War Travels By Night and Bidet

War Travels By Night and Bidet-FUNNY ANTI-WAR BUTTON

War Travels By Night and Bidet-FUNNY ANTI-WAR BUTTON

War Travels By Night and Bidet-FUNNY ANTI-WAR BUTTON

This cool design is linked to a button, but other great Top Pun products like T-shirts, bumper stickers, mugs, caps, key chains, magnets, posters, and sticker sheets can be accessed by scrolling down the product page.

View more Anti-War Buttons.

Truth is the first casualty of war.  To successfully wage war this truth needs to be hidden.  This design in a simple and even in a crude way exposes this.  The “traveling by night” reference alludes to fly-by-night operations or those requiring the cover of darkness.  The pun on “by day” with “bidet” steals away the natural balance of the night with day, leaving behind only a bunch of crap or other waste products, which at best are put out of sight and out of mind to protect our civilized sensibilities.  In our modern Western civilization, we typically do not ponder where all of our crap or trash goes.  Not surprisingly, in the long run we will have to deal with the fact that we are drowning in our own waste products.  War is the perfect example of denial and cost shifting.  We flush all the bad stuff out of sight and pretend that all of the shit that we send someone else’s way just works itself out somehow.  But like they say, all weapons are boomerangs, and what goes around comes around.  Some high society sophisticates try to pawn off war as some kind of noble enterprise built on courage and service.  Those who profit from war has convinced many others that violent warriors represents some ideal.  Our culture’s worship of military service and veterans is proof of this.  Though I would argue that our actual treatment of veterans is proof of our hypocrisy.  War is an enterprise built more on tearing apart human lives and shitting on creation than some courageous service.  If we are not careful, our highbrow leaders may just find sustainability only in the death brought about by drowning in our own waste products.  Of course, those of us familiar with food science, know that this is how fine wine is made: you allow bacteria to consume all that is sweet, producing a waste product called alcohol at such levels that eventually kill the bacteria themselves.  This is why wine has an alcohol level of about 12%, because that is the concentration of alcohol that kills the bacteria and stops the process.  And while downing this slurry of dead bacteria and their waste products has a certain appeal to those of finer tastes, if we end up with a slurry of dead humans and their waste products one can’t help wonder who could possibly enjoy that.  But alas, I merely want us to stop whining!  The alcohol level of Western civilization is rising and those drunk with power seem to have severely impaired judgment.  Those still sober and awake need to take action.  Otherwise, we all may well end up in the bidet (swirl slightly and wait for the aftertaste).  And who wants to waste, especially a vintage 1984 Orwellian, where drunk is the new sobriety…

It’s the Greed, Stupid

It’s the Greed, Stupid POLITICAL BUTTON

It's the Greed, Stupid POLITICAL BUTTON

It’s the Greed, Stupid POLITICAL BUTTON

This cool design is linked to a button, but other great Top Pun products like T-shirts, bumper stickers, mugs, caps, key chains, magnets, posters, and sticker sheets can be accessed by scrolling down the product page.

