Tag Archives: Humor

Learning the Charleston

My friend Chris, with whom I worked for many years, often forwards me (on a list of his friends) emails with links another friend of his has found on the Internet.  Recently his friend has discovered the British Pathe site – if you don’t know what British Pathe was, you should probably go and prowl around.  This was the outfit that did the newsreels that were shown in the cinema, before the silent movies; and later before the talkies, through much of the 20th century.  According to Wikipedia, they gave up in 1970, defeated by television; but the archive exists and you can buy videos from the site. They are not cheap.  But if you want to see the original video of the Titanic leaving port, this is where you go.

I was staggered by the video of Queen Victoria attending a garden party in 1898!  (God, she was ugly!  And God, the film quality is awful – but after all, it’s almost 115 years old…)

The best, though, was an extended (silent) lesson from the 1920’s on how to do the Charleston!  It has a music track (probably originally played live by an orchestra), but no words.  It ends with – no.  I won’t tell you.  It’s too crazy.  It’s only about 7 minutes, so watch it, and wait for the wildest taxi ride you’ve ever seen!

Posted in Personal

Spanish for “Computer”

I can’t take credit for this.  One of my friends sent it to me in an email – one of those anonymous, “you have to read this” emails that go around.  But it is so good that I have to share it, so here we go:

A Spanish teacher was explaining to her class that in Spanish, unlike English, nouns are designated as either masculine or feminine.  ‘House’ for instance, is feminine: ‘la casa.’  ‘Pencil,’ however, is masculine: ‘el lapiz.’

A student asked, ‘What gender is ‘computer’?’  Instead of giving the answer, the teacher split the class into two groups, male and female, and asked them to decide for themselves whether computer’ should be a masculine or a feminine noun. Each group was asked to give four reasons for its recommendation.

The men’s group decided that ‘computer’ should definitely be of the feminine gender (‘la computadora’), because:

  1. No one but their creator understands their internal logic;
  2. The native language they use to communicate with other computers is incomprehensible to everyone else;
  3. Even the smallest mistakes are stored in long term memory for possible later retrieval; and
  4. As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your paycheck on accessories for it.


The women’s group, however, concluded that computers should be masculine (‘el computador’), because:

  1. In order to do anything with them, you have to turn them on;
  2. They have a lot of data but still can’t think for themselves;
  3. They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time they ARE the problem; and
  4. As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you had waited a little longer, you could have gotten a better model.

The women won.

The email then went on to suggest that you send this to all the smart women you know … and all the men that have a sense of humor.  I leave it to my readers to decide how and where to share this!

Posted in Personal

Going Dancing

The men in my father’s family were charmers, all of them – including Dad!  My sister recently told me a wonderful story about Dad, which I must share.  I assume this happened in the summer of 1975 because that’s the only time in the ’70s I didn’t have a job that would have kept me from taking the trip I describe.

In 1975 I was in the process of divorcing my first husband, and was living with my parents, stony broke and unemployed.  My mother worked for the local library, and planned to attend a library convention in Los Angeles; we decided I would go with her for company.  This left my sister and my father living in the Napa house together for a few days.  Dad was retired at this time and was either 67 or 68 (I don’t recall the exact date).

My sister says one evening while Mother and I were gone, Dad came into the living room all dressed up in a suit and tie (and probably a hat; Dad was a very sharp dresser).  She asked him where he was going, and he said he was going to Santa Rosa to the senior center dance.  “You can’t go to the dance all by yourself,” she objected, whereupon he said that of course he could, he was going to dance with all the widow women.  He went out the door and didn’t come back until 2 AM.  My sister complained that she had sat up waiting for him, and he said that was her payback for all the nights he sat up until 2 AM waiting for her!

When she told me this, I asked her if she went to the dance with him, and she said he wouldn’t let her – he was afraid she’d cramp his style!  I couldn’t have posted this while Mother was alive, but she’s gone, God rest her, and it’s too classic not to share.

Posted in Family

“How to Catch An Alligator”

The explanation for this starts with cleaning out the garage.  Unfortunately, we found rodents in same, which had chewed up some of the old papers we stored there 🙁   (I think it ate the paper certificate for my bachelor’s degree but I’m not sure.  It ate something from the University of California.)  So I had to go through several boxes and sort out the things that I wanted to keep and look at, to bring in the house for safer storage.

Some of the boxes had papers from my school days (so that’s where my high school yearbooks were), which I think we salvaged when we moved my mother out of the Napa house in 1994.  Among them was a single sheet of 5 x 7 lined notebook paper, torn out of a spiral binding, covered in my adolescent handwriting.  It’s not dated; could be from high school or college, probably not before that.  Apparently I thought this was so funny that I copied it down and put it away with my college class notebooks, which I stored in the house in Napa, and my mother saved it through the next thirty years.  Mother was a major pack rat, and I come by it honestly myself.

So here is the recipe for How to Catch an Alligator, just as I wrote it down fifty-some years ago:

You need:  a beer can, a pup tent, a copy of Romeo and Juliet, a club, binoculars, and tweezers.

You beat the alligator over the head with the club so he will start chasing you.  Since a person can run faster than a ‘gator [Ed. note:  in light of later experience I don’t think this is true, so don’t try this at home!], you get to the tent first.  You wait awhile and the alligator doesn’t get there, so you start to read Romeo and Juliet, which is so dry you fall asleep.  Meanwhile the alligator arrives, sees the book, starts to read it and falls asleep.  Now, if you go to sleep first, you wake up first, so when you wake up, you grab the binoculars and look at the alligator through the wrong end.  This makes him look about 1½ inches long and you can pick him up with the tweezers and put him in the beer can.

As I copied this, I realized that no one who has actually read Romeo and Juliet would describe it as dry (certainly no one who’s seen the Zeffirelli film!), which argues that this little gem dates from my high school years, before I studied Shakespeare in college.

Posted in Personal