Posts Tagged ‘humor’

Taking the Obscenic Route

Posted in General on January 24th, 2008 by Eugene Finerman – 2 Comments

I do believe that there is a time and place for profanity: certainly, when you are driving. When confronted and endangered by buffoons behind a wheel, I surprise myself with words that I didn’t think I knew. However, while occasionally therapeutic, profanity is no substitute for wit. However, an ESPN personality named Dana Jacobson thought that the ever popular “f” made a wonderful punchline. At a celebrity roast for a sports figure, she recited a litany of who should “f” themselves, including Notre Dame University and Jesus Christ. The irony may be lost on her, but she ended up f-ing herself. Jacobson has been suspended from ESPN for at least a week, and her notoriety will last longer than that. Who knows if she will even keep her job?

Willliam Donahue of the Catholic Legion of Hysteria has called for her firing, preferably at the stake. I generally regard Donahue as a vicious medieval relic. He believes that “Going My Way” should win the Academy Award every year. Yet, I am inclined to agree with him about Dana Jacobson. Given her flagrant irresponsibility and her imbecilic judgment, what can she say that would be of any interest or value to the public? Even by the less than cerebral standards of sportscasting, she is just too stupid. You don’t ever “f” Jesus; I wouldn’t publicly say that about Torquemada. If you are going to be sacrilegious, at least be clever. As a measure of wit, profanity is the equivalent of Chapter 11.

If only Ms. Jacobson has asked me, I would have offered this commentary to an audience of Notre Dame alumni:

When I saw a picture of the shroud of Turin, I was surprised that Jesus wasn’t wearing a Notre Dame t-shirt. Well, actually He was more of a Brandeis type. Let’s face it: Jews are not the best athletes. What sport would the twelve Apostles play? Six chess games. Would you really want Jesus as your quarterback? Yes, He could cure blind referees but He would keep giving the ball to the neediest team. And he would be a disaster for your concession business, feeding 30,000 spectators with one hot dog and a cup of beer.

And since I know what Jews look like–I’m rarely out of sight of a mirror–let me tell you that your “Touchdown Jesus” is all wrong. Here is how you improve that mosaic: give him a loud but expensive jacket, a Rolex watch and some very stylish titanium glasses. Now, there’s a Jew who belongs on a football field…as a sports agent.

Ghostwriting for Caligula

Posted in General on January 20th, 2008 by Eugene Finerman – Be the first to comment

As the ongoing–and ongoing–political campaign reminds us, the history of rhetoric is replete with the shameless and the preposterous. Let me reassure you, however, that it could be worse. From a speechwriter’s perspective, the Roman Empire was the Golden Age of hypocrisy.

There has never been a more shameless gang of orators than the Roman Senate. Those patricians once ruled the Roman Republic, but they abdicated their power and self-respect. Their sole remaining responsibility was to flatter the Emperor. The senators did not merely praise the tyrant; they prayed to him. Their speeches were orgies of hyperbole. Of course, such profuse unction was often prudent. If faced with the choice of death or hypocrisy, you too might decide that Nero was an artistic genius. Most of the Emperors, however, were not mad or particularly murderous; they limited their killing to predecessors, their own relatives and the aspiring saints.

If terror did not inspire the speakers, ambition did. The speeches actually were audition for government office. Within the Empire’s bureaucracy, there were many prestigious positions that offered wonderful opportunities for graft. When the Emperor had to fill such posts, he certainly chose his most devoted advocates. The positions required some ability, but the Emperor did not mistake flattery for talent. On the contrary, the Romans appraised a man’s talents by his mastery of rhetoric. An excellent speaker demonstrated intelligence, education and discipline. His sincerity was irrelevant, but his eloquence made him a suitable candidate for honors and office.

One can only imagine the ambition that prompted this praise of the Emperor Elagabalus. The third-century ruler was proclaimed the son of a god, “the unconquered, the supreme, the harmonious.” In fact, Elagabalus was a teenage transvestite; he was considered such an embarrassment that his own grandmother arranged his murder. From the third century, we also have this example of a profitable speech.

The Emperor Philippus was depressed by his own incompetence, so he went to the Senate for reassurance. In that chorus of sycophants, Senator Decius distinguished himself. The orator exclaimed that the Gods were devoted to Philippus; an Emperor so beloved by Olympus need have no worries on earth. Philippus’ confidence was restored, and he rewarded Decius with a strategic command in the army. Perhaps the Gods were devoted to Philippus, but the army and Decius were not. A year later, Decius was the Emperor. He was to reign only two years, but at least he was not killed by a fellow speechwriter.

