At, not With
Unintentionally funny moments are everywhere. Like the other day I turned on the radio and heard a political analyst going on and on about handsome this and rich-guy that and phony this and no-military-service that and not-fit-to-be-President the other and I thought, boy, they're really letting Bush have it but oops, it turned out to be someone talking about John Edwards. It made me laugh out loud. Because if there's one human being on the planet not fit to be President of the United States, it's that megalomaniac hick who's currently holding the office. But that's just the tip of the unintentionally funny iceberg:
Academics should hold a homecoming
At Ben's freshman orientation seminar at the University of Kentucky, the presenters kept absentmindedly referring to basketball as if they were love-struck adolescents daydreaming about Orlando Bloom. At times you felt like reminding them that the basketball program has a university attached to it. One presenter mentioned important holidays: "Thanksgiving, Christmas, Ballgames..." And in an unintentional slap at the football program, one presenter provided parking advice for students attending a "ballgame or a football game." I guess "basket" needs no introduction. In the category of unintentionally funny non-basketball moments, the Parents-Association representative slightly oversold the benefit of the association's Web-based e-mail (as if that weren't available everywhere on the Web for free) by describing it as "e-mail for life."
Lawyers seeking lawyers
Indicator number 11,143 that the Republicans are in trouble: The city of New York expects to arrest as many as 1000 protestors per day at the Republican Convention. The National Lawyers Guild is plaintively pleading for lawyers to provide pro bono services to the thousands who will be arrested. Seems some people believe the choice of New York as the site and September as the month is more than coincidence. If you're going to New York to protest, don't forget your "Weapons of Mass Seduction" thong and your "Leave No Billionaire Behind" bumper sticker.
Treat her like a lady
On a recent Saturday, Louisville radio station WFPK's Laura Shine -- one of the city's finest DJs -- took the day off. Sitting in was former commercial jock Duke Meyer, a man who has struggled to tame his rock-radio tongue since coming to hyper-laid-back public radio. When it came time for Laura Shine's signature "Woman Waves" segment -- a really cool show highlighting women artists -- Duke repeatedly referred to the artists as "ladies" and told a pervy story of wanting to rock Nancy Sinatra's signature boots, whereupon he played the camptastic "These Boots Were Made For Walkin'." Duke: Won't you please join us in the Two Thousands?
Demon businesses, is more like it
I grew up in a retail family, where the customer was always right. Well, it turns out the customer ISN'T always right. Banks and retailers and other companies are giving "demon customers" the boot for being troublesome and unprofitable. Some of these demon customers buy products that include rebates, send in for the rebate, and then return the products. Others simply annoy the companies by tying up salespeople but never buying anything. Gosh, those poor companies. Because THEY would never behave like demons. Those banks would never charge outrageous ATM fees or usurious lending rates or prey on financially strapped people by issuing credit cards charging 18% interest. And those retailers would never use bait-and-switch advertising practices or sell defective products or employ salespeople so rude they make Don Rickles look like the Dalai Lama. Earth to companies: HelLO? Some customers are assholes. It's a hallowed tenet of commerce. In her store, my mom put up with jerks, shoplifters, criminals, tightwads, and the certifiably insane for forty years and never acted like a crybaby about it. She could teach you a thing or two about running a company. "Demon customers." Ha, ha, ha.
Three nice mice
Laura Rose is volunteering this summer at a pre-school. The other day she came home making fun of (chip off the ol' block) a variation on an old song they taught the toddlers that goes, "Three Nice Mice, Three Nice Mice, See How They Care." I suggested that we've been teaching our children gruesome nursery rhymes about getting things cut off with carving knives and babies falling out of trees and look where it's got us: war, violent crime, and brutality all the world over. So maybe three nice, caring mice isn't such a bad idea. And then after a couple seconds of silence, we rolled our eyes and had a good laugh.
Give a dog a bone
Researchers at Emory University in Atlanta recently reported on a study that confirms that people prefer hard work over handouts. The study followed Prince Charles and that guy down at the end of the alley with the grocery cart full of aluminum cans and concluded that Prince Charles seemed less satisfied with his lot in life. No, really, they measured brain activity in two groups of volunteers who were playing money-based computer games. One group had to work to achieve money, the other won money without having to earn it. The brains of those who had to work were more stimulated. No big surprise there. But isn't it funny that the researchers, being American, used *money* as the computer-simulated reward to test the work-vs.-handout theory, presumably ruling out other things worth working for, such as love and happiness and freedom and compassion and beauty and art and romance and peace and honor and kindness and justice and, oh, say, heaven or fostering an attitude of loving kindness toward all sentient beings or even champagne bongs or tekka maki or sex or Krispy Kremes? Less funny: Emory, no stranger to money, got in hot water last year for using brain research to test how people respond to product marketing. Well, ick.
First gas-station attendants and now this
If you've ever gone to a job interview only to be screened by an HR professional and you looked that HR professional in the eye and thought, "Gee, you couldn't possibly be any more vapid or more bureaucratic or less human or less compassionate or less competent to judge my suitability for this job," you were wrong. Employers are increasingly using *computers* to screen job applicants, forcing them to complete multiple-choice personality profiles online before being selected by the computer to speak with an actual human. At least we're starting to get a clearer picture about which workers can most easily be replaced by robots.
NPR: font of hilarity
A recent "underwriter" of NPR's Morning Edition was something called Dux, which meant that their smooth-voiced narrator had to say what sounded like, "Morning Edition is made possible by ducks." Quack! Another sponsor is an insurance company called Allianz (which sounds on the radio like Ollie Onz). They make the smooth-voiced fellow say, "At Ollie Onz, our vision is for all Americans to achieve financial independence." Now, I'm not one to diss ambitious goals, but I can't help but wonder if Ollie Onz really means ALL Americans, like the 12,000 homeless people in Louisville or the millions of working poor in America or this man and his dog. Hey Ollie, kudos for the optimism, but shouldn't we maybe first think about feeding and sheltering and educating and providing jobs for ALL Americans, ha ha ha?
Coffee of dictators
When violent storms blew through Louisville last Tuesday we lost power and I was forced to go to go to a coffee shop for my morning buzz. The shop is called Starbucks (maybe you've heard of it). It's fun to go there and order a "large coffee" because it drives them nuts if you don't order "grande" or "venti" or "Low-fat mocha valencia half-and-half macciato soy frapuccino chai hold the stupid, made up marketing lingo and leave enough room for pretentiousness." I didn't pay attention to the "Coffee of the Week" written on the chalkboard behind the counter; if I had, I'd have noticed it was something called "Ethopian Sidamo." Of course, the diminutive barista got pissed when I asked for a large coffee and bellowed what sounded like, "venti Saddam-O!" Terrified, I vowed then and there never to fuck with the Starbucks personnel ever again.
It's so important to laugh, don't you think? Send me your unintentionally funny moments.