Tag Archives: humor

Welcome Back, Pants


The Pants Institute is pleased as pants to present: The Classic Pants TV Lineup!¹

From the conservative black & white pinstriped pants of the 50s to the colorful polyster prints of the 60s and 70s bellbottoms and on through the high-waisted peg-legs of the 80s, this look back at the golden era of Pants TV will bring a smile to your pants.

  • I Love Pants: This classic show from the 1950s features a young married woman’s antics, which frequently involve trying to sneak around in her husband’s pants.
  • Growing Pants: A family learn that as the kids get older, they must wear larger sizes of pants, or be increasingly uncomfortable.
  • All in the Pants: A 70s show about the life and family of a middle-aged middle-class white man who struggles to adjust to changing societal norms for who wears the pants in the family.
  • I Dream of Pants: An astronaut happens across a pair of magic harem pants that can fulfill his wishes, but only if he wears them in secret.
  • Three’s Pants: In this madcap 70s comedy, 3 single young adults sharing an apartment are always getting their pants mixed up in the laundry.
  • The Pants Boat: Each weak, different styles of pants are paraded on the decks of the Pantsific Princess, a cruise ship that promises to pair up pairs of pants.
  • Pantasy Island: Each week visitors arrive on a tropical island to act out their wildest fantasies of wearing different pants.
  • Diff’rent Pants: 2 young boys from Harlem must trade in their worn-out jeans for new fancy pants when adopted by a man with millions of pants.
  • The Facts of Pants: A group of teenage girls in a boarding school learn about love, life and pants.
  • The Golden Pants: 4 older women live together in the 80s and wear 4 distinct styles of pants.
  • The Pants Bunch: When 2 families merge their wardrobes, how will they ever fit all their 70s polyester pants into one dresser?
  • Welcome Back, Pants: A high school teacher and his students teach each other lessons about changing pants fashions and returning classic pants styles.

This post is for Mary, who requested a pants post when I asked for suggestions on things to post about. This post is also dedicated to my dear friend Elizabeth, who first introduced me to the comedic power of pants, and who should have been wearing her birthday pants today. I still miss her every day.

Can’t get enough pants? Try these on for size:


¹ I had just about finished this post when I had a nagging memory that my blogging buddy Painted Maypole had years ago done a pants-TV-themed post, as part of a challenge to write a post in the style of another blogger. (She chose me!) Happily, there is only a wee bit of overlapping in the pants shows. And these are rerun pants, anyhow…

Check out these 6 grate photos

I don’t often like to toot my own horn, but I must say that I have taken some grate photos in my day. A lot of people take some really good photos, but few people will really take the time to take grate photos. How many grate photos do you have in your own photo libary? Here are just 6 of the grate photos I’ve taken in the past few years.

These first 2 grate photos were taken in Sevilla, Spain, in Alcázar. Who could pass up such photogenic grates?

This is not just a grate photo, but an ornate grate photo.

This is more of a humble grate photo: a bathroom drain grate, somewhere in Massachusetts.

And even though I know I once shared 3 photos of storm drains, here are 3 more storm drain grates.

Quick Home Organization Projects from American Hovel Magazine (with before and after photos!)

It’s been some time since I’ve posted content from American Hovel Magazine, the magazine dedicated to lowering neatness standards in the American home. The publishers have graciously granted me permission to reproduce one of the features from the upcoming June, 2013 edition.¹

Quick Home Organization Projects
Other popular home magazines are full of helpful hints on getting organized and staying clutter-free. The photos from these beautiful homes suggest lives of calm and beauty in which calm and beautiful people live and exude calm and beauty from their very pores.

People who live with Real Families and Real Clutter™, however, often find those home organization projects to be completely out of reach. After first sighing in envy at the neatly partitioned closets and gleaming clutter-free surfaces, real people will choke back sobs of despair when looking up at the disarray of their own home. They will then tear the pages out of the offending Magazine of Impossible Ideals, stomping them into a crumpled mess on the floor, and then drink vodka and/or eat chocolate until they pass out under their kitchen table.

We here at American Hovel know that feeling well. After recovering from our last magazine-shredding-chocolate-eating-vodka-drinking rampage, we solicited photos from our readers on their own home projects. You will agree that the scope of these projects is far more attainable. Share in the joy of being able to see a project from concept to completion in a matter of minutes, leaving you much more time to enjoy your vodka or chocolate with self-satisfaction instead of self-pity.

Project 1: Kitchen Counter
Competent cooks know the importance of clear work space for creating inspired and wholesome meals. This is why you so often have cereal for dinner.

