Sunday, July 26, 2009


Hello Everybody!
Ms. Waxy Dragon here.
Now, instead of telling jokes this weekend, I would like to talk about them.
The question is: "If it is possible to update a joke, should it be?"
I'm not referring to something simple like substituting another animal for the chicken in the infamous crossing the road routine or turning a bar into a coffee shop for the location where something funny allegedly took place, but truly reworking a gag from the past for a more modern audience.
Does it spoil the joke/befoul the classic?
On one hand, you are exposing a whole new generation to humor they have probably never heard before. Yet what about those who know the original? A new version of anything is always going to be compared to the source material, and not always favorably. Just look at all the remakes Hollywood has made over the years that have not held up to the material they were based upon.
So it boils down to: do you or don't you?

Let's look at an example.

"Who's on first?"
Bud Abbot and Lou Costello's classic baseball theme routine is a staple of comedic duos everywhere. A video of the routine is on continuous play at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York and Time magazine even named it the Best Comedy Sketch of the 20th Century.

Now let's look at a couple of the more modern retellings.

In an episode of Eight Is Enough, Tom Bradford (Dick Van Patten) tried to teach the routine to his son Nicholas (Adam Rich) for a Father and Son Talent Contest, but the child could never get into it until the father changed the main focus from baseball players to rock groups. So now it was The Who's on first, etc.
Of course, similar takes on this version were also performed on SCTV and by Slappy and Skippy Squirrel at the original Woodstock Music Festival during a segment of Animaniacs.
And somewhere with the Johnny Carson Tonight Show archives, there is a version featuring an attempt to brief then President Ronald Reagan before a meeting with Chinese leader Hu (Who) Yaobang, Yassar (Yes, sir) Arafat, and then Secretary of the Interior James Watt (What).

So, as you can see in this example, it does not necessarily have to be fictitious baseball player nicknames, as long as you use similar sounding substitutes along a common theme.

Now for those interested, there are a couple of different recordings of the Abbot and Costello version amongst the movies One Night In The Tropics (1940) and The Naughty Nineties (1945), as well as a few radio recordings between guest appearances on other programs and their own show.
But you will never find the skit performed exactly the same way twice, for Bud and Lou always tried to keep things fresh.

So what's the answer? Personally, I say never forget the original, but make sure the new rendition is funny too.
Your opinion counts. Just e-mail me in care of The Free Choice e-zine and we can discuss the matter further in a later edition of THE SUNDAY FUNNIES.

And don't forget, next Sunday we celebrate the first annual (Inter)National "Don't Worry" Day!


Saturday, July 25, 2009

WEEK IN REVIEW: JULY 19-25, 2009

*The CASH for Clunkers program has begun, where American taxpayers have an opportunity to trade in their old vehicles and receive a tax credit towards a more fuel efficient one.
*Health Care reform is the hot topic on Capitol Hill this week. While the end results of all the debates remains to be seen, the subject of abortions almost scuttled proceedings before they progressed too far. But to say that the Health Care Industry is in fine shape and does not need to be addressed is a serious understatement!
*Meanwhile, President Barack Obama discovered that public officials should not always comment on local situations, for his remarks concerning the incident involving Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Junior and Massachusetts Police Officer Sergeant Joe Crowley has gained national attention when the President comment upon Gates being arrested in his own home as an alleged burglar.
*The Dow Jones Index broke the 9000 mark this week, leading investors to believe that the economy is slowly improving despite continuing news stories of lay offs, business closings, and even the state of California facing a serious budget deficit.
*The 40th annual San Diego Comics Con, the premiere event of the comic book industry, is underway this weekend.
*The world celebrated the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing on Monday while a solar eclipse occurred on Wednesday.

For more news at any time, just scroll down to the IN OTHER NEWS feature at the bottom of the screen.


Another weekend and a mixed bag of enigmas for you puzzle fans.

Each group has something in coming. Do you know what it is?
Group 1. {Crystal Gayle and Loretta Lynn}
Group 2. {Crystal Gayle, Loretta Lynn, and Patty Loveless}

The celebrated father of what we know today as science-fiction must of had a lot of this to boldly go where no one had gone before.
If you shuffle the letters in the name, you get the asset.

