The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Joke: Programming

Jesus and Satan have an argument as to who is the better programmer. This goes on for a few hours until they agree to hold a contest with God as the judge.

They set themselves before their computers and begin. They type furiously for several hours, lines of code streaming up the screen.

Seconds before the end of the competition, a bolt of lightning strikes, taking out the electricity. Moments later, the power is restored, and God announces that the contest is over. He asks Satan to show what he has come up with.

Satan is visibly upset, and cries, "I have nothing! I lost it all when the power went out."

"Very well, then," says God, "let us see if Jesus fared any better."

Jesus enters a command, and the screen comes to life in vivid display, the voices of an angelic choir pour forth from the speakers.

Satan is astonished. He stutters, "But how?! I lost everything, yet Jesus' program is intact! How did he do it?"

God chuckles, "Jesus saves."

Submitted by reader S.P.

Humor: Worst Opening Lines

The Edward Bulwar Lytton prize is awarded every year to the author of the worst possible opening line of a book. This has been so successful that Penguin now publishes five books' worth of entries.

Some recent winners:

  • "As a scientist, Throckmorton knew that if he were ever to break wind in the sound chamber he would never hear the end of it."
  • "Just beyond the Narrows the river widens."
  • "With a curvaceous figure that Venus would have envied, a tanned, unblemished oval face framed with lustrous thick brown hair, deep azure-blue eyes fringed with long black lashes, perfect teeth that vied for competition, and a small straight nose, Marilee had a beauty that defied description."
  • "Andre, a simple peasant, had only one thing on his mind as he crept along the east wall: 'Andre creep...Andre creep...Andre creep.'"
  • "Stanislaus Smedley, a man always on the cutting edge of narcissism, was about to give his body and soul to a back-alley sex-change surgeon-to become the woman he loved."
  • "Although Sarah had an abnormal fear of mice, it did not keep her from seeking out a living at a local pet store."
  • "Stanley looked quite bored and somewhat detached, but then penguins often do."
  • "Like an overripe beefsteak tomato rimmed with cottage cheese, the corpulent remains of Santa Claus lay dead on the hotel floor."
  • "Mike Hardware was the kind of private eye who didn't know the meaning of the word 'fear,' a man who could laugh in the face of danger and spit in the eye of death—in short, a moron with suicidal tendencies."

And the worst line of all:

  • "The sun oozed over the horizon, shoved aside darkness, crept along the greensward, and, with sickly fingers, pushed through the castle window, revealing the pillaged princess, hand at throat, crown asunder, gaping in frenzied horror at the sated, sodden amphibian lying beside her, disbelieving the magnitude of the frog's deception, screaming madly, 'You lied!'"

Submitted by reader J.H.

Joke: Lawyers at Lunch

Two attorneys went into a diner and ordered two drinks. Then they produced sandwiches from their briefcases and started to eat. The owner became quite concerned and marched over and told them, "You can't eat your own sandwiches in here!"

The attorneys looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders, and then exchanged sandwiches.

Submitted by reader C.K.

Joke: Duck Hunting

Five doctors went duck hunting one day. Included in the group were a general practicioner, a pediatrician, a psychiatrist, a surgeon and a pathologist. After a time, a bird flew overhead.

The GP reacted first. He raised his shotgun, but then hesitated. "I'm not quite sure it's a duck," he said, "I think I should get a second opinion." Of course by that time, the bird was long gone.

Another bird appeared in the sky thereafter. This time, the pediatrician drew a bead on it. He too, however, was unsure if it was really a duck in his sights and besides, it might have babies. "I'll have to do some more investigations," he muttered, as the creature made good its escape.

Next to spy a bird flying was the sharp-eyed psychiatrist. Shotgun shouldered, he was more certain of his intended prey's identity. "Now, I know it's a duck, but does it know it's a duck?" The fortunate bird disappeared while the fellow wrestled with this dilemma.

Finally, a fourth fowl sped past and this time the surgeon's weapon pointed skywards. BOOM!! The surgeon lowered his smoking gun and turned nonchalantly to the pathologist beside him. "Go see if that was a duck, will you?"

Submitted by reader B.O.

Antigone Rising at the Bitter End

Note: This article was linted on 14 July 2013. It originally ran 10 July 1998.

