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A Resource by Mark D. Roberts

Links & Laughs

by Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts

Copyright © 2004 by Mark D. Roberts

Note: You may download this resource at no cost, for personal use or for use in a Christian ministry, as long as you are not publishing it for sale. All I ask is that you give credit where credit is due. For all other uses, please contact me at . Thank you.

Note: Many of the links below are to news stories that are no longer active. So sometimes you'll get dead links. Sorry.

Table of Contents
Volume 1: Ice Fishing and a Snake in the Theatre
Volume 2: Government Gone Wild with Cow Chips and Mispellings
Volume 3: Bolsinger, Stage Fright, and "Big Food"
Volume 4: Rob Asghar, Godzilla, and Traffic Might Kill You
Volume 5: Practical Christian Living and Potty Talk
Volume 6: More Godzilla and Potty Talk
Volume 7: Blog: The Forrest Gump of Literature
Volume 8: Wacky Warning Labels, Part 2
Volume 9: From the Ridiculous to the Sublime
Volume 10: Sometimes I Just Don't Get It

Links & Laughs
Posted at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, October 1, 2004

Happy October! This is one of my favorite months of the year (especially when I lived in New England). Today you’ll get some links and laughs. I’ll get back to “Christian Inclusiveness” in a couple of days.

Mark Daniels of Better Living laments the presidential debate format and suggests an alternative.

Mark Sides of Sidesspot adds a challenging piece on “With a continual lust for more.”

No. I am not partial to bloggers named Mark, unless they're good.

Prolific author and church-researcher, George Barna, argues that children should be the church’s top priority. See this review of his book at

The three Los Angeles County Supervisors who voted to remove the cross from the county seal (see my series) have been sued by a consortium of people, who claim an anti-religious bias in the Board of Supervisors. So if the Supervisors made the change to avoid being sued by the ACLU, now they’re just plain stuck.

My daughter and some of her friends at a pumpkin patch -- an October tradition.

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord George L. Carey, has gone on record criticizing the Los Angeles Episcopal Diocese for suing the three congregations that have left the diocese to join the Anglican Church in Uganda. According to Lord Carey, "There's room, therefore, for understanding and generosity without going to the law." Amen to that! I had suggested such a thing in my series on the matter. (No, there’s no evidence to suggest that Lord Carey had read my series. Perhaps it would be safer to say that biblically-informed minds think alike, at least sometimes.)

News Flash: Last Thursday a Wisconsin state appeals court ruled that it is illegal to drive drunk on frozen lakes. Presumably it isn’t advisable to drive drunk on non-frozen lakes too, but the court overlooked this piece of wisdom. Perhaps they realized that only drunk drivers would attempt to drive on liquid lakes. The appeals court ruling, seemingly innocuous, might have a devastating impact on the winter ice fishing trade. Since most so-called “ice fishers” are sitting in their little shacks doing you know what . . . not catching fish, of course, but drinking beer.

My fellow pastor Steve Wright suggests a great resource on the church, a series of downloadable lectures by N.T. Wright. I haven't listened to these yet, but Wright is always worth hearing. He's a top notch scholar as well as a fine pastor. Check out the recommendation at Steve's website, Porch Pondering. (Don't you love that name?)

Finally, a movie theatre in Houston, Texas was forced to close because of reports of a large snake in their complex. Was the snake sneaking in to see the recent thriller (well, sort of) Anacondas, which was showing at the theatre? Maybe theatres should think twice before showing Godzilla next time. You wouldn't really want one of those running around in the corridors.

Too bad the court didn't rule before this driver attempted the lake.
No amount of legal advice will help these guys, I'm afraid.
So you're supposed to spend the whole day out in this shack fishing? And that's fun? It's easy to see why they drink beer.


Links & Laughs, Volume 2
Posted at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, October 8, 2004

My blog faithful seemed to like last Friday’s “Links & Laughs,” so I’ll put up Volume 2. If you’re new to my website, let me explain that I usually do my heavy lifting during the week, with lighter duty on the weekend. (Doesn’t “putting up” suggest a weightiness metaphor?) So my series on “Christian Inclusiveness” will continue, on Monday, I expect. (I also reserve the right to interrupt myself if needed.)

