Holiday, Shmoliday

Yep, I'm working this weekend, and Monday too. The newspaper never sleeps, it just dozes a little bit, then jerks awake, shouting, "I'm up, I'm up! Just resting my eyes!" Of course, only two departments have to haul their butts out of bed on a fine sleepin'-in kind of Saturday and get the news out to our trusting readers, the folk who'd be lost without their daily paper: the newsroom (or, as we say, the editorial staff), and the circulation department. That's me, by the way. All those other lucky dogs are sitting at home, sipping coffee, or better yet, asleep in their beds, visions of barbeques floating in their heads.

Meh. It's not that bed, I suppose. Only four hours, and I still have the afternoons to myself. Of course, with my beautiful wife out of town, I have only my kitties for company, and as crazy cute as they are, they tend to just sit around and stare at me until I feed them:


Anyway, I do have a new church sign to share with you. It's a bit cryptic, actually:

Obviously, if you're just quiet enough--Quiet, damn you!--you can hear God whispering. He's saying, "A little to the left, now to the right, that's it, that's it . . . bombs away!" And then, bam! You get hit by bird crap, right on your new shirt, and you lift up your fist and shake it at the sky like the impertinent human you are, but you're powerless in the face of God's wrath. He's just playing games you with, you know, and if you just listen . . . you can hear him laughing.

Alternatively, this is an exhortation to the congregation at the church to just shut the hell up already, because the pastor spent a long time on this sermon, and it's got two, maybe three, good jokes, including the one about the priest with two camels and if that baby would just be quiet already, then he could get to the good bit!

Which is it? Only you can decide. Just . . . listen!

Trust Me, I Know What I'm Doing

Sometimes I think my family is the only one that ever watched Sledge Hammer, a crazy cop parody show from the late 80's. Man, I remember this show being unbelievably hilarious. Now, I own it on DVD (the first season, anyway) and it's. . . . Let's just say it ain't quite what I remember. The pilot episode was actually painful. But I've watched a few more episodes, and they're getting better. Maybe my memory isn't completely out of order.

Today's headline up there refers to this show, and to this sign:

Yes, God so far has a pretty good track record, so we can trust him pretty much everywhere, from caring for our lost puppy to putting up drywall in the den. What do we know of God, anyway? Well, from the Old Testament, we know he's a big dick, always smiting cities and toying with his followers. From the New Testament, we know he's still got the smiting thing going on (more subdued now), but he also feels it necessary to kill his own son. Yeah, I trust him without reservation.

Do you notice something else on this sign? The service time is listed as 11:00AM, but the Church School time is put in quotes: "9:30AM." Is this some sort of trick? Is it not really at 9:30, but at some sort of sarcastic, other time? Seriously. WTF? I think this calls for an appearance of Finger Quotin' Margo, godless creation of Josh Fruhlinger's Comics Curmudgeon. There is no good reason for putting quotes around things unless you're actually, you know, quoting something! I know this is a radical concept in modern America, but it's one I'd like to enforce. Preferably with executions.

Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!

It seems that a warning is in order on this fine Monday:

Beware, fearful readers! There is a dangerous book about, and it looks to be taking no prisoners! I wish so very much that this was, in fact, a friendly reference to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and its Care of Magical Creature textbooks. Sadly, I think we are supposed to be getting a frisson of excitement from the notion that the Bible is a dangerous book. But dangerous in a good way.

Of course, it won't surprise you to hear that I think the Bible is dangerous in a bad way. Any book that inspires such amazing flights of insanity should rightly be considered dangerous. I am not, by the way, advocating that the Bible or other religious texts be banned, or that the reading of them be discouraged. If I did, I'd probably be killed! Hence the dangerousness.

OK, that was a bit unfair. But it is interesting to see who is making lists of dangerous books out there. Reactionary conservative shrill-fest Human Events (what an odd name that is) published a list about a year ago of the Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 29th Centuries, including such notables as "The Communist Manifesto", "Mein Kampf", and "The Feminine Mystique." Now, I've never recommended "Mein Kampf" as beach-side reading, but this list is probably the best guide to books you should absolutely read that you could find anywhere on the internet. Are the ideas in these books dangerous? Undoubtedly some of them are. Just read a few of the blurbs on why these books were selected, however, and you'll see that those decrying them are tools of the right-wing oligarchy which is trying to drive our country into a fascist police state.

