Archive | August, 2011

Save the children (forced to eat off-brand food)

25 Aug
off-brand foods

Every day, children are forced to live in the shadow of off-brand macaroni and cheese that tastes funny. Please give generously before kids realize there are real problems in the world.

Let me tell you the sad story of Samuel, a little boy trapped (through no fault of his own) in a world of poverty and despair.

Samuel is but one among countless millions of suffering and forgotten children on this tormented planet of ours who needs your help, but his story is all-too typical.

He will go to bed hungry tonight. Oh, his stomach will be full. But it will be full of Western Family macaroni and cheese instead of Kraft, which he really prefers. The other stuff tastes weird.

So while his tummy will be full of Western Family, his soul will hunger for Kraft.

And that’s only the beginning of his misery. As with so many impoverished children, it was been days — even weeks — since he has had a cheese pizza from Pizza Hut. He has had to settle for take-and-bake. You have to bake it yourself and it takes, like, forever.

Can you hear his anguished cries?

If not, consider this. Samuel lives every day with a strict father who once made him brush his teeth for band camp rather than watching the last eight minutes of “Hell’s Kitchen.” That meant he had to watch it again later through On Demand.

And he had to watch the whole thing over because Fox (God, the cruelty) doesn’t let you fast forward through the commercials.

It’s enough to make you choke on your own vomit, but this is the sort of hell Samuel faces every day of his young life.

But you can help.

For $5 a day (less than the price of a cup of coffee at Starbuck’s, if you hold the whipped cream), you can sponsor Samuel or an equally pathetic kid.

Although $5 may not seem like a lot of money to a self-indulgent yuppie like you, it can make a world of difference to a child like Samuel. Your $5 means he can get decent DVR service so he can fast forward through those God damn Fox commercials.

He can eat Kraft macaroni and cheese (prepared by his sister because, really, she’s the only one who does it right) and order a real pizza that comes fully cooked.

You can also give him the resources to have Children’s Protective Services investigate his father, who only lets him have one Ding Dong in his sack lunch.

In the 21st century, no child should have to eat chicken nuggets at Jack in the Box when they’re so much better at McDonald’s. No child should have to eat a cheeseburger with sesame seeds on the bun. And what’s this business with whole wheat bread?

That has to be against the Geneva Conventions.

In exchange for your contributions, you will get a photo of the child you sponsor happily drinking A & W Root Beer instead Shasta or some other weird brand. In letters and postcards from your child, you will learn how much better the milkshakes are at Shari’s because you get a tin with extra shake in it.

Your heart will soar when your child tells his scrambled eggs are now perfect. Not too dry. Not too runny.

And best of all? He can watch “Hell’s Kitchen” uninterrupted.

Please give. There is a child like Samuel forced to eat foods he would rather not who needs your help. Today. Please don’t make him eat another pizza from Figaro’s.

Make checks payable to: Save the Prima Donna Children.

P.S. If you want make a contribution to children suffering other problems, go to the website for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.


The revolution will be tweeted

23 Aug

Teenagers are evil anarchists who can't grow proper moustaches.

Your children are dangerous subversives who must be kept under constant scrutiny.

With the Obama administration busy monitoring Glenn Beck (oh, she knows they’re watching), it falls to parents to keep tabs on their kids. Fortunately, spiffy new technology makes inner-family espionage fun and affordable.

Did you know that some 84 percent of teenagers use cell phones, according to new numbers researchers at Pitch Public Relations pulled out of their collective ass?

The important thing is not where the numbers came from but that they represent a golden opportunity to monitor your child’s every move. Ann Noder, the president of Pitch, says there’s a website you can go to find all the tech you need to monitor your kids’ phone calls and text messages.

I would tell you the name of the website, but I’ll be damned if I’m getting involved in any of this. Your children are rabid vermin out to destroy our Way of Life and capable of Anything. No offense, but this is your fight.

No way I’m going to get locked in a room and forced to watch “Hannah Montana: The Complete Series.”

Besides, Noder says you have technology on your side. First, however, you might want to ask yourself if your child should have access to a cell phone in the first place. After all, the revolution may or may not be televised, but it surer than hell is going to be tweeted.

“There’s a question most parents ask themselves at least once a week,” says Staci Perkins of, which may or may not be the website Noder was talking about. My lips are sealed.

“Is all the fighting over your daughter’s excess texting worth being able to reach her at any given moment?” Perkins asks. “Are the prices of your son’s cell phone apps a small price to pay for being able to text him that it’s time for dinner?”

Oh, hell no.