Before: It’s covered with mismatched containers and lids, tools, toys, swag, and a basket full of lord knows what other crap. Problem: you can barely tell what’s what, let alone find room to make lunch.

After: Putting the dinosaur toy front and center focuses your attention on the dinosaur toy. Look at the dinosaur! Dinosaurs are cool. Raawr!

Project 2: End Table:
End tables can be beautiful accents to a living space, giving room for guests to set a drink. Assuming that you ever have guests, or that they could find room to set a drink.

Before: This end table is an elegant antique piece. The lovely wood surface is visible between sketch books and art supplies, various toys and craft projects (is that a paper Tardis?) and whatever the hell else is all over it. (Is that a jar of foot cream?) Problem: there is no real focal point. All you see is pile.

After: The robot Matrushka doll has been turned around and given a prominent place, using the lantern as a pedestal. The owl craft is now on top of the paper box. What once just said “pile” now says “pile with Matrushka robot doll and cheery owl.”

Project 3: Kids’ Toy Corner
You live in a reasonable sized house, without a dedicated play room for the kids. What you have is a living room which has a lot of toys in it. Often all over the entire floor. Sometimes the toys get “put away” into a corner like this one.

Before: The toys are vaguely sorted into bins and stacks. Some might find this level of chaos distracting,though, with all the clashing colors. Problem: There is no unifying theme.

After: Covering the pile with a throw quilt from a nearby couch turns the chaotic pile into a lump of pleasing simplicity. Further, it adds a feeling of warmth and comfort to the room. (Quilts are warm and comfortable, you know.)

Bonus idea: Put a stylish pony on top and it’s now Imperial Fantasy Mountain, a home suitable for the Princess of all the Ponies.

Project 4: Kids’ Craft Corner
Your kids love to do art, and you have amassed an enormous collection of craft supplies, not to mention a never-ending flood of projects and papers coming from their schools. You’ve started tackling this roughly 27 times over the past 3 months, using boxes to sort artwork, schoolwork, and other miscellany, but have been interrupted each time. The pile has seemed to explode and expand daily whenever you look away. (You look away as often as possible).

Before: A massive, heaving, seething pile of headache. Problem: the throw quilt from the couch is already in use in the living room, plus it’s not nearly big enough for this pile. Your king-sized comforter would do, but you’d have to go upstairs to get it, plus you’d be cold tonight.

After: Move a couple of things around and call it a day. Then stop looking at it. You have more important things to do. Go have some good quality chocolate or a strong drink.

Can you spot the difference?

We hope you have enjoyed this American Hovel Magazine feature. Please feel free to contribute your own organizing project ideas and tips.

¹Note: American Hovel Magazine is a completely fictitious magazine that exists only in my head on and on the pages of this blog. I was flattered to hear that a friend of a friend actually once hunted for the magazine at news stands a few years ago, after seeing my cover. Perhaps the magazine will come to life one of these days, but for now I will just have to live the dream of living in that dream world of clutter. For back issues of American Hovel Magazine, please visit the archives:

Who’s who?


With the excitement building for the new episodes of Dr. Who to start¹, there has been a lot of who-buzz. But Dr. Who is not the only Who who is out there. I offer you this list of whos: a sort of Who’s Who of Whos.

  • who: an English interrogative word a relative pronoun used to stand in for a person².
  • WHO: The World Health Organization
  • who: the sound made by a hooting owl
  • Dr. Who: A British sci-fi/fantasy TV show that has been on for decades, about The Doctor, a time-travelling alien who gets to have a new body every so often.
  • Whovians: Fans of Dr. Who (you know who you are)
  • The Who: A British rock band, originally formed in the 1960s
  • Who Are You? A hit song by The Who. (And the title track of the album “Who Are you?”)
  • Who am I? A 1998 Jackie Chan movie where he plays an amnesiac spy. (It features this very memorable fight scene with a man with very long legs and very good balance. [youtube])

  • Who dat? A phrase used to show support for the New Orleans Saints (a football team)
  • Who’s Who: a type of publication listing biographical information
  • Whoville: a fictional town (or possibly two towns of the same name) in two Dr. Seuss stories: Horton Hears a Who and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
  • Whos: Inhabitants of Whoville. Cindy Lou Who is one such Who.
  • Who’s on first? Abbott and Costello’s famous comedy routine of name/pronoun ambiguity. (If you don’t know it, you can read the full transcript. Better yet, watch this clip from the 1945 movie The Naughty Nineties on [youtube])
  • whodunnit: a nickname for a type of story where the reader (or viewer) tries to solve a mystery along with the protagonists
  • Guess Who's Coming To Dinner

