Category Archives: comedy

Sorta Clean Water spills into WV drinking chemicals

A storage tank containing 30,000 gallons of an ancient compound known as Sorta Clean Water sprang a leak last week. The breach went unnoticed for several hours, allowing the Sorta Clean Water to contaminate the drinking chemicals of thousands of West Virginians.

The Sorta Clean Water is a compound that was used extensively in the production of trees and wildlife.

Customers complained that no odor came from the liquid flowing from their faucets, and that they could “see clean through” their drinking glasses. “It was unnerving,” said one customer. “Honestly, if I can’t smell it? And if I can see through it? Yuck. I don’t want to drink it.”

Scientists are unsure of the effects Sorta Clean Water may have on people who ingest it.

Authorities are urging citizens to follow the procedures set forth in the Spoil Advisory. The Spoil Advisory contains detailed instructions on how to best recontaminate the water before ingestion.

 “If you are unable to properly recontaminate the water,” a spokesman for the Governor’s Office advised, “mix equal parts antifreeze, gasoline and Michelob Ultra Light. It won’t burn your esophagus going down as much as you are accustomed to from your normal drinking chemicals, but it should get you through the crisis without too many withdrawal symptoms.”

“It is especially important to make sure infants and children stay away from the freshwater,” warned Director Sogbottom, of the recently created the Department Of Environmental Destruction. “Old folks,” he continued, “and I mean the truly old, may be able to drink the Sorta Clean Water, as they probably still have some residual tolerance to cleanish water, but fresh water could be toxic to children, pets and big business.”

Asked for comment, Delegate Zatezalo, R-Hancock, said, “This is a tragedy and a travesty. When we passed House Bill 2506, recalculating the mixing zones and amounts of cancer-causing chemicals companies were permitted to dump into streams and rivers, we thought we’d effectively eliminated any chance of even a single child in West Virginia ever having to be subjected to drinking clean water again. We are not even sure why Sorta Clean Water was allowed to be stored in a tank a mere mile upriver from a drinking chemical intake. If industrial waste isn’t safe in West Virginia, then nothing and no one is safe.

“Trust me, we will take vigorous action against any and all people irresponsible enough to allow Sorta Clean Water to be present in any amount in any West Virginia stream or river. In fact, I’m working on legislation right now that would allow companies to dispose of their waste by pumping it straight into the, uh, um, boobs of breastfeeding mothers. We in the West Virginia House and Senate take the health and wellness of industry very, very seriously.”

For now, the National Guard will be mobilizing to bring in drinking chemicals from rivers, slag ponds and cesspools in Chernobyl and parts of India and China to get us through the crisis.

Please bring only lead-lined containers to the National Guard distribution site.

Bil Lepp is a storyteller and author.

– See more at: http://www.wvgazettemail.com/gazette-op-ed-commentaries/20170304/bil-lepp-sorta-clean-water-spills-into-wv-drinking-chemicals-gazette#sthash.NLI8kLj1.dpuf

Turns out I’m Cis-Demisexual… Or Pronouns are the New Metric System

Bil Lepp Copyright 2017
My son, like any good sixteen year-old, is more socially relevant than I. We got to talking about gender identity and sexuality the other day, partly because we were driving through Omaha and I saw a sign that read, “Exit here for L-Q streets.” I says to my son, “Know what streets are in between L & Q? B, G and T.”

 

He laughed, but not entirely.

 

If I had to describe my dad via just one thing he said, I would go with: “It’s not true that a cat always lands on its feet. The cat only lands on its feet the first eleven times. And you’ll never see that cat again.”

 

I come from a long line of men who firmly believe, “If it ain’t broke, keep trying.”
And I mean that in the most positive way possible. In the late the 30’s my Grosspapa, after fighting the Red Army and making his way to America, was looking for work. He drove by the employee parking lot at Goodyear. He saw all the cars in the parking lot and thought, “If they can hire that many people, they can hire one more.”

 

The system may not have been constructed with us in mind, but we can always find a way in.

