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ATTILA THE HUN'S

ANSWERING MACHINE MESSAGES

 

Hello, you've reached the Hun residence, please leave a message after the beep.

-BEEP-

    Attila, this is Bob Goodwin, from Visigoth, Ostrogoth, Goodwin and Stevens.  Attila, I'm begging you, conquer all you want, but you've got to stop all the raping and pillaging.  The paperwork is getting out of hand, and it's already costing you a fortune in legal fees.  Give me a ring.

-BEEP-

    Hi, Attila, I got your name from Grock, and I'd just like to introduce my company Athena Catering to you.  We cater wars, skirmishes, revolutions, hostilities large and small, incursions, insurrections, putsches, blitzes, and all out massacres.  Thanks a lot and I hope to hear from you soon.

-BEEP-

    Is this Attila?  Attila the Hun?  Attila, this is Harry, from the National Catapult Association, and I just want you to know how happy I am that you joined the Association.  Remember our saying, catapults don't kill people, it's the plummeting rocks that kill people.

-BEEP-

    Attila, hon, I'm so sorry about last night.  You know I didn't mean to call you a barbarian.  It's just, well, when you and your filthy horde get together it's really tough for me.  But you're still Attila the honey bun to me.  I'll be home later.  Bye.

-BEEP-

    Is this the fella downstairs in Antechamber B?  I'm the guy upstairs.  Do you have any idea what kind of racket you were making last night?  You sounded like a bunch a rampaging lunatics.  Now I don't know about you, but some of us have to get up at daybreak, so if you don't keep it down I'm going to come down there and kick your ass.  Now keep it down!

-BEEP-

    Attila the Hun, this is Susie, from Norwest Realty, and I'd just like to take this opportunity to tell you about some exciting weekend getaways we have in the Catskills.  Just two hours away from-

-BEEP-

    Hi, Attila, this is Terry, your anger management couch.  Where were you last Tuesday?  I sure hope you weren't out causing trouble.  You and I both know, Attila, that you can gouge and impale and behead until you're blue in the face and it's not going to make you feel any better.  Remember, you promised me the next time you found yourself on a battlefield you'd try to make at least one new friend.  I'm going to hold you to that, Attila.  Now you better be there next Tuesday or else

-BEEP-

    Attila, Artie here.  Let me just clarify what in fact I told you.  I did not say that the new chain-mail was totally impervious to a broadsword.  What I said was it's the best defense against a broadsword.  Now no one's more sorry than me about all the fellas you lost on the battlefield, but my boss already told me there's no way I can refund your money.  What I can do is give you a super deal on the next order.  Talk to you soon, good buddy.

-BEEP-

    Hey Attila, it's me.  Did you say to sack Rome and burn Athens or was it burn Rome and sack Athens?  Let me know.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * 

RUN ON

 

        It's raining today, outside I mean, because I don't want to leave the impression I'm in some kind of terrarium, or botanical garden, you know, one of those glass houses full of tall trees and and pretty flowers and drop-dead gorgeous parrots, because I'm not, I'm sitting in a Chinese joint across from Madison Square Garden, a place called Madison Square Glutamate, which is fitting because it's a Chinese sports' bar, and the rain outside fits my mood as I'm trying hard to forget my past, and the book I'm reading is helping, a book called, "Throw Mama From the Brain," and it's particularly helpful because it's not my Mama I'm trying to forget but someone else, the love of my life, a forbidden love, and all I can really tell you is never fall in love with a parrot who's only been taught insults and put-down jokes because once you get tired of their pretty feathers and sexy beak all you've got left is a tiresome, abusive parrot who never has a nice thing to say about anybody.

 

    And I've got a bad feeling about this place, this sports' bar, something about it doesn't feel right, and I hope it doesn't have anything to do with the fortune cookie I just opened that told me, "You will be unlucky in fortune cookies," but there just seems to be something in the air, a premonition of trouble, and it's nothing I can pin down or put a name to except that the nice enough fellow sitting across from me has just opened up a book called, "How To Kill Everyone in a Chinese Sports' Bar," and I can only figure it's got to be spillover from the recent rift in Chinese sports, the big split in the game of ping pong, and I can't even guess whether he's part of the ping faction or the pong faction (and the ping pong peace talks just keep going back and forth), and the only reason I started dating the damn parrot in the first place is I'd just gotten over of a short-distance relationship with a chameleon (talk about wishy-washy), and as far as I was concerned I was through with reptiles (believe it when they say cold-blooded cold heart), and I just wanted something simple with someone I could share a few words with, but now that it's all over and done with I can't believe how naive I was, because of course it starts out simple at first, and all Polly wants is a cracker, but then Polly wants a diamond tiara, and Polly wants a Rolls Royce, and what did I get in return? Polly telling me where to stick my peg leg, or Polly telling me I ought to be able to cover my privates with an eyepatch, and I don't even have a peg leg or an eyepatch (I can only figure Polly must have spent some time with a Pirate with a serious inferiority complex.)

 

    And now, because of Polly, I have a nasty scar over my right shoulder and two pretty much useless legs, and I'll never forget the doctor telling me, while I was laid up in the hospital, with a bullet lodged in my spine, that while I would never walk again I could still run (believe me, this is no running joke), and if you think you've got it bad imagine running around everywhere pushing an empty wheelchair, because, the minute you stop, BAM, you're down on the ground, and running everywhere pushing an empty wheelchair seems to give everyone the wrong idea, seems to make them think I've just car-jacked a wheelchair, and sure, I'd like to raise awareness of my condition, but a walk-a-thon is out of the question.  