  • “Guess who?” Something sometimes said by a person sneaking up behind another person, often while preventing that person from seeing by covering the eyes.³
  • The Guess Who: a Canadian rock band best known in the 60s and 70s
  • Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?: A 1967 drama/comedy movie starring Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier and Katharine Hepburn. (It’s not actually about dinner with a Canadian rock band, but about a family coming to terms with an interracial relationship.)
  • Who can it be now?: A song by Men at Work
  • Who’s that girl?: A song by the Eurythmics
  • “Who’s a good boy?” Something often said to dogs.Cf this Onion article:
    Nation’s Dog Owners Demand to Know Who’s a Good Boy

    With canine-cuddliness levels at an all-time high and adorability-boosting ribbons and chew toys plentiful at pet stores across the nation, no resolution to the good-boy-identity issue appears to be on the horizon.

  • “Who cares?” A question sometimes asked by someone who doesn’t⁴

Who’s got more whos?

¹Season 7, part 2 starts this Sunday, March 30th
² Prescriptive grammarians will say that who is only to be used in cases where the pronoun/interrogative is in the subject, or nominal, position, and that whom is what you must use in object positions. However, contemporary usage allows for use of who in object positions.
³ I’ve never enjoyed this game.
⁴ I care.

Whose whos are whose? (image credits):Horton Hears a Who!, Whoville from the 1966 animated movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas (based on the book), Who Dat, The Guess Who Greatest Hits album cover, The Who logo, Jackie Chan’s Who Am I?, Who’s On First? screenshot from youtube clip from The Naughty Nineties,Tardis, World Health Organization logo, and Introspective Pug.

photos of exclamation points

I happened to look at the search terms people used to find my blog today, and saw that someone had come seeking “exclamation point photos.” I found this rather surprising. Perplexing, even. For one thing, I haven’t posted (or hadn’t yet posted), to my knowledge, any actual photographs of exclamation points. (I did once compose and post a rather nice graphic of an exclamation point made of punctuation marks, but it’s not a photo.)

For another thing, I was surprised that someone out there would actually be looking for “exclamation point photos.” That is, someone out there who is not me. As it happens, I have found myself noticing exclamation points in the wild for the past several years. They are elusive and rare creatures, but happily, once spotted, they tend not to run away. Many of them will even consent to having their photos taken.

First, my earliest wild exclamation point sighting. This little guy was seen at the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park in March of 2009.

It seemed to be made out of green tea, which is common for wild punctuation marks in the area. Sadly, shortly after this photo was taken, the little exclamation point was squished and smeared across the table by the fingers of a curious nearby preschooler.

This rather startled looking specimen was seen on the ceiling tiles in a lab at MIT. I think it was trying to run away. (Spotted March, 2011.)

This cute little guy was on some steps of the Great Wall of China, near Mutianyu. It posed for me in May, 2012.

And most recently, this timid creature was seen at a zoo in Massachusetts in August, 2012. It was trying to hide under a few leaves, possibly out of concern that it would be stomped on. (And it may have had some reason for concern, as I believe that the feet in the photo belong to the same individual who smushed the green tea exclamation point of the first 2 photos back in 2009.)

As you can see, my blog will now be THE go-to place for photos of exclamation points. Perhaps one day I will write a guide book on the subject.

The Oscars

Tonight, much of the world is tuning in to watch The Oscars. As for me, I’m not sure which of these Oscars has the Best Picture. I think it’s a tough call between Oscar Wilde and Oscar the Grouch.


image credits: Oscar from the Odd Couple, Oscar the Grouch, Oscar Mayer, Oscar Wilde

(I almost didn’t this post, as in the search for an Oscar Madison picture, I found this other post along the same lines. But I decided to go ahead, anyhow.)

cheesy valentine


Heart of cheese.

Roses are red,
Roquefort is blue
Actually, it’s more of a green
But this photo’s of provolone, anyway.

Saving All My Pants For You

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This edition of National Pants Radio is dedicated to those who seriously love pants: a playlist of classic pants songs to fit all body types.