My favorite part is when they say that FDR adopted John Maynard Keynes's economic policies in the 1930's, and now, seventy years later, we have an $8-trillion dollar debt! Because, as all good conservative school children know, FDR remained president for all seventy years, right up until today! It's true!

What? It's not true? Well, those crazy liberals have been in power that whole time anyway, from FDR right up to Clinton, president after Democratic president, in a soul-crushing liberal parade of chardonnay-swilling, brie-eating, bra-burning, tree-hugging communist pinkos! Take that, liberal elite!

Excuse me? There's been no shortage of Republican presidents? Nixon? Ford? Eisenhower? Reagan? Two Bushes? Holy shit! Well, at any rate, it was the Democrats who messed it all up, running up those massive deficits, making government bigger and bigger. That Clinton bastard! He did it!

Wait, what?!? It was Reagan? That's not true! That's impossible!


And then the Republican voter's head exploded. And that's our lesson for today, children.

05.19.06 the Apocalypse!

We had a rough Thursday. It was going well enough, we'd had our usual Thursday happy hour, with pretty good attendance, which is always nice. Then, I get a call from Lauren: she'd hit a cat, and was absolutely bawling. I rushed down to our local CVS, and found that the cat seemed mostly OK. The owner arrived, and Lauren said that we'd pay for any medical care necessary. Then we called out vet, ran both cat an owner out there, and got the kitty checked out. Turns out he'll probably be fine, thank goodness.

Everyone at the vet's office was impressed that we were going to pay for the care the kitty--named Booboo--was receiving. They said most people who hit pets just keep driving. I can't understand that attitude. I know Lauren would have never forgiven herself if she hadn't done what she did, and I would have done the same. Anything less would seem cruelly heartless.

The poor woman who owns Booboo obviously can't afford much in the way of care, especially emergency care. Besides, this is, in the end, our fault. We're the ones who hit the cat. It was an accident, true, but the responsibility, I think, remains with us.

More church signs are cropping up! Here's one that went up just the other day:

Just what are we counting down to, I wonder? It could be the end of the world, but maybe I'm reading too much apocalypse into everything these days. Maybe it's just a countdown to summer, or to the church picnic. The "Engines On!" command seems awfully strident, though, like we're really looking at some sort of race.

Is this appropriate imagery for a church to use? I mean, what, are we having fun in church now? Racing! Engines! Bah! A true Christian needs not these things. Actually, I totally missed another kind of countdown this could be: a space launch countdown! How could I be so stupid to miss that?

So, this is how it goes down: Go to church. Listen to the sermon. Get the secret communications dossier, the one that will tell you where the spaceship is. Get to the spaceship; be sure to kill any heathens in your path. Then: Commence countdown! Engines on! All systems go! And off to heaven, baby, on the wings of a hundred thousand pounds of rocket fuel! Yeah, baby! Go!

What do the Catholics have to say about this?

In case you can't read this one (sorry for this shitty image quality), it says, "The Good Shepherd Sacrifices his Life." Oh, and "Mothers: Signs of God's Love." I'm down with that second part, I suppose, though I don't actually believe in God. Whichever. To me, though, the good shepherd protects his fucking flock. Now, that may require him to lay down his life, I suppose, if he's a shepherd in some war-torn country ravaged by dinosaurs. The church here is just parroting the party line, not that you'd expect any different from them. Christ is the Good Shepherd; Christ gave his life; ergo, the Good Shepherd gives his life.

It's true because the Bible says so!

Butt of Cat

Well, wouldn't you know it, that darned Bug-Eyed Kitty was misbehavin' after all:

I told him this kind of thing only leads to heartbreak, but he wouldn't listen. Still, he does have a pretty cute butt, you have to give him that!

