Five rules of the Mancave

By Jason Tudor

Under the tundra, tucked past the laundry room, or stashed in the same room where the ironing board, sewing goodies and boxes of shopworn clothing awaiting transport to a charitable bin is the one room of the house men find solace.

It’s a Fortress of Solitude; a guy-made panic room and beige-walled Tardis sometimes blaring heavy metal or Waylon Jennings ditties. And whether that room is garage, third bedroom, basement or carved out attic space, the man caves across American are sacred spaces.

At my house, my daughter occupies three rooms, including two bedrooms, three beds (she digs the air mattress) and a playroom. She’s like a Trump heiress counting properties along her Atlantic City boardwalk. Meanwhile, the rest of the house belongs to my wife, save the one room, which I’ve captured for you here:

You will note that my mancave is actually a mankitchencave.
The irony is not lost on the author, but I’ve got my own fridge.

All that said, for many men, a man cave of some sort is a must, like a favorite worn shirt or that THING. And since the Ermas are hip-deep in lists, what better way to roll into February and all its amorous then to cover five rules about man caves (the other 13 are classified ‘top secret’):

1. Let him decorate it. Really. Dallas Cowboys jerseys, Night Ranger posters, “Big Bang Theory” ironic tchotchkes. Old beer mugs. He’s taken time to dampen the ground around this spot with his feral spray. Barring bikini-clad pinups, ensure he has full reign to throw up (and that’s probably an apt term for what will serve as décor) whatever he wants.

2. Don’t touch anything. Piles of automotive magazines. Tools tossed into greasy piles making a metal miasma. Stacks of CDs. All of it may look like a hurricane hit it, but there is a sophisticated, meticulous organizational system at work here. Anyone having the impetus to “do him a favor” and “clean up this mess” would only be obliterating weeks of laborious, detailed organization. Besides, those discarded Slim Jim wrappers won’t recategorize themselves.

3. Requirements. Mancaves that are not garages have mandatory stocking requirements. They include: a giant television, a computer, a LOUD SOUND SYSTEM … LOUD, a bar (but where a bar can’t fit, a small fridge), and a lingering scent that will drive most others out of the room.

4. Earmuffs! This is hallowed ground. It’s the one place the man can go with other men and let the language freely flow about fishing lures, shovel passes and bed liners. The syntax that prevails in these conversations sometimes makes drunken sailors blush. 

5. Mind the door. I say this with the full knowledge that my own office does not have a door. That said, a closed door is an opportunity to allow man vapors to secrete without hindrance; to crank the volume knob to 11; to play the Imperial March and allow the office walls to reverberate; to think manthings and concoct manideas, most of which we get in trouble for in the first place.

Yes, at times, our knuckles drag. We slobber. We have a favorite pelt we wear often and wash little. It only makes sense that our caves resemble us. So, peek inside and tell me: what’s your mancave like?


Top Five Times Mr. Vagabond and I Didn’t Go to Jail (But Could Have)

Basically, Mr. Vagabond and I are good, decent, law-abiding American citizens. The “law-abiding” part is diluted by the fact that we are also undomesticated five-year-olds who just happen to have driver’s licenses. Behold, the top closest calls we have ever had with the law, yet remained unshackled afterward. They’re in no particular order. Any near-miss with the pokey is equally unappealing.

1. Walking into a federal prison and not being discovered until we were lost somewhere back in their administrative offices.

This could have ended very badly, especially when the guard (who had left his post) showed up, escorted us outside and said in an threatening tone, “You can’t just walk into a federal prison!” I had to kick Mr. Vagabond in the ankle to keep him from saying what was on both our minds: Apparently, you can! In our mutual defense, the unmanned, unlocked front doors said “Enter” and I was there to serve papers on an inmate. Who knew that the only person who can serve papers on a federal inmate was the local sheriff? Well, ya do now.

