Humor: The Purpose of Tools

Tools and their Purposes

Source: Unknown. Collected via Internet or email in 2004

HAMMER: Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays  is used as a kind of divining rod to locate really expensive parts not  far from the object we are trying to hit.

MECHANIC’S KNIFE: Used to open and slice through the contents of  cardboard cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly well  on boxes containing seats and jackets

ELECTRIC HAND DRILL: Normally used for spinning steel Pop rivets in  their holes until you die of old age, but it also works great for  drilling mounting holes in fenders just above the brake line that goes  to the rear wheel.

PLIERS: Used to round off bolt heads.

HACKSAW: One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board  principle. It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable  motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more  dismal your future becomes.

VISE-GRIPS: Used to round off bolt heads. If nothing else is  available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the  palm of your hand.

OXYACETYLENE TORCH: Used almost entirely for lighting various  flammable objects in your garage on fire. Also handy for igniting the  grease inside a brake drum you’re trying to get the bearing race out of.

WHITWORTH SOCKETS: Once used for working on older British cars and  motorcycles, they are now used mainly for impersonating that 9/16 or 1/2  socket you’ve been searching for the last 15 minutes.

DRILL PRESS: A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching  flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the  chest and flings your beer across the room, splattering it against that  freshly painted part you were drying.

WIRE WHEEL: Cleans rust off old bolts and then throws them somewhere  under the workbench with the speed of light. Also removes fingerprint  whorls and hard earned guitar calluses in about the time it takes you to  say, “Ouc….”

HYDRAULIC FLOOR JACK: Used for lowering a vehicle to the ground after  you have installed your new front disk brake setup, trapping the jack  handle firmly under the front fender.

EIGHT-FOOT LONG DOUGLAS FIR 2X4: Used for levering a vehicle upward  off a hydraulic jack.

TWEEZERS: A tool for removing Douglas Fir wood splinters.

PHONE: Tool for calling your neighbor to see if he has another  hydraulic floor jack.

SNAP-ON GASKET SCRAPER: Theoretically useful as a sandwich tool for  spreading mayonnaise; used mainly for getting dog-doo off your boot.

E-Z OUT BOLT AND STUD EXTRACTOR: A tool that snaps off in bolt holes  and is ten times harder than any known drill bit.

TIMING LIGHT: A stroboscopic instrument for illuminating grease buildup.

TWO-TON HYDRAULIC ENGINE HOIST: A handy tool for testing the tensile  strength of ground straps and brake lines you may have forgotten to  disconnect.

CRAFTSMAN 1/2 x 16-INCH SCREWDRIVER: A large motor mount prying tool  that inexplicably has an accurately machined screwdriver tip on the end  without the handle.

BATTERY ELECTROLYTE TESTER: A handy tool for transferring sulfuric  acid from a car battery to the inside of your toolbox after determining  that your battery is dead as a doornail, just as you suspected.


TROUBLE LIGHT: The mechanic’s own tanning booth. Sometimes called a  drop light, it is a good source of vitamin D, “the sunshine vitamin,”  which is not otherwise found under a car or motorcycle at night.  Health benefits aside, its main purpose is to consume 40-watt light  bulbs at about the same rate that 105-mm howitzer shells might be used  during, say, the first few hours of the Battle of the Bulge. More often  dark than light, its name is somewhat misleading.

PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER: Normally used to stab the lids of old-style  paper-and-tin oil cans and splash oil on your shirt; can also be used,  as the name implies, to round off Phillips screw heads.

AIR COMPRESSOR: A machine that takes energy produced in a  coal-burning power plant 200 miles away and transforms it into  compressed air that travels by hose to a Chicago Pneumatic impact wrench  that grips rusty bolts last tightened 60 years ago by someone in  Springfield, and rounds them off.

PRY BAR: A tool used to crumple the metal surrounding that clip or  bracket you needed to remove in order to replace a 50 cent part.

HOSE CUTTER: A tool used to cut hoses 1/2 inch too short.