But your kids have you by the short hairs, and you know it. Take away their cell phones, and they and their revolutionary chums will have your head in a box with a hungry rat. Better just to monitor them.

Unfortunately, the little bastards speak in code. They use biazarre abbreviations to obscure their real agendas. Perkins suggest parents learn the code. She offers a glossary of definitions.

And it’s completely useless.

She operates under the naive perception that kids are not out to take over the world, But that’s ridiculous. If they were not dangerous insurgents, there would be no need to track them 24/7.

We adults would just be a collection of paranoids and pricks.

So if you find your kids using any of these abbreviations, immediately contact the Office of Homeland Security. or better yet, lock them in the attic.

What it supposedly means: Away from keyboard.
What it really means: Attack farm kids. Everyone knows farm kids and FFA members are America’s last best hope against all things unwholesome.

What it supposedly means: Are we having fun yet?
What it really means: America won’t have frozen yogurt. This refers to doing away with healthy deserts and snack foods after the revolution.

What it supposedly means: Bye for now.
What it really means: Bang four nuns. If your child attends Catholic school, be very afraid.

What it supposedly means: Be back later.
What it really means: Bravo, Bin Laden! I told you these kids are sick.

What it supposedly means: Boyfriend.
What it really means: Bring feminists. No revolution is complete without them.

What it supposedly means: Be right back.
What it really means: Burn Richard Baker. Subversives hate the former congressman from Louisiana because of his stalwart defense of traditional values.

What it supposedly means: Friend of a friend.
What it really means: Fornicate on adults’ furniture. Kids have no respect.

What it supposedly means: Falling on the floor laughing.
What it really means: Fill out forms, lie. The revolution will be improperly documented.

What it supposedly means: For your eyes only.
What it really means: Find your evil outlet. This kind of career guidance we can do without.

What it supposedly means: Going to bed.
What it really means: Gut two bishops. Another attack on religon.

What it supposedly means: Girlfriend.
What it really means: Generate fire.

What it supposedly means: Get naked on cam.
What it really means: Get naked orthodontic checkups. This is designed to confuse and frigten orthodontists.

What it supposedly means: Hate.
What it really means: Hedonistic hermaphrodites and homosexuals harvest hemp and have halluncingenics handy. This is some sort of code meaning, “There’s a a party at Roger’s house tonight.”

What it supposedly means: Hugs and kisses.
What it really means: Hate all Kristians. These kids are horrible spellers.

What it supposedly means: Holding hands.
What it really means: Hugh Hefner (a slang term for wearing your pajamas all day while having sinful thoughts about the Olsen twins).

What it supposedly means: Homework
What it really means: Have Mrs. Wilkinson killed (Mrs. Wilkinson being an algebra teacher).

What it supposedly means: Have sex with me.
What it really means: Have sex with me (or have someone wash mine).

What it supposedly means: It’s all good (or I am gay).
What it really means: Incarcerate all grownups.

What it supposedly means: I’m buck naked.
What it really means: I barbecue neoconservatives.

What it supposedly means: Laughing my ass off.
What it really means: Let’s massacre all oldsters.
What it supposedly means: Let’s meet in real life.
What it really means: Leave Methodists in road, languishing. A frequent text after running over a Methodist.

What it supposedly means: Laughing out loud.
What it really means: Let’s organize Libertarians. Right. Like that could ever happen.

What it supposedly means: Long-term relationship.
What it really means: Let’s taunt Republicans.

What it supposedly means: Mother I’d like to f***.
What it really means: Man, I love Frito’s. You know kids and snack food.

What it supposedly means: Oh my God.
What it really means: Ouch! Much gas!

What it supposedly means: Rolling on floor, laughing.
What it really means: Revolution on Friday, Larry. This only works if the other person is named Larry. Otherwise, it’s needlessly confusing.

What it supposedly means: What the f****?
What it really means: Wait until Friday. This works, even if your name is not Larry.


Change my life, Ellen!

17 Aug

I get to watch a lot more daytime television lately, including “The Ellen Degeneres Show.” Ellen often helps folks who are down on their luck change their lives when they share their stories. I decided to share mine.

Dear Ellen,

It is 12:54 a.m. on a night too hot to sleep in Salem, Ore., and this may be the codeine in the cough syrup talking, but I need to change my life.

Divorced dads get a bad rap. Millions and millions of us abuse and neglect our children or refuse to pay child support. But there are some good dads out there. (That would be me and Merle Jesperson of Shreveport, La. The rest are pond scum.)

