’18 A To Z Challenge – Y

Letter Y

I was desperately pondering what word, beginning with the letter Y, to write about. I had yesteryear, yonder, yardstick, and yield, any one of which may still show up this time next year. I thought about Yule, but it’s long past. The Easter Bunny is already hopping over Santa’s sleigh tracks. I told all my yolks, when I published my E For Eggs post, a couple of years ago.

Suddenly it came to me! I should write a post about

You

Crowd

A few of my fans, awed by the magnificence of my prose.

Yes, you, my regular readers, and faithful fans – who have been with me and my blogging, through thick and thin…. Who am I kidding??! When, during the time that I have been blogging, have I ever been thin? It’s been more like thick, and thicker. I’m a little like comedian Gabriel Iglesias – so well-fed that I’m somewhere between FLUFFY and DAMN!

Fortunately for you (and me), my writings benefit greatly from considerable editing. If it were not for the miracles of the word-processing program, the prose that my over-fed, sausage-like fingers (Mmmm – sausages!) typo out, would look like my Back Up A Sec post.

My readers and online guests are important to me all the time after a meal that would have Santa Claus leading a Weight-Watchers intervention raid, but you’re here now, reading my output, and giving me a warm happy feeling – just like a large serving of French fries and gravy.

Since it’s Lent – even though I’m not a Catholic – I hereby vow to give up excessive calorie intake for 40…. minutes. I promise to be back in a couple of days, with a post that’s sleek and svelte, even if I’m not. Thank you, to the visitors who have come here before, and thank you to the ones who will gratify me by continuing to show up later. 😀

 

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That’s Not (Precisely) Funny

German Shepherd

Gerry Seinfeld is rolling over in his grave – or, he would be, if he were dead, and if he reads this, he might be.

There are times when comedy, or other facets of life, depend on precision.   Jerry was/is a precisionist.  He replaced a generic ‘dog’, with a ‘German Shepherd,’ in a joke about a blind skydiver, and killed.  He and a friend argued for an hour, about whether to use ‘a’ or ‘the’ in a joke.

Just as often though, it is necessary for the joke-teller to rely on the listener’s imagination.  Sometimes, precision can kill the humor.

Recently, while plagiarizing researching jokes for my comedy posts, I ran into the old classic about a couple making out in a car.  When the male asks the female if she’d like to get into the back seat, the Blonde wails that she’d rather stay in the front with him.

Ditzy Blonde

The Blonde lady who posted it, took the time and trouble to rewrite it, and place the amorous couple in a CORVETTE.  Ever the pedantic buzzkill, I reminded her that unlike the sports car Thunderbird, which morphed into a gigantic land-yacht, Corvettes never had a back seat.

I got back a grumpy (and I’m an expert on grumpy), “Well, maybe it was a BWM then.”  Maybe it was, but why did you feel the need to be specific – and wrong?  Why not just use the generic ‘car,’ the way every other joke-teller does, and let the readers’ imaginations supply their own.  I could imagine a 1928 Essex, because a man in my home-town turned one into a French fry wagon.

Today’s rant about Nothing, is brought to you because I couldn’t imagine a theme for last week’s 100-word Flash Fiction, I didn’t have a WOW composed and ready, and I published a comedy post out of sequence.

I’d like to blame exposure to Donald Trump, during our week-long visit to DC.  Our Osteopath claims that our trip was a success.  Trump was quiet all the time that we were there, but that was because he was too busy playing golf in Florida.  My digestion and my blog-site are all regular again.  Please stop back soon, so that I can prove it….  the blogging – not the digestion.  Ew, Ew, Ew.  😯

Complete And Correct

Calipers

Used properly, the English language is one of nuance and precision.  Used as many of the great unwashed do….it’s a wonder that even the pizza order is correct.

I have quoted Mark Twain’s admonition that “There’s a mighty difference between lightning, and a lightning bug.”

I recently stumbled across a blog post about euphemisms;

Euphemisms are generally used to change something icky into something more palatable. As George Carlin said, “Sometime in my life—no one asked me about this—toilet paper became bathroom tissue. The dump became the landfill. And partly cloudy became partly sunny.”