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This cool design does not rely upon puns or complex twists.  This design is another tip of the hat to the Occupy Wall Street movement.  Of course, for those that been around for little while, you’ll recognize that this is a takeoff on the presidential candidate Bill Clinton campaign slogan, “It’s the economy, stupid”.  His Republican opponent, Pres. George H. Bush, was dealing with yet another economic turn downturn produced by the soon-to-be named “irrational exuberance” and casino economy that inevitably cycles into booms and busts.  Some things never change.  It almost goes without saying, since we worship the economy, that moneymaking by either corporations or by people in the form of jobs is perennially issue number one, and number two as well.  If you don’t think that we worship the economy, the next time you hear a news report or read a newspaper, just substitute “God” for “the economy” and it will make a lot of sense.  In this case, in this design, the simple twist is a substitution of “greed” for “economy.” This hones in on the normative driving force of the so-called neutral or generic economy.  The 1980s resulted in the coining of the phrase “greed is good.”  The inevitable logic that led us to such a stupid conclusion is centered around the idea that the economy is the ultimate provider of good in our society, i.e., our god.  This is why we must constantly serve the economy, feed the economy, and make it our ultimate focus. My simple definition for what constitutes one’s God, is what one values the most, what one serves over and above other potentially competing values.  It’s interesting to note, that in the 10 Commandments, while God commands us to serve God first, God does not claim to be the only god.  There are plenty of gods to choose from.  A companion to the incredible confusion that would lead us to say something as stupid as greed is good, is Western civilization’s quest for objectivity or neutrality.  Unfortunately, this perennially leads us to the conundrum of talking about what we value most while trapped in an underlying worldview that denies that any one thing is actually better than another.  This quest for ultimate objective reduces morality to simple if-then statements, neutering any morality.  This is the Achilles heel of denying subjective reality.  Just because something is subjective doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, it just means I can’t be pinned down in some definitive empirical way.  Objectivism in our culture, and current political environment, is probably best represented by Ayn Rand.  Ayn Rand and her ideas are idealized, even idolized, by folks of the libertarian variety.  There is great force behind these ideas, that is, if you don’t mind ignoring the metaphysical violence that inevitably results.  Another term for objectivism is scientific reductionism.  In both objective reality and subjective reality some things follow other things; there is an order to the universe.  Those who have ears to hear, and those who have a heart listen.  A contemporary case in point would be Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul.  Many folks with a libertarian sentiment find Ron Paul’s political philosophy very attractive.  In my judgment, his judgment is largely negated by his gross inhumanity that frequently crops up when he takes his political philosophy to its logical conclusion.  For example, in denying health care for those who need it and cannot afford it, quite literally saying “let them die”, reveals forcefully that his God is not about caring for one another, or caring for creation as a whole, but raises each individual to the status of a god, and is forced to accept the ensuing violence that is inherent in such an inhumane philosophy.  If the individual is a god, not subject to any higher power, then individuals are condemned to be at war, and civility, in its best sense, will be run roughshod over, necessarily so.  Bringing this all back to the economy, greed is not good.  To have to even state such a truism is a testament to the sickness from which we currently suffer.  The idea that greed is a legitimate organizing principle for society should be offensive to anyone with a heart.  Of course, if being heartless is not a barrier to living one’s life fully, then go ahead and follow this mechanistically violent path to its logical conclusion.  I guess my concluding point would be that logic reaches a conclusion before life does, and that to continue living, that is to not reduce ourselves to being some mechanistic robot, we need to transcend logic.  This is the realm of the heart.  This is the realm of God.  By living fully into this realm, logic need not be tossed out, it merely serves a higher purpose, a humane purpose, a godly purpose.  May it be so!

POEM: To Un-Jar Your Thinking

My point is not to jar your thinking.

My point is to un-jar your thinking.

This two-line poem, with a simple wordplay, addresses a fundamental dichotomy that is present in much of our life that may appear so subtle that it is oftentimes missed.  To jar one’s thinking is almost the opposite of un-jarring one’s thinking, yet, they also strike us as being very similar.  They both imply a significant movement, even an epiphany.  Eliciting such a significant movement in one’s thinking and/or perspective is exactly what I try to achieve with my wordplay and perpetual twists.  Still, the act of jarring one’s thinking connotes something more forceful, even violent.  While the act of un-jarring one’s thinking is akin to a release or letting go.  The act of letting go can easily be mistaken for some inaction or some passivity, when, in fact, it can be a very profound act.  Simply reflect on the difference between giving up and letting go.  If this is not immediately evident to you, then just wait a few years, life is bound to teach you this.