I really don't have much to say about anything else today, actually. But really, who cares? You've got hot cat butt action right here! What else do you want? You people are demanding. OK, here's another church sign:

Don't mess with the big guy; he ain't in a forgiving mood.

Rain, Rain, Go Away...

When I started taking pictures of the church signs around Meadville here, I thought I had it made: comic material without end, sign after sign, day after day. But you know what? It turns out these signs don't change very often at all. Even worse, sometimes the messages on the signs are completely unfunny. What do I do then? Huh!?! No one is trying to keep my interests at heart, and I think that says a lot.

Anyway, there are a few new messages this week, so we'll dole them out bit by bit. First, a somewhat cryptic Mother's Day riff:

You'll probably have to click this one to read it. The chance of rain on Mother's Day, for those keeping score, was about 60 percent, so that's wrong right off. Unless "100 Percent Chance of Rain" is the title of the Mother's Day Musical. That could be. That would be a very odd title for a musical. But are we even talking about a real musical? Could this be something more sinister?

Maybe this is a list of bands playing at the church music festival: Come see 100 Percent play their hit song, "99 Ain't 100, Baby!" Followed by an encore performance of last year's top hit Christian Alternative Rock/Blues/Rap Trio, Chance of Rain, playing "Jesus Rains on Sin" from their new album It's Rainin' Son of God. And, for one day only, Mother's Day Musical, the all-new, all-family rock band from Canada, singing "God Bless Mom and Jesus Too!" to rock your world!

Yeah, I think that's it.

The Bug-Eyed Kitty is busy, busy, busy, printing flyers for the music festival:

Of course, he wouldn't ever actually use company resources to copy personal materials! That would be wrong. And the Bug-Eyed Kitty never does anything wrong. He would also never, ever photocopy his ass. No sir.

Cinco de Mayo

I had a post nearly ready for Cinco de Mayo. However, it is now Nueve de Mayo. I don't think that the same significance is there. I did do some drinking on the 5th, related to a little BBQ we had at our house, but I don't think that really counts. Oh well.

Today's church sign:

My guess for an answer is, "A taco." But I may be wrong. Seriously, is it that hard to figure out? Is this a trick question? Perhaps it relates back to the Left Behind series of dispensationalist Apocalyptic novel series by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye. To call these hacks authors is to overstate the matter, but their books are very popular with a certain segment of the evangelical Christian movement. For a much better critique (longer, too!) than I could ever put together, check out slacktivist's Left Behind Archive, where Fred Clark deconstructs the crappy writing and even crappier theology of this pair of dopes.

Meanwhile, here's a picture to make you lose your lunch:

This little slice of horror is brought to you courtesy of the Pymatuning Spillway, Crawford County's most famous tourist attraction, "Where the ducks walk on the fish." Actually, though, the ducks are too damned scared to walk on the fish, as well they should be. This is enough to give a strong soul nightmares, especially when the fish sense the presence of humans and rise to the surface, their mouths gaping open, forming a big "O" and grasping, grasping, waiting to devour whatever falls in. The thought of falling in makes me shudder.

Carrier Intrigue

Working here at the Meadville Tribune is never a dull job. Well, it can be dull, when you're doing data entry or something like that, but the phone calls always keep you on your toes. Is the next person you talk to going to be polite, or are they going to rip into you like their trying to bite off your ear through the phone line? You never know! And that's the beauty of it.

So, today I get a call from someone trying to reach one of our carriers. I will, as usual, name no names here, but we field this kind of call pretty often, and our standard policy is that we will not give out more than a carrier's name, to protect their privacy. We certainly don't give out phone numbers or addresses. Sometimes, collection agencies or other people like that will call, but there's nothing we can offer them. Personally, I don't even take messages; that's not my job.

But this guy said he was the father-in-law of one of our carriers, so I said I could tell the carrier that he called and have him call him back. The father-in-law said that wasn't possible, that he was calling from a cell phone in another country and couldn't be called back. Well, that was interesting! So, I told him I'd ask the carrier for permission to give out his phone number.