An Essay for Mrs. Malaprop

“A malapropism (also called a malaprop or Dogberryism) is the use of an incorrect word in place of a word with a similar sound, resulting in a nonsensical, often humorous utterance… The word “malapropism” (and its earlier variant “malaprop”) comes from a character named “Mrs. Malaprop” in Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s 1775 play The Rivals.” (Wikipedia)

Some examples of malapropisms are:

  • “illiterate him quite from your memory” (instead of “obliterate”)
  • “she’s as headstrong as an allegory” (instead of alligator).

A friend of mine recently posted this gem on Facebook; I had seen it before, but yesterday it rang a bell and I thought I’d just get it out here with its corrected version for future reference.

TRIGGER WARNING: If bad English offends you, look away now!


Ow! Ow! Ow!

In text format, the monstrosity reads:

Acyrologia is the incorrect use of words – particularly replacing one word with another word that sounds similar but has a diffident meaning – possibly fueled by a deep-seeded desire to sound more educated, witch results in an attempt to pawn off an incorrect word in place of a correct one. In academia, such flaunting of common social morays is seen as almost sorted and might result in the offender becoming a piranha, in the Monday world, after all is set and done, such a miner era will often leave normal people unphased. This is just as well sense people of that elk are unlikely to tow the line irregardless of any attempt to better educate them. A small percentage, however, suffer from severe acryrologiaphobia, and it is their upmost desire to see English used properly. Exposure may cause them symptoms that may resemble post-dramatic stress disorder and, eventually, descend into whole-scale outrage as they go star-craving mad. Eventually, they will succumb to the stings and arrows of such barrage, and suffer a complete metal breakdown , leaving them curled up in a feeble position.

The only way to stop the pain is to read the paragraph in its proper form:

Acyrologia is the incorrect use of words – particularly replacing one word with another word that sounds similar but has a different meaning – possibly fueled by a deep-seated desire to sound more educated, which results in an attempt to pawn off an incorrect word in place of a correct one. In academia, such flaunting of common social mores is seen as almost sordid and might result in the offender becoming a pariah; in the mundane world, after all is said and done, such a minor error will often leave normal people unfazed. This is just as well since people of that ilk are unlikely to toe the line, regardless of any attempt to better educate them. A small percentage, however, suffer from severe acryrologiaphobia, and it is their utmost desire to see English used properly. Exposure may cause them symptoms that may resemble post-traumatic stress disorder and, eventually, descend into full-scale outrage as they go stark-raving mad. Eventually, they will succumb to the slings and arrows of such barrage, and suffer a complete mental breakdown , leaving them curled up in a fetal position.

I’ve written before about “Word Crimes” – one of Weird Al’s best efforts ever, and that’s saying something because just about everything he does is delightful.

The Wold Floof has Broken.

Improving the web, one word at a time.

XKCD is a wonderful strip. Sometimes Munroe’s posts are based in deep and often incomprehensible (to me) math, sometimes intriguing science, and sometimes the most violently twisted whimsy one could imagine.

The most recent installment gives some suggestions for making the web-browsing experience more interesting.


The internet being what it is, and people’s creativity and free time factoring in, it was no surprise that a vehicle has already been created that allows such a list (or any other) to be implemented.

My news feed now looks like this:


This courtesy of Word Replacer II, a chrome extension that allows you to wipe out any word in your browser that you might find offensive, tiresome, or annoying, and replace it with any other. Tired of seeing Justin Bieber or Kim Kardashian all over the news? Replace them with “Little Bunny Froo-froo” or “King Koopa.”

Trust me, it will make your daily perusal of the news much more uplifting.

The user interface is a bit hard to use, but the fastest way to get things in is to build a blob with this format and import it. Notice that the closing brace after each segment has a comma after it – all except for the last one.

“version”: “2.0.10”,
“replacements”: [
“repA”: “Hillary Clinton”,
“repB”: “Her Supreme Corruptness”,
“type”: “Simple”,
“case”: “Maintain”,
“active”: true
“repA”: “Donald Trump”,
“repB”: “the bombastic blowhard”,
“type”: “Simple”,
“case”: “Maintain”,
“active”: true

It took me a while of fiddling to get them in, but I was able to get about 30 replacements installed and now watching the news feeds actually gives me a smile.