Today’s News Summary

Posted in General on December 28th, 2007 by Eugene Finerman – Be the first to comment

On “Larry King Live” last night a panel of experts tried to explain to Larry the difference between Pakistani, Indians, Native Americans and Armenians. By the end of the hour, it was established that Mike Conners is actually Armenian and that it would be unhealthy for Esther Williams to go swimming in the Ganges.

And while journalists speculated that Benazir Bhutto was pregnant with Kevin Federline’s child, the presidential candidates offered their insights on the death of the Pakistani leader and the ensuing political crisis.

Rudy Guiliani: If I had been President, she’d still be alive.

Barak Obama: Whenever I feel afraid, I hold my head erect and whistle a happy tune. Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.

Fred Thompson: This is a British problem. It’s their empire. I’m sure Errol Flynn can handle it.

Hillary Clinton: Fox News taught me how to duck.

Willard Romney: I remember my father marching with Gandhi. And I have photos to prove it this time. What do mean that’s Lord Mountbatten?

John Edwards: I am more concerned about that poor, underpaid carpenter who made her coffin. The neglected undertaker’s assistant who is sweeping out the funeral home. I want to be their President, too.

Mike Huckabee: Who was she?

The War Against Christmas: 1776

Posted in On This Day on December 26th, 2007 by Eugene Finerman – Be the first to comment

On this day in 1776, George Washington proved himself to be an immoral secular humanist by ruining a British Christmas party. While the Hessian garrison in Trenton, New Jersey was celebrating the birth of Jesus by compressing the 12 days of Christmas into one hangover, the irreverent Continental army crossed the Delaware River and attacked. We all know the painting of that Freemason Washington standing in a boat as his men rowed to battle. Of course, truly devout Americans would have walked upon the water.

Yes, the Americans won that day, but the Continental Congress should have disavowed such godless cheating. Why wasn’t George Washington court-martialed for his impiety? In fact, as an apology to Jesus, we should have called the Revolution off.

I Made Dinejad

Posted in General on December 13th, 2007 by Eugene Finerman – Be the first to comment

You may know that Iran’s President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has a blog. Did you know that I was ghostwriting it? This actually was one of the more reputable jobs that I found on Craigslist. So, of course, you want to know what Mahmud is really like.

I have no idea. I only know what I am told by his p.r. department, the typical collection of burned out reporters and bored debutantes. My supervising editor was Fatima Ahmadinejad. (No relative, because Moslems don’t count sisters.) Her instructions were to make Mahmud folksy, engaging and warm. I asked if he should be humorous. This question required a departmental conference and then a Sharia judgment. I was finally told that he could be funny so long as he did not seem Jewish or gay. So humor was out.

For each column, I was to be paid five barrels of oil. Since the payment is two weeks late, I feel free to offer this expose:

Mahmud does not actually know 47 ways to clean a Persian rug.

He really did dislike the last episode of Seinfeld. He would have had the cast driven into the sea.

He really is not using those centrifuges for nuclear weapons. Centrifuges are great for grilling goats, and they leave fewer ashes. (So you won’t need all those ways to clean a Persian rug.) Children also might enjoy decorating the centrifuges with fingerpaints and sparkle; but remember, no images of Mohammed.

He actually does not speak English but still is confident that he could beat George Bush on Jeopardy.

Mitt Romney’s Demographic Government

Posted in General on November 27th, 2007 by Eugene Finerman – 4 Comments

When asked if he’d consider having a Muslim in the Cabinet, Mitt Romney replied, “Based on the numbers of American Muslims … in our population, I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified.”

American Muslims do constitute less than two percent of the U.S. population. With just 16 seats in the Cabinet, a Romney appointee would have to represent a constituency of at least six percent. Sorry, Jews, you are out of the Romney Cabinet, too. (Just be content with ten percent of American doctors.)

Here is the official ancestry of the Romney cabinet: two and a half Germans, two Irish, two African, one real Angle-Saxon (no Scandinavian substitutes), one legal Mexican and one Italian. Four of the members of the cabinet will be Catholic, two will be Baptist, eight will be the variety pack of Protestant, and two won’t give a damn.

The Romney cabinet would also need one or two homosexuals; only one has to admit it. Twenty-five percent of the cabinet will be undeniably fat. Only one cabinet member will be alcoholic (this might be a drastic reduction). One third of the cabinet members will experience sexual dysfunction, preferably during the cabinet meetings.

And, since Mormons constitute less than six percent of the U.S. population, President Romney would not be allowed at Cabinet meetings.

