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Jon Stewart vs. Donald Trump: You’ve forgotten Martha. May 6, 2013

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We may be Luddites here at Poor Richard’s Almanac, but we do read our daily Yahoo! news. So yesterday, we saw that Donald Trump had attacked Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show” yet again, this time by announcing that Jon’s birth name wasn’t actually Stewart. This set off a viral reaction when Stewart responded by revealing that The Donald’s own birth name was F**kface von Clownstick.

Trump was apparently outraged and responded with a torrent of childish tweets. But the entire episode could have been easily avoided. If Trump had just done his homework, he’d have found out that Jon Stewart changed his surname to honor his mother after discovering that he was actually the love child of Martha Stewart. Then The Donald could have gotten back to more important things, like working on his hairdo and practicing to replace Albert Finney in the musical “Scrooge.”

A new twist on Cinco de Mayo. May 6, 2013

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Silence Dogood here. I’ve written many posts about wonderful recipes for refried beans, guacamole, margaritas, and the like for Cinco de Mayo in the past; search Cinco de Mayo or refried beans, margaritas, burritos, salsa, fiesta, guacamole, palomas, etc., in our search bar at upper right to find a wealth of options. Yum!!! I’ll share a couple of quick, luscious options in a minute.

But for now, I’d like to talk about my latest Cinco de Mayo escapade. Our local library has an area outside the actual library where you can drop off books and pick up books for free. I wanted to drop off a book, and persuaded our friend Ben to let me run into the library yesterday while we were doing our usual weekend errands. Unfortunately, I saw that someone had dropped off their entire Spanish-language library, from Gulliver’s Travels and Ivanhoe to War and Peace to The Iliad to Love in the Time of Cholera. Let’s not even try to picture OFB’s horrified expression when I staggered back to our car with a dozen Spanish-language classics.

“Uh, Silence, what are you doing with all those books? What are they?!” a horrifed Ben asked.

“They’re classics in Spanish, Ben! Even The Iliad!” I replied with some false bravado, given that our books already overflowed from our wall-to-wall bookcases.

“Silence, can you even read Spanish?”

Well, no. I’d been making good practice with the Pimsleur Spanish CDs, until I got derailed by Pimsleur’s Japanese series. I’d studied French, Italian, even a little Latin, Spanish’s sister Romance languages. But, ahem, no, I couldn’t really read Spanish. I’d been hoping that having read these books in English might help me advance in Spanish, especially when I take up the Pimsleur Spanish language CDs again.

Can’t hurt, might help, right? Er, assuming OFB doesn’t consign this latest giant book pile to the burn pile.

Meanwhile, let’s get back to two simple and scrumptious treats for Cinco de Mayo: nachos and guacamole.

The best nachos I know how to make are also the simplest ever. Layer some Tostitos round tortilla chips in a 9-by-6 ovenproof pan. Spoon over lots of shredded white Cheddar, diced scallions (green onions, including the white part), and sliced jalapeno to taste. Repeat. Heat in the oven at 250 degrees F. until the cheese is thoroughly melted. Top with fresh cilantro and sour cream, if desired, before serving. Enjoy.

As for guacamole, here’s everything I’ve learned about making fast, fresh, amazing guac that can take on the best any restaurant has to offer. Best of all, it’s super-quick and easy! Get two ripe Hass avocados, a container of fresh hot salsa, half a sweet onion, a bunch of cilantro, a tomato, scallions, and some Key lemon juice, Key lime juice, or fresh-squeezed lemon or lime juice.

Put half the container of fresh salsa in a bowl. Mince the sweet onion and add it. Chop the cilantro and add it. Chop the scallions and add them. Dice the tomato and add it. Add lots of lemon or lime juice. Mix all well, and add a spalsh of hot sauce (we like Tabasco’s Chipotle Hot Sauce for this) and a dash of salt (we like Trocomare or RealSalt). Stir all well.

Then take two avocados, split them in half lengthwise, and pop out the seeds. Next, cut each avocado half in half, so you have four sections. Now, using nothing more complicated than your fingers, peel off the avocado peel and add it to your compost bucket. Chop the flesh into coarse dice, then mash it with a potato masher until half is mashed and half is still chunky.

Add the avocado to the other ingredients and stir well to mix. It’s essential to make sure the avocado is coated with lemon or lime juice so it won’t brown, so mix well. Now you’re ready to break out the chips and enjoy Cinco de Mayo anytime! Spanish translations of classic works optional.

