Monthly Archives: October 2013

How to Tell If Bees Will Make You Die

Note: Not an author photo. (via

Last week, some jerkwad bee just up and stung (stang?) me for no reason. It was slightly less than awesome.

I plead my case before the gods of bees and justice that I had done nothing to this bee. And yet, I incurred his wrath. I had attempted to steal no honey. I had not even had any honey in months, because I use honey to sweeten hot tea, and it hadn’t been cold. But I comfort my bruised sense of justice and still-kind-of-itchy forearm with the thought that this is insect karma: I’ve used ant traps. Swatted mosquitoes. Told spiders I’d prefer if they left.

I also told myself that at least now I know I am not allergic to bee stings. Because, despite getting stanged, I did not at all die. Like, not at all!

But I’m told that I need at least one more bee to stick it in me before I can be sure about this. That the first one’s just practice (really, just to sensitize you.) So, NEXT TIME, I might die. This sounded like possible BS from Big Bee, meant to sell us more bee stings we don’t really need. So I decided to investigate:

I went out and picked a fight with a beehive.

Just kidding, I Googled it. Most of the major medical sites don’t talk about needing a first sting, but this article that is overrun with pop-up ads has an MD quote that does: “Most people must be stung at least once before having an allergic reaction the second time around. You have to have that initial exposure that sensitizes you to the venom.”

So, it’s possible I’ve simply been set up for my eventual face-balooning death.

Reputable website tells me, however, that only 3 percent of people who suffer insect stings will experience the severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.

And this is not to say that everyone must necessarily experience an uneventful first stinging before succumbing to bee-ish wrath the second time. Again, from Mayo, “People who have a severe allergic reaction to a bee sting have a 30 to 60 percent chance of anaphylaxis the next time they’re stung.” So my lack of a severe reaction the first time out at least means I’m less likely to go down come round two.

However, contrary to the image of bee-sting vulnerability you may have from “My Girl,” adults face a greater risk than children, even those representing the innocence of long-lost days in coming-of-age stories. From Mayo: “Adults tend to have more-severe reactions than children and are more likely to die of anaphylaxis than are children. ”

So, in conclusion, my chances of death at the hands (or abdomens) of bees will only increase. I’ll be sure to let you know if I die. But winter is coming, so the little striped marauders will soon freeze. That gives me another good 6-8 months to live. Let’s make it count. I’m buying a sled.

Suns Down, Puns Out


I like puns. This used to be a mild source of embarrassment, something you wouldn’t readily admit, like possessing a rock collection past age 10 or knowing too much of the X-Men backstory.

I think puns have attracted at least a slim leather-jacket covering of cool, recently, though. This may be a consequence of where I’ve lived the last few years — hipster-nerdy Brooklyn and college town-nerdy Madison — but there’s also Twitter as evidence. Goddamn, do people like to tweet puns. And I’ve seen the raucous crowds at “Punderdome 3000” in Park Slope (which I’ve covered — repeatedly — here).

So, it perhaps surprised me less than it might have surprised others that Madison’s first amateur pun competition, this week’s “Pundamonium,” drew a sizable crowd. Nerd Nite, a celebration of geekery, does well here (at the same venue, to boot, High Noon Saloon). Pundamonium’s host, Art Allen, seemed pleasantly surprised so many Madisonians decided to proudly fly their Dad Joke flags. Art brought the show, to test it out, from Minneapolis, where he hosts it regularly. He hopes to make it regular in Madison, too. Here’s my review, with some unsolicited and probably annoying advice on how to make that happen:

* The Good: Pundamonium works similarly to a poetry slam: punners pun their puns, and judges selected from the audience judge the contestants via whiteboards held aloft. The contestants go through several elimination rounds, whittling things down to the punniest of them all. Each round, punners get a prompt, and must play violently with the language from that springboard.

Pundamonium keeps things fresh each round, though, by mixing up the format. First round, punnists get their prompt while in the audience and have some time to mull it over. Second round, they receive a prompt on stage and get a mere half-minute to prime the punp (get it?). Final rounds, two contestants share a mic and a prompt — it’s open season and each one can jump up to the mic when they have an idea. This, for the best punners, turns into the Dozens, but with puns. Some attitude-laden insults spice up the dork humor nicely.

Also, each round had its own flavor and rhythm, unlike other pun shows (ok, THE other pun show) I’ve seen, in which the rounds got repetitive.

Some folks had some good runs of puns (or pruns, if you will, which you probably won’t). My fave: a punndanista got islands as a prompt and showed an impressive knowledge of world geography, basing all his puns on actual island names. (“If you get a drink, don’t worry, they can make it a Virgin…Hey man, you look sick. UK?”).

* The Bad: This is an amateur contest, and the shorter time periods made some of the contestants go blank. It’s no coincidence the two finalists were members of the same Madison-area improv comedy team. To make this thing sustainable, it needs to offer a chance to more than just semi-pro comedians — particularly in a city as (relatively) small as Madison. That 30-second round should go at least a minute to give those less accustomed to the stage more time to think and not freeze up. If I just want to see some improvers do their thing, I’ll go to an improv show.

But I hope it comes back. Nerdy Madisonians, tell someone you liked the show. Tell Pundamonium. Tell High Noon. Tell Scott Walker. Yeah. That sounds right. Tell Scott Walker.





Tonight, I went to “Pundamonium” in Madison. And, no, Pundamonium is not some new wonder drug for constipation. It is, in fact, a pun-slam competition.

And Pundamonium and Epic Darwin, the blog, are going to break their cherries together.

Because: this was the Minneapolis-born Pundamonium’s first show in Madison.

And this will be the first major post of Epic Darwin: a review of said nerdery.

Stay tuned. I met Pundamonium’s fearless, beardful leader — Art — and he will tell me all about why puns must rule your damn brain. Review coming tomorrow .

–Mike “Epic” Dharwin