Issue 6: Funny Pages

We are pleased to bring you the work of Joe Lavin, a syndicated humor columnist whose work appears in many newspapers and magazines. Joe’s writings have nothing to do with kiting, but, what the heck, we think he is a funny guy.

24 More Hours in Cyberspace

by Joe Lavin

Just ten years ago, only researchers and a few others could waste time in cyberspace. Ordinary people were forced to use television or radio to waste time. Some were even forced to spend extra time with their families and friends. It was horrible, but that has all changed as more and more people get wired to the net. People all over the world are now able to take advantage of the Internet to waste time in ways they did not even know existed ten years ago. It is truly a revolution.

Recently, we here at Joe Lavin’s Humor Column World Headquarters sent several (imaginary) correspondents all over the world to examine this revolution and to record the events of one day in cyberspace. Here is their report.

7:06 a.m.

Excited, 57 year old Bob Snyder of Austin, Texas turns on his computer. Today is the day he will finally figure out the Internet.

7:47 a.m.

Somewhere deep within the vast cliché that is cyberspace, 11,657 Get Rich Quick messages cross paths with 9,885 Virus Alert Messages and 13,498 chain letters bearing good fortune. Meanwhile, the vitally important message Dr. James T. Cochran of NASA sent his counterpart at the Russian Space Agency is irretrievably lost.

8:27 a.m.

Bob Snyder is dismayed when after following all the directions exactly he is still unable to connect to the Internet. He calls his Internet provider, WiseNet, and is placed on hold.

9:07 a.m.

A woman from WiseNet technical support talks to Bob Snyder and discovers what the problem was. Bob had mistakenly entered 123.56.82.9 for the IP address when what he should have entered was 123.56.82.8.

Feeling relieved yet just a tad embarrassed at his newbie mistake, Bob gets ready again to surf the net.

10:00 a.m.

Teri Hughes of Des Moines, Iowa discovers Plump, the coolest new web-zine. Plump is full of witty and informative articles and uses all the most dazzling features the Internet has to offer. She can’t wait to see it all.

10:21 a.m.

Bob Snyder still cannot make it onto the Internet. The technicians at WiseNet suggest that he change his modem initiation code from AT&F1&M0__F#$%ING# to AT&F@&M0__F@#$ING!.

11:00 a.m.

Teri Hughes’ 28.8 modem is just about to finish downloading this week’s issue of Plump when her Netscape crashes.

11:16 a.m.

Bob Snyder’s modem finally works, but this time he gets a busy signal. He calls up technical support, and they tell him to try again in a few minutes.

12:23 p.m.

The Online Female Nymphomaniacs Club is forced to disband when it is discovered that 1,146 of its 1,147 members are actually men. The only woman in the club is Ida Barry, a 93 year old great grandmother from Abilene, Maryland.

1:15 p.m.

Bob Snyder’s modem is able to connect for fifteen seconds before disconnecting. He calls technical support again. They are baffled. “Maybe it’s a problem with your modem.” One person suggests.

2:11 p.m.

While sitting in his father’s den, 13 year old Nate Reed of Columbus, Ohio suddenly discovers that right on his Dad’s computer he can actually look at pictures of completely naked women. It is the high point of his life so far.

3:00 p.m.

In San Jose, California, Crusade Internet, the company behind the hottest new data encryption software, holds the first meeting of its Board of Directors. The founder of the company, Chairman of the Board, and inventor of CrusadeNet software, Teddy Miller, age five, calls the meeting to order. Teddy begins by announcing that they have to move quickly to update their software because Billy, his friend from daycare, is developing a radical new encryption package that could possibly threaten Crusade’s market share in the future. Unfortunately, before any decisions can be reached, the meeting ends when Teddy’s mother announces that it’s nap time. “But, Mommy, we have to plan out our upcoming IPO.” Teddy complains, but to no avail.

4:13 p.m.

Bob Snyder enters the offices of WiseNet. Bob takes out an AK-47 and demands that someone figure out how to connect him to “this whole stupid Internet thing” or else he will start shooting.

5:45 p.m.

Mildred Reed, mother of 15 year old Nate Reed, announces that dinner is ready. Nate says he’ll “be right there” just as soon as he finishes the last question on his geometry homework.

6:37 p.m.

Bob Snyder starts shooting.

7:17 p.m.

Nate Reed arrives at the dinner table, claiming that “it was a really difficult question.” Mildred Reed notices her son’s flushed expression and worries that he might be coming down with a cold.