Jarring one’s thinking is more narrowly focused and implies a more specific intent of where to lead someone.  Jarring one’s thinking is more directive.  Un-jarring one’s thinking connotes a more nonspecific and open-ended beginning with an indeterminate number of possibilities.  This strikes me as an approach more appropriate to the complexities and infinite possibilities of life.  There’s no question that I have a particular perspective.  I am definitely not shy in trying to jar other people’s thinking into a particular way that I think is better.  However, an infinitely better purpose of mine would be to un-jar your thinking, creating a way of thinking that is not bound by my own particular perspective, but transcends it.  While I would like to take credit for helping create a launching place for another’s freedom, I truly relish another’s original thinking, un-jarred by my particular mode of thinking, and hopefully reflecting back to me something original that I can add to my experiences.  This is infinitely better for myself and the other than having another parrot back my own prepackaged thoughts, even when they are thoughts of genius.  In this case the point is probably simply to think outside the jar, because that’s where most everything is; and certainly the most interesting stuff.

A final note, for those really wanting to delve into the meaning of particular words, is on the word “point.”  The word “purpose” could have just as well been used in this poem would’ve lost very little of its meaning.  However, I chose “point” for a specific reason.  A point in a mathematical context is a singularity in space denoted by three coordinates XYZ.  In mathematics, a point does not actually exist in two or three dimensions, where humans inhabit — that would require two or three points.  In the context of meaning, rather than simply denoting a place in space, a point is the confluence between multiple concepts that most clearly represents those multiple concepts.  If unclear when speaking about a multitude of ideas, someone may say “get to the point.”  Thus, the word “point” is a conceptual pun that captures both the particularity of jarring one’s thinking and the transcendence of un-jarring one’s thinking.  The paradoxes of life seem to reside in this mystical place where both the oneness and the myriad things meet.  Conceptual puns are not surprising, are very common, and, in fact, unavoidable, since language is basically symbols representing or referring to something else, i.e., this is that.  My point being, that language is inherently metaphorical and will be rife with metaphors.  Consequently, the power of the pun is inescapable!

It Takes Enemas for War to Happen-FUNNY ANTI-WAR BUTTON

It Takes Enemas for War to Happen-FUNNY ANTI-WAR BUTTON

It Takes Enemas for War to Happen-FUNNY ANTI-WAR BUTTON

It Takes Enemas for War to Happen-FUNNY ANTI-WAR BUTTON

This cool design is linked to a button, but other great Top Pun products like T-shirts, bumper stickers, mugs, caps, key chains, magnets, posters, and sticker sheets can be accessed by scrolling down the product page.

View more Anti-War Buttons.

This design is one of the early anti-war designs that I made.  You can probably tell this by the simple graphic and relatively rudimentary text.  My graphic design skills have improved over time.  However, it is strangely appropriate that this crude design be designed relatively crudely.  This qualifies as a classic among my puns designs, because it has two great puns, related to one another.  Also, this design neatly descends into and transcends potty mouth humor.  The simple tautology that war needs enemies to happen becomes a shocking commentary when enemas is substituted for enemies.  The less-than-subtle tone of this design cuts through the bull shit that is all so typical when speaking of war and its so-called glory. But the design and message doesn’t end there.  With a call for more moral fiber, this serious, funny, and seriously funny call to action, hopefully, combines the playfulness and creativity needed to bring an end to war, with the high-minded and nonviolent-hearted moral force needed to do the hard work of bringing an end to war.  This design qualifies in one of my everyday-living themes, in the sense that everyone poops; and somewhat less in our everyday awareness, that everyone has enemies.  Hopefully, we can make waging peace and every day part of our lives.  What do you think?

POEM: Those who take things literally are often thieves.

ONE-LINE POEM:

Those who take things literally are often thieves.

Here it is folks, my first one-line poem!  Quite appropriately, this short poem is a poem about poems, as well as a poem dealing directly and simply with social and political philosophy.  Not surprisingly, even this short poem contains a pun.

Oddly, the phrase “take things literally” means taking something at its most obvious face value, without presuming or exploring any deeper or metaphorical meaning.  I would take the phrase “take things literally” to mean something to do with literature and literature’s aspirations to communicate at levels much deeper and richer than considering language to be something that just matches a particular symbol with a particular thing like a rock or a box.

