Sweater Vest

I wear my sweater vest with pride. I know it makes me look like my mommy dressed me for Sunday School, but I won't let that stop me. I'm not trying to be cute or sexy, I just recognize what a smart piece of clothing the sweater vest is.

It's about practicality, you see. The sweater vest keeps the core of my body warm while allowing my arms to move freely, without restriction. Plus, it comes with handy pockets that, OK, I admit I never use, but it's nice to have them.

My other shirts are manly enough -- mostly lined flannels and hockey jerseys in dark colors -- so I think I deserve a break if I occasionally decide it's an even more beautiful day in the neighborhood than Fred Rogers did.

In general, I think I have a healthy balance of machismo. I like sports, but I don't like motor sports. I enjoy the fine arts, but I've never been to a ballet. I like meat and potatoes, but I also think some sushi rice with shitake and oyster mushrooms would be delightful.

People should learn more about me before assuming that my wearing a sweater vest is some sort of plea for homosexual intercourse. If they would just sit down and watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show with me, they would see that I simply do not understand that movie at all.

I have always had a healthy desire, however, to share my heterosexual passion with compatible members of the female gender. And if I'm wearing nothing but a sweater vest.in the process, well, deal with it. My bedroom gets a little nippy on winter nights.

Admittedly, one thing about me does send the wrong message. There is simply no excuse for it -- and I don't know how or why I started doing it -- but sometimes, instead of saying goodbye to people, I say, "toodle-doo."

For some reason, no one objects to me using this expression, which should be reserved exclusively for 60-year-old Tinker Bells. But when I wear a piece of very functional clothing, everyone feels the need to question my sexuality.

Well, go ahead and say what you want. If you've never had your ass kicked by someone wearing a sweater vest, maybe your time has come. That's all I'm saying. Thanks for reading this week's column. Toodle-doo everybody!

Paul Lundgren is a newspaper columnist and a very nice man. His e-mail address is paul [at] geekprom.com.


2006 Resolutions

A lot of people make resolutions for themselves at the start of a new year. I'm not one of those people. Acknowledging any personal ineptitude would not be in accord with the standards of sardonic newspaper column writing.

Instead, I'm listing a few things that really annoyed me in 2005, with the hope that the people responsible will change their ways in 2006. My goal is to make the world a better place -- not just for me, but for people who are like me.

This first resolution is for the ladies, concerning the company Princess House and its "elegant, exclusive products." Having a Princess House party and referring to yourself as a "lifestyle consultant" because you sell crappy teakettles will not be tolerated in 2006.

Anyone with a car alarm should resolve to have it removed and destroyed as soon as possible. The next one that goes off for no reason will be just cause for anyone to vandalize the offending car with any available weapon until the honking is silenced.

"What about alarms that go off for legitimate purposes?" you might be asking, if you are someone who has too much money and keeps a lot of expensive items in your automobile. "Too effing bad," the rest of us answer.

Keeping with the subject of automobiles: Manufacturers of car stereos should resolve to never again make a model without a CD player, or at least a cassette player. No human being should be at the mercy of radio stations, ever. Driving requires music, not the repeated playing of the same highlight from a morning show.

It would also be nice if installing a new car stereo was slightly less complicated than installing a kidney. Could we at least resolve to create a simple, uniform method for setting the car stereo's clock? The average person should not have to consult an owner's manual whenever daylight savings time begins or ends.

And this last resolution is for Target stores: No, I would not like to save 15 percent on my purchase by signing up for a Target card. Please resolve to stop asking me. No means no, damn it. No means no.

Paul Lundgren is a newspaper columnist and a very nice man. You can call him Pauly, if you feel Don Ness has left a hole in your life. His e-mail address is paul [at] geekprom.com.


Domain Revisited

In the spring of 2000, I wrote a column about the many unused domain names available on the Internet. It was surprising to me at the time that so many great options were still purchasable despite the growing popularity of the medium.

Now, over five years later, a majority of the domain names I referenced in that article remain unclaimed. Considering that there are about 45 million domain names in existence, it's remarkable how many good URLs are still available for the virtual taking.

My updated research, conducted on Monday, Dec. 5, 2005, concluded the following:

* Many obvious and practical uses for the Internet are still not being utilized. For example, no one has registered havemybaby.com, anyoneneedakidney.com or howdoifixthisdamnthing.com.

* Planning ahead for Valentine's Day, I noticed that iloveyou.com is available. When I checked five years ago, there was a site there that allowed you to "post your personalized message over the Internet for the world to see and express your feelings for someone you love." The site had a pop-up with the header "sex sex sex sex sex sex sex nude girls nude shows nude men young teen." It may seem pointless for me mention that pop-up in this article, but my own Web page could use some extra hits from people searching the Internet for "sex sex sex sex sex sex sex nude girls nude shows nude men young teen." Are you listening, Google?

