Laugh Your Way to Lower Stress

Toss Out the Dictionary

Throw Out the Dictionary

Language is funny. And I don’t just mean those unusual words that all comedy writers know will elicit a smile or a giggle – words such as caddywumpus, pantaloons, spelunker, wenis, and zamboni. And if you imagine a spelunker in pantaloons riding a zamboni, just try not to crack up until you’re sitting caddywumpus on the floor.

Accidentally making up words is a favorite pastime of mine. For example, I once told someone their dog had the “swaggliest” tail. Clearly I meant “waggiest,” but some dogs’ tails hang in a drooping curve as they wag, so I think “swaggliest” is a fine addition to the English language. Much better than, say, “twerk,” which as far as I’m concerned means “throw you back out doing something stupid.”

I don’t consider myself a mis-speaker; I’m a language development leader.

In recent years, dictionary editors (those dusty folk with smudged John Lennon glasses and permanent scowls — or so I imagine them) have had to kowtow (another excellent and funny word) to the hoi polloi and accept such words as bling, bromance, chillax, d’oh, infomania, jeggings, and mankini. At the same time, other words that had been common have disappeared. What ever happened to malagrug (a dismal person), brabble (a noisy squabble over nothing), or supererogate (to do more than is expected or required)? I guess with the latter, there are so few people who fit the category, we substituted “slacker,” a word that means the opposite.

As a wordie myself (imagine a foodie, only with language instead of edibles), I have a list of words I’d like added to dictionaries everywhere. These include (I do have more):

  • Addendumb – Anyone who reads books from cover to cover, including the copyright registration and addendum in order to quell an abiding fear than they aren’t as smart as they let on.
  • Aprius – Any car stuck behind a Prius.
  • Bathematics – Quick calculations of how much weight wet hair adds before stepping on the bathroom scale.
  • Deppth – A thorough and complete understanding of the subtext of the movies of Johnny Depp.
  • Dispurrage — To demean and belittle all of humankind, especially those nearby, for not attending to your feline’s needs quickly enough.
  • Flingerie – Flannel lingerie; very popular in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Fobia – Phear of things that aren’t spelled like they sound.
  • Gendrification – The manner in which women will take over the world.
  • Gloatee – One who experiences euphoria upon realizing that yet another hipster trend has gone the way of the too-tight skinny jean.
  • Palindrone – A professor whose lectures sound the same forwards and backwards.
  • Schadenfriend – Someone who only likes you when your life is awful.
  • Silly string theory — The hypothesis that the universe consists of random acts of silliness connected by invisible strings that don’t stick to your clothes
  • Snee – An incomplete sneeze.
  • Zumbarrassment – The feeling that comes over anyone trying to follow Zumba moves for the first time.

Come on, dictionary peeps — let’s do this!

Third Time’s a Bitch

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As a comedy writer, the “rule of three” means you string together two normal things (say, 2 cups of flour and 1 tsp. of baking soda) and then add an unexpected third one (e.g., 1 gallon of tequila) and voila, you have a template for writing one kind of joke (or making one really delicious, albeit runny, cake).

As a human being, however, whenever something happens to me three times in a row, I’m fairly certain the universe is trying to tell me something. Unfortunately, I think I accidentally donated my universal decoder ring to Goodwill last week, so I’m struggling to figure out today’s turn of events.

Before I tell the story, it’s important that you know that when I walk my three dachshunds, one is on a flexi-lead, while the other two are attached to a belt around my waist on bungee leashes that extend to 6-feet fully stretched.

Thing1: While walking the dogs along the river today, I heard the sound of geese flying near, so I turned around to look. Three geese were flying at eye level to me, straight at me. I semi-panicked, but I figured if I swerved, I’d swerve right into a goose because my self-defense instincts are always off by about 30 degrees. About 6 feet before the eventual collision I was predicting, one goose — let’s call him Gary — suddenly veered left. I have never been so close to a wild animal in flight and it was awesome.

But if Gary had flown straight into my head, I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this blog. I’d probably be in a hospital trying to remember my name while my doxies roamed around the park begging strangers for handouts.