Mark Sides of Sidesspot has blogged on the need for Christians to treat one another with love even when disagreeing about matters of theology. A helpful reminder, and in some cases a badly-needed rebuke!

It’s too bad that the Reverend Curtis Lucas hadn’t read Mark Sides’s post when he decided to bite a police officer during a traffic stop. Yeow! But, Rev. Lucas seemed to recover his loving attitude later on. In a letter of apology read in his legal hearing, the Reverend said, “If I had to repeat the events of that evening, I would just have signed the ticked.” Ah, how sensible! It looks like Rev. Lucas learned his lesson.

Dr. Al Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and inveterate blogger, has put up a very helpful review of a very helpful book by Robert A. J. Gagnon and Dan O. Via, Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views. Though I have not yet read this book, I’m familiar with the scholarly work of both authors. Gagnon is the best on homosexuality, and Via is a highly regarded scholar among those who study the New Testament academically. Mohler calls this book “a landmark achievement in the church’s debate over homosexuality.” He believes it should be “mandatory reading for every thinking Christian.” Okay, on Al Mohler’s recommendation, and because I have top regard for Robert Gagnon’s work, I just went to Amazon and ordered this book (really!). You should do it too.

Some time ago I blogged about cell phones in church . . . I hate them! Now some churches in Mexico have a solution: electronic jamming! Using technology developed by Israeli military experts, these churches are prohibiting members from receiving cell phone calls during worship services. Now that’s a solution! Of course it is illegal in the United States, so we’re still stuck with shame and scolding as our only options.

All worship leaders should check out the helpful article at the Worship Leader magazine website: “Modesty Matters” by Natalie Murray. A timely word, especially for women, but also for men.

In the “I hate it when that happens” category, Oklahoma tourism officials have recalled their latest publicity brochure. It seems the brochure had potentially offensive pictures, such as photos of civil war re-enactments under the Confederate flag and of a cow-chip throwing contest. The new state tourism director explained, “Images are powerful. They have to be selected with caution.” Ah, yes, good point. Too bad the former tourism director didn’t think of this before Oklahoma spent $46,000 for the brochures. Plus, there were numerous grammatical and spelling errors in the brochure.
A contestant choosing the perfect cow chip.
James Pratt, the proud winner of the contest. What form!

Speaking of spelling errors, the city council of Livermore, California is in a mess of trouble concerning a $40,000 mural recently unveiled outside of the new city library. This mural, which depicts famous figures throughout history, unfortunately misspells some of their names. Messrs. Shakespere and Eistein must be roaling ovur in they’re graives. The city council voted to put up another $6,000 to get the artist to fix her work. (Isn’t there some sort of money-back guarantee on these things??) The artist, however, is ticked off that she has to make the corrections. She said: “The importance of this work is that it is supposed to unite people. They are denigrating my work and the purpose of this work . . . . The people that are into humanities, and are into Blake’s concept of enlightenment, they are not looking at the words. In their mind the words register correctly.” Oh-kay, if you say so. The artist better hurry out to Livermore to give a seminar on Blake’s concept of enlightenment.

No, there's no truth to the rumor that Dan Quayle, archetypal misspeller, had anything to do with this project.


A late breaking story. She isn’t coming. Either to fix her work or to teach the seminar I suggested. She says, “No, I will not return to Livermore for any reason. There seems to be so much hatred with certain people. They continuously look for a scapegoat. I guess I am the sacrificial goat.” Or maybe sacrafishul gote, if you look at this from a Blakian point of view.

I’ve got an idea for the Livermore city council. Look closely on the mural for anything that looks like a Christian cross, even if it’s tiny. Then you can take out the whole mural and start again.

Maybe the guy who did the Oklahoma tourism brochure was a disciple of William Blake. I don’t know what Blake would have thought of cow-chip throwing contests, however.


