Brent A. DiggsWriter of books and other things that tend to contain words
The Fording Report
Instigative journalism from Harold Fording – Presented by Dissociated Press
I have for you today a story so unexpected, so shocking, so absolutely Pulitzer-worthy, that I barely have to time to write it because of all the hours I am putting in on my award acceptance speech.
Itâ€™s not just a scoop, itâ€™s an industrial earth-mover of a story, complete with hard-hats, cat-calls, and other hyphenated accessories.
The entire world has been aghast at certain, fairly recent developments in Californiaâ€™s Sacramento River, namely the unexpected presence of two Humpback whales in it. Scientists, whale watchers, and environmentalists alike have all been at a loss to explain this directional mishap, but in one of my regular displays of journalistic superiority I have uncovered the full story.
For hundred if not thousands of years, whales have been faced with countless human-devised threats to their well-being, including but not limited to: rising ocean temperatures, the whaling industry, and Herman Melvilleâ€™s Moby Dick. For countless years whales have faced these threats with resignation and pacifism, but recently things have changed under the sea.
Whales are fighting back.
For so long have humans have enjoyed their â€œmasteryâ€ of the seas that no one recognized the threat at first.
A mechanical difficulty here, a grounded ship there, even a even the â€œunexplainedâ€ fire on the whaling ship Nisshin Maru where not recognized for what they were: a whale counterstrike.
And with the discovery of cetacean operatives moving upriver towards Californiaâ€™s vulnerable interior, there can be no doubt that we are witnessing the beginning of a new phase of inter-species combat.
Fortunately, I was able to reveal their destructive purposes before they had a chance to reek any havoc on the Sunshine State.
Now, with their mission compromised by hard hitting journalism, the wary whales have disappeared as unexpectedly as they arrived, eluding marine biologists, port authorities, and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose presence, although not actually near the incident, was enough to send the aquatic terrorists swimming for their autograph books.
Although things seem quiet for now, I donâ€™t think we have heard the last from these dangerous denizens of the deep.
As always, this is Herman Fording with the second-half of the rest of the extended version of the whole story.
Click here for Herman Fordingâ€™s next award-leeching feature:
Rouge Agent Flips Canada The Bucket
Or see Fordingâ€™s previous effort at newsworthiness click here:
Simply Stunning Examples of Sensational Headlines
98% Less Factual Information Than Regular News
Mountain View, CA – In a surprise announcement internet powerhouse Google today revealed that it had acquired the western European country of Luxembourg.
According to European sources, Luxembourgians are enthusiastic about the buyout hoping that Google will bring its highly touted financial and connectivity resources to the aid of the landlocked nation. Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker was quoted as saying, â€œIf we must be enveloped by larger powers, at least we can now chose those powers.â€
Google gave no indication of what possible use the search engine giant could have for a small country, but speculators have begun to fear a software industry land-grab as hours later Microsoft announced that it was in the process of acquiring the African nation of Lesotho.
This report brought to you by:
The Amalgamated Assembly of Stammering Stockbrokers
â€œItâ€™s not just a job, itâ€™s torture.â€
Previous story: Steam Cleaner Charged With Brainwashing
98% Less Factual Information Than Regular News
Chicago– Small business owner, Harold Smocking, was arrested today on charges of criminal brainwashing. His company, Esteem Cleaners, which provides an innovative combination of personal development and pressure washing, has up until now boasted an impressive track record of profitability and really clean sidewalks.
Witnesses say that Smocking used the boredom and mind numbing noise of his pressure washer to lull victims into a hypnotic state, leaving them vulnerable to his suggestions, which focused mainly on large tips and irrational behavior. Clientsâ€™ personal development goals are alleged to have been overridden by Smocking in favor of more entertaining hypnotic suggestions, like profuse public flatulence and singing â€œIâ€™m a Little Teapot Short and Stoutâ€ in crowded bus stations. Smocking is being held without bail with trial set for this sometime this decade.
