Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

Animals on duty

October 19, 2014

In the latest (10/20/14) New Yorker, a hilarious and simultaneously disturbing piece by Patricia Marx, “Pets Allowed: Why are so many animals now in places where they shouldn’t be?” (starting on p. 36), about emotional-support animals. From p. 37, on E.S.A.s vs. service dogs:

Contrary to what many business managers think, having an emotional-support card merely means that one’s pet is registered in a database of animals whose owners have paid anywhere from seventy to two hundred dollars to one of several organizations, none of which are recognized by the government. (You could register a Beanie Baby, as long as you send a check.) Even with a card, it is against the law and a violation of the city’s health code to take an animal into a restaurant. Nor does an emotional-support card entitle you to bring your pet into a hotel, store, taxi, train, or park.

No such restrictions apply to service dogs, which, like Secret Service agents and Betty White, are allowed to go anywhere. In contrast to an emotional-support animal (E.S.A.), a service dog is trained to perform specific tasks, such as pulling a wheelchair and responding to seizures. The I.R.S. classifies these dogs as a deductible medical expense, whereas an emotional-support animal is more like a blankie.

In the piece, Marx attempts (sometimes successfully, sometimes not) to take (purported) E.S.A.s into places where animals are in fact not allowed, using creatures borrowed from acquaintances: a turtle, a (large) snake, a turkey, an alpaca, and a pig.

Greg Brown

September 5, 2014

In the (San Francisco mid-peninsula) Daily Post on the 3rd: “Mural artist Greg Brown dies: He brightened up downtown with his amusing paintings” by Elaine Goodman:

Greg Brown, an artist whose whimsical paintings of burglars, space aliens and other creatures enlivened the sides of buildings throughout Palo Alto, has died [on August 29th, at the age of 62]

Brown’s murals are trompe-l’oeil fancies. Some have been destroyed, and others have been re-done at new locations, but a considerable number remain.


Things we doubt Louis XIV envisioned

July 17, 2014

In the June/July 2014 Details, pp. 57-8, a piece by Laurence Lowe on the Jeff Koons retrospective now showing at the Whitney Museum in New York, treating four of his most iconic works: New Hoover Celebrity III’s (1980); Michael Jackson and Bubbles (1988); Made in Heaven (1989); and Puppy (1992).

On the last, Koons says:

I created it for a site-specific exhibition in Bad Arolsen, Germany. There was a huge schloss in the center of town. I envisioned Louis XIV visiting it and thought, ‘If Louis lived there, what would he want to see?’ Maybe he’d wake up in the morning and want to see a sculpture, about 40 feet tall, all made of live flowers, in the shape of a dog. It was that intuitive.


(There are other installations in other places.)


What are they?

May 30, 2014

Two recent items that challenge the borders of categories in the world of art, literature, and humor: another Jane Austen quote (yes, Chris Ambidge keeps sending them on); and an e-card (passed on by Victor Steinbok because of the entertaining portmanteau on it).



May 23, 2014

(Not much about language.)

It starts with a postcard from Xopher Walker, a photograph by an artist I was unfamiliar with, Paul Blanca (for maximum confusion, there’s also a photographer Paul Branca, and Google really truly wants to tell me about Branca rather than Blanca): the 1985 “Selfportrait decoration”, a male torso shot, showing a line of chest hair and the model’s (Blanca’s) left nipple, and in between a safety pin piercing in his pectoral muscle and, below that, a white composite flower (like a small chrysanthemum flower) looking much like a boutonnière. I’ve added a caption of my own: “Piercing, man, piercing” (a little pun).


Two cartoons from yesterday

April 28, 2014

From yesterday, a Luann passed on by David Craig on Facebook, and a Basic Instructions passed on by Scott  Meyer, also  on Facebook:



On the wording of ads, and on aggressive humor (in this case, knock-knock jokes).


Speech act ambiguity

April 20, 2014

From an esurance commercial on tv, entitled “Hank” (the key bit is boldfaced):

Hank: My daughter thinks I’m out of touch. So I asked her how I saved 15 percent on car insurance in just 15 minutes.

Neighbor: Huh. (shakes head)

Hank: (looks at phone) “IDK?” What does that mean?

Neighbor: “I don’t know.”

Hank: And I’m the one who’s out of touch. LOL.

The neighbor is answering Hank’s question, a request for information, asking about what “IDK” means. Hank understands this instead as an assertion, by the neighbor, that he doesn’t know what “IDK” means. (Hank then thinks the neighbor is out of touch.)  Both understandings involve assertions, but about different aspects of the conversational exchange.


April 1

April 1, 2014

(Not much language here.)

Once again, it’s April 1, April Fool’s Day. It’s hard enough to know what to believe on the net — there’s so much invention, satire, and the like — but it all gets booted up on this day (and its surrounding days). An old Peanuts, passed on by Billy Green:

Today brought a reminder (from Chris Ambidge) of one of the greatest April Fool’s jokes, the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest BBC broadcast of 1957. Panorama broadcast by Richard Dimbleby here, longer presentation (with complete text) here. It still makes me giggle.


Hu on base

March 30, 2014

Pointer from Dan Everett on Facebook to this image:

(#1) (more…)

Sign joke

March 21, 2014

From Nancy Frishberg, from a deaf friend on Facebook, this joke:

Two Deaf men and an interpreter are sentenced to death. On the day of their execution, they’re led to the electric chair room. The first Deaf guy is strapped into the chair, the executioner throws the switch, and…. nothing. The guy survived, so he’s pardoned and led off to stand in a corner while waiting for the other two. The second Deaf guy goes into the chair, is strapped in, and again, nothing. The executioner is a bit frustrated now, but the guy is pardoned and goes to stand with his friend. The interpreter is led to the chair and is strapped in. Before the executioner throws the switch, the two Deaf guys start talking together [that is to say, signing], like Deaf always do. The interpreter, being an interpreter, translates: “the chair is not plugged in. No wonder it was not working!”

I note that Nancy herself goes back and forth between deaf and Deaf (the latter involving cultural identification).


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 242 other followers