HOW TO CREATE WITTY, ANTI-SEMITIC JOKES: A PRIMER FOR BIGOTS

by Hershey H. Friedman, Ph.D. and Linda Weiser Friedman, Ph.D.

Sacrilege_be25f3_5578612

Humor is an extremely powerful tool: It can build rapport and strengthen relationships. It can serve as a major social bond; this bond can be used either for positive or negative purposes (Friedman & Friedman, 2003). Racist and sexist humor are not benign. Bigoted humor can, in fact, affect the tendency of people to discriminate against others. Disparaging humor will strengthen the prejudiced attitudes of people who are already bigoted. According to Greengross (2011):

… when we consider groups that most people discriminate against, and feel they are justified in doing so, disparaging humor towards that group does not foster discriminatory acts against them. On the other hand, for groups for whom the prejudice norm is shifting, and there is still no consensus not to discriminate against (women, gays, Muslims and so on), if you hold negative views against one of these groups, hearing disparaging jokes about them “releases” inhibitions you might have, and you feel it’s ok to discriminate against them. 

A similar effect was found with sexist humor. Sexist jokes do not have any impact on those who are not sexist; on the contrary, such humor made them willing to donate more to a fictitious women’s organization. However, for those who are sexist to begin with, sexist humor will significantly affect downward how much they would be willing to donate to the women’s organization (Weems, 2014).

If you want to know whether individuals are bigoted or sexist, listen to the jokes they tell. Indeed, Helmreich (2004) examines humor and anecdotes in order to better understand stereotypes. Davies (2011) believes that jokes often tap into strongly held stereotypical beliefs. For example, politicians are seen as corrupt, mothers-in-law as unlikable, economists out of touch with the real world, waiters as rude, and psychoanalysts as crazy.

IN GROUPS / OUT GROUPS

Schutz (1995) feels that ethnic humor plays an important social function by helping in-groups bond and reinforce their values. Humor can be used to deride others but it can also be used to enhance the image of a group. Of course, one joke can sometimes do both jobs at the same time: mock one group while at the same time making another group appear smarter than everyone else. The jokes of victims and oppressed groups very often have this dual purpose. Lowe (1986) makes this observation about certain kinds of ethnic humor: “it produces simultaneously a strong fellow-feeling among participants and joint aggressiveness against outsiders.”

Freud (1960, p. 103) made the following observation regarding hostile jokes which he believed served the purpose of aggressiveness or defense: “By making our enemy small, inferior, despicable or comic, we achieve in a roundabout way the enjoyment of overcoming him.” When it comes to most bigots, however, all they have to do is tell an anti-Semitic joke and it becomes quite clear how inferior they are. It takes intelligence to tell a clever joke that disparages an entire group and it is difficult for anti-Semites to tell original, smart, funny anti-Semitic jokes. If you want to tell a witty anti-Semitic joke, listen to the jokes Jewish comics tell about Jews. This way you might not sound too moronic. Know your target. One trick to telling a good anti-Semitic joke is to base it on a stereotype that is partially true.

With ethnic humor, it becomes crucial to know who is telling the joke and who is listening to it. Some jokes are very funny when told by a member of the group to a listener who is also of the group, about some real or perceived shortcoming of their shared ethnicity. This is a true bonding experience. The same joke, however, told by one outsider to another outsider is highly likely to be derogatory (deprecating, rather than self-deprecating). Racist humor often falls into this sinkhole. For example, the following:

Two Jews are about to face a Russian firing squad. The two condemned men are offered blindfolds. One of them accepts it, but the other does not, defiantly saying: “I don’t want your blindfold.” His friend urges: “Shh Izzy… don’t make trouble.

When told by one Jew to another, this joke is a gentle acknowledgement of the tendency of Jews in the Diaspora to keep quiet at all cost, rather than attract unwelcome attention. On the other hand, when this joke is told by one non-Jew to another, especially with humorous Jewish-sounding names and dialect as in Gruner’s book (2000, p. 101), it definitely comes across as disparaging to Jews.

Some examples of Jewish self-deprecating humor. These jokes work quite well when told by a Jew to a Jewish audience.

The following joke, often told by one Jew to another, feeds into the ugly stereotype of Jews doing anything for money. When a Jew tells it to another Jew, it actually is meant to take make fun of the anti-Semitism of gentiles: Ten minutes after a Jew converts he takes on the bigotry of the anti-Semite.

Two Jews pass a church displaying a sign promising $5,000 to all new converts to Christianity. After much debate, one of the men decides to go for the money and enters the church. Several hours pass as his friend waits outside. Finally, the Jew comes out of the church and his friend excitedly asks: “So, did you get the money?” The first man gives him a dirty look saying: “Is that all you people ever think about?” 

Certain behaviors that would be considered bigoted coming from a non-Jew are just fine – and even give us a warm, fuzzy, friendly feeling – when engaged in by a Jew. For example, Jews love to devise lists of well-known or important individuals – such as celebrities, scientists, athletes, etc. – who are Jewish; take Adam Sandler’s “The Chanukah Song,” for example. Many jokes about Jews are funny when told to one Jew by another Jew, but bigoted when told by one anti-Semite – er, a non-Jew – to another. For example, many of the gags in Sacha Baron Cohen’s movie, Borat, fall into this category. 5

Telushkin (1992) feels that if you really want to understand the Jewish people, examine the humor told by both Jews and non-Jews about the Jewish people. The best jokes about Jews are told by Jews. Jews are aware of their weaknesses and shortcomings so they know how to tell a joke that works. Freud (1960) recognized the importance of self-deprecation in Jewish humor. Davies (1991) made the following observation in his research dealing with Jewish self-deprecating humor: “ethnic jokes told from outside as mockery can become assertions of autonomy and vitality when told by the subjects themselves.” This is probably true of all ethnic groups: Comics from a particular ethnic group tell the best jokes about their group. As Martin Grotjahn put it:

One can almost see how a witty Jewish man carefully and cautiously takes a sharp dagger out of his enemy’s hands, sharpens it so that it can split a hair in midair, polishes it until it shines brightly, stabs himself with it, then returns it gallantly to the anti-Semite with a silent reproach: now see whether you can do it half as well (Grotjahn, 1957, p. 23). 

Christie Davies (1991) appreciates Grotjahn’s imagery but considers it misleading. According to Davies, “the point of getting hold of the dagger is not only to demonstrate superior dexterity but to switch daggers so that an innocuous rather than a potentially envenomed weapon is used.”

Jewish self-deprecating humor may be one tool that can be used to show the anti-Semite how it’s done. Bigots in general are not known for their intellectual acumen – their wit, if you will. For the most part, the humor that bigots tell each other has the character of the obscenities and come-ons to which women may be subjected as they pass a construction site. Bigots of all stripes – anti-Semites, racists, misogynists – know very little about the true character and behavior of their targets. The advice “know your enemy” never applied more. Self-deprecating humor on the other hand, has the distinct advantage of being created, told, and often heard by the very group to which it is applied. 6

THE UNFORTUNATE CURRENT STATE OF ANTI-SEMITIC HUMOR

There is a sense that the humor of bigots toward their targets is simply not funny because bigots, like many individuals with a fixation, do not possess a sense of humor. That this is especially apparent in the so-called humor of anti-Semites may be, at least in part, because it invites a comparison to the very large oeuvre of Jewish self-deprecating humor which is smart and witty rather than pathetic and stupid.

The authors believe that most of the anti-Semitic jokes told by non-Jews are pathetic. These bigots need help so that they understand how to tell a good joke. First, let us examine some fairly typical anti-Semitic jokes. The jokes that follow are not the very worst (in the lack-of-wit sense) anti-Semitic jokes out there. Out of pure pity for the reader, those have been left out.

Why are Jewish synagogues round? So they can’t hide in the corner when the collection box comes round! 

Why do Jews have big noses? Because air is free. 

What is faster than sound? A Jew eating at a buffet. 

Have you heard of the Jewish “Catch 22”? Free ham! 

Why do Jews watch porn backwards? Because their favorite part is when the hooker gives the money back. 

How do you get 100 Jews into a car? You throw in a dime. 

What’s faster than a speeding bullet? A Jew with a coupon. 

Did you hear about the Jewish Santa Claus? He came down the chimney and said “Kiddies, do you want to buy some presents?” 

The ubiquitous anti-Semitic joke that attempts to reinforce the stereotype that Jews will do anything for money is a perfect example of toxic ethnic humor. It is also a good example of an idiotic stereotype. Are Jews actually cheap? On the contrary, study after study shows how generous they are when it comes to  charity. Oh and by the way, synagogues are not typically round and collection boxes are not sent around during services. In fact, no money is collected at all on the Sabbath. Big noses – really? Do Sephardic Jews have big noses? Do Dutch Jews? Ethiopian Jews? Fifteen percent of Jews are converts (Huber, 2008): Do their noses grow once they convert to Judaism? It seems like an appropriate point here to call to mind that episode of the television show Seinfeld, in which Jerry Seinfeld took umbrage that Tim Whatley, his dentist, converted to Judaism for the jokes. Jerry claimed that he resented it, not as a Jew, but as a comedian.