This report brought to you by:
The law offices of Avarice and DeCeit,
â€œSpecializing in minor injuries and major settlements, at Avarice and DeCeit youâ€™re not just a number, youâ€™re a number with a lot of zeros behind it.â€
I have been reading up on Search Engine Optimization lately and my research has inspired me to try and clarify the focus and purpose of the Ominous Comma, in the hope of reaching a greater percentage of my internet neighbors with the glad tidings of my existence.
Regular readers will have already grasped the humorous intent of these pages, but since my presentation is often very highbrow and almost always very, very, very dry, causal observers, may they be human or search engine, may not immediately grasp the point of all this Very Exciting Nonsense.
Some people would say that the problem lay in my Search Optimization skills. Those people would be wrong. The real problem is this: Google is an idiot.
Regular readers may also recall a similar effort a few months ago, namely my spectacular sellout, in which I boldly inserted the world â€™humorâ€™ into my subtitle in a valiant attempt to garner more attention for this site. Search engines however, seem to have no respect for effort, and the exhaustive restructuring of nearly a dozen letter in my top- part- header- thingy has so far brought me very little in the way of visitors. Some people would say that the problem lay in my Search Optimization skills. Those people would be wrong. The real problem is this: Google is an idiot.
I know that those who lovingly pour over these pages are not used to such harsh language, and if I suspected that Google Search had been dropped on its head as an infant algorithm, I would be much more delicate with my words. But what else can I say about any so-called program, the result of hundreds of thousand of hours of loving devotion and nurture, that cannot grasp the exuberant joy and articulate humor of this publication?
So with apologies in advance to all my subscribers and other loyal constituents of this blog, I am going to attempt to explain what the Ominous Comma is all about, using small keywords so any non-corporeal visitors can follow along.
The Ominous Comma is about humor, intelligent humor,1 humor that launches itself from the shining phosphors of your monitor and grabs you by the cerebellum, wringing the laughter from the irony centers of the brain like an over-filled sponge.
Humor that takes no prisoners, that is unafraid to fill articles, take occasional plunges into satire, and even lightly caresses the cheek of politics.
Humor that is proud of the term humor and is not considering a name change to Funny, Witty, or Mildly Jovial.
Humor that doesnâ€™t have time for celebrities or reality TV because it is still in college even though its synapses have advanced far beyond what are normally considered the Learning Years.
Humor whose wife frequents these pages and therefore cannot resort to boobies and bikinis to bring in traffic but must actually write essays and articles to attract the masses.
That kind of humor.
To further clarify and annoy, I will give a brief list of my influences to help you determine whether or not you have found the right Internet Humor Provider for you.
Anyone able to use the word â€œscrumblyâ€ in a sentence.
The Far Side
Anyone receiving a mandatory sentence for using the word â€œscrumbly.â€
The Scumbly Scrumblers of Scrumblitude.
The Peter Principle by Laurence Peter and Raymond Hull.
I think that about covers it. Remember, if you are looking for political diatribe you are at the wrong site. Similarly if you thirst for gossip or computer tech stuff, you are not going to find much of that here. All you are going to find here is the funniest stuff that anyone has ever written.
Just as long as you define anyone as me.
- If you are not intelligent, I am sorry but I am going to have to ask you to stop reading right now. If you are illiterate, I need you to stop staring at the screen pretending to read. Go loiter somewhere else.
Sorry, rules are rules. ↩
Final exams are over and I have successfully passed my classes. (Yeaaa!) I am trying to get back into the swing of professional humor production, so be looking for a good article on Monday.
In the meantime, I have set up a little question and answer session with my tired and somewhat surly self to discuss this whole period of agony I have just completed. If that seems a little schizophrenic to you, then you are clearly not acquainted with the usual proceedings of this site.
Fictional Interviewer: For the sake of any readers just tuning in, I am talking with Brent Diggs, the author of this blog. Mr. Diggs, do you mind if I ask you a few questions.
