Saturday, April 01, 2006


Dear Indigna,

My daughter belongs to a small circle of what I thought were really tight friends, but this week she was the only one of the group not invited to the birthday party of one of the girls! How should I react?

Former Reject Myself,
Peoria, IL

Dear Reject,

I know a guy who knows a guy who has an entire menu of options for you. I totally recommend against numbers 1-4, 6, 8-11, and 14, but that “shunning by the Amish community,” that might work.


Dear Indigna,

I am deeply, deeply offended that those boys in Alabama who burned all those churches claim that it was “just a prank that got out of hand.” Should they be sentenced to death?

Selma, AL

Dear Grieving,

I, too, am offended to my core by these boys' behavior, and they do deserve severe punishment. I’m grateful that my own children never committed crimes like this. Their pranks were all benign, boys-will-be-boys stuff. For instance, they loved to drive down a road at high speed with a baseball bat and destroy every mailbox in a neighborhood. What a chuckle for all the neighbors when they woke up in the morning! The only structures they burned down were things like all the little kids’ backyard playhouses on this one block. And they were so creative! Like, this one time they gathered up all the small dogs and cats on the street and put them into this gigantic burlap bag. Then they hung the bag up in a tree as a homemade piñata! Unfortunately, one of the neighbors ruined all the fun by wrestling away the golf club before the kids could make the “prizes” tumble out.

Equal Rights

Dear Indigna,

I read an Associated Press story (3/17/06) that Australian strippers have won the right to “overtime, rest periods, meal breaks and maternity leave” among other benefits like vacation pay. Now, I am a male stripper and am anatomically incapable of bearing children. Shouldn’t I have the right to take six weeks off every ten months or so? I am clearly being discriminated against because of my gender, mate!

Barbie Shrimp
Queensland, AU

Dear Barbie,

“Anatomically incapable?” Listen, Shrimp, although none of the men of my acquaintance have borne children, preferring to leave that task to their poor, overburdened wives, I happen to know that at least two male Hollywood actors have become mothers and have made movies about it! Haven’t you heard of “Mr. Mom” (Michael Keaton) and “Junior” (Arnold Schwarzenegger)? If you shirk your solemn duty to make your customers pop a woodie, you’d better have your own bun in the oven mister!


Dear Indigna,

I read that a group of Hindus are protesting a new California history textbook that, they argue, portrays their faith in an unflattering light. On the one hand, I’m sympathetic, but I also wonder if activist groups should be involved in the content of history textbooks. Your opinion?

Sacramento, CA

Dear Confused,

Who the hell cares? According to the New York Times (March 26, 2006) the “No Child Left Behind” law means most schools aren’t teaching anything except math and English anymore anyhow.

Why do we need to study history in the first place? Isn’t there a saying, “History is written by the victors”? Well, if you’re writing history textbooks for a living I’d say you have been anything but a “victor.” And that “social studies” subject? I don’t know about you but I don’t want my kids becoming “socialists”! Art, music, those are obviously for pussies.

According to the Times, “Some authorities, including Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, say the federal law's focus on basic skills is raising achievement in thousands of low-performing schools.” Well, that seems obvious. You’d expect kids to score well when they spend all their time on only two subjects. Since it’s working so well, I recommend we expand the principle of “narrowing the curriculum” to college and beyond.

Why do college kids need to learn anything else? Allowing only English and math classes would greatly reduce the need for faculty and thus lower colleges’ financial needs and, hopefully, tuition. Imagine freeing the academy from the burden of expensive “labs,” so-called “art studios,” and giant, unwieldy “libraries.” Think of the students’ glee at being liberated from the horrors of the “recital,” “experiment,” or “research project.” Plus it would all but eliminate the chance of an ungrateful grad student beating you out for a Nobel Prize! (And isn’t it always the one who wouldn’t sleep with you?)

Oh yeah, and that idea about whacking students on the wrist with a ruler if they get the answers wrong? I like that one too.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Endangered Species

Dear Indigna,

I’ve been reading about how Representative Richard Pombo (R-Tracy) wants to rewrite the Endangered Species Act. I’m confused about all the provisions and what they would mean for our environment. Can you break it down for me?

Sunshine Ocean Oaktree
Big Sur, CA

Dear Hippie,

It’s really very simple. First of all, Rep. Pombo points out, as the motivation behind his bill, that the existing Endangered Species Act has managed to “save” and repopulate “less than 1%” of the species on the list. Since this constitutes abject failure on anyone’s scale, we should give up, resign ourselves to mass extinctions and just lay back and try to enjoy it, preferably from the driver’s seat of a new Suburban while off-roading around pristine foothills scouting for particularly scenic ridgelines to put shopping malls on. The beauty of this approach is that it will inevitably result in a 100% success rate in that eventually the “list” would be empty.

The main point of Rep. Pombo’s bill is to make the government “compensate” landowners who are not allowed to develop their land because of the E.S.A. The problematic situation is analogous to eminent domain in that the government, by trying to protect some frog or lizard that no one has ever even heard of, can’t be eaten, doesn’t make a good pet and isn’t even attractive to look at, essentially “takes” the land from its owner. The difference is that in the case of eminent domain, the government has to pay the “fair market value” for the trailer park or whatever. The congressman is so irritated by the E.S.A. that he feels that the landowner, say, a rancher/congressman, should be compensated, not for his vacant land, but for the value of the development he would otherwise have built on it.

This idea only seems fair. Let me illustrate how it would work. Suppose you own thousands and thousands of acres of farmland in remote areas of your state (as no doubt some congressmen do). Now say, as a tribute to 9/11, you want to build a full-size replica of the Twin Towers on a couple of those acres and lease them out at the same rates as the originals brought in. If some prissy, holier-than-thou self-appointed “species police” named, oh, I don’t know, “ Sunshine Ocean Oaktree” maybe, should happen to be trespassing on your land and find a dodo bird, which was thought to be extinct a long time ago, the government would have to pay you $7 billion (the value of the land if the proposed development were to occur) if it wanted to keep you from cementing the bird into the building’s cornerstone.

The coolest thing of all about this proposal is that you could “profit” from a “development” that you never even have to build, and continue to enjoy your beautiful acreage (now that you finally retire) without the eyesore of a gas station, seedy strip mall or a couple of 110-story office towers! What’s not to like?

