When Artist's Models Get All Pinocchio - Sure he's wood, but he's a real live boy!

Vroom, Vroom - The perfect car for that couch potato who has everything.

Cure for High Blood Pressure - Sure, it's a drastic treatment - but hey, it works for him.

Boom, Boom, Chicka, Chicka - I'd like to see one of them on the striper pole at the club. Hmm, umm, seeeeeexeeeeee!

Eat Only Eats What He Kills - Somewhere, Ted Nugent is looking at this and smacking his lips.

Dance Craze Sweeps Navy - We hear the sailor dude from the Village People really digs these tunes.

Play Ball! - Sing along brothers and sisters! It's your country too!

Who Let the Dogs Out? - Who let the dogs drive...who, who, who-who?

Testosterone Fever - In which Nate learns to make himself tres sexy. If that advice doesn't work, maybe this will help.

The Blue Screen of Death - Gerry Ford. James Brown. Bill Gates?

Upchucking a Fortune - Sure it's vomit, but it's WHALE vomit!

Tap, Tap, Tap, Tap - It's better than a kazoo band I suppose.

Mysteries of the Universe Revealed - Some questions just may be best left unanswered.

Penguins Gone Wild - Sure, they dress well, but they're true party animals.

Proposals Gone Flat - He just wants to shout his love out to the entire world. Buuuut...

Stuck to a Pole - For Ralphie, Christmas is eternal.

The Dick Vinci Code - I smell blockbuster book/movie/TV deal coming on.

But Mom! - Creepy kid time travels for kicks.

Take This Job and Shove It! - Tools for those contemplating a career change.

Notable Quotes - "If you asked them to sodomize their own mother in a movie, they would do so, and they would do it with a smile on their face."

The Loaves and Fishes - Give a man a fish and he will eat it, teach a man to fish and he'll be on a perpetual crappie expedition down to the big pond in Crawford.

Well, That IS a Novel Approach - You'll never take me coppers. Step back or I'll sodomize the dog. Do you hear me! Huh? Do you?

Where Would Jesus Hide? - You know, we wouldn't have this problem if he had the common decency to wear a striped shirt.

The Poobah is a featured contributor at Bring It On!

And, sometimes dispenses wisdom at Less People Less Idiots

Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Thursday, December 28, 2006

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Sominex for Simpletons

Aw, poor little George. La Petite Potentate may be having trouble sleeping. Apparently, there's a pea under the Princeling's mattress.

Of course this is big news. He seems to have been asleep for most of the past six years and now he needs a Sominex. Just look what it took to wake the Snoozer-in-Chief up:

Katrina? Snoozeville.

Iraq? Yawn.

Iraq again? Perhaps a little nappie.

Complete incompetence at nearly everything he's tried? Well, you get the point.

The Crapweasel's confidantes seem to think the weight of the world has finally roosted on his shoulder like a dead parrot. It's no wonder. Pretty much everyone except Laura and Barney have run as far away as possible, and I hear even Barney is plotting with Laura for a big breakout.

It's doomed to failure though. The Twins are reportedly the brains of the outfit.

When someone becomes a world-class loser, I generally have some empathy for them. Being oblivious is a curse on a personal scale, but being oblivious on a grand scale is criminal. This man has worked so hard at proving to the world and his daddy that he is right - while being proven repeatedly wrong - that it's impossible for me to find the tiniest shred of sympathy. After all, this is a man who once bragged about being clueless to the day's news. Judging from his record, I suspect this may be the only truth he's ever told.

I find it inconceivable that the man possesses enough hubris that he's willing to disregard the counsel of several blue-ribbon committees, the other two branches of government, many of his generals, 75% of the US people, and most of the governments in the world (except perhaps his indispensible ally Poland). What's even more inconceivable is that this causes only a mild case of insomnia balanced against the permanent sleep he's induced in so many.

Having grown up in the tumultuous 1960s, I don't relish the thought of mobs taking to the streets. The damage inflicted is still festering four decades later. We're hugging enough anchors as we swim upstream into this new century, we don't need more. But the emperor seems hell-bent on making it a dead-certain prospect. His "let them eat cake" mentality is worse than headless Marie's. He insists on not only serving the cake, but mashing our nose in it like a boorish couple at a drunken wedding.

So here's my plan. We should have a national telethon - Sominex for the Simpleton. I say we take up a collection and buy an inexhaustible supply of the stuff to keep him asleep for the next two years. Remember, the only thing worse than a Bush asleep is a Bush awake and mucking things up.

Sleep well fair Prince. Sleep well.

The Poobah is a featured contributor at Bring It On!

And, sometimes dispenses wisdom at Less People Less Idiots

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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Tuesday, December 26, 2006

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The Christmas Cookies

The peacetime Air Force is a bit like a 9-5, M-F job. People work regular shifts and almost no one flies on weekends. On holidays - especially big ones like Christmas - anything short of all-out war couldn't blast an airplane or crew loose for a mission. Christmas is one of the few totally down days of the year. The military is sentimental like that.

But there are exceptions and twenty-six years ago today, I lived one.

Returning from Italy to my temporary home at Mildenhall, England; my airplane was diverted to the big Royal Air Force base at Brize-Norton, England. Diversions were commonplace, so most crews simply accepted their roles as wandering nomads. After all, my crew was returning from a two-week swing through Greece, Cyprus, Spain, Turkey, and Israel. But Brize-Norton was a double surprise. It was a rare diversion spot and it was Christmas Eve.

The RAF cargo crew at BN arrived with our emergency load - 3000 lbs. of smoked ham, a few bags of Christmas cards, (and inexplicably) a well-worn bicycle for a Royal Army contingent in Mombasa, Kenya. The RAF blokes graciously thanked us for coming out of our way to take the load and explained that we were the only NATO aircraft still flying in Europe or the Middle East. We were going to spend our Christmas Eve flying ham to Bitburg, Germany where a commercial charter flight would take it to Kenya in time for the contingent's Christmas dinner.