The Old Wolf has spoken

Today it’s Italian’s turn: Giecche Enne Binnestocche

Cross-posted from LiveJournal

I’ve talked about Macaronics before, along with references to Mots d’Heures, Gousses, Rames and Mörder Guß Rheims, and this evening we get to poke gentle fun at Italian, the language of my ancestors.

The following dialogs must be read as though they were written in Italian, or they don’t work well. That means you need to know a bit about Italian orthography.

  • Italian vowels, like Spanish, have pretty much one value each. “ah”, “eh”, “ee,” “oh,” and “oo.” All vowels are pronounced.
  • “ci” and “ce” are pronounched “chee” and “chay”; “chi” and “che” are pronounced “kee” and “kay”.
  • “gi” and “ge” are pronounced “jee” and “jay”; “ghi” and “ghe” are pronounced “gee” and “gay”, with a hard “g”
  • “gn” is pronounced “ny”, as you hear in “lasagna.”
  • Doubled consonants are pronounced slightly longer than single ones.


Uana apanne taim uasa boi neime Giecche. Uorche anna fam – plente, plao, milche cause, fidde cicchense–itse toff laif. Uan dei ise mamma ghiveme binne in tellime: Plente binne enne ghette binnestocche. Datsa giusta uarri didde en sanemagogna, iffe binnestocche no gro uppe uan, tu; tri—fette laiche faire aidrent en itse gadde inoffe binnese tu fidde Bostone tuenti irs. Itte gro aire den olle claudese–iu nevve sin saccie bigghe binnestocche inna u laif. Una ting ua muste no issa data pipple inne Bossatun livva onna binnes anna pipple una longa aylumda livva ona da sahound.

Giecche go picchene, picchene, picchene, aire enne aire, tille pesse di claudese en i si a chesele bilonghe tu giaiant u uonse biutiful uaite gus. Alle taim disse giaiant ise singhene: Fi, Fai, Fo, Fomme, Ai smelle blodde Inglescemen (Itse only songhe i no). Batte Giecche isa Merdicane, so i don gara uorri. Uen giaiant folle slippe, snoren laiche Vesuvio, Giecche grebbe di  uaite gus enne ranne laiche eche. I ghetto omme seif a saond enn i sei tu ise papa: lucche me, i seise, lucche uar ai gatte; Gudde, seise pappa, ui gonne ev ardboil egghese for breghefeste. Neggheste dei mamma boilse egghese, en uara iu tinche? Dei uas goldene egghese, enne pappa brecche ise folse titte.

Mannaggie l’America, i seise, demme titte coste me seveni-faive dollari. Enne i ghive Giecche di bittinghe ove ise laif – i bitte im blecche n blu.

Di morrale ove disse storri ise: Iu gara inoffe trombole in iur onne beccheiard; uara iu gara go lucchen arande for morre?

Now I am a “Merdicane” too… my papa could have done this beautifully, since he was not only a native Italian speaker, but also an accomplished character actor and dialectician. But for your gratuitous benefit, here is a 3.9MB mp3 file of my own rendition of this delightful fairy tale.

Now that you know how it’s done, here are two more that you can try all by yourself:


Disse libretto ise for dose iu laiche to follo di spiccher uail ise spicche

Uans appana taim uas tre berrese. Mamma berre. Papa berre. E beibe berre. Live inne contri nire forresta. Naise ause. No mogheggia.

Uanne dei pappa, mamma e beibe go bice. Oreie. A furghette locche di door. Bai enne bai commese Goldilocchese. Sci garra nattinghe tu du batte meiche troble. Sci puschie olla fudde daon di  maute, no live cromme. Den sci gos appesterrese enne slipse inne olle beddse. Leise slobbe.

Bae enne bai commese omme di tre berrese olle sonnebrone enne send inne scius. Dei garra no fudde, de garra no beddse. En uarra dei goine du tu Goldilocchese? Tro erre aute inna strit?  Colle polissemenne? Fette cienze.

Dei uas italien berres, enne dei slippe  onna floore. Goldilocchese ste derre tre uicase. Itte aute ausenomme. En guiste bicose dei esche erre tu meiche di beddse, sci sei, “go cheise iusef,” enne ronne omme craine tu erre mama, tellenrre uat sannimagonnis di tre berrese uer. Uatiuse? Uara goine du? Go complaine sittiolle?