ME: Go right ahead.
FI: First of all, you are in college.
ME: Is that a question or a statement?
FI: A question.
ME: I mean, if you want to tell the story for me, thatâ€™s fine. Iâ€™ll just be over here taking a little nap.
FI: No, itâ€™s definitely a question. One for you to answer.
ME: So should I answer it?
ME: Yes, I am in college.
FI: And your wife is also in college?
ME: Yes again.
FI: So youâ€™re both in college?
ME: Your firm grasp of the obvious is spellbinding.
FI: And you both work full time?
ME: Thatâ€˜s correct.
FI: And the two of you are raising three kids?
ME: Is this what investigative reporting looks like? I thought it would be taller.
FI: Answer the question, please.
ME: Yes, three kids I have. (Extra points for using Yoda-speak.)
FI: And you publish two different blogs?
FI: Why would you do that to yourself? Work. School. Writing. Are you masochistic or just plain stupid?
ME: Have you ever been shot during an interview? Because if this is an example of your finest work, you might consider wearing Kevlar underwear.
FI: I wouldnâ€™t have to ask all these questions if you would tell us more about your life and family in your blogs.
ME: I just never set out to write a â€œblog,â€ I really just wanted a place to publish my stories and articles and give me a reason to write more of them. I figure the whole Write About my Daily Life thing is pretty much covered.
FI: But you have no problem talking about your life to an imaginary character?
ME: You would do well to keep in mind that imaginary characters can come to very unpleasant, imaginary ends. It happens all the time. Just read Stephen King.
FI: Right! So, what did you miss most during this â€œseason of fireâ€ that you just emerged from?
ME: My wife.
FI: What did you miss second most?
FI: Do you have any plans, now that you are out of class?
ME: I thought I would sleep with my wife. I seem to recall that I enjoyed that.
FI: So is there anything else we should know about? Any other creative projects that youâ€™ve been working on? Anything involving tic-tac poisoning perhaps?
ME: Yes, we are finishing up the Danger Couch DVD, and yes, during some last minute filming over the weekend, I did ingest enough tic-tacs to freshen the breaths of an entire garlic-chugging football team for the next 3 years, along with their cheerleaders, mascot and the complete coaching staff.
FI: And how did that make you feel?
FI: Anything else we should know?
ME: The DVD is almost done. It is tantalizingly close. It has taken much longer than expected, but it will also be much better than expected. Children will laugh, romantics will cry and the jaded will giggle. It just might bring about world peace.
FI: Do you really think a DVD could usher in world peace?
ME: Not really, but if it does we will definitely charge more for it.
FI: Thank you for the interview, Brent. For the Imaginary News Network this isâ€¦Hey, you never gave me a name.
ME: I know. Good-bye.
Have a great weekend everyone. See you Monday.
98% Less Factual Information Than Regular News
Key West – The Institute of Cognitive Institutions today announce that longtime psychological model Maslowâ€™s Pyramid has been revised by the Instituteâ€™s board of review, replacing self actualization with chocolate as humanityâ€˜s greatest need.
Created by Abraham Maslow, the pyramid describes the progressive nature of human motivations, starting with basic needs like food and safety near the bottom and moving to progressively higher needs as each one is met. In the original model, self-esteem needs were followed by self-actualization which included accepting individual weaknesses, being unafraid of failure and transcending selfish interests.
â€œChocolate was a better fit,â€ said Institute Director George T. Rutabaga, â€œself-actualization was just too difficult for most people, so we chose something easier, to help individuals achieve a sense of accomplishment in their personal development.â€
Rutabaga describes chocolate as having what psychologists refer to a â€œpull-up effectâ€ on the other needs. â€œHungry? Eat chocolate. Insecure? More chocolate. Unloved? Low self esteem? Chocolate, more chocolate and suddenly you are at the top of the pyramid. This is truly a breakthrough in psychology. â€
Although many psychologists oppose the move, citing psychoanalysis as humanityâ€™s greatest need, recent studies seem to support the ICI decision, linking chocolate intolerance with aggression, warfare and political aspirations.
