Monday, March 23, 2015

Also: Oboe. Banjo.


Remember the droll signs that used to get tacked up in storefront businesses and diners? They said things like, “Our credit manager is Helen Waite. If you want credit, go to Helen Waite.” Or “You don't have to be crazy to work here, but it helps.” Side-splitting. But there is such a thing as job-specific madness. Military commanders can sit around chatting over beer and pretzels while people are getting maimed and killed on their say-so. Comics feel compelled to expose their social anxiety defenses to drunk strangers. And pedal steel players? They deserve their own chapter in the DSM.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Special muttonchop citation to Q and Old Kinderhook


The first president with facial hair was Abraham Lincoln, the last was William Howard Taft. In between, just two were clean-shaven. From 1861 to 1913, only 8 years went by with a whiskerless White House. I assume this reflects the prevailing fashion all over the country during those years. And beards are the thing right now, especially among very young men. Not that little Van Dyke that allows an actor to portray his own evil twin; big Old Testament prophet whiskers on these shiny open unformed faces. Walking into a hipster bar is like stumbling into a bearded lady convention.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Like a big pizza pie


Our word amateur comes to us through the French from the Latin amator, from the root amare, to love. So an amateur is somebody who does something for love rather than money. A lot of times we use the word to imply a lack of skill. Certainly, I would hesitate to avail myself of the services of an amateur or “shade tree” dentist. But amateur poems and amateur cooking compare favorably with the output of any credentialed professional. And I gotta tell you, I'd sooner hop in the sack with an amateur than a seasoned pro. Sometimes, enthusiasm trumps expertise.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Oh. Lightbulbs.


A partial list of topics considered perennially funny: Mothers in law. Catholic school. Jewishness. Blind dates. Traveling salesmen. Two of anything entering a bar. A shipwrecked person. A golfer. Keith Richards, drug use of. Keith Richards, articulation of. Keith Richards, facial wrinkles of. Airline food. Arrivals at the gates of heaven and subsequence inquiries. Talking dogs. Talking frogs. Talking ducks. Talking bears. City folk visiting farmers. Farmers visiting city folk. Okay. That's some funny stuff there, alright. Of course, humor is largely a matter of impeccable comic timing. If you have not been amused, you were probably reading too fast.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Belaboring the point


If you think that Bathos and Pathos are two of the Three Musketeers, I don't know whether to send you to the front or back of the class. Actually, nobody much gets pathos wrong; but bathos? Well, bathos is when Eleanor Roosevelt is meeting Mahatma Gandhi and they both fart at the same time. Then there's bemused, right up there with comprised as one of the words it's real easy to get wrong. Bemused doesn't mean amused. It means sort of set to thinking, musing. Think of beguile, becalm, befuddle. Or bedraggle. Let us by all means think of bedraggle.

Monday, February 16, 2015

We'll call you.


You know how when something really heavy is transpiring in your life, you'll go into the restroom and run the water and splash a double handful into your face and then grip the edges of the sink and take a long searching look deep into the eyes of your reflection? Me neither; I'm more likely to check my teeth and nostrils for parsley and boogers, respectively. But I suppose actors actually have to practice this unless they want to hear casting directors say, “Sorry. You have the right look and great abs, but your sink schtick could use some work.”

Monday, February 9, 2015

Last call


Like cocktail hour, it's always the end of the world somewhere. Death, pestilence, war, and famine are the traditional harbingers of the final days. But it seems like the apocalypse has whole platoons of horsemen. Prewashed jeans, the passenger pigeon, fluoridated water. A Muslim president from Nigeria, the insidious introduction of fructose into our food, casual Fridays. Fire or ice, bang or whimper. For yeast, the End comes from their own poisonous alcoholic excretions, so their Armageddon is somebody's delicious pint. For me, nothing suggests impending doom better than knowing there is such a thing as currywurst flavored energy drink.