I have been a single dad since I lost my wife four years. Specifically, I lost her to a guy who smokes clove cigarettes, wear black sweaters and labors under the delusion he is Allen Ginsberg. I cannot begin to describe the pain. He calls that poetry?

My ex-wife and her new husband live in Idaho because 49 other states suspended his poetic license.

I could not allow my son to be raised by Maynard G. Krebs, so I have almost sole custody. It has not been easy. But my son will tell you share an intense bond of love and respect. He will also tell you a danced with underwear on my head in a laundromat while performing highlights from “West Side Story,” but that’s only because he called my bluff.

There was also the time I followed him down the street in a Darth Vader helmet repeating, “I am your faaaaaather!” I figure even his therapist will get a kick out that.

All was milk and Oreos until my 25-year journalism career ended. People quit reading newspapers as we moved into what a friend of mine calls a “post-literate society” — and I call Planet of the Apes.

I managed to work for a couple of years for AOL News until Arianna Huffington took over and racked up a bigger body count than a Charles Bronson movie.

Do you know Arianna? If you have no special fondness for her, it would be most therapeutic for me if you slapped her across the face with a dead mackeral. Or a live one. I am not particular on this point.

I think it would make compelling television. “Coming up after the break, I make a viewer’s dream come true by slapping Arianna Huffington with a dead fish.”

If you have to save that idea for Sweeps Week, I understand.

Nowadays, I “blog” (a French word, I believe, meaning “writing for diddly squat”) and watch daytime television when I am not standing at intersections with a sign that reads, “Unemployed Journalist. Will Correct Your Grammar and Punctuation for Food.”

My son and I have about seven months for me to find a job before we have to find another family to go halfsies on a packing crate. Or worse. Live with relatives.

I am keeping the faith, but between you and me, Ellen, I feel a bit like a Christian Scientist with an appendicitis. I am increasingly aware that I need to change my life. And who better to help me than a daytime talk show host? (I’d ask Mike Douglas, but I am reliably informed he’s dead.)

I have loved you since that commercial where you told the afghan he had something between his teeth. Seriously. When you got your own sitcom, I remember telling my wife, “Hey, it’s the cute girl from the dog commercial!”

That’s probably one of the reasons she left me, not that I’m trying to guilt you into anything.

I am just asking that you … you … gee, I don’t know. Anything material you could provide would just postpone disaster. What I really need is a job. And I doubt even you have much pull in the job market in Salem, Ore. (I am committed to staying here for my son’s education. Sorry. Otherwise, I would be delighted to join your staff.)

I need to something about my son’s braces, but if I just paint them over with White-Out, no one will be the wiser. Well, except you. Please don’t say anything.

Being a single dad is tough, and most of the single dads in pop culture had help. Andy Griffith had Aunt Bee. Fred MacMurray had Uncle Charlie. Brian Keith had Mr. French. Bill Bixby had Mrs. Livingston. Even Lorne Greene had Hop Sing.

Maybe you could ask if any of the nice ladies in your studio audience would like to be my nanny/housekeeper. She need not be Asian or call me “Mr. Eddie’s Father,” because my son’s name is not Eddie, and that would just be creepy.

However, if she has a sardonic wit and refuses to take any of my guff, I foresee all sorts of delightful comic complications. She wouldn’t need to cook either beyond being able to boil a hot  (This is one of the reasons I am telling you my story and not Rachael Ray.)

All this is probably too much to ask, I know. There are far more worthy recipients of your life-changing powers. It is more than enough that you gave me something to do on a sleepless night.

So tell you what. If all you do is slap Arianna Huffington with a fish on national television (or even just randomly on the street), I will smile knowing the world is a better place.


Tom Henderson

Thoughtful Analysis: What the hell is this useless crap?

13 Aug
Teenage werewolf

Uh-oh. Looks like someone forgot to shave. According the folks at Schick, teenagers with poor hygiene and "summer beards" are a big problem during back-to-school season. Hmm, wonder if they have a solution.

It’s back-to-school time, moms and dads, so you know what that means. You need to get the little ones ready to learn by giving them a shave and a Freaky Pet.


I get the weirdest press releases.

The National Retail Federation tells me the average family spends $550 on school supplies each year. The folks at Hallmark and Schick want to make sure at least a few of those dollars are spent on useless crap.

Like Freaky Pets.

Once upon a time, there was a meeting at Hallmark where someone said, “Hey! I got an idea for a new line of plush toys! They appear to be hideous monsters, but when you turn them inside out, they’re cute enough to induce projectile vomitting.

“Like Sarah Palin. Only in reverse.”