This report brought to you by:
The Association of Schizophrenic Legislators
â€œProviding our own majority since 1995.â€
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Happy Friday everyone, and congratulations on making it through another week. Yes, I know that not all of you are in my time zone, and that where you live it may not actually be Friday anymore/yet/ever. Thatâ€™s okay. I am confident that anyone with the intelligence and good taste to discover the Comma from the disadvantage of a foreign culture will also be up to the task of making it through one more day.
Most people are unaware that Friday was actually named for Frida Kahlo…who made a name for herself by painting peopleâ€™s internal organs floating outside their bodies
I love Fridays. I really love them. In fact I have taken it upon myself to be the official Friday spokesmen and director of promotions. Whenever I find people in distress, I remind them of the upcoming Friday; whenever I find people bored or longing for education, I like to share little known Friday facts. For example, most people are unaware that this twenty-four hour period we call Friday was actually named for Frida Kahlo, the late monobrowed artist who made a name for herself by painting peopleâ€™s internal organs floating outside their bodies. I wonâ€™t go into all the details of how the citizens of ancient times named a day of the week after a modern artist, but letâ€™s just say that there is a very good reason why art students are not allowed access to time machines.
Despite itâ€™s unusual name, Fridays are my favorite. They always come packed with hope and the promise of two days rest. Not every weekend lives up to this lofty expectation, but I can never bring myself to fault Friday for any failings that Saturday or Sunday might bring. Friday gets credit for the imminent weekend just as Monday gets the blame for its expiration. I know itâ€™s not fair, but that does nothing to change my high opinion of Fridays.
I love Fridays so much that I have even started referring to Thursdays as â€œFriday Eve,â€ which seems to really confuse people.
Me: “Happy Friday Eve!”
Confused Bystander: â€œBut itâ€™s not Friday.â€
CB: â€œItâ€™s not even nighttime.â€
Me: â€œAlso correct.â€
CB: â€œDid you take your Lithium today?â€
Then I joyfully explain that just as the entire day before Christmas is known as Christmas Eve, in the same way the day before Friday can be referred to as Friday Eve.
This is usually enough to end any conversation.1
You might think that it would be easy to be an ambassador for a day as already highly regarded as Friday, but as you can see, it is often hard and thankless work. There are no commissions, no corporate sponsors, not even a catchy slogan.
Only the pride of a job well done.
This article brought to you by the Friday Preservation Society,
As long as there are Mondays, weâ€™ll be working on a cure.
- Although it might seem strange to the readers of this publication, the skills of philosophical wordplay are just not valued by our society to the same extent as other talents, such as basketball, tax preparation, or even janitorial proficiency. I am told that at one time a good story could earn the teller food and shelter for the night. The most mine have ever earned me are funny looks and furious whispers at work. Apparently, the diaper of Time was full and had to be changed. ↩
Although seldom acknowledged as such, the Ominous Comma is a fount of public service, providing information and inspiration to individuals from all walks of life.Â A perfect example of this is provided by that journalistic specialist know only as the Drive-by Blogger.
When asked for comment about his far retching reaching influence over the blogosphere, Fording replied, â€œAs you can see, with perseverance and dedication, a truly talented journalist can aspire to the rare and coveted privilege of standing in my shadow.â€
In your travels across the web, if any of you find further signs of Comma Content Influence or even a good monkey story, please forward them here so we can all bask in the glow of its radioactive warmth.
One of the unanticipated side effect of creating this forum of intelligent discussion that we call the Comma, is the continuing demand for insight and explanation into the foggy realms of male behavior. I have never asked to be spokesmen for the gender and Iâ€™m not really sure how it even came about. But as the well known saying goes: â€œWith great power come the ability to approve your own pay raises,â€ and with the exception of the power and the pay part, that is exactly what is happening here.
