Author Archives: Tippy Gnu

Who The Hell Am I?

Let’s play a game called Who The Hell Am I? In this game, you get 10 clues to guess the name of a famous person. These clues are numbered countdown-style, 10 to 1, with the first clue numbered 10. Your score is determined by the highest numbered clue that evokes the correct answer.

At the end of the list you can click a link for the answer. However this link is numbered zero, so if you haven’t figured out the answer by the time you click it, you get no points. For as they say, cheaters never prosper.

And by the way, No Googling!

Note: The final clue provides the real name. But your task is to guess the name for which this person was commonly known.

10: I’m celebrating my 140th birthday next Wednesday, January 29th. Please send your cards and gifts (preferably cash) to Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.

9: I was called a great actor by my confreres, yet none of the bastards ever nominated me for an Oscar.

8: My wife’s name was Harriet. We separated after 7 years of bad luck, but never divorced. When I died, we had been married for 46 years.

7: I’ve written screenplays under the pseudonyms Charles Bogle, Otis Criblecoblis, and Mahatma Kane Jeeves.

6: I died of cirrhosis of the liver on Christmas Day, 1946. I always hated Christmas.

5: I spent the last 13 years of my life dallying with a young actress named Carlotta Monti.

4: I was a world class juggler, and could juggle most everything, including as many as six tennis balls at a time. But sadly, I could never juggle my income taxes.

3: I’m reputed to hate dogs and children. But that’s not true. If broiled and seasoned properly, they are delicious.

2: I was once engaged in a running feud with a wooden puppet named Charlie. It gives me slivers every time I remember it.

1: I have a hypocoristic stage name. My birth name is William Claude Dukenfield.

0: For the correct answer, click this link.

Following Up On A Slithery Friend Question

Today, Cranky Pants needed help, and asked us for our wise advice. And we all pitched in for her. Thank you very much, I knew I could count on you! 🙂

It appears Cranky has tackled her issue, using the advice she received today. Here’s a message she sent me, to follow up:

Hey Tippy,

Hubby and I talked two nights ago about it. He finally saw that this was not a situation where people pleasing was good. For that I’m grateful. He hates confrontations but sometimes they are necessary. I don’t like them either, but the relief they bring after is worth it. Most of the time. So I felt free to confront her.

I messaged said customer and told her that while I was sorry she was having a hard time, that I needed her to either keep her appointments or at very least let me know when she wasn’t coming. I told her that it happens with her often and that it causes a lot of stress. Not to mention I’m spending my time waiting for her and missing out on getting things done that I need to do.

Her response: I’m sorry.

I was thinking inside it’s what I always hear, and that’s not enough anymore. Actions speak louder than words. I did not say this to her.

Fast forward to yesterday after the confrontation. She said she’d come on her way to work. She worked at 2:30 pm. I said great. See you then.

So she must have thought I expected her sooner. Around 1 pm she messages me and tells me she’s leaving now. I appreciated that. Her trip should take no more than 20 mins. from where she was coming.

An hour in she gets her. I’m frustrated and feeling sick with my own health at the time.  But at least she comes and I can get the exchange over with.

In the exchange, she owed me two dollars. Two dollars is nothing to me but, given the circumstances it’s the principle of it. I didn’t ask for it or mention it at all. I wanted to see if she’d step up.
She did not.

I’m letting it go as you’ve got to pick your battles.

So here’s where I’m leaving things. If she does want to buy from us again, fine. If she’s doesn’t stick with the boundaries I’ve set now, then I will no longer sell to her.

Thank you so much all you wise readers of Tippy the wise for all the suggestions you passed along. I loved reading every one of them.

If you ever have a problem, Tippy‘s blog is the one to ask. It will be solved! I promise. It’s better than Google!

Thank you Tippy for letting me use your blog and draw from it’s wisdom.

You’re the best!
A less Cranky CrankyPants

A Slithery Friend Question

One of my followers, named Cranky Pants, is feeling especially cranky these days. Cranky Pants says she has a “friend” who runs a snake feeding business. This “friend” also has a friend who is taking advantage of her lenient policies in the manner in which she runs her snake feeding business.

She wants to know what my readers would do if they were Cranky Pants’ “friend”.

You’ve come to the right place, Cranky Pants. Every time I make a decision, I ask myself the WWRD question. That is, What Would my Readers Do?

My readers have served as a cynosure for me. A guiding lamp post. An exemplum of wise and proper conduct, like a spinning compass in a souvenir shop full of refrigerator magnets. WWRD, indeed.

