How to know when your Smart Car has become a smart-aleck car

13 Oct

For most Smart car buyers, the mini-subcompact from Daimler-Benz represents a cleverly-designed, affordable, gas-sipping runabout. It offers “unparalleled dexterity in cramped urban settings,” according to Car and Driver magazine, and is “miniaturized motoring exemplified.” For others, however, the Smart car is a presumptuous know-it-all that needs to mind its own business – the business of being a reliable, non-sentient transportation device with an internal combustion engine and absolutely no recourse to an emergent mind or will.

A young couple from Seattle recently wrote to Dr. Thomas Weber, head of group research and development at Daimler AG, demanding a full
refund on their purchase. Part of the letter reads:

“…the implication, we thought, was that this is an intelligently designed car, and the name ‘Smart car’ could be a reflection of our own good taste and concern for the environment. We didn’t actually think the car was self-conscious, capable of analytical thought and able to build a Maslowian hierarchy of needs. Who wants a car that won’t start because it’s ’embarrassed’ about its dirty windshield? It’s more vain and insolent than my 15-year-old daughter, and I won’t have it.”

Among cars, the line between performing in accordance with strict mechanical laws and acting like a prima donna or nagging mother-in-law is
crossed by the Smart car more than any other vehicle. According to JD Power and Associates, one in three owners have reported an “unwanted intrusion on their personal affairs” by the Smart car, with one in 10 saying the Smart car was “arrogant and condescending,” in its treatment of its owner.

Another complaint to Daimler AG reads, in part:

“…I need a car that can make a goddamned left turn when I turn the steering wheel to the left, and not hesitate or speed off in another direction when I try to turn into the Krispy Kreme parking lot. Yes, I know I need to lose weight, but I want a doughnut and that is my choice, not that of a precocious 1-year-old rally red coupe with the optional surround sound system and center console storage.”

In comparison, similar claims were made by very few owners of the “affable and extremely cooperative” Chevy Silverado 2500HD, sometimes called the Gomer Pyle of big trucks. With its Vortec V8 and 380 foot-pounds of torque, the new Chevy is a red-blooded American workhorse that won’t let you down when you’ve got a job to do – and it won’t sass you, ever, according to designers.

“Please note that we don’t mean it actually has red blood, with blood cells and plasma, and proteins and enzymes,” says GM engineering chief, Gerald Knox. “It runs on gas and oil. This is, first and foremost, a machine, with no vestige of consciousness.”

Many owners, however, have praised the Smart car’s deductive reasoning abilities, and don’t mind its sometimes-overbearing demeanor. Some have even gone as far to say the Smart car has helped them improve their personal lives.

One happy buyer wrote to Daimler AG:

“…I was driving around with my girlfriend, Gina. She was trying to tell me my husband was cheating on me. I didn’t believe her. Suddenly, my Smart car swerved into the right lane, took the next exit and steered itself – and us – right over to my husband’s secretary’s house: there was his car in the driveway! I started to cry as the stereo started playing “It’s all over now, baby blue,” by Bob Dylan, and the stereo wasn’t even on. Thank you, Smart car, for showing me what a jerk my husband is (was). I’m now single and loving it!”

Also, designers at Daimler are quick to point out that a Smart car in China recently presented a tentative proof of the Riemann Hypothesis in mathematics, while a team of Belgian Smart cars are currently doing ground-breaking work on the auto-catalyst reaction system and chirality in amino acids and sugars.

How to get a free time machine

13 Oct

These days, owning a time machine is almost a necessity. Whether you’re jumping a few months forward to see who won the World Series,  back a few decades to impregnate your mother and become the father of your half-brother, or just killing a baby that’s going to grow up to be the great-grandfather of the cop who wrote you a speeding ticket today, a time machine is nearly indispensible for today’s “man about time.”

Unfortunately, time machines are expensive. Of course, you can always take one on a test drive, leap forward to the point where the time machine dealership has closed and the arrest warrant for you has expired. This works, but you’ll also find that the time machine you’ve stolen is painfully out of style. What if you had stolen a 1973 Pinto and hidden it until today? Same concept. Sure, you have a free car, but what’s the point?

You can also go back in time and show scientists your miraculous “Time Travelling Horseless Carriage” (as they used to be known). Scientists just a few years ago didn’t think time travel was possible, and they’ll likely give you a lot of money for your invention. Once they hand over the money, tell them you have to deposit it in your bank, which was just (will) opened (open) 20 years from now (then).

They’ll likely get suspicious at this point. “What if you don’t come back so we can analyze your invention and build one just like it?” one of the smarter scientists will ask.

Invite him to come along with you to make sure you return.