One of the most frequent questions I get about the complex inner working of the human male is: Why are men so stupid?
One theory, usually proposed by women, is that the male brain is basically mock-up, or a prop that serves no actual function except to provide mass to the head and help maintain proper center of gravity for the rest of the body. These same individuals maintain that the male nervous system is basically a straight wire between stimulus and response. They suggest that the thought patterns of a male human proceed as follows: Feel hungry: get Cheetos, Feel itchy: scratch in public, See woman: harass.
This theory is clearly inaccurate, as it makes no explanation for the male ability to calculate the impressive sports statistics and national defense budgets that make us so proud. The truth is that the male brain does function , but only occasionally. The real problem in this area, as in so many others, is women.
Allow me to explain.
One of the most baffling engineering quirks of the male brain is its tendency to suspend all rational thought upon the introduction of certain key hormones. Scientist have named these mind-altering chemical messengers: stupigen, spazigen, and preposterone.
These hormones, especially in in younger males, are released in response to various forms of stimuli, such as the sight, sound, smell, touch, or general proximity of a breathing female.
The results are immediate. At the first hint of hormone infusion all logical mental processes cease. As the brain reaches hormone inundation, the normally dormant stupiditocortex is activated, releasing random and often destructive thought-impulses into the brain. Finally, upon hormone saturation, the male brain begins to shrink until it reaches critical lack-of-mass, at which point there is an unopposed flow of foolishness throughout the entire nervous system.
This phenomena is best described by the famous mid-eighties philosophers, Whitesnake, in their groundbreaking treatise, Give Me All Your Love Tonight.
I donâ€™t even know your name
I canâ€™t leave you alone
Iâ€™m running round in circles
Like a dog without a bone
I know the game your playing
But baby I just canâ€™t say no.
To the casual observer, it might seem that such a generally mindless condition would be embarrassing for the affected male, but one of the most insidious effects of hormone poisoning is the almost completely blindness of the victim to his own stupidity. Only once hormone flow has receded and normal mental function been restored, does the realization of his recent foolishness begin. In the aftermath of a hormonal incident, a man is left with only painful memories and the certainty of future relapse.
And perhaps a tattoo.
For example, one young man of my acquaintance, an otherwise rational and authorly individual, once leapt off a very tall pier into the Pacific Ocean, fully clothed, in a gallant yet totally-immersing attempt to gain the attention of a young woman. This move came as a complete surprise to the man, as well as the woman, and several unfortunate starfish who sadly succumbed to Falling IQ Syndrome. Upon further investigation, it was discovered that this young man had already obtained the attention of the woman in question, as evidenced by their pre-jump conversation, as well as their recent marriage.
When asked what he was thinking during the debilitating spell of machismo, his only response was, â€œthat the water was a little deeper than that.â€1
This type of irrational behavior can be expected whenever a man is subjected to hormone saturation by the careless presence of a woman. Unfortunately, after the initial onset of hormone poisoning, men find themselves compelled to seek out the presence of women in order to reenact this cycle of stupidity.
Is there any cure? Once in 1964 a team of researchers where on the verge of eradicating the scourge of hormone poisoning until the addition of an attractive female scientist to the team sent them all into a headlong plunge of hormone-induced stupidity. The resulting explosion shattered windows and de-feathered poultry over a twelve mile radius. All notes and research material were destroyed by the blast and the researchers themselves had to be institutionalized for the own good. They are currently under the care of Dr. Harold Toboggans, at the Institute for the Hormonally Confused who has had made significant progress with several pop musicians and the 1985 Russian Womenâ€™s Olympic shot-put team.
What should be clear to everyone by now is that the true cause of occasional male irrationality is of course, women. As maintained by the chauvinists of old, men would be much wiser without female interference. They would also be much lonelier, much hairier, and much more likely to drive themselves completely out of gas before ever asking for directions. Which only proves the wisdom of old saying, â€œWomen, you canâ€™t live with them and they just wonâ€™t stay in the convent.â€
- Any resemblance between the author and this unfortunate individual is purely coincidental and will never be discussed again. ↩
I have decided that if I am to advance to the next level in my authorly career, I am simply going to have to launch a book signing tour.
