Good morning to you all from a frigidly frigid Byfield. Interestingly, the weather people tell me that it’s not as cold as it was in the few weeks before Christmas but it certainly seems mighty cold to me! Why do we put up with it?
I’m sure most of you will have heard the excellent news from our friend and neighbour Pete Taylor that the scribblings he compiled on his journey around the US watching a baseball game in every major league stadium and a minor league baseball game in every state without a major league team are to be published in the spring or summer. The book, entitled “Brit at the Ballpark: An Englishman’s Baseball Tour of all 50 States” is described on the publisher’s web site as:
“the journey Peter A. Taylor undertook during the summer of 2007, when he set out to achieve a long held ambition and see a baseball game in every major league ballpark, a minor league game in those states without a major league franchise, plus the All-Star game and the post-season. His adventures along the way include throwing out a first pitch in Connecticut, becoming a TV reporter for the post-season, and undergoing an eye operation. It also looks whimsically at America’s pastime, and America, through the eyes of an Englishman, and how we are, in the words of George Bernard Shaw, “two nations separated by a common language.”
I am sure you have all pre-ordered your copy at the McFarland web site! Many of you will be in it, I’m sure and your next task is to consider who you would want to play you in the movie. I’m already working on getting Larry David to play me.
The other “big news” this week concerns a new business opportunity spotted in the Escondido/San Diego area which again I am sure most of you will have seen. I am writing, of course, about Kinder Capes which I ran across on Facebook, of all places! I do think, though, that they need to advertise underwear that one can wear on the outside of one’s trousers as well as capes. I am more than willing to act as the model.
And, speaking of Facebook, I did enjoy the message my/our mother posted on sister Sallie’s wall:
Is this a sign of things to come? As it is, I feel like that most days.
Sometime ago (apparently it was in December 2006) I wrote about the Laugh Lab study which was initiated to find the funniest joke in the world. To refresh your memory, the study collected jokes from all over the world and asked people to rate them. After a year of collecting data, they determined that the funniest joke in the world was:
Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn’t seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps, “My friend is dead! What can I do?”
The operator says “Calm down. I can help. First, let’s make sure he’s dead.”
There is a silence, then a shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says “OK, now what?”
I was reminded of this when I ran across an article on the Guardian web site on global humour. Written by one of their foreign correspondents, it recounts some jokes collected from various countries and, what’s interesting about his collection, is how similar they are to standard jokes with which we might be familiar; it seems mainly to be about making fun of those from a neighbouring country or region. My two favourites of this collection illustrate the point:
A Norwegian, a Faroese and an Icelander are about to be executed. Each one gets a final wish. The Faroese asks for a final feast of sour shark and dried whale meat for everyone. The Icelander asks to be allowed to compose an epic poem in the old style about how cruelly he is being treated and about how great Iceland is. The Norwegian thinks for a while, and then says: “Can I be executed before the poem is read and the food is served?”
And from New Zealand:
An Australian rugby fan, a South African rugby fan and a New Zealand rugby fan are all in Saudi Arabia, sharing a smuggled crate of booze when Saudi police rush in and arrest them. The mere possession of alcohol is a severe offence in Saudi Arabia, so for consuming the booze they are all sentenced to death. However, after many months and with the help of good lawyers, they are able successfully to appeal their sentences down to life imprisonment. By a stroke of luck, it was a Saudi national holiday the day their trial finished, and the benevolent sheikh decided they could be released after receiving just 20 lashes.
As they were preparing for their punishment, the sheikh announced, “It’s my first wife’s birthday today, and she has asked me to allow each of you one wish before your whipping.”
The South African was first. He thought for a while, then said, “Please tie a pillow to my back.”
This was done, but the pillow lasted only 10 lashes before the whip went through. When the punishment was done, the South African had to be carried away bleeding and crying with pain.
The Australian was next up. After watching the South African’s horror, he said smugly, “Please fix two pillows to my back.” But even two pillows could take only 15 lashes before the whip went through and the Australian was soon led away whimpering loudly (as they do).
The New Zealander was the last one up, but before he could say anything, the sheikh turned to him and said, “You are from a most beautiful part of the world and your culture is one of the finest. For this, you may have two wishes!”
“Thank you, your most royal and merciful highness,” the Kiwi replied. “In recognition of your kindness, my first wish is that you give me not 20 lashes but 100 lashes.”
“Not only are you an honourable, handsome and powerful man, you are also very brave,” the sheikh said with an admiring look on his face. “If 100 lashes is what you desire, then so be it. And your second wish”?
“Tie the Australian to my back.”
You gotta love those Kiwis.
Love to you all,
No jokes today – you’ve had your quota. If you are feeling deprived, however, you can find a whole flock of jokes in the Global Humour article in the Guardian.