A sense of humor is a measurement of the extent to which we realize that we are trapped in a world almost totally devoid of reason. Laughter is how we express the anxiety we feel at this knowledge.
Turbulence: This is what pilots announce that you have encountered when your plane strikes an object in midair. You'll be flying along, and there will be an enormous, shuddering WHUMP, and clearly the plane has rammed into an airborne object at least the size of a water buffalo, and the pilot will say, "Folks, we're encountering a little turbulence." Meanwhile they are up there in the cockpit trying desperately to clean water buffalo organs off the windshield.
If you're apprehensive about flying, let me assure you, as a frequent flier, that few experiences are more enjoyable than being seven miles above the Earth's surface in a crowded aging piece of machinery held aloft by principles of physics that you do not even dimly grasp while giant invisible gravity rays pound relentlessly on the roof.
The word aerobics comes from two Greek words: aero, meaning "ability to," and bics, meaning "withstand tremendous boredom."
I like beer. On occasion I will even drink a beer to celebrate a major event such as the fall of communism or the fact that our refrigerator is still working.
Not all chemicals are bad. Without chemicals such as hydrogen and oxygen, for example, there would be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer.
Without my eyeglasses,
I have a great deal of trouble distinguishing between house fires and
I had no shoes and I pitied myself. Then I met a man who had no feet, so I took his shoes.
On Valentine's Day, millions of men give millions of women flowers, cards and candy as a heartfelt expression of the emotion that also motivates men to observe anniversaries and birthdays: fear.
Here’s my proposal, which is based on the TV show Survivor: We put the entire Congress on an island. All the food on this island is locked inside a vault, which can be opened only by an ordinary American taxpayer named Bob. Every day, the congresspersons are given a section of the Tax Code, which they must rewrite so that Bob can understand it. If he can, he lets them eat that day; if he can’t, he doesn’t.
In summary, then, we see that, because of the location and nature of their respective organs, women tend to have a more serious, thoughtful, and responsible attitude towards relationships than men do. I realize this is an absurd generalization, but my feeling is that if we can't have absurd generalizations, we might as well not even bother to write books.
In terms of appearance, hair is one of the most the most important features of a woman's entire body. In a recent poll, the Gallup organization asked 1,500 men what part of a woman they look at first, and they denied that they look at women at all, because their wives were standing right next to them. But they were lying. They definitely look at women, and one of the things they notice is hair. "Yes, that woman probably had hair," they'll say, if questioned.
The sensible way to ask a girl out is to walk directly up to her on foot and say, "So, you want to go out? Or what?" I never did this. I knew that there was always the possibility that the girl would say no, thereby leaving me with no viable option but to leave Harold C. Crittenden Junior High school Forever and go into the woods and become a bark-eating hermit whose only companions would be the gentle and understanding woodland creatures. "Hey, *Zitface*!" the woodland creatures would shriek in cute little Chip 'n' Dale voices while raining acorns down upon my head. "You wanna *date?* Hahahahahahahahah."
Men's magazines often feature pictures of naked women. Women's magazines also feature pictures of naked women. This is because the female body is a beautiful work of art, while the male body is lumpy and hairy and should not be seen by the light of day. Men are turned on at the sight of a naked woman's body. Most naked men elicit laughter from women.
I could point out that, to judge from the covers of countless women's magazines, the two topics most interesting to women are (1) Why men are all disgusting pigs, and (2) How to attract men.
Women are not simple and they always assume that men must be just as complicated as they are, only way more mysterious. The whole point is guys are not thinking much. They are just what they appear to be. Tragically.
1. DRIVER SPEAKS NO
2. DRIVER JUST GOT HERE TWO DAYS AGO FROM SOMEPLACE LIKE SENEGAL.
3. DRIVER HATES YOU.
- The Three Laws of New York Taxi Drivers
New York is in fact a major tourist destination, drawing millions of visitors each year, the majority of whom are never robbed and stabbed and left on the sidewalk to bleed to death while being stepped over by enough people to populate the entire state of Montana. Their secret? They follow certain common-sense New York City safety rules, such as:
Always walk at least 30 miles per hour.
Always keep your money and other valuables in a safe place, such as Switzerland.
Avoid unsafe areas, such as your hotel bathroom.
Never make eye contact. This is asking to be mugged. In the New York court system, a mugger is automatically declared not guilty if the defense can prove that the victim has a history of making eye contact.
The Romans spent the next 200 years using their great engineering skills to construct ruins all over Europe. The basic Roman ruin design is a pile of rocks with a little plaque saying "Roman Ruins" and a group of tourists frowning at it and wishing they were back at the hotel bar.
At this point Europe was invaded by barbarian motorcycle gangs such as the Angles, the Franks, the Jutes, the Teds, the Sextants, the Ventricles, and Martha and the Vandellas. This led to the Middle Ages, which were characterized by strict zoning regulations requiring that every 250 yards there had to be a giant cathedral built from stones the size of Raymond Burr.
Speaking of food, English cuisine has received a lot of unfair criticism over the years, but the truth is that it can be a very pleasant surprise to the connoisseur of severely overcooked livestock organs served in lukewarm puddles of congealed grease. England manufactures most of the world's airline food, as well as all the food you ever ate in your junior-high-school cafeteria.
