Tag Archives: humor writing

Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth

I was struggling to write a post this week; I was torn between two topics. Going for the laugh and making fun of the fashion resurgence of jump suits, also called, lord help us, jumpers. Can these things just go away forever? You cannot easily go to the loo in this clothing mishappery, so that should automatically strike it from every designers’ drawing board. Forever. Which was a funny idea, until it then meant I was going to completely ignore the Cheeto flea’s tweets declaring transgender folks need not apply for military work.

And as my brain was swirling around, I came across this perfect piece by humor writer Aprill Brandon in the Boston Globe Magazine on Sunday, “Dark Humor About Politics Is Everywhere, But It Hurts to Laugh.” With this tagline: A “snowflake” laments politics unusual as it continues to unfold in Washington. Writes Brandon:

“I have spent over a decade shoving all my anxiety down my computer’s throat and am the happier for it. Instead of pills, I have boob jokes.

But then came 2016.

Followed by the first half of 2017.

And it is becoming harder and harder to find the humor in anything. Knock, knock. Who’s there? Oh, just the Evil League of Evil taking control of our government! Ha! Ha!”

Yes, exactly. She said it better than I could have so please read on for her take.

Thanks Aprill, you took the words right out of my mouth, and that’s no meatloaf.

 

Don’t Let the Haters Get You Down

There are a lot of isms going on out there. Racism, sexism, plagiarism—heck, even mindless summer movies aren’t safe from the vitriol. Political passion and excess, I get. Ghostbusters? Really? So you don’t like chicks in your favorite movie franchise. Why get your panties in a twist? Just don’t spend your money to watch it. Vote with your wallet. That’s what we used to call it back in the dark ages of the wild 80s (and even before, I’m guessing). If we didn’t like stuff, we just didn’t buy it, and we moved on to stuff we did like. I know, I know, it’s cray-cray!

So it’s been a tough year for those of us who like to be funny, but don’t have the political comedic leanings of Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, or Jon Stewart. And if I don’t have the chutzpah to make something funny out of the venom, I decided to try to at least find examples of Americans just hanging out and getting along. Which wasn’t much easier. The internet is burning and small groups of my friends don’t count.

But I’m happy to report, I finally found a place of utter equality. No one group has the advantage over another. Men, women, and others are all treated equally. Money will not get you in a faster line. And at least in Massachusetts, every person age 16 or older will most likely pass through its egalitarian doors. What is this miracle of democracy, you ask? It’s not the voting booth or the library. It’s the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV). You can say what you like about excessive bureaucracy, but after 35 years of my own complaints about it, I have finally discovered its silver lining. The red tape that frustrates us, also serves to remind us that we’re all equal in the dull, unflappable eyes of the state. Even if you don’t own a car, in my state at least, you still go there to get a Mass. ID.

I was there not too long ago with my son who was taking the test to get his learner’s permit. We waited 15 minutes in a line to get a number. Then we waited 30 minutes to have our number called. Then I waited another 10 minutes while he took the test. And we waited amongst the mass of humanity known as the population of the US. People of all shades, states of dress, ages, sitting together as equals on very hard wooden benches. Strangers slid over to make room for their fellow sufferers. The sounds of a half a dozen languages peppered the quiet room. One man paced around in a long oval, but no one bothered him. Numbers were called in implacable order, no jumping ahead. Lives didn’t matter as much as having the proper paperwork, and the RMV makes a better effort to find out if people do have it at the door. This helps reduce fisticuffs between the workers and the waiters. No place is perfect.

So, if you’re feeling down about all isms and yelling and the intolerance, go sit in your local RMV for 5 or 10 minutes, and have a look around. It’s not a giant waste of time, money, and sanity. It’s all that and the American dream of equality in its purist form. What more can you ask for?

Photo credit: www.solarfeeds.com

 

Top 9 Posts from 2015, Because Less Is More

Here we are at the end of the year when we run out of steam and cover it up with year-end top 10 lists. Because I want to leave you begging for more, there are only 9. If you want a 10th, send “10s and 20s” like Sally asked for in the Charlie Brown Christmas special. You think these posts grow on trees? Oh, wait some times they do. Sometimes they spring from the bushes of a Boston suburb, or an overheard conversation in a  coffee line, or from bras that look like snack bowls. Still, 10s and 20s couldn’t hurt.

Enjoy the 2015 top 9 posts, redux, and have a fantastic New Year’s! I will see you on the flip side of 2016, my friends, and thanks for reading this year!