This next joke got then National Security Adviser, General James Jones into some hot water. We are quite certain that he did not realize that this joke was anti-Semitic if told by a non-Jew. It feeds into the ugly stereotype of Jews being greedy, unscrupulous businesspeople. General Jones apologized for the joke (Jackson, 2010).

A Taliban militant gets lost and is wandering around the desert looking for water. He finally arrives at a store run by a Jew and asks for water. The Jewish vendor tells him he doesn’t have any water but can gladly sell him a tie. The Taliban, the joke goes on, begins to curse and yell at the Jewish storeowner. The Jew, unmoved, offers the rude militant an idea. Beyond the hill, there is a restaurant. They can sell you water. The Taliban keeps cursing and finally leaves toward the hill. An hour later he’s back at the tie store. He walks in and tells the merchant: ‘Your brother tells me I need a tie to get into the restaurant.’ 

Other ugly stereotypes about Jews deal with Jewish women. The stereotypes about Jewish women usually indicate that they are cold, spendthrifts and ostentatious. This is something of a twofer – humor that is at the same time anti-Semitic and misogynistic.

What do Jewish women make for dinner? Reservations! 

Why are Jewish men circumcised? Because Jewish women won’t touch anything unless it’s at least 20% off 

What’s the difference between a Catholic wife and a Jewish wife? A Catholic wife has real orgasms and fake jewelry! 

We always hold hands. If I let go, she shops. 

Jewish foreplay: Two hours of begging 

A Jewish boy comes home from school and tells his mother he has a part in the play. She asks: “What part is it?” The boy says, “I play the part of the Jewish husband.” The mother frowns and says, “Go back and tell the teacher you want a speaking part.” 

Interestingly, there is a contradiction between how the same Jewish woman is perceived in her role as a wife and mother. Jewish mother jokes can be very anti-Semitic and suggest that Jewish mothers are overbearing and create dysfunctional families.

What is the most common disease transmitted by Jewish mothers? Guilt 

Why do Jewish mothers make great parole officers? Because they never let anyone finish a sentence. 

What did the waiter ask the group of dining Jewish mothers? “Is ANYTHING all right?

There are some excellent examples of jokes about Jewish mothers – told by Jews, of course.

A man called his Jewish mother in Florida, ‘Mom, how are you!?’ ‘Not too good,’ said the mother. ‘I’ve been very weak.’ The son said, ‘Why are you so weak?’ She said, ‘Because I haven’t eaten in 40 days.’ The son said, ‘That’s terrible. Why haven’t you eaten in 40 days?’ The mother answered, ‘Because I didn’t want my mouth to be filled with food if you should call.’ 

What about those vicious jokes that allude (favorably) to the mass murder of Jews during the Holocaust (see below)? These are, in fact, closely related to many “lawyer” jokes. Lynch & Friedman (2013) highlight the fact that it is rare for the humor dealing with professions to indicate that the only good <insert professional here> is a dead one; the exception is law. Many lawyer jokes are filled with such hate that the punchline makes it clear that the only good lawyer is a dead one. For example: “What do you call 5000 dead lawyers at the bottom of the ocean? A good start!” Or, “What do you throw to a drowning lawyer? His partners.” This type of humor only works with lawyers; it does not work with, say, nurses. Many of the anti-Semitic jokes targeting Jews have the same kind of sick hatred attached to them. It may not be a coincidence that law is often perceived as a profession filled with Jews. The term “shyster” may have not started out as a term “loaded with anti-Semitism” but it certainly is used that way by some (Kornstein, 2017). The fact that many gentiles think the best lawyers are Jewish is not necessarily a compliment.

What’s the difference between a Jew and a pizza? Pizzas don’t scream when they are put in the oven! 

What’s the difference between Santa Claus and a Jew? Santa Claus goes down the chimney. 

THE BEST ANTI-SEMITIC JOKES

Are there anti-Semitic jokes out there that are actually funny? A few. At the very least, a good joke should be entertaining and witty. Here are some fairly good ones:

There is safety in numbers. Unless there are six million of you. And you are all Jews.

What did the Jewish pedophile say to the little boy? Hey kid, want to buy some candy? 

How did German men pick up Jewish women in the 1940’s? With a dustpan and broom. 

Question: What’s the difference between a circumcision and a crucifixion? Answer: In a crucifixion, they throw out the whole Jew! 

Some of these are funny enough to have been written by Jew—and probably too witty to have been written by anti-Semites.

Of course, Jewish comics know how to make fun of Jewish foibles but still demonstrate love for their people. Jackie Mason has many routines where he teases Jews. Mason claims that the biggest insult to a Jewish woman is that she looks Jewish. Jews are not happy unless they sound and look like a gentile. Jews change their names so they do not sound Jewish; one has the name Crucifix Finkelstein. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jeVTtfk0oI8). Would this work for bigots? Probably not. But at least they will have demonstrated that do they know their target. (Anything for a dime? Please!) For more examples of Jewish comics and Jewish self-deprecating humor, see the Appendix to this paper.

PRIMER: HOW TO WRITE A GOOD ANTI-SEMITIC JOKE

Can the creation of good humor be taught at all? There are strong opinions on both sides of that issue and outside the scope of this paper. Certainly, for those like bigots who are so obsessed with their targets that they lack the essential knowledge, wit and, most important, a sense of humor, we offer here a few simple rules to follow. We keep them short and simple. We know how difficult it is for lackwits to follow complex instructions.

1. Be witty and clever

2. Get to know your target. Don’t expose your ignorance with an easily disproved stereotype.

3. Try it out on Jews first. Of course, this will work better if you are Jewish yourself; and, so, finally 11

4. Be Jewish.

Case in point: One of the wittiest Holocaust references ever was made by a young Jewish stand-up comic, David Finkelstein. In his perfectly deadpan delivery, he discusses finding a swastika spray-painted on the street in his home neighborhood. Instead of reacting with horror, he says, he “gets it” since he is, in fact, a comedian. What’s so funny? For one thing, the swastika is captioned with “Kill the Jews.” Just in case one might think it is simply, say, a symmetrical design. This bit may be found on YouTube and other online sources (e.g., https://youtu.be/kLhF478q3g8 at 1:30).

CONCLUSION

We see that bigoted humor often reveals more about teller and audience than about the target of the joke. Sometimes, the joke can bring a wealth of content with it regarding the experience of memberhood in the victimized group. In the following joke, with its convergence of Holocaust and Jim Crow references, the bigot gets a twofer – two targets for the price of one.

What is the worst part about being a Black Jew? You have to sit at the back of the oven. 

This is reminiscent of the blogger MaNishtana’s (2012, p. 117) answer to the question, “What’s it like being a Black Jew?” He says “Well, it’s a lot like being Black with more Black added on.”

Sometimes, bigotry is revealed in the telling of the joke; metahumor, if you will. In the interest of the continuing education of our bigoted would-be comics, we offer the following true story under the heading “How not to tell a joke.”

A building manager in LA came to make some minor repairs for a young couple Recently transplanted from New York City. The chatty guy said.“Oh, you’re from New York. I know a lot of good New York jokes. Want to hear one?” 

“Sure.” 

“Okay, there was this – Pause. “Uh, you’re not Jewish, are you?” 

“We are Jewish.” 

Pause. “It’s not that funny.” 

Not that funny? It’s hilarious. And also a very serious commentary on bigoted humor. Is bigoted humor truly not that funny? Or is it only funny when the teller and the listener share the same sense of bigotry? Probably a little bit of both.

In the final analysis, if you are going to engage in racist, sexist, anti-Semitic humor … at the very least, for God’s sake, make it funny.

APPENDIX: SOME EXAMPLES OF SELF-DEPRECATING JEWISH HUMOR

Jackie Mason claims that Jews are the only people “who gain weight when they join a health club.” He has a hilarious routine where he describes the difference between a Jew and a gentile going to a restaurant. A Jew goes into a restaurant “like a partner.” According to Mason, gentiles can’t get “emotionally involved with food.” You also never see a Jew in a real bar. Jews are not comfortable in a bar and gentiles are not comfortable in a restaurant. “If you don’t serve a Jew for a minute, he is going to complain” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5V4zYe23QLg). This is a famous Jackie Mason joke.

It is easy to tell the difference between Jews and Gentiles. After the show, all the gentiles are saying ‘Have a drink? Want a drink? Let’s have a drink!’ While all the Jews are saying ‘Have you eaten yet? Want a piece of cake? Let’s have some cake!’

