Posts Tagged ‘Humor’

Daddy Jim could play the spoons. We’d be standing in the kitchen, cleaning up after dinner, and he’d break out in a big smile while jockeying spoons like a pro! I’m not sure if anyone does that anymore, but most dads have some entertaining trick up their sleeve. Bob can pick up a guitar, start playing Puff the Magic Dragon, and even today the Bride will tear up.

But today’s dad has to compete with screens for a child’s attention. I always knew the Groom had a wicked sense of humor, I didn’t know it could be inherited. So far, he and the L’il Pumpkin like this one:

“What does the janitor say when he jumps out of the closet?”


Along with helping to steer Vandy’s Covid ICU response this past year, the Groom also commandeered his whole family outside to ride bikes, he makes up silly songs with the kiddos and plays them on the piano or his guitar, and he is solely responsible for the newest member of their family of pets, a small lizard named Fred has joined forces with three canines!

In fact, the Groom is an expert fly catcher, almost Obama level, when it comes to delivering fresh food to Fred.

But what makes a dad star quality?

Time: Taking the time to listen to a child, to play, to just talk without criticism or distractions.

Creativity: Helping a child develop their artistic sense – gardening/cooking/building and painting together.

Humor: Buffering life’s ups and downs with a positively funny outlook – sometimes known as


But if there’s one feature that can immediately categorize a joke as a “dad joke,” it’s wordplay, especially of the unsophisticated variety. Examples: “Hey, do you know what time my dentist appointment is? Tooth-hurty.” “You know why they always build fences around cemeteries? Because people are dying to get in.” The purposeful confusion of “smart feller” and “fart smeller.” This famous exchange: “I’m hungry.” “Hi, Hungry. I’m Dad.” 

“Most jokes rely on some semantic ambiguity or grammatical ambiguity,” Dubinsky says. “The things people call ‘dad jokes’ are the ones where the ambiguity is crushingly obvious.”


I mean, we all manage to embarrass our children, but who doesn’t love getting an eye-roll from a pre-teen. Dads like to remind their children that in fact they were once young too, and suffered from “… a combination of exhaustion and your kids laughing at anything when they’re very young, which creates a perverse incentive system and endows you with false confidence….Then you spend the rest of your life doubling down on dad jokes.”

So in effect, dads pass down their particular sense of humor in a funny, feedback-loop. Their children learn resilience, it’s hard to worry about things when your dad says, “Someday we’ll laugh at this…”

Like when the Love Bug told me her stuffed manatee’s name is “Hugh.” Get it?!

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there.


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Happy October from Nashville, the home of a seemingly endless summer. Yesterday it was 101 in my car! And Happy Jewish New Year to everyone, now is the time to do a deep dive into our souls. Right up until Yom Kippur, Jews everywhere will be condensing years of therapy into this holy week, asking ourselves what we might want to change or do differently in the future. In other words, let’s make some New Year’s resolutions.

Resolved:  To worry less – Lately I’ve been worried about early onset dementia. What will Bob do if I suddenly start dialing the microwave in hopes of making a phone call? Also why am I getting dizzy every time I lay down? Maybe I shouldn’t list all my worries right now if I want to worry less.

Resolved:  To laugh more – Finding humor in the strangest places is my God-given right –  and self-deprecating humor is an Irish tradition! For instance, I was telling everyone on erev Rosh Hashana what a thrill it was to steal an olive in an Italian abbey last year, which led to stories of petty vandalism by everyone. Belly laughing ensued.

Resolved:  Never to steal again.

Resolved:  To bake more – I secretly want to be a contestant on the Great British Bake Off! The Flapper was an excellent pastry chef, and her specialties were coconut birthday cakes and banana cream pies. Therefore, in the past I’ve limited my cake skills to carrots; but I’ve always been a pastry snob, never touching a dessert at a party unless it was home made. So for my birthday I made a savory olive and ham cake. I found the recipe on a French paper towel.

Resolved:  To disconnect more from social media – and the news for that matter. I’ve been thinking lately about what we would do before everybody had their necks craned at an odd 30 degree angle. Hint – We’d talk to one another! Whenever I leave the house without my iPhone (refer back to my first “worry” resolution) I first become alarmed, and then I settle into this nice homeostasis of contentment. Nobody can find me! I am FREE to flutter about without checking Instagram or responding to another Trump joke.