Uans appane taim uasa a dacche livene greite bigghe pande. Prirri sunne, sci ghettse taide suimmene olle bai erselfe, becche fort, becche fort. Sci uantse femmeli. So scise goine tu grosseri en baine effe dasene egghese. Aime goine ecci egghese, sciese spighene tu erselfe, enne reise femmeli. Sci eccie, eccie, eccie, naitendei, till di scielse breche en aute pappese sigghese ov di chiuteste dagghelinghese iu evver sin. Dirai sei sigghese? Mai mistecche. Uas onneli faive. Di siggheste uas sammetinghe aute disse uorlde. It edde tuistebicche, fleppeirs, bacchetitte, engheneilse, denderaffe, pagghenose, anciebecche, folinarciese, folingerre, crosseaise, boldelegghese, nacchenise, en piggenetose. Itte uas di agghelieste dagghelinghe inne istori ove uorlde.

Uen i traise uocche, i trippse folse. Uen i traise suim, i ollemost drannese. Lucche uara di chette dregghede inne, ise faive broddese iuste sei. enne dei leffe leffe leffe laiche bancie smarellechese. Den dei go suimmene uaile di pure aggheli dagghelinghe sitsandi eggie di pande craine is lille art aute.

Uanne dei, is pessine bai di manegiere ove di Brongghese Zoo. I sise di aggheli dagghelinghe, barri don biliv itte. Ai bin drinnghene tu maccie, i seise tu imselfe. I teichese de dagghelinghe tu di spesialistese; dei don beliv itte ider. So aut eppense? Dei bilde speciale cheigge for imme; i ghette is neime inne Deili Nuse en tausensa pippele cammene tu teiche lucche. Lestemonte, Senme Goldeuinne ghiveme Allaiuude contreggete en nao i gose naitclabbine wid Dannele Dacche en meicchese vivititausende a irre. Ise broddese stei inne pande, en uanne bai uanne dei endoppe in sambarris dinerpleite.

De morrale ove dis storri ise: ders lattse u lucche chiut inoffe tu itte; au menni arre derre so aggheli dei ghette peide for itte?

Taken from:

Storris enne pommese fram Mamma Gus.
Including Pommese, Lille Redde Raiden Udde, Giecche enne binnestocche, Di tri berrese, and Di aggheli dagghelinghe.
© Richard Irpinio Bimonte; Ic 12May48

I fount this listing in “Full text of “Catalog of Copyright Entries 1948 Dramas and Works for Oral Delivery Jan-Dec 3D Ser Vol 2 Pts 3-4,” a raw scan at; the three poems above were either typed from very old hard copy that I have had in my files for decades, or in the case of “Di Aggheli Dagghelinghe,” found on the web as an “author unknown” snippet. The subtitle makes reference to Little Red Riding Hood and some other poems, but thus far I have found no clues on the web as to where the original volume might be located. If you have a copy, or know where one lives, leave a comment here – I’d love to see the rest of it.

The Oldde Wolfe hese spochene…

The Crooked House of Windsor


Lovely historical building, built in 1592, looking like it might have been built by Numerobis:


If you’re an Astérix fan, you’ll know what I mean.

According to Wikipedia, the thing went skeewompus because it was rebuilt with green wood in 1718. Of course, buildings tend to do this over time,


but contractors are always cutting corners:

Leaning Tower of Pisa

I am put in mind of a couple of things:

Terre vasée, Krous, qu’est dément
En y vaquer Krous qu’est d’émail.
Il fondu Krous qu’est de si que se pince,
Agacer Krous qu’est déesse taille
Il botté Krous qu’est de quatre.
Vich côté Krous qu’est de mousse
Année olive tous guetteurs
Déracinés Krous qu’est délit Toulouse.
-Mots d’Heures, Gousses, Rames (van Rooten)


Image from Granfa Grigg Had a Pig, by Wallace Tripp. Some of the loveliest nursery rhyme illustrations I’ve ever had the good fortune to encounter.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Grammer and the Internet

Saw this on Facebook today and it brought a collection of things to mind. In light of Weird Al’s recent “Word Crimes” video, I thought I’d share them, in no particular order.