* On the subject of pornography, picsofmyexgirlfriend.com and picsofmyexwife.com are still available for registration. Somewhat ironically, picsofmygirlfriend.com and picsofmywife.com are in use, but each is designed to direct people to other sites.

* For those with non-pornographic intentions, totallyclothed.com, respectfulphotographs.com and hotwetandamish.com are all available.

* Somethingintelligent.com is also available, but let's face it, that's not what the Internet is for.

* Five years ago, bestsiteontheweb.com and bestsiteontheinternet.com were both taken, but nothing was posted on them. Now, bestsiteontheinternet.com is available, and bestsiteontheweb.com is still promising content "coming soon."

* Worstsiteontheinternet.com and worstsiteontheweb.com have both been claimed, but they still have no content, which puts them on a par with the best.

* Anyone looking to create a Web site that all other Web sites can be judged against should know that averagewebsite.com is still available.

Paul Lundgren is a newspaper columnist and a very nice man. His e-mail address is paul [at] geekprom.com. Paullundgren.com is still available for anyone wishing to start a fan site, hint-hint.


Tickle Torture

The alley was a dead end. No place left to run. Turning around, Manny saw the gang closing in on him. They slowed to a stop about ten feet away and carefully positioned themselves in a semi-circle, penning him in.

The gang leader let out a devious cackle and reached slowly into the breast pocket of his jacket, then quickly pulled out a feather. "OK, boys -- off with his shoes," he said. "If Manny wants to be on the Tickle Posse's turf, he has to pay the toll."

"No! Noooooo!" Manny screamed, but it was no use. He was defenseless as the gang leader closed in and spoke the words that will forever haunt him: "Gootchi-gootchi-goo." The sound of Manny's uncontrollable laughter echoed through the city night.

The tickle torture is a unique form of physical attack. Essentially, it pleasures the victim so intensely that it causes pain. The pleasure can be so powerful that the whole body spasms as if the victim is experiencing an orgasm. The shame of being pleasured against one's will, however, is what makes the tickle torture a feared weapon.

Above all, it is a way to assert dominance: male over female, older sibling over younger sibling, the stronger over the weaker. The tickle torture can be compared to rape, though it is almost always less violent, and much, much funnier.

Still, to be dominated in such a way can be humiliating, all the more so because the attack is usually rationalized as innocent fun. Seeking justice from an authority figure will only result in further embarrassment for the victim.

Attempts at revenge will be viewed as unjustified unless the revenge is taken in the form of a counter tickle torture. Since the victim is usually of inferior physical strength, the counter attack can only take place when the person of superior strength is using both hands to carry something heavy.

It should be noted that committing a tickle torture could have serious repercussions if the victim is not judiciously chosen. When the manager at work says, "These sales figures are unacceptable," the response, "Sounds like someone needs a tickle torture," will not result in positive outcomes.

Paul Lundgren is a newspaper columnist and a very nice man. He would like to tickle torture Donald Trump, the entire Supreme Court and your mom. His e-mail address is paul [at] geekprom.com.


My Gay Valentine

Lately I've been thinking about my heterosexuality. Specifically, I've been wondering if nature hardwired me to want to have sex with women, or if it was societal influences that persuaded me to lead a straight lifestyle.

Looking through a box of old things my mother saved for me from my childhood, I found a stack of all the Valentines I received in the first grade. Some of them were a little surprising.

Back then, every first-grade student had to give all the other students in the class a Valentine so no one would feel less popular than anyone else. That meant the boys had to give Valentines not just to all the girls, but to all the boys, too.

That, of course, was really, really gay. "Be mine," is not a message my friend Dave would write to me these days, but he did in 1980, and I blame it on my school's homosexual agenda.

Other cards I got from boys include one that reads "You score big with me, Valentine," featuring an illustration of a little boy holding a football. Another one with a fish on it reads "I'd sing a tuna if you'd be my Valentine." Even giving these cards to someone of the opposite sex would be gay.

Of course, I don't really believe my first-grade teacher was trying to turn me queer by forcing me to give Valentines to boys, but it got me to thinking about nature vs. nurture and my own sexual development.

By the ninth grade, my school was pushing a heterosexual agenda. A computer program called Data Match was using information from questionnaires to provide students with a list of their most compatible classmates. It only matched boys with girls and girls with boys.

Whatever society was encouraging me to be, I ended up straight, and I'm quite happy that way. But I still have to admit that I'm a strong proponent of the gay agenda. The way I see it, any time two men get together, they leave more women for me to hook up with, and I certainly approve of that.

And when two women get together, well, that's just hot. What red-blooded heterosexual man wouldn't want two women to get together? So, I can't help but see homosexuality as a win-win situation.

Paul Lundgren is a newspaper columnist and a very nice man. His e-mail address is paul [at] geekprom.com.