Antigone Rising after Bryant Park A couple of friends called up on June 1st because Sarah McLachlan was playing Bryant Park that evening for free. We got there a little later than I expected, so as we shuffled slowly through the crowd, McLachlan's first opening band started. We couldn't see them; we didn't know their name ( Antigone Rising ); but we heard them quite well. By the time McLachlan thanked them we had actually squeezed out a postage-stamp sized patch of grass half a mile from the stage.

Within a week two thirds of us had copies of their debut CD, She's Gone a Little Mad , and I began digging through the Internet to find out when they would play again. I found them just two blocks away last night when they played at The Bitter End on Bleecker Street.

An hour before the performance the line stretched dangerously close to Terra Blues, so close that Terra Blues' bouncers threatened us with garden hoses to get us to stop blocking their entrance. As it turned out, I waited in line with a group of rhythm guitarist Kristen Henderson's friends, who during the performance sang along with the band and seemed to know every song within the first three chords. They weren't the only ones. The house seemed packed with the Antigone Rising Fan Club, and their enthusiasm infected everyone else.

Cathy HendersonThe fans seemed perplexed by the group's setup at first. Only Henderson, her sister (lead guitarist Cathy Henderson), and newly-recruited lead singer Agona Hardison took the stage, leaving bass guitarist Teri Avella and singer Suzanne Obolsky sipping beer back in the house. Kristen explained that because the stage set for them at Lilith Fair (they perform Thursday July 16th [1998] at 3:30pm on the Levi's Village Stage) is "a cinder block" has no room for their drums or amps, they decided to go all-acoustic, and I were the guinea pigs for the "new" sound.

That means we didn't hear Avella at all, and Obolsky stepped up only for Kristen's "Bitter Song," just to remind everyone why she's vital to the group's sound. Obolsky's voice blended perfectly with Kristen Henderson's, even if her outfit did not. That's not a criticism, by the way; even Kristen made fun of her for coming straight from her day job.

What about their music? Antigone Rising reminds us of Indigo Girls, but more melodic, and less angry. They're probably sick of the comparison, but their music owes a lot to Amy Ray and Emily Saliers: listen to the echoing vocal lines and flowing parallel thirds on Cathy's "Lonely Tonight," for example.

It's refreshing when a local band masters concepts like three-part harmony and 6/8 time and outstanding when they bring it all together with perfectly-blended voices and competent playing. They're not writing fugues, but few bands ever do, and just as few ever master the more esoteric elements of harmony and voice-leading that for now are just over Antigone Rising's horizons. But it's unfair to compare Antigone Rising to an average garage band, because they're way beyond being a garage band.

Just listen to Kristen's "Someone Said." Most weekend bands have trouble counting to four, but here's a group with an alternating 5/4-6/8 groove that fits the angst-filled lyrics perfectly. Kristen's writing has a slightly different sound than her sister's, balancing it, giving the group the kind of depth required to go all the way. She's the George of the group, if you will. (Fortunately they don't have a Ringo: all of Antigone Rising have bona-fide talent.)

And listen to former lead singer Penelope Kokines and Cathy's "Turn to Me," which opens their CD. Great energy, great hook ("Have we been here far too long now?/Don't you tell me that we're wrong/Turn around...turn to me"). I realize after ten seconds that the group should get something more than a $7 cover at a local bar. They should get something that starts with a C and rhymes with Contract.

Sure, they have some bits that don't quite work, but so did Sarah McLachlan on her first album. They're not professionals, they just love performing. The music will improve as the band keep playing together. Bands either grow in complexity and musicality or they disappear, and Antigone Rising seems positioned squarely in the first camp. It's easy to hear why McLachlan tagged them for her June 1st performance, and why I will eagerly wait for Antigone Rising's next gig.

Photographs Copyright ©1998 Antigone Rising. Used by permission.

Puns: the Japanese Banking Crisis

According to inside contacts, the Japanese banking crisis shows no signs of ameliorating. If anything, it's getting worse.

Following last week's news that Origami Bank had folded, we are hearing that Sumo Bank has gone belly up and Bonsai Bank plans to cut back some of its branches. Karaoke Bank is up for sale and is going for a song. Business at the First Bank of Hiroshima has completely bombed, and the Okinawa Bank remains an island unto itself.

