Whenever I get an error message that says something like, “The object you are looking for doesn’t exist,” I’m suddenly filled with existential dread.
Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category
I know this is hardly new, but it’s great and I was reminded of it again this week when a student, giving a speech in class about (naturally) hating school, actually said that he wouldn’t be controlled by our system.
Just like the narrator of this song, who creates a perfect parody of this attitude: an arrogant rejection of some grand conspiracy to oppress him (a conspiracy which clearly doesn’t exist because, in the ultimate insult to the pompous sensibilities of the young, the mundane world is actually oblivious to their insignificant, predictable narcissism).
I was also reminded of this fantastic little Onion article from last summer.
From the next-to-last chapter, and illuminated by yours truly to augment the obviousness of the joke:
Now I’m in the middle of chapter 15 of Ulysses, and while it’s one of the densest, more incomprehensible sections, it’s also one of the funniest yet.
Written as a dramatic script, it’s largely a record of daydreams rather than conscious thoughts. As such, Bloom’s imagination runs freer than before, and the rambling fantasy, plus a growing penchant on Joyce’s part for whimsical puns, makes this chapter a delightful bit of foreshadowing for Finnegans Wake.
Maybe the best part of the chapter so far is the following, where Bloom’s delusions of grandeur–as contrasted with his almost pathetically meek actual self; an Irish Walter Mitty, as it were–find him presiding over a ridiculous bureaucracy. Joyce lists some mundane minutia in gloriously pompous detail (we’ve all seen government events and publications that take themselves this seriously–begging to be mocked), shares some clever wordplay, and even adds a pure joke at the end.
BLOOM My beloved subjects, a new era is about to dawn. I, Bloom, tell you verily it is even now at hand. Yea, on the word of a Bloom, ye shall ere long enter into the golden city which is to be, the new Bloomusalem in the Nova Hibernia of the future. (Thirtytwo workmen, wearing rosettes, from all the counties of Ireland, under the guidance of Derwan the builder, construct the new Bloomusalem. It is a colossal edifice with crystal roof, built in the shape of a huge pork kidney, containing forty thousand rooms. In the course of its extension several buildings and monuments are demolished. Government offices are temporarily transferred to railway sheds. Numerous houses are razed to the ground. The inhabitants are lodged in barrels and boxes, all marked in red with the letters: L. B. Several paupers fill from a ladder. A part of the walls of Dublin, crowded with loyal sightseers, collapses.) THE SIGHTSEERS (dying) Morituri te salutant. (they die) (more…)
A recent article includes college textbooks among the biggest consumer rip offs in America.
Releasing superfluous new editions is a favorite trick of publishers.
Why do we need brand new algebra books? Has there been some major breakthrough in the field of algebra lately? Some paradigm-shifting, cutting-edge research totally redefined that field and now the algebra books from 2010 are hopelessly obsolete?
Ditto for Shakespeare. What could possibly cause a legitimate demand for new editions of Shakespeare? It’s not like he’s written anything new lately. We could literally use the same Shakespeare textbooks we had 300 years ago.
Reading a minor missive from Mark Steyn at National Review earlier today, I was struck for the umpteenth time by just how breezily loquacious he is. It’s just a blog post, really; by no means a full-fledged article–and yet it carries the confident charm of the most polished master’s thesis. I’m sure he merely dashed this off, yet is would stand as a major triumph for most authors.
The teacher in me suddenly wanted to footnote his work. The world needs to see this as I do, I thought. Those notes are below. My humble apologies to National Review for reproducing the entire text here, but I think they’ll understand. It’s necessary to make the point: Steyn’s writing is densely allusive and whimsically clever, and all in the succinct service of a solid point.
Looking at this after I’d marked it up, I found immense satisfaction in being a fan of Steyn’s. He’s truly a treasure. I’m a conservative because the ideas are solid and true, but it doesn’t hurt that men like Steyn can also make them so appealing. One looks in vain for such a scribe on the left.
I mean, could you even imagine a similarly footnoted post called The Annotated Frank Rich?
“The Last Phobia,” Mark Steyn, posted at NationalReview.com, 9/17/2013
I see David Brooks has attracted a bit of pushback for describing Ted Cruz as “the Senator from Canada,” perhaps snidely hinting at divided loyalties. The Times’s man has jumped the moose with this one. As it turns out, Brooks, like yours truly, was born in Toronto. I think we can all agree that the only thing worse than a Canadian is a self-loathing Canadian: It’s bad enough that the first Canadian president of America has to run around pretending he’ll be the first Hispanic president, but it’s outrageous that the New York Times’s only Canuck columnist should be the Roy Cohn of Canadians.
Anyway, as NR readers know, my position, as the presumptive senator from New Hampshire, is that, given the mess you Americans have made of the GOP, I’m in favor (actually, I’m in favour) of an all-Canadian ticket next time round. But in the meantime I don’t see why we Canadians have to skulk around in a state of shame to the point where effete maple-scented Timesmen are forced to be more good-ol’-boy-than-thou and jump the first Canuck in the Senate parking lot. Nuts to this. This is sick. What next? Elizabeth Warren forced to admit she’s one-thirty-second Manitoban?
It doesn’t have to be this way. I have a dream that one day my children will live in an America where they’re judged not on the color of their skin but on whether they’ve got an aunt in Saskatoon.