P.S. If you’re afraid that one day you’ll really, really, really just have to have a spotted owl, and nothing else will do, you can always take a few DNA samples before the backhoes roll and clone as needed, à la “Jurassic Park.”

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Charity Begins at Home

Dear Indigna,

Some Canadian civil servant has launched a website seeking donations to allow him to “retire” and “be a much more pleasant person to be around.” I have no information on the age of the alleged bureaucrat, but I am inclined to believe he is quite young, since the younger generation seem to think they can get something for nothing. What amount of money do you think stupid, deluded people will give this leech?

Bend, OR

Dear Indigna,

I read in Saturday’s Los Angeles Times that Barbara Bush so very generously donated a chunk ‘o change to Hurricane Katrina relief but stipulated that it be ”spent on educational software purchased from her son Neil’s company.” Shouldn’t this be illegal or something?

Honest Taxpayer
Houston, TX

Dear Disgusted and Honest,

I am grouping your letters together because the second solves the problem of the first. As for you, “Honest,” come on and admit it, you’re just peeved that you didn’t think of it first! Not only is this strategy legal, it is the beta-testing program for President Bush’s new Social Security reform. (Part of it is we get rid of that name; “Social Security” sounds really commie, doesn’t it?) Under this plan, everyone who wants to participate makes huge donations to “charity,” but earmarks the money to be spent on goods and services from their own companies. After our tax deduction, our entire income will be effectively completely sheltered, thus freeing up dollars for savings and investments toward retirement. We can finally pay off the mortgage on that private island or small country!

What about those people who don’t itemize or have goods or services to sell? Those people are losers. You’ve gotta get creative people!

As for me, I plan to get one of those no-bid FEMA contracts--I don’t know, maybe by sleeping with Dick Cheney unless I can get away with just letting him shoot me in the face--and then make a colossal donation to hurricane relief, stipulating only that the money be spent exclusively on “Ask Indigna” services and merchandise (at the “premium” no-bid contract prices). I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of anything those poor victims of Katrina and those other hurricanes can use more than my peerless advice.


Dear Indigna,

Did you read (Reuters, March 28) about that “10-year-old winner of a children's poetry competition [who] had to hand back her prize money after newspaper readers noticed that her poem was the work of a well known writer”? Apparently, “she did not realize it had been written by someone else.” Can you believe this?

Stunned and Appalled
Homer, AK

Dear Stunned,

Indeed I can. In fact, the same exact thing happened to me! I submitted a manuscript to my publisher, only to find out that it had already been published under the name “Finnegan’s Wake” some decades earlier. What are the odds?

Accidents Do Happen

Dear Indigna,

I read an item about a woman who repeatedly shot her husband and her daughter-in-law, apparently because they were having an affair. Her defense is that she was “just going to move” the gun, she “didn’t plan to pick it up” and “evidently [her] finger was in the trigger at some point.” Does she really expect anyone to believe that? Can the prosecutor add a charge of insulting the intelligence of the jury pool?

Smarter Than Your Average Defendant
Visalia, CA

Dear Smarter,

Don’t be too quick to condemn. I had a friend who had the exact same thing happen to her. The loaded gun was just sitting there in the locked box on the top shelf of the closet in the attic. She didn’t mean to pick it up or anything but she just happened to be up there rummaging around in the closet and somehow accidentally unlocked the box, unknowingly carried the gun downstairs and apparently her finger must have grazed the trigger at some point, causing her husband and his lover to each take a few bullets in the back of the head, before she unwittingly cleaned the gun and, by some fluke or other, unintentionally carried the gun back up to the attic and unconsciously locked it in the box. She argued that the two must have committed suicide, and she would surely have been acquitted if the prosecutor hadn’t insisted on pointing out that they were shot in the yard from an upstairs window.

Fair Play

Dear Indigna,

I heard that Randy Quaid is suing the producers of “Brokeback Mountain” because he was told it was a “low-budget” film (actual budget, a whopping $14 mil) so he agreed to do it for “only” six figures. Now that the movie has made $82 million just in North America, he wants a bigger slice of the pie. Isn’t this a little like Pete Best suing the Beatles for profits they made after he quit the band?

Marginally Interested
Hollywood, FL

Dear “Marginal,”

I think both lawsuits have merit, but I will only address the Randy Quaid one since, and I hate to be the one to break it to you, the Beatles broke up over 30 years ago.

Anyhow, so Randy Quaid and his agent agreed to only an “Obscene” amount of money, instead of a “Mortally Sinful” amount of money (these are technical industry terms), to do “Brokeback Mountain.” They took the producers’ word for it that the movie was sure to be a flop and that they (the producers) were incredibly inept businessmen just in it to launder ill-gotten gains or something (just guessing, but why else would anyone financially back a dog that won’t hunt?). Randy & agent didn’t think to ask for a percentage of the profits because, well, this was supposed to be a career-damaging, straight-to-remainder-bin Ang Lee film. When it went on to win Oscars, just like all of Ang Lee’s films, as well as mucho moola, Randy decided that now is the time to renegotiate his contract.

I say, good for him! He wuz robbed. In fact, every actor that I’ve heard of should get a retroactive piece of the action if the film is a success (but none of the other folks, of course, ‘cuz they’re not important).

But fair’s fair, right? That means when your $150 million film flops--and I’m talking to you, Leonardo di Caprio and Tom Cruise!--you have to pay back your “Demonic” eight figure salary! (And Randy Quaid has to pay back his paltry six or seven figure salary.) This new “free market” “fair trade” rule should help roll back those high box office prices!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Dear Indigna,

Recently a contestant on “Survivor” swore an alliance on his children. He later broke that oath. Who’s going to Hell, him or his children?

Hellhole, MT

Dear Curious,

Don’t you know your Bible? “The sins of the father are visited upon the son.” So it’s his kids who are going to “actual” Hell, while he’s going to the living hell in which his ex-wife never forgives him.

Maiden Name

Dear Indigna,

I was already well-established professionally when I married, so I kept my maiden name to avoid confusion and possible loss of business. However, many people, most of whom I have never met before, seem to object to my having kept my name. Senior ladies of my mother’s acquaintance, religious persons, even my in-laws insist on calling me by husband’s name, or worse, berating me for failure to change mine. How should I respond?