 

    When I look up from my table I see a Chinese waiter heading right towards me carrying a fiscus tree, and he's closing in on my table, and now I can't help it, I can't hold the memories back any longer, and all of the sudden I'm back inside the terrarium, back together with Polly, and we're having another lousy time, and Polly keeps attacking me, calling me every lousy pirate name in the book, and then I just snap, and before I know what I'm doing I'm up out of my chair holding a gun, a real six-shooter, and then I tell her, "oh yeah, and how would Polly like a coffin?" but Polly just ignores me, and she doesn't even notice the gun, and still she won't let up, she just keeps mocking me, she won't stop mocking me, and I can't really describe what happened next but try to imagine To Kill A Mockingbird with bullets and feathers, but I shot her, and where she had been was now just a bunch of feathers, and I really thought I'd gotten her and she was gone but then I heard a flutter, right behind me, and when I turned around there she was, holding her own gun, and all she said was, "Tucan play at that game," and then she shot me, right in the shoulder, right in my bird perch shoulder (so that a bird could never perch there again), and before I fell I got off one shot, two shots, hitting Polly right between the thighs, and now Polly's dead, and I'm in this wheelchair, and the Chinese waiter is putting the fiscus tree right down on my table, right down on top of my plate, and all I can mutter is, "What the hell is this?" and the waiter asks, "Didn't you order a green tree," so I have to tell him, "No, I ordered green tea," and now, finally, at long last, it strikes me that this is as good a time as any to cut out and run on. 

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THE INVISIBLE MAN

Performance Review

 

Name: Doug Fry

 

Job: Telemarketing Representative

 

Appearance: None

 

Punctuality: Seems to come in on time, but it's hard to tell.

 

Performance: Although Doug, or, as he likes to be called, the invisible dude, has fine telemarketing skills, I do feel his phone voice needs more presence.  Also, in his current position, Doug needs to stop acting like he's so special.  As far as the person on the other side of the telephone line is concerned, everyone is invisible. 

 

Attitude: While he could do a great many things, it is somewhat disheartening that Doug had chosen to use his special powers to be the office gossip.  And while Doug seems to have the scoop on everybody, many of the things he knows he has no right knowing.

 

Could Use Improvement: Other employees have complained about Doug's smell.  Doug needs to understand that his invisibleness is no excuse for poor personal hygiene.

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LESSER SHAKESPEARE

 

My horse

My horse

I love to ride my horse

 

Something's rotten in Romeo's shorts

 

I said Hamlet

not Omelet

 

My father's brother, my brother's father

My sister's cousin's second friend

Confused I am

 

Unpack my heart with words

But do not touch my socks

 

Why this is not a sonnet

A simple way to tell

It's got no sonnet on it

 

The sea, the sea, the cold and lonely sea

It is nothing if not wet

 

He who eats is fed

He who reads has read

He who dies is dead

And he who smelt it dealt it

 

Thou not pretty

Thou not svelte

but thou is all I've got tonight

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JANET RENO

Playmate Data Sheet

Weight:        Robust

Measurements:  Classified

Ambitions:     To finish out my term as Attorney General then pursue a career as a Hollywood stunt women.

Turn-Ons:     Overwhelming force, the WPGA, Alan Greenspan, midnight raids, a ribald sense of humor, stuffed animals, search warrants.

Turnoffs:      Congressmen with bad breath, religious kooks, any word with water in it, being hit on by the President, Miami Cubans, diets, people who will NOT listen, snoorers.

Sexy Secrets:  When I testify in front of congress I don't wear any underwear.

My Philosophy: If you can't beat 'em, burn 'em.

My Ideal 
Evening:
      
A quiet dinner at home with my lover then playing "find the hidden document."

How to Capture
My Heart:
     
I have the FBI, NSA, the INS, ATF and the CIA at my beck and call.  In short, I prefer to do the capturing.

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Escalate Everest!

    The last leg of the Mount Everest escalator has finally opened in time for your late-spring attempt at the summit.  That brings the total to five escalator stages that can whisk you to the top of Mount Everest in just under eighteen hours.  Come to Nepal and join the hot new extreme leisure sport of mountain escalateering.

    But the Mount Everest Escalators are not for beginners.  The five escalator stages range in difficulty from the easiest, or 1TT (equal to the difficulty to the Trump Tower escalator), to the most difficult, or 5TT.  Anyone attempting an escalator ascent up Mount Everest should consider brushing up on their escalateering skills (check your local mall for classes).  Skills include mounting and dismounting the escalator in all types of weather, riding the escalator in the dark, as well as pitching a tent and starting a fire on a moving escalator.  Those searching for even a greater challenge might consider free escalateering, or riding the escalator without using the handrails.

    And if everything goes according to plan, you will be making a solo ascent up the final leg, appropriately called the "Moving Stairway to Heaven," as Everest's peak rolls into view.  Then you will have achieved the ultimate in mountain escalateering, where it all comes down to you, the mountain, and the escalator. 

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * 

What to tell Elian About the Night He Was Abducted

That was the Easter Bunny, and he was hopping mad.

I guess you just got too big for little Havana.

I don't know what the INS stands for either.

Communism works in mysterious ways.

It's no fun being an illegal Elian

It was all a bad dream, now go back to Cuba.

You must have done something wrong.

That's the only way Janet Reno can become a four star Attorney General.

Sometimes the tooth fairy gets drunk and forgets to wait until the tooth has fallen out.

