Break A Leg!

My favorite aspect of the World Cup is the theatrics. You know, like the way that any two players that pass within 70 ft. of one another will immediately drop to the ground, clutch their right knee, and writhe around in unbearable agony — and then, five seconds later, and completely irrespective of whether the official calls a foul or not, leap back to their feet and charge back into the action. There is more dramatics in a 90 minute soccer game than an entire season of your local repertoire theater. In the off season I bet these guys supplement their income by going to the local Piggly-Wiggly, pretending to slip on a wet spot on the floor, and doing their “Sweet Jesus I’ve torn every ligament in my thigh!” routine until the liability lawyers come a-running.

I also love the way how, after the ball goes out-of-bounds or there is foul, each player involved will stop, stare directly at the referee, and act out the call he wants the official to make. And then the ref goes ahead and makes whatever ruling he was going to issue anyway. It’s as if every team were made up of the galaxy’s most ineffectual Jedis.

A Pitcher’s Worth A Thousand Words

I get a lot email. Not all of it is mine.

To: Matthew Baldwin
From: Geoffrey Ambler
Subject: Friday Night

Hey Matt,

I was talking to frazz last night and we were talking about how we should have a late night dinner before we go out of friday. I have work til like 630 on friday and then I am coming into the city with bull should be there by 9. Make a reservation somewhere for like 930. I mean bars don't get good til after 11- 1130 anyway. We might aswell eat and drink and then drink drink delta til 6 am. Let me know what you think?

I love you,

* * *

To: Geoffrey Ambler
From: Matthew Baldwin
Subject: Re: Friday Night

Hey, Geoff. This sounds great, except I think you're probably talking about a different city than the one I live in (Seattle). Also, you may have intended this to go to a different Matthew Baldwin. Sounds like a good time, though.

Best to frazz and bull,

* * *

To: Matthew Baldwin
From: Geoffrey Ambler
Subject: Re: Friday Night

You know what you're right the baldwin I am talking about is straight. You must be his gay twin who his fucking Jamie Moyer (pitcher for the seattle mariners). I'm sorry man I won't bother you anymore. Seattle, huh, doesn't it rain 23 hours a day 6 days a week there?

Best to grunge rock and starbucks!

* * *

To: Geoffrey Ambler
From: Matthew Baldwin
Subject: Re: Friday Night

Oh hey man, I thought you knew: Jamie Moyer (pitcher for the seattle mariners) and I broke up back in February. It was probably for the best. Honestly, we'd been drifting apart for years. He spent so much time on the road with the team, and I was spending so much time on my latch-hook ... you know how it goes. We were really only staying together for the kids there at the end, you know?

I still see him occationally, at Starbucks or grunge music concerts. He's moved on now, I guess -- got a new guy named Trevor or Tyler or something.

Thanks for asking, though -- it means a lot to me that you care.

Well, too bad Friday night didn't work out for us. I guess I'll just stay at home this weekend. Been doing that a lot, lately. Just staying home and listening to the rain and thinking about Jamie. We had some great times together, me and Jamie. Some really great times.

I love you too,

My Arms Being Tired Implies That I Flew Here Without Mechanical Assistance

Over dinner Saturday night a four year-old told me this joke:

Him: Knock knock.

Me: Who’s there?

Me: Undies.

Me: Undies who?

Him: Undies pants!

Yes, it lacks some of the surreal sublimity of the jokes found in the Achoo’nior repertoire, but y’gotta give the kid credit for having The World’s Funniest Word (underpants) as a punchline and using a synonym for it (undies) in the setup. That youngster knows what the audience craves and, by gum, he gonna give it to ’em.

Speaking of jokes, I saw an ad for The Simpsons on TV the other day, which featured this snippet of comedy gold:

Home: You’re sure spending a lot of time with Moe.

Bart: Yeah, he’s like the father I never had.


Homer: Wait a minute: I’m your father!

