Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Elephant’s Neck: A Humorous Short Story


Editor's Note: Although Dr. Maxwell Reneldi will never be immortalized in wax at Madame Tussauds or even respectfully remembered by a stone marker, the explorer's adventures symbolize bravery in the face of conflict. The following account was lifted from Dr. Reneldi's personal journal, discovered two days after the his kayak overturned, killing all nine crewmen.
The Jungle 
The neck of an elephant is thick and powerful. This thought I entertained (with a jazz trio and sizeable relish tray) as I bobbed carelessly on Muambo's head.
Gliding through the moist jungle foliage, the elephant appeared content, joyous not to be carrying a waltzing chimpanzee at a charity circus in Cleveland.
Still not totally comfortable with controlling the beast, I occasionally twisted my toes in the wrong direction, causing the creature to trod obediently into a tree and glide backwards through a figure eight.
"Sorry Muambo!" I yelled from atop his cranium, "I'm still learning!"
Glancing over my shoulder, I noticed Omay, my servant, needed rest. He struggled to balance the supplies and mule on his back.
Years ago, I saved his life during an expedition in which I charted most of the Ruuotiyi Desert.
The Meeting
The heat melted the sand the day I discovered Omay. Lost and alone at an oasis, he attempted to drink from the pool. But, terrified upon seeing his reflection, he retreated from the water.
Omay, you see, had the semblance of a sea otter. I comforted the boy to the best of my ability. I lectured on the variety of nature. I spoke of inner beauty.
Then, I taught Omay to drink with his eyes closed.
In return, he pledged eternal allegiance.
The Cramp
Omay's stomach growled, causing a jungle boar to charge our party. It was time to stop and eat.
A sharp pain streaked through my foot as I began to dismount. My toes curled inward, clenched into a podiatric fist, and began thumping Muambo's neck like a bongo.
Obeying my spasmodic commands, the creature reared onto its hindquarter and danced the cancan. After 10 high kicks, he stopped, twirled, and practiced several aikido moves on an approaching rhinoceros.
Controlling an elephant is nearly impossible with piercing toe cramps. Throughout the elephant's body improvisation, Omay's loud cackle grew fainter and fainter. The beast shuffled deep into the dark, humid jungle.
I clung to Muambo's neck like Jack to the beanstalk during a wind burst. Hot elephant breath churned from the creature as his trunk swung back and coiled around my waist.
I flew gracefully through the air, stopping only when finding a rare jungle boulder.
Bouncing from the rock like a pinball, I landed on a bed of soft jungle moss.
And fell unconscious.
The Pot
The natives danced comic circles around the pot of water in which I stood. The sounds of drums and century-old chants echoed through the trees as a large warrior poked my ribs with a dull spear.
To my dismay, I was surrounded by several members of the Waabasa Tribe.
The garb of my captors was informal, even plain.
The gentlemen wore aardvark skins loosely around their waists. Necklaces fashioned from baboon incisors decorated their necks and wrists. Tiny bones, possibly human, jutted proudly through their noses.
Several men had painted their cheeks with colorful swipes, emitting the appearance of a thinner jawline.
The women stood aloof, a slight distance away. Many pounded jungle vegetation and saliva into a side dish for the main course.
The dancing became methodical. The rhythm quickened.
Miraculously, I freed my left foot, allowing me to tap to the beat.
The Prayer
The noodle in my shirt pocket began to soften.
A hulking tribesman yielding a crude steak knife approached, smiling, and smelling. I noticed an awkward gap between his front teeth which reminded me of my first violin teacher who overdosed on rosin.
I closed my eyes.
I prayed.
The Deliverance
The ugly tribesman laid dead at the foot of the pot; a poisonous dart had pierced his jugular vein. The tribe surrounded him, pulling the death bullet from his neck in bewilderment.
Members of the tribe scrambled wildly about the grounds.
A flock of rednez flapped out of a giant mazardi bush.
Suddenly Omay, riding effortlessly on Muambo, crashed into the village. Bodies scattered from the charging elephant's path.
Reaching the pot, Omay ordered the beast to lift me from my confinement. We disappeared into the night, much to dismay of the hungry tribe, who no doubt had to order out.
The Reversal
Fanning Omay with my right hand, I feigned a smile and fed him imported cherries with my left. He seemed pleased to be back with his family, living in his village, and having me attend his every need.
My mind was constantly occupied with thought of escape. He saved my life, that is true, but I could not tolerate this routine much longer.
"There are flies around my nose!" Omay yelled.
I shooed them away, hoping they'd return soon. I envisioned myself sneaking out of the village late at night. I could steal a horse and be at a telephone in Brionay in two days. Then I could make my way to ….
The Pit
Omay gasped loudly, his eyes instantly growing to the size of cantaloupes. Springing upright in his hammock, he choked again, this time more desperately.
His face turned blue.
I sprung to his rear, clenched his stomach, and pulled inward, hoping to clear his trachea. Omay lay motionless and I thought I had acted in vain.
I pulled again. A squealing, whining, irritating noise sounded from his head as a tremendous cherry pit flew from his mouth. It landed a few yards away in a pile of dust.
I smiled.
The Next Journey
We are two miles into the Southern Territory, known to the natives as "Tiero Prunaas" or "Death Swamp." My camel is holding up fairly well.
I wish I could say the same for Omay, who trails by a quarter mile; carrying two heavy bags of sand I jokingly told him were supplies.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Top 9 Whacky Plots for 2014 Oscar Nominees


Have you ever guessed the plot of a movie based on its title?  I have many times.  Often it’s easy.  “Jaws” is a good example. 