 

David Steinberg describes his Jewish Italian family when they get together at a barbeque. Italians know how to have a good time and fix things; Jews come with their pills, are always worried about their health, and break things. If Jews had a bumper sticker it would read “fun kills.” (https://vimeo.com/24436948)

One of the most Jewish television shows is Curb Your Enthusiasm. The show does get many things wrong but is unabashedly Jewish. Larry David is an expert on self-deprecating Jewish humor. Salkin (2016) lists the most Jewish moments on the show:

“The Ski Lift.” Larry is desperate to find a kidney for his friend, Richard Lewis (so that he doesn’t have to be the donor). He ingratiates himself with an influential Orthodox man and his daughter, and invites them to his ski lodge for the weekend. Watch Larry feign Yiddish and knowledge of Jewish observance. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUc77Dn8Me0

Larry pretending to be an Orthodox Jew: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iENMor5V5o) 14

“Palestinian Chicken.” An expedition into the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, played out in a Palestinian restaurant. Larry hits it off with a Palestinian waitress. Larry is turned on by someone “who doesn’t even acknowledge your right to exist, who wants your destruction — that’s a turn on.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Anel6bvrbWA

“The Larry David Sandwich.” Larry scalps tickets for High Holy Days services. It’s not only the use of tickets; it’s the absurd idea of scalping them, as if the services were a performance. Which, come to think of it, worship has become for so many Jews. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCGOFKC7-uY

In the fifth season finale, Larry “discovers” that he was adopted. He searches for his birth parents. They are a nice, elderly gentile couple in Arizona. Larry tries on being a gentile, complete with being told to practice love and forgiveness a la Jesus, fishing, duck hunting, bar room drinking games, and horseback riding, complete with cowboy hat. An obvious satire on Jewish stereotypes of gentile culture. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrnA1Wu3qgM

“The Seder.” Larry invites a sex-offender to a Seder, which, of course, raises the unasked question: are there actually limits and boundaries to the fabled Passover hospitality of the Jew — “let all who are hungry come and eat?” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9O1vzGROg8

“The Baptism.” Larry inadvertently stops a baptism, preventing a Jew from converting to Christianity. The Christians who are present our outraged; the Jews are grateful (“Will you speak at my daughter’s bat mitzvah?”) Larry becomes an unwitting, temporary poster boy for Jewish continuity. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhJFhA2kIIk

“The Survivor.” Few “Curb” episodes deal with so many Jewish themes. Larry is tempted to have sexual relations with an Orthodox woman, which brings up stereotypes about Jews and sexuality. A Shoah survivor and a survivor from the “Survivor” series get into an argument about who is the “real” survivor. A great reflection on the meaning of memory and its distortions. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=In2XfN3hIi4) 15

REFERENCES

Davies, C. (2011). Jokes and targets. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Davies, C. (1991). Exploring the thesis of the self-deprecating Jewish sense of humor. Humor: International Journal of Humor Research, 4 (2), 189-209.

Freud, S. (1960). Jokes and their relation to the unconscious. (James Strachey, translator). New York: W. W. Norton. (Original work published in 1905)

Friedman, L. W. & Friedman, H. H. (2003). I-get-it as a type of bonding humor: The secret handshake. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=913622.

Greengross, G. (2011, July 18). Does racist humor promote racism? Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/humor-sapiens/201107/does-racist-humor-promote-racism

Grotjahn, Martin (1957). Beyond Laughter. New York: Blakiston Division, McGraw Hill.

Gruner, C. R. (2000). The game of humor: A comprehensive theory of why we laugh. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

Helmreich, W. (2004). The Things They Say Behind Your Back: Stereotypes and the myths behind them. Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

Huber, J. (2008, March 4). Convert’s path reflects study’s findings. NJJN. Retrieved from http://www.njjewishnews.com/njjn.com/030608/moConvertsPathReflects.html

Jackson, D. (2010, April 26). Obama national security adviser Jones apologizes for joke. USA Today. Retrieved from http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2010/04/obama-national-security-adviser-apologizes-for-joke/1#.Ul3gB1CkoSU

Kornstein, D. J. (2017). Is ‘shyster’ anti-Semitic? New York Law Journal. Retrieved from http://www.newyorklawjournal.com/id=900005387204/Is-Shyster-AntiSemitic?slreturn=20170429212921

Lowe, J. (1986). Theories of ethnic humor: How to enter laughing. American Quarterly, 38(3), 439-460.

Lynch, J. A. & Friedman, H. H. (2013, July 29). Using Lawyer Jokes to Teach Business Ethics: A Course Module. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2302910.

MaNishtana (2012). Thoughts from A Unicorn: 100% Black. 100% Jewish. 0% Safe. NY: Hyphen Publishing.

Salkin, J. (2016, June 22). ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ is pretty, pretty, pretty Jewish. Religious News Service. Retrieved from http://religionnews.com/2016/06/22/curb-enthusiasm-larry-david-jewish/

Schutz, C. (1995). The sociability of ethnic jokes. Australian Journal of Comedy 1(1).

Telushkin, J. (1992). Jewish humor: What the best Jewish jokes say about the Jews. New York: William Morrow & Company.

Weems, S. (2014, September 11). Why offensive jokes affect you more than you realize. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/what-s-so-funny/201409/why-offensive-jokes-affect-you-more-you-realize

Linda Weiser Friedman, Ph.D.

Professor

Paul H. Chook Department of Information Systems and Statistics

Baruch College Zicklin School of Business

and the Graduate Center, CUNY

Email: prof.friedman@gmail.com

Hershey H. Friedman, Ph.D.

Professor of Business

Department of Business Management

Murray Koppelman School of Business

Brooklyn College, CUNY

Email: x.friedman@att.net

Advertisements

THE PADDY AND MICK CHRONICLES: THE FACEBOOK THINGY

by Karen Mary McEntegart

irish_pe

PADDY: Facebook, Mick, I’m telling ya–it’s the latest modern craze, everyone is doing it.

MICK: Facebook, eh? What the bejesus is that all about then, Paddy?

PADDY: Well Mick, it goes like this. You set yourself up with a profile thingy…

MICK: A profile thingy?

PADDY: Yes, Mick, a profile thingy … it’s where you give your details to this Facebook thingy on the computer. I’m telling ya, everyone is doing it Mick … it’s taken the world wonder web by storm.

MICK: Is that so, Paddy?

PADDY: Aye.

MICK: Alright so, carry on … so after I’m set up with a profile then what, Paddy?

PADDY: Well then. Mick, that’s your set up to talk to anyone you want … anywhere!

MICK: Whatcha mean anyone I want, Paddy?

PADDY: Like it sounds, Mick. Anyone in the world. Your power knows no bounds, no limits at all on who you can chat to.

MICK: So … let’s just say, Paddy–for example–you said anyone, right? I could talk boundlessly to any soul of my choosing, yeah? How about the Queen?

PADDY: What? The Queen, oh jaysus, Mick. I’m not so sure about that one now.

MICK: You said anyone, Paddy. Me ears gave witness to that, they did.

PADDY: Aye, I did. Mick … ok, so maybe you could talk to the Queen, Mick … just saying maybe now–ok? Anyways, if you can chat to anyone why on earth would you pick the Queen, Mick?

MICK: Hey, Paddy, I’ve quite a lot I’d like to chat to the Queen about. Indeed, I have!

PADDY: Anyway, Mick, the next step is that you have to present yourself on your newly established profile.

MICK: Present meself? Ah now, Paddy, your having a laugh. I know folk that got arrested for “presenting” themselves. Ha-ha.

PADDY: Ah, Mick, you’re not taking me serious at all are ye?

MICK: I am, Paddy, hahaha. I am. Go on, tell me more about this representation of myself.

PADDY: Well, ok, Mick. You have to take a fine picture of yourself to use as your representation face, for your new profile … hang on what’s it they call it? Uh–selfme … selfie … aye, that’s it, a selfie Mick! You have to take a selfie, a picture of yourself.

MICK: Hahaha. Ah, how in the blazers can I take a picture of me own mug Paddy, your killing me here, hahaha.

PADDY: Ah jaysus, Mick. I’m trying to educate–instruct you in the ways of the modernised world. You’ll have to catch up with the times, Mick, or ye’ll be left behind.

MICK: Paddy, I’m a man of 55 years. I’m happy to be left behind–especially if that’s what society is offering now in terms of modernisation … taking a selfie of oneself for the sole purpose of broadcasting of the self on the world wonder web so’s they can talk with anyone they like–Queen included. Actually, she’s the worse culprit … she already has the selfie thingy down to a tee, eh!

PADDY: Eh?

MICK: Yep, she does indeed. Sure hasn’t she got her very own selfie stamp, eh? Hahaha.

PADDY: Aye, haha, she does Mick. You’re right there.

MICK: Anyways, Paddy, in all seriousness, can the modern ones of today’s world not just talk face-to-face anymore? And sure they all have phones as well … so what’s the bloody need for such Facebooks and the like I? I don’t know.

PADDY: Yeah, but Mick you can’t talk face-to-face to someone in … say Canada or Japan … couldn’t use your phone either, too damn costly.

MICK: But Paddy, what on earth would you want to contact Canada or Japan? You don’t know anyone there and sure you can’t talk Canadish or Japanese either. So why?

PADDY: But you see, Mick, with this new invention of Facebook you can virtually travel the cyber waves of the world wonder web and make friends anywhere you like.