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L. Ron Mother Hubbard

L. Ron Mother Hubbard

went to the cupboard

and discovered the cupboard was bare

By God!  How pathetic

So he started Dianetics

and tried to make Hollywood care

It’s science fiction, theology, philosophy

We'll call it Scientology

It goes together like Sonny and Cher

 

But they needed disciples

like Moses had Jews

the bigger the better

so they brought him Tom Cruise

 

Then they searched in the clubs

they searched in the valleys

you’d think Woody from Cheers

and not Kirstie Alley

 

Next they wanted a king

that would sing them a medley

they went looking for Elvis

but got Lisa Marie Presley

 

And what about Groucho?

that's it, I remember

he would not join a church

that would have him as member

 

Now this I don’t know

it must be a fable

that James Dean was a member

along with Clark Gable

 

Some say it’s all brain-wash

the minds of Minolta

which explains the strange smile

on the star John Travolta

 

Yet this rhyme comes with risk

The prospects don’t thrill me

I'm not sure how they’ll take this

I hope they don’t kill me

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * 

New Abbreviations for Personal Ads

PNC -  Pre-Nuptial Contract: wealthy builder seeks wife with model looks for PNC wedded bliss

PO  -   Power Other: bright and vivacious woman seeks PO to form power couple.  Let's do power lunch.

BGC -  Biological Grandfather Clock: lifelong bachelor whose BGC just went off is looking for nurturing woman to start a family with right away.

HL    Homeless: HL man seeks woman with home.

VI   -   Viagra Inspired: elderly VI tomcat seeks luscious lovely for good times.  No long term.

FC  -   Fame Curious: attractive FC male looking for the perfect co-star for long romantic weekend.  Willing to do anything.  Must have SAG card.

HH   Househusband: very successful female executive seeks HH strong enough to carry and smart enough not to be told twice.

LIB  -  Lonely Internet Billionaire: LIB seeks soft and cuddly Luddite to explore outernet.

XTW -  Ex-Trophy Wife: XTW looking to award strong second place finisher.  No one below Executive VP need apply.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * 

DOT COM COMPANIES NOT LIKELY
TO SURVIVE THE SHAKEOUT

Totalloser.com - The initial excitement over this site tapping into a huge and previously underserved demographic seems to have cooled since investors realized that the sort of people this site was attracting were people without money or prospects and were in fact total losers.

Hotsnailmail.com - While the idea of hot-to-the-touch parcel post letters arriving in the mail box seemed like a great idea at first, and certainly helped distinguish the company's name, the faulty packaging and subsequent house fires do not bode well for this company's survival.

Unlimitedmarketvaluation.com - With one of the most impressive IPO's ever on the New York Stock Exchange, and with a name seemed destined to drive the stock price ever upward, this company has faltered recently because, without a business plan, without even a web site, and the fact that the entire operation is being run by a pot smoking teenager, makes it look like the market valuation of this company might be limited after all.

Spamazon.com - This enormous site devoted to all things Spam threatened at one time to eclipse even amazon.com, and while the company has managed the tricky task of defining its product against any confusion with Spam mail, it seems the market has finally woken-up to the fact that there is a limit to the future potential earnings of all things Spam.

Everythingforcheap.com - The site that sells everything for cheap caused quite an initial stir on the stock market, but if the judge rules as expected, then the site that sells EVERYTHING for cheap will in fact have to sell itself for exactly that: cheap.

Qwzyllzylppyx.com - While this was the first company to go against the trend of having a memorable URL name (and was rewarded quite handsomely for it), the well publicized fact that the Chief Information Officer of this company could not find his own website for three days seems to have doomed this once high flying stock.

Gotohell.com - An admittedly memorable name, with a putdown every seems to enjoy saying - and wants to own a piece of - this company, which once had a market valuation of over 400 billion dollars, has lost its considerable market distinctiveness to the merger of eat.com and shit.com.

Justsocks.com - A fine name, a name that everyone is familiar with, something that people put on their feet everyday, but this dot com company's decision to focus on supercomputers for the aviation industry has led to considerable name confusion which the company may never recover from.

Lacasanostra.com - America's love affair with everything Mafia made this dot com an excellent investment, but because this company might actually be owned by the Mob, and the fact that none of the principal owners could be located, and are rumored to have fled for Sicily, threatens to make this company a total write-off.

Justbillgates.com - A site intended solely for the needs and services of the world's richest man seemed like an excellent idea, and could still prove to be lucrative, but the fact that, after six months, Bill Gates has yet to use this site's email or instant messaging services, and has not even visited the site once, makes this stock a definite long shot.

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GRIDWRITING

Those who have worked closely with professional football have heard the rumors for years: that it is not a “real” sport, that, like professional wrestling, all the action is scripted beforehand.  Now that the season is long over, two NFL gridwriters agreed to sit down with me to set the record straight.

PeteTV:  So tell me.  Are professional football games real?

Ray:  Don’t be naïve, of course not.  As far as I’m concerned, professional football is just a soap opera in shoulder pads.

Neil:  We call them jock operas.

PeteTV:  So how much of a game is prewritten?

Neil:  All of it.  Every single play.

Ray:  We do let some of the lineman improvise their trash talking.  But only the ones with classical training.

PeteTV:  What do you mean, classical training?

Neil:  They get it in college.  Why do you think so many college football players major in communications?

PeteTV:  You realize that a fan hearing this for the first time might have a hard time believing you.

Ray:  Sure.  But think.  The Super Bowl is the most watched television event of the year.  It generates billions of dollars.  Do you really think we’d leave it up to something as indecisive as athletic ability?

Neil:  People don’t realize what we can get away with under a football helmet.  They assume that just because the name stays the same on the back of the jersey, that it’s the same person underneath.  Take Bret Favre for example.  Currently, there are three people playing Bret Favre.  There’s the Bret Favre everyone sees, the ruggedly handsome, classically trained Shakespearean actor.  Then there’s the one with the terrific arm.  And finally, there’s the Brett Favre that gets sacked.  The one that takes the big hits.

Ray:  And all three of them hate each other’s guts.

Neil:  That’s because we’ve changed Bret’s dramatic arc this season.  Let’s face it, the public likes it when their heroes prove to be mortal.

