Friday, March 29, 2013

If You're Going To Steal

Our heads may have bumped, but I still have to give credit where credit is due.
     I found newspaper reporter Marty Schladen's article in the El Paso Times about the first domino to fall in El Paso's continuing public-corruption scandal to be a fascinating and scintillating piece of investigative journalism, and I'm not just saying that to avoid a potential lawsuit.
     I reference the head bump, because the last time I heard from Marty Schladen was when he angrily chastised me for making fun of the alleged Batman Theater mass-murderer's lack of penis size. (See A Pathetic Little Nobody [Parts One, Two, and Three], posted back on 7-28-12. Don't read it if you have delicate sensibilities, no sense of humor, or think Hitler was misunderstood.) I guess he felt I was supposed to be sensitive to someone who cold-bloodedly shot and murdered innocent men, women, and children. The dead ARE dead, after all. The wounded, well, they'll get over it.
     With all the shootings that have happened since then, especially the most recent one at New Town, I wonder if Mr. Schladen still has soft spot in his heart for these monsters.
     The Bible says: "Judge not, lest ye be judged." Well, I'm not a judge, but I'm still judgemental.
     The domino in question, Travis Ketner, pleaded guilty to public corruption charges, and he was severely punished by having to move his law practice from El Paso to San Antonio. His workload has been so heavy there that he had enough time to write the article for the Texas Bar Journal titled "The Top 10 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Began Practicing Law." Perhaps his next article will be "How To Keep Your Title Short."
     Do you know why the Mafia doesn't like Jehovah Witnesses? They don't like ANY witnesses! Fortunately, for Travis, the FBI loves witnesses, and they gave him the time and the opportunity to write the article that's caused  a lot of outrage to a lot of El Pasoans.
     Ouisa Davis, who is an attorney, contributes a Friday column to the El Paso Times' Opinion page, and works for the county's Domestic Relations Office, was quoted in the Times as saying, "I'm appalled, I'm shocked, I'm disappointed," but I believe she was talking about the new Tina Fey movie.
     City Rep. Susie Byrd was eager to give her opinion on the matter as well, "Yeah, I expected more from Tina Fey."
     But what about Ketner's article?
     Like Travis, I, too, have a lot of time on my hands, so I thought I would take a look for myself. It was either that or finish reading Marty Schladen's article, and I was saving that for my next bout with insomnia.
     Hang tight, and I'll give you his list of ten, with my commentary, so you don't have to go through the trouble of finding and making fun of it yourself.  Let's begin with...

     1) Don't poop where you eat.

     My dog used to eat it's own poop. Even though I was grateful he was picking up after himself, I still found it to be a nasty habit. So I took him to the vet, and the vet gave me something to add to his food to make his poop taste bad.
     "Doc," I tried to clarify, "you do understand he's eating his own poop, right?"
     "How can you make it taste any worse?"
     Um, not that I actually know what poop taste like. I'm just assuming it tastes bad based on the way it smells. Now, what does this have to do with Ketner's rule #1?
     How about you just mind your own business.

     2) A coward dies a thousand deaths, a hero dies but one.

     If you ask me, a thousand to one are pretty good odds.

     3) Blame Bush.

     Hey, it worked for Obama, didn't it?

     4) A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do... but only IF he gets caught.

     If there's one thing I've learned in life it's that hard work never hurt anyone... anyone who didn't do it, that is.

     5) Honesty's the best policy... if you don't mind being broke.

     I was always told that money doesn't buy happiness, but, to tell the truth, I'd rather be rich and unhappy than poor and happy. Does that make me superficial?
     Who cares what you think?

     6) If you're ever served a lobster that's meant for someone else, eat as much of it as you can before the restaurant discovers its mistake.

     Another trick that works is pretending to slip and fall as you're walking over to pay the check. This accomplishes two things: 1) It gets you out of paying the check, and 2) You can make some extra cash when the restaurant offers you an out-of-court settlement.
     Don't judge me. It's Bush's fault.

     7) Man is the only animal that can be skinned more than once.

     When I was in grade school, I used to steal the lunch money from some poor kid who was smaller than me. It's not something I'm proud of, but I'm trying to make a point here. My point is this:
     One day, the kid got smart and he brought his lunch to school in a brown paper bag. I congratulated him for his ingenuity...
     ...and then I stole his lunch.

     8) He who testifies and runs away, lives to testify another day.

     I heard that when Travis Ketner testified, he argued that he was not guilty of committing a crime, he was only guilty of not complying with the law.
     That's a true story I just made up.

     9) If the Lord respected money, he would have given it to a better class of people.

     The Lord is constantly misquoted by people who are fond of saying that "money is the root of all evil." What it actually says in the Bible is that LOVE of money is the root of all evil. Do you know what I think is the root of all evil?
     I've got five ex-wives. Pick one.

     10) You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time... and that's good enough for me.

     Or, as I like to put it: You can steal from all of the people some of the time, and steal from some of the people all of the time, but you can't steal from any of the people without having to cut someone in on the deal.

     11) If you're going to steal, steal from family... they're least likely to put you in jail.

     Hey, wait a minute. That's ELEVEN! Ketner was only supposed to list ten. Just like a lawyer, give them an inch, and they'll sue you for the rest of what you've got.
     I think the main thesis of his whole article is that the key to living an ethical life is to always ask yourself these questions before you do something: Is it right? Is it ethical? Can I get away with it?
     Right and wrong become a moot point if you don't get caught.
     So that's it, my loyal readers, that's what all the hub-bub in El Paso is about. Shakespeare might say that it's much ado about nothing, but what does he know? As for myself, I look forward to Travis Ketner's next article, How To Turn A Million Dollars In Real Estate Into Twenty-Five Dollars In Cash!
     I think I'll end this with something my father once told me.
"It's a wise coyote that let's a rabbit run into it's mouth."