The answers will appear next weekend.
But now, the results of our quiz celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

1. We started off with a trick question. Nothing launched from Cape Canaveral after it was renamed for slain President John F. Kennedy late in 1963. The Apollo 11 craft launched from the Kennedy Space Center July 16, 1969 on its historic trip to the moon.
2. Neil Armstrong's left foot touched the lunar surface first.
3. Edwin "Buzz" Aldin, Junior was the second man to walk upon the lunar surface.
4. Michael Collins stayed behind in the command module orbiting the moon, but in no way was his position of any lesser importance to the Apollo 11 mission than Armstrong or Aldin's.
5. No. Collins went on to a mix of public and private offices in service to his country.

Friday, July 24, 2009


An editorial.

Sadly, the Space Age is over.
It climaxed with the Apollo 11 moon landing.
The subsequent Apollo missions, followed by Skylab, Mir, the Space Shuttle, and the International Space Station are all fantastic achievements, but far from the dreams of those wide eyed stargazers from 1969 who wondered "What next?"
Today we work on developing new technologies of the Computer Age.
The Hubble Telescope (which sadly will no longer be serviced!) and various other satellites and space probes are great, but the thrill and excitement like what surrounded the first physical explorations of outer space are long gone.
Even the Space Shuttle program is being phased out as NASA prepares to start booking passage on the rockets of others for trips to the International Space Station.
The information and knowledge gained from the achievements of the Computer Age cannot be denied, but in time Humanity will also need/crave that physical challenge again.
Sadly, it may not be within my lifetime, but will we ever have a moon base (without the purpose and results of Space: 1999) or a manned mission to Mars that does not end as depicted in Capricorn One?
I sincerely hope so. For science fiction is great. But the reality can be even better.

Monday, July 20, 2009


It is hard to believe that today marks the 40th anniversary of when a staple of science fiction tales became reality as a human being first set foot upon a sphere not their own.
I was only seven that fateful night when the images of Astronaut Neil Armstrong walking upon the lunar surface were first televised. Looking back upon that night, with my family gathered around the black and white television that received broadcast signals from an aerial antenna, all I can swear to remembering at the time was wondering what was so important about a man bouncing around in a white suit?
But as I looked out my bedroom window that night at the stars and the moon above me, the seven year old boy I was then knew the full impact of what had been accomplished.
It might have been a "space race", yet there is no denying that the success of Apollo 11 and subsequent missions have drastically changed this Earth we live on; and Armstrong's immortal words ring as true now as they did then.

"That's one small step for Man. One giant leap for mankind."


Hello everybody!
Ms. Waxy Dragon here!
Now I know I should have posted this column yesterday, but I had to debug my computer.
Unfortunately it took a lot longer than I thought it would, but boy were they delicious!
And speaking of bugs...

What is an insect's favorite game? Cricket!

What did the one firefly say to the other when his light went out?
"Can you give me a push, my battery is dead"!

"Waiter, waiter! There's a fly in my soup!" yelled the diner.
"Don't worry sir," the waiter replied, "the spider in your salad will eat it."

What do you get if you cross a flea with a rabbit? A bug's bunny.

What do you call a beetle from outer space? Bug Rogers!

What do you get from a friendly insect?
A bug hug.

And don't forget folks, Sunday August 2nd The Free Choice e-zine celebrates the first (Inter)National "Don't Worry" Day!

Saturday, July 18, 2009


*While Congress conducts confirmation hearings concerning Sonia Sottomeyer's potential Supreme Court appointment, President Obama advised the House and Senate not to "squander the opportunity" as they also consider Health Care reform, amongst other issues.
*In hopes of increasing revenue, some retailers are staging "Christmas in July" events, offering potential gifts and decorations months ahead of time.
*As the 40th anniversary of man first setting foot upon the moon approaches, the Space Shuttle Endeavor is currently docked at the International Space Station as part of a supply run and maintenance visit.
*In Sports, pitcher Josh Becket, currently with the Boston Red Sox, earned his 100th career victory Sunday against the Kansas City Royals. Meanwhile, the American League defeated the National League 4-3 in the 80th All Star game Tuesday night to win home field advantage during the World Series this fall.