2. Peeing on the heads of several well-dressed nuclear scientists at a high-security military installation.

Mr. Vagabond is the owner of this little escapade. Since he isn’t here to defend himself, I should explain. He was working at the top of a 400-foot cell phone tower, and it was a foggy day. Visibility was poor, and he had to pee. Later that day, had a difficult time keeping silent when one of the scientists said, “We almost called off the testing today because it rained for a minute.” You just can’t make this stuff up.

3. Having naughty time outside in broad daylight in a state park at the top of a mountain while using a juniper shrub for balance.

While this was probably illegal, it was also ill-advised. Junipers are prickly. I won’t go into any more detail. You’re welcome.

4. Trying (both unsuccessfully and unawares) to smuggle a half-empty bottle of tequila onto a super high-security Army base.

I swear, we didn’t know it was there. Yeah, that look on your face is how the Army police looked at us, too. I thought Mr. Vagabond threw it away, he thought I threw it away... at any rate, we had also forgotten about the half-empty bottle of wine under my seat and the camera that those fearless, uniformed men found just as they were wrapping up the search of our vehicle. That was a fun day!

5. Traipsing through a graveside funeral in an old cemetery while highly inebriated.

We’re beginning to sound like alcoholics, but there is an explanation. Mr. Vagabond had been out of town for several weeks. When he came home, we celebrated with rum. In our weakened mindset, we figured taking a walk was a terrific idea. The closest place to walk and avoid traffic at the same time was a small cemetery. And so we did. Because we’re smart like that.

 I don’t advocate any of the stupidity listed above, but it sure does make for interesting dinner conversation.


You Are Smarter than You Think!

by Jeanette Levellie

Wanna feel extra clever today? This list of five ditzy doings will encourage you:

1.       When the bill at a drive-in burger shop came to $4.25, Aunt Minnie handed the young cashier a five-dollar bill and a quarter. The teenager gazed at the money for a moment, then said, “You gave me too much.”

“I know,” Aunt Minnie replied, “this way you give me an even dollar in change.”

The cashier left the window to find her manager, who returned with the money. “I’m sorry ma’am; we can’t do this type of thing,” he said.

Aunt Minnie shrugged as the teenager handed her $1.75 in change.

2.       A rural newspaper received this letter from a concerned reader: “I think the Township needs to move the Deer Crossing sign out on Highway 14. Too many deer are getting hit and killed there. They need a safer place to cross.”

3.       When a lady went to the mechanic’s shop to pick up her car after a repair, the mechanic apologized for locking the keys inside. He was busy finagling to get the door on the driver’s side open. The lady walked around to the passenger side. Finding it unlocked, she opened the door, then said to the mechanic, “Hey, this side is unlocked.”

“I know,” he replied, “I already managed to get that side opened.”

4.       If you plan to rob a bank, be careful where you write your hold-up note. One robber put his on the back of a deposit slip—his own!

5.       Believe it or not, I have been guilty of a few dumb doings. While in the lunchroom at a former job, I noticed the clock had stopped. I called the facilities manager to bring some batteries next time he came down to the kitchen.  A few minutes later he showed up, batteries in hand.

“Jeanette,” he said, “this clock is electric—the cord is hanging right here.” He plugged it in and set it. Heat crept up my neck and into my face as I said, “Well, the cord and wall are both white—it blended in!”


Jane Austen's Ladies in the Facebook Age

“Why do you read Jane Austen?” someone asked me once. “Isn’t that boring old chick lit?”

Well, no. It’s not boring, and it’s not chick lit either - it’s actually pretty scathing social commentary, and it’s full of useful bits of advice. The wit and wisdom of Jane still has practical applications some two centuries after her death. But what if her novels took place today, in the age of social networking?

Marianne Dashwood

You know Marianne would totally be on top of social networking. She’d be regularly regaling her BFFs with photos of her cats, comments about the bagel she had this morning, her boring sister Elinor, and that super hot guy from over at Combe Magna who helped her out when she sprained her ankle! But - OMG! - it turned out he’s not so great after all, and Willoughby would be unfriended faster than you can say “Block This User.”