American Chimpanzee

A tip of the hat to Maverick's dear, old pappy.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Dear John (3-27-13)

Hard Core Advice From
Hard Core's Hardest Core... John Leslie

Dear John,
     My brother just got engaged. He and his girlfriend have two kids. Usually, this is a happy time for families, but eight months ago, my brother's fiancee cheated on him.
     At that time, my brother decided to keep his family together and work things out, which I greatly admire, but I just found out that his fiancee is still talking, emailing, and texting the guy she cheated with. My brother still wants the wedding to go on, and wants the rest of us to mind our own business.
     I really think this is a bad decision for my brother. I worry his girlfriend will continue to cheat and hurt him over and over again. Do I say something, or keep my mouth shut?

Dear Hurting,
     There is an old saying in our industry: If you keep your mouth shut... you won't make any money.
     You're welcome.

Dear John,
     I am a ninety year-old widow who parted ways with my first love well over half a century ago. Out only contact was five years ago when I mailed some nude photographs of myself that he had requested.
     I will be traveling to the city where he lives in April. While I am eager to see him, I am not sure this would be proper, even though my intentions are only to catch up with an old friend whom I once cared for greatly.
     Should I invite him for lunch, or should I simply just have sex with him.

Dear Perplexed,
     They say that it is normal for people to continue having sex well into their nineties. I've seen ninety year-olds. I don't think I'll be having any sex.

Dear John,
     I have a family gathering coming up. Like the rest of the country, we are plagued by many upper respiratory viruses, such as the flu. How do I politely refuse handshakes, hugs, and kisses?
     I thought of holding my hands behind my back, but that seems standoffish. Should I wear a sign around my neck? If so, what should it say?
     Everyone knows that I am a health care professional, but they may not be aware of how viruses are spread. Can you help me?

Dear Concerned,
     Since everyone knows you're a health care professional, just let it slip that you work at an AIDS hospice. The rest will take care of itself.

Dear John,
     Yesterday, I attended the funeral of a dear friend. I was appalled when someone's cellphone began ringing. Not only did this person answer it and carry on a conversation during the service, but this happened several times.
     I think funeral homes should post signs telling attendees to turn off their cellphones during visitation hours and for the duration of the service. If someone cannot pay the proper respect, then they should not come.
     They can send flowers or cash.

Dear Irritated,
     I completely agr... RING! Excuse me, this might be important, I better answer it.

American Chimpanzee

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Story of Barabbas

Everybody knows the story of Jesus Christ, and how Pontius Pilate, the praefectus of Judea, gave his Jewish subjects the choice between freeing Him or His fellow death-row inmate, Barabbas, in a prevailing Passover custom that allowed Pilate to commute the death sentence of one prisoner. The praefectus did this by popular acclaim, and, as a result, the Jews chose Barabbas. But what people don't know is why the Jews chose Barabbas over Jesus.
     One theory, which most Bible scholars dismiss, is that, since Barabbas' first name was also Jesus, Pontius Pilate got confused over whose name the Jews were calling out.
     "My Jewish subjects, I present to you Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus Barabbas! Whom shall I free?" Pilate yelled at the crowd, and, looking down, noticed his hands were dirty. Man, he thought to himself, first chance I get, I've got to wash my hands.
     "Jesus!" the crowd yelled back. "We want Jesus to go free!"
     "Um... which Jesus do you mean?"
     "The one we want to go free!"
     "Yes, but they're both named Jesus. Which one are you talking about?"
     "The one with the beard!"
     "But they both have beards. In fact, everybody here has beards. Even the women. Let me ask it another way: whom shall I crucify?"
     "Jesus! Crucify Jesus!"
     "Yes, but which Jesus? Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Barabbas?"
     "The one with the beard!"
     So Pontius Pilate grabbed the nearest Jesus, and told him, "All right, Barabbas. You win by default."
     "Let His blood be upon us," the Jews chanted, "and upon our children... but not upon our children's children, because children should not be having sex!"
     I always found it amazing how these biblical crowds were able to yell the same thing word for word.
     While this story might be true, I tend to side with the biblical scholars who think it isn't, and it has nothing to do with the money they paid me.
     What I personally think happened was that the Jews chose Barabbas over the the Son of God because he was such a great guy. Sure, he was a rapist, a thief, and a murderer, but he was also a lot of fun to be around. Jesus Christ may have been the Messiah and all that, but He was always telling everybody what to do. If someone dropped a piece of parchment on the ground, He would say, "Hey! Picketh that up! Were you born in a barn? Verily."
     The irony that He, Himself was born in a barn was lost on Jesus. He was too serious for His own good.
     Barabbas, on the other hand, was the guy you needed to invite if you wanted your party to be a success. For one thing, he always brought the best wine. Jesus may have once changed water into wine at a wedding, but it was His mother who made Him do it.
     "Jesus," His mother sweetly hinted, "this wedding doth stinketh. They've run out of wine."
     "And what's it to Me?" Jesus complained. Jesus also had the annoying habit of capitalizing all words referencing Himself.
     Barabbas, on the other hand, was the kind of guy who always bought a round of drinks for the house. He may have bought those drinks with gold picked from the pockets of the men sitting next to him, but as long as he had a dollar in front of him, you'd have a drink in front of you.
     In comparison, if someone was running out of wine at their wedding, Barabbas wouldn't complain. He was always more than happy to steal wine from the Roman guardhouse down the street. When the Romans would eventually show up and kill everybody, Barabbas would already be long gone. Off raping the bride somewhere. Barabbas was never one to overstay his welcome. I'm sure the bride, on some level, would appreciate that.
     Barabbas would also protect he nerdy Jewish kids who were into the biblical equivalent of Star Wars.
     "Don't worry," he'd tell them. "If anybody messes with you, they're messing with me. Now... give me all your money!"
     And then he would rape them.
     If you needed to borrow Barabbas' chariot, he'd lend it to you. It didn't even matter if you were too young to have a Roman drivers license. If you were arrested later for joyriding in a stolen chariot, well, that was your problem. Just make sure that, when you got out of Roman jail, Barabbas had a brand new chariot for the one you lost.
     If you were underage and caught him outside of a liquor store, Barabbas would cheerfully buy you a six-pack of Coor's or a bottle of Boone's Farm.
     "Just stay away from the hard stuff," he'd warn. "And drugs."
     Barabbas always told the best jokes, and was always the life of any party. Jesus, on the other hand, was a bit of a wet mop. He liked to stand around and tell everybody what they were doing wrong.
     "Hey!" Jesus would say. "You're not supposed to double-dippeth the chip after thou hast already taken a bite out of it! Verily."
     Jesus wasn't interested in what anybody else had to say, mainly because, as the Son of God, He already knew what that someone was going to say before they said it. All He wanted was for HIM to talk, and for YOU to listen.
     "Hey!" He'd say. "Listen upeth! I'm telling you this for your own good. Verily."
     No matter how wild the party, it would die the moment Jesus walked in the front door. Barabbas would be playing the piano and coaxing everybody into singing a bawdy song, while Jesus would wonder out loud, "Hey, why isn't some girl washing My feet?"
     If you were at a bar, and had too much to drink, Barabbas would make sure you made it home safe and sound. You're pockets might be empty of any gold they may have contained, and every orifice on your body violated, but you made it home, didn't you? Quit'cher complaining.
     The next morning, while you were suffering from a hangover, what would Barabbas do? Why, he'd bring you some chicken soup, paid for with the gold he stole from you the night before.
     If a person was sick or not feeling well, Barabbas would always come to visit to see how they were doing, and, as a gesture of good will, he'd considerately rape them before he'd leave. It was his way of telling them, "Get well, little buddy."
     So, you see, the crowd of Jews who called for Barabbas' freedom, instead of for the freedom of the Son of God, had their reasons. You may disagree with those reasons, but you'd have to agree that your disagreement would be disagreeably disagreeable. After all, no one else tried to comfort Peter, one of Jesus' twelve apostles, after he denied Christ three times. No one tried to comfort Judas, when he finally realized he had kissed a man the night before.
     "I'll never be able to join the Roman Army now," he cried.
     "Here," Barabbas told him, "have some rope."
     No one tried to comfort Mary Magdalene after the crucifixion. No, really. I'm telling you. No one did.
     No one, that is, except Barabbas.
The Aw, Nuts! Humor Blog



