Life Needs A Laughtrack

A long time ago I was in therapy.  My shrink bore an uncanny resemblance to Frank Sinatra, the singer. (Disco is dead, Frank!)  I asked him his advice about whether or not I should stick it out with my girlfriend.  I still cared deeply about her, and I knew she loved me, but our sex life was on the fritz, proving that history does indeed repeat itself.

He looked at me over his clipboard of notes and said–no, sang:

“It’s up to you, you dork, you dork!” 

_

Have you ever seen that movie Alive!, about the Peruvian soccer team whose plane crashed in the Andes and they had to resort to eating their dead comrades?  According to one of the survivors, during one day of their desperate struggle to hang on, they were approached by a leprechaun.  He danced a merry jig and led them to a burst compartment near the rear of the plane’s fuselage, pointing out a bunch of severed arms among the scattered suitcases and duffel bags.

“What the hell do you expect us to do with those?”  one of the starving men asked.

“Why don’t you eat ’em, you silly bugger?”

They set about doing so, at first recoiling from the frozen meat before them.  But after awhile they found the morsels of human flesh downright savory.

“What can we do to repay you, sir?”

“Nothing a’tall!”  The leprechaun then sang a familiar tune from an old childhood TV commercial:

“Frosted luggage arms–they’re tragically nutritious!”

_

Jesus came to me in a dream.

I said, “Jesus?  Is that you?  You look just like Robert DeNiro.””

“Of course it’s me.  And if you don’t pay your monthly tithe when you get up, I’ll break your fucking legs.  Understand?”

_

When I was in college, I had a roommate who avoided cursing out of politeness.  It would have been endearing if he’d been five years old, but I decided to make the most of the situation.

“Gosh, man,” he said, “I had an exam this afternoon and had to miss lunch!”

“How dare you use the Lord’s nickname in vain!”

_

You can’t believe everything you read in the papers, can you?  For example, this morning I read the first line of a news story that read:  “Yesterday in the United States a black man was not shot by the police.”

_

U.S. Ambassador to Korea Mark Lippert, recovering from his knife wounds at Seoul’s Severance Hospital (actual name–no pun intended), was visited by a Korean man who wanted to aid in his healing with a gift of dog meat.  Lippert, a dog-lover who intrepidly walks his beagle up and down the anarchic streets of Seoul, was magnanimous enough to accept the offer and reciprocated with a roll of Psy toilet paper, along with a Kim Yuna voodoo doll.

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It’s For You, Hamlet

The phone call’s for me?  Hmm, that’s funny.  Thanks, Horatio.

Hello?  May I ask who’s calling?  Dad, is that you?  Your voice sounds strange.  Aren’t you dead?  What’s up with the phone call?  I thought you people were supposed to rest in peace. . . Of course the funeral was sad.  Why wouldn’t it be? . . . Yeah, I know she got married only a month after you died, but who could resist a guy like Claudius?  Mr. Super-Stud. . . . Dad, there’s no need to become apoplectic.  Just chill. . . You’re going to have to slow down.  I can’t follow your train of thought–you’re spluttering too much. . . Take a deep breath. . . What?  He poured poison in your ear?  What for? . . . I know, I know–stupid question.  So why are you telling me this? . . . You want me to get revenge? . . . But how can I be sure it’s really you?  Can’t you show yourself? . . . That’s not how ghosts operate these days.  Figures. . . So I have to go on a phone call. . . You always told me never to trust someone who tries to sell you something over the phone. . . Hey!  There’s no need to shout.  Keep your jaw attached to your skull, Jacob Marley. . .  I guess that reference is a little too advanced for you. . . I know it’s irksome that she married your brother. . . yes, yes–and your murderer–I was just getting to that. . . how is it incest?  He’s not her brother. . . That’s right–I forgot.  We live in the Elizabethan world. . . Okay, so what’s the best way to kill him? . . . Any way that works. . . But just not while he’s praying.  Thanks; I’ll make a note of that. . . Put on a play that recreates your death?  Dad, don’t you think you’re being morbid? . . . Of course I want some evidence that he really did it. . . What do you have against Ophelia?  She’s perfect for me. . . She’s daddy’s girl, eh?  At least she’s not a windbag. . . All right, Dad.  I’ll do what I can.  But between you and me, I have a hunch this isn’t going to end well. . . Yes, I look forward to seeing you soon, too.  I love you, Dad.  Tell God I said hi. . . He changed his name to Satan?  Well, you’ve got to admit it’s a more marketable alternative. . . Don’t go changing. . . Father, compose yourself! . . . Okay, sorry–bad joke.  Keep in touch.

Here’s your phone, Horatio.  No, no.  It was a wrong number.

Thanks to Bob Newhart for the idea.  His autobiography, I Shouldn’t Even Be Doing This!, is worth reading.  I’ll share a couple of anecdotes from it in another post.