The Lemming of the North

Posted in General, On This Day on November 20th, 2007 by Eugene Finerman – Be the first to comment

In 1700, Peter the Great, along with the kings of Denmark and Saxony, expected to take candy from a baby. But the baby almost killed them. The candy was actually Sweden and the baby was its teenage king. Today’s Sweden is the kind of country that would make a perfect suburb: placid but sophisticated. (Many of us fondly remember that Swedish films had nudity when Hollywood still apparently believed in storks.) But three centuries ago, Sweden was the bully of the Baltic. With the best army and navy in the North, the overachieving Swedes had won control of Norway, Finland, the Baltic States, and most of the area that would have been Poland’s and Germany’s coasts.

However, Sweden’s resentful neighbors saw their chance for vengeance and territory when a fifteen year-old ascended the throne in Stockholm in 1697. His youth was not the only perceived handicap of Charles XII; the young man was very strange. Some thought him “backward”; we might diagnose him as autistic. He never mastered the charm or the etiquette of the Court; he had no interest in the pleasures and vices that were his royal privilege. All Charles ever wanted to do was to play soldier; but, as it turned out, he was very good at it.

When, in February 1700, Russia, Denmark and Saxony declared war on Sweden and its callow king, the allies must have based their strategy on an accountant’s assessment. Their amassed armies far outnumbered Sweden’s forces; the Swedes would inevitably be overwhelmed. However, Charles did not wait for the inevitable. He attacked. Denmark’s proximity was its misfortune; by the summer of 1700 an overrun, devastated Denmark was suing for peace and ceding more territory to Sweden. In fact, Denmark was lucky that Charles acceded to a peace treaty. He didn’t like treaties because they required him to stop fighting. At least, Charles found solace in that he still had a war with Russia and Saxony.

A Russian army threatened to wrest Estonia and Latvia from Sweden. Peter the Great commanded an impressive number–40,000 men–but the invasion had accomplished little more than trespassing. Cannons and muskets require aiming, but no one had provided the Russian horde with adequate training. Furthermore, many of the Russian soldiers did not even have muskets; they were armed with clubs, axes and halberds, weapons only fairly effective in the 15th century. (But Peter’s officers had the latest fashions in uniforms.) Charles felt that 10,000 of his highly trained soldiers could handle the Russian horde, and he proved it this day–November 30– at the battle of Narva in 1700.

With half of his force dead or captured and the rest scattered, his country at the mercy of an unscathed Swedish army, Peter was prepared for any demand and every humiliation; but he still was amazed by Charles. The Swedish king simply marched away to begin an invasion of Saxony. This was not an act of mercy or generosity but contempt. Charles thought so little of Russia that he snubbed it; he wanted his enemies to have some fight in them. So Russia could recuperate before Charles would demolish it again.

Peter certainly had underestimated the young Swedish king; but now Charles underestimated the Tsar. Having seen–and barely surviving–a highly trained army, Peter proved an apt student. Over the next few years, while Charles was rampaging through central Europe, Peter rebuilt the Russian army along the model of its Swedish nemesis. If Ikea had a military catalog, Peter would have bought out the store. By 1703, the Russian army was ready for a rematch, and this time it successfully invaded the Baltic States. On newly acquired territory along the gulf of Finland, the Tsar ordered the construction of a fortress-with room for expansion–named St. Petersburg.

Yet Charles ignored the reviving Russian menace. He was preoccupied with a relatively unimportant but endless campaign in Saxony and Poland. Did it really matter who would be the next figurehead king of a powerless Poland? Inexplicably, it did to Charles. By 1708, however, he finally turned his attention to Russia; and this time he was going to oust Peter. To do so, Charles would lead his army into the heartland of Russia, through the Ukraine and on to Moscow. At least, that was the plan. His over-extended, precarious supply lines might have seemed an obstacle, but Charles expected to be feted, supplied, and reinforced by the Ukrainians and Cossacks. They were known to hate the Russians, so wouldn’t they regard Charles as their liberator? If so, their gratitude did not extend to fighting along side the Swedes.

Of course, Charles stayed on the attack. What did it matter if the Russian army at Poltava was three times the size of his force? Vell–as they might say in Swedish, eight years of training did make a substantial difference in the Tsar’s army. Most of Charles’ army was either killed or captured. Now, if Charles wouldn’t end a war when he was winning, imagine how he felt when he was losing. Riding south, he avoided capture and managed to get to the Ottoman Empire. There, the celebrity refugee convinced the Turks to declare war on Russia.

