Displaying articles for: January 2014

Minutes from the Meeting of the Avian Advancement League


Canary sings opening anthem. Members take their branches.




Reports of Window killings continue to mount.   Blue Jay tells harrowing tale of being tricked into bashing into a Window that was cleverly posing as another angry Blue Jay. Tells story four times before Starling ushers him out of the meeting.


Cats remain public enemy #1, followed by HumansDogs, Windows and Ceiling Fans.




Owl asks "Whoooo has new business.” No one even smiles. Of course, no one is able to smile even if they wanted to. Mockingbird does manage to mock. Owl's feathers are ruffled.  


Concerns are raised that Birds are losing ground to Sharks as most frightening creatures on the planet. Canadian Geese point out that they brought down one of the Human's “metal birds” as recently as 2009. American Bald Eagle comments that the metal bird crash was due more to the Canadian's dopey trusting nature than any well-planned assault. Geese insist there is nothing dopey about them, pointing out that it was Geese who invented the "V" formation that reduces flying drag by up to 65%. Eagles accuse Geese of planting 65% "V" formation statistic on Wikipedia. Argument ensues.


Cardinal mentions she overheard Bears bragging that their recent spate of maulings stole the Nielson Ratings fire from all the other animals and that it was the most brilliant Bear PR move since their movie, Grizzly Man.  Thrush says Grizzly Man shouldn't count because Timothy Treadwell was a bona fide loon. Loons are offended. Argument ensues.


African Grey Parrot points out that Hippos, Crocodiles, Snakes, Bugs, Cows, Horses, Dogs, Ants, Bees and even Jellyfish kill more people each year than Birds, and that considering ourselves "killing machines" is irrational at best. Everyone stares at Parrot, and, realizing she's made her point in English, she repeats her observation in Birdish. In response, Crow throws a Blu-Ray copy of Hitchcock's The Birds at African Grey. A fight erupts. Finally, Owl demands Woodpecker do that insane head-jackhammer thing into the podium twenty times and regains order.


Emu suggests putting a Cassowary in charge of a new "Most Dangerous Birds" subcommittee, but in the end, all present are too terrified to find Cassowary and ask.


Falcon offers to rip a Human's eyes out sometime in the coming week.  A vote is taken and the Ayes have it. 


Everyone notices that both the snacks and the Sea Gulls have gone missing.


Red-Footed Boobie offers an idea, but the more immature members laugh so hard after his introduction that his remarks go unrecorded.


In the middle of scheduling our next meeting, Magpie imitates a dog barking and everyone scatters.  A vote is taken, and Magpie is ousted from the League with a 125 to 3 vote, the three Nays being Parrots, who argued the prank was all in good fun. Everyone goes back to the meeting area, except the Chickens who refuse to return.


Vulture asks for it to be noted that we're all going to die.


Penguin finally shows up just as meeting ends, citing lack of flight as his excuse. Again.


Swans sing closing anthem.


Meeting adjourned.


Amy Vansant (@kidfreeliving) is the author of the KidFreeLiving.com humor magazine, freelance writer, author and shameless crispy chicken skin aficionado.


Let's Keep the "The" in These


We’re sometimes reminded to "Keep the X in Y" -- Christ in Christmas... memories in Memorial Day... Hal in Halloween, etc. An admirable goal, to be sure—remembering the true meaning of longtime observances—but one that need not be limited to these few special occasions. Indeed, every day is an opportunity to celebrate something, and then to keep that something in the celebration, though if you have an unruly kid, you might want to leave the "brat" out of the "celebration."


Sunday. We should all strive to keep the Sun in Sunday. After all, if the Sun weren’t important, we wouldn’t have named a day for it. Also, if it weren’t for the Sun, we wouldn’t be here to be naming days. Our sun—the Sun—is an almost perfectly spherical star made of hot plasma at the center of our solar system, approximately 150 million kilometers from Earth. BUT that doesn’t mean it can’t be in your heart. Not literally, of course, since the Sun has a diameter of about 1,392,684 km and is so hot that it would atomize you instantly if you even tried to just wrap your arms around it to give it a hug. But, still, even if you can’t keep the Sun in your chest cavity, you can keep it in your Sunday, every Sunday.


Monday. Monday is the day to keep Mo in, of course. Which Mo is up to you. "Mo" or "MO" might refer -- according to your preference -- to any of the following:

  • Altria Group, formerly Philip Morris (with the New York Stock Exchange symbol “MO”)
  • Microsoft Office
  • Missouri (according to the United States Postal Service)
  • Modern Orthodox Judaism
  • Moscow Oblast

...and many others. And we’re building some "Mo"mentum now!