MICK: Make friends, Paddy? Really! Are you saying I could head down to the bar of a Saturday night with my “new found Canadian” buddy or do a spot of early Sunday morning fishing with my “new-found Japanese ally”?

PADDY: Not at all, Mick. Don’t be stupid. Sure, you’ve never met them.

MICK: Exactly me point, Paddy. So’s how can we be friends?

PADDY: Well Mick, they can chat to you in your “inbox”.

MICK: “Chat to me in my inbox?” Paddy listen to yourself. Haha-haha. Aye, you’ve lost the plot completely now, me dear friend. Haha.

PADDY: Send you private messages.

MICK: Like what, Paddy? I’ve nothing public or private I have to be saying to the Japanese. Nought at all, nothing private or public to hear from them either, Paddy.

PADDY: Well then, Mick,  you could share your pictures on your wall so’s folk could see.

MICK: What? I hang me pictures of meself on my wall inside me gaff for a reason, Paddy. If I wanted the world and its mother to view them, I’ve have hung em on the outside walls of me house now wouldn’t I? And besides, why would I want some Jap looking at me pics anyway?

PADDY: I mean family, Mick. They’re all on it and share pics of every occasion …doesn’t even have to be an occasion anymore. Ye just share pictures with your family for fun.

MICK: But Paddy, every occasion I attend , so do me family, so why would they want me to share pics of meself at such occasions when they’ve already seen me there in the flesh, eh?

PADDY: Ah Mick, you’re not getting it at all.

MICK: I’m just saying, Paddy, it sounds a bit like advertising yourself to a big system of spies.

PADDY: What?

MICK: Think about it, Paddy. You’re on there, ok, reporting what you’re doing–yeah, where you’re doing it–and providing all photographic evidence of you doing what you’re doing, wherever it’s at. Sounds like a big invasion of privacy to me … sure in the olden days we’d run away from something like that but nowadays every feker wants to be spied on in the name of modernization …  Right, I don’t get it, Paddy.

PADDY: But it connects folk, Mick–unites different cultures without man-made barriers of land, sea and the postal service.

MICK: Paddy, the lands are separated for a reason, me good man. Trust me on this, Paddy. Some countries aren’t supposed to be connecting and mingling cultures so freely.

PADDY: Ah Mick, listen if your sister lived abroad–let’s say Australia, ok–would it not be of a comfort to you to know you could connect and talk to her as much as you wanted without travelling miles or spending a small fortune on the phone?

MICK: Me sister lives in the market square in St. Peter’s Street, Paddy,–three streets away from my house. You know that, Paddy.  I see too  much of her as it is.

PADDY: Ah Mick, I’m just saying if …

MICK: Look, Paddy, if … if it was something like a reversed Facebook , bookface for example where instead of connecting you’d could disconnect with family and friends then I’d join up straight away, hahaha.

PADDY: Sure what would be the point of that, Mick?

MICK: Aye, I suppose you’re right, Paddy, either way they’d know where you live.

PADDY: Anyways,Mick, so what do you say eh?

MICK: Say about what Paddy?

PADDY: Your profile of course Mick?

MICK: No.

PADDY: But …

 MICK: No.

PADDY: But Mick, it’s your own virtual identity.

MICK: No, me real life “identity” is more than satisfactory for me Paddy, and what do you mean “it’s” Paddy?

PADDY: Ah Mick, don’t be annoyed at me, me old chum, but I’ve already set you up.

MICK: Set me up?

PADDY: Aye Mick, you are now the owner of your own profile, you’re on the web, a virtual Mick has been created.

MICK: What?

PADDY: Yep, me grandson did them yesterday for us both, a virtual Paddy and a virtual Mick, complete with pictures and all.

MICK: What pictures would that be now Paddy?

PADDY: Well mine is me ponderously self-staring back at me. It’s exciting doing a selfie you know, Mick.

MICK: And?

PADDY: And you Mick, you’ve got to do yours so in the meantime I just had me grandson take a pic of an empty chair for now.

MICK: An empty chair?

PADDY: Aye, Mick. I reckon that’s where you would have been sitting had you been present for your selfie shot.

MICK: Hahaha. So the virtual Mick is represented by an empty chair, eh? Wonderful. It definitely confirms it alright, you have well and truly lost the plot my friend and I shall be informing Japan on that as well, Paddy. I’ll be going public with that one for sure. Facebook indeed, whatever next, eh? Some modern device that allows you to look at the folks you’re ringing eh? Hahaha.

PADDY: Er… Mick

MICK: What Paddy?

PADDY: Nothing Mick, it’ll keep til another day.

MICK: Aye Paddy, inbox it to me ….


 

To read another episode on this series see: https://heliosliterature.com/2017/04/11/the-paddy-and-mick-chronicles

Karen McEntegart

Karen Mary McEntegart (poet and playwright) is an Irish lass from Drogheda, Ireland, now living in central England.

THE PADDY AND MICK CHRONICLES

Self-service Checkouts (a one-act play)

by Karen Mary McEntegart

checkout

PADDY: “Jaysus, Mick would you look at this. Well, if that doesn’t just take the biscuit altogether.”

MICK: “What’s that, Paddy? Why are standing in the checkout when there’s nobody there to serve you?”

PADDY: “That’s what I’m telling ye, Mick. Take a look at this.”

MICK: “What is it now, Paddy? Jaysus, we’ll never get out of this place?”

MICK: “What is it now, Paddy? Jaysus, we’ll never get out of this place?”

PADDY: “Well, Mick, it’s the latest Irish invention. Honestly, Mick, I’ve seen it all now. Would ya look at what we have here! A self-service checkout! Now I have seen it all. I can die happy now, my old chum! Sure what else could they come up with that beats this?

MICK: “A fecking self-servicing checkout! Jesus who art in heaven, bless us and save us. What’s humanity coming to.”

PADDY: “Right step up there beside me, Mick. This’ll take the two of us. You know what they say about two heads bein’ better than one … well, in this case, Mick, I’ll freely admit it’s one and a bit, but sure we’ll make do—hahaha.”

MICK: “Ah! You’re a funny one all right, Paddy. Now, let’s brave it. What are we up against with this here self-checking thing-a-ma-jiggy? Umm … first things first, Paddy.
Number one, says it right here … place items on checkout. Well, we’ll pass that one with flying colours, anyway. Number two, scan items under barcode reading device. Ah now, come on off of that. Sure if I wanted a job in this supermarket, I’d have applied with all the other foreigners in here. Look around you, Paddy. You could easy mistake this place for a super marcado in the East. There’s all colours of the rainbow in here, I’m telling ye! Gone are the days when the only sighting of a foreigner you caught was a glimpse of the one staring back at you from the Trócaire box! Oh, we’re moving with the times all right. In all the wrong directions if you ask me, Paddy.”
irish_pe

PADDY: “Ah now, be fair, Mick. Sure they have the right to stack shelves like the rest of us and I for one won’t be looking to deny them of that, so stop with that racist shit and start scanning … right, the bainne, pass us up the bainne there … and the barcode is … is … is? Jaysus, it must be me, Mick, but I’d have thought any sensible fecker would place the barcode in an obvious position, seeing that it’s a barcode world that we now belong to … but, oh no … sure that would make it too easy on us altogether! Can’t have that, Mick, me old boy … barcode located at the rear of product … prepare for the big scan down. Wait now I heard it … a beep, did you hear it, Mick?”

MICK: “Yeah, Paddy, I did. It was a beep all right.”

PADDY: “Aye. Hey, we sure have the measure of this thing technology business, Mick. We will not be left behind, I tell ya! Right … get to passing the rest of our selected items, Mick, and be quick about it. We’ve been here over an hour already. I’m bored with this recent temporary employment as a cashier. Bread— yep, beep. I heard it, razors—yep, that went beep too, my ears are a witness to that one as well.”

MICK: “But, Paddy, sure how in god’s name does that thing-a-ma-jiggy know what we have? Sure, couldn’t we just scan half of our selected produce and let’s say consider the rest as payment for our services to the running of this foodery?”

PADDY: “Indeed, Mick. Just pondering on that one myself, I was. Interesting. I wonder? Naa … we couldn’t … surely they know!”

MICK: “Who’d know, Paddy?”

PADDY: “They’d have to. Too easy, Mick.”

MICK: “Sure, there’s no one around, Paddy. How would they know? Say I just maybe forget to scan this here bottle of can’t-wait-to-be-drunk Jameson here … finest label! Oops, how silly of me, must be my old age afflictions, Paddy … eh?”

PADDY: “Ah, this isn’t going to go down well, Mick. I’m telling you, buddy. I feel it in my waters.”

MICK: “Ah, Paddy, calm down there. You and your waters. It’s fool proof.”

PADDY: “Well that’s us—fecked from the get go then, ain’t it, Mick?”