OzyMillie - Revenge of the Language Oriented

That's The Way I Roll




Post Comments - spelling



Of course, things can get complicated the deeper down the rabbit hole you go:




Strongest Compulsion Editing

Lastly, before you get your knickers in a twist, I know how to spell “grammar.” I’m just employing the conventional wisdom expressed above to increase my exposure for this post. I’ll be curious to see how many people don’t read this far and take me to task for misspelling it in the title.


The Old Wolf has spoken.


Alcohol: joyous, insidious, confusing, and funny.

“That’s the problem with drinking, I thought, as I poured myself a drink. If something bad happens you drink in an attempt to forget; if something good happens you drink in order to celebrate; and if nothing happens you drink to make something happen.”

― Charles BukowskiWomen


– What are you doing there?
– I’m drinking.
– Why are you drinking?
– To forget.
– To forget what?
– To forget that I’m ashamed.
– Ashamed of what?
– Ashamed of drinking!

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince


I’m a drinker with a writing problem. I only drink on two occasions—when I’m thirsty and when I’m not.

– Breandán Ó Beacháin





After celebrating a bit too enthusiastically, a gentleman staggered out of a bar and began weaving down the street toward home. Ahead of him two nuns approached, and being solicitous of his impaired condition, discreetly parted to let him walk between them.



In a moment the fellow stopped, scratched his head, and said to himself, “Now how did she do that?”



“Dinna spend money on drink, but aye keep a corkscrew.”


A friend who’s in liquor production,
Has a still of astounding construction,
The alcohol boils,
Through old magnet coils,
He says that it’s proof by induction.

David Letterman’s Top Ten Least Popular Alcoholic Beverages

10. Really, Really, Really, Really Old Milwaukee
9. D Train Scotch
8. Amaretto Di Gotti
7. Orville Redenbacher’s Butter Flavored Vodka
6. McBourbon
5. Dinty Moore’s Pork N’ Booze
4. Ernest, Julio, Tom and Roseanne Gallo
3. Dr. Scholl’s Medicated Tequila
2. Seagrams 7, Mets 0
1. Chivas Regis

“There’a a phrase, “the elephant in the living room”, which purports to describe what it’s like to live with a drug addict, an alcoholic, an abuser. People outside such relationships will sometimes ask, “How could you let such a business go on for so many years? Didn’t you see the elephant in the living room?” And it’s so hard for anyone living in a more normal situation to understand the answer that comes closest to the truth; “I’m sorry, but it was there when I moved in. I didn’t know it was an elephant; I thought it was part of the furniture.” There comes an aha-moment for some folks – the lucky ones – when they suddenly recognize the difference.”
― Stephen King

I’ve been mostly teetotal all my life, and fully so since 1969. My Italian relatives would give me a little wine cut with water at dinner, because that’s what was done. When I got really sick at home, mother would make me a toddy with milk, honey, and a half-jigger of brandy. I feel just great, mommy! And one time – once only – in college, I got falling-down drunk at a party up the canyon, and the next morning had the mother of all five-alarm hangovers, one which made the following seem like a romp in the park on a spring day:

Dixon was alive again. Consciousness was upon him before he could get out of the way; not for him the slow, gracious wandering from the halls of sleep, but a summary, forcible ejection. He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider-crab on the tarry shingle of the morning. The light did him harm, but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again. A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the night, too, he’d somehow been on a cross-country run and then been expertly beaten up by secret police. He felt bad.

From Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim.

It was at that point that I decided that alcohol was not my preferred vehicle for having a good time. Bill Cosby dealt with that particular subject expertly here:

Now in some ways, this is a pity. There are some lovely wines and liqueurs out there – I remember fondly some Lambruscos and Irish coffees and some of Uncle Carlo’s home-made wine and those aforementioned hot-toddies, to name a few. It’s a shame that synthehol isn’t a thing. On the other hand, there are some truly hellish concoctions out there as well.