Thursday, March 21, 2013

But Where Can I Park?

Newspaper reporter Cindy Ramirez wrote a very informative and entertaining article in this past Monday's edition of the El Paso Times (3-18-13). It came out on the front page, so it must have been important, because, as we all know, the front page is where only the most important information is located, like the price of the paper.
     The first line of her article, "The parking wars are about to begin," gave the whole reading experience such a sense of urgency that I almost read the entire thing. I got to the third paragraph, which explained how after the Triple-A minor league baseball stadium is built, and Downtown El Paso develops as a result, and other businesses begin to open up in the area, and maybe we'll see a higher quality of prostitutes, that parking will become "more of a commodity."
     That's pretty much as far as I got. Not because the article wasn't very good--it was--it's just that I was anxious to see for myself. So I got in my car, drove west on I-10, passed two perfectly good malls with plenty of free parking, and, when I got to my destination, immediately got a ticket for driving down the wrong way on a one-way street.
     I didn't let that minor snafu distract me from my mission, and I determinedly began to try to find one of those "plenty" of parking spaces our city leaders assured Cindy there was.
     Well, I saw plenty of parking spaces all right, but had no change to feed those insatiable parking meters that stood guard right next to them. In my humble tax-paying opinion, if you're in the mood to spend your money Downtown you should be welcomed, not charged. I understand the city needs revenue, but think of all those potential customers driving past Downtown El Paso on their way to The Outlet Mall. Do you know why all those people drive that far out of their way to spend their cash?
     The free parking.
     They'd rather lose half an hour of their lives than pay 25 cents for 20 minutes of parking time.
     It reminded me of how, just the other day, I took my family to see the newly renovated Mills Building. It was beautiful. At least I think it was, from the quick glance we got as we drove by on our way to The Outlet Mall.
     After our mall excursion, we had a nice lunch at The Great American Land & Cattle Company further down I-10. Their Top Sirloin cost $8.99, but their parking was free. After that, we pulled off at mile marker #151 to look at the camels and other wild animals at the feed store located there that also sells farm and ranching equipment. My favorite part about it? The free parking. In fact, that business also had free snacks for its much-appreciated customers to feed their animals, even the little pig who liked to direct the incoming traffic.
     Let me get to the point, my friends. My suggestion is this: Everybody's broke. Now's the time to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana and prostitution. I don't cheat on my wife or do drugs, in fact I barely drink, but that doesn't mean we can't make a profit from those who do.
     I know, I know. They say with dope and hookers comes organized crime. Do you know what I say about organized crime?
     Vote them out of office!
     With prostitution legalized, Downtown will be THE place to shop, dine, and procreate. I suggest we create a Red Light District by the Free Clinic. As for the marijuana, we can create a district much like the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco in the 60's. I'll even volunteer to be El Paso's first Love Czar or Secretary of Smoke.
     Maybe then we'll get some free parking.
     And, while I'm at it, I have a few more ideas concerning Downtown El Paso. Surrounding San Jacinto Plaza we should have the following:
     1) A museum of horror. It could be run by my ex-wives.
     2) An optical illusion museum. I'll even generously donate all of my ex-wedding pictures. If you stand one way, you'll see beautiful brides. If you stand another, they all turn into La Llorona.
     3) A museum of natural and supernatural oddities. Have I already mentioned the availability of my ex-wives? And...
    4) Around the placita we can build mini-sculptures of national monuments, much like the one's they have in Legoland of Southern California. If they build their mini-monuments entirely from Legos, how hard can it be to slap together some cardboard and spit and make our own?
     And how do we pay for all this?
     Hey, that's you're problem, I'm just the idea guy. Me? I'm on my way to spend my money at The Outlet Mall.

American Chimpanzee

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Was Jesus Married?