These being the same people who thought Popeye salt shakers would be a big seller, everyone liked the idea. Hmmm, but how to market it?

This is when Sally Jo the intern suggested selling it as a back-to-school item. They could even create an addictive online game around it, giving kids another way to avoid homework.

“Kids will love to collect and play Freaky Pets with friends this back-to-school season!” Kelly from Hallmark says in a press release. She means it. PR people don’t use exclamation marks unless they’re serious.’

“Freak Pets can be purchased at select Hallmark stores, and after purchasing, you receive a code which allows you access into the fun online virtual 3D world where your stuffed animals come to life!” Kelly adds, her enthusiasm undiminished.

“Kids can let their imagination run wild while caring and training their Freaky Pet,” she says. “After their pet learns enough tricks, kids can put them into a competition with other users.”

Oh for chrissake, that’s why God gave us cockroaches.

Just give your kid a big box of them. Better yet, let the wee beasties loose in your kid’s room at night.I guarantee you his imagination will run wild.

We really make things needlessly complicated. Taking shaving, for example.

The people at Schick would have you believe kids going back to school with “summer beards” is a big problem. So they offer a $10 solution.

Just slip ’em an Alexander Hamilton, and they’ll provide you with a Hydro 5 Blast Razor Kit (with travel case). You get a razor, extra cartridges and shave gel. You can get all this for yourself for less money, but let’s assume for the sake of argument you’re a moron.

You got all the way through the summer and forgot to shave. Or Kid Rock convinced you trying to grow facial hair when you really don’t have the hormones for it yet is cool. OMG! You’re going to need shave gel! A razor! Extra cartridges!

Where in the world can you find all those things in the same place?

Not to fear. Mom and Dad know you’re a moron. That’s why you only eat chicken nuggets. They will get you a Hydro 5 Blast Razor Kit. Yes, complete with travel case. Are you kidding? Of course you need the travel case. You’d lose your ass if it wasn’t glued on.

The Hydro 5 Blast Razor Kit (with travel case) goes nicely with my own product. HenCo Products, my new line of useless crap, offers the God-You-Stink Bath Kit (with travel case).

You get soap, shampoo, towel and wash cloth (plus travel case) for $10. For an extra $3, I’ll throw in a toothbrush and toothpaste.

A lot of kids go through the summer forgetting to bathe. Then school rolls around, and they suddenly realize they smell like the rotting corpse of William Howard Taft.

I believe if we’re going to make up problems, it’s only proper we make up their solutions. So get your HenCo God-You-Stink Bath Kit (with travel case) today.

You can even use it on your Freaky Pet (if you know what I mean).

‘Going Backwards on a Pig’ a game for kids? What a disappointment

4 Aug

When you are told there is a YouTube game with the subtitle “Going Backwards on a Pig,” you have certain, shall we say, expectations.

What a disappointment. It’s a children’s activity.

This has happened to me before. Imagine my letdown back in my newspaper editing days when a guy brings me his self-published book titled “Go Ahead on ‘Er!” Turns out it’s a logging term. Rats!

Then there was the church that publicized its Sunday service with the theme “The Babe With a Stupendous Mission.” It was about Jesus, not Sarah Clifford (a girl I knew in high school; you wouldn’t know her, but talk about your stupendous missions).

This was the same church that announced Bible study that week would focus on the Book of Tits. Actually, it was the Book of Titus. Damn SpellCheck.

So, darn the luck, “Going Backwards on a Pig” is completely wholesome and age-appropriate. Don’t worry, Fox News. You can always be righteously indignant tomorrow.

“Baby Monkey: Going Backwards on a Pig” deals with a scenario all-too-familiar to those of us born in farm country. A baby monkey finds itself perched precariously on a pig traveling backwards. I wish I had a dime for every time I saw that happen.

It happens every Friday night in Iowa. A bunch of pigs go out on a bender and, before you know, at least three of them are running backwards with baby monkeys on their backs. I believe that’s why drunks are sometimes described as having a monkey on their backs.

I could tell you the origin of “I could dance with you until the cows come home” too, but it’s a long story. And more than a little racy.

What I started out to say nine paragraps ago, however, is that I got a press release about how “Baby Monkey: Going Backwards on a Pig” been adapted as an iPhone, iPad and iPod game by Kihon Games for only 99 cents.

In real life, drunken pigs with baby monkeys on their backs are a serious matter. Several bills are before the Nebraska Legislature, many of whose members are howler monkeys and other lower  In the game, which has gotten nearly 9 million views (speaking of lower primates),  the happy-go-lucky rides the grumpy pig as it charges through obstacles in an attempt to buck the monkey off. Meanwhile, the monkey reaches for bananas and pulls the pig’s tail to make it jump over pits and cliffs.

Don’t try this at home. It will just piss the pig off. I’m from Iowa. Trust me.

“When we first saw [the] catchy, hilarious video, we knew immediately that this could be a fun, fantastic game to share with your family and friends. And who doesn’t want to be a baby monkey riding on a pig?” Mark Grossnickle, co-founder and CEO of Kihon Games, says in the press release.

Who indeed — except for people who actually have lives?

“We’re very excited to collaborate with a talent like Parry Gripp and look forward to creating more viral games that users will love just as much as ‘Baby Monkey,’” he adds.

Parry Gripp (not to be confused with his toothless older sister, Polly Gripp) apparently wrote the song that became the YouTube game that has now become whatever-the-hell-it-is you play on an iPhone.

But whatever it is, the press release says you can avoid obstacles like nom nom hamsters and space unicorns. Yeah, like you would want to. Space unicorns and nom nom hamsters? Them’s good eatin’!

I should know. I’m from Iowa.

Wolfgang Puck thinks picky young eaters will go for crab legs?

4 Aug

It’s official. Wolfgang Puck is insane.

According to a press release this week, his restaurants at Walt Disney World offer what he thinks is a menu for picky young eaters.

For instance, your kid has a problem with raw fish? Instead of sushi, give him “California Rolls” made from ham and cheddar with pineapple glaze.

Wolfie, baby, hate to be the one to break this to you, but pineapple is a fruit. And the first commandment among picky young eaters is: “Forsake not breaded chicken for the demon fruit, lest ye die.”

The poor, deluded man has obviously been hanging out in Fantasyland too long. He also thinks picky eaters will go for seared salmon and (get this) Alaska King Crab legs. Or perhaps they may like fresh fish served with seasonal vegetables.

And to drink? Forget root bear. How about a blend of apple juice and smooth island mango?

Granted, there are some kids who would love to spend their time as Disney World drinking smooth island mango and trying crab legs for the first time. Generally speaking, they’re called “girls.” But remember, this menu is geared toward “picky” eaters — the chicken nugget and cheese pizza crowd.

These are kids who will drink A&W root bear but refuse to try Dad’s. Too risky.

And Puck thinks he can turn them onto seared salmon and crab legs served with seasonal vegetables? Sorry, but not even if the genie from “Aladdin” turned them all into hot dogs.

Even Puck must know — on some instinctive level — that his fancy food won’t flight with the pickiest of the picky. So he also offers such standbys as cheese pizza on a whole wheat crust.

Whole wheat?!

That ties it. Get the straightjacket. There’s no reasoning with this guy.

Brown bag messages could make kids lose their lunch

4 Aug

“If you ever need a zipadeedooo to lift a yucky mood, use gratitude! It will shift you right out of the grungies and into the smileys!”

Great. Mom’s getting “inspirational” again. If she’s going to put sugary pieces of crap in my lunch, why can’t I get a Hostess Cupcake like a normal kid? No, I have to get to get passages from the Gospel According to Ned Flanders.

Renaye Thornborrow swears  kids will not react that way. Most kids anyway. She says in a press release they will actually appreciate parents who turn their sack lunches into giant fortune cookies with treacly notes of inspiration like:

“Every time you are with someone, you leave a mark — a ‘gold heart’ or a ‘grungy mark’ — based on how you treat them.”

Thornborrow ought to know. She’s the mother of twins, a certified coach and a “former marketing executive in the K-12 industry.” (It’s considered an “industry”  now?)

However, she realizes it’s hard for parents to be so incredibly profound on their own. So she’s letting them sign up for free  Lunch Box Notes from Adventures in Wisdom to receive messages so inspiring they would gag a smurf.

If you really  hate you kid, you can also send the messages via e-mail, text or voicemail.

“Lunchtime is a great opportunity for parents to impart important life lessons in less than a minute each day,” Thornborrow says in her press releases.

True that. Of course, probably the most important life lessons kids will learn is, “pack your own lunch.”

“The conversation that parents spark with their kids during lunch can easily be continued at home while unpacking the lunch boxes,” Thornborrow adds.  “It’s a great way for parents to connect with their kids and share their own wisdom as well.””


Most of Thornborrow’s wisdom comes straight from Wyatt the Wise Wizard, Adventures in Wisdom’s resident cartoon. Sigh. When will people learn not to follow old men in blue moo moos?