Grand Old Party On

By Jim Hagarty

As it turns out, even as a Canadian, I can join the U.S. Republican Party.

My registration kit came in the mail today. I was excited to open it up. It is a 12-page booklet entitled, “How to Become an Asshole.” For another $150, I can send away for the gold edition, “How to Become a Total Asshole.” The kit I got helpfully leads me through the 10 steps I need to take to become a basic member.

  1. Cranium Reduction Surgery. I am instructed on the procedure for removing 90 per cent of my brain. Great advances have been made. No need now to open up the skull. It can be done with an unintrusive laser procedure.

  2. Anger Heightening Management. I am instructed to write down the top 10 things that make me mad. Then add 10 more things to that list. Then another 10 and so on until my lists tops out at 100. It is is okay to include “list making really pisses me off” as one of the 100.

  3. Hatred Quotient Testing. This is flagged as the most important of the 10 steps. There is a helpful list with checkboxes beside each of the 35 items on it. I have to deeply hate a lot of things. Muslims. Foreigners. Non-white people. Toyotas. Gays. Hollywood. Mexicans. Bankers. Michael Moore. The list is extensive. The two top items: Women. And Myself. The instructions regarding hatred helpfully spell out. “Trying to hate a lot of things without hating yourself, is like trying to take a sip of water by tipping a rain barrel up to your lips. Try as you might, you will be wet all over when you are done. Go ahead. Self-hatred is not that hard to achieve.”

  4. Reality Uncheck. This section lists 100 “so-called” facts. I am to memorize them and then deny that any of them are true. Number 56: I am a human being. No I am not.

  5. Selfishness Meter. The kit includes a handy and stylish silver bracelet I can wear, the face of which turns various colours depending on how I feel towards others. The face goes ruby red when I am successfully thinking only about myself. Green shows up if I find myself caring about anything other than my own well-being. A helpful warning beep sounds if I begin to slide out of red to yellow and a horn sounds when I slip into green.

  6. Violence Appreciation Scale. There are various tests to assess my acceptance of violence as a useful everyday lifeskill. And questions to guide me along. Such as Road Rage is: Fantastic, Wonderful, Amazing. (Check one only.) And would you be willing to shoot to death someone who keyed your Camaro. This is an easy one for me. Of course I would.

  7. Lying Liar Workout. Again, a number of tests and questions to assess how well or poorly I am able to lie. I talked to someone who took this test. As it turns out, the only way to pass it is to lie when answering each and every question.

  8. Religious Fanatic Puzzle. This was tricky. If you saw Jesus hugging a lesbian, would you be willing to walk up to Our Lord and tell him to knock it off. The correct answer is yes. You are also asked to rate yourself regarding how close to the front of the line you expect to be when the Rapture starts. (Easy for me. I will be number 9, right ahead of Mother Teresa.)

  9. Education Eradication Pledge. I am instructed to sign a pledge promising to learn absolutely nothing new for the rest of my life. I will also need to attend one of 10 Un-Education Centres (privately run) where 20 weeks of intense instruction will cause me to forget 85 per cent of everything I ever learned. This will be easy for me as I have already forgotten 75 per cent of everything I ever knew.

  10. Da Do Ron Ron. Last on the list is a series of 10 prayers I will need to learn to recite. They are all directed towards the ultimate Lord and Saviour St. Ronald Reagan.

Cat Scratches

Luigi takes a break from writing.
Luigi takes a break from writing.

By Jim Hagarty

I don’t speak cat and can’t understand cat speak.

I am even worse when it comes to cat typing.

My cat Luigi just walked across my keyboard and this is what he wrote: “hjyunuyjuhk”.

Anyone fluent in Catlish might be able to help me out. Drop me a note if you understand what this means.

The best I can come up with, based on 10 years of close association with Luigi, is: “gotnokibble”.

My Hot Pants

By Jim Hagarty

The battery in one of our smoke alarms needed changing one night and so I went out and bought a new nine-volt battery (the small rectangular one with both the negative and positive poles at the same end) and prepared to fix up the little lifesaver on the ceiling.

However, as often happens, I got myself distracted at something else – probably refereeing a battle between our dog and cats or pausing to check my email at the sound of the ding – and so I slipped the battery into the pocket of my jeans and attended to whatever emergency had come up.

I walked around with battery in pocket for a while before remembering the important job that awaited. Reaching my hand into my pocket, I retrieved the little power producer only to feel my fingers burning at something scorchingly hot in my pants. Literally hot and not just sexy as per usual.

Basic instinct (ahem) took over and I quickly dropped my pants right there and then in the middle of the living room. Fortunately, my wife and kids were in bed asleep and so were not witness to the sudden private party I was apparently engaged in around midnight on this particular Wednesday.

My action may have been a bit rash but I have always lived by a policy which commands me to instantly remove my pants whenever they catch on fire. In this case, the garment hadn’t actually ignited but whatever had happened, there was far more than the normal amount of heat in the place where I usually keep only a few coins and the occasional jelly bean.

Coins, battery. Aha! I shook out my jeans and sure enough, out fell the battery followed by a few quarters.

Now, in one of the few times I can remember my high school education coming in handy, I was able to put two and two together. One or more of the coins had come to rest against the two battery poles, opening up a current. In a few minutes, the charge had raced around that battery and coins so rapidly that it not only heated up the whole affair, but completely drained the battery of its energy in the process.

I scooped up the battery with a plastic dustpan and flung it out into the garage. I checked it next day and as I thought it might be, it was completely spent. How ironic, I thought later, that I could have lost my life trying to repair the device that was designed to save it.

So the next time your friendly neighbourhood flasher drops his pants outside your picture window, check to see he doesn’t have a battery in his pocket before you call the cops.

Fiddle Sticks

Fiddle

By Jim Hagarty

It had been kickin’ around the house for almost 20 years, an old family fiddle that just sort of ended up at our place.

Sealed in a sturdy steel case, it was brought out now and then to be admired, but quickly locked away again for the next time someone became curious enough to snap back the clasps. From one corner to the other, the charming little instrument spent its days and nights silently, within the darkness of its velvet-lined confines, ignored, if not totally unloved. It had gone into a temporary sleep around the same time its owner took up the rest of a more permanent kind.

Then one day recently, with some time on my hands, I thought I’d examine the old music maker to see what it was really like. I had heard somewhere along the way that it was just an inexpensive model, and so I never was able to work up much enthusiasm about it. I don’t play the fiddle, though I’ve always sort of wanted to and maybe now was the time…

Opening the slightly battered case, I breathed in a whiff of mustiness, and instantly wished that, cheap or not, the fiddle had been in the open air all these years. I took the shapely, little brown box upstairs and grabbing the bow, scratched away on its out-of-tune strings with all the precision of a novice skater, taking his first spin across the ice. It was not pretty and metaphorically speaking, I fell on my head and butt several times in quick succession.

To the relief of my family, I finally put the bow away and turned my attention to exactly what kind of fiddle I was holding. Knowing a bit about the heirarchy of acoustic guitars, I figured the same sort of importance is probably attached to when, where and by whom a fiddle was made. So, I took a squinty look through one of the wavy, musical-note cutouts in the top of the instrument and spelled out the first few letters I saw: “S-t-r-a-d…” I couldn’t see too well so I took it over to one of the lamps and holding it near the bulb, examined the details more closely. “Stradivarius” was most clearly written. “1713”

Now, I don’t know if it’s possible to take a stroke while looking through a hole in a fiddle, but I felt like one might be coming on. Had the Greater Power finally smiled down on my humble family with a plan to make the rest of our days on Earth a little bit easier? How many millions of dollars was I just then holding in my suddenly shaky hands? What should be my next move, in light of this discovery?

As if on cue, worries followed the jubilation. What if something happened to the “Strad” (as I have found out they are affectionately called) and we couldn’t collect? A house fire, a home invasion, other calamities.

And then there was the wider family. This being an heirloom of sorts, what portion of my good fortune should be shared with other members of the clan, people who obviously didn’t yet know about the riches I was about to be knee deep in. Was this even information that needed to be shared with relatives? Wouldn’t things be easier if I kept this to myself?

I took another look into the fiddles innards. “Antonius Stradivarius. facelbat Cremona 1713.”

This just kept getting better and better.

But in every crowd there is a spoiler. Someone just waiting to burst your bubble.

“Hey Dad, you might want to come take a look at this,” said my daughter, who had borrowed the fiddle for a look of her own.

I peeked again through the music note hole, this time looking just above the name of the acknowledged greatest violin maker of all time. There, looking back at me from their safe confines, were two other little words I had missed.

“Copy of” brought my dreams of riches and ease to an crushing end. As did the words just below the name of Anton’s hometown: “Made in West Germany.”

Now there wasn’t any West Germany in 1713 or even a Germany, for that matter. West Germany didn’t emerge until after the Second World War.
As usual, I am a wiser but sadder man.

Just once in this life I’d like to be the opposite – a foolish but happier man.

With a billion fiddle bucks in the bank!

Sooey Sighed

By Jim Hagarty

Gun nuts take a lot of abuse from people who think they are, in a word, ridiculous.

As a sometimes commenter, I have had some fun with the species myself. But what is a cynic supposed to do? Ignore the story about the man who shot his mother by accident during a church service (she lived)? Or the man who shot himself in the penis while driving down the road? Am I just supposed to let that go? Really?

But underneath all my mirth-making at the ammosexuals’ expense, I have to admit I have a certain admiration for the toughness of some of these gun-toting hombres. I grew up with a gun on the farm and used it many times. I must have a certain amount of respect lingering in the depths of my soul for the gun carriers of the world.

Some of these men and women are no shrinking violets.

Take the 37-year-old Florida man who only noticed he’d been shot while cleaning his revolver two days later when he changed from a black shirt to a brown one and discovered a blood stain from his wound.

Reuters has reported the bullet pierced Michael Blevins’ skin and muscle before exiting his body while he was cleaning the gun in his living room on Thursday.

The Deltona, Florida man loaded the gun while resting it on his chest so his dog wouldn’t jump on it, according to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.

Blevins told police he fell when his back gave out due to an old injury, struck his head on a table, and accidentally fired the weapon. Between the pain medication he takes for the injury and bumping his head, he was likely distracted from feeling the gunshot, the police report said

He was treated at a local hospital on Saturday, where staff reported the incident to law enforcement.

Maybe, however, this old adage applies in this case: No sense, no feeling.

Any time I have accidentally shot myself, I’ll tell you something. I knew it right away. I’m kind of wimpy that way.

Dang!