Chapter One
Was Jesus married?
Chapter Two
The End
I was surprised to see the name of an old flame of mine, Karen L. King, in a newspaper article by Nicole Winfield of the Associated Press. I was  surprised to discover that Ms. King is now a professor of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School, and that she claims a Coptic papyrus fragment, that was supposedly recently discovered and translated, apparently says, "Jesus said to them, 'My wife..."
     I knew Ms. King back in our college days, where she was captain of the university's cheerleading squad and I was busy playing the field. She was voted Miss Congeniality by the football team, and didn't mind being referred to as 'miss' back then.
     This is "the first known statement that explicitly claims that Jesus had [a] wife," she was quoted as saying. Although "this fragment and the sentence is not evidence of Jesus' marital status."
     Ms. King was always good at talking out of both sides of her mouth. Among other things.
     Scholars believe that these six words, written in Sahidic Coptic on a piece of codex, date back to the fourth century, and are proof that Jesus of Nazareth was married.
     That's not what I believed, however, so I called on one of my earliest dates and asked her if I could examine the ancient scrap of papyrus myself.
     "Jim," Karen purred from Rome, "I haven't heard from you in ages."
     "That's because I just got out of prison for killing my wife," I reluctantly admitted.
     "So..." she purred some more, "you're single?"
     After quickly talking out of both sides of my mouth, I was finally able to convince her to let me conduct my own translation of the text. It was just as I thought, the translation wasn't complete OR correct. Jesus wasn't admitting He was married, He was simply entertaining His friends at the Last Supper.
     You see, Jesus didn't say, "My wife..." Instead he spoke the inspiration for Henny Youngman's most famous one-liner: "Take my wife. Please!"
     The proper translation is as follows:

     "Ha, ha, ha" laughed Peter. "Telleth us another one, Jesus."
     "I asked My wife, 'Where dost thou want to go for thy anniversary, woman?' And she saideth unto Me, 'Someplace I have never been before.' So I saideth unto her, 'Then goeth thou to the kitchen!'"
     Andrew guffawed.
     "Jesus, You really cracketh me upeth," he saideth.
     Judas was not amused.
     "Should Thou not save Thy jokes for the poor, Master?"
     "It matters not, ye who smells strongly of armpit. What matters is that I taketh My wife everywhere... but she keeps finding her way back!"
     The disciples laughed with great merriment. Judas just rolled his eyes.
     John slapped his knee with one hand.
     "Dost Thou really take her everywhere, Master?" he asked.
     "Of course... otherwise I'd have to kiss her goodbye!"
     "Thou slayest us, Jesus," Peter spaketh. "Like Roman soldiers, Thou slayest us."
     "Hey, Judas," Jesus teased, "how does one turn a fox into a pig?"
     "With Thy holy power, Master?"
     "No... you marry it!"
     "That be-eth not funny, Master. Verily, it be-eth not."
     "Judas, thous hast the sense of humor of a goat, and thou smelleth of one as well. Tell me, oh stinky one, how does one knoweth if one's wife is dead?"
     "I'm sure I knoweth not, Master."
     "Her kisses stay the same... but the dishes begin to pile up!"
     Bartholomew snickered at Judas. Judas gave Bartholomew the stink-eye.
     "Telleth us another one, Jesus," Matthew begged Him. "Telleth us another one."
     My wife is on a new diet. Coconuts and bananas. She hasn't lost weight... but, man, can she climbeth a tree!"
     "Thou art funny, Master," James spaketh, "and thou looketh good, as well."
     "Yes, I do," Jesus answered. "Knowest thou how I lost 120 pounds of ugly fat?"
     "How, Jesus?" all but one asked. "We beseech Thee, tell us how?"
     Jesus looked at the Twelve plus one...
     " leaving My wife back in Jerusalem!"
     Eleven plus one laughed. Judas did not.
     "Tell us a parable, Master," Judas, the party-pooper, then asked.
     "A man," Jesus began, "a man wins the lottery, and rushes home to telleth his wife. 'Honey,' he tells her, 'packeth thy clothes. I just won the lottery!' The wife's heart fills with joy, and she says, 'And what shall I pack, husband?' And the husband answers, 'I don't care... just getteth the heck out!"
     Judas shooketh his head in disgust, while the others howled. Eth.
     "Another parable, Master," Simon squealed. "Another parable."
     "A woman runs after the garbage wagon, yelling, 'Am I too late for the garbage?' 'No, verily,' the garbageman spake unto her. 'Jump right in!"
     "Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha ha!"
     "Did I telleth thou how My wife spent two hours at the beauty shop? And that was just for the estimate!"
     "Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!"
     "While there, she got a mudpack. For two days, she looked good... and then the mud fell off!"
     "Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!"
     "That offends me, Master," Judas, the odorous one, whined. "MY wife's an angel!"
     "Thou art fortunate, Judas... MINE'S still alive!"
     "Bwah, ha, ha, ha, ha!" the eleven plus one broketh out.
     Judas grew furiouser and furiouser.
     Thaddaeus was holding his gut. Matthias, who everybody knew was trying to weasel his way into being an Apostle, though he kneweth full well that the union contract specifically stateth that there could be only twelve, was on the ground in tears.
     "Thou be-eth the best, JC," Thaddaeus brown-nosed. "The Best!"
     "I can't believe how quick-witted our Master be," spaketh Thomas. "Jesus gotteth you good, Judas. He gotteth you good."
     Judas stomped away huffily and puffily.
     "You'll payeth for that, Son of Man," Judas threatened. "You'll payeth for that!"
     "Don't goeth away mad, Judas," Jesus spaketh unto him. "Just goeth away! Verily."
     Judas shook an angry fist at Him.
     "Letteth him go, Master," James spaketh. "The air smelleth sweeter already."
     "Master," John turned somber and thoughtful, "Hast Thou given any thought on what doeth Thou ere the Roman soldiers come to arrest Thee, and lash Thee, and crucify Thee, and put their fingers in Thy nostrils and pull forward, and tell Thee 'pulleth my finger,' and point at Thy chest and ask 'What be-eth that?' and, when Thou looketh down, they cruelly flick Thy nose upward, and..."
     "Enougheth alreadyeth!" and Jesus did smacketh John upside the head with what He liked to call The Attention Getter. "This I shall say unto them..."
     "Taketh My wife. Verily!"
Fifty Shades of Funny