I like animals, but I don't like pets. I have never understood why people invite animals into their homes. I think it has something to do with the desire to be involved in a manipulative relationship.

"Come here, come here and let me pet you ... oooooh, yes ... mumma loves you soooo much ... roll over and I'll give you a treat. Now go away, I'm trying to read the paper here."

My least favorite pets have always been dogs for one simple reason: they bark. Cats, ferrets, iguanas and most other pets are nice and quiet, so I never have to deal with them. But dogs are always disturbing the neighborhood with their incessant woofing and growling.

So, it was upsetting to me when I fell in love with a woman who has a dog. See, falling in love with a woman who has a dog requires falling in love with the dog, too. And, I should point out, my girlfriend's dog is a 90-pound Doberman.

In the past nine months, I've had to learn a lot of new things. For example:

* Not only does going on vacation require consulting several friends to see if they are available to let the dog out, so does simply going out after work without coming home first.

* Leaving the gate to the fence open will result in a lawsuit.

* The first step in cleaning up a pile of vomit the size of a 16-inch deep-dish pizza is scooping it up with a dustpan. And that is the easy part.

* If there is a skunk in the yard, the dog will always attack it, no matter how many times he gets sprayed directly into his mouth.

* Tomato soup baths don't work these days because the acidity of tomatoes has changed over the years, so I'm told. A product that comes highly recommended on the Internet for removing skunk odor is Massengill douches, but they don't really work well either. A concoction of hydrogen peroxide, dish soap and baking soda works best, and also provides the added joy of turning your dog into a blond.

Clearly there are a lot of responsibilities that come with having a dog. But I've finally learned the joy that pet ownership can bring. My friends, you haven't really lived until you've douched a dog's face.

Paul Lundgren is a newspaper columnist and a very nice man. His e-mail address is paul [at] geekprom.com.


SpongeBob SnotRags

Dear Proctor and Gamble,

You might remember me from when I wrote to you about how bars of your Ivory For Baby Smooth Skin soap crumble apart too easily. Or maybe you don't remember that. The truth is, I occasionally write crabby letters for my newspaper column, but I never actually mail them.

Today I'm upset about the packaging of your Puffs Plus facial tissue. But before I get into that, I just have to say wow, it sure is something that Proctor and Gamble happens to own both of the products I've decided to complain about this year. Somehow you've managed to really capture the Paul Lundgren market, though it remains a hostile one.

The reason why I buy Puffs Plus instead of regular facial tissue is because I have allergies and blow my nose a lot in the fall. Because Puffs Plus is fortified with lotion, my nose stays smooth and beautiful instead of red and flaky. For that, I must thank you, Proctor and Gamble.

What I'm upset about is the new marketing collaboration between Puffs and the Nickelodeon cable TV network, which has resulted in cartoon characters appearing on boxes of Puffs Plus. As a grown man, I do not want SpongeBob SquarePants on my facial tissue boxes.

Don't get me wrong; I understand the importance of enforcing in the minds of children that blowing one's nose is super fun like a wacky cartoon. And I have noticed that the cartoon characters only appear on some boxes of Puffs Plus and not all boxes, giving consumers an option to choose a normal box.

The problem is that, at my neighborhood store, single boxes of Puffs Plus are $2 and packages of three boxes are $4.99. I have to buy three boxes because, as mentioned before, I blow my nose a lot. And, of course, I want to save the extra dollar by buying the three-box package.

Well, the three-box packages all contain one box with a cartoon character on it. So, as you can see, I'm screwed. Please get the damn cartoon characters off your Puffs Plus boxes or at least arrange through your vast corporate network for me to get free cable so I can find out who the hell Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius is.

Somewhat sincerely,


Paul Lundgren is a newspaper columnist and a very nice man. His e-mail address is paul [at] geekprom.com.


Adventures of Mintman

Here he comes, bounding down Raleigh Street with Kentucky-style bourbon clutched in one hand and a box of Dots candy stretched over the other, nearly splitting at the folds.

His face is hidden behind a black mask, but his big, bloodshot eyes and gleeful, tooth-decay-ridden smile are proof that he is no imposter. His aerodynamic fiberglass helmet has one letter spray-painted on each side: M.

Inside his trademark skin-tight, mint-green suit, his undershorts have slid down and clumped up at crotch level. Every stride he takes stretches the waistband further and further.

On the chest of his suit is a plastic horn of plenty. Fake pears, bananas and other fruits bounce gently off his round stomach as he slowly trots toward the scene, sweating profusely and hacking up phlegm-wads layered with bits of sunflower seeds.

"It's a bum!"

"It's an escaped mental case!"

Nope. It's Mintman.

Little Billy was on his way home from school when he decided to take a shortcut through a secluded back alley. What he didn't know was that three bullies from school had followed him.