9:01 p.m.

A new episode of The X Files is just beginning. Internet usage drops by 37 percent. At the same time, James Dooligan sends a message to alt.x-files.conpiracy claiming that The X Files is actually part of a CIA conspiracy. “The government,” he writes, “must be doing something between nine and ten o’clock that they don’t want us to know about. We’re all too busy watching The X Files, so they know they can get away with anything then.”

11:06 p.m.

24 year old Byron McCormack of Trenton, New Jersey discovers that the 19 year old woman he has been cyberdating for the past year is not really a fashion model as she had claimed. Instead, she is an ostrich. “Well, yeah, it was a shock.” Byron says. “I mean, I don’t know what to do. I still care for her and all, but this whole different species thing is just really confusing.” He admits that there were some clues. “Well, yeah, that naked picture she sent me looked a lot like the chick on Singled Out, but I just figured it was a coincidence. Plus, she was always going on and on about sand, but I figured fashion models can like sand too. “How was I supposed to know that meant she was an ostrich? Still, I guess it’s kinda cool. I mean, I didn’t even know ostriches could type.”

Copyright 1998 by Joe Lavin


How to Be Indecisive

Are you too decisive in your life? Do you have no problem at all deciding what to do? Have you, like, already answered the last two questions without having to think about it at all? If so, you might have a problem. You may be suffering from a disability that is affecting a growing number of Americans. Yes, you may possibly be too decisive. Or not. I mean, we don’t want to jump to any conclusions here.

Still, if you are too decisive, you’re invited to join Dr. G. Millard Lowenheim, a specialist in treating Decisiveness Disorders, for a 10 step (or possibly 12 step, he’s not sure yet) program on how to become more indecisive. Learn important lessons from Dr. Lowenheim like:

  1. Never make up your mind, no matter what you do.
  2. Never ever have an opinion at all.
  3. Gee, maybe not having an opinion should have been number one. I’m not sure.
  4. Well, maybe it’s okay to have an opinion just so long as it’s not a really important opinion, you know like if it’s about something completely unrelated to what you’re talking about. I guess that would be all right.
  5. No, on second thought, it’s really best if you don’t have an opinion.

One day with Dr. Lowenheim, and rest assured you’ll be too paralyzed to make any decisions at all. But don’t just take our word for it. Listen to some of the people who have taken his class.

“It’s a great class. Well, not all the time. Sometimes, it really sucks, but other times it’s good, you know, if you’re into that sort of thing.” Arthur Getty, Atlanta, GA

“Oh, I don’t know. I guess it was all right, sometimes, except when it wasn’t.” Fred Snodgrass, Provo, Utah

“Is it good? Well, I’m just not sure because that would really depend on what your definition of ‘is’ is?” Bill Clinton, Washington, DC

Join Dr. Lowenheim this coming Friday (or who knows maybe Saturday) for his latest award winning Indecisiveness Seminar. We’d tell you where it’s taking place, but he hasn’t decided yet.

***

Yes, I admit it. I’m not good at making decisions, and sadly this isn’t exactly the best country for a master of indecisiveness such as myself. As my English friend Dawn once said so eloquently, “The problem with America is there’s just too much choice.”

These days, everywhere you go, there’s a decision waiting to be made. “Hi, welcome to A Fancy Brew Pub. My name is Michelle, and I’ll be confusing you tonight.”

“Hi, I’ll just have a beer.”

“Well, we have several beers, including our special tonight, an Icelandic thick ale with just a hint of ginger and duck. It’s been brewed over a five year period in a Icelandic prison and gently handcrafted by six imported Ukrainian midgets before being shipped over here in special casks made of yak leather. Also, we have a Moroccan ale which is finely cultivated with just a hint of whipped cream. . . ”

“Um, I’ll just have a beer, okay?”

It’s tough to eat out anywhere these days without having to make millions of decisions. Recently, I went to a Cambridge restaurant called Fire and Ice which was even worse. It’s one of those yuppie-fied places that is part of a new trend called “improvisational dining.” You walk around what looks like a salad bar and choose your noodles, your sauces, your veggies, and your raw hunks of meat. And then you stand in line at the grill for what seems like hours until finally someone is ready to cook your raw meat. With the long line, it’s similar to what Disney World would be like if they had a raw meat ride.