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Good Job, Mayor Cook

"Mayor Cook, what are YOU doing here?"
     I was walking into the bathroom at El Paso's soon-to-be-no-more City Hall when I bumped into him. I was there to pay my Excessive Oxygen Use fee. He was dressed in gray coveralls and busy cleaning the mirror over the sink with some paper towels. He held a plastic spray bottle with a clear blue liquid in his hand.
     "I work here," he answered, and then vigorously went to work cleaning the sink using the same supplies. "Got to get this place all spiffied up for the demolition."
     He was talking about the upcoming demolition of our perfectly good City Hall, and I guess he was cleaning up the way my wife cleans our house before the maid comes.
     I couldn't argue with what he said (Well, I could, but what would be the point?), so I took the opportunity to ask him instead about the hike in city fees that are being considered. Personally, the last thing I think this city wants to do is squeeze blood from a rock, especially the rocks coming in from out of town to spend their money. I don't think we should price ourselves out of tourism, but what do I know? I just earn the money, and somebody else spends it. Just like in all of my five marriages.
     "Well, it's like this," he began, putting away the paper towels and picking up a scouring brush for the toilet. He gave the bowl a few healthy squirts with the same blue liquid, and enthusiastically began scrubbing. "The city's so broke we can't even afford to pay attention, so we're looking for additional ways to increase revenue. In fact, I'm glad you're here. Let me run a few ideas by you."
     "We don't say 'shoot' anymore. Now we say 'shinola,' as in 'you don't the difference between.' It's a requirement of Obama's Anti-Bullying Legislation."
   "WTF?" is what I thought.
     "Of course, Mr. Mayor," is what I said.
     He put down his supplies, picked up a broom, and briskly started sweeping the floor.
     "You know and I know," he said, with a wink, "that when we talk about fees, what we're really talking about are taxes. Just like when the President talks about investing in America and the rich paying their fair share, he's also talking about raising taxes. So let me know what you think about our using the following words in lieu of the word 'fees.' How about 'compelled contributions'? Or 'minimum due donations'?"
     "It still sounds like taxes to me."
     "It's like Shakespeare said, 'A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.'"
     "Well," Mayor Cook said, huffily, "who are you going to believe? Me, or your friend Shakespeare?"
     Done sweeping, he got the mop and energetically began mopping the floor.
     "Well then," he continued, "in that case the only thing we can do is come up with more 'fees.' What do you think about these: a fee for grown men who wear their pajama bottoms as pants? A fee for wearing your pantaloons below your hindquarters? A fee for thinking about Sarah Palin while you're busy getting jiggy with your wife?"
     He was done mopping, and we stood by the bathroom door.
     "So..." he said, "what do you think?"
     "You know me, Mr. Mayor," I told him, honestly, "I think raising taxes in this economy will only make things worse."
     "No, I mean, the bathroom. What do you think of the bathroom?"
     I looked at the bathroom, and then I looked at him.
     "It looks good, Mr. Mayor. You did a good job."
     "Thanks," he said.
     He was genuinely proud.

American Chimpanzee

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

New Pope Elected!

Well, as everybody knows by now, the conclave of Catholic cardinals have elected their new Pope. Pope Francis the First is the first Jesuit Pope and the first Pope in over a thousand years to have not been from a European country.
     When I broke the news to President Obama, he was quick to jump to the wrong conclusion.
     "I'm truly honored," he humbly told me, "but nobody deserves it more than I do. I deserve it the way I deserved my Nobel Peace Prize and Time Magazine's Man of the Year award."
     It broke my heart to tell the man who once saved my life in 'Nam that it was an Italian--an Italian by way of Latin America, that is--who was actually elected to the highest office in the Catholic Church. The President was quick to shrug it off. I know he was disappointed, but life goes on. He had Republicans to ignore, after all.
     Personally, I think the President would have made a wonderful Pope. True, he's not Catholic and doesn't believe in God, but what does that have to do with anything?
     I know very little about the new Pope. I know that he's seventy-six years-old. So, even though the cardinals may be trusting him with the Church, they won't be trusting him with the keys to the Pope-mobile any time soon.
     I also know that he has only one lung. One lung? Yes, I said he only has one lung. I heard he lost it on a Prom date gone horribly wrong.
     Old. Frail. One lung. What were the cardinals thinking? I guess in the next papal election, they'll elect a man who's already dead.
     These are turbulent times for the Catholic Church, and, like a midget using a urinal, the new Pope will have to stay on his toes, but Pope Francis doesn't come without his own share of baggage and controversy, as he...
...the rest of this column has been cancelled due to threats from the Mafia...

American Chimpanzee

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Today's News (3-12-13)

Well, as I've already told you, I took advantage of the Vatican's early voting to cast my vote for the next Pope of the Holy Catholic Church. I voted for President Obama, the man who once saved my life in 'Nam. I know it sounds crazy, especially since he's not even Catholic, but I think he'd make a fine Pontiff.
     When you think about it, it's not so far-fetched. He was elected to the Senate of the United States without actually having done anything. And then he was elected President of the United States without actually having done anything. And then he was immediately awarded the Nobel Peace Prize without actually having done anything. And, most recently, Time magazine voted him their Man of the Year without his actually having done anything.
     Pope Obama the First! Kind of has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?
     Interestingly enough, having to divorce his wife, since the Pope isn't allowed to be married, wasn't the deal-breaker I thought it would be.
     "Can I still smoke?" he asked me.
     "Yes," I told him.
     "Then tell Michelle I went out for a pack of cigarettes."

     Barnes & Noble are cancelling the rest of Michael "The Dog Killing Football Player" Vick's book signings. It just goes to show how much people love dogs.
     You can be O.J. Simpson, and practically decapitate your wife and murder her lover. Allegedly, of course. You can be Michael Jackson and allegedly molest little boys. Allegedly, of course. You can even be Chris Brown and beat your girlfriend like she's Rodney King and you're the L.A.P.D., but killing a dog will get you death threats.
     Allegedly, of course.

