My sense of humour has been somewhat impaired by yet another dose of frigid -29 degree weather this week, so I decided to go back to the good old standbys that make me laugh no matter what:  wordplay and fart jokes.

(Some might argue that my sense of humour is permanently impaired, but let’s not go there just now.  Moving right along…)

First this:  There’s been a lot of talk in the publishing blogs lately about best-selling author Hugh Howey advocating for indie publishing.  Headlines like “Hugh Howey and the Indie Author Revolt” abound.

And every time I read a headline like that, my brain goes here:


I know it’s an ancient joke.  I’m pretty sure I first saw it decades ago in The Wizard Of Id comic strip by Brant Parker and Johnny Hart:

Knave rushes up to the king while a mob with pitchforks clamours in the background:  “Sire, the peasants are revolting!”

King:  “Tell them to take a bath.”

(I’m making that up – I don’t actually remember what the king said; I just remember ‘the peasants are revolting’.)  And I don’t know if Parker and Hart were the original creators of that joke, but it makes me chuckle every time I see the word ‘revolt’.

Fart jokes are pretty much guaranteed to make me laugh, too.  There must be a teenage boy walking around somewhere with a 50-year-old woman’s brain in his skull, because I’ve definitely stolen some adolescent male’s sense of humour.

I think I find farts so funny because they’re universal.  I’d be willing to bet there are very few people in the world who haven’t let one slip at an inappropriate time.  And yet, regardless of cataclysmic sound effects and olfactory assaults, nobody ever acknowledges a fart in public.  (Well, unless you’re driving 800 miles with my friend Swamp Butt and me.  But that’s a fool’s mission at best.)

I’m sure we’ve all been trapped in an elevator with a dozen people and one silent-but-deadly fart.  Everyone’s eyes are watering and the tops of their heads are about to blow off from trying to hold their collective breath for twenty-five floors… but nobody reacts.  All eyes forward;  all faces impassive.

We’re all dying, but we won’t show it.  I’m busting a gut trying not to laugh out loud, but you’d never know it by my face.  Then I start wondering if everybody else is trying not to laugh, too, and the urge to laugh becomes almost overpowering.  One of these days I’m just going to guffaw and see if anybody else joins me.

My ex-father-in-law (may his delightful soul rest in peace) had a down-to-earth attitude about such things.

One day he went to Emergency with chest pain.  Since he was a prime heart attack candidate, they got him onto a stretcher right away and hooked him up to various monitors and devices.  No danger signs showed up, but the pain persisted… until he finally belched, farted, and then sat up on the stretcher to declaim, “All systems:  Go!”

The ER staff cracked up.

Revolting?  Well, maybe if you got caught in the blast nimbus, but otherwise it’s the finest fart joke ever executed.  And thinking about it never fails to make me laugh.

Retroactive Weirdness

This probably isn’t a revelation to anybody else, but I was a bit surprised this week when I realized the extent of my own weirdness.

I maintain a file of ideas and thought-snippets for my blog.  When something strikes me as odd or funny or disturbing, I pop it into the file.  Most of the 60 or so entries are only a sentence or two, and in the spirit of year-end cleanup I decided it was time to develop some of them into blog posts.

What’s more, I realized this post would fall on New Year’s Day.

“Well,” thought I, “What a fine opportunity to wrap up the year with a retrospective of some of the oddments I’ve discovered.”

Little did I know what a can of worms I was opening.  Here are a few of the items that amused me this year:

I discovered that it’s impossible to brush my teeth without making my nose wiggle.  And now that I’ve noticed it, it’s impossible to ignore.  I try, but I can’t look away.  Then I end up giggling and spluttering toothpaste everywhere.

I discovered that studies have been performed to determine how often people fart in a day.  That in itself tickled my funnybone, but when I found out that the testing apparatus included mylar underpants to trap and measure the emissions, I cracked up.  There’s just something hilarious about mylar underpants with a hose attached…

Also on that topic, I discovered that there is actually such a thing as fart-absorbing underwear with a built-in carbon filter.  It’s purported to control odour effectively, but there’s no word on how well it muffles the sound effects.  I guess you just have to blame the barking spiders for those.

And then there’s Poopourri, which, frankly, is right at the top of my “disturbing” list for many reasons, all of which are illustrated by this commercial.  Yes, this is actually a real product, and apparently it’s supposed to work.  I just… I got nothin’.