MICK: “So far … so good … all items scanned, Paddy. Let’s tally up there with this machine. Right? How’s it done? Place money in slot. Right. Money inserted into said slot. Jaysus, this is brilliant, Paddy. This machine is adding and doing its thing like a big old calculator … ah, technology!
PADDY: “Yeah, but can it tell the nature of your character? I don’t think so. No, this new age techno business doesn’t apply to me at all!”
MICK: “Nature of your character? Apply to you? What are you rabbiting on about, Paddy! It’s like a big old techno abacus—nothing more, nothing less. Admittedly though, it’s not as impressive as the olden days, where you’d have a little banter with a humanoid over your goods, while the actual labour of checking and packing your items was being done for you … ah, the good old days!”

PADDY: “Last Tuesday, if I remember correctly, Mick.”

MICK: “What?”

PADDY: “Yeah, well now that was the last time I came in here wanting a sup and there was human contact, so I’m assuming all this techno shit materialized sometime after last Tuesday.”

MICK: “Speaking of a sup, grab the bags, Mick. Get out of here quickly or next they’ll be wanting us to go dig the fields, plant the seeds and return to harvest the bloody crop so we can scan it ourselves, pack it ourselves and pay for the privilege of doing so! What is the world coming to at all, Paddy? Eh? I ask you? And then we bring over the foreigners to do the jobs that’s left!”

PADDY: “Ah, would you stop with the racist slurs. It isn’t in keeping with the times, Mick. There’s laws about it now, you know!”

MICK: “What, Paddy? You’re tellin’ me there’s a law on how I should think now, are ye? Cos I’ll not be having any of that!”

PADDY: “Yes, Mick, that’s exactly what I’m telling ye. They’ve got it all sewn up now, I’m telling ye. You can’t say nor think nothin’ these days without some being offended and out of sorts.”

MICK: “Well, no fecking law will tell me how to think, Paddy. I’ll not be having it! I tell ye, no siree! Here, I’ll stick this Jameson in me coat. Where’s the nearest exit portal, Paddy? I’ve had just about enough of this place. It’s getting to me and I’ll be singing that fecking jingle all way home. I’m losing the will to live, Paddy. For the love of God, show me the way home!”

PADDY: “Calm yourself, Mick. Right through this door and we’ll be home in a jiffy, putting all this do-it-yourself supermarket shenanigans behind us, supping on the best stuff money can buy.”

MICK: “Yep, and the Jameson is tastier when it’s free, Paddy, eh?”

PADDY: “Shut up, Mick! Come on, let’s abscond … what the blazers? Holy Mary mother-of-god!”

MICK: “Yep, I hear it too, Paddy. Only this beeping is almighty times louder than the one at the checkout!”

PADDY: “Ah, for feck’s sake, Mick. You’ve gone and done it now, haven’t you! Couldn’t just scan the bottle, could ya. There goes the night’s activity down the loo. Thank you very much indeed, Mick.”

MICK: “Wait now, wait now … we’ll claim all innocence, Paddy.”

PADDY: “You have me beat on that one, Mick, for sure.”

MICK: “Ah funny. Look, with us being old and first-time users of such self-scanning devices might stand for something, eh?”

PADDY: “Well, we’re about to find out, Mick!”

MICK: “Aye, great. It’s one of your kind.”

PADDY: “My kind?”

MICK: “Yes, your kind, Paddy.”

PADDY: “Would you care to elaborate, me auld friend?”

MICK: “A blow in. A foreigner, Paddy.”

PADDY: “And! How, pray tell, is he one of my kind?”

MICK: “Hush now, Paddy. Hold your whist … I’ll do the talking.”

FOREIGNER: “Excuse me, gentlemen, if I could just ask you both to step aside. This won’t take long. I need to check your bags before you leave the premises.”

MICK: “Hold on one pint-drinking minute …”

PADDY: “Calm down, Mick.”

MICK: “I’ll not be calming down, Paddy. I’ll be wanting a reason why this er …

FOREIGNER: “Raoul, sir.”

MICK: “Raoul? Why this Raoul has singled us out for consumer discrimination?”

FOREIGNER: “Discrimination, sir?”

MICK: “Aye, you heard me, Raoul! Discrimination.”

FOREIGNER: “Of what sort, sir?”

MICK: “Eh?”

FOREIGNER: “Describe your claimed discrimination?”

MICK: “Ageism. Oh aye, I feel it acutely. It offends me down through my wizen bones. Actually, it’s making me drowsy. I’ll be taking a seat, if you please!”

FOREIGNER: “Oh! Er… yes, sir! I’ll get one right away.”

MICK: “Go lively, Raoul! Right now, Paddy, game play. Come on, we don’t have much time. Raoul will be back soon …”

PADDY: “Settle down, Mick. Centre stage is all yours, me auld friend. You’re doing alright so far with the oldism shit.”

MICK: “Ageism”

PADDY: “Yeah, that’s what I said. “

MICK: “No, you said ‘oldism’, Paddy.”

PADDY: “Whatever, Sunshine. Now’s your chance to shine, take it away, Mick.”

MICK: “Ah feck! Right. Here’s what we’ll do. It’s only the bottle we’ve acquired illegally right?”

PADDY: “Right! Your brainchild, I believe, Mick.”

MICK: “Now’s not the time, Paddy. I’m reckoning we can spin this ageism thing out for a while. In the meanwhile, Paddy, we’ll take turns going to the loo with said bottle and destroy the incriminating evidence”.

PADDY: “So! That’s your great plan, Mick? Drink it all down in the bathroom, taking turns? Right. You’re on! It’s not great, but it’s all we have Mick.

MICK: “I’ll do the honours in stepping forward. I shall cover the first shift, Paddy. All right with you, buddy?”

PADDY: “Ok, Mick … remember, you have to drink as much as you can but can’t appear drunk. Got it?”

MICK: “Oh yeah, I’ll give it my best shot, Paddy!”

FOREIGNER: “Here’s your chair, sir … now, if I could just ask you to empty your items onto …

MICK: “I’ll have to interrupt you there, Raoul, but with my old-age infliction and all, I’m in needing of a pit stop, if you get my meaning?”

FOREIGNER: “Er…”

MICK: “No! Didn’t think you would, Raoul. Guess they wouldn’t say it like so on those language tapes they provide you with upon entry … let’s see. Please sir, can I use the bathroom, kind sir?”

FOREIGNER: “Oh, why yes, of course, sir! Right this way and then we must sort out this little dilemma quickly and justly!”

MICK: “Oh … why yes, Raoul. You must be a busy man … watching over your customers doing your job. Oh, it’s a tough existence for you, all right!”

FOREIGNER: “Bathroom’s here, sir. I trust you’ll find your own way back, or should I draw you a map—what with your old-age inflictions and all?”

MICK: “Oh, sarcasm! I like it. You must be living here some time, Raoul?”

FOREIGNER: “Not that’s it’s any of your business, but I was born here, sir”

MICK: “Not with that colour you weren’t. Sunshine. Hahaha. I’ll find my own way back, Raoul.

IN THE RESTROOM:

MICK: “Right mission complete, time to deal with this dilemma quickly and justly, half for me, half for Paddy, that’s just, eh? Hahaha. Burp. Oh, Jaysus, hiccup … burp … I best be getting back, before Paddy thinks I’ve drowned … hiccup …”

BACK IN THE SUPERMARKET:

PADDY: “I’ll say it again, Raoul. I’ll take no action till my lifelong comrade returns. United we stand accused, so in all fairness, I’ll wait …”

FOREIGNER: “But I must check your bags, sir. It’s company policy, sir!”

PADDY: “Company policy, eh? To harass two old-age pensioners, way past their prime? I will be lucky to see the end of the week out, I should imagine … what with all this er … oldism, or is it ageism. You see, Raoul? See how it affects my mind? It’ll get you too, Raoul! Remember that, Sunshine! Ah! Here he is now—the prodigal son.”

FOREIGNER: “Ah! Good sir, then we shall move on to the checking of your items and your receipt. If I could just see your receipt, please?”

PADDY: “Steady on, Raoul! This is going too fast for me now. What’s this about a receipt? Mick, do you have a receipt in your possession at all?”

MICK: “For what, Paddy?”

PADDY: “Anything, I suppose, Mick. He didn’t specify.”

FOREIGNER: “Oh, but it must be a receipt for your items, sir. Do you have it? You look a bit unsteady sir. Are you all right?”

PADDY: “He’s more than all right there, Raoul, and it’s about time I was more than all right meself. Let’s be having it, Mick, old boy.”

MICK: “Right, Paddy … burp … Raoul, I feel ever so slightly … off balance … just washed over me all of a sudden in … great waves of er … waviness. Would you be so kind as to fetch me some liquid refreshment, please?

(MICK PASSES A SHOPPING BAG TO PADDY, PADDY LEAVES THE SCENE TO USE THE RESTROOM):

FOREIGNER: “But company policy, sir …”

MICK: “Is it in company’s policy to leave a dying man thirsty on your premises? Is it, Raoul?

FOREIGNER: “Are you dying, sir?”

MICK: “We are all born dying, Raoul! Didn’t they teach you that in your temples?”

FOREIGNER: “Temples, sir? I’m Irish!”

MICK: “With a name like Raoul, Sunshine, I think not! Ahaha.”

FOREIGNER: “I shall fetch you the water, sir.”