‘Til next time,


Yes, it really IS funny. May 1, 2013

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Today’s Wall Street Journal featured a story about snide, sarcastic, ironic, and just generally funny reviews people leave on Amazon for books and products that strike them as ludicrous. Our friend Ben and Silence Dogood, who are wordsmiths to the core of our beings, were laughing our heads off at some of these comments.

Admittedly, we wonder who had the time to write them. We’ve never left even one comment on the Amazon reviews pages, whether we loved a given book, CD or movie, or hated it. We can’t imagine how these folks—sometimes thousands of them—find the time to do so. But we’re glad they do.

Why? Because they’re screamingly funny. Take the reviews of the (perfectly serious) tome How to Avoid Huge Ships by Captain John W. Trimmer. One reviewer’s comment: “I bought How to Avoid Huge Ships as a companion to Capt. Trimmer’s other excellent titles: How to Avoid a Train and How to Avoid the Empire State Building.” Another: “Saved My Life and My Sanity. For about 8 months now I have noticed that a huge ship has been stalking me…I was fearful because my parents were killed by a big ship when they went out one day 4 years ago to walk the dog, and I have nightmares about it to this day.” Explaining why he’d given the book four stars rather than five, this reviewer added, “I do have to deduct a star because the book did not come out in time to save my parents.”

OFB and Silence enthusiastically support the efforts of anyone who chooses to commit the time to brighten our Dilbertian days. Our favorite from the article, however, left even How to Avoid Huge Ships in its wake. It was for a product rather than a book, a product that’s apparently sold on Amazon. Unlikely as it seems, you can actually buy a uranium sample on Amazon. Of the Images Scientific Instruments Uranium Ore Sample, one reviewer complained, “I purchased this product 4.47 billion years ago and when I opened it today, it was half empty.”

To discover more along these lines for products such as Fresh Whole Rabbit (“It’s Dead!”) and the Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer, head to http://www.wsj.com and check out “Products Are No Joke, but Reviews Are.” We could all use a good laugh.

What God looks like. April 14, 2013

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This little story made us laugh, so we thought we’d share it with you.

A little girl is drawing in her class.

The teacher passes her desk and asks, “What are you drawing?”

“I’m drawing God,” the girl replies.

“But,” the dismayed teacher stammers, “but nobody knows what God looks like!”

Still busy drawing, the little girl says, “They will in a minute.”

Flying Spaghetti Monster, anyone?

The tee-shirt wars. April 1, 2013

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Aaauuugghhh!!! The most dreaded ritual of spring has finally arrived. I knew it the moment I walked into the bedroom my partner, Silence Dogood, and I share here in the precise middle of nowhere, PA and saw the piles of tee-shirts on the bed. The Tee-Shirt Wars had begun again.

Our friend Ben is extremely fond of tee-shirts, especially tie-dyes and colorful tee-shirts that commemorate places we’ve been and things we enjoy. Unfortunately, for some reason, Silence feels that by the time you can’t open a drawer because of all the tee–shirts crammed in it, and by the time you pry it open, they’re so compressed that they’re all too wrinkled to wear, then something has to go. In fact, as many things as possible. It always goes something like this:

Silence: Ben, look at this mess! I must have extracted 50 tee-shirts from that one drawer alone. Some of them have to go!

Our friend Ben, muttering: Not again.

Silence: Ben, don’t you have enough collections without insisting on hanging on to every ancient, hideous tee-shirt you’ve ever owned?

OFB: What do you mean, hideous?!

Silence: Well, just look at this one from the Albuquerque Rattlesnake Museum. Or this: “Black Death, European Tour 1347-1351,” with that loathesome orange rat on the front!

OFB: That tee-shirt has historical significance! And besides, it’s funny.

Silence: I doubt the victims would have thought so at the time. And how about this blinding orange-and-yellow tie-dye, “Swampstock 2009″? Unless you’re standing in for a street light in a power outage, I don’t see how you can bear to wear it.

OFB: That tie-dye is a piece of local history! It’s all we have left to commemorate Swampstock!

Silence: Ben, do you see the date on these two tee-shirts, 1992? And these are even older. I know you loved those cute little Belted Galloway cows, but do you really need three identical tee-shirts of them?

OFB, sullenly: I was afraid they might wear out and then I wouldn’t have any left.

Silence: What about this Lynyrd Skynyrd tee-shirt?

OFB, horrified: Hey, give me that! That’s Lynyrd Skynyrd!

Silence: How long have you had this Hawk Mountain tee-shirt? I’ve never seen you wear that!

