Monday, January 31, 2022

January Tweets of the Month!

• That tears come in only one flavor -- salty -- is a design flaw useful only to those who feel a profound sadness over things like pretzels. In the future we'll all be able to select flavors like we do at the movie theater soda dispensers.

• By many bottom-line standards -- income, sales, bookings -- I'm what many people would consider a failed writer. They are mistaken. I'm a failing writer. I won't be a failed writer until I give up. And that'll never happen. 

• For the litany of health benefits it is known to bestow, I have for about four months been going to the gym 5 or 6 days a week. Biggest change I've noticed so far? I'm getting real good at counting to 12!

• On this chilly winter day I just saw a man at the bus stop wearing nothing but a  musical bellows. He was dressed accordioningly.

• I’m a confident enough husband to understand my spouse is bound to consider how the "grass is greener," yet wise enough to discourage her from linger looking lest she realize - not only is grass greener - but it is also mowed, raked & mulched by a dude who also manages a real job

• A careless gesture at the drive-up ATM left me with the decision to either cancel and start over or conduct my high-stakes transaction in a foreign language. My choice? Adelante! What did I learn from the challenge? I'm just as broke in Spanish as I am in English. No me gusta!

• A sweet, devout woman confided that she daily prays for me by name. I'm touched but, given my circumstances, can't help but wonder what she prays will happen. Well, today it was revealed. In honor of Steeler Chris Boswell's game-winning OT kick, Primanti Bros. is giving away one free sandwich to anyone named Chris or Boswell -- so I qualify! Hallelujah! #FeelingBlessed

• I suspect that old adage about making your bed every day to gain the mindset of accomplishment is perpetuated by true achievers who score actual accomplishments while the rest of us are making our beds.

• There must be a direct correlation between a person's genuine happiness and the number of exclamation points he or she uses each day. I'll bet it's truly a case of the more the merrier. I do. I really, really do! I really do! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

• We used to snobbishly brag how we never watched TV. Now we speak almost exclusively in movie reviews.

• A friend just posted she and a buddy have been stuck in I-95 gridlock for 3 hours. Haven't moved an inch. I said it'll be tolerable until one or the other begins to consider the Donner Party option. Question: If you had to resort to cannibalism, would you rather consume a chum or someone you despised? Would you prepare the meal differently?

• Mallberg ahoy! I always thought the perfect crime would be to become a contract snow removal guy and then the day of the first big snow getting drunk with an adversary in his or her car. Then you entomb the vehicle in the mallberg snow with the passed out victim inside. Crime would go undetected 'til the April thaw. It's a very Edgar Allen Poe sort-of crime. And, yes, I realize I should not suggest scot-free crimes against willing drunks in a forum where my wife could see them, but the idea is too strong to conceal like, say, a car deep in a random mallberg.

• I can forgive "tea" with its two additional letters because they differentiate it from "tee." But I become furious any time logic demands I type "queue" with its FOUR useless letters for a word that sounds like Q. My advice: just use line instead. That's your Q-tip for the day.

• “Ozark” is a Netflix story about a couple whose ambition is to make money by perpetuating evil. A story about couples whose ambition is to make offspring to perpetuate the species is “Noahzark”

• I wonder if at the end of our lives as time runs out how much we'd give to have back all the time we wasted hoping some unpleasantness would end. What would we trade for all those hours we spent watching the clock, hoping a dreary class or day at work would finally end. I imagine it's a very poignant regret for many. Not me. And nothing will get me to sit through "The Irishman" again. 

• I’m unfamiliar with the procedure, whether it involves either a seamstress or an exorcist, but I have to imagine when one "darns" a sock one is condemning the sock's soul to heck.                                            

• Anytime I hear someone in charge say it's time to "re-think" a misguided decision, I automatically assume zero actual thought went into the original decision.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

The joke Einstein thought was hilarious wasn't


I’ve said, truthfully, I had nothing to do with raising our kids until they were advanced enough to get my jokes. That means that other than my rather bystander role in their orgasmic conception I was sort of an absent parent until each was about 4 and capable of understanding the construction of your basic knock-knock joke.

Like this:

Knock Knock

Who’s there?


Denise who?

Da knees are above da ankles.

Boom! Now, to a 4 year old that is about the height of wit and sophistication. Better, I’d usually repeat the joke with the audience of one on my lap and with emphatic tickling timed to the punch line.

The result was peals of joyful laughter and adoring cries that Daddy was hilarious.

Those days are long gone. I know I’ll never tell another joke with an adoring daughter sitting on my lap.