I would submit that meaning itself is something that transcends particular things like a rock or a box.  If literature is ever to rock, or if we are ever to think outside the box, we need to have a rich and robust appreciation for metaphors.  In fact, we should rely on them.  Anything less would not even qualifying as an aspiration.  And we dare to wonder why we find it difficult to find inspiration in such an aspiration-free world. This is another version of a common theme that I deal with in my life and how I see the world, that there is much more to life than the scientific reductionist, materialistic world.  This is a key factor in why I increasingly see the world as surreal.  We are human beings, subjects not objects, that seem intent on reducing the world to things, such as rubble.  It seems that the modus operandi of Western civilization is to take things literally, thus accounting for imperialism and capitalism. It seems that taking such a way of being to its logical and cruel conclusion is to conspire, as opposed to aspire, to the pirate motto of ”  Take all that you can and give nothing back.” And worse yet, our co-conspirators are only of use to us in as much as they assist us in taking things literally.  Therefore, we are literally at war with one another.  Further, we are literally at war with our self, since the subjective realm is inaccessible or denied when we are held captive by taking things literally.  Well, enough political philosophy, let’s get back to the poem.

We all know what a thief is.  A thief is a robber, someone who steals things.  However, this short, one-line poem begs the question of what exactly is being stolen.  With the above philosophical discourse on objects and subjects, I hope that you can guess that I am not wanting the reader to lock their doors for fear of their stuff being stolen.  Rather, I’m hoping that the reader will open their mind, and better yet, their heart, to infinitely more important things that can be stolen from us, if we are not careful and paying attention.  What could be infinitely more important than my stuff?!  What I’m referring to is something that is qualitatively different than stuff, or things.  Qualitatively different means that it cannot be substituted for.  The most obvious and even trite example is “money can’t buy you love.”  Money is clearly, and literally, the currency the modern Western civilization uses for virtually everything.  Not surprisingly, this explains why neglect more important matters, matters of the soul.  It qualifies as sheer vanity and insanity to engage in a commerce of the soul that attempts to exchange stuff for our humanity, the essence of what separates us from dirt, our soul if you will.  Of course, I believe that people, human beings, are more than complicated dirt.  If you believe that you are just complicated dirt, then there is much more remedial work that needs to be done for our minds and hearts to connect, to communicate.  Of course, ironically, if we are just complicated dirt, a wild statistical outlier from most of the rest of the barren material that we can identify in the known universe, and we are  just billiard balls in a mechanistic, cause-and-effect universe, then all that we do is fated, determined, a grand illusion of free will.  If you’d like to go to even one more level of irony, I find myself compelled to believe this!  Ah, the places such spiritual musings take you!

There is one word in this eight-word poem that could easily be overlooked and its significance missed.  That word is: often. Taking things literally is certainly not always a mistake.  Usually when we say “rock” we mean a rock.  Usually when we say “box” we mean a box.  Now, I chose the word “often” to access what I think the reality is, that the deeper metaphorical meanings are ignored or even stolen from us with great regularity (know shit!).  In speaking about subjectivity and objectivity, things and transcendence, dirt versus souls, and the like (and love), people often mistake me for throwing the baby out with the bathwater. More truthfully, in my own dyslexic fashion, it might be more apt to say, “throwing the bathwater out for the baby.”  To be clear, for the literalists in the crowd, I am not opposed to bathwater.  Bathwater is great!  My underlying point is that babies are more important than bathwater.

Okay, there is another word in this poem that probably needs to be mentioned for its significance.  Note that I use the word “those” rather than the word “people”.  This is intentionally meant to be ironic, since devoted literalists seem to be living in a world that denies the very fact that they are people.  Hey, aren’t you glad that this is only an eight-word poem!

Let me try to keep it simple.  Here are some of the things that I think are qualitatively different from stuff, the barren building blocks of our material universe: compassion, hope, gratitude and mercy.  Feel free to talk among yourselves.  Let me know what you think. My hope for you, and my hope for us, is that the trials and tribulations of this billiard ball world will neither destroy nor defeat you, nor steal from you the most important matters in life, and that you will live wholeheartedly in that place infinitely greater than the mere stuff around us.  May it be so.

