Self-Isolation Tips: Pink Panther helps you wake up early (cartoon)

Should you face the pandemic day with cheerfulness, or take a hammer to that alarm clock?

I totally love this early (1969) Pink Panther cartoon for pushing an age-old conflict to the max. After demolishing a bunch of mechanical alarm clocks, the Pink Panther ventures out to procure a genuine cuckoo clock, perhaps hoping it will be more persuasive…

The cartoon’s title, “In the Pink of the Night,” may be a play on the old song “In the Still of the Night,” here performed by Django Reinhardt and the Hot Club de France circa 1936:

Kinda makes you feel sleepy, but you should really wake up for morning meditation!

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The typo that made me laugh out loud

Can you spot what’s wrong with this Staples.com ad?

Most typos are neither interesting nor funny, but last night I happened on one that set me giggling uncontrollably. Maybe I was just in need of a good giggle (perfectly possible!), but you can judge for yourself:

Staples sells such a bewildering variety of products that I had to read the ad about 3 times, asking myself if I’d accidentally stumbled on a supply house catering to birders or ornithologists. You see, I know that people on country estates buy all sorts of amazing contraptions designed to let birds feed while keeping squirrels out (not always entirely successfully, I might add).

And even though crows aren’t exactly the darlings of the bird world, still it didn’t tax my imagination to picture the fabulously well-to-do investing in special cups that large crows would fancy drinking from at cocktail hour. It’s probably that mental image, entertained so credulously by me, that caused the fit of laughter once the magic was dispelled.

Add but a single ‘d’ to the ad copy, and suddenly it make sense:

Serve cold drinks to large crowds with these Medline disposable plastic cold cups.

Crows be damned! They can fetch their own drinks…

I’m reminded of an anecdote penned by the most excellent Sumangali Morhall in her spiritual memoir Auspicious Good Fortune. Of her childhood, when ‘telephone calls abroad came at royal prices,’ and the family would record cassette tapes to send to her grandparents, she writes:

‘Nanny, the humming birds come and drink the drink! We fill their feeder up with red drink because they like red. Their beaks are long and go right inside, and they’re very small and green and shiny and their wings go so fast you nearly can’t see them. That’s what makes them hum. Like bees.’

Apparently, there’s some debate about whether hummingbird red nectar is really good for hummingbirds. If you’ve gotten your hummingbird to quit smoking by reading the warnings on the pack, then maybe they should put such warnings on red drinks, including Big Red and a bunch of purported health drinks containing nothing but water and red dye #3. (Any resemblance to real nutrients, living or dead, is purely coincidental.)

Those training for the Hummingbird Olympics will want to steer clear of red drinks with added sugar, and stick with 100% cranberry or pomegranate juice. Hummingbird vampires naturally have a wider selection at their disposal. As for hummingbirds who write poetry — known more formally as hummingbards — they’ll drink almost anything. In fact, they’ll drink you under the table.

This article goes so far as to suggest that red dye nectar might be killing hummingbirds: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/news/a43485/red-dye-hummingbird-nectar/. So play it safe, folks. Anything that lacks the Good Hummingbird Seal of Approval, put it in the shed next to the old paint remover. And leave the crows to fend for themselves.

As for Staples products, I’ve revised my opinion of them. They’re definitely not for the birds!

Of Further Interest

Auspicious Good Fortune (free audiobook!)

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Adam Schiff dialogues with Republican senators regarding impeachment (includes videos)

Despite their advancing age, these noble and conscientious statesmen engage in scintillating banter with House Manager Adam Schiff, who is formally attired for the occasion. But these discussions are only an apéritif preceding the main course, where fish will be served, though justice may be wanting.

Impeachment is an extremely rare phenomenon in American politics; but when ventured, it is done with precisely choreographed movements of the actors, and an almost superhuman gracefulness which speaks marvelously well of our public life and public men:

Still, the outlook remains murky, with some senators plainly in the tank for Donald Trump, swimming headlong toward disaster.

If justice is not served, history will look on this impeachment trial as a mere kabuki dance.

Michael Howard

The views expressed are my own, and do not represent any other person or organization.

Lev Parnas Slideshow FUNNY!