PeteTV:  So why come out with this now?

Neil:  Respect, for one.  Look at professional wrestling.  Their writers are becoming stars.  Well what about us?  Our work is much more vital.  Our art is much more…subtle.

PeteTV:  Don’t you worry that your revelations might hurt the game?

Ray:  Not at all.  People like to know how things work.  They want to see behind the scenes.

Neil:  And not only are our performers great athletes, they also have to hit their marks.  And hard.

Ray:  Where do you think the term, “Break a leg,” comes from?

PeteTV:  But if everything’s staged, why have so many Super Bowls been blowouts?

Ray:  I can tell you one of them, Super Bowl XXIV, between San Francisco and Denver, was a total hack job.  We were in the middle of a gridwriter’s strike.

Neil:  Also, some of our writer’s are less, shall we say, plot driven.  In the late 70’s several gridwriters decided to explore more character driven games.  You know, how would so-and-so react if his team was down by 40 points.

Ray:  That’s when we learned that the NFL is not the perfect writer’s medium.

Neil:  I mean, it wouldn’t work if, after a tough run up the middle, people were to say they could see the influence of Hemingway.

PeteTV:  So what are your influences?

Neil:  Do you realize that every NFL game between 1966 and 1972 was written by one man?  I would have to say him.

Ray:  I don’t like that style so much.  It’s so old school.  I call it three yards and a cloud of clichés.

PeteTV:  Who was the writer?

Neil:  Larry Gross.  And he said if you wanted to know him, if you really wanted to know him, then try to imagine Super Bowl V, the one between the Cowboys and the Colts, sung as a Wagner Opera.

Ray:  When I met him all he said was, “Young man.  Football is tragedy.”

Neil:  That’s because he had such a tragic childhood.  Growing up a gay man in the 1940’s was not easy.

Ray:  They say he always wanted the players to look bigger.  The shoulder pads, the helmets, they were never big enough.  I guess to him they represented some ideal of manhood.

Neil:  Larry believed very strongly in dress, in the uniform.  In New York he used to go out in a pink boa.  But I really think it took someone like him to tap so deeply into the American Male psyche.

PeteTV:  How will you respond to people who might still not believe you?

Neil:  No problem.  Believe what you want to believe.  But, when you’re watching a game, see if you can catch the recurring metaphors.  Try to notice the underlying theme of each game.  Football is a lot more than two teams bashing heads.

Ray:  That’s right, it’s the great American art form.

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Because The Onion is Taking A Break This Week
I Decided To Fill In...

HEADLINES

Lone Gunman Makes Friend

Criminals Sue Court Over Anti-Criminal Bias

Holocaust Denier Denies Denial

Catholic Church Considers Making God A Foxy Babe
to Attract More Heterosexual Priests

New Gun Ban Calls For More Guns

Bruce Willis Dies From Overexposure

Killer Tornado Very Sorry

Clinton Robs Quickie-Mark, Flees in Air Force One

Mime Trapped in Glass Box For Three Days

Homework Eats Dog

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NEW AIRPLANE SECTIONS

The No Section

In the No Section there is no smoking, no snack, no meal served, no kicking the seat-back in front of you, no talking to the person sitting next to you, absolutely no use of laptops or electronic equipment of any kind, no headphones, no in-flight entertainment, no playing cards for the kids, the seats will not tilt back, the seatbelt sign will not be turned off, you will not be given a pillow or blanket, and you can absolutely, positively not have the whole can of the drink of your choice.

Big-Air Section

This section, located all the way at the back of the aircraft, is the perfect place for thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies.  In the Big-Air Section the plane is made entirely of glass – that’s glass-bottomed, glass-topped, and glass-sided.  Besides providing our customers with the eye-popping excitement they have come to demand, this visibility gives an added advantage: it lets passengers pinpoint their destination before disembarking from the rear of the airplane.  Parachute not included.

Last Class

Even if you show up wearing no shirt and no shoes, you are still in business in Last Class.  That’s because in Last Class we expect absolutely nothing from you, our fine customer, there are no standards of conduct, but fear not: any passenger who gets too unruly will have to spend time in the Air-Rage Time Out Booth.  So if you’re the type of person who brings airplane food home in a doggy bag, or who thinks the food cart is a great place to go to the bathroom, then this is the class for you.  As a matter of fact, we have even equipped the food cart in Last Class with a toilet seat.

Mile-High Lounge

In the Mile-High Lounge there are no seats or seating, just bathroom facilities.  And to give our more amorous passengers plenty of space, none of the bathrooms come with toilets.  Please note that the bathroom doors in this section do not have locks, only small dials to indicate sexual preference.

Just Joking Section

This is just the spot for comics, clowns, and jokers.  In the Just Joking Section we do our best to make sure the meal is laughably bad, that the peanuts are served in impossible to open bags, and that the in-flight movie is perfectly Godawful.  This is the place where we expect passengers to make loud crashing sounds on take-off, where we don’t mind if they keep hitting the “Call” button for laughs, because in the Just Joking Section, everyone is just joking all the time.  And to top it off, we have even moved the seats far enough apart to allow passengers to flap their arms in flight.

Sedentary Row

In Sedentary Row we have designed a special hoist that allows us to board passengers without them ever having to get up, making the transition from couch to coach as effortless as possible.  This means that everyone who takes a seat in this section is stuck in that seat for good.  No need to worry about bathroom needs, all of that can be taken care of right at the seat.  And because everyone in Sedentary Row is a captive audience, if you’re the type of person who likes to regale other passengers with stories, when you sit in this section you never have to make a long story short again.