Thing2: Still on the walk. The dogs are thrilled that the squirrels are out in full force. We’re running here and running there to smell the trunks of trees that the much faster and smarter squirrels have run up before we arrived. At one point, I’m looking west, when suddenly Katja — the most squirrel-obsessed and also the strongest — pulls me due north. She is attached to my waist so even though she’s small, she can yank me off course easily.

I immediately spot a Doug fir tree coming at me at dachshund miles per hour. I barely avoid running into it, head first.

Already, I thinking, I should wear a helmet from now on.

Thing3: Finally home and mostly in one piece, I am unhooking the dogs from their seatbelts, which are attached to their leashes. I get Murray out, then Katja, but when I try to grab Sanders, his bungee leash seems to be stuck between the seat and the car door on the opposite side. So, being a real “hindsight is 20/20” kind of girl, I yank on the bungee, it frees itself and smacks me right in the face. The metal clip causes my bottom lip to swell up like I’m a Kardashian.

So, the question is, with two near-misses and and one direct strike to my head all in the course of an hour, what is it the universe would like me to know? Am I supposed to let my brain rest? Learn new and different cursewords? Avoid ever leaving the house? Go back to the park and ask Gary?

Come on universe, make yourself clear. But please don’t give me a concussion in the process.

Don’t Try This at Home

http _cdn.thefunnybeaver.com_wp-content_uploads_2017_08_gym-wontquitLike many Americans, every time the new year rolls around I semi-commit to getting more exercise than I did in the previous 12 months. Long ago, my resolutions were specific and detailed, e.g.: “I will run 20 miles a week and try not to sweat on the people in my office when I’m done, especially if they’re eating lunch.” These days, I don’t have resolutions; I have musings, such as: “Maybe I could hula-hoop between phone calls. Or I could just eat a handful of almonds. Protein is important for muscle development, right?”

Once upon a time, I was athletic. I owned three gold Spandex unitards and matching headbands and I am NOT ashamed! But even then I never enjoyed going to a gym. My idea of a fun time does not involve using damp equipment and listening to men grunt loudly. It’s seems that to some guys, grunting is a courtship ritual. They look around a room full of potential sweaty mates, clang their free weights together, and release deep vocalizations in the direction of the ones they desire. When it comes to flirting, I much prefer the frigate bird’s display of his red throat sac or the whooping crane’s leaping, dancing, and flinging objects across a meadow. Perhaps this explains why I don’t date.

Fortunately we don’t have to leave our houses to get all the exercise we need. So many pieces of home exercise equipment, so little time to put them together and then sell them a month later on Craigslist! Some of the exercise “devices” I have tried in the past include:

  • The Ab Roller, a small wheel with handles that was meant to flatten your stomach, but was more effective at leveling out dirt before laying down sod. My main problem with this device is that even when I had abs like a washboard (today, I have abs like a dashboard – soft and padded, with a built-in airbag), I could roll forward on the wheel, but once fully elongated, I could not roll back. So I would usually just collapse, face-down, whimpering, onto the floor and one or more wiener dogs would jump on my back. And you thought goat yoga was difficult.
  • The Thighmaster. For those of you who don’t remember, this was a padded, spring-loaded, device that you were supposed to squeeze between your thighs to build muscle, just in case you might need to crack open walnuts while stranded on a desert island without a nutcracker. Sidebar: It was also great at shooting full force across the room at random intervals and occasionally destroying the kneecaps of passersby. Sometimes you can still find one of these weapons of minor destruction at a thrift store, but the cashier will make you sign a liability release form before you plunk down your $1.99.
  • I’m embarrassed to admit that I once owned a Super Glide Slide. This piece of “equipment” consisted of a 6-ft. long plastic mat and some shoe covers (think those footies nurses wear in operating rooms). The goal was to slide in your shoe covers from side to side, kind of like an Olympic speed skater. Despite giggling the whole time I used it, I never got any real exercise, but I did build up high amounts of static electricity. When I’d finish a “workout,” my hair was so big I looked like I had put my head in a cotton candy machine and turned it up to turbo-boost.