History has shown how well prohibition worked – for good or ill, alcohol will always be a part of human society – but for all the humor and enjoyment humans can find in responsible drinking, the social costs of alcohol abuse are staggering. Despite unflagging efforts by organizations such as MADD, penalties for impaired driving in this country are a joke – killing while drunk behind the wheel is often punished with a slap on the wrist, while repeat offenders manage to avoid serious consequences again and again. This must stop; if we are to consider ourselves a civilized species, the social right to a “good time” ends where people and property are negatively impacted.

I got sober. I stopped killing myself with alcohol. I began to think: ‘Wait a minute – if I can stop doing this, what are the possibilities?’ And slowly it dawned on me that it was maybe worth the risk.
Craig Ferguson

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Abramovic vs. Nello

On November 2, 2009, Business Insider published a picture of this receipt, claiming that Russian Billionaire Roman Abramovic had dropped the price of a nice SUV on dinner, including a few bottles of rawther pricey wine. Abramovic’s agent soon came forth with a rebuttal, implying that Nello Balan was up to his usual antics.

Cityfile published this piece on May 15, 2010 – the original page is now gone, and I had to dig it up from the Wayback machine:

Nello Balan is the owner of Nello, the exceedingly mediocre Italian restaurant on the Upper East Side. He’s also one of the city’s most shameless—and most notorious—publicity hounds. Balan’s latest attempt at drumming up attention, however, now appears to be exploding in his face. Last week, a receipt “surfaced” indicating that Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich had spent $52,000 on lunch. (The bill was for $47,000, but TMZ, which first reported the story, said the billionaire had tacked on a $5,000 tip.) But a spokesman for Abramovich tells us the bill wasn’t his and the mogul may pursue legal action against Balan for suggesting otherwise.

Last week’s report—which TMZ has since scrubbed from its website—followed two other recent cases where massive bills magically made their way into the hands of the media. First there was fellow Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who allegedly spent $19,000 on lunch two weeks ago. Then there was Jay-Z and Beyoncé, who supposedly spent $1,200 on Dom Perignon, truffles and lobster salad last week.

Naturally, these bills don’t make the news because some absent-minded waiter keeps dropping the receipts at the feet of tabloid reporters. They’re fed to the media by Balan himself. (Amusingly, when the details of Prokhorov’s meal were reported in the pages of the Post, Rich Calder wrote that Balan had “declined to disclose Prokhorov’s exact tab,” but a “source” had provided the paper with a copy.)

But is Balan just concocting these receipts out of thin air? Abramovich’s rep says that the the Russian mogul was, in fact, at Nello’s on the date in question. But he didn’t spend anything close to what the receipt indicated and he may now take legal action against Balan for spreading the lie. (It would have been a bit of a waste to order all that expensive wine anyway; Abramovich was accompanied by his girlfriend, Dasha Zhukova, who is seven months pregnant.) Here’s what John Mann, who heads up corporate communications for Abramovich’s London-based holding company, had to say when we asked about the bill:

The $47,000 check for lunch at Nello’s in New York on Friday, October 30, 2009, published by various media outlets over the weekend, is in no way connected to Mr. Roman Abramovich. While Mr. Abramovich and five others did dine at Nello’s on that date, their total bill amounted to only a couple of percent of that amount. The assertion that they ran up a bill of any greater magnitude is entirely false.

We are in the process of investigating the origins of this inaccurate story, which we have been told was perpetuated by people connected to the restaurant. Our legal counsel has been instructed to review any appropriate action to rectify this situation.

It wouldn’t be beyond Balan to make this up. He’s tried to bribe reporters in the past, he was once arrested for choking his girlfriend, and he’s been investigated for tax evasion. And he might just be desperate enough to conjure up fake receipts considering the financial problems he’s had in recent months.

We reached out to Balan for comment, but the normally chatty restaurateur didn’t feel like talking. The receptionist who answered the phone said she “didn’t think” Balan was there at the moment, then put us on hold for a minute before returning to the line. “Can you call back on Monday? He’s in Europe until then.” Then she hung up.

Who’s telling the real story? Uncertain. No one has claimed the receipt, and Nello’s isn’t talking. Just another everyday tale from the Big Apple.

The Old Wolf has spoken.