Joke analysis

A grave robber and a cat napper walk into a bar.
The bartender, drying a shot glass with a small white dishtowel, looks over towards them.
“Hi mom, hi dad,” she says.
“What’ll it be?”

(Speaker shakes gadget (not a euphemism) and it finally starts working, projecting a PowerPoint slide, showing the text of the joke in Comic Sans onto the large screen on one side of the stage, while making a disconcerting buzzing sound and a small wisp of smoke rises from its insides, so small you are not sure whether you really saw it or not.)

Speaker: “Why is this joke funny?”
Speaker: “Because it is really funny if you know us. By ‘us’ I mean my wife and me.”
Audience member: “You mean ‘my wife and I’.”
Speaker: (Fires bolt from small crossbow at audience member, bolt glances off audience member’s backpack, tangles in beard of second audience member sitting behind them.)
Speaker: “No.” (And to person with crossbow bolt tangled in their beard.) “Sorry about that.”
Speaker: “See, we’re going to a ball later this month so we were taking a refresher course because I forgot how to dance. And one evening my wife was early so she window-shopped and noticed how expensive jewelry made of stags’ teeth is, which gave her the idea to exhume her grandmother, whose funeral she had organized and whom she had had interred with earrings intact because relatives had been arguing about who should take possession of them.”
Speaker: “Which idea matched the legal definition of grave robbery, according to our legally-trained daughter.”
Speaker: “And a week or so ago our tuxedo cat disappeared, pitching us into sort of a Schrödingerish state where we try to imagine she adopted one of our neighborhood’s 4 (at a minimum) cat ladies (the way she adopted us as a kitten), and is sleeping on a pillow and drinking cream, and try not to visualize her dead in a ditch. Lucky for us, the former is a very realistic scenario, because our other cats have for years come in from nights out, warm, fur brushed and smelling of woodsmoke.”
Speaker: “And so I tried not to think about her too much and thought I was adjusting well to her absence and being a grown-up about it until one night my wife and I were driving home from the train station or whatever and roughly in front of the doctor’s office in our village I said, ‘Stop! Stop the car!’ And she did, and I got out and crossed the street because I had seen a little black and white cat in the shadows. And it marched right up to me. I petted it, and it lay down and I picked it up and it meowed in a friendly way and I carried it over to the car and got in.”
Speaker: “‘Look who I found!’ I said. I was so happy, sitting there holding our cat. The relief I felt made me conscious of how I’d missed her. My wife pulled back out onto the street, but also took a closer look at the cat. ‘That’s not our cat, honeybunny,’ she said. ‘Oh,’ I said. ‘Are you sure?’ She pulled back over to the side of the road. ‘You have to let it go.’ So I let it go and it went about its business and we drove home hoping there had been no witnesses and that video evidence of my attempted crime wouldn’t be posted to social media.”
Speaker: “So that’s why the joke is funny.”
Speaker: “Thank you for attending my TED talk.”

How do you do things?

How?
How do you complete something you set out to do?
I never get anything done. Not on my own.
I mean: I have finished a couple first-draft novels on Nanowrimo in past years, but that required such an exhausting expenditure of nervous and emotional energy I nearly stopped writing afterwards.
Especially in the year when I did *two* novels for Nanowrimo.
But I lack that energy now, and I lack focus, and other things are going on, and so forth and I find myself sitting here, wondering, how do you guys do it, you guys who finish things. I am thinking of creative projects – how do you artists actually finish one painting and then start the next – how do you photographers get yourself outside taking pictures, or into the studio, or whatever – how do you musicians music? – but this would apply to non-creative projects as well – fixing one’s relationship, parenting, planning, household chores, shopping for a new suit, looking for a new job.
How do you do it?
How do you do it?
Only collaboration works for me. I am getting music done thanks to Horst. Evco got off the ground because it was a group project and because, at the end, Ute grabbed the controls from my paralyzed hands and landed safely.
But other stuff – writing, painting, photography – I sit on ideas until they calcify and inhabit my body like unborn twins.
I guess I have answered my own question, for me – I need a project manager, I need a collaborator.
How do you do it?

Only a matter of time

It was inevitable.
They know where I work.
One of them must have followed me back to the office on a recent lunch break.
Now I can’t go outside without getting murdered.
I knew this would happen if they found out.
That’s why I never fed the ones nearby.
That’s why I only ever got out the peanuts or sandwiches a few blocks away.
But today, there he was, the old black crow with white feathers on his back.
How could anyone NOT give him a peanut?
The old sweetie.
That was all it took.
My peanuts were gone in seconds, an entire pocketful.
Tomorrow – empty-handed.

Life Hack: Quick and easy nipple piercing

Sneeze while a cat is sleeping on your chest.

Who ya whiskin’?

What day was it.
It was Sunday, the Sunday following the Saturday where we got together in a restaurant across the street from the cemetary to discuss what needed to be done in the event of a (theoretical only) death in the family (never hurts to be prepared) and who wanted Viking funerals (Gamma, me) and who would settle for something more realistic and legal, who to contact, etc. followed by a trip to a doctor due to chest pains and a dislike of irony (dying after the death meeting) who ordered further tests in the hospital that found nothing leading to a diagnosis of probably carrying the refrigerator was a bad idea.
It was Sunday, and latish morning, and Alpha and I went for a walk in the woods, by ponds and the Danube and back to the car with wet feet and a feeling of accomplishment and also a feeling that we had earned lunch at the local wine tavern (Heuriger).
We were the first guests at the Heuriger except for some dudes playing cards and we took a table outside in the sun/shade. I tried to fit myself into the shade. Our food came (I had the large round sandwich, Alpha had the Wildplatte i.e. the wild plate, consisting of game animal products. It was all pretty good. She had a spritzer, I had Sturm, i.e. pre-wine, the cloudy, sweet kind.
We were enjoying sitting there etc when Alpha goes,
“Honey, there,” and gestures at my chest where, when I look down, I see 3 enormous shiny black and yellow wasp family dudes fighting on my shirt pocket.
And I go,
“Oh. Hornets fighting on me.”
Have you ever had hornets fighting on you? It’s fascinating.
I was enthralled, it’s really cool. Shiny ectoskeletons, shiny black yellow patterns, like some athletic device you might have had years ago until it went out of style and disappeared under the bed.
They were kind of distracted by each other trying to kill everyone so I calmly watched them for a while (few seconds) but then their proximity to my heart occurred to me, you know, ‘Man stung in heart by three fat hornets’ and I whisked them away with a napkin. Two flew away immediately, one fell to the bench I was sitting on and *then* flew away.
And that was that. They might be big and scary, but at least they didn’t stick around after I whisked them the first time, like wasps, who are always, “ya whisking me ya think ya gonna whisk me who ya whiskin there fella I’ll whisk ya I’ll show ya whiskin,” etc.
Then we went home.
Now it’s Tuesday all of a sudden.

Tennis umpires reportedly considering boycott of Serena Williams’ matches

serena

I recently had a conversation about works of art that stick with you. At different times in my life I have been absorbed by various sculptures, compositions or images.

Once it was a stone lakshmi sculpture in a museum (I can’t remember which one) in Pasadena. I was strolling around looking at stuff in the museum, and had to stop and stare at it. I stood there for at least half an hour, sketching the ancient sculpture.

Once I walked into the Museum of Art History in Vienna and was gobsmacked by Rubens’ ‘The Little Fur Coat’ hanging on the wall.

Or Bach’s cello suites.

Anyway right now it is this photograph. Together with the title, which I have used as the title of this post and which is also the headline of the article the photograph is originally from, it strikes me as no different in any important way from, say, Renaissance paintings along the lines of ‘Bacchus and Ariadne’ by Titian or maybe Jan Steen’s ‘Argument over a card game’.

‘Tennis umpires reportedly considering boycott of Serena Williams’ matches’ by Julian Finney (Getty Images) is currently hanging right at the front of my mental museum. I can’t look away. It’s perfect.

Family tradition(s)

Yesterday I had the day off and did some family things with my daughters. We leveled my wife’s parents’ refrigerator, which a friend and I had delivered to them recently and which had been rocking. I tipped it back and Beta screwed one leg (of the refrigerator) out until it was the right length to make the fridge level. I changed a lock at the inlaws’.
Stuff like that.
Then we drove to the girls’ place where I drilled holes in the concrete wall (in order to bracket a bookshelf to the wall) with my new impact drill, which I bought a while ago after my old drill died in a shower of sparks while trying to drill holes in a concrete wall.
We had lunch. Then we briefly strolled to the bookstore, which this year was voted (I don’t know by whom) the best bookstore in the country.
We went in and the manager either recognized us or is just a nice guy. We asked him for coffee and he made us some. We fanned out and started filling up on books. This is one of the family traditions the title of this post refers to. When we collectively visit a bookstore, it is more of a raid than shopping. We fan out and meet at the cash register at closing time, arms full, no two books the same.
I only planned to buy two books but the manager started telling me about good books so I got six, then I saw the new David Sedaris book so I got seven, then two for my wife, then I ordered another one for her, after consulting with the manager again. He didn’t ask my name when processing the order, so I suppose he really did recognize us. Since I stopped buying anything through Amazon I order all my books from him and Beta or Gamma pick them up for me.
Then we left and I carried my loot to the car, and my drilling gear, and forgot one more fatherly task I had planned to do, and went on a date with Alpha, to celebrate the 38th anniversary of our first kiss. Alpha wore a dirndl and we went to a Japanese restaurant that was okay. It has received good reviews but served modern sort of fusion food based on Japanese cuisine, too many spices and mayonnaise for our taste, and the service was a little too attentive in our opinion, but it’s always nice to go on a date with Alpha.
Then we went to bed early because we’re trying to sleep 8 hours at night. And we both had dreams, which is unusual for a work night.