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Posts Tagged ‘humor

“I was supposed to say, ‘In a pig’s eye you are,’ what came out was, ‘In a pig’s ass you are.’ Old habits die awfully hard.”*…


Explore expletives at “Strong Language.” (Though it probably goes without saying: NSFW.)

Special word-lover’s bonus:


* Ava Gardner, Ava: My Story


As we flirt with forswearing swearing, we might recall that it was on this date in 1644, at the height of the English Civil War, that Milton’s Areopagitica (or Areopagitica; A speech of Mr. John Milton for the Liberty of Unlicenc’d Printing, to the Parlament of England) was published.  An impassioned philosophical attack on censorship and defense of the principle of a right to freedom of speech and expression, it is regarded as one of the most eloquent arguments for press freedom ever written; indeed, many of its principles form the basis for modern justifications of that right.



Written by LW

November 23, 2015 at 1:01 am

“A Big Mac– the communion wafer of consumption”*…


Hiroyuki Terada, the star of the YouTube series “Diaries of a Master Sushi Chef,” (which has racked up over 40 million views) presents “Will It Sushi?”– the story of an ugly duckling 770-calorie double-decker hamburger and fries that became a swan: an appealing roll of beef and fresh veggies…

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More background at “A master sushi chef makes a roll out of a Big Mac.”

* John Ralston Saul


As we sharpen our knives, we might spare a thought for Art Ginsburg; he died on this date in 2012.  Better known by his professional name, Mr. Food, Ginsburg was a pioneering television chef (on the air from 1975) and best selling author of cookbooks.  He was an enthusiastic advocate of quick and easy cooking, and laid the groundwork for countless celebrity cooks to come.  His catch phrase, “Ooh! It’s so good!”, with which he ended each show, is a registered sound trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.



Written by LW

November 21, 2015 at 1:01 am

“I’m gonna put a curse on you and all your kids will be born completely naked”*…


More at “Rejected Titles for Kids Say the Darnedest Things.” (Younger readers click here for explanatory background.)

* Jimi Hendrix


As we remark that an acorn never falls far from the tree, we might spare a thought for Christian Goldbach; he died on this date in 1764.  A mathematician, lawyer, and historian who studied infinite sums, the theory of curves and the theory of equations, he is best remembered for his correspondence with Leibniz, Euler, and Bernoulli, especially his 1742 letter to Euler containing what is now known as “Goldbach’s conjecture.”

In that letter he outlined his famous proposition:

Every even natural number greater than 2 is equal to the sum of two prime numbers.

It has been checked by computer for vast numbers– up to at least 4 x 1014– but remains unproved.

(Goldbach made another conjecture that every odd number is the sum of three primes; it has been checked by computer for vast numbers, but remains unproved.)

Goldbach’s letter to Euler (source, and larger view)

Written by LW

November 20, 2015 at 1:01 am

“What is that unforgettable line?”*…


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Samuel Beckett: avant-garde dramatist, brooding Nobel Prize winner, poet, and…gritty television detective?

Sadly, no, but he had the makings of a great one, at least as cut together by playwright Danny Thompson, cofounder of Chicago’s Theater Oobleck.

Some twenty five years after Beckett’s death, Thompson—whose credits include the Complete Lost Works of Samuel Beckett as Found in a Dustbin in Paris in an Envelope (Partially Burned) Labeled: Never to Be Performed. Never. Ever. Ever! Or I’ll Sue! I’ll Sue From the Grave!!!repurposed Rosa Veim and Daniel Schmid’s footage of the moody genius wandering around 1969 Berlin into the opening credits of a nonexistent, 70s era Quinn Martin police procedural.

The title sequence hits all the right period notes, from the jazzy graphics to the presentation of its supporting cast: Andre the Giant, Jean Paul Sartre, and Jean “Huggy Bear” Cocteau. (Did you know that Beckett drove a young Andre the Giant to school in real life?)

Thompson ups the verisimilitude by copping Pat Williams’ theme for The Streets of San Francisco and naming the imaginary pilot episode after a collection of Beckett’s short stories

More background– and other (real) 70s title sequences for reference, at “Watch the Opening Credits of an Imaginary 70s Cop Show Starring Samuel Beckett.”

* Samuel Beckett


As we wait for you-know-whom, we might recall that it was on this date in 1983 that the Apollo Theater in Harlem was added to the National Register of Historic Places.  Built in 1913-14 as Hurtig & Seamon’s New Burlesque Theater, and designed by George Keister in the neo-Classical style, the Apollo fell on hard times in the 20s and limped along until, under new management in the 30s, it became a mecca of the Swing Era.  It featured musical acts including Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Chick Webb, and Count Basie, dance acts such as Bill Robinson and the Nicholas Brothers.  And though the theater concentrated on showcasing African-American acts, it also presented such white performers as Harry James, Woody Herman and Charlie Barnet during the swing era, and, later, Dave Brubeck, Stan Getz and Buddy Rich, who was a particular favorite of the Apollo crowd.