     The price of gas is going up, the economy is still in the toilet, Obama's supposedly taking away all of our rights, and our own military can kill you with a drone attack if you even look at them the wrong way. But what's the one thing Americans are getting upset over? New York City's Mayor Bloomberg limiting the size of their soft drinks.
     I guess all the problems of the world have been solved.

     Did you know that more people have gotten married from participating in the reality show The Biggest Loser than from The Bachelor? It's true. If you ask me, Sean, the latest bachelor, is the biggest loser. He's spent the last two years of his life taking part in The Bachelor. Now he's a contestant on Dancing With The Stars. And after that they'll be televising his wedding.
     What happens when all of his television appearances come to an end, and his wife realizes she's married to a guy with no income, with no job, and who spends all his time at the gym?
     She should have married the president of ABC. He's the guy who actually paid for everything.

     And don't get me started on Justin Bieber. He's been caught smoking dope (you are what you ingest, I guess). He's been filmed "playfully" slapping his employees in the face (you know, the employees who can't hit him back because they'd lose their jobs). He's been held back from getting into fights with the paparazzi by the huge bodyguards who would do the actual fighting for him. He spends more time with his shirt off than Helen Hunt in The Sessions. He wears his pants 90's-style, with them hanging so far below his butt he'd win Miss Congeniality at the prison of his choice. He's barely 20 years-old, and he's fainting onstage and can't breathe. What is up with this guy?
     He's forgotten that it's the parents who are taking their little girls to his concerts, so when he shows up 2 hours late and keeps grabbing his crotch, well, no wonder nobody's buying tickets to his concerts anymore. The parents have to go to work the next day, and their little girls have school.
     Two hours late?
     Ain't nobody got time for that!

American Chimpanzee

Friday, March 8, 2013

What Ten Commandments?

When President Obama calls, I jump. It's the least I can do for the man who once saved my life in 'Nam. But even I must admit that he caught me by surprise with his latest request, and, no, I'm not talking about a round of golf with Tiger Woods.
     "Jim," he told me, "I need you to condense The Ten Commandments down to, ah, one?"
     It seemed an interesting challenge, but I wondered why.
     "It's this whole sequester thing," he told me. "The United States of America can no longer afford ten of anything, much less the commandments, what with all these automatic cuts coming in."
     So I thought I'd give it a shot.
     But which commandments should I use? The Jewish ones? The Protestant ones? I decided to go with the Catholic ones, because they're so much shorter. Don't believe me? Fine, I'll prove it to you. Take, for example, the Second Commandment. It goes:

II.  Thou shalt not make for thyself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the father upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

     The catholics, in their infinite wisdom, have slimmed it down to this: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord, thy God, in vain.
     Is that all?
     I looked under the refrigerator, between the cushions of the couch, and couldn't find anything more.
     Yup, that was it.
     I don't even think the original commandment said anything about taking the name of the Lord in vain, but that's what the catholics got out of it.
     Before you get the wrong idea, I was born, baptised, and raised a catholic. I go to church every Sunday. Well, almost every Sunday. Okay, I don't go to church, but I will when I need a favor from God. I even took advantage of the Vatican's early voting this week to cast my vote for Pope. Anyway, what I always found interesting was how my religion had no problem adding to or taking away from the word of God.
     The Our Father prayer is a good example of this. When Jesus* was giving the sermon on the mount (more like a hill), He instructed the audience listening to Him on exactly how it was they were supposed to pray, and, for most of my life, I thought the prayer ended with: And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen. It wasn't until I actually read the Bible myself that I discovered that a final line had been edited out: For Thine is the power, the kingdom, and the glory. Amen. If the Bible is the word of God, then why would you leave out part of what He says? And that's not the only problem I have with the catholic version of this prayer. We're taught to pray: And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. What the Bible actually says is: And forgive us our DEBTS, as we forgive our DEBTORS.
     There's a big difference between a trespass and a debt. The biggest difference being that God tells us to do one, while the catholic church tells us to do the other.
     But I digress...
     So I pulled out my copy of the catholic Ten Commandments and went to work. I immediately had a problem with the first commandment.

I.  I am the Lord, thy God. Thou shalt have no other Gods before me.

     First off, I find it interesting that God doesn't say that He's the ONLY God, or that there are NO OTHER gods. He only says that we shall put no OTHER God before him. Other Gods are cool, just as long as He's first. But that's neither here nor there, since, ultimately, the first commandment goes without saying. So, if it goes without saying, then there's no point in saying it. So...
     BAM! It's aborted!
     The second commandment goes:

II.  Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord, thy God, in vain.

     The only time I've ever used the name of the Lord in vain is when I've prayed and my prayers weren't answered, which turns out to be ALL of the time, so...
     BAM! It's aborted!
     Now when I pray, I pray to Dick Cheney, because Dick Cheney seems like the kind of guy who can get things done.
     The third commandment seems clear enough.

III.  Remember the sabbath and to keep it holy.

     Only... when is the sabbath? All my life I've gone to church on Sunday, so I've made the assumption that Sunday was the sabbath. Every Christian church worships on Sunday, so surely I'm right, aren't I? Sunday IS the sabbath, isn't it?
     Wrong, blubber-butt!
     The sabbath is Saturday.** God tells us to keep Saturday holy, but man, who obviously feels he knows more than God, decided to make it Sunday instead. I'm not going to blame this on the catholics, although I'm sure they're the ones responsible, but I will hold them accountable for this: Why didn't anybody at least tell me that I was worshiping on the wrong day? That way I could have made an intelligent choice about whether I wanted to obey the word of man, or the word of God. Because of this conflict...
     BAM! It's aborted!
     Which brings us to...

IV.  Honor thy father and thy mother.

     Parents, for the most part, are loving, kind, and protective of their children. But you have those occassional psychopaths who neglect, abuse, rape, injure, and even kill the most innocent and helpless among us, their own children. Under normal circumstances, of course you should honor your father and mother, but in those extreme cases where the parents are their children's worse nightmare, I say no. Therefore...
     BAM! It's aborted!
     Speaking about killing, that brings us to...