Emma Woodhouse

Emma only wanted to be friendly towards Harriet Smith because she saw her as a project, sort of a Build Your Own BFF, that she could mold to her own needs. Good thing Emma and Harriet didn’t live in the Facebook Age, because Harriett would be all “Harriet Smith is in a Relationship” and Emma would be all “DISLIKE!!” and then Harriet would be “OMG Harriet Smith is SINGLE again” every couple of days. Meanwhile, poor Mr. Martin would still be trying to figure out how to turn on the Internet, and Knightley would just give up and go to LinkedIn.

Status Update: It’s Complicated

Lizzie Bennett

One of the great Facebookers of her age would have to be Lizzie Bennett. We’ve all got a friend like Lizzie - the one who makes an awful lot of fuss complaining about that guy she hates… but totally doesn’t hate him at all. Meanwhile, Jane would simply like everything Lizzie had to say, Charlotte would offer sage advice, and Fitzwilliam Darcy, who would never deign to send a friend request, would simply be a Facebook Creeper and watch from afar to see what Lizzie was posting about him. Not like he cares. Much.

Status Update: Dearest friends, this man is a total jerk.

Lydia Bennett

Lizzie’s younger sister, Lydia, is a prime example of why really young teens shouldn’t have Facebook pages at all. In the Facebook Age, Lydia would be in constant competition with Kitty for who had the Most Facebook Friends, and all of Lydia’s would be cute boys in regimentals. Lydia is that girl everyone knows who’s going to post a photo of herself partying in Brighton, her corset partly undone, and a beer bong in her hand.


Anne Elliot

Anne Elliot just has better things to do than sit around updating her status. She spent nine years waiting for the love of her life to come back to her, and when he did, she almost lost him again, thanks to the interference of people who thought they knew what was best for her. But Anne prevailed, avoided the drama of social networking altogether, and is now sailing around the world as Mrs. Wentworth.

Status Update: This Person is No Longer on Facebook.


Seven Surefire Ways To Lose Weight In 2012

  by Kathy Tirrell     

        1. Go to the gym.

Now I know what you’re thinking.  Oh no, not a gym membership!  I’ll go once and never go back again.  How on earth is this method ever going to work?  Simple.  What you’re going to do is WALK to the gym!  That’s right.  Even if it’s 50 miles away. Walk all the way to the gym and once you get there, walk all the way home again. That should help shed some pounds.

2. Tape a photo of one of those perfect-bodied Victoria’s Secret models onto your refrigerator door.

Or multiple photos, if you want.  Yes, a refrigerator adorned with a montage of perfectly sculpted beach bodies might just be the ticket to total fitness in 2012.  Why? ‘Cause every time you’re tempted to open up the fridge and grab a handful of fried chicken, darn it all, one of those babes will look you in the eye, admonishing, “You’re eating again?  Piggy!” 
Of course, you’ll slink away in embarrassment.

3. Tape a naked photo of YOURSELF on the fridge.

No explanation needed.

4. Buy yourself a dog that runs really, really fast (such as a greyhound or a whippet) and take it for a nice walk at least 3 times a day.

Did you know the whippet is the fastest dog on earth? Take your whippet out onto the bike path and perhaps he’ll take YOU for a nice long walk (make that RUN).

5. Run for President of the United States.

Hey, it IS an election year, right? Might as well throw your hat into the ring and run as an Independent.  Some of the candidates ain’t looking all that great, anyways. Since it’s sure to be stressful and hectic out there on the campaign trail, with long days and nights, you probably won’t have time to eat anything.

6. Buy a whole bunch of bigger, baggier clothes.

What we’re going for here is the illusion of weight loss.  An acquaintance sees you at the grocery store in your oversized shirt and says, “Wow, that shirt is just hanging off you, girl! Have you lost weight?”

