Saturday, November 27, 2004


By Theolonius McTavish, a ripsnorting reporter of ribaldry and casual connoisseur of flap-dragon*

Every year the Ho-Ho-Ho-ing chap in the red tunic with the white whiskers gets inundated with some pretty balmy questions.

So this year, I asked him if he wouldn't mind responding to twenty-five odd, obscure, and some might even say downright obtuse queries. Needless to say, he was delighted to have a chortling chinwag with me by satellite phone from his nippy ice-fishing hut at the North Pole.

Readers who understand the value of milk and milk products plus high fibre diets also know we all pay a price for being part of the animal kingdom, perhaps more so during the holiday season. So, what's this got to do with the price of tea in China? Well, allowance should probably be made for those with vagrant airs not to mention a healthy tongue-in-cheek attitude to Life, an uncertain Universe, and Everything absurd in between.

WARNING: For readers unable to make adjustments that are dietary, linguistic, psychological and cultural in nature, please avoid reading the following shameless sliders, big whoppers, and unmitigated, unmuffled freeps -- more than likely emanating from a jolly, red-necked, foot-in-the-mouth fellow (probably wearing a plaid shirt, red long-johns, and a pair of bright yellow suspenders).

1. What does Santa do at a house with no chimney?

Hmmm…better ask the frazzled folks in Notrees (Texas), Mushaboom (Nova Scotia), and Hookey's Waterhole (Australia) -- they still believe Santa Claus will find them if they use smoke signals from blazing barbecues, outdoor cooking stoves, and campfires.

2. Does Santa worry about his fat intake over Christmas like everyone else?

The short answer is no…everyone at the North Pole thrives on carrots and brussel sprouts, 57 blubber recipes, plus a weekly serving of fish and chips, supplemented by Girl Guide Cookies or Hostess Twinkie treats -- a perfectly balanced diet for pleasingly plump parents and a lean pack of elves with attitude.

3. How does Santa get down the chimney when the fire is going?

We’re back to those blessed chimneys are we?!*… Santa wears a fire-retardant suit silly!

4. How does Santa’s huge body fit through those itsy-bitsy chimneys?

What's with the f***** chimneys again? Okay if you really must know, Santa presses his "Mighty Magic Midget Button" on his red tunic faster than you can shake a stick or something.

5. What exactly are ‘reindeer games’ anyway?

Are you over 18, in good health, and seeking a pleasurable companion for a night out?

6. Why does Santa visit people only once a year?

There’s a clause in Fairy Godmothers' Union contract stipulating that in the event of a decision by Santa to visit more frequently, there will be hell to pay from a whole host of hissy-fitters not to mention a hopping mad Easter Bunny.

7. Who brings Santa his Christmas gifts?

The Man From Glad naturally -- 'cause his PVC-bag full of goodies won't break!

8. Does Santa get paid?

By that do you mean in the spiritual sense (you know warm and fuzzies), or in a pragmatic sense ($6.50 per hour less deductions for union dues, pensions, disability insurance, health and dental care benefits, taxes and voluntary charitable donations)?

9. What kind of car does Santa drive during the off-season?

Actually, Santa enjoys the perks of a chauffeur-driven, gas-guzzling, air-conditioned stretch limo with plush leather interiors and an automatic sliding sunroof, plus a full bar service, satellite-TV, a DVD player with surround-sound, not to mention tinted shatterproof glass and kid-proof door-locks. On occasion he has been known to drive a Harley-Davidson (without a helmet) in order to save the environment but more importantly, he just gets a kick out of feeling the wind blow through his long, curly locks of silver hair, bushy eyebrows, not to mention his handle-bar, white moustache and matching trimmed whiskers.

10. Why is Rudolph’s nose so red?

Perhaps he had a run-in with the Frost-Bite Fairy, who knows. Besides, Santa doesn't tattletale on anyone, not even reindeers. ...By the way, why are you more interested in the complexion of a hoofer rather than shooting the breeze with me, if I may be so bold as to ask?

11. Why do we wrap Christmas presents so beautifully only to have others rip off the paper?

Watch a blue movie or two, then you’ll probably figure out the answer all by yourself!

12. If Santa has a weight problem, why do we leave him milk and cookies? Shouldn’t we leave him a salad and water?

Look, there’s nothing wrong with having lots of love handles. Besides, I think you’re getting me mixed up with an alternative-lifestyle Easter Bunny who’d be only to pleased to smoke your weeds and walk on water, if it would make you and your friends happy.

13. How come all the standard Christmas songs you hear on the radio are sung by dead people?

Whoa, they haven’t all croaked yet. According to "Santa’s Good Time News Service", Elvis was spotted just last week crooning, “Blue Christmas” at a rock'n'rolling retirement community in Bootlegger Crossing, Arizona!

