My daddo’s the punster, not me.

They say we all grow up to be our parents, whether due to genetics or exposure through our earliest development stages. In regards to my dad’s sense of humor, it’s a battle I’ve been fighting for a long time.

He’s the kind of guy who liked jokes with punchlines like “Brad cannot live on manna alone” or “You can’t have your kayak and heat it, too”. The longer and more elaborate the the joke, the better. And, like all true punsters, he would embellish his true masterpieces a little bit more with each telling. My sisters and I found this hideously annoying. The jokes weren’t funny, and sitting through each buildup seemed more and more tedious and lengthy. It got so that if he asked someone if they knew the one about the man and the talking frog, we would shout them down – yes, yes, a thousand times, yes!

In retaliation, I created the napkin joke. It involves describing a fancy-pants napkin – lace, embroidery, fabric descriptions, its life history and experiences – anything to make it more boring and long. There’s no punchline. Really, there’s not even an ending. You just describe the napkin, in all its pointless boringness. It’s just like my dad’s pointless, boring jokes. Haha. My dad, of course, thought it was hi-LAR-iously funny.

Recently however, I find myself slowly but surely drawn towards his type of humor. I find myself enjoying the panda joke (A panda eats shoots and leaves vs. A panda eats, shoots, and leaves). True, this is grammar humor, so it’s a little classy, kinda. But it’s also dangerously punny. What am I becoming? How do I stop myself?

I read this article about an old penguin and his suit and wanted to comment about it. A penguin in a wetsuit, how cute! However, I was stumped at the title. I kept coming up with these horrible titles, like ‘Jackass gets new suit’. I know it’s a tic of inheritance from my dad. Sigh. I guess I’m doomed to questionable humor. It’s in my DNA.

Politics, humor, and gender

I was amused by the MIT website this morning and the featuring of a conference on gender and the politics of humor.  Of course, at the time the words got all mangled up in my brain and I thought they were talking about gender and political humor.  It is an amusing and interesting idea nonetheless, but I was more intrigued by my original misconception.

Why is it that Hilary Clinton is not funny?  Or most of our presidents, really.  I mean, there are jokes made about them, but it’s rare for a president to crack a joke.  Especially while campaigning.  But crusty old presidents enmeshed in their own seriousness like Nixon and Grant let out crazy jokes once and awhile.  Even W has let out a joke or two in these ending days.  So what keeps them so serious most of the time?  And why do they think it’s to their benefit? I mean, even Ross Perot’s political career might not have been sunk if he’d been able to laugh at himself.

I’m not saying that our presidents should be mere performers, or that the seriousness of their office does not impose its own rigor.  But it’s important to realize that all public office is just that – an office.  It’s something that you walk away from after your term.  It’s something you do, not necessarily who you are.  Now that we’ve had females in many major political positions, it’s time for some not-so-serious reform.  If bush and Clinton can loosen up enough to hang out together in casual togs, then Hilary should be able to wear something other than a suit.  Maybe even a flower summery dress that reminds us she’s a woman, using it as a strength.  After all, most of us females are caught wanting it all – a great home life, a great professional career, and both the respect and love of our peers.  If our President can’t manage it, how can we?

The Best of April Fools

A head honcho at my current place of employment asked me if I had the ‘bandwidth’ to do some editing for him, to which I verbally replied “Yes”.  Secretly, however, I was thinking ‘I urgently need to write down some stuff about April 1 (today) on my blog’.  So, here it is.

1) Custom Time on Gmail (Thank you, Corina) – While the ability to send mail as if it had been sent hours or even days ago is one I imperatively need to beat my lifetime curse as forgetful Jones, thus far the real world has been unable to provide me with the ability.  todd-j.jpgIn the meantime, I’ll have to make due with the funnies of this page.  Classics such as ‘Gmail utilizes an e-flux capacitor to resolve issues of causality’ and ‘If we were to let you send an email from Gmail before Gmail existed, well, that would be like hanging out with your parents before you were born — crazy talk.’ really make this particular prank a class act.  However, my ultimate favorite is the ‘do from Todd J., Investment Banker, on this page.  With the finger-pointing, I can tell he’s a class act.

1-b) Google books has NEW! Scratch-and Sniff varieties.  Yay!  Oh wait, it’s not real.

2) Wikipedia’s ‘Featured Article‘ (Props to Josue) – While ‘Ima Hogg’ is the true name of a famous Texan lady (only in Texas) she did not, in fact, have sisters named Ura and Hoosa.  She was neither a circus emcee nor an ostrich jockey, and she was brought up to wealth, rather than in government housing.  However, it is most unfortunate that her father, one of Texas’s governors, was nicknamed ‘Big Jim’.

3) Google’s (/Virgin’s) Virgle Pioneer test – while the actual documentation on said exploration was somewhat less than titter-worthy, I completely enjoyed the online test, titled ‘The Adventure of Many Lifetimes’.  Here’s my results: ‘Well, you’re distressingly normal and could conceivably adjust to life as a deep space pioneer, though we recommend instead that you leave the Mars missions to the serious whack jobs who scored over 130 and instead finish year 3 of law school, tuck your toddler into bed, design Web 2.0 applications, run for Congress or do whatever other normal, healthy, middle-of-the-road thing you’re currently doing with your normal, healthy, middle-of-the-road life. ‘ Also notable was the Virgle is real link under the FAQs.

I’m guessing that there are others…please, keep me from boredom!

A Work-Life Balance or, Falling Off Your Chair.

Few of us can say we have ever actually fallen off of our chairs, despite the common use of the phrase as an indication of our intense laughter.  I have.  In a public place.  On purpose.  I sat on the edge on command and proceeded to slip off the edge and down to teh floor on my tush pillows, exploding the chair from beneath me.  Though our waitress thought I had, in fact, broken the chair and not just fallen off it,  I am not a fat person.  But that’s neither here not there.

The point is, I am one of the few that has some real-life experience with the falling-off-the-chair bit.  And really, the whole idea is a lot like the idea of a work-life balance, the idea that your kids, or your spouse, or your activities, or whatever it is that’s important can somehow be balanced out with your career responsibilities.

As  Leslie Morgan Steiner writes in her blog on this topic, it’s not possible.  Not only is that kind of balance impossible to maintain, it’s also very hard to reach for a few brief moments of your life.  Either your life or your job or both are going to edge in demand more than their share of attention.  Usually both.

So what do you do?  Leslie calls it ‘hugging the gorilla’.  I prefer something a little closer to home – I try to remember to be unafraid to fall off my chair.  If I can’t maintain the perfect balance, who cares?  No one can maintain yogic position, perfectly chair-balanced forever.  And the floor isn’t really so bad.  If you’re a little prepared to fall, it doesn’t even hurt coming down.  So I just try to be ready, on the edge of my chair.  Maybe when I fall the next time I’ll even get a laugh from the waitress.

The Onion Takes on the Sedgehammer

It has been recently brought to my attention that the Onion is stealing my material right out from under me.  Thank you, Alex, for this timely news.  Instead of being cheap and petty like that game empire has-been, Hasbro, I will refrain from suing.  Instead I will allow my own readership to grow by giving you links to their popular articles on American Gladiators and Scrabulous/Facebook.  Enjoy!