Tag Archives: stupid people

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.

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The Demise of Cursive

By Bil Lepp Copyright 2014 as seen in June 2014 www.funnytimes.com/

The most ridiculous rational I ever heard for cursive came from my second grade teacher.  She said, “Cursive makes it so that you can write without ever lifting your pen.”  She made it sound as if lifting your pen was an exhausting exercise, as though we were writing with jackhammers.  Technology has a tendency to make things smaller and lighter, but was there really a time when pens were so heavy that no one wanted to lift one?  And what about all that extra ink wasted by not picking up your pen?

“Young people today are losing the ability to write cursive,” the old people of today say with the same sad inflection used to lament the loss of native languages or the ability to cure ham.

Let us not mourn cursive.

If our culture hinges on a handwriting style then we have made some serious mistakes as a culture.  Furthermore, each new generation has the innate ability to deduce what tools and customs practiced by the previous generation need to be put to sleep.  My generation knew the slide rule was done for, this generation recognizes the futility of keeping cursive on the breathing machine.  Time’s up.  Send some flowers and move on.

Nobody reads handwritten stuff anymore anyway, except maybe the postman when he is trying to decipher a handwritten address, but nobody writes letters anymore, so the point is moot.  Indecently, this whole not writing letters has led to the crumbling of the other apparent pillar of our cultural identity…The demise of the Thank You note.  It must be hard to be old and care about stuff.

My wife and I could not employ the ‘spell what you want to say so the kids don’t know what you are talking about’ trick after both kids gained a certain intellect.  However, we can still write in cursive if we want to keep secrets.  The kids just look at the loops and swirls with mouths agape and eyes aglaze as if my wife and I were reading ‘possum entrails.

By the by, my grandfather used to gripe all the time about my generation not being able to read ‘possum entrails.  His grandfather used to grouse about the next generations inability to determine the weather by the bark on trees.  That guy’s grandfather used to get all snarky about the younger generation’s insistence that the nomadic life was stupid and that people should switch to agriculture.   And, of course, that guy’s grandfather would get all grumbly when people drew on the walls of his cave, and his grandfather laughed when the next generation thought walking on two feet was better than walking on four.

Somewhere in that long progression, one generation figured out that if a fella was to make a couple of marks on a scrap of papyrus he would be more likely to remember everything his wife asked him to pick up at the grocery.  And, you know as well as I do, as soon at that generation began writing things down the generation before them said, “Writing? Bah, in my day we just remembered stuff.”

And so it goes, people first communicated simple messages with grunts and gesticulations, then they created a spoken language and passed on information in an oral fashion, then they figured out how to write, then some prankster invented the impressively heavy pen so another bozo went and thought up cursive and calligraphy, and now the young folks send complicated, detailed, revolution inspiring messages around the globe in a matter of seconds using only their impressively muscular thumbs….even though they can’t write without lifting the pen.  Actually, they can’t even lift a pen because the rest of their fingers have atrophied due to neglect and disuse.  It does not seem that we have lost much in that transition.

Defending Gen X…Sort Of

Folks have branded us Gen Xers The Slacker Generation.  We must have accomplished something, but I can’t muster the energy to research it.  Let’s say my generation is a bunch of slackers.  I read that a key element of fitness is rest.  You work out, then rest a day to rebuild.  The Greatest Generation stopped fascism; the Boomers put a man on the Moon.  Two intense workouts in a row.  Maybe we are slackers, but maybe we, as a species, need the rest.  Gen Xers are carb loading for Gen Y’s intense workout.   You’ll thank us later.  Or not.  Whatever.

By Bil Lepp Copyright 2014

-I submitted this to Funny Times ( http://www.funnytimes.com) for their 100 Word Rant section.  They did not accept it. Fortunately, for me, the editors of my blog LOVE my work! Funny Times, God love them, will publish a piece by me in their June issue.

Unsafe? Legalize It!

copyright 2014 Bil Lepp
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Of all the bills the West Virginia Legislature passed this session, I think the most important is the ban on owning exotic animals such as tigers. Thank the stars above the state managed to enact this legislation.

It is clear that the state is determined to follow a new rule: If it seems unsafe, legalize it!

Owning tigers may seem exactly the sort of unsafe practice the Legislature would legalize, even require, but if that is your line of thought you are not thinking like a West Virginia elected official. Studies show that pets are beneficial to physical and mental health. The simple act of petting a cat makes us feel less lonely and lowers blood pressure. If petting a normal size cat lowers your blood pressure a little, it stands to reason that petting a tiger would lower your blood pressure even more. And we can’t have that. Recent polls show West Virginia is the most depressed state in the Union, and lawmakers don’t want to squander that notoriety. Our legislature is determined to keep us sick, addicted and depressed.

Meth makers, however, can rejoice. You are the darlings of the conspiracy to keep us sick and sad. If everyone in West Virginia is hooked on meth, unemployed, in poverty and depressed then sustaining an inept state government will be so much simpler. If we are depressed and high we will be more apt to believe the root of our problems are federal regulations aimed at clean water and clean air, rather than zillion-dollar companies who want to make a few bucks.