Also, our children are nearing school age. How should their classmates address me?

Ms. X, Not Mrs. Y
Denver, CO

Dear Ms. X,

This is an easy one. Since your failure to change your name indicates just how little you care for your husband, I suggest you treat those rude enough to point that out with the contempt and/or condescension they deserve.

For example, elderly ladies of your mother’s acquaintance:
Your mom: This is my daughter, Mrs. Y.
Old biddy: Pleased to meet you Mrs. Y.
You: Mrs. Y is my mother-in-law, you old bat! I am Ms. X because I just might change my mind about my so-called “husband” and don’t want to have to go to the trouble of two name changes, so there! Mind your own business!

I would follow this up with a swift kick to the shins and a haughty and abrupt exit.

Here’s another example:

Priest: I now present to you Mr. and Mrs. Y.
You: Jeeezus Ka-riiist! How many times do I have to tell you that I am no more “Mrs. Y” than you are Mother Teresa! In case you didn’t notice, forcing a woman to take her husband’s name makes her a kind of chattel or possession, which is just like slavery, which the last time I checked is illegal in this country, so stop thinking with whatever vestigial genitalia the “Church” may have allowed you to retain and understand that, hard as it may be (no pun intended) for your pea brain to understand, I am a human being, not a piece of property!

That exchange is sure to encourage plenty of spirited conversation at your wedding reception!

As for the in-laws, that’s always a tricky question, since you never have to see the old biddies or the priest again, but you are likely to run into the ol’ ball-and-chain’s family once in awhile over the course of your marriage, however long that lasts when you can’t even be bothered to change your name. I suggest the old “misunderstanding” trick.

Mother-in-law: This is my daughter-in-law, Mrs. Y.
Old biddy: Pleased to meet you Mrs. Y.
You do not respond.
MIL: Jane? I just introduced you to Mrs. Ipsbequizit.
You: You did? I thought you were introducing someone named “Mrs. Y,” and since I am Ms. X and not Mrs. Y, I assumed that “Mrs. Y” was one of your schizophrenic hallucinations.

Finally, the question of children. In order to teach your child’s classmates that people are not defined by their names, you should give them a different name each time they see you. This strategy is especially fun in the early childhood years, when they really aren’t quite sure if they know you or if you are in fact an evil twin! The first time you meet one of these munchkins, tell them you’re “Mrs. X.” Next time “Miss Y.” The third time, when they call you by either your name or the name of your children, you should correct them by saying, “I beg your pardon, but I am Mrs. Ipsbequizit. I am shocked that your parents don’t make you call people by their correct names!” The time after that, when they dutifully call you “Mrs. Ipsbequizit,” you should correct them quite forcefully: “Jonathan, I am ashamed of you. I’ve known you for two years and you still can’t remember my correct name!” He will no doubt try out one of your “other” names, at which point you should again correct him, quite coldly and angrily, with a fresh, entirely new name. “I am very disappointed, Jonathan, that you don’t recall that I am Miss Pussy Galore. Please make a note of it.” The fifth time you encounter “Jonathan,” he will probably try to avoid calling you by any name whatsoever, in which case you must force him to do so by asking him to introduce you to someone. “Uh, this is Miss Pussy Galore,” he will say, at which point you will slap him across the face with an expression of horror and say, “What a dirty little boy! And just six years old!”

Guinea Pigs

Dear Indigna,

I’ve tried and tried to make my guinea pigs love me, but I’m not sure they do! I spend $1200 a week buying such things as premium litter for their 450-square-foot enclosure (which I change daily), a selection of organic greens and vegetables, guinea pig “toys” (which they ignore), special guinea pig music, and even guinea pig videos which I play for them on their very own tv (and which they, again, ignore). What am I doing wrong?

Slough, LA

Dear Despondant,

Your mistake is in treating the critters like children instead of rodents. These animals exist in the wild in places like Peru and Ecuador, where they are considered food. I suggest you threaten to return one or more of them to the wild, and explain to them in excruciating detail the fate that awaits them there (spit-roasting, most likely). They should shape up and appreciate you more. The same method works on adolescents. Threaten them with shipping them to Peru or Ecuador, where they will be forced to dine on nothing but their pet guinea pigs. I’ve had great success with this strategy. Especially when you tell them that the natives are hard-pressed to tell the difference between a guinea pig and an adolescent human.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Hot for Teacher

Dear Indigna,

I saw an item on the news about a teacher who was arrested for having sex with her fourteen-year-old student. How do things like this happen?

Poughkeepskie, NY

Dear “Dumb,”

I have wondered about this question as well. Do they meet in her car or something? That doesn’t sound very comfortable. Surely she doesn’t go to his house, but does he go to hers? She couldn’t have any roommates or nosy neighbors if she was willing to risk that. Hotels are just too expensive on a teacher’s salary. Perhaps they went into a locked bathroom stall after school hours? The most important question of all is, how does a mature woman catch the interest of a young stud muffin in the first place? I hope we find out her secrets at the trial!

A Better Penalty

Dear Indigna,

A friend of mine asked me to protest with her at San Quentin prison. The issue is whether or not “lethal injection” constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment” under the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution. Frankly, I am a product of public schools and consequently have no idea what she’s talking about. Could you tell me whether or not I ought to participate?

Majored in Cheerleading,
Sacramento, CA

Dear Majored,

I am glad you asked and indeed I can clarify this issue for you. I assume your friend was protesting on behalf of the fellow who raped, tortured and eventually killed a young girl. His lawyers are concerned, as we all should be, that a dose of barbiturates ten times that needed to kill an ordinary person might not be sufficient to put this he-man to sleep, and consequently he might feel pain when the paralyzing and heart-stopping drugs are administered.

Now, we’ve all seen the movies. We know that a person capable of such depraved and inhuman acts as the guys sentenced to death are simply not as easily killed as you or I. We’ve even seen guys who are electrocuted actually enter the electrical system so that they can continue to terrorize our citizens from beyond the grave! Consequently we must take extra careful precautions to ensure that the prisoner suffers absolutely no pain whatsoever during his execution. I mean, we really don’t want these guys any more pissed off at us than they already are, do we?