Tuesday. Although it’s the third day of the week—since they keep telling us that the week begins on Sunday—this is the day to keep 2 in. The simplest way to keep 2 in Tuesday is by doing everything twice. In the morning, when you get out of bed to greet the day, get back in bed, get out again, take two showers, brush your teeth twice, and have two cups of coffee. Take twice the vitamins you do on other days. Drive to work, then drive home, then drive back to work. (Do the same, in reverse, at the end of the day.) Eat two lunches. Wash your hands twice before leaving the restroom. Then perform your functions again, and then wash your hands again. And again. Each time you wash your hands, use two paper towels, or turn on the electric air dryer twice, even though once is usually too long. Now read this paragraph again.


Wednesday. This is another day that offers a choice: Either keep the "wed" in Wednesday by getting married, or honor the "nes" by playing with your classic Nintendo Entertainment System. Whichever you choose, consider calling on your friend Ed—to be in the bridal party or to be your Player Two—and in that way put an overlapping extra "we" and extra "ed" in Wednesday as well.


Thursday. On Thursdays, watch Ben Hur. No matter how many times you see the award-winning film, there will always be something new to discover and enjoy. Did you know that there are scenes in which extras are wearing wristwatches... even though the movie takes place in AD 26? If you happen to lose track of time and watch Ben Hur on a Tuesday, watch it twice.


Friday. According to some ailing and institutionalized historians, Friday was originally "Fryday," referring to the preferred method of preparing fish, traditionally eaten by those who abstained from eating meat on the sixth day of the week. Here is a simple recipe for fried fish:


Heat a heavy pan over medium high heat. Season one large or two small fish fillets with salt and pepper. Lightly dredge fish in flour, shaking off any excess. When the pan is hot, add 2 tablespoons of canola oil (4 tablespoons if Tuesday), followed immediately by one tablespoon of butter. As soon as foaming subsides, place the fish in the pan. Cook until a golden crust forms on the fish. Flip and do the same. Cook until the fish skin turns golden brown, then remove to a warm plate. Make a sauce of another tablespoon of melted butter, the juice of one lemon, and one tablespoon of drained capers.


Saturday. Keep the turd in Saturday. But privately, please.



Matthew David Brozik religiously keeps the dot in matthewdavidbrozik.com.




"In recent years, some of Dr. Goldberg's patients have made unusual requests... [including] his accompaniment to a stressful M.R.I. where Dr. Goldberg held the patient’s toe to supply comfort.... [In his new concierge medical practice, patients] will pay $25,000 a year for unfettered access to [Dr. Goldberg and his partner]. Patients will be able to call and see and text the doctors whenever they want; they will be able to receive home visits, though those will cost extra (and so will lab work).... [The practice] will also offer dermatological fillers — come for the stress test, stay for the collagen."-- The New York Times


Welcome to PersMed, your personal doctor-on-call (also spelled PurseMed). While your $25,000 annual fee covers standard office visits, e-mail access, and our patent-pending Colonoscopy Anywhere (TM) service, to optimize your medical experience there are a number of add-on options we offer only to those patients who truly believe no price can be put on the gift of life.

CUSTOMIZED WAITING ROOM.  Why should you have to listen to elevator music and read six-month-old magazines?  For a small charge, we'll hook our office speakers into your iPod whenever you visit -- and our staff will supply a selection of books and periodicals from a wish list you provide.  Jan in Reception will also be available for Scrabble -- though we should warn you, she's quite good.  We'll also stock your favorite snacks, though there will be an extra charge if they're not healthy choices.


PERSONAL REMINDERS. Often forgetting to take your pills? Of course you are -- you have far more critical things to remember. For a nominal fee, we'll call to remind you, up to twelve times a day, in whatever language you choose. Wolof, Welsh, and Wakhi $50 additional.  Or, we'll get the celebrity of your choice to call you instead -- also in whatever language you desire. (Cate Blanchett speaks excellent Romblomanon.)  We can also call your family members to update them about your condition -- or, if you'd prefer, we can pass along whatever medical information, fact or fiction, you'd like us to share. Hoping your children might be nicer if they thought their inheritance was getting close? We're happy to help.

COZY-MRI. Cold, sterile examination tables and imaging equipment are for the average patient, but you deserve better.  We've lined all of our M.R.I. machines with top-of-the-line cashmere (from organic-fed Mongolian goats) -- and, for a low price, after your scan, we'll give you a matching sweater to take home.  A scarf, too, if it's cold.  We can also infuse soothing scents from your childhood into the machine. Choices: baby powder, movie popcorn, pickled herring.