We arrived by late afternoon, reeking like a flying smokehouse. The winter sun was already setting and it was totally dark by the time we unloaded and buttoned up the airplane. There were no more rooms in transient quarters so Base Ops sent us to a small hotel in town. The prospects for dinner seemed slim though. Everything on base was closed and Ops told us the restaurants in town probably were too.

"Merry frickin' Christmas," I thought. "I should've "liberated" one of those Goddamn Brit hams when I had the chance."

When we arrived at the hotel it looked deserted. We had difficulty rousing the surly innkeeper who only reluctantly let us in. He complained - in an excellent English stage whisper - about Americans who pull poor, beset-upon Germans away from their Christmas dinner.

"Frohliche Weihnachten to you too, die Huhnerkacke," I thought to myself.

When we asked about food, he smiled and said, nein with obvious pleasure. Only some delicate prodding - in German, despite his previously excellent English - revealed the location of a restaurant that might be open.

It was a small, neighborhood place located in an ancient building. The Germans inside were laughing and swigging great steins of beer next to a huge hearth with an equally mammoth yule log. They were having a grand time, at least until we came in. The singers fell silent and the steins returned to the table. Their convivial conversations changed into whispers and sidelong glances at der Amerikaners.

We retreated to the most unobtrusive table we could find and placed our orders. As we quietly waited, their conversation slowly returned - although the sidelong glances remained.

Dinner was quite good and we spoke quietly amongst ourselves as we ate the traditional roast goose and buttered peas with potatoes, chased by the local Bitburger bier.

Around mid-dinner, we noticed the Germans had fallen silent again. We glanced over as a middle-aged man stood up and slowly approached our little group. Although Bitburg wasn't known as a particular trouble spot, it was common at the time for Americans in some German cities to be treated poorly. We weren't sure exactly how this encounter would shape up.

The man spoke to us in a halting pidgin made up of equal parts schoolboy English, dunce-level German, and hand-signals. Surprisingly, his little speech was as queer as its delivery. The famously taciturn Germans were inviting us to join them.

We followed him to their table next to the fire. The Germans all smiled in unison and motioned for us to sit. Using the same pidgin, they introduced themselves and we returned the favor. Soon, we were all drinking beer and singing as if we were life-long friends. We discussed food and fussball . They told us about their families and their lives. We told them about being half a world away for the holiday. All of them seemed shocked when we explained the last Christmas most of us had at home was at least five years ago.

Finally, we tore ourselves away to return to the hotel for our mandatory crew rest. We rebuffed offers from the Germans to pay for our dinner, and between us, did the usual confusing calculation of who ordered what. We decided to split it equally, six ways. None of us were in any condition to do the math.

As we paid our bill, we talked quietly with the woman who owned the restaurant with her husband. Her English was excellent and she seemed as shocked as the other Germans that we would be working on this special night. Suddenly, she asked us to wait a moment while she fetched her husband to join us. She was sure he would like to meet us.

She returned with a stooped and hobbling man. Because he spoke no English, his wife translated. Through her, we learned both of them had a special fondness for Americans - an unusual thing in Germany back then.

She excused herself and as she turned, I noticed a small number tattooed on her forearm. Her husband bore a similar one crudely etched into his skin.

The woman reappeared a few minutes later with a huge box.

"I have a little gift for you. No one should be away from their family for das Weihnachten," she said while handing a box to our pilot. "Perhaps these will keep you from getting hungry on your trip home. It is a terrible thing to be hungry. I know about such things," she said.

As predicted, there was no food to be had on Christmas morning. We simply climbed aboard our airplane for the hop back to England. It was Christmas Day and we were still the only NATO airplane flying.

Shortly after take off, the navigator tuned in a German radio station playing Christmas carols. As we listened to those familiar songs sung in an unfamiliar tongue, we opened the box and passed out the contents - several dozen hand-baked Christmas cookies and marzipan treats.

We ate them quietly and listened to the music. After some long moments of silence, filled only with the carols, the loadmaster's voice crackled through the interphone and said, "Load to crew. Merry Christmas guys."

"Load, merry Christmas," we answered in unison.

"Damn, these cookies are good," he responded.

"Yeah, they are," I thought to myself. "They surely are."

The Poobah is a featured contributor at Bring It On!

And, sometimes dispenses wisdom at Less People Less Idiots

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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Sunday, December 24, 2006

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Let's Rumble Virgil Goode

I recently wrote a post about the ascendency of the wussy in American politics. Like most bullies, these quivering mounds of Jello talk tough about chasing down every Amal, Abdul, and Hussien they can find in an attempt to stop "terrer" and avenge the victims of 9/11. But these bullies do it while hiding behind the flag and working hard to immolate or abridge the rights of anyone on the planet who happens to disagree with them.

"Ya better run away you nasty terrist. If'n ya don't, ah'll vote the First Amendment rat outa thuh Constitution. That'll larn ya, ya cutthroat Islamofascist," they yell in high-pitched and tremolos voices. "I'll send mah big brother to kick yer Muslim ass," they scream from an undisclosed location.

These crapweasels would literally shit their pants if faced with an actual Muslim - terrorist or not. The mere sight of a Koran sends them tumbling over a cliff in a mad rush to find a Bible to take cover behind. Yet somehow they believe themselves to be the bravest of the brave. So brave, in fact, they display it by sending other people's kids off to get killed in a war halfway around the world.

Damn! Now that's brave! They sure don't come any braver than that. Real Rocky Balboas these guys are. Texas National Guard members no doubt.

So, meet Virgil Goode, a courageous Virginia Congressman whose pants currently stink with a huge, sopping-wet load because Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison wants be sworn in to Congress on a Koran.