The Apollo’s “Amateur Night,” a Monday-night talent contest launched many storied careers, from Ella Fitzgerald and Thelma Carpenter to Jimi Hendrix (who won in 1964).  Others whose careers were hatched or given an early boost at the Apollo include Billie Holiday, Pearl Bailey, Sammy Davis Jr., James Brown & The Famous Flames, King Curtis, Diana Ross &The Supremes, Parliament-Funkadelic, Wilson Pickett, The Miracles, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Rush Brown, Stephanie Mills, Dionne Warwick, Bobby Short, The Jackson 5, Patti LaBelle, Marvin Gaye, Luther Vandross, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Ben E. King, Mariah Carey, The Isley Brothers, Lauryn Hill, Sarah Vaughan, Jazmine Sullivan, Ne-Yo, and Machine Gun Kelly.

Restored 10 years ago, the venue draws an estimated 1.3 million visitors a year.



Written by LW

November 17, 2015 at 1:01 am

“So may the outward shows be least themselves”*…


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Further our our recent look at movie posters that move, Henning Lederer: “How would these great book covers from the past look like when set in motion? Here we go…”


* Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice


As we celebrate cerebration, we might recall that it was on this date in 1851 that Harper & Brothers published Herman Melville‘s novel, Moby Dick; it had appeared in the U.K. about a month earlier as The Whale. Based on Melville’s experience aboard a whaler and dedicated to Melville’s friend Nathaniel Hawthorne, the book received mixed reviews and sold poorly. It is now, of course, considered a classic– the peak of the American Renaissance.

The (altogether-unanimated) title page of first American edition




Written by LW

November 14, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Being perfectly well-dressed gives one a tranquility that no religion can bestow”*…


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Longtime readers will know of your correspondent’s deep affection for Rube Goldberg (see here and here) and those he inspires (see here).  To wit, the above film– the first of a new series– from Joseph Herscher.

* Ralph Waldo Emerson


As we do it the amusing way, we might spare a thought for Blessed John (Johannes, Ioannes) Duns Scotus, O.F.M.; he died on this date in 1308.  One of the most important philosophers of the High Middle Ages (with his arch-rival, William of Ockham), he was a champion of a form of Scholasticism that came to be known as Scotism.

But he may be better remembered as a result of the slurs of 16th Century philosophers, who considered him a sophist– and coined the insult “dunce” (someone incapable of scholarship) from the name “Dunse” given to his followers in the 1500s.


Written by LW

November 8, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Who I am on stage is very, very different to who I am in real life”*…


Beyoncé’s father (pictured above with his daughter at the 2004 Grammy Awards) can make you a star…

It is 10am, and the lights in Houston’s Hobby Center theater dim to black.

“Mathew Knowles was born on January 9, 1951,” a voice booms over the sound system. “Excelling at education and sports,” it continues, he went on to become the “No 1 salesman in the world at Xerox”.

The 75 people in the audience, who have spent up to $320 for a day-long “bootcamp” with Knowles – titled “The entertainment industry: how do I get in?”– might well be wondering what they have paid for.

A video begins to play. We see a series of images of Beyoncé and hear some of her most famous songs. Now we know why we are here. This is a seminar with Beyoncé’s dad. Her former manager.

This is the man who created Destiny’s Child. The man who, according to the voiceover, “took a risk that changed history”. The man who also managed his other daughter Solange. The man whose new book, The DNA of Achievers, is available for purchase in the lobby for $19.95 plus shipping and handling, a price which includes the opportunity to have your photo taken with him at the end of the day…

Partake of the secrets of success at “Can Beyoncé’s dad make me a star? Inside a one-day fame ‘bootcamp’.”

* Beyoncé Knowles


As we reach inside ourselves to make contact with the passion that will propel us, we might recall that it was on this date in 1962 that the Country Music Festival in Nashville kicked off its annual celebration of the form, at which Patsy Cline was named “Queen of Country Music.”  Cline, a stalwart of the early 1960s Nashville sound known for such now-standards as “Crazy” and “I Fall to Pieces,” was one of the first Country artists to cross-over, and was one of the most influential, successful and acclaimed vocalists of the 20th century.  The following year (at the age of 30) she died in the crash of of manager’s private plane.



Written by LW

November 4, 2015 at 1:01 am


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