And finally, if all else fails there’s this one:

7. Have your lips surgically sewn together.

Nothing beats this one!  If the food can’t get into the mouth, the fat can’t get onto the hips.  Or anywhere else, for that matter.

Happy New Year!


Five Reasons D.I.Y. Is Really A Four-letter Word

by Beth Bartlett

Editor's note: I seriously have no idea what this is.
Hold me.

Whenever my husband and I go out to a restaurant or retail store, he will take me by the hand, lean over and whisper in my ear, “We can make this stuff at home, you know.” 

What he doesn’t realize, even after twenty-plus years of marriage, is that I go out so I don’t have to make stuff at home. Not making it is a big part of the appeal, but he comes from a family that makes their own mayonnaise, so he never quite understands I’m domestically challenged. It’s cute, in a what-are-those-fire-engines-doing-here kind of way.
There are many projects we’ve tried together, but these are the top five I should never be allowed near again:

Broccoli salad
After performing a CSI-worthy autopsy of deli salad, he gave me the ingredient list: chopped broccoli, golden raisins, normal raisins, bacon and dressing. Sounds simple, right? Except that golden raisins are apparently made from real gold, considering the price. I’m thrifty, so I set out regular raisins to bleach in the sun. Maybe I should have dunked them in lemon juice, because they didn’t go blonde; they shrank into rabbit pellets. I also tried blending the broccoli; it looked like someone had massacred a herd of Chia Pets. Oh, the Ch-ch-chiamanity.

Dehydrated snacks
“If we make our own dried fruit, we can have snacks any time!” he said as he carried in a dehydrator. “It’s easy! Slice up fruit, slap it on some trays,flip the switch and walk away.”

 A crucial part of this recipe involves remembering to remove the fruit before the conga line of ants dances through the kitchen.  The fruit stuck to the plastic, the ants stuck to the fruit, and the entire colony had the full-on UFO experience as I flung the discs into the yard. I’m pretty sure I heard “Wheeeeee!” with each Frisbee toss.

Helpful hint: forgetting the wicks and trying to insert them later with a hammer and screwdriver will give you a lovely basket of vanilla-scented firestarters. The wood stove smelled delicious for a month, and every time I stoked the fire I had vivid hallucinations of crème-filled donuts. Good times.

Tiger Balm
Yes, the stinky, tingly stuff you slather on sore muscles can be made at home.  When you tire of the hair currently growing in your nose, you can find a recipe for this online; I assume it’s listed on Bachelor Quarterly. Among other things, it requires crushed red peppers, petroleum jelly and a firm discipline of never rubbing your eyes when they start streaming like a garden hose. We now have a 55-gallon drum of stinky, tingly stuff and a corner of the kitchen that makes the cat twitch.

Actually, he does this very well, because I’m opposed to hunter-induced male pattern baldness in deer and I have no part in this whatsoever. While he doesn’t hunt, he does tan an occasional deer hide for a clueless buddy, I’m assuming so the guy can make an adorable pair of high-heeled boots.  My participation is limited to running in small circles shrieking “Eeek! Bambi!” and gagging at the trail of un-deered hair around the worktable, which is located away from the house. Far away. In fact, if I call him for dinner, there may be roaming charges. 

Freelancer and humor writer Beth Bartlett calls her sponsor every time she feels the need to make something from scratch. No animals were harmed in the making of this article, except for one unfortunate deer, and we’re sure he’s in a better place now. At least that’s what he said when we did a séance with the new boots. Delve deeper into Beth’s twisted world with her sites at www.wisecrackzodiac.com, and at www.puregeek.me.


So Sorry

by Angie Mansfield

I've decided to forgo resolutions this year in favor of something far more useful:

apologies. Some of these are for transgressions already committed, while others are more like advance warnings. You be the judge. Names have been changed to protect the probably-not-innocent:

1. Dear Mr. Parker: I'm sorry I blew up your brand new smoker grill. In my defense, as I'm sure you remember me telling you at the time, it bore a disturbing resemblance to a Dalek -- you know, from Doctor Who? You really should watch more television, so you'll be better prepared to protect yourself against these things. Anyway, your smoker had a very Dalek-y shape, and at three in the morning when you've had a few too many mudslides (you know what I'm talking about, don't you, Mrs. Parker? wink, wink) things tend to take on a life of their own. In this case, I could swear I heard your smoker mutter, "Exterminate," as I crossed your backyard on the way home, and so of course it had to go. But I really do regret that the fire took out your carport. My bad.