New Meanings For Familiar Terms

(Along With A Few Coinages)

spontaneous combustion:  what the U.S. Air Force calls a napalm strike

friendly fire:  the smiley faces made by a happy flamethrower

collateral damage:  the thing your car insurance policy doesn’t cover

love triangle:  the harmonious relationship held by Wall Street, the Democrats, and the Republicans

cancer-patient (adj.):  how you have to be if you live in an Asian mega-city with poisonous air conditions

air conditioner:  coal plant

baby-shitter:  someone who gives birth by way of excretion

car pool:  a terrific bathing experience for your precious automobile

face book:  a soldier’s souvenir collection of his victim’s visages

kaputalism:  what happens when the whole global system of trade and commerce suddenly collapses due to accumulated ecological damage, climate-related pressures, prolonged economic inequality, and a perennially sustained assault on other species

blood bank:  the nickname arms contractors give to war

microsoft word:  a baby’s whisper

paper jam:  a delicacy enjoyed by beavers and termites

marketing department:  the section in Walmart where you buy your groceries

plastic surgeon:  a doctor of the future

time machine:  a mobile phone

conspicuous consumption:  cannibalism

police force:  a euphemism for “police brutality”

diorama:  a colorful way of saying “mass extinction”

international relationship:  the love boat

divine intervention:  the end result of government surveillance

exitainment:  the feeling you get when you realize the movie you’re watching sucks

celepretty (adj):  (rhymes with “celebrity”) attractive in an artificial way that makes people want to give you an award

Hostages Of The World, Unite!

Sorry I’ve been out of touch.  I had a hangnail.  Actually, I did have a nasty case of stomach flu last week, but at least I got a lot of exercise getting up several times throughout the night to dry heave my soul into the toilet, where it belongs.

My wife has been in full-on harridan mode lately as well, an enervating phenomenon (I was going to write “development,” since it harmonizes better with “enervating,” but since she’s been in harridan mode off and on throughout our fifteen hellacious years together, it’s not exactly an accurate choice).  I just don’t know how to appease her.  Neither the Neville Chamberlain nor the Winston Churchill strategy seems to work.

Defeat is the answer!

I share this computer with her and the screen has gotten so gunky–probably from having been manhandled by her primary school students–that it’s hard for me to see what’s going on.

Anywho, before signing on I read a sad post on the blog onlypeaceandlove about Kayla Mueller, who I assume is the woman who was recently beheaded by ISIS, ISIL, IS, the Islamic State, or whatever it’s called.  (Fellas, you seem to be having a branding issue.  Pick a name and stick with it if you want to market your product of indiscriminate mayhem and ghoulish bloodshed.  I used to live in a bloodshed when I was a little boy.  My pappy taught me how to finger-paint political messages there.  Sorry–I’m in a sick mood.)

I don’t know about you, but I can’t see the point in an organization going out of their way to deliberately execute not only innocent but likable, sympathetic, exemplary people (which means at least I’m safe) as a way to promote their cause (sorry to belie the “indiscriminate” factor mentioned in the previous paragraph).  Why can’t they be like the Slim Reaper and just use Predator drones?  The remote-controlled missile-firing aircraft is mightier than the sword–and more expensive (this message has been brought to you by McDonnell-Douglas Incorporated, and is also compliments of Raytheon and a big wet smooch from Lockheed-Martin, the most lovable and affectionate weapons-makers in the world today, our dear friends who are keeping the world safe for hypocrisy and extortion).

When I was a little boy, one of my favorite nursery rhymes came from a book my brother and I all but memorized (although I eventually went on to forgetize it) entitled The Best of Sick Jokes:

“I love life and life loves me.  I’m as happy as can be.  A happier man nowhere exists.  I think I’ll go and slash my wrists.”

I just found the contrast between the can-do optimism of the smiling man in the cartoon that accompanied the rhyme and his casually dismissive twist of despair hilarious.

Little did I know at the time that the joke would become something in between a mantra and a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Although I’ve never attempted to commit suicide in any concrete fashion (but hey, the night is still young), my choice of spouse was downright suicidal–not that I can say I dived right into the arrangement without considerable prodding–and the years we’ve endured together have not only ruined my health, but made me question the possibility of ever finding happiness–or even sanity–with anyone else.

(The enforced-happiness aspect of the rhyme I’ve discovered both by living in the U.S., where cheerfulness is mandatory, and by being a teacher of Korean students, many of whom seem to think the best way to answer a smile is with a scowl–or, more precisely, an inscrutable face of stone.)

I can’t pretend to understand the pain my wife personifies, but Murphy’s Law being what it is, I can safely predict that although I’m probably better suited to find a new mate after our marital nightmare ends, I’m so far gone I’ll be lucky to survive another ten years, which means I won’t be able to get front row seats for the apocalypse 😦

(That’s the first time I’ve ever used an emoticon, and probably the last as well.  Under the circumstances, I couldn’t resist.  Does anyone know if I need to put a period after it?  Who can navigate the treacherous waters of emoticon-related punctuation?)

