Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: A big ass spider scare

Just when I thought the news couldn’t get worse–yet another COVID variant AND Maury Povich retiring so how will those fools know if they’re the daddy or not?–I learn there’s something even more worrisome practically knocking on my back door.

If you guessed Joro spider, well, you’re lying because how? If you don’t know what the Joro spider is, just know this: Scientists describe it as “roughly the size of the palm of your hand.”

Ima need a likker drink.

OK, I’m back.

Writing in the journal Physiological Entomology (which I like to gently fan on my coffee table alongside Southern Living, don’t all y’all?), scientists pronounced the giant hand-sized spider could “take over much of the East Coast in the coming years.”

OK, well that’s not so bad. Wait. What? In a story about the Joro spider in USA Today, scientists had this advice: “Learn to live with them.”

Well, sure. I mean killing them would require a shoe waaaaay bigger than anything in this house and also, heart attack.

How did this happen? Apparently the Joro spider, native to Asia, hitched a ride on a container ship nine years ago and ended up in Georgia where it immediately regretted being a Democrat.

“They can (also) hitch rides on vehicles,” a scientist told reporters. “One got all the way to Oklahoma.”

The way he said it makes it sound as if the Joro was standing out there on the side of the highway, one leg waving, another clutching a tattered bag of Funyuns some human had tossed out. The other six legs performed the same duty as a D.O.T. road crew, which, and I’m quoting directly from the official manual, is to “just look, like, super supportive of the two people who are actually working.”

I’m being silly, of course. Naturally the Joro spider wasn’t large enough to literally hitchhike. But at some point, the giant demonic turkey platter-sized spider apparently stowed away in the fam station wagon. Oklahoma or bust! Said no one ever.

Scientists proclaimed the arrival of the Joro spider “pretty sobering” which, for such a famously emotionally unavailable bunch is like a regular person saying “We’re all going to die. Full stop.”

But let’s get back to a quote from University of Georgia researchers: Joro “could take over much of the East Coast in the coming years.”

I’m going to need a little more info, Professor Scarypants. What do you mean “take over”? Are they going to run for school board? Buy all the toilet paper when there’s a hurricane coming? Park their massive carcasses onto two spaces when they go to the movie theater? Define “take over.” Give two examples. So I can sleep ever again.

There is some good news: The giant, big as the hood of your full-size SUV spider, is not poisonous. I repeat. The Joro spider is not poisonous. Although they do secrete venom, their pinchers aren’t big enough to pierce human skin.

Remember that, Georgians, when you wake up in the night and there’s a Joro spider on your chest trying desperately to inject you with its probably not toxic venom.

I believe we will all sleep better now, am I right?

No of COURSE, I’m not right. This is terrifying. I live a mere five hours from Georgia. And, yes, it is all about me.

Scientists are convinced we can live in harmony with the spider they routinely describe as “massive and colorful.” Which are the exact words I recently used to describe what one sees puddled on sidewalks when visiting New Orleans at Mardi Gras. Or ever.

Scientists say if a web is in the way, simply remove it and relocate it. Crazy talk. Why not just invite Joro inside for snacks? He can bring the Funyuns.

Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist. Write her at [email protected].



Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: Florida’s don’t say ‘gay’ law

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis – Screenshot,: KXAN News.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is not an idiot. He just plays one on TV

I’m having such a wonderfully gay time planning a little getaway to take place in a month or so. Our destination is Savannah, a city beloved for its festive, ebullient, positively gay atmosphere. Yes, we hope to have a gay ol’ time in a city that artfully blends Old South with New.

Since you ask, we will be celebrating our 33rd anniversary, definitely cause for a gay celebration, isn’t it? In fact, when I think of marriage in general, I often think “gay,” don’t you?” Because humor is a crucial piece of the marriage pie. Without it, you’ve just got a lot of boring arguments about who returned the empty milk carton to the fridge.


Much as Homer Simpson historically says the ONE word he wills himself not to, I’m thinking all gay all the time lately.

Why is that? Because in the midst of a horrifying war spawned by a madman, staggering inflation and a pandemic only now showing signs of easing, a Harvard AND Yale educated governor down in Florida is faux-riled about teachers talking about gender issues in the classroom.