The French are not rude. They just happen to hate you. But that is no reason to bypass this beautiful country, whose master chefs have a well-deserved worldwide reputation for trying to trick people into eating snails. Nobody is sure how this got started. Probably a couple of French master chefs were standing around one day, and they found a snail, and one of them said: "I bet that if we called this something like `escargot,' tourists would eat it." Then they had hearty laugh, because "escargot" is the French word for "fat crawling bag of phlegm."
Poland has experienced a tremendous amount of history due to the fact that it has no natural defensible borders, which makes it very easy to conquer. Many times the other nations didn't even mean to invade Poland; one night they'd simply forget to set the parking brakes on their tanks, and they'd wake up the next morning to discover that, whoosh, they had conquered Poland.
Haiti goes 36 straight hours without having a coup. The United Nations sends an inspection team to find out what's wrong.
I'm an experienced South Florida driver, and almost getting hit is *nothing*. It's routine. It happens *every day*. I'm so used to it that I don't even bother to honk at motorists who almost kill me. Generally it's a bad idea to honk down here anyway, inasmuch as the South Florida motoring public is as heavily armed as Iraq, but not as peace-loving.
Our yard violates the No. 1 rule of yard design, which is: "Never locate your yard in South Florida." South Florida is smack dab in the middle of a permanent weather system that weather scientists call "The Big Armpit," meaning that it is hot and humid and prone to producing mutant growths. If you want biodiversity, hang around our yard, preferably with a flamethrower.
For those of you planning to travel by air, here are some amazing statistics about the U.S. airline industry (motto: “We’re Hoping to Have a Motto Announcement in About an Hour”). This year, U.S. airlines will carry a record 143 million passengers, who will be in the air for 382 hours, during which they will be fed an estimated total of four peanuts. Yes, the airlines are cutting back on food service, as was dramatically demonstrated on a recent New York-to-London flight wherein nine first-class passengers were eaten by raiders from coach. But despite the cutbacks, the U.S. airline industry is still one of the safest on Earth; the only nation with a better safety record is the Republic of Kyrgyzstan, which has only one airplane and can’t figure out how to start it.
ANSWERS TO COMMON AIR-TRAVEL QUESTIONS
Q. Airline fares are
very confusing. How, exactly, does the airline determine the price of my
A. Many cost factors are involved in flying an airplane from Point A to Point B, including distance, passenger load, whether each pilot will get his own pilot hat or they’re going to share, and whether Point B has a runway.
Q. So the airlines use these cost factors to calculate a rational price for my ticket?
A. No. That is determined by Rudy the Fare Chicken, who decides the price of each ticket individually by pecking on a computer keyboard sprinkled with corn. If an airline agent tells you that they’re having “computer problems,” this means that Rudy is sick, and technicians are trying to activate the backup system, Conrad the Fare Hamster.
Q. When should I arrive at the airport?
A. You should arrive two hours before your scheduled departure time, so that you will be among the first to know that your flight has been delayed due to mechanical problems.
Q. What is that thumping
noise you sometimes hear after takeoff?
A. That is Vomax, Hell Demon of the Cargo Hold. It is nothing to worry about.
>> You can read the full list here [external site]
Scientists tell us that the fastest animal on earth, with a top speed of 120 feet per second, is a cow that has been dropped out of a helicopter. How long, traveling at top speed, will it take the cow to travel 360 feet?
What happens if a big asteroid hits Earth ? Judging from realistic simulations involving a sledge hammer and a common laboratory frog, we can assume it will be pretty bad.
Today's man knows that he's supposed to be a sensitive and caring relationship partner, and he's making radical life-style changes such as sometimes remembering to remove the used tissue wads from his pockets before depositing his pants on the floor to be picked up by the Laundry Fairy.
Probably the question asked most often is: Do one-celled animals have orgasms? The answer is yes, they have orgasms almost constantly, which is why they don't mind living in pools of warm slime.
So the documentary-makers stick with sharks. Generally, their procedure is to scatter bleeding fish pieces around their boat, so as to infest the waters. I would estimate that the primary food source of sharks today is bleeding fish pieces scattered by people making documentaries. Once the sharks arrive, they are generally fairly listless. The general shark attitude seems to be: "Oh God, another documentary." So the divers have to somehow goad them into attacking, under the guise of Scientific Research. "We know very little about the effect of electricity on sharks," the narrator will say, in a deeply scientific voice. "That is why Todd is going to jab this Great White in the testicles with a cattle prod." The divers keep this kind of thing up until the shark finally gets irritated and snaps at them, and then they act as though this was a totally unexpected and very dangerous development, although clearly it is what they wanted all along.
Dogs love to go for rides. A dog will happily get into any vehicle going anywhere. It is not mere coincidence that the first animal in space was a dog. It went up in a Russian satellite that was clearly never going to come back down, but the Russians didn't have to ask it twice. They just opened the satellite door and the dog bounded enthusiastically inside and blasted into space and spent 189 consecutive hours with its nose pressed against the porthole, barking violently at cosmic rays, until finally the Russians couldn't stand it anymore and turned off the radio receiver.
People often ask me, "Dave, what's the biggest advantage of working at home, other than that you don't have to get dressed until 4:30 p.m., when the pizza-delivery person arrives with breakfast?