As a voting population, we West Virginians must be high to think our industries are overregulated when the Upper Big Branch mine disaster, the 2011 natural gas pipeline explosion, and the Freedom Industries chemical spill all happened, at least in part, because of lack of inspections and lack of governmental oversight. “Dude, oops,” seems to be our state government’s default response to industrial disasters and the drug problem.

They are hoping we are too high to notice, or too sick to get out of bed to do anything about it.

I do applaud the West Virginia Legislature for taking away the rights of individual municipalities to make decisions about gun laws. We clearly cannot trust our local governments to keep us safe. After all, right here in Kanawha County, some officials thought funding the library was a good idea. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and funding has been drastically curtailed. A literate population is a healthier population, and we can’t have that. How can we possibly allow county officials who want kids to read to also make gun laws?

I am a gun owner, but I have never felt the need to take a gun to the rec center. I guess I need to reconsider that choice. But if I did take a concealed gun to the gym, where would I put it? I wear shorts and a t-shirt when I work out. Where would I conceal my gun? If I have to put my gun in a locker, that negates the whole purpose of bringing it. I’m gonna have to mull this one over.

Do I really think there is a conspiracy in West Virginia to keep us unsafe and get us all high? Of course not. The pharmaceutical industry’s effort to keep medications containing the pseudoephedrine used to produce meth available over the counter are purely altruistic. Big Pharma is truly, deeply, concerned for all the billions of West Virginia cold sufferers who just might not pull through if they have to rely on readily available cold medications that cannot be manipulated by meth manufacturers. Mississippi and Oregon, two states that have passed laws requiring prescriptions for meth making medications, have suffered a staggering number of cold related deaths, half the populations moved to Texas, and both states are facing financial ruin. Oregon has gone so far as to adopt legislation to be annexed by British Columbia. If only Big Pharma had done for those states what they have done for West Virginia. Thank you Big Pharma. I know you never once thought, “What? Really? We make a lot of money from people who buy our legitimate products to produce highly addictive and destructive illegal drugs? Dude, oops.”

In parting, I have a final word for exotic animal owners. You either need to become part of the conspiracy or figure out a way to use your animals to make drugs. If there was a chance your critters were going to leak toxins into the environment, or be ingested for the purpose of getting high, of if you could conceal you giant beasts for the purpose of self-protection, you would become immediately invisible to the West Virginia Legislature. And then, if one of your critters did something wrong you could just say, “Dude, oops.”

Lepp, of South Charleston, is a professional storyteller. Read more at leppstorytelling.com.
As seen in the Charleston Gazette http://www.wvgazette.com/Opinion/OpEdCommentaries/201403180192

Softball Re-Enactors

copyright Bil Lepp 2014

I play in a co-ed summer softball league that is quite similar to what Renaissance re-enactors do.   We all show up in costumes that resemble uniforms worn by actual ball players, and many of the us harbor the fantasy that we can actually play softball.  We even go to places where real softball games have been played and we try to act out what happens in a softball game.  We say historically correct phrases such as, “Swing batter,” “Atta boy,” and “There is no crying in baseball.”  Like re-enactors, we learned these phrases from movies and books.

In truth, some of the players are very good, but they are in our league simply to pass the time when they are not playing in a real league.   The rest of us tend to group together like wounded water buffalo, hoping the rest of the herd will keep us hidden from the carnivores.   We are an entire league of people socially conditioned to migrate to right field, people who believe the coach must be talking to someone else when she says, “Go play second base.”  We are the people for whom participation trophies were invented.

We should have team names like ‘The Last Picks,’ or ‘The No, He Was on My Team Last Times.”

The truly good players are at shortstop, left, left center, and first.  I say ‘left center’ because we field ten-player teams with four outfielders because, as I said, most of us are natural right fielders so the rules provide double the opportunities to play out there. So, ‘right center’ is a person with just slightly more skill than ‘right field.’

Even losers have a hierarchy.

Our team actually has a good right fielder, which is a conundrum I often ponder while playing right center.

A short history of my softball experience would include two years in T-ball during which I never got a hit, and then in college our theater group had an intramural softball team.  We were called Wounded Goose.  We figured out that the frat boys on the other teams assumed we were homosexuals, since we were thespians.   We encouraged this assumption, which was not entirely wrong, and wore pink turtlenecks as jerseys.  The other teams didn’t want to tag us out because they were afraid they would ‘catch gay’ if they touched us.  This came in handy on the rare occasions when we got a hit.

Our current league is designed to get the games over with quickly.  Each batter steps to the plate with one ball and one strike against them.  It is not a league full of great pitchers.  Even mediocre pitches are called-up to the better leagues.  Because the pitching is bad, there is an unwritten rule that you are supposed to swing at anything you don’t have to turn around to hit.  A pitch has to be way out of the strike zone for you to let it pass without suffering scorn from the ump.  The ump has to officiate four or five games a night, and he often starts drinking beer before Game One, and doesn’t let up until the last out is called.  Beer doesn’t make him a worse ump, but he will call you out so he can go pee.

