Posts Tagged ‘Humor’

Fun With Fire and Bug Spray

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Aaron Peterson.

I woke up to a creak, and saw Mike was looming over me, about to nudge me awake. For a second, I didn’t know where I was, but the smells of damp canvas and a smoldering fire set me straight. We were on a camping trip, the last one before school started.

Still in my t-shirt and jeans, I quietly grabbed my PF Flyers and followed Mike out the door of the pop-up trailer. A silent exit was impossible, but we woke no one. Mom and Dad had been drinking after we set up camp the night before, and would only wake up if when they sensed deviltry.

When camping with a family as big as ours — large enough that someone was always in trouble but not so large that anyone could sneak away undetected for long — early morning was the golden hour for me. No little brothers to watch and no pestering by an adult to pick something up or put something away.

I walked out into the cool, still and asthma-inducing muggy air. Get on the enormous rope swing? Nah. Tinker with the motorcycle? Why, if I couldn’t ride it until almost lunch.

Mike was poking in the fire pit, always at promising option. He was, naturally, trying to bring it back to life. It was covered in gray ash that protected deeper embers. That’s when I noticed the aerosol can of bug spray in one of the mesh lawn chairs. I couldn’t believe Mike hadn’t already seen it!

I grabbed the can and dramatically lowered it between the fire and Mike’s face. His eyebrows shot up and he looked at me with the wide-open gap-toothed smile that would, for his whole life, signal the beginning of ill-advised fun.

“Take turns,” Mike said. Not a request, but a restatement of the rules. It meant I couldn’t use the spray until it was gone. I nodded rapidly before pointing the nozzle on the fire.

A very, very satisfying torch raced from the can in a narrow, foot-long cone. And — bonus! — the torch was relighting the fire. I wondered why people didn’t always build fires this way. So simple, so effective and so cool.

Without saying a word, Mike reached for the can just as I was turning toward him. I had a concern: If I let off the button, would the flame follow back into the can? It seemed like a possibility, which meant I was holding a mosquito-spray hand grenade. How far could I throw it before it exploded? More important: Would the explosion wake up Mom and Dad?

That all became academic when Mike’s hand went right into the spray. We both realized how crazily dangerous that was, but before I could even drop the can (or think to throw it like Vic Morrow on the TV show Combat!), it was clear that Mike had interrupted the spray between the nozzle and the flame. He’d put the flame out!

This was so much cooler because we could torch things and safely shut the flame off.

I gave the can to Mike, as was fair, and he pointed it at the now-cheery fire. He was having trouble holding it and pressing the button because his left hand now was dripping wet with the slippery bug spray. He repositioned himself so that he could stick the can closer to the fire, and tried to spray again. The drips from his hand made little flaming pok! sounds when they hit the hot ashes. I was about to suggest we wrap the can in a dishcloth for a better grip until a small explosion cut me off.

Jimmy! What in the Christ are you doing?” We had been hunkered with our backs to the camper, and in our excitement, we never even heard Dad unzip a canvas window. Situational awareness score: Mike and me 0; Dad 1.

We pivoted a quarter turn and looked over our shoulders to see Dad, his lip already glowing. I looked sidelong at Mike to see him carefully and with almost no visible movement sliding the can in the long grass and between his shoes. Part of me was exasperated that once again, I was going to take the sole blame for something I’d been doing with someone else. But I evenly told my dad that we were warming our hands over the fire.

“What’s in your hands?! Stand up and turn around!”

Not only did Mike stand up with his hands out, but he cleverly started walking toward my dad thereby blocking my dad from seeing the can. It was all I could do to not look over at the spray can.

Later that day, Mike ran over to me by the rope swing with something under his t-shirt. It was the can, and the orange plastic top surrounding the nozzle had melted dramatically, probably while he was holding it and just before we were discovered.

Mike’s reaction: “This so cool!” I could not argue.

That Time the Sun Felt Lonely

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

The fox was stretched out on her side in a green, grassy field chatting with the warm sun. “You sound sad,” said the fox to the sun. “It’s very unlike you.”

“It’s nothing,” replied the sun. “Summer doldrums.” And they continued talking about the improbability of snakes.

The sun said, “No neck or all neck, right?”

“Right!” chuckled the fox. But still, she knew something was wrong. “Are you sure everything’s OK?”

“Well,” said the sun, and then, in a whisper, he said, “I heard that the moon is always surrounded by friends in the sky.”


“The stars, you mean? Yes, that’s true,” agreed the fox. “They are very sparkly.”

“Are there a lot of them?” asked the sun.

“Oh, my, yes. They cover the night sky. No one has ever counted them all,” said Fox.