 

The only real argument my dad and I ever had was my hair. I didn’t smoke, or do drugs, and, unlike my brothers, I got grades. Not necessarily good ones, but I did get grades. So my hair just couldn’t be turned into that big of a deal. I kept it long. Maybe just to rankle him. And it worked. But one thing I swore was that I would never comment negatively on my kid’s hair.

 

My son’s hair is ridiculous. But I’ve never said anything about it.
Still and all, my son has informed me that I have a skewed ideal of masculinity.
No doubt. When I was a teenager my idol was David Bowie. How could my ideas about masculinity not be skewed?

 

So, I says to my son, “Know what streets are in between L & Q? B, G and T.”
That started the discussion. I come from maybe the last generation where it wasn’t uncommon to describe Uncle Charlie as a “confirmed bachelor,” or explain that Aunt Tonya and her friend Sonja live together to save rent. I’m a pretty liberal guy, I also come from the generation that nearly revolted when school boards tried to make us learn the metric system. Who cares if 5280 feet is a weird distance? It’s the way things are and that’s that.

 

My son says, “There’s not just male and female, and your gender has nothing to do with your sexuality.”

 

Again, I try and keep an open mind, but 128 ounces makes more sense to me than 1000 cubic centimeters.

 

He says: “First you have to understand the pronouns.”

 

“I gotta learn new pronouns?”

 

“Yep. You can keep He and She, but you need to adopt Ze and Hir (pronounced Here) for gender neutral people. And Mx. (pronounced Mix) Instead of Mr., Ms. or Mrs.”

 

“Really? Like, ‘This is Mx. Johnson’s car. It’s hir car.’”

 

“Yep.”

 

1000 meters in a kilometer…

 

“See,” my son explains, “you think in terms of binary genders. Male and female, but that excludes nonbinary genders and makes you  cisnormative.”

 

“Wait, I’m a what?”

 

“Cisnormative. See, you’re cisgender.”

 

“I am?”

 

“Yeah, your gender and biological parts assigned at birth align.”

 

“Like I’m an Aries with a moon in Jupiter?”

 

Sigh

 

So I say, “You mean I was born male and I have boy parts? Is that bad?”

 

“Bad is word you need to disassociate with this conversation,” counsels my sixteen year old. “So you’re cis, and cisnormative people think there are only two genders.” He continues, “There are people who are Agender, Androgynous, Androphilic, Aromantic, Asexual…”

 

“Okay, hold up. I know androgynous, what’s the others?”

 

“Agender has little connection to traditional genders at all.
“Androphilics are attracted to males or masculinity.
“Aromantics have little or no romantic interest in others.
“Asexuals have little physical interest in others.
“Got it? Cause that’s just the A’s.”

 

….Twelve inches in a foot, three feet in a yard.

 

“Then there’s Bigender, Bicurious, Bisexual and Butch.”

 

“Hey, we used to say Butch. Can I say Butch?”

 

“You probably shouldn’t.”

 

“Then there’s Cisgender…”

 

“That’s me!”

 

“Demigender, Demiromantic, and Demisexuals…”

 

“Those sound ominous.”

 

“Not at all. Demigender people are basically nonbinary but might lean a little toward one gender or the other.
“Demiromatics don’t experience romance until they are physically involved with someone and
“Demisexuals don’t experience physical attraction until a strong emotional bond is formed.”

 

“Wait! I think that’s me, too! I’m a cis-demisexual. Sounds like a Star Wars character.”

 

“Feminine-of-center and Masculine-of-center are folks who present, understand themselves, and/or relate to others in a more feminine or masculine way, but don’t necessarily identify as women or men.
“Which is not to be confused with Feminine-presenting or Masculine-presenting which is someone who expresses gender in a more feminine or masculine way.”

 

“Oh, no,” I say, “that’s not confusing at all.”

 

A liter used to be described as a kilogram of water under standard conditions.