Links & Laughs, Volume 3
Posted at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, October 22, 2004

As you may know, I am one of the “blog-children” of Hugh Hewitt. Not only did Hugh inspire this blog, but he rather pummeled me into submission to get me to do it (with his logic, of course, not his fists). Well, I have my own first “pummelee.” My friend, fellow pastor, and fellow writer, Tod Bolsinger has just started a blog. I’ve been bugging him about this for months, because Tod has lots of worthwhile things to say, and I’ve felt sure that he’d be a great blogger. If you visit his new site, It Takes a Church, you’ll quickly see that I was right. Tod is a creative thinker and communicator, whether in speaking or in writing. His current series on “stability as a spiritual discipline” is fresh and engaging. Don’t miss it.

Here's a brief excerpt from "Blessed Are Those Who Stay Put":

Over the next few posts I want to take up this idea of stability as a spiritual discipline and a key to the life that God wants for us. Amidst all of the reasons to believe that Christian community is important, perhaps we have never really considered that our hanging out would please God.

Tod's blog borrows the name of his book, It Takes a Church to Raise a Christian. This is an outstanding book on the church. Highly recommended!

Now that we’ve survived the presidential debates, pundits are once again “debating the debates.” Some are suggesting that this format for discussion just isn’t working. Maria Parra, candidate for Congress in Indiana, would surely agree. Recently, in the middle of her only debate with her opponent, Ms. Parra walked off the set. It turns out that she was struggling with stage fright. I expect that most people can sympathize with her struggle, because the fear of speaking in front of groups is one of the most common of all fears. Yet understanding may not translate into votes for Ms. Parra, I’m afraid. Even she recognizes this. According to the news story, “Parra acknowledged that backing out would hurt her politically, but said she hoped people would understand.” Yep, given the fact that we expect our congressional representatives to make speeches in front of people, I expect that Parra’s recent episode won’t help her political career. I hope she keeps her day job.

I want to close with a couple of “big food” stories. The first comes from Singapore, where Ezra Nicholas recently set a world record by stuffing more than three McDonald’s hamburgers into his mouth, without swallowing. The previous record holder had only managed to get three burgers in his mouth at one time. Nicholas was exultant over his record: “I just thought to myself, I’ve got to do this, I’ve got to do this,” he said. “I’m on top of the world right now, because everyone’s going to know that I can shove more than three burgers in my mouth.” Doesn’t this bring tears to your eyes? Parents, as you envision a great future for your children, don’t forget about the mouth stuffing category. And when I think of all those times my mother told me not to take such big bites. I’m afraid she has deprived me of glory. But, maybe with practice, I can at least manage to jam my mouth with two burgers at once. It’s worth a try, anyway.
Ezra Nicholas conquering the unconquerable.


In the “big food” category comes a story from Suffolk, England, where a family recently grew an apple that weighed two-and-a-half pounds, measuring 18 inches around. The giant fruit was a Bramley apple, a variety grown only in Britain and generally regarded as great for apple pies. The proud growers of the huge apple were the members of the Corston family, who faithfully fertilized their apple tree with manure from a next-door farm. Six-year old Jamie Corston hopes to eat the apple in the form of two apple pies.
Six-year old Jamie Corston tackles "the big apple."


Links & Laughs, Volume 4
Posted at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, November 12, 2004

New Link Worth Checking Out

I’m pleased to announce that Rob Asghar now has a website. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll recognize Rob’s name. He has a new blog he’s calling “Dime Store Guru: News, Views, Reviews & Refuse.” Rob is a lively writer and creative thinker. I expect very little refuse on this site! Part of what makes Rob’s voice so distinctive is the fact that he is a thoughtful, articulate, Democrat, former Muslim evangelical Christian. His opinions, even if you disagree with them, are well-formed and expressed. His voice adds greatly to the blogosphere.


When I was growing up, the local television station would run Japanese monster movies in the evening, showing the same film for five nights in a row. I’d try to catch as many as possible. Godzilla and his friends (Rodan, Mothra, etc.) became my childhood friends.

