Seven Silly Superstitions

(Arranged in order of rank.)

Superstition No. 1: Two things are certain in life, death and taxes.

Preposterous, I’ve never heard such a crazy thing. It is impossible to die while living your life, don’t you agree? So death can’t be a certain thing in life.

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Published in: on July 22, 2007 at 4:23 PM  Comments (7)  

Safety Testing

(How cars and airplanes are tested for safety.)

I’m sure you don’t know anything about how cars are tested for safety, so I shall enlighten you.

What’s that? You do? Tell me then, if you”re so smart.

Plastic dummies? Well, I agree about the dummy part, but not plastic. Maybe a bit rubbery around the kneecaps, though.

What else do you know?

Contained testing areas? What’s this stuff about contained testing areas? That’s crazy! Where did you hear that?

TV? TV who? Look, I don’t know this TV person, but he obviously doesn’t know anything about cars. Let me explain things so they’ll make more sense. (more…)

Published in: on July 16, 2007 at 11:05 AM  Comments (3)  

Rumpelstiltskin

(If you can pronounce the title, then I’m impressed!)

You’ve probably heard that crazy story about a dude called Rumpelstiltskin who helps a girl spin straw into gold. Well, as is so often the case, the common retelling is wrong. First of all, the king didn’t want his precious straw turned into useless gold. NO! The king wanted all the gold that was just lying about his castle to be turned into something useful: straw for his horses to eat.

One day, the king heard a man boasting about how his daughter could spin straw into gold.

“Well now,” the king said to himself, “if she can spin straw into gold, then she ought to be able to spin gold into straw!”

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Published in: on July 13, 2007 at 12:28 PM  Comments (4)  
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The Story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition

(Why we celebrate the 4th of July.)

Last week, I was talking to a couple of people about the Fourth of July celebrations. One of them, a young kid, asked why we celebrate July 4th. The other man said something about a signing of a Declaration of Independence (whatever that is) and our country’s freedom. Well, I stopped him right then and there and prevented the eight-year-old from getting confused for the rest of his life.

“What on earth are you talking about?” I asked.

The man looked at me in surprise and started to stammer something.

“Kid, don’t listen to a word he says,” I said. “Come over here with me and I’ll tell you the real reason we celebrate the fourth.” The kid came willingly. He knew he could trust me to get the story right, because I had also told him all about Robin Hood and Sir Launcelot.

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Published in: on July 11, 2007 at 9:44 AM  Comments (3)  

The Man Inside the Tin Can: Launcelot

(This is a biography.)

Now, I must admit that Howard Pyle got it pretty close when he wrote that Launcelot was raised by the Lady of the Lake. But he left out some important details, which are as follows: Launcelot was raised by the Lady of the Lakeside Resort, and many people did call her the Lady of the Lake. Pyle, however, decided to ignore the historical evidence and wrote a very unrealistic book. (I can assure you that I will never ever write a book that isn’t one hundred percent realistic.)

Anyway, I should now get down to fully explaining the life of Launcelot. In the early years of Arthur, when he was merely a big business tycoon, there was this lesser king called Ban who lived somewhere up north (probably in Canada). Ban had a son named Jack, and Jack loved to play with little toy knights. He would hold tournament after tournament after tournament with all his little friends.

One day, one of these friends said, “I don’t want to play jousting anymore.”

“Why not?” asked Jack. “Look, here’s how things work around here: I say we play something, AND WE PLAY IT. And I say we play jousting.”

“Look ‘Mr. Lance-A-Lot’, we’ve been playing jousting for the past two years straight. Why can’t we play something else?”

I think you’ll like Jack’s method of getting his way. He threatened to kick his friend out the window.

“I’d like to see you try,” the friend said.

So, Jack grabbed his friend, squashed him up into the general size and shape of a football, and drop-kicked him through the window. After that, Jack’s friends all gladly played jousting with him, and Jack christened himself Launcelot in honor of his lost friend’s nickname for him. (And he did lance a lot with his toy knights.)

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Published in: on July 8, 2007 at 8:06 PM  Comments (2)  

The True Story of Robin Hood

(This is not what you heard in kindergarten.)

If you were a environmentalist in medieval Nottinghamshire, then you would love the laws of Sherwood Forest. The trees were never cut down, no one ever went hunting or fishing, and few people ever walked under the thick foliage except for the foresters who helped wounded animals and kept the forest clean. Of course, if you voiced your love of the laws anywhere within a hundred miles of Sherwood, well, heh, heh, the peasants would probably tear you limb from limb and dump you in their stew invite you to dinner. The peasants hated the laws that forbade anyone from hunting in Sherwood almost as much as they hated obeying them, and that was quite a bit.

Many is the time some hungry farmer, unable to survive after paying the large amount of taxes demanded by the baron of Nottingham, would sneak into Sherwood and try to shoot a deer. They almost never succeeded (not realizing that the 30-06 hadn’t been invented yet), and would inevitably be found out by one of the foresters who would say: “Hey pal, I wonder if you would mind posing there with your nonexistent rifle while I snap a picture so I can prove you broke the law and get a reward.”

The farmer would graciously strike an elegant pose while the forester (who, by the way, was an early form of the mean type of conservation officer) fumbled with his lens cap. Then, when the forester finally realizes that his camera is digital, the farmer would vanish in a similar fashion as that of a ten-year-old boy who has hit his baseball through the old grouch’s window.

Still, later that day, a tall man in a black cloak and hood would come to the farmer’s door and say politely: “Ah, would you mind coming with me to this evening’s hanging? We’ve arranged for your limo, and your coffin is being carved even now. It won’t cost you a thing!”

The farmer, never one to pass up anything that was free, even if it was his own execution, would hop into the limo and ask the driver to take the shortest route to the gallows (probably suspecting that he would have to pay for the gas).

Finally, as the farmer was led up to the hanging platform, he would lean over to the executioner and ask: “I won’t have to make a speech, will I?” Public speaking was the number one fear even in those days.

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Published in: on July 7, 2007 at 10:05 AM  Comments (8)  
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