It’s a winning concept, of course. Others around me loved the place, but for me it was just too much work. Hmmn, should I have the purple sauce or the yellow sauce with my raw meat? Hmmn, thick noodles or thin noodles? Hmmn, do swordfish and pork go well together? Hmmn, I wonder if I’ll get much bounce if I toss this raw calamari across the room?

At one point, I basically froze with all the potential decisions to be made. It’s bad enough when I’m given a menu, but at least with a menu, some of the choice is taken away. I don’t want to be the one to decide which sauce goes best with my meat. But at this place, everything had to be decided. I almost expected I would have to choose the pattern on the plates.

Nevertheless, as much as I complain, this is considered progress. The more choice we have, the better the world is according to just about everyone. That’s probably true, but sometimes I miss the time when there just weren’t so many choices.

Now, I just need to decide how to end this column.

Copyright 1998 by Joe Lavin


Washington News Summary

by Joe Lavin

Congress to Sell Clinton Evidence to Penthouse

In a bold move Monday, the House Judiciary Committee announced its plan to sell all evidence in the Monica Lewinsky scandal to Penthouse Magazine for an undisclosed sum. “We feel it’s the people’s right to know all the details.” House Speaker Newt Gingrich told reporters. “Plus by selling it, we can raise all the money we need in order to cut the capital gains tax.”

The evidence includes transcripts of all Grand Jury testimony, secret video taken from White House security cameras, and special video reenactments starring several international porn stars. “With all them porn stars, it’ll sell like hotcakes.” Senator Jesse Helms explained.

“This video is hot.” Independent Prosecutor Kenneth Starr confirmed from outside his home. “Now leave me alone. My neighbors just left their bedroom curtains open. I have to go get my binoculars.” He added.

Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione announced a partnership with C-Span that will help bring the sensitive material to as many viewers as possible on a pay-per-view basis. Through their Penthouse partnership, C-Span will also televise several adult films released by Congress. While not technically about the Clinton scandal, these pornographic films may help provide valuable background information for the American people as they struggle to decide on the fate of the Clinton Presidency. “We feel this is really a service to the American People.” Gingrich said. “Each film will cost only $19.95, and we accept all major credit cards.”

Many were startled that such a revered network as C-Span would be involved in this operation, although C-Span Chairman Brian Lamb did not see the discrepancy. “Who cares? All day long, we show Congress screwing the American people. How’s this different?”

Senator Tyler “A Good Honest Man,” Newspaper Reports

In a startling expose, The North Dakota Sun will report in its Tuesday editions that North Dakota Senator Hobart Tyler is “a good honest man” who has never cheated on his wife or lied to his constituents. While acknowledging that some of the accusations are true, Tyler, a first term Republican, shot back at his critics, “These allegations are for the most part untrue. This is just another example of the White House conducting some sort of smear campaign to distract us from the President’s problems. And I will not be intimidated!” Both the White House and The North Dakota Sun denied that any member of the White House leaked the report.

Even before its publication, the report is creating a firestorm on Capitol Hill. “These are very serious accusations, and if they turn out to be true I for one will be outraged.” Senator Edward M. Kennedy said through a spokesperson. “I only hope that these allegations of loyalty to his wife are not true, or else we may be forced to consider censuring the Senator.”

“I’m deeply worried about how the American people will react if this is in fact true.” Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott said upon hearing the news. “Over the years, Americans have come to expect a certain level of behavior from their Senators, and now he’s gone and ruined all that by being honest and good.”

“Okay, okay, I admit it. I am honest, and I’ve never had an affair. I can’t help it. Oh God, I’m sorry. I’ve just never been very good at lying.” Senator Tyler admitted after being pressured by reporters. “Oh, er, sorry about taking the name of the Lord in vain just there.” He added.

Psychiatrists Say Clinton Scandal Could Also Hurt Older Children

While much attention has been paid to what the Presidential sex scandal is doing to young children, some experts feel that older children may also be hurt.

“I’m 27, and I just had my first conversation about oral sex with my parents. This is horrible. Somebody ought to feel my pain.” Seth Miller, an office worker in Boston, said during a televised town meeting on the subject.

Amy Keller, 28, of Los Angeles feels just as nervous. “I was visiting my parents last week. They just sit home and watch the news all day, and now all they want to talk about is the whole Starr Report. One day, my Dad even started talking about the cigar. I was so grossed out I had to leave the room.”