If you’ve managed to recover from that, here’s another goody I’ve been meaning to share with you, my poor suffering victims faithful readers:  In a small town named Torrington about an hour northeast of Calgary, there is a Gopher Hole Museum.  This museum consists entirely of dioramas containing dead, stuffed gophers dressed up and posed in various activities of human life.  Don’t believe me?  Check it out:  And yes, I went to see it, because it just had to be done.

Last but by no means least on the roster of weirdness, I discovered that it is apparently profitable to hoard food items long past the point where they are safe to consume or even possible to contemplate without gagging.  Yes, some guy sold a 20-year-old bottle of McDonald’s McJordan BBQ sauce for $10,000:

More to the point; some wack-job bought a 20-year-old bottle of McDonald’s McJordan BBQ sauce for $10,000.  One word:  Eeuwwww.

I guess I’d better go excavate under the couch cushions and see if I can find some fossilized potato-chip crumbs.  They’ve gotta be worth something.  Or maybe a half-squished piece of two-year-old popcorn that looks like the face of some religious icon…

Come on, ‘fess up!  Somewhere in the back of your cupboard, you’re hoarding a box of Kraft dinner from 1972 that’s worth at least a grand.  Right?  …Right…?

* * *

I’m on the road this morning, so I’ll be back to reply to comments a little later in the day.  Talk to you soon!

I’m Only An Idiot. Whew.

A while ago, I discovered I’m an idiot.  That was a relief.

Let me explain…

I’m not exactly a gym rat, but I work out a few times a week.  I enjoy competing against myself, in a laissez-faire sort of way.  If I don’t do anything stronger or faster, I don’t worry about it too much, and when I do hit a milestone, I’m pumped.  (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

But on days when I really underperform, I can’t help feeling a little bummed.  That happened to me a while ago – I’d been keeping track of my running times, so I knew roughly what interval I should be hitting.  Then I ran a lap and stared in disbelief at my stopwatch, panting and wheezing like steam engine.  It was twice my previous time.  What a wimp.

Then the hypoxia subsided and I realized my earlier intervals had been half laps.  Oops.  So I wasn’t a wimp; I was just an idiot.  Whew.

The reverse happened last week.  I hurt my ankle kickboxing a while ago, so I’ve been doing my cardio on an exercise bike instead of running.  I do the random program for half an hour, and crank the intensity up to 10 so I’m working close to my maximum on the peaks.  (Sadly, this sounds more hardcore than it actually is – the top setting is 25.  But “cranked it up to 10” sounds good…)

Once the program starts, I turn my brain off and just go for it.  Last week, my half hour slipped away before I knew it, and I was coming into the final three minutes smugly congratulating myself because my workout had felt so easy.  At last, I was making progress!  I was a hero!

Until I looked closely at the screen for the first time, and realized I’d set the intensity to 9 instead of 10.

So I wasn’t a hero; just an idiot.  Oops.  Not so much of a relief.

But sometimes I really do get to be a hero.  I love working out when I’m travelling, because just about everywhere is closer to sea level than Calgary.  I get down into that nice, oxygen-rich environment, and I am a superhero at the gym!  I can run farther, faster, work out harder!  It’s fabulous!  (A side benefit is that I can drink twice as much beer at sea level before I feel the effects, so I look like a superhero in the pub afterward, too… but I’m pretty sure Marvel Comics isn’t going to be introducing “Middle-Aged Six-Pack Lady” anytime soon.)

Occasionally, I also get a belly laugh from my workouts.  The last time I worked out at a hotel fitness centre, I was doing my thing when a guy passed through on his way to some other equipment.

And he stared at me.  So I stared back.

So the guy holds eye contact, cracks off a long, rip-roaring fart, and then stumbles over a weight machine, still staring.

I wasn’t quite sure how to respond to that.  I suppose it would have been correct to return the compliment, but I lacked the necessary resources at the time.  There’s never a bean burrito handy when you need one.

I laughed myself silly after he left, though.  I guess that’s what they call a “core workout”.

At least I wasn’t the idiot that time.  Whew.

* * *

Postscript: Yesterday when I walked into the gym I encountered an elderly man on his way out.  He shot me a big grin, and with a heavy accent proclaimed, “Kickboxing!” 

I’m not sure whether I was looking like a hero or an idiot when he saw me kickboxing, but it made my day.

* * *

P.P.S. One of my blogging buddies, Charles Gulotta, has launched a line of everyday greeting cards that address the in-between-occasions of life with his usual quirky sense of humour.  Check them out here if you could use a chuckle!