OFB: Hawk Mountain is our greatest natural landmark! I’m keeping it pristine for, uh, ah…

Silence, brandishing the wrinkled, crumpled tee-shirt: You call this pristine? And Ben, look at these! They’re covered with stains. Eeewww!!!

OFB, chagrined: I’m keeping them in case I need to paint the house again.

Silence: When did you paint the house before?

OFB, hastily: I mean, for when I need to paint something in the house.

And so it goes, until the inevitable moment I’ve been dreading above all others, when Silence looks at me and says innocently, “What about this Dr. Smith tee-shirt?”

Dr. Smith, the cowardly villain of the otherwise tedious “Lost in Space” series, was our friend Ben’s childhood hero. I rolled on the floor every time he would whine dramatically, “Oh the pain! The pain!!!” over every least little thing. (Admittedly, I was very young and was, and remain, very easily amused.) So when I actually found a tee-shirt picturing my erstwhile hero and his famous phrase, I was completely ecstatic. That tee-shirt is one of my most treasured possessions. So when Silence comes to it at last, I know I have to surrender. But she’s not getting the Lynyrd Skynyrd tee-shirt.

A weighty issue. January 7, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. I’ll bet you’re as sick as I am of reading and hearing constantly about our obesity crisis, where it appears that just by breathing we’re magically packing on pounds, and the only sure way to keep weight off is to opt for the terminal solution. (It’s hard to gain weight when you’re dead.)

So today I was astonished to see two sides of the weight-gain spectrum on the Yahoo! home page. Our friend Ben and I don’t get the cable stations and don’t watch the few stations we do get, so I’ve been bemused by the Honey Boo Boo phenomenon. What’s that, a teddy bear? The next (shudder) Barney? And why would anyone care?

I was astounded to see a photo of Honey Boo Boo, a fat little girl, with her enormously fat mother. It turned out to be yet another reality TV show. I’m still not sure what it’s about, or how it came to be to begin with, but I have to assume people watch Honey and her Mama because they’re so grotesquely fat. It’s a form of fat rubbernecking. Yikes!

In the science headlines lurked the other weight-related headline: Even the kilogram is gaining weight. Say what?! If an abstract unit of measure is packing on the pounds, what hope is there for us poor flesh-and-blood mortals? The article explained that 40 platinum and platinum-iridium cylinders, each weighing precisely a kilogram (2.2 pounds), were distributed to the countries that embraced the metric standard in the 1880s so there would be a gold (or in this case, platinum) weight standard across the scientific community.

Unfortunately, over the years, the cylinders, despite being enclosed in glass, have apparently put on weight. Now not only does no single cylinder weigh exactly a kilogram, but each weighs a slightly different amount due to carbon and mercury contamination. These plus-sized cylinders may not really have gained enough weight to be visible to the human eye, but the scale doesn’t lie, and the point is that, in science, precision determines results. Fortunately, the cylinders can be stripped of their excess flab with a simple UV treatment. Unlike us, they don’t have to enroll in boot camp, go on crash diets, endure bariatric surgery, or compete on “The Biggest Loser.”

So, scientists, the million-dollar question: When will you devise a UV treatment that strips off our excess pounds?! The world is waiting…

‘Til next time,


American graffiti. January 3, 2013

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Silence Dogood here. Our friend Ben and I were on one of our road-trip vacations over the holidays, and had spent the night outside of Radford, Virginia. While OFB filled the tank at a local Sunoco station, I took advantage of the opportunity to head for the ladies’ room. (One of many priceless euphemisms for the bathroom, itself a euphemism, as is toilet, believe it or not. My favorite is the concept of the “rest area;” in Virginia, they even have “pet rest areas.” But I digress.)

Once in the bathroom, I saw that the inside of the stall door and part of one wall were covered with graffiti. No surprise there: I’ve seen many a stall door inscribed with sentiments of undying love, hate, and sarcasm. And indeed, there was one “Sue hearts Tony” on this particular door. But there was exactly one. Otherwise, all the way down the door on the left side were pro- and anti-Obama comments. These ranged from “Vote Obama OUT” (with the OUT scratched out, leaving “Vote Obama”) to rather more graphic comments (“[Bleep] Obama!” “I agree! What a hottie! I’d [bleep] him in a minute, bitch!”)

Political graffiti in a gas station bathroom stall is not something I’d have expected. But it paled beside the comments down the right-hand side of the door and on the adjacent wall. Here, an ongoing philosophical debate was occurring. It involved the nature of love and hate. Comments ranged from “The opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s ignorance” to quotations from the Gospel of St. John and St. Paul’s 1 Corinthians to excerpts from A Course in Miracles. Subsequent readers had noted which comments and quotes they agreed or disagreed with (“It’s not ignorance, it’s indifference” “Correct” [arrow drawn to indifference comment]).