“Really? What do they do all night?” asked the sun.

“They talk,” said the fox. “They tell stories, mostly. I only see them when I can’t sleep.”

“Oh,” said the sun. That’s all he said. Then he soundlessly rolled over the horizon to sleep. A little early, too, noted the fox. Maybe it was her imagination.


The next morning, the fox sat in a meadow full of tall and soft grass staring east, waiting for the sun to come up. She grew worried when the sun didn’t slide up exactly when he usually did. A short while later, about the time it took a bee to find its first flower, the sun indeed rose.

“I was thinking all night long,” said the fox. “Do you want to guess what I was thinking about?”

“I’m not really in a guessing mood, I’m afraid,” the sun said.

“That’s OK, I’ll just tell you!” The fox, as everyone knows, is clever. She enjoyed puzzling over problems and mysteries, and she was never more excited than when she unknotted something.

“You, my friend, are lonely!” the fox said beaming.

“What is lonely?” asked the sun.

“You don’t know? It’s when you are the only one. When everyone else like you is somewhere you’re not,” explained the fox, sounding maybe a little too pleased with herself. Others — especially the timid rabbits — had gently suggested to her that this sometimes happened.

“Hmmm. There is no one in the sky with me,” said the sun. “I’m the only one.”

“Oh, but you have lots of friends! You have me and the other animals. Admittedly, not all are as chatty as I am,” the fox said.

“But you have fox friends. Fish have fish friends. Gorillas have gorilla friends. Have you ever seen another sun, Fox?”

“Well, of course not,” she replied. “Can you imagine how hot and bright things would be with two of you in the sky?” She giggled at the thought until she saw the sun turn a sad orange.

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” the fox said, explaining that she wasn’t laughing at him.

“Apology accepted. Thanks, though I do wish I had never heard of stars.” He began pulling a soft, gray blanket of clouds across the sky.

“Where are you going?” shouted the fox.

“Hmm? Nowhere. I’ll be back.” And with that, he tugged clouds over the last patch of blue.

The sun rose even later the next day. He and the fox did have a great game of I Spy, which both enjoyed.

But the fox could swear the sun stayed a little closer to the horizon all day. She knew for sure that he never made it to the top of the sky before starting back down.

Right before he disappeared for the night, the fox came up with a great plan! It was her best plan ever! She excused herself and ran to the forest asking each tree for a favor.

“You all are so tall. Could you make some flowers way up high for Sun?” she asked. Flowers always made her feel better.

The trees listened carefully before putting their crowns together. The rustling was loud, and when it died down, the oldest tree, a sturdy oak, bowed down to the fox.

“We can do better than flowers!” the tree said.

“We can turn our leaves into flower colors!” the oak suggested. “Do you think that would that help?”

Fox jumped into the air. “YES! That is perfect!”

“Then, that’s what we will do,” said the tree. “Tomorrow morning, when the sun rises, he will be greeted by brilliant colors everywhere that there are trees.”

Fox was so excited. The next morning, she shot from her den. So eager for her friend appear that the fox did cartwheels until she was dizzy.

“Good morning!” the fox shouted while the sun was still climbing over the horizon.

“Oh! You startled me, old friend,” said the sun, a little grumpily. But he paused in the sky and crinkled his eyebrows in bewilderment. The sun scanned the land before him clearly surprised by something.

The fox turned around and saw for the first time a whole new world of colors. The velvety green leaves on the far side of the meadow were ablaze with shades of fiery red, warm orange, blinding yellow and deep purple.

For a second, she completely forgot about her friend the sun and his sadness. The sight pulled the air from her lungs and raised tears in her eyes.

Finally, she noticed her shadow slowly moving. The sun! Spinning around, the fox saw her friend looking happier than he had in days.

“It’s very, very beautiful, and it was so sweet of you all to do this for me,” said the sun. “Thank you! I feel better.”

Still, the fox noted that the sun floated dimmer and a little closer to the horizon all day.

“This is serious,” she sighed at the end of the day. Walking back to her den, the fox saw her shadow stretching in the low light, almost touching the beautiful forest across the field.

Right there and then came the most amazing idea! She didn’t have a moment to spare.

The fox would need a bigger shadow.


The fox ran north as fast as she could. Along the way she passed clusters of animals talking to each other worriedly and looking over their shoulders at the pale sun. Some shivered, something no one had experienced before. In fact, no one had ever felt cold before.

She’d shout at them, almost out of breath: “I (pant) have a (huff) plan! Keep talking to the (pant) sun!”

On the second day of the fox’s journey north, the sun was in the sky only long enough to melt some frost — another thing that was new to everyone.

