Monthly Archives: October 2009

Ain’t America Gr … Sorry, Dozed Off


by Robert Smith

The following people, places, and things are all rousing successes, which leads to an obvious question: Huh?
What do some of these people even do? Why would anyone buy these products? Who could eat that? The only thing that breeds success in America these days is to be safe, bland, and somewhat ineffective – but always comfortingly inoffensive. We say: Give us heath care with the words “U.S. Hot Damn Friggin’ Health Care Program” on the label as long as it’s worthy. Dare to challenge us, make us curious, give us nutrition, give us hope for a better future … or at the very least, try to entertain us, even a little.

Our official list of head-scratching successes follows, proving that luck is the biggest thing that can ever happen to a person, thing, or company:

The Greatest Wonder Claim Ever: “Lifetime limited warranty.”
Wonder Products That People Actually Buy (Or Once Bought): ShamWow; Armour Potted Meat (second mention in the DMR!); Rose Brand Pork Brains With Milk Gravy; Smucker’s Uncrustables Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches (frozen PB&J planks for those who just can’t master the complicated art of making a sandwich); Mott’s Clamato; the vending machine “toys” known as Hand Or Leg and Stretchy Pests; the children’s medicine happily called Save The Baby.
Old-School Wonder Foods That People Still Ingest: Pickled eggs; milk; plankton; durian; tripe; digestive biscuits; anything prepared in Albany County, New York.
Sports Wonders (Players Who Can’t Hit, Score, Or Play Defense, But They’re Rich & Always Have Jobs): Jason Collins of The Atlanta Hawks; Nick Punto of The Minnesota Twins; Darko Milicic and Jared Jefferies of The New York Knicks; Jake Delhomme of The Carolina Panthers; Rich Aurilia of The San Francisco Giants; Geoff Blum of The Houston Astros.
Thespian Wonder Of Wonders: Matthew Broderick, the luckiest person in the history of the free world.
Wonder Company Names That Must’ve Taken Months Of Thought To Come Up With: Mr. Subb, General Media, General Tire, Yummy Fruit Company, National Amusements, and our all-time favorite, Volume Services, the food vendor company at the old Yankee Stadium (“Honey, are you hungry?” “Baby, yeah! How I could go for one of those Volume Services hot dogs!”).
Entertainment Personalities With No Actual Discernible Talents, But There They Always Are: Tom Bergeron; any of the sons of Harry Carey; any of the offspring of Joe Frazier; Monti Rock III; Valerie Bertinelli; anyone from the casts of Survivor, Deal Or No Deal, The Amazing Race, and so on; Stacey Keibler; New York Governor David Patterson; Curtis Sliwa; Shoshanna Lonstein Gruss; ESPN’s Rob Stone; and, these days, Lindsay Lohan, who is in the newspaper every day but hasn’t seemed to appear in a film in what feels like five years.
People Actually Have Purchased “Pop” Music By: O.A.R., Train, Nickelback, Michael Buble, Paramore, Emily Rossum, anything produced by Richard Perry, John Mayer, Shwayze, Martina McBride, Faith Hill, Peter Cetera.

Every one of these people, companies, places, and things are luckier than you and I will ever be. C’mon, let’s clip some coupons and head for Boston Market!

Robert Smith is a published writer and editor – several times for magazines and newspapers that either went out of business or drastically reorganized after he left. Serves you right, schmoes.



Filed under Current events, Entertainment, Humor, Posts by Robert Smith

Letter To The New York Post: Update

Amazingly, The New York Post actually acknowledged our outrage over the October 27 Photoshopped cover depicting The Phillies’ Shane Victorino in a cheerleader’s skirt. For more, log on to:

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Is there an oddsmaker in the house?

by Jon Pine

There is a debate raging that maybe we can settle here on the DM Refugees blog:

Ahhnold “The Governator” Schwarzenegger recently sent the letter you see below to the California State Assembly. If you examine it closely, you will see that the first letter of each line in the second and third paragraphs spell out F**K YOU.

Arnie says it’s a “coincidence.” Hmmm. I’m not exactly Jimmy the Greek, but I would have to guess that the odds are about 47 million-to-1 that it would work out that way by accident.

Check it out for yourself and answer the poll below.


