Tuesday, August 30, 2011

RE: (Humor) No Iphone, you can almost laugh about

No Iphone, Iswear

When our family sets out to enjoy some scheduled spontaneity, it seems the only way “normal” works its way into the experience is if we watch other families on their outings.

Witness our recent adventure when we all got together for a bit of revelry marking our birthdays.
There we were, waiting outside an eatery, having a good ‘ole time engaging in the laugh riot that ensues as we torture each other with the usual conversational fodder.

This non all-inclusive list of topics consists of: our advancing age, “what were we thinking?” presents, and a wealth of stories with embarrassing moments that are sure to mortify the subject.

Just about the time our table was ready a young woman advanced upon us, ostensibly seeking solace as she set forth her tale of woe.

It seems her cousin had set her Iphone on the bench, over yonder, and though she didn’t think it was the case, she was wondering if we had seen it.

We assured her that we had not seen such an item. (Heck, truth be told, we hadn’t even seen the bench.)

We made the appropriate sympathetic noises one would make when a stranger reports the loss of something and, thinking we were done, we made our way over to the front of the establishment.

Then it got ugly. Real ugly.

Immediately the launch sequence was initiated for one of my least favorite spectator sports – the public scene.

I distinctly noted her glowing red eyes, octaval voice drop, and six-inch height increase as she tuned up for an orchestral rant.

The kicked-up-a-notch-shrew told us it sure was funny we hadn’t seen her iphone since we were talking about it when she walked up, to which I cleverly interjected, “I what?!”
[By the way, that play on words thing may work well in columns, comedy clubs, and even congregations, but not with an angry, unhinged fruitloop.]

Oh, sure, that’s right. Just call me Ma Barker. That’s what me and my younguns do for kicks on the weekends. We travel to area restaurants, absconding with folks’ iphones, making a passel of trouble for ‘em.

As an aside to my aside, the she-devil was wearing a particularly fetching frock, which did not even hint at the unpleasantries to follow.

Timing being everything, it was at this juncture that the bistro maître d (that’s fancy talk for “person holding menus”) called our party’s name. A good thing too, because I was just getting ready to helpfully offer “Young Yeller” a southernmost locale where she might seek out her missing Iphone.

After such a bizarre interlude we somnambulated our way toward our table, shaking off the road dust and our odd experience. We even managed to laugh about the incident as we sat down to consult our “quick pick” 30-page menu.

I laughingly advised my family, from now on I was going to ask everyone, “Want to see my new Iphone?”

By the end of the meal we’d all but forgotten about our rendezvous with crazy in the form of “America’s Next Top Possessed Model.” We were excitedly contemplating the embarrassing birthday festivities at the end of our meal, having long been the hallmark of restaurant merrymaking; singing, clapping, and lighting a delicious confection on fire.

It was at this moment our server returned, inquiring as to whether we had an Iphone. I was aghast, affronted, and apoplectic, in addition to other words not beginning with an “a.”
Heretofore my ire had remained a stowaway on my skiff of outrage, but it now launched on the behemoth ship known as, the U.S.S. Incensement.

I took a shallow breath and ahoy, matey, full steam ahead!

“Oh, for pete’s sake. We don’t have a flipping Iphone. This is ridiculous. Did that girl actually get you to ask us that? She is one cuckoo short on One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, let me tell you. How about she reels it in and takes responsibility for whatever happened and then she can quit harassing us?”

Our nonplussed waitress looked at me in growing bafflement, commenting matter-of-factly, “Oh, yeah, I heard someone lost their phone. No, no, no. I was asking because if you have an Iphone there’s an app you can access to get a restaurant coupon.”

Chagrined, my response was vintage Gilda Radner, via that inimitable “Queen of the Misunderstandings” character, Emily Litella, from “Saturday Night Live.”

“Oh.” [Insert long pause.] “Never mind.”

Friday, August 26, 2011

RE: Oh, Fiddlesticks! Humor about outmoded expressions known as minced oaths

Oh, fiddlesticks!

We are a perpetually surprised species. Attesting to this fact is the sheer volume of astonished utterances we boast in our distinctly American lexicon and language.

No doubt, many of these outmoded expressions now reside in the Smithsonian of Jargon.
We have always been willing to travel quite a piece, euphemistically, in order to avoid objectionable words or terms, rather than giving voice to the blasphemous ones that erupt rather more naturally.

Since the Crusades we have made every effort NOT to take the big guy’s name in vain, resulting in the accumulation of a runneth-over treasure trove of idioms that are not so much logical as plentiful. These terms are known as minced oaths.

I’m sort of a closet linguist and, believe you-me, this is not the kind of closet anyone wants to see me step out of any time soon. Be that as it may, because of this fact (the linguist part, not the closet part), my observational pursuits stretch far beyond what folks are doing and well into what they are saying and how they are saying it.

Word count and my ability to sustain my own attention span necessitated that I only cover three minced oaths this time around.

Last uttered by the last Confederate widow when she learned her husband’s pension would continue to be issued in Confederate currency, which was no longer legal tender, at least on this side of the Mason-Dixon line.
What I thought was the origin.
Fiddles were once played with sticks.
How I fared.
I was almost right.
What seems to be accepted truth about the origin.
There appears to be a wee bit of controversy here. Some folks are like-minded with yours truly, asserting that fiddles were played with sticks, while the oppositionally inclined non-fiddle-lovers say fiddling itself is nonsense; therefore, the saying is synonymous with “that’s nonsense.” Of course, the Fiddle Players for Change in the World through String Instruments are all up in arms, if not sticks.