My wife, on the other hand, will be an old maid, untouchable as far as her misogynistic culture is concerned, but she’s made of sterner stuff than I am, so she’ll probably live to be about a thousand years old, chronic aches and pains notwithstanding, lonely and guilt-stricken, flagellating herself endlessly in the nickname of Christ (Little Jeezy?).

Posthumous revenge may not be as sweet as the kind you can live to enjoy, but at least it’s something.

Sorry to see Jon Stewart go, and right on the heels of Stephen Colbert.  Who will be there to pick up the mantle of sacred satire?

By the way, I want to apologize for comparing myself in an earlier post to the heroic cartoonists who sacrificed their lives in the name of free expression working for Charlie Hebdo.  I’ll try not to be so pretentious next time, not that it will be easy to contain my flatulent blue whale of an ego, illusory as a soap bubble though it is.

Have a good day and a nice weekend–and make sure to smile, but only if you feel like it.  Remember, it’s hard to laugh your ass off and frown at the same time.

I’ll leave you with one last joke-let from that long-lost book of evil gems:

“Mommy, Mommy, Daddy just got hit by a car!”

“Don’t make me laugh, Gladys.  You know my lips are chapped.”

American Sniper: Alternative Titles

In an effort to come up with a title for his latest jingoistic, Islamophobic action flick, Clint Eastwood got a lot of suggestions from his script writers before he finally decided to just name the bloody movie after the book it was based on.  Which one of the following rejections do you think he might want to use to launch the director’s cut?

Diddler on the Roof

The Iraqi-Whacker

I Come in Peace

How the West Was Lost

Sniper Rash

I Only Have Ice for You

Lee Harvey Oswald, Eat Your Heart Out

Keep Your Muzzle on the Muslims

From America With Hate

Weapons of Crass Destruction

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Violence Is Golden

Magnum Farce

Tunnel Vision

When I Grow Up, I Want to Be a Predator Drone!

My Bullets Are Your Bullets

I’m the NRA

More Fun Than a Barrel of Democracy

Legend Shmegend

Peekaboo!  I Slay You

American Psycho 2

The Sight-Seer

Lie Down And Fight Like A Man

Ready?  Aim. . . Expire!

The Accidental Terrorist

Nation-Buildin’

Kyle the Vile

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

My Life’s A Video Game

American Cipher

I’m a little concerned about the title Eastwood went with.  The word sniper has an unpleasant ring to it.  It rhymes with diaper, viper, and wiper.  Snipe is an anagram of penis, which is fitting when you consider firearms as phallic symbols (not that that’s a very nice thing to say about your penis, and I believe you owe it–him?–an apology).

But it’s good to know that after reducing the cradle of civilization to a shambles, the United States still knows how to make a refreshing glass of lemonade in the shape of a Hollywood blockbuster movie, transforming the suffering of millions of innocent people into lucrative entertainment.

(By the way, I apologize for the misanthropic tone of yesterday’s entry.  When I wrote that I crave the attention of people I respect even less than myself, I was only joking about the lack of respect part.  Or half-joking, since it’s true that I find it hard to respect people who build their whole lives around unquestioningly digested falsehoods.

Also, excuse me for getting the name of the Spanish conquistador wrong.  I meant to write Hernando Cortez, not Gregorio (a character in the title of a movie starring–if I’m not mistaken, although I probably am once again–Edward James Olmos, star of Miami Vice and the inspirational feel-good real-life heroic teacher flick Stand And Deliver).  My apologies to any descendants of Cortez who happen to read this blog.

What To Do In An Emergency

1.  If you’re having a heart attack, make sure to:

A) finish your cigarette.  B)  take a selfie.  C)  eat a cheeseburger.

2.  In the event you cut your hand badly:

A)  take a moment to appreciate what a pretty color crimson is.

B)  run around until you feel woozy.  It’s fun!

C)  remove one of your socks to make a tourniquet.

3.  If you wake up to find the house on fire:

A)  take several long, slow, deep, breaths.  That way you’ll be able to relax.

B)  break out the marshmallows and have a party.

C)  go back to sleep.  You’re probably just having a nightmare.

4.  If somebody sticks a gun in your face:

A)  read him his Miranda rights, then say, “Wait, aren’t you supposed to say these to me?”

B)  Say, “I regret that I have but one life to give for my suburb.”

C)  Look him in the eye and say, “I won’t come visit you in prison.”

5.  If you get hit by a car and the driver is kind enough to stop:

A)  ask, “Why did you do that?”

B)  say, “Thanks–I’ve always wanted to be killed by a Ferrari.”