Virgil bravely whined that no Korans be allowed unless used in a "private" ceremony. And while hiding under a pickle barrel, he defended his God-fearing constituents with a cowardly rant about how we need stronger immigration policies to protect us from them damn "Mooslem feriners"?

But Virgil? Funny thing. Ellison is a US citizen - and not one of those naturalized ones you fear so much either. Nope, Ellison was born and bred in Detroit, Michigan. In fact, he was raised Roman Catholic and attended a Jesuit high school as a kid. Oh, and his brother is a Baptist preacher. That's sounds pretty subversive to me. You simply can't trust those seditious Catholics and Baptists, especially if they left the bosom of Christ for the arms of Allah.

Ellison sponsored some pretty subversive legislation while serving in the Minnesota House too. Why, he supported involuntary commitment for sex offenders, pushed for DNA testing for criminals, and worked on legislation to keep kids in school. Yup, that's one scary dude you're up against there Virge. I can see how he could strike terror into your heart.

Now, I'm no Lou Dobbs on the matter, but I support a stronger immigration policy too, although I'm having a bit of a problem seeing why that has anything to do with a native-born American scaring the bejeebers out of a cracker from the sticks. I support it because I believe we are absorbing immigrants, especially illegal ones, at a rate faster than our infrastructure can cope. I also believe that despite what some would have you believe, some of the jobs being taken could and would be filled with Americans. Simply stated, I want an immigration policy that serves America's needs first and I'm unapologetic about it.

However, I'm not all about cutting off immigration because I'm afraid a wandering band of Muslims will cut my hands off unless I celebrate Ramadan. I'm not about insisting all immigrants assimilate perfectly into an English-speaking culture because I'm afraid I'll have to order my hamburgesa en espanol. And I couldn't care less whether immigrants believe in a Bible, Koran, Torah, or a bag of celery (although I personally favor celery worship because at least you have something healthy to eat after services). I believe that way because that is the way the America I know deals with things. That is the way that a brave America behaves.

But most of all, I'm not afraid of ol' Virge and his congregation of crapweasels. As far as I'm concerned, they are cowards of the first degree - people who are so afraid of their own shadows they are willing to pull their well-worn asshats down to their ankles in an attempt to hide from a man who wants to put his hand on a book of his own choosing and swear allegiance to the Constitution.

I have but one message for Virgil and all the other lemmings who follow his cowardly rants:

I'd be perfectly happy to come kick your cowardly asses myself. Anytime. Anywhere. No big brothers. No flag to hide behind. No black book for protection. No invisible spirit in the sky. I'll do it as a proud American citizen who is tired of people like you giving my country a bad name.

Whatta ya say there Virge? Mano a mano? Let's rumble.

The Poobah is a featured contributor at Bring It On!

And, sometimes dispenses wisdom at Less People Less Idiots

Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Saturday, December 23, 2006

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The Gospel of the Universal Messiah

I first began to question the existence of God as an adolescent. My questions started small, but grew bigger and more complex over time. Why was it that no matter how often or fervently I prayed, nothing seemed to happen? Even though I deeply believed, how come I never felt His presence as I'd been taught in Sunday school I would? Why would the benevolent God I'd learned about allow so much suffering and hate in a world he created and supposedly loved? Why did nearly every religion claim to have the inside track on THE God and that unless you believed in THEIR God, you'd never get into heaven? The questions were endless and so was my search for answers.

As each question arose, I studied what the answer might be. Along the way, I read quite a few religious texts - the entire Bible, along with portions of the Torah, Koran, and several others. While I found much good in them and plenty of consistency between the religions about what the answers should be, I almost never found an answer that jibed with my own observations of the world.

At first, I tried squaring what I saw with what the texts laid out. I found that by taking a more universal and amorphous approach I could stretch almost everything I read to somehow cover almost every question I had.

Around that time, I developed a conceptual God I called the Universal Messiah. My messiah was always benevolent. He didn't allow suffering for anyone, believer or not. Instead of a jealous God who severely punished those who disagreed or believed differently, I wanted to see one who could tolerate discussion that would help people grow and love one another. My messiah listened to prayers and answered them in a clear voice that offered wise advice. My messiah accepted respect rather than commanded it. He was not a God to be feared, but one impossible not to love.

Then, a thought occurred to me. A thought that produced a schism so profound, it led me to not believing at all.

I had managed to create a God in my own image and if I could do that, it seemed to me that people much cleverer than me could do it too. I began to look at the cryptic messages in the religious tomes and realized that's why the stories were so metaphorical. They were created by men, precisely because they could apply to any situation. I began to believe that perhaps the Bible wasn't direct from the hand of God, but something concocted by man to help people deal with the harsh realities of life. A life that wasn't powered by a God, but one that was fallible and sometimes broken.

Suddenly, I saw God as a useful construct to keep people overburdened by a harsh world on their feet. Society and the person needed to keep shuffling through their life, because if they didn't it meant the death of both. Holding out an eternal reward was the carrot on the end of the theological stick. Something to give people hope in a frequently hopeless world.

Finally, I gravitated to atheism, although a benevolent sort of atheism that's pretty rare.

I allow for the prospect that I may be wrong. I don't think so, but it's happened before. So if I am wrong, I'd like to know that all the people who believe do get their eternal reward. I'd also like to believe that all the evil people who used God as a front man rather than a savior get their just "reward" too.

As for me and my soul, I suppose that will be between God and me. I'll lay out my case for worthiness and he'll judge whether I met the requirements. If I get sent down to the firey pits of hell because I didn't believe, at least I'll be able to go with a clean conscience. I'll know that I used my brain, I used my heart, I did my best, and I did it the hard way - without a God to help me through.

I think I can live...make that die, with that.

The Poobah is a featured contributor at Bring It On!