Not quite a buddy movie, but almost. Starring all the people who don’t know Parnas: Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Kellyanne Conway, et al.

The pose with Jeff Sessions wins the award for most Shreklike. And there’s one with Giuliani that might have been filmed by Francis Ford Coppola. All that’s missing is the cat. 😉

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Donald Trump – A date which will live in infamy!

Flanked by the co-CEOs of Tex & Tex Inc., Donald Trump complains about his enemies, including “Bob Mueller and his group of 18 killers” (Wot???). But the new IG report out today shows that Trump’s cries of treason and infamy are merely manifestations of his rampant paranoia. Et tu, Horowitz? Cameo appearances by Kenneth Williams as Julius Caesar, and Sophie Aldred as the wot girl.

And yet, unhindered by facts, the Deep State plot to turn Trump’s brains to plutonium rages on!

Michael Howard

The views expressed are my own, and do not represent any other person or organization.

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The Speech That Got Boris Johnson Elected

Could a computer create the ultimate campaign speech?

Let’s face it: What diesel is to trucking, speeches are to… er, politics. Those tender words of love whispered in the voter’s ear are not unlike the lavish displays put on by the peacock during mating season. With election season gripping the UK (along with the odd cold front and blizzard), we set out to monitor the speechifying exploits of that most colourful of political birds, the blue-lipped bojo.

More than that, we wanted to give Cambridge Analytica a run for its money by designing the ultimate campaign speech with the aid of computer technology. Such a speech would hit all the ideological high points, while also delivering key psychological triggers that would send Tory voters flocking to the polls in support of the former mayor of London.

We rolled up our sleeves, maxed out the ram on our Commodore Amiga, put the kettle on, and engaged in a furious spate of uber geekdom, feeding hundreds of Boris Johnson speeches into the gaping maw of the fully armed Amiga. We then pushed the Cuisinart button (located just beneath the printer port), and waited for what seemed an inordinate period. Finally, after much coughing and spluttering, the computer churned out this. A bit raw, definitely NSFW, but a new landmark in CBJ (or Cyber Boris Johnson). Surely such a speech must, in the immortal words of Cambridge Analytica, create an impactful marketing experience.

The Speech That Got Boris Johnson Elected

[Applause] Good evening, everybody. My friends, good evening. Thank you very much. All I can say is that I think most Conservatives that I’ve spoken to are passionate believers in making hay, uh, north and south of the border, whether it’s at Calais, or Rotterdam, or wherever, by extending the behind, ah, far more than people thought was possible. It’s a very, very simple idea. We asked the people what they thought, they gave us their answer: Ball the man, not the bus.

Is that not a good thing to do? If we ever had to do it again, we would need a bigger bus. Because in Spain, in the pueblos of Andalucia, they have massive Mars bars. More than thirteen hundred brilliant Conservative counselors went down instantly. I don’t think people in this country realise quite how bad the position is. Around the world we have a huge number of really tragic cases. We, in this government, will work flat out, to give this country the extra lubrication it deserves. And that is the work that begins immediately behind that black door.

It’s vital that we do that, so that our EU friends and partners look us deep in the eye and they think: Dude! Friggit, this goes to character and this goes to whether you stick by what you promise. Our mojo has, I’m afraid, become too soft, completely invertebrate. It’s dead and needs to be junked. The public have spotted it, and we need to do something about it, without necessarily getting our heads bitten off. If I’m lucky enough to be elected, I will of course be leading an immediate program of British-made battery technology.

I’m a passionate believer in rubbish-powered pumping pistons out on the streets, with their lovely traditional contours — burly, bulging, faintly reminiscent of a black bowler hat. If they can do it in Spain, why can’t we do it here in the UK? I think actually, plastic butts can be a good thing, a wonderful thing to entrench and intensify the union. Let’s make them in Britain!

A huge amount of work has already been done. Brilliant Scottish kids are growing up to make some badly-designed undergarment that discourages women from getting into politics — that we are selling, that we are using to help to defend and protect our friends and allies around the world. And Australia has bought them. The Canadians, uh, have followed suit, they’ve already done it.

It’s because of the hole, stretching out for years and years every part of the anatomy. Fantastic scheme! And that is what modern conservatism is all about. That is our moral case to the country. It’s true. On the other hand, a feminist is somebody who believes fundamentally in the equality of human beings and kippers.

