Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A time for wacky things

Today, after reading several cartoons and an article in the current New Yorker, I found myself in a silly mood, interested in several of the wild and wacky things I have been reading about (or have collected recently).

The cartoon that brought on this delight was a picture of "God" doubting the existence of man. Then I read a tiny notice about a current NYC production of Beckett's Waiting for Godot in Yiddish: absurdity raised to the highest power since hardly anyone speaks Yiddish anymore.

The news, when it's not tragic, is often hilarious.

The cartoon reminded me of a book title from years ago: "Is there life after birth?"  And I thought of the student who spelled Judaism on an exam "Judy-ism."  This is one of many bloopers that have tickled me.

I have been reading about the Mitford family of English aristocrats and eccentrics, prominent in the 1930s, when the head of the family, Lord Redesdale, to cut down on expenses, did away with napkins at the dinner table. Guests who spilled even a drop of food were loudly attacked by the host as "filthy swine."

The antics of his daughters were often serious: one of them became notorious as Hitler's English girlfriend and shot herself in the head when war broke out in  1939; unfortunately, she lived eight more years, brain damaged. This young woman, Unity Mitford, was conceived in the mining village of Swastika, Ontario.  Jessica, one of her sisters, to get even with the Fascists in the family, became a Communist and an American; she (unaware of the inconsistency of a Communist engaging in capitalism) bought a bar in Miami where she and the husband she eloped with in the midst of the Spanish Civil War worked.

Other bits of amusing trivia:

  •   At the funeral of Charles Darwin in Westminster Abbey, the scientist's son, feeling a draft, removed his black gloves and placed them on his bald head, where they remained for the rest of the ceremony. (Only in England)
  •  I have a friend who is a noted expert on canaries; when he is not judging canary shows, he rides roller coasters in various countries as a member of the American Coaster Society.
  • A man from Florida drove 17,000 miles a few years ago to earn a place at the World Duck Calling Contest (considered the Super Bowl of duck calling).
  • In Australian slang, a "duck's dinner" is a drink of water with nothing to eat. (That seemed relevant.)
  • When a cat named Help was lost, her owner ran down the street calling "Help!" until she got assistance (but no cat, apparently).
  • When Alex, an African gray parrot died in 2007, he was given an obituary in newspapers around the world as well as 6,000 messages of condolence sent to his owner, a researcher on the intelligence of birds. Alex had become famous from numerous TV appearances.
I am not making these up!  If anyone reading this has a bit of wacky bit of reality to share, send it to me at

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