14. Isn’t it a worry that Santa is an anagram of Satan?

At least Santa and Satan know what’s “red” hot and what’s not. God probably has more to worry about in the anagram department than Santa or Satan. After all, he dislikes being called “man's best friend” and getting blamed for piddling on a fire-hydrant not to mention someone's parade.

15. If a wise woman had come to the Nativity, she would have brought diapers, wouldn’t she?

If I'm not mistaken there were several signs hanging on the front door of the Inn: "No Vacancy", "No Admission Under Any Circumstances", and one in even bigger, bolder letters -- “Wise Woman Not Welcome – Go Away!”... and your point was?

16. If it’s true that Santa is magical then why does Christmas Eve take so long?

Santa didn’t invent grandfather clocks, glow-in-the-dark watches, or other bleeping gadgets and gizmos. If you want to complain, I suggest you contact the old coot in charge, “Father Time”.

17. Where does Santa hide his claws?

Just because he wears a red and white outfit doesn’t make him an “Abominable Person of Snow”. Besides, Santa doesn't need to scratch anyone’s back for a handout.

18. Why are Christmas colors red and green when Santa’s suit is red and white?

It all started with a few disgruntled Tarot card readers complaining about not being included in the Christmas story. So, the United Nations stepped in to stop all the whining and snivelling which was getting out of hand, (especially a campaign launched by the Society of Plus-Sized People who wanted to replace Santa Claus with the Jolly Green Giant as the symbol of rampant consumer spending, healthy lifestyle choices, and more free giveaways). Anyway, to make a long story short, a referendum was held and people the world over voted in favor of retaining Santa Claus, (dressed in his well-worn red and white suit), as star of the annual "Festival of Negative-Savers". As a consolation prize, the World Trade Organization declared that "red and green will be the official designated colours of all wrapping paper, ribbons, and note cards accompanying charitable spam and jam food hampers destined for the Tooth Fairy, the Great Pumpkin, and the Easter Bunny", (who are usually overlooked at this time of year).

19. Do you think Santa Claus believes in himself?

Of course he does! It’s only celebrity psycholigists who suggest that a jolly, bearded gentleman with a red-nosed reindeer in tow should "get a life". There's an old adage that says, "Behind every wet blanket lies an incontinent universe". So take my advice, get off those high-and-mighty hobbyhorses and ride a reindeer for a day. Better yet, take a break. Try watching the deer and the antelope play on the back forty..."where seldom is heard, a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day." It's way more rewarding than watching soppy soap operas or a fancy fella dispensing dross to dysfunctional divas, disadvantaged doorknobs, desolate dorks, delusional duffers not to mention one too many detached dingbats.

20. What do parents living in warm climates tell their children about Santa Claus? After all there’s no snow in most places and it’s far too warm to be wearing that red suit.

Santa is a very resourceful, fit and adaptable guy with loads of charisma, not to mention tons of glad tidings and good cheer which is often in short supply around the Christmas dinnertable. As a matter of fact, he wears a chartreuse thong or a scarlet pair of bikini briefs underneath his red tunic -- just in case he needs to slip into something more comfortable during his visit to Hellhole Palms (California), Boneyard (Arizona) and Weeki Wachee (Florida).

21. How come there isn’t a “Trading Spaces” TV show for Christmas yard decorations?

It’s not enough the world's falling apart because golfers and gadflies don't know how to swing a hammer and nail for Pete's sake! Now you want to bring out the really weird folk who think decorating their lawns with something other than gnomes, angels and fairies would be sinful?

22. Are Santa’s Elves the same elves that are the Keebler Elves? After making toys, do they moonlight by baking cookies and crackers?

Our delightful, double-duty, efficient elves are far more productive and happier than the ‘one-size-fits-all’ sort of wee folk who work in many sweaty sylph shops around the globe. Our toy-shop offers a safe and friendly working environment, free milk and cookies during every 15- minute break, an opportunity to create whistle while you work songs, and an all-expense paid three-week vacation in Fannie, Arkansas not to mention a very popular and hugely successful government-subsidized retraining program for trolls.

23. Why does the Christmas season always come when the stores are at their busiest?

In the Land of Cowabunga, cowboys and cash-cow milkers, never ask why brown cows don't fly there. (Trust me, they've never heard of a kahlua coffee liqueur with a dollop of whipped cream with chocolate sprinkles on top, and a Maraschino Cherry).

24. Should we mail our packages early so the Post Office can lose them in time for next Christmas?

Ah yes, the Post Office, everyone’s favorite pastime -- flogging dead horses. Take my advice, stop your faultfinding ways and use your positive energy flow to find a Flying Nun willing to take those parcels off your hands in return for all your Airmile points.

25. On artificial Christmas trees, why do they always make the center trunk green? Wouldn’t it be more realistic if it were painted brown?

