Category Archives: Humor

Five Years at the Opera with the Large Smelly Boy

Mixed-media collage by Laura Grimes
Mixed-media collage by Laura Grimes



It’s been only five years since I took the Small Large Smelly Boy to his first opera? It’s already been a whole five years?

During that time I’ve thought frequently about the post I wrote after I took him to Portland Opera’s double bill of Pagliacci and Carmina Burana in fall 2010, when he was 12 years old. At least a few times every year I think about writing an update: What’s he doing now? Did it take? What’s happened since then? How old is he now? Did that first opera change his life like all the ta-DUM-ing in the post?

That whole event back then seemed like just life. A night out on the town with my lad after he took out the trash. A quick documentation of a special occasion. But I had no idea how much it would resonate and grow long-long legs and, well, if not change the course of history, then at least skew its trajectory just a bit.

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Live from Tammany: It’s politics 2012

The Tammany Tiger Loose—"What are you going to do about it?", published in Harper's Weekly in November 1871, just before election dayThomas Nast/1871

By Bob Hicks

The national political season is getting good and nasty these days, and we here at Art Scatter World Headquarters are pretty pumped about it: blood sports do that to us.

We’re especially excited about the literary possibilities. In  recent days we’ve added some astute veteran political observers to our stable of correspondents, all of whom know their way around a well-turned phrase. First came Eugene Field, with his commentary on the viciousness of the infighting during the South Carolina primary campaign: “The truth about the cat and pup is this: they ate each other up!” Then we succeeded in persuading the Scottish poet William Miller, famed for breaking the Wee Willie Winkie scandal, to comment on Newt’s unusual nighttime frolics (“upstairs and downstairs in his nightgown”).

George Washington Plunkitt, ca. 1915. Wikimedia Commons.Now we’re extremely proud to be able to bring you the commentary of the legendary George Washington Plunkitt, whose plainspoken eloquence on the subject of practical politics captivated the nation in the best-selling Plunkitt of Tammany Hall. Plunkitt made a fortune in the political game, boasting, among other things, “of his record in filling four public offices in one year and drawing salaries from three of them at the same time.”

Following is his first dispatch to Art Scatter. Don’t ask us what we had to guarantee Mr. Plunkitt to get him to write for us. You don’t want to know.

Plunkitt on the uproar over Newt and Fannie Mae:

“Everybody is talkin’ these days about Tammany men growin’ rich on graft, but nobody thinks of drawin’ the distinction between honest graft and dishonest graft. There’s all the difference in the world between the two. Yes, many of our men have grown rich in politics. I have myself. I’ve made a big fortune out of the game, and I’m gettin’ richer every day, but I’ve not gone in for dishonest graft – blackmailin’ gamblers, saloonkeepers, disorderly people, etc. – and neither has any of the men who have made big fortunes in politics.

Continue reading Live from Tammany: It’s politics 2012

Mitt and Newt: On to Florida!

By Bob Hicks

Seeing it as our duty to help sort out this most perplexing of civic seasons, we here at Art Scatter World Headquarters have hired our first political correspondent. He’s a veteran newspaperman named Eugene Field, and we’re proud to add him to our mix.

Here is Mr. Field’s first dispatch, filed from the late 19th century on the morning after Newt Gingrich’s tooth-ripping victory over Mitt Romney in Saturday’s South Carolina GOP primary election. Well done, Mr. Field! We look forward to your continuing reports:


Exclusive report from the primary battles

THE GINGHAM dog and the calico cat
Side by side on the table sat;
‘T was half-past twelve, and (what do you think!)
Nor one nor t’ other had slept a wink!
The old Dutch clock and the Chinese plate 5
Appeared to know as sure as fate
There was going to be a terrible spat.
(I was n’t there; I simply state
What was told to me by the Chinese plate!)
The gingham dog went “bow-wow-wow!” 10
And the calico cat replied “mee-ow!”
The air was littered, an hour or so,
With bits of gingham and calico,
While the old Dutch clock in the chimney-place
Up with its hands before its face, 15
For it always dreaded a family row!
(Never mind: I ‘m only telling you
What the old Dutch clock declares is true!)
The Chinese plate looked very blue,
And wailed, “Oh, dear! what shall we do!” 20
But the gingham dog and the calico cat
Wallowed this way and tumbled that,
Employing every tooth and claw
In the awfullest way you ever saw—
And, oh! how the gingham and calico flew! 25
(Don’t fancy I exaggerate—
I got my news from the Chinese plate!)
Next morning where the two had sat
They found no trace of dog or cat;
And some folks think unto this day 30
That burglars stole that pair away!
But the truth about the cat and pup
Is this: they ate each other up!
Now what do you really think of that!
(The old Dutch clock it told me so, 35
And that is how I came to know.)