Black Box Compartment

The black box of the airplane has been expanded to include two rows of cramped, windowless seats.  Passengers flying in the Black Box Compartment are boarded first and, once they are seated, strapped in, and given three-days of rations, the compartment is tightly sealed until the plane safely reaches its destination.  This means that during the flight there is no service of any kind, not even pre-flight safety instructions, but do not be alarmed – everyone in this section will already be wearing their life vests and oxygen masks.  And while we cannot guarantee survival for the passengers of the Black Box Compartment, we do guarantee retrieval.

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T-Shirts You Shouldn't Wear 
if You're in the Mob

Have You Hugged A Hit Man Today?

Speak Up, I'm Wearing A Wire

You Can Shoot Off Your Mouth
Or Shoot Me A Look
Just Don't Shoot Me

I'm With Dumbfella

Psst.  My Gun Isn't Loaded

Will Snitch For Immunity

La Casa Nostra My Assa

What I Did In Prison
Does Not Make Me Gay

Killing Is Unfulfilling

I Joined The Witness Protection Program
And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt

This Is My First Hit

I'm Really Just A Big Sissy

Guns Don't Kill People 
Vinny Does

Sign You Shouldn't Have In Your Car Window if You're in the Mob

Body On Board

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Fidel Castro, Stand-Up Comic

A couple of Weekly Petes ago I found myself in Havana, Cuba, working undercover for the U.S. Government on a Clinton joke buy-and-bust operation.  Basically, my mission was to go to Cuba and smoke-out the headquarters of a certain Clinton joke operation that, some studies have estimated, is responsible for up to 60% of the Clinton jokes currently circulating in America.

After three days of futility the trail turned white-hot when I found myself under the awning of a Cuban comedy club in the outskirts of Havana in an area known as Little Toledo.  The club was called the Copa Banana.  But it wasn’t anything about the name of the club, or the anti-Clinton caricatures on the door, that tipped me off: no, it was the marquee that gave it away, the name of that night’s headliner in lights: none other then FIDEL CASTRO.  Sure, we thought maybe these joke-runners were working under the protection of the Cuban government, but we had no idea it went this far.

So I slipped the doorman a twenty and, to my surprise, he led me to a seat right in front, right by the stage, where I noticed, even though it was a mere minute before showtime, there were still plenty of seats available.  My first thought was, sure, Fidel might have an iron grip on power, but he sure can’t fill a club.

Now the thing about the Little Toledo section of Havana is that all the signs are in English and everyone speaks English.  Basically, the place is just Toledo with palm trees and pelicans.  You see, the area was created by a bunch of Poles from Chicago (hence the name Little Toledo) who, in the late Seventies, left America in a mass exodus to flee the repressive regime of Jimmy Carter.  The government sent me on this mission not because I could sprekan ze Spanish, because I can't.  It was because I was Polish, which meant I could move around Little Toledo with the utmost stealth.

As my eyes adjusted to the inky blackness of the club I realized that the place was not empty, it was packed, standing room only, but it was just the seats in front, by the stage, that were available.  I wondered what I'd gotten myself into.  Maybe Fidel was a put-down comic, the kind that puts you six feet under.  The waitress came and took my drink.  I read the drink card on the table and realized the club had a two drink maximum, a sad reminder of the scarcity still so prevalent in Cuba.

The lights dimmed and a single spotlight ignited.  Two armed guards goose-steeped out on stage to stand sentry.  Then I saw him, or at least the long beard and cigar, a cigar as long as a canoe and big enough to fit a tribe of pygmies, and as he hobbled out I noticed he looked hunched, haggard, with none of the sprightliness he's so famous for.  When I saw his face I noticed he was wearing something, some kind of mask, and it gave me a jolt.  This was the last thing in the world I expected: Fidel Castro was a prop comic.

But as Castro stepped into the brilliant wash of the spotlight he seemed to come alive, his body straightened and his cigar twittered with excitement.   And when he turned toward the audience I could finally make-out the mask he was wearing – it was none other than the big nose and glasses of Groucho Marx.

“Who am I?” Fidel asked the audience.

“I don’t know,” the crowd responded.  Apparently this bit was a familiar bit to them.

Fidel leaned back and waved his cigar in a very rough imitation of Groucho.  Obviously, impersonations were not his strong suit.  “Who am I?” Fidel repeated.

“I don’t know,” the crowd chanted again.

Fidel took an expertly timed puff of his cigar, then, as if he had all day, slowly leaned into the mike and said, “I’m Groucho Marxist.”  The audience roared.

Fidel removed the nose and glasses.  Only the slightest crinkling at the corners of his mouth gave away his enjoyment.  Now the dictator stepped up to the mike with real authority.

“I just flew in with the Cuban Air Force,” he said, his eyes taking a careful measure of the room.  “Boy, is my army tired.”  Another big laugh, a laugh so deep I realized that the Copa Banana was not packed with Castro’s cronies or political appointees: these folks were real fans.

And although Fidel's tone seemed a tad severe, even threatening, probably better for getting troops revved up for the battlefield, he sure knew how to hit a punchline.  

“Here’s a new one.  How do you prop up a sagging Cuban dictator?” he asked, overemphasizing the “dick” in “dictator.”  All together the audience asked, “How?”

“You give him Che Viagra,” he said and snatched the cigar out of his mouth to reveal a sly grin.  The laughs started, low at first, but as more and more people connected Che Viagra with Che Guevera, the laughs grew.