Filed under Politics, Posts by Jon Pine

Long Island Logic

by Robert Smith

While skimming the website – actually, an excellent, comprehensive source of what’s going on in the cleverly named strip of land – this banner ad couldn’t help but catch the eye:

Health Talk

We can only assume that other prospective themes to advertise the Health Talk radio show were “Health Talk Is Electrifyin’!” featuring a toddler reaching for an electrical outlet; “Heath Talk Is Delicious!” featuring a man chowing down on a Burger King Enormous Omelet Sandwich; and “Health Talk Is Explosive!” featuring that amazing moment in the classic Three Stooges short where a baby chews on the firing end of a handgun.

Long Island – long on innovation.

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A Letter To The New York Post


The October 27 cover of The New York Post. What follows is an actual letter written to The New York Post by our Robert Smith, which obviously will never be published by its editors.

To The Editors,

To think that the New York Post does not even attempt to be an actual newspaper any longer should be shocking, but it’s par for the course.  Tuesday’s amateurish cover and accompanying article were far more bush league than anything the Phillies could ever do.  The job of a newspaper is to report, not to stand from afar and resort to petty, juvenile name calling – but then again, isn’t that the mode of operation of anything owned by Rupert Murdoch?

Tuesday’s edition was an insult to Kevin Kernan, Joel Sherman, and other baseball reporters on your staff who try to be, dare I say, actual journalists. The cover was an insult to the Phillies, to sports, to women, and even to Yankees fans; the most intelligent of them realize that sports is a battle of athleticism and wills, not a reason for false pride.

The New York Post has really outdone itself this time. You’re already a laughingstock at places such as WFAN and in the Phillies clubhouse. And now, you’re even more of a rag in this house.

Since you’re so fond of calling names, allow me this: The Post is a piece of crap.

Never again will I waste a penny of my money on your truly awful, embarrassing newspaper.

Robert Smith


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Out of My Mind

by Jon Pine

Welcome to a new DM Refugees feature, Out of My Mind. Sometimes ideas for this blog jump into my head, but on closer inspection they don’t quite warrant a full-on column. So I thought I’d start regurgitating them here, if for no other reason than to silence the voices in my head and finally get some friggin’ peace already!

October 27, 2009

Playing matchmaker

Didya ever look through the want ads and see two ads that sorta cancel each other out? Like “Wanted: Used rider lawnmower, good condition” and “For Sale: Lawnmower, rider, used, good condition”? Makes you just want to hook the two people up, right?


Jon Pine

Well, I got that same feeling skimming my local newspaper this morning over breakfast. Page A-10 has a story about the ongoing debate in Florida’s Legislature over whether or not to allow oil drilling within 10 miles of our pristine Gulf Coast beaches. The “pro” side of the argument claims that 20,000 new jobs would be created. The “con” side says the amount of oil produced would do nothing to influence crude oil prices, which are set by international supply and demand. Oh, and there’s that little matter of gobs and gobs of tar washing ashore – definitely something we won’t want to feature in our tourism brochures.

Then, on the front page of Section B is a story about an 800-acre cattle ranch in Okeechobee that installed 84 solar panels on a shed roof, which generate enough electricity to power the entire ranch operation, with enough juice left over that they can sell it back to the local utility company. The $110,000 conversion project, after state and federal incentives and rebates, cost just $13,000 out of pocket.

Legislators should take a field trip to the cattle ranch. Instead of “Drill, baby, drill!” maybe they’d come away shouting “Solar, baby, solar!” How many jobs, do you suppose, would be created by a massive push toward clean manufacturing of solar panels? I mean, for pete’s sake, we’re called “The Sunshine State!” This same Legislature officially adopted that nickname in 1970.

(Side note for my Florida readers: A public forum on Gulf Coast oil exploration will take place Wednesday night from 7-9 p.m. It will be carried live online at

International Day of Silly Walks

Today, John Cleese, one-sixth of the eponymous Monty Python comedy troupe, turns 70. This year also marks Monty Python’s 40th anniversary.

Will you join me in naming this date “International Day of Silly Walks,” in honor of Cleese, and of this Python sketch that without a doubt makes me laugh the loudest and longest.

And as a bonus, check out this other bit that makes me laugh almost as loud and long.

Also, Python fans, if you missed “Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyers’ Cut),” the six-part IFC documentary, there’s good news! You can rent it from NetFlix or purchase it at Amazon Video on Demand.

Poetry found in the unlikeliest of places

Back in my journalism days, occasionally I would have to fill in on the “death and destruction” beat, which basically meant listening to the police scanner and chasing after fires, accidents and other emergencies. It also meant making the rounds of the police and sheriff’s departments to get a run-down of their police blotter activity. Not my favorite beat, but some reporters just loved it.