More than just a chocolate surprise

Porch sign

By Laura Grimes

Dear Mr. Scatter,

You do realize, right, that while you sped away to have a raucous dinner party at the assisted-living facility, you left me here to 1. make my own coffee. 2. fetch my own newspaper. 3. share my bed with more beasts than usual and 4. somehow end up with less bed space.

Ah, but the co-opted bed comes with a bonus. When I got home late last night The Small Large Smelly Boy was already ensconced on your side of the bed half-asleep and half-watching House Hunters International on HGTV (I can’t make this stuff up). We attempted to continue the family tradition that you claim to be a medicinal practice: Eat a dark Dove chocolate every night. But this morning, after I unpretzeled myself to get up, The SLSB said, “Oh, look out for a chocolate somewhere in the bed.” Apparently, his half-asleepness last night got the better of him.

I didn’t think much of it, except to remind myself to carefully look over the bed when I got around to making it. But I didn’t get that far …

Continue reading More than just a chocolate surprise

‘You can’t do that when Grammy’s here!’

Norman Rockwell's "Cousin Reginald Catches the Thanksgiving Turkey" (1917), copyright 1917, The Country Gentleman and Curtis Publishing Co.By Laura Grimes

At the time of this typing, my mom’s ETA is 45 hours and counting.

The early missile warning system is now in effect. I repeat. The early missile warning system is now in effect.

In my last post, I promised a concussive blast. Reading on? Don your helmets! Duck and cover!

Continue reading ‘You can’t do that when Grammy’s here!’

License to thrill? Not really

The back of our poor little van at the scene of the crash in Hoodsport, Wash.By Laura Grimes

We back up our meat-centric blog for a little backstory. Mom’s coming for Thanksgiving and we got meat multiplying in the vegetarian-family freezer, but before I move on to the concussion blast and the traumatic brain injury these circumstances cause the Scatter Family, I first must explain our license plate.

We recently had to buy a new Large Smelly Boymobile.

Actually, let’s first back up to July 31, 2011. It was a gorgeous summer day. The Small Large Smelly Boy and I were driving our beloved van, LSBmobile1, from Port Angeles, Wash., where my mom lives, to Portland, Ore., where we live. Just to clarify, I was driving. The Small LSB isn’t even in high school yet.

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Freeze: We have a meat emergency

Turkey Lurkey is on the job in the "Chicken Little" book I had as a kid. It's blurry because I once left it in the rain. Pictures by Marjorie Hartwell. Thank you Whitman Publishing Company for some good times growing up.

By Laura Grimes

If you’re wondering about Mr. Scatter, he’s been busy with paying gigs so we can afford all this meat we’re cooking for Thanksgiving. If you read the last post, you know by now that even though most of us in the family are vegetarians, somehow we’re cooking both a whole chicken and a turkey breast.

OK. OK. No somehow about it. I’ll admit it. It’s all because I’m an advice column failure.

But forget that for a moment because we have an emergency. The meat in our freezer is multiplying. And we don’t even have the whole chicken or the turkey breast yet.

The freezer already contains several kinds of elk meat and antelope sausage (which Mr. Scatter fondly keeps calling “gazelle”), which we got in exchange for pickles. And now — hold your breath — we have a giant turkey. More precisely, we have 21.12 pounds of bird, or $35.69 worth. It was FREE.

Continue reading Freeze: We have a meat emergency

Gollywump, Dad, happy frogbottom

"The Waiter" by Giuseppe Arcimboldo/Wikimedia Commons

By Laura Grimes (with help from the Large Smelly Boys)

Shhhh! Be vewy vewy qwiet! Sneak attack in progress.

It’s a big day in the Scatter household, when patriarch Mr. Scatter is feted (not fetid). So the Large Smelly Boys and I are hijacking the blog for a surprise post. The fun part is seeing how long it takes Mr. Scatter to find it. Don’t tell, OK?

It’s quite possible the rest of the blog world knows Mr. Scatter as a stately critic, a keen observer who elegantly writes deep thoughts about serious topics. Imagine him two-finger tapping away in a tweed jacket, a strong black coffee at his elbow, a softly snoring cat at his toes, and a mellifluous Haydn concerto mingling between sunbeams. That’s all pretty much right, though the jacket comes out only occasionally.

The blog world only knows Mr. Scatter’s high English finger-tapping language, though. His family hears a whole other side of him. Betcha didn’t know he has a hidden talent. He’s fluent in Bobspeak.

Just at dinnertime Mr. Scatter actually hollered — no kidding — “Time to eat! Mongo gila! Take your clothes off!”

Continue reading Gollywump, Dad, happy frogbottom

High times in the lowlands

Avert your gaze. Mr. and Mrs. Scatter have jettisoned the Large Smelly Boys and are having a romantic interlude abroad. In the meantime, they have temporarily outsourced the blog to their chief travel correspondent, who makes friends wherever he goes — this time to Bruges, Belgium.

By JoJo

Greetings from Bruges.

Continue reading High times in the lowlands