According to my research on the subject, the key requirements for such a literary event are a book, an author, and a writing utensil. I am told that a Sharpie-brand1 permanent marker works well for most autographing needs, but in a pinch you can make do with a charcoal briquette or even an unfolded paperclip dipped in your own blood, which is especially appropriate if you are promoting a horror novel or a grade-school teaching memoir.
After a careful inventory of my dwelling, my clothing, and a couple of people who happened to walk by, I discovered that I did not, in fact, have a book to sign. So I called my publishers to lodge a complaint. Once they had searched their records, they informed me that the breakdown in the publishing process had occurred somewhere around the point where I failed to submit a book for publication.
As an American I am not used to tolerating this level of incompetence, so I fired my publishing company and immediately initiated a class action suit on behalf of all the would-be authors in the country that may also have been discriminated against in such a egregious fashion.
My more financially savvy friends have advised me to invest any settlement I receive in commodities that I support and believe in. When pressed,2 my lawyers revealed that my share of the upcoming settlement should be just sizeable enough to invest in a good cup of coffee.
Undaunted by this minor setback, I decided that I owed it to the American people to carry on with my tour, in the hope that my perseverance against overwhelming odds might inspire people, and get me a spot on Oprah3 to promote my absent book. As a contingency, I decided that should any fans insist that I actually sign a book on my book signing tour, I would simply autograph something from Dave Barryâ€™s large catalog of publications. As long as I stay out of Florida, Iâ€™m sure heâ€™ll never notice.
I thought that I would start my literary pilgrimage in small, local bookstores and then switch over to Barnes and Noble locations to take advantage of those nice Starbuckâ€™s kiosks they have in their stores. As any touring author can tell you, book signing is far too strenuous to attempt without a ready supply of Cinnamon Dolce LattÃ©s.4
From there, I will travel to other cities. After all, what is the point of being an author if you are surrounded by people that already know you, and therefore fail to properly appreciate your literary brilliance, celebrity status, and may even expect you to pay for your own meals.
At each stop I will be enjoying the deluxe accommodations of my tour sponsor, the Honda Civic Inn, whoâ€™s single occupancy executive suite is far more luxurious that the meager lodgings that I am accustomed to on the driverâ€™s side.
Yes, it is shaping up to be a glorious tour, filled with joy, excitement, and of course, me. Which is as much as you could realistically ask for in an event of this literary magnitude.5
Soon, I will finalize the list of cities to be graced with a visit, chosen on the basis of their reputation for author appreciation and the enforcement stringency of their local vagrancy laws. Be sure to subscribe to this site to receive up-to-the-second information on this ground breaking literary event as it unfolds.
- Unpaid product promotion. To submit your product for promotion, please send me a working sample of your product and a briefcase full of small unmarked bills. If you could organize them by date due and amount owed, that would really help. ↩
- Lawyers must always be pressed if you wish to extract truth from them. I recommend an industrial steam press like the ones used by laundries and dry cleaners. It allows you to get to the truth quickly, while leaving your lawyerâ€™s suit fresh-looking and wrinkle-free. ↩
- I refuse to comment on Oprah on the grounds that the Organization of Surprisingly Unpleasant Talk Show Personalities might again send their minions to address my â€œuncooperative attitudeâ€ with large blunt objects. ↩
- Dear Mr. Starbuck, please extend the limited, winter-only availability of your Cinnamon Dolce drinks. Donâ€™t cut me off like this. My literary career, and the subsequent happiness of millions of people, depend on this life-giving product. Please consider the welfare of the nation as you make this decision. ↩
- I really donâ€™t have anything to say here, I just hate having an even number of footnotes. Odd numbers somehow look much more professional. ↩