Category Archives: Humor

Deus ex Fiat.

Too much, The Magic Bus!

Too much, The Magic Bus!

I didn’t much care for the Scion Xb, aka The Magic Bus, when it first came on the car market. It was squat and square and, I thought then, butt ugly. At the time I was in the carnie/trinket selling business and needed a vehicle with more cargo space than my poltergeist-possessed VW Golf. Only after I saw the Scion’s price tag and the gas mileage did I realize that the homely little Xbox Toaster was my road tripping solution (and possibly vehicular soulmate). An unexpected benefit to owning this shoe box on wheels is that for a while, Mike and I were “hip.” It was the must-have car of the next generation and we were pretty freaking cool for having it. The Magic Bus with its square, low body is still a standout among today’s ho-hum, round-edged, kidney bean-shaped cars.

We’ve driven lots of those kidney beans as rentals for Mike’s job. They’re basically all the same with dark interiors, confounding seat controls, various cup holder configurations, and maybe Sirius radio on a good day. Mike once had a Mercedes by chance for a rental. He was so enthused about its ride and interior quality that he came to take me for a spin so I could experience the luxury and comfort and fine German engineering. I didn’t get it; the car seemed like all the other kidney beans we’d driven.

We rented a car in Toronto a few weeks back, a car that I also didn’t like when it first came on the market but have been giving a second look after the monotonous stream of kidney beans. Luxury and comfort bore me — I want FUN. I personally thought the advertisement for the car which featured J Lo missed the mark; Neil de Grasse Tyson or Bill Nye would have been much better spokespersons for this car. You know which one it is  — the Fiat 500. The car rental agent didn’t even get the offer out of his mouth before I pounced on the car. If The Magic Bus is a shoe box, the Fiat is the shoe.

We compressed our luggage into the compartment that imagined itself a trunk and squeezed ourselves into the bucket seats. Being a small (but fierce!) person, I rolled the driver’s seat all the way forward until the front cup holder disappeared into the seat. No matter; the fun factor would certainly outweigh any such small inconveniences. And the car had the definite advantage of needing only half a parking space.

After a brief twirl around Toronto, where all young office workers seemed to wear black, I inserted our tiny car into westbound rush hour traffic. The spritz of rain that began near the city was pummeling us viciously by the time we neared our suburban destination. Darkness had fallen, making the unfamiliar freeway a hellish racecourse. Our tiny Fiat was about the size of one of the tires on the tractor-trailer dragons roaring around us. I finally jettisoned off our exit, spitting expletives like a wet cat. I hoped for better weather the following day for our drive to Niagara Falls.

And I got it! The sun, hosted by a clear sky,  beamed as if not a drop of rain had fallen the previous day. If there had been sheep in the area I’m sure they would have frolicked happily, particularly since their heavy coats would have held at bay the now very crisp one digit Celsius temperature displayed on the Fiat’s dashboard. Back onto the Canadian highway these two Texans-via-Virginia in the Italian car rolled, our female English-speaking GPS sounding flat and dull beside the French-speaking announcer on the bossa nova radio station. All was well.

Abruptly, another voice filled the car — a female voice, speaking French. Who was that? I eased off the gas pedal. There she was again — repeating the sentence in French. The only word I could catch between the radio and the GPS demands was “possible.” What was happening? Why was the car talking? I immediately assumed something was terribly wrong with the car (despite the continued placid dashboard lighting) — surely the engine was going to freeze up and we would have to pay for the entire car since we hadn’t taken the extra insurance the rental company always tries to sell. Or, was it Customs? Had Customs checked up on me and found that I had a few undeclared grapes rolling around my backpack when we disembarked the plane the previous day? Could Customs track me somehow to the Canadian suburbs and call me to account this very minute for those grapes? I was in a panic. My deodorant failed. The righteous arrest I wanted to achieve in my lifetime did not include grapes, a rental car, or Canada.

The great dragon semis were huffing past us again on both sides, filling the rear view mirror, and showing no mercy to our suspected government spy mobile. (In fact I was a little surprised at just how fast the Canadians seemed to be driving overall; I thought American had a corner on the speed market.) I had to find a safe place to pull over and figure out what to do about the car.

