Sunday, June 26, 2016

Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump

I recently taught a writing workshop for children at Elgin Community College, and learned that kids, or at least these kids in particular, were highly politically aware .. no, not aware.. charged.

The kids ran anywhere from 10-14 years of age, and they had been following Donald Trump's bigoted xenophobia with fear, anger and dislike. 

At one point, I had them write lyrics,and one of the girls (yes, Trump seems to have alienated girls in particular), wrote a song called,Trump. The lyrics went something like this: 


Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump
Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump
Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump

So as I read her lyrics out loud, the rest of the kids started 'singing' along, enthusiastically shouting,'Trump, Trump, Trump.'  College kids walking by the classroom looked inside, alarmed at a bunch of pre-teens boisterously chanting Trump's name.

Later I had them write a story where each person would write a single line, and pass to the next person to continue the story. Here's what they came up with, with absolutely no (I repeat, no) input from me:

I'm not as concerned about the future of our kids now as I was before this.



Monday, June 6, 2016

​The Repossessor
I'm not a big guy ... 6 ft, 180 lbs of fine tuned swimmer muscle surrounded by fat cells composed mostly of Fannie Mae Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream. But I'm a lot bigger than I was in 1985, when I was .. the Repossessor.
Yep, I used to track down nefarious no-payers, and wrestle from them the car, boat, television set, motorcycle or even homes they used as security to borrow money from us at what I admit now were nearly usurious interest rates ... of course, they don't remotely compare to today's payday loans, which can carry rates as high as 700%.  These rates put the Mob rates to shame, but you can't get politicians to take action, because a bunch of this 700% goes towards buying said politicians.
(Norm, this post isn't remotely funny You're ranting about politics again.)
Ah, myself is right again. Moving on, I was rifling through my desk the other day and came across my repossessor license. Yep, it's a real thing, even though it does have way too many 's's in its spelling. Anyway, here's what it looked like:


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

​I'd rather Pole Vault than Time Vault

Have you been reading about the movie John Malkovich made that no one alive will live to see? Just our grandkids, Cher, and cockroaches, and maybe Justin Bieber might stick around for a long time to torment mankind longer than we would like with his very punchable face.
But as far as the rest of us, unless we somehow stick around for 100 years, we're not going to see it. They're gonna premier it at the Cannes Festival, well, not premier, they sort going to say, "hey, we made a movie, and you can't watch it for 100 years. Neener, neener"   Of course this kind of genius means it will win some kind of award somewhere.
But I don't see what the big deal is. Authors do this all the time, writing a book (that quite likely took as long or longer than this movie to create) and no one reads it. Just jump on Kindle and browse through the self-published stuff. Plenty of them never get read, except by their mothers, brothers and wives.  Heck, my own book Helliburton has yet to get a single rating on Kindle, and I've been traditionally published five times and had several best selling authors blurb my books.
So for me, that movie I won't watch is as relevant as the lottery prize I won't win, the Justin Bieber music I won't listen to, and the pole vault over the Grand Canyon I won't attempt.  
Besides, in a hundred years, everyone's going to be underwater from the glaciers melting.



Saturday, May 14, 2016

Hygiene Wars

When I went to the Erma Bombeck Writer's Conference last month, I thought I packed everything I might need. I had a brush, to help guide the four hairs that have stuck with me through what people laughingly call the 'balding' stage of life. I had a choice of warm weather and cold weather clothes, because, after all, it was in Ohio. 
God, I love that name, "Ohio." It's so friendly. It's like, "oh' and 'hi' and 'oooooh.'  What fun, and what a great place to have a humor conference.  That, and we were in Dayton, whose name didn't change to Nighton when the sun went down.
So I thought I had everything, that is, until it was time to brush my teeth, which, unlike my hair, have stuck with me through this adventure we call life. 
But that's when I learned I forgot my tooth brush, my rechargeable spinning 'startle-the-food-out-of-my-teeth' brush of wonder.  But I knew hotels like the Marriott would realize that forgetful people like me also travel occasionally, so I went down to the lobby to score myself a temporary replacement.
​Fortunately, I was right. And, because it was the Marriott, they had the Rolls Royce of dental hygiene ... the 'Deluxe Dental Kit."
Thanking my lucky stars I wasn't staying at one of those cheap ass hotels that only carry the 'Basic' Dental Kit, I scurried back to my room, where I soon discovered I had forgotten another essential of hygienic necessity, anti-perspirant.
What to do?  
I elevatored back down to the lobby where I checked their entire collection of arm-pit deodorizers. Which consisted of absolutely nothing. Nope, not a single one. No Right Guard, no gels, no sprays, nothing strong enough for a man, but made for a woman. Nothing.
And then I noticed the dryer sheets.



Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Mom doesn't need no stinking flowers or candy

It’s nearly Mother’s Day!

Yep, time to reflect on the wonderful women who brought us into the world, wiped our snot, cleaned our diapers, broke up our fights with our siblings and always, always miraculously  had in her purse whatever was needed for whatever baby emergency we caused.

Even murderers have mothers, and to these mothers, the feral beast in incarceration is still her little boy. That’s why sports heroes always say, “Hi, Mom” when in front of cameras. That’s why sailors in the war had “Mom” tattoos.  

Yes, without mothers, we would not have been at all, and you wouldn’t be there not reading the words I would not have been here to write.

But we tend to forget important things, like anniversaries and birthdays, and this leads to hurt feelings and angst and consternation and other words that connote unhappiness and discontent.

This is where the advertisers come to our rescue.

So with Mother’s Day approaching, the airwaves are inundated with ads and commercials not just reminding us of this anointed day of wonderfulness, but suggesting ways we might show our love.  Flowers and candy, of course, lead the way, but here are two other suggestions making the airwaves:

The Squatty Potty: What a great way to show Mom you appreciate all those times she wiped your little chubby baby butt?  And it’s made in America! Just like you, unless you weren’t, in which case this sentence made no sense.

But everyone knows that a mother would fiercely defend her baby from danger or a dangerous attacker. So now that you’re grown up, it’s Mom that needs protection, so what better than the Tigerlady Self-Defense Claw. It’s like your Mom morphed into the family tabby with retractable claws, capable of capturing the DNA of the attacker, assuming your Mom left anything left of the attacker to prosecute.

Two lovely practical gifts to illustrate how much you truly appreciate and cherish the woman who brought you into this world.



Friday, April 29, 2016


I noticed the smudges on the wall in the warehouse restroom at work, but never really thought much of them ... or bothered to closely examine them. I figured it was normal warehouse dirt .. until this appeared: 

 I've been practicing my empathy lately, so I tried to imagine what would go through this guy's head ... wait, how do we know it was a guy?  It's entirely possible that one of the women from the office would come back here rather than use the cleaner, exclusively-for-women restroom in the office, but not willing to spread boogers in their lounge.  

So I looked around. If a woman was sitting on the toilet, mining for boogers and wiping them on the wall instead of using the very convenient toilet paper all rolled up and ready, all of the boogers would be within arm's length of the toilet while sitting.

Aha! There were many that were well out of reach! But definitely within reach of a standing guy, who, I forgot to mention, often doesn't bother to lift the toilet seat before peeing. But that's another post. 

Our culprit was definitely a guy. And someone who wants to show his disdain for either his employers, or his fellow employees. So what would motivate a person to be mad at his employers? Maybe he didn't think he made enough money. Who did I know that doesn't make enough money?  


Hmmm, was I the culprit?  I frowned, studying one of the boogers carefully. Nope, the smudges were much thicker than what I would make. I mean, my hands aren't like Donald Trump's, but they're the right size for me.

So I was ruled out. The women were ruled out. That left about fifty possible suspects.

I wondered, could it be the guy who never flushes the urinal? It was always a joy to show up to pee and see a frothy yellow stinky liquid pooled in the bottom of the urinal.

Or was it the guy who uses twenty paper towels every time instead of one of two, causing us to run out of towels near the end of the day. Nah, I'm sure booger-guy doesn't bother to wash his hands. He probably loads up a finger with booger, picks up some more toxic niceties when he wipes, and then just leaves with all of this on his hands.

Then he proceeds to go touch the coffee maker, the copy machine, the refrigerator door, maybe other people's lunches, the door ...

I looked at the door knob, all innocent and covered with feces, pee droplets and boogers.

My head snapped around to the paper towel holder. Empty. Twenty-papertowel guy beat me to it. And I realized...

I'm trapped!


Friday, April 22, 2016

I can beat up Justin Bieber ... or can I?

Warning: I'm going to give you a little peek into a guy's mentality.  Not every guy, I admit, but most guys.

Seriously, ugly stuff coming up, so read on only if you think you can stomach it.

(last chance to not read on).

Okay,  if you kept reading, it' s not my fault if I change your opinion of guys forever (or at least of this guy).