2. Dear Mrs. Jones: I'm sorry that I told everyone at the neighborhood picnic about your wig. I'm sure this revelation was very embarrassing for you, especially since you worked so hard to get Mr. Everett from two blocks over to finally come to the party this year. My only excuse is that I had no idea it was a secret; I thought everyone knew that seventy-year-old ladies with thinning blue-grey hair can't grow a luxurious red mane overnight, no matter what sort of "cream" they put on it. My apologies, anyway, and please do tell Mr. Everett that, should he agree to accompany you to next year's block party, I promise not to elbow him in the ribs and say, "I guess gentlemen don't prefer blondes, eh? Eh?"

3. Dear Paperboy's Mother: I'm sorry about the nightmares your son's been having. I'm sure they'll pass eventually; I mean, how long can a ten-year-old be traumatized by a woman in a Frankenstein mask leaping out of the bushes at five in the morning and screaming "Boo!"? Honestly, he seems to be awfully jumpy, and you might consider having him talk to a counselor or something about his nerves. Oh, and do you think we could start getting our paper again? It's getting tiresome, having to steal the neighbor's every morning, and I think Mr. Parker's onto me, anyway.

4. Dear Mr. Rogers: I feel compelled to apologize, though I really don't know why you get so worked up. I mean, with a name like that, you should be used to people humming "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" every time you walk by. Clever of you to choose another route to work, though; it took me two whole days to figure out your new routine. But it was all worth it to see the tears of joy on your face when I sang the first few bars at you from behind that Dumpster. You really should look both ways, though, before jumping into the street; then you might not have been hit by that car and given me nightmares for a week.

It's all right, though. I forgive you

Angie Mansfield lives in an undisclosed location. It used to be disclosed, but she’s now in hiding from her neighbors. You know how it is.


Wild Furniture Kingdom

by Terri Lynn Coop
Welcome to this edition of “Wild Furniture Kingdom,” featuring the “Five Best Feral Sofas of Kansas.” Join me on this photo safari featuring the wildlife that is probably lurking in your own backyard.

         Facing life in the wild, our first feral sofa developed a unique protective coloring that allowed it to blend into its environment.

           Our second wild sofa is a proudly displaying its plumage and staking its claim on the kingdom. Judging from its flashy stripes, it is most likely an alpha male.

          Over time, wild furniture will often lose its fear of man. Our third feral sofa seems comfortable lounging in alleys and likely scrounging in the garbage.

            Our fourth stop is a rare glimpse of a nocturnal feral sofa. They hide in dark corners during the day, coming out at night to hunt and forage.

               Unfortunately, not all sofas are suited for life in the wild. These two fell to predators and their carcasses serve as a reminder that nature is not always kind.

Many people wonder if they have feral sofas in their neighborhood and ask me about the signs of a wild furniture infestation. I tell them to look for droppings.

I hope you enjoyed this episode of “Wild Furniture Kingdom” and will tune in next time for, “When Recliners Go Wild.”

Terri Lynn Coop is a lawyer, a writer, a Chihuahua owner, a clown hunter, and stalks feral furniture so you don’t have to.


Road Rulz

Did you know that the shape of the school crossing sign is made to represent a school house so as to help those of us behind the wheel of a car remember to follow the posted speed limits?

Yeah...me neither. Which is probably why I was standing in line with 50 other people to sign in for traffic school. As much as that sounds like it would be made of absolute suckage, I have to admit that (aside from the waking up at 5 a.m. thing) the day was pretty entertaining. And by entertaining? I totally mean educational and *clears throat* always obey the rules of the road, kids. You're too pretty to become someone's girlfriend in prison.