What do you expect from fake things, perfection? If you’re not doing anything useful besides asking questions that require answers few have time to ponder, come and join our Toy-Shop Team at the North Pole. We have no trees, we have no bananas, and we just love elves who can hum along, otherwise this year there'll be no presents under the tree (be they fake or real).

Oh and if by chance you should get stuck beside a "Bah Humbug" type at Christmas dinner, remind the foul miscreant that miracles do happen. Thankfully, at midnight some turn into whoopee cushions to amuse family or friends. Fortunately, others find redemption, (if only for a day), by riding the winds of change which usually means donning a red jump suit, handing out equal-opportunity goodies to those who've been naughty and nice, and last but not least -- remembering to say, "Ho Ho Ho ...and to all a good night!"


*flap-dragon: a pastime in which participants catch raisins out of burning brandy and, extinguishing them by closing the mouth, eat them; from dragon, supposed to breath fire.

For a gadzillion more things to cogitate, consider, contemplate, deliberate, ponder, ruminate, speculate and do some deep-thinking about... let your fingers do the walking over to a curious website where you can find all manner of questions with no answers --

Thursday, November 25, 2004


Or, where did you say you live?

It is said that England has more than a few rather quaint placenames such as Bodmin, Grimbister, Ipswich, Nobottle, No Man's Land, Pie Corner, Pratt's Bottom, Scrabster and Twatt but, they pale in comparison to the plethora of picturesque places in the "New World".

For those with precious little to do, why not take a wee peek at a few of the curious and entertaining placenames found in the United States of America.

This state of affairs naturally begs several questions.
  1. Just who might be eager to visit these out-of-the-way, off-the-beaten track, and some might even say, downright peculiar places like Nothing, Arizona or Floyds Knobs, Indiana?
  2. What do real estate agents say and do to attract new property owners to King of Prussia, Valentine or Santa Clause?
  3. Who lives in Nags Head or Lynchburg?
  4. Why would anyone name a place "Punxsutawney" unless of course, one had nothing better to do on "National Groundhog Appreciation Day"?
  5. Where is Frostproof, Funkstown, Pottawattamie, Romeoville and Willacoochee anyway?

So grab an atlas or a map and whatever you do, drop by and say hello to the folks in:

  • Chicken, Deadhorse or Eek (Alaska)
  • Burnt Corn, Intercourse, Muck City, Rooster, Scratch Ankle (Alabama)
  • Bagdad, Boneyard, Floss, Goobertown, Nothing, Why (Arizona)
  • Fannie, Greasy Corner, Grubbs, Hooker, Okay, Possum Grape, Smackover, Toad Suck, Turkey Scratch, Weiner, Yellville (Arkansas)
  • Blunt, Bummerville, Deadwood, Doghouse Junction, Frying Pan, Hellhole Palms, Hells Kitchen, Hooker, Last Chance, Lovelock, Mormon Bar, Needles, Ono, Prunedale, Rescue, Relief, Scarface, Squabbletown, Sucker Flat, Timbuctoo, Toad Town, Volcano, Weedpatch, Wimp, You Bet, Yreka Zzyzx (California)
  • Climax, Last Chance, No Name, Parachute, Purgatory (Colorado)
  • Giants Neck, Hazardville, Mianus, Moosup (Connecticut)
  • Blue Ball, Cocked Hat, Little Heaven (Delaware)
  • Christmas, Frostproof, Howey-in-the-Hills, Kissimmee, Niceville, Okahumpka, Panacea, Sopchoppy, Two Egg, Weeki Wachee, Weewahitchka, Yeehaw Junction, Yellow Water (Florida)
  • Between, Chickasawhatchee, Climax, Clinch, Cloud Land, Enigma, Hopeulikit, Lumpkin, Talking Rock, Thunderbolt, Willacoochee (Georgia)
  • Honaunau-Napoopoo, Kaaawa, Laupahoehoe, Pepeekeo, Poipu (Hawaii)
  • Good Grief, Beer Bottle Crossing, Notus, Owyhee (Idaho)
  • Bald Knob, Devil's Backbone, Grand Detour, Kickapoo, Ogle, Paw Paw, Roachtown, Romeoville (Illinois)
  • French Lick, Gnaw Bone, Loogootee, Naked City, Pottawattamie, Roachdale, Toad Hop, Zero (Indiana)
  • Appanoose, Diagonal, Gravity, What Cheer (Iowa)
  • Perdition, Ransom (Kansas)
  • Beaver Lick, Bugtussle, Chicken Gizzard, Crummies, Do Stop, Dwarf, Flat Lick, Monkeys Elbow, Mousie, Mud Lick, Oddville, Ogle, Spring Lick, Rabbit Hash, Typo, Viper (Kentucky)
  • Belcher, Cut-Off, Fort Necessity, Grosse Tete, Mudville, Tickfaw, Waterproof (Louisana)
  • Bald Head, Dickey, Beans Corner Bingo (Maine)
  • Accident, Assawoman Bay, Boonsboro, Boring, Crapo, Cockeysville, Funkstown, Mattawoman (Maryland)
  • Assinippi, Belchertown, Cow Yard, Mashpee, Sandwich, Swampscott (Massachusetts)
  • Bad Axe, Climax, Hell, Jugville, Kalamazoo, Owosso, Paw Paw, Pinkney, Podunk, Slapneck (Michigan)
  • Climax, Embarass, Fertile, Koochiching, Nimrod, Nowthen, Savage, Sleepy Eye (Minnesota)
  • Bobo, Buckatunna, Chunky, Dragon, Pilot Knob, Possumneck, Quitman, Sanatorium, Soso, Yalobusha, Yazoo (Mississippi)
  • Conception, Cooter, Enough, Frankenstein, Licking, Peculiar, Roach, Sleeper, Tightwad (Missouri)
  • Bitter Root, Elmo, Flat Head, Hungry Horse, Rocky Boy, Square Butt, Two-Dot, Yaak, Zero (Montana)
  • Colon, Fort Crook, Hooker, Wahoo, Weeping Water, Worms (Nebraska)
  • Bunkerville, Incline Village, Lovelock, Owyhee, Pahrump, Searchlight, Verdi-Mogul, Weed Heights, Winnemucca (Nevada)
  • Bungy, Contoocook, Hell Hollow, Little Boar's Head, Lost Nation, Sandwich Landing (New Hampshire)
  • Bivalve, Brick, Ho-Ho Kus, Little Egg Harbor, Love Ladies, Nutley, Succasuna (New Jersey)
  • Elephant Butte, Loving, Tingle, Truth or Consequences (New Mexico)
  • Climax, Coxsackie, Hicksville, Horseheads, Peekskill, Neversink, Yaphank Yonkers (New York)
  • Climax, Gum Neck, Horneytown, Lizard Lick, Locust, Meat Camp, Nags Head, Scotland Neck, Tick Bite, Toast, Whynot, Zebulon (North Carolina)
  • Concrete, Hoople, Voltaire, Zap (North Dakota)
  • Blue Ball, Climax, Dry Run, Flushing, Knockemstiff, Licking, Lynchburg, Three Legs Town (Ohio)
  • Bowlegs, Canute, Frogville, Hooker, Nowata, Okay, Okfuskee, Pink, Pumpkin Center, Slapout, Slaughterville, Wetumka (Oklahoma)
  • Boring, Clackamass, Drain, Halfcom, Idiotville, Owyhee, Scappoose, Umatilla, Zig Zag (Oregon)
  • Balltown, Bird-in-Hand, Blue Ball, Climax, Drab, Experiment, Fear Not, Gobbler's Knob, Hecktown, Hempfield, Intercourse, Lackawanna, Leechburg, Loyalsockville, Panic, Porkey, Punxsutawney, Scalp Level, Uno, Virginville (Pennsylvania)
  • Mooseup Valley, Pawtucket, Quidnick, Quidnessett, Quonochontaug, Woonsocket (Rhode Island)
  • Coward, Cowpens, Due West, Folly Beach, Lugoff, Ninetimes, Sugar Tit (South Carolina)
  • Bath, Deadwood, Igloo, Lemmon, Peever, Red Shirt (South Dakota)
  • Bugscuffle, Bucksnort, Bulls Gap, Defeated, Difficult, Duck Town, Finger, Lynchburg, Nameless, Only, Smartt, Soddy Daisy, Sweet Lips, Static, Yum Yum (Tennessee)
  • Cut-n-Shoot, Dime Box, Ding Dong, Frognot, Glasscock, Gun Barrel City, Hoop and Holler, Humble, Leaky, Loco, Looneyville, Muleshoe, Notrees, Pointblank, Possum Kingdom, Run and Shoot, Swisher, Tarzan, Trophy Club, Turkey, Twitty, Uncertain, Valentine, Wink (Texas)
  • Bald Knob, Honeyville, Hurricane, Lovelock, Orderville, Plain City (Utah)
  • Bread Loaf, Mosquitoville, Notown, Satans Kingdom, Shaftsbury, Winooski (Vermont)
  • Bland, Bumpass, Croaker, Dooms, Disputanta, Frogtown, Goochland, Goosepimple Junction, Hurt, Mutt, Nuttsville, Ordinary, Pratt, Rescue, Temperanceville, Tookland (Virginia)
  • Enumclaw, Humptulips, Klickitat, Kooskooskie, La Push, Puyallup, Tukwila, Tumtum, Tumwater, Walla Walla, Wishram, Zilla (Washington)
  • Big Ugly, Crum, HooHoo, Looneyville, Lost City, Nitro, Odd, Paw, Pinch, War (West Virginia)
  • Bloomer, Dickeyville, Door, Embarrass, Footville, Imalone, Oshkosh, Outagamie, Pewaukee, Pittsville, Spooner, Spread Eagle, Ubet, Wanderoos (Wisconsin)
  • Bill, Camel Hump, Crook, Eden, Meeteetse, Muddy Gap, Ten Sleep (Wyoming)