And so, I present the question to you my readers. Please read it carefully and provide some sound, or at least sententious, advice to Cranky Pants. Like the rest of us, she really needs help.

Hey Tippy,
I have a question for you. Asking for a friend of course…

I have this friend who runs a business called Fat Snakes Frozen Feeders. This friend has a customer that is driving her crazy. This customer will order and set a time to show up. Then said customer never shows up when she’s promised. She’s constantly standing my friend up. It happens every time she orders and numerous times during an order before she will finally show. There is no respect for my friends time at all.

My friend is completely stressed every time this customer orders because she knows it’s going to happen over and over.

Said customer will also contact late at night to order and by late I’m talking up to midnight.

My friend recently set business hours as a result of this customer and made customer aware of them so as to set some boundaries.

This customer only orders about $10 worth of stuff every few months so my friend really doesn’t need her business or the hassle that goes with it.

It is understood that this customer is going through some hell on earth but does that give her the right to treat a fellow business owner this way? My friend is inclined to not have her a as a customer anymore. What would you do? Or even… What would your readers do in this situation?
Tip of the Hat,
Crankypants

Status Rights

Dead Confederate soldiers. What the hell were these fools fighting for, anyway?


An age-old debate persists as to why the Civil War was fought. Some claim it was over slavery, while others argue it was over state’s rights.

I disagree with the slavery crowd. Most Confederate soldiers were poor white men who couldn’t afford slaves. Why in the hell would they want to take up arms to protect the property of rich plantation owners?

And slaves were competition to white workers. This was one of the more popular appeals made by the Abolition movement. Moral arguments about the cruelty of slavery were not nearly as persuasive to some white folks as was the competition argument.

Slaves worked for free. Therefore, they drove down wages and kept them low for white laborers. So it was in the economic interest of southern whites to end slavery, as this would help drive up wages and improve their employment opportunities.

And yet, white men donned the Confederate uniform and fought to break apart our nation.

So if the preservation of slavery wasn’t their motivation, they had to be fighting for state’s rights. Right?

Well, no, not in my view. After all, who the hell gives a damn about state’s rights? The issue of state’s rights is too wonky for ordinary people to give a shit about. Intellectuals in suits and ties might enjoy verbal jousting over this matter, while slurping down brandies, smoking cigars, and watching the burning embers of a fireplace die out. But I have never observed ordinary, non-political people making a case for state’s rights.

And I’ve never seen anyone pledge their allegiance to my state flag, or to any other. Nor have I ever heard of anyone proclaiming their willingness to lay down their life to protect the sovereignty of their state. It seems to me that nobody gives a flying fuck about their state. Well, except maybe a few Texans.

Who the hell in their right mind would take up arms to protect their state, of all goddamned things? If my state asked me to do this, I’d laugh myself to death. And no way in hell would I serve a cause like that.

So no, I strongly doubt that the Civil War was fought over something as eggheaded and wonkish as state’s rights.

But Confederate soldiers did fight hard and very bravely. Many fell in the battlefield for a cause that maybe they couldn’t quite put their finger on, yet believed in passionately.

My theory is that maybe they were fighting for state’s rights in name only. But in reality, deep in their guts, they were fighting not for state’s rights, but for status rights.

Southern whites during the antebellum days always had one thing going for them. No matter how low their fortunes might become, they could never sink down to the status of black slaves. No matter how piss-poor a white man could be, he could always look over at those slaves picking cotton and say to himself, “At least I’m not as bad off as those poor, miserable fuckers.”

So the thought that the slaves might shed their chains and become equals under the law to whites must have left many whites feeling shook up and irked. They were accustomed to guaranteed socioeconomic status at least one rung above blacks. And they wanted to keep it that way.

Those were the days when men fought duels to the death over insults. Pride and status meant everything, especially to southerners, where it seemed to be ingrained in their culture.

But even today status means a lot to people, and not just to southerners. Status is a basic human need. Your status in your community can help you to be trusted by others. Or distrusted. It can help you to maintain your livelihood. Or it may keep you from being employed. And it can keep you safe from those with vigilante mindsets. Or it can get you beaten to death in a dark parking lot.

People spend thousands of dollars for fancy cars, jewelry, and designer jeans, just to enhance their status. People brag and exaggerate for reasons of status. And sometimes they fight each other viciously and violently when their status is on the line.

Status is damned important to human beings.

When the Civil War ended, the black population of the South immediately rose in status. They could no longer be called slaves. They were no longer cemented to the bottom, as the lowest of the low. In fact, they now had a chance to rise up. Just imagine how insecure white people felt about this.