I contacted the carrier and related this story. He asked me who called, and I said, "He said he was your father-in-law." The carrier asked, "Did he say he was calling from another country?" "Yes," I replied, "from overseas." "Well," said the carrier, "you can go ahead and give him the number." End of story.

Now I sit here wondering about that conversation. Obviously, the fact that this father-in-law was in another country affected the decision to give out the number. Does the carrier have more than one father-in-law? Is this some sort of code? One of my co-workers suggested that I'd just facilitated some sort of drug deal. I doubt that, as the guy sounded pretty sincere. Still, an odd little tale.

Found another church sign of interest:

Ha! No, I kid. This is generated by, which can be the source of long amusement, assuming you find writing your own messages on virtual church signs as amusing as I do. If you come up with some good ones, send 'em to me and I'll be happy to post them here for all to see.

This one is for real:

You'll have to click to read the text, but it reads, "Where do we go from here?" My suggestions: a bar, my bedroom, all the way, and nowhere at all. Fill in your own answer. Use the church sign generator.

Finally, your Bug-Eyed Kitty fix of the day:

We need more coffee! NOW!

Best Band Ever

Last night, Credit/No Credit played a gig at the Allegheny College coffee house, Grounds for Change. This is a faculty band at Allegheny, and are a remarkably tight, well-rehearsed ensemble. They do covers of various artists (as you can see from their website), and are always a blast to hear and see. Of course, my wife, Lauren, also plays with them on occasion, bringing her flute expertise to play on several songs. There are some pics on the band website, but here's one I took playing with my phone:

Cool as hell, right? Well, marginally nifty at any rate.

Band members' kids always show up at these gigs (with a few exceptions) and provide a mosh pit/cheering section/dedicated fan group, which is entertaining. What I find interesting is how the college students react. I think most of them are a bit stunned to see their profs playing rock music on stage, but they end up being amused. A few of them dance, but I think they're a bit intimidated by the concept, which, I'm guessing, is a totally different reaction than they'd have around any other band.

This is not surprising, given the state of modern "dance" amongst the youth of today. I don't say this as a fuddy-duddy or anything; I'm just guessing that the old bump 'n' grind 'n' hump 'n' girls kissing girls or whatever it is those crazy kids are doing these days would be a bit embarrassing in front of their profs, who are essentially parent figures. So, yeah, not too much student dancing.

Of course, yesterday was also the last day of classes for Allegheny, so many students were probably too drunk to stand up; turn-out was fairly low, let's put it that way. There was one young woman there who was doing her best to channel Joss Whedon's wardrobe department, though, which amused me. I'm not sure what the look was that she was aiming for (I'm assuming she wasn't actually trying to enter the Whedonverse), but it was damn close to this:

That's River Tam (played by Summer Glau) from the series Firefly, though the poster image here is from the movie version, Serenity. Both TV show (brief though it was) and the movie are great, and highly recommended; start with the show, which you can buy or rent from Netflix.

Though the Bug-Eyed Kitty is a fan of Firefly, he is not a fan of computer repair:

Damn cables have got minds of their own!

Three in One Day!

That's right, folks. Here's the third post for just one day! Maybe I'm getting the hang of this. Mostly, though, it's just that I have such a plethora of new content to throw your way, so don't expect this to continue unabated tomorrow!

Today, friends, marks the end of Season Two of Maccabee. Episode 229 rounds out the story and sets up the next season--which I promise will one day appear! As I've said not so long in the past, there's definitely going to be a hiatus while I pursue other projects (stay tuned!), but I have an absolute blast writing Maccabee and have an interesting, new direction to take the plot in Season Three, so there's no need to fear that it will disappear or anything.

For now, take comfort in Episode 229: A New Birth, and when you're done with that, take a trip to the archives and re-read some of your favorite moments. I hope you have as much fun reading as I have had writing!

The Best Available Opinions

I added a few new OpEd columns to the menu on the left of this space. These deal with illegal wiretaps, port security, and immigration. Hope you enjoy them. And please don't hesitate to check out the archive of opinion columns! Some of them are old now, but many of the issues discussed haven't exactly gone away or anything!