“You know, I was playing golf the other day with President Clinton when he taps this putt that must have spun around the hole three times before it slipped out.  It was about as close as you can get without going in.  So Clinton, he says to me, boy, that was close, close but no cigar.  So I say don’t you mean close but no Lewinsky.  Now I tell you, Clinton is one President who can’t take a joke.  I thought he was going to start World War Three right there, but knowing him, he’d get a bogey, so we’d have to score him a World War Four.”  Fidel was on a roll.  His hold over the room was, like his hold on power, absolute.  “And what is it with President Clinton and the women he sleeps with?  I mean, talk about a Bay of Pigs.”  At this, he flicked his cigar toward the guards flanking the stage and, in unison, they blasted their machine guns into the ceiling.  Figures, I thought, Castro couldn’t just follow his jokes with a simple rim shot, no, for him there had to be a whole salvo.

“As a dictator, I can sleep with all the interns I want.  In this country, we don’t even consider sleeping with the dictator a crime.  We just call it taking dictation.”  At this the room was howling, and Fidel snapped the mike out of the stand and started down the steps.

As he came down the steps he looked right at me and my heart just about stopped.  If he started in on me with a volley of put-down jokes I was defenseless.  I mean, I had been ordered not to come back with any of my own put-downs or stock gags.  President Clinton had issued the gag order himself.

But something else caught Castro’s eye, a woman in a red dress, on the other side of the stage, and he turned in that direction.  He approached the woman’s table and the spotlight followed him.  He was like a David Letterman in fatigues, or, if you will, a David Armyman.

“Hello there.  So, tell me, where are you from?”

The pretty lady blushed from the attention.  “Havana,” she answered in an uncertain voice.

It was hard to make out exactly what Fidel said next, but it sounded like What?

The lady looked confused.  “I from Havana,” she repeated in pidgin English.

“What?” Fidel seemed to say again.

This made the woman nervous, and she pressed her thumb into her mouth.  She looked up at Fidel for some kind of cue, but it was clear he wasn’t giving her a thing.  He just stood there waiting for her to complete the joke.  Almost a minute passed.  The club grew tense, everyone wondering if they were about to witness one of Castro’s famous human rights abuses.

The woman blushed pink then purple as she concentrated ferociously.  Finally, lost, she looked up at Castro and asked, “Did you say what?”

Another long pause, but from Castro’s smile you could tell he’d gotten what he wanted.  “No, not what.  I said white.  Get it, you said Havana, and I said White.  Havana White.”  The audience laughed, and the loudest laugh of all was Fidel's, making me wonder if Fidel and Vanna were ever an item.

Just then, from the back of the room, someone yelled, “You suck, Castro.”

Castro whirled around, looking for the source.  It was a brown little  man in a Panama hat.  “You’re not funny, Fidel,” he said.

Castro, unnerved, signaled something to his guards, and they descended on this dissident/heckler.  They dragged him out as he shouted abuse at Castro the whole way.  Castro watched the scene with a queer smile, a smile that had nothing to do with funny.

     Castro climbed back up the stage steps looking old and tired.

    “Talk about torture, before I come up in front of all of you, I like to try out my material on political prisoners.  Now that is a tough audience.  Just last week I was telling jokes to this guy we were working over, he was on the rack, really stretched out, really in pain, but the worst thing of it was, he wasn’t laughing at any of my jokes.  So I ask him what? don’t you think I’m funny?  He starts to say something, something really low, so I have to lean in close.  What he said was, ‘Take my life, please.’”

    Another big laugh, and Castro had us all right back where he wanted us.  That's when I knew he was a real pro.  But the effort had clearly worn him out.

    "You know, I think I've finally figured out the internet.   As a matter of fact, I've got my own web page.  You can find me at Fidel dot communist."  A quiet laugh, and Fidel just stood there, absorbing it all.  Then, with a wave and a wink, he was gone.

    I was happy.  I had gotten what I came for.  And as far as I'm concerned, you can talk about human rights abuses all you want, but the man sure is funny.

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The Gates Motel

Have you noticed the striking similarities between Bill Gates from Microsoft and Norman Bates from the film Psycho?  Sure, I know what you’re probably thinking, that there is no way Norm Bates could be that creepy.  But if you don't believe me, just keep reading.  

Name

 Bill Gates

Norman Bates

Position

CEO

Psycho

 Business Located On

Information superhighway

An old highway

 Common Complaint

Bugs in the software

Bugs in the rooms

Unhealthy Relationship With

Motherboard

Mother

Plenty Of

Disk Functions

Dysfunctions

When Faced With Problems He

Addresses it through e-mail

Dresses up like a female

Has Issues With

Anti-Trust

Trust

When Dealing With Others He

Can be really cutthroat

Cuts throats

When Angry He Might

Erase Your Memory

Erase You

Watches Your Every Move Through

Windows

Peepholes

Other Similarities

Microsoft

Always Soft (impotent)

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Diary With New Area Code

What follows is the diary of a Manhattan woman adjusting to life with the new 646 area code:

Sunday

The funniest thing happened today.  I finally moved into my new place, Park Avenue, mid-sixties, pre-war, tres-perfect, only to find that the new telephone number, the number I gave out to absolutely everyone, is not actually 212.  It’s a whole other area code.  Imagine that.  Me.  Not 212.  For a second I actually had to look out the window to see what part of the city I was in.  Must be some sort of mix-up.  I’ll have it fixed tomorrow.

Monday

A not so funny thing happened today.  I called the phone company and told them right out that I did not move six blocks in the right direction only to end up in the area code slums.  The operator said too bad, but the new area code should have been explained to me when I requested the new number.  Well maybe it was.  But I never heard 646.  I thought the operator was asking me for sex and immediately hung up.  Then the operator had the nerve to tell me I should have held on to my old number, a number I never liked, a number that ended in 995 and always sounded like I got it on sale.  God, what am I going to do about Barbara’s party this Saturday?  This had better be cleared up tomorrow.

