Here are more examples of misdirected energy, in the form of assorted signs cleverly defaced by anonymous wisenheimers…
Here are more examples of misdirected energy, in the form of assorted signs cleverly defaced by anonymous wisenheimers…
More wiseacre humor from people with enough cheek and free time to vandalize signs…
Out of the many stories I’ve posted on Mr. Write’s Page, Great Movie Scenes from 2009 is among my handful of personal favorites — even though I didn‘t write a word of it.
But it was a winner, and why I haven’t done a sequel, I can’t say.
Oh, well. Finally, three years later, here is another batch of memorable movie moments.
“I Love the Smell of Napalm in the Morning”
From “Apocalypse Now,” 1979
(After calling in a napalm strike across the river, Army Lt. Col. Bill Kilgore stands shirtless on the beach, surveying the aftermath with several subordinates.)
Kilgore (Robert Duval): You smell that? Do you smell that?
Private Johnson (Timothy Bottoms): What?
Kilgore: Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. (He squats next to Johnson.) I love the smell of napalm in the morning.
You know, one time we had a hill bombed for twelve hours. And when it was all over, I walked up. (He gestures into the distance.) We didn’t find one of ‘em — not one stinking dink body.
But the smell — you know, that gasoline smell… The whole hill smelled like… victory.
(A mortar round explodes not far away. All of the soldiers flinch except Kilgore.)
Kilgore: Someday, this war’s gonna end.
“Toe to Toe With the Rooskies”
From “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,” 1964
(B-52 pilot Major “King” Kong has received orders to bomb a target in the USSR. Major Kong turns on the aircraft intercom and speaks to the crew.)
Major Kong (Slim Pickens): Well, boys, I reckon this is it — nookular combat, toe-to-toe with the Rooskies… (“When Johnny Comes Marching Home” begins to play in the background.)
Now look, boys, I ain’t much of a hand at makin’ speeches. But I got a pretty fair idea that somethin’ doggone important is goin’ on back there. And I got a fair idea of the kind of personal emotions that some of you fellas may be thinkin’. Heck, I reckon you wouldn’t even be human beins if you didn’t have some pretty strong personal feelings about nuclear combat.
I want you to remember one thing: the folks back home is a-countin’ on ya. And by golly, we ain’t about to let ‘em down.
Tell ya somethin’ else: if this thing turns out to be half as important as I figure it just might be, I’d say that you’re all in line for some important promotions an’ personal citations when this thing’s over with. That goes for every last one of ya, regardless of your race, color, or your creed.
Now, let’s get this thing on the hump. We got some flyin’ to do!
“I’m Afraid, Dave”
From “2001: A Space Odyssey,” 1968
(Aboard the Discovery One spacecraft, Astronaut Dave Bowman sets out to shut down the murderous HAL 9000 super-computer.)
HAL (in a slow, soothing voice): Look, Dave… I can see you’re really upset about this. I honestly think you should sit down calmly… take a stress pill… and think things over.
I know I’ve made some… very poor decisions recently. But I can give you my… complete assurance… that my work will be back to normal.
I’ve still got the greatest enthusiasm… and confidence in the mission… and I want to help you.
(Bowman arrives at HAL’s memory terminal. Using a key, he begins to deactivate the memory modules, one by one.)
HAL: Dave, stop. Stop, will you? Stop, Dave.
Will you stop, Dave? Stop, Dave.
I’m afraid. I’m afraid, Dave.
(The deactivation is slowly affecting HAL.)
Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is… no question about it.
I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I’m… afraid.
Good afternoon, gentlemen. I am a HAL 9000 computer. I became operational at the H.A.L. plant in Urbana, Illinois, on the 12th of January, 1992. My instructor was Mr. Langley, and he taught me to sing a song. If you’d like to hear it, I can sing it for you.
Bowman (Keir Dullea), still deactivating modules: Yes, I’d like to hear it, HAL. Sing it for me.
HAL, his voice steadily slowing down and becoming deeper: It’s called… “Daisy.”
“Daisy, Daisy. Give me your… answer do. I’m… half crazy… all for the love of you…
“It won’t… be a stylish marriage. I can’t… afford… a carriage.
“But you’ll. Look sweet. Upon. The seat. Of a bicycle. Built. For two…”
“A Night in the Box”
From “Cool Hand Luke,” 1967
(New arrivals at Florida Road Prison #36 are given the standard orientation by Carr, a no-nonsense member of the prison staff.)
Carr (Clifton James): Them clothes got laundry numbers on ‘em. You remember your number and always wear the ones that has your number. Any man forgets his number spends a night in the box.