The theory of hypothetical pain is not the end of the story when we’re talking capital punishment . A corollary to that theory holds that some guys are “too sick” to be executed. Now, one might question the wisdom of expending medical resources on a condemned person. But are we no better than the hardened cons? Of course we must treat these prisoners, because to allow them to suffer would be inhumane. Give the poor fellow his heart transplant already, then we can execute him.

A third major axiom of capital defense jurisprudence involves the case of the mentally ill prisoner who cannot be executed because he is “incompetent,” i.e., similarly “too sick.” In these situations the guy’s lawyers often object to medical treatment because then he would be “competent” and thus available for execution. I think this qualifies as one of the stupidest situations in human experience. If we fail to provide one guy who is “too sick” to be executed with medical treatment, we are inflicting “cruel and unusual” punishment. But providing another guy with necessary treatment is equally “cruel and unusual”? Guys, get on the same page willya?

So as to obviate any objections on the part of the damned to “pain,” “cruelty,” or other forms of “suffering,” I humbly offer the following executionary recommendations:

Prisoners already get whatever they want to eat for their last meal, and I think that they should also have whatever guests they want in their cell just before execution, instead of just their “spiritual advisor” or whatever they call their drug dealer these days. I think three or four immoral swimsuit models or “men’s magazine” coverboys would be about right in a room the size of a cell, provided plenty of bedding is put down. Allow at least a couple of hours.

Finally, give the poor fellow all the intoxicants he could possibly ingest, legal and illegal. Remember, our objective is for this guy to be “feeling no pain.” Doesn’t marijuana make people giggle a lot? Anyhow, he should be administered some kind of laughing gas or similar glee-inducing intoxicant right before you take him down “the green mile” so he goes out with a smile on his face.

I’d like to see some lawyer argue that that is “cruel and unusual”! I’d say it’s darn nice of us. I promise you, he won’t object unless he’s a really, really ungrateful dude.

Keep Off the Grass

Dear Indigna,

I was horrified to read today that a man shot a teenager for walking on his manicured lawn! What sort of punishment would you think appropriate for this behavior?

Celebration, FL

Dear Outraged,

Don’t you think the boy has been punished enough?


Dear Indigna,

I recently read an analysis that points out how George W. Bush uses the “straw man” fallacy more and more frequently to misrepresent his opponents’ views and set himself up as an imminently reasonable man. We’ve all heard him use phrases such as “Some in Washington don’t care about our security” or “Some people say we should let the terrorists win” or “Some believe we should just let the teachers do whatever they want, ‘learning’ be damned,” always followed by the emphatic, “I strongly disagree,” I’m pleased that the media are finally taking note of this trend, but what should we be doing to make sure the people of this country understand the falsehood of this rhetorical posture?

Athens, Greece

Dear Aristotle,

Some people enjoy writing treasonous letters. Some people would prefer a President who just sticks his head in the sand instead of facing up to reality. Some otherwise good people want to take the hard-earned money of working people like Dick Cheney and use it to buy luxury cars and drugs for welfare moms and to coddle spoiled trade unionists with seven-figure pensions. I’ve heard some people say that Greek men are great lovers--is that true?

I strongly disagree (with the exception of that last statement -- call me?), and especially with the notion that the President is using rhetorical strategies of any kind. The guy was a “C” student. It is highly unlikely he knows what “rhetoric” is.

Anyway, you sound like one of those elitist classical Greek scholar pantywaists who get their rocks off “naming” things like “rhetorical postures” and “fallacies,” both of which sound vaguely obscene. The Fact is, the President is telling the Truth and anyone who disagrees wants the terrorists to win.

Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité

Dear Indigna,

I’ve been reading about these student protests in France. Apparently these kids are all choking on their own outrage because the government has passed a new law that allows French companies to fire anyone under the age of 26 anytime within the first two years of employment without showing cause. One student actually compared these provisions to “slavery,” saying “You’ll get a job knowing that you’ve got to do every single thing they ask you to do because otherwise you may get sacked.”

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but that sounds like so-called “at will” employment, which everyone else in the world has, only we’re not protected at age 27 or after two years (tenure excepted). Aren’t these French “students” just a bunch of whiny brats over-coddled by a sense of entitlement fostered by socialist governmental policies?

Get a freakin’ job already! Jeez!

Old School Economist
New York, NY

Dear Old,

I beg to differ with your retarded, bigoted and undemocratic opinion (no offense). Not only is France on the cutting edge of social movements, it is a model of the utopian state. Imagine a country where people can live as comfortably on the dole as they can on a salary! Furthermore, should a person choose gainful employment, apparently he or she is free to slack off, refuse assignments, fail to complete work or make deadlines, take extended smoking breaks, sass the boss, make off-color jokes, have sex in the conference room and show up to work totally stoned without fear of Big Brother coming down and quashing his/her individuality and free will with the bitter cudgel of a pink slip.

Now, that is what I call true liberté, égalité, fraternité my friend (aka Big Brother)! This reminds me of those high school exit exams, where the school won’t let people graduate unless they show the ability to correctly answer 50% of a bunch of 6th grade math questions. What gives them the right to control our children’s future like that? On the same note, what makes you “bosses” superior to your “employees”? What gives you the right to decide what we do with our time at work? Who appointed you God? You and your boss-man cronies are fascistic enemies of Democracy and the Franco-American Way (aka “Freedom-American Way”). I hope you get fired.


Dear Indigna,

I read an article today about “Do-It-Yourself” divorce. Apparently there are lots of websites where you can get all the documents you need to get a divorce for just a few hundred dollars. One of the people interviewed said the divorce cost “about three percent the cost of her wedding and one-third the time it took to plan it.” Another guy said it was a good way “to maintain that respect for your marriage.” I am getting married soon and wonder if you think do-it-yourself divorce is a good way to go. I need to know how much money I can realistically spend on the wedding.

Blushing Bride
Flushing, NY

Dear Blushing,

I can think of nothing that respects your marriage more than getting a divorce, especially if you go to the trouble of handling it yourself. And if it adds just 3% to your wedding budget (as opposed to the doubling or more of the wedding budget that a traditional divorce causes), what’s not to like? It’s also great that it takes so little time; if all divorces were this cheap, easy and quick everyone could get one.

The DIY route has the added benefit of excitement. Who knows what you’ve forgotten to settle in your haste? Imagine the thrill of suddenly remembering those frozen embryos years later when you’re hit up for child support! Savor the irony of failing to authenticate your spouse’s finances! Grin wryly when you realize that an obscure filing error has made you a bigamist!

