Betsy Devine: Funny ha-ha and/or funny peculiar

Making trouble today for a better tomorrow…

Betsy Devine: Funny ha-ha and/or funny peculiar header image 2

Entries from July 2003

33% geek and a failure at pornopony

July 31st, 2003 · Comments Off on 33% geek and a failure at pornopony

Here is a one-question quiz with no cgi:

Do you remember “your” golden paper stars on the fifth-grade bulletin board?

o Ewwww. No, you cornball elitist, I do not.
o Yes, yes, yes, I admit it, I longed to push my line of golden stars until it was double the length of Jerry Rovner’s!

I’m solidly in the yes, yes, yes category. Well, Miss Marchand’s bulletin board is gone, but online quizzes still feed my inner nerd.

I no longer answer intelligent questions like “What is the scientific name of the Loch Ness monster?

Instead, I love quizzes that help me figure out if I’m Gryffindor or Ravenclaw–with important questions like “Do you prefer a broadsword to a longbow?” or “Who do you think is sexier, Kirk or Spock?”

Here are a few of my favorite online quizzes:

Happy quizzing, and if you end up with more golden stars than I did–pulleeeeez don’t tell Miss Marchand!

*Nessiteras rhombopteryx

Tags: Metablogging

Dormition and dreams about your children

July 27th, 2003 · 1 Comment

Dormition: Virgin Mary on her deathbed sees Jesus both as a baby and as a young man. A "dormition" is a painting of an elderly saint on his or her deathbed.
I love the once-official iconography for scenes of Mary on her deathbed. Her son stands before her in two different bodies. The grown-up son is there, and so is the baby.

After 1950, such icons (called “Dormitions”) stopped being good Catholic devotions and became heretical, because the Assumption of Mary became official Catholic dogma.  (Translation: she flew up to Heaven instead of dying.) But I digress.

My point is that we see the people we love through kaleidoscope eyes. (Good old Beatles.) That barefoot sleepy guy who just made coffee this morning is the young husband who stood up to armed guards in an Italian airport rather than let a door close between you. He’s the distinguished professor giving a learned talk in a suit you had to bug him for days to get him to buy. He is the funny funky grad student you fell in love with while watching Bobby Fischer. And he is the dirty rat who just ate the bagel I was going to eat.

And for our children, that seeing-double thing goes double. Put them into our dreams and the seeing-double goes triple. My two twenty-something daughters inhabit my dreams with at least ten years age lag. Mickey, the grad student, sometimes manages to be 14, but Mira, now almost a senior in college, hasn’t yet made it past 7. Yes, of course I respect them as adults–at least, when my eyes are open. The truth is, I kind of enjoy having the best of both worlds–grown-up daughters making their own decisions in the real world, little kids I can play with in my dreams.

When I get to my deathbed (not yet, thank you very much), I hope that like the traditional Virgin Mary I get to be surrounded by a kaleidoscope of my memories.

Thanks always to Teresa Nielsen Hayden for talking about such interesting stuff.

Tags: Frank Wilczek · My Back Pages

For example, debugging 10 pages of C++?

July 23rd, 2003 · 4 Comments

”The secret of life is to have a task,
something you devote your entire life to,
something you bring everything to,
every minute of the day for your whole life.
And the most important thing is–
it must be something you cannot possibly do!”

British sculptor Henry Moore, when asked “What is the secret of life?” by NH poet Donald Hall, quoted in Life Work, (1993, just reissued)

Tags: Heroes and funny folks

“Decorated so as to give joy”

July 23rd, 2003 · 1 Comment

Did your grade school celebrate Corn Day? Back in the days when a third of American workers lived on farms, many schools did–in classrooms “decorated so as to give joy and impress the thought that the man who raises a good crop of corn is engaged in an exalted work.”

Amity Wilczek shares some gems from “School Lessons on Corn,” a 1914 USDA pamphlet she found in the Harvard stacks, and offers her own answer to their workshop topic “Why I Think Corn and Boys are Similar.”

Tags: Metablogging

New England: Ads with attitudes

July 23rd, 2003 · 5 Comments

I was sitting in Ruby’s, a fine burger joint and sports bar in York, Maine, pondering a white wine with “charming floral, peach, and honey notes” and a red with “pretty plum and blackberry flavors on a supple frame.”

Mostly I was pondering–Who the heck wrote this menu? Nobody from Maine, New Hampshire, or Vermont.

In the rockbound states of northern New England, we don’t hold with flowery adspeak, including winespeak. Even a Boston wine merchant with an online glossary of wine terms clearly labels it “Parody.”

A New England wine review? How about “This wine screams ‘Have me with a grilled steak’.” (Many screaming wines cost less than six bucks a bottle, up in NH.)

One advertiser, Joyal’s Liquors of West Warwick, RI, offers the following capsule review of its Ravenswood Napa Zinfandel ’00:

“Price: 16.49”

Now, that’s carefully nuanced New England review.