I disapprove of the
F-word, not because it's dirty, but because we use it as a substitute for
thoughtful insults, and it frequently leads to violence. What we ought
to do, when we anger each other, say, in traffic, is exchange phone numbers,
so that later on, when we've had time to think of witty and learned insults
or look them up in the library, we could call each other up:
You: Hello? Bob?
You: This is Ed. Remember? The person whose parking space you took last Thursday? Outside of Sears?
Bob: Oh yes! Sure! How are you, Ed?
You: Fine, thanks. Listen, Bob, the reason I'm calling is: "Madam, you may be drunk, but I am ugly, and ..." No, wait. I mean: "you may be ugly, but I am Winston Churchill and ..." No, wait. (Sound of reference book thudding onto the floor.) S-word. Excuse me. Look, Bob, I'm going to have to get back to you.
For my son, Robert, this is proving to be the high-point of his entire life to date. He has had his pajamas on for two, maybe three days now. He has the sense of joyful independence a 5-year-old child gets when he suddenly realizes that he could be operating an acetylene torch in the coat closet and neither parent [because of the flu] would have the strength to object. He has been foraging for his own food, which means his diet consists entirely of "food" substances which are advertised only on Saturday-morning cartoon shows; substances that are the color of jukebox lights and that, for legal reasons, have their names spelled wrong, as in New Creemy Chok-'n'-Cheez Lumps o' Froot ("part of this complete breakfast").
"Outsourcing" is a
business expression that means, in layperson's terms, "sourcing out." It's
a trend that started years ago in manufacturing, which is a business term
that means "making things." You youngsters won't believe this, but there
was a time when Americans actually made physical things called "products"
right here in America... The making of things was outsourced decades ago
to foreign nations such as Asia. Today, we Americans are dimly aware that
our TVs, computers, cell phones, underwear, dentures, cartoons, etc., must
come from SOMEWHERE, but we have no real clue who is making them, or how.
We have enough trouble figuring out how to remove the packaging.
After we stopped making things, America became a "service economy," which is a business term meaning "an economy where it is virtually impossible to get service." But now even our service industries are being outsourced. Take, for example, "technical support," which is the department you call when you're having a technical problem and need to be placed on hold. Today, when you finally get through to a human, he or she is often in a different country...When you take a commercial airline flight, the plane is actually being controlled from India by a 10-year-old girl holding a remote-control joystick in one hand and a lollipop in the other. The "pilot" in the front of your plane is a retired security guard whose sole responsibility is to notice when the plane starts shaking, and make an announcement that you are experiencing turbulence.
Congress recently tried to pass a law against outsourcing, only to discover that all federal legislation since 1997 has actually been produced in Taiwan. So outsourcing is here to stay. Which leads me to my announcement: Starting today, I will no longer personally write my column. It will be produced by foreign humor workers, who, rest assured, are highly trained.
- from "I've found a guy who can do this better than I can"
OK, here's a nostalgia
question: What childhood game does this remind you of?
"Colonel Mustard in the library with a candlestick."
If you answered, "Spin the Bottle," then I frankly do not want to know any more about your childhood. What I'm referring to is, of course, the classic board game "Clue," in which you try to solve a murder by using a logical process of deduction to narrow down the various possibilities until your sister has to go to the bathroom, at which point you cheat by looking at the answer cards. At least that was always my strategy.
- from "Bored Games"
I have not stepped
on a scale in years... When I saw the number on the scale, I was forced
to face a shocking, but unmistakable, fact: The scale was defective. Through
some kind of digital error, it was giving me the weight of a completely
different person, apparently Shaquille O'Neal. Or his car. But eventually
I came to accept the truth: I am overweight. This is not my fault. My body,
without consulting me, has been converting the food I eat into fat.
The problem with human bodies is that they believe that any day now, we'll have another Ice Age, and there won't be any more food, so they need to store up lots of fat. So while our brains are in the 21st century, forcing us to eat salads, our bodies are back in prehistoric times., thinking: "I made 6 ounces of fat today! Bring on the glaciers!" It would be great if we could explain to our bodies that times have changed, and they no longer need to make so much fat.
- from "Overweight? I'm in training for the next Ice Age"
Rule: If there's a
line, you get at the end of the line and you wait your turn. You own ONE
place in the line. You do NOT have the right to invite friends to join
you in the line.
Exception 1: You may invite an immediate family member such as your spouse or child to join you in the line. There are no other exceptions.
Exception 2: Halle Berry.
Rule: If you're in a supermarket checkout line, and you realize that you forgot an item, you're allowed to go get it, provided that (1) you apologize to the people behind you, (2) you know exactly where the item is and (3) you hurry. If you forgot TWO items, take your cart out of line. You are NOT allowed to leave your cart blocking the line while you wander the aisles trying to recall the ingredients for Beef Tongue Flambeau.
Rule: If you're in the express lane, and the sign says 10 ITEMS OR LESS, then you should have no more than ... Okay, we'll allow 12 items. We're not Nazis here.
Exception: Halle Berry can have as many items as she wants
Rule: Do not talk during the movie unless you have something important to say. (Example: "My water just broke.") You may talk quietly during the previews of coming attractions.