One expert in your article mentioned that getting a divorce “should be as simple as filling out a form for your driver’s license.” I think it should be substantially easier than that, because you have to read a book and take a test to get your driver’s license. Plus, the two things are not analogous at all. You can kill people with a driver’s license, but you can prevent killing with a divorce.

Let’s keep divorce cheap, easy, quick--just like the chicks your ex will troll for afterward!


Dear Indigna,
I have four cats (no children, except my husband). The cats range in age from 1 year to 13 years old.  ALL the cats are on medication for one thing or another, irritable bowel disease, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, kidney disease. I must administer pills up to three times daily and some cats get multiple pills. Talk about work!  In addition I have a full-time job and must take care of the house, bills (and mounting vet bills), laundry, etc, you get the picture.  My husband works a good wage job and watches TV like a pro. My question is simple: With the strain of cat care, would you think it is justified to quit work? 

P.S. Even Jesus needs medication (he is the youngest cat)

Nursing the Wounded in the South 

Dear Nurse,

I recommend you attack this problem from several fronts. First, you can’t quit your job without replacing that income, so urge your husband, who “watches TV like a pro,” to actually go pro and seek endorsements. Now, you say you live in the South, so it’s probably warm most of the time. He can go shirtless, which gives you a lot of real estate for tattoos, brandings (ha ha, get it?) and other promotional materials. He can sell short-term space (e.g., Sharpie designs) for a slightly lower rate.

The next thing you need to do is take Jesus aside and say, “Look, man. You healed a bunch of sick people in the Bible and they were strangers! These are your brothers and sisters . . . oh, don’t give me that crap about ‘everyone’ being your brother or sister and just hear me out! What I’m trying to say is, ‘Messiah, heal thyself, as well as all the other cats.’” I totally can’t believe you have the son of God right there in the house and you hadn’t thought of this already!

If Jesus, God forbid, fails to heal the sick, tell all the other cats that because He “can’t be bothered,” you’re going to have to start charging them for their care. If they don’t have insurance or can’t afford treatment, well, that’s their problem, isn’t it? They should get jobs if they are so dead set on getting medical attention. This should also serve to put a lot of peer pressure on the Lord.

Finally, if all else fails, tell your husband that all cat care is now his responsibility. Put each putrid corpse on his pillow to make sure he gets the message that this is all his fault. This tactic has the added advantage of caring a high probability of eliminating your husband’s expenses from the household budget.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Race Relations

Dear Indigna,

Last night I found out that my wife is of mixed race. Her-great-grandmother was one-quarter black. Is this grounds for divorce?

Heartbroken Husband of a Quintroon,
New Orleans, LA

Dear Heartbroken,

I had the exact same circumstance in my own marriage. Before we married, my husband pretended to like vegetables (just like your wife pretended to be white). As soon as we married, he told me that he only ate three servings of my Radish-Prickly Pear Delite in order to get into my pants. Have you tried to get an annulment based on fraud?

The Natural History of Bikers

Dear Indigna,

Why, why, why must bikers make their motorcycles so ear-splitting? What is the appeal of making such a loud, horrible noise that they can actually damage the hearing of everyone around them?

Losing My Mind As Well
Bozeman, MT

Dear Losing,

Evolutionary biologists have actually made a study of this behavior. They have found that the loud roaring is actually a form of communication, akin to that of elephants. Apparently these low-frequency sounds can be heard by bikers for miles, and serve to transmit such information as make, model and year of the bike, date of last maintenance, gang membership, current location, gender, sexual preferences, and cigarette brand.

Astonishingly enough, the similarity of bikers to elephants does not stop there. Both animals move in family-like units, though the members of a so-called biker “club” are not necessarily related by blood, unlike the members of an elephant herd. Both herds and “clubs,” or “gangs,” as they are sometimes called, tend to be dominated by an alpha male surrounded by a number of females who appear to function as a sort of shared harem among the male members of the group. Although juveniles are often seen in elephant herds, however, they are almost unheard of in biker gangs.

Both species are extremely dangerous when they feel their territory is under threat, and both will charge with lethal suddenness if challenged. Both elephants and bikers tend to congregate in specific locations, or “watering holes,” as they are surprisingly called for both species, often in great numbers. How the arrangements for these seemingly impromptu gatherings are made is still a mystery, but presumably the low-frequency sounds are able to convey this information as well. Both species mourn their dead and often return to the site of a group member’s death, which in the case of bikers is often, coincidentally, one of the places where they tend to congregate for casual socializing.

Are bikers a branch on the elephant’s evolutionary tree? Could they represent a species that split off from the main branch millions of years ago, migrated to the West, and developed independently? One fact in favor of this hypothesis is that motorcycle clubs are almost unheard-of in locations where elephants are found in the wild. One possible explanation for this fact could have been a rivalry that resulted in the utter banishment of the group that evolved into bikers. Only the work of genetic mapping will tell us for sure.


Dear Indigna,

I was appalled to learn that President Bush, on his recent trip to India, agreed to share nuclear technology with that country while exempting the Indians from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Doesn’t that frighten you? What if India goes to war with Pakistan? Are we setting ourselves up for a modern day arms race in the region?

Ducked and Covered
Indianapolis, IN

Dear Ducked,

I really think you have nothing to worry about. It is my understanding, if I remember correctly from my school days, that Indians live in buffalo hide “teepees” out in the Southwest somewhere and subsist through hunting, gathering, and limited agriculture. It seems unlikely that they would have a use for any nuclear technology, much less an arms race, so this “Treaty” of which you write seems rather moot, don’t you think? I mean, it would be decades, no doubt, before the Indians are in a position to threaten anyone, much less a country as far away as Pakistan, as I understand that their weapons of choice are handmade bows and arrows, as well as primitive hatchets they call “tomahawks.” Heck, it would take months just to get to Pakistan on horseback (Indians’ preferred method of travel), if they could get there at all, so there would be very little element of surprise should they wish to go to war with Pakistan, though how they would have even heard of Pakistan is rather beyond my comprehension as I understand they speak their own languages (not English) and don’t have television, radio or newspapers.