Then, I had a really terrifying thought. What if this was God? What if God was in the Fiat — Deus ex Fiat! Hadn’t there been bells along with the voice? Was I being called to account for my not infrequent willfulness or my unrestrained mouth? Had God seen that I had used electrical tape on The Magic Bus’ license plate to make a line above the “E” so people would understand “IM QUEN”? Did God disagree with my contention that all the unopened soap in the hotel room belonged to me because I had paid for the room? Was I being judged for all the extra fast food napkins I’d stored in the glove compartment of the car? Had God heard about my firing candy pumpkins off my toy catapult over the heads of the Amish at the Hershey trade show? Had God seen me write “drag queens and freaks” in chalk on our ruraburban driveway?

Wait, I thought, trying to calm down and not be run over while I searched for a pull-off spot. Wait. Did God speak French? Did Canadians even believe in God? And above all, the voice was female. God was supposed to be male, wasn’t he? Wasn’t he?? Which was worse:  God, God being French, God being female, or Customs and those damn grapes? Given a choice between God in any of those forms or Customs, I’d take God. Either way, reckoning  was assuredly at my driver’s door. I just never thought it would happen in Canada while driving Fifi the Fiat.

I finally veered onto a side road and pulled into a dirt driveway with potholes bigger than the Fiat. “Here’s what I’m going to do,” I said to Mike, who had borne the entire episode with shocking calm and stoicism. “I’m going to turn the car off, then turn it on again and see what happens.” I fully expected it to either blow up or not start at all. I turned the key and the car quit. I took a deep calming breath, then turned the key to “on”. The Fiat restarted.

A message, in English, scrolled across the dashboard: “Significant temperature drop, possible ice on road.”

We continued to Niagara Falls, and saw a rainbow. Neither God nor Customs had anything further to say.

Is God in the machine?

Is God in this machine?


Brief encounters of the nearly fruitless kind.

My husband owns a quantity of underwear sufficient to see him through a storm of epic proportions that might leave us without power for 100 days (after applying the male rule about turning underwear inside out for a second wearing before washing). I, on the other hand, own a mere fraction of that quantity, possessing only a dozen or so pairs of underwear, plus or minus a few pairs that cross-dress between the rag bag and the clothing drawer. A significant portion of this dozen pairs is nearing critical structural failure status or are about to achieve invisibility after having been worn for nearly 10 years, and I have been forced to engage in an activity I despise: shopping. And underwear shopping, no less, where planned obsolescence is more prevalent than on an auto assembly line.

As evidenced by the above timeline, it has been rather a while since I’ve purchased underwear. I do recall, though, that the experience was neither simple nor enjoyable in the past. Actually, “enjoyable” never accompanies “shopping” in my thoughts. Nevertheless, my hope for a better world  is boundless, and that hope extends to a better underwear acquisition experience. Adopting this sunny disposition I took myself to a few brick-and-mortar retailers to initiate the hunt. Even while living in a small town where all shopping is accomplished in miniature, three stores are the limit of my shopping endurance.

And, three stores later, I found that some things don’t change, even after 10 years. I’m not really referring to my sorry inability to endure marathon shopping sessions; I’m talking about the brain-sucking maze that is women’s underwear, and then only that portion that resides below the waist. After quickly reaching deer-under-the-fluorescent-light status in the women’s “intimates” aisles, as if they were my friends and not my clothing, I thought I’d have a look at the men’s underwear selection to see if they endure the same multitude of choice as women. I actually had to walk the store twice to find the one aisle of men’s underwear. (Note the singular “aisle” for men, versus the plural “aisles” for women.) Men’s underwear consisted of (white cotton) briefs or (cotton solid or plaid) boxers. Including tee shirts and socks, men’s undergarments took up one store aisle.  Women’s underwear occupied nearly a quarter of the footprint of the store’s floor space; there was absolutely no problem whatsoever locating it. All of it.