I heard Carlin’s debut album, shortly after it came out.  It was funny.  His later work – not so much.  It’s difficult to be funny for 40 years.  He began to make fun of the English language.  I didn’t find it terribly funny, because it was neither complete nor correct.

None of the above are euphemisms.  Early toilet paper was paper….like pages from a Sears catalog.  It beat using a corn cob. Soon, it was transformed into soft, absorbent tissue, used all through the bathroom, for applying skin cream, removing makeup, blotting lipstick, (a single square is faster and cheaper than an entire Kleenex) blowing your nose, or as emergency feminine hygiene material.  It is no longer paper, used only on the toilet.

We used to just dump and abandon garbage – hence, DUMP.  Nowadays, waste is shredded, some is incinerated, compost starter and soil is added and mixed, and the lot is bulldozed and landscaped into a re-usable landfill.

Media weather language is precise.  There are seven words to describe skies – from overcast, to cloudy, to partly sunny, to scattered (clouds), to partly cloudy, to sunny, to clear.  Partly sunny is 10% open sky.  Partly cloudy is 10% cloud.  They are not even vaguely the same.  One did not turn into the other, no matter what George falsely claims.

George lost me as a customer when he claimed that there were 3 words – flammable, inflammable, and non-flammable.  “Why 3??  Either it flams, or it doesn’t flam.”  Just a minute George, flammable means that something will burn.  Inflammable means that it will immediately, vigorously burst into flame.  A block of wood is flammable.  An open pail of gasoline is inflammable, so, there are 4 words, flammable – non-flammable, inflammable – non-inflammable.  If you’re going to bitch about something, even for comedy, it really helps your credibility if you know what you’re talking about.

I was in a medical center the other day, where an information station was set up under an umbrella. Emblazoned on the umbrella were the words SERVICE AMBASSADOR. I find nothing distasteful about the word INFORMATION, but I am entertained by the thought of a group meeting to find a supposedly better (and definitely more pompous) description of the services offered under that umbrella. SERVICE AMBASSADOR: Do you suppose the, ahem, ambassadors who staff that desk need congressional confirmation?

Like ‘toilet paper’, above, ‘Information desks’ have developed to provide far more services than mere information.  Every English-speaking country in the world has Ambassadors.  I can only hope that it was a vain attempt at humor, and not narrow-minded American provincialism that she felt any of them require U S Congressional confirmation.

Loblaw’s food chain came forward, and admitted to price-fixing on bread.  A letter to a newspaper complained that their fraud conviction was ironic.  1 – By voluntarily admitting wrong-doing, they received immunity from prosecution – so, no conviction.  2 – The bread was exactly as advertised, just too expensive.  What they did, was price-fixing, not fraud.  3 – What is ironic, is that the guy who complained, hasn’t got a clue what he’s talking about.

Come on people, Stop, Think, Understand!  English is a beautiful, accurate, expressive language.  Please learn to use it correctly.  That’s what I ask for.  What I’ll probably get….is that guy’s Hawaiian pizza.  😯

WOW #25

Embarrassment

“Twenty words that will show your age.” – That’s the title of one of Dictionary.com’s articles.  Another is, “Only kids from the 90s know these words.”  I was already feeling old, when I ran into….

BAGATELLE

Definitions for bagatelle

something of little value or importance; a trifle. a game played on a board having holes at one end into which balls are to be struck with a cue. pinball.

Origin of bagatelle Bagatelle came to English from French, from Upper Italian bagat(t)ella, equivalent to bagatt(a) “small possession.” It entered English in the 1630s.

And the bagatelle begat Pong. And Pong begat the video arcade. And the video arcade begat the game console, and people began to ignore each other, even sitting side by side. And the game console passed its mighty power unto the smart phone and the tablet. Mesmerised by the pretty blue screens, people began wandering around, bumping into each other, street signs, and mall fountains.

….I’ve got no finish for this post, just the usual random rant about the speed and scope of social and technological change – seemingly within a fruit-fly’s life-span – from mechanical to electric to electronic to digital, and soon, to quantum, from 6-volt cars to 12-volt, from 120-volt home appliances to 12-volt-transformer units, from incandescent lights, to fluorescent, to LEDs.

