I admit, these juvenile gags gave me a giggle, and I kept track of them in my notes. In chronological order:
#9. Guys get teased about someone sleeping with their mother.
Shakespeare is full of practical life advice. Like this: let’s say you’ve been secretly sleeping with some powerful female executive, which would really cause a scandal if revealed, because you’re black.
But then she gets pregnant and the baby comes out black, so the cat’s pretty much out of the bag on that one. Then, her two spoiled brat sons start whining to you that your little scandal has ruined mom’s career. What’s a guy to do?
Don’t worry, Shakespeare’s got you covered:
Demetrius. Villain, what hast thou done?
Aaron. That which thou canst not undo.
Chiron. Thou hast undone our mother.
Aaron. Villain, I have done thy mother.
–Titus Andronicus, Act IV, Scene 2, emphasis added
That’s right: tease the jerks about it. When Chiron says, “Thou hast undone out mother,” he means that Aaron has spoiled their mother’s reputation. Perhaps Titus Andronicus is set in Mississippi. But Aaron replies with one of those clever plays on words that Shakespeare is so famous for. Aaron’s response also uses the word “done,” but here it means…something more literal.
My 1-year-old daughter is running for president in 2052.
My 86-year-old father has been in the hospital for the last week. He’s stable and comfortable, but will likely be there for a while.
Spirits are relatively high, though. When I went in on Saturday, two nurses were changing his linens, meaning his legs were left bare for a bit. “We’ll cover you back up,” one said. My dad’s reply was, “Just be sure to cover me with a blanket, not dirt.”
Ladies and gentlemen: my dad.
When I dropped in after work yesterday, he was asleep, so I left a note: I took a bit of toilet paper and the marker from the nurse’s whiteboard in the room, and wrote: “This man needs 50 cc’s of BEER…stat!” I scribbled on the bottom (because doctors have bad handwriting! Ha ha!) and left it on the whiteboard for him to get a chuckle out of.
A nurse saw it first and took it seriously. She asked the doctor about it (and here I learned that the random number I’d picked–50 cc’s–is only about two ounces), and the doctor said, “I didn’t write it, but go ahead and let him have some; it won’t hurt.”
But alas, the old guy still hasn’t gotten any. Sorry, Dad. I tried.
On a more curious note, is it common for doctors to write emergency prescriptions for beer in blue marker on toilet paper and leave them hanging in patients’ rooms? I had no idea I was perpetrating such a credible hoax.
One of my favorite science fiction stories is R.A. Lafferty’s “Primary Education of the Camiroi.” I remember reading it in the Issac Asimov-edited anthology Extraterrestrials at the old Charleston Heights library in the late 1980’s. I loved how weird and silly it was–I’d never read anything quite like it.
Reading it again now on Google Books, I see it as a pretty biting satire of an American education system that even by the late 60’s, when the story was first published, was already showing cracks. I especially loved the schema for the alien curriculum near the end, which I’ve copied below. In fact, I think this story helped influence young me in my decision to become a teacher.
I really think we should consider some of the “modest proposals” in this story. I would have loved having a class in “laser religion” as a high school freshmen.
My grade for this story now, nearly 30 years after first reading it?
[mild language alert] Working at my desk during lunch today, I had the door open and overheard two girls sitting out in the hall talking about a third girl. One of them said, “She’s a really good dancer, and really pretty. AND she’s a really nice person. Ugh, I know, like, what the hell?”
I just read a student’s book report where one paragraph began: “This book is a classic because for one, it is an old book published in 1988.”
Another student, writing about the same book, agreed: “This book is really old, and there’s not much difference in the feelings that people had in 1988 vs. today.”
UPDATE 10/28/14: And today in another class a student gave a speech that included a reference to the Tom Hanks movie Big. “Now I know that’s a really old movie…” he said. Big, of course, came out in 1988. What’s with kids all thinking that’s ancient history now?
A wonderful parody, posted here.