And for that matter, so am I.

This is why I'm here today, y'all. To share with you the highlights of what I learned in traffic school. Keep in mind that some (or all except for one) may only apply to Arizona, so I hereby recuse myself and The Army of Ermas of Any of Your Issues if you try to use any of the contents of this post to fight some crazy traffic ticket in the Alaskan boonies.

That being said...

* Never, under any circumstances, point out to the instructor that you found your almost falling asleep at the wheel on the way in to traffic school ironic, seeing as this whole thing is supposed to be about safety.

* It's probably also an even better idea to not file a formal request to allow those with access to the Internet to send in traffic school payment via PayPal and take the course during a special Twitter party with the hashtag "RoadRulz". Trust me...it won't go over well.

* While the driver of a motorcycle is not legally required to wear a helmet, his (or her) passenger is. Insurance companies are thereby encouraged to point and laugh at each biker who willingly signs off on the safety gear and instead chooses to pay a higher premium on his (or her) insurance policy.

* Homeschooling is required for children ages five and up.

* Well, maybe only if parents of said child who will be in a five-point-harness until she's 30 wish to spare her the humiliation of being unstrapped from her car seat every morning at school drop off from now until her senior year of college, seeing as safety seats for kids are not required for children over the age of five.

* "Work with your neighbor" in regards to class tests means the person sitting next to you, not the people who are laughing at you on Facebook for landing yourself in this mess.

* "So, what are you in for" is an acceptable greeting in traffic school.

* "I was FRAMED" is an (obviously) acceptable response to the aforementioned greeting in traffic school but...

*  Streaking blue eye-shadow across one's face and screaming "FREEDOM" upon dismissal tends to be frowned upon. 

* Oh right...and the brake pedal's on the left. 

Happy Driving!


How To Feel More Like Indiana Jones Jones in Your Everyday Life

by Harley May

We all know the typical New Year’s Resolutions: lose weight, stop punting puppies, yadda yadda yadda. I want more ADVENTURE in 2012 - above and beyond the normal hiking and canoeing. The authorities tell me that bank robbery and bobcat wrestling is a bad idea, so I’ve decided to pursue a life-long dream: I will become Indiana Jones. If you want break up the monotony of carpool lines, swim meets, and soccer practices with something more Raiders of the Lost Arc-esque, try implementing these tiny things.

1.)    Lose your automatic garage door opener. Close it manually and run out while the door is still moving.

2.)    Insert the phrase, “Snakes? Why’d it have to be snakes?” in your everyday vernacular. Replace the word “Snakes” with an object you see more commonly. If you change a lot of diapers, “Poop? Why’d it have to be poop?” If one of your co-workers gets to the break room before you and makes a pot of decaf, which is totally stupid, “Decaf? Why’d it have to be Decaf?”

3.)    When a band of cowboy thieves takes an item you want or think is very important, shout, “IT BELONGS IN A MUSEUM.” Then make your bottom lip bleed.

4.)    If offered monkey brains, accept it with a smile. Thank your hosts.

5.)    Instead of trying to outrun a boulder, spend some time on the freeway. Just as exciting.

6.)    Rather than carry a taser or a can of mace while running, loop a whip through your jogging shorts. If your shorts don’t have a belt loop, the iPod strap on your arm will work just as well.

7.)    Go to your local library and look for Roman Numerals. If you find the X, BUST THAT MOTHER UP.

8.)    When faced with a difficult decision, simply cut the rope bridge down.

9.)    Initiate foreplay with your significant other by pointing to varying areas on your body and say, “It hurts here.” (note: when you’re wearing an Indiana Jones hat, have the webcam set up, and tell your husband, “Um…I need you for a moment…” expect a crazy look.)

10.)    Show people a photo of Shia Labeouf and tell them he is your long lost son. Maybe don’t do this if you’re only a few years older than Shia Labeouf. You’ll look ridiculous.