And, if you want to find these places on a map, go to:

For a complete list of placenames go to:

Several interesting books come to mind, you might want to check out:

-- The Deeper Meaning of Liff - A Dictionary of Things That There Aren't Any Words For Yet, by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd, (a treasure chest of odd placenames from the "Old" and "New" worlds).

-- Dictionary of Canadian Placenames, by Alan Rayburn, (the only national dictionary of Canadian placenames -- 5,075 entries plus 1,150 associate names).

-- A Place Called Peculiar: Stories About Unusual American Placenames, by Frank Gallant (more than 40 storeis of oddly named towns from Turth or Consequence, N.M., to Bivalve, N.J.).

-- All Over the Map Again, by David Jouris (33 unusual black-and-white thematic maps of continental US with towns grouped by topics rather than geographic location, e.g. an animal map; a sporting map; a mineral map etc., and selected stories on how various towns were named).

Wednesday, November 17, 2004


Or, how to celebrate the wonders of water-closets

By Theolonius McTavish, a regular visitor to throne rooms of renown and off-the-beaten track places of ease

November 19th is a very auspicious occasion. It's none other than "International Tinkle Pantry Day".

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the little known term "tinkle pantry", it is the focal point and modest appliance found in most "water closets", "places of ease" or "comfort stations".

North Americans probably know the tinkle pantry by way of more familiar terms such as "throne room", "powder room" or just plain "restroom".

Few realize that the average person visits the toilet 2,500 times per year, or 6-8 times per day, which all adds up to about 3 years of one's life. Considering the fact that this humble private and sometimes public privy is the most frequently visited room in any home or workplace, precious little has been done to recognize it's vital role in society.

If truth be told, the tinkle pantry is a subject most avoid so as not to be considered a scruffy scatalogical storyteller. Considered a taboo dinner table topic, it is shunned by everyone except toddlers and parents who rejoice at the first step into adulthood by passing "Toilet Training 101" with flying colours.

It is rare indeed to see a politician of any stripe spend much time waxing on about the virtues of toilets. Precious few communities or even corporations consider celebrating with parades, marching bands, or even an official holiday, the invention of the toilet (made possible several thousand years ago by Chinese craftsmen and modernized by a British plumber named T.J. Crapper in the late 19th century). And, it wasn't until 1935 that "New World" tinkle pantry goers would be able to enjoy what most of us take for granted today, "splinter-free" toilet-paper.

But, times have changed. Four years ago, the World Toilet Organization, (comprised of 17 toilet associations, although the US, one of the most fastidious and hygiene conscious countries in the world has not signed on yet), decided to recognize and honor the 'great equalizer of humanity' with it's own day of remembrance - November 19th -- "World Toilet Day".

This year, November 17-19, in Beijing, China decision-makers not to mention movers and shakers from around the globe will be gathering to discuss "hot" topics in the world of tinkle pantries. This year's "World Toilet Summit" conference will include among other presentations:

-- The Toilet - A Tool of Social Change
-- The Horizontal Society
-- Toilets as Tourism Attraction
-- Start-Up of a Toilet Association
-- Generating Revenue Through Advertisements in Good Toilets
-- How the Loo of the Year Awards Translates Good Toilets as Marketing Tools for their Owners
-- Dry Toilets, Natural Toilets, Mobile Toilets, and Humanized Toilets
-- The Interior Design of a Toilet Caters to the Diversity of a Culture
-- The Provision & Availability of Toilets in Establishing the Code of Practice for Toilets
-- Is the Provision of Good Toilets Critical in Hosting World Events?

So, if you're looking for something to do on November 19th...why not whip out your favorite plonger, pay a trip to your favorite plumbing and hardware store, or maybe check out one of those six, safe, spanking new, high-tech personal yet public privies -- at a cost of $600,000 each for a German-designed and manufactured stainless steel cannister, single accommodation only -- installed for your comfort and convenience in heart of "sleepless in Seattle", Washington-- where else!


By the way, if you're looking for more information about the World Toilet Summit (, you might want to check out the the 41,900 website pages devoted to the topic, not to mention the 3,120 website pages highlighting "Toilet Day".