Resolved:  To bloom where I’m planted – I married a gypsy. Let’s face it, Bob’s not happy unless he’s moving or planning a trip. I hear, “Where should we go next?” and I think, “Why not walk over to the Farmer’s Market.” He’s global, I’m local. I’m starting Pilates to go with my T’ai Chi but I need to work on staying present, and all that new/old/age stuff. If Ms Bean can suddenly start heading up the stairs at bedtime with us for the first time in 2 1/2 years, I can get over any fear! Right? I mean she’s older than me in dog years.

Resolved:  To try not to experience too much Schadenfreude during this whole impeachment inquiry thing –  Well, let’s face it, you had to see it coming. We are going to need a new name for this debacle, maybe not one with the suffix of “gate.” After all, Watergate was a condo complex, and “Ukrainegate” doesn’t do it justice. But my pleasure in seeing Trump’s fall, like Gulliver all tied up by his larger-than-life ego, may be supplanted by pain if Pence takes the oath of office. Still, a little Schadenfreude is good for us:

“…if you’re more science orientated… In the last 15 years, evolutionary psychologists and neuroscientists have got very interested in Schadenfreude as a functional emotion – as opposed to deviant, diseased passion which is how it has been seen in the past. It makes sense that would have evolved to enjoy seeing justice done, and transgressors get their comeuppances. Studies show that seeing bad people punished even if they don’t know they’re being punished, like when we see a waiter spit in a rude customer’s soup – activates the reward centres of the brain, the dorsal straitum.”  https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2018/12/18/why-taking-pleasure-in-others-misfortune-can-actually-be-good-for-your-mental-health/#2b174cb46526

Republicans need to do some serious soul searching this Fall. It’s time to stop the old bait and switch mentality and stop using words like “traitor” and “civil war.” Running our country like its his own personal fiefdom is about to stop. The shofar has sounded. This “witch hunt” is over!



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Here’s how it all started.

I was Wonder Woman this past weekend. I decided I needed an alias to care for the Grands, so I donned my new Brian Nash tee shirt of Diana Prince in her tiara. It worked!! Particularly for the three year old, he was perfectly happy to let me be in charge, and I tried my best to be a benevolent ruler.

I decided who would go first up and down the stairs.

I told the Love Bug that mud doesn’t “accidentally” get thrown on her brother, and she should apologize…like she means it.

And I told them both that if someone throws mud on them, they should throw mud back!

I agreed with their Father that we won’t “kill” bad guys, but we put alot of them in jail.

We learned that if we want to do something really really bad, that whining about it doesn’t make it happen.

The Love Bug said that singing more than one song at bedtime would be preferable. I sang four – two in Yiddish and two in English.

And I had NO idea how much they loved broccoli!

So today, as I was relaxing at my house, doing laundry and walking Ms Bean as usual, I heard about the White House Correspondent’s Dinner. I thought to myself, how can they have a roast of a President who has absolutely NO sense of humor? It makes zero sense. And I happened to see Anna Navarro skewer a Republican about Mr T’s misogynistic remarks on CNN, and the hypocrisy of the Trumpeteers.

Anna said that Latinas would kill each other if they even tried to do a comic roast, and I thought, yep Jews would also kill someone. Bashing somebody’s looks or their family or their competence would definitely be a death sentence. OTOH, in my Irish family, this sort of thing happened every day!

It was much ado about nothing for me. How can you find ANY humor in this presidency? The best bet would be to just put off the WHCD until we elect someone with a soul. And then I went to Whole Foods to shop for Cinco de Mayo.

We are hosting a neighborhood celebration and I will be teaching folks how to make my famous “Mango Tomatillo Salsa!” As I was checking out, I was impressed that the young man knew what tomatillos were, but even more impressed with the young woman bagger who remembered the code number. I told her my husband was also good with numbers.

“He still knows the phone number from my college dorm,” I said with pride.

Then she asked if we’d met in college, and I said, “Not exactly, we knew each other in high school but he went to Woodstock.” I usually have this sad, semi-sarcastic look on my face whenever I mention this split in the space-time universe of our lives, and she said semi-seriously:

“What’s that? Is it like Burning Man?”

The young man, who was a musician of course, gave her the same look I did. Incredulous. And I thought to myself, okay, I’m officially OLD. I’m that old person who is so cute but makes no sense. Who makes Google Maps route me without highways. Who pulls into parking spaces so she can pull out face first. Who is always losing her cell phone and forgetting her umbrellas all over town.

But I can still laugh at myself, and I can still relish a good joke. Changing lies to ashes to eye shadow was a great line about the Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who is pretty astute at changing direction while her voice is like chalk on a chalkboard. And I won’t pick up the feminist card here, she is deserving of derision. GOP women can be just as deluded as men on policy issues.