It’s so nice to see that the writers on The Simpsons have, at long last, adopted the Joke 3.0 format.

To put this in context, I’ll need to give you a quick primer in the history of the joke.

Jokes originated in ancient Egypt, though the earliest consisted of only the straightline.

Sphinx: What goes on four legs in the morning, on two legs at noon, and on three legs in the evening?

Ramses II: I don’t know.

Sphinx: No one does.

{Awkward silence}

Ramses II: I really think you should get that thing on your nose looked at.

Jokes persisted in this form for thousands of years. They were particularly popular with Zen monks, who would ask each other “What is the sound of one hand laughing?” or “What is the meaning of Bodhidharma’s coming from the west?” and then collapse into hysterics.

Then, in 1882, George Washington Carter revolutionized comedy with his invention of the punchline.

George Washington Carver: What do you call four nuns and a bicycle with no seat?

Nick Fury, who has been sent back in time to assassinate the grandfather of Benito Mussolini: I don’t know, what?

George Washington Carver: Peanuts!

It took a few more years of combining various straightline and punchlines to refine the formula (“What’s brown and sticky? Arr, it’s drivin’ me nuts!”), but soon the “joke” as we know it was perfected.

But did we Americans rest on our laurels? NO! In the late 20th century we pioneered Joke 3.0, which added a third line — the explainline aftermirth — to the equation. Pioneered by such ground-breaking shows as Home Improvement and the comic styling of Gallagher, the explainline aftermirth finally made humor accessible to everyone, even mooncalves like you and I.

Oh I get it: Homer is his father! It’s funny because it’s true!

So next time you tell your favorite joke, don’t forget the explainline aftermirth:

Why are fish so smart?

Because they live in schools.

The word “school” could refer to either a group of fish or a place where children are educated!

Did you hear about the psychic in San Francisco who specialized in predicting bad breath?

Her sign read “Super California mystic, expert: halitosis.”

The people in California are so dumb they elected Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor — you can’t help but laugh!

Supreme Court Justice One: Who’s there?

Supreme Court Justice Two: Undies.

Supreme Court Justice One: Undies who?

Supreme Court Justice Two: Undies pants!

Supreme Court Justice One: I’m afraid I’m still not entirely clear on who you are.

Supreme Court Justice Two: “Underpants” is the world’s funniest word.

Supreme Court Justice One: Hahahaha!

And remember: it’s innovations like Joke 3.0, born of pure Yankee ingenuity, that have made our nation the “shining city on the hill” it is today.

That’s sarcasm. In truth the United States is not highly regarded in the International community!


I apologize for my recent absence — after my last post I was seized by the Secret Grammar Police and extradited to Gerundland as part of their War on Error. I was held in an underground modal and wasn’t released until I swore to never again engage in wanton misapostrophication.

(Actually, I was working on a project with the genius behind Goopymart, which should be appearing in The Morning News soon. I’ll resume work on the yeti today.)

During the my hiatus, someone reminded me that I’d long ago promised reviews of both Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Caylus, so I’ll try and get those written shortly. Someone else asked for an update on The Squirrelly, and I’m working on one now. And I received email asking that I exhume those Vocabulary Bookmarks I posted a million years ago.

So if anyone else would like to make a request or remind me about something I said I’d write but never did, I guess this is the thread to do so.

Update: Sorry I didn’t make this clear: the link on the Vocab Bookmarks page points nowhere. I removed the bookmarks PDF from my site a long time ago, back in the day when my webhost only gave me 10MB of space. As soon as I unearth them on my home PC I’ll post them in a new entry.

Mob Rule: Grammarama

I posted this question to a discussion group and it incited a veritable brawl:

Which is grammatically correct: “I have had sex with each and every member of Avenged Sevenfold, one of the bands that [is|are] part of Ozzfest 2006.”

No consensus was reached, so we can settle the matter once and for all, right here on this humble little webpage. Fight!