You might also want to a wee peek at the first map in the world featuring the location and description of more than 14,000 public and private toilet facilities to be found in Australia (as part of its $15 million continence strategy)

And, not to be forgotten -- Canada's own Water & Wastewater Association knows all about "International Water Celebrations" by paying tribute to the tinkle pantry

Of course there's one place that never misses an opportunity to party! It seems that this year, the "Cactus Club Cafe in Calgary" has been lauded for its luscious loos by taking top spot in "Alberta's Best Bathroom" contest (sponsored by the Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating). This "place of ease" -- replete with LCD screens featuring movie trailers, do-not-disturb signs on stall doors, soft lighting, mood music, and handmade Italian mosaic tiles -- is nothing short of a water-closet wonderland. As if this wasn't enough, these sophisticated sit-upons also come with automatic seat covers and foot-controlled flushers to make this an unforgettable hands-free, organically-friendly, go-with-the-"low-flow" experience.

Monday, November 08, 2004


Or, more about life in the nether world from Our Man in Hades

By Theolonius McTavish, a roving reporter and travel consultant covering out-of-the-way spots and unusual destinations

Who says things never change in Hades?

To remain competitive with "high-performance" earth-bound products and "excellent" customer service ratings in Paradise, the underworld Inferno (affectionately known as "the abyss"), has spruced things up a bit to satisfy the growing demands of well-heeled travellers.

A review of HOT press releases, (those emanating from the "Hades Office of Tourism"), indicates that major continuous improvement initiatives are now underway.

Big changes are taking place following a comprehensive 360-degree, year-long audit of "Devil-May-Care" brand products and co-branded "Hot-To-Trot" service-offerings.

Visitors (from Purgatory) and permanent residents (of Pandemonium) will be pleased to learn that the following improvements are being made to make their stay more worry-free and enjoyable.

  • The Department of Highways has announced that it plans to provide better signage warning prospective visitors that, "The Road to Hades is paved with good intentions but due to budgetary cutbacks, visitors are asked to fill in any potholes they come across with their own brand of excuses".

  • The Ministry of Justice has indicated that it intends to remedy the lack of peace, order and good government by appointing a Devil's Advocate Support Counsellor for victims of heavenly hopes and delightful dreams who may have slid between the many cracks, nooks or crannies commonly found in Hades.

  • The Hades Public Service Commission has announced that it will henceforth abolish inflammatory words like "damnation" from public policy manuals as it has been shown to reduce the productivity of bureaucrats and mandarins alike.

  • Pandemonium Hotels & Suites, having read their customer-response cards, are now pleased to launch a "bed of nails" weekend spa special designed to attract a new niche market -- the hard-to-please, mud-in-your-eye, pain-in-the-butt clientele.

  • Fire & Brimstone Retailers plan to hold monthly "Red Devil Days" in order to meet an overwhelming demand for "Faustian bargains" on crimson-red flame-retardant satin body suits with matching slippers, three-pronged stainless steel pitch forks, "holy" smoke alarms, fragance-free foam fire extinguishers, not to mention ruby-red plaque-fighting mouthwash.

  • Bottomless Pit Fast-Food outlets are also proud to announce expanded menu selections including Vixen Vegan Stir-Fry, low-carb Hades "Hot" Dogs, plus low-calorie Pluto-Pepper-Pizzas and Sassy-Soy-Styxs.

  • The Ministry of Hot Air has responded positively to negative comments, received from the "Beelzebub & Friends Society", regarding the insipid flavor of the potable water supply and nasal-impairments caused by the fetid air quality. Residents will be relieved to know that the big "Blue Blazes" blast furnaces (owned by the Everlasting Fire & Crispy Roasting Corp.) must reduce noxious gas emissions by 20%, under the terms and conditions of the Hot Air & Hot Aqua (HAHA) Treaty.

  • To address the auditory-challenges of lost souls and departed spirits (i.e. valued Freedom-55 members of the lower world), the volume on JINX-98.5FM (Sisyphus Rock & Roll Radio) will be cranked up a notch or two, while glow-in-the-dark ear-plugs and virtual reality hard hats will be issued to youthful yahoo patrons of the Dungeons & Dragons Night Club.

  • Satan's Storm Centre has responded to suggestions from wicked witches, testy trolls, and someone called "The Man from UNCLE" who want a simple, color-coordinated 24/7 emergency alert system (which has been reduced to 10 shades of red) and one prominent canary yellow button marked "Panic" (indicating it's definitely time to move to Plan B whatever that is).

Additional suggestions to improve the quality of life in Hades should be addressed to The Head Honcho, Hades Office of Tourism, 112 Hot House Boulevard, HADES.

NOTE: If your letter returns with "address unknown" marked on the envelope, you'll know that you've been spared a wonderland vacation to Perdition (the place of fallen angels). So rejoice... and as they say in leisure industry lingo ... "Have a Nice Day"!