MICK: “Water?”

FOREIGNER: “Liquid refreshments? Dying? I assumed you meant water, sir.”

MICK: “Aye … water.”

FOREIGNER: “But you must give me your receipt!”

MICK: “Bargaining with a thirsty dying man—an old one to boot. They taught you well, Raoul! Here it is, here you go … hiccup … and here’s my bag! Paddy has the other one.”

FOREIGNER: “Fine sir, I’ll get you some water.”

(PADDY RETURNS):

MICK: “Paddy! What the feck kept you? Raoul will be back soon, did you destroy the evidence in its entirety? Aye! One look at you, Paddy, I can only but assume it was mission successful!”

PADDY: “Hiccup … I need to lie down, Mick!”

MICK: “Now, Paddy, I’m thinking that might be asking a bit too much of Raoul.”

PADDY: “Do ya think he’d cook us something … from the staff canteen? We were employees once, Mick!”

MICK: “Paddy that was 2 hours ago and we self-checked four items. Hardly qualifies us for employee benefits, I should think!”
“Right! Let’s get on with it the last leg of the battle, Paddy. If all goes accordingly we’ll be home and dry … well, maybe not dry, but home in time to catch the second half of the match of the day! Are ye with me, Paddy?”

PADDY: “For feck’s sake, Mick, after sinking half that bottle … hiccup … I’m no longer even with meself!”

MICK: “Pull yourself together, Paddy. The end is nigh!”

(RAOUL RETURNS):

FOREIGNER “Right! Here’s your water, sir, and this is Mr. O’Caffery. Mr. O’Caffery is head of this department branch.”

MR. O’CAFFERY: “Enough, Raoul! I can speak for myself, thank you. What seems to be the issue here, gentlemen?”

MICK: “Not sure, Mr. O’Caffery? Just popping in for a few supplies with me auld buddy here, Paddy. A few wee sups beforehand like, but I’m not sure what the holdup is at all? Do you, Paddy?”

PADDY: “No, Mick … hiccup… I don’t, at all.”

MR. O’CAFFERY: “Right! Well, give me your bags and receipt and we’ll put this issue to an end, shall we?”

MICK: “Oh, yes. Sure. That just what I was trying to get across to Raoul here … but bless him, his English is a bit loose! Have you checked it all there, Mr. O’Caffery? Is it all in order … hiccup …?”

MR. O’CAFFERY: “Everything seems to in place gentlemen. I do offer my apologies for any inconveniences caused.”

MICK: “Well now, Paddy, I don’t know about you, buddy, but I have been inconvenienced all right!”

PADDY: “Aye, Mick! Come to think of it, so have I.”

MR. O’CAFFERY: “Oh! Shall we compensate you for your inconveniences gentleman, by way of providing some liquid refreshments for your evening entertainments?”

MICK: “We’re not talking water, Mr. O’Caffery, are we?”

MR. O’CAFFERY: “Good heavens, no! Would a bottle of your choice be of adequate compensation?”

MICK: “Aye! I think it would. Paddy, what do you think?”

PADDY: “Each! A bottle each, Mick. That’s what I think!

MICK AND PADDY TOGETHER: “One bottle of Jameson each.”

MR. O’CAFFERY: Hmmm. I will make it so.

 

 

KAREN MARY McENTART

Karen Mary McEntegart

Karen Mary McEntegart (poet and playwright) is an Irish lass from Drogheda, Ireland, now living in central England.

 

THE MOST FUNCTIONAL ENGLISH WORD

images

from Rose.Aspinall@ficombc.ca

Well, it’s shit. That’s right, shit!

Shit may just be the most functional word in the English language.  You can smoke shit, buy shit, sell shit, lose shit, find shit, forget shit,  and tell others to eat shit.
Some people know their shit, while others can’t tell the difference between shit and shineola.

There are lucky shits, dumb shits, and crazy shits.  There is bull shit, horse shit, and chicken shit. You can throw shit, sling shit, catch shit, shoot the shit, or duck when the shit hits the fan.

You can give a shit or serve shit on a shingle.

You can find yourself in deep shit or be happier than a pig in shit.

Some days are colder than shit, some days are hotter than shit, and some days are just plain shitty. Some music sounds like shit, things can look like shit, and there are times when you feel like shit.

You can have too much shit, not enough shit, the right shit, the wrong shit or a lot of weird shit. You can carry shit, have a mountain of shit, or find yourself up shit creek without a paddle. Sometimes everything you touch turns to shit and other times you fall in a bucket of shit and come out smelling like a rose.

When you stop to consider all the facts, it’s the basic building block of the English language. And remember, once you know your shit, you don’t need to know anything else!!

You could pass this along, if you give a shit; or not do so if you don’t give a shit!

 

 

 

Life Alert Necklaces and the Dinosaur

by Lee Ann Bledsoe

Unknown

CAMERA FOCUSES in on an old woman sprawled on her living room floor.

“Help me! Help me!” she cries. “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” Camera zooms in to capture the woman’s tear-stained face. She looks needy and helpless as she grovels on the floor. For God’s sake, I think, put her down! Euthanazia. A club. Find a zombie. Anything to get the whining to stop!

CAMERA PANS the room and captures the terrified faces of two young children as they run to grandma’s side. “Grandma, grandma, are you okay?” the youngest one cries.

Grandma repeats: “Help me! Help, me! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” The kids already know she’s fallen; grandma’s on the fucking floor for God’s sake! Evidently the old woman wants her grandkids traumatized for life as well as terrified in this moment.

Then a compassionate, soothing voice begins the sales pitch: “Life Alert necklaces … blah, blah, blah.”

I absolutely DETEST commercials that prey on our fears to sell stuff. So can you imagine how pissed I am that I’m probably going to have to buy a device that advertises to the world I’m so old and feeble I need a team of experts to help me survive my next fall?

I fell tonight. Two of my great grandkids were with me: Chrissy is three and James Mervin is 18 months. I tripped over Fancy Puzzles, a cat who lives with me but belongs to someone else. (Fancy’s another story.) Anyway, Chrissie was terrified. She panicked and screamed, then cried for 30 minutes. I felt horrible for scaring her so badly. And I wasn’t even hurt.

My three great grandkids spend a lot of time ay my house but the youngest two are with me five days a week. I don’t mean to brag–or maybe I do–but I am the best great grandmother on the planet. What would happen if I had hurt myself? What would happen if I had a stroke? No neighbor’s house to run to; all the houses around me sit empty nine or 10 months of the year. My internet and phone (a landline) are out as much as on during the stormy season.

Maybe I should get another cell phone? I have seven or eight of the damn things now, sitting in the bottom drawer of my desk. My kids and grandkids keep buying them for me. I’m always grateful for the new device; absolutely thrilled to own a gadget that would allow everyone  in the world to reach me, anytime of the day or night, anywhere I might happen to be. I can’t imagine anything more intrusive. How do people stand it? Nevertheless, I thank the kids sweetly, play around with the latest phone until the battery dies, and then add it to my growing collection. But I might have to reconsider; can a three-year-old kid use a cell phone? Or should I order one of those Life Alert necklaces? At this point in my life, I’d rather fitted for Depends.

Why couldn’t the commercial have the old woman climbing a ladder, preparing to clean her gutters? I do that twice a year. She could fondle the necklace, look squarely into the camera and say in a strong voice: “This will come in handy if I fuck this up.”

I could buy into a commercial like that.


 

– See more at: https://scriggler.com/DetailPost/Opinion/25339#sthash.86EPv6x9.dpuf

https://scriggler.com/Profile/lee_aronson_lee_ann_bledsoe


 

Lee Ann Bledsoe says: “I was a fairly successful professional writer 100 years ago working as a columnist for “The Oregonian” and “The Columbian,” writing humorous verse for several greeting card companies, and freelancing for “Alcoholism” and “Health” magazines. Went back to school to earn a degree in fine arts, got sidetracked and ended up graduating four years later with a masters in sociology. For the next three decades I worked in community mental health, specializing in the DMIO (“dangerously mentally ill offender”) population. Fun group. One of those guys took a real dislike to me in May of 2011, effectively ending my career and the bleeding heart phase of my life. I’m extremely grateful he didn’t end me, as well. Now I’m writing again. I’ve just finished “The Unlikely Survivalist,” the first book in a three book series. Other than that, I hate liver–even smothered in onions–love dogs, gardening without gloves, reading and writing.”

REUNION

REUNION

by Kenneth Harper Finton

Who in 1960 could imagine life in 2015? Those who did try  to visualize the future were horrified by the novel 1984 and the dictatorial police state that it portrayed. For the generation that grew up in the shadow of nuclear war, their expectations for their own futures were cloudy and uncertain.

The turn of the each century has aways brought grave change to the American landscape and culture. The year 1700 brought to the world the seeds of revolution against monarchal tyranny and religious repression. 1800 heralded a new spirit of expansion into unknown lands with the promise of greater freedom for all than the world had ever known before. 1900 brought dreams of industrial expansion as the railroads opened up the western regions. Capitalists conceived of factories that could bring a better life to all and great profits for those whose dreams and ambitions could become manifest realities. The year 2000 was greeted with a great mistrust of the technological forces that had so quickly changed our lives.