 A play on the idiom “jump the shark.” Moose are often associated with Canada
 A play on the phrase “self-loathing Jews,” meaning Jews who oppose things like pro-Israel policies
 Perhaps a cheeky reference to Toni Morrison’s label of Bill Clinton as “the first black president”
 A slang term for Canadians
 Attorney who prosecuted the Rosenbergs and worked with Senator Joeseph McCarthy; Steyn humorously implies that Brooks is persecuting his own people.
 A British spelling
 Effeminate; Steyn often derides liberals as insufficiently masculine.
 Maple syrup is often associated with Canada
 A play on the idiom “holier-than-thou.” Steyn is accusing Brooks of populist pandering.
 Warren, a Democrat Senator from Massachusetts, famously claimed Native American heritage as a part of her “family folklore,” despite the only known Native American in her family tree being her great, great, great grandmother.
 Obviously, a coy reference to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” Speech.
Chapter 14 of James Joyce’s Ulysses tells a story of men visiting a hospital for a local woman who’s having a baby. Stylistically, it starts in the vein of the earliest English and gets more modern as the chapter goes on.
By the following point, Joyce tells of the men discussing some intimately sensitive matters far out of their depth, in a faux-Chaucerian vein. The combination of highly serious epic poetry with the crudity of the men’s ignorant pontificating strikes me as pretty funny.
Now let us speak of that fellowship that was there to the intent to be drunken an they might. There was a sort of scholars along either side the board, that is to wit, Dixon yclept junior of saint Mary Merciable’s with other his fellows Lynch and Madden, scholars of medicine, and the franklin that high! Lenehan and one from Alba Longa, one Crotthers, and young Stephen that had mien of a frere that was at head of the board and Costello that men clepen Punch Costello all long of a mastery of him erewhile gested (and of all them, reserved young Stephen, he was the most drunken that demanded still of more mead) and beside the meek sir Leopold. But on young Malachi they waited for that he promised to have come and such as intended to no goodness said how he had broke his avow. And sir Leopold sat with them for he bore fast friendship to sir Simon and to this his son young Stephen and for that his languor becalmed him there after longest wanderings insomuch as they feasted him for that time in the honourablest manner. Ruth red him, love led on with will to wander, loth to leave.
But sir Leopold was passing grave maugre his word by cause he still had pity of the terrorcausing shrieking of shrill women in their labour and as he was minded of his good lady Marion that had borne him an only manchild which on his eleventh day on live had died and no man of art could save so dark is destiny. And she was wondrous stricken of heart for that evil hap and for his burial did him on a fair corselet of lamb’s wool, the flower of the flock, lest he might perish utterly and lie akeled (for it was then about the midst of the winter) and now sir Leopold that had of his body no manchild for an heir looked upon him his friend’s son and was shut up in sorrow for his forepassed happiness and as sad as he was that him failed a son of such gentle courage (for all accounted him of real parts) so grieved he also in no less measure for young Stephen for that he lived riotously with those wastrels and murdered his goods with whores.
Which means just what you think it does: Stephen was easy. Alas.
Over the years, I’ve watched Yahoo! descend into ever sillier tabloid trash, with increasingly poor writing in its stories, but their front page yesterday takes the cake.
The headline teases us with the identity of the next actor to play Batman, offering a couple of hints and clearly trying to get us curious enough to click the link and read the story to find the answer.
Sadly, the Yahoo! staff wasn’t working as a team, or somebody just really fell asleep at the switch, because the story right under it started by announcing the answer. Holy anticlimactic spoilers, Batman!
I’ve been reading the complete works of Joyce in chronological order this year. One thing I notice is that as Joyce’s career went on, he got funnier. The early work is thoroughly sober to the point of dour torture–I never realized how unlikable Stephen Dedalus really is.
But by Ulysses, Joyce was in true comic master form. Consider episode 12, which randomly cuts away from its main narrative dozens of times for short bits of tangential parody of various literary forms. So, basically, it’s Family Guy.
I thought this farce of a story–especially the faux-medieval high romance in the second half–was funny:
The last farewell was affecting in the extreme. From the belfries far and near the funereal deathbell tolled unceasingly while all around the gloomy precincts rolled the ominous warning of a hundred muffled drums punctuated by the hollow booming of pieces of ordnance. The deafening claps of thunder and the dazzling flashes of lightning which lit up the ghastly scene testified that the artillery of heaven had lent its supernatural pomp to the already gruesome spectacle. A torrential rain poured down from the floodgates of the angry heavens upon the bared heads of the assembled multitude which numbered at the lowest computation five hundred thousand persons. (more…)
This is why we have YouTube. I just remembered this yesterday, and found it online. I haven’t seen this comedy trick since it aired in 1986, and I still found it pretty funny.
I read this article recently: When James Joyce Got Into a Bar Fight, He’d Yell, “Deal With Him, Hemingway!”
Which immediately reminded me of the 6th season Simpsons episode “Lemon of Troy,” where Martin Prince bites off more than he can chew while confronting punks in Shelbyville. He says, “Nobody manhandles the bosom chum of Nelson Muntz. Spring forth, burly protector, and save me!” Which he does, reluctantly.
That might be a good comparison to use in future classes: Ernest Hemingway = Nelson Muntz while Martin Prince = James Joyce. Pretty much sums it up.