Now I have heard of something called a “tomahawk missile,” and granted, such a weapon could do some damage, but I hardly think it would spark an arms race. Furthermore, what the Indians could hope to accomplish by exploding a shell filled with those crude implements is more than I can fathom.

Road Rage

Dear Indigna,

Today while I was driving on the freeway these people kept trying to merge, and they were going a lot slower than I was. I kept speeding up to close any gap these people thought they’d spotted in my lane but they continued to try to merge into my lane! Then there are these other guys who spot the tiniest space between me and the car ahead of me and think they can use that to get into my lane, sometimes even after I floor it to eliminate the temptation. What do you do about jerks like that?

Road Raging
Los Angeles, CA

Dear Road,

I have installed a cattle catcher on the front of my Hummer for just this problem.

High School Exit Exam

Dear Indigna,

I think this new high school exit exam is just terrible! You only get six chances to pass and they test you on addition and subtraction of really big numbers! Not only that, but they expect you be able to read and understand a newspaper! Now just when do they expect these kids to need those skills? That’s what calculators and blogs are for.

And what about the special ed kids? For example, there is this girl in my daughter’s class who has been in a coma her entire high school career. Are we going to deny her the chance to go to college just because she can’t pass some dumb test?

The test isn’t even designed for high schoolers! I understand that it tests, like, middle school level material. How can we expect kids to remember stuff from that long ago?

Los Angeles, CA

Dear Indigna,

A bunch of parents at our high school are really cheesed off by the requirement that the seniors have to do a research project. Come on, it’s senior year! These kids just want to have a little fun, and they’re hard pressed to find time for it what with all the extracurricular activities like sports, shopping, and keeping up with “The O.C.” I mean, it takes my son several hours a night just to respond to his email. When is he going to find time to do a research project?

Panties in a Bunch
Paterson, NJ

Dear Steamed and Panties,

I am grouping your letters because they address similar problems with our American society today, and believe me they are not the only ones I have received complaining about these issues! I even have a personal connection to this disgraceful breakdown of common sense and morality: I pay through the nose to send my kid to college yet those snotty “professors” keep giving him bad grades! What’s up with that?

But this isn’t about me, it’s about you and all the other parents of school-age children out there who are asking, “What psychotic is deciding what these kids need to learn?”

Let’s take so-called “Math,” for example. Look, don’t these elitist “educators” realize that most cash registers at dining establishments don’t use “numbers” anymore? They just have little pictures of the burgers and fries.

Furthermore, I’m surprised that newspapers even exist anymore! Haven’t they heard of Jon Stewart? I mean, helloooooooo!

And what about this “research paper?” Why must they reinvent the wheel when there are thousands of papers on every conceivable topic readily available on the web with a click of the mouse?

As for the tired old chestnut about “getting into a good college,” believe me, it’s far cheaper, faster and easier for your kids to just get a degree online. There are lots of sites that will sell you a diploma in almost any field you can think of.

What ever happened to the good old days? I understand that, historically, American children attended the “School of Hard Knocks” until they matriculated at “University of the Rails.” Students at that institution apparently engaged in a great deal of autonomous study employing classical pedagogical methods such as oral story and song, learning such diverse subjects as geography (“The Big Rock Candy Mountains”), history (“The Wreck Of The Old 97") and home economics (“Mulligan Stew”). And I understand that tuition was paid entirely in such community service as rock breaking or road work! I don’t hear any of those old-timers whining about not getting a quality education, do you?

I say we return to that golden age of self-directed education. Think about it. Don’t your kids know way more than you about video games, emoticons and hacking major governmental databases? They sure didn’t learn those skills from any teacher! Sure, we can keep the bricks & mortar schools—I mean, who wants a teenager hanging around the house all day, am I right?—but enough with the books and exams already. Just give ‘em all laptops and a high-speed wireless connection and just watch what those kids can do!


Dear Indigna,

We recently remodeled our house and I’ve been looking forward to redecorating as well. But when I chose a pastel color scheme, my husband hit the roof. What gives?

Spring Is My Season
Boise, Idaho

Dear Spring,

Are you married to a woman? No? Then what were you thinking??? Everyone knows that a man who allows a pastel color scheme in his house is gay. Choose a gray and brown color scheme if you want to save your marriage.

Dear Indigna,

My husband caught me needlepointing a floral pillow cover. When I told him I planned to put the finished pillow in the living room he totally had a conniption fit. Why?

Needlework Nellie
Springfield, Illinois

Dear Needlework,

Why? Because the instant that floral décor item hit the sofa, any visitor to the house would know your husband was gay. There is no surer sign.

Dear Indigna,

My husband and I recently gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. The problem is, my husband is really uncomfortable with all the pink things we’ve been given. What should I do?

Pretty in Pink
Baggs, Wyoming

Dear Pretty,

Haven’t you been listening? Any man who would even tolerate a single pink item in his home is clearly looking for a little “Brokeback Mountain” action. I mean, really, woman! You live in Wyoming. Now, that’s cowboy country isn’t it? Think about it. If he did not instantly destroy every last pink plastic baby shampoo bottle or hot pink Barbie costume that entered your house, you and your “husband” are in deep, deep trouble.

Dear Indigna,

I sent my husband flowers at work for Valentine’s Day. He thanked me when he got home. Should I be concerned?

Loving Wife
Mesa, Arizona

Dear So-Called “Wife,”

Please get a good lawyer. Your husband is gay.

Dear Readers,

Due to the number of questions I receive dealing with similar issues I’ve decided to list the top ten signs your husband is gay, in no particular order.

Shaves and showers at least one time while on vacation.
Likes your mother.
Stays up late “talking” with houseguest without turning on the TV.
Rumored to drink Fresca.
Never farts audibly.
Ignores big screen plasma TV display.
Willingly consumes exotic, frightening food, like mangos.
Gets a Brazilian wax.
Insists on inviting an oddly androgenous Chris or Terry or Pat to wedding.
Fucks men, with or without you.

Dear Indigna,

My husband . . .

Dear Reader,

Say no more. I hope you have a pre-nup.