Not that that’s really a thing in his target of K-3 but, just in case…don’t say gay.

Saddling up straw horses is a specialty of Ron DeSantis, the aspiring presidential candidate who easily coaxed the “you had me at great chance to ostracize and belittle anybody different from me” Florida legislature to pass a bill forbidding classroom teachers from discussing sexual orientation and gender issues with students.

So what? Who cares? Did someone mention pie earlier?

Here’s the problem. Let’s say you’re redheaded. You were born that way. Sure, you could dye it to a more conventional color, but your roots are red and any coverup is just that. In fact, you are super redheaded. You go to school, hang with your friends and you want to talk about what it’s like to be a redhead, but nobody lets you. There could be an entire discussion in class about heroic, pioneering redheads and the struggles they faced but those pages have been torn out of the books.

Why? What’s wrong with being redheaded? Well, it makes some misguided people very uncomfortable when redheads refuse to become invisible.

Also, if your teacher says “redheaded,” report him or her because they need to be fired. The new “don’t say redhead” law provides for the firing of that teacher. Which is nuts.

The message is clear to any redhead. Who you ARE is something wrong, bad, unacceptable, too terrible to talk about. So you stay quiet. And you feel less than. Just the way they hoped you would. And, when you’re just about as low as you can be, you think about just …disappearing.

DeSantis is not an idiot. He just plays one on TV. This guy debases himself for the base more than anybody and that’s saying a lot these days.

I think instead of passing silly laws and grandstanding about non-issues, why not celebrate the differences? Captain Obvious here would like to remind y’all how excruciatingly dull life would be if we were all just alike. I just got back from the grocery store where I saw a middle-aged man joyfully blowing bubbles at everyone who walked in the store AND a woman wearing her pajamas slow down in front of the beer cooler, bend herself backward like a circus acrobat and put eye drops in both eyes.

I don’t know about y’all but when I’m around non-toxic people who aren’t just like me, I’m energized, engaged, a part of something bigger than myself. And that’s a good thing.

It’s really simple. We don’t need to pass laws that stoke baseless fears and, worst of all, cause pain to people who are just trying to live their lives.

Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist. Write her at [email protected].

Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: The Russian oligarchs edition of “Below Deck”

Next season on “Below Deck: Montenegro”…Captain Sandy and Captain Lee decide to salvage a slow season by renting their employers’ luxury yachts to Russian oligarchs whose boats are currently…uhhhh…unavailable. Here’s a clip from “Below Deck: Russian Oligarchs Edition” coming soon on Bravo…

Captain Sandy: Welcome aboard, Sergei!

Captain Lee: Cut the sugar, Sandy. Look, Sergei, we don’t like you. The only reason we’re letting you on board is Bravo thought it would be a smart business decision to have everyone in America hate you even more…You’re like the designated villain on The Bachelor, capiche? You’re ratings gold, you @#$%!”

Captain Sandy: OK, that’s enough Lee. These oligarchs are our special guests, and we will treat them exactly as we treat anyone on Below Deck. We will smile at their faces and then, behind their backs, we will savagely make fun of their rampant alcoholism, disgusting personal hygiene and completely unrealistic dining demands.

Captain Lee: That sounds good. And, to be fair, I pretty much hate everybody, not just oligarchs.

Captain Sandy: We know, Cap’n Crusty. Fun fact: Like most of America, I wasn’t exactly sure what an oligarch was. Had to Google it!

Sergei: Enough of this mindless chatter. Where are the servant women? I am late for my massage and many mimosas.

Captain Sandy: Hannah! Help the man out! Sergei, this is our legendary chief stew…

Hannah: Are you just going to let him talk to me like that? What a misogynist!

Sergei: You will now go to Siberian Prison Camp 17 where the temperature is often below 50 degrees. I am just saying…

Captain Lee: Why you….

Captain Sandy: OK, Lee, settle down and go scream at the bosun and tell him how dumb he is.

Captain Lee: Sandy, you know me too well. That does always relax me…

Captain Sandy: Hannah, just get the man his drinks.

Sergei: You have Russian vodka, of course?

Captain Sandy: Uhhhh, no. We are an American registry, and we are currently boycotting Russian products as a show of solidarity to the people of Ukraine.