When my son Nathan was about six years old, I was pleased to introduce him to Godzilla, not the recent PG-13 version, but the classic, 1956, black and white version starring Raymond Burr (yes!). Nathan quickly shared my fascination with the giant lizard, which delighted me no end. But, that night in our Saturday evening worship service, my delight turned to embarrassment. Our worship leader invited members of the congregation to pray out loud, praising God for his holiness. Several worshipers prayed appropriately reverent prayers. But then Nathan yelled out, “Thank you, Jesus, that I could see the Godzilla movie today!” Not exactly what the worship leader had in mind, or what Nathan’s dad had expected.

I was reminded of this episode in my pastoral and parental life by a news story that caught my eye recently: “Balloon Ushers in Monster Conference.” It turns out that Kansas University hosted a three-day academic conference last month, focusing on the meaning of Godzilla. The occasion was the 50th anniversary of the release of the first Godzilla film. (It was the Japanese version, called Gojira. The American version with Raymond Burr came out in 1956.)Why this conference? According to University of Kansas history professor Bill Tsutsui, "A subject doesn't have to be dry and boring to be enlightening and instructive. Godzilla is good fun." Amen to that, say I! Scholars came from all over the country to this conference, from schools such as Duke, Vanderbilt, and Harvard. (Maybe I should up my contribution to the alumni association.) With so many university professors studying such silly things these days, at least Kansas University is on the right track.
Godzilla on top of Liberty Hall in Lawrence, Kansas. The monster is visiting the academic conference called "In Godzilla's Footsteps."

Of course scholars often go to great lengths to prove the obvious. Take, for example, a recently released study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. A group of doctors in Germany, having examined 691 subjects, came to the following conclusion: “Transient exposure to traffic may increase the risk of myocardial infarction in susceptible persons.” Translated into ordinary English: “If you’re caught in bad traffic, your odds of a heart attack increase.” Now I don’t know about you, but I find this conclusion utterly, completely obvious. When I’m stuck in a traffic jam, I can feel my blood pressure rise and my heart pound.

But, in defense of the German scholars, they did discover some surprising correlations. Not only are you more likely to have a heart attack if you’re driving a car in traffic, but the same is true if you’re riding a bike or even riding on a bus! In fact, you’re even more likely to have a heart attack if your bus or your bike is caught in traffic than if you’re driving. This suggests, according to the doctors, that the real problem may not be stress, but the effect of pollution on the cardio-vascular system. So, who knows?

If you really want to have a heart attack while driving, consider negotiating the streets of Toyko or New York City while Godzilla is on the prowl. That will get you for sure.


Godzilla pays a visit to Tokyo in the 1954 original film, Gojira.

The foot of Godzilla, making driving in New York a bit difficult. From the 1998 film.

Links & Laughs, Volume 5: Practical Christian Living and Potty Talk
Posted at 10:30 p.m. on Friday, November 19, 2004

Great Links: How Should We Live?

Three of my favorite bloggers are dealing with more or less the same issue, but from quite different and fascinating perspectives. The issue: How should we live in today’s world as Christians? What does it mean, not just to play church, but really to live as disciples of Jesus Christ?

Mark Sides of Sidesspot in an attorney in Minnesota. He has put up an honest, probing post called “Challenges I Face in My Walk.” Mark isn’t suggesting easy answers, or even answers at all. He’s asking tough, crucial, timely questions.

Tod Bolsinger of It Takes a Church has been running a series on what I would call “practical Christianity.” But Tod’s answers are the not standard ones. Plus he has a great way of putting things. Where else are you going to find a Presbyterian pastor talking about “The Ricardos, The Mertzes, and Pie.”

Craig Williams  of Table Talk approaches the question of how we should live as Christians from an ethical perspective. His comments on Christian morality are timely and shouldn’t be missed.

  Fred and Ethel Mertz, in real life William Frawley and Vivian Vance. The bad news is that Frawley and Vance really couldn’t stand each other. The good news is that they were great actors who didn’t show their true feelings. See the recent book called Meet the Mertzes.

