Gentle Humor

I don't offend some of the people most of the time

Month: June 2010 (Page 1 of 3)

Cartoons No Laughing Matter

Tonight my daughter wanted to go see Toy Story 3 and I jumped at the chance. Mostly because she doesn’t find much time to spend with me between her job and friends and boyfriend. Although we live in the same house, a teenager’s priority list has “spend time with mom” way down there, after cleaning out her closet and doing her laundry. I wasn’t nuts about seeing Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, although I remember liking the first Toy Story many years ago.

It was in 3-D, and I was glad to be wearing the 3-D glasses because I got choked up toward the end and my eyes were misting like a foolish old woman who gets sentimental at a movie about a bunch of talking toys whose “boy” grows up and goes off to college.

I identified with those toys. When my son, my firstborn, was a baby, I used to look down at him in my arms and know that, even at that very second, he was getting older. I could see him outgrowing one set of clothes after another until he packed them up and moved away. It broke my heart.

He’s moved out, but his closet is still full of clothes I’ve kept because of their memories. His Tae Kwon Do uniform is still there, plus all his tees and sweatshirts from his high school snowboard team. His Boy Scout shirt is there, even though he was only a scout in 4th and 5th grades. Every souvenir T-shirt he got at Disneyland or at Trailblazers basketball games is there.

What does this have to do with Toy Story? Beats the hell out of me. My son had this big stuffed parrot about the size of a real one that he took everywhere. He’d fly it around the back yard where it found every kind of adventure. Once he propped it up in a swing and took a picture of it, then made a wooden frame and put the picture in it and put that in his bookcase where it still sits to this day.

It’s obvious that this train of thought is not going to produce anything funny, is it? Since I’m on a roll, I might as well see this through. Remember that song, “Puff the Magic Dragon?” I used to sing the chorus when it came on the radio but never knew the rest of the words until it was on a tape of kid’s songs. I listened to the words in the car because those tapes played everywhere we went. I discovered that Puff was a toy, not a real magic dragon. Turns out there was a kid named Little Johnny Paper who played with Puff in a land called Hanalei. Who knows if I’m getting these names right because those tapes were scratchy. This little Paper boy played with Puff until one day he grew up and put Puff away, and Puff never got to come out and play again.

When I first figured out poor Puff’s fate, I was so sad. “What kind of story is that for a kid?” I thought. It ranks up there with Ole Yeller. Ever seen that one? About the sweet family dog that was so spunky and made you wish more than anything that you had a dog just like him, and then… well you ought to rent it if you haven’t seen it, but buy a box of Kleenex.

Oh good grief, I’m whimpering and my eyes are watering. I could think of some more very sad things, but I can’t take it anymore. I have been on an emotional roller coaster ever since I saw that Toy Story movie, and there’s no cure but chocolate. Thank goodness I made some of those no-bake chocolate peanut butter oatmeal cookies. That’s what I’m going to serve right now at my pity party. Wish you could come. We could have a regular bawl-fest as we stuffed cookies in like we were stuffing stuffing into a torn toy. Let the healing begin!

Trashy Is As Trashy Does

My cousin in Memphis, Nancy, is so much fun and very funny. I call her every couple of weeks for a laughter fix.

She’s a jovial person, shaped like a barrel on top of a pair of gorgeous legs. She could be a model for nylons or socks, but only from the thighs down. It’s amazing where the body stores it’s excess. Mine is a muffin around my waist. Her’s is all in her torso so she looks like an Idaho potato on toothpicks. She’s got a mixed breed dog that also loves to eat, and she calls him “Fweet Tater” because he looks like a sweet potato on toothpicks. Must be genetic.

I’m trying to bring Nancy into the digital age. I set up Office Outlook for her over the phone, a task that took several hours. I’d be telling her to click here and click there, and she’d be reading me everything on the page. “It says File then Edit then….and there’s a box I just clicked on and it says….” She is an artist and notices all the details. I was just trying to get her to simply click on File…New, but that wasn’t going to happen for another ten minutes. I told my daughter it was like telling a child to go into the drug store and go directly back to the pharmacist, and the child stops to pick up every little thing along the way.