Generally, when I go to the bathroom in a service station, I just hope there’s toilet paper and nobody’s sprayed the seat. To see that previous occupants have been engaging in political and philosophical, even theological, debate, is beyond anything I’d have previously imagined. Go, ladies, go.

‘Til next time,


Where’s my MacArthur award?! October 2, 2012

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Our friend Ben was crushed to see that, for yet another year, I failed to win a MacArthur fellowship (better known as “genius awards”). Silence Dogood gleefully showed me the list of winners in today’s paper. (She’s always giving me grief about my not-so-secret hopes of an award.)

The good thing about the awards is that each winner receives $500,000 with no strings attached. The bad thing is that you can’t simply apply for a fellowship; you must be nominated by a secret panel, and nobody knows who or where these people are. For all you know, the pizza delivery boy could be a nominator; so could the engineer in the next cubicle or the dentist who’s cleaning your teeth. This makes it rather challenging to get yourself nominated, but at least it’s an excellent incentive to be really nice to everyone you interact with.

Winners are chosen from all walks of life; this year was pretty heavy on musicians. But one winner specialized in something that really caught our friend Ben’s attention: the study of how fluids move in the human body, and how that movement could affect disease.

Our friend Ben has been pondering this ever since I was told that in a given day, the kidneys could move up and down by as much as six inches. We tend to think of our bodies as solid, but we’re more like a sack of fluid with organs suspended in it. And of course, fluid by its definition moves. We all know our blood circulates, but I think it would be fascinating to know how fluid moves through the rest of us. This was one MacArthur Fellow whose award I didn’t envy!

But please, nominators, wherever you are, let’s try to prove Silence wrong in 2013 and give our friend Ben an award! I don’t know how much more of her sarcasm I can take.

Rotten tomatoes. September 26, 2012

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Why are people so bizarre? Our friend Ben was staggered to read in this morning’s Wall Street Journal that adults by the thousands are now lining up in parking lots across America and paying $50 for the privilege of hurling rotten (the article euphemistically refers to them as “overripe”) tomatoes at each other. (Find the article, “Messy Business: Now You Can Pay to Get Hit by a Tomato,” at www.wsj.com.)

These are adults, mind you, people in their¬†20s and 30s. Several who were interviewed for the article were schoolteachers, who presumably wouldn’t find it amusing if they were pelted with rotten tomatoes by their students. Yet there they were, many of the participants in wild costumes, in a parking lot with a semi truckload worth of rotten tomatoes, hurling and mashing them onto each other. What on earth were they thinking?!

Mind you, we Americans aren’t the only ones who’ve lost our minds. The entrepreneur who came up with the idea of our Tomato Battles was inspired by an annual festival of tomato-tossing in Spain that draws an estimated 10,000 participants. I guess it beats running with the bulls.

In case you’re wondering why they use rotten rather than ripe tomatoes, they’re softer and squishier, not to mention cheaper. Getting hit in the head with a firm tomato (or a few dozen) could do some serious damage. Having a rotten tomato mashed into your face is apparently hilariously entertaining.

There’s one useful lesson we can all take from the insanity: People are willing to pay for this. The entrepreneur who launched these events is raking in something like $100,000 per event. Perhaps you, our friend Ben, and other enterprising types could start our own series of events where people toss grapes, rotten eggs, popcorn, or raw bacon at each other. No doubt we’d have crowds of idiots lining up.

Oh la la! September 21, 2012

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It’s time for another “best of the spammers” roundup here at Poor Richard’s Almanac. They’ve come up with some real gems lately, and of course we have to share them with you. As always, spam comments in bold, our friend Ben’s response following. Enjoy!

Oh la la!¬†Hmmm… did someone discover that Silence Dogood was a French major as an undergraduate? For all the good it did her!

Your writing is fastidious. Fast, or tedious?

I’m wondering why the opposite specialists of this sector don’t understand this. I’m sorry, we don’t speak Klingon here.

And our favorite:

I’ll continue to look for brussels. It was still in Belgium last time I checked.

The most bizarre thing about spam comments is that they bear absolutely no relation to the posts they’re attempting to appear on, which makes the comments even funnier than when you read them as stand-alones. The Klingon-like comment could have appeared on a post about pizza. I guess I just don’t get spam.




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