“She is a fan of fantasy football, New Kids on the Block and the television show “Mad Men.”

All things I abhor. Maybe because I lived that Mad Men world, and it wasn’t pretty. Or funny. I’d rather be Wonder Woman, any day.






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Did you know there’s a “Creepy Clown Craze” going on around the country? Thanks to YouTube, killer clowns have been popping out of bushes and scaring people for years – wait, I should say “pranking” people. Because that was the intention, a social media joke for adolescent minds, not criminal…but then, somewhere along the way, children reported clowns lurking around schools, trying to lure them into the woods.

While none of the social media threats have been credible, there have been arrests made tied to these creepy clowns. These include two clown-masked teenagers who were arrested for chasing children in Virginia, where it is illegal for anyone over the age of 16 to wear any mask or hoodie that hides their identity.
According to a Sept. 29 report from the New York Times, there have been 12 arrests made across the country tied to these hoaxes.
– See more at: http://www.techtimes.com/articles/180672/20161003/what-creepy-clown-craze-unmasking-scary-trend.htm#sthash.6J6QrIsI.dpuf

Our Master of Horror, Stephen King posted on Twitter:

“Hey, guys, time to cool the clown hysteria–most of em are good, cheer up the kiddies, make people laugh.”

Now I know what you’re thinking. She’s going to compare the Donald to a clown, right? Not exactly. But the mass hysteria that can force one state to say there will be NO clown costumes allowed out on Halloween this year, or even make a hill near our first house in NJ a Virgin Mary sighting (God’s truth), could be what’s driving the Trump train – uh, campaign.

I found a funny (as in that’s really ironic kinda funny) poster on Facebook and had the audacity to share it. It compared Trump’s performance at last week’s debate with how a woman might be perceived using the same tactics. This is a great feminist strategy: “Imagine a woman unprepared, sniffling like a coke addict…5 kids with 3 men…multiple bankruptcies…” etc.  All facts mind you. The poster showed Donald’s head looking like Mrs Doubtfire.

Humor has long been a strategy to combat extreme right-wing movements around the world. Think Jon Stewart on Comedy Central. But we need to remember this can backfire, like a commenter on my Facebook page told me. He thought this poster was “childish.” Lest we forget, the GOP thinks they have the ear of God, only they know what the truth is, and only they have the courage to say it like it is! Absolutism at its finest. And of course my thought was nobody can do “childish” better than Trump.

He mocks the disabled, and he mocked Hillary Clinton’s pneumonia. He brags about his wealth and his women. He calls people names, even today. Remember his fondness for Elizabeth Warren,his biggest critic, calling her a Native American princess? And this week he implied that Hillary Clinton was most likely disloyal…because every jab that is thrown at him, and he has been disloyal many many times ladies…he throws one back even harder. He would not back down on Miss Universe, he just goes in for the kill and attacks her character. Like a schoolyard bully, the truth really doesn’t apply to him. Chivalry, nah, not so much either.


Photo: Alison Jackson for Vanity Fair

Either he is having one big mental breakdown in public, or we are all buying the Kool Aid, this hysteria that a narcissistic/millionaire/man-baby could become the Next Commander in Chief. I would not make too much fun of this PT Barnum of Clown’s Candidate. Like rain on a cloudy day, it would not be ironic if he won.   ____white_flour



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Since it’s a well known fact that humor helps one heal, I’ve been actively seeking the punch lines in my not-so-funny mountainside life. Even if it makes Bob cough up a lung, I’m sure it will be that pesky right-lower-lobe one. So follow along online http://www.funnyordie.com

We watched the latest Hangover movie and agreed with the President on the web series “Between Two Ferns,” some movies are better left standing and not reincarnated with sequels. As much as President Obama was making his pitch for millennials to sign up for Affordable Health Care, I was happy to see that much of what went on with Zach Galifianakis was really good improv – “If I ran a third time, it’d be sort of like doing a third Hangover movie. Didn’t really work out very well, did it?” http://www.vulture.com/2014/03/president-obama-between-two-ferns-making-of.html

But does humor and/or laughter really boost our immunity and help us fight off germs? If we’re talking evidence-based science here, the doctor is out! According to an article in Psychology Today, “Can Humor and Laughter Boost Your Health?” we haven’t thoroughly studied the effects of humor on the body, the research just isn’t there. In fact, humor writers and comedians seem to die younger than other career choices; still pretty anecdotal when we think about all those late nights and before/banning/cigarettes/from smoky bars.