Look Ma No Arms (Peace Dove picture) FUNNY PEACE DESIGN

Look Ma No Arms (Peace Dove picture)–FUNNY PEACE BUTTON

Look Ma No Arms (Peace Dove picture)--FUNNY PEACE BUTTON

Look Ma No Arms (Peace Dove picture)–FUNNY PEACE BUTTON

This cool design is linked to a button, but other great Top Pun products like T-shirts, bumper stickers, mugs, caps, key chains, magnets, posters, and sticker sheets can be accessed by scrolling down the product page.

View more Peace Buttons.

This funny peace design includes many of the signature elements of my designs.  Of course, as a total peacenik, a peace dove carrying an olive branch, a classic peace sign, is the centerpiece of this design.  The sky in the background offers a little bit of realism into simple clip-art design.  The dove sets up the visual pun which can only be understood in conjunction with the text.  The “Look Ma, No Arms!” presents itself with a childlike innocence, calling attention to itself with a demanding affection.  The pun on “arms” hopefully draws the stark contrast between a simple interaction between mother and child and a call for disarmament.  This design captures well both of the playfulness and the seriousness that I value greatly, and fits well into my mission to provide serious, funny, seriously funny designs.  Enjoy!

“PUNS NOT GUNS” Manifesto by Top Pun

“PUNS NOT GUNS” Manifesto

“Some claim that puns are the lowest form of comedy. Dan, rather, says, “Guns are the lowest form of community.” Choose your weepin’! I prefer to hit ’em in the groan. Though puns and untrained minds can produce a “Not see,” puns and arms go hand in hand when used as a righting instrument. Mixing puns with peacework puts you in the dis’armament business; and though rhyme doesn’t pay, the prophets are good. With puns, and sharing a little peace of mine, we can realize that one side fits all. In truth, it’s guns that have too “meanings” for the price of won. Sometimes it takes everything we’ve got to see the blight (as they say, “sinner takes all”). While some may feel it’s an impossible play on wars (a mortality play for sure), all it takes is a sick sense (no relation to paranormal parents). Let’s have some serious fun (a free for all). Justice is no yoke. Think good that the pun is mightier than the sword!”

I wrote this manifesto early on in my career as Top Pun.  I have been a terrible punster as long as I can remember, and I have been interested in a wide range of social justice issues since I was a young adult.  I remember that my parents, recognizing my propensity towards puns, gave me a dictionary of puns as a present one year for my birthday.  In this pun dictionary, it was stated that there are an infinite number of puns.  At first, and actually for a very long time, I thought that this could not be possible.  Now, after cementing my vocation as the best punster for peace in the English-speaking world, I have little difficulty recognizing that there aren’t infinite number of puns.  I am a little surprised that this “Puns Not Guns” manifesto has held up so well for me over the years. I think that maybe I’m onto something with this punning thing.

As you can tell from the manifesto, much of my early inspiration comes from involvement in the peace movement.  Nonviolence seems to be the thread that ties together all of the many issues that I’m interested in.  Of course, perhaps conveniently, I define nonviolence very broadly (that’s non-broadly if you’re a woman).  Actually, while my first foray into nonviolence was in the late 70s when my mom took me to a peace conference at our church, Central United Methodist Church in Detroit.  This is the most salient event that I can identify as far as my consciousness raising around peace issues.  Back to the whole issue of nonviolence, I defined world hunger and extreme poverty as violence.  World hunger has continued to be the defining issue for me in relation to the world.  The interface between great affluence and extreme poverty has always challenged and perplexed me.  It is very difficult for me to reconcile these cruel and destructive differences in a world with so much.  The fact that such issues are deep and central to me really comes as no surprise.  In fact, I was literally born into it.  I was born in Haiti while my parents were serving as medical missionaries with the Mennonite Central Committee.  My father was a physician at the time, and my mother was a nurse at the time.  Mennonites have a tradition of encouraging their young folks after high school or college to perform some service to others.  Also, while I have been a lifelong United Methodist, I come from a very long line of Mennonites.  This Mennonite influence has been very strong, with predictable outcomes, in the sense, that peace and justice and simple living are powerful themes in my life.  Little did I realize early in my life that I was a good candidate for being a hippie.  My parents never really spoke that much about their experiences in Haiti, and when they did speak of their experiences in Haiti, they spoke rather nonchalantly.  Perhaps paradoxically, this more casual exceptions of what is hardly typical service, instilled in me that such commitment and service should be normal; and for me it was normal.