Fortunately, I haven’t fallen for every ridiculous fitness device that ever hit the market. For example, I never tried one of those belts that zap your abs with electricity. I don’t know about you, but tazing my belly seems like more of a form of torture than a way to get rock-hard abs (which, by the way, my dogs would HATE).

Recently, I’ve avoided buying the Treadmill Bike (a street bike that you “pedal” by walking on a treadmill. I’d need to update my will before ever street-testing it. Last, but definitely not least when it comes to exercise equipment that is better for a laugh than a workout, there’s the iGallop Horseback Riding Core Builder Exercise Machine (here’s Ellen Degeneres demonstrating it; forward to 2:45). I’m certain it didn’t sell well because no one could type out the full name to order one. And with its side to side and bucking motions (there’s a saddlehorn-like handle in the front for you to hang on), it was too reminiscent of the mechanical bull that was popular in bars in the ‘80s. That’s what kept me from buying it – I met my second ex at a bar with a mechanical bull. I didn’t want to accidentally marry the guy who delivered the device to my house.

I think I’ll just stick to the tried-and-true way of getting exercise. I’ll laugh at everything and occasionally eat a handful of almonds (which, thankfully, I don’t have to crack with my flabby thighs).

screaming-womanLet’s face it – chances that you’ll break most, if not all, of your New Year’s resolutions by mid January are as high as chances that Donald Trump will lie in the next three minutes. This is likely because you always set the bar too high, promising once again to eat more kale (because you read on Facebook that kale will make you poop normally again), lose 417 lbs. by Valentine’s Day, and stop spending money on frivolous items such rent and electricity.

One of the best things that comes with getting older (besides no longer caring if my eyebrows have taken on a life of their own) is having a better understanding of who I am and what my limitations are. A few years ago (or perhaps decades, I can’t really remember), I started coming up with resolutions that I was likely to be able to stick to. I’m not ashamed to admit that I have the willpower of a dachshund with a cookie on her nose. In fact, not putting cookies on my nose was one of the first New Year’s resolutions I was able to keep for an entire year!

Now when I set goals for myself at the beginning of each year, my first question is, “Is this something I—someone who has created more new life forms on rotting vegetables in the back of her refrigerator than any genetic engineer and who has hung laundry from every piece of home exercise equipment ever sold in an infomercial—can reasonable achieve this year?” If you adopt this same strategy, I think you’ll be able to end 2019 on a high note, knowing that you were able to successful achieve your resolutions. In fact, I’ll share a few with you to get you started:

I resolve to:

  • Find more creative excuses for being late to parties;
  • Go to more parties;
  • Learn to curse in sign language;
  • Close the front door before calling politicians and yelling at them;
  • Stop eating stuff left behind at a restaurant by strangers at the next table even if it looks yummy;
  • Never send an e-mail before my third cup of coffee;
  • Stop texting anyone I’m in the same room with;
  • Wear comfortable shoes to my next protest march;
  • Quit lying to the dental hygienist about how often I floss my teeth;
  • Stop using straws and learn how to drink out of a cup (or get a sippy cup, in a pinch);
  • Not marry anyone (especially important if you are currently married);
  • Resist ordering products I see on TV that have the word “pajama” or “lazy” in them, even if they are for dogs, pigs or goats;
  • Put up curtains in that one window in the bedroom that faces the neighbors’ house;
  • Read more than just the comments section on Twitter;
  • Stop licking my paws after every meal. Oops, that one is for the dogs…
  • Work less, play more, make real time for real friends, savor what I eat, get more sleep, and be the most fun I ever had.

Okay, now you add your own. Just make sure to keep the bar low.

Measuring Up

43220898_10216907144049172_6846353860403920896_nAccording to a woman talking to her friend in line at the grocery store, there should be a space between my thighs when I stand up. A space? How big? I’m sure there’s a molecule separating my right and left thighs, but you can only see it under a high-intensity microscope like they use on CSI . This molecule is what keeps my legs from chirping like a cricket when I walk down the street. But there’s not enough space to say, watch a movie through. Or store a roll of paper towels. I’d say I’m not worried about this, but I am writing this column, so apparently they got to me.