The trees were giving up. They had begun dropping their beautiful red, orange, yellow and purple leaves, which fell to the ground and turned brown.

“Don’t lose hope, trees!” She continued running with all her might into the footsteps of her ever-growing shadow before her.

On the third day, when snow fell for the first time ever, the fox herself was beginning to worry. She’d never even heard of such a thing. Frozen sky! Very few animals were around as she ran and ran. Most of the smaller critters were underground in their burros. Bigger animals like buffalo and horses stood, unhappily, pointing their butts into the frigid wind and snow to keep it out of their eyes.

On the fourth day of her mission, the fox found herself running in a vast, open area of deep snow. There were no hills or trees or anything. The fox had to run-hop through the snow, and she was getting so tired and cold. Still, she would not give up on her friend.

Crouching in the bitterly cold air and snow for a minute, she turned to look for the sun. With a fright, she saw that he was mostly behind the horizon in the middle of the day. There really was only a brilliant yellow flare, and even that was sliding down.

The fox stood straight up and looked at her shadow. It went on forever, perfectly black and still. This was the time!

Sitting on her haunches facing her shadow, the fox pushed off out of the snow and high into the icy air. Then, quick as a whip crack, she grabbed the feet of her shadow. She raising it over her head like a long, long cape and snapped it onto the ground. There was a loud, echoing and cracking sound as the fox’s shadow shattered into millions of black bits.

There was an awful silence as the fox fell back to earth — and then! The pieces of her shadow rose into the air.

There were thousands and thousands of sharp little silhouettes swirling into the sky in crazy, beautiful curls and streaks, not one hitting another.

The fox whistled shrilly to them, and they moved toward her. She pointed toward the sun.

“There! Go there! He needs you, so go as fast as you can!” And off they shot, blackening the sky over her head, which was fortunate. She would hate to have anyone see her crying, even with joy. Crying is for crocodiles.


By the time she returned to the glen, her friend the sun was starting to come back. Little by little over a few weeks, his energy and smile came back. The sun named his new friends in the sky birds, which seemed appropriate because that was kind of the sound they made.

The weather warmed up, pushing the snow far, far north. The trees happily sprouted luscious green lives and animals no longer hid underground day and night.

Everyone was happy again and life returned to normal. Well, normal for almost everyone. The fox sometimes had a hard time getting the attention of her friend the sun, who laughed and joked and shared confidences constantly with them.

That’s OK, she thought, it was worth it to have her oldest and best friend in the world content again.

Besides, last night, she’d noticed that the moon wasn’t quite as full as she usually was. She’d have to talk to her tonight.

11 Weather Catastrophes: Celebrity Edition

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Sometimes the worst weather disasters aren’t spotted or tracked by satellites or radar. The International Red Cross doesn’t show up with blankets and coffee. The President doesn’t send billions in disaster aid.

But that doesn’t make the following catastrophes any less heartbreaking or worthy of round-the-clock cable news coverage. At least we can be grateful that no one was seriously hurt in these terrible incidents.

11. Jack Nicholson and the Sun

Jack wants to know who took his belly button

Any of yous seen my navel?










Is it any less of a shame when the weather, in this case, a hot, windless day out in the ocean, forces you to create your own calamity? “Nick” seems unfazed, but then again, there are three men on that boat and four women. Looks like someone’s going to have to double up….

10. Humidity Victimizes Actress Eva Amurri

A hot day doesn't make a little (ok, a lot) of sweat a wall flower

If you put circles around my pit stains, I’m coming after you














You start your day in Hollywood glamour, content with being a TV and movie star. But then maybe your Fiesta dies on the way to the red carpet, and it’s L.A., so there’re no cabs, and no one slows down for you on the PCH much less offers you a ride, and the kid in the yard wants one-fiddy for his bike but you only got $100 and you have to run through Santa Monica in your $400 Stella McCartney knockoff. That’s a tragedy that would choke up Anderson Cooper.

9. Benicio Del Toro’s Cumulohimbus

Benicio kills even with pompadour

The National Weather Service reported severe ground-level updrafts in the area.

In his movies, Del Toro survives almost everything except for a silver bullet in (and reviews for) “The Wolfman.”

Then this.

Initial reports indicated that the actor had driven through an errant pocket of helium, but it was later confirmed that a simple yet strong updraft caught his coiffure.

His hair had the consistency of meringue.



8. Courtney Love vs. the World

One or maybe even two trucks seem to have creased Courtney

You saw that tornado I just walked through, right?