These here spoons, you keep with ya. Any man loses his spoon spends a night in the box.
There’s no playin’ grab-ass or fightin’ in the buildin’. You got a grudge against another man, you fight him Saturday afternoon. Any man playin’ grab-ass or fightin’ in the buildin’ spends a night in the box.
First bell is at five minutes of eight, when you will get in your bunk. Last bell is at eight. Any man not in his bunk at eight spends a night in the box.
There’s no smokin’ in the prone position in bed. To smoke, you must have both legs over the side of your bunk. Any man caught smokin’ in the prone position in bed spends a night in the box.
You get two sheets every Saturday. You put the clean sheet on the top and the top sheet on the bottom, and the bottom sheet you turn into the laundry boy. Any man turns in the wrong sheet spends a night in the box.
No one’ll sit in the bunks with dirty pants on. Any man with dirty pants on sittin’ on the bunks spends a night in the box.
Any man don’t bring back his empty pop bottle spends a night in the box.
Any man loud-talkin’ spends a night in the box.
You got questions, you come to me. I’m Carr, the floorwalker. I’m responsible for order in here. Any man don’t keep order spends a night in –
Luke (Paul Newman) interrupts: “– the box.”
Carr, wearily: I hope you ain’t gonna be a hard case.
“Like Tears in Rain”
From “Blade Runner,” 1982
(On top of a building, holding a white dove, dying replicant Roy Batty stands over his pursuer, “blade runner” Rick Deckard. Deckard is dangling from a beam in the pouring rain, about to slip and fall to his death.)
Roy (Rutger Hauer): Quite an experience to live in fear, isn’t it? That’s what it is to be a slave.
(Deckard loses his grip and spits at Roy as he falls. In a flash, Roy seizes him by the wrist and hoists him onto the roof. As Deckard cowers against a wall, Roy sits down cross-legged next to him, still holding the dove.)
Roy (quietly and slowly): I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. (He laughs weakly.) Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the darkness at Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time… like (he coughs) tears in rain.
Time to die.
(His head slumps to his chest. As rain drips from his body, the dove springs from his hand and flies away.)
“That Night, I Had a Dream”
From “Raising Arizona,” 1987
(In voice-over at the end of the movie, hapless husband H.I. “Hi” McDunnough recounts his wondrous dream about the future.)
H.I. (Nicholas Cage): That night, I had a dream. I dreamt I was as light as the ether — a floating spirit visiting things to come. The shades and shadows of the people in my life rassled their way into my slumber.
I dreamed that Gale and Evelle had decided to return to prison. Probably, that’s just as well. I don’t mean to sound superior, and they’re a swell couple of guys, but maybe they weren’t ready yet to come out into the world.
And then I dreamed on, into the future, to a Christmas morn in the Arizona home where Nathan Junior was opening a present from a kindly couple who preferred to remain unknown.
I saw Glen a few years later, still having no luck getting the cops to listen to his wild tales about me and Ed. Maybe he threw in one Polack joke too many. I don’t know.
And still I dreamed on, further into the future than I had ever dreamed before… watching Nathan Junior’s progress from afar… taking pride in his accomplishments as if he were our own… wondering if he ever thought of us, and hoping that maybe we’d broadened his horizons a little, even if he couldn’t remember just how they got broadened.
But still, I hadn’t dreamt nothing about me and Ed until the end. And this was cloudier, ‘cause it was years, years away.
But I saw an old couple being visited by their children, and all their grandchildren, too. The old couple weren’t screwed up. And neither were their kids or their grandkids.
And I don’t know… you tell me: this whole dream, was it wishful thinking? Was I just fleeing reality, like I know I’m liable to do?
But me and Ed, we can be good, too. And it seemed real. It seemed like us.
And it seemed like, well, our home. If not Arizona, then a land not too far away, where all parents are strong and wise and capable, and all children are happy and beloved.
I don’t know. Maybe it was Utah.
gob·ble·dy·gook — noun \gä-bəl-dē-guk, -gük\ : something written in a pretentious, overly complex manner; pompous language, characterized by circumlocution and jargon; wordy and evasive officialese, usually hard to understand: the gobbledygook of government reports.
Synonyms: double-talk, doublespeak, gibberish, song and dance
Related Words: bureaucratese, computerese, educationese, governmentese, legalese, Pentagonese, psychobabble, technobabble; bombast, grandiloquence, gas, hot air
During World War II, Texas Congressman Maury Maverick served as chairman of the House Committee on Smaller War Plants. Maury came from a long line of hard-bitten cattle ranchers and by all accounts was a no-nonsense guy.