C)  (if you’re lying on your back) point at the sky and say, “Methinks that cloud looks like a whale.”

6.  If the boat you’re on sinks and you find yourself drowning in the ocean:

A)  ask a fish for directions to the surface.

B)  inhale some seawater to provide yourself with refreshing and revitalizing electrolytes.

C)  find a large piece of plastic trash to hang onto until a Coast Guard cutter appears.

Mediocrity Triumphs!

When I was a little boy, I went to the Boston Museum of Science and saw some baby chickens being born in an incubator.  Man, those were some hot chicks.

Q)  Why did the lumberjack clear-cut the forest?

A)  It was getting too big for its birches.

Q)  What did the logger who suffered from terrible hay fever say?

A)  “I can’t see the forest for the sneeze.”

I’m proud to announce that I’ve been given a job at Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, better known as Gitmo, the notorious Home of American Torture, as their Chief Distributor of Bad Puns.

Speaking of Gitmo, have you seen Mos Def’s video in which he tries to see what being force-fed liquid food is like?  He can’t stand it for more than a second, as the procedure is too painful to endure.  How nice that those prisoners who find their lives at the “camp” utterly intolerable are not even allowed the satisfaction of a dignified death through a hunger strike as they’re kept unwillingly alive in such a sinister manner.  Bon appetit, putative terrorists.

Yesterday I participated in a contest of sorts at my wife’s church.  We sang a song entitled “This Is My Father’s World.”  (My real father once shared the philosophical observation that no one really owns anything and we’re mainly just a Planet of Renters.)  I had practiced the song religiously, drilling the Korean lyrics into my head while sitting on the toilet for a grand total of five minutes.  Since I think it’s silly to believe in God, especially considering how many horrible things happen in the world while you wait (that’s meant as a reference to an overused TV commercial catch-phrase, not a criticism of the reader, who’s apt to be a better citizen than I’ll ever be), I didn’t feel  particularly compelled to memorize the sucker.

Jina had also told me ahead of time that we’d be surrounded by several other singers at the time, so I figured I could fake my way through it.

And that’s exactly what I did.

Because Jina is holier than thou, whoever thou might be, we’d already been stuck in the church and portions of its vast compound since ten in the morning, and the “talent show” didn’t commence till two p.m.  What a waste of a semi-beautiful day.  I was also restless because I wanted to be doing something more productive–or at least fun–with my time instead of farting around with a bunch of benighted if well-behaved lunatics.  

While Jim Morrison may have said that “All the children are insane,” (thanks for that authoritative diagnosis, Dr. Morrison, who cleverly and cutely arrived at the self-fellating anagram for himself “Mr. Mojo Risin'”), I’m delighted to announce that most of the kids I “teach” in Sunday school are still pure and wise enough not to go in for all that God and Jesus bullshit.

As the irrepressibly uptight twerp who conducts the class blurts his instructions to them through his microphone, performing all kinds of ignominious contortions for them to imitate while indoctrinating them in the ostensible ways of the Lord, I make faces at some of those children whose attention he fails to hold, while the rest of the kids who ignore him daydream about magnificent television cartoons they’ve watched.

Whenever the rest of the congregation–junior or senior–lower their heads in groveling prayer, I look around to see if anyone else is bowing out of the ludicrous ritual; that way I’d know I might have an ally.  

But no–hence, I have to keep up appearances, which is a big part of Korean culture–perhaps the main part, if not the only part, at least as far as I can tell, or as near, as an old housemate of mine from Vermont used to say.

Anyway, it’s Monday morning here and I’ve got to get up and get ready for work in a few minutes, so I’ll cut to the chase:  despite the formidable competition of the descendants of Orpheus and the sirens, people born with music notes flowing through their veins, Jina and my team managed to come in second place.  All I did was intone the words in a nondescript way, hiding my voice in a thicket made up of the voices of my fellow singers, peering at the lyrics with quasi-literate comprehension through my handy symbiotic reading glasses (you have to wear them at the same time as your regular glasses–they fit comfortably right inside them).  First place went to a group of crooning teenage girls who had us beat hands-down on the adorability factor.  

Despite the advice I always give to my public speaking students, I never made eye contact with the audience once–maybe because if I had I would have burst out laughing at being involved in such a fraudulent farce.

Although we were not privileged to win one of the coveted electric fans distributed during the raffle afterwards, Jina received a prize of one hundred thousand won (about a hundred US bucks) after I’d already high-tailed it out of there.

I went on to meet a friend for Mexican food and beers, and he soundly defeated me at chess.

I hope to win at the game some day before I die, but if I held my breath I would have become a chess piece myself a long time ago, ready to nestle endlessly in my box all by myself, everlastingly out of the game, sequestered in a boneyard of old discarded chessmen and -women of all shapes and sizes, hidden under the tessellated arena of the boring board.