Sergei: You may join your mouthy friend at Siberian Prison Camp 17…Perhaps you saw it on National Geographic channel expose?

Captain Sandy: Hannah, please get Sergei some Tito’s.

Sergei: Blech. Is this the vodka made in Texas? Do I look like  American sorority girl? What is next? White Claw?

Hannah: Oh, look! More oligarchs are boarding. Let’s hope they’re a little more well-mannered!

Sergei: You should probably know I’m actually the NICE one. Young lady, before you greet Dimitri, please rub my shoulders and feet and give me the name of your youngest sister. Ha!

(Voiceover) Coming up later this season on Below Deck: Russian Oligarchs Edition…

Captain Sandy: OK, everyone, let’s gather in the galley at 1300 hours for the tip meeting.

Chef Ben: Can’t wait. You know I’ve never had a more demanding group to cook for and that’s saying a lot. Who even knew meat jelly was a thing?

Hannah: So how did we do? As rich as the oligarchs are, I imagine we are going to get at least $2,000 apiece.

Bosun: To tell the truth, I’m glad to see them go. Captain Lee encouraged them to call me names like “stupid” and “lazy” and “paste-eating lizard boy.”  I got even though by asking them to say “Moose” and “Squirrel.” They never got the joke.

Captain Sandy: Well, I hate to tell you this, but the envelope was empty. There was no tip, not a single ruble.

Hannah: Whhaaaaaaa????!!!!!

Captain Sandy: I’m so sorry. You all worked so hard. But Sergei and Dimitri said the only thing good about the trip was riding on the jet skis because at least they SOUND Russian.

Captain Lee: Arrrrgh. I need to humiliate someone. Bosun!!!!

Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist. Write her at [email protected].

Weekend humor (sort of) from Celia Rivenbark: Let the teachers teach!

The Scene: Interior of a sixth-grade public school classroom in Floriginia, USA.

Teacher: OK, class, today we are going to talk about the Civil Rights Movement.

Student: My mama says you can’t indoctorate me so I’m going to have to report you.

Teacher: “I think you meant to say “indoctrinate,” Billy, and I’m doing no such thing. This is a history class. You do want to learn history, don’t you?”

Billy: “My mama says I can have you fired for trying to teach things that make my ancestors look bad. She says you’re just part of the left wing Woke conspiracy mob.”

Teacher: No, that’s not true. I’m simply an overworked, extremely underpaid teacher trying to do my job which is to teach history.

Billy: My mama says the onliest history we need to know is that we are all Americans and we’re all the same.

Teacher: That’s very, uh, aspirational.

Billy: Did you just call my mama a bad word? Because she said thanks to the Governor, we might can sue you and even get us some bounty money for turning you in.

Teacher: No, the word was aspirational, which is like trying to reach a goal. Let’s all turn in our history books to Chapter 7. Now here we learn about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr….

Billy: Nononononono. We had that book tooken out of the library last week.

Teacher: Yes, I heard about that. Also Ruby Bridges. It’s a shame because these are powerful people with stories we all need to read.

Billy: Read? My daddy says books are what’s wrong with our country today. Too many books. He says there are whole entire buildings full of them and they are free. Just one more government giveaway.

Teacher: Your father is entitled to his opinion. And, in my opinion, it’s time to return to our studies. The year was 1964 and…

(sound of muffled crying from rear of classroom)

Teacher: Is someone crying? What’s wrong?

Susie: I’m crying because you’re making me hate my country and myself.

Teacher: Oh, no, Susie! That’s just not true.

Susie: It is too, true. You have a narrow and slanted obsession with historical mistakes that make children hate their country, each other and or themselves.”

Teacher: Susie, are you reading the mission statement from Moms For Liberty?

Susie: Yes, ma’am. P.S. All lives matter.

Teacher: Oh dear. Listen, class. Let’s all just settle down and move on with our lesson, OK?

Billy: You’re canceled, Ms. Frankenberry.

Teacher: Whaaat? You can’t cancel me. I’m your teacher!


Principal: What’s going on in here? I could hear you all the way down the hall!

Teacher: They say I’m canceled because I am trying to teach the chapter about the Civil Rights Movement.