And, sometimes dispenses wisdom at Less People Less Idiots

Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Friday, December 22, 2006

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On Pols and Polls

If there's anything predictable in politics it's that when a politician's numbers go down he'll decry polls as worthless crap. He'll poo-poo them as not reflective of anything other than the pollster's obvious bias. He'll wax poetic on his ability to make decisions - sound ones, based on only the highest and mightiest of ideals - independent of what the polls indicate. One of the most oft-repeated phrases from the politicalese phrase book is, "I never pay attention to polls. They don't mean a thing."

Of course, no one believes that harmless fiction, but does it even have a grounding in truth? Should it?

Most people believe that politicians should make decisions independent of polls. To them, politicians swayed by polls are weak, craven pander bears more worried about their own reelection prospects than the prospects of the electorate. But are they right? Is this just the polled thinking like the politician - the polls disagree with my position, so therefore, they're wrong?

I'd posit that politicians who follow polls are pretty smart congressional cookies. Polls are a measurement of what the public is thinking, what they are likely to support - and more importantly - what they are likely to reject. Polls quantify ethereal emotions into trends that can help shape and inform policy. Politicians ignore this constant stream of free advice at their own - and the electorate's - peril. Polls are actually a pretty good way of continuing to refine a policy after it's already left the barn. It's certainly better than the finger in the wind method.

Nowhere is this more evident than in El Jefe's disdain for his poll numbers in Iraq. Over the course of the war, polls show - embarrassingly accurately - how little the public trusts Shrub's conduct of the war. Rather than listen to this advice, he merely insisted he was right, thereby snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Had he paid a more attention to his tumbling numbers rather than artificially trying to inflate them, he and we would be much better off. When poll numbers look like a hole dug halfway to China, a smart man pays attention. He looks at those numbers and says to himself, "It's embarrassing, but I must admit that I may be wrong and I'm leading the flock to a place they really don't want to go. My embarrassment will likely treble if I don't do something PDQ, because I'm not really leading if nobody's following. Get me Peter Pace on the blower, will ya?"

I'll leave it to you to decide if Bubba's "stay the course" maxim indicates anything about his IQ. I think you're clear on my opinion.

But a reasonable person could argue that slavish attention to polls may not be the right course either. A good politician can't jump at every little click in the polls. This is called "chasing the numbers" in business parlance and it is almost never successful. It leads you on counterproductive inconsistencies that end up torpedoing the best of policies. A smart politician interprets the polls. For example, if the polls indicated support for an action that was clearly wrong or skirted the Constitution you'd be ill-advised to follow them. Contrary to popular belief, the public does get what they want sometimes and sometimes they really don't like it when they do.

In my mind, polls are just one more data point. "Numbers is numbers is numbers," as they say. Without some honest interpretation of what the numbers mean, framed in the context of what's best for the country, they can easily lead you astray. At the end of the day, what a politician does or doesn't do remains a subjective choice. A smart decider hedges the bet and makes better decisions with additional data. A not-so-smart one says, "I never pay attention to polls. They don't mean a thing."

Polls are only as good as the politicians who interpret them. They are neither good or bad, they simply are there to listen to or ignore. If I were polled on the question of whether polls were good or bad, my answer would be:

"None of the above, but I sure do wish there were more politicians who could count."

The Poobah is a featured contributor at Bring It On!

And, sometimes dispenses wisdom at Less People Less Idiots

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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Thursday, December 21, 2006

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A Kodak Moment

In many people's homes, places of honor are saved for family pictures. The high school graduation head shot. Perhaps, a serious young man dressed in a military uniform, posed rigidly in front of a flag. Some homes have cute babies. Others, cheap group shots from Olan Mills. Mom, Dad, the kids - family as smiling and loving clan - captured by the blink of a mechanical eye and held together by chemicals and paper, no matter how fractious they were in real life.

I suppose it's telling we didn't have those sorts of pictures at our house.

However, amongst the accumulated crap of a lifetime I do have one family picture. It's a small, worn, black and white snapshot of my mother, sister, and me. It's a bright day and in the background you can see the still-rising houses of the local Levittown-style development. There are only spare patches of grass where eventually a lawn would sprout. There's a new Ford Galaxy 500 in the driveway, horizontal fins glinting in the sun. And it's Sunday. I can tell because my mother and sister wear frilly, but demure frocks and white gloves with hats. I'm dressed as a junior-sized version of the Man in the Gray Suit, tiny tie askew, mugging for the camera with a toothless grin and a scrunched face. The camera tilted slightly when the shutter was pushed, making us all look ready to slide to the left, revealing our tenuous grasp of familial gravity.

Whenever I'm searching the darkest recesses of the family archive, I run across the photo and I always stop for a moment to stare. I'm not sure why. Its every feature - from my slicked-back hair to the faint shadow of my Dad as he takes the picture - is etched in my memory. Sometimes the image just pops randomly into my head or comes to me in an uneasy dream - not quite a nightmare, but not a pleasant, slumbering float through the past either.

When it does, I'm always drawn to the eyes.

My mother anchors the left side of the family. She smiles prettily, but vacantly. Her eyes wrinkle in the sun, but they are almost devoid of emotion. For me, they are uneasy eyes. I know now they both hide and project the schizophrenia that will emerge with a full-blown fury in a few more years. But, she's still mom in this picture, not the confused person who will talk to the shadows that she'll eventually become.

My sister anchors the right. She wears the pained expression of a teenager condemned to stand on the lawn - in public - having her picture taken with the family. I'm sure the next time she snuck out for a smoke with her friends, she told them just how incredibly lame and boring the whole affair had been. Her eyes are firey and very defiant. Rather than reflect her own troubled lifetime to come, they show only an angry intensity. She clearly held something inside that was struggling to free itself and her eyes showed the struggle. Not too far into the future, her eyes would turn old, worn out from too many bad marriages, mounting debts, failed classes, bad jobs, and incarcerated children of her own. Her own bouts of schizophrenia would come too, eventually turning her into a spacy welfare queen, estranged from the family and always on the beg for money or food, or meds, or cigarettes.