Saturday, November 06, 2004


Or, ticklish things that might get you a toothy tongue-lashing

A traffic ticket is not a billet-doux, nor is it a token of affection someone named "Don Juan" delivers it.

More than 34 million North Americans a year receive a traffic summons, so unless you adore blinking red lights, noisy sirens and uncomfortable roadside chats, it's probably best to avoid one.

If you can't, then by all means face the Fickle Feminist Fingers of Fate -- head on. Just remember that the Bad Karma Fairy, the Wicked Witch of the West, and the Goddess of Glitch all have their good points. It's up to you to find some wiggle room with these folks.

Consider yourself lucky that you don't have to slay a dragon, a rather messy sort of job. Just reach deep inside yourself and find those magical words that'll change your life forever (or maybe not).

And, if you still insist on tempting the fates...then why not try these clangers on for size (...but only if you have a thick skin and wear a big grin).

  • Look Harold...may I call you Harold?... I'm a really nice person, it's just that well, if truth be told ... the Devil made me do it.

  • If I'm driving the wrong way down a one-way street, then why are you following me?

  • Are you sure this qualifies as my "fifteen minutes of fame"?

  • I dialed 1-900-Angel-of-Mercy but no one answered.

  • Frankly, I don't think the photo on my driver's license is very flattering, so why don't we just forget it and call it a day?

  • It was my Evil Twin Sister behind the wheel...honestly!

  • I was looking for the "Highway to Heaven" and got carried away.

  • Whatever might be the extent of this individual calamity, I hardly think it's worthy of your valuable time to be lecturing me about the merits of minding my own business when you appear to be treading ever so firmly on my tender toes.

  • I hope this doesn't mean I loose my frequent flyer points ... I was counting on a trip to Pango Pango this winter.

  • The TV ad said, "take her for a spin" and that's what I did -- but the "Stop" sign got in my way.

  • Kindly remove that piece of paper from my windshield ... didn't your mother ever tell you it's not wise to harass frail 'little old ladies' with long canes and large bumbershoots.

  • Of course I was travelling on the shoulder -- wouldn't you if you had a classic "puddle jumper" like mine?

  • Listen officer, I know that belly dancing in the intersection is illegal, but a girl has to use her best assets when there's no pedestrian signal and she needs to cross the street safely.

  • My memory is fine... it's my feet that can't find the accelerator.

  • Listen, are you really sure that you want to "make my day"!

  • Did I tell you that my dad is a Supreme Court Judge, my mom is a lawyer, and my uncle is a senator -- and your point was...

  • When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are... so what planet did you say you're from?

The above phrases while humorous, should nevertheless be used sparingly unless you think your local law enforcement officer has demonstrated that he/she has a funnybone.


So you wanna avoid getting into tizzy over a traffic ticket, then let your fingers do the walking on over to

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


Or, things you would have said to Eve had she tricked you into eating the apple

By Theolonius McTavish, an itinerant scribe who prefers to ponder and, when the spirit moves him, join his pal Peter Piper in his favorite pastime -- picking pecks of pickled peppers of course

There are a few things that you might be tempted to say, if you had the chance, (especially if you’re a fly on a wall in the proverbial “Garden of Eden”).

Speaking of flies, here are some choice lines you wish Adam might have told Eve before chomping into that fateful apple on what appears to have been another perfectly twee day in paradise.

  • -- I don’t do “bobbing for apples”!

  • -- Let's share the guilt.

  • -- You know I hate “Little green apples in the summertime”, so play something else!

  • -- Before we get down to business -- when was your last dental check-up?

  • -- Not now, I’m busy killing the bugs, worms, and Trojan Horses in my frigging PC.

  • -- I can’t imagine why you think I’d want to read your new diet book, How to Be Happy on 500 Calories or Less a Day – Lessons From A Tart With A Heart.

  • -- If eating an apple a day keeps the doctor away, will eating a hippo keep the taxman off our backs?

  • -- Maybe Martha Stewart can send us her favorite applesauce recipe from the slammer.

  • -- I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “Johnny Appleseed” doesn’t live here!

  • -- If an apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, would you mind picking it up because my back’s killing me.

  • -- My interior decorator says, “apples and oranges don’t mix” – so how about a putrid pink grapefruit with a splash of yucky lime?

  • -- If money grows on trees, how come all we get are a bunch of rotten apple investment certificates?

  • -- Let me get this straight, if I bite into that apple, I can play “Devil’s Advocate” for a day?

  • -- I’m tired of being “touched by an angel”, can we try something spooky for a change?

  • -- If I’d wanted to play “snakes and ladders”, I’d have married a social-climbing serpent!

  • -- Wow, it’s another episode of "Desperate Housewives in Paradise" -- do you mind if I sit down and watch?