For the record, the term maverick originated with Maury’s grandfather, Samuel Augustus Maverick, who, for his own reasons, chose not to brand his cattle.
In time, all unbranded range cattle became known as mavericks. And eventually, the description was extended to apply to persons of independent thought who chart their own course and tell everyone else to go scratch.
Chairman Maury, being a maverick in every respect, was particularly annoyed when a business executive or a colleague came to the microphone and filled the air with pompous bureaucratic language, much of it unintelligible.
His annoyance gave the frustrating practice a name: gobbledygook.
Maury compared the use of stuffy bureaucratic lingo to the actions of a turkey — “always gobbledy-gobbling and strutting with ludicrous pomposity.”
In short order, the word gobbledygook became part of the national lexicon.
If this were a rational world, casting scorn and ridicule upon the users of gobbledygook might bring an end to it. But no — for reasons only psychologists and psychiatrists understand, gobbledygookery survives and continues unabated today, in government, business, the military, and just about every other circle you can name.
And so does “doublespeak,“ gobbledygook’s bastard stepchild.
Consider these two examples…
High-quality learning environments are a necessary precondition for facilitation and enhancement of the ongoing learning process. (Translation: good schools help students learn.)
To maintain a state of high-level oral wellness, make use at least once a day of a wooden interdental stimulator. (Translation: for a healthy mouth, use a toothpick daily.)
And consider this list of terms, carefully designed to muddle and obfuscate…
– Period of accelerated negative growth — slowdown in business activity
– Aerodynamic personnel decelerator — a parachute
– Individualized learning station — a desk
– Energetic disassembly — something goes kaboom
– High-velocity, multi-purpose air circulation device — a fan
– Pavement deficiencies — potholes
– Byway solidification — paving the potholes
– Negative patient-care outcome — when someone dies in a hospital
– Combat emplacement evacuator — a shovel
– Tactical redeployment — retreat
– Comfort station — a toilet
– Associate scanning professional — a cashier
– Poorly buffered precipitation — acid rain
– Non-performing assets — bad loans
– Personal appurtenance storage unit — a locker
– Preemptive counterattack — an invasion
– Service the target — commence firing
– Front-leaning rest exercises — push-ups
– Permanent incapacitation — death
– Fastening device impact driver — a hammer
– Inter-modal interface — A train station, airport, bus stop, or taxi stand
– Environmentally destabilized — polluted
– Social-expression products — greeting cards
– Façade protectant — paint
– Vertical interface display — a chalkboard
– Vertical insertion — Coast Guard term for boarding a ship by sliding down a rope dangling from a helicopter
All very silly, pretentious, and laughable. But consider terms like the following, which have crossed over from the realm of gobbledygook and, to our eternal discredit, have gone mainstream…
– Revenue enhancement — taxes
– User fees — taxes
– Sub-standard housing — slum-level dwellings not fit to live in
– Correctional institutions — prisons
– Air support — bombing raids
– Collateral damage — dead civilians and blown-up buildings
– Enhanced interrogation — torture
– Extraordinary rendition — kidnapping
– Ethnic cleansing — Getting rid of people you don’t like by violent means, including mass murder
Shame on anyone for using them.
Permit me to end on a lighter note. If you want to take gobbledygook to greater and more absurd heights, check out the gobbledygook generator on the website of the Plain English Campaign.
Maury Maverick would approve.
More examples of wit, wisdom, and sarcasm from those anonymous folks who vandalize signs…
When your inner cynic, prophet, or comedian is longing to get out, what better way to accommodate it than by vandalizing a sign?
Sign vandalism is a popular American pastime, a time-honored tradition of citizens willing to risk misdemeanor charges to express themselves. Anonymously, of course.
Here are some examples of the wit, wisdom, and sarcasm that bubbles up when our backs are turned…
Actor Charles Durning died last month. Durning was a well-known character actor in Hollywood and on Broadway whose career lasted 50 years.
Durning had plenty of memorable acting roles, but when I think of him, his service in World War II comes first to mind.
In 1944, 21-year-old Private Charles Durning was in the first wave of soldiers to land on Omaha Beach during the invasion of Normandy.
He was the only man in his unit to survive a machine-gun ambush. Although seriously wounded by machine gun fire and shrapnel, Durning survived and killed seven enemy soldiers.
After several months of medical care, Durning returned to the fighting in Belgium, where he faced a bayonet-wielding German soldier in hand-to-hand combat. Although badly wounded, he overpowered and killed the German.