Here goes ... when a couple guys meet, the reptile brain of each guy goes something like this:

"I can take this dude," one of the guys thinks to himself, smiling nicely while squeezing the toothpaste out of the other guy's hand

"Whoa, not messing with this guy," the other one thinks simultaneously, trying not to wince as his ring bites into his ring finger like an angry weasel.

Or two more closely matched dudes eye each other speculatively, wondering just how things would have turned out - think the Spartans against the Persians - if the situation didn't call for civilized behavior and polite talk about sports.

Of course we get this kind of behavior from Mother Nature. Various male deer rubbing antlers against each other, a couple bulls slamming heads, two gorillas wrestling for control, a couple lions ripping into each other.

It's the way we're supposed to be, so it's sort of natural that when I see some cheeky little punk ass young man, like, say, Justin Bieber, behaving in the way we see on every tabloid in the supermarket, the guy part of me can't help but think, "I could beat up that little punk."And then the little movie theater we guys all keep in our brains would show me a little video of a young, acrobatic me Kung Foo'ing Mr. Bieber's smug little girly face.

I saw a picture of Justin Bieber the other day. All muscular and ripped. I guess he's into mixed martial arts?  I''m 57 now. My karate days are thirty years behind me ... and I realized...

... my worst fear.

Justin Bieber could  kick my butt.



Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Restroom Wars

I've decided to weigh in on this whole gender restroom thing that is being
so hotly debated by the courts and state legislators ... of mostly southern
states I can't help but notice.

First of all, speaking as a guy, I don't mind if women, whether identifying
as men or women, come in our restroom. I'd really rather have a woman next
to me in the stall wanting to know if I had a 'square to spare' than former
Congressman Larry Craig trying to play footsies with me.  And if there are
any women who'd like to take a shot at a urinal, like any guy, I'd be
interested in the mechanics of how that would work.

And how would our Founding Fathers weigh in on this debacle? That's how
right-wingers usually like to address Constitutional issues, isn't it?  Did
our forefathers even have bathrooms?  History books are noticeably silent on
the bathroom habits of the colonials; and I have yet to see a PBS
documentary titled, 'Bathroom habits of our Founding Fathers,' which would
undoubtedly be sponsored by the Koch Brothers Foundation, which is used to
wading in doo-doo. I always figured our forefathers just went in buckets,
and then dumped the buckets out the windows. Which likely explains the total
lack of peeping Tom's back in colonial days.

But then I start wondering just what rights the States, or any other
government for that matter, have to impose any kind of rules on where we wee
or dump.  You see, with notable exceptions (public rest stops, public
buildings), the government doesn't provide a place for us to do our business
in the first place. We have to rely on gas stations, which, after stealing
from us at the pump, are somewhat obligated to provide a place for us to
vacate. Especially considering the harm their product causes to our air. Or
we go to restaurants, like the Golden Arches of McDonalds, for our, um,
golden showers. 

(Norm, you didn't just write that, did you?) 

Um, yeah, sorry

But it's McDonalds and gas stations that give us a place to go when our
kidneys need to empty out that Big Gulp or 18.6 ounce can of Monster Energy
Drink. They pay for the toilet paper, the water, the heat, the soap and for
upkeep.  They pay for the parking, the safe environment, and the lighting. 

So what right does the government have to tell men not to go into a women's
restroom (or vice versa),  or men-who-identify-as-women from going in a
women's restroom (or vice versa again)? 

I say none!  

Either stay out of our business, or let us go on the side of a tree, like
our Founding Fathers intended!

Norm Cowie

Norm is an award-winning columnist and founder of the Humor Writers of
America. He has authored nine books, mostly humor. Visit Norm at

Sunday, April 10, 2016


I was sitting at lunch at the Erma Bombeck's Writers Workshop, chatting with Kansas, who was sitting to my left.

Her name wasn't really Kansas. It was, um, er, I don't remember. That's because there were over 500 people at the conference, each of them possessing, not only a first name, but a last name. That's five hundred names, one thousand if you include the last, and even more if you include middle or maiden names. There's no way I can remember 500 names!  I can't remember two names. Ask my kids, Critter 1 and Critter 2.

So when I was meeting all of these bright, energetic writers and lovers of humor, my brain simply shut down, and blanked out everybody's name. But here's where it gets weird. I could remember their states. I guess my mind decided that remembering fifty states was a whole heck of a lot easier than remembering five hundred names. So at one lunch, I was sitting with Massachusetts, three Californias, New York, Washington and Virginia. That night for dinner, I was sitting wth Texas, Kentucky, North Carolina and another Virginia. North Carolina's accent sounded a whole lot like Clay Aiken's.