A fifty-fifth class reunion of the 1960 Greenville High School graduating class was held in August 2015. Back in 1960 we could never have imagined the changes we were subjected to in our lifetimes. 2015 was far away and inconceivable to us. We were the immortals who never died out of necessity. Life had to go forward despite the atomic catastrophe that we believed would certainly envelope us.

It was not that we were unaware that people grow old and people die, that times would change and we would become mature adults. We knew that well and looked forward with hope eternal. We were familiar enough with nature’s ways to know that a potential tragedy lay around every curve in the road. We dimly realized that we were not going to be different from those who long ago had been laid beneath the sod, those whose silent granite and marble tombstones pocked the hills and valleys all over the rural countryside. It was just hard to imagine we too would grow old and gray and our youthful agility would erode––that those lean bellies would enlarge like swollen dough and stick out over our pants. We gave little thought to the fact that our belts would slip down in the front and rise in to the top of our rears like a lopsided tire lying on a steep hill.

Those lovely girls whose hips engaged us and whose bosoms entranced us would put on fifty pounds or more. They would look more like their mothers than we could ever imagine. Those smooth long legs that drove us to distraction would pucker with cellulite. Those gleaming teeth would dim with tobacco and coffee and some pearly whites were lost to time. Often the vacant spaces were not filled with bridges and caps.

My father devoted much of his spare time to cataloging the names in the old church side cemeteries throughout the county. Many a weekend it had fallen upon me to hold a mirror and reflect the light of the sun just to illuminate the faded lettering with shadows that they might be read and the names and dates written on a yellow legal pad. I gave little, if any, thought to the fact that both he and I would lie in similar places one day,

We gathered at the Bistro in downtown Greenville the Friday night before the class reunion. The Bistro belongs to that new breed of higher end bars with several large and luxurious rooms with filtered lighting and perky barmaids that bring drinks upon demand. Nothing of the kind existed in Greenville in 1960. Bars were either small, dark places that smelled of cheap beer and cigarette smoke or clubs with strange names where old men gathered to smoke cigars, drink and curse with fervor until their hearts were content and the tedium of the day was washed away. Today smoking is no longer permitted and cursing is frowned upon.

One by one, old classmates arrived, sometimes in groups of two of three. As they arrived, the others would try to guess who they were, as even five of ten years makes a big difference in appearance when you are older than your allotted three score and ten.

Greenville, Ohio is an historic town, founded in the late 18th century when Indians far outnumbered the European immigrants that came to settle the Ohio wilderness. The residents have always been proud of the fact that the Treaty of Greene Ville was signed there in 1795. The Indians were forced out of their villages and settlements. The treaty highly favored the victors in the Indian Wars and opened the entire Northwest Territory up for settlement by emigrants to the new lands. Greenville’s main street, called Broadway––five or six blocks in length––is comprised of picturesque three-story Victorian buildings that were built from 1870 to 1910. Most of the store fronts have changed dramatically over the years, Some of the Victorian charm was lost with the ideas of modernization that took root from 1950 to 1990. All the storefronts lost their canvas awnings that shaded the shoppers for decades. A Federal-styled bank building went through hideous renovation in an attempt to make it look like a modern and successful place to do business.

Come Saturday night the class of 1960 gathered at the American Legion hall, which has now been relocated to a newly built area  that had previously been next to the old city dump. Now filled with new structures and fresh greenery, the place bore no resemblance at all to what it had been in 1960.

Some of us have already joined our ancestors. Gerry Greendyke never made it home from Viet Nam. Wayne Beasley wrapped the front of his car around a tree shortly after graduation.They say he fell asleep at the wheel. Ralston King caught his pant leg in the drive wheel of a tractor and was turned over and over again until the tractor ran out of fuel and his body was mutilated beyond recognition. Rollie’s death was made even more tragic when his first child was born on the same day the accident happened. Several were lost to cancer and sudden heart failure. A few died of other diseases and traumas. Quite a few still remain out of the class of one hundred and forty. We have since spread all over the nation. I came in from Colorado. Some came from as far as California and Vermont.

The stories of our lives are written on our faces, the history of our diets on our bodies. Facial wrinkles track our concerns over our lives and families, while the corners of the mouths silently recall the sadness and the joys we have experienced.

One finds that as we get older, even high school classmates that we avoided are worth having as friends. Be they pump or skinny, successful or not, rich or poor, professional or working class, these differences no longer matter much over the age of sixty. The need to impress leaves us and the need to share becomes much more important. The men are no longer in competition with the other men for the fair ladies. The fair ladies no longer feel the constant need to impress the men. That is part of the freedom that age brings, the reason why people say with age comes wisdom. Wisdom does not really come with age. Yesterday’s dunce is still dumb. Yesterday’s jocks are simply a memory. Experience might not create wisdom, but it does tell an interesting tale. By the time we get to a fifty-fifth reunion most of the participants are experienced reunion alumni. They have learned to avoid small talk about politics and religion. They have perfected their ritual jokes and stories. They have learned to talk sparingly of their work achievements.

One classmate related a story of his school days. Back in the days before central heat, stores and schools were often heated with basement furnaces. The heat rose to the floors above through large grates in the floor. It did not take long for the pubescent boys to realize that by standing below these grates they could see up the dresses of the women that walked by or stood above them. His story was about how he and his friend spied up the dress of one of their teachers at school, only to be discovered by the teacher herself when she looked down and saw them staring up at her from below. Highly embarrassed, she promptly ordered them to the principal’s office. They thought that their school days were over. Surely, they would be whipped, expelled or worse. But the male principal told them: “I was a boy myself once and I know how it is to be one. This time I am going to overlook it, but I want you boys be on your best behavior and not embarrass  Miss Schwartz by doing that again.” With a sigh of relief they returned to the classroom with a new respect for the principal and a lot more knowledge about their teacher’s choice in underwear.

Older men and women can still be quite sensual and handsome. Older men still show a keen interest in the pretty girls and women. However, the constant urge to copulate does temper with age. As teenagers we wore our hearts on our wrists like watches. Passing women quickly became the subjects of instant fantasies. The simple act of riding down a bumpy road in a car awakened those male hormones that swell the lower extremities as much as the trot of a horse awakens the female libido. As the years go by, the flow of blood in the arteries and veins become more and more restricted with the deposits left by time and diet. That universal signature of maleness––the automatic salute that nature provides in response to the females of our species––can become more difficult to obtain. It can make us feel awkward and inept. We were taught as children to rise when a woman came into the room. The privilege of not rising was reserved for the crippled and the infirm. Not that the older generations become prematurely infirm, but it does seem that nature has provided a release for older males  with a gradual release from the those adolescent passions that plagued us for so many years. Many things that used to make no sense become clear. We understand that bras are singular and panties are plural even though it makes little grammatical sense. It is as it is and that is all.

In past years I made videos of the class reunions. They can be viewed on Vimeo. Here are the links.

https://vimeo.com/57391196 for the 50th GHS reunion

https://vimeo.com/57326400 for 30 Years After, created 25 years ago before high definition TV and home video editing was even feasible.

Harvard Study Reveals that All Homophobic People are Gay

Humor from Grandma

You Ready Grandma

A shocking, double-blind study released by Harvard, in collaboration with MIT, has revealed that all people who are homophobic are actually homosexuals themselves. The study, which was carried out over the course of 5 years and involved nearly 5,000 male subjects, is being accepted by the American Psychological Association as being “scientifically irrefutable.”

This lengthy, intricate study was conducted by the folks at the Harvard Center for Brain Science and incorporated proven Penis Responsiveness Technology (PRT) and Brainwave Function Reading (BFR)  from leading scientists from the Biomimetic Robotics Lab at MIT.

The Penis Responsiveness Technology was created from an offshoot program with the Meshworm Soft Robotics sleeve which was fitted around each of the subjects’ penises. It is capable of measuring blood flow, responsive twitches, and swelling. Meanwhile, Brainwave Function Reading system was set up with diodes attached to the different parts of the skull to read emotional responses in…

View original post 165 more words

How to Write an Award-Winning Novel starring… The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

(image via wikimedia)

Originally posted on Dysfunctional Literacy:

In some ways, it’s better to write an award-winning novel than to be a best-selling author.  You might make more money with a best-seller, but in a few years your book could be forgotten, lost in the ash heap of other replaced best-sellers.  On the other hand, if you win an award like the Pulitzer Prize, your book will be on that list forever.  Even if your Pulitzer Prize winning novel isn’t read much after a few decades, the title will still be on the list.  As long as there are literary critics, there will be a Pulitzer, and as long as there’s a Pulitzer, your book title and name will be on that list.

Reading a Pulitzer Prize winning novel isn’t always easy.  In 7th grade I was forced to read The Yearling by Marjorie Rawlings.  Yeesh!  Does anybody read The Yearlinganymore?  Back then, I disliked it, and I haven’t gone back to see if I was wrong to dislike it.  In 9th grade we were forced to read To Kill a Mockingbird, but at least nobody hated it.  If kids hated it, they kept it to themselves.  Even then, students knew it was wrong to hate that book.