- from "Rules To Make the World a Better Place"
This is very bad for the United States. Look at what happened to Great Britain. At one time, there was no Wonderbra, and Great Britain ruled the richest and most powerful empire on Earth. Now, there is a Wonderbra, and Great Britain is a pathetic, shrunken nation with an economy based almost entirely on selling blurred photographs of Princess Diana working out. Imagine what will happen to this nation if large numbers of American women start using the Wonderbra. It will be catastrophic. The male half of the population will be nothing but mindless drooling Zombies of Lust. Granted, this is also true now, but it will be even worse. What can we do about this threat? A nuclear strike against Great Britain would probably be overreacting at this point.
Males have a lot of trouble not looking at breasts. What is worse, males cannot look at breasts and think at the same time. In fact, scientists now believe that the primary biological function of breasts is to make males stupid. This was proved in a famous 1978 laboratory experiment wherein a team of leading male psychological researchers at Yale deliberately looked at photographs of breasts every day for two years, at the end of which they concluded that they had failed to take any notes. "We forgot," they said. "We'll have to do it over."
DAVE BARRY's GUIDE TO COLLEGE
ENGLISH: This involves writing papers about long books you have read little snippets of just before class. Here is a tip on how to get good grades on your English papers: Never say anything about a book that anybody with any common sense would say. For example, suppose you are studying Moby-Dick. Anybody with any common sense would say that Moby-Dick is a big white whale, since the characters in the book refer to it as a big white whale roughly eleven thousand times. So in *your* paper, *you* say Moby-Dick is actually the Republic of Ireland. Your professor, who is sick to death of reading papers and never liked Moby-Dick anyway, will think you are enormously creative. If you can regularly come up with lunatic interpretations of simple s tories, you should major in English.
PHILOSOPHY: Basically, this involves sitting in a room and deciding there is no such thing as reality and then going to lunch. You should major in philosophy if you plan to take a lot of drugs.
All the big corporations depreciate their possessions, and you can, too, provided you use them for business purposes. For example, if you subscribe to the Wall Street Journal, a business-related newspaper, you can deduct the cost of your house, because, in the words of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger in a landmark 1979 tax decision: "Where else are you going to read the paper? Outside? What if it rains?"
What you're talking about is assassination, which is a serious violation of international rules. On the other hand, it is perfetly OK to drop large quantities of bombs on a foreign country, as long as you are not specifically trying to drop one on the foreign leader, which would of course under the rules would be assassination. (These rules are made by lawyers.) The rules also state that, when you drop your bombs, you are supposed to try to gain a Consensus of World Opinion, which is legally defined as 'at least four nations that know how to make a decent car, plus, if he is not off somewhere building a house, Jimmy Carter.'
It is a proven scientific fact that video games are also corrupting American youth. In a recent experiment, scientific researchers exposed a group of teenage boys to an arcade game, and found that all of them had unclean sexual thoughts. Of course, the researchers got the same result when they exposed the boys to coleslaw, an alpaca sweater, and "The MacNeil-Lehrer Report," but that is beside the point. The point is that we should all write letters to our elected officials and urge them to ban video games.
I'm sure most of you have seen the movie E.T., which is the story of an alien who almost dies when he falls into the clutches of the American medical-care establishment, but is saved by preadolescent boys. Everybody believes that the alien is a fake, a triumph of special effects. But watch the movie closely next time. The alien is real! The boys are fakes! Real preadolescent boys would have beaten the alien to death with rocks.
There is only one problem: the aliens have terrible taste. They love game shows, soap operas, Howard Cosell, and "Dallas". Whenever a network tries to take one of these shows off the air, the aliens threaten to vaporize the planet. You know the Wisk commercial, the one with the ring around the collar, the one that is so spectacularly stupid that it makes you wonder why anybody would dream of buying the product? Well, the aliens love that commercial. We all owe a debt of gratitude to the people who make Wisk. They have not sold a single bottle of Wisk in fourteen years, but they have saved the Earth.
Like most people, I can always use an extra 7 or 8 million dollars, which is why today I have decided to write a blockbuster legal thriller. Americans buy legal thrillers by the ton. I was in many airports over the past few months, and I got the impression that aviation authorities were making this announcement over the public-address system: "FEDERAL REGULATIONS PROHIBIT YOU FROM BOARDING A PLANE UNLESS YOU ARE CARRYING 'THE CLIENT' BY JOHN GRISHAM." I mean, EVERYBODY had this book. ("This is the captain speaking. We'll be landing in Seattle instead of Detroit because I want to finish 'The Client."')
"So," she said, and
I could tell by the way she spoke the word that it had quotation marks
around it. "You're a young Southern lawyer resembling a John Grisham protagonist
as much as possible without violating the copyright laws."
"That's right," I replied. "Perhaps we can have sex."
"Not in the first chapter," she said.
- Dave's attempt at a John Grisham book...
June 14: Eight concerned parents in rural Georgia sue the local school district for teaching their children the alphabet, which can be used to form dirty words.
Computers are getting smarter all the time: scientists tell us that soon they will be able to talk to us. (By "they" I mean "computers": I doubt scientists will ever be able to talk to us.)
In most nations, when people say "football", they mean "soccer", which is a completely different game in which smallish persons whiz about on a field while the spectators beat each other up and eventually overthrow the government. I don't know why the other nations call soccer "football," but I suspect it has something to do with the metric system and I say the hell with it.
Like most Americans, I was thrilled to death last February when our wealthy yachting snots won the coveted America's Cup back from Australia's wealthy yachting snots.