Rides with Strangers

I was heading out to the grocery store yesterday, looking to pick up a massive load of dry cleaning. It seems ridiculous, but our local drycleaners don't recycle or reuse the wire hangers with which they are so profligate. Add on the paper and plastic they use to wrap up all the laundry, and we're talking a regular crap-load of crap, all of which is headed for your local landfill. Rather, your non-local landfill, since most garbage is trucked far enough away that we don't have to look at it or smell it.

As I was driving along, a man by the side of the road caught my attention, mostly because he was frantically waving at passing vehicles. I pulled over and rolled down the window, and he told me he needed a ride up the hill and generally in the direction I was going. He said he'd give me $5 for gas, and had the bill in his hand to prove it. Well, long story short, I let him in the car, drove him about a mile or so, and let him off, and didn't let him pay me.

This whole incident raised a rash of conflicting feelings and thoughts. Of course, there's the initial thought, "Geez, what if this guy's a carjacker, and I'm letting him in my car of my own volition." I was, however, pretty sure that wasn't the case. Then, you think he's a freeloader. He had a long way to go, though, and he claimed his leg was bothering him. Why shouldn't that be true? Then--and I'm sorry for even mentioning this, but I'm trying to be honest here--he smelled pretty strongly of smoke, and I was afraid he'd stink up my car. How horrible is that? Do we reconsider helping people because we don't want them to smell up our cars? Of course we do.

In the end, I felt like I'd done something good, albeit fairly insignificant. I also found myself thinking how sad it was that so few people would have stopped to pick this fellow up. I don't say that to self-aggrandize, because most days I wouldn't have stopped either, or agreed to give him a ride. But what a simple thing! I went literally a quarter mile out of my way, if that, and potentially saved this guy a ton of hassle.

No lesson here, just something to think about.

Believe it or not, I found yet another interesting church sign yesterday:

Now, when I first saw this sign (you may need to click it for the full-sized image to easily read the text) I admit I had no friggin' idea what this was about. I'm no sports fan (except for football, by which I mean soccer, which I have come to love), but I know that LeBron James is a basketball player. I suppose he's good, since I recognize his name despite my utter lack of interest in his sport. What does he have to do with the Jesus? Was this some obscure reference to the Harrison Ford movie? Confused, I snapped a picture and resolved to Google later.

Unfortunately, the sign does make sense, in a way. Apparently, Nike has adopted some sort of Witness-themed advertising campaign around LeBron, based on the idea that his fans are, uh, witnessing him doing, er, special things. I guess I'd understand better if I'd bothered to track down the ads or something, but that seems like work. This Albuquerque Tribune article is the closest explanation of the phenomenon I could find.

So, on the witnessing front, Jesus beats LeBron any day, despite the columnist in the Tribune comparing him oh-so-subtly to a god. This is good to know, for those who were confused and hoping to worship LeBron as an invisible sky king. I tell you, I think these church signs are going to be a constant source of material for this blog; and the great thing is the sheer number of churches in this town! Endless fodder for the mill!

The BEK, meanwhile is searching his desk . . . for evil! You never know where it might lurk!

The dark heart of the desk is a foul, indescribable place.

More Church Signage

I found another interesting church sign just the other day:

I think this one is pretty deep. I imagine our erstwhile priest (or whatever term they use in the Baptist Church, probably minister) thinking this cryptic message will get the lapsed parishioners in the door. "Perhaps today what?" they will ask themselves. They'll enter the hallowed halls and find out that the answer is, "Perhaps today you'll get your damned ass back in church!"

But each of us can take our own meaning from this sign. Perhaps today, I'll give money to that homeless guy with no legs who's always bugging me for change. Perhaps today, I'll stop dating that hooker and go back to my wife. Perhaps today, I'll get my lazy ass back in the gym. I'd like to point out that only one of these statements applies to me personally, by the way.

Perhaps today, the Bug-Eyed Kitty will figure out how to seal an envelope without him inside it.

If only the BEK had bigger paws! Or any paws, instead of little nubbins.