Now while I hate to end on a sad note, veteran news reporter Walter Cronkite passed away Friday at the age of 92. While a journalist most of his adult life, he is best remembered as anchor of the CBS Evening News from originating the position in 1962 until his retirement in 1981 when he passed the position on to his successor Roger Mudd.
A lot has, can be, and probably will be said about Cronkite in the days and millennia to come.
I never personally met the man, but like a lot of people, I watched "Uncle Walter" report the (inter)national news coverage every night I could until his retirement.
Amongst all the achievements and awards earned over the years, he is also accredited with coining the word anchorman. But amongst all the accolades, I personally think the greatest he ever earned was when, not having a comparable word already in existence in their respective languages, Holland started calling their news anchors Cronkiters, and Sweden followed suit by calling their on air news person a Kronkiter.

For more news at any time, just scroll down to the IN OTHER NEWS feature at the bottom of the screen.

"And that's the way it is..."


Another week, and more puzzles.
But let's shake things up a bit first, by giving you last week's answers.

The Gene Kelly Movies were:
1. Anchors Aweigh! (1945)
2. Christmas Holiday (1944)
3. On The Town (1949)
4. Singin' In The Rain (1952) and
5. The Happy Road (1957)

The answer was MAN ON THE MOON, which leads us to this week's conundrums.

Tuesday marks the 40th anniversary of man first stepping foot on the lunar surface.
To mark that occasion, here is a special quiz about the Apollo 11 mission.

1. To have landed on the Moon July 20th, 1969; when did the Apollo 11 rocket launch from Cape Canaveral?
2. Everyone knows that astronaut Neil Armstrong was the first human being to step foot on the moon. But which foot landed on the lunar surface first?
3. Who was the second man to set foot on the moon?
4. Considering that it was a three man mission, someone had to stay in the command module orbiting the moon. Who, depending upon how you look at the situation, had the proverbial short straw?
5. Did the answer to Number 4 ever get a chance to set foot upon the moon himself?

The answers will appear next weekend in The Puzzle Corner, and if you're paying attention, probably in a whole lot of other places before then.

Thursday, July 16, 2009



As reported in our last article, the second half of the 2009 Major League Baseball season begins in earnest today, so here is a quick look at the standings and a few projects to the weeks ahead.

The Boston Red Sox lead three games ahead of the New York Yankees, closely followed by the Tampa Bay Rays (who cannot be counted out, especially during home games), with the Toronto Blue Jays and the Baltimore Orioles not mathematically out of the running.

The Detroit Tigers have a 3.5 game lead over the Chicago White Sox, with the Minnesota Twins just a half game behind them. But the Kansas City Royals and the Cleveland Indians are not out of the picture yet.

The Angels (by whatever name you care to call them) have a 1.5 game over the Texas Rangers, who only have a 2.5 game lead over the Seattle Mariners. But the Oakland Athletics are still in the competition.

My personal predictions...
The Boston Red Sox represent the East in the playoffs. The Central division is too close to call right now, and the Texas Rangers will come from behind to win the West, with either the Angels or the Yankees becoming the wild card.

The Philadelphia Phillies have a four game lead over the Florida Marlins with the Atalanta Braves two games behind them. Meanwhile the New York Mets are only a half game behind Atlanta and while not yet officially mathematically eliminated, I would not make any plans on buying play off tickets for the Washington Nationals.

The Saint Louis Cardinals have a 2.5 lead over the Milwaukee Brewers, who have a one game lead over the third place tied Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs; with the Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates close behind.

The Los Angeles Dodgers have a seven game lead over the San Francisco Giants, who have a two game lead over the Colorado Rockies. While not mathematically eliminated yet, I would not make any post season plans for the Arizona Diamondbacks or the San Diego Padres either.

My personal predictions...
The Phillies and Marlins duke it out for the East, but the Braves could play spoilers and go to the playoffs instead. Meanwhile the Central is definitely too close to call right now and barring anything unforeseen, the Dodgers will win the West. And because of the uncertainty in the East and Central divisions, the wild card is unknown at this time.

But remember, anything can happen between now and the end of the regular season, yet isn't that part of the fun that is baseball?



