Washington Post Magazine Ad, March 11, 2017

When we first spotted this ad in the Washington Post Magazine, we debated whether the secret weapon is an army of lethal girl assassins or symbiotic fungal zombie child husks. Husband concluded its something boring, like sofa beds – which are probably as painful & dangerous as highly-trained murderous children but not as useful.

Recently, my favorite contrarian, Casey Rae, mentioned that he was running out of jokebooks with bad puns and corny riddles suitable for precocious little girls. Being raised by such eclectically gothy parents, and being whip-smart, I knew exactly the book their kid needed, because I adored it myself: Normal Bridwell’s Monster Jokes and Riddles.

It was probably my very first book fair purchase with my very own money. If, by “my very own money” you mean: “money my parents gave me for the book fair.” Which I probably do – the details are hazy.

I hadn’t thought about this book in YEARS, but I remembered how much fun the illustrations were and how funny I thought the jokes were. It was fun to re-connect with the source of a great deal of childhood joy.


Norman Bridwell's Monsters Jokes and Riddles (1972)
Front Cover: Norman Bridwell’s Monsters Jokes and Riddles (1972)

monsterback

Back Cover: Norman Bridwell’s Monsters Jokes and Riddles (1972)

My parents probably found this book to be less of a source of joy, because the jokes? The jokes are terrible.

And I loved them.

How terrible?

werewolfjoke

I’m pretty sure my mom used to hide the book under my bed in hopes I’d forget about it and quit telling her these jokes over and over and over.

Author Norman Bridwell is perhaps best known as the creator of Clifford of the Big Red Dog.

By the time I got my hands on this book, I’d heard vampire stories from my grandmother, who wasn’t as skilled in the art of the bedtime story as maybe she could have been. And I was terrified by Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein the first time I saw it. I think I understood it was a comedy, but…monsters!

I realize now that I was participating in a larger cultural shift that transformed classic cinematic and literary monsters into humorous commodities on which children could spend their allowances. David Skal’s The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror is an excellent place to read up on that subject. I didn’t understand that at the time, of course, but forty years later it’s my professional life, so I figured I should provide you with at least one reading assignment.

Abbott and Costello aside, Brother and I certainly weren’t allowed to watch horror movies. The closest thing I got to horror was the Gothic lunacy of Disneyworld’s Haunted Mansion, which I still adore.

I’d never thought about what my first exposure to mummies was, but this silly joke book was probably it.

What did the Pharoah say when he saw a lot of boll weevil bugs from the cotton fields stealing a mummy? “Mummy is the loot of all weevils.”

Needless to say, the joke book was an instant hit in Casey’s house. I bet he’s heard the one about what happened when the Frankenstein Monster asked for the girl’s hand in marriage (that was all he got) about a thousand times by now. I guess they’re still really busy enjoying it, because Casey hasn’t returned any of my texts!

Only kidding.

Casey’s probably avoiding me because of that other thing…

Sorry for the long absence, I didn’t mean to neglect you so.

My sanity wasn’t devoured by bad SyFy movies, but I was quite ill for most of the Spring and early Summer and it’s taken me much longer to get life back to something even close to resembling normality.

Wouldn’t want things to get too normal, though, so while I continue to sort things out, here’s a hypnotic re-edit of the ending of The Wicker Man.

The brilliant 1973 version, not the abominable 2006 remake starring Nicholas Cage. Not even the powerful ancient magic of the Teletubbies could make that thing watchable.


Stephen Colbert (Comedy Central, 2014)

Years ago, I ran into Stephen Colbert on campus. We chatted for several minutes before I realized he wasn’t a coworker, but was instead a magical television friend. That was back in ye olde days when Colbert was a correspondent for The Daily Show.

(He was exiting the men’s room in our department, in that context, he was familiar but in the wrong context).

Little did I know that one day he’d be the First Lady of France!

On The Colbert Report last night, Colbert explained that he was French President François Hollande’s date for the White House State Dinner Tuesday night.



Colbert Report: White House State Dinner

Later in the episode, Colbert presented “Because Shep” – a Fun Sized serving of inspire lunacy in which Shep reviewed the State Dinner menu with viewers. If you don’t watch Fox regularly, you may not realize that the foods the Obamas eat are elitist and foreign, not at all like the (exact same foods) that Conservative leaders serve at formal dinners. There’s usually a lot of implied classism, with a crunchy undertone of bigotry, but today Shep turned the Fox Bumpkin routine up to 11 with truly divine results.

Enjoy!



Colbert Report: Because Shep

Remember people, Smith is rumored to the smart one up there on Bullshit Mountain.

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Image: Stephen Colbert (Comedy Central, 2014)

The rumors are true. We also watch non-shitty movies. Last night we rewatched ParaNorman because it’s on Netflix streaming now.

It’s a clever, dark, weird, and wonderful movie. Plus, I’m easily amused by Donovan references.

I should have emailed the winners of the MeanLouise Blogiversary present drawing instead of writing this post. I’ll get to you, I promise!

1:15 update – Damn. This is why I don’t blog before coffee. Just corrected some crazyass typos and grammatical loop-di-loops. Sorry.

Today’s Cul de Sac comic strip reminds me of a pre-dawn breakfast conversation long ago at the Mummy Congress about how, once you reach in + vigorously stir up the brains w your hook, you can just pour them out of the skull.

The pathologists and anthropologists at the table despaired of ever getting the public to understand this because many people have little science education, which makes TV hospital and crime shows their primary reference point, so they don’t actually understand anatomical structures or the textures of putrefaction.

What I most remember about the breakfast was the way some computer scientists from another conference who had accidentally joined us got paler and paler until someone in our group patted one of them on the hand and tried to reassure him by saying something along the lines of, “If it makes you feel less squeamish dear, you can continue to believe your brains can be removed in chunks with a hook.”

I don’t believe it did.

Anyway, here’s the comic strip that made me laugh today: Cul de Sac: March 24, 2013.

Thanks to Matthew Francis for tweeting this link.

(I stayed on EST the whole week I was in San Diego at the Congress, which is the only way I was able to be so lucid at these early breakfasts before our 8 a.m. symposium start time each day).

http://windows95tips.com/

When we got Windows 95 (probably sometime in 1998), it took our admins about 30 seconds to see the true purpose of the system alerts. The first one I got read, “Report to the roof immediately, await further instructions.” It took some people longer than others to catch on that not all windows alerts were created equally.

Some of my former co-workers may still be up on the roof, actually. Someone should probably check into that…

This morning on facebook, a friend posted this AV Club post about a tumblr devoted to the Lovecraftian horror of Windows 95:

If you’re old enough—and Lord, does it make us sad that this is now something you can remember if you’re “old enough,” like there are now, “You know you’re a child of the ‘90s if…” e-mail forwards—then you remember that great, shimmering bastard of an operating system, Windows 95.

Posted about their post? There must be a less awkward way to say that.

The rest of their description is funny so you should visit the AV Club before you mosey over to tumblr to relive Windows 95 Tips, Tricks and Tweaks, and possibly open a gateway to another dimension.