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Posts Tagged ‘humor

“Don’t you know what’s goin’ on out there? This is no Sunday School picnic!”*…


zoomable version here

There are 28– 28— follow-up films to Night of the Living Dead… and that’s not counting homages, parodies, or the myriad “of the dead” and “of the living dead” titles that have nothing to do with George A. Romero’s genre-defining original.  Our friends at Den of Geek have the full rundown: “Night of the Living Dead and its 28 Follow-Ups.”


* “Ben,” Night of the Living Dead


As we head for the basement, we might recall that it was on this date in 1988 that Donnie Darko flooded his school… one of the fascinating facts one can glean at The Movie Timeline, a copious compendium that operates on the premise that “everything you see in the movies is true”; real, fictional– if it’s reported to have happened on a given date in a movie, it’s in the list.



Written by LW

October 6, 2015 at 1:01 am

“The greater part of the world’s troubles are due to questions of grammar”*…


Strunk! White! Get your asses in here!

STRUNK and WHITE enter, shooting sidelong glances at each other. Before they can sit, the COMMISSIONER flings a newspaper at them; WHITE clumsily catches it.

Look at this disaster!

WHITE (reading the headlines)
“Police Not Effective as Campus Stalked by Crossword Killer, Student Body in Terror.” Oh, Christ, what a mess.


You’re damn right it is! I just got off the phone with the mayor, and let me tell you, she is not happy!

I can see why. An evasive denial rather than a definite assertion, the passive voice — haven’t the copy writers even taken basic composition? And that gruesome phrase, “student body”! My god! “Studentry” is a much more elegant term! Or simply “students.”

More at “Scenes From Our Unproduced Screenplay: ‘Strunk & White: Grammar Police’.”

* Michel de Montaigne


As we ponder our parsing, we might recall that it was on this date in 1969 that the BBC premiered a new comedy sketch show– then improbably, now legendarily– entitled Monty Python’s Flying Circus.



Written by LW

October 5, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists”*…


U.S. migration patterns changed plenty from 1850 to 2013. A nifty interactive map, created by the Pew Research Center, visualizes these shifts by showing the origin of the dominant immigrant group in each state for every decade during this time period.

The map is a part of a comprehensive report on past and future immigration trends, the main point of which is to highlight the impact of the Immigration Act of 1965. But the map reveals the events, policies, and trends before and after 1965 that shaped the waves of U.S. immigration

More– the history of U.S. immigration and an account Pew’s take on its future– here; play with the interactive map here.

* Franklin D. Roosevelt


As we go with the flow, we might recall that it was on this date in 1957 that television viewers in the U.S. met the quintessential… er, fantastical American family, the Cleavers: Leave It To Beaver premiered (on CBS).

Ward, Wally, June, and Theodore “The Beaver” Cleaver


Written by LW

October 4, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Our inventions mirror our secret wishes”*…


Try your hand at recognizing products from the diagrams, like the one above, submitted with their patent applications: from the collection in the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History, “Can You Guess the Invention Based on These Patent Illustrations?

* Lawrence Durrell


As we turn up the tinkering, we might spare a thought for Freelan Oscar Stanley; he died on this date in 1940.  Working with his twin brother Francis, Stanley developed (in 1883) a dry plate photographic process, and started the very successful Stanley Dry Plate Company (sold to Eastman Kodak in 1905).

But Stanley and his brother are bettered remembered for their second enterprise, the Stanley Motor Company. The brothers began working on steam powered cars in 1897, and built thousands of them them until the 1920s.  At racing events, The Stanley Steamer often competed successfully against gasoline powered cars; indeed, in 1906, it set a world record for fastest mile (28.2 seconds, at a speed of 127 mph).

It’s worth observing that Freelan Stanley shares his passing date with Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot, who died on this date in 1804.  In 1769, Cugnot, a military engineer, invented the world’s first fuel-propelled vehicle–a gun tractor commissioned by the French government.  The following year he produced the first mechanically-driven “horseless carriage”; his steam tricycle, driven by a steam engine, carried four passengers and was the forerunner of the modern motor car– and more specifically, of the Stanley Brothers’ Steamers.

The Stanley Twins, Freelan back/right



Written by LW

October 2, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Ambition is a dream with a V8 engine”*…


From Colin Furze, a DIY project with which to conjure…

email readers click here

Then watch it work…

email readers click here for video

* Elvis Presley


As we’re thoughtful about thrust, we might send birthday greetings to Thomas Crapper; he was baptized on this date in 1836 (his birthdate is unknown).  Crapper popularized the one-piece pedestal flushing toilet that still bears his name in many parts of the English-speaking world.