If the title is vague it’s more difficult.  That was the case with this year’s Academy Award best picture nominees.

Following are storylines I imagined could unfold based on each title.

American Hustle

Set in the 70s, a disbarred attorney claims to have discovered the fountain of youth.  People wearing bell-bottoms and mood rings are left penniless after paying to bathe in the magical pool.  All played to a Donna Summer soundtrack.

Captain Phillips

A submarine cook is thrust into command after the crew is sickened with salmonella.  Double crossing and distrust are key plot components, along with the edibility of the Alaskan king crab.

Dallas Buyer Club

When Costco comes to Texas, a local government rallies to lock the retail giant from its community.  Deceit, passion, rage, and jealousy propel the story, along with unbeatable pricing on Gold Toe socks.

Gravity

Due to a freak cosmic shift in the moon, the Earth is left with zero gravity, forcing people to float randomly.  Mass chaos ensues, especially for a group waiting in line at the DMV in rural Kansas.

Her

The bride of Frankenstein comes alive in a reboot of the film classic.  Humor and horror are intertwined, as the creature’s friends throw a bridal shower in the private room of Olive Garden.


Nebraska

The state, known for cattle grazing, is the first state to secede from the union and elect a king.  Taxes are raised to build an extravagant castle, highlighted with a chocolate fountain.  Revolt follows.


Philomena

An airborne virus, discovered by Dr. Philomena, wreaks havoc in the U.S. when it causes senators to communicate by singing opera.

12 Years a Slave

After boarding the wrong flight to North Korea in the mid-1950s, a balloon folder from Minnesota spends a dozen years entertaining the ruling party.

The Wolf of Wall Street

A tense thriller unfolds in a New York office complex when a wild Canis lupus is discovered in the snack room of a hedge fund.  A heroic broker attempts to tame the beast by feeding it Cheetos.




How to Eat French Onion Soup With a Swiss Army Knife


Soup is typically a simple food to eat. The waiter provides a spoon. You provide the appetite.
But if you're confronted with French onion soup, a lone spoon may be insufficient.
You'll likely be faced with obstacles that include baked Gruyere cheese, a hearty layer of toasted bread, and lengthy onion slices.
What multifunctional tool can help in your campaign?
A Swiss Army knife!
This unique utensil can help cut, grab, lift, and scoop. And even uncork the wine if necessary.
Following are simple instructions.
Cheese Obstruction
The first stumbling block is a thick layer of melted Gruyere. The cheese not only covers the entire top of the bowl, but also drips defiantly over the rim.
If you're a novice, you may attempt to remove the cheese with your fingers by stretching it across the table until it snaps.
This maneuver has a low success rate. And can provoke dirty looks from anyone not sitting in a high chair.
Instead, use the scissors from your Swiss Army knife.
No need to get fancy, just jab the blade between the cheese and clip along as if it were wrapping paper.
People may stare, but you'll have the last laugh as you cut a perfect bite-sized morsel.
Toasted Bread Blockade
Once past the cheese, you're not out of the woods. You'll likely encounter toasted bread, normally French or Italian, floating on top of the soup.
You may attempt to work the spoon underneath the bread and lift it to your mouth. But that is a mistake.
The toasted circle is soggy and unmanageable.
Halfway to your mouth, the mess may slide from the spoon and do a belly flop back in the bowl, splashing onion muck all over your Ralph Lauren button down.
Instead, use the sharpest blade from your Swiss Army knife to cut bread into manageable pieces.
The bread may rise and fall and dance around the broth as you attack.
But keep your cool. You will prevail.
Onion Skirmish
Reaching the soup is no easy task and you are to be commended.
But now is not the time to slack off. Finishing the job is difficult due to the evasive nature of the onions.
Cut in lengthy strings and sitting in broth, the shaved bulbs may slip and slide off the spoon. Every bite may be devoid of the main ingredient, causing frustration.
But don't give up!
Remove the tweezers from the Swiss Army knife and regroup.
Using the pincers, grab the onion pieces from the broth and lift them into the spoon.
Then keep a steady hand. Relax. And manipulate the utensil to your mouth.
Congratulations! You've just eaten French onion soup.
Now, unfold the corkscrew, it's time to celebrate.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Winter Olympics: 3 Oddball Ways to Increase Popularity