And so came the birth of the Ku Klux Klan, and other efforts to keep black people under the white people’s heel. The apartheid policies of Jim Crow were all about status. Keep the blacks backwardly educated, in poorly-funded schools. Keep them at the back of the bus. And make them enter public buildings through the back door. Make sure they, and everyone else knows, that their status is always at the back.

In my view, status rights was at the heart of the Civil War, and has also been at the heart of the Civil Rights movement. The racial tensions of the 50s and 60s were all about status. Rosa Parks sat at the front of the bus because she believed her true status was different from that prescribed by law.

The Civil Rights movement helped black people to immensely improve their status in society. And leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr and Barrack Obama have demonstrated the wisdom of accepting black people as equals to whites.

And yet, the black population still suffers from lower socioeconomic status. According to Pacific Standard magazine, “Blacks are nearly three times as likely to be poor as whites, and more than twice as likely to be unemployed. Compared to whites with the same qualifications, blacks remain less likely to be hired and more likely to earn lower wages, to be charged higher prices for consumer goods, to be excluded from housing in white neighborhoods, and to be denied mortgages or steered into the subprime mortgage market.”

It seems that since the heyday of the Civil Rights movement, racial discrimination has become more and more subtle, with carefully engineered deniability. It’s out of sight, yet it still continues. We know, because it’s all right there in the statistics.

So let’s change the debate about race a little. Let’s consider that the Civil War wasn’t really about slavery or state’s rights. When boiled down to its essence, I believe it was about status rights. And the race issues we face today, are also about status rights.

Therefore I will never be convinced that racial discrimination has ended, until one thing happens. Black people and white people must enjoy a similar socioeconomic status. Then, and only then, will I believe that Martin Luther King, Jr’s dream has come true.

Because only then will black people have completely overcome.

The Church of Ruth and Pancakes

Ruth, about a year before she died.

My mother-in-law, Ruth, died about three years ago.

Ruth was a tough-minded woman and an alumnus of the college of hard knocks. And she could be hard to please. She disliked all of her sons-in-law, as well as her daughter-in-law.

Except me. She and I had similar philosophies on life, and agreed with each other often enough to be agreeable with each other.

But that wasn’t why she liked me. She liked me because I worked for a living and took care of her daughter. Which was hard to do. I’m lazy and don’t like work, so like I say, she was hard to please.

Ruth was old-school. She saw a man’s place as one who brings home the bacon. She liked when women worked, too. But she especially enjoyed seeing a man bending his back.

Occasionally I would yawn and stretch in front of her, and mutter, “I’m tired.”

Her invariable reply was, “What the fuck do you have to be tired about? Get the hell off your lazy ass and do something!” She was half joking, but the other half was deadly serious.

She and I viewed the world through morose-colored glasses. She greeted the news of pregnancies with deep somberness, as if someone had died. But word of a death left her feeling elated, and eager to celebrate the blessed event.

Ruth cobbled together many wise sayings over the course of her long life, some stolen and some original. Every Sunday morning for over 20 years, my wife and I, and other members of my wife’s large family, would gather at my in-laws’ house. My father-in-law, Jake, would cook pancakes for us, while Ruth regaled us with her wisdom.

It was almost like being in church. Family gossip and other salacious news was tossed around the table, just like all that gossiping that goes on at places of worship.

Ruth would ponder over the table talk, then weigh in with her proverbs and preachments, often punctuated with four-letter imprecations, and mallet-mouthed maledictions. Her sermons were down-to-earth, salty, and as powerful as fire and brimstone. They hit home hard, sometimes to the chagrin of a pancake eater seated nearby.

One day I wrote a poem about her, and read it to her at church. Er, I mean at Sunday pancakes. She loved the verses, and requested that I read them at her funeral. It took eight years, because Ruth was slow to leave this world, but finally I was able to grant her request.

That was three years ago. Since that time, I’ve had the honor of sleeping in the same bedroom Ruth slept in for nearly three decades. In fact, it’s the same room she passed away in, and the same room I’m typing this post in.

She haunts me. In her loving but tough-minded way, her memory reminds me now and then to get off my lazy ass and stop napping. Do something. Take care of business. And cut out the bullshit.

Well if I’m going to be haunted, I think you should be too. So I’m unleashing Ruth’s spirit upon you. I’m sharing with you the poem I wrote for her, which I read at her funeral. I hope you like it, but keep in mind that it goes down better with an earful of gossip and mouthful of pancakes.