And I'm in the middle, a familiar I will come to know well.

My eyes are just the eyes of a six year old. They twinkle with energy. My smile is toothless, though genuine, nothing like Grinch-curled lips I smile with today. I am the animation of the shot, posed between the two women who would mold my life so completely. I am alive in stark contrast to the beginnings of their lengthy, life-long deaths.

I even vaguely remember the day. Mom was going to make fried chicken and there would be a fresh-baked apple pie for dessert. I would play in the backyard after Sunday dinner. It would be my favorite game - rolling over and over, across the width of the yard and then quickly standing up and looking into the sky. My head would spin and the clouds would blur, right across the open blue sky. In between rolls, I'd stroke my dog's head and dream of life as a grown up.

Of course, I have other pictures too. A high school graduation head shot. I'm dressed in a white dinner jacket with black bow tie. I have long sideburns and fashionably longish hair. My eyes in that picture are vacant and there is no smile. In fact, my lips are visibly chapped and belay the pain of that simple, incompetent smile.

And there are other pictures too. In each one I change a bit. My hair becomes longer or shorter as the fashion of the day dictates. Eventually it begins to recede from the small, back-of-the head patch at my wedding, to the long forehead on my security badge from work. My chins and belly grow as youth flits away and wrinkles form at the corners of my eyes.

But, the eyes never change. They're always a bit hard, no matter how much I try to turn up the wattage. The twinkle never returns. They no longer look up at spinning clouds in a brilliant blue sky. They are adult eyes. Eyes that have seen too much. Old eyes, magnified by my glasses. Eyes that have become trained not to twinkle or reflect anything from inside.

When I compare my eyes in that old picture to the ones I have now, I see the clear difference between eyes that are alive and eyes that are living.

I'm clearly not a kid anymore.
The Poobah is a featured contributor at Bring It On!

And, sometimes dispenses wisdom at Less People Less Idiots

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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, December 20, 2006

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Grandma's Fish

I had an uncle who was widely acknowledged as being the funniest man on the planet. His name was Lloyd, but everyone called him Pard. That's also what he called everyone else. He was an economical man in word and emotion. Just one four letter word was all he needed to think of you as a friend.

Like most insanely funny people, he did it effortlessly and without trying to be funny. He just was. He had a sly air about him - sly and dry. Very dry. He favored big cowboy buckles and tinkering with things. He was a foreman at a phosphate mine. Before that, a butcher. He once built his own muffler that also doubled as a windshield defroster for his vintage Volvo station wagon. He was that kind of tinkerer. A man who hand-built what he could buy at a fraction of the price.

I'm not sure where he learned to be funny, but I'm pretty confident it wasn't genetic. He father was some sort of senior elder in the Mormon Church. Tabernacle approved and everything. Very religious. Very fire and brimstone. Pard always said, "You can't trust them damned Mormons." Of course, the elders in his small Idaho town didn't think of him as Pard. I believe they called him Lucifer instead.

Pard could fish. Really fish. I mean like tie your own fly with your eyes closed, strike out across the mountains with nothing but a rod and reel, find a stream only the grizzlies knew about, and cast your fly into a crevice four inches wide just to the right of that tree over yonder fish. I'm sure if he'd asked, the fish would have gladly just walked out of the stream and into the creel, but Pard wouldn't have seen that as a sportin' proposition.

"Gotta give the lil' bastards a chance," he'd say.

I once was riding with him across the high chaparral in southern Idaho. He said, "Lil' Pard (meaning me, not him), there's a damn fine trout stream over yonder. What say you and me do a little fishin'?"

Before I could answer, he pulled the old Volvo off the road and struck out across the sagebrush. I mean literally across the sagebrush. Sans road. Outback style. Navigating by the sun or some damn thing. I trusted that he knew where he was going because, well, he was Pard.

Twenty-five miles and 6,000 sagebrush later, he pulled up beside a cool stream, got out, and flipped his fly into the water. He was so good, so smooth I almost went after the damn fly. The trout had no chance.

I went to take a pee and returned to see he already had enough trout to feed the brood back at the house. I would have suspected anyone else of palming the fish and pretending to have caught them. But this was Pard. Fish didn't fear him, they were charmed by him.

"Gotta catch 'em before the grizzly comes back. He looked a lil' hungry," he said.

Back at home, he pulled the grill out onto the freshly mown lawn. The smell of the fire mingled with the smell of the fresh cut grass. It was a summer vacation smell. I still remember it.

Pard put the fish on and tended them with his omnipresent Oly - "It's the Tum Water" - and equally omnipresent Lucky Strike. He told me stories as he occasionally flipped the fish. He flipped them with the same ease as he caught them. Nice and gentle. They bounced softly when they hit the grill.

On the last flip before they were ready, Pard made the only error I'd ever seen him make. He flipped one of the fish into the freshly mown grass.

We both stood there looking at the crispy fish covered in a grassy blanket.

"Well damn," Pard said.

"Well damn," I said.

Pard bent down and picked the grassy fish up and gently rubbed it on the leg of his jeans. Once clean, he gently flipped it back on the grill and took a sip of his Oly.

"Lil' Pard," he said with a wink. "Don't tell anybody, but that one's for your Grandmother."

See what I mean? The funniest man on the planet.

The Poobah is a featured contributor at Bring It On!

And, sometimes dispenses wisdom at Less People Less Idiots

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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Monday, December 18, 2006

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The Conundrum of the Caring

For many people, hunger, homelessness, and poverty only exist between the last Thursday in November and the New Year. The rest of the time they wander around in George Bush autograph-model bubbles, pausing only briefly to shake their heads at the awful realities of the world. Spurred on by incessant bell ringers and the appeals for donations that flood their mailboxes, guilt claws at them to SHOW THE MONEY! and mostly, they do.