Well, not one of my daughters.

See, that, too, right there was a joke. An unwise, ill-considered joke, but a joke nonetheless.

I mention all this because I just learned the composition of the joke one of history’s  most intelligent men thought was the funniest thing he’d ever heard.

And it’s not that funny. But to Albert Einstein, the peerless genius, it is comedy gold, the e=mc2 of humor. I learned it from the previously referenced 1996 Denis Brian book, “Einstein: A Life.” Here goes:

“Guy has his car towed to a mechanic. Says it just shut down. Dead on the street. Can he fix it? Mechanic looks at the car. Circles it two times and then gives it mighty kick by the right front fender. It works! The car is purring like a kitten.

“Owner says ‘Thanks! What do I owe you?’”

"Mechanic says, ‘That’ll be $200.’”

“Owner says, ‘$200! Outrageous. All you did was kick it. I’d like to see an itemized bill detailing how you justify $200 for kicking the car.’”

“Mechanic scribbles on a blank piece of paper and hands it over. Paper says, “Labor: $1 to kick car. Knowing where to kick car, $199.”

Hello? Is this thing on?

This is the point where somebody would frantically be pumping up the laugh track to supplement the polite chuckles coming from an audience that doesn’t want to appear rude by not laughing loud enough at the genius’s joke.

I’ve often wondered how authentic was the laughter from the apostles when Jesus joked. I’ll bet it was similar to scenes from “The Sopranos” when Tony told a funny to the gang at the old Bada Bing.

“Good one, boss!”

We don’t know if Jesus ever joked. I like to think He did. I love to laugh and I love being around people who make me laugh. In the Bible He seems the stoic, but the Bible has zero laughs. There’s nothing funny about it. So in that regard the Bible can be compared to the 6-season run enjoyed by the CBS series, “Two Broke Girls.”

It’d be neat if some Biblical scholars said they found Scriptural evidence that while hanging on the cross, right before He said, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do,” Jesus tugged at the collar of His robe and said, “I yell ya, I don’t get no respect! Ooh, tough crowd!”

Does it matter if Einstein admired a dumb joke above so many good ones?

I think it does. It calls into question all his scientific and life achievements. If he thinks that lame joke is funny, where else has he fallen off the beam?

After all, he was alive during a time when the world was swollen with urbane humor, thoughtful wit. And I mean swollen.

Black ’n’ blue, too.

I’m talking The Three Stooges!

Many will say Stooge humor was too stupid for Einstein, that he’d have been drawn to something much more cerebral.

I contend the Stooges were the most cerebral act in Hollywood history.

The action never went more than 30 seconds without one or the other of them getting bashed in the brain.

Talk about cerebral.

Get it?

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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Einstein & whatever happened to rooms called "the study"


(583 words)

I’m thoroughly enjoying Dennis Brian’s fine 1997 biography, “Einstein: A Life,” about perhaps the smartest man who ever lived. 

What I like about this book is it doesn’t devote a lot of pages trying to explain to a moron like me Einstein’s Theory of Relativity which I find incomprehensible.

I think involves space, time, gravity and the bending of light.

I have my own Theory of Relativity and I think it’s better It’s certainly snappier. Here it is: 

“When someone says they wish they had a bigger family what they really mean is they wish they could pick who’s in their family.”

And nothing I’ve read of Einstein does anything to explain what to me is the most compelling question of all-time.

“Where does all the stuff go when all the stuff goes into the black holes?”

Keeps me awake at night.

So if all that stuff is way, way over my head, why do I so enjoy reading about Einstein?

Because perhaps the smartest man in history was such a joyful human being. He was whimsical, playful, curious and considered each day a very precious gift.

“The man who regards his own life and that of his fellow creatures as meaningless is not merely unfortunate but almost disqualified for life,” he said, (His more elegant and moving answer is at the end).

He was a very human human, enjoying spending his days with friends and family in conversation with music and a good smoke.

It’s a paradox, but his thoughts on life reveal that one of the most intelligent men in history was actually rather simple-minded.

And that’s about where the list of what me and Einstein have in common ends.

I wonder how much of it has to do with residential architecture.

See, in the Dennis Brian book, Einstein is forever going in and out of rooms the author calls “the study.” He sits alone in these rooms, these “studies,” and he — get this — he thinks.


Now, I’ve lived in or been shown hundreds of residences through the years and never once has anyone shown me a room called “the study.”

I’ve been shown kitchens, living rooms, bathrooms, dining rooms, recs, game rooms, man caves — some Southern homes tout FROGs (Front Room Over Garage).