Last uttered by the last World I veteran when he figured out he had been collecting his pension for longer than all of America’s combined years at war.
What I thought was the origin.
I was pulling for a Betsy Ross connection.
How I fared.
I could be right or I could not be right.
What seems to be accepted truth about the origin.
There are countless derivatives for this one, including Heavens to Murgatroyd, my heavens, for heaven’s sake, and heaven help me, but the provenance of the phrase has baffled linguists and bored laymen for a couple of centuries. Two consistent explanations offered up are that it’s a reference to the rifle “Old Betsy,” which has offended every young Betsy who ever lived, and the infamous Betty Ross flag lore supported by her relatives, rather than historical accuracy.

Last uttered by Walt Disney when he realized he’d given Mickey Mouse a girlfriend, but neglected to do the same for Jiminy Cricket.
What I thought was the origin.
Though the peanut and the cricket shared the same clothing designer, the peanut always scared me while a childhood visit to Disneyland established the cricket as a favorite of mine. In short, I knew who Jiminy was.
How I fared.
Partial success on this one. I was spot on knowing from whence the cricket came, but I had never made the association with Jiminy Cricket’s initials of J.C. and why he would then be an apt substitution for a colorful, though potentially sacrilegious interjection.
What seems to be accepted truth about the origin.
You need to be a certain age to even remember anyone bellowing, “Jiminy Cricket!” let alone know who – or what – Jiminy was. However, my friend Wikipedia has provided me with a solid frame of reference. As it turns out, Jiminy was created by one dude for his appearance in the children's book Pinocchio, but revamped by one of Disney’s Nine Old Men animators for his future starring role in Disney films.

So, if you’re bored some Saturday evening and, no, it doesn’t have to be a Saturday evening, smarty pants, go to the font of endless, senseless information – any search engine—and tap in “origin of expression” plus any ‘ole turn of phrase that comes to mind.

The hits will just keep on coming.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

RE: Parenting Humor...the real reality show: SURVIVOR...Parent Style

SURVIVOR: Parent Style…the real reality show about survival

Perhaps I am only one of a handful of people able to make this claim, but I’ve only seen the show, Survivor, a few times.

In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten through an entire episode, although I was drawn in ever so briefly by the exotic locales and resultant geography lessons, such as in the case of Survivor: Marquesas, which provided me with a look-see at Nuku Hiva, the largest of the Marquesas Islands.

To me this show isn’t hardcore enough, barely registering on the ‘ole endurance meter.
Nope, my idea for a REAL show about REAL survival would be called, Survivor: Parent Style.
None of this namby-pamby eating of bugs, ratting each other out to narrow the playing field, and being subjected to Generation Y-ME’s hook-ups that – gasp! – don’t seem to ever work out.

No living the unreality of a reality show, as contestants vie for a cash prize and the chance to be on the cover of People magazine as the “hottest” television survivalist of the year.

In my production Survivor: Parent Style features parental contestants leading the way as they plan and implement a family journey out back, out front, or out in the middle of nowhere.
This set-up is rife with possibilities illustrating what it’s really like to be challenged beyond the limits of human capacity.

(In point of fact, most of you know what we usually call this kind of adventure: camping.)
In a civilized society parents are challenged by family life every ding-dong day. Imagine how entertaining it would be if this domestic show hit the road.

Survivor: Parent Style wouldn’t be a wimpy show with whiny people dispatched to a gorgeous island where they’re interviewed about how hard it is to balance, standing on a raft, for hours. Huh-uh. No, sirree!

This reality show would follow whiny families living on a marginally attractive land mass where we hear kids ponder existential topics. For instance, the concept of time as applied to destination by asking, “Are we there yet?” to which their wise, well-spoken mother would reply, “We are here, Josh. There is here. Now be quiet, eat your pill bug, and pass the larvae.”

Think of the hilarity that would ensue as the sheer volume of scenes roll out, fueled by rich family history guaranteed to incite one another to achieve personal bests in emotional wrestling. It would be Swiss Family Robinson on steroids.

And the visuals. Ever balance over a latrine while holding a three-year-old’s hand? Moms, I know you have.

Now, there’s a challenge America is probably not ready to see, but that’s what true survival looks like. There could be plot twists, like temper tantrums that scare the natives so badly, they try to figure out how to get off of their own island.

One set of flying flip-flops, soaring across the forested treetops after they’ve been launched by an entitled child hearing the word, “No!” from their parent for the first time is all it would take.

The only problem is that Survivor: Parent Style might not be the ratings bonanza networks are looking for because this would be “real” reality and that may be too darned scary.
Nevertheless, I have come up with a pretend introduction for my pretend show:

“Watch Survivor: Parent Style as ordinary people, previously living ordinary lives, take their extraordinary children into an extraordinary world filled with dangerous obstacles.

Observe parents spending 18 years raising their children in the wild, without losing them, their own sanity, or the keys to the jeep that will escort them out of this hellhole when, and if, the jeep starts up at the end of their almost-two-decade-long journey.”

That’s right. I forgot to tell you the best part of my idea for the series, Survivor: Parent Style.

The show would air for 18 years OR until all of the minor children attained non-minorhood OR until all of the majority-aged adults were majorly nuts.

Whichever comes first. Care to lay odds on this one?