V.  Thou shalt not kill.

     Some bible scholars say "kill," some Bible scholars who are not catholic say that the correct translation is "murder." Come on, now. Which is it? I remember once in catechism reading a section of the Bible where God tells one of His prophets of peace to go kill an entire city.***
     "The entire city?" the man asks, not quite believing it himself.
     God says, "Yes, the ENTIRE city. All the men, the women, and the children. Even the animals."
     "Okey-dokey, God," the man answered, and then, much like the way the Nazis would do later, he followed orders.
     Now, I can understand the men. I can understand the women, as long as we put ex-wives at the head of the line. Maybe I can even understand the children, as long as those children belong to someone other than myself. But the ANIMALS? Sorry, God...
     BAM! It's aborted!
     Number six and number nine...

VI.  Thou shalt not commit adultery.
IX.  Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors wife.

...both say the same thing, so they cancel each other out.
     BAM! They're aborted!
     Which brings us to the seventh commandment.

VII.  Thou shalt not steal.

     It's kind of hard to argue against this one, although that's exactly what I have to do to justified the money that's stolen out of our paychecks each Friday in the form of taxes. G.E., a billion dollar corporation, paid zero dollars in taxes last year,**** while I  paid a third of what I earned to make sure the huddled masses got their free government cheese. So, just because Obama asked me to...
     BAM! It's aborted!
     Now we're getting near the end. Can you feel the excitement? I sure can.

VIII.  Thou shalt not lie.

     What exactly is a lie? Doesn't a lie depend on your point of view? When the President tells us the economy is getting better, when it clearly isn't, is that a lie?
     Let's see, he still flies on his own private airplane, he still rides in his own private limousine, he still has his own private security force, he still plays golf with Tiger Woods, he still takes his family on expensive vacations. He still does all that and more, yet he never has to take his own wallet out of his back pocket to pay for any of it himself.
     I'd say the economy looks pretty bright in his eyes. Using this kind of convoluted logic, there IS no such thing as a lie, so...
     BAM! It's aborted!
     And that leaves us with a the final commandment, number ten.

X.  Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods.

     Hey, have you seen the economy lately? It's in the toilet. You better open up your checkbooks and start coveting some of your neighbor's goods, and fast. Wanting what your neighbor has is what keeps this economic merry-go-round going merrily around.
     How else will you know what happiness is, unless you see your neighbor with it first?
     BAM! It's aborted!
     No, my friends, there is no such thing as The Ten Commandments. Maybe they had a purpose in the time they were written, but they have no reason for existing in this day and age. Just like Rosie O'Donnell.
     When I handed this report to the President, he thanked me.
     "Jim," he said, "you've done a great service for your country."
     "Thank you, Mr. President," I answered, wondering if there would be any financial compensation for all the work I did. There wasn't. Same old Obama.
     "You want to get together later?" I asked him, hopefully. "For old times sake?"
     "Can't," he said, shaking those big ears of his from side to side. "I'm playing golf with Tiger Woods."
*If we are God's children, and Jesus is God's only son, then does that make the rest of us girls? Just asking.
**This is the one thing the Jews have gotten right.
***It's in there, but you'll have to look for it yourself. I'm not getting paid for this, so, if you think I'm going to do the research myself, you're nuts. Make yourself useful, and go look in the King James version of the Old Testament, and, when you find it, send me the proper passage. I'll pay you what Obama paid me.
****At least according to those extreme right-wing pundits I'm brain-washed by, such as Bill O'Really, Rush Limbo, and Michael Sandwich.
And a tip of the hat to George Carlin, who used to pray to Joe Pesci.
American Chimpanzee

Monday, March 4, 2013

My El Paso (Part Two)

My El Paso.
     I think those are three very powerful and personal words are a great start in getting the citizens of El Paso to define their own city.
     I must admit that when I read that phrase I felt it sounded a bit too standoffish and exclusionary. Kind of like when a two year old says: "MY blankie!" "MY dollie!" MY El Paso. But now, now I see the genius of it. Reverse psychology. What a concept!
     The best way to make something valuable is to make it rare. A rock that you pick up from the ground has no value, but shine it up, call it a diamond, price it outrageously, and, all of a sudden you've created a demand for it. This demand usually comes from individuals who are as dumb as said rocks, but, fortunately, there are plenty of those kind of individuals around. They are as plentiful as, well, rocks on the ground.
     To make someone want something all you have to do is tell them that they can't have it. For example, the person you want the most is the one you can't have. There's an old country lyric that goes (and I'm going by memory here):

The only thing that she ever wanted
were the things that she could not have.

     Man, that reminds me of four of my five ex-wives. What it also reminds me of is that that's what human nature is all about. And that s the genius of the "My El Paso" advertising slogan for our city. With it, we're creating a desire to visit this city by telling outsiders that they are neither wanted nor welcome.
     I offer the following "My El Paso" suggestions to make El Paso a destination desired by all those who used to ignore us.

MY El Paso! Get Out And STAY Out!

MY El Paso! Trespassers Will Be Shot!

MY El Paso! We Don't Need YOU Or Your Stinkin' Money!

MY El Paso! You Don't Hafta Go Home, But You Can't Stay Here!
MY El Paso! Move Along... There's Nothing More To See!

MY El Paso! Peligro! Entrada Prohibida!

MY El Paso! This Property Is Condemned!
MY El Paso! Don't Let The Door Hit'cha Where The Good Lord Split'cha!

MY El Paso! That's Right, Amigo... Just Keep On Driving!

MY El Paso! You May NEVER Be Heard From Again!

MY El Paso! If We Don't Get You, The Drug Lords Will!

MY El Paso! It's Not You, It's Me!

MY El Paso! This Ain't Dodge, But Get The !@#% Out Anyway!

MY El Paso! Looking For City Hall? Good Luck With That!

     So, my fellow El Pasoans, let's all do our part bringing people to this city by keeping them out.
     I think I'll start with my ex-wives.