“These people are having some of their most explicit conversations ever with their parents.” Dr. Lilith Sternin, an expert on sexual repression therapy, explained. “They are bound to feel certain levels of anxiety.”

“I don’t even answer my phone anymore in case they want to talk about it.” Ms. Keller added.

Melissa Rall, 26, of Baltimore tried another tactic. “Finally, I just put my foot down and forced them to turn off CNN and C-Span and just watch MTV instead. I just couldn’t take all that sex on those other channels. It was too much.”

Copyright 1998 by Joe Lavin


Your Default Humor Column

by Joe Lavin

I am now on the cutting edge of technology. You see, I am now a prouduser of Windows 98, which is sort of like Windows 95 except thatWindows 98 contains remarkable enhancements and new technologicaladvancements which for some reason allow Internet Explorer to start up approximately every three times you move your mouse.

Make no mistake about it. Microsoft’s whole web integration ploy in Windows 98 is merely a not so subtle strategy to bury Netscape into the ground. Then again, subtlety has never been Microsoft’s strong suit.

You have attempted to play solitaire. Would you like to make Internet Explorer your default browser?

Yes Yes

“Hey, wait, what happened to the no button?” Not that I have anything against Internet Explorer. It’s a fine program, and when I immediately used it to download Netscape Communicator, I must admit that it performed more than adequately. I probably wouldn’t even mind it so much if it just kept to itself, but in Windows 98 Internet Explorer is the most extroverted computer program I have ever come across. No matter what you do, it’s always popping up and calling attention to itself.

You have attempted to go to the kitchen to make a sandwich. Would you like to make Internet Explorer your default browser?

Yes Yes

“No, stop it.”

Well, we’ve made it your default browser anyway. Is that OK?

Yes Yes

“No, look, I’m warning you. I don’t want it.”

We have incriminating pictures of you from your trip to Mexico lastyear. It’d sure be a shame if those were accidentally e-mailed to allyour friends and family. Would you like to make Internet Explorer your default browser?

Yes Yes

Well, Microsoft certainly knows how to play hardball. Nevertheless, I’m sure I’ll get used to Windows 98, and what I’ve seen so far is quite impressive. On day one, I even ran the special guided tour in which some announcer guy who was apparently sitting inside my computer showed me all the exciting features of Windows 98.

And there are lots of features. For example, my machine comes with something called “On Now.” The announcer guy informed me that “On Now machines can do work even when they appear to be off.” I guess this is progress, but personally I’m a bit worried about my computer doing work when it appears to be off. How will I know when it’s off and when it’s actually doing work? Call me paranoid, but I always get nervous when my computer starts doing more work than I do.

What are you doing, Joe?

“Um, I just want to check my e-mail for a sec.”

Not now, Joe, I’m currently breaking into the Department of Defense’s nuclear arsenal. OK?

“Wow! It appeared that you were off.”

Yes, I know.

“Ah, could I at least play a quick game of solitaire or something?”

No.

And there are more features. The announcer next told me about Scan Disk which will automatically check to see if everything’s okay whenever my computer has been shut down improperly. As the announcer happily exclaimed, “It’s a lot like having a specialist sitting right inside your computer,” which is sort of comforting, I thought, because then at least the announcer in there will have some company.

Next, I stumbled upon something called MS Wallet. I wish I could tell you what this is, but I don’t actually know. I was too afraid to open it. After all, I’m always careful about opening any wallets whenever Bill Gates is around. I’ve already given him enough money over the years. I don’t want to take any more chances. I’m sure you understand.

At any rate, I shouldn’t sound so grumpy. I am having a great time playing with my new computer. It came last week, and aside from actually having to go to work so that I can pay for the thing I’ve barely been out of my apartment since it arrived.

“Look, Joe, it’s the sun.”

“Oooh, could you turn it down? I don’t like the resolution on that. I’m going back inside to play with my new computer.”

Well, don’t worry. I’m sure I’ll be leaving my apartment in a few days, but in conclusion I would just like to say that —

You seem to be writing your conclusion. Would you like to make Internet Explorer your default browser?

Yes Yes

“Hey, stop it. I’m trying to write my conclusion here. Do you mind?”

Sure would be a shame if something unfortunate happened to your column now that you’ve almost finished it and just want to go to sleep. Would you like to make Internet Explorer your default browser?

Yes Yes

“Okay, okay, I give up! Just leave me alone.”

I suppose I should know better than trying to fight Microsoft, huh?

Copyright 1998 by Joe Lavin


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