I’ve played a variety of pinball machines as a teen. Even younger, my parents gave me a Christmas present of a bagatelle. It was an undersized spring-loaded plastic replica of a 1911A Colt .45 caliber pistol, which fired pea-sized ball-bearings at targets enclosed by plastic dome, 18 inches away. It may have been the cause of my life-long love of the ‘look’ of the venerable, American-designed and made pistol. It was an inexpensive bagatelle game then, but if I’d kept it in good condition, I could have sold it to a collector for enough to finance my retirement now.

In my little hometown in the late 1940s and ‘50s, there were a few intellectuals who actually used the word ‘bagatelle.’ The phrase, “It’s a mere bagatelle.” might have been a requote of actor/comic W. C. Fields. Of course, the illiterate pond-scum that I was forced to hang around with said, “A mere bag o’ shells.” The informational value is almost the same – an inconsequential thing of little value.

Your visits and comments are not a mere bagatelle. What have you got to say about this dated old word?

2017 A To Z Challenge – E

Challenge2017

I know that, according to my own, self-imposed schedule, I should have had a post composed and ready to publish today, about the letter

Letter E

Just about the time the daily A to Z Challenge bloggers were posting their offerings for the letter E, I contracted a case of 48-hour flu. By the time I got back to the computer, it was too late to acquire a list of possible theme words.  Between the virus-induced mental incapacitation and the lack of inspiration, nothing got written.

The situation was made worse by bureaucracy. One of the drive motors on the daughter’s power wheelchair seized, and Murphy worked overtime to ensure clerical catastrophe.  What should have been a (bad enough) two weeks inconvenience, has become more than three months of dragged-on denial of service, before the Provincial disability office finally decided that it’s too expensive to repair a 13-year-old chair.

New rules say that, since she doesn’t need it all the time, she can’t have a new one.  Now she has to break in a new case worker, and jump through all the hoops to find an acceptable handicap scooter, for which the Government will (eventually) pay monthly rent.  Winter cabin fever was bad enough.  Now, the nice summer weather is here, and she still can’t get outside and be independent.

Besides the afternoon-long, hour drive up the highway and back, for her anti-pain treatment, this means that I have taken her shopping several times, to the Farmers’ Market, twice to her dentist, once to the next city to pick up cheap, bulk, dog and cat food, and each week to a counselling forum which helps her deal with the physical and emotional problems of having her loving, supportive son 500 kilometers away.

Eighteen months after being told that the wait time would be 12 months, the wife was finally contacted by her orthopedic surgeon, (the same guy who installed my artificial shoulder ten years ago) and was told that her first knee replacement, the right, was a go.  This required two trips to the hospital to fluff their paperwork.  The first was a mere two hours, the second, an extended, four hour clerical comedy show.  At least it’s finally going ahead.  On June 27th, Hobble-Along Cassidy meets Dr. Stabby McStab-Stab in a dance to the death.

All of this means that, instead of having time to write my usual, knife-sharp, crystal-clear, diamond-hard posts which inform and entertain you, you are being afflicted with this whiny, apologetic, idiosyncratic, fogbank collection of Excuses, for my E contribution.

Thanx for your sympathy, and I hope to see you in a couple of weeks with something a little more solid, for the fabulous letter F.

The Wages Of Sin

ten-commandments

I recently read a post from a young(ish) woman, titled, “I saved myself for marriage, and now I can’t have sex with my husband.” [Tough luck. Looks good on you. Oops – did I type that out loud?]

She had had a string of boyfriends since high school, but had informed each of them that she intended to remain a virgin until she was married. Perhaps that explains the ‘string of boyfriends.’  She was 26, and her husband was 27.  Maybe one or both were beginning to get a bit desperate.

She had been raised in an ultra-conservative, Fundamentalist-Christian home, and had it pounded into her, and pounded into her….and POUNDED into her, that premarital sex was evil, dirty, sinful! She suffered from vaginismus, a painful spasming of the vaginal walls which made it virtually impossible to engage in intercourse.  I find it ‘interesting’ that they did not find this out until they returned from their honeymoon in The Bahamas.

Possibly it was only the diagnosis and name of the affliction that they found out. While not ‘common,’ this problem is well-known in psychiatric circles.  It occurs in many other hyper-Christian families.  The girls are told over and over and over that sex (and by extension, them, if they perform it) is bad, bad, bad.