TRY-BEFORE-YOU-BUY PHARMACY SERVICE.  Who has time to experiment with different pills to see which works best for every little health problem?  We'll send you an assortment each month to try at your leisure -- keep the ones that make you feel better, and send the others back.  Worried about side effects?  We have other pills to take care of those, and we'll send you those too.  Always aiming to be a trend-setter?  We'll send you samples of the latest FDA-approved (and disapproved!) drugs, even before they hit the market, so you can be the first of your friends to check them out.

KNEE REPLACEMENTS. Why wait to get new parts until you need them? The truly privileged can afford to optimize their bodies. We offer knee, hip, and other joint replacement procedures years before your original parts reach the point of no return, saving you decades of discomfort, pain, and ridicule by your more limber peers -- not that you have any true peers, of course.  Plus, with the powerful plant-based narcotic we import from an island we can’t tell you about for legal reasons, you won't feel the pain of surgery or just about anything else.

CRYOGENIC PRESERVATION. It hasn't yet been proven to work, but that doesn't mean you don't deserve a chance at immortality. Future generations can benefit from the wisdom someone like you can provide -- and in return for the deed to your Fifth Avenue townhouse, we'll take it upon ourselves to do whatever we can to stave off permanent death. We also work with image consultants who can help you choose the outfit you'd like to wear to the future. Plus, in return for the transfer to us of all of your remaining frequent flier miles, we'll also preserve up to three of your favorite pets. (No birds.)

YOUR VERY OWN MEDICAL LICENSE. Even with the many custom services we provide, why should you need a doctor to tell you what's wrong, prescribe medication, or perform painful and invasive procedures? You've earned the right to take care of your problems yourself. And for a small honorarium, we'll issue you your very own medical license, so you're not beholden to anyone. Let others fill out forms, wait for appointments, and deal with the whims of other humans. You deserve better. (For entertainment purposes only; Not available in most states.)

Operators are standing by. Or we can come right to you. Are you hungry?  Can we bring you lunch?

Jeremy Blachman makes the most of his time in doctor's waiting rooms by writing humor pieces. Read more at jeremyblachman.com.


Bound to Be Broken


Keep bank deposit/withdrawal slips, leave cuticles alone, don't go to Crumbs anymore, brush dog's teeth, irony withdrawal, stay in time zone, stay off CNN, don't make stupid jokes such as a goose with sex-change surgery is transgander, don't make jokes at all except for old man at a bar trying to pick up a girl with opening line "Hey, sweetheart, do I come here often?," stay to the right on sidewalks, finally look up "mansard roof," do some selfless things and don't add "for other people" to this series item, think less about whether doing selfless things is even possible because, if you think about it, without a self you couldn't really do much of anything, find joy in the little things, like the Higgs boson, do not tell the "moogli" joke ever again and if you do, for God's sake don't preface it with "This is the funniest joke I ever heard; I had to leave a party because I was laughing so hard, and I almost threw up on the sidewalk," don't tell the joke about the two merchants who meet on the road between Minsk and Pinsk, be nice, don't tell the joke about how many WASPs does it take to change a light bulb (but give in while making this list: "One"), don't tell the joke about the redneck, the Jewish guy, and the black man walking down the street and a genie gives the black man one wish and he says "I wish to go and live in Africa" and poof, he's gone, and the genie gives the Jewish guy one wish and he says "I wish to go and live in our homeland, Israel," and poof, he's gone, and the genie gives the redneck one wish and the redneck looks around and says, "an A&W root beer," try not to laugh when the the guy on the other end of the robocall says, with his Mumbai accent, "Hi, Robert, this is Scott calling," dispose of Christmas tree before 2/1, hold out against air-kissing, be patient with the old lady in front of you in the checkout line who out of loneliness engages the checkout person in long conversation while fishing in her purse for five minutes for the penny that would keep her from getting four pennies in change, refuse to say "artisanal," "iconic," and "selfie," remember that slide shows are for family and not even them,  do not fist-bump if you are over 30,   and when it comes time for Christmas tips next year, remember, as you've just learned, that one of the doormen in your building, if you're lucky enough to have a building, to say nothing of a doorman, has five children, works from 8 to 5 in your building, and then cleans offices downtown for four more hours before going home.


Daniel Menaker is the Editor of Grin & Tonic. His memoir, My Mistake, was recently published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.


July 24: On this day in 1725 John Newton, the slave trader-preacher who wrote the hymn "Amazing Grace," was born.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.


When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).