9. Top Ways to Stay Warm Without Heat

The popularity of this one surprised me; I can only guess that people were looking for real tips, and I’m sure they were sorely disappointed, But they clicked on the link, so it’s all good from my end.

“You can’t prove that I tried to use the little flame from the candle lighter before realizing it would be spring before it worked or that I would set the hose on fire.”

8. A Girl, Her friend and Their Band U2

Best. Friend. Visit. And. Concert. Ever. EVAH!

“Seeing U2 with Sonia was like coming home. They are in a reflective mood with this new music and we are too. Yes, they forced it on everyone for free. Get over it.  I promise to hold my tongue when the new album from your favorite band I don’t give a hoot about shows up for free in my iTunes.”

7. The Girliness Adventures Go Underward

Victoria Secret never did retweet my post about this. I can’t imagine why.

“I was unprepared for the uniformity of what I can only describe as the matching snack bowl design of all the bras in the place. Seriously, rows and rows of hanging bowls.”

6. And the Repairman Sayeth, ‘Let There Be Heat.’

This was the third and final installment of my saga of being without heat for three weeks during THE snowiest month in Boston history. Makes me sound like a total badass, right? Well, it goes waaayyy deeper than that. There was some controversy about deflating and inflating certain things. You’ll have to read to find out more. I am grateful that folks hung in there to see how it ended.

“I would like to say, absolutely, I followed all the rules of blogging to the letter. I did not invent my lack of heat, nor did I inflate the length of time I went without heat merely for my own blogging use. Sometimes the environment can influence a topic, like lack of heat.”

5. Overheard, Secondhand

Why waste time thinking of topics yourself when perfect strangers will give you all the content you could ever want?

“She has chickens. Bubble hit: 3. Why are chickens a thing? Suburban chickens are the new black.”

4. Top 9 Reasons Why I Love the Gays

Clearly I like gays and the top 9 of various things. Deal with it.

“These reasons are particular to my friends; your results with your gay friends may vary.”

3. Birthdays: Top 5 Reasons 50 Is Better than 30

So sometimes I do 5 top reasons. It does confirm that people like lists of things, and who am I to deprive you?

“Reason 3: I finally can tell all the “experts” to go stick it in their pie hole.”

2. Jilted by My Hairdresser–Twice

True confessions. I wrote the original version of this piece of this many years ago and updated it for the blog. You’d never know. Oh, crap, except I just told you.

“It’s shameful I know, but I don’t remember her name.  I don’t remember any of their names, those who come after Eileen.  I made my way from Newbury Street to Supercuts and every place in between, shamelessly talking about her to them all.”

  1. And the number one spot? Of course goes to the ever fabulous, ever rockin’ Rick Springfield: Rockin’ in the ‘Burbs: Top 6 Things You Didn’t Know About Rick Springfield

Yeah, so another top numbered list. I actually think it was the cool pic of him on my blog that got that post so many hits. I added it above, you know for comparison research purposes.

“Damn suburbanites. So I could have probably told you 10 things about Rick, but the crabby, unhip, “new money” people in Cohasset prevented me from learning any more.”

 

Top 11 Posts of 2014, With Thanks to Spinal Tap

Here we are at the end of the year when those of us in the entertainment industry run out of funny steam and cover it up with top 10 lists. Because I really want to push up the volume, I’m going for the top 11 posts. I was going to list a mix of posts that WordPress stats tell me you liked and add some of my own personal favorites. But as I reread them I realized I had a lot of fun writing most of them, so it’s too hard to pick. Plus, if you don’t like the list, you only have yourselves to blame.

Thank you for hanging out with me this year, and I promise more shenanigans in 2015. Have a happy new year!

11. Black Lives Matter Thanks for reading this one. It was a bit of a departure for me and more serious, but something I needed to write.

10. I would Have Gotten Away with It if It weren’t for that meddling Hamster, Who knew a hamster could be such a rich source of blog material? As a follow-up to this post, yes, he did need surgery, it cost a bundle, I learned that there is actually hamster medical literature, and he is still with us to ring in 2015. More Hamphrey posts to come!

9. Real-Life math Sucks. It still sucks, but I got to let off steam about my divorce and laugh at math, so it’s all good!

8. Let’s Do Things Without Shoes. This was the oldie, but goodie–misheard lyrics. I had a lot of fun reading people’s responses to this one.

7. It’s All About Me, Hannah. Alas, I never did get Lena Dunham to comment on this or respond to my tweet about it. I’ll increase my celebrity social media stalking next season.

6. California Steamin’ I wrote about two East Coast friends who left me for the Left Coast. I saw one at Christmas and I am happy to report he still has his Masshole chops. To the other one, who still hasn’t read this post and is from New York, I say, Boston’s bettah and Yankees suck!

5. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Divorce.  If your divorce isn’t funny, please feel free to laugh at mine.

4. I’m Sexy (if Only in My Head).  Perhaps it’s bad taste to be amused by your own writing, but this one still cracks me up. It made the top 5, so both you and I have excellent taste.

3. Radishes, Carrots, and Kale, Oh My! I love that this post is the third most popular and it was the second one I wrote this year. Foodies and their gastronomic obsessions are all over the blogsphere, but I’m a Cheez Whiz and Parmesan-in-a-can girl, as this post proves. Seems like I can work with that.

2. Thanks a Lot. I was surprised by how much the “kid table” really resonated with people. I also need to add a post script about my brother. For the record, I was describing our holidays from 20 and 30 years ago, because I’m a bratty youngest sister and that’s how I roll. He actually has been attending our holiday get togethers in recent years and seems to enjoy himself (as much as anyone can when they are with their bratty younger sister for more than 24 hours).

1. And what continues to be the Number One, most visited piece on my blog? Yes, It’s still that crazy serious piece I did about women and shaving many years ago. Shaving, Waxing, Electrocution: A Primer on Women’s War on Hair. So much for my humor ego. Go figure. Next year, I’m leaving that thing out of my stats or will try to sell the movie rights to Seth Rogen.

See you next year!

Hamphrey the Hamster Snoring

So I may have reached  a new low, had a stroke of brilliance, or just unadulterated desperation. Or all three. Work was so very busy this week; it ate my brain and gave me a touch of tendonitis, so even if I were able to think through the blog ideas I have, I couldn’t type them. So while I was panicking about what the heck I was going to post, our hamster, Hamphrey, started snoring. And it is reeeeallly cute. Of course I ran to his cage like someone possessed, pressed my iPhone to it like the paparazzi, and recorded his sound and, well, a visual of my lamp, which is across the room from his cage. I forgot to put the camera in selfie mode, but it wouldn’t have mattered. He was in his house. So instead you get to see my house. Hey, I pledged to post every week, I didn’t promise it would be any good.

So here’s hoping this little guy can save me this week. If you don’t like it, go find a cat video. Or, you can also read about his adventures in my previous post about him.

Hamphrey

 

Yes, and obviously I have no idea of how to size this thing, but it’s cute! He’s a hamster! He’s snoring! Pay no attention to tendonitis girl over there.

Let’s Do Things Without Shoes

A few weeks ago, I was listening to WERS, the independent radio station of Emerson College in Boston and heard this Police classic, “Canary in a Coal Mine.” I immediately was brought back to high school, laughing at my funny sister and her college friends who sang it as “Can Harry have a clothesline?” This became a staple line with my own group of friends. When I looked it up to see what album it came from (Zenyatta Mondatta), I found an online reminiscence of a woman and her friend who thought it was “Canary in coma,” which is also pretty funny.

It made me wonder, what other lyrics have people misheard? Yeah, I know there are a million of these lists out there, but these belong to me and mine. I polled my friends and got a bunch of great responses that can be broken down into sub categories. I also learned some of us seem to thrive on the cheekiness of it more than others, with my sister’s and my friends leading the pack. Hmmm, birds of a feather?

All-Time Most Confusing Lyrics
“Blinded by the Light” by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band has got to the song that wins the “most messed up misheard lyrics” category. The main reason, of course, is the real lyrics are pretty incomprehensible anyway. I mean who among us has heard correctly this stanza:

Blinded by the light.
Revved up like a deuce
Another runner in the night.

I mean, what’s a deuce? Why is it revved up and running in the night? No one knows, which is why we all have our own versions. My friend Kami’s brother, when he was about 6, sang it (rightly to my mind) as:

Blinded by the light
Rackaflackadouchinal
Another roader in the night

She says, ” ‘Rackaflackadouchinal’ is still a word we toss around in the family…even 40 years later.” I can understand why and will start singing it myself that way. She goes on to say that when they tried to correct it, they heard it as “Wrapped up like a douche/Another roader in the night.” I confess I heard “douche” too, but I heard “Wrapped up like a douche/into the roller in the night.”

My friend Becky agreed that these lines have been the subject of “many debates and bifurcated lyrics.” Amen, sistah. She also thought the words were “Wrapped up like a douche.” Her “corrected” version was “Revved up like a goose,” and, really if you’ve seen a pissed off goose, that one actually makes some kind of sense. Her second line is “another roamer in the night.” Roader/roller/roamer—that mad goose really gets around.