Tuesday

Today was tres-awful.  I talked to at least eight different people at the phone company – although I’m sure three of them were really one person using different voices – and not one of them said they would help me.  The last person I spoke with actually told me the only way I was ever going to get a 212 number was if I already had a 212 number.  When I said that didn’t make any sense, he said of course not, it’s a Catch-212.  When I asked what that was supposed to mean, he said that sounded exactly like something a 646 person would say.  Now what is that supposed to mean?

Wednesday

I had the worst dream last night.  I dreamt I was at the plastic surgeon’s, that I had gone there for an area code change operation, but the operation had failed because of donor rejection.  You see, I had not rejected 212, 212 had rejected me.  I called my therapist to discuss it but the receptionist told me she wasn’t in and asked for a number where I could be reached.  I hung up.  I’m not giving out this number.  646 is not me.  I mean, I did not go above 96th Street until I was 12 years old.  And I have been to the 21 Club, and still stop by the 92nd Street Y, and once even went to P.S.1 though I immediately regretted it, but accept 646 – never!

Thursday

I decided to call the phone company and ask for my old number back.  The operator said that wasn’t possible, that the number is in use.  So I dialed the old number and, horror of horrors, a fax machine picked up.  And that’s all I did for the day.  I didn’t call anyone, in case they have Caller I.D.  I didn’t go to lunch, I don’t even want to know what table they’re going to give me now.  I didn’t even get dressed, nothing I have goes with 646.  God, I feel so naked.

Friday

Visited my therapist today.  I wanted to ask her what I should do about Barbara’s party tomorrow.  She said I should go, that I needed to get out more, be more proactive, and that nobody cares what area code you are.  But if that’s true, how come, when I asked if she would switch numbers with me, she said my time was up and asked me to leave?  But maybe she is right.  Maybe I do need to get more proactive.  As a matter of fact, I think I’m going to learn how to speak fax so I can call up the fax machine using my old number and tell it to go to hell.

Saturday

Went to Barbara’s party.  Nothing was mentioned until, as I was about to leave, Barbara turned to me and said she had tried to call me.  When I didn’t respond, Barbara said, “Well, Susan, now I suppose you’ll never be too rich, too thin, or 212.”  But I guess things could be worse.  I mean, what if I was 718, or God forbid 201.  And I’m sure everything is going to turn out fine, just not as fine as if I was 212.

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OTHER DOUBLE O LICENSES ISSUED BY BRITISH INTELLIGENCE

000...License to be killed

001...License to drill (wink wink nudge nudge)

002...License to be drilled (don't ask don't tell)

003...License to grill

004...License to kill small bugs

005...License to kill mollusks

006...License to kill the almost dead

007...License to kill

008...License to kill plus one

009...License to make witty rejoinder after killing

0010..License to make witty rejoinder while killing

0011..License to use foxy lady as bullet shield

0012..License to attempt tricky triple-entendre

0013..License to say last name first

0014..License to kill twins

0015..License to operate space vehicle without license

0016..License to drive really fast in reverse

0017..License to drive forklift while shooting

0018..License to wear bullet proof toupee

0019..License to ski through fancy dinner party

0020..License to operate motor boat into crowded pool

0021..License to kill triplets

0022..License to dangle from tram

0023..License to conceal weapon in orifice

0024..License to live forever

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NOTE FROM A BILLIONAIRE

My Dear Friend:

Hi.

How are you?

I’m a billionaire.

It’s been quite awhile, my old friend.  Far too long, if you ask me.  As a matter of fact, I think the last time I contacted you I had just become a millionaire.  Now I’m a billionaire.

I don’t know if last Tuesday, the 7th, you bothered to multiply sixteen million two hundred and forty-eight thousand shares by 57 5/8s, but if you had you would have realized it added up to something within the vicinity of $920 million dollars (give or take another bull run).  Now I know what you’re probably thinking – while $920 million is certainly a lot of bullion, it’s no billion.

So let’s take a look at my assets.  There’s the dream house in Valley Peak, of course, which has cost me $45 million out-of-pocket so far (hint: never tell anyone who is charging you by the hour that you’re a billionaire).  If you think keeping up the Joneses is tough, try keeping up with the Gates.  Also, I have a beach house on Donut Island (sounds expensive, don’t it?  To the tune of $10 million).  Then there’s my biker’s dozen of classic Harleys, and let’s not forget the Bentley, the Beemer, the yacht, the dingy, and the canoe (altogether about $13.4 million, easy).  And don’t let me overlook my fine art collection (as soon as Pedro dies they’ll be priceless, but for now let’s just say they’re worth a cool 6.2).  That, along with a few antique odds and ends I’ve been thinking of taking on the Antique Road Show, brings my grand total up from a bunch of little big ones to the really big ONE.  Go ahead, check for yourself.  And round up.

Now sure, some people might say it doesn’t really count, that all of my money is on paper, but let’s not forget what our parents used to say – paper doesn’t grow on trees.  I mean paper money doesn’t grow on trees.  You know what I mean.

So how are you?  Really.  How are you?

The kids are good.  No, let me rephrase that, the kids are better then good, they’re rich.  The wife is fine.  You might have heard some rumors about our recent difficulties, but things are by no means irreconcilable.  She just went through a little post pre-nuptial agreement rough patch (three years late), but it’s no big deal.  The lawyers say it happens all the time.  Anyway, it seems the old gal has found religion, but not to fear, she won’t convert me.  Whenever she tries to get me to go to church, I tell her I already have a religion, that it’s money.  And if she tries to say money is not a religion, I say of course it is, it’s denominational.  Which would make me very holy indeed.

So besides my stock, what’s up?  Are you still doing what you’re doing?  Have you finally made a fortune, or are you still just a thousandaire?  Excuse me, a multi-thousandaire.  You know, sometimes I envy your life.  Really, I do.  To be the captain of nothing.  To live the simple, uncomplicated life.  I bet if you could just package that and sell it the right way, you could make a fortune.