But, how much is enough?

By percentage, less affluent families donate more than wealthy ones. The causes they donate to also differ. Low-income donations tend to go to organizations providing the essentials of life - food, housing, and health care. Although affluent people also donate to these charities, they donate to other worthy organizations too - public television, arts organizations, colleges, etc.

For the most affluent, making donations is easier. If you have plenty of money, you can afford to worry less about giving away more, even if the amounts are staggering. For example, no one could argue that recent mega-donations from tycoons Bill Gates and Warren Buffett weren't exceptionally generous. In fact, the donations were so large the Gates Foundation can now take on challenges that even governments can't fully cope with.

For the affluent, the question centers less on the amount to give, but on the place to give it. The rich can create self-financing foundations to leverage their money so that the organizations get more "bang for their buck". However, Bill and Warren will quickly recoup the money they've given away, leaving them with as much as they had before. They won't miss any meals or worry about the mortgage because they've donated. They'll sleep soundly, secure in the fact that they've stepped up and made donations on a scale most people, even wealthy ones, can only imagine.

For the less affluent, the question is a bit thornier. You see those around you - often friends or relatives - who need help. You want to help them, but you don't want to sink yourself in the process. You have bills and responsibilities, just as they do. So, you think hard, you budget, and you decide what you can do without so that you can share what you have with others.

But after you've given, you won't be sleeping soundly in your McMansion and dreaming of the new arts center with your name above the door, you'll be worrying about why you couldn't give more. Your view of those with little is unobstructed and a much more vivid picture than someone far-removed from the block where you live.

Welcome to the Conundrum of the Caring. It's that place where there is no question of, "How much is enough". It's the place where you want to solve all the world's ills, but realize that no matter how much you give, it will never be enough. Not even someone like Mother Teresa, who gave away everything she ever owned and spent every minute of her adult life in the service of others could change that. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett and a thousand others of their power and wealth couldn't heal all the world's ills. And sadly, neither can you. No matter how much you may want to.

If you find yourself in this place during the holiday season, remember this: Whatever you gave probably went to one person who got one problem solved. That will be one less problem that person needs to face as they right the ship of their life. Your donation was no small thing for either of you. It's true that Bill and Warren can help more people and change more lives, but giving isn't a race, it's a kind act - no more, no less and there's nothing wrong with celebrating that act instead of worrying about whether it's enough.

So on behalf of all those whom you've helped, thanks Bill, Warren, and all the nameless people who chipped in whatever they had. Your acts are generous despite how convenient or inconvenient they may have been for you.

And you people who only face the world's ills at Christmas and float in your bubble the rest of the year - get on the stick and chip in a little on Memorial Day or Arbor Day, or any random Tuesday. Just give what you can, when you can, in the amount you can.

But don't worry about whether it's enough. Trust me on this. It is.

The Poobah is a featured contributor at Bring It On!

And, sometimes dispenses wisdom at Less People Less Idiots

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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Sunday, December 17, 2006

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Randomness Xmas Style

We got a mention in Crooks & Liars' Friday blog roundup, so give them a visit and share the link frottage (and a tip o-the hat to Blue Gal, give her a vote while you're at it). In fact, stop by and give my family at BIO a nod as well. We're the little blog that could.

And now, on with the randomness - War on Christmas style.

Help Wanted, Inquire Online - If you're a fan of HBO's Entourage, we hear there are openings as long as you can pass the interview. Good luck.

If You're a Vegan... - If you're a vegan this would probably be a good time to turn away.

I'm My Children's Mom - If you're giving these to your kids to play with, they're going to cost you plenty in therapy bills...with a real doctor.

Well, At Least It's Not a Mullet - I think I saw this dude at a Deep Purple concert once.

Thirsty? - Isn't it enough that we're rapidly spinning toward Third World status in this country? What ever happened to the good old tap?

La Petite Mort, N'Est Pas? - Air guitar or air orgasm, you be the judge (and this is purely for NSFW comparison purposes).

That's Funny We Thought They Were Pretty Pathetic - There were plenty of memorable political moments in 2006, many of them disasterous and heart wrenching, but if you can't laugh at others, who can you laugh at?

Funny as a Heart-Attack - We hear their Atkins Low-Carb Platter is really quite healthful.

Perpetual Halloween - Some folks say it's just a bunch of old bones, but MAN, those are some bones!

If Walt Could Only See Them Now - Everyone has their favorite fantasy, but maybe this is going just a wee bit too far. Then, on the other hand, I'm partial to Shay (NSFW), the glasses drive me wild.

A Strong Man and a Hot Iron - No, it's NOT gay porn.

Santa Conspiracy Theory Revealed - They got to the bottom of those UFO reports, now they're hot on the trail of the Bearded One.

If Only This WEREN'T Real - The whole world is going to hell in a handbasket and the Crapweasel-in-Chief is hanging out with the Crapper-in-Chief.

A Concept We Aren't Clear On - I must admit that I'm just not clear on this whole watching hair grow thing. It has all the appeal of televised golf. Now watching grass? THAT'S a sport!

Spencer's, Purveyors of Fine Crap Since 1852 - Sure, it's not a talking bass and it lacks the witty charm of the whipper tickler, but you can't go wrong with two reindeer doing the nasty. I so love the holidays, don't you?

Whore Caught in the Headlights - You just don't see headlines like that anymore...the ex-Mrs. Charlie Sheen looks a little like some gamey roadkill.

Stiff Standing Room Only - It's no party on Saturday night, but on Halloween the joint's jumpin'.

New, From Ronco! - These kids got nothin' on The Donald.

But Can You Make Tiny Little Freedom Fries With Them? - Tiny Japanese trees. Large American tubers. Viola! Bonsai Potato.