Peter welcomed this additional war as a chance to advance Russia’s southern frontiers to the Black Sea. He was so eager that he repeated the same mistakes that Charles had made at Poltava. Now, it was a Russian army deep in enemy territory, with its supplies cut off, and badly outnumbered. There was one difference, however, in Peter’s disastrous loss at Pruth in 1711. He, along with his entire army, was captured. The Turks were in a position to exact any terms that they wanted; and their ally Charles was insisting on the restoration on everything he had lost. However, after two years of Charles, the Turks realized that they did not like him, either. All they asked of the captured Tsar was that he return any territory that the Russians had previously won from the Turks…and that Charles must be allowed safe passage through Russia back to Sweden. Yes, the Turks were that eager to get rid of him. In fact, they placed him under house arrest until he got the message.

When back in Sweden, Charles simply scrounged whatever he could to continue the war. He was oblivious to the fact that the war was irretrievably lost, and that his strickened country had neither the manpower nor the resources left to accommodate his bloody hobby. Of course, Charles would not be content until he was killed in battle; in 1718, in a pointless siege of a Norwegian town, someone finally obliged him. The marksman is unknown; it might even have been an exhausted Swede.

History has had a number of great yet self-destructive generals. Charles XII is unique among them in that he is so colorless. Perhaps that is the consequence of being Swedish. He also could have been an idiot savant whose savoir happened to be war. History remembers him as “The Lion of the North.” He may have had the courage of a lion but he had the common sense of a lemming.

How To Thank Alberto Gonzales

Posted in General on November 18th, 2007 by Eugene Finerman – Be the first to comment

Former Attorney General’s Legal Fees Mount in Probe

Washington Post

Supporters of former attorney general Alberto R. Gonzales have created a trust fund to help pay for his legal expenses, which are mounting in the face of an ongoing Justice Department investigation into whether Gonzales committed perjury or improperly tampered with a congressional witness.

The establishment of a legal defense fund for the nation’s former chief law enforcement officer underscores the potential peril confronting Gonzales, who is one of a handful of attorneys general to face potential criminal charges for actions taken in office.

A contribution form asking for donations to the Alberto R. Gonzales Legal Expense Trust suggests amounts from $500 to $5,000.

And we can offer these fabulous gifts to thank you for your donation!

For just $500, you can have the recorded telephone calls of any ten Americans you request. You’ll know everything they said in 2007. (Of course, contributers to the Alberto R. Gonzales Legal Expense Trust are protected–which is all the more reason you’ll want this gift.)

For just a $1000 donation, the IRS will audit anyone you wish. And for you bargain lovers, order three audits for only $2500. Better yet, the audit’s tax penalty–and we guarantee one–will be donated to the Alberto R. Gon…well, you know.

With a $2000 donation, you can add anyone’s name to the TSA terrorist list. What a surprise for that frequent flier who suddenly finds himself spending 36 hours in a holding cell. Complimentary Tasering included. And for an additional $500, the arrest will be leaked to Fox News.

For just a $3000 donation, you won’t have to share this country with someone you don’t like. Yes, have his citizenship revoked! We promise you reserved seating at the deportation hearing. And guess what Legal Defense Fund will receive the forfeited social security.

With a $4000 donation, you can send someone to an indefinite stay at an unspecified site. And for an additional $500, you can personally conduct the enhanced interrogation.

And for a $5000 donation, you will receive a Presidential Pardon for whatever you did on this list.

Enhanced Interrogations Circa 1490

Posted in General, On This Day on November 16th, 2007 by Eugene Finerman – 2 Comments

November 16, 1491:  Libel Epoque

Waterboarding works. Without its stimulating edification, Benito Garcia might never have realized that he was the leader of a Jewish conspiracy to murder Christian children and seize control of Spain. Until June 1490 Senor Garcia may have been under the impression that he was only an itinerant woolcomber. His education began with a robbery by some laudably pious thieves. As they ransacked the wayfarer’s possessions, they found a morsel of bread resembling a sacramental wafer. Had Garcia stolen it from a church in order to perform some evil Jewish ritual on the sanctified carbohydrate? The thieves decided to turn Garcia over to the authorities; and the authorities saw only the heresy rather than the irony. Furthermore, if this was heresy, then it was a matter for the Inquisition.

Initially, Garcia seemed unaware of his obvious guilt. Flogging failed to enlighten him. Then the rack also proved uninstructive. However, the water torture convinced Garcia of his guilt. Of course, Garcia’s crime required accomplices; he was persuaded to come up with four names. These people, once they had their tutorials, also had some remarkable self-realizations. More culprits were named and more crimes were confessed. After an edifying soaking, and in hopes of avoiding another, a Yuce Franco admitted to killing a Christian child near La Guardia, Castille as part of a magic spell that would make Spain’s Christians disappear.