Misheard Lyrics from Kids
Kids don’t have a lot of words in the first place, so this is a naturally rich ground for misunderstanding. When my son was in preschool, he came home singing “Queenay, Queenay, eBay Queenay.” His dad and I were puzzled, so we’d ask “Who’s Queenay?” Lucas thought this was hilarious and so added it to the end of his song. It took us about six months to figure out it was from a Barney song (we avoided that show like the plague), “Clean up, clean up, everybody clean up.” I’m sure the preschool staff must have loved it when he sang the “Who’s Queenay” part, as if he were saying, who’s everybody? Not me—I’m not cleaning up anything!

My friend Gloria’s daughter proudly sang when she was 4, “No tellin’ on the mountain that Jesus Price is born.” Apparently no one told, so that’s why this is the first we’re hearing of it.

Classic Misheard Lyrics
I got a number of people who sent in the Jimi Hendrix lyric, “ ‘scuse me while I kiss this guy.” In fact, I would argue that is the true lyric, and that the alternate lyric, “Kiss the sky” was made up by the record label to avoid controversy. As my friend David noted, Jimi was clearly ahead of his time in support of marriage equality.

Bridget sent me the Jimi one and this classic one from Credence Clearwater Revival, “Bad Moon Rising”: “There’s a bathroom on the right,” which maybe should be “There’s a bad moon on the rise,” but who’s to say?

These Lyrics Kind of Make Sense
Sometimes the words make enough sense that you may not even know they are wrong. Susan offered a line from a song by Zoe Lewis, an indie singer: she thought the song said, “enormouses of pachyderms,” which kind of makes sense in a poetic way—elephants are pretty enormous, and it seems like an indie singer thing to say. The real lyrics are “enormous ears of pachyderms”—kind of a let down, really. Susan also thought the Petula Clark song, “Downtown” was “Down, down,” which is pretty funny because she grew up around New York City, so she would know a downtown better than those of us in the suburbs. But she is kind of right that the first lines of the song make sense with her lyric: “When you’re alone and life is making you lonely, you can always go down, down.” Thankfully the real lyrics are a little more uplifting, unless you hate cities, then you’re really down, down.

Too Cute to Correct
In the 70’s there was a song called “You Can’t Change That,” by Raydio. My beloved grandmother was good about putting the radio on a station we kids would like, and she always sang along to this song, but with the words, “And the cat came back,” while doing this cute little dance. We were about to correct her, but then she told us how it reminded her of this old song about a cat coming back that made her laugh when she was a kid. We started singing it her way with her and doing her little dance, and as far as I’m concerned, that song is about a cat.

Misheard Lyrics That May or May Not Involve Alcohol
Whether the alcohol initially influenced mishearing the lyric or inspired a better wrong lyric, these are pretty funny, submitted by my sister and her college crew:

Pat Benetar’s “Hit me with your best shot” became “Hit me with your lead pipe,” or “Hit me with your kumquat.”

The Go-Gos “Our lips are sealed” became “Our tits are feeled,” which was probably true given how much they drank at her college.

Real Lyrics I Just Learned About as a Result of This Blog, Plus an Overactive Imagination
My sister said my brother-in-law sings the Jimmy Buffet, “Margaritaville” song line, “Blew out my flip flop/stepped on a pop top” as “stepped on a pop tart,” which is pretty funny. But I was like, wait, “pop top”? I always thought it was “pop pop,” which I imagined was a cool island name for those weird black poisonous spiny urchin things you find in the Caribbean waters. Did I mention I am terrified of those things? Of course now that I think about it, why would he sing about a dangerous creature in such a laid back song? But it must be an island thing…yeah, right.

Another overly imaginative, but quite fun misheard lyric is from John, who heard Eric Clapton’s “I Shot the Sheriff” as “Eye shocker Shari.” He wrote “I guess it shows where my 8th grade brain was. It had to be about some sexy girl named Shari. Eye shocker Shari–and how did it fit with the rest of the song? ‘I did not kill the deputy’ Well, I don’t know, maybe the guy was so hot for Shari, he was simply out of his mind. Or maybe I was.” Well, John, I call it writer’s imagination, and clearly some of us may be a little too good at this. Which brings me to the…

Misheard Lyrics All Stars
So back to the birds of a feather thing. This batch is from my ex, who is probably the best at mishearing lyrics, and my girls and their peeps—we’ve known each other from before high school and they still make me laugh.

