Tag: Humor

Reference Desk: A Question and Some Funny Lines

I’ve got a question about a book title for folks, and then a request for folks to share their favorite odd or surreal sayings; I’ll cover the book question above the fold, then share an odd line related to the author and a relate a short experience with another “gotcha!” line afterward.

You’ll have full use of the comment section for replies to either or both.

First, the book related question:

There’s a 1958 book by Richard Matheson called “A Stir of Echoes” — it was eventually made into a Kevin Bacon flick, but that’s not important.

I’m interested in determining whether the title was ever a quote from a larger work of literature.

I’ve checked quote databases, but cannot locate it. Yet, I can’t shake the feeling that it was taken from somewhere…anybody know for sure?

Saturday Night Comedians

So the economy’s in the toilet.  So everyone’s on edge about the primary season.  We need humor more than ever!

In the spirit of we all need a good laugh, here are some clips for your amusement.  

Thank You, G.

Dear G,

The writers’ strike goes on.  

In a TV comedy drought, your once-in-an-epoch, no-reason-for-it-but-sheer-hilarity jerk-hump of your own campaign has been pure gold.  Even asking your staffers to go without pay to continue the laughter.  We want you to know we appreciate it, G.

As your election prospects go down the drain, this post is in honor of you, from us, your adoring fans.

Books I Will Never Read Again

(1) Books that promise to tell me “why the left is right and the right is wrong.”

I don’t need the help, thanks.  Anyone who does should not be reading this book — as it will surely result in me having to associate with Democrats who are Democrats for all the wrong reasons.  I want shallow conversations, I’ll talk to a Republican.

(2) Books of poetry written by songwriters.

If it wasn’t good enough for your last album, I’m not dropping 20 $ on it.  Keep it on stage, loser.

(3) Books with subtitles that begin with a misuse of the word “How”.

Some examples:

God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

by Christopher Hitchens (Author)

Crazies to the Left of Me, Wimps to the Right: How One Side Lost Its Mind and the Other Lost Its Nerve by Bernard Goldberg (Hardcover – April 17, 2007)

Day of Reckoning: How Hubris, Ideology, and Greed Are Tearing America Apart by Patrick J. Buchanan (Hardcover – Nov 27, 2007)

There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind by Antony Flew and Roy Abraham Varghese (Hardcover – Oct 23, 2007)

Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole by Benjamin R. Barber (Paperback – Mar 10, 2008)

War on the Middle Class: How the Government, Big Business, and Special Interest Groups Are Waging War on the American Dream and How to Fight Back by Lou Dobbs (Paperback – Sep 25, 2007)

The Second Civil War: How Extreme Partisanship Has Paralyzed Washington and Polarized America by Ronald Brownstein (Hardcover – Nov 1, 2007)

No, sorry, hack.  If you don’t, or rather your agent doesn’t, know the difference between “how” and either “that” or “why” (better yet, just to delete the first word altogether) you’re not getting my money.

(4) Collections of columns by columnists.

You writee book, I buyee book.  You no writee book, I no buyee book.

(5) Books written by stand-up comics.

Unless your name is Steve Martin, I’m not buying your book.  Chapter titles such as “The Battle of the Sexes: Toilet Seat Edition” do not make we want to stay up half the night, howling in laughter.  Keep it on stage, loser.  Better yet, keep it at home.

(6) Any book with an “Oprah’s Book Club” sticker on the cover.

If it looks like a good book, I’ll find a different copy.  The calories I waste tearing off that horrid symbol of Cultural Monotheism would be better spent changing the channel on my TV.

(7) Novelizations of movies.

Though I will consider sonnetizations of architecture or stream-of-consciousness-i-zations of reality TV.

(8) Any book by Nelson DeMille.  Period.

I made the mistake of being a passanger on a road trip with Wildfire playing on audiobook.  I want my soul back, you miserable hack.

(9) Crazy Wacky Romantic Adventures.

He’s a forensic tax accountant.  She’s a former trapeze artist.  Together they find adventure and romance and fun! in the ice caves of Antarctica.

(10) Fantasy Science Fiction.

Elves on Interstellar Frigates.  No.  No, really.  That’s fine.  Thanks.  But no.

Musings on comedy

Comedy and humor are the hardest things to write.  Sure, Hamlet gets all the praise, because it is oh-so-serious.  Preston Sturges makes this point in Sullivan’s Travels, his film about a Depression-era Hollywood writer of screwball comedies who wants to do something serious.  The movie is a dramedy, in fact, but this scene shows Sullivan’s epiphany


as he realizes the curative power of laughter: the way it frees people, if only for a time, from their troubles.

Please follow me below the fold:

This Week With AnpanMan For President

Welcome to this week with Anpanman the front runner in the race to be the next President of the United States.

Il Congresstrati

From the 16th century to the dawn of the 20th, a special choir sang at the pontiff’s pleasure, grown men with the voices of angels and the range of female sopranos.  There was a simple reason for their abilities: each had had his gonads surgically removed prior to achieving puberty.

I don’t know why, but the other day, while pondering the castrati (It., “castrated ones”), I started thinking about the 110th Congress.  Could it be, I wondered, that we are witnessing the political equivalent of a choir of the ball-less pandering to the whims of a theological autocrat? 