One of the boys rushed Billy from behind and pushed him to the ground. The others began stomping on him and pelting him with crab apples and taconite pellets. Then they spat on him and ran away laughing.

Billy was curled up on the gravel road, bloody and teary-eyed, when, like a rampaging moose on Quaaludes, our hero staggered onto the scene. A sandwich popped out of his belt and fell apart on his feet as he exclaimed, "This looks like a job for -- Mintman!"

"Go get them, Mintman!" little Billy shouted, pointing in the direction of the bullies' escape. "They beat me up and spit on me!"

"I know," Mintman confessed. "I watched from behind the bushes over there. Those kids were scary."

"But you're a grown man!" Billy shouted.

"There were three of them," Mintman explained. "I didn't want my suit to get torn. Do you know how hard it is to find a skin-tight mint-green superhero suit? It's not easy, I'll tell you that.

"You should probably have that thing laundered," little Billy said, wiping the tears from his eyes. "You smell like hot garbage."

Paul Lundgren is a mild-mannered newspaper columnist and a very nice man. His e-mail address is paul [at] geekprom.com.


Tips for Teens

This is not your ordinary back-to-school article, boys and girls. This is practical advice from a class clown who went on to graduate from a middle-of-the-road university, almost with honors. So, pay attention, my horny little pizza-faced friends.

First and foremost: There is a common misconception that the best time to misbehave is at the end of the school year. The theory, apparently, is that if you follow the rules at the beginning of the year, you can expect some slack if you screw up in the spring. Nothing could be further from the truth.

If you behave at the beginning of the year, you raise the faculty's expectations of you and provide evidence that you know right from wrong. Also, you risk having a whole year of work pulled out from under you by zero-tolerance policies. How many horror stories have you heard about kids who didn't get to graduate because they indulged in senior skip day or flunked a final?

Clearly, if you confine your most serious rule breaking to the beginning of the school year, you'll have much less to lose, particularly if you attend a public school. Remember, the school district gets money from the state based on the number of students enrolled. It is simply not cost-effective to expel you at the beginning of the year.

A few other random bits of advice:

* Your teachers will think twice about busting you for cheating on a test if you go so far as to have the answers tattooed on your forearm.

* Keep in mind that, though it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to buy beer, it is perfectly legal for anyone to buy barley, hops and yeast.

* While we're on the subject of alcohol: If your friends are pressuring you into heavy drinking -- beer bongs and whatnot -- and start calling you a wimp, there is a safe way to fight back. Invite them to your parent's house for what you promise will be a wild party. Tell them you are making a wopatusi, or "wop," which is a punch made of fruit and vodka. When your friends show up, lead them to the bathroom, and show them that you have prepared the wop in your toilet. When they refuse to drink, tell them they are lightweights who don't know how to party.

Paul Lundgren is a newspaper columnist and a very nice man. His e-mail address is paul [at] geekprom.com.



Dear Every Couple That Is Even Remotely Acquainted With Me,

I want to thank you for inviting me to share in the most important day of your young lives -- your wedding day. Apparently you do not know what an immature jackass I am.

Please be aware of the following:

1) If you are going to have your wedding on a nice sunny Saturday afternoon, I am going to either not show up at all or arrive late wearing Bermuda shorts and a tank top.

2) Your gift will still be in the plastic Big K bag. I am not going ten miles out of my way to where you are "registered" and I will buy you whatever I want and I will do it ten minutes before the wedding and there will be no card.

3) I am going to laugh out loud during your wedding. Churches are hilarious. And church figures are even more hilarious. Ministers, priests, rabbis, nuns, popes, cardinals, archbishops and monsignors are all uproariously funny and deserve to be laughed at. At the last wedding I went to, the minister kept referring to the Son of God as "Jesus, the Christ." I kept imagining a professional wrestler: "From Bethlehem, weighing in at 127 pounds ... JEEE-SISSS -- THE CHRIST!"

4) Justices of the Peace are even funnier.

5) If your wedding lasts longer than seven minutes, I will noticeably express my restlessness.

6) I will not tell you afterward that the ceremony was wonderful when it was, in fact, comparable to waiting for a dental appointment.

7) At the reception I am going to drink a lot of wine and eat a lot of cake. I deserve it.

8) If you schedule the reception for immediately after the wedding, but you show up for it an hour and a half late because you were out getting your precious pictures taken, I will be very drunk and very belligerent when you finally arrive. When was the last time I invited you to a party and left you to mingle with my Uncle Jerry while I went out to run errands? Oh, yeah, that would be never.

Good luck with each other,


P.S. Thanks for the totally confusing hand-drawn map that leads me to believe Our Savior's Church is either behind the Lake Superior Zoo or somewhere in Proctor.

Paul Lundgren is a newspaper columnist and a very nice man. He'd like you to start calling him "Paul, the Lundgren." His e-mail address is paul [at] geekprom.com.