“Well, don’t mind if I do,” he’ll say, grinning wildly as his scientist friends all cheer and slap him on the back; “yeah! Go, Nelson!” they’ll say.

Instead of launching forward, however, launch backwards 135 million years. The scientist won’t know what’s going on because the controls are complicated on a time machine. Even though he’s a scientist, it would be a bit like showing Galileo a cell phone. Now, open the door and push the scientist out into a field full of dinosaurs then take off.

Now you can go back to your time and legally purchase the time machine (note: be sure to get cash. The scientists will likely stop payment on a check, and then you’re screwed.)

If these methods sound underhanded, try purchasing your time machine the old-fashioned way: Get it financed. Of course, your payment is going to be huge, so once you take delivery of your machine, simply fly back a few years and destroy your credit. Go crazy. Buy a bunch of condos in Vegas and never make a payment. This way, when the time comes, you won’t have the credit to buy the time machine. Ergo, no payments. If your friends in the past try to point out that this sets up a fatal paradox, simply shrug, climb into your time machine and load up some old Van Halen from your iPod. Turn it up, shut the door, and salute your friends. Now, go back a day and give them all a wedgie.

How to identify your bellybutton

13 Oct

How to understand revisionist history

13 Oct

(Scene: The Oval Office, February, 1864. President Lincoln and his long-time friend, Joshua Fry Speed, are sitting in comfortable chairs, talking about the war. It’s late)

Speed: Well, old friend, my carriage is waiting. This conversation will have to be continued in the morrow.

Lincoln: Off so early? You said Fanny was away with her mother in Baltimore.

Speed: Yes, that’s right. Still, I have work in the morning.

Lincoln: It’s late, Joshua. Why don’t you stay here? Mary’s away, as well, and this place is so quiet and empty with her gone.

Speed: Well, I suppose…

Lincoln: You can stay with me in the Presidential bedroom.

Speed: You mean, sleep on the settee?

Lincoln: Nonsense! You’ll sleep with me in my bed.

Speed: Abe…there are rumors…

Lincoln: Say nothing more of it! We’re old friends, are we not? Let them talk! There’s not a streak of lavender here, no sir.

Speed: I suppose. Let’s have at it.

(Minutes later, Lincoln and Speed are standing on opposite sides of the bed. Speed is wearing a long shirt with NORTH printed on it)

Speed: Thank you for loaning me a shirt, Abe

Lincoln: You look handsome in it. Really handsome. Really, really handsome. Open a few more buttons at the top.

(Lincoln then removes his beard and places it on the nightstand)

Speed: Well knock me into a cocked hat! Your beard!’

(Lincoln then opens his shirt to reveal a shaved chest and pierced nipples)’

Speed: Fix my flint, Abe! You look like a dandy poof!

Lincoln (sighing): I have something to tell you, Speed. I haven’t exactly been Honest Abe with you. It’s time to get right with all creation.

Speed: What do you mean?

Lincoln: I may have a streak of lavender, after all. Come on. Let’s get into bed.

Speed: Hang up my fiddle, Abe. I never knew.

Lincoln: No one knows, except Mary. And now you. And maybe a few of those fellows I wrassled with back in Springfield.

Speed: You’ve got this country honey-fuggled, for sure! I can’t say it isn’t funny.

Lincoln: Touch me, Speed.

Speed: What?

Lincoln: Touch me. Tell me I’m nice.

Speed: Well, all right.

(An hour or so later. Both men are lying in bed, sheets pulled up, staring at the ceiling. Lincoln is smiling, Speed looks shocked)

Speed: Have I told you what an old biddy Fanny is?

Lincoln: I think I know.

Speed: I’ve never had such a time in bed, in such a way.

Lincoln: They don’t call me Stinkin’ Lincoln for nothing.

Speed: I have to say, I’m thinking of leaving Fanny.

Lincoln: They don’t call me the Great Emancipator for nothing.

Speed: Let’s do it again! Hurt me some more! Hurt me good!

Lincoln: They don’t call me the Rail Splitter for nothing.

The End.

 

How to eat your own hand

13 Oct

How to do magic

13 Oct

Learning magic can transform you from a wallflower into the life of the party. Everyone likes magic, except when it backfires horribly. There’s nothing worse than reaching into your hat to pull out a rabbit and out comes Mrs. Mackiewicz, your seventh-grade math teacher.

So, start with something easy, like a card trick. Have a friend shuffle a deck of cards. Hold out the cards and ask your friend to “pick a card, any card.” Now, guess what card it is. You’ll probably be wrong, but the beauty of this card trick is that it takes virtually no time to learn.

Or, try a sleight of hand magic trick. These tricks involve the magician’s old friend, “misdirection,” which takes advantage of the brain’s ability to focus on only one thing at a time. For example, tell your roommate that his mother just died. He’ll be so frantic and out of sorts he won’t even notice when you go to his room and steal his watch.