There are all kinds of “experts” creating body rules women are supposed live up to. It seems that every month a new rule pops up on Facebook or in women’s magazines next to pictures of triple-layered chocolate cake and on reality make-over shows sandwiched in between commercials for pizza and cookies. No muffin tops! Beware of cankles! One chin is enough! Your bat wings should not be able to put your eye out in a windstorm! Is it any wonder we wear body-shapers and control top pantyhose and are still freaked out?

A friend recently informed me about the “Perfect Leg Test.” Thanks a lot, Dina. According to some people who obviously have too much spare time, there should be a four-inch difference between the circumference of a woman’s ankle and her calf, and a seven-inch difference between her calf and thigh. Great, now we not only have to worry about measuring up, we also have to remember geometry from the tenth grade. Is the circumference of my thigh pi r2 or 2 x the diameter? Or is it e=mc2? Other than my tenuous grasp of high school math, there are a few other problems: (a) I don’t know where the measuring tape is, (b) I’d have to shave my legs to get an accurate measurement, and (c) I really don’t care. If worst comes to worse, I’ll just start wearing padded tube socks to make up the difference. And maybe get a tattoo of Euclid on my ankle just to be safe.

Then there’s the “Pencil Rule.” This rule states that for every pencil, there is an equal and opposite pencil. No, no, no. It’s much simpler: basically, we women are supposed to put a pencil under each breast and if it stays there, we need a bra. I don’t know what the rule is if all you can find are Highlighters or carrot sticks. Men don’t have a Pencil Rule even though I’ve seen a few who could use a good man bra – they could hide a six-pack under their boobs and no one would be the wiser.

Just so we don’t start feeling too adequate, now there are also ads telling us we may have inadequate eyelashes. Inadequate for what? Swatting away crickets? I’m not sure if there’s a home test you can do to find out if you’re meet the criteria, but if you can’t stir a breeze by blinking quickly, you probably need to take drastic measures now.

Speaking of eyes, there is also something I like to call the “Cyclops Test” that lets you determine whether your eyes are too close together. To take this test, you’re supposed to picture a third eye between the two you have (if you already have a third eye, I’m sure there’s another test for that). If there’s not room for a third eye on your face, studies show you could be mistaken for a weasel or other nocturnal narrow-eyed creature. I’m not sure what you’re supposed to do if you fail this test; I’ve heard of having your eyelids lifted, but is there something that lifts and separates the eyes themselves? Or are we supposed to apply eyeliner out to our ears to give the appearance of “normal” looking peepers? Me, I wear mirrored sunglasses 95% of the time anyway so no one can tell where my eyes are. I’m no dummy, despite my inability to recall the difference between diameter and circumference.

If you can possibly focus those too-closely-set eyes of yours, there’s the “Halo Test.”  With this test you’re supposed to stand in front of a mirror, turn off all the lights, and focus a flashlight down on the top of your head. If you appear to have a halo, you have split ends. Or you’re an angel; if so, disregard all these tests.

If you’re like me and your thighs touch, your arms flap on a windy day and you don’t have the eyelashes of a muskrat, you have one of two choices: you can spend your life feeling inadequate or you can use the “Guy Test.” That’s where you look in the mirror every morning and declare yourself perfect. Now that’s a test we can all pass.

I have friends (really, I do!) who own one of those voice-activated helpers that allow you to dim the lights, order vegan sushi or remember the lyrics to that annoying song you’ve been humming since 1987 but have never known the words to.

Apparently, some people think having a computer assist them with daily chores is great, but I’m skeptical (about everything, really). Here are just a few of my concerns:

  • The device would be just another thing I’d have to dust. Okay, to be honest, another thing I’d think about dusting for months, while praying for a strong breeze to blow through the house.
  • I’m afraid that the machine might surreptitiously keep track of how many times I go to the pantry for a snack during the day and then secretly send a report to my doctor AND my dentist.
  • The dogs would be freaked out if every time, I yelled, “Dinner time!” some other woman said, “There are fifteen restaurants in a 5-mile radius.”
  • Or, the dogs would like Siri or Alexa more than they like me. I will not have them cheating on me with a computer! Those are my kisses! Come back here!
  • If the Russians can hack our elections, who’s to say they can’t hack our home computers? What if I asked the machine to wake me up to the sounds of orca calls in the rain, but instead it played the Anthem of the Soviet Union, also known as “We Own Most of Your Politicians Now”? I don’t know about you, but that wouldn’t set a good tone for my day.
  • I’m already not as smart as my German dishwasher. Just the other day it beat me at chess (although I did win a game of hopscotch). I don’t want another appliance with an IQ higher than mine. My self-esteem can’t take it.
  • There is a distinct possibility all devices with a computer chip could communicate with each other while we’re not looking. For example, my computer could tell Alexa that I’ve been tweeting for four hours straight, so she could set off the fire alarm to make sure I get some exercise. And of course my FitBit would count my steps and send them to the refrigerator, which could decide whether or not to unlock and let me have a snack.
  • Apparently, many of my fears involve my inability to obtain snacks.
  • What if I woke up in the middle of the night and found my fax machine printing out page after page, despite the fact that it hasn’t worked since I bought it? How would I ever fall asleep again? The fax is coming from inside the house!
  • I do not want anything keeping track of how many times I got to the bathroom and suggesting I try Depends.
  • This one may be unique to me, but I’m fairly certain I would argue with Siri and then have to get Google involved to prove my point. I don’t have time for that. I’m busy trying to save democracy.
  • My friend Jennifer keeps offering/threatening to buy me one of those MedicAlert buttons, not because she thinks I’m feeble, but because she keeps finding me perched on the top rung of a ladder trying to scoop leaves out of my gutter. What if I fall and press my button and Alexa decides she can handle it herself, so she cancels the ambulance and shows me YouTube videos about proper gutter cleaning instead?
  • Something more about snacks and my inability to have them when I want.

Yep, I’ve got lots of concerns. I’ve decided that if I need a helper around here, I’ll get another dachshund — but this time, one who has been trained to fetch stuff and dim the lights.


ImageBeer, vegan cheese, soup… what’s not to love, right? Not the way I made it two days ago. To help you avoiding wasting good ingredients and ending up with a sticky mess, I’ll share my recipe for disaster.

1.  Find recipe for soup and check fridge and cupboard for ingredients. Beer? Check. Sure, those three bottles have been in my refrigerator since 2013, but it’s still beer. Vegan cheese? Check. It’s not cheddar as called for in the recipe, but I’m sure pepper jack and nutritional yeast will work just fine, right? Everything is better with nutritional yeast. Flour? Got it. Dried mustard? Now they tell me. I do have some honey mustard in the fridge. Vegetable stock? Damn, I forgot to buy that last time I was at Everything We Sell is Wrapped in Plastic But We Still Pretend to Be a Healthy Place for Groceries (aka, Trader Joe’s). I’ll just add more beer.

2.  Follow recipe, using substitutions as necessary.

3.  Accidentally dump in 1/2 cup of flour instead of 1/4 cup. Try to scoop it out, but it’s wet, so leave most of it. The good news is, it’s self-rising flour, so maybe it will rise above the soup when it’s done.

4.  Stir everything together in pot on high heat because my 1965 GE stove has to start off on high in order to get going (kind of like it’s owner).

5.  Answer phone . Chat with friend for 5 minutes before realizing pot is still on high. Turn down heat and note that half of the mixture has already burnt to the bottom of the pan. That explains the smell, which is good because at least it’s not a stroke, which was my first thought.

6.  Talk for another 35 minutes about why men suck, occasionally stirring soup, which seems to go through three phases: too thin, nice and thick, and too thin with lumps that appear to be some kind of nutritional yeast dumplings.

7.  Hang up phone. Get 35-year-old hand-mixer out in an attempt to smooth out cheese lumps. Consider doing same to cellulite on thighs.

8.  Taste soup. Maybe despite being semi-burnt and lumpy, it will still be palatable because beer.

9.  Pour soup out.

10.  Spend 10 minutes washing cheese/yeast off beaters and scrubbing burnt goo from bottom of pan.

11.  Drink amaretto sour because beer is now all gone. Snack on remaining vegan pepper jack cheese and call it good.

12.  Serving size: One. You don’t want anyone else exposed to this mess.