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Posts Tagged ‘People’

Happiness
By Carl Sandburg

Sandburg C

Carl August Sandburg (1878-1967)

I asked the professors who teach the meaning of life
to tell me what is happiness.
And I went to famous executives who boss the work of
thousands of men.
They all shook their heads and gave me a smile as though
I was trying to fool with them.
And then one Sunday afternoon I wandered out along
the Desplaines river
And I saw a crowd of Hungarians under the trees with
their women and children and a keg of beer and an
accordion.

———

Pad, Pad
By Stevie Smith

Smith FM

Florence Margaret Smith (1902-1971)

I always remember your beautiful flowers
And the beautiful kimono you wore
When you sat on the couch
With that tigerish crouch
And told me you loved me no more.

What I cannot remember is how I felt when you were unkind.
All I know is, if you were unkind now I should not mind.
Ah me, the power to feel exaggerated, angry and sad
The years have taken from me. Softly I go now, pad pad.

———

Opportunity
By John James Ingalls

Ingalls JJ

John James Ingalls (1833-1900)

Master of human destinies am I;
Fame, love and fortune on my footsteps wait.
Cities and fields I walk. I penetrate
Deserts and seas remote, and, passing by
Hovel and mart and palace, soon or late,
I knock unbidden once at every gate.

If sleeping, wake; if feasting, rise, before
I turn away. It is the hour of fate,
And they who follow me reach every state
Mortals desire, and conquer every foe
Save death; but those who hesitate
Condemned to failure, penury and woe,
Seek me in vain, and uselessly implore.
I answer not, and I return no more.

———

Text
By Carol Ann Duffy

Duffy CA

Carol Ann Duffy (B. 1955)

I tend the mobile now
like an injured bird

We text, text, text
our significant words.

I re-read your first,
your second, your third,

look for your small xx,
feeling absurd.

The codes we send
arrive with a broken chord.

I try to picture your hands,
their image is blurred.

Nothing my thumbs press
will ever be heard.

———

To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time
By Robert Herrick

Herrick R

Robert Herrick (1591-1674)

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry;
For having lost but once your prime,
You may forever tarry.

 

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Tune o’ the Day

In the 50 years from 1940 to 1990, the five most prolific songwriters in the recording business were Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Kris Kristofferson, Jimmy Webb, and Buck Ram. Buck Ram? Probably the best songwriter you’ve never heard of.

At various times, he wrote, produced, and arranged hit songs for Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby, Glenn Miller, Ike and Tina Turner, The Drifters, The Coasters, and The Platters.

Ram wrote “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “I’m Sorry,” and “Sweet Sixteen.” For The Platters, he wrote “Only You,” “The Great Pretender,” “Heaven on Earth,” “Remember When,” “(You’ve Got) The Magic Touch,” and “Twilight Time.”

According to Ram, he originally wrote “Twilight Time” as a poem while in college, and in 1944, the Three Suns added the music. The song was first recorded in 1945 by the Jimmy Dorsey band. In 1958, The Platters released the version most people remember.

Quite a story. And as far as I’m concerned, “Twilight Time” works fine either way — poem or song.

The Platters

Twilight Time

By The Platters, 1958
Written by Buck Ram, Artie Dunn, Al Nevins, and Morty Nevins

Heavenly shades of night are falling.
It’s twilight time.
Out of the mist your voice is calling.
It’s twilight time.
When purple-colored curtains mark the end of day,
I’ll hear you, my dear, at twilight time.

Deepening shadows gather splendor
As day is done.
Fingers of night will soon surrender
The setting sun.
I count the moments, darling, till you’re here with me.
Together, at last, at twilight time.

Here, in the afterglow of day,
We keep our rendezvous
Beneath the blue.
And, in the sweet and same old way,
I fall in love again, as I did then.

Deep in the dark, your kiss will thrill me
Like days of old.
Lighting the spark of love that fills me
With dreams untold.
Each day, I pray for evening, just to be with you.
Together, at last, at twilight time.

Here, in the afterglow of day,
We keep our rendezvous
Beneath the blue.
And, in the sweet and same old way,
I fall in love again, as I did then.

Deep in the dark, your kiss will thrill me
Like days of old.
Lighting the spark of love that fills me
With dreams untold.
Each day, I pray for evening, just to be with you.
Together, at last, at twilight time.
Together, at last, at twilight time.

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There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

— Isaac Asimov

###

Do not mind anything that anyone tells you about anyone else. Judge everyone and everything for yourself.

— Henry James

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Friends and good manners will carry you where money won’t go.

— Margaret Walker

###

What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left.

— Oscar Levant

Asimov I

Asimov

Levant O

Levant

 

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Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. (1858-1919), the son of socialite parents, was a fascinating and influential figure in American history. At various times, he was a working cowboy, Rough Rider, scholar of naval history, writer, conservationist, and politician. He served as the 33rd Governor of New York, the 25th Vice President, and the 26th President.

Roosevelt was an exuberant personality with a spirited joie de vivre. His public image (and self-image) was that of a robust, manly man. I’ve written about him several times on this blog, to wit “Teddy and Edwin,” “Princess Alice,” and “To Mar the Wonderful Grandeur.”

When Roosevelt and his family moved into the White House in 1901, they proved to be, no surprise, a colorful and entertaining bunch. Teddy was Teddy, and the six Roosevelt children (Quentin, Archie, Ethel, Kermit, Ted Jr., and Alice, ranging in age from four to 17) were pampered and high-spirited.

The Roosevelts, all of them, were ardent animal lovers. During Teddy’s eight years in office, a wide range of pets, livestock, and exotic creatures resided in and around the White House.

TR-1

Teddy and friends.

Among the family dogs were Manchu, a Pekingese; Sailor Boy, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever; Pete, most likely a Bull Terrier; Rollo, a 200-pound Saint Bernard; Skip, a Rat Terrier mix; and Jack, a Manchester Terrier.

Stabled on the White House grounds were 10 horses (Bleistein, Grey Dawn, Jocko Root, Renown, Roswell, Rusty, Wyoming, General, Judge, and Yagenka) and two ponies for the children (Algonquin and General Grant).

Other family pets: five guinea pigs (Admiral Dewey, Dr. Johnson, Bishop Doane, Fighting Bob Evans, and Father O’Grady); Eli Yale, a blue macaw; Loretta the parrot; and two cats, Tom Quartz and Slippers.

TR-2

Quentin and Slippers.

Alice, the oldest child, had a pet snake named Emily Spinach. She explained that it was as green as spinach and as thin as her Aunt Emily.

Also part of the Roosevelt menagerie: Jonathan, a piebald rat; two kangaroo rats; a flying squirrel; a barn owl; two parrots; a raccoon; a coyote; a zebra; a wildcat; five bears; Joe the lion; and Bill the hyena.

Also, Maude, a white pig; Peter the rabbit; Bill the lizard; Baron Spreckle, a hen; and a one-legged rooster whose name I couldn’t ferret out.

TR-3

Manchu was a black Pekingese, a gift to Alice from the Empress of China. Alice relished the dramatic, and she claimed she once saw Manchu dancing on his hind legs on the White House lawn in the moonlight.

Teddy wrote that one of his favorite dogs, Sailor Boy, “had a masterful temperament and a strong sense of both dignity and duty.” He said the dog always broke up fights among the other dogs and “himself never fought unless circumstances imperatively demanded it.”

In 1907, the President wrote to his son Kermit that Pete the Bull Terrier had killed four squirrels. Teddy said it was proof that “the squirrels were getting so careless that something was sure to kill them anyhow.”

In time, Pete acquired the unfortunate habit of biting people. His victims included a naval officer, a policeman, and a cabinet minister. At first, Teddy said it was “the nature of the breed,” and he resisted getting rid of Pete.

But Pete sealed his own fate when he attacked the French Ambassador. Reportedly, Pete chased the Ambassador down a White House corridor, caught him, and tore the bottom out of his pants.

The French government filed a formal complaint; Pete was exiled to the family’s Long Island estate.

Teddy bragged that Jack the Manchester Terrier “was human in his intelligence and affection; he learned all kinds of tricks and was a high-bred gentleman.” Jack also was known to gnaw on books, and he was afraid of the female cat, Tom Quartz.

When Jack died, he was buried on the White House grounds. But the First Lady soon had second thoughts. She said she didn’t want to leave Jack behind “beneath the eyes of presidents who might care nothing for little black dogs.” Accordingly, when the Roosevelts left Washington in 1908, Jack’s remains were moved to the family estate on Long Island.

TR-4

Jack the Manchester Terrier.

Algonquin was a Shetland pony belonging to Archie. In 1903, while Archie was in bed recovering from measles, he told his mother he missed Algonquin and wanted to go to the stables to see him. His mother told Archie he was too ill and needed to stay in bed.

While Archie sulked, one of the stable hands suggested to the First Lady that they bring the pony to Archie. With the First Lady’s approval, Algonquin was walked into the White House, onto an elevator, up to the second floor, and down the hall to Archie’s bedroom, where a joyful reunion ensued.

TR-5

Archie astride Algonquin.

Eli Yale, a Hyacinth Macaw, was the beloved pet of 14-year-old Ted Jr. The bird was named after Elihu Yale, the British philanthropist and namesake of Yale University. The President wrote, “Eli is the most gorgeous macaw, with a bill that I think could bite through boilerplate, who crawls all over Ted, and whom I view with dark suspicion.”

TR-6

Ted Jr. and Eli Yale.

Archie had a pet badger named Josiah that was said to be friendly, but occasionally short-tempered. Once, when Teddy saw Archie carrying Josiah in his arms, he warned his son that the badger might bite his face.

Archie replied, “He bites legs sometimes, but he never bites faces.”

TR-7

Archie and Josiah.

Most of the exotic and wild animals were gifts from world leaders. Bill the hyena, for example, was presented to Roosevelt in 1904 by the Emperor of Ethiopia.

According to White House archives, Teddy was reluctant to accept the animal, being of the opinion that hyenas are cowardly creatures.

But he relented, and soon, Bill was allowed inside the White House, where he was known to beg for scraps at the dinner table.

Joe the lion, also a gift from the Emperor of Ethiopia, never set a paw on the White House grounds. Like the zebra, the wildcat, and others, Joe was taken on arrival to the National Zoo.

For reasons I couldn’t determine, Bill the hyena eventually joined him there.

TR-8

The Roosevelt family. Left to right: Quentin, Teddy, Ted Jr., Archie, Alice, Kermit, Edith, and Ethel.

 

 

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The Questions…

1. The Pentagon, headquarters of the Department of Defense, has 284 restrooms, twice as many as the occupant level requires. Why is that?

2. What American president financed his first run for public office with poker winnings?

3. Canada has more lakes than the rest of the world combined. How many?

4. In 1865, Robert Todd Lincoln, the oldest son of President Abraham Lincoln, fell from a platform in a busy New Jersey train station into the path of an oncoming train. Who stepped forward from the crowd and pulled young Lincoln to safety?

5. Rodney Dangerfield, the “I don’t get no respect” comedian, died in 2004 and is buried in Westwood Cemetery in Los Angeles. What epitaph is inscribed on his tombstone?

The Answers…

1. When the Pentagon was under construction in 1943, Virginia insisted that it have racially segregated restrooms in accordance with state law. To avoid a hassle, the feds complied and built extra restrooms. But they never posted white and colored signs, thus leaving the facilities open to both black and white employees. Touché.

2. Richard Nixon. He was a skillful poker player while an ensign in the Navy, and he used $5,000 of his winnings to finance his successful run for Congress in 1946.

3. Nobody knows exactly, but at least three million.

4. The well-known actor Edwin Booth. A few months later, Booth’s brother John assassinated President Lincoln.

5. “…There goes the neighborhood.”

Pentagon

Dangerfield

 

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More comedy routines by the great George Carlin, may his memory long endure.

———

I Love My Dog

I love my dog. I love all my dogs. I love every dog I ever had. I remember ’em all. And I love every one of ’em. Still love all my dogs, and I’ve had me a lot of (expletive deleted) dogs.

In my lifetime, I have had me a bunch of different dogs. Because you do keep getting a new dog, don’t you? You just keep getting one dog right after another.

That’s the whole secret of life. Life is a series of dogs. It’s true! You just keep getting a new dog, don’t you? That’s what’s good about them. They don’t live too long, and you can go get a new (expletive deleted) dog.

Sometimes, you can get a dog that looks exactly like the dog you used to have. Right? You shop around a little bit, and you find a dog identical to your former dog.

And that’s real handy, ’cause you don’t have to change the pictures on your mirror or anything. Right? You just bring the dead one into the pet shop, throw him up on the counter, and say, “Give me another one of them. That one was real good.” And they’ll give you a carbon copy of your ex-(expletive deleted) dog.

Now, my favorite dog that I ever had in my whole lifetime was Tippy. Tippy was a good dog. Some of you remember I’ve talked about Tippy. Tippy was a good dog. Tippy was a mixed terrier. You know, that word mixed that the veterinarian puts on the form when even HE don’t know what the (expletive deleted) you got.

You bring in a little mixed puppy to a veterinarian and say, “What is it?” He’ll say, “Well, it’s definitely not a monkey.” Tippy was actually part Dodge Dart.

Poor Tippy was full of guilt. So much so, in fact, she’s the only dog I ever had who committed suicide.

Yeah, well, we don’t say it like that around the house. We say she put herself to sleep. But she ran out in front of a milk truck. That’s (expletive deleted) suicide.

But that was her decision. That’s what Tippy wanted to do. And that’s the way it is in our family. If you want to commit suicide, we back you up.

So, we supported Tippy in her little suicide decision. Then we brought her into the pet shop, threw her up on the counter, and said, “Give us something bigger. We’re trading up.”

We was looking for a bigger (expletive deleted) dog, ’cause Tippy had been teeny, even before the truck came by. Truck had made her teenier. Ha. Wider, but teenier.

Carlin-4

Euphemisms

I don’t like words that hide the truth. I don’t like words that conceal reality. I don’t like euphemisms or euphemistic language.

And American English is loaded with euphemisms. ‘Cause Americans have a lot of trouble dealing with reality. Americans have trouble facing the truth, so they invent kind of a soft language to protect themselves from it. And it gets worse with every generation. For some reason, it just keeps getting worse.

I’ll give you an example of that. There’s a condition in combat. Most people know about it. It’s when a fighting person’s nervous system has been stressed to it’s absolute peak and maximum. Can’t take any more input. The nervous system has either snapped or is about to snap.

In the First World War, that condition was called shell shock. Simple, honest, direct language. Two syllables, shell shock. Almost sounds like the guns themselves.

That was 70 years ago. Then a whole generation went by, and the Second World War came along, and very same combat condition was called battle fatigue.

Four syllables now. Takes a little longer to say. Doesn’t seem to hurt as much. Fatigue is a nicer word than shock. Shell shock! Battle fatigue.

Then we had the war in Korea, 1950. Madison Avenue was riding high by that time, and the very same combat condition was called operational exhaustion.

Hey, we’re up to eight syllables now, and the humanity has been squeezed completely out of the phrase. It’s totally sterile now. Operational exhaustion. Sounds like something that might happen to your car.

Then, of course, came the war in Vietnam, which has only been over for about 16 or 17 years, and thanks to the lies and deceits surrounding that war, I guess it’s no surprise that the very same condition was called post-traumatic stress disorder.

Still eight syllables, but we’ve added a hyphen! And the pain is completely buried under jargon. Post-traumatic stress disorder.

I’ll bet you if we were still calling it shell shock, some of those Vietnam veterans might have gotten the attention they needed at the time. I’ll betcha. I’ll betcha.

But, it didn’t happen, and one of the reasons is because we were using that soft language. That language that takes the life out of life. And it is a function of time. It does keep getting worse.

I’ll give you another example. Sometime during my life, toilet paper became bathroom tissue. I wasn’t notified of this. No one asked me if I agreed with it. It just happened. Toilet paper became bathroom tissue.

Sneakers became running shoes. False teeth became dental appliances. Medicine became medication. Information became directory assistance. The dump became the landfill.

Car crashes became automobile accidents. Partly cloudy became partly sunny. Motels became motor lodges. House trailers became mobile homes. Used cars became previously-owned vehicles.

Room service became guest-room dining. Riots became civil disorders. Strikes became job actions. Zoos became wildlife parks.

Jungles became rain forests. Swamps became wetlands. Glasses became prescription eyewear.

Drug addiction became substance abuse. Soap operas became daytime dramas.

Gambling joints became gaming resorts. Prostitutes became sex workers. Theaters became performing arts centers. Wife-beating became domestic violence. Constipation became occasional irregularity.

When I was a little kid, if I got sick, they wanted me to go to the hospital and see a doctor. Now they want me to go to a health maintenance organization, or a wellness center, to consult a healthcare delivery professional.

Poor people used to live in slums. Now the economically disadvantaged occupy substandard housing in the inner cities.

And they’re broke! They’re broke! They don’t have a negative cash-flow position. They’re (expletive deleted) broke!

‘Cause a lot of them were fired, you know. Fired. Management wanted to curtail redundancies in the human resources area, so many people are no longer viable members of the workforce.

Smug, greedy, well-fed white people have invented a language to conceal their sins. It’s as simple as that.

The CIA doesn’t kill anybody anymore, they neutralize people. Or they depopulate the area.

The government doesn’t lie, it engages in disinformation. The Pentagon actually measures nuclear radiation in something they call sunshine units.

Israeli murderers are called commandos. Arab commandos are called terrorists. Contra killers are called freedom fighters.

Well, if crime fighters fight crime and fire fighters fight fire, what do freedom fighters fight? They never mention that part of it to us, do they? Never mention that part of it.

And some of this stuff is just silly, we all know that. Like on the airlines, they say, “Want to pre-board?” Well, what the hell is pre-board? What does that mean? To get on before you get on?

They say they’re going to pre-board those passengers in need of special assistance. Cripples! Simple honest direct language. There is no shame attached to the word cripple that I can find in any dictionary. No shame attached to it. In fact, it’s a word used in bible translations. Jesus healed the cripples. Doesn’t take seven words to describe that condition.

But we don’t have any cripples in this country anymore. We have the physically challenged. Is that a grotesque enough evasion for you? How about differently abled. I’ve heard them called that. Differently abled! You can’t even call these people handicapped anymore. They’ll say, “We’re not handicapped. We’re handicapable!”

These poor people have been (expletive deleted) by the system into believing that if you change the name of the condition, somehow you’ll change the condition. Well, hey, cousin — ppsssppttttt. Doesn’t happen. Doesn’t happen.

We have no more deaf people in this country. Hearing impaired.

No one’s blind anymore. Partially sighted or visually impaired.

We have no more stupid people. Everyone has a learning disorder. Or he’s minimally exceptional. How would you like to be told that about your child? He’s minimally exceptional. Oooh, thank God for that!

Psychologists actually have started calling ugly people those with severe appearance deficits.

And we have no more old people in this country. No more old people. We shipped them all away, and we brought in these senior citizens. Isn’t that a typically American 20th Century phrase? Bloodless, lifeless, no pulse in one of them. A senior citizen.

But I’ve accepted that one, I’ve come to terms with it. I know it’s here to stay. We’ll never get rid of it. That’s what they’re going to be called, so I’ll relax on that.

But the one I do resist, the one I keep resisting, is when they look at an old guy and they’ll say, “Look at him Dan! He’s 90 years young.”

Imagine the fear of aging that reveals. To not even be able to use the word old to describe somebody. To have to use an antonym.

And fear of aging is natural. It’s universal, isn’t it? We all have that. No one wants to get old. No one wants to die, but we do! So we (expletive deleted) ourselves.

I started (expletive deleted) myself when I got to my forties. As soon as I got into my forties, I’d look in the mirror and I’d say, “well, I guess I’m getting… older.”

Older sounds a little better than old, doesn’t it? Sounds like it might even last a little longer.

(Expletive deleted.) I’m getting old!

And it’s okay, because, thanks to our fear of death in this country, I won’t have to die. I’ll pass away. Or I’ll expire, like a magazine subscription.

If it happens in the hospital, they’ll call it a terminal episode. The insurance company will refer to it as negative patient-care outcome. And if it’s the result of malpractice, they’ll say it was a therapeutic misadventure.

I’m telling you, some of this language makes me want to vomit.

Well, maybe not vomit. Makes me want to engage in an involuntary personal protein spill.

Carlin-5

Offensive Language

Now, I’d like to begin tonight with an opening announcement. Because of the FCC, I’m never sure what it is I’m allowed to say. So, I now have my own official policy — this is the language you will NOT be hearing tonight.

You will not hear me say: bottom line, game plan, role model, scenario, or hopefully. I will not kick back, mellow out, or be on a roll.

I will not go for it, and I will not check it out; I don’t even know what it is. And when I leave here I definitely will not boogie.

I promise not to refer to anyone as a class act, a beautiful person or a happy camper. I will also not be saying what a guy.

And you will not hear me refer to anyone’s lifestyle. If you want to know what a moronic word lifestyle is, all you have to do is realize that, in a technical sense, Attila the Hun had an active outdoor lifestyle.

I will also not be saying any cute things like moi. And I will not use the French adverb tre to modify any English adjectives. Such as tre awesome, tre gnarly, tre fabou, tre intense, or tre out-of-sight.

I will not say concept when I mean idea. I will not say impacted when I mean affected. There will be no hands-on, state-of-the-art networking. We will not maximize, prioritize, or finalize. And we definitely will not interface.

There will also be no new-age lingo spoken here tonight. No support-group jargon from the human potential movement. For instance, I will not share anything with you. I will not relate to you and you will not identify with me.

I will give you no input, and I will expect no feedback. This will not be a learning experience, nor will it be a growth period. There will be no sharing, no caring, no birthing, no bonding, no parenting, no nurturing. We will not establish a relationship, we will not have any meaningful dialogue and we definitely will not spend any quality time.

We will not be supportive of one another, so that we can get in touch with our feelings in order to feel good about ourselves. And if you’re one of those people who needs a little space, please, go the (expletive deleted) outside.

Carlin-6

I Ain’t Afraid of Cancer

Yeah, about time for me to get a little drink of water. Figure this stuff is safe to drink, huh? Actually, I don’t care if it’s safe or not, I drink it anyway.

You know why? ‘Cause I’m an American, and I expect a little cancer in my food and water. That’s right, I’m a loyal American, and I’m not happy unless I’ve let government and industry poison me a little bit every day. Let me have a few hundred thousand carcinogens here.

Ahh, a little cancer never hurt anybody. Everybody needs a little cancer I think. It’s good for you. Keeps you on your toes.

Besides, I ain’t afraid of cancer. I had broccoli for lunch. Broccoli kills cancer. A lot of people don’t know that. It’s not out yet.

It’s true. You find out you got some cancer, get yourself a (expletive deleted) bowl of broccoli. That’ll wipe it right out in a day or two.

Cauliflower too. Cauliflower kills the really big cancers. The ones you can see through clothing from across the street. Broccoli kills the little ones. The ones that are slowly eating your way from inside, while your goddamn, goofy, half-educated doctor keeps telling you, “you’re doing fine, Jim.”

In fact, bring your doctor a bowl of broccoli. He’s probably got cancer too. Probably picked it up from you. They don’t know what they’re doing. It’s all guesswork in a white coat.

Here, let me have a few more sips of industrial waste. Ahh.

Maybe I can turn them cancers against one another. That’s what you gotta hope for, you know — that you get more than one cancer, so they eat each other up instead of you. In fact, the way I look at it, the more cancer you got, the healthier you are.

Well, I know, some people don’t like you to talk about those things. I know that. Some people don’t like you to mention certain things. Some people don’t want you to say this, some people don’t want you to say that. Some people think if you mention some things, they might happen. Some people are really (expletive deleted) stupid!

Did you ever notice that? How many really stupid people you run into during the day? (Expletive deleted), there’s a lot of stupid (expletive deleted) people walking around. Carry a little pad and pencil with you, you’ll wind up with 30 or 40 names by the end of the day.

Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize that half of them are stupider than that.

Carlin-7

Organ Donor Programs

Organ donor programs. Does that (expletive deleted) bother you a little bit? Sound like Josef Mengele has been sitting in on some of those meetings or something.

The thing that bothers me the most about it is, they’re run by the motor vehicles bureau. It’s the motor vehicles bureau in most states who sends you the little card you’re supposed to carry right next to your driver’s license in your wallet.

A little card. You’re supposed to fill it out, and on it, you’re supposed to list the organs you’re willing to give in case you die.

Are these people out of their (expletive deleted) minds or something? Do you honestly believe that if a paramedic finds that card on you in an automobile accident, he’s going to try to save your life? (Expletive deleted), he’s looking for parts, man!

Absolutely. “Look Dan, here’s that lower intestine we’ve been looking for. Never mind the oxygen, this man’s a donor.”

(Expletive deleted.) They can have my rectum and my anus. That’s all I’m giving, take ’em and get out of here. Put ’em in your bag and get the (expletive deleted) out of my life. That’s all I’m giving.

I don’t want some guy poking around in me, hoping I die. I want to live, I don’t want to die.

That’s the whole secret of life: not dying! I figured that (expletive deleted) out by myself in the third grade.

Carlin-8

 

 

 

 

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I am no stranger to profanity, God knows, but I prefer to use it sparingly. That way, it adds flavor and emphasis to the conversation. Overdoing it is like dumping too much chile powder into the stew. But that’s just one guy’s opinion.

The subject came to mind recently as I was reading the transcripts of some old George Carlin comedy routines.

Carlin, the celebrated comedian, died 10 years ago. People remember him as a caustic critic of society and culture — a master of black comedy, satire, sarcasm, and, notably, profanity.

As you may recall, Carlin’s “Seven Dirty Words” comedy routine made legal history. In 1973, a father complained to the FCC that a radio station in New York had broadcast the routine without bleeping the dirty words. The FCC reprimanded the radio station. Lawyers promptly filed lawsuits.

In 1978, the Supreme Court upheld the FCC in the case and said the FCC has an obligation to censor as appropriate to shield children from offensive material. (Carlin’s routine, the court said, was “indecent but not obscene.”)

Carlin was hugely talented, one of our greatest comedians. But sometimes, I found myself wishing he would dial back the profanity. His routines (not counting “Seven Dirty Words,” mind you) wouldn’t suffer.

As it happened, spicy Carlin was the only option. And I’m okay with that.

My personal favorite Carlin routine is “A Place For My Stuff.” Another winner: “Interview With Jesus.”

Here are the transcripts.

Carlin-1

A Place For My Stuff

Actually, this is just a place for my stuff, you know? That’s all, a little place for my stuff. That’s all I want, that’s all you need in life, is a little place for your stuff, you know?

I can see it on your table. Everybody’s got a little place for their stuff. This is my stuff, that’s your stuff, that’ll be his stuff over there. That’s all you need in life, a little place for your stuff.

That’s all your house is: a place to keep your stuff. If you didn’t have so much stuff, you wouldn’t need a house. You could just walk around all the time.

A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it. You can see that when you’re taking off in an airplane. You look down, you see everybody’s got a little pile of stuff. All the little piles of stuff.

And when you leave your house, you gotta lock it up. Wouldn’t want somebody to come by and take some of your stuff. They always take the good stuff. They never bother with that crap you’re saving. All they want is the shiny stuff. That’s what your house is, a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get… more stuff!

Sometimes, you gotta move — gotta get a bigger house. Why? No room for your stuff anymore.

Did you ever notice when you go to somebody else’s house, you never quite feel a hundred percent at home? You know why? No room for your stuff! Somebody else’s stuff is all over the (expletive deleted) place!

And if you stay overnight, unexpectedly, they give you a little bedroom to sleep in. Bedroom they haven’t used in about 11 years. Someone died in it, 11 years ago. And they haven’t moved any of his stuff!

Right next to the bed, there’s usually a dresser or a bureau of some kind, and there’s NO ROOM for your stuff on it. Somebody else’s (expletive deleted) is on the dresser.

Have you noticed that their stuff is (expletive deleted), and your (expletive deleted) is stuff? God! And you say, “Get that (expletive deleted) off of there, and let me put my stuff down!”

Sometimes, you leave your house to go on vacation. And you gotta take some of your stuff with you. Gotta take about two big suitcases full of stuff when you go on vacation. You gotta take a smaller version of your house.

It’s the second version of your stuff. And you’re gonna fly all the way to Honolulu. Gonna go across the continent, across half an ocean, to Honolulu. You get down to the hotel room in Honolulu, and you open up your suitcase, and you put away all your stuff.

Here’s a place here, put a little bit of stuff there, put some stuff here, put some stuff — you put your stuff there, I’ll put some stuff — here’s another place for stuff, look at this, I’ll put some stuff here.

And even though you’re far away from home, you start to get used to it. You start to feel okay, because after all, you do have some of your stuff with you.

That’s when your friend calls up from Maui, and says, “Hey, why don’t you come over to Maui for the weekend and spend a couple of nights over here?”

Oh, no! Now what do I pack? Right, you’ve gotta pack an even SMALLER version of your stuff. The third version of your house. Just enough stuff to take to Maui for a couple of days.

You get over to Maui — I mean, you’re really getting extended now, when you think about it. You got stuff ALL the way back on the mainland, you got stuff on another island, you got stuff on this island. I mean, supply lines are getting longer and harder to maintain.

You get over to your friend’s house on Maui, and he gives you a little place to sleep, a little bed right next to his window sill or something. You put some of your stuff up there. You put your stuff up there.

You got your Visine, you got your nail clippers, and you put everything up. It takes about an hour and a half, but after a while you finally feel okay, say, “All right, I got my nail clippers, I must be okay.”

That’s when your friend says, “Aaaaay, I think tonight we’ll go over the other side of the island, visit a pal of mine and maybe stay over.”

Aww, no! NOW what do you pack? Right — you gotta pack an even SMALLER version of your stuff. The fourth version of your house.

Only the stuff you know you’re gonna need. Money, keys, comb, wallet, lighter, hanky, pen, smokes, rubber, and change.

Well, only the stuff you HOPE you’re gonna need.

Carlin-2

Interview With Jesus

I: Ladies and gentlemen, we are privileged to have with us a man known all over the world as the Prince of Peace: Jesus Christ. How are you, Jesus?

JC: Fine, thanks, and let me say, it’s great to be back.

I: Can you tell us, after all this time, why you came back?

JC: Mostly nostalgia.

I: Well, could you tell us, Jesus, a little about the first time you were here?

JC: Well, there’s not much to tell. I think everybody knows the story by now. I was born on Christmas.

I: Yes.

JC: And, uh, actually, that always bothered me, because, uh, that way, I only got one present. You know, if I was born a couple months earlier, I woulda had two presents. But look, I’m not complaining. It’s only material.

I: Were you really born in a stable?

JC: Nah. I was born in a hospital. Bethlehem Jewish Hospital. But the hospital was located in a stable. That’s how the story got started.

I: And is it true that there was no room at the inn?

JC: Oh, no, they had room. It’s just that we didn’t have reservations. My father, Joseph — God bless him — he was a simple man. He didn’t travel much. He forgot to make reservations.

I: There’s a story that there were three wise men.

JC: Well, there were three kings who showed up. Uh, I don’t know how wise they were. They didn’t look wise. They said they followed a star. That don’t sound wise to me.

I: Didn’t they bring gifts?

JC: Yes. Gold, frankincense, and, I believe, myrrh, which I never did find out what that was. You wouldn’t happen to know what myrrh is for, do you?

I: Well, I believe it’s a reddish-brown, bitter, gum resin.

JC: Oh, great, great! Just what I need — a gum resin! What am I going to do with a gum resin? I’d rather have the money. That way, I could go out and buy something I need. You know, something I wouldn’t normally buy for myself.

I: What would that be?


JC: Oh, I don’t know. A bathing suit. I never had a bathing suit. Maybe a Devo hat. A bicycle. I really coulda used a bicycle. You realize all the walkin’ I did? I musta crossed Canaan six, eight times. Up and down, north and south. Walkin’ and talkin’. Doin’ miracles, tellin’ stories.

I: Tell us about the miracles. How many miracles did you perform?

JC: A total of 107 miracles, not counting the loaves and the fishes.

I: Why don’t you count the loaves and the fishes?

JC: Well, technically, that one wasn’t a miracle.

I: It wasn’t?

JC: No. Turns out, a lot of people were puttin’ ’em back. Didn’t like ’em. Actually, not all those miracles were pure miracles anyway.

I: (Surprised) What do you mean? What were they if they weren’t miracles?

JC: Well, some of them were parlor tricks, optical illusions, mass hypnosis. We had hallucinations, even acupressure. That was how I cured most of the blind guys. Acupressure.

I: So, not all of the New Testament is true.

JC: No. Some of that gospel stuff never happened at all. It was just made up. Luke and Mark used a lot of drugs. See, Luke was a physician and he had access to drugs. Matthew and John were okay, but Luke and Mark would write anything.

I: What about raising Lazarus from the dead?

JC: First of all, he wasn’t dead. He was hung over. I told people that.

I: But in the Bible, you said he was dead.

JC: Uh-uh. I said he looked dead. I said, “Hey! He looks dead!” You see, Lazarus was a very heavy sleeper. Plus, the day before, we had been to a wedding feast and he had put away a lot of wine.

I: Ah, was that the Wedding Feast at Cana, where you changed the water into wine?

JC: Uh, I don’t know. I, uh, we went to an awful lot of wedding feasts in those days.

I: But did you really ever turn water into wine?

JC: Not that I know of. Uh, one time, I did turn apple juice into milk, but I really don’t remember the water and wine thing.

I: All right, speaking of water, let me ask you about another miracle: walking on the water. I mean, did that really happen?

JC: Oh, yeah, that was one that really happened. You see, the problem was, I could do it, the other guys couldn’t do it. They were jealous. Peter got mad at me, so he got these shoes made. Special big shoes that if you start out walkin’ real fast, you can float on the water for awhile. Then of course, after a few yards, lalalalooms, he goes right down into the water. He sinks like a rock. That’s why I call him Peter. “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock, I shall build my Church.”

I: Well, that brings up the Apostles. Uh, what can you tell us about the Apostles?

JC: Well, they were a good bunch of guys, you know. They smelled a little like bait, but oh, they was a good bunch of guys. Thirteen of ’em we had.

I: Thirteen? The Bible says there were only twelve.

JC: Well that was according to St. Luke and I told you about Luke. Actually, we had 13 apostles. We had Peter, James, John, Andrew, Phillip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James — that’s a different James — Thaddeus… Let’s see, how many is that?

I: That’s 10.

JC: Okay. Uh, Simon, Judas, and Red.

I: Red?

JC: Yeah. We call him “Red the Apostle.”

I: Red the Apostle?

JC: Uh-hmm.

I: He doesn’t appear in the Bible.

JC: Nah. He kept pretty much to himself. He never came to any of the miracles. He was a little strange. He thought the Red Sea was named after him.

I: What about Judas?

JC: Hey, don’t get me started on Judas.

I: Okay. Well, what about the other apostles. Uh, say for instance, Thomas. Was he really a doubter?

JC: This guy, Thomas, you couldn’t tell him nothin’, you know? He was always askin’ me for my ID. Soon as I see him — “Got any ID?” To this day, he doesn’t believe I’m God.

I: Are you God?

JC: Well, partly. You know that. I’m a member of the Trinity.

I: Yes, in fact you’ve written a book about the Trinity, haven’t you.

JC: That’s right. It’s called, “Three’s a Crowd.”

I: “Three’s a Crowd.”

JC: Um-hmm.

I: As I understand it, it’s nothing more than a thinly-veiled attack on the Holy Ghost.

JC: Listen, it’s not an attack. You wanna know what it is? I don’t get along with the Holy Ghost, all right? So I leave him alone. That’s it. What he does is his business.

I: Well, why? What’s the reason?

JC: Well, first of all, you never know who he’s gonna be. Every day he shows up, he’s somethin’ different. One day he comes in the meetin’, he’s a dove. Another day he’s a tongue of fire. Always foolin’ around. (annoyed) Listen, I don’t bother with the guy. I don’t wanna know about him. I don’t see him. I don’t talk to him.

I: Well, let me change the subject. Is there really a place called Hell?

JC: Oh, yeah, there’s a Hell. Sure. There’s also a Heck. It’s not as severe, but we got Heck and Hell.

I: What about Purgatory?

JC: No. Don’t know nothin’ about no Purgatory. We got Heaven, Hell, Heck, and Limbo.

I: What is Limbo like?

JC: I don’t know. No one’s allowed in there. If anyone was in there, it wouldn’t be Limbo. Then it would be a place.

I: Getting back to your previous visit, Jesus, what can you tell us about The Last Supper?

JC: Well, first of all, if I had known I was gonna be crucified, I woulda had a bigger meal. You never want to be crucified on an empty stomach.

I: The Crucifixion must have been terrible.

JC: It was awful, I gotta tell ya. Unless you’ve gone through it yourself, you could never know how painful it was. And tiring. It was very, very tiring and embarrassing. I think, more than anything, it was embarrassing. You know, right in front of everybody to be crucified. But I don’t know, I guess it redeemed a lot of people.

I: Were you scared?

JC: Yeah. Near the end, I thought it was gonna rain. I was afraid I might get hit by lightning. But, all in all, I would say when I was here, I had a good time.

I: What do you think about Christianity?

JC: Well, I’m a little embarrassed by it. Uh, if I had to do it over again, I think I would start one of them Eastern religions, like Buddha did. Now, Buddha was smart. That’s why he’s laughing.

I: You wouldn’t want to be a Christian?

JC: No. I would never want to be a member of any group whose symbol is a man nailed onto two pieces of wood. Especially if it’s me! Buddha’s laughing, I’m on the cross!

I: I have a few more questions; do you mind?

JC: Hey, be my guest. How often do I get here?

I: Are there really angels?

JC: Well, not as many as we used to have. Years ago, we had millions of ’em. Today, you can’t get the young people to join. You know, it got too dangerous, with radar and heat-seeking missiles.

I: What about guardian angels?

JC: Well, we still have guardian angels, but now it’s one angel for every six people. Years ago, everybody had his own angel.

I: Do you really answer prayers?

JC: No. First of all, most of ’em don’t even get through. I mean, you got sunspots, you got radio interference. Years ago we answered them all. But years ago, there were less people. And people prayed for something simple then — to light a fire, to catch a yak; somethin’ like that. But today, you got people prayin’ for hockey teams, people prayin’ for longer fingernails. We just can’t keep up with it.

I: Well, I think we’re just about out of time. I certainly want to thank you for visiting with us.

JC: Hey, no sweat.

I: Do you have any last thoughts or words of advice?

JC: What — you mean how to remove perspiration stains from a garment, somethin’ like that?

I: No, I mean spiritual advice.

JC; Well, I don’t know how spiritual it is, but I’d say one thing is, don’t give your money to the church. They should be givin’ their money to you.

I: Well, thank you Jesus, and good night.

JC: Well, good night. Thanks for having me on here today. By the way, big bands are definitely not comin’ back.

———

In my next post, more classic Carlin.

Carlin-3

 

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