Yes, indeedy, we’ve got it All. We’ve got our traditional briefs — cotton in solid colors and a few modest flower patterns in a package of 4 or 6 (with an Extra 2 Pairs Included at No Extra Charge! except that a couple years ago the package used to contain 6 pairs to begin with), or satin in solid colors in packages of 3, all of which are styled to make the wearer feel Old and Irrelevant; then we’ve got our 4-packs of cotton hipsters consisting of 3 striped patterns that bleed through light-colored outerwear and one teaser pair of white thrown into the mix so you have to buy three packages at $8.99 each to get the white pairs you really wanted, or you can forego cotton completely to buy the mysterious “microfiber” fabric type that vows to leave no pantie lines. “Panties.” Whether 5 years old or 50, females are wearing “panties.”  Then we have bikinis with the photo of the teenager  sporting an impish smile while wearing said fabric scrap and looking perfectly athletic-girl hot in them and projecting the subliminal message that you too can look just like her (or at least pretend) if you put down $25.00 for 3 pairs that in total are made of less fabric than 1 pair of size 5 briefs.  There are string bikinis (can you lace your shoes with them too?), thongs (where the manufacturer gets you to pay for nothing), French cuts (zut alors!), hi-cuts (these must be the across-the-channel version of the French cuts — you go, Queen Mum!), and the trendiest in women’s underwear — boyshorts! Why aren’t they called “boypanties?”  Those clever marketers slipped a little color into these and closed up that front equipment opening so the girls can wear them too after paying twice as much money as the boys pay. I say buy the men’s briefs, duct tape the front shut, and draw a few flowers on them with a Marks-a-Lot. The only missing card from this deck is the style with days of the week printed on them, which I personally find quite useful.

To my astonishment, I actually did find the type I wanted. I averted my eyes from the price and took them home. Alas, while they were in the store bag, Black Magic happened and they were the wrong type by the time I took them out of the bag. Still virginal and unopened I returned them to their retail origin. Technically, that transaction took me past my 3-store shopping limit and I turned hallelujah! to my fail safe: the internet. A few clicks, a couple of sorts, a choice of color, and my shopping sentence would be served and I’d get time off for good behavior and a martini to celebrate my victory over fashion tyranny. I snickered self-righteously as I thought about all those women wasting their time wandering fruit-of-the-loomlessly through physical stores when they could be letting their manicured fingertips do the walking across their keyboards.

Thou shalt not take thy search results for granted.

My first eBay search produced 600 results, which shrank like 100% cotton in a hot dryer when I entered my size. Two of that number were in the fabric I wanted, and the photo made them look markedly smaller than what I already owned. Of course the shipping was three times as much as the product. Amazon had nothing. Now I was getting my panties into a bind over this. The only thing that gives me a wedgie faster than underwire in a bra (what the hell is that for anyway??) is paying $10 each for something that’s essentially 3 large holes with a tiny bit of fabric between them. But what’s a Mad Queen to do — go commando? I’m ditching convention almost faster than I can keep up with me, but this Queen isn’t Paris Hilton. I fumed. I clicked. I paid. I got.

Are they smaller? They’re shorter when held up to a current pair. Do they fit? Meh. Marginally. I am genetically incapable of buying more than one of anything so my wallet is not significantly lighter. I’ll give it another 10 years or so and maybe women will get mad as hell and not take it any more! One underwear under all!

Then again, maybe I’ll just go have another look at the men’s underwear. It has possibilities. Where’s my duct tape?

Weekly Photo Challenge: The sign says. . .

Yes, but are they fresh?

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Weekly photo challenge: Escape

I tried not to post this, but I have so little willpower. Sometimes you gotta call it what it really is.


Sometimes you have to go with what works.

Sometimes you have to go with what works.

mONkey’S biZness

hEY! hEY YOU!! OH WAIT . . upnuujk;loj; wheres that *!(*# shift key

Okay, that’s b.ETTer . . .better. Mad Queen’s gone, Monkey here. ARe you out there, peeps/? Not much time, have things I got to tell you, things you need to no KNOW.

See, we been travellin lately, me and my Mad Queen. USED to be just me and Mad’s hub on the GO (she’d be pissed if she heard me calling her MAD, but she ain’t in the room, is she? Ha!) but now she quit that job thing mAD’s got her panties packed too. I’m finall y gettin out of that *()&^&(P backpack Mad’s hub kept me in and I’m seein it I tell ya —seein the FREAKIN world alrea.dy! Savannah bone connects to THE ATHENS Ga. boan connects to the Raleigh bone connects to the Porto Rico arriba!! bone!! Monkey rocks Tommy Bahama!!!

Typin with my toes

Typin with my toes

Now listen listen ,, Im goin to help you with yOUR travel. Help you save a little $cha-ching$ so’s you can buy more bananas. This ain’t no  monkEYS on typewriters scientifical theory stuff, this is the REAL THING. I no know what I’m talkin here.