Today’s poem is by David Hernandez
We Real Nerds
We real nerds. We
Love words. We
Trim vines. We
Craft poems. We
Tall gnomes. We
Can’t dance. We
Hold stance. We
Wear tweed. We
Small herd. We
Got smarts. We
Fat hearts. We
Saw a license plate yesterday that said “PREYN4U.”
Is this a misspelled announcement that the driver’s pleading with God in our behalf, or is it an accurately spelled warning that the driver is hunting us down?
Pretty soon I’ll be introducing my high school juniors to Benjamin Franklin, inventor, statesman, and sage. Of course, there’s so much to his famously irreverent sense of humor that I can’t really get into with them. Two of my favorites:
1. A list of more than 200 synonyms for “drunk.”
He’s got a Dish,
Kill’d his Dog,
Took his Drops,
It is a Dark Day with him,
He’s a Dead Man,
Has Dipp’d his Bill,
He’s seen the Devil,
2. This letter, where he lists reasons why it’s better to have an affair with a mature woman than a young one. Observe:
2. Because when Women cease to be handsome, they study to be good. To maintain their Influence over Men, they supply the Diminution of Beauty by an Augmentation of Utility. They learn to do a 1000 Services small and great, and are the most tender and useful of all Friends when you are sick. Thus they continue amiable. And hence there is hardly such a thing to be found as an old Woman who is not a good Woman.
3. Because there is no hazard of Children, which irregularly produc’d may be attended with much Inconvenience.
8thly and Lastly They are so grateful!!
I’ve always said this: teachers don’t leave because of bad pay, they leave because of poor working conditions.
I suspect I find this funny for reasons other than those the artist had:
LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE
Gioia’s intro to Finnegans Wake
Fun parkour video.
I’m a sucker for great astronomy photography.
Beautiful photo of contrasts.
Sunset AND a castle? Wow!
Here’s a chart I found online with some good productivity ideas:
POLITICS AND SOCIETY
“Ten Ways Mormons Can Celebrate Independence Day” Good advice for all of us, for every day.
Great essay about defining conservatism–required reading for all poli-sci wonks.
On conservative literature–a good start.
The complicated politics of Shakespeare.
On ostensibly conservative college students being intellectually stunted:
“They cannot think with a conservative worldview because they have had limited exposure to conservative values. Children spend thirteen years in a school system which was founded upon progressive ideals about education and which increasingly promotes statism. For eighteen years the entertainment industry communicated to them an equally progressive worldview. From all sides children are taught to believe in the inherent goodness of humankind and to cherish the values of tolerance and diversity. There is no good and evil; there is just diversity. There is no justice and truth; there is only tolerance for other opinions. Democracy has become a good in its own right instead of being founded upon virtue. When democracy becomes its own end, any atrocity can be justified by a majority vote.”
Great comment on an Instapundit link about politically biased professors:
I noticed that back when I was in university: the liberal students were so used to everyone around them validating their opinions that they didn’t learn to make good arguments; the conservative students knew they needed good arguments, so they learned to make them,
The unfortunate part comes when these liberal students go through many years of schooling, get loads of validation for twittering about the talking point of the day, and then turn into incredulous, raging jerks when an adult conservative makes a point contrary to their ideology.
Probably the single coolest phrase in all of scripture, right there. In Doctrine and Covenants 123, Joseph Smith encouraged the Latter-day Saints to keep track of all the “libelous publications,” as well as property damage and physical abuse, they had suffered.
Verse 5 uses this unique and memorable phrase to summarize that record: “the whole concatenation of diabolical rascality.” Isn’t it wonderful?
First of all, it’s funny in the way that wordy phrases are, using multiple long, obscure words right next to each other. Also, it’s a perfect example of that 19th century style of excruciatingly exact wording. The individual words themselves are quite funny, too. “Concatenation.” Just say that one aloud.
Everybody should definitely highlight this phrase in their own copies right away.
And if you haven’t read the Doctrine and Covenants, you really should. Who wouldn’t want to read a book that has gems like this in it?
Probably has to be the cabin scene from the Marx brothers’ 1935 masterpiece, A Night at the Opera:
A classic. I remember Patrick Stewart doing this bit as a guest host once, but I can’t find the clip. Still…