American Chimpanzee

Sunday, March 3, 2013

I'm ALREADY Old (Part Two)

My father used to tell me, "You'll see, you'll see." It was his answer to every contradictory statement I ever made to him. Now that I'm older... I still don't see.
     There are a lot of things I didn't know about getting old, and no one bothered to warn me about them or explain them to me. For example, I didn't know that my bending over to pick something up would ever depend on just what it is that needs picking up. I guess you could say that the older you get, the harder it is to make ends meet, such as the ends of your fingers meeting the ends of your toes.
     Just the other day, I dropped my glasses on the floor and my wife wasn't around to pick them up for me, so I took a twenty dollar bill out of my wallet, tossed it on the ground, and then I picked them both up. If you think I was going to bend over for something I didn't need at that moment, you're crazy. You see, by the time we learn to watch our step, we're not stepping out very much.
     I may be old on the outside, but I'm still young on the inside. The sad thing is, the outside is the only thing I seem to hear comentary on. Whenever somebody tells me how young I look, what they're really telling me is how old I am. I know I'm old, but, except for the aches and pains, I don't feel old.
     The worst part about no longer being young is no longer being young, but I'm not so old that I'm eager for the alternative. I don't even look forward to it. I don't think anybody ever gets that old. When my buddies at work used to ask me when I was going to retire, I'd always answer, "And do what? Watch Oprah all day?" I was sad when Oprah went off the air. She ruined my shtick.
     My father used to tell me that I'll know I'm getting old when I've got money to burn, but no spark to ignite it. "Aw, dad," I would tell him, but, like pretty much everything he ever told me, he was right. And now that I've got all the answers, nobody's asking me any questions.
     All the numbers in my little black book? They now belong to doctors, not women of ill repute. And, come to think of it, just what is a "repute" anyway?
     Oh my, old age is an irritating price to pay for wisdom and maturity. I hate to admit it, but I was startled the first time I was called "Mister" and "Sir" for the first time. Dare I say I was even a little offended? Well, I was.
     "Why you little whippersnappers..." I chastised them, droning on until they eventually fell asleep. And I... and I... wait a minute...
     What was I talking about? Oh, yeah...
     Whenever I say things aren't what they used to be, I always forget to include myself. There's an old saying that goes: "I'm not as good as I once was, but I'm as good once as I ever was." It was made into a pretty funny country song, by some guy I can't remember the name of. I'm sure I'll remember his name eventually, after I no longer need the information.
     Which reminds me of another thing my dad used to tell me. He used to say that, when I get older, I could look forward to losing my mind...
     ...but that I won't miss it very much.

American Chimpanzee

Saturday, March 2, 2013

My El Paso (Part One)

My El Paso.

     Those three words are powerful and personal... and sure are similar to my two-word suggestion of over four years ago.

El Paso! (insert main selling point here)

     Oh, sure, I understand that no one has a copyright on the name "El Paso," except for maybe Marty Robbins, but the concept is similar.  Begin with the name of our city, add the word "my" to the beginning of it or an exclamation point to the end, stir in something positive, and--bam!--instant advertising slogan.

My El Paso... is the safest city in America.
El Paso! The Safest City In America!
My El Paso... is known for how friendly its people are.
El Paso! The Friendliest City In The World!
My El Paso... has the best Mexican food.
El Paso! The Best Mexican Food In The Universe!
My El Paso... was once visited by Barack Obama.
El Paso! The Barack Obama Of Cities!

     You get the idea.

American Chimpanzee

Friday, March 1, 2013

I'm Not Getting Old (Part One)

I'm not getting old. I'm ALREADY old.
     I just realized it this morning. You see, I had to get up especially early because I was going to go have some bloodwork done.
     "Aren't you going to shower?" my wife asked, as I got out of bed, brushed my teeth, and put on my clothes from the day before.
     "Do I stink?" I asked her.
     "Then I'll shower when I get back," I told her, putting on a baseball cap. I didn't want to comb my hair either.
     As I drove to the place where I was going to have my arm puntured and my blood siphoned out, I looked down at my feet and I saw something I swore I would never see: black dress socks with white ahtletic shoes.
     Say what?
     When I was a much younger guy I remember seeing old coots walking around with shorts that were too big, skinny legs that were too white, and athletic shoes with black socks. And I swore--I swore--that I would never wear black socks with athletic shoes. I used to tell my wife, just shoot me and put out of my misery if I ever do that.*
     And yet... here I was.
     It's not just the socks. It's the whole thing. Not showering in the morning. Putting on yesterday's clothing. Not combing my hair. Well, at least I did brushed my teeth.**
     I think what bothers me most is that I didn't care. I didn't care I'd be seen in public, and I didn't care I'd be interacting with other human beings. Human beings with eye sockets. Eye sockets that contain eyeballs. Eyeballs that can see. That can see me.
     When I was young and single, that would never have happened. Sometimes I'd even shower twice a day. Once in the morning, and one more time before I went out. Sometimes even after I got back from my night on the town, if, well... you know.
     When I was a teenager, after school I always used to take off my one good pair of jeans and wash them, just so that they could be clean for me to wear the next day.
     "Why are you washing just one pair of jeans?" my mother would yell.
     "One pair of jeans is all I have," I'd explain.
     "Why don't you wash something else with them?"
     "I don't need anything else."
     "Can't you wear them two days in a row?"
     Two days in a row? I was offended at the thought.
     "I can't wear them two days in a row," I'd whine, my voice going up an octave or two.
     "But you're wasting water!"
     She'd throw up her hands in exasperation, and that's when I knew I had won our battle of wills. I guess when you get older you lose the energy to argue with your idiot son.
     Nowadays, I don't mind wearing my jeans two days in a row. Or my shirts. The way I look at it is like this: If I haven't done any yardwork or stood next to anybody smoking, then my shirt should be realtively stink-free enough for me to squeeze another day's use out of.
     "Do you mind if I wear this shirt again?" I'll ask my wife. "It doesn't smell."
     "Go ahead," she'll tell me, which is neither a yes or a no. Personally, I think she gives me her rather ambivalent blessing because that means less laundry for her to do.
     She's getting old, too.

*I don't tell her that any more, because, to paraphrase Sophocles, nobody loves life more than those who are getting older.
**Hmm... I take that back, now that I think about it I just rinsed my mouth with the blue Listerine.

American Chimpanzee