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

Making trouble today for a better tomorrow…

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Entries Tagged as 'Learn to write funny'

Mathematical love song is punny ha-ha

October 23rd, 2006 · Comments Off on Mathematical love song is punny ha-ha

a taste of fruit

Originally uploaded by

If you know the answer to “What’s yellow and equivalent to the Axiom of Choice, this corny a cappella YouTube video is just for you:

The path of love is never smooth
But mine’s continuous for you
You’re the upper bound in the chains of my heart
You’re my Axiom of Choice, you know it’s true…

Oh, and the answer is “Zorn’s Lemon.”

OK, well, I thought it was funny. Maybe, somehow, you just had to be there.

Tags: Learn to write funny

Paku-paku, Mr. Pac-man!

May 24th, 2006 · Comments Off on Paku-paku, Mr. Pac-man!

“Ho ho ho!” That’s “refined feminine laughter” (sorry, Santa!) at least, according to this comprehensive list of Japanese “manga” sound effects. “Ho ho ho” is distinct from more general laughter (“ha ha ha”), not to mention:

  • fu fu fu (hu hu hu) = a strange laugh. M.J.: “The evil chuckle in the back of the throat.” (see also ku ku ku, pu pu pu)
  • ku, ku ku, ku ku ku = giggle in the throat
  • paku paku = opening and closing mouth, eating, gobbling. This is where Pac-man came from! (see also hau, gatsu)

Now, can you match each sound effect with its definition?

1. uzo uzo A. licking over and over
2. kotsu kotsu B. first the sound of a washing machine, then that of a dryer
3. koto, kotsun C. menace. A sound that evil creatures and nasty plants make. (see also gi gi and go go go)
4. bero bero D. slowly but surely
5. goun, guon E. little clink, like the sound of a glass being put down or a tear gem falling.

That’s 1 – C, 2 – D, 3 -E, 4 – A, and 5 – B. If you got these right, let me offer you pachi, the sound of clapping!

Tags: Learn to write funny

Tom, the loud cat, or enough politics for a while

April 19th, 2006 · Comments Off on Tom, the loud cat, or enough politics for a while

I heard three fine jokes last night from Nick Samios, a former director of Brookhaven National Laboratory. Nick has a great NY accent, so try to hear these jokes as if Nick were telling them to you.

Nick and Sophia Christakos are lying in bed. Sophia says, “Nick, what? You’re keeping me awake, is something the matter?” Nick says, “No, go to sleep.” Sophia says, “Tell me, what is it?” Nick says, “If you must know, I owe Joey Angelopoulos over the way $10,000.” Sophia says, “Let me do something to help you.” She gets up, opens the window and hollers across the street, “Hey, Angelopoulos! Nick Christakos can’t pay you!” She climbs back in bed and says, “There. So now he can’t sleep.”

This is a story about advice, and any story about advice becomes a story about a village rabbi. Two men came to see the rabbi of their village.

The first one said, “Rabbi, I have a pear tree in my yard. My father planted it, I keep it watered and don’t let the chickens peck on its roots. One of its branches hangs over my neighbor’s wall. So what do I see yesterday but my neighbor standing there eating one of my pears. This is theft, and I want him to pay me damages.”

The rabbi nodded his head. “You’re right, you’re right.”

The other neighbor said, “Rabbi, you know that I have seven children–without my garden to feed them, how would I manage? But that tree casts a shadow where nothing will grow. So yesterday, when I go out to dig some potatoes, a pear from his tree falls and hits me right on the head. How am I hurting my neighbor if I eat it? And doesn’t he owe me something for his tree’s blocking sunlight?

The rabbi thought and then said, “You’re right, you’re right.”

Meanwhile, the rabbi’s wife had been hearing all this. “How can you say, ‘You’re right’ to both of these men? Surely one of the men is right, and the other is wrong!”

The rabbi looked unhappy. “You’re right, you’re right.”

Tom the cat was a cat who loved romance. The trouble was, when he made romance he couldn’t keep from singing and making a racket that woke up the neighbors. So finally, after the neighbors complained and complained, his owner took Tom to the vet and got him fixed.

For a while, the neighborhood was quiet. But then, little by little, Tom took up his midnight wandering and singing, softly at first, then louder and louder, until even his owner couldn’t stand it. The owner said, “Tom, what is this? I thought you were fixed!” Tom said, “Yes, but then I thought–why not become a consultant?”

Tags: Learn to write funny

Now we know what the little red hand really means

March 25th, 2006 · Comments Off on Now we know what the little red hand really means

Driving near Harvard Square is…educational. The world’s most aggressive drivers are totally vanquished by the world’s most entitled pedestrians.

Today, as I struggled to drive my car through a short green light, Frank took me to a new level of enlightenment:

Betsy, to the pedestrians who couldn’t hear me: “I don’t suppose it means anything to you that I have a green light here.”

Frank, in the persona of a pedestrian: “It means we can walk but we can’t make eye contact.”

Tags: Frank Wilczek · funny · Learn to write funny

Coders and cannibals: Can you tell them apart?

January 29th, 2006 · Comments Off on Coders and cannibals: Can you tell them apart?

Funny, quick Flash quiz–10 anonymous faces, 10 simple choices. Are you seeing a serial killer? Or somebody who invented a programming language.

I guessed right on Gerald Sussman, but wrong on Sam Berkowitz.

My score: 6 of 10.

Their assessment: I’m not cut out for police work or IT recruitment.