The Church of Ruth and Pancakes

The Church of Ruth and Pancakes
Holds service every week.
We congregate on Sundays
And find the things we seek.

We find many words of wisdom,
And a family reunion,
Where Deacon Jake fries pancakes
And serves them for Communion.

The sermon is a doozy,
With words of wisdom, long in tooth,
From a wizened, world-worn woman
Whom we call our Prophet Ruth.

Now listen up, and I will share
Some treasures from her mind.
If you heed these gems you will become
A little more refined:

“Never deal with a dummy,”
Prophet Ruth is prone to mime,
“My father warned me if you do,
“You’ll be screwed most every time.”

“I can smell a bum a mile away,”
She’s often proud to state.
But when the bum comes near her,
God help that poor man’s fate.

And to the fair young ladies
Attracting all the guys,
She’ll say, “A stiff prick has no conscience,
“Take this warning from the wise.”

And when an older woman
Acts mean, she’ll find the blame,
She’ll say, “An old bitch was a young bitch,
“I think I know your game.”

She sees how generations live
And says with gravity,
“You’ve got to think of fruit
“Falling not far from the tree.”

We’ve learned a lot from Prophet Ruth,
With pancakes on our plate,
And as our week goes grinding by,
It’s for Sunday we can’t wait.

If you follow Prophet Ruth’s words,
Your reward will one day be
Pancakes made in heaven,
With some damn good company.

Tibetan Sky Burial

When I die, I want to free up real estate so that others can more easily take my place. So I don’t like the idea of being buried in the ground. Just incinerate my body and spread the ashes to the wind.

Or better yet, let me feed the wildlife, by giving me a Tibetan-style Sky Burial.

The finality of death is chilling. I like to dispel the chill by assuming there’s a hereafter. I like to assume that the only finality is the end of our history on this earth, and that somehow our consciousness will migrate to a different realm.

We simply move on, to chase new unicorns in new ways.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no inside information on this subject. And I’m willing to agree that I could be living in a fool’s paradise. But for me, a fool’s paradise beats the depression and abject terror that would darken my every remaining day, if I assumed there is no more life after our bodies cease to function.

So I can watch a Tibetan Sky Burial with hope, rather than horror. I see death as a change, and quite possibly a change for the better. And this thought of death as change leaves me looking forward, to some degree, to my last day on this crazy earth.

Tibetan Sky Burials tend to attract audiences of Chinese tourists. And the monks who conduct these burials sometimes complain about the tourists, viewing them and their cell phone cameras as desecrating a solemn event.

And yet Buddhism teaches us to embrace impermanence. One way to embrace the impermanence of life, is to come face-to-face with this vulturine approach to the disposal of dead bodies. So I like that audiences and cell phone cameras are allowed.

You too can be part of the audience, by watching the following video.

But I must warn you: If you’re squeamish, you might want to keep a barf bucket nearby.

Piss Poor

The Piss Poor Potato Eaters, by Vincent Van Gough, 1885. Or maybe it’s just called The Potato Eaters.

Wouldn’t you know it, a crank has submitted a unicorn beam, for a guest post. Her full name is Cranky Pants, although I will lazily refer to her as CP. CP honestly admits she didn’t write this. Yep, she stole a unicorn. But that’s okay, unicorns respect honest thieves.

CP wants us to know how folks lived back in medieval times. Especially the folks who were piss poor. Like all of my ancestors.

If you’re the empty-pocketed type who often doesn’t have two nickels to rub together, I think you’re going to enjoy this piss poor submission from CP.

 

Did you know…..??

 

They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot & then once a day it was taken & sold to the tannery. If you had to do this to survive you were “piss poor.”

But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn’t even afford to buy a pot; they “didn’t have a pot to piss in” & were the lowest of the low.

The next time you are washing your hands & complain because the water temperature isn’t just how you like it, think about how things used to be. Here are some facts about the 1500s:

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good by June. Since they were starting to smell, however, brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women, and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it . . . hence the saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the Bath water!”

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof, resulting in the idiom, “It’s raining cats and dogs.”

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed, therefore, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That’s how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt, leading folks to coin the phrase “dirt poor.”

The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on the floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way, subsequently creating a “thresh hold.”

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while, and thus the rhyme, “Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old.”

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, “bring home the bacon.” They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and “chew the fat.”

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the “upper crust.”

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial.. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up, creating the custom of holding a wake.

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be saved by the bell, or was considered a dead ringer.

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