 

“Fluidity describes a gender identity that shifts over time.
“FtM and MtF is for transgenders going from male to female or female to male.
“Gender Non-Conforming, Gender Normative, Gender Straight and Gender Variant should be pretty self-explanatory,” says my son.

 

They should?

 

“Then we get to the alphabet soup. LGBT, LGBTQ, GSM and DSG. LGBTQ stands for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer.”

 

I want to ask why we need the Q after the LGBT, but I’m afraid of sounding cisnormative.

 

And then my son says, “Sometimes the Q stands for Questioning instead of Queer. If you see a plus sign after the Q, that means And Everybody Else. GSM is Gender and Sexual Minorities and DSG is for Diverse Sexualities and Genders. And sometimes you hear somebody say QUILTBAG.”

 

I have heard people say quiltbag, but it was generally little old ladies who were referring to a bag in which to carry a quilt. I hold my tongue. Then I wonder if there’s a name for people who like to hold tongues.

 

“QUILTBAG stands for Queer/Questioning, Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian Trans*, Bisexual, Asexual/Allied, and Gay/Genderqueer.”

 

“Seriously?” I say.

 

“Yep.”

 

“Is that it?”

 

“Tip of the iceberg.”

 

I’m a dad in the 21st century raised by men born in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Here’s what I know. If you see a parking lot full of cars you can think, “There’s no room for me,” or you can think, “There’s easily room for one more.” And, as a dad, you always have the option of deciding that you are right no matter what. And you can prove it. You can drag that cat up onto the roof and chuck it off until you do irreparable damage, but you’ll likely never see that cat again.

 

Sometimes you just need to accept that the centimeters have always been right there, across from the inches on your ruler.

 

Note: This is a composite of several conversations, not an actual start to finish conversation

Lying Effectively in Public- A Primer or We Should Withdraw from the Solar System Because, Let’s Face It, the Rest of the Planets Just Aren’t Pulling Their Weight

 

By Bil Lepp Copyright 2017

I have to say that I am professionally insulted by the standard of lies that have been making the news in past weeks.  And though I don’t want to aid the competition, I feel compelled to share a few pointers on successful lying, so as to not tarnish the reputation lying in general.

I am five time champion of the West Virginia Liars’ Contest.  I lie for a living.  I stand in front of huge crowds. Huge.  And tell them lies.  They love it.  They give me standing ovations that are very long. Very.

No, seriously, that is my job. I am a professional storyteller who specializes in tall-tales, fibs, and untruths.  Look me up.

 

First, before you go in front of a huge audience, really big, you should write your lies down on paper and read through them to see if they make any sense.  Any sense. You should have a few trusted associates look over the lies beforehand.  Sometimes they can point out the flaws in your lies.  Also, you may want your associates to know what lies you are planning to tell so they can be prepared to back those lies up, or at the very least, not contradict them.

After you write the lies down, you should rehearse them before saying them to large crowds of people. Or Tweeting them.

A good lie, by which I mean a successful lie, depends on you connecting with your audience in such a way that you build rapport with them.  You need your audience to feel that you and they have something in common.  And if you are going to tell a real doozey, you need to work up to it.  Start by saying something the audience understands, or is familiar with, maybe something that is, if not true, at least honest.

That cunning witch from Scotland who wants your children to worship the Devil is good at this.  She’ll start a book innocuously enough: “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”  Totally believable statement, right?  We understand that people live in houses and houses have addresses.  She would not be a zillionaire had she begun with, “Once there was a boy who had a stick with a feather in it and he could wave it at stuff and say fake Latin and unlock locks and crush the dreams of a poor, misunderstood orphan named Voldemort who only wanted to control the world and be super evil.”  This statement is harder to adjust to because it isn’t something most of us have experienced and so it seems a little dishonest.

I often start my lies with a simple truth like, “I have a dog.”  Again, an easy statement to swallow.  Lots of people are dog owners, or at least understand that people have dogs.  There are no dog agnostics.  I might be planning to tell you I once flew a train with my tongue, but I start by telling you I have a dog.  One key to a good lie is gradual exaggeration.

