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Posts Tagged ‘humor

“I’m so hungry I could eat a sandwich from a gas station”*…

 

Seoul Food D.C. restaurant, located inside an Exxon gas station

 

Gas stations have long been synonymous with cold pizza, dried-out doughnuts and mediocre hot dogs rotating on unappetizing roller grills. But in cities like Miami, Kansas City, and even Saxapahaw, N.C., among others, patrons can fuel up on gourmet grub and top off their tanks in one stop…

Gas stations for a long time have been a low-margin business. Owners typically make their real profits not on fuel sales but on the snacks and other items customers purchase when they come inside the station. These latest gas station eats are just taking that business model up a notch or two…

Fill ‘er up at “The Joys of Good Gas Station Food.”

* “Clark Griwold” (Chevy Chase), National Lampoon’s Vacation

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As we pull in to take out, we might send tasty birthday greetings to the culinary genius behind green eggs and ham, Theodor Seuss Geisel, AKA “Dr. Seuss”; he was born on this date in 1904.  After a fascinating series of early-career explorations, Geisel settled on a style that created what turned out to be the perfect “gateway drug” to book addiction for generations of young readers.

The more that you read,

The more things you will know.

The more that you learn,

The more places you’ll go.

I Can Read With My Eyes Shut! (1978)

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Written by LW

March 2, 2015 at 1:01 am

“God made the integers; all the rest is the work of Man”*…

 

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From Alex Bellos: the results of his global online poll to find the world’s favorite number…

The winner?  Seven–  and it wasn’t even close…

Leopold Kronecker

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As we settle for anything but snake eyes, we might send symbolic birthday greetings to John Pell; he was born on this date in 1611.  An English mathematician of accomplishment, he is perhaps best remembered for having introduced the “division sign”– the “obelus”: a short line with dots above and below– into use in English.  It was first used in German by Johann Rahn in 1659 in Teutsche Algebra; Pell’s translation brought the symbol to English-speaking mathematicians.  But Pell was an important influence on Rahn, and edited his book– so may well have been, many scholars believe, the originator of the symbol for this use.  (In any case the symbol wasn’t new to them:  the obelus [derived from the word for “roasting spit” in Greek] had already been used to mark passages in writings that were considered dubious, corrupt or spurious…. a use that surely seems only too appropriate to legions of second and third grade math students.)

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Written by LW

March 1, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work”*…

 

From Boing Boing.

* Aristotle

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As we revisit vocation, we might send thoughtful birthday greetings to Michel Eyquem de Montaigne; he was born on this date in 1533.  Best known during his lifetime as a statesman, Montaigne is remembered for popularizing the essay as a literary form.  His effortless merger of serious intellectual exercises with casual anecdotes and autobiography– and his massive volume Essais (translated literally as “Attempts” or “Trials”)– contain what are, to this day, some of the most widely influential essays ever written.  Montaigne had a powerful influence on writers ever after, from Descartes, Pascal, and Rousseau, through Hazlitt, Emerson, and Nietzsche, to Zweig, Hoffer, and Asimov. Indeed, he’s believed to have been an influence on the later works of Shakespeare.

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Written by LW

February 28, 2015 at 1:01 am

“A serious and good philosophical work could be written consisting entirely of jokes”*…

 

Scene 3: whoops!

 

In an earlier post, I laid out a history of “banana peel” (and orange peel) humor, extending back to the early 1800s. Orange peel-slipping humor dates to at least 1817 and banana peel jokes to 1858.  Banana peel jokes were told on stage in 1890, and Vaudeville performers may have performed banana-slipping gags on stage in the early 1900s.

Peels on Film

When I wrote the earlier post, the earliest banana slipping gag on film that I found was from 1913.  As it turns out, however, the banana slipping gag was already so old and tired by 1912, that advice for aspiring screenwriters cautioned against using it for cheap laughs…

The history of the banana peel gag, at “Peels in Film, Song and Poetry.”

* Ludwig Wittgenstein

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As we watch our steps, we might recall that it was on this date in 1956, at a party in Cambridge, England, that Fulbright Scholar Sylvia Plath met poet Ted Hughes.

…the one man in the room who was as big as his poems, huge… I screamed in myself, thinking, Oh, to give myself crashing, fighting, to you.