The American League defeated the National League 4-3 in what was one of the quickest played games in baseball history Tuesday night once the first pitch of the 80th All Star Game was actually thrown.
The opening ceremonies, including President Barack Obama and all the living former Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush honoring the "unsung" heroes amongst us was interesting. A more careful analysis of the taped portions with the former heads of state revealed that both Republicans decided to color their hair to some extent (compared to how they looked upon leaving office) and the Democrats decided to go au natural.
While the American League has once again won home field advantage for the World Series this fall (the sixth year in a row since this has become a prize for winning the game), I do question some of Joe Maddon's coaching decisions, for most of his starters stayed in the game well past the traditional three innings, thus a lot of players sitting on the sidelines never made it onto the field.
In the past the All Star Game was basically the ultimate pick up game, where the best from both sides were supposed to play each other in a friendly competition and give fans a chance to see players in action that otherwise would not be available in regular season play. Yet with the advent of regular Inter League play (an event that I am not against, but would like to see a little more care and logic go into the scheduling an match ups) the All Star Game is fast becoming nothing but a huge popularity contest, where fans (if those are the people actually casting ballots) are able to vote up to 25 times per person! There are dictators in foreign countries that would love to have that opportunity at a ballot box. One ballot per person, filling out the starting roster for each team would be perfect. It worked in the past, and there is absolutely no reason I see to have changed this to the current option.
The Fox Network's Sports coverage was hit or miss at times. On one hand, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver certainly are knowledgeable about baseball, and one cannot blame them when they spent most of one inning talking with ceremonial first pitch thrower President Obama more than concentrating upon covering the actual game.
But what was it with the camera personnel? There were a couple of moments where the commercials ended AFTER play had already resumed and some segments of the game had to be shown from cameras other than the main feed in the replay to present it from the best angle.
And just how many reaction shots of Derek Jeter does a baseball fan need during any game? It seemed like EVERY time something spectacular happened, there always had to be a reaction shot of what Derek Jeter thought of the moment, even long after he was not an active player on the field. Was one of the camera personnel one of Jeter's relatives?

In any event, the second half of the 2009 Major League Baseball season begins today in earnest. May the better teams make it to the playoffs this October for an interesting World Series.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Hello everybody! Ms. Waxy Dragon here! I had a nice extended weekend off and although I am just a three year old baby dragon (although some claim I am just one amongst many avatars of an avid Internet surfer), I do know my American history.
I certainly know what the Declaration of Independence is and where it was signed.
On the bottom of the document, of course!

But this weekend, let's take a look at some tongue twisters.

"She sells sea shells by the sea shore."
Well, what she does in her off hours is her business, but just is her primary source of income? I mean, after all, there really isn't much of a market for second hand sea shells now, is there?

"Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. How many pickled peppers did Peter Piper pick?"
A peck. It states that clearly in the first sentence, duh!

"How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?"
Well now, that's a silly question! After all, a woodchuck just isn't built to throw (chuck) anything! Could you imagine them trying to toss a Frisbee on the beach, or being an outfielder on a baseball team? Preposterous!

"Black background, brown background."
What's the matter, can't the decorator make up their mind?

"You scream. I scream. We all scream for ice cream!"
Good, I'm hungry!
See you folks next weekend with more Sunday Funnies!


Okay, time to kick back and relax with some enigmas.

The following represents a historic event. Can you guess what it is?


We haven't played this in a while, so let's see how good you are figuring out these alternate titles for Gene Kelly movies.

1. Set Sail!
2. "I've got December 25th off!"
3. A Night Out
4. Music In The Shower
5. Glad Street

The answers will appear next weekend, but now the results from our 4th of July quiz.

1. The Continental Congress first voted to declare Independence on July 2nd, 1776.
2. The first public reading of the Declaration of Independence was actually on July 8th, 1776 for copies had to be made first.
3. Of the 8 original National League teams, the Boston Red Stockings are now the Atlanta Braves and the Chicago White Stockings are now the Chicago Cubs.
4. Of the 8 original American League teams the Boston Red Sox, the Chicago White Sox, the Detroit Tigers, and the Cleveland Indians are still active.