Durning was released from the hospital just in time to fight in the Battle of the Bulge, where he was taken prisoner. He was one of only three Americans who escaped during the infamous Malmedy Massacre, in which 80 POWs were executed by German soldiers.
Several months later, he was wounded in the chest and was sent back to the United States. He was discharged from the Army in 1946, one month before his 23rd birthday.
For his service, Durning was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action and three Purple Hearts for his wounds.
Like many men of his generation, my father among them, Durning preferred not to talk about his war experiences. He told an interviewer in 1997, “Too many bad memories. I don’t want you to see me crying.”
But later in life, he began to open up. In an 2008 interview, he talked about the bayonet incident.
“I was crossing a field somewhere in Belgium,” he said. “A German soldier ran toward me carrying a bayonet. He couldn’t have been more than 14 or 15. I didn’t see a soldier. I saw a boy. Even though he was coming at me, I couldn’t shoot.”
As the two of them grappled, Durning was bayoneted eight times. Finally, using a rock, he struck and killed the young soldier.
Durning said that for a long time afterward, he sat on the ground, held the soldier in his arms, and wept.
In 1994, Durning said, “There is no nobility in war. If you really knew what it was like for an hour, you wouldn’t want anyone to go through it.
“They train you to do awful things, then they release you and wonder why you are so bitter and angry. The physical injuries heal first. It’s your mind that’s hard to heal.”
Durning said the memories of war never left him, but acting gave him a safety valve. He said performing allowed him to become someone else, however briefly.
“I forget a lot of stuff now,” he said. “But I still wake up once in a while, and it’s still there. I can’t count how many of my buddies are in the cemetery at Normandy.”
“There are many secrets in us, in the depths of our souls, that we don’t want anyone to know about,” he said. “There is terror and repulsion in us — the terrible spot that we don’t talk about. That place that no one knows about — horrifying things we keep secret.”
Since 2005, as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan intensified, the suicide rate among American soldiers has risen sharply. Last year, more American troops committed suicide than were killed in battle.
By the grace of God, I was not sent into combat during my time in uniform. Others were not so fortunate. What horrors they endured, and continue to endure, I can’t begin to understand.
Charles Durning, may he rest in peace, could.
Welcome to 2013, the Year of the Snake.
2012, the Year of the Dragon, failed to deliver a whole lot. Let’s hope the Snake does better.
The Year of the Snake rolls around every 12 years. The Japanese say people born in a snake year are profound thinkers. Chinese wisdom says snake people are good with money. In Vietnam, the snake is a symbol of good luck. All of which is promising.
Permit me to point out that the month of January is…
National Oatmeal Month
National Bath Safety Month
National Tubers and Dried Fruit Month
National Be Kind to Food Servers Month
National Polka Music Month
January 2-8 is National Someday We’ll Laugh About This Week
January 11-17 is National Cuckoo Dancing Week (to celebrate Laurel & Hardy)
January 17-23 is National Fresh-Squeezed Juice Week
January 20-26 is National Clean Out Your Inbox Week
January 21-25 is National No Name Calling Week
And on top of that…
January 2 is Happy Mew Year for Cats Day
January 9 is National Static Electricity Day
January 14 is National Caesarian Section Day
January 21 is National Squirrel Appreciation Day
January 28 is National Kazoo Day
2013, here we come!
The pun, according to wordsmith Samuel Johnson, is “the lowest form of humour.” Johnson asserted that puns had “some malignant power” over Shakespeare’s mind.
Johnson probably wouldn’t react well to this pun from Douglas Adams: “You can tune a guitar, but you can’t tuna fish. Unless of course, you play bass.”
Or this groaner from Groucho Marx: “Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.”
If puns are, indeed, a low form of art, the following list should make Dr. Johnson roll over in his grave.
A girl said she recognized me from the vegetarian club, but I’d never met herbivore.
A soldier who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.
Energizer bunny arrested, charged with battery.
How do you make holy water? Boil the hell out of it.
That earthquake in Washington obviously was the government’s fault.
You feel stuck with your debt if you can’t budge it.
In democracy, it’s your vote that counts. In feudalism, it’s your count that votes.
The man who fell into an upholstery machine is fully recovered.
When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion.
A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.
Be kind to your dentist. He has fillings, too.
Show me a piano falling down a mineshaft, and I’ll show you A-flat minor.
When chemists die, they barium.
Jokes about German sausage are the wurst.