“Looking for this?” you say with a flourish, as he frantically tries to call home, his eyes filled with tears (applause).

Illusions are fun. You can create the illusion that you’re employed by filling out on-line surveys, or that you’re not an alcoholic by never drinking before 2 p.m. Turn your shirt inside out and ta-da! No more vomit stains. Create the illusion of happiness by getting married and having kids and holding down a desk job for 40 years.

If you’d like to try something a little more on the wild side, try some black magic. Unlike the after-dinner parlor magic your uncle Ron did, this is the magic uncle Ron did to have sex with mango-smooth virgins from the Caribbean.  Basically, black magic is just regular magic, but used for nefarious purposes and ministered through the use of malevolent powers and/or live sacrifice. For example, instead of simply making a quarter
disappear (as in regular magic), in black magic you make a quarter disappear, stab a baby goat in the neck, and sodomize Xa-Mul of Istanbul in a pool of warm goat blood.

To start, see if you can conjure Felattina, the she-wraith and multi-lipped daeva to Moloch the Aggressor. Ask her if she wants to come to your Super Bowl party. Remember that conjuring is difficult, however. If you’re looking for Felattina, and you get Abraham Lincoln, don’t worry. The old rail splitter knows how to party – trust me.

How to understand the difference between a threat and an expression

13 Oct

You’re having a late lunch at Cafe Nopal on the Third Street Promenade with your best friend, Sandy.  You’ve been shopping all afternoon, and you’re exhausted.

You pile your bags under the table and order drinks. Sandy orders the crab cakes, “they’re the best thing ever,” she says.

The waiter pauses. “I think we may be out of the crab cakes,” he says.

He goes to check with the kitchen. Sandy fixes you with a stern look: “Oh, my God. I love their crab cakes here. They can’t be out! If they’re out I think I might kill myself.”

You smile, sip at your mimosa, and scan the salad menu. The waiter returns, “I’m sorry, ma’am. We had a really big rush around noon, and –”

But he doesn’t finish. Without warning, Sandy pulls a .357 magnum out of her purse, shoves it into her mouth and blows her brains halfway to Hermosa Beach.

Later, over canapés at the wake, her husband asks you, teary-eyed, if she was acting strangely. Were there any signs his wife was in a suicidal mood?

“No, not really,” you say. “I mean, she said she would ‘kill herself’ if they didn’t have the crab cakes, but I didn’t take her seriously.”

He stops chewing on a piece of cauliflower. “You didn’t take her seriously,” he says, flatly.

“I thought it was an expression.”

“An expression. You thought it was an expression and now my wife is dead.”

The next day you’re shoe shopping with your friend, Michelle. From across the room she spots a Jean-Michel Cazabat slide wedge with a threaded linen wrap. “It’s gorgeous!” she says, running over and cradling it like a kitten. “I have to have it!”

She gives her size to the shoe salesman. “I believe we’ve only got that in a 5 or a 6 ½,” he says, warily.

“Don’t tell me that,” she says, making a slight whimpering noise. “Or I might have to kill you.”

He goes to the back room and emerges moments later, a bit sheepish and shrugging his shoulders. “I’m sorry,” he begins, followed by a horrible gurgling noise as Michelle plunges a 12-inch Bowie knife into his throat and his heart, in rapid succession. He falls to the floor, dead.

Later, in court, the prosecution asks you if there were any warning signs that Michelle was capable of cold-blooded murder.

“Well, she did say she would kill the shoe salesman if he didn’t have her size.”

“And you did nothing,” the attorney says.

“I thought it was an expression,” you say.

“You thought it was an expression and now a shoe salesman is dead.”

Later that evening, you make chicken and dumplings for your husband, his favorite dish. You sit down together with a bottle of Pinot Noir. He takes a bite and closes his eyes, savoring the strong flavors of paprika and cream: “This is the best, honey,” he says. “Your chicken and dumplings drive me insane.”

“Thanks, dear,” you say. “I wanted to do something special.”

Instead of answering, he breaks into hysterical laughter. You look up from your plate to see that your husband has gone cross-eyed and his tongue is flopping from his mouth. He’s breathing hard and his hair is suddenly sticking straight out from his head. “Woobaty, woobaty, woobaty!” he cries and smashes through the kitchen window.

Later, as he’s sitting in a padded room wearing a straight jacket, a doctor comes to you.

“I’m afraid your husband has had a complete psychic break,” he says. “He’s lost all hold on reality. Is there anything you think of that might have triggered this?”

You think. “Nothing,” you say. “No, really nothing. Mmmm…no. Don’t know how it happened.”