  • -- Okay honeybun, where’d you put my “Get Out of Jail Free Card” anyway?

  • -- Look at it this way ... if God wanted me to bite into that apple, he wouldn’t have given me dentures!

  • -- I don’t polish apples for anyone, and that includes you!

  • -- Why don’t you put that apple on your head, while I find my plucky bow and trusty arrow.

  • -- What could be more rewarding than biting a few biscuits, dust bunnies, or speeding bullets?

  • -- Perhaps you could read one more chapter from my favorite pillow book, The Boo Hoo Bible: The Neo American Church Catechism by Art Kleps -- before we retire for the night dear.

  • -- Listen, being President of a meat-eating country means you don't have to eat broccoli, sprouts or apples for that matter!

  • -- Hey, I know Popeye eats spinach to make him big and strong, but are you sure that munching on bag of apples will make me a Wicked Witch to be reckoned with?


Speaking of Eves and apples, for those of you who are fascinated with tongue-in-cheek (as opposed to foot-in-mouth) things, please feel free to let your fingers do the walking over to an irreverent little t-shirt shop at

Monday, November 01, 2004


Or, all you ever wanted to know about the sticky-business

People of all ages and from all walks of life have always had a passing curiosity about "sticky" stuff. While "sticky" may be synonymous with fun, becoming "stuck" is certainly not!

According to Webster’s dictionary, “sticky” is a rather fine adjective meaning: 1) adhesive, viscous, gooey 2) clammy, humid, or muggy, 3) tending to cling, cleave or become closely attached 4) baffling, disagreeable, or unpleasant 5) awkward, stiff or mired in place 6) difficult, problematic or likely to result in an impasse.

For a short six-letter word -- “sticky” -- seems to cover a lot of ground not to mention perhaps a multitude of yucky circumstances if not miscellaneous mucky things.

So just exactly what is all this “sticky” stuff about anyway?

If you talk to a web-footed wunderkind, he’ll tell you that “sticky” has everything to do with measuring the ability of a website to keep the eyeballs of visitors glued long enough to sell them something they didn’t know existed, didn’t want or heaven forbid, couldn’t afford.

A printer will tell you why “sticky” labels take the guesswork out of wondering what’s in a bag, a box, or a bottle of hooch…but it can’t do much to improve the disposition of your best friend (unless you surreptitiously place an embarrassing cling-on-item upon his back when he’s looking out the window at the birds, bees or trees).

According to fitness fanatics, before the invention of the “sticky” mat, yoga was a pretty slippery proposition.

On the other hand, fashion folk are positively in love with sticky stuff like “Velcro” which makes closing one’s breeches, bloomers or briefs nothing but a cinch in a pinch.

For clutter queens, personal organizers, and interior decorators who thrive on cleaning up messy people and places, the infamous yellow “sticky notes” are an invaluable little tool to meet the needs of zany cube-farm dwellers like Owls, Rabbits, and Tiggers.

And if you’re in the surfactant and olechemicals product development business, you’re just glad that, “Priplast polyols in polyurethane adhesives create benefits like excellent adhesion, flexibility and resistance against hydrolysis and oxidation - parameters that can be tailored through polyol design”, now doesn’t that warm the cockles of your heart!

Since engineers rule the world, it’s not surprising they claim they’ve got a solution to everything including the best alternative to welds, nuts, rivets and bolts. It’s good to hear that the folks at Huntsman “don’t try to force-fit a product or technology into the wrong box”. Hmmm…just who designed the blessed box in the first place?

Oh, and where would the fast-food industry be without “sticky” coatings to ensure that their tasty toppings and consummate crumbs stay on any meat, fowl and fish that's battered, beaten and breaded beyond recognition?

Of course, if you're into gooey, there’s all to manner of fun stuff to play around with including sparkly body paint, Pooh’s honey-pot, or Alberta’s oil-rich tar sands.

And speaking of tacky travails -- what about those "uncomfortable" relationships that elicit “sweaty” moments miring everyone in far too many sticky-wickets full of (you guessed it) sticklers, stick-handlers and stick-in-the-muds, all of whom are keen to jump in the fray and gum up the works for good!

Last but not least, there’s one sure-fire sticky product that no handyman would dare leave home without -- Duct Tape -- the only thing that fixes fissures, fridges and furniture, not to mention the odd fool or two, in a spiffy jiffy!

So, next time someone enjoins you in a chinwag about “sticky-business”, you'll certainly have something trivial to add to the conversation besides the price of tea in Tuktoyuktuk.


For those who are truly interested in learning more about "sticky business", all they have to do is log on to one of the 5,510 websites devoted to the topic.

Or they can sample a few like, "The Sticky Business of Paint" or "The Sticky Business" label company or the folks at "Uniqema"