Meanwhile, shares in Kamikaze Bank have nose-dived and 500 back-office staff at Karate Bank got the chop. Analysts report that there is something fishy going on at Sushi Bank and staff there fear they may get a raw deal.

The Kyoto Bank remains, as always, the garden spot.

Submitted by reader C.K.

Letter: to Bill Gates

The following is probably apocryphal, but so what?

At a recent computer expo (COMDEX), Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated: "If General Motors had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving twenty-five dollar cars that got 1000 miles to the gallon."

In response to Gates' comments, GM's Bill Welch issued a press release in reply, saying,

If GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics:

  1. For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash twice a day.
  2. Every time they repainted the lines on the road, you would have to buy a new car.
  3. Occasionally, your car would die on the freeway for no reason, and you would just accept this, restart, and drive on.
  4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, requiring you to reinstall the engine.
  5. Only one person at a time could use the car, unless you bought "Car95" or "CarNT." But then you would have to buy more seats.
  6. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, reliable, five times as fast, and twice as easy to drive, but would only run on five percent of the roads.
  7. The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights would be replaced by a single "general car fault" warning light.
  8. New seats would force everyone to have the same size butt.
  9. The airbag system would ask "Are you sure?" before deploying.
  10. Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key, and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.
  11. GM would require all car buyers to also purchase a deluxe set of Rand McNally road maps (now a GM subsidiary), even though they neither need them nor want them. Attempting to delete this option would immediately cause the car's performance to diminish by 50% or more. Moreover, GM would become a target for investigation by the Justice Department.
  12. Every time GM introduced a new model, car buyers would have to learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as they did in the older car.
  13. You'd press the "start" button to shut off the engine.

Submitted by reader D.C.

Joke: the Love Doctor

A doctor had the reputation of helping couples increase the joy in their sex life, but always promised not to take a case if he felt he could not help them.

The Browns came to see the doctor, and he gave them thorough physical exams, psychological exams, and various tests. He then concluded, "Yes, I am happy to say that I believe I can help you. On your way home from my office stop at the grocery store and buy some grapes and some doughnuts. Go home, take off your clothes, and you, sir, roll the grapes across the floor until you make a bulls eye in your wife's love canal. Then on hands and knees you must crawl to her like a leopard and retrieve the grape using only your tongue."

"Then next, ma'am, you must take the doughnuts and from across the room, toss them at your husband until you make a ringer around his love pole. Then like a lioness, you must crawl to him and consume the doughnut."

The couple went home and their sex life became more and more wonderful.

They told their friends, Mr. & Mrs. Green, that they should see the good doctor. The doctor greeted the Greens and said he would not take the case unless he felt that he could help them; so he conducted the physical exams and the same battery of tests.

Then he told the Greens the bad news. "I cannot help you, so I will not take your money. I believe your sex life is as good as it will ever be. I cannot help."

The Greens pleaded with him, and said, "You helped our friends the Browns, now please, please help us."

"Well, all right," the doctor said. "On your way home from the office, stop at the grocery store and buy some apples and a box of Cheerios..."

Submitted by reader S.S.

Fiction: Breakthrus

Couldn't think of anything to name their band, so they were driving him crazy. Maybe they could've found the answer in some poem, or a passage from A Separate Peace—But no, nothing inspired them. The twins were always bothering him like that, way back in the dark closet part of his mind. Only really like themselves, they arrived shortly after his tenth birthday. His room moved downstairs into Dad's old den, and the cribs took over.

Came home from school to them standing up in their playpen. Clinging to white, net walls smiling at him. Later mesmerized, watching "Sesame Street." If he talked about dissecting frogs in bio lab, they started screaming. Thinking he meant Kermit or something.

Fifteen years later somehow became musicians, virtual sound artists, then founders of a nouveau punk band. Brought on by his old college roommate, teaching them some chords. Their music spread all over the house, like the dishwasher overflowing again.

Warm water up to his ankles, Mom yelling, and the two up in their fortress jamming away. One on drums, the other with guitar. Left him speechless now. Walking upstairs thinking they were really starting to sound pretty decent.

Ten years before, he was sneaking into see shows at this club called the Channel down by Fort Point. They keep pleading, but he still wouldn't take them along to see bands. Always left the two behind. Big disappointment for the twins, especially when it was a band they really liked.