From my ex: In the Fleetwood Mac song “Dreams,” the end of the chorus is, “When the rain washes you clean, you’ll know,” but the way Stevie Nicks puts the emphasis on the second syllable of “washes” my ex heard it as, “When the rainbow shaves you clean you’ll know.” I’m guessing that’s true—you will definitely know.

The other one of his that is priceless is the B-52s song, “Roam.” He heard the line, “Roam if you want to” as “Row misty watoo,” which makes no sense, but is wicked fun to say.

Sue (via her college friend): In the Police’s song “Every Breath You Take,” the line, “How my poor heart aches with every step you take,” became “I’m a pool hall ace with every step you take.” Who doesn’t want to be a pool hall ace?

Sue’s husband John: Billy Joel’s, “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant.” The line “Brenda and Eddie (were the popular steadies)” he heard as “Brenda Rinetti,” which makes sense because it was an Italian restaurant, get it?

Gloria offered Neil Diamond’s “Forever in Blue Jeans” as “Reverend Blue Jeans.” He’s adored enough for that one to fly.

She also heard Adele’s “Rumor Has It” as “Cooper has it.” And he needs to give it back!

Colleen: From the 70s song by 10cc, “I’m Not in Love,” when they sing/whisper “Big boys don’t cry,” she thought it was “Be questing quiet.” (“Who knows?” she added.) Sounds like a Zen thing to me, Col.

She also heard “It’s too late to apologize” by OneRepublic as “It’s too late to call the judge.” It really does sound like it, and you know, it often is too late to call the judge.

Deb and her peeps had a delicious boatload of them—mishearing seems to run in her family:

The Stones “I’ll never be your beast of burden,” was, “I’ll never be your big suburban.” And hybrid owners will agree.

The Stevie Nicks song, “White winged dove,” was “One winged dove,” and she even took her mishearing to the next level: At the concert, she put one arm up like a wing and flapped it. I like that kind of commitment.

Deb’s sister Donna: Instead of Elton John’s “Oh little Jeannie,” she heard “Oh little G-man.” Well, Elton was looking for a man…

And these two are my favorites: Deb’s uncle Frank thought the Bee Gees “More than a woman,” was “Four letter woman.” I kinda want to be one of those, now.

Deb’s childhood friend thought “Do the Hustle” was “To the hacksaw,” which sums up many a disco hater’s feelings.

Best All-Time Misheard Lyric
As subjectively judged by me and the person who misheard it, the all-time winner is a Police song, “The Bed’s too Big Without You,” from the album Regatta de Blanc. If you’re not familiar with the song, it’s has a reggae beat and Sting sings that line three times. On the third repetition, he pauses in the middle of it for a few beats and then croons Sting-like “Without you!” Jeanette sang it quite seriously as “Let’s do things without shoes, let’s do things without shoes, let’s do things…without shoes!!!” Sting, you can use the lyrics but you gotta pay Jeanette royalties

What are your favorite misheard lyrics? You know you have them—lay ’em on me!

The Original Funny Writing Mom: Erma Bombeck

I almost didn’t want to write about Mother’s Day, because 1) it’s technically over, and 2) it seems best suited for those natural earth mother types — you know, they have always known they wanted kids and have a total lack of fear of being responsible for producing a functioning human being. They seem to thrive in the chaos and intensity of it all, and have absolutely no fear of various bodily fluids. I am not that mother. I am the mother who hides her fears of failure in irreverence, which must be why I have always loved Erma Bombeck, the original irreverent mother/writer. I followed her newspaper column as a kid and it made me and my mom laugh. And though she is no longer a household name to anyone under the age of 45 and some of her writing is dated, she can still make me laugh. So here’s a little post-Mother’s Day homage to Erma. Thank you for making motherhood real and really funny. These quotes and more are posted on Brainy Quote. Learn more about Erma here. 

Never have more children than you have car windows.

One thing they never tell you about child raising is that for the rest of your life, at the drop of a hat, you are expected to know your child’s name and how old he or she is.

When a child is locked in the bathroom with water running and he says he’s doing nothing but the dog is barking, call 911.

Housework, if you do it right, will kill you.

All of us have moments in our lives that test our courage. Taking children into a house with a white carpet is one of them.

In general my children refuse to eat anything that hasn’t danced in television.

I take a very practical view of raising children. I put a sign in each of their rooms: ‘Checkout Time is 18 years.

Onion rings in the car cushions do not improve with time.

Youngsters of the age of two and three are endowed with extraordinary strength. They can lift a dog twice their own weight and dump him into the bathtub.

Being a child at home alone in the summer is a high-risk occupation. If you call your mother at work thirteen times an hour, she can hurt you.

Photo credit: Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop