Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Z is for Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah

The A-Z Challenge is over!! 

    Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, Zip-a-Dee-A, my, oh, my what a wonderful day!  Plenty of sunshine heading my w....HEY, WAIT A MINUTE!

    Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah is one of the most popular songs to come out of Walt Disney's Song of the South.  Released in 1946, this film combined live-action with animation as it told the Uncle Remus stories against the backdrop of the Reconstruction-era South.

"It's really not all bad, chiddren.  
Whyyyy, they'll let Jackie Robinson play
major league baseball
in only about 70 years!"
    Riggghhhht.....after slavery.  That explains why everyone looked so happy.

Even so, Reconstruction clearly wasn't 
any great shakes, either.
    It came under quite a bit of criticism for its depiction of Uncle Remus and others as a slap-happy group only too willing to work the fields and regale children with stories of such characters as Brer Rabbit, a sort of low rent, aw-shucks Bugs Bunny.

    None of this should have come as a surprise.  After all, it was released in a country which still had "Colored Only" water fountains, separate toilet facilities for The Help (now go see that movie), and Jim Crow laws which mandated racial segregation.  In the South!

    NOTE:  Let's be clear, the North wasn't a paradise, either.
This was in Detroit, Michigan
    So, I hope you'll excuse me if I don't use the above as an expression of relief that the challenge is over.

    Instead, I'll just say....
Yeah.  Took a lot out of me.
    Penwasser Place will return in about a week (except for the return of Facebook Funnies on May 2).  Over the course of the past month, I hope you learned a thing or two.  I know I did.  For instance, who knew Afghanistan was such a crappy place (well, ok, pretty much everyone), Michelangelo's David had such big...hands, the flags of Scandinavia all look suspiciously alike, or that a male sea slug loses his penis after only one round of "happy time" (I thought that only happened to Bruce Jenner.  But, at least he fathered more than one Kardashian girl.  Now don't you wish he was a sea slug?).

   See you in a few days.  I need to shave.  And get some hair plugs.  And do something with those frikkin' eyebrows.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Yellow Ribbon

'Y' is for Yellow Ribbon

    Think about all those ribbon magnets you see gracing the backs of cars, right beneath the "My Kid Beats Up Your Kid the Honors Student" ones. 

    The colors, and the causes they represent, are as varied as a bag
"Coprophlia, coprophilia...
Penwasser doth protest too much, methinks."
of M & Ms (and less fattening).  There's even one which uses a jigsaw puzzle for Autism Awareness.  All the colors of the rainbow are taken, even Brown for "Coprophilia Awareness."

NOTE:  This is the second time I've mentioned "coprophilia" for the A-Z Challenge.  That has to be a record.  If you haven't already, Google "coprophilia" to see how funny that line was.  And how much I need professional psychiatric attention.

    None of this is meant to denigrate any of the worthy causes for which those ribbons champion (well, except maybe the brown one.  Which doesn't exist.  I hope.). 

  No, I'd just like to explain where the practice of affixing ribbons to trees, the outside of your house, your trunk/boot (you're welcome, UK and Canada), the elderly, etc., came from.  While you may think I'm making this up (after reading Penwasser Place, who could really blame you?), I swear this is true.  Mostly.

    It was 1979 and, while everyone was dancing to that disco beat,
"No..what?  Who, me?
Seriously, I wasn't there!
Death to America!"
the Ayatollah Khomeini was whipping his followers, who hadn't had their cups of coffee yet, into a frenzy.  The United States let the deposed Shah of Iran seek medical care in the Land of the Free (NOTE:  this was before Obamacare).  And the last thing the Iranians wanted was the Shah to recover from cancer.  Or watch Phil Donahue on the hospital's TVs.  Little suspecting they would star in a Ben Affleck movie in 2012, they stormed the American Embassy in Tehran and took everyone hostage.

"Well, that whole desert rescue
thing didn't turn out so well.
We may as well give
those ribbons a try."
President Jimmy Carter was outraged.  Trying everything from talking tough to asking "Pretty, please?" he desperately tried to win release of the hostages.  It all proved for naught until the American people deployed their secret weapon:  Ronald Reagan.

    All during the "Hostage Crisis," we felt powerless ourselves and sought a way to show that we really meant business.  Well, without actually putting ourselves in danger, you know.  We had to go see Saturday Night Fever, after all.

    So, taking inspiration from a Tony Orlando and Dawn song (NOTE:  Did you click on that link above?  Couldn't blame you if you didn't.  It's the A-Z Challenge, you know, and we have to keep moving) about tying yellow ribbons around trees until a convict came home, we all went into yellow ribbon fever.  These things popped up everywhere and even hung around long after the hostages were freed.

    Seeing the success of the yellow ribbons to trumpet a cause, we then took it upon ourselves to seize all the other colors.  To the extent now that, 34 years later, multi-colored ribbons are ubiquitous.

    Except that brown one.
Whaddya know, it does exist.
No shit.
Oh, that's an unfortunate choice of words.

Where Are they Now?

Tony Orlando

Hey, they may not put out records anymore.
But, they sure can cut grease.
Which is more than that fat-ass, Tony, can claim.


Saturday, April 27, 2013


'X' is for X-Ray
(and not much else, besides X-Men, Xerxes, and Xygote)

"Absolutely nothing to be worried about.
Now, if you'll just get up on this table, I'll put this lead apron on
and jump behind the bullet-proof shield here.
We're all good?  Super!"
     X-Rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation which has a
"You know, Gary Coleman is shorter than me
 and...what's that?  He's dead?
  Oh, well, then, I guess I have it pretty good."
wavelength in the range of 0.01 to 10 nanometers.  Which is really, really, really short.  We're talking Danny DeVito short.  I think.

    Anyways, many people feel that X-Rays are very similar to Gamma Rays.  I can so totally see that.  After all...they're...uh...both rays.  And can, I think, hurt you.  So, yeah, they're pretty much the same.
Gamma Rays
Totally effs up your shirt and hair, too

Yeah, we're looking for guns.  That's our story.

    However, scientists with German accents disagree, claiming emphatically that X-Rays are fundamentally different than Gamma Rays.  Citing testimony from Marvel Comics, they categorically state that Gamma Rays can turn you into Lou Ferrigno.  On the other hand, X-Rays are used largely in the medical field to solve any variety of maladies.  And let TSA agents see the boobies of female airline passengers.

    Guys, too, but I won't judge. 

    The existence of X-Rays were first discovered in the 19th Century by Hans Schmeckeldorff, an unemployed bridge abutment.  Trying to develop something he called a "microwave" to heat up his weiner  (insert inevitable, sophomoric joke here), he set the machine's frequency too high.  When his girlfriend walked in front of the device, Hans recoiled, "Ewwww, get away!  I can see all your bones and shit."
NOTE:  the above has no basis in fact.  It just gave me the chance to use the word "weiner." And I don't think an X-Ray can really detect shit as more than something dark.

    From that weenie roast, development of the X-Ray proceeded (according to Wikipedia):

* Hermann von Helmholtz:  formulated mathematical equation for X-Rays ("If 10 nanomters is more than 9 nanometers, how long does it take to roast your weiner?")

*  Johann Hittorf:  Observed tubes with energy rays.  Got bored.  Went and watched the Franco-Prussian War instead.

*  William Crookes:  Investigated the effects of energy following discharge of rare gases.  Investigated the effects of "Tio Julio's El Burrito Grande" vis-a-vis discharge of bodily gases.

*  Heinrich Hertz:  Demonstrated cathode rays could penetrate tin foil.  Opened car rental agency before invention of cars.  Wanted to get a "head start."

*  Nikola Tesla:  Investigated X-Rays.  Saw no reason to bring up false charges that they produce Hulks.

*  Wilhelm Rontgen:  Experimented with X-Rays, vacuum tubes, three balls in a metal cylinder, and a test tube of vinegar with baking soda.

*  H.L. Smith:  Formally displayed X-Ray machine on January 18, 1896.  On a dining room table in front of a bowl of fruit.

Looked at his hand.
Because no girl would want anything
to do with some nerd who had X-Ray Specs.
Probably had Sea Monkeys, too.
*   Howard von Braun:  received the patent for X-Ray Specs.  Just before he received one for the Amazing Sea Monkeys. Such a visionary.

NOTE:  Didja notice how most of these guys sounded German?  Yeah, so did I.

"Yeah, but did any of those krauts invent the light bulb?
That's what I thought."
  First seen as a gimmicky novelty, X-Ray machines were used to prescribe footwear.  A prospective customer placed his or her foot beneath the machine which took an X-Ray snapshot of bone alignment.  At that point, the shoe-sheller (one letter away from shoe sMeller.  I know.  Ewwww) offered the customer something which would fit the most comfortably, offer quality support, and cost the most.

X-Ray Machines in shoe stores led to
blindness in one eye, blue bows on boys, and
did you see what it did to the kid's frikkin' cat!?
  However, when people starting growing extra toes and their teeth fell out, suspicions arose that maybe the wonder rays  weren't wonderful after all.  So, following Pennsylvania's lead in 1957, each state eventually outlawed their use in shoe stores.

    Lawmakers throughout the land thumped each other on the back as they trumpeted their concern for health and safety.  Whereupon they celebrated by lighting up a carton of Luckys and driving home drunk.

   And thanked their lucky starts they lived in the good ole USA* and not someplace like Kazahkstan.  

   Those people still need to get a handle on their Hulk problem and trying to find a sneaker which would accept seven toes.

*NOTE:  This was before hippies, Vietnam, the British invasion, and Snooki.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Shipping Off to Boston

We interrupt the A-Z Challenge to bring you this late breaking news:

I will be pretty much out of touch this weekend.  A very good friend of mine is retiring from the Navy tomorrow in Boston.  He plans on doing so aboard one of the United States' most storied warships,  USS Constitution, in the Charlestown Navy Yard.  As you may have guessed, I plan on attending this ceremony (I hear they may be serving grog).

We look a little different now.

As a result, I won't be able to read your posts for the next couple of days or even comment to your comments.  

Please excuse my absence.  I'll be back Sunday evening. 

Have a great weekend (yes, yes, yes, Europe, I know you're already there.  Australia and New Zealand?  Is it SUNDAY where you are??).

Your friend,

p.s.  My 'X' post is still gonna happen in a few hours or so.  So, life does go on without me.

World War I

'W' is for World War I

Don't look now, but this will probably be the most factual of all posts in the A-Z Challenge.  I had to prove I was more than a pretty face, you know.
Clearly, that ship has sailed.
    I'd devoted quite a bit of thought to what would be the subject of my 'W' post.  

    Looking through the great span of human history, I had a lot from which to pick:  William the Conqueror, William of Orange, Prince William, William Tell, William Shakespeare, Wilhelm II, William Shatner, William McKiney, William Wallace, Will Smith, William Randolph Hearst, William Howard Taft, William Tecumseh Sherman, Willie the Groundskeeper, etc.
"Ach, so you no no wanna be
talkin' 'boot Willie, dew ya?
Wee poossy Penwasser mahn!" 

    That's a lot of Bills.

    Nothing really inspired me.  After all, the A-Z Challenge has been a long slog.  I figured you may be ready for a post that has some redeeming value, as educational as that Sea Slug Sex thing was.  

    So, why not play it straight?  And, if I'm going to play it straight, how about choosing the most horrific event of the 20th Century?  So, the following lists my understanding of the causes of the unbelievably stupid World War I, the Great War, the War to End All Wars (yeah, right).

   "Going without a net," so to speak, I've not consulted Google, Wikipedia, Stephen Spielberg, or old man Krantz.  What follows is what I managed to glean from United States History in 1974.   When I wasn't trying to peek down Mary Ellen Sterback's blouse, that is.  I could be inaccurate, a little fuzzy on the facts, or just plain ass wrong.

    All hate mail may be addressed to Stratford High School, North Parade Street, Stratford, Connecticut.

  It's a little complicated.  Just do the best you can to keep up.  There won't be a quiz after:

    The heir to the Austrian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, is shot by a Serbian, Gavrilo Princip, in Sarajevo in 1914.  Austria declares war on Serbia.  Serbia's pal, Russia, declares war on Austria.  Germany,  Austria's BFF, declares war on Russia.  France, looking up from their croissants, declares war on Germany.  The British, hoping they don't get dragged into this whole mess, are pissed when Germany uses Belgium to get to France.  Since Britain is bound to help Belgium, they declare war on Germany.  I can't remember why the Ottoman Empire gets in on things (probably an alliance thing) but they decide to jump ugly with England and France.  Ditto Bulgaria (who don't bring much to the fight except vampires).  Italy pretty much stays out of things until 1915 (suffice to say, Italy isn't really much of a factor here.  They won't get their asses kicked until WWII).   Japan is on the side of the Allies (yeah, how about that?) for some strange reason but they get dissed at Versailles which really ticks them off in the 1930s. The United States manages to watch stay out of things for several years until Germany declares unrestricted submarine warfare in 1917.  This coupled with the Zimmerman telegram, in which Germany promises to help Mexico get Texas if they'd only help Germany, compels the US to declare war on the Kaiser and the boys.
    Things really suck for a lot of years until the Russians quit in 1917 ("Oh sure!  Now you go home!") and the Germans decide to say "Eff it." in 1918.

    The result?  Peace finally restored throughout the world, the United States withdrawing from world affairs ("You frikkin' people are nuts!!"), Italy photo-bombing the picture for WWI's victors, millions of innocent people who would never live to see their grandchildren, and World War II 21 years later.

    Guess we let the genie out of the box in 1914.

    Wow.  That was deep.  

How about a little pointless sexual gratuity?

For the guys

For the ladies

For the William Mraz Fan Club
Hey, that's a 'W'!!

Tomorrow:  X-Rays

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Vlad the Impaler

'V' is for Vlad the Impaler
Vlad III
Vlad the Impaler
Much scarier than Vlad II
Vlad the Floral Arranger
Werewolves to the Northwest
Week-old bread to the Northeast
    Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia (we Americans will probably never know where that is unless we start a war there), was a member of the House of Dracula, but is more commonly known as Vlad Tepes, or "Vlad the Impaler."  This pretty much hacked off Chip Tepes, who thought he had that whole impaling racket to himself.

   Born in 1431, Vlad died (or did he?) 45 years later at the age of
Wrong Vlad.
45 in 1476 (go ahead, do the math). 

    His reputation for excessive cruelty inspired Bram Stoker to write the classic novel, Dracula (now you know where he got the name) and Hollywood to churn out countless vampire movies in which impaling never was a big player.  Just over-acting.  

"Oh, stop your pissing and moaning.
A little bactine and you'll be fine.
I'm trying to eat here."
    Impaling, for those of you who do not know, involves running a pointed stick up through the body, starting at the bunghole.  If still alive (I can't imagine anyone would have been, but who knows?  Wallachians were probably made of sterner stuff), the human shish-kabobs were stuck in the ground to serve as a warning to others not to mess with Vlad, who had tendency to get real cranky before his first cup of coffee in the morning.

    Incidentally, it would work for me.

    Be that as it may, Vlad is a national hero in Bulgaria and
I don't know.
They don't look so tough.
Romania (I thought we were talking Wallachia?  Geez, those people just can't make up their minds).  He fought a series of vicious wars against the Ottomans, thus preserving his peoples' freedoms.

    Stories that he was a monster began circulating sometime before his death and grew in intensity in the centuries afterward.  Many of these tales originated from the Turks (surprise), the Russians, and the Germans (yeah, as if those people had a lot of room to talk).

    I suspect though that, while I'm sure they had some basis in fact, most of the hysteria was overblown.  Much like the stories of Americans imprisoning Japanese-Americans.


    At the very least, the only crime that I can see for which Vlad is guilty is that cheesy, 70's porn star mustache.

    And the hat.

    Probably get a free bowl of soup with that hat.

    Which is much better than a flagpole shoved up your anus.

    More than likely.

    Depends on the hat.

Noted Bloodsuckers through history:

Named Bela.
Sounds spooky to me.
Never saw any fangs, though.

That's more like it.
Was also in Star Wars.
Is dead now.
Or is he?

State bird of Alabama

Face only a mother could love.
Or certain sects in Southern California.

I've said too much already

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


'U' is for Underwear

"He was Pope for what?  A weekend?
I guess I'll be John Paul II then.
So much for my dream of being Stash I."
  As I pondered what topic to choose for the letter 'U,' I looked at my 'U' posts for 2011 and 2012.  Wouldn't you know it, they were both about underwear.  And, even more of a coincidence (do you really believe that?), there were set to poetry.
  So, it occurred to me that I should delve deeper into that which clothes our nether regions.   There's nothing which  compels me to do the same as the previous two years, mind you.  Consider:  there wasn't a Pope John Paul III.  Frankly, I just think Benedict said, "Enough with the Pope having the same name as half of the Beatles.  This crap stops with me!"
  But, I figured, why not?  It's not like 'U' has a lot to offer.  Although it's not nearly as bad as 'X.'
  Anyway, since my theme is History (I hope you've noticed by now), I thought a brief (no pun intended) history of skivvies was called for.
  Chances are this will be pretty long.  So, as Barack Obama said during his inauguration, "Please accept my apologies in advance."
The cavemen were pissing and moaning and making a fuss
about wearing those bearskins which kept itching their nuts.

"Hey, Zag," complained Thog, "it keep scratching my rear!"
Shrugged Zag, "We must wait for thousands of years."

It's Egypt that gets the credit, you see,
of inventing loincloths to cover mummies.

"Hey, why should the dead get all of the joys?
"How 'bout some cloth for the girls and the "boys?"
Mr. Johnny's 'Summer Orphan Adventure Camp' closed shortly after this picture.
Mr. Johnny unavailable for comment on the advice of his attorney
For thousands of years, this simple version 
would shield the Greeks, the Romans, and Persians.

But, the Greek ladies, wouldn't you know it?
Wore nothing at all and all loved to show it.

The Middle Ages? A "braies" covered man and wench.
How to pronounce it?  Who cares?  It's French.
"Hey, your junk is showing."
"Why, no, it isn't. I'm wearing a 'braies'"
"How do you pronounce that?"
"How the hell would I know?  What do you think I am?  French?"
All that I know is that it didn't cover the bits
or even the place where a dude plops down and sits.

Eventually, a need to cover the banana arose
so they invented the codpiece to make a trouser "nose."
Dogs were sniffing our crotches even then.
The women had their own bit of hell, you see.
Their iron-clad undies made it damn hard to pee.
Chastity Belts
A myth

Like Chastity Bono
Eventually petticoats were all the rage
for ladies like Lisa and a weird dude named Gage.
Slave not included
So they didn't get comfy, their waist, they would force it
into a torture device known as a whalebone corset. 
"Excuse me.  Does this bustle make my butt look big?"
"Uh...isn't that the point?"
The guys had an easier time, so they didn't throw fits.
But, they had to go to war, where their bits were blown to bits.

The wars ended, GIs defeated the Kaiser, the Axis.
Their reward?  Briefs which buttoned for easier access.

Then "boxers," in honor of the fighting game,
replaced by "tighty-whiteys?"  MAN, what a shame!
Sorry for using this again and again, but it still cracks me up.
Meanwhile, the ladies were burning their bras.
The hot, the sexy, and the ones from Oz. 
The one in the front with glasses?
Not so much.
Bikini briefs on dudes, those made me sick.
But, put 'em on girls...that's one hot chick.

And now we're near done.  What a relief!
Can I tell you about me and my boxer briefs?
What I wear.
NOTE:  Male model standing in for Al Penwasser
Of course, no one mentioned Marlon Brando.
Who never wore shorts.  He just went commando.
I actually think that's worse.
EPILOGUE:  I have no frikkin' clue how Pat Hatt and the cat do this poetry thing every single day!  I am wiped.  Good thing my loincloth lets me sit in comfort.  Just gotta watch out for cavemen.