His high school music efforts stretched into college, but eventually just faded away.

Those past connections often startle him like running into Adele at Osco Drug; there she was in a short, short mini skirt. Hands shoved way down in the front of a leather, motorcycle jacket, and legs bare down to the ankle boots. A black bag swung low around, hitting her butt.

Guess she'd never known he was alive. During one high school summer while stocking Osco's shelves, Adele drifted in with the football player boyfriend to buy condoms. With long, stiff-sprayed hair and too much makeup on, carrying a pinwheel. They bought the kind wrapped up like little, gold coins.

No longer a cheerleader stereotype Adele did this total 360, singing lead for one of Boston's most beloved power-pop bands. Spinning around she took off her sunglasses. Two pigtails, similar to what she wore back in Mrs. Flaherty's first grade class. Tampons, PC World, and assorted other items in her blue plastic basket. "We just got back. From touring I mean." Adele tipped her head, "You know we're on this label now. Finally getting some radio play too. Still really blows my mind!" Just noticing how her voice had changed from being so high and screechy. Then she said, "Tonight's kind of a homecoming for us." Doesn't say a word back to her. But she smiled again anyway, then in this swirly motion replaced the sunglasses, "You should like—Stop by."

Could tell the twins really wanted to go. On a break from band practice, parking themselves in front of the TV, and at his not answering them; they shrug in unison. Both look so alike, it really bothers him. Most annoying though, is they're having his same eyes, giving their relation all away. Haven't even had their first ratty pay checks yet, like his at Osco. Actually wondering if the perfectly-messy, brown hair mops, or striped tee shirts set them apart? Self-proclaimed jail birds of their generation, and he's thinking they're too young to know any better. One won't take off the leather string necklace his girlfriend gave him, and he hasn't even fucked her yet. Some girl who was on their flowered sofa smelling of bubble gum, and reading a copy of The History of Rock and Roll. She lapsed into giggles at the one twin running over; cradling cans of Dr. Pepper and a bag of chips. Quietly left the room, hearing only sucking sounds behind him.

Looking up now the twins ask him, yet again, "You got any ideas for our name?"

Turns away picking up his keys to leave. "How about 'The Young Ones'?" Dim memories back to when he was fifteen, up late doing homework on Sunday nights, watching the offbeat Brit comedy on MTV. Peripherally he sees them shrugging again.

On Saturdays he drives around to yard sales and flea markets looking for old furniture to tear apart. Materials for his own designs. The older and stronger, usually the better. Sometimes one or both of his siblings will come along. Practically in stereo they demand, "How was their set?"

Nights later the twins meet Adele at this "all ages" show. They wait for her to leave, to give her this little tape they've made themselves. Doesn't even know they're his brothers. Kisses the two thinking they're so cute and psyched. She offers to buy them sodas at a cyber cafe across the street, and the twins show her how to cruise the World Wide Web. And afterwards they wave to the newsstand guy, before catching the last commuter train home.

Downstairs in the cellar he's trying to focus, working on his furniture sculptures. Pieces he carves from the scavenges. Everyday his thoughts and actions creating them, draining every bit of energy. Didn't think it was enough of a rush until he felt the sweat trickles down his back.

Whooping shouts upstairs, and he stops hammering. In the kitchen they celebrate their first break with peanut butter and fluff sandwiches. Mom makes them promise not to play gigs on Sundays or school nights.

Now he gets stuck driving them back and forth to shows. This place's still a dive complete with the semi-surreal scene near the pool table; bothering him because he can't remember the old name. Adele wanders over. She kisses him real quick. Feels brave, already buzzed from drinking a pint of Bass ale at an Irish pub down the street. Her voice has this purposely low and sexy tone, "I love your goatee. It's so Gen X."

"But there's no such thing." Falters at her stare back. "I mean isn't it a whole marketing thing? You know getting us to buy expensive cars, new soft drinks or clear beer."

"Whoa—" His eyes follow her white arm pointing now. They really look like any other band hitting the stage. Lots of energy. Jumping up and down, pretty loud their sound drowning out the place. In front kids start to sway then dive. One after each other. Crowd becoming this moving sculpture of its own to each tune. The twins smile on stage, in their professional, performing mode. The two more in synch with each other, than the rest of the guys but it doesn't seem to matter. Large, green, marker-drawn X's on their hands; denoting them as minors and banning them from drinking. Ever alert and punchy, they work the audience kicking ass, having fun.