At Ruby’s, I chose a red with “ripe raspberry blueberry mocha and vanilla notes.” The grilled onions on my Barbecue Burger may have obscured its “soft supple finish,” but I left satisfied. I was especially satisfied out in the parking lot as I read Ruby’s big sign, the one that faces the highway. They got a New Englander to write that one, I bet. It said:


Ruby’s on Route One in York, Maine. The wine list screams, “Get me a New England writer!” but the burgers are awesome.

Tags: Boston · New Hampshire!

In the beginning was the dog….

July 21st, 2003 · 3 Comments

On the first day of creation, God created the dog.

On the second day of creation, God created man,
so that man might serve the dog.

On the third day, God created all other animals of the earth
to serve as potential food for the dog.

On the fourth day, God created honest toil
so that man could labor for the good of the dog.

On the fifth day, God created the tennis ball
so that the dog might or might not retrieve it.

On the sixth day, God created veterinary science
to keep the dog healthy and the man broke.

On the seventh day, God wanted to rest……
but He had to walk the dog.

Tags: Learn to write funny


July 20th, 2003 · 5 Comments

Julia: Julia Child, 6 feet 2 inches of enthusiastic womanhood.
About 40 years ago, Julia Child brought French cooking to American TV. Julia was more than 6 feet tall, sublimely obsessed with her own area of expertise, and not in the least what the general public agreed all women should look like, sound like, or act like.

We loved her. She was herself and we recognized this and we loved her.

My pal Halley is getting some flack for her praise of Girlism.* Hey, I enjoy reading Halley’s praise of thong undies, because I have as much fun watching Halley be Halley as I do watching Julia be Julia. And didn’t we feminists march so that women could be free to be the people we want to be?

In a world where women are forced to do French cooking, or wear thong undies, or (worse!) do both together–boy, I would really be in big, big trouble. But I sure don’t want a world where women who thrill to French cooking while wearing thong panties and kicking the butts of bad guys have to shut up and pretend they like something different.

*One of the funniest, sweetest, and most intelligent comments on the controversy was written by big hairy non-girl Dave Winer.

Tags: Heroes and funny folks

Rated ahrrrrrrrr….

July 18th, 2003 · 5 Comments

Pirati: Johnny Depp based his portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow on legendary bad boy Keith Richards, and on legendary cartoon skunk Pepe Le Pew.

Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum
Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest
Drink and the devil had done for the rest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.

All over Prague, posters for Pirati Z Karibiku kept teasing me–now at last, back in the USA, I got to see the new pirate movie.

It is awesomely silly fun–and the awesomely silliest is Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. Depp says his portrayal was inspired by legendary bad boy Keith Richards, and by legendary cartoon skunk Pepe Le Pew.

Super special effects and sword fights, too. For more raves, read Rotten Tomatoes. For fun trailers, see the official website. For one gripe, listen to this: inspired by rum-drinking characters, I went out and bought myself a bottle of rum, and it doesn’t taste good at all. It tastes (to me) like medicine.

Yo ho, ho ho, ho ho, ho–I guess the laugh’s on me.

Tags: Life, the universe, and everything

Kafka, stop bugging your parents…

July 15th, 2003 · Comments Off on Kafka, stop bugging your parents…

Kafka: Little Franz Kafka's parents kept many photos of their darling only son.
Franz Kafka was a cute little boy–the only surviving son of prosperous parents. Many photos from his childhood make clear their pride and affection.

Later, a metamorphosis began. Kafka’s first published work was a diatribe against his family’s noisiness. He wrote a long denunciation of his father, showed it to his mother, and asked her to deliver it–she refused. Kafka continued to live in, and to complain about, his parents’ apartment for most of his life.

I don’t think we need to explore Kafka’s “fundamental metaphysical fear, uncertainty, and alienation” to understand the central image of “Metamorphosis”–

My own delightful children never make me think about hideous bugs, except maybe when Mira gives me cool insectoid presents or Amity blogs about beetles rolling balls of dung by moonlight!

Tags: Life, the universe, and everything

In these shoes?

July 14th, 2003 · 4 Comments

Spike: Silver sandal with 6 inch stiletto heel.

In honor of poor Halley’s wounded foot, let’s remember that hobbling around can be quite glamorous.

I once met a man with a sense of adventure–
He was dressed to thrill wherever he went–
He said, “Let’s make love on a mountain top
Under the stars on a big hard rock”
I said, “In these shoes?
I don’t think so.”
I said, “Honey, let’s do it here.”

So I’m sitting at a bar in Guadalajara
In walks a guy with a faraway look in his eyes
He said, “I’ve got as powerful horse outside
Climb on the back, I’ll take you for a ride
I know a little place, we can get there for the break of day.”
I said, “In these shoes?
No way, Jose.”
I said, “Honey, let’s stay right here.”

No le gusta caminar–no puede montar a caballo.
Como se puede bailar? Es un escandolo.*

Then I met an Englishman
“Oh” he said,
“Won’t you walk up and down my spine?
It makes me feel strangely alive.”
I said, “In these shoes?
I doubt you’d survive.”
I said, “Honey, let’s do it.
Let’s stay right here.”

No le gusta caminar–no puede montar a caballo.
Como se puede bailar? Es un escandolo.

* She doesn’t like to walk–she can’t ride a horse–how can she dance? It’s a scandal.

Tags: Learn to write funny