The challenge is to conduct well designed studies which take into account possible confounding variables. One of the main things that needs to be accounted for is the separation of humor and laughter. If humor does have some analgesic effect, the question is, is it due to the cognitive enjoyment of the joke or is it because we laugh? Laughter releases endorphins in our brain and could hold the key for any health benefits. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/humor-sapiens/201202/can-humor-and-laughter-boost-your-health

This morning on CBS Sunday Morning I saw a Harvard scientist light up the brains of people watching Seinfeld in an MRI machine. Now first of all, I wouldn’t call Jerry laugh out loud funny, but maybe that was his point. Like the New Yorker cartoon you don’t get and then, wham! You get it. His finding was that it’s not just the funny part of the brain (in the amygdala) that is stimulated, it’s that pre-frontal cortex where all our critical thinking takes place. So a joke not only has to be wacky, but wise to a certain degree. To hit that sweet spot between silly and serious.

In a world where mud can start sliding in Washington, and the earth can start shaking in Southern California, and when Vladimir Putin just walks into a country because he can, not to mention a post-flu pneumonia that nearly lands your hubby in the hospital, our species needs a little light entertainment. There has to be a Yiddish saying about this. You know, “Man plans, God laughs.” So thanks for that picture on Vogue Kimye, cause the satirical reiterations are hysterical. We’re a ride or die family over here, just sayin.



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Driveway before the rain

Driveway before the rain

Sometimes we get the juiciest bits of information as an aside. Most journalists know this, we get the agenda to the meeting, but it’s in the stuff we hear in the hallway where we will sometimes find the true story. Or at least, an alternate story. This is why I will always and forever love secretaries; (whoops, the Bride called here) insert – because they knew where the bodies were buried!

Take for instance the latest edition of “This American Life” with Ira Glass. The Bride and Groom happened to hear him speak at the Ryman over the weekend, and coincidentally I caught his latest show in the car. Normally  I’ll catch up with Ira on his older podcasts while driving to Nashville, rarely am I listening live stream. But there I was, left listening the other night in my driveway to “Except for That One Thing!” #518

I was hooked right away. A young couple buy their first home in New England – Check! Bob and I bought our first home in Windsor, MA. They were trying to furnish it by going to auctions, because of course there were no real furniture stores or malls – Check! She got carried away with raising her paddle and put them into debt. I used to go to estate sales and get so frustrated because dealers would outbid me and then try to sell to me afterwards, making a slight profit. What happens next, when she finds the perfect dining room table on eBay, will surprise and delight you. http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/518/except-for-that-one-thing

And this is what Glass does so well with radio. We are better able to identify with someone we cannot see.  Judgement is suspended. Their story becomes our story. He manages to find that edge, where reality and humor can border on tragedy, that middle place where we find ourselves most days.

The place between arcane and insane.

Yesterday, I was visiting with my Richmond cousins and was almost trapped in the mud luge also known as my 1,000+ ft driveway when I returned home at twilight. Tires were spinning and my CRV was churning a mighty brown spray. Just a few short days ago Bob and I had sprinkled salt and sand down our steepest hill after the plow had scooped up most of the gravel and snow. I had just heard about my MIL’s weekend travails, cousins and friends sliding off her snow and ice-packed driveway sideways into the woods. A comedy of errors. And as I sit in my aviary listening to the slow and steady drip of snow melting off the roof, I thought of a new episode for This American Life –  “Life is a Driveway.” https://soundcloud.com/tadpoles-shouldnt-drive/rascal-flatts-life-is-a-highway

This is how Ms Bean feels about winter

This is how Ms Bean feels about winter

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We’ve all heard them. Ethnic jokes weave seamlessly through our society. I cut my teeth on Polish jokes, like, “How many Poles does it take to screw in a lightbulb?” I didn’t even know any Polish people, but I sat with the Irish girls in the mess hall at Camp St Joseph. And we had a distinct rivalry with the Italian girls. Just don’t ask me to tell a joke, I’ll screw up the punch line before you can say “Was that supposed to be funny?”

Then I married a Jewish guy. And one day in the 90s, when the Bride was studying to be a Bat Mitzvah, I found myself in the Temple when the world’s first woman rabbi, our very own Monmouth Reform Rabbi Sally Priesand, gave us a lecture sermon about Jewish American Princess (JAP) jokes. Priesand-SallyShe told us they weren’t really funny, they were distortions of a stereotype. They were ugly, thinly veiled anti-woman, antiSemitic nonsense that we would perpetuate by spreading around our community.