P.P.P.S Another one of my blogging buddies, Tom Merriman, just made me a superhero for real!  (Well, kinda for real… as real as cyberspace ever gets…)  Check out Middle-Aged Six-Pack Lady here:

Highway Child(ishness)

(Apologies to Bob Seger, Jimi Hendrix, and the Stones)

Before you read any further, I’d like to note that my travelling companions are (usually) mature and admirable people.  Please don’t judge them harshly.  You’d be a basket case, too, if you had to spend fourteen hours in a car with me.


A couple of times a year, I drive from Calgary, Alberta to just outside Winnipeg, Manitoba.  The trip is about 800 miles one way (1,200 kilometres).  When I’m driving by myself, I do it in about twelve hours.  If I have company in the car, it takes closer to fourteen.

The mind does frightening things when it’s cooped up in a car for that long.  When I’m on my own, I beat my brain into submission with loud music.

When there are other people in the car, things get… strange.

I frequently drive with my sister and a friend whom I’ll identify only as Swamp Butt, in order to protect the guilty.  Since she can’t retaliate without revealing her true identity, I’ll also disclose her nickname for me:  “TB”, short for “Tiny Bladder”.

Three grown women in a car for fourteen hours.  What a wonderful opportunity for deep discussion, bonding, and meaningful dialogue.


There’s something about the trip that makes us revert to the mental age of ten.  Some examples:

When you drive directly into the sunrise, the angle of the light reveals the fact that we all spit when we talk.  And not just on plosive consonants.  It’s a constant, fine spray of spittle.  There’s no way to prevent it.  Sorry, but it’s true.

Being the refined and sophisticated person that I am, I pointed this out within seconds of discovering it.  My sister heaved a huge sigh of relief.  “I thought it was just me,” she admitted.  “I’ve been trying to stop doing it for miles.”  She then proceeded to demonstrate various facial contortions designed to reduce the spray.  Much merriment (and aerosolized spit) ensued.

Later in the day, we passed the umpteenth pasture with cattle dotted across its expanse.  I glanced over and said, “Black cows…”  Fateful pause.  “…Look BETTER in the SHADE.”  At which point all three of us did the head bob as we chanted the instrumental part:  “NAH-nah-nah-nah-NAH-nah-nah-NAH!”  Swamp Butt followed up with the solo from the back seat, “Dee-DEE-dee!”

I’ve never really liked Gino Vanelli’s music, or the song “Black Cars”.  To me, the 80’s were a musical wasteland, mercifully relieved by a few outstanding artists like Bob Seger.  But the point is, the “Black Cows” segment was repeated over and over, apparently getting funnier each time.  It’s now a tradition.  Such is the hideous danger of long-distance driving.

Eventually, the brain becomes so sodden with fatigue that it’s not actually necessary to have a stimulus for mirth.  We’ve dissolved in helpless giggles while standing in line at Subway.  Not talking.  Not even looking at each other.  The mere words, “I’ve been in the car too long…” are enough to make us weep with laughter.

Oh, and Swamp Butt?  She snorts when she laughs.  Not every time.  The snort is reserved for special occasions.  But when it finally erupts in all its raucous glory, pandemonium ensues.  Hysterical, helpless hilarity.  We haven’t actually had to pull over yet, but it’s been close a few times.

And then there’s the reason for Swamp Butt’s nickname.  Farts become excruciatingly (and I mean the word in all its connotations) funny after too many hours in the car.  They’re also pretty much unavoidable.  Medical science tells us that humans pass gas 15 – 25 times a day*.

Well, guess what?  Fourteen hours is over half a day.  Times three people.  Equals somewhere between 26 and 44 farts in the car (‘cause I’m a geek and it’s math.)

Here’s another thing you need to know.  Canola smells like cabbage farts.  (Honest.  Those pretty yellow fields?  When it’s cut, it reeks.)  And there are a lot of canola fields between here and Manitoba.  So the next time you let one slip while driving, just nod wisely at your passengers and murmur, “Canola”.  You can thank me now.  Note:  This may be less convincing in the wintertime.

Anyway, on our last trip, Swamp Butt seemed to spot a lot more canola fields than there actually were.  And just as we drove into the parking lot in Brandon to drop her off, she cracked off another one.


Seconds before she got out of the car.

We all tumbled out, laughing, shrieking and choking.  I’d like to say that we drew some attention, but we didn’t.  Guess folks in Brandon are used to that sort of thing.

We have not yet devolved to burping contests (well, usually not), armpit noises, or mooning other drivers.  We’re much too mature for that.  I hope.  Please, God, let me be right about that.

What’s your pinnacle of silliness while long-distance driving?

*Who gets paid to do these studies?  There’s one for the ol’ resume:  “Undertook in-depth research of human gaseous emissions.”