Her wish was granted; they were married later that same year.  Plath killed herself, in London, in 1963, several weeks after The Bell Jar came out; in 1981 her Collected Poems (edited by Hughes, who oversaw her posthumous publications) won the Pulitzer Prize.

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Written by LW

February 26, 2015 at 1:01 am

“What’s in a name?”*…

 

Create your own “Hipster Business Names“, courtesy of Connor Skye Riley.

* Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

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As we noodle on nomenclature, we might send ambitious birthday greetings to Count Giovanni Pico della Mirandola; he was born on this date in 1463.  An Italian philosopher, he undertook, in 1486, at the age of 23, to defend 900 theses on religion, philosophy, natural philosophy and magic against all comers, in the process of which he wrote his famous Oration on the Dignity of Man, which has been called the “Manifesto of the Renaissance”; a revitalization of Neo-Platonism, it was a seminal text of Renaissance humanism and of what has been called the “Hermetic Reformation.”

Pico’s portrait, from the Uffizi Gallery in Florence

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Written by LW

February 24, 2015 at 1:01 am

“If the people of New Zealand want to be part of our world, I believe they should hop off their islands, and push ‘em closer”*…

 

 

World Maps Without New Zealand is a stupid side project an attempt to raise the awareness of a very serious and troubling issue we are seeing taking place all around the world: the disrespectful cartographical neglect towards the country that gave you such amazing things as Lord of the Rings, Flight of the Conchords, Lorde, and ZORB. Here, we collect and share the real world examples of this atrocity.

The blog is curated by this guy, who is a humble Auckland based web developer by day, and an extra lazy one by night…

Many, many more at “World Maps Without New Zealand“–“It’s not a very important country most of the time…”

* Lewis Black

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As we get antipodeal, we might recall that it was on this date in 1954, at an athletics meeting in Gisborne (New Zealand), that Yvette Williams broke the long jump record held by Dutch athlete Francine Blankers-Koen.  Williams record of 20 feet 7½ inches (6.29 m) stood for another 18 months.

Williams had already achieved international recognition by winning Gold in the Long Jump event at the at the 1950 Commonwealth Games and at the Helsinki Olympics in 1952.  She took Gold again at the Commonwealth Games later in 1954, but did not surpass her own record.  She was inducted into the New Zealand Hall of Fame in 1990.

Williams, mid-jump

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Written by LW

February 20, 2015 at 1:01 am

“If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever”*…

 

In A System of Elocution, with Special Reference to Gesture, to the Treatment of Stammering, and Defective Articulation (1846), Andrew Comstock set out to illustrate the proper gestures to adopt when public speaking.  Comstock emloyed a figure “acting out” a section from Milton’s Paradise Lost, in which Satan, expelled from Heaven and finding himself in Hell, delivers a speech to awaken his legions…

A physician and professor of elocution at the Vocal and Polyglot Gymnasium in Philadelphia, Comstock was hugely influential in the burgeoning science of elocution in mid-nineteenth-century America.  Among other questionable creations, he invented his own phonetic alphabet to improve the speech of his pupils, an alphabet which was also used to transcribe documents, including the New Testament.

More at “Speech of Satan to his Legions… (with Gestures).”

* Winston Churchill

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As we e-nun-ci-ate, we might recall that it was on this date in 1921 that Jane Heap And Margaret Anderson were sentenced by a federal court.  Heap and Anderson were publishers of The Little Review.  In 1918, they received a copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses from their mutual friend Ezra Pound, and undertook to serialize it in their magazine.  Ulysses ran in the periodical– which also published  Pound, Hart Crane, T. S. Eliot, Ernest Hemingway, William Butler Yeats, Sherwood Anderson, André Breton, Jean Cocteau, Malcolm Cowley, Marcel Duchamp, Ford Madox Ford, Emma Goldman, Vachel Lindsay, Amy Lowell, Francis Picabia, Carl Sandburg, Gertrude Stein, Wallace Stevens, Arthur Waley, and William Carlos Williams– until 1920, when the U.S. Post Office seized and burned four issues of the magazine and charged Anderson and Heap with obscenity.  At the conclusion of the trial, in 1921, the women were fined $100 and and forced to discontinue the serialization.

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Written by LW

February 14, 2015 at 1:01 am

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