The flushing toilet was invented by John Harrington in 1596; Joseph Bramah patented the first practical water closet in England in 1778; then in 1852, George Jennings received a patent for the flush-out toilet.  Crapper’s  contribution was promotional ( though he did develop some important related inventions, such as the ballcock): in a time when bathroom fixtures were barely mentionable, Crapper, who was trained as a plumber, set himself up as a “sanitary engineer”; he heavily promoted “sanitary” plumbing and pioneered the concept of the bathroom fittings showroom.  His efforts were hugely successful; he scored a series of Royal Warrants (providing lavatories for Prince, then King Edward, and for George V) and enjoyed huge commercial success.  To this day, manhole covers with Crapper’s company’s name on them in Westminster Abbey are among London’s minor tourist attractions.



Written by LW

September 28, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Since my last report, your child has reached rock bottom and has started to dig”*…


Between 1830 and 1860, historian Carl F. Kaestle has written, American schools, influenced by theories stemming from European educators Joseph Lancaster and Johann Pestalozzi, began to favor the inculcation of “internalized discipline through proper motivation.” In practice, this kind of discipline might include positive reinforcement, like these certificates, as well as corporal punishment. 

Schools that wanted to teach children to be “obedient, punctual, deferential, and task-oriented,” Kaestle writes, were responding to the exigencies of a classroom environment that could easily descend into chaos. (Nineteenth-century schoolrooms might be crowded with large numbers of students or be required to serve a wide variety of ages and abilities; teachers were sometimes young and inexperienced.)

This range of merit certificates shows what kinds of behaviors were valued in 19th-century students: selflessness, “correct deportment,” and diligence…

The digital archive of The Henry Ford has a group of 60 examples of rewards of merit given to 19th-century schoolchildren; more at “School Certificates of Merit For Good Little 19th-Century Boys and Girls.”

* actual comment made by a New York Public School teacher on a report card; see others– equally amusing– here


As we polish the apple, we might spare a thought for Ron Toomer; he died on this date in 2011.  Toomer began his career as an aeronautical engineer who contributed to the heat shields on NASA’s Apollo spacecraft.  But in 1965, he joined Arrow Development, an amusement park ride design company, where he became a legendary creator of steel roller coasters.  His first assignment was “The Run-Away Mine Train” (at Six Flags Over Texas), the first “mine train” ride, and the second steel roller coaster (after Arrow’s Matterhorn Ride at Disneyland).  Toomer went on to design 93 coasters worldwide, and was especially known for his creation of the first “inversion” coasters (he built the first coasters with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7, loops).  In 2000, he was inducted in the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Hall of Fame as a “Living Legend.”

Toomer with his design model for “The Corkscrew,” the first three-inversion coaster


“The Corkscrew” at Cedar Point Amusement Park, Ohio


Written by LW

September 26, 2015 at 1:01 am

“It is harder to let ourselves be loved than it is to love”*…


It should be no real surprise that one of the most capitalist nations in the world would capitalize on an Apostolic visit, even when the visitor is a pope who calls money the devil’s dung

From a G-string for women with a Pope Francis saying: “To live charitably means not looking out for your own interests but carrying the burdens of the weakest and poorest among us” and Pope Francis flip flops, to a microbrewery beer called YOPO—You Only Pope Once (that will be available at the pubs surrounding the Philadelphia venue for the Catholic World Meeting of Families) and a life-size gatorfoam standee posterboard of the pontiff ($160) for anyone who wants to take a papal selfie…  In contrast to Cuba, the Pope’s last stop, vendors are out in force as Francis visits the U.S. for the first time.

More at “Pope Francis Souvenir Shortage Hits Cuba, As U.S. Drowns In Them.”

* Pope Francis


As we “heart” Francis, we might recall that it was on this date in 1555 that Charles V and the forces of the Schmalkaldic League, an alliance of Lutheran princes, meeting in the imperial city of Augsburg (in present-day Bavaria, Germany) signed The Peace of Augsburg, officially ending the religious struggle between the two groups and making the legal division of Christendom permanent within the Holy Roman Empire.

Negotiating the Peace of Augsburg



Written by LW

September 25, 2015 at 1:01 am


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