Potty Talk

Okay, okay. I know my mother told me never to use “potty talk.” But I simply can’t resist. The headlines have forced me to it: “World Toilet Summit Begins in China.” Truly. No joke. Over 150 scholars, designers, and engineers from around the world gathered in Beijing this week to talk about, well, toilets. Now that’s some serious potty talk.

The conference is sponsored by the World Toilet Organization. Until recently, I must confess, I didn’t know there was a World Toilet Organization. So I decided to check out their website. I figured I had much to learn about toilets.

The first thing that struck me about the WTO website that it was cool: well-designed, with lots of helpful information. It was easy to find lots of information about the World Toilet Summit. I downloaded the program for the summit, where I found some fascinating lectures and workshops, including:
Chinese bathroom shaped like a lady bug
Urinals with video screens for each user

The Toilet Culture of Japan (Comment: Did you know Japan had a toilet culture?)

Start Up a Toilet Association (Comment: A great project for your kids this summer when they get bored with lemonade stands.)

Generating Revenue Through Advertisements in Good Toilets (Comment: Whatever you do, never advertise in bad toilets.)

How Loo of the Year Awards Translate Good Toilets as Marketing Tools for their Owners (Comment: I wonder how I can enter my toilet for next year’s award? Maybe a new church growth strategy for 2005? I can see the headline now: "Irvine Pres Wins Loo of the Year Award.")

The Humanized Toilet (Comment: Sounds rather Frankensteinian to me. Do you really want a "humanized" toilet living in your house?)

Designing Out Crime in Toilets (Comment: What’s the crime? Leaving the seat up after you’re done? In fact a new story today has the headline -- New Crime Grips Alabama: Potty Tipping. Obviously they need to do some new designing in that state.)

The Human Product Interface Design of the Facilities in Public Toilets (Comment: Interface? Are you sure you want to interface with a toilet? Don't we need a better verb for toilet-human interaction?)

Toilets as Tourism Attraction (Comment: Now that’ll get ‘em to your resort. Especially if your bathrooms look like lady bugs.)

Hey, come to think of it, I know of a California hotel that draws visitors because of its toilets. Really. (Yes, I know, only in California!) The Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo is famous for its picturesque urinals, one of which looks like a cave. It even has a waterfall. Bet they don’t have that in your state!

I actually had one of my own greatest bathroom shocks in this very place. While using the facilities, a mixed-gender tour began to enter the bathroom. No lie! When I yelled they graciously waited until I was done to finish the tour.

Speaking of toilets and tourists, I had another shock this past summer in the Frankfurt airport. As I went in a restroom to use the facilities, I was stunned to see a familiar logo on the clean white toilet: Villeroy & Boch.
Why was this shocking to me? Because I’d always associated this company with fine china and stoneware. In fact my wife and I have a set of Villeroy & Boch’s Petite Fleur pattern. I had always thought of this as something special. But now I know that our plates are related to toilets in Germany. Go figure! I’ll just have to forget this next time we pull out the Petite Fleur.


Volume 6: More Godzilla and Potty Talk
Posted at 10:00 p.m. on Friday, December 3, 2004

Links Worth a Look

A church in Sunnyvale, California stirred things up with a church sign that read, “Why I Am Not a Muslim?” The preacher was a former Muslim who converted to Christianity.

A British hotel chain is trying to right historic Christmas wrongs by offering a free night’s stay to couples named Mary and Joseph. I wonder if they get an extra night if the woman is quite pregnant.

Like it or not, you've got to admit it will draw attention.


  In a recent Links and Laughs (Vol. 4) I went on and on about my love for Godzilla. Now I’ve learned that I’m not alone in my admiration for this great beast. Godzilla recently won his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (I hope he was well behaved for the presentation. Chomping on cars or people instantly invalidates one’s personal star. I must admit that I'm not very impressed by the picture to the left. I had always thought Godzilla was much bigger. But, you know how when you grow up things you thought were huge turn out to be normal sized. Oh well.)

The Global Language Monitor has weighed in on the top ten PC word list for 2004. The winners include: “non same sex marriage” used in place of “marriage” during the political primaries so as not to offend gay people; “insurgents” for “terrorists” in Iraq; “first year student” instead of “freshman” for college fresh. . . , oops, first year students. I wonder if they've tried "freshpeople."