Pending Legislation

Dear Indigna,

I just read that AOL is going to start letting mass-emailers pay a fee to let their messages avoid our spam filters. This strikes me as outrageous! First we have to install and maintain a spam filter to keep this junk from clogging up our mail folders, and now our own Internet provider is helping those guys get around our defenses! They claim the service will only be sold to “legitimate” businesses but if you believe that I have a river in Egypt I’d like to sell you. Why should they try to winnow out the “good” spammers (an oxymoron if I ever heard one) when they can more easily just let all spammers pay a little extra? Hey everybody, let’s gang up on those spam-filter boys and put ‘em out of business why don’t we?

San Jose, CA

Dear Fuming,

“Why should they try to winnow out the ‘good’ spammers”? Why indeed? I think your idea of simply doing away with the spam-filter purveyors is a good one, but I understand that some of our enterprising leaders in Washington have come up with an even simpler, and more lucrative, solution to the problem of spam filters. Apparently a bill is pending before Congress that will effectively give the email address of everyone in the country to every e-marketer, newsletter publisher, and fund-raising entity in the world, no “checking” or “validating” required. Then, if you wish to unsubscribe to, say, the emails peddling disabled orphan kitten adoption, junior high cheerleader photos, or “body enhancement,” it would be your responsibility, as the consumer, to “opt-out” by paying a small fee to the government for each address you want to block.

This fab scheme benefits our great nation in three ways. First, it promotes commerce, and what’s good for business is good for America!

Second, it puts you, the consumer, back in the driver’s seat with these mass marketers! No longer will you be subject to the whims of a mindless, soulless piece of filtering code. Rather, you will have the power to precisely control which spam you wish to receive by selectively blocking certain senders (thus alerting those businesses to change the address they’re using), and unless you’re some kind of commie that isn’t willing to listen to sales pitches and solicitations, the program is absolutely free.

Finally, it will undoubtedly eliminate our federal deficit within just a few months. What’s not to like?

Write your congressman today and urge his support for the definitive economic turnaround that this vital piece of legislation will enable. Then, look for my recommendations for “Indigna-approved” products and services of all kinds, in your mailbox daily!

Educational Funding

Dear Indigna,

I just read in the newspaper that Toledo, OH is closing nine schools and firing 300+ teachers so that they can give DaimlerChrysler $280 million in tax breaks to build a plant there. Now, I’m no economist, but is this fair?

Concerned Taxpayer,
Miami Beach, FL

Dear Concerned,

Pop quiz: Which has the higher IQ, you or a French fry? Your letter makes it abundantly clear that not only are you not an economist now, nor will you ever will one. Where’d you get the idea that cities and corporations take “fairness” into consideration at any time?

Here’s how it works. You give the automaker massive tax breaks so they will build a plant in your town. That plant needs workers. Automotive workers don’t need a lot of education. In fact, the car companies probably prefer that they have the least amount necessary to do the job, because anyone with a developed brain would want to blow it out with a shotgun after working on an assembly line for no more than a week. So, as part of the incentive package, the city agrees to gradually shut down nearly all the public schools in the area, thus guaranteeing the company a steady stream of willing employees who don’t know how to negotiate or research how much other people in their profession are paid. The city gets to save all that money and everyone goes home happy.

Now why on earth would you object to something like that? It’s a win-win situation! I’m outraged that people like you are allowed to vote.

Open Marriage

Dear Indigna,

I am a graduate student and recently became engaged to be married to the most wonderful man in the world. All my friends are telling me to keep my name and have an “open marriage” so that we don’t stifle the love we feel for each other by possessiveness and jealousy. My husband-to-be says that my choice of name is entirely up to me, and even offered to take my name, or combine our names, so that’s not the issue. The thing is, he feels tempted by the open marriage thing because it makes so much logical sense, you know, “if you love something, set it free” and all that. I, on the other hand, can’t shake the feeling that I might feel a little uncomfortable trying to study in the kitchen while listening to him go at it with another woman in the bedroom, or perhaps finding messy evidence of an afternoon tryst to which I was not invited on my side of the bed. Please tell me what choice is best.

Berkeley, CA

Dear Confused,

I’ll say you are! You must not love your “fiancé” very much if you aren’t even willing to take his name! And what kind of a man would change his name?! Are you sure you’re not just a beard?

As for the issue of so-called “open marriage,” I once had some close friends who were in the exact same situation. They decided to try it and it worked out great because the husband didn’t have to give up his other girlfriend just because he got married. But the exact same problem that you fear did, indeed, arise (no pun intended). The wife got sick and tired of cleaning up after those two, whose “experiments” could be quite messy, while she was a neat freak.

Here’s where it gets complicated: the man that the girlfriend was shacked up with asked her to move out so his other girlfriend could move in, at least until her baby was born. The prospect of the slobby GF moving into her house made the wife crazy. Meanwhile, the wife’s boyfriend broke up with her because he had knocked up his own wife, an infidelity that infuriated the first wife.

So, long story short, the first wife dumped both of them, moved to L.A., married a famous movie producer, and now lives in a house on the beach in Malibu. Meanwhile, all of the others remain penniless, miserable and alone. On this evidence alone, I’d say go for it, girl!

P.S. She took the movie producer’s name, of course.

Death Penalty

Dear Indigna,

I am appalled that our country is the only one in the developed world that still executes people! Please help me understand why we continue to impose this immoral and inhumane punishment.

Death Penalty Protester
Folsom, CA

Dear Death,

I’m with you all the way! I oppose the death penalty absolutely. Except in cases where someone in my family or someone I know was the victim of the crime. Then I say, let ‘em fry! Hell, I’ll pull the switch myself! But only if it is a criminal who has harmed my friends or family, or any of their friends or families.

Is it cruel and unusual to execute someone with lethal injection? Absof***inglutely! It’s beyond me how we could sentence anyone to that slow torture, unless they had victimized in any way, say, an actor or actress that I like, or one of my sports heroes. There are also a lot of musicians I’d like to see avenged, if they were assaulted. Like, that Mark Chapman dude, who shot John Lennon? Why he’s still drawing breath is an outrage! I have half a mind to hunt him down myself, and I do mean “hunt” literally, preferably in a heavily wooded escape-proof enclosure with a crossbow.

Other than those exceptions, I am one hundred percent against capital punishment. Of course, if a president I really, really liked, or some great philanthropist, or some noble do-gooder like Mother Teresa, or someone like that who is making the world a better place were to be attacked, stalked, or bothered, I think in that case it would be appropriate to sentence that criminal to, say, stoning, or being drawn and quartered.