Teacher: Not you, too! But I didn’t say diversity or make them do the privilege bingo game!

Principal: Sorry, Ms. Frankenberry. But ever since the governor installed that Critical Race Theory tip line, I’ve had to be extra careful. It’s time you teachers realized where your bread is buttered.

Teacher: At my other three jobs?

Principal: Wait. Is that a pride flag in the window?

Teacher: It’s a rainbow decal.

Principal: Are you out of your mind? We can’t endorse that kind of lifestyle. No discussions of gender are permitted in the classroom.

Teacher: It’s just a rainbow. I thought it was pretty. But what if a child wanted to talk about gender identification? Would that be so awful?

Random Local School Board Member: Oh, hello. I was just walking by hoping to catch a teacher committing education. Oh, my God. Ms. Frankenberry, are you … no, it can’t be…are you still wearing a MASK????!!!

Teacher: (sigh) I’ll pack my things…

Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist. Write her at [email protected]

Weekend thoughts from Celia Rivenbark: Not a time for humor

People wait for buses at a bus station as they attempt to evacuate the city on February 24, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images)

Yulia arrived at our house with an enormous box of the finest Ukrainian chocolates. Biting into one I realized this was next level, like comparing the tiny striped burgers in a can of chunky soup to a filet from Ruth’s Chris. This Ukranian exchange student would always be welcome in our home.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Yulia, who lived with us a few weeks in 2013 as I watch Putin’s deadly attacks on her homeland. Where was she? How was she? It had been a very long time since we’d talked.

The heartbreaking answer was as close as a text. My daughter, home for the weekend, used old contact information and reached out to Yulia, now also 24. She responded in less than a minute.

“We are in a bomb shelter at the moment,” she wrote. There was a crying face emoji and a photo of Yulia and her new husband cradling their cute dog.

“Russia is attacking us. We don’t have anywhere to go. We are sitting in a shelter since 3 a.m. We are very afraid. Russian planes are above us.”

It turned out Yulia was in Kyiv, not her native Chernihiv. The air sirens were so loud. Her panic rising, she fretted most about her parents, hiding in a friend’s basement in another city.

There was more back and forth before she signed off. “We have issues with the internet right now. We are trying to keep calm. We can’t leave the city because there are attacks on the route and we aren’t allowed to cross the border, especially males. We are under siege…”

Seeing Yulia’s face after so many years made my heart sink. She looked exhausted and resigned and scared all at the same time.

Yulia was a bubbly, tall blonde who delighted in all things American, especially the mall and every kind of fast food. Arriving in March, she wanted to see the beach immediately and dipped her toes in the frigid waves without even flinching.

She was polite, funny and insisted on doing her own laundry. Early on she asked where we kept our ironing board and I made a lame joke that didn’t translate: “I don’t know. Maybe 1997?”

Yulia talked to her doting parents often via Skype. Occasionally, I’d make sure to stick my head in and try to look responsible. They had entrusted their only daughter to us, a responsibility I didn’t take lightly. Later, I hoped she didn’t tell them that some “other” parents took the whole group to Hooter’s for a quintessentially American experience.

Yulia hated grits but I like to think all was forgiven once I introduced her to Wildberry-flavored Pop Tarts. “Mmmmm,” she said. “Sank you.” I said “de nada.” We were both smiling big realizing Pop Tarts with made up flavors are the universal love language.

Yulia spent every hour out of school and homework time soaking in as much teen culture we could offer. She filled two huge suitcases with gifts for her friends and family back home. They wanted the American brands so there were many trips to Gap, Forever 21 and Target. My daughter remembered how they wore silly masks and walked downtown along the river. They laughed and took a million pictures. Just two giggling 14-year-old girls having an effortless good time despite language hiccups. Smart and poised, Yulia didn’t hesitate when asked to speak to a Russian studies class at the local university.

Today, Yulia writes, she stood in a line of 500 to get food and potable water. There’s no electricity, no heat. The walls of her bunker are shaking from nearby explosions. There are rumors of churches and a maternity home being burned.

Like thousands of others, Yulia is a refugee in her own country. Please do everything in your power to help them. For a complete list of fully-vetted charities serving Ukraine right now, go to Give.org.

Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist. Write her at [email protected].