The Twelve Days After Christmas

by Jennifer Caddell

On the first day after Christmas, my family gave to me,
Crumpled wrapping paper under the tree.

On the second day after Christmas, my family gave to me,
Two cookie crumbs,
And crumpled wrapping paper under the tree.

On the third day after Christmas, my family gave to me,
Three days to prepare for New Year’s Eve,
Two cookie crumbs,
And crumpled wrapping paper under the tree.

On the fourth day after Christmas, my family gave to me,
Four calling in-laws,
Less than three days to prepare for New Years Eve,
Two cookie crumbs,
And crumpled wrapping paper under the tree.

On the fifth day after Christmas, my family gave to me,
Four calling in-laws,
Wishing I had three days to prepare for New Year’s Eve,
Two cookie crumbs,
And crumpled wrapping paper under that tree.

On the sixth day after Christmas, my family gave to me,
Six bottles of champagne,
Four calling in-laws,
Three drunks on New Year’s Eve,
Two cookie crumbs,
And crumpled wrapping paper under that tree.

On the seventh day after Christmas, my family gave to me,
Seven bottles of Aspirin,
Six empty bottles of champagne,
Forget those calling in-laws,
Wishing it was still New Year’s Eve,
Two cookie crumbs,
And crumpled wrapping paper under that damn tree!

On the eighth day after Christmas, my family gave to me,
8am school bus is leaving,
Seven bottles of Aspirin,
Six empty bottles of champagne in the recycling bin,
Ignoring all phone calls,
Burning three photos taken during New Year’s Eve,
Two cookie crumbs,
And crumpled wrapping paper under that damn tree!

On the ninth day after Christmas, my family gave to me,
Nine spinning classes,
8am school bus leaving,
Seven bottles of Aspirin,
Six bottles of vitamin water,
Still ignoring the phone calls,
Keeping resolutions from New Year’s Eve,
Two stale cookie crumbs,
And crumpled wrapping paper under that damn tree!

On the tenth day after Christmas, my family gave to me,
Ten pounds to lose,
Nine spinning classes,
8am school bus leaving,
Seven bottles of Advil, (muscles ache!)
Six cups of coffee,
Four calls to my mother,
Three days keeping those New Year’s Eve resolutions,
Two tasty looking stale cookie crumbs,
And crumpled wrapping paper under a brown tree.

On the eleventh day after Christmas, my family gave to me,
Eleven minutes of rocking and mumbling to myself in a corner,
Still ten pounds to lose,
Not doing anymore spinning classes,
8am school bus leaving,
Seven bottles of Advil,
Six jiggers of Baileys in my coffee,
Four calls to the fire department,
Three firemen arrive,
Two tasty cookie crumbs,
And I used that wrapping paper to light the flames.

On the twelfth day after Christmas, my family gave to me,
Twelve boy scouts collecting that brown tree!
Eleven minutes of rocking and mumbling,
More than ten pounds to lose,
No more spinning classes,
8am school bus leaving,
Seven bottles of Advil,
Six cups of Baileys, no coffee,
Four calls from the psychiatrist,
Three days on Prozac,
Two licks on the cookie plate,
And only a few pine needles left of that brown tree.

Jennifer Caddell is often found in her office conjuring up science fiction stories,  writing poetry or hiding in a corner while her children are looking for her. She blogs about food, crafts, and writing at her new site http://colanderhat.wordpress.com


Top Tense

by Bill Mullis

Amy and I were brainstorming the other day in preparation for this piece. There was a point where we stopped what we were doing, looked each other in the eye, and said, “This ain't going to work.” See, for all the love and respect we have for each other and each other’s work, we harbor no delusions about our ability to work together on a writing project. Yep. Two divas, that’s what we are.

So we drew straws to decide who would have the honor of completing the essay. Amy drew the long straw. After soundly beating me with it, she allowed me to proceed.