Naw, I thought, not our Dems – our guys are descended from the tradition of FDR and “The Buck Stops Here” Harry!  We have a heritage of Massive Brass – New Deals and Great Societies that had to be shoved down the throats of backward-looking Republicans.  There’s no way that folks of such stock could ever be compared to emasculated servants performing at the whim of a king, nor to the haunting voice of the very last castrati, the only one whose voice was ever recorded.

Or could they?

Friday Night at Eight: Jewish Humor, The Wisdom of Chelm, and Bloggers

There’s a book I’ve read over and over since I was a child, so many times that I’ve memorized most of its stories.  My father and brothers also knew these stories and we’d often use them to illustrate whatever conversation we were having.

The book is entitled A Treasury of Jewish Folklore, edited by Nathan Ausubel.  It was published in 1948.

The stories are great, but Ausubel’s introduction to each section is wonderful, I think.

So I’m thinking about some of the more absurd arguments all of us get into every now and then — no, not flamewars, just minutiae unto absurdity at times, how many angels can dance on the head of a pin kind of stuff.  And I thought about the town of Chelm and the stories about the folks there.

Before I get to the stories, I’d like to share part of Ausubel’s introduction to the section of the book entitled “The Human Comedy:”

The overtones of satire, irony and quip we hear even in the Old Testament.  For example, there is the gay mockery of the Prophet Elijah as he listens to the idol-worshipping soothsayers of Baal, invoking their god morning, noon and night:  “O Baal, hear us!”  To this, the rational-minded Elijah remarks tauntingly: “Cry ye louder, for he is a god; he is perhaps talking or walking, or he is on a journey or peradventure he sleepeth and must be awaked.”

We also find satire and irony in the Prophets, especially in the writings of Amos and Isaiah.  With matchless skill they lay bare the weaknesses and the follies of their contemporaries.  They satirize the hypocrite, the miser, the skinflint, the profligate, the coquette, the self-satisfied and the self-righteous.  It is from this acid portraiture that much of Jewish folklore found its inspiration and themes.  The fables, parables, anecdotes and sayings in the Talmud and Midrash, as the reader of this book will find out for himself, were rich in those very characteristics with which we associate Jewish humor today.

The liveliness and the many-sidedness of Jewish humor make it possible for everyone to find in it that which will suit his taste.  It is a treasury in which lies stored up three thousand years of a people’s laughter.  Its variety recalls the words of Bar-Hebraeus, the Thirteenth Century Syrian-Jewish folklorist, in his introduction to his Laughable Stories: “And let this book be a devoted friend to the reader, whether he be Muslim, Jew, or Aramean, or a man belonging to a foreign country or nation.  And let the man who is learned, I mean to say the man who hath a bright understanding, and the man that babbleth conceitedly even though he drives everyone mad, and also every other man, choose what is best for himself.  And let each pluck the flowers that please him.  In this way the book will succeed in bringing together the things which are alike, each to the other.”

So onward … to the town of Chelm, and why these particular stories remind me of the kinds of knots we can tie ourselves into when it comes to arguing the finer points of any issue.

Colbert Outpolls Several Democratic Candidates. Really.

crossposted at Daily Kos and Truth & Progress

In a not so shocking development, my favorite presidential candidate (other than you know who) is moving up in the polls.  With his brilliant one-state strategy, he is fast emerging as a political threat to the front-runners and according to the Washington Post, he’s got momentum

Poll Tries to Measure Colbert Effect

Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican polling firm, recently completed a national poll of 1,000 likely 2008 voters that included Colbert’s name in both the GOP and Democratic primaries. (He has announced his plans to run in both the Democratic and Republican primaries.)  In the field from Oct. 18-21, the survey has a 5 percent margin of error.

In the Democratic primary, Colbert takes 2.3 percent of the vote — good for fifth place behind Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (40 percent), Sen. Barack Obama (19 percent), former Sen. John Edwards (12 percent) and Sen. Joe Biden (2.7 percent.  Colbert finished ahead of Gov. Bill Richardson (2.1 percent), Rep. Dennis Kucinich (2.1 percent) and former Sen. Mike Gravel (less than 1 percent).

How old Are you?

When I first started with the blogs (about 6 weeks ago) I thought I’d be around a bunch of kids.
You know…like…sort of, kind of…like…you know…kids.

But since I came over to the good side (about a month ago) I’ve found that you are all my people whatever your age.  I’ve also seen that there are a lot of my generation out here (I’m 51).

So, I’m curious, just exactly, “How old Are you?”

That’s a quote from my niece a long time ago when she was about 7.  I told her, “I’m older’n dirt.”
She scrunched up her cute little face and thought real hard for a couple of minutes before saying,
“You can’t be older than Dirt, Uncle Jim.”

Overheard in the Senate Shitter

I’d been sitting in a dive In Washington DC all day drinking slow-gin fizzes and eating boiled eggs out of a big jar on the bar.  No matter how much I drank, the waitress never got any prettier so I decided I’d tour The US Senate.

I had to go through a magnometer and it must have somehow affected my bowels because no sooner than I had entered, I felt (and heard) a rumbling in my gut that damned near brought me to my knees.

Buhdy said I could


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