Franco’s sensational admission required everyone to be interrogated again. They were persuaded to confess the murder, but no one could agree on the details. They did not concur on the name or description of the child, the site of the crime, or where the body was placed. Even the Spanish civil authorities were uncooperative; they failed to find any reports of a missing child in or near La Guardia. However, the Inquisition decided that those details were irrelevant. The confessions sufficed and could be taken as gospel.

On this day in 1491 Benito Garcia, Yuce Franco, and three others were burned at the stake. So were three corpses of men who had failed to survive until their execution. The trial and auto da fe occurred in La Guardia, but the accusations were known throughout Spain, spread and incited by the Inquisition. Expounding this “conspiracy” as proof of the Jews’ danger and enmity, Grand Inquisitor Tomas de Torquemada demanded the Jews’ expulsion from Spain. Isabella was gullible enough to agree. Ferdinand was craven enough to concur.

So, as Torquemada would have told you, waterboarding works.

The Unready

Posted in General, On This Day on November 14th, 2007 by Eugene Finerman – Be the first to comment

If you are not fluent in 11th century English puns, the name of Aethelred the Unready sounds rather endearing. The Angle-Saxon English king might seem a vacillating, knee-knocking fumbler, the role model of Senator Harry Reid. In fact, Aethelred was an assertive, bold catastrophe. Whatever his royal ancestors had built and achieved over 150 years, Aethelred sabotaged and destroyed. Had he anticipated his great-great grandson, Alfred the Great would have had a vasectomy. Alfred had saved a ravaged England from the Vikings, and created the foundation of a prosperous kingdom; Aethelred did exactly the opposite.

Names do have meaning; no one thought of Aethelred for its lilting sound. In Olde Anglische, Aethelred means “well-counselled” , prudent or wise. So, as any medieval Englishman could tell you, “unready” means uncounselled or reckless. Adding the epithet of Unready to Athelred was an editorial pun. (It also demonstrates why English humor is best left to the Irish.)

Aethelred ascended the English throne in 978 at the age of ten, over the body of his half-brother. Aethelred’s mother had arranged that assassination; after all, he was only a stepson. (In posthumous compensation, the late king received a complimentary sainthood; the evil queen mother was also a generous benefactor to the Church, so presumably everyone benefited from the regicide.)

At the time, England was a prosperous country. The same could not be said of Denmark. Its King, Sweyn Forkbeard, had to pay tribute to the Holy Roman Emperor. Sweyn’s father, Harald Bluetooth, was unique among Viking raiders in that he actually lost battles. After some disastrous campaigns in Germany, Bluetooth could save his skin only by converting to Christianity and coughing up annual compensation to the Kaiser. Sweyn may have inherited better teeth but he was stuck with his father’s debts. So to pay the German tribute, Sweyn decided to extort tribute to England.

Beginning in 980 what would become an annual tradition, the Danish fleet would arrive in England, brushing aside the always inadequate defense, and rampaging until a satisfactory ransom was paid. Young Aethelred was no military prodigy; his attempts at battles were invariably defeats. He found it easier to amass tax collectors than an army. Gouging England to pay the Vikings’ tribute did not endear Aethelred to his subjects. So he took the precaution of hiring Danish bodyguards. (Of course, that required even more taxes.)

In 1002, however, Aethelred finally decided to free his kingdom from this Danish subjugation. On November 13th–St. Brice’s Day—he undertook this liberation by ordering the massacre of every Dane in England. The Vikings fleet had already returned home, so the Danes remaining in England were just merchants, artisans and tourists. At least Aethelred found Danes whom he could defeat. Hundreds were slaughtered. This certainly was Aethelred’s greatest victory, but was it really that decisive?

To put it in a modern context, imagine if the United States decided to solve our trade imbalance with China by ordering an attack on every P.F. Chang’s. Would the prospect of hundreds of dead waiters really force China to capitulate? Aethelred’s strategy actually did make an impression on Sweyn Forkbeard. One of the massacred Danes happened to be his sister. Sweyn now was determined to overthrow Aethelred.

It took 11 years but the next king of England was named Knut, a nice Danish name. Knut–alias Canute–was Sweyn’s son. As for Aethelred, he was spending his exile with in-laws in Normandy, a family connection that would assert itself in 1066. Any English resistance was left to his son, Edmund Ironside. Aethelred died of natural causes in 1016; his son managed to regain the English throne for a few months while Knut was busy in Denmark seizing that throne. Of course, upon Knut’s return, so did the English habit of losing. Edmund soon died; and very few think that it was from a natural cause. (One prurient theory postures that he was killed in a privy; apparently, his