Polar vortex questions? Ask Professor Doppler...

Due to some recent confusion caused by extremely cold weather, today we check in with noted meteorological advice columnist Professor Doppler. The professor — whose academic credentials include a Ph.D. in Cloud Technology from Cumulonimbus University and a master’s in Thunder from Kelvin State — has generously agreed to answer a few questions from readers. The author of “Patchy Fog,” “Life in the Frost Lane” and “Nor’Easter Bunny: Friend or Foe,” he was recently honored by the Fahrenheit Foundation for his ground-breaking environmental manifesto “Global Warming Caused by Increased Activity in Hades.” * * * Dear Professor Doppler — I heard on TV that they’re blaming this recent cold snap on something called a “polar vortex.” But Rush Limbaugh says that’s just a term the liberals made up as part of their stupid global warming scam. Please tell me the truth, professor, is there really a polar vortex? — Virginia Yes, Virginia. There is a polar vortex. In fact, weather legend Al Roker took Mr. Limbaugh to task for his gust of misinformation (video). The lovable buffoon schooled the hateful hot-air balloon on the “Today” show, blowing up an excerpt from his 1956 Weatherman 101 textbook and drawing a big circle around the term “Polar Vortex.” * * * Dear Professor Doppler — Me and the missus live about 15 feet from the ocean in a house that used to be about 75 feet from the ocean. Any major upcoming weather events we should be concerned about? — Jasper O’Dingus, Hampton Dear Jasper — Now that you mention it, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is said to be tracking a category 12 megastorm building strength down in Antarctica. If, as predicted, it slams into a back-door cold front...

Worst advice columnist ever: Dear Blabby...

I probably should have mentioned this earlier but, yes, in addition to my mad skills as a highly paid, semi-professional op-ed pundit, I am also (seek counseling) a certified advice columnist. However, due to my late start in this time-honored profession, I am quite possibly one of the worst advice columnists of all time. First some important guidelines: Please limit all questions to 25,000 words or less. And please refrain from any queries involving cough medicine, gnomes or three-wheeled bicycles. Also a disclaimer: The advice offered herein is for entertainment purposes only. We are in no way legally or morally responsible for any person, personage or corporate entity who acts on aforementioned advice only to have it blow up in their face. There, that ought to cover it. Oh wait, the following advice is void where prohibited. Dear Blabby, I’m a longtime senior citizen. When I park in certain areas of downtown Portsmouth, pigeons sometimes poop on my car. Should I divorce my husband? — Angry at Birds Actually, most people tend to separate minor everyday annoyances from their careful consideration of such immensely important life decisions as whether to maintain a partnership with a spouse or significant other. But something tells me you are not “most people,” are you? No, I think the message those pigeons are actually sending you is that you should stay inside and never, ever drive anywhere ever again. Dear Blabby, A friend of mine — yes, that’s it a friend; I’m definitely not referring to myself — is concerned he may have become addicted to sniffing glue and drinking vanilla extract. I think he’s also hooked on crack. What should I do? — Edgy in Exeter What you want to do is sit...

7 writing tips from the masters...

By John Breneman A handy compendium of humorous writing tips inspired by some of history’s great writers. 1. Get ready. Some writers like to do warmup exercises before getting down to business.  Ernest Hemingway was fond of wrestling a grizzly bear before starting a new novel. Walt Whitman enjoyed an invigorating stroll through forest and meadow. And the great Shakespeare was said to favor an intense two-hour regimen of aerobics, calisthenics and pounding the heavy bag. Every writer has his or her own routine of last-minute preparations. Some like to lean way back in a vintage Barcalounger and loudly crack their knuckles. Others vigorously rub their temples – waking up the old brain, but stopping before any permanent neurological damage is done. Still others fortify themselves with coffee, booze or Phillips’ Milk of Magnesia. Edgar Allen Poe liked to gaze out the window to see if he could make eye contact with a raven or crow. Enough preparation, it’s time to sit down and write. But first … 2. Pay attention to posture. All the great writers slouch like hell. Charles Dickens sat with his spine contorted at a particularly grotesque angle when he conceived and wrote “Oliver Twist.” To be a great writer, your posture must be extremely poor. Slouch way down in an uncomfortable chair. Sit on one of your legs to help inhibit the flow of blood to the head and other vital organs. Herman Melville is said to have experienced an important revelation in his classic novel “Moby Dick” while gripped by a severe case of “pins and needles.” And Franz Kafka once brought his circulatory system so close to total cessation that he imagined himself turning into a giant cockroach. Voila! “The Metamorphosis.” So practice hunching, slouching...

Fall foliage Q&A with Dr. Leif Mann...