I shun the shame of walking.  I like to walk.  It is not only my best chance of getting to first base, it is my best chance to get to second base.  We bat male, female, and if the pitcher walks the male, then the woman behind him in the order can walk as well, if she wants to.  This keeps pitchers from just walking all the guys.  I bat second to last in the line-up, which means the person who bats after me is an equally bad batter as I.  So, it is strategy.  If I walk, she walks.  I’m on second, she’s on first.  If there are already runners on base, they advance as well.  With one walk I can produce two RB(W)Is and put myself in scoring position. So why swing?

You know why.  There is little more satisfying in the world then swinging the bat just right, hearing the smack as the ball changes trajectory, and then watching the ball curve over the raised the glove of the leaping shortstop as you run toward first thinking, “My ball is going to land in the grass!”

Even when the only people in the bleachers are the teams waiting for the next game to start, even when the left fielder lights a cigarette when you step the plate, even though your manta is, “There is no shame in a walk,” the reason that even the losers return the diamond year after year is because even in the worst league, there is merit in a hit, and great satisfaction in making the ump have to wait even longer to pee.

Hands Off My Pinewood Derby Car, Dad

Copyright 2014 Bil Lepp

Every year, Cub Scouts have a Pinewood Derby. Each Cub gets an officially sanctioned block of pine about 7 inches long, an inch tall and 2 inches wide. The block comes with four plastic wheels and nails for axles. The theory is that each boy will take his block of wood, a pocketknife, a saw, sandpaper and some paint to create a race car to compete against cars made by other boys. Adults are supposed to help, and to be prepared to administer first aid, but the adults are not supposed to actually build the cars.

Yeah. Right.

Each January I received my kit. My eyes glazed over. Ideas raced through my brain. I could make an Indy car. Or a wedge. Or 1950s hot rod. Oh, the plans I made! I contemplated how I was going to saw it, where I was going to place the wheels, and how I was going to paint it. I’d sketch my car with little lines coming off the back to depict great speed as it blazed by the other boys’ cars. Each year I received that hunk of pine and, like Michelangelo, I could see the speedy David locked in the wood.

Then I would go home and give the hunk to my dad. His eyes glazed over. Ideas for cars raced through his brain. Oh, the plans he made! He sketched his car with little lines coming off the back to depict great speed as it blazed by the other dads’ cars …

I had two older brothers, so my dad had already “helped” build six derby cars. He’d never had a winner. I was his last chance. I’d watch as he measured, jigsawed, power-sanded, graphited, smoothed, carved and crafted “my” car. Sometimes he let me sand the car – but only on the back or the bottom.

My mom would call down, “John! He’s supposed to be building it!”

My dad would call up, “He is! He’s sanding it right now!”

I also got to help ensure the car was the proper weight. Each car was supposed to weigh 5 ounces. Dad would drill holes in the bottom of the car and fill the holes with molten lead. We got the molten lead by melting fishing weights with a propane torch. Dad let me hold the torch.

Dad worked hard on those cars. And, year after year, our cars failed to take home the gold.

My final race came when I was 10. This was Dad’s last chance, too. I watched Dad putting the finishing touches on “our” car. It was about 10:30, the night before the race. The phone rang.

Dad said, “What? Oh, hello, Christian.” Christian was a kid in our Cub Scout den. “Well, why didn’t you call last week?”

Dad hung up. “Christian needs a car.”

Dad went to pick up Christian and his hunk of pine. Christian sat beside me while Dad did what he could. He’d spent weeks making my car, he had mere hours to build Christian’s. My dad rounded the edges with his knife, touched the wood with the sander, and let Christian apply a coat of paint. Dad slapped the wheels on without adjusting or balancing them.

Well, you guessed it. Dad had his winner. Christian’s hastily carved, barely sanded, poorly painted car won the whole competition.

My car didn’t even place.

You may think the moral of this story is, “If you leave things to the last minute, you’ll probably win the whole race,” but that is not the moral. In fact, it’s not even moral time because that isn’t the end of the story.

I grew up. I had a son. He joined the Cub Scouts. In January, hunks of pine were handed out. My son stared at that piece of wood, dreaming of how his car would look, how he would cut it. …

And I remembered how much, when I was a kid, I’d wanted to make my own Pinewood Derby car.

I said to my son, “Let me help you with that.” And I cut and I sawed and I sanded and I chiseled and I painted and I balanced and graphited – and you know what? We won second place.

I got home from the race and called my dad. “See? You should have let me build my own cars. You might’a won!”

So, kids, wrestle that block of wood from your dad’s hand and do it yourself. But don’t be selfish. He really wants to help. Maybe let him sand the bottom, or the back.

as seen in the Charleston Gazette (WV) 3/9/14

http://www.wvgazette.com/Life/Peoplelife/201403080097?page=1