Regina...Vagina...Let's Call the Whole Thing Off - If you must be famous for something, let it be chlamydia. Sing it with Me! "O chla-myd-ia, our home and native land..."

NOW! In Specially Marked Boxes of Trix - Silly wabbit, The Blood of Jesus is for kids!

Mighty Mouse Will Save the Day! - Yet another in a long evolutionary sting of flying rodents.

That Damned Osama bin Laden! - Join the Santa Liberation Front and fight the War on Terrer!

Save the Beer! - The whales are safe, but the dolphins are still fair game.

Unquestioned Power With a Love for Gold Braid - They're a wild and crazy bunch, but they seem to have left out Baby Doc Bush.

Oops! - Everyone makes mistakes, but when you do it in print it's there for the whole world to see.

The Poobah is a featured contributor at Bring It On!

And, sometimes dispenses wisdom at Less People Less Idiots

Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Friday, December 15, 2006

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Dear George

For Chrissakes George, make a fricking decision!

It's not hard. You have two choices in Iraq - the way out or the way backward. You've pretty much burned out reverse in the finely-tuned racing machine you call your administration and the only ones left who still believe there is a "way forward" are you and Mark David Chapman, you delusional half wit! It's too late to wake up and smell the coffee, you need to wake up and feel the coffee pot as 75% of the American population whacks you over the head with it.

You've had four solid years of bungled mess heaped upon bungled mess. Daddy Warbucks 41 even sent an entire army of advisors to tell you how much you suck and are screwing the pooch. And now, you need more time so still more advisors can tell you what any self-respecting, lobotomized savant should already know?

George, I have to tell you, this is such a stunningly lame move that it makes your response to Katrina look like Jesus feeding the masses with the loaves and fishes. Even against the backdrop of the Bush Family scrapbook this looks bad...real bad George.

Listen to me, because I really do want you to do the right thing. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. You can demand that the sun rise in the west and set in the east - but trust me on this George - it ain't gonna happen. Iraq is the same way. You can stamp your feet, hold your breath, and scream like a banshee about victory - but George, it just...ain't...gonna...happen.

I know you think God will to speak to you as you claim He always does in a crisis. But George? That's just Laura's snoring you hear. And if God really is telling you to act this way, IGNORE HIM! If He's the one leading you on (and I'm pretty confident He's not), He has all the credibility of a child molester holding a bag of Tootsie Rolls. Treat His advise accordingly.

George, for the love of God, make a decision. I know that requires thoughts that are complete anathema to you. I know you've never had to make a decision before. I know that you're used to having Dad and Bar wipe your ass and clean up every goddamn mess you've ever made in your worthless frat boy life.

I know. Believe me, I know. We ALL know.

But there are big stakes here George. Thousands of people will die based on your words and the speed with which you choose them. The world teeters on the brink of a very bad and ugly maw of death while you ponder the thumb wedged tightly in your ass.

Maybe none of these things mean anything to you. Maybe your simple, gerbil-like mind can't comprehend them. But dammit man, this is important! Get hold of yourself and do something! Hell, we'll even pretend that this whole sorry-assed affair was the great triumph it is in your mind if that'll help soothe your brusied ego. Just do something.

George, we're begging you here. All 300 million of us are on bended knee asking you to grow a goddamn spine and make a fricking decision. It's a big decision, but a very simple request.

Do the right thing for once George, just do the right goddamn thing!

The Poobah is a featured contributor at Bring It On!

And, sometimes dispenses wisdom at Less People Less Idiots

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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Tuesday, December 12, 2006

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As We See It: Boy in the Bubble Edition

George's Mature Response to the Iraq Working Group's Proposals

George Bush, Man Without a Clue

With the President Trapped in His Bubble, Canine-in-Chief Barney Took Over Some Official Duties

One Down, One to Go

Even Kofi Sometimes Found it Difficult to be Diplomatic

The Poobah is a featured contributor at Bring It On!

And, sometimes dispenses wisdom at Less People Less Idiots

Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Monday, December 11, 2006

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A Battle Rages Inside Me

"What a terrible thing to have lost one's mind. Or not to have a mind
at all. How true that is." - Dan Quayle speaking to the United Negro College Fund

"A mind is a terrible thing." - Omnipotent Poobah, shouting to no one in particular

I've spent considerable time thinking about the connections between my mind and body. I do this because my mind and body share only a passing acquaintance. They loathe each other and often refuse to cooperate, even on the tiniest things.

I'm mystified how minds sometimes drive us into illogical and incongruent acts. For example, a soldier's mind blots out the quite logical fear of being blown up and sends its owner to face the guns and save a buddy pinned down just out of reach. His mind tolerates extreme discomfort and pain to save that person, treating his body as a mere passenger along for the ride. Sometimes it ends in a heroic feat that brings both saved and savior back to safety. But, it might just as easily transform savior into victim, resulting in two deaths where only one might have otherwise occurred.

Minds clearly don't always make the best judgments and the truth is, sometimes we'll never know.

On a personal level, our minds can willfully damage our own bodies. We smoke when we know it causes cancer. We drink despite knowing our livers will fail. Obviously, we don't do these stupid things because we're ignorant of the risks. We do them because our minds take an inexplicable walk on the wild side toward an act of incredible stupidity - an act that your mind comprehends is lunacy even as it does it.

My mind battles itself constantly. As a depressive, one part fights a steel-cage death match with the other - all the while knowing the battle is self-destructive and stupid. On good days, one side gains a temporary upper hand. On bad days, the evil side advances. I take medications to level the playing field, but the battle always rages on - like trench warfare between two obstinate armies flailing away at each other through the muck and blood - having completely forgotten why they joined the battle in the first place.

Although my mind vs. mind battles are awful enough, it's the mind vs. body battles that causes the most damage.