We're back, and covering what we still have notes for from the previous week.
*President Barack Obama spent a few days overseas, concluding his trip with a visit to Africa. But while the President's focus upon his return will be health care reform, Republicans are now critiquing his efforts on domestic economic recovery thus far.
*New news reports are looking into the possibility that former Vice President Dick Chaney intentionally kept information from Congress during the Bush Administration from 2000-2008.
*Confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor are scheduled to begin this week.
*While authorities are still investigating the matter, North Korea has become the prime suspect in a Cyber Attack that preceded their unauthorized July 4th missile test.
*David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox earned his 300th career home run this past week.
*In the conclusion of a game between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros, pitcher Joel Hanrahan was accredited with the win. Which is amazing since play in this game resumed 65 days after being postponed, the conclusion was held at the Astros' ballpark instead of Washington's for a roughly 1500 mile difference between fields, and that the Nationals had traded Hanrahan to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the interim!

And for those who would like or care to hear some good news involving a celebrity, it has been announced that actor/comedian Jim Carrey is going to be a grandfather.

For more news at any time, just scroll down to the IN OTHER NEWS feature at the bottom of the screen.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


But due to technical problems on our staff's end, the WEEK IN REVIEW and the PUZZLE CORNER have been delayed until Sunday, July 12th.
These features, along with the regularly scheduled SUNDAY FUNNIES (which was inadvertently missed the 4th of July weekend because everyone thought someone else was taking care of posting it that day) will appear tomorrow.
The Free Choice e-zine apologizes for the delay.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

JULY 4, 2009

Today is July 4th, 2009.
It was upon this day 233 years ago that our forefathers declared this country a free and independent nation from the sovereignty of any other.
True independence did not happen overnight. It was a long, hard fought battle known as the American Revolution that earned us the inalienable rights to life, liberty, the freedom of happiness, and other things like the ability to vote in free elections however we decide.
There have been those in the past that sought to take our freedoms away.
There have been those that still seek to do that today, not only to America, but to other countries as well.
But we should not, and MUST NOT forget what it took to enjoy the rights we have today, and what is required to maintain them in the future: patience, vigilance, with knowledge and respect of past efforts so that the next attempt of anyone who tries to take the rights of others away is as unsuccessful as all the previous ones; in hope that one day these would be oppressors come to their senses and stop all this foolishness and learn to live in harmony with their fellow man.

Lee Houston, Junior
Editor-In-Chief: News
The Free Choice e-zine.


*Today America celebrates the 233rd anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
*Seventy years ago, Lou Gehrig gave his famous "I am the luckiest man on the face of the earth" speech before reluctantly resigning from the New York Yankees because of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), now called Lou Gehrig disease by some.
*Sarah Palin's sudden resignation as Governor of Alaska comes with much speculation as to why and what she might do next.
*Convicted Ponzi scheme swindler Bernard Madoff was given the maximum prison sentence: 150 years. Meanwhile, his wife Ruth was evicted from their $7 million New York penthouse as authorities seized assets in hopes of reselling for restitution for his victims.
*Scientists have discovered the remains of three new species of dinosaurs in Austrilia.
*The investigation into his death and the legal battles surrounding his estate and guardianship of the children of the late pop icon Michael Jackson continue.
*And giving the time difference, North Korea decided to celebrate the 4th of July in the early morning with another missile test.

For more news at any time, just scroll down to the IN OTHER NEWS feature at the bottom of the screen.


Because of what today is, I thought a patriotic TRIVIA TIME was in order.

1. Everyone knows what today is. But when did the thirteen original colonies actually vote to declare Independence from British rule?
2. After the Declaration of Independence was ratified on July 4, 1776, when was it first presented to the general public?

The sport most associated with this time of year, if not America's favorite, is baseball. Hence the theme of the last two questions.

3. The National League was first formed in 1876, but only two of the original eight teams are still in existence today. Can you name them? (Hint: they are not now called what they once were.)
4. The American League was formed in 1901, and surprisingly four of their original eight teams are still in existence under the same names they started with. Can you name them?

The answers will appear at the bottom of next weekend's Puzzle Corner, just like the results of June 27th, 2009 appear now.

1. Ed McMahon first worked with Johnny Carson on the game show Who Do You Trust?
2. Farrah Fawcett's first non-commercial work on television was a guest appearance on I Dream of Jeannie.
3. Michael Jackson's first number one solo hit was the title song from the movie Ben in 1972.

Believe it or not, all three appeared together on the September 18th, 1979 installment of The Tonight Show, hosted by Johnny Carson.