RSSCategory: Humor

A Very Cool Video

| December 17, 2010 | 0 Comments
The best I’ve seen in a long time.  I didn’t want it to end.

Here, The People Rule

| August 20, 2010 | 0 Comments

Disapproval of Obama’s job as president has now reached a majority. As a Democrat, that disappoints me. But I also find myself frustrated with the American public. Through my admitted Koolaid-tinted lens, I see in Obama a president who has fulfilled his campaign promised to a degree unprecedented in my lifetime. The stimulus legislation, healthcare reform, financial services reform, etc., etc. were all policies he promised to enact in the campaign and he did it. In today’s Washington post Eugene Robinson outlines some recent accomplished that have gone all but unnoticed.   During the campaign, he was considered a great communicator, the second coming of Ronald Reagan.   But he doesn’t seem to be able to communicate effectively as president, as evidenced by the chart above.

Of course, the real reason he’s suffering in the polls is the economy, pure and simple.  One enormous blunder his administration committed at the outset was to dramatically underestemate the depths of the recession.  He gave his opponents a powerful talking point when his people promised that the stimulus would bring unemployment under 8%, a goal that some suggest will not beached in his entire first term.  Even without that blunder, however, people’s opinions are formed by the reality they confront.  It is clear, that no accomplishment by a president can overcome a persistent 9% unemployment rate.  So, it’s not about communication and its not about legislative accomplishments, it’s about results.  I guess that’s the way it should be.

I took some comfort from a biography that I’m reading about Lyndon Johnson by Charles Peters.  It describes the election of 1946, the one right after a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress presided over victory in World War II.  In that election, Republicans took majorities in both Houses.  It was around that time that the British voters ousted Winston Churchill.

In the end, frustrated as I might be, if the people rule, the people rule, for better or for worse.  To cite an overused quote from the aforementioned Winston Churchill (probably uttered after his defeat), “Democracy is the worst form of government, except all the others that have been tried.”

A Schmuck Defined

| July 6, 2010 | 3 Comments

In one of my most embarrassing professional experiences, I got into a public food fight with network newswoman Diane Sawyer, which was played out in the Washington Post and then picked up by other media outlets.  It was pretty ugly and, if I had been working for a less tolerant boss than Congressman Jim Olin at the time, I might very well have been fired.  It’s a long story and I don’t have time to go into all the gory details.

But aside from the large public embarrassment of having her accuse me of being an overpaid congressional hack who is insensitive to the poor and needy in our society, there was a mini-embarrassment over my use of the word “schmuck.”  I was quoted in the Post saying something like, “where does she get off portraying me as some schmuck….”

In the middle of the firestorm that the larger argument caused, there was a letter from a Jewish woman.  I honestly don’t remember whether she wrote it directly to the Congressman or  it was published in the Post.  I think the former.  But she enlightened me on the true definition of the word schmuck.  It means flaccid penis and she found my use of it deeply offensive and not fit for family reading in a newspaper.  Who knew?

So, it was with amusement that I read today’s Huffington Post piece by Marty Kaplan entitled Springtime for Schmucks about this very issue and the extent to which the word schmuck has evolved in common usage.  He writes:

It is arguable that its original meaning – a Yiddish profanity for penis, often part of an insult beginning with “You are such a – ” and ending with an exclamation point – has been so diluted by widespread usage that nowadays it’s no more offensive than any other common synonym for “jerk.” This would explain why, at High Holy Day services at my synagogue last year, the associate rabbi, a lovely mother of three young children, could innocently say the word from the pulpit without imagining for a moment that it would cause the shocked sharp intake of breath among half the congregants that followed.

What’s interesting about Kaplan article is his belief that schmuck has only recently become acceptable in polite conversation.  When I used the word I had no idea it had any sexual connotation whatsoever.  I thought then, in 1987, what Kaplan bemoans as only recently having come to pass, that the word has become the moral equivalent of jerk.

But what’s most interesting from reading his piece is learning that Mel Brooks has launched a campaign to save the word schmuck.  Again, who knew?  He has a Facebook page dedicated to this cause, Schmucks for Schmuck.  Of course, I quickly joined.

Growing up enjoying the vast numbers of Jewish comics who entertained me in my youth helped me appreciate Yiddish.  The language is tailor made for humor.  But it may also desensitized me to its scatological elements.  Are there a lot of scatological elements?  Are there other words like schmuck, which sound harmless, but offend true Yiddish speaker?

As a goy, I’ll probably never know.  But, if Yiddish didn’t exist, we’d certainly need to invent it.

Sid Ceasar Does Beethoven

| February 15, 2010 | 0 Comments
The Huffington Post has a great feature, the 29 funniest music videos of all time.  Many are familiar, like Steve Martin’s King Tut, Andy Kaufman’s Might Mouse and Monty Python’s Bright Side of Life.  But my favorite combines my love of Beethoven with that of black and white TV (broadcast TV at its best).  It’s probably from the 1950’s and has Sid Ceasar conducting an marital argument to the First Movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.  It is hysterical.  You really have to watch the whole 5 minute clip to appreciate it.  It’s done so well that it looks like Beethoven had this in mind when he wrote the piece.  Check it out.

A Star is Born

| February 8, 2010 | 0 Comments
I hope this Rahm Emmanuel spoof becomes a regular feature on SNL.  This guy is good!

John Stewart at His Best

| January 5, 2010 | 0 Comments
His account of the “underwear bomber” is one his best ever, in my opinion:

Even If The Bomb Works, There’s Gonna Be 72 Very Disappointed Virgins

Check it out.  Watch the whole thing.  Hilarious.

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