One writer who may love it just a little too much is Kevin L. Hoover of the cool little California weekly called The Arcata Eye. (Thanks to my friend, Donna, also an ex-journalist, for reconnecting me recently with the online version.) Rivaling the best Beat generation poets, Hoover takes a simple B&E (breaking and entering), D&D (drunk and disorderly) or street scuffle and brings out its deeper meaning, underlying humor, and yes, even a strange sort of beauty. A sample entry:

Friday, September 4

9:23 p.m. An Eighth Street restaurant was blessed with every business’s dream – a hostile, gibbering nincompoop positioned for maximum customer contact right outside the front door. This particularly spouty specimen’s aggro-mojo was sufficiently piquant to cause employees to lock themselves inside the restaurant until police arrived. When they did, he went to jail on a public drunkenness charge.

And a few hours later, an actual rhyming limerick:

1:23 a.m. 
Things were not going so well

For a guest at a Plaza hotel

As bar closure loomed

The sidewalks went boom

With drums from insomniac hell

Some of Hoover’s best entries have been bound in two books, available for sale elsewhere on the site. Brew up some herbal tea, light up a clove cigarette and enjoy!

Troublesome phrases

Ever the editor, I sometimes wish I could climb into Doc Brown’s DeLorean and go back in time to correct some awkward words and phrases that have somehow made it into our permanent lexicon.  To wit:

“It’s the same difference…” Huh? Isn’t that contradictory? Either it’s the same or it’s different. Make up your mind!

“I could care less…” Same problem. Shouldn’t it be “I couldn’t care less”? If you could care less, it means you probably care too much.

“It’s the exception that proves the rule…” Noooo… If it’s an exception, it disproves the rule.

“You can’t have your cake and eat it, too…” This one has always bugged me. Shouldn’t it be the other way around, “You can’t eat your cake and have it, too”? Because if you have your cake, you can eventually eat it. But once you’ve eaten it, you don’t have it anymore, right?

“Everyday” versus “Every day.” If, for example, the two-for-$2 greasy cheeseburger special is available each and every day, then it’s two words, not one. It’s an everyday mistake that I see in advertising and on signs and billboards everywhere. (Or is that every where?)

© 2009 Jon Pine

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Terror at 37,000 Feet

by Steve Ricci

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal investigators are struggling to determine what the crew of a Northwest Airlines jetliner were doing at 37,000 feet as they sped 150 miles past their Minneapolis destination and military jets scrambled to chase them. The pilots — Richard Cole of Salem, Ore., the first officer, and Timothy Cheney of Gig Harbor, Wash., the captain — said in interviews conducted over the weekend that they were not fatigued and didn’t fall asleep.

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Steve Ricci

First Officer Cole: Let me know if you get tired and I’ll take over.

Captain Cheney: I’m fine. I had a double-shot latte back in Newark.

First Officer Cole: Yes, but you know how quickly caffeine goes through you.

Captain Cheney: I’m FINE. Just let me fly already. Besides, I don’t want you messing with my seat position. I have it just the way I want it.

First Officer Cole: Well, you don’t have to get snippy. Excuse me, Flight Attendant? What’s all that barking I hear back there?

Flight Attendant: It seems Mrs. Cruikshank’s Pomeranian is trying to claw its way out of the pet carrier.

Captain Cheney: You tell her that I said, if she doesn’t shut that mutt up, I’ll send them BOTH to the luggage deck.

First Officer Cole: Oh, yeah. You’re fine, Captain Cranky.  Just fine. Is there an instrument in this cockpit that measures blood pressure? Because yours is about to depressurize the cabin.

Captain Cheney: What do you expect? That psychotic fur ball hasn’t stopped yapping since we took off.

First Officer Cole: Speaking of taking off, did you remember to put the landing gear up?

Captain Cheney: Yes, I remembered to put the gear up. How many times do you plan to ask me if I put the gear up? It’s UP!

First Officer Cole: Okay, okay. I’m just saying… Hey look, that’s the Mall of America down there! Think we can make a quick stop?

Captain Cheney: No.

First Officer Cole: Why not? We’re making good time, aren’t we?

Captain Cheney: We’re not on this trip to go shopping. And why do you have to go to a mall just because it’s ten times bigger than the average mall? All that means is that they have ten times more crap.