Afterwards the band pounces over, and Adele shouts out, "Alex! Eddie!"

"Hey thanks!" Talking so fast their words blend together, "For giving our tape to the manager." She hugs them quick and hi-fives the rest of the guys. They're pretty happy about the first pay check, "Yeah we got enough money now like for a pizza and some sodas."

"Cool." Adele smiles with sincerity, signaling a bunch of people across the room. Tonight she seems beyond friendly. Keeps talking to the kids about their set, and introducing them around, "Hey c'mere you've got to meet these guys!" Whenever he catches her eye, she gazes right back at him.

Kind of nervous but then remembers, "Guess I have to take them back."

The twins run to pack up their equipment. "They're really going someplace," she comments. "Yeah 'cause they're already so grounded." A fuzzy, pink-lace bra strap falls down. Adele doesn't seem to notice though. "Hey—Can I keep you company?"

"Sure." He looks down, "And I'll drive you back." Later en route to the suburbs he tries to get a word in, "Do you guys want to stop for a pizza?" No one answers him though. The twins keep Adele busy, firing off questions about her band's new CD.

At home they smile climbing out, and she calls after them leaning out of the minivan, "You guys're the coolest!"

Walking up the driveway the two wave back. "Thanks again! See ya 'round." He stumbles replacing the key in the ignition. Adele sits back against the seat now, hands adjusting her pigtails.

This apartment reminds him of a college girlfriend. Lots of scarves draped over lamps. Clothes and books everywhere. A large Nagel poster framed on the wall. Forgets to tell her it's one of his favorites.

Later he sees the clock, and hears her breathing. Really short, quick breaths in sleep.

Careful sliding out from under the sheets not to wake her. Back at his house, the twins glare in plaid pouring cranberry juice. Mom never dressed them alike, but she went through a phase when he was little. There were lots of blue, velvet suits with frilly shirts for special occasions.

They greet him with a chorus of, "Hey wha d'cha think?"

Somehow his head doesn't stop for a second. "What?" They cease talking together. Reaches for the bottle of aspirin, which's empty. He thought doing Adele would make it all better, but now everything's worse. Feeling older than ever seeing them so pumped. His hands start to shake.

Only one continues, "You know—Our set last night?"

Not answering; keeps searching the cabinets to find anything for this hangover. The other twin plays with his leather necklace a little, "We like want your opinion."

"Yeah," his mirror image agrees. "You know because you're like our brother and everything."

"I didn't think—" Finds some Tylenol in another drawer, but it never works for his headaches. Over his shoulder sighs back, "I didn't think anything." Pushes some tablets down, and one twin hands him a glass of juice. "Not yet."

Automatically the two shrug at each other. "Hey," their voices rise together. "That's it!" Starts to laugh swallowing the rest of the juice. Ruby droplet spray all over his tee shirt.

And the twins, they are still smiling.

Copyright ©1995 Dena Barisano

Poem: Late goodbye

"Got here early.
You know me, how I take the bus down...
Down from Long Island Shelter.
Let me tell you, that place's bad news.
I got to get outta there."

The roaches
they run for cover.
My usual struggle
to force the copy machine's door
back on again,
while she talks about her boyfriend.
And how he's picked up.

So there's a smile, "Well it's Friday.
"You made it through another week."
But really,
just can't think of anything better to say.

"You know that's right."
Keeps shaking her head,
"'Cause you know me. And how I take the bus down."
Yeah," she practically vows.
"Me, I won't pick up."
With those keys wrapped around her waist:
they're from A.A. and N.A.

Another routine part of my day.
A roach crawls into someone's coffee mug.
Over the phone - She sounds
well, out of breath.
"Me it's my leg. Can't you tell them it's my leg?
And I won't be in. Today or the rest of the week."

Happens so fast
don't even think
to say good-bye.
The roaches
they retreat for a little while.
There's always one crisis
after another and takes a few weeks for me to ask,
"Where's Latasha?"

"Sit down," they say. "Sit.
Latasha's picked up.
There isn't much time now you know.
She hasn't got much time."

Yeah, time.
No late good-byes.

April 1997, Winthrop, Mass.

Copyright ©1997 Dena Barisano