As an adult, I read The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara because I went through a Civil War phase (without growing a long beard and dressing up in old musty uniforms).  I read The Shipping News because everybody else in my writers group had read it (but I don’t remember a thing about it).  I recently read The Road by Cormac McCarthy and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz.

Writing a novel that’s considered for a Pulitzer Prize isn’t easy either.  An author usually has to do more than just tell the story.  An author has to use literary devices that catch readers’ and judges’ attention.  If devices like symbolism and figurative language aren’t enough, authors then have to throw in some literary gimmicks too.  A gimmick is a device that’s easy to do but doesn’t really add anything to the story.

For example, some Pulitzer Prize winning novels (The Road and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao) don’t use quotation marks for dialogue.  Maybe leaving out quotation marks makes dialogue more meaningful than dialogue with quotation marks, but I’m not sure.  I’ve always used quotation marks with dialogue.  That’s how I was taught, but I’ve never won a Pulitzer Prize.

The Road also used nameless characters like “the man” and “the boy” (I probably shouldn’t have put them in quotation marks since the book doesn’t use them at all).  Plus, there was a double space between every paragraph, even the one sentence dialogue paragraphs that didn’t have any quotation marks.  I don’t know if The Roadwould have won a Pulitzer if the characters had had names, or if the spaces between paragraphs were normal, or if the author had used quotation marks.  It still probably would have been a good book.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, along with no quotation marks, used several other literary gimmicks.  The novel had really long sentences with lots of Spanish and Dominican slang thrown in too.  The story was told out of order from several different characters’ points-of-view.  Plus, there were lots of nerd culture references.  Even though I’m a fan of nerd culture references, I thought there were way too many nerd culture references in this book.  Even nerd writers for The Big Bang Theory probably think there were too many nerd culture references inTBWLOOW.  I’m not saying you need to use nerd culture references to win a Pulitzer.  You need to pick a topic and drown your novel in references, like Donna Tartt did with the topic of art in The Goldfinch.

But if you want to emulate a Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction that uses a ton of literary gimmicks, try  A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan.

A Visit from the Goon Squad uses six literary gimmicks (that I noticed):

  1. Telling the story out of order.
  2. Switching points of view (3rdto 1st to 3rd…)
  3. Switching tenses in various segments (past to present to past…)
  4. a chapter of only power point/ flow charts (don’t use an e-reader for this book)
  5. lots of stream-of-consciousness
  6. And the worst gimmick ever… 2ndperson present tense!  I call it the worst gimmick ever because I tried using it in a college writing class, got yelled at by my writing instructor for using it, and then two months later Bright Lights, Big Citybecame a bestseller. Now I’m biased against 2nd person present tense.

At any rate, six literary gimmicks is a lot for one book.  There were so many literary gimmicks, I expected the author to resort to the 1st person present tense narration death scene.  I was wrong.  Instead, she used the 2nd person present tense narration death scene.    I hate being wrong.

Having so many literary gimmicks in one novel makes it look (to me) like the author is trying too hard.  My writing instructor might have declared that using all these gimmicks took away from any merits A Visit from the Goon Squad had as a story.  But he probably would have shut up once he realized the novel won a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

*****

What do you think?  Is using so many gimmicks good story-telling, or is it trying too hard?  What other literary gimmicks have you noticed in award-winning novels?  How many literary gimmicks should an author be limited to?  What literary gimmicks do you dislike the most?  If you were limited to one literary gimmick, which one would it be?  If you had a choice, would you rather write a bestselling selling novel or a major award winning novel?

Dysfunctional Literacy

(image via wikimedia) (image via wikimedia)

In some ways, it’s better to write an award-winning novel than to be a best-selling author.  You might make more money with a best-seller, but in a few years your book could be forgotten, lost in the ash heap of other replaced best-sellers.  On the other hand, if you win an award like the Pulitzer Prize, your book will be on that list forever.  Even if your Pulitzer Prize winning novel isn’t read much after a few decades, the title will still be on the list.  As long as there are literary critics, there will be a Pulitzer, and as long as there’s a Pulitzer, your book title and name will be on that list.

Reading a Pulitzer Prize winning novel isn’t always easy.  In 7th grade I was forced to read The Yearling by Marjorie Rawlings.  Yeesh!  Does anybody read The Yearling anymore?  Back then, I disliked…

View original post 860 more words

THE ESSENCE OF BULLSHIT

by Kenneth Harper Finton ©2015

superthumb

 

The results of the polls have come in. We asked which play by Shakespeare was their personal favorite out of:
1) Mephistopheles
2) The Runyon, or
3) The Beggars of Serendip

The overwhelming favorite was Mephistopheles.

Why? It sounds like a Shakespearean title. Never mind that Shakespeare never wrote any of the above.

This is the essence of bullshit. People want others to think they know what they are talking about.

Bullshit (also known as bullcrap and horseshit) is a common slang term meaning nonsense. It is always misleading, false, or disingenuous. The English sometimes call it bullocks.

Bullshit does not have to be completely false. It is often used by notable politicians to convince the public of a point which the politicians themselves know very little about. When an outright lie is inappropriate, bullshit serves to save face and makes the speaker appear to be knowledgeable.

We know the origin of bullshit. It is developed in the intestinal tract of a male bovine. The earliest mention of the slang term was in the Concise Oxford English Dictionary just after the turn of the 20th century.

T.S. Eliot wrote a poem between 1910 and 1916 called “The Triumph of Bullshit,” however the word “bullshit” does not appear in the text of the poem. Eliot never published the poem. It was not published until 1997. [Eliot, T. S. Inventions of the March Hare: Poems 1909-1917 (Harcourt, 1997) ISBN 0-15-100274-6.]

The Bullshit Asymmetry Principle

This scientific principle was formulated January 2013 by Alberto Brandolini, an Italian programmer. The Bullshit Asymmetry Principle (also known as Brandolini’s Law states that “The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.” Brandolini, Alberto. “Bullshit Asymmetry https://twitter.com/. Retrieved 1 March 2015.Retrieved 1 March 2015.

Society, in genera,  is overwhelmed with a vast abundance of bullshit. It is hardly possible to step into the street these days without running into vast gobs of it. It is printed on billboards and signs. It has infiltrated our media, influenced our artists, and completely overwhelmed our philosophical thoughts.

The poet wrote:
“The harvesting of dreams
Born in the fields of endeavor
Is like two fish that swim upriver
Against the tides of solitary imagination.
In the portals of time, you will find
Regulations take no prisoners,
Heal no illness and reap no consequence.”

This is all total bullshit. It is far too inherent in much modern poetry.

Harry Frankfurt’s Concept of Bullshit

In his essay On Bullshit (originally written in 1986), philosopher Harry Frankfurt tells us that bullshit is different from an outright lie. The liar, he says, knows about the truth, perhaps even cares about the truth, but deliberately misleads us. However, bullshit itself does not give a whit about the truth. It only seeks to impress us.

In order to lie, Frankfort says, a person must know the truth and falsify it. On the other hand, bullshitters cherry pick reality and make up facts that suit their purposes.
The anti-science attitudes in modern society is a great breeding ground for total bullshit. With the advent of instant communication, people are expected to have opinions on almost everything when most people do not know their posterior from a pothole.

Gerald Cohen wrote an article called “Deeper into Bullshit.” In this work he contrasted the kind of bullshit Frankfurt talked about with nonsense discourse that is disguised as being perfectly sensible. Bullshit can be produced either accidentally or deliberately, Cohen writes. While some deliberately produce bullshit, others can also attempt to relate the truth, but produce nonsense by mistake.

A person deceived by bullshit often repeats it without the intention of deceiving others. The results of this are often seen in political platforms and broadcast by the media round the clock.

In our glorious past, not so long ago, bullshit was spread upon the fields to fertilize and nourish the next generation of crops. With the demise of the agricultural society, we have transformed this useful product into something that now only fails to nourish, but actually maims our world.

This is the primary reason we have so much crap in today’s culture.

CARTOON IDEAS FOR CHARLIE HEBDO

mohammed

 

MOHAMMED SHOWING TRUE BELIEVERS HOW TO REACT TO INFIDELS

 Bernard_Picart_The_Perfumer_m

THE POPE RIDDING THE CHURCH OF MOLESTATION AND DOGMA

 

Unknown

 

JEHOVAH AS A CLOWN VOMITING OUT EXISTENCE ON A GULLIBLE CREATION

 

14706960_7c7e_1024x2000

 

BUDDHA CONTEMPLATING HIS NAVEL AS A POINT OF SEXUAL ENTRY

image022rabbi

BRAHMA LEADING SHAKRA TO TANTRIC YOGA SESSION  WITH THE BRAHMAN BULL

Pope-Francis

POPE FRANCIS UPON HEARING THAT EVE WAS THE FIRST CREATION OF GOD