And I think, to get back to my central point, my first priority is obviously feeding saprophytically on the sense of decay in trust in politics. I’ve made it very clear that we will have abundant murders on the London Underground, to say nothing of serious sexual offences of all kinds, throughout the summer, that actually stimulate economic growth! I hope you will not mind.

Question: Do we worry that you’re a bit of a loony?

It’s so interesting how often this question has come up. When you look at what I’ve done in politics — as the former useless Mayor of London — and what I’ve promised to do to any electorate that is, ah, that has, ah, hired me, I’ve always exceeded superhuman incompetence. ‘Pathetico’ I think is the word I want in Spanish. We can sell it again to the people of this country, cheaply and conveniently. And now’s the time.

Let’s prick the twin puff balls of Jeremy Corbyn, deep fried or otherwise, for a fantastic agenda of modern conservatism. And we can beat him, my friends! And this is what we, this is what we need to do to win: We should be accelerating basic hygiene for Conservatives with their various, their various piscine names. That is the right thing to do, and it will be a huge relief to every girl within reach of the central activity zone of London when we do it. Each Conservative MP must be accompanied by a plastic ice pillow. Doesn’t that make sense? Yes, it certainly does. That is the way forward. I have every confidence that in ninety-nine days time, we will have cracked it.

I’ve got to say I believe firmly in a woman’s right to choose suicide in some African countries. In a feminocracy, that’s the way it should be. We Conservatives believe in a collection of unsavory views about all sorts of subjects. We lead the world! We lead the world! By coming out, finally, we will be able to establish an identity as a kipper smoker in the Isle of Man — or olives or something — and by so doing, we will get our mojo back as a party.

We’re most of the way there. Every Conservative surely believes that all the young women in this country should have the same basic access to our fantastic mojo, both in primary school and in secondary school. There are things that we will be able to do when we come out of the EU, that we weren’t able to do before, using fudge technology. That’s why I made such an emphasis in my speech earlier on, about what I want to do with fudge. It is the great liberator and equaliser of society. I want to encourage millions of women around the world to get into my transport, lose their shirts, and receive twelve years of quality education. We start recruiting forthwith.

However, the President of the United States used fudge that was unacceptable. It is far, far worse than that. The President of the United States is full of codswallop. His economic program would be absolutely catastrophic for this country. So what we should do, is we should immediately get rid of him. I think I’ve made my position clear on that. And of course, having taken that decision, everybody is afraid of the twitstorm that will happen.

I feel I should say something about Theresa May, stamping her foot and clucking her tongue. This bird has now become too tight in some places, and dangerously loose in other places. Fantastic maidenhead! Absolutely colossal! And it is growing the whole time, in a supererogatory way. Popular with taxi drivers themselves, and believe me they’re pretty demanding clients, I happen to remember.

20% bigger than it was in 2010. Lovingly rubbed with British rhubarb. Waiting to be unleashed. It’s ready to go — just add water! And it will be a huge relief to those poor people in Salisbury. It shows what an amazing magnet we are for talent. British cauliflowers do it with confidence. Let’s make them electric! A glorious rebuttal to those sceptics who said it couldn’t be done…

And what I want to do in a nutshell can be summed up as selling the Tories’ brand of unpasteurised minestrone to boys and girls around the world. We did it in London, and we can do it again. That’s why we’re the Conservative Party! Insofar as all subatomic particles survive, we can be very, very proud of what we have achieved!

We must get Brexit done, level up English corporal punishment for the people of Scotland, and unleash the power of tampons. Here’s one I made earlier. Slam it in the oven, and no more VAT on Schrödinger’s Cat. The institution of the monarchy is beyond ridiculous.

We can win, we must win, and with your help we will win! I hope I can count on your support. Thank you very much. [Applause]

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The views expressed are my own, and do not represent any other person or organization. No cyborgs were harmed in the making of this post.

Ask Dr Johnson!

Readers send in their questions to Dr Boris Johnson, and he answers them in true Tory fashion.

Dear Dr Johnson,

My husband and I vacationed in Swaziland in the summer of 2018. We went for the glass, but stayed for the sorghum! Since then, I discovered I have a large, cauliflower-shaped rash on my left elbow. What is this rash, and do you know of a cure?