Just now she emailed me from Facebook and wanted to know how to upload pictures. This is a HUGE stretch for her, and I’m proud that she’s willing to make the attempt. I emailed her back from my Facebook and decided the tutorial shouldn’t be boring. So I said, “Go to the photos tab and create an album and name it something like, “Nancy holding a lit match to her bottom just before blasting gas.” Then describe the Location, like “At the Ladies Church Social” and then the Description: “Father didn’t really believe a match could become a torch.”

Once I’d posted it, I got to wondering whether that can be seen by the general public. I hope not because I’m trying to keep up a façade of couth.

I know Nancy will laugh like a teenage boy watching “The Hangover.” I’m betting she’ll wet her pants. And maybe even pass some accidental gas.

I don’t know why I’m being so tacky. I should be ashamed. I laid around on the couch all day yesterday, and ate dinner with the family in front of the TV tonight, which according to Jeff Foxworthy is a sure sign of being a redneck. I pointed this out to my husband, and he said, “If the shoe fits.”

Oh, and to sum up my tutorial to Nancy, I said, “And just click on the pictures you want to upload and they’ll be on your Facebook page faster than you can say, “Who farted?”

I have sunk to the depths of tackiness. Please excuse me for rambling. How else could I get through these 250 posts! Think about it – TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY! Whoopee!

Wasting Away in Sofaville

I took a day off today from doing almost everything. Instead of gluing myself to the computer, catching up on filing, or planting the flowers I bought a week ago, I finished a mystery novel that I’ve been struggling through a page at a time in bed before I dropped off to sleep. I should feel wonderful making time for R and R, but I feel worthless.

How am I going to make up these lost leisure hours, I’d like to know? Tomorrow I will have to work extra hard and I won’t catch up. Things will be tabled until Tuesday, and then Wednesday. Is R and R really worth it?

I will leave the answer to the philosophers and people who make a living answering such questions (and please, let me know if you hear of any job openings in the latter). All I know is that it felt pretty darn good.

One thing I noticed about reading while lying on the couch was that I kept dozing off. When I did, my mind would continue with the story. If I dozed off when the big strong man was approaching the petite detective lady, my semi-conscious mind would actually continue on like I was reading: “He took her in his arms and kissed her ravishingly. And then he scooped her up in his arms and walked toward the bedroom, bending down to kiss her along the way.”

I’d startle awake and look at the words on the page and this is what they said: “Lance walked toward Andrea. When he got within arm’s reach, she slapped him hard across the cheek. ‘You bastard!’ she hissed.”

Hmmm, my unconscious mind obviously didn’t pick up on the direction the plot was actually going. This happened over and over – with my half-asleep imagination completing scenes the second my eyes drift closed.

When I managed to stay awake, my conscious mind knew all too well what was coming, long before the author took the plot in that direction. I knew pages and pages earlier that the son was going to get kidnapped. This was frustrating because I really wanted to be surprised. The writing style wasn’t that great, so the plot needed to be good to make up for it. This was a book someone had given me and said it was really good. As I was reading it, I kept thinking – compared to what?

But I finished it, wasting my entire Sunday on the couch, and now I’m going to have to work myself to death to make up for it. I think I’m going to go now and doze off so my mind can take me to a place where my inbox is empty, where all my good intentions have been carried out – every birthday card sent on time, every batch of cookies baked for the new neighbors – and life is carefree, plus there’s a magical box of chocolates that don’t have any calories. I’m going to dub this place “Sofaville” and it’s going to have a remote control that has commercial-free comedies all day long, and a sweet little dog to cuddle up to my feet and keep them warm. All the laundry will be done, dishwasher unloaded, bookshelves dusted, fish water changed, cobwebs knocked down, carpets with vacuum streaks, buttered popcorn that isn’t fattening, and a cheese platter.

OMG – this is so pathetic. Other people dream of changing the world or becoming rock stars. I’m dreaming of a day on the couch. Still, it sounds good. Hence, I’m off to bed where my rich fantasy life awaits me. Here’s wishing that all your dreams come true – at least in your dreams. Good night, my friends.