  • All You Need Is Pants – The Beatles
    However, shirts and shoes are also required for service in most establishments.
  • Pants Me Two Times – The Doors
    Pants me once, shame on you. Pants me twice, shame on me.
  • Pants Will Keep Us Together – Captain and Tennille
    Especially if they are stitched well.
  • Pants Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division
    At the seams.
  • Can’t Buy Me Pants – Beatles
    I’m not buying that. Money can buy many things. Even pants.
  • Making Pants Out of Nothing at All – Air Supply
    Would these be invisible pants?
  • Do You Believe In Pants? – Huey Lewis & the News
    Yup. Except maybe the invisible ones.
  • You Give Pants a Bad Name – Bon Jovi
    That style is really unflattering.
  • You’ve Got to Hide Your Pants Away – The Beatles
    Just toss them in the hamper.
  • Tainted Pants – Soft Cell
    I don’t even want to know what those stains are.
  • Where Did Our Pants Go – The Supremes
    Did you check the dryer?
  • A Man Without Pants – Engelbert Humperdinck
    Is he, by any chance, wearing a trenchcoat?
  • Need Your Pants So Bad – Fleetwood Mac
    Um, I’m using them right now. Can’t you get your own?
  • They’ll Never Take Her Pants From Me – Elvis Costello
    That’s just creepy.
  • Addicted To Pants – Robert Palmer
    You and me both, Robert. Better than heroin, though. Or leggings.
  • The Power of Pants – Huey Lewis and The News
    Sustainable. Renewable. Fashionable.
  • Saving All My Pants For You – Whitney Houston
    Um, thanks. I’ll be sure to make space in my closet.

Today marks the 6th anniversary of this blog and a special day for me to reflect on the meaning of pants.

a binder, goofier discourse

With apologies to my international friends and readers who either aren’t following, or are getting more than they’d like about, the US presidential race. For my friends and readers in the US who are still hearing more than they’d like about the US presidential race, I feel your pain. But I’m going to go ahead and post anyhow.

On Tuesday night, I faced the debates with a knot in my stomach.

That last few months have been increasingly stressful for all in this country who have convictions about what is best (or worst) for the country. The discourse has become increasingly ugly. Civility has left the building.

It won’t surprise anyone who reads this blog regularly that I am left-leaning.¹ I voted for Obama in 2008, and will enthusiastically vote for him again this year for a variety of reasons. But that’s beside the point.²

The point is that I watched the debate with many months of tension building, expecting to feel outraged. Dismayed. Disturbed.

What I did not expect was to go to bed giggling that night, and to wake up feeling like a 50-pound weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

I thank the binders full of women.³

I have a number of friends and relations who really didn’t see what’s so funny about “binders full of women.” They saw the reaction to it as blown out of proportion for a simple poor choice of phrase. They saw it as distracting from the real issues.

But I saw it as funny.

Really, really funny.

I loved the way people ran with it, and the many, many clever and quick responses.⁴ Sure, Romney’s phrase was only slightly off. If he’d phrased things a little less awkwardly, there might have been nought to run with. But the phrase brought up absurd imagery. And run with it, people did. To my great enjoyment.⁵

For the record, there were plenty of things that Romney said during the debate that I objected to. Things having to do with real issues that I care about deeply. But for all the critically important well-constructed arguments on the issues, for all the articles and the numbers and the counterpoints, none of them has given me so much relief and release and actual hope about the outcome of this election as the binders full of women comment and the ensuing flood of mockery.

So thank you, internetz. You came through for me this time. And thank you, Mitt.⁶


There are some good analyses out there about why the phrase got such a broad⁷ response. I though this one from the Guardian, brought to my attention by laloca, was particulary good. Here’s an excerpt:

Why did the phrase resonate? Because it was tone deaf, condescending and out of touch with the actual economic issues that women are so bothered about. The phrase objectified and dehumanized women. It played right into the perception that so many women have feared about a Romney administration – that a president Romney would be sexist and set women back. And it turns out the way Romney presented it – that he asked for a study of women in leadership positions – wasn’t true anyway.

¹ I regularly lean really, really far to the left, but I have good balance, so I don’t usually fall over.

² Sort of.

³ In case you missed it, “binders full of women” was an unfortunate phrase used by Romney when telling an anecdote about his efforts to recruit women for positions on his cabinet as Governor of Massachusetts.

And — and so we — we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women’s groups and said, can you help us find folks? And they brought us whole binders full of — of women.

To see the full transcript, with a really cool interactive feature that lets you play the section of video from the transcript, check out this page on the 2nd debate at the New York Times.

⁴ Like these, most (if not all) of which can be found on the binders full of women tumblr: 3 rings to rule them all, nobody put’s baby in a binder, Binder?, Gobias, txt from Hillary, Hefner, Bill Clinton. Or the Facebook page, which someone started within seconds of the phrase being uttered. Or the reviews on this binder on Amazon. Or this one.

⁵ I’m sorry, but if the RNC can go gung-ho and build a whole convention theme around a poorly phrased bit of reference ambiguity offered by Obama, folks can have a little fun with Romney’s poorly phrased bit of metonymy.

⁶ Not something that my friends have expected to hear from me.

⁷ Heh. I said “broad.”