Never once has any man nor woman with evident pride said, “And this is our study …”

I was in college for four raucous years and never once cracked a book in a room anyone called “the study.”

Not only weren’t there rooms called studies, I rarely saw any students doing what the room implies. 

What the hell happened to studies?

I suspect what used to be the study has become the “man cave,” a room where me and my fellow Jurassics can go to fart, belch and complain about the refs — and I’m talking about both sporting and spousal.

I consider it yet another degradation of once-proud men like how what I once called "the family jewels" somehow became "my junk." From jewels to junk in three short decades. SAD!

Well, I decided I wasn’t going to let it defeat me. I’ll not succumb to the further dumbing down of the American male.

And yesterday I spent two hours in the finished basement room and tried to think of ways I can be more like Einstein.

And — Eureka! — it worked.

Right there in my “study” I thought of how I can be more like the great genius.

I’m letting my hair grow crazy!

Einstein on Life …

What an extraordinary situation is that of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he feels it. But from the point of view of daily life, without going deeper, we exist for our fellowmen – in the first place for those on whose smiles and welfare all our happiness depends, and next for all those unknown to us personally with whose destinies we are bound up by the tie of sympathy... To inquire after the meaning or object of one’s own existence or of creation generally has always seemed to me absurd from an objective point of view. And yet everybody has certain ideals which determine the direction of his endeavors and his judgments. In this sense I have never looked upon ease and happiness as ends in themselves. The ideals which have lighted me on my way and time after time given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. Without the sense of fellowship with men of like mind, of preoccupation with the objective, the eternally unattainable in the field of art and scientific research, life would have seemed to me empty. The ordinary objects of human endeavor – property, outward success, luxury – have always seemed to me contemptible.

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Monday, January 3, 2022

Checkin' in on New Year's: Was there a Year Zero?


(620 words)

As other revelers were nursing hangovers, making resolutions and game-planning for a new year’s worth of unpredictables, I did what on New Year’s Day I customarily do.

I got out my checkbook.

I wasn’t feeling philanthropic. I was feeling Gregorian. 

On each of the 40 checks, beside the half-blank “20   ” in the upper right corner, I wrote the double deuce, the “22” that designates the now-current year, 2022. 

I do so because it usually takes me till May before it sinks in that the year has rolled over. Before, I would for months thoughtlessly scribble the previous year in on checks and other documents, revealing myself to be a moron. So one day I, with Yoda-like wisdom, figured I could write them in all at once and — Voila! — never worry again about the petty nuisance.

At least until the next Dec. 31.

And when I’d conclude this little exercise, I’d always think the same thing: if this gives me so much trouble how would I have survived Year 1 BC to Year 1 AD? 

Thus, I’d start each new year swathed in confusion and pointless speculation about Year Zero. Didn’t there have to be a Year Zero?

I imagine it would have been cool to have been born in the Year Zero. But how would it have felt to be born in Year 20 B.C. only to learn you’ve been living in reverse? Just as you were about to reach what I assume was the legal drinking age, they tell you, boom, you’re 4!

I wonder if people were as crabby back then as we are now. Food was scarce. Disease and injustice rampant. Now factor in how discontented the populace would be if the Nazareth Steelers were out of the playoff picture.

And into this malicious milieu comes word that that, oh, by the way, we’re changing what year it is. Changing the calendar would have likely been controversial.

What was wrong with the old calendar?

It’s as confounding as the anecdote a mysterious old drunk told me in a San Antonio honky tonk as he was explaining to me the illusory charms of desolate West Texas.

“There’s a place out near Lubbock that is so flat that on a clear day you can see the back of your own head.”

Of course, the year conundrum dates back to a charismatic leader who was worshipped as god-like by devoted followers who’d swear he was capable of walking on water.

Shame on you if you think I’m talking about Trump.

It was Jesus. Believe or not, but there was a man whose time on Earth was so consequential they changed the entire calendar.

It’s complicated so here’s the jiffy Wikipedia version: 

“There is no "zero" year -- in this system, the year Christ was born is 1 A.D., and the year preceding it is 1 B.C. This practice was first suggested in the sixth century A.D., and was adopted by the pope of that time. It took quite a while for it to become a worldwide standard, however.”

B.C. stands for “Before Christ;” A.D. for “anno domini,” Latin for “in the year of our Lord.”

That’s just some of the things that ricochet around my noggin as I’m making sure my checks are properly dated.

Call it the ABCs of the A.D/B.C.s

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