To that end, I present the following Top Eight Examples of Artistic Tension:

Top Ten Ways To Get Your Husband To Stop Snoring

1. I don't snore.

2. Yes, you do.

3. No, I don't.

4. I want a divorce.

Top Log(10) Funniest Irrational Numbers

1. π (pi)

2. Wait. Is this geek humor?

3. Ummm. Yes?

4. I want a divorce.

Top Ten Cleaning Tips From Women’s Magazines
1. Put garlic cloves in the microwave for a few seconds to make them easier to peel.

2. What? How would that help?

3. I don't know. It just does.

4. That's stupid. And it's a stupid magazine to put such a stupid tip in it.

5. I want a divorce.

Top ten Craftsmen Power Tools, By Intrinsic Coolness

1. Craftsman 19.2 Volt 4 pc. C3 Combo Kit

2. Craftsman Professional Stapler/Brad Nailer, Heavy-Duty, EasyFire™ Forward Action™ with Rapid-Fire

3. Stop.

4. What?

5. What's funny about a list of power tools?

6. Nothing. I said they'd be cool, not funny.

7. We're doing humor. That means funny.

8. I want a divorce.

Top Ten Moments Of Implied Humor In Fitzgerald, Hemingway, And Faulkner

1. Zzzzzzzzz.....

2. I want a divorce.

Top Ten Flatulence Jokes

1. No.

2. What? You wanted funny.

3. What I want now is a divorce.

Top ten reasons Bill is a stinky goo-head

Oh, yeah? Top ten reasons Amy is a....

Watch it, buster!

In short, it wasn't a pretty evening. But we did at least agree on the following list.

Top Ten Ways For A Married Couple With Widely Divergent Styles To Successfully Collaborate On A Humor Project.

1. Get a divorce.


Top Six Ways to Finish an Argument - #1: The Flip-off

by Stacey Graham

No one would call me uncreative.

As the mother of five daughters under 17, settling disputes has taken on epic proportions in my household since no one is allowed to touch another family member in anger. That means plenty of dirty looks, but no sly kicks under the dinner table. United Nations - take note.

#1: The Flip-Off

No, not that kind of flipping. Having a giant trampoline is for more than just being a festive way to break a collarbone. I'll send in the combatants and the family judges the best forward flip. Points are given for style and arm flailing.

#2: The Dance-Off

Similar to the Flip-Off except with less "wheeeeeee-ing," the Dance-Off has its own killer shut down move: The CheeseSlicer. Developed by my then three-year-old daughter to keep up with her older sisters, her signature move shut down the competition.  It consists of kicking out one leg while swooshing both arms down, while yelling out "CHEEEEEEESESLICE-AH!" It's a showstopper.

#3: Enforced Negotiation

Crude but surprisingly effective, the girls sitting on each other and threatening to pass gas in their ear usually clear things up, not to mention the room.

#4: Pantsing

I have to admit, this one wasn't my idea. Come to think of it, Enforced Negotiation wasn't my idea either but I go with the flow. Pantsing occurs most often on the bus or in school hallways. Yes, I get a lot of calls from the office.

#5: Glitter
Another technique developed by the girls, this time by the oldest who must have been sneaking out to raves when I wasn't looking. Its subtle charm is seen as glitter is thrown into your opponent's face -- then you run. Then I get them the vacuum in order to clean up their disagreement.

#6: Death-Hug

As cozy as it sounds, the Death-Hug may or may not consist of choking the breath out of the one you're having a disagreement about lipgloss with. I prefer to think of it more of a gesture of intense affection and a little less than smothering.

Stacey Graham runs An Army of Ermas with an iron fist. An iron fist usually filled with chocolate. Don't judge. Please visit her blog, betwixt & between, and see what mischief she's up to on Twitter. She has two fabulous books coming out next spring, The Girls' Ghost Hunting Guide and the Zombie Tarot because she's cool like dat. She promises to stop referring to herself in the third person and slipping in "cool like dat" for future columns.