For example, if you want to tell people that some widely believed scientific fact is hooey, you first must establish some kind of truth.  Instead of saying, “There is no moon.  It doesn’t exist.  And any scientist who tells you the moon exists is a very bad scientist. Very. Bad. That scientist is likely paid by some liberal, vegetable eating, environmental think-tank that hates God, the USA and Russia.  Also that scientist is likely a member of ISIS.”

See, that is a little too much to take in all at once.  A little.  Furthermore, it doesn’t establish a connection with a broad audience. [By Broad, I mean wide. Not just the ladies.]  Also, it might be offensive to vegetable eaters.  It is best not to start a lie by alienating a portion of your audience.  A good lie requires building trust with your audience, and it is hard to build trust when you start with pugnacity.

Start slow.

You might start by saying, “There is this thing people call the moon.”

Your audience will accept this.  They will nod in confirmation.  You are drawing them in.

Next, try, “You may notice that at certain points during this moon’s so-called lunar cycle, it is not visible.  It is usually not visible during the day, either.”

Who can dispute this?  This is an experience of the moon we all have in common.  But, more importantly, you are working toward a credible lie because you are sowing reasonable doubt.  The audience has to admit- sometimes they just can’t see the moon.

They begin to trust you.  You’re talking sense.  And their imaginations start to hum in-tune with yours.  They are starting to see the world your way.

Now that you have the audience thinking the way you need them to, you can launch into the more dramatic parts of your presentation: “So if you can’t see the moon part of the time then it obviously either isn’t real, or it is hiding because it is plotting a nasty attack.  Nasty.  And therefore we should build a wall to keep the moon out and make Mars pay for the wall, and then withdraw from the Solar System because, let’s face it, the rest of the planets just aren’t pulling their weight.”

See how much more believable your statements are now?  I mean, heck, I just wrote the above lie and I know it’s not true, but I wrote it so well I’m already starting to believe it.  Starting to believe your own lies can be dangerous.  If you start to believe your own lies, then you begin to live in a fantasy world from which there is no escape.  So, be careful about that.

Also, don’t go too far.  For example, I said “…the rest of the planets just aren’t pulling their weight.”  This statement goes against the laws of physics and so-called physicists like Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton, both of whom are doing amazing jobs and are getting recognized more and more, might get together and dispute your claims based on the pseudo-science of gravity, throwing your whole lie into question.  One little step outside the context box and the credibility of your whole carefully crafted lie comes into question.

Hairspray: A Weapons Grade Presidential Candidate

Copyright 2016 Bil Lepp

Let’s just say, hypothetically, a can of hairspray was running for President, giving a whole new meaning to Head of State.

Where does hairspray even come from? The answer to that question is a bit surprising. Hairspray is the child of insecticide. During WWII the military needed a way to effectively control mosquitoes to help prevent malaria.  Bug spray in aerosol cans was developed.  Somebody figured out after the war that hairspray could be delivered via aerosol cans and its popularity took off in the fifties and early sixties.

It was the bestselling beauty product through the fifties and sixties due to “updo” hairstyles. Sales declined in the late sixties because folks started wearing their hair down. Darn hippies. In the seventies hairspray declined further due to the environmentally devastating chemicals used in aerosols.  Again, darn hippies.  Then, interestingly, the product resurged in the eighties.

Hairspray isn’t designed as a propellant, but it is a volatile product.  If you misuse hairspray it can be a dangerous weapon.  Flames are a byproduct of misuse.  Even if hypothetical Candidate Hairspray were to make the claim that he is not responsible if people misuse it, hairspray remains dangerous.  All it takes is one hairspray devotee with a destructive bent and, blamo.  Hairspray would be a weapons-grade candidate.

Hairspray flare-ups can be caused by escaping gas coming into contact with open flames or heat sources.  A can of hairspray leaking even just a little gas can cause a conflagration.