So, other than the small number of special circumstances that would warrant special punishment, for the vast majority of capital crimes, I say, end the barbaric practice of execution now!

Oh, and I forgot: abusers of children, or of a friend or family member of one my children’s friends, those guys should be put into a tankful of starving sharks and alligators, preferably on live television.

Sunday, March 26, 2006


Dear Indigna,

I just read in the paper (Contra Costa Times, March 14, 2006, p. A3) about this guy who wants to put a memorial in a field in California. He claims it was the site of “this nation’s first suicide terrorist attack,” in 1964. Apparently the “terrorist” in question was a guy with gambling debts who shot the pilot and co-pilot of the plane he was on, causing it to crash into this field and killing everyone on board, in hopes that his life insurance would bail out his family.

This guy’s design for the memorial consists of a phone booth and a trash can. The phone booth is a nod to the booth the investigators installed in this field for communications (they took it down after they were done). The trash can, in his words, “symbolizes all that was left of the plane and its passengers after the accident.”

Now, the field in question is in the process of being developed with suburban housing, and the exact location he wants to use for this memorial is privately owned. The owner intends to sell his land to the developer for millions of dollars.

Should government be allowed to use imminent domain for this purpose? It seems so unjust.

Livermore, CA

P.S. This guy lives someplace called Drain, OR. Is that relevant?

Dear Incredulous,

I think it’s a terrific idea. I’m sure the survivors of that tragedy will be greatly comforted to know that their loved ones are memorialized by a trash can.

I certainly do believe the government should use every means necessary to secure this piece of our nation’s history, the significance of which has only become clear since 9/11. Who knew Saddam and bin Laden were already working on their evil plot in 1964?

Disaster Management

Dear Indigna,

I just saw an ad for a show on the Discovery Channel called “Perfect Disaster.” The show is going to be about hypothetical natural disasters and how they would destroy civilization as we know it (dry, hot, ferocious wind causes major city to spontaneously combust, collision of earth with cosmic plasma, etc.). Now, this show is clearly intended to do no more than stir up anxiety, fear, even hysteria about events whose chances of happening are vanishingly small, at best. Meanwhile tens of thousands die in traffic accidents each year; why can’t they make a useful show about how to improve highway safety? This “pretend disaster” show just sounds irresponsible and sensationalistic, akin to passing off “The Day After Tomorrow” as a documentary.

Drain, OR

Dear Disgusted,

I cannot believe it. I simply cannot f***ing believe it. Just goes to show, you can never underestimate the intelligence of the average television viewer. Here you are, trying to pass off highway fatalities as in the same league as the end of the world! Look, even the most horrific car accident kills, at most, a handful of people. In comparison, even just one of the kind of disasters you mention would kill millions. Imagine if several or all of these acts of God happened back to back in rapid succession!! Do you really want to deprive people of the opportunity to prepare their families for these eventualities? I think this show should be required viewing for everyone, everywhere, so we can get to work on a global disaster management plan. I bet most localities have never even considered the possibility of the moon losing orbit and crashing into their town! People in Missouri no doubt have allocated very little money to tsunami preparations. I grew up in Florida and I know for a fact that they haven’t spent a dime planning for a giant volcano to suddenly and without warning erupt in the middle of the state. I plan to do a little research so I know what drugs to stockpile in case leprosy spontaneously erupts in every country on earth simultaneously. The Discovery Channel is not the “irresponsible” one here!

P.S. Who on Earth would watch a show about highway safety?


Dear Indigna,

About a year ago, I got married to the love of my life. My husband and I supported my stepson, his girlfriend, her baby, my daughter, her children, my mother and my father. We were all living together in the same house to make ends meet.

Imagine my surprise when I came home early one day and found my stepson and my daughter in a “compromising position”! I immediately separated them and told them how inappropriate it was. Unfortunately, his girlfriend heard the commotion and stormed out of the house. I was glad to have a little more space, but she left her baby behind, who is not my stepson’s daughter. In fact, I have no idea who the father of this baby is.

A week later, I came home and found my stepson “making out” with my mother! Of course, they were both embarrassed, but no matter how disappointed I am in both of them I figured as long as my father didn’t find out, no harm done. I mean, at least my mom is an adult. I just cleaned up the mess and didn’t say anything, figuring that they had both learned their lesson by being caught.

Three days later, my husband and daughter came to me to tell me that they were in love and planned to move in together. I asked my daughter what happened to her and my stepson, which caused my husband to look at her really funny, but she said she preferred “mature men.”

Now, here’s the deal. Everyone is still living here because they can’t afford not to. My daughter simply traded places with me and now sleeps in the master bedroom with my husband and I sleep in the coat closet. My husband quit his job to spend more time in bed with my daughter so I am now supporting the entire family.

The thing is, most of them spend a lot of time watching TV, playing video games, adjusting the thermostat and staring into the fridge with the door open, all of which can add up if you’re not careful. My question is, is it fair for me to ask everyone to pay a share of the utilities, even though they don’t have income? If so, do I divide it just by the grownups or should I include the children as well? Does age matter? The baby, of course, can’t help out but my daughter’s six children are in their teens and early twenties.

Broke and Hurting,
San Antonio, TX

P.S. My father has taken up with my stepson’s ex-girlfriend so she’s living in the house again. Does she count as a family member or is she a guest? Is the fact that she is a minor of any significance here?

P.P.S. My daughter is pregnant again, but she doesn’t know who the father is. Does the unborn child factor into the equation?

Dear Broke,
This is appalling! Okay, so there are what, 14 people living in your house? Unless it’s a frigging mansion that sounds like a housing violation if I ever heard one. Sleeping in the coat closet?! I have half a mind to come down there and cite you myself! Plus, your household sounds really unsanitary.

That said, let me address your question about utilities. Frankly, this is such an easy one that I am mortified on your behalf that you couldn’t figure it out for yourself. Listen, only you, your husband, your father and your mother are technically “adults.” (People in their twenties are not grownups.) Do the right thing by yourself and by them and divide the bill only among the people who have a reasonable chance of actually paying it. That means you pay the whole thing, since helloooooo, you’re the only one who is employed! It’s the least you can do, for crying out loud.

P.S. What kind of monster are you to consider charging a minor for her share of the bills?

P.P.S. No.