First Officer Cole: We never do anything spontaneous anymore. Hey, wait a minute. That can’t be the Mall of America, it’s way too tiny. Are you sure you know where we are?

Captain Cheney: Yes, I’m sure. Uh… I …um…

First Officer Cole: Because I don’t think you know how to operate all these fancy gizmos.

Captain Cheney: Mother of Mercy. I can’t have this conversation again.

First Officer Cole: “Let’s take the nice compact Beechcraft and maybe save a little gas,” I said. But noooo… You had to have the enormous twin-engine Airbus A320 with all the fancy schmancy navigational gear that you don’t know how to operate because the owner’s manual is six hundred and fifty pages long. And now we’re lost.

Captain Cheney: We’re not lost!

First Officer Cole: Then where are we?

Captain Cheney: (Inaudible muttering)

First Officer Cole: I knew it.

Captain Cheney: We’re not LOST, I’m just… I’m… Flight Attendant! What the hell is all that commotion back there?

Flight Attendant: We’ll, it seems that 14A and 16B are having a slap fight over the last pair of headphones.

Captain Cheney: Oh good Christ.

First Officer Cole: I told you we should have gotten a Triptik…

Captain Cheney (opens P.A. system): Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. You people had better cut out the friggin’ nonsense, because if I have to come back there, I WILL crack open some heads. Do you read me? Thank you. Enjoy the rest of your flight.

First Officer Cole: Brilliant, Dr. Phil. Threaten them with violence. That always works.

Captain Cheney: Please. I’m begging you. Stop talking.

First Officer Cole: Where are we now? Is it so hard to just get on the radio and ask directions?

Captain Cheney: WE ARE NOT LOST!

First Officer Cole: I can’t talk to you when you get like this.

Flight Attendant: Excuse me, sir?

Captain Cheney: What is it now?

Flight Attendant: Well, apparently the chemical toilet is malfunctioning and several passengers are complaining that they really, really need to go.

Captain Cheney: Oh, for the love of… I TOLD those people to go during the layover in Pittsburgh!

First Officer Cole: According to Google Earth, we’re somewhere over Montana. You really had better get on that radio.

Captain Cheney (opens P.A. system): Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your captain speaking again. If you people don’t settle down, I swear, I will turn this plane around RIGHT now and put you all on a Greyhound bus. Ever been on a cross-country bus ride? It’s like being in a terrorist prison camp but with extra torture. This is what we get for giving you enough free snack food to clog a municipal sewer system. Now just pipe down and play with your stupid hand-held electronic devices. We’ll be arriving at our destination shortly. Thank you for flying Northwest. Your business is important to us.

First Officer Cole: Our destination? Ha! I think we’re somewhere over Boise.

Captain Cheney: If you don’t like it, there’s a parachute in the back.

First Officer Cole: Very funny, Mr. “I Know Exactly Where I Am”.  Fine. YOU can explain this to the FAA; I’m not getting involved. I told you to keep your job with Amtrak. “Can’t get lost on a train track,” I said.. But no, you HAD to have a pilot’s license.

Captain Cheney: What is that smell?

Flight Attendant: Uh, well, Mrs. Cruikshank let her dog out of his carrier and he threw up on the beverage cart. It’s pretty noxious back there.

Captain Cheney: Where’s the ejection trigger?

First Officer Cole: Hey, Lucky Lindy? That GPS instrument thingy says we’re 150 miles past our destination! NOW do you want to make a U-turn, or should we just wait until we get shot down for violating Chinese air space?

Captain Cheney: That can’t be right. Damn foreign-made gauges…

First Officer Cole: Sigh. Now I’m going to be late meeting my mother at the gate. She BEGGED me to be first officer on a Norwegian Cruise luxury liner, but no…

Captain Cheney: (Inaudible muttering)

First Officer Cole: Oh my god! There’s an F-14 fighter pilot tailgating us! I think he’s trying to pull us over. WILL YOU SLOW DOWN!!

Captain Cheney: Holy Crap ’n Crisco. Okay, okay, don’t panic. Just shut up and let me do the talking.

First Officer Cole: He’s sending us a text message on my iPhone!

Captain Cheney: What? What’s he saying?

First Officer Cole: He says the landing gear is down.

Steve Ricci is a writer, editor, and photographer who has never once donated money to an organization that sent him decorative return-address labels; although he uses them all the time.

© 2009 Steve Ricci


Filed under Current events, Entertainment, Humor, Posts by Steve Ricci