“…a stored hairspray container can explode or catch fire under certain circumstances. A corroded hairspray can, for instance, may weaken at the seams until gases leak out of it, igniting when they make contact with a heat source,” explains ehow.com contributor William Norman.  Thus, if Candidate Hairspray had any corrosive properties whatsoever, and if he wasn’t tight around the seams, and if he were in a heated environment, he could produce a fiery calamity.

The ingredients in hairspray are so highly volatile and flammable that they are ‘classically’ used as fuel in potato guns, states the author of the Hairspray Wikipedia page.

The potato gun is one of the most underrated inventions in the history of humankind.  There is no better method to send a spud several hundred yards. As a child of the eighties I have seen the havoc hairspray can reap on both humans and the environment. Perhaps hairspray’s one noble use is potato propellant.  But how many potatoes really need propelled, and what would the political value of potato hurling be?

What would Candidate Hairspray stand for?  Hairspray is used to control unruly hair. Hairspray advertisements contain phrases such as “firm hold” or “strong hold.”  Hairspray is designed to manipulate hair into maintaining a specific shape or form that will not be moved by wind or heat or humidity.  Do we want a candidate that creates a firm hold on our political system? Or do we want a candidate who can change a little if political winds shift, a candidate that allows a little freedom?

Scientists and laypeople debate the effects hairspray has on the environment. EPA rules regulate the chemicals in hairspray to reduce its negative impact on the Ozone layer.  But many people think that hairspray contributes to smog. Smog obscures the view, making things brown and hazy. Smog has also been linked to asthma and other lung problems.  Asthma has been listed as the number one reason kids miss school.  I doubt that hypothetical Candidate Hairspray would admit to deliberately trying to obscure the view and make it hard to breathe. Certainly Candidate Hairspray wouldn’t intentionally thwart education. Nonetheless, these are some of the side effects of hairspray.

No, I don’t think Candidate Hairspray would be a good candidate. I find myself gravitating towards the presidential candidates who seem to spend the least amount of time on their hair. This might seem a superficial position from which to judge a candidate, but come on, how many of us really base our votes on a true understanding of the issues?

On non-haircut days I reckon I spend a maximum of eight seconds on my hair.  No blow drying, no product. After that I have plenty of time to address any problems that arise, both foreign and domestic.

The front runners of both parties are doing their part to keep the hairspray industry booming.  Whether they use hairspray made by American or foreign workers I don’t know.  In either case, neither of the front runners’ hairdos ever moves much.  In summation, when the president gets under the rotors of Marine One I want to see hair move.  I don’t want someone with Ken Doll hair running the country.  It ain’t natural.

Equating the Presidential Candidates to the Bands of My Youth

Copyright Bil Lepp 2016

Remember Columbia House Record Club?  Choose twelve albums for one cent, then promise to buy one album a month and start ruining your credit early?  Looking at the presidential candidates reminds me of trying to pick the last six albums.  Here’s how I compare the candidates to the bands of my youth.

Clinton: The Smiths  A lot of people I knew loved The Smiths.  A lot of really smart people.  And I wanted to like The Smiths.  I tried to like The Smiths.  But Morrissey was just so morose.  I was wrong every time I thought he was making a joke and I never got it when he did.

Cruz: Marilyn Manson  Dude might be a genius, some people like him, but there is something fundamentally off-putting that keeps me from wanting to get involved.  Or, if that’s too much, Van Halen with Sammy Hagar.  Something just wrong about it.

Kasich: Lionel Richie  He’s just too nice.  I’m afraid he’ll pick Hall & Oats as his VP. Watching the debates I imagine in his head he’s signing

Hello!
Is it me you’re looking for?
’cause I wonder where you are
And I wonder what you do
Are you somewhere feeling lonely?
Or is someone loving you?
Tell me how to win your heart
For I haven’t got a clue
But let me start by saying I love you

Hello! (By Lionel Richie)

Rubio: Heart  When I hear the first riffs of most Heart songs I think, “Oh, I like this.”  But after thirty or forty seconds I realize, “Oh, no I don’t.”