Matilda Heath-Mullins

Dear Matilda,

I’m sorry to hear of your ‘rash’ vacation exploits. If it truly is cauliflower-shaped, then perhaps some form of pesticide would avail you. What I always say is British cauliflowers are the best cauliflowers! But under EU regulations, our fantastic British cauliflowers are forbidden to be sold on U.S. Army bases or cooked in U.S. Army kitchens. So we need to get Brexit done, leave the EU, and forge ahead with an amazing new trade deal. Then I’m sure we will experience a veritable renaissance in British cauliflower-growing and consumption. Speaking of consumption, your unusual rash could be a symptom of the latter. I’d have that looked at if I were you.

I happen to be a Swaziland trivia buff. Did you know that the King of Swaziland has 15 wives and 23 children? This hardly compares with the English aristocracy, but they are good people and they are trying.

Swaziland is, of course, a member of the Commonwealth and an area where we’ve already negotiated a fantastic post-Brexit free trade deal. They will be sending us goat meat, and we will be sending them videos of Downton Abbey. Cheers!

Boris Johnson
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Dear Dr Johnson,

My little Timmy was playing in the lanes when seemingly out of the blue a lorry carrying elderberries bore down and ran over his tail. We rushed him to A&E at Shrewsbury and Telford, but the wait was horrific. During the 11 hours before Timmy was seen, he lost a lot of blood. It was gushing out all over the waiting room floor, putting us rather in mind of the Hammer Horror era. Finally, a very nice but tired-looking Indian doctor examined him and confirmed that he had, indeed, lost a lot of blood. He said there was a shortage of hemoglobin due to Tory austerity measures, and there was nothing he could do. We buried Timmy in the back yard the next day, and since then our marriage has hit the rocks. My husband’s been made a dundancy and now collects alarm clocks. What do you advise, and how is it the Tories have instituted such drastic cuts that everyone’s tail is on the chopping block?

Melody Rundquist

Dear Melody,

I’m afraid I cannot agree with the premise of your question. Under this Conservative government, hemoglobin production is up 53%, and the production of other bodily fluids has vastly increased. The previous Labour government left us with no bodily fluids whatsoever, and a crudely scribbled note saying ‘Ham in fridge’. Well, that’s the Labour Party for you! Since taking office, this Conservative government has been proactive in increasing bodily fluids across the board. We are directly responsible for upping bile production by 36%, and vomitus by 43%. But we are not ones for resting on our collective laurels. My simple campaign pledge to the people of Shropshire is this: Return me as Prime Minister, and I will level up semen production to hitherto undreamt of levels, and produce a race of British Supermen ready to fight the Third World War! (‘Hear, hear!’)

Coming back to your original question: You fail to state categorically (but strongly imply) that little Timmy was of the, ah, canine persuasion (hence the tail). If Timmy was what we Etonians call Canis lupus familiaris, I must regretfully inform you that, unfair as it may seem, home sapiens receive priority treatment at most A&Es. I am neither a veterinarian, funeral director, nor marriage counselor, so am unable to advise you further.

Boris Johnson

P.S. Under this Conservative government, elderberry production has seen an increase of 26.3%, far greater than any other EU country. The alarm clocks are harmless, unless taken internally.
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Dear Dr Johnson,

My wife and I live in West Mersea and are both consummate fish freaks — though as I might prudently add, very conventional in other respects. In our garden pond, we have everything from bass to herring to octopi, and have managed to get them to live harmoniously together by singing to them regularly. They mostly prefer folk tunes, but do not complain too loudly if we slip in a bit of Cole Porter, or the odd aria from Pagliacci. (My wife likes to dress up as Cher and sing ‘Believe’.) Anyway, just last week our prize orangutan Pepe began exhibiting listlessness and shortness of breath. He refused to swim with the other fish, and began whistling ‘Show Me The Way To Go Home’ on an almost nonstop basis. My wife says it sounds more like the love theme from Romeo and Juliet (the film version with Olivia Hussey), but that is neither here nor there. Pepe also seems to compulsively report the latest news headlines every half hour. What can we do?