A strange attractor for all kinds of disasters, punk performer Courtney Love, shown here shortly after being kicked out of a New York club by the band that had actually been booked to play, stumbled straight into the first tornado to hit Brooklyn in recorded history.



7. Reservoir ‘Dogs’ Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino's image problem is his image

I’m going with a Jheri Curl malfunction.

Quentin Tarantino can be close to god-like in his ability to control forces of nature like Michael Madsen, Harvey Keitel and Robert DeNiro.

He’s less successful with the real thing. Here, humidity, rain and maybe a close call with lightning have the master director offering a brave (grandmotherly) face for the public.


6. Katie Holmes Blown Away

Katie Holmes

Hubby Tom Cruise believes hair elastics are psychiatric mind-control devices.

Pretty is as pretty does. Until pretty walks into the mini-cyclones that form at the entrance of Chicago skyscrapers.

Katie Holmes never had a chance as she exited a Michigan Ave. coffee shop. Between the gust and the photographers, she was lucky to find her way back to husband Tom Cruise’s suffocating isolating waiting arms.



5. You’re A-List, Steve. You Can Lose the Jacket

Steve Carell is hot

“No, I’m lactating. Long story.”

Steve Carell, one of the more unlikely comic leading men in movies today, is an ordinary Joe at heart. And under his arms.

In case you can’t tell, that’s a three-layer sweat stain, provoked by a Manhattan August, or as the month has been renamed there, Asthma.

(Jim Carrey was spotted moments later soaking his Armani jacket in a fountain to upstage Carell. To no avail.)

4. Mother Nature Deals Cruel Blow to Jennifer Aniston

Jennifer Aniston

A very, very, very slightly less-than-perfect Jennifer tells weather to go to “heck.”

Jennifer Aniston is the female Tom Hanks. They are the nicest person in Hollywood.

So when Aniston walked out of a category-5 hurricane and into a local laundromat with several loads of wash one recent Sunday morning, onlookers were shocked to see hair out of place and some odd highlights marring her otherwise flawless Grecian beauty.

Some patrons ran out into the storm, shaking their fists at an unrepentant sky.

3. Nolte’s Version of ‘How Dry I Am’ Is Judged ‘Unconvincing’

Nick Nolte needs a drink

Nick finds it hard to dry out.

Record heat in California’s Inland Empire has wilted more than the nation’s salad bowl.

Clearly, the shirt worn here by grumbly actor Nick Nolte will never be the same.





2. Sweetheart Zellweger Caught Out of Her ‘Habitable Zone’

renee zellweger

“Save yourselves! Run! Weather’s coming!”

It’s well-known that elfin actress Renee Zellweger has a right-kind-of-light beauty, but who knew she required such a narrow range of climate, too?

Estimates vary, but experts figure Zellweger was experiencing humidity, heat, wind, rain, high UV rays and flying debris when this photo was taken.


1. Tropical Heat Boils in Hillary Clinton’s Blood

Hillary Clinton

The tropical heat gets everybody.

Colombia’s sultry weather will take the starch out of potatoes, so is it any wonder that when Former First Lady and current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited this year she would … relax?

Sure, a few rum drinks might have her out there doing this thing that looks like dancing, but only the waterlogged atmosphere in Columbia could lay out her hair like that.

No, ’twas weather that unwound this clock. (And good for her.)



The Workers’ Paradise Has It All. Including Pickpockets?

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Are these guys biding their time until they can grab their socialist worker-sister’s pocketbook?

Let’s list what is odd about this photo taken in a North Korean rail station:

  1. You could eat off the floor of the station
  2. All the men have exactly the same haircut
  3. Seven people, 0 iPhones
  4. People are doing something that I think used to be called reading a newspaper

What about that woman on the right? She’s wearing her backpack backwards. Any photo of any public space anywhere in the world will include bunches of people, usually women, doing the same thing.¬†They do it to foil pickpockets.

North Korea has pickpockets?

Looking beyond the obvious — that the workers’ paradise isn’t — what could a North Korean have to pick? Doesn’t look like she has a lot of wheat or rice in the bag. Mass cards from Kim Jung-Il’s funeral? It’s damn sure not an mp3 player or a wallet full of credit cards.

The only thing that makes sense is maybe tranqs. Living in the treads of your glorious leader’s boot has got to be immeasurably stressful.

The bigger mystery, however, is her footwear. White soles on black shoes. White?

Nigel Tufnel Day (11.11.11): It’s bigger than all of us

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

It’s very sexy, i’n’t it?

It’s bigger by one more, to be exact.

Let’s make Nov. 11, 2011 Nigel Tufnel Day. Get to it. You don’t want me setting Ian loose with his cricket bat on you lot, do you?

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