My Brain Reveals Itself

Yesterday I went back to see if any more of my photos had sold at the Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts, and none had. Funny how you can be so excited about something – “YIPPEE! TWO OF MY PHOTOGRAPHS HAVE SOLD!!!! – and so quickly go to – “only two of my photographs have sold.”

My expectation the first day was that none of them might sale, and how awful that would be. But at the end of the first day, I was so excited that I’d made two sales because it validated me as a photographer and artist. I got the stamp of approval from the world.

By the end of the second day, however, the world had said to me, “You got lucky with those two, but we’re wise to you now and you won’t get away with fooling us into thinking that you’ve got talent.”

Not that the world is actually saying this (maybe they are. If you hear something, let me know), but the little whining, insecure voice in my head is saying, “Why did you ever think you could be a photographer? How humiliating to have your stuff hanging in a festival with real artwork for the entire world to see and not have any little orange dots on your card except for a measly two.”

This voice hounds me day in and day out. It’s a wonder I can ever get anything done, because it questions everything I do.

“Why are you still using that frayed toothbrush? It’s embarrassing.”

“It works fine, and who’s going to see it?”

“I see it. It might work fine, but it’s an eyesore and you know you’re supposed to replace those things every few months.”

“I just got it about six weeks ago. Can I help it if the toothbrush companies make them so they get frayed really quick?”

“Oh, so now you’re going to blame it on the toothbrush companies?”

This conversation banters back and forth until I leave the bathroom, at which time the voice starts in about something else: “Why don’t you clean out this closet?”

The reason I actually accomplish anything is that another voice tells me how great I am. This one says, “Why are you only entering nine of your photographs? How can you pick just nine when they are all so beautiful?”

These guys are in there arguing like an umpire and a baseball coach, in each other’s faces, spit flying: “If you’d clean out this closet, you could find something to wear.”

“There’s plenty to wear, in fact, there are so many cute things in here it’s impossible to choose between them.”

“Cute? Cute? Did you say cute? Look at this shirt? When’s the last time anyone wore this thing? It’s got a stain on the front.”

“That stain is microscopic. Nobody without x-ray vision could see that stain.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“So how come you never wear it?”

When I move to the kitchen, they start on something new: “Are you going to put that much butter on your toast? I thought you were trying to lose weight.”

I don’t know if other people have to contend with this, but to me it’s like having two kids in the back seat bickering:

“She hit me!”

“Did not.”

“Did too.”

“He hit me first.”

“Did not.”

“Did too.”

“That’s because she was looking at me.”

“Was not.”

“Were too.”

Georgia O’Keeffe, the artist who does those paintings of one part of a flower magnified to sometimes look like a vagina, once said, “I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.” She also said: “I hate flowers – I paint them because they’re cheaper than models and they don’t move.” This makes her sound kind of crotchety.

The point is that she must have had those two voices in her head all the time, too, and I know exactly what she means when she says she’s terrified every moment. I’m just like her, except not rich and famous. I’m afraid of my own shadow, which is the reason I live in Oregon where the sun rarely shines (that’s a joke, ha ha – get it? I don’t see my shadow to be afraid of it here in Oregon because….oh forget it.)

If you are still with me on this long, rambling journey through the workings of my brain, you are probably wondering how we got so far away from the topic about my photographs. You and me both. But I will bring this full circle by saying that I promised in my last post to make my next one twice as long, and I think I’ve succeeded, so I can end this now. Aren’t I clever?

“Are not.”

“Am too.”

“Are not.”

“Am too.”

“Are not.”

“Am too.”

I Sold Two Pictures!

I have good news! I sold two of my framed photographs at the Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts. It runs for 2 more days so I’m hoping to sell another. I’m too excited to write. I’ll write twice as much tomorrow.

Commercial-free Radio?

Today I was listening to Blue Collar Comedy on my satellite radio that they renewed for the next 6 months for a very reasonable price.

I can’t find Laugh USA anymore, which was the station I really liked because the others are pretty raunchy. Many comediennes say the f-word about twelve times in every sentence. In fact, it has become the new “you know.” It’s like the way stoners talk – except substitute in the f-ing word for every “you know:” “Hey dude, man, I went down to the, you know, store and I got some, you know, candy – a whole, you know, lot of candy like I, you know, practically bought out the whole, you know, candy aisle I was so, you know, hungry for a little, you know, something sweet.”

On these other comedy stations, they have announcers or interviewers or comediennes or chimpanzees – whoever is holding the microphone – talking like this, not just in the comedy acts. I’m not a big fan of “you knows.” It’s as if they are deliberating trying to insert the word as much as possible rather than just filling in the pauses with normal rambling while they try to remember what they were saying.

Sometimes they liven the word up by adding “mother” in front of it.

Today, however, I had other irritants on the satellite radio. Namely, commercials. Correct me if I’m wrong (at your own risk), but isn’t satellite radio’s claim to fame the very absence of commercials? Isn’t that why we are supposed to prefer satellite stations over the ones we get for free?

These commercials are awful, too. I think I blogged already about Prolixus – the enhancer that sounds like it will add girth to the male member. I don’t know about you but I’m not sure I want a member the size of a Progresso soup can coming anywhere near me. I was not broke in by a horse, if you know what I mean. Men should just leave well enough alone unless they are dating a porn star. The rest of us, and I think I speak for most women endowed with a normal anatomy, are not too interested in being skewered by an enhanced body part that would make the Jolly Green Giant proud. When we say, “size doesn’t matter,” we actually mean it.

I’m dipping into crude territory, but I had a long drive this morning and got saturated with these comedy stations and their stupid commercials. One very excited man was breathlessly trying to tell me that I had better hurry and snap up a home loan because these interest rates would never happen again in my lifetime. Is he psychic? He kept saying that the government has never allowed such low rates and I’d be pretty foolish not to jump on board and take advantage of his offer RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND, because, as he kept saying, rates would never be this low again in my lifetime. Never ever. Ever.

The commercials are homemade without any fanfare or background music, just someone claiming to be a lawyer or doctor or millionaire telling the public the honest truth about the great deals they are hawking.

I’m going to get to the bottom of this whole commercial thing if I have to call the satellite station administrator personally, except that I live on the west coast and you can only call between 8 am and 11 am Eastern Standard time, meaning that I have to call between 5 am and 8 am. It’s enough to drive you, you know, crazy.

Growing Old with Barbie

I was tutoring at the high school a few weeks ago and the kids were asking me to review their essays. One of the topics they could select to write about was “politically correct Barbie.”

The kids were saying things like: “I think Barbie is unnatural in today’s world. Nobody looks like that anymore.”

Back in the day we all looked like Barbie. All the girls had giant pointed objects on their chests, mostly made of foam rubber we called “falsies” or wads of toilet paper, but we all had the look. We were all skinny, too – I don’t know why. I ate like a horse, I guess literally  – because it was tons of mostly vegetables.

Today’s politically correct Barbie would have giant, rounded things on her chest revealed under tank tops layered over tank tops. She’d have long flat hair and wear clothes that didn’t match. She’d have on flip-flops even in the snow. And she’d have rolls of spare flesh bulging over her low-slung jeans like muffin tops. She’d also have a skin-tight top that showed her bra straps and maybe the bra itself.

And the older Barbie would have a V-shaped bottom with granny panty lines under polyester pants that did a lousy job of covering her cottage cheese thighs.

If you haven’t guessed, I am in a foul temper. I find that somehow I went from a bubbly 19 year old to a woman of a certain age, and I’m mad as hell about it. This was NOT supposed to happen to me. I told myself in my teens and twenties that I would refuse to grow old. I would be Peter Pan. “The only reason people age,” I said to myself, “is because they quit exercising and give up the fight, and that’s not going to happen to me.”

Please indulge me. This is me talking to me.

“Listen up. All you need to do is lose that 10 extra pounds and you’ll feel like a girl again.”

“You’ve said that before.”

“And it’s always been true. You have to promise to lose the weight and get the spring back in your step.”

“But I’m too tired.”

“Shut up that incessant whining. Just DO it!”

Okay, to shut this inner voice up, here is my pledge. I will drop 2.5 pounds a week for the next 4 weeks, starting today. Then my clothes will fit and I’ll regain my energy and I’ll start looking like the old Barbie, except I’ll still have to use toilet paper for my chest to resemble hers.

I’ll let you know how it’s going, and I apologize for the crabby blog. Even we humorists need to take a vacation on occasion. Oh, and I got a fortune cookie today that said, “You are a bee-och.” Just kidding, I just love the way that sounds. It really said, “You are covered in cottage cheese and will soon meet a nice pineapple.” Just kidding again. It really said, “You have a keen sense of humor and like to have a good time.” That is so true, except today. Today I’m an old hag carrying globular fat around my waist and saddlebags on my thighs who can barely get off this chair to drag myself to bed. But tomorrow, as I start inching my way back toward Barbie, I will be in a much better humor. I can’t wait!

Tax Dollars Blues

Recently I wrote about four city employees standing right under the stop signs at a 4-way stop, each one holding stop signs. Today I was at the same intersection and the same four city employees were there. The thought crossed my mind: “I wonder how much money we, the taxpayers, are paying these people to be human stop signs when we, the taxpayers, have already paid for the four stop signs they are standing directly under?”

My curiosity led me to pull over to pose the question, “What the heck?” (or WTF for you younger readers). I pulled beside a person in an orange vest who turned out to be a woman. “Why are you guys holding stop signs when there are already stop signs here?” I asked.

“There’s a detour,” she explained, and then went on to tell me the entire detour route. As she was doing this, the man holding the stop sign to the right of us yelled, “CINDY!” I presumed he was her boss and he was alerting her to approaching traffic so she could have her sign at the ready. He must have felt that the few seconds it took me to ask the question and her to start answering was distracting her from her duties, which he apparently felt required her undivided attention.

The first time he yelled, she looked over at him to acknowledge that she’d heard and was heeding his control-freaking. When I didn’t immediately scurry away, he quickly called, “CINDY” again.

“Actually,” I said, “I’m writing a humor blog and thought it was funny to see you guys standing out here under the stop signs. Is this really necessary, even with the detour?”

“CINDY!”

“We have to keep traffic moving off Multnomah Blvd. as they come around the corner to this part of the detour, and since this is such a short stretch of road right here, it could get backed up.”

“CINDY!”

We both looked at him. He turned away from us watched as one car approached him. He held his sign with the “Slow” side facing the driver. This meant that Cindy had to keep her “Stop” sign facing her cars. They were stacking up all the way around the corner of Multnomah Blvd., the very thing these four people were trying, at all costs, to avoid.

Cindy and I both watched him waiting for the car, which was approaching slowly and with extreme caution, no doubt confused that his sign said, “Slow” but the sign right over his head said, “Stop.” I knew the feeling. You really don’t know which one to believe. Finally the car got up to him and went through. Meantime about 20 cars had stacked up on Cindy’s side, blocking traffic on Multnomah Blvd.

Finally Mr. “Hey Everybody I’m In Charge Here And Don’t You Forget It!” signaled to Cindy that she could let her cars pass. The existing stop signs could have handled the traffic way more efficiently than what I just witnessed.

You know those signs at highway construction sites that say, “Your tax dollars at work?” I think that my tax dollars hired some folks that aren’t giving me my money’s worth.

Happiness Is a Good Night’s Sleep

I mentioned the happiness book I’d been listening to on my iPod yesterday, and the author started talking about studies that had been done showing happy people get enough sleep, i.e. 8 hours a night.

DUH!

I’m not trying to be sarcastic, well, yeah I am, because this seems like common sense to me. Everybody gets cranky when they don’t get enough sleep, but nobody’s doing it on purpose. If you’re not sleeping enough it’s probably because you have (1) too much work, (2) too many babies (3) too many bed bugs, or (d) too many troubles. Oh, and I forgot to add (f) teenagers.

I have a teenage daughter who spends her every waking minute giving me causes to fret. What are her and her boyfriend doing when they’re supposed to be at a movie? What are her and her boyfriend doing out in the bonus room, and should I go in and pretend to be looking for something again? When we added that bonus room it was to get our noisy kids and their friends away from us. Now it’s way, WAY too quiet in there. Is her boyfriend causing her to study less? Is she spending too much time with her boyfriend and not enough with her girlfriends? Does the boyfriend ever eat at home?

She has a midnight curfew, and I feel I need to be awake to make sure she comes home on time, and alone. It’s not that I don’t trust her, it’s just that I was her age once….and I’m not going to say anything else on the grounds that it may tend to incriminate me.

So if I hop in bed at 12:01, and the crows start squawking at 5 a.m., which means I’m going to lose about 3 hours worth of happiness. I believe this explains why I am cranky and try to pick fights with my family, friends, grocery clerks, and the dog. If none of them are around, I argue with myself, out loud. Sometimes I snarl and bite. I’ll show you the teeth marks if you don’t believe me.

Sometimes I’d like to switch places with my dog. She lies around all day except when someone goes in the kitchen, where she’ll come from the ends of the earth hoping for a dollop of butter. I sling it off the knife onto the floor but sometimes it hits her. What a mess. Butter splats right between the eyes, and her tongue not nearly long enough to reach it even when she curls it out the sides of her mouth. This is torture for her, so I’m not sure why I nearly roll on the floor laughing when it happens. I invite the whole house in to watch. Then I have to clean off the butter and give her a dab as a consolation, which I’m sure she thinks is not nearly enough for what I’ve put her through and the public humiliation.

I can tell you one thing, though, I don’t lose any sleep worrying about accidently buttering my dog on occasion. I’ve got plenty of other things robbing me of my rest and happiness, including writing this blog very late at night. I get tickled and that makes me wide awake. I just wish you could see that dog trying to get at that butter.

So I will bid you all sweet dreams and hope the crows decide to take a vacation so I can sleep in until maybe even 6 o’clock. Ah, that it would be so….

Humorless Happiness

I was Googling something the other day and came across a website about happiness. There were some tidbits of wisdom in the right hand column and I read a couple. Intrigued, I ended up buying the book, written by Gretchen Rubin, called The Happiness Project.

It was a downloadable book that I started listening to yesterday while I was cleaning house. After awhile I realized a very important thing – happiness is not conducive to humor.

Listen to any comic or watch any sitcom and the humor is all about the misery or misfortune in people’s lives. I love The Big Bang Theory, a sitcom about super-intelligent nerds. Much of the humor comes from them either putting down each other’s intelligence or mishaps they have to squirm out of because they lack the social skills that mere average-intelligent people have.

Leonard, a super physicist or something, is dating the blond bimbo who lives across the hall, which provides ample humor when the story contrasts his super-intelligence with her lack of it.

Here’s what the script would be like if they were following the suggestions in The Happiness Project:

“Hi Leonard, thanks for coming in.”

“My pleasure, Penny. You look lovely in your Cheesecake Factory uniform.”

“Well, aren’t you sweet? Taking a break from your contam physics?”

“(Laughs) I love how you say quantum.”

And blah blah blah.  Utterly boring.

My point is that I don’t know how much of this happiness stuff I can take. The Happiness Project book is good, and I’m going to listen to it and hopefully follow some of the suggestions and make some positive changes in my life. But she makes it sound like I need to be loving and forgiving and kind and generous, and sensitive and patient and a good listener. Quite frankly, I’m not sure I’m up to it. I’m smart enough to know that these things work because I’ve tried them here and there in my life. But they’re like Brussels sprouts, they’re okay some of the time but I’m a long way off from wanting to make a steady diet of them.

Humor is based on sarcasm, put downs, people’s pain, or unexpected, negative things happening. It is not funny to see a man in a suit walking down the street. But it’s very funny seeing the same man walking along and slipping on a banana peel so that his legs fly up over his head and he lands, WHOOMP, flat on his back with the wind completely knocked out of him and flailing like an upside down turtle.

In a happy world this would not happen. The insensitive dolt who threw the banana peel down would not have done it in the first place. He would have walked a block out of his way to find a garbage can because he’d want to keep the city beautiful. The Three Stooges would never smack each other with a 2 x 4 or poke each other in the eyes in a happy world. I could not write about men with limp you-know-whats for fear of offending all those men (nearly 99% of U.S. males) using Viagra.

So don’t worry, you can count on me to not succumb to these happiness theories, even after I listen to that book cover to cover. I will NOT let this happiness stuff go to my head, if I can help it.

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Copyright © 2017 by Suzanne Olsen