Anyway, back to my story. I was talking to Kansas, and then turned to my other lunch companion, California, but before I could say anything I noticed a perfume sized black box had appeared next to my spoon. It was all black except for the word "Moo," which was embossed on its side.

I looked at California. She wasn't paying any attention to the box. I closely, using fine tuned man-skills, determined that the box was nearer to my spoon than to her water glass, which was the closest thing to it of hers. Was this a joke? I mean, we're all humorists, right? Maybe she, seeing my last name from my name tag, thought it funny to put a sinister black box with the word 'Moo' next to a guy named Cowie.

I tried ignoring it, but I was transfixed, staring at it from the corner of my eye. I wanted to touch it, see what would happen.  I took a few bites of food, watching the box to see what it would do. Then I looked away, then back at it. It hadn't moved, and simply sat there in sinister and silent contemplation. For I knew it was evil. It was a black box -
that's evil, right? And the only thing it had to say was "Moo,' Which we all know is from the bovine language, and it means, "stupid humans, we cows are destroying the ozone layer with our methane-laden farts."  Yes, I speak Cow, for I am Cowie, which means, 'understander of the bovine language."

I wondered how a cow had sneaked into the packed dining room, and secreted this box to me. Perhaps disguised as one of the servers?  Cows are tricky beasts, you know. There's a reason they've taken over over our Congress.

Nobody else noticed the small box. The states were all happy chatting to each other, oblivious to the dark secret emanating its invisible evil beams at everyone at the table. It would cause later calamities, a dropped napkin, a forgotten spoon, the need to burp. It was evil, I tell you, evil. I could just sense Hell's hands on this box.

Feverishly, I looked around. There had to be a priest in the building! Someone who could banish this fiendishly innocent looking demon from our presence.

And that was when California stood up, swept the box into her purse, gave me a cheery smile, and went off towards the bar, leaving me, the defender of insidious cow attacks, frantically trying to wave down a religious warrior while holding off servers who thought I wanted them to take my dinner plate.

Oh, I found out after the fact that Moo is simply a business card company.

My bad.

(Next time:  Marriott and their sinister 'Deluxe Dental Kit")



Monday, January 18, 2016

Gnat Attack!

It was a typical Monday morning, I was at my office, fingers tapping on my keyboard sending figures dancing along my computer screen.

Then a gnat zipped by my nose. My eyes followed it until it disappeared and I remembered thinking how rare it was to see a gnat in January, even more so in an office building. I resolved to mention it to my wife over dinner, how a gnat was surviving the winter by hiding in my office feeding from whatever nutrients it might get from my ivy and aloe plants.

Suddenly, the gnat dive bombed in front of my nose again. This time I frowned, not so amused.

A third strafe and it actually flew between my eye and my eyeglasses. This time I swiped at it, knocking my glasses off and missing the gnat by a hundred gnat body lengths.  By the time I’d rearranged my glasses, the gnat had disappeared.

When it came at me again, I was ready. It flew directly at me like a WW2 Japanese fighter pilot giving his life for his Emperor, and I smacked it against my forehead.


I got it, I was sure.  So I checked my palm, but there was no bug.  Gnats are small, their bodies so fragile that my hitting it would obliterate its tiny body. So there was no way its corpse would have fallen to the floor.

Did this mean there a black gnat smashed on my forehead? I swiped my palm across my forehead and searched for a black smudge.


My assistant chose that moment to walk in.

She saw me frowning and her expression blanked.

“Is there a dead bug on my forehead?” I asked.

She giggled, “No, there’s no gnat.”

I give her the stink eye. “You’re not lying, right? You wouldn’t let me walk around all morning with a bug on my face to get me back for pranks I pull, right?”

“Nope,” she assures me, wide-eyed and innocent. She gave me some papers to sign and left with a look and smile.

Okay, good. No dead bug guts on my head.

Back to my spreadsheet, crunching the numbers and wondering.

What if she was lying? I replayed the giggle and the last second smile. Was it a giggle because her boss had a smushed bug on his forehead? Or was she just amused that I’d been at war with a gnat? It could just as easily be either one.

But I’m her boss. She wouldn’t do that. Of course not.

So content, I went back to work.

There wasn’t a smashed bug on my face. If there were, she would have told me.

Of course she would.

But somewhere deep in my consciousness it bothered me that I hadn’t found the gnat’s body. My shallow consciousness wasn’t as confident either.

My nine o’clock appointment was in a few minutes. Important client.  There’s no bug on my forehead, right?

I told myself this the whole way to the restroom to check the mirror.