I've had a heart bypass and suffer from diabetes. I go to the doctor regularly and we earnestly discuss losing weight, testing blood, and getting exercise. I have an intimate, and quite scary knowledge of how my body ravages itself unless I do these things.

Yet, I don't do them.

I don't do them despite knowing the grave consequences. I don't do them, even knowing I will eventually die from the damage and cheat my family and me of a long and happy life together. I don't do them in the face of overwhelming physical proof that I'm not doing them. I don't do them despite expensive therapy that focuses on understanding why I don't do them and explores rational methods to help bludgeon my mind into cooperation.

My mind is as petulant as a small child and as abstruse as any decision to stay the course.

Those with even a modicum of willpower can see and understand these irrational acts in a personal way. Each of us has battled something - smoking, drinking, addiction. We see parallels in our own lives and offer more support and good advice than anyone could reasonably ask. However, that knowledge and support means little when your mind willfully chooses to ignore it and remains adamant about any sort of control on its actions.

When exercise time rolls around, I usually choose to sit it out. I blog or watch television, while fully understanding the disease is slowly killing me as I do. Each time I eat a snack I don't crave - and that won't satiate me - a small part of me gets eaten away too. Despite the feel of gnawing teeth on my body, I go ahead and eat it anyway. My psyche bears the scars of a lifetime of such snacks and they make me feel ashamed and weak, like a teenage girl who cuts herself in secret.

But the truly remarkable thing about my mind is that - despite it's cavalier attitude toward my body - the good side keeps rising from the trench and charging against the evil side. The psychic battle rages, but the good side never completely gives up. It tries - in it's battered and weakened condition - to overcome the evil thing that also wars against my body.

There's only a fragile line of demarcation between the combatants and the stakes for my body are high. I'm trying to work out a peace treaty between the warring factions of my mind just as I've tried for a lifetime.

Still, no peace is at hand.

But, I don't give up. I continue to earnestly negotiate for a peace, a cease fire, anything that would allow me to save myself.

And that, is the most mystifying thing about my mind of all.

The Poobah is a featured contributor at Bring It On!

And, sometimes dispenses wisdom at Less People Less Idiots

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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Sunday, December 10, 2006

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The End of Dental Superiority

I went to the dentist the other day.

I got my usual cleaning.

I got my usual lecture about flossing more often, because hey, you can never floss too much according to the dentist.

I got my x-rays.

And then, I departed with my sample size floss, a new toothbrush to put next to the other 16 I've never gotten around to putting into the toothbrush rotation, and an appointment card that goes far past the end of my usual life planning horizon.

Then it happened.


Fifty-one goddamn years without a cavity. A perfect record that I could rub the less fortunates' noses in. No more can I declare dental superiority. No more am I a special case. No more am I a fortunate one possessed of a rare characteristic.

My last "special" feature, eroded away by some stray bits of popcorn.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

The Poobah is a featured contributor at Bring It On!

And, sometimes dispenses wisdom at Less People Less Idiots

Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Friday, December 08, 2006

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Mary Cheney has a bun in the oven, Rummy's leaving the building, and Dub is as zany as ever. What the hell, let's have a little randomness!

Vanilla Christ - Remember kids, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's Bible.

Once...Twice...Sold! - It's not an auction, but this little game from eBay is fun.

Low-Tech High-Tech - As a former technical writer, maybe it's just me who thinks these things are funny. Can you guess which one I wrote?

Stupid Idea Number 666 - As if kids weren't already prone to pulling the wings off bugs, imagine what'll happen when they spot an ad for Hershey's on this baby.

There's Nothing Like the Classics - And now a word from our sponsor...Leonardo Da Vinci for Nokia!

Tempest in a Coffee Mug - You've got to be one stupendously lazy mofo to require one of these gadgets.

We're Not in Kansas Anymore - I always did think Dorthy and her little dog Toto were a little batty. Now I know why.

Faux Space - What? The real thing isn't annoying enough?

Stop That Before Hair Grows on the Soles of Your Feet - Some things need no explanation. Apparently, this is not one of them.

Fristest With the Mristist - Once a Presidential candidate, now a washed up Senator. Nothing's too good for our boy Bill.

Area 52 Discovered - Why is it that UFOs never land where there are people?

I Guess Pat Paulsen Wasn't Available - Well, he might as well run. The White House is about the only thing on Earth he doesn't already own.

I'm Leaving You for the Rich Corinthian Leather - The Nasonex bee plays around on the side. Don't let this latin lothario break your heart.

Those Burkas Are Really Hot! - I guess sex scandals (SFW) are the same the world over...except for the death by stoning thing.

WWJS? - What would Jesus sing?

It's No Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Calendar - Hunks-a-plenty here ladies - hunks-a-plenty.

The Mouth is Quicker Than the Eye - The master of the slight-of-hand shows his dexterity in new and surprising ways.

Shake It Fat Boy! - It's Christmas, you must learn to accept things like this.

Firey Pits of Hell! - Coyote cast me into the pit, but I'm cool with it - you know, being all omnipotent and shit.

He's So Lifelike - And he makes better decisions too! There's one for our Coalition of the Inept partners too.

Soothing the Savage Beast - And now, let's hear it for The Chins!

It's Not Nice to Fool Mother Nature - Proving yet again what pervs (NSFW sometimes) people are.

Cap'n Dyke's Theme Song - A rousing chorus of the crew's chanty aboard the Mound of Blue Dykes.

He Makes It All Seem So Simple - Where the hell was this dude when I was taking geometry?

Teenage Wasteland - I so love the teenage Tits McGee and all she stands for - beauty, justice, and slaternliness.

A Street Can Never be Too Pretty - At least the Japanese have their priorities straight.

The Poobah is a featured contributor at Bring It On!

And, sometimes dispenses wisdom at Less People Less Idiots

Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, December 06, 2006

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