Billions will watch the TV broadcast of the Winter Olympics 
in Sochi, making the affair almost as popular as "Duck Dynasty."
But not all events are equally loved. Ice hockey and figure skating attract large stadium crowds.
Other venues seem to draw lone spectators who wander in, hoping to snag a free wireless connection.
But all is not lost. With a little tweaking, many events may be made more exciting to watch.
Here are a few suggestions:
Curling Canine
Curling may be made immediately more exciting by adding dogs to the mix.
How so?
Dogs love to chase brooms!
I can't sweep my garage without my Lab grabbing at the whisk end and trying to bring me down.
The same will work at the Olympics. As the stone glides down the ice, release a Siberian Husky.
Watch the pooch seize the bristles and get in a tug of war with the sweeper. Pulling and tugging may cause the Olympian to take a bad spill and possibly incur an injury.
But when the winner hobbles to the podium to receive a metal, you'll know he or she earned it.
Luge Escape
You've all seen it. The sled hurls down the slope at light speed with the Olympian lying down, arms firmly at side, as if wearing a straight jacket.
How could this be more exciting?
Easy.
Have the competitor wear an actual straight jacket. Audiences love a good escape artist.
The ride down the track could be thrilling to watch as the Olympian writhes and wriggles to gain freedom. If the bottom is reached without escape, points will be deducted.
And an unflattering tweet will undoubtedly be made.
Should the event gain popularity, handcuffs and a Chinese Water Torture Cell may be added.
Ice Dancing With The Fish
With the huge popularity of figure skating, ice dancing needs to set itself apart. 
Incorporating fishing into the mix may do the trick.
Small holes could be cut into the ice where participants drop in a line and get points for catching a northern pike, yellow perch, or bluegill.
Imagine the cheers when a competitor does a triple axel, then reels in a walleye.
It may introduce a whole new segment of people to the sport.
Who knows, the Winter Olympics may one day be more popular than "Duck Dynasty."
See you at the games!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Groundhog Day: Could Steroids Boost Punxsutawney Phil?


As pressure increases to look better and be bigger, many celebrities turn to performance enhancing drugs.
With Groundhog Day around the corner, one can't help but wonder if Punxsutawney Phil may also decide to hit the juice.
Can you blame him? With the cameras rolling and millions of eyes watching, who wouldn't want to perform at the highest potential?
Unfortunately, PEDs may be bad option. According to the Mayo Clinic, steroid usage may cause a plethora of side effects. Most of which may lead to an unflattering profile on "TMZ."
Let's review how PED usage could hurt the famous rodent. 
Baldness
One of the main side effects of steroids is hair loss. Imagine the terror on a child's face if the groundhog emerged from his burrow looking like a shaved pig.
"Get 'em!" Timmy would say, reaching for a log, "Let's play Whac-A-Mole."
Instead of the groundhog predicting winter duration, he'd have to dodge a hyperactive kid who's had one too many juice boxes.
Obamacare may or may not cover the CAT scan.
Depression
Psychiatric disorders, such as depression, are another possible result of steroid use.
The groundhog could be so despondent he refuses to exit the hole.
"Come out!" his agent may yell into the dirt cavity, "Everyone's waiting!"
"Not until you get me a hairpiece!"
Next thing you know he'll be sporting a bad toupee on the cover of People, right next to Justin Bieber's mugshot.
Aggression
The groundhog, by nature, appears to be passive. He waddles out, poses for the camera, and is done for the year.
I'm sure he'd sign a few autographs if he could hold a Sharpie.
That may change if he's juiced up.
Envision a vicious rodent with retracted claws scratching out the eyes of a tourist from Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
The only shadow cast may be by police car headlights.
Sure security could be hired. But do you really want to pay someone to stand around with pepper spray "just in case."
So there you have it.
Several unpleasant consequences the groundhog may encounter if hopped up on steroids.
Not to mention he could be suspended until 2016.
Happy Groundhog Day!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Top 5 Oddball Signs From History



Everywhere we go signs are posted to inform and direct.
You can't make it through the day without being told to "Watch Your Step," "Beware of Dog," or "Shower Before Entering Pool."
Are signs a recent phenomenon?
Certainly not. I'd guess they've been posted throughout history.
Following are five notices that may have been displayed. All dates and verbiage are unverified approximations.
Sign in Restroom by Guillotine, Paris, France - Circa 1794
Attention Employees - It Really Doesn't Matter If You Wash Your Hands.
Sign on Noah's Ark - Circa 2304 B.C.
Beware of Dogs. And Rhinos. And Bears. And Hyenas. And Crocodiles. You get the idea.
Sign in Parking Lot, Air Force Base, Japan - Circa 1944
Space Reserved For Kamikaze Pilots - Please Leave Key in Ignition.
Sign on Tree, Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire, England - Circa 1590
Employee Theft Is Encouraged.
Sign on Trojan Horse, Troy - Circa 1197, B.C.
Please Bathe Before Entering - That Means You!
So there you have it. A cursory glance of signs that may have been posted throughout history.
Now move along.
There's "No Loitering."