e) by moaning and pointing at your groin.


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Results of My Tests

IT'S A MIXED BAG, if you ask me. I guess it's mostly positive. Depends on whether the whole class is being graded on a curve.

I think both test results show I'm a strong person mentally and physically. Feel free to test yourself here and here.

Spam Eleven: The Spammening

SORRY FOR THE ONE-DAY DELAY. I have no excuse for not bringing you your spam report yesterday, other than to say I was rescuing orphaned toddlers and adorable kittens from a burning submarine. But I suppose that’s not good enough for you, is it?

I really do try to keep my promises, I do. I only wish the senders of the spam would do the same. Especially the one that promised “Harry Potter fucks Britney Spears in her big ass in your attachment ;)” If I could trust this stranger (and I’m tempted to because of the winking emoticon), I might open the zip file just to see Britney take it in the pail from a fictional character. It’d still be worth watching if they meant Daniel Radcliffe. Although, I must be honest, both versions of that pairing seem fairly unlikely.

Remember: "If you want to fuck somebody, fuck yourself and save your money!" I don’t really mean that because “It’s motto for losers! Are you loser? To my mind you’re not!”

No you’re not. You’re a winner. And a winner wins a new Chart.

723 emails
BMS= 48% (down 11%)

((1/1)) -- 349 Boner Medication (107 VPXL, 67 Viagra/Cialis, 30 MegaDick)
((2/2)) -- 129 Canadian/Online Pharmacy
((3/3)) -- 54 Rolex/Luxury Replica Watches
((4/4)) -- 40 Online Casino
((5/7)) -- 28 Inspecific “Look at this!”
((6/5)) -- 25 OEM Software
((7/9)) -- 12 Foreign Gibberish
((8/10)) -- 11 Validate Your Identity (5 National City Bank, 2 Commerce Bank, 2 eBay)
((8/8)) -- 11 We Will Approve Your Loan
((10/12)) -- 9 Earn Your Degree
((11/10)) -- 7 Weight Loss/Anatrim
((12/15)) -- 6 Buy Shoes
((13/10)) -- 5 Improve Your Health
((14/12)) -- 3 Stop Smoking
((14/-)) -- 3 You Have Messages
((14/18)) -- 3 View My Profile/Pictures/Vote For Me
((17/-)) -- 2 Fake Returned Email (Failure Notice)
((17/15)) -- 2 Get Out of Debt Free
((17/-)) -- 2 Piece & Fantasy In Mind
((17/-)) -- 2 Would You Like to Chat & See My Pics?
((17/18)) -- 2 Pheromones
((17/23)) -- 2 Human Growth Hormone
((17/-)) -- 2 Stock News
((17/-)) -- 2 iTunes Replacement $.15 a Track
((17/1-) -- 2 New Way to Rend DVDs
((26/-)) -- 1 Your Financial Worries Could Be Over
((26/23)) -- 1 Employee Search
((26/-)) -- 1 Stop Paying Too Much for Auto Insurance
((26/12)) -- 1 Dating Site: Interested Ladies
((26/-)) -- 1 Increase The Web Traffic to Your Site
((26/-)) -- 1 New Career in Massage Therapy & Bodywork
((26/-)) -- 1 I Dream of You
((26/-)) -- 1 Bank Scam (Money Left By Iraqi Oil Baron)
((26/-)) -- 1 Reach Out & Bone Someone
((26/-)) -- 1 Perfect Valentine’s Gift

BMS = Boner Medication Saturation
((this week's rank/last week's rank))
-- = new to the chart this week

Monday, February 4, 2008

What The Fashionable Lady Is Wearing

THIS LOOK WILL BE ALL THE RAGE this season, according to my sources. Everyone from Angelina Jolie to Heidi Klum to those ladies from Desperate Housewives will all be wearing this.

Because why just eat breakfast, when you can wear it? Twice!

Just in case you didn't know it, eggs are very slimming.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Ladies, You Know It's Right!

DON'T KNOW WHY they don't run these ads any longer. All the ad claims is that YOUR GUY is your NUMBER ONE reason for using Midol. It seems totally reasonable to me. Certainly every lady knows that in order to be a proper lady you HAVE TO put your guy ahead of your own happiness and comfort. The ad also reminds ladies of the inherent duality of their nature, that the less than perfect version of you is UNACCEPTABLE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. "Be the you he likes," the ad says. "Good to be around, any day of the week."

Because, ladies, he doesn't like you unless you're perfect. And look at him. He's obviously perfect, with his groovy patchwork shirt and magnificently feathered hair. What girl wouldn't want to be with this awesome guy. He wears his gold medallion OUTSIDE of his shirt, just like they show you in the fashion magazines!

And just in case you weren't paying attention 45 words earlier, the ad wraps up with, "When you feel good, you're good to be around. So use Midol. You've got a beautiful reason." The beautiful reason has NOTHING to do with you, of course (because you couldn't possibly be the agent of your own happiness). The beautiful thing is THIS GUY, the only thing in this world that can make you feel complete. Sure, he just fucked some chick he met in acting class, but that didn't mean anything. Besides, YOU were having your period, and, as a result, you were NOT "good to be around." It's really your fault that he ended up with that chick from his acting class. Oh yeah, and also that girl from the bookstore the day before.

Shit, does he have to tell you EVERYTHING? Get off his back already and work on being "good to be around." Wow!

You know what would really make you awesome? If you took Midol from the '60s. Yeah, that's more like it. Take some Midol and get totally gay. That'd be awesome. Then maybe you and that actress and the chick from the bookstore could, you know, get together and whatever. Just relax, right? Maybe have a pillow fight or something? Shit, I don't know what girls like. I may not even really like girls. I'm too busy making sure my part is straight and that my medallion didn't accidentally slip inside my shirt. I'm beautiful. Don't ever forget that. Now excuse me, I've got to grow a mustache. Because I'm a man. A beautiful, beautiful man.