Nothing is said about the acceptability – inevitability – necessity – of marital relations. When these women try to have sanctioned sex, they are still overwhelmed by the cognitive dissonance.  No-one ever tells them about the good side.  No-one ever tells them about anything except the evil.

She now goes for daily(?) physiotherapy, and weekly psychotherapy. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just hire a hooker to come over a couple of times a week?

When I was young, and learning about sex, my Father obtained a couple of comedy albums by a bawdy Jewish woman who worked in Nevada and Catskills clubs. She said, if you liked her act, her name was Rusty Warren.  If you didn’t, it was Lois Lipchitz.

Come early – get a good seat. She would pick a woman down front wearing a vee-neck sweater, and ask her if the V stood for virgin.  “Hmm, must be an old sweater.”  She told a story that she claimed happened to her.

Every day, as she left for school, her mother sang the same cautionary song.  “Don’t take gum!  Don’t take candy!  Don’t talk to strange men!  Don’t ride in strange cars. Keep your legs crossed, your panties up, and come home from school in a group!  And whatever you do, DON’T DO IT!”

Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3….especially when she went to high school, the admonition was always the same. “Don’t take gum!  Don’t take candy!  Don’t talk to strange men!  Don’t ride in strange cars!  Keep your legs crossed, your panties up, and come home from school in a group.  And remember….DON’T DO IT! Don’t do it!

She finally got a boyfriend, who became her fiancé. On the day of her wedding, her mother was with her at the Synagogue.  As the happy couple ran down the steps to their car, her Mother yelled, “It’s OK!  You’re married!  Now you can do it!”

She stuck her head out the window of the car, with a confused look on her face and said, “Do what??!  You never told me!”

These ‘Good Christians’ tell the rest of us that the wages of sin is death, but the wages of this self-righteous hypocrisy is….truly Karmic.   😯

A To Z Challenge – L

april-challenge

I had an L of a time deciding what to write about for the letter

letter-l

I’ve decided to say a few (hah!) words about

LEVITY

noun, plural levities.

lightness of mind, character, or behavior; lack of appropriate seriousness or earnestness.

an instance or exhibition of this.

Anyone who has read more than a ‘few’ of my words, is probably aware that my writing – in fact my life – is crammed to the scuppers with jokes and humor and comedy. Everyone deserves a smile or two each day.  More than that, there should be a mandatory, Minimum Daily Intake of humor.

Laughing releases feel-good endorphins. It’s almost as good as sex, and group comedy is almost as good as….No it’s not, but it’s still good.  Group humor is the social lubricant that glides tension and stress away.  Sharing a couple of jokes in emails, or at lunch, or around the water cooler makes our lives and our jobs so much easier to take.

It’s all well and good to take your life, your job or your marriage seriously, but All Work And No Play – can make Jack a real pain in the ass. Anger turned outward is aggression.  Anger turned inward is depression, but anger turned sideways….is humor.   😆

Just as science-fiction helps its readers take a serious alternate view of the world and its social situations and problems, humor can accomplish the same, in a light-hearted, nonthreatening manner. Subjects and situations that are a bit too touchy or taboo to discuss or even think about – can be gently joked about, thinking initiated, and solutions suggested.

I even disagree to a certain extent with the, “lack of appropriate seriousness or earnestness” portion of the above definition.  Anything, or anybody, who claims to be so important that he/it shouldn’t be joked about, is exactly what needs to have a little (or a lot) of levity applied to its thin skin.

Levity is my fall-back position. If I can’t think of something to write about….publish some jokes.  That’s why H in this series was for Humor, and J was for Jokes, to apologise for that insipid I post.  Don’t ever think just because I or someone else is telling jokes, that we are not taking the subject, or life in general, seriously.  This a serious essay, about a serious subject.

Gerry Seinfeld and a friend once spent an hour debating whether to use the word ‘a’ or ‘the’ in a joke.  He replaced the word ‘dog’ with the more specific ‘German Shepherd’ in a limp joke about a blind skydiver – and the new wording killed.

When I went to the online dictionary, to pick up the exact meaning of Levity, I came upon the following definition.  I’ve included it to show you just how hard I work to levitate all my levity to you.   That’s no joke.

Definitions for lucubrate
to work, write, or study laboriously, especially at night.
to write learnedly.