Congratulations! You have purchased an extremely fine device that would give you thousands of years of trouble-free service, except that you undoubtedly will destroy it via some typical bonehead consumer maneuver.
Which is why we ask you to PLEASE FOR GOD'S SAKE READ THIS OWNER'S MANUAL CAREFULLY BEFORE YOU UNPACK THE DEVICE. YOU ALREADY UNPACKED IT, DIDN'T YOU? YOU UNPACKED IT AND PLUGGED IT IN AND TURNED IT ON AND FIDDLED WITH THE KNOBS, AND NOW YOUR CHILD, THE SAME CHILD WHO ONCE SHOVED A POLISH SAUSAGE INTO YOUR VIDEOCASSETTE RECORDED AND SET IT ON "FAST FORWARD", THIS CHILD ALSO IS FIDDLING WITH HE KNOBS, RIGHT? AND YOU'RE JUST NOW STARTING TO READ THE INSTRUCTIONS, RIGHT??? WE MIGHT AS WELL JUST BREAK THESE DEVICES RIGHT AT THE FACTORY BEFORE WE SHIP THEM OUT, YOU KNOW THAT?
To understand the importance of financial planning for your retirement years, let's consider the famous true Aesop's fable about the grasshopper and the ant.
It seems that many years ago, there lived a lazy grasshopper and a hardworking ant. All summer long, while the ant was busily networking with other ants and gathering food, the grasshopper sat around drinking vodka gimlets and watching "General Hospital." When winter came, the grasshopper had nothing to eat, while the ant was snug and warm in his cozy little house filled with putrefying chunks of road-kill raccoon. Finally the grasshopper, starving, came to the ant's door and said, "Can I have some food?" And the ant said: "Well, I suppose GAACCKK," and they were both crushed by rocks dropped on them by Boy Scouts on a nature walk. This was a very poor financial decision, when you think how much money these boys could have gotten for a pair of talking insects.
from BABIES & OTHER HAZARDS OF SEX
It is difficult to predict exactly what the doctor's bill for your pregnancy will be, because every situation is different. If your doctor's Mercedes-Benz is running well, he may charge you as little as $2,000; if there are complications, such as that he has been hearing a little ticking sound in the transmission lately, then he may be forced to charge you much more. It is a good idea to "shop around" before you settle on a doctor. Ask about the condition of his Mercedes. Ask about the competence of his mechanic. Don't be shy! After all, you're paying for it.
You must remember that when you are pregnant, you are eating for two. But you must also remember that the other one of you is about the size of a golf ball, so let's not go overboard with it. I mean, a lot of pregnant women eat as though the other person they're eating for is Orson Welles.
Keep in mind that it's a baby you're eating for. If you're going to eat for it, don't eat like an adult; eat like a baby. This doesn't mean you can't have Mallomars; it means you must hold them in your hands until the chocolate melts and then rub it into your hair and the sofa. If you eat at a restaurant, feel free to order that steak you crave, but have the waiter cut it into 650,000 tiny pieces and then refuse to touch them, preferring instead to chew and swallow the cocktail napkin and then throw up a little bit on your dress.
The only problem with disposable diapers is that they are starting to overflow the world's refuse-disposal facilities; scientists now predict that if the present trend continues, by the year 1997 the entire planet will smell like the men's room in a bar frequented by motorcycle gangs. But this is not really as serious as it sounds, because scientists also believe that several years before 1997 the polar ice caps are going to melt. Also, we could always have a nuclear war. So I would definitely go with the disposable diapers.
WEEK 5: The fetus is only 6.7 liters in circumference yet has already developed the ability to shriek in airplanes.
WEEK 10: The fetus is almost 12 millipedes in longitude and has a prehensile tail and wings. It will probably lose these things before it is born.
WEEK 20: The fetus measures 4 on the Richter scale and is perusing mail-order catalogs from the Fisher-Price company.
WEEKS 30-40: The fetus is on vacation.
DAVE BARRY's GREATEST HITS
As an American, you are very fortunate to live in a country (America) where you have many legal rights. This doesn't mean you can do just anything. For example, you can't shout "FIRE!" in a crowded theater. Even if there is a fire, you can't shout it. A union worker has to shout it.
Socially prominent people are very fond of disease, because it gives them a chance to have these really elaborate charity functions, and the newspaper headlines say, "EVENING IN PARIS BALL RAISES MONEY TO FIGHT GOUT" instead of "RICH PEOPLE AMUSE THEMSELVES."
Nov. 24, 1987--The city of Cleveland, Ohio, announces that it has developed tactical nuclear weapons, and does not wish to hear any more jokes.
Camp Sharparoon was a camp for youths from inner-city New York who were popularly known at the time as "disadvantaged," which meant they knew a LOT more about sex than I did. I was in charge of a group of 12- and 13-year-old boys, and when they'd get to talking about sex, I, the counselor, the Voice of Maturity, the Father Figure for these Troubled Children, would listen intently, occasionally contributing helpful words of guidance such as: "Really?" And: "Gosh!" There were times when I would have given my right arm to be a disadvantaged youth.
DAVE BARRY SLEPT HERE
That was the main reason why we wrote this book, aside from wanting to become so wealthy that we shall routinely leave motor yachts as tips. Tragically, many Americans know very little about the history of their own country. We constantly see surveys that reveal this ignorance, especially among our high school students, 78 percent of whom, in a recent nationwide multiple-choice test, identified Abraham Lincoln as "a kind of lobster." That's right: more than three quarters of our nation's youth could not correctly identify the man who invented the telephone.
Thus it was that the Vikings set off across the Atlantic in approximately the year 867--on October 8--to (a) try to locate North America and (b) see if it was flammable. Did these hardy adventurers reach the New World centuries before Columbus? More and more, historians argue that they did, because this would result in a new national holiday, which a lot of historians would get off.
One big causal factor in the Revolution was that England operated under what political scientists describe as "The Insane Venereally Diseased Hunchbacked Homicidal King" system of government. This basically means that for some reason, again possibly the food, the English king always turned out to be a syphilitic hunchbacked lunatic whose basic solution to virtually all problems, including humidity, was to have somebody's head cut off.
The Watergate Scandal, which gets its name from the fact that it was a scandal, began with a breakin of the Democratic National Committee headquarters by a group of burglars so ludicrously incompetent that they obviously had to have some connection with the federal government.
CHRISTMAS SHOPPING : A SURVIVOR's GUIDE
Some of you ... may have decided that, this year, you're going to celebrate it the old-fashioned way, with your family sitting around stringing cranberries and exchanging humble, handmade gifts, like on "The Waltons". Well, you can forget it. I f everybody pulled that kind of subversive stunt, the economy would collapse overnight. The government would have to intervene: it would form a cabinet-level Department of Holiday Gift-Giving, which would spend billions and billions of tax dollars to buy Barbie dolls and electronic games, which it would drop on the populace from Air Force jets, killing and maiming thousands. So, for the good of the nation, you should go along with the Holiday Program. This means you should get a large sum of money and go to a mall.
Now you're ready for
the actual shopping. Your goal should be to get it over with as quickly
as possible, because the longer you stay in the mall, the longer your children
will have to listen to holiday songs on the mall public-address system
, and many of these songs can damage children emotionally. For example:
"Frosty the Snowman" is about a snowman who befriends some children, plays
with them until they learn to love him, then melts.
And "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" is about a young reindeer who, because of a physical deformity, is treated as an outcast by the other reindeer. Then along comes good, old Santa. Does he ignore the deformity? Does he look past Rudolph's nose and respect Rudolph for the sensitive reindeer he is underneath? No.
Santa asks Rudolph to guide his sleigh, as if Rudolph were nothing more than some kind of headlight with legs and a tail. So unless you want your children exposed to this kind of insensitivity, you should shop quickly.
Once you're safely in the mall, you should tie your children to you with ropes so the other shoppers won't try to buy them. Holiday shoppers have been whipped into a frenzy by months of holiday advertisements, and they will buy anything small enough to stuff into a shopping bag. If your children object to being tied, threaten to take them to see Santa Claus; that ought to shut them up.
Consider this: In the United States, an automobile is stolen EVERY 14.7 SECONDS. If that statistic scares you, think how we felt when we made it up.
Gifts for Children --This is easy. You never have to figure out what to get for children, because they will tell you exactly what they want. They spend months and months researching these kinds of things by watching Saturday- morning cartoon -show advertisements. Make sure you get your children exactly what they ask for, even if you disapprove of their choices. If your child thinks he wants Murderous Bob, the Doll with the Face You Can Rip Right Off, you'd better get it. You may be worried that it might help to encourage your child's antisocial tendencies, but believe me, you have not seen antisocial tendencies until you've seen a child who is convinced that he or she did not get the right gift.
You should not use your fireplace, because scientists now believe that, contrary to popular opinion, fireplaces actually remove heat from houses. Really, that's what scientists believe. In fact many scientists actually use their fireplaces to cool their houses in the summer. If you visit a scientist's house on a sultry August day, you'll find a cheerful fire roaring on the hearth and the scientist sitting nearby, remarking on how cool he is and drinking heavily.
If you throw a New Year's Party, the worst thing that you can do would be to throw the kind of party where your guests wake up today, and call you to say they had a nice time. Now you'll be expected to throw another party next year.
What you should do is throw the kind of party where your guest wake up several days from now and call their lawyers to find out if they've been indicted for anything. You want your guests to be so anxious to avoid a recurrence of your party that they immediately start planning parties of their own, a year in advance, just to prevent you from having another one ...
Police: Good evening, are you the host?
Police: We've been getting complaints about this party.
Host: About the drugs?
Host: About the guns, then? Is somebody complaining about the guns?
Police: No, the noise.
Host: Oh, the noise. Well that makes sense because there are no guns or drugs here. (An enormous explosion is heard in the background.) Or fireworks. Who's complaining about the noise? The neighbors?
Police: No, the neighbors fled inland hours ago. Most of the recent complaints have come from Pittsburgh. Do you think you could ask the host to quiet things down?
Host: No Problem. (At this point, a Volkswagon bug with primitive religious symbols drawn on the doors emerges from the living room and roars down the hall, past the police and onto the lawn, where it smashes into a tree. Eight guests tumble out onto the grass, moaning.) See? Things are starting to wind down.
# THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO GUYS
Published in 1995, Dave Barry's Complete Guide to Guys is Dave's attempt to address all those questions that women ask themselves about guys (not to be confused with men). "Dave Barry is well quailfied to write this book, 'having been a guy for as long as I can remember (about three weeks)'." In this book, Dave addresses "such important guy issues as scratching, the Noogie Gene, why guys cannot simultaneously think and look at breasts, the real purpose of the space shuttle, why guys prefer to believe that there is no such thing as a "prostate," why guy sperms have so much trouble locating the egg, why the average guy can remember who won the 1960 World Series, but not necessarily the names of all his children, secret guy orgasm-delaying techniques, including the Margaret Thatcher Method, and many, many more."
I have always dressed according to certain Basic Guy Fashion Rules, including: - Both of your socks should always be the same color. - Or they should at least both be fairly dark. If, when you appear at the breakfast table, your wife laughs so hard that she spits out her toast, you should consider wearing a different tie.
# YEAR REVIEW 1993
7/3/93 -- True Item: In the wake of a massacre at a San Francisco law firm, the head of the California Bar Association says that lawyer jokes are partly responsible.
7/6/93 -- In California, police arrest 23 million people for violating the state's new anti-lawyer-joke law.
7/15/93 -- In the flood-ravaged Midwest, the toll of human misery worsens as thousands of houses are blown down by wind from helicopters carrying news crews and political leaders frowning down with concern.
# YEAR REVIEW 2000
TRUE ITEM: In the War on Smoking, several states take legal steps to protect major tobacco companies from an anticipated huge damage award in a class-action lawsuit. The states need the tobacco companies to stay in business, because, thanks to the tobacco settlement, the states now make more money from the sale of cigarettes than the tobacco companies do. If this makes no sense to you, it's because you're a human, as opposed to a lawyer.
In science, medical researchers announce that they have cloned a $100 bill, and will no longer be dependent upon federal grants.
On the legal front,
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announces a ban on molecules,
which, according to an agency spokesperson "can join together and form chemicals."
In cultural news, bookstores around the country are swamped with orders for the fourth Harry Potter book, "Buy This Book Or Your Children Will Hate You".
In other product-liability news, Smith & Wesson announces that henceforth its handguns will be manufactured so that, when the trigger is pulled, a little stick pops out of the barrel with a flag that says "Bang!" The Clinton administration announces that it will oppose this plan on the grounds that the stick "could poke out an eye."
In another landmark legal action, the federal government's marathon antitrust case against Microsoft comes to an end when a federal judge finds the software giant guilty of being successful.
In medicine, the American
Academy of Pediatrics reports that it has finally tracked down 7-year-old
Matthew Parmogaster, believed to be the only remaining boy in the United
not being treated for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A team of camouflage-wearing doctors is able to creep close enough to the youngster to bring him down
with Ritalin-tipped blowgun darts.
On the legacy front,
President Clinton, with his official entourage of 3,500, flies to Tonga
hopes of brokering a historic peace agreement, only to discover that, tragically, Tonga is an
isolated island nation that has not been at war with anybody for centuries. Tongan officials
express regret, and promise to give Mr. Clinton a holler if they spot any hostile-looking canoes
In another major international development, massive street protests in Yugoslavia force the resignation of President Slobodan Milosevic, who is replaced by Vojislav Kostunica, who promises to "work toward a day when every Yugoslavian citizen has a pronounceable name."
George W. Bush and Al Gore clinch their parties' nominations, thanks to a heartfelt outpouring of money from civic-minded special-interest groups responding to the candidates' calls for campaign-finance reform. John McCain and Bill Bradley both drop out, with each man declaring his sincere support for the opponent he has spent the past several months likening to pond scum. Remaining in the presidential race are Ralph Nader, representing the Flush Your Vote Down the Toilet party, and Pat Buchanan, representing the asteroid belt.
The presidential race heats up as George W. Bush proposes an idea that he came up with recently while reading an index card, which is to allow younger workers to take some of their Social Security money and, as the governor puts it, "investisize in the stocks market or professional baseball teams or whatever and thusly enjoy the labors of their fruits." Vice President Al Gore immediately criticizes this plan as a "risky scheme" that could result in "millions of dead senior citizens," which in turn "could impact global warming." Polls show that this is a hot-button issue with the public, with 50 percent of likely voters wishing they had two other candidates to choose from, and the other 50 percent agreeing.
Vice President Gore unveils his own plan to save Social Security via a complex system of tax credits, grants, loans, stern lectures and mandatory home composting, which Gore would personally direct via a daily two-hour broadcast from the White House. Texas Gov. Bush, after being briefed on the Gore plan by aides using hand puppets, dismisses it as "an unwarrantied inclusion upon the whaddyacallit." Polls show many voters looking into Norwegian citizenship.
George W. Bush meets with his top advisors, who inform him that, after careful consideration, he has selected, as his running mate, Dick "Dick" Cheney, thus balancing the ticket by including a person who speaks at least some English. Bush and Cheney are formally nominated at a convention in Philadelphia featuring a prominent display of minorities, some of whom - in a stark departure from GOP tradition - are not holding hors d'oeuvres trays. The convention is also marked by street demonstrations held by angry young people who hate capitalism and consumerism, and are determined to fight these evils until it's time to go back to college.
Vice President Gore, in a historic move, selects as his running mate Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who is a member of the Jewish faith, which Gore co-founded. Lieberman boldly declares that he is in favor of God, and demonstrates this by demanding that the Hollywood community "stop making disgusting and immoral movies" but "please continue to give us money." Lieberman is seen as a solid choice, but there is tension at the Democratic convention in Los Angeles, where the Gore camp suspects that Bill Clinton is trying to hog the limelight. A Clinton staffer denies this, claiming that "security considerations" led to the decision to have the president enter the convention hall riding a chariot drawn by lions.
# DAVE BARRY IN IRELAND
I recently spent a
week in Ireland, and I can honestly say that I have never been to any place
in the world where it's so easy to partake of the local culture, by which
I mean beer. Ireland also contains history, nice people, enormous quantities
of scenery and a rich cultural heritage, including (more on this later)
Geographically, Ireland is a medium-sized rural island that is slowly but steadily being consumed by sheep. It consists mostly of scenic pastures occasionally interrupted by quaint towns with names such as (these are actual Irish town names) Ardfert, Ballybunion, Coole, Culleybackey, Dingle, Dripsey, Emmoo, Feakle, Fishguard, Gweedore, Inch, Knockaderry, Lack, Leap, Lusk, Maam, Meentullynagarn, Muff, Newmarket-on-Fergus, Nutt's Corner, Oola, Pontoon, Rear Cross, Ringaskiddy, Screeb, Sneem, Spiddle, Spink, Stradbally, Tang and Tempo.
These towns are connected by a modern, state-of-the-art system of medieval roads about the width of a standard bar of hotel soap; the result is that motorists drive as fast as possible in hopes of getting to their destinations before they meet anybody coming the other way. The only thing that prevents everybody from going 120 mph is the nationwide system — probably operated by the Ministry of Traffic Safety — of tractors being driven very slowly by old men wearing caps; you encounter these roughly every two miles, rain or shine, day or night. As an additional safety measure, the roads are also frequented by herds of cows, strolling along and mooing appreciatively at the countryside, reminding you very much of tour groups.
A typical Irish town
consists of several buildings, one of which is always a bar, called a "pub."
Next to this there will typically be another pub, which is adjacent to
several more pubs. Your larger towns may also have a place that sells food,
but this is not critical.
Inside the pubs, you will usually find Irish people, who are very friendly to strangers, especially compared with the British, who as a rule will not voluntarily speak to you until you have lived in Britain for a minimum of 850 years. The Irish, on the other hand, will quickly start a conversation with you, and cheerfully carry it on at great length, with or without your help.
One evening, in a busy Dublin pub, I watched an elderly, well-dressed, cap-wearing gentleman as he sat in the corner and, for two solid hours, struck up a lively conversation with every single person or group who sat within 10 yards of him, including a group of German tourists, only one of whom spoke even a little English. The man spoke to them in a thick brogue on a variety of topics for several minutes while they looked at him with the bright, polite smiles of people who do not have a clue what is being said to them. When he finished, they conferred briefly in German, and then the one who spoke a little English said, quote, "Everyone is pleased that he or she is welcome."
You definitely feel welcome in Ireland. But there's more to do there than just talk to Irish people in pubs. You can also drive around the countryside, alternately remarking "Look, sheep!" and "Here's another tractor!" You can visit a bunch of old castles built by the Normans, who at one point conquered Ireland despite being called the "Normans," which is, let's face it, not an impressive-sounding name. It's kind of like being conquered by the "Freds."
Probably the best-known
castle is the one in the town of Blarney, which contains the famous Blarney
Stone. To get to it, you have to climb steep, narrow, tourist-infested
steps to the top of the castle; there, a local man holds you as you lean
out over the castle wall and kiss the Blarney Stone. Legend has it that
if you do this, you will give the man a tip.
Also at a castle in a town called Kilkenny I saw a local radio station doing a live remote broadcast, featuring a Frozen Food Challenge in which a resident had to answer a multiple-choice question on the history of refrigeration. She got it right, and won a hamper of frozen foods.
"Brilliant!" she said.
But in my opinion the cultural highlight of the trip occurred in the town of Ennis, where a pub called Brandon's had a sign outside that said "Traditional Irish Music." This turned out to be a traditional Irish Elvis impersonator. I realize that there are literally thousands of quality Elvis impersonators, and I'm sure you've seen some excellent ones, but I am here to tell you that this one, in this unremarkable town in western Ireland, was beyond question the worst Elvis impersonator in world history.
He sang along to a tape of instrumental Elvis tunes, which he played on a sound system that he never, not once in two solid hours, got adjusted right. Every time he'd start singing a song, the sound system would screech and honk with feedback; Elvis would then whirl around and spend minutes at a time unsuccessfully adjusting various knobs while he mumbled the lyrics, so that for most of the evening all you saw was Elvis' butt, accompanied by screeching and honking and vague off-key singing.
Often, by the time he'd finished twiddling the knobs, Elvis had lost track of what song he was singing; he'd frown into the distance, trying various tunes until he thought he was on the right track, at which point the screeching and honking would start up, forcing Elvis to whirl back around, like a man being attacked by bees, and treat the audience to another lengthy view of his butt. The crowd, which I will frankly admit was consuming alcoholic beverages, enjoyed this performance immensely, cheering wildly at the end of each song. They like their fun, the Irish. I'm definitely going back some day. Maybe I'll rent a tractor.
- Seen on Jewish World Review
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