View Top Pun’s PUNS DESIGNS

POEM: My Poetry is Shit

My Poetry is Shit

by Top Pun

My poetry is shit
Would I say ingest?
And I
In awe seriousness
Say poetry is the write thing to do
But once stripped of this experience
Every iota digestible digested
It’s daily nutrition had
Then
Little remains
But excrement
Pardon me if you have stepped into it
Then again, defecation is immensely underrated
Fertilizer makes great beginnings
And sometimes we just need some reading material
Where we find our self

Ah yes, to meld the epic themes of poetry and shit.  Once again, to revisit the high and mighty themes of poetry and the lowly and the mundane.  Everyone poops.  Not everyone gets poetry, if they even happen to read poetry.  Even fewer are blessed with the inclination to write poetry.  As many writers and perhaps most poets know, the writing process can often be more fruitful and beneficial to the writer than the poor reader.  Perhaps this is due to poor writing.  Perhaps this is due to poor reading.  I have to confess that there is a certain selfishness in writing poetry.  Writing poetry can be a solitary and private experience.  And as with many privy experiences, it may be best experienced by oneself.  If a poet is lucky, and maybe even talented, then what is left after the writing experience may be of great nutritive value to the reader.  Unfortunately, this is not always the case.  In such cases, that which remains may be of little value, even offensive, perhaps to even more than one sensibility.  When it comes down to it, I find much of life humorous.  And when I find life not humorous, I often search for humor, as an alternative to weeping.  I must confess that I like to have a robust proportion of weeping to be weeping of joy than be weeping of sorrow.  Fortunately, most of the raw material of life, surreal as it may be, is fertile material for comedic observations.  When others get it, all the better.  When others don’t get it, well, it happens!  Most of my poetry and other writings and that being somewhat comedic due to my propensity for humor and my inescapable perception of puns and the reality around me.  Like my son told me recently, when describing me to other people, rather than saying one thing twice, I say two things once.  Perhaps paradoxically, this may result in brevity but doesn’t make the reading of such short works any less brief.  And when reading my poetry many people want briefs.

Top Pun’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day Poem 2012

I have written another pun-filled epic poem; This time in honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and MLK day.  I dedicate this poem to the legacy and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and all of those who have been inspired by the American civil rights movement in their work for justice and peace.  This MLK poem is about seven pages long and can be viewed at: Owed to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Poem, or you can download the poem as a PDF file for easy viewing, printing or sharing at: Owed to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Poem

Here is the beginning of the poem if you need a teaser…

Owed to Martin Luther King, Jr.
by Top Pun

Rekindle the story
Of Martin Luther
King, Jr.
An unequalled story of two halves
Those who halve
And those who halve not
As far apart as North is from South
A Protest-ant leading a Reformation
To not have a preyer
What kind
Of moral fiber
In a sea of White
To pick
A fight
Bringing
Not even
A knife
To a gunfight
At the OKKK corral
Taking a beating
All that they can give
To the man
A hymn
Of racial harmony

View entire poem: Owed to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Happy Dr. Martin Luther, King, Jr. Day 2012.  Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Day every day in 2012!

PUNNY Epic Poem: Christmas on Wall Street – Occupying Humanity

In honor of my 50th birthday, I have decided to devote more time to writing.  I hope to concentrate on pun-filled political satire, including epic poems.  To get you started, here is my first major epic poem, in honor of Occupy Wall Street protesters and Jesus, both known for putting some skin in the game.  The title of this epic poem, not surprisingly, is Christmas on Wall Street.  Please be warned, this poem is very punny and very epic, meaning long and sweeping (mostly Wall Street Bull): Christmas on Wall Street – Occupying Humanity. Enjoy at Christmas and beyond!

Browse Occupy Wall Street designs.