Sanders: Warren Zevon Catchy. Very smart. But ‘everyone’ has decided that the guy who sings Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner can’t be president.  But it was so cool when Zevon played Prince’s Raspberry Beret on Letterman!

Trump: Warrant  A lot of noise, a lot of hair. Lyrics such as

She’s my cherry pie
Cool drink of water such a sweet surprise…

Woaw

Well, swingin’ on the front porch, swingin’ on the lawn
Swingin’ where we want ’cause there ain’t nobody home
Swingin’ to the left and swingin’ to the right
I think about baseball, swing all night,

Yeah, yeah, yeah  (By Jani Lane)

It was a huge hit, but what the Hell?

All I know is, come next January, one of these people is going to start showing up in my mailbox and, month after, I’m probably going to be writing Return to Sender on the package.

Put a Dishwasher in the Living Room & a Dumpster on Everest

Copyright Bil Lepp

In our house the dishwasher and the kitchen sink are in the same room.  They are located right beside each other.  This is a colossal design flaw.

We don’t need two places to store dirty dishes in the kitchen.  Scholars argue that the sink and dishwasher are situated in close proximity so the dirty dishes can be rinsed and then placed in the dishwasher.  Evidently those scholars do not have children.  My children believe that trudging all the way from the table, burdened by as much as a single bowl and spoon, is enough toil for one day.  They think that the magnanimous act of putting the dirty dish in the sink is a great gift to humanity. To then put the dish into the dishwasher would be flaunting their selflessness in a shameful manner.

Please note that one has to pass the dishwasher to get to the sink.

Furthermore, there are hardly any dirty dishes in the kitchen.  The dirty dishes migrate to the living room.  This is a factor of climate change.  I don’t mean to suggest that migrating dishes are a factor of climate change; I mean eating food in the living room is a factor in climate change.  The kids leave dirty dishes in the living room rather than hiking them back to the kitchen.  The food rots and produces methane, which stinks, so we have to open the window.  Then it gets hot, so we have to run the AC.

I have read that Mt. Everest is becoming a huge garbage heap because climbers jettison useless gear on the mountain rather than hiking it down to the dumpsters by the bathrooms in the parking lot.   Our living room is very much like Mt. Everest.  It can be hard to breath up there and it is littered with chip bags, candy wrappers, and dirty dishes.

The dishwasher should be in the living room.

And it wouldn’t hurt to put a dumpster two-thirds of the way up Everest.

If the dishwasher were in the living room I would never have to say, “Is it too much trouble for you to carry your dirty dishes from the living room to the kitchen?”  Instead, I could say, “Don’t leave your dirty dishes on the coffee table, Sir Edmund Hillary! There is a dishwasher under the TV!”

Actually, my mama brought me up better than that.  If Sir Edmund where a guest in my house I would not ask him to carry his dishes to the dishwasher.  I would do that for him, but you get my point.  Come to think of it, unless it was tea or something, I don’t even think I would feed Sir Edmund in the living room.  I ain’t Emily Post but I’m pretty sure that you are supposed to feed Knights of the Realm in the dining room.  Unless it is someone like Sir Mick Jagger.  I’d feed Sir Mick in the living room, but Jagger doesn’t fit my Everest reference so there’s no sense putting him metaphorically in my living room.

There are some drawbacks to installing a dishwasher in the living room.  Eventually the dishwasher in the living room would get full- provided someone actually put the dirty dishes into it- and then someone would run it, and then it would be full of clean dishes desperately needed in the kitchen and no one would take them down to the kitchen and I would be faced with a whole new frustration.

Maybe I could just put the TV in the kitchen.  That would limit all my dirty-dishes oriented frustrations to one room.  I believe it is very Zen to limit your aggression to a single room.  Spreading your frustrations across several rooms ruffles curtains and stirs up dust.

My understanding is that when you get to the top of Everest, that’s it.  There’s nowhere else to go.  And so it is with this little essay.