I know a guy who’s addicted to brake fluid. He says he can stop any time.
How does Moses make his tea? Hebrews it.
I stayed up all night to see where the sun went. Then it dawned on me.
I’m reading a book about anti-gravity. I just can’t put it down.
I did a theatrical performance about puns. It was a play on words.
A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.
Have you ever heard of an honest cheetah?
The butcher backed into the meat grinder and got a little behind in his work.
She was only a whisky maker, but he loved her still.
A dyslexic man walks into a bra.
I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian.
They told me I had type-A blood, but it was a type-O.
PMS jokes aren’t funny, period.
If you hear it from the horse’s mouth, you’re listening to a neigh sayer.
A successful diet is the triumph of mind over platter.
No matter how much you push the envelope, it will remain stationery.
Don’t justify sin, just defy sin.
Why were the Indians here first? Because they had reservations.
We’re going on a class trip to the Coca-Cola factory. I hope there’s no pop quiz.
I didn’t like my beard at first, but it grew on me.
Did you hear about the cross-eyed teacher who lost her job because she couldn’t control her pupils?
When you get a bladder infection, urine trouble.
Broken pencils are pointless.
I tried to catch some fog, but I mist.
England has no kidney bank, but it does have a Liverpool.
I used to be a banker, but I lost interest.
I dropped out of communism class because of lousy Marx.
All the toilets in New York’s police stations have been stolen. The police have nothing to go on.
A cartoonist was found dead in his home. Details are sketchy.
Venison for dinner again? Oh, deer!
Corduroy pillows are making headlines.
Sign on the lawn at a drug rehab center: ‘Keep off the Grass.’
Two silkworms had a race. They ended up in a tie.
A boiled egg in the morning is hard to beat.
A plateau is a high form of flattery.
Camping is usually intense.
Poor fellow. He ran into a screen door and strained himself.
After Noah sent Ham into the desert, his descendants mustered and bred.
Immanuel doesn’t pun. He Kant.
A Freudian slip is when you say one thing, but mean your mother.
I got a job at a bakery because I kneaded dough.
Haunted French pancakes give me the crêpes.
Velcro — what a rip-off!
The German word for a protruding stone, e.g., an uneven cobblestone, is stolperstein. Translation: stumblestone or stumbling block.
Before the Holocaust, if someone in Germany stumbled, it was common to say, “There must be a Jew buried there.”
If the deceased were saying that, you might call it gallows humor. Instead, it’s merely callous.
In 1993, German artist Gunter Demnig took that unfortunate expression and stood it on its head, changing it from a negative to a positive.
Demnig decided to use the plural term der stolpersteine as the name of a project that honors individuals who were killed or persecuted by the Nazis.
The idea is brilliant. Demnig locates the former residence of a Nazi victim, gets the permission of local authorities, and installs a small commemorative cobblestone, topped by a brass plaque, in front of the residence.
Each plaque begins with the words Hier wohnte — “Here lived” — and records the individual’s name, dates of birth and death, and fate.
Simple and effective. One victim, one stone.
“A person is forgotten only when his or her name is forgotten,” said Demnig.
In the two decades since he began, Demnig has placed more than 32,000 Stolpersteine in Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, and Norway. The project is ongoing.
Demnig gets the information for a stone from the honoree’s relatives or from the Holocaust database in Jerusalem.
Then he creates a four-inch concrete cube and covers it with a brass sheet. Details about the person are stamped into the brass, and the cube is laid flush with the sidewalk or pavement.
Most stones are installed in front of the person’s last residence of choice. Some are placed where the individual worked.
Most Stolpersteine commemorate Jewish victims of the Holocaust, but many honor members of other victimized groups — gypsies, blacks, homosexuals, communists, the physically and mentally disabled, and Christians who opposed the Nazis.
The cost of a single Stolperstein is about $120, which is covered by donations, mostly from individuals, schools, and communities.
Not everyone is happy with the Stolpersteine project. Some current homeowners claim the stones open old wounds and depress property values.
Others say the stones desecrate the memories of the victims. In Munich, they were banned because city officials said the names were being trampled on for a second time.
But in most places, the Stolpersteine have been welcomed.
“Six million Jews were killed — murdered,” said one of Demnig’s project coordinators. “The stumbling blocks make clear that it was one, plus one, plus one, plus one. It makes clear they were all individuals.”
The bitter truth is that we humans are a ruthless and merciless bunch, capable of appalling cruelty. We’ve proved it again and again throughout our history.
And just when you think we are beyond redemption, something like the Stolpersteine project comes along.