As you probably know, Target has prohibited the Salvation Army from collecting money for the poor outside of its stores this year. So no bell ringing and red kettles for Target shoppers. This is a sad situation, to be sure. But you may not know that the Salvation Army has some pretty big kettles in its arsenal. Check out the kettle to the upper right, for example, which lives in Houston, Texas. So I have a plan. Why doesn’t somebody get that big ol’ kettle and simply park it outside of some Target store, as close to the entrance as possible? Then let’s just see what happens.

A real kettle (above). My plan (below).

As some of you might recall, in my last Links & Laughs I indulged in a bit of potty talk. Now, if you’ll forgive me, I need to add to the story.

  It seems that a recent poll of 500 leaders in the arts ranked a piece called “Fountain” by the French surrealist Marcel Duchamp as the most influential piece of modern art (yes, more influential than any work of Picasso, Warhol, and others). But, if the truth be told, “Fountain” is really just a urinal. No kidding. (Duchamp's masterpiece lives in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. I wonder if my recent essay on potty talk might win some award for modern composition? I should probably enter it soon.)

Also my last post mentioned that someone in Alabama was tipping over Portapotties. Well, it turns out that this criminal is still on the loose, having tipped over 50 potties so far. The police in Dothan, Alabama are hot on the tail, uh, ur, trail of the Mad Potty Tipper.

  I did a bit of web-surfing in an effort to help out the police. I suggest they may want to check out the following potential suspects. These people look pretty suspicious to me.  

If the truth be told, when I was about 13, some friends and I tipped over a potty at a construction site. But, having completed the dastardly deed, we were so scared that we ran away and never returned to admire our handiwork. (I haven't been anywhere near Alabama recently, just in case you're wondering.)


Blog: The Forest Gump of Literature
Part 7 in the series “Links and Laughs”
Posted at 9:45 p.m. on Friday, January 7, 2005

Note: If you’re a relatively new reader of my blog, I should explain that usually I do my “heavy lifting” blogging during the week, with lighter duty on the weekends. It seems like the right time for some laughter and inspiration. So, I’ll get back to my “All Things New” series early next week.

I’m sure you remember the unforgettable character of Forrest Gump, star of the Winston Groom novel and Oscar-winning film. Part of what made his life so fascinating was that kept on showing up in the oddest places, an unwitting participant in some of history’s classic moments.

Well, the same is true of Hugh Hewitt’s new book, Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation That’s Changing Your World. In photographs appearing all over the Internet, Hugh’s book has found itself in some mighty surprising places (and so has Hugh’s face, come to think of it).

Of course it’s also possible that some of these pictures were doctored, part of the “Where in the Blog is Hugh’s Book” contest sponsored by

Okay, okay, I admit it. All of the pictures of Blog are a part of that contest, including the picture I submitted. In total, there were 325 pictures submitted, including one of mine. The honorable judges have narrowed these down to ten finalists. From these, mouse-clicking voters in the blogosphere will determine the winner. (My picture, I must confess, did not make it to the finals. And, though I like what I produced, I must concede to the wisdom of the judges.)

There is one major problem with this contest, however. Given the richness and diversity of the entries, a single grand prize is inadequate. There really should be different categories of prizes, rather like the Rose Parade floats. One grand prize just doesn’t cut it. So, to make up for the deficits of RadioBlogger’s contest, I have decided to give my own categorical prizes.

Here are the entries I believe deserve some sort of prize, along with the prize I believe they should win.