I don't know if you're read up on the recent mess over my new web site address, but thing should be cleared up soon.  I don't care what anyone says, I am the sole owner of Brooklynbridge.com.  Catchy name, right?  Or course, there have been claims that the guy who owned it ended up selling it to thousands of people, but I did not pay half a million dollars so someone else could use that name.

So you want to know the first thing I did when I became a billionaire?  I threw out all my calculators.  They only went to eight digits.  Can you believe it?  Me, a self-made billionaire.  That’s ten digits.  But do not fear, I’m still the same person I’ve always been, just more so.  A lot more so.  Besides, a billion dollars is not what it used to be.

Which reminds me, do you have any money I could borrow?

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Jokes Andy Kaufman Could Pull-Off While He’s Dead

·       Switch his tombstone with a really obnoxious dead guy.

·        Have a midget wrestle his corpse, but have his rigor mortis set in such a way that he can’t be pinned.

·        Put his remains in front of a camera, go live, then have him do absolutely nothing for two hours.

·        Haunt the kid from the Sixth Sense. Make him really see dead people.

·        Appear in a Museum of Natural History diorama as Neolithic Foreign Guy.

·        Do a dead-on impersonation of Elvis Presley’s skull.

·        Be buried in a mausoleum, and when people come to pay their respects, have a loudspeaker announce that, “Andy has left the mausoleum.”

·        Play the Mighty Mouse song, and when it comes to, “I´ve come to save the day,” throw his remains off tall building.

·        Have him haunt a really cheesy haunted house ride, but then don't have him change the ride at all.

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Signs That Your Child Might Be Misusing The Internet

·        Your boy refuses to take a nap at school, insisting that he’s an Internet Nap Trader.

·        When your children play doctor, they use a full set of scalpels.

·        Every time you tell your kids to come in the back door, they snicker.

·        A helicopter comes to pick-up your child for preschool.

·        In church, your darling girl asks out of the blue why a nun would pee in a bucket.

·        Your middle child keeps hinting about a birth-order conspiracy that will blow the whole family wide open.

·        At the breakfast table, your little boy insists that he’s six feet five and loaded.

·        While changing your daughter's diapers, you discover a diapercam.

·        Whenever your boy smiles, he tips his head all the way over to the side :

·        While discussing menopause, your teenage boy tells you he knows exactly how you feel.

·        After sending your daughter to her room, Amnesty International calls to get you to release your “political prisoner.”

·        Your daughter tells you she feels totally misunderstood…in Turkey.

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Pros and Cons of Hiring Housecats to Drive New York City Cabs

PROS

  1. Will work all day for a tin of sardines.

  2. Have excellent night vision.  Won't even need to turn on headlights to drive at night.

  3. Can tip them with a hunk of liver or piece of string.

  4. Can easily tell when cat is pleased with tip by pleasant purring sound.

  5. Cats have excellent reflexes, perfect for hectic city streets.

  6. They're neat, and can keep themselves clean all day with tongue.

  7. Won't have to leave cab to go to bathroom.  Can keep a small box of kitty litter on front seat for bathroom breaks.

  8. If they drive too fast, or try to take you on a round-about trip to jack-up the fare, you can simply grab them by scruff of neck and make them freeze.

  9. If they ever go into a high speed roll, cats will have the uncanny ability to land the cab back on its four wheels.

  10. Names like Mittens, Frisky, and Bailey much easier to remember than the current foreign names.

CONS

  1. Same language problems as with current cabbies.

  2. Fish breath.

  3. While speeding along, cat might get distracted by a small piece of paper and go chasing after it.

  4. Cats never come when they're called.

  5. Might try to crash cab into a dog run and take out as many dogs as possible. 

  6. Annoying habit of coughing up fur balls when stopped at light.

  7. On cold days, cats might spend whole day with cab parked over a warm, steaming grate.

  8. Cats might not care if they get into accidents, thinking they have plenty of lives to spare.

  9. Always turning the radio up way too loud when cat food commercials come on.

  10. Cat might get distracted by dice hanging in rearview mirror, start swatting at it, and cause accident.

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A Small Theory

Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon?  Have you ever stood on the edge and looked down?  Incredible, isn't it?  And you know what's most incredible of all?  That it was all done by water.

You see, I have a theory.  If water can do that, then what about tourists.  Yep, tourists.  Imagine tourists running around for thousands and thousands of years, lugging their cameras and dragging their feet.  What kind of canyon do you think that would create?

One about as big as New York City is what I think.

I believe that many years ago, New York City was flat, just like the Grand Canyon -- by the way, what the hell did they call the Grand Canyon before there were deep canyons?  The soon-to-be Grand Canyon?  

So I think the city started out flat.  Then the tourists came.  But the first tourists were American Indians, who wore moccasins, and didn't carry cameras, so the city didn't shoot down overnight.

But then more tourists started coming.  What did they come for?  What do tourists always come for?  Snow Domes.  The stream of tourists turned into a torrent, and the Snow Domes remained plentiful, so they kept coming, digging the city deeper and deeper.

I believe that's how the Empire State Building was built.  I think it started out as a modest two story building, then the tourists  walked it down into what it is today.  And I think the Chrysler Building started out as a really pointy chrome diner.  Then the tourists walked it down.  I don't even think they should be called skyscrapers.   They're dirtdiggers.

And if we keep walking the city down, one day the subways will end up above us.  And in a few thousand years, all of the sudden someone will look up from their rushing about and notice a huge wall of water surrounding the city.  And right then, the water will come crashing down on us, flooding the entire city.

But that's all right.  That's how Venice was created.

 

 

 

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