Frank and Mildred Wylkes

Dear Frank and Mildred,

Take it from one who knows: You and your wife are not just freaks, but (with apologies to Rick James), superfreaks. Keeping an orangutan in with the fish is bound to dampen their spirits (as well as the orangutan), and Cher impressions are quite déclassé. It all sounds rather hopeless. Orangutans are not good swimmers, and the shortness of breath you describe is entirely to be expected when a tree-dwelling mammal remains in aquatic conditions for extended periods.

Even I sometimes experience shortness of breath in my renowned role as a cunning linguist. And while I regularly pose with fish and fishmongers (see photo below), I am not, strictly speaking, an ichthyologist — nor is Pepe even a fish.

Boris Johnson demonstrates his fish snoggery technique while being coached by a past master

I am therefore unable to answer your question definitively, but have a sneaking suspicion your orangutan has swallowed a small transistor radio. (The news headlines every half hour are more or less a giveaway.) The tune he whistles may be a manifestation of homesickness (as orangutans are not native to West Mersea), but it could also be a mating call. If the Romeo and Juliet theme gets on your nerves, try teaching him something from Porgy and Bess, or any love song that you find more agreeable. Orangutans are talented mimics, and he’s bound to pick it up in no time.

However, I fear that as with certain other letter-writers, your query is rife with superfluous detail and strays rather far from my core area of expertise. I hope future correspondents will stick more to the point, and not take unfair advantage of what is (after all) a free service provided by the Crown.

Boris Johnson
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Dear Dr Johnson,

We have a yellow-fronted Amazonian parrot which we love dearly. We think it’s a male, so we named it Romulus. But lately, it has developed a discolouration in the region of the beak. This used to be greyish-brown, but now shows a large white rectangular area. Romulus is very fond of marshmallows, and we worry that feeding ‘him’ too many marshmallows has caused the discolouration. Do you recommend a change of diet?

Edna and Edith Farthingworth

Dear Edna and Edith,

Firstly, I must protest the proliferation of pet complaints among these letters! I state (and repeat for emphasis) that I am not a veterinarian. I did once sleep with a veterinarian, but it was a one-night stand, and she later voted for the Liberal Democrats. I wish her well… As for your Amazonian parrot, I’m afraid it’s suffering from a condition which we Tories call ‘surrender bill’. The large white rectangular area is a classic symptom.

I advise you to prorogue your parrot for at least five weeks, or as long as the Supreme Court will allow. After that, treat it as you would any mushroom, writer, or parliamentarian: Keep it in the dark, and feed it lots of sh-t.

Marshmallows are right out, at least until ‘his’ beak returns to normal. If you have an excess supply of marshmallows, you can send them to my honourable friend the MP for Rayleigh and Wickford, who has a peculiar yen for marshmallows. (He puts them in a pudding.)

Boris Johnson
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Dear Dr Johnson,

Help! I’m trapped on a fishing boat with a curved cucumber and no condoms. Am I in violation of EU law?

Signed,

Distressed

Dear Distressed,

While your question is not a medical one, it does relate to Brexit, so I feel qualified to answer. EU regulations concerning curvature of vegetables only apply to rutabagas, and even then only on oddly-numbered days. As for condoms… EU law requires that all fishing boats be equipped with condiments. I’m afraid this is a rare case where the Sun did cause needless panic due to inaccurate reporting. We must get Brexit done and dusted so that we can finally be free of all these draconian regulations which no one rightly understands. I myself have fallen foul of EU regs regarding serial liars and pompous windbags. Apparently I need some sort of license, or a jab with some foul, froggy concoction that will make me sound like Jacques Cousteau.

Boris Johnson
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Send in your letters to Ask Dr Johnson!, but please do keep questions on-topic.

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Disclaimer: All names of letter-writers and pets are fictional. Any resemblance to real parrots, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Update: Sadly, life sometimes imitates art. I posted this parody on November 5. Then on December 9, a story hit the media about a four-year-old boy who was forced to sleep on a pile of coats on the floor at Leeds General Infirmary, for lack of a bed. I want readers to know that the parody predates the story by a month. I would not have made light of this real world incident. The parody stands on its own as a comment on the state of the NHS and Tory austerity measures.