Winner of the Sigmund Freud Prize for Best Visual Representation of Hugh's Alter Ego


Winner of the "Doh!" Prize for Best Representation of Typical Reader of Blog, with Honorable Mention for Excellence in Cartoon Art


Winner of the Steve McQueen Prize for Best Representation of the Monstrous Nature of Blog, with Honorable Mention for Excellence in Movie Poster Art and Honorable Mention for Clever Play on Words

Ken Lay


Winner of the Andres Serrano Prize for the Best Use of Funds from the National Endowment of the Arts


Winner of the Ronald Galella Prize for the Best Use of an Actual Photograph of Hugh Hewitt in his Backyard

Connor the Great


Winner of the Dan Rather Prize for the Best Use of an Undoctored Photograph Which, Even If It Turns Out to Be Fake, Nevertheless Truthfully Captures the Essential Nature of Dan Rather's Relationship to Blog

Kyle Butler


Winner of the Robert Reich Prize for the Best Use of Religious Symbolism

Tim Luke


Winner of the Billy Barty Award for the Best Use of Blog as a Stool

The Headboard


Winner of the Howard Dean Prize for the Best Visual Representation of the Impact of Blog on the Democratic Party

Pete Lepetsos


Winner of the Other Howard Dean Prize for the Most Enthusiastic Endorsement of Blog by a Politician

To hear the enthusiasm, click here. Be sure to listen all the way to the end of the clip to hear the part that the news media tried to cover up!


Winner of the Howard Stern Prize for the Best Use of a Potty; Honorable Mention for Excellence in Photoshop


Winner of the Laura Bush Award for Getting the President to Read a Book; Honorable Mention for Excellence in Photoshop

Don Parsley


Winner of the Thomas Alva Edison Award for Best Picture of a Famous Inventor Reading Blog; Honorable Mention for Excellence in Finding a Great Picture from which to Fictionalize


Winner of the David Allen White Prize for the Best Use of an Actual Image of a Real Historical Document; Honorable Mention for Adequate Use of Photoshop by Someone Who Really Doesn't Know What in the Heck He's Doing


Sweepstakes Winner!

For Excellence on Many Levels, including: Esoteric References to Hugh's Show; Credible Use of Hugh's Face; Exceptional Use of Photoshop; Overall Believability

Note: You may or may not know that Hugh loves the movie The Last of the Mohicans, and that he uses a clip from the soundtrack as regular bumper music for his program. To hear the clip, click here. Sound familiar?


Wacky Warning Labels, Part 2
Part 8 in the series “Links and Laughs”
Posted at 9:45 p.m. on Saturday, January 8, 2005

A year ago at about this time I put up a post on the results of the Wacky Warning Label Contest. Well, friends, it’s that time of year again. The Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch has once again given out awards for the wackiest warning labels.

This year’s winner appears on a flushable toilet brush. The label reads: “Do not use for personal hygiene.” Now there a good rule of thumb in general, don’t you think? Never use toilet brushes for personal hygiene.

The second place winner was a scooter with a warning label: “This product moves when used.” Third place went to a label on a digital thermometer: “Once used rectally, the thermometer should not be used orally.” Again, lots of wisdom there. Fourth place went to an electric hand blender with the warning: “Never remove food or other items from the blades while the product is operating.” The fifth place winner was a 9 by 3 inch plastic bag of air, used for packing material, the label of which said, “Do not use this product as a toy, pillow, or flotation device.” Perhaps they should have added, “Unless you’re Stuart Little.”


Radio personality Dick Purtan displays the winning toilet brush

Unfortunately, the good people at the Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch don't give the brand name of the flushable toilet brush, in case you want to experiment with one. But I did a little web surfing and came up with a fantastic option. In fact, you just have to check out the flash movie at this website. It's well worth the click. Great sound effects too!

I may want to enter next year’s contest, because I’ve got quite a winner on my hands. For Christmas I received a cute little beanbag Golden Retriever. It’s called a “Pupper-weight,” which I suppose is meant to reveal its proper use as a paper weight.

This particular item was produced by The Toy Works in Middle Falls, New York. That’s what the label on the Pupper-weight clearly says. Nothing unusual about the label so far. But if you turn the label over, you find the clear warning: “THIS IS NOT A TOY.” One side, “The Toy Works;” other side, “THIS IS NOT A TOY.” Huh?  

Well, enough blogging for today. I think I’m going to go take a nice bath and, while I’m at it, dry my hair with my wife’s blowdryer.