By John Breneman Autumn foliage in New England is said to be the finest in the world. But there is much about this annual cornucopia of color that we do not know. So today we check in with noted foliage expert Dr. Leif Mann, who has generously agreed to answer a few questions from readers. Question: Where should I go to see the peak foliage? — Bud Smith, Exeter Answer: The most glorious foliage in all the world can be seen in a quaint Maine hamlet called Carotene Falls. Unfortunately, you can’t get there from here. Question: If there is too much foliage in my yard, should I use a defoliant? — Biff Dupont, New Castle Answer: No. A defoliant is a chemical that strips growing plants of their leaves. Believe it or not, if you just wait a bit the leaves will fall off the trees by themselves. Question: My trees are still kind of green. Should I consider paying a college kid to come and spray-paint them? — Sherwin Williams, Portsmouth Answer: No. I have found that it’s best to hire an experienced painting contractor if you want the job done right. Question: Why are the trees so pretty in the fall? — Jenny, age 4 Answer: Well you see Jenny, leaves contain some green stuff called chlorophyll. But the cold weather breaks down the chlorophyll in most deciduous plant life forms. When that happens, other pigments contained in the leaves (xanthophyll, yellow; caretenoids, orange-red; anthocyanins, red and purple) come shining through. Question: Oh, why are there no blue leaves? — Jenny, age 4 Answer: Uh… Because. Question: How can I protect my children from seeing foliage on the Internet? — Jenny’s mom Answer: Of course, it...

Questions on death penalty? Ask Prof. Gallows...

To help shed light on Thursday’s 12-12 state Senate vote that keeps capital punishment on the books in New Hampshire, today we check in with noted death penalty advice columnist Professor Gallows, who has generously agreed to answer a few questions from readers. Dear Professor Gallows — I’m no religious scholar, but I always thought God was quoted as saying, “Thou shalt not kill.” Not, “Thou shalt not kill, unless the person did something unspeakably evil.” — T.C. Dear T.C. — The death penalty is an extraordinarily controversial issue — one of the most fascinating loopholes mankind has created when it comes to obeying God’s commandments. And the people we’ve elected to decide on our behalf whether it is right or wrong are often faced with a mind-numbingly difficult decision. For example, here’s what Hampton Republican state Sen. Nancy Stiles said after casting her vote to keep the death penalty in New Hampshire. “I’ve always felt (capital punishment) was always a good tool to have in the tool box.” Adding some context to what may sound like a spectacularly unfortunate choice of words, she said, “There are some crimes that are so heinous that it is deserving.” Further explaining why she believed it was so important to maintain New Hampshire’s ability to kill killers, Sen. Stiles said jailing such a person like a “caged animal” is “not respecting life either.” If that sounds like some twisted logic, consider the words of her colleague Sen. Russell Prescott of Kingston, who describes himself as “pro-life.” “I believe life is so important that we need to make sure there are consequences to harming life.” Try to wrap your head around that one. On second thought don’t. It will make your head hurt. He...

Professor O’Blarney on Saint Patrick’s Day...

To help explore the true meaning of St. Patrick’s Day, today we check in with the legendary Irish advice columnist Professor O’Blarney. The professor — whose credentials include a Ph.D. in limericks from the University of Sligo and a master’s in shillelagh studies from Tipperary State — has generously agreed to answer a few questions from readers. The author of “Romancing the Blarney Stone” and “Meet Me at Maguire’s,” he was recently honored by the Fitzgerald Foundation for his groundbreaking best-seller “Leprechauns: Friend or Foe?” * * * Dear Professor O’Blarney — What’s the deal with leprechauns? My buddy says they can grant three wishes and possibly even hook you up with a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But another friend said something really scary about them and I need to know the truth. Can you get leprosy from a leprechaun? — Jimbo Rodriguez Boise, Idaho Dear Jimbo — I am very glad you asked this question because it affords me an opportunity to debunk a scurrilous myth that has unfairly tarnished the reputation of the leprechaun community. While it is true they are mischievous, shoe-making little imps fond of sporting red beards and green knickers, they generally do not — repeat DO NOT — prance about, over hill and dale, giving people leprosy. You might be thinking of gnomes. One caveat, however. If the leprechaun in question suffers from leprosy, stay the heck away from the little devil. Also, if you are lucky enough to see a wee leprechaun on St. Patrick’s Day, you may wish to reconsider that ninth Guinness. * * * Dear Professor O’Blarney — It seems like St. Patrick’s Day is all about wearing something green and going out and...

Ask Professor Christmas

Due to some recent confusion about the true meaning of this week’s important holiday, today we check in with noted yuletide advice columnist Professor Christmas. The professor — whose credentials include a Ph.D. in Christmasology from North Pole University and a master’s in Manger Studies from Bethlehem State — has generously agreed to answer a few questions from readers. * * * Dear Professor Christmas — I’ve spent a bundle on toys and presents in hopes of giving my kids the best Christmas ever. Should I be worried about the Grinch? — Felix Navidad, Epping Dear Felix — Fear not, for the Grinch — though undeniably a mean one with garlic in his soul, his heart an empty hole — is “fictional,” or “not real.” Unlike Santa Claus, who is not only very real, I had lunch with him just last week. No, my research suggests this so-called Grinch is nothing more than an urban myth created from the imagination of some obscure children’s book writer. * * * Dear Professor Christmas — Could you please share one of your favorite Christmas memories? — Joy from Stratham Dear Joy — OK, and here is a clue: It involves a very special calendar. A tale of young ones finding joy in simple things and the power of imagination. When they were little, each year my children would peek out the window — their presence rapt — watching for the postman, awaiting the arrival of …; the Emergency Calender from the Seabrook nuclear power plant. Oh, the historic pictures, the evacuation maps, the safety tips. (March: “Have you changed your smoke/carbon monoxide detector batteries?” Priceless!) ‘Twas truly magical for the children. How they loved to picture what we’d do in the...