You think that’s funny? I’d like to see you do better!

Tags: Learn to write funny

Aargh, dude! Pomos are indexing my Discourse!

January 25th, 2006 · Comments Off on Aargh, dude! Pomos are indexing my Discourse!

A scholarly pomo analysis of “dude”?

And it comes with a spreadsheet?

As Bill and Ted would say, “Heinous!”

The term is used mainly in situations in which a speaker takes a stance of solidarity or camaraderie, but crucially in a nonchalant, not-too-enthusiastic manner. . . The reason young men use this term is precisely that dude indexes this stance of cool solidarity. Such a stance is especially valuable for young men as they navigate cultural Discourses of young masculinity, which simultaneously demand masculine solidarity, strict heterosexuality, and non-conformity.

It’s enough to send you running to the “aargh” page*…

* Aargh page found via the
Slashdot story about
Google stats on a billion pages of HTML markup, which I won’t excerpt here, but which was pretty darn interesting.

Tags: Learn to write funny

The shaggy-guru “life-is-a-fountain” story

January 12th, 2006 · 1 Comment

“Life is a fountain.” For some reason, this catch-phrase always brings me comfort. It comes from a long shaggy-dog tale I once heard:

A man sold all his possessions and left his family to travel the world, because he wanted to know the meaning of life. After many years of seeking, and near despair, his last hope was a guru who lived high up on a very dangerous mountain. Up the mountain our seeker went, through a thunderstorm, tired and desperate and hungry–his food was all gone, he injured one foot but struggled on with a cane out of a tree branch. Finally, on top of the mountain, there sat the guru, surrounded by tame animals, with bright sunlight breaking through a hole in the clouds to shine all around him.

The seeker staggered forward. “O holy guru, I have given up everything to seek the truth, but it will all be worthwhile if you can answer my question: What is the meaning of life?”

The guru smiled and said, “My son, here is the answer you seek: Life is a fountain.”

After a long pause, the seeker shook his head. “A fountain? I have come thousands of miles to hear your words–my possessions are all gone, I’m starving, I’ll probably die on this mountain–and all you have to say is, life is a fountain?”

The guru trembled. “You mean…it’s not a fountain?”

And, I have to admit, I like the tale even better now that I’ve read these variants by philosopher Robert Nozick:

A man goes to India, consults a sage in a cave and asks him the meaning of life. In three sentences, the sage tells him, the man thanks him and leaves. There are several variants of this story also: In the first, the man lives meaningfully ever after; in the second he makes the sentences public so that everyone then knows the meaning of life; in the third, he sets the sentences to rock music, making his fortune and enabling everyone to whistle the meaning of life; and in the fourth variant, his plane crashes as he is flying off from his meeting with the sage. In the fifth version, the person listening to me tell this story eagerly asks what sentences the sage spoke. And in the sixth version, I tell him.

Anyway, thanks to Jeanne Kane who just sent me email saying how much she enjoyed “It reduces to a problem previously solved”–one of my favorite catch-phrases, which popped up in my podcast with Dave Winer. Jeanne, here’s another favorite, hope you can use it!

Tags: Learn to write funny

“This is no game”: the pep talk to end all pep talks (if only, if only)

January 7th, 2006 · Comments Off on “This is no game”: the pep talk to end all pep talks (if only, if only)

This is no game. You might think this is game, but, trust me, this is no game.

This is not something where rock beats scissors or paper covers rock or rock wraps itself up in paper and gives itself as a present to scissors. This isn’t anything like that. Or where paper types something on itself and sues scissors…

…and that’s just the beginning of a glorious Jack Handey rant, in this week’s New Yorker. Read all the way to the end, and just one more thing.

When you send Jack his $500, send me some too!

Thanks to Bruce Sterling* for the link. And, gratuitously except that you shouldn’t miss Bruce Sterling’s own rant-a-thon from SXSW 2003, thanks also to Cory Doctorow for transcribing it.

Tags: Learn to write funny

Postcard from a bobblehead in transit

January 3rd, 2006 · Comments Off on Postcard from a bobblehead in transit

It is a truth universally acknowledged that postcards beginning “Dear customer” bode no good. And yet….

Dear customer,

I will be arriving in New Hampshire soon. I am in a freight train car in New Jersey and will be leaving soon. I am tired of being in a box and look forward to sitting on your desk.

Yours truly,
John Stark

I wasn’t expecting the postcard I got today from Revolutionary War hero General John Stark. Or maybe I should say a postcard from the John Stark bobblehead doll I ordered last month from the Museum of NH History.

If you had grown up, as I did, in Manchester, NH, near the lovely green hillside called Stark Park, then you too would have grown up admiring John Stark.

  • The Hero of Bennington!
  • The originator of NH’s state motto, “Live Free or Die”! Not to mention,
  • “Tonight our flag floats over yonder hill or Molly Stark sleeps a widow.” (Too long for a license plate, but eloquent.)
  • And now this postcard…

Bravo for the good-humored outreach of somebody at the Museum of NH History! I look forward to doing business there again.

But then, I’m not the one who was tapping my toe, keeping an ear out for the mailman’s arrival. No, that would be my Jane Austen action figure

Tags: Learn to write funny

The eternal triangle isn’t what it was….

November 24th, 2005 · Comments Off on The eternal triangle isn’t what it was….

Via The Zen of Motorcycling, this math-challenged student’s solution to the age old problem:

Tags: Learn to write funny