From the Ridiculous to the Sublime
Part 9 in the series “Links and Laughs”
Posted for Sunday, May 29, 2005

The Ridiculous

The Chocolate Candy Diet. As someone who has to watch his calories and as a big chocolate lover, I was struck with wonder and premature joy at the sight of the following headline: "Introducing the chocolate candy diet . . ." According to Reuters, North Korea has announced the invention of a candy that is actually good for children. It is supposed to improve their physical stature and their intellect, without any negative side effects. That's the good news. Here's the bad news. This "candy" isn't made out of chocolate, but rather of seaweed, beans, carrots, and sesame seeds. Now I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound like candy to me. It reminds me of a really funky salad bar. Call it candy if you wish, but I can't exactly see children flocking to eat it, or me either, for that matter. Oh well

On His Way to a Darwin Award. The Darwin Awards are given posthumously to people who kill themselves through their own stupidity. A recent news story focused on a man who is well on his way to winning one of these coveted awards (well, not really coveted). "Chucky" Hernandez walked into a New York City police station to check on his friend "Guns" Gavin who had been arrested. A watchful detective, thinking that Chucky looked familiar, recognized him as the man whose "wanted" photo was hanging up on the wall of the police station. So, needless to say, Chucky was arrested. At least he may be safe from himself in jail.

The Sublime

Tod Bolsinger of "It Takes a Church" has been putting up an excellent series of blog posts on church conflict. Check out his blog category "Church Musings," beginning with his May 16 post, "Whose Church Is It Anyway?"

Mark Daniels of "Better Living" has written an outstanding series on one of the toughest challenges for faith: "When Tragedy Hits the Innocent." It comes in four parts, all of which are listed with links here.

A couple of weeks ago I shared my personal reflections on the death of Julie, a beloved friend, and a wife and mother of two small children. At her memorial service her husband Tony spoke. His tribute to his wife was one of the most profound and moving things I have ever heard at any memorial service (and, as a pastor, I've been to quite a few, as you can well imagine). Steve Norris at "Thy Grace is Sufficient" has printed the text of Tony's statement. It's rather long, but quite touching, profound, and inspiring.

Sometimes I Just Don't Get It
Volume 10 of the series "Links and Laughs"
Posted for Sunday, June 5, 2005

Warning! This blog post is not especially edifying. But it does testify to the fact that sometimes fact is stranger than fiction. So, just when you thought things couldn't get any stranger . . .

For the most part I find our multi-cultural world fascinating. At times I find things about other cultures to be rather odd. But for the most part I enjoy cultural differences.

Every now and then, however, I just don't get something about another culture. Try as I may, I can't figure it out. I had one of these "I just don't get it" experiences today as I was scanning the AP newswire. The following headline caught my eye: "Restaurant Serves Food in Toilet Bowls." So I checked out the story. Here's my quick summary. (You can find the complete story here.)

A restaurant in Kaohsiung, Taiwan has decided to go with a bathroom theme. That's right, a bathroom theme. The place is decorated as if it were a giant bathroom. Food is served in miniature toilets. Diners sit on toilet-shaped seats in front of sink-like tables. And the place is called "Marton," which is a variety of the Chinese word for bathroom.

All of this sounds bizarre. But here's the kicker. Business is booming. Owner Eric Wang has recently opened his second Marton, and it seems that more might be on the way. Wang is realistic about his future prospects, however. He's aware that toilet-shaped plates alone won't keep customers coming back. After the curiosity faces, he explains, we have to hold on to customers with upgraded food and services.

Okay, so here's my confession: I don't get it. I can imagine wanting to look at this restaurant if I were in town. I can even envision taking a picture or two. But eating there? Not high on my list.

I am curious, though, about one thing. I want to know what the bathrooms in Marton look like. If they look like a normal restaurant, with stalls that look like diner booths, etc., then I give Eric Wang an extra five points for creativity. I still don't plan to eat at Marton if I'm ever in town, but I may check out the facilities.

See, didn't I say that fact is sometimes stranger than fiction!

The bottom three pictures are from the AP newswire.