Questions on Obamacare? Ask Prof. Pillsworth...

Better grab a fistful of aspirin, cause it’s headache time. Republicans are extremely concerned because America is suffering from a wicked case of Obamacare. It’s only known cause is Obama. And there is no known cure. Obamacare. A thing so evil it makes key Republicans want to shut down the entire government to try to kill it. Obamacare. A new study shows it can paralyze central government functions and cause otherwise marginally sane human beings to completely lose their minds. Obamacare. The Republicans tried to save us — heroically voting 41 times to repeal it. And they’ve worked extra, extra hard to make sure nothing good happens in America until Obamacare is eradicated once and for all. Nevertheless, Obamacare digs its toxic tentacles in deeper this week as its dreaded online health care marketplaces go live on Tuesday. This means millions of people who previously had no health insurance will be able to purchase policies, often with federal subsidies depending on their income. So you can see why it is vitally important for right-wing media and politicians to spread misinformation about Obamacare to poison public opinion against this malignant blotch on the American scene. However, there is at least one thing Republicans and Democrats can agree upon. Obamacare does raise a bundle of questions. For example, what is the estimated subsidy for a family of 18 making less than 11 percent of the federal poverty level? And what will the Bronze Plan charge me for that combination sex change, double bypass, hip replacement I’m gonna need next month? Yes, health care in America can be a complex and confounding topic (X-rays reveal countless gray areas). But today we are fortunate to tap the expertise of the noted health care...

Curious about world affairs? Ask Prof. Nollege...

As the plot thickens from Syria to Russia to North Korea to tiny Portsmouth, my crack Triple Action News team brings you exclusive, up-to-the-minute satiric analysis of the major issues of our time. Today we are fortunate to tap the expertise of the widely non-syndicated geopolitical advice columnist Professor Nollege, who has generously agreed to answer a few questions from readers. * * * Dear Professor Nollege — Like many Americans, I am extremely concerned about the ongoing strife in the Middle East. The real question is this: How will the crisis in Syria affect the price of Syrian bread, also widely known as pita bread? — Pete, Main Street Dear Pete — Civil war has thrown the world Syrian bread market into a state of upheaval not seen since the olive oil embargo of the early 1970s. Syrian bread prices have climbed sharply for the third straight day amid heightening tension between Washington and Damascus and international calls for a boost in output from OPEC (the Organization of Pita Exporting Countries). Bashar al-Assad — an amateur ophthalmology known for his love of crispy brick-oven pita and his hatred of the Syrian people — inherited the presidency from his father Bashar H.W. al-Assad and now controls as much as 83 percent of the world supply of Syrian bread. CNN Middle East correspondent Baba Ghanouj characterized U.S.-Syrian relations as “falafel.” * * * Dear Professor Nollege — Hey, I thought Reagan crushed the Russians like 20-some years ago. What’s that Vladimir Putin doing on the news this week? — Mike, East Kingston Dear Mike — He’s just trying to feel important. Just a pathetic, puny little man craving some attention while he pretends to try to make his little buddy...

Ask Professor Gunn: Firearms advice columnist...

Due to some recent confusion about when it is OK to shoot someone, today we check in with noted firearms advice columnist Professor Gunn, who generously agreed to answer a few questions from readers. Dear Professor Gunn, For a good while now I’ve been itching to shoot a fellow human being, but I’m a little worried that our judicial system might send me to jail. What should I do? — George Z., Main Street Dear George, Fortunately, the law is on your side. Especially if the person you shoot has dark skin or is wearing a spooky-looking hooded sweatshirt. So go ahead and blast away. Doesn’t even matter if your victim is unarmed — the key is to make sure you say the person scared you. If your victim is carrying, say, a bag of Skittles candy, you can say you thought there was a rattlesnake. Stuff like that. Remember, nowadays, it’s more important than ever to stand your ground when you’re chasing down your prey. * * * Dear Professor Gunn, I’m kind of a ticking time bomb. I’ve got more guns than I know what to do with. I’m super anti-social, and I often feel confused and depressed. Plus, I keep hearing about these party poopers who want to limit the number of bullets I can fire without reloading my so-called assault rifles. That sure would stink for a guy like me. Thank goodness the NRA has got my back. How come they get such a bad rap in the media? — A.K. Dear A.K., Don’t despair. If there’s one thing you can count on in this crazy, mixed-up, bullet-riddled country, it is that the NRA will always have your back. You see, the gun-hating liberal media...