Sally said these jokes are insulting, and she asked us to stop someone who was telling a JAP joke, and explain our distaste. “Silence and indifference” helped fuel hatred around Europe in the buildup to WWII…I saw the light.

I had always hated dumb blond jokes. My feminist fire was forged on this stuff! I thought sexist, ethnic humor had been laid to rest, finally. But now we have a Bravo series about Long Island Princesses that is equally stupid and insulting. And recently I received one of those long email forwards titled, “On Being Jewish.” Maybe you’ve seen it in your inbox?

Q: Have you seen the newest Jewish-American-Princess horror movie?
A: It’s called “Debbie Does Dishes.”

There were lots more where that came from, and I challenged the sender. I told her that I find that kind of humor offensive. I deleted it. I think she understood.

On this 50th Anniversary of the assassination of our first Irish American President, I came across this article about Irish jokes in the Irish Central online magazine. And now I have to think about the subtle things we say about being Irish. Even our new VA Gov Terry McAuliffe was quoted: “as an Irish Catholic I’m adept at taking people out for drinks and doing whatever it takes to get things done.” Let’s all stop perpetuating stereotypes shall we.

Now a female priest and a male rabbi walk into a bar….hey with this Pope, we can dream can’t we.

Read more: http://www.irishcentral.com/roots/Top-insulting-Irish-signs-and-jokes-need-to-stop-PHOTOS-232720221.html#ixzz2lZWNDfYX
Follow us: @IrishCentral on Twitter | IrishCentral on Facebook

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Today we find out that Augusta National Golf Club in the great state of Georgia has admitted 2 women, Condoleeza Rice and Darla Moore. http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/golf/19323577 This news fell like a thud at my feet. As someone who could not receive a credit card unless it was in my husband’s name, or could not obtain birth control pills until I was married, my reaction to this big golfing news was anti-climactic. What do you know, this private club actually thinks a woman’s money is just as green as a man’s…oh, and maybe they won’t be such a distraction on the links? Hey, If the Tiger can play there, why not Condi? I shrugged.

And, while smiling this sardonic smile, we find out that 2 other iconic women have made headlines today. The great Phyllis Diller died at the grand old age of 95. I remember watching her on TV, and thinking so, a woman can make a living in comedy. I didn’t necessarily like her rampages about “Fang” her husband, and I certainly didn’t like the smoking and the bouffant of teased hair. But I was young, I didn’t know this was part of her schicht! She was the female doppelgänger of “Take my wife, please.” And she was doing this when women were not allowed in many university and private clubs around the country, unless they were on the arm of some male member. The second female comedian making news is Rosie O’Donnell. She revealed that she had a heart attack, and how women need to pay attention to our particular signs and symptoms. I’ve always loved Rosie, but instead of calling 911, she googled her symptoms and took an aspirin – bad Rosie – not funny. http://marquee.blogs.cnn.com/2012/08/20/rosie-odonnell-happy-to-be-alive-after-heart-attack/?iref=allsearch

And for the last distinctly sad bit of doubledealing, we have a Republican Senate candidate from Missouri, Todd Akin, who thinks he misspoke about RAPE, and the Republican VP pick, Paul Ryan, who desperately wants to distance himself from him. http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/with-todd-akins-rape-comments-abortion-is-back-in-the-campaign-spotlight/2012/08/20/c497bae4-eac7-11e1-a80b-9f898562d010_story.html

But can we separate the two? Not at all. Let’s put on our thinking caps – rejecting science and reason in many forms seems to be an extreme right agenda. And today, the GOP platform has called for a “Human Life Amendment” with absolutely no exception for rape, much in the same way Paul Ryan backed all those personhood bills that kept popping up all over the country. http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/08/21/no-rape-exception-in-republican-platforms-constitutional-abortion-ban/

Are we witches? This must be the year of magical thinking, when a woman’s body can just kill off those rapist sperm and prevent pregnancy – oh yeah, party of the big spenders and free markets – tell us how that works! I’m supposed to feel better that Mitt believes in the rape exception? Like I’m supposed to be happy we can play golf at Augusta?

Smart, thinking women are not buying into this circus comedy of GOP clowns. Tell me the GOP is not waging a war on women. Put on your best Dan Draper smile, and make me believe you’ll still call me in the morning. http://nymag.com/news/frank-rich/gop-women-problem-2012-4/

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The new feminism! This is my next read, thank you Caitin!

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