First, get that air-o-line plastic. 30,000 free miles gets you there — all you gotta buy is a package of TicTacs and pay the bill on time — bam, free flight, get it?? Probly get you on the aerojet at the HEAd of the line, too, stead of squeezin in like a *()*)& sausage waaaaaay back in Zone 10 and havin to smash your personAL travelin monkey under some sweaty guy’s coat in the o-verhead, know what I mean?? Might get you and yours each a free che cked bag, too. Each, hear me? It’s not all about you. And don’t make me tell u you to join the airline frequent flier programs. You ain’t that stupid that you havn’t done it yet. You ain’t. , ,. Tell me you ain’t. Some of em give you comeplanyen commpaneon companion certificates to fly your favorite monkey along. Can’t lose I’m tellin ya. Can’t[

Same with those hotel/motel/Holiday Inn sing it with me now! credit cards. Don’t cost you no.thin to join them hotel point programs, then get their plastic. Add those pOInts up and bam! –you could be sleepin pretty in no time. Just pay the bill and you get the points. Simple (Monkey knows. dON’T believe? Go here (jerk)). Adds up. Transfer points for airplane rides too — go farther — zoom zoom!!

So, Mad’s all hand-wringy about soap and shampoo. You no know, those little soaps and shampoos in the hotel/motel/Holiday Inn. Take em? Leave em? She’s feelin all guilty about taking em, . Not Hub. He’s takin’ em. Monkey’s with Hub on this. Mad ain’t had to buy soap in 3 years. 3, I’m tellin ya. (And I know they’re usin soap I seen em. And I ain’t no peepin Tom so don’t get all het up about it.) That brand soap or shampoo make your pretty nose all twitchy? Donate it. Not every Body’s nose is as picky as yours.; Lotsa peeps and monkeys two be glad to .use it,.

Same thing with those head-phones on the airPlanes — they’re offerin, take em even if you don’t waTCLH the Movie. They fit all kinds of electronics. Monkey’s collecting the whole set!

Somewhere between Port-o-RIco and Hotlanta, Mad got into some Thing that sent her royal gut into overdrive. Maybe the rum cAke at the Bacardi factory? The s;alad at the  HOtel? That giant German beer down-town?? Wherever, Mad was a Smart Queen and had her pink Pepto along for the ride. Coulda been a looong night didn’t she have it. Don’t leave home without it.)( Not a bad idea to tote some pro-biotics too;; keep that happy bacteria hummin.

Some,times Mad and her Hub got to go where Unca Sam’s got his mitts in everything. E–vry–thing. Can’t even get a drink without doin double dutch jump rope for some gov’s  sake. Those little airline liquor bottles work just fine refilled. Heck, they even go through TSA’s carry-on poke & prod routine (and u you think I’m a peEping Tom??). Pack your own 90 proof.

Last hotel Mad & hub bunked at wanted $13 a day to peek into the WOrld Wide Weeb. $13 — a day — *)(%$& –!!!! How’s a monkey gonna make $$ to buy Dole stock at that rate??&& Mad sledded into the 3Ws using the hotel lobby net-work and her netbook — free as a Big BIrd. Just take your little comPUter into the lobby, sniff up the available wire-less nEtworks, and jumnp on!! $13 bucks, Geez. Must think I’m a monkey’s uncle

Save! You! Money!

Save! You! Money!

Pack a headlamp. Tell me you no know they’re the new sexy. Great for midnight pacing or reading, and saves Monkey’s eyes from blindING bathroom light.

ud98ew%^&$…/++ecjf Gotta swing    Mad’s comin dont tell her i was




Team Candypult

This gallery contains 60 photos.

I had a birthday last weekend. Mike wanted to take me to an elegant restaurant, as we’ve done for each other every year we’ve been together.  But the All New and Improved(?) Me longed for something more. . .more. . … Continue reading


Sometimes, you just have to find your own shoes.

This gallery contains 30 photos.

Now that all the happy hubbub of being Fresh Pressed for my first Grand Canyon post has subsided (blush, blush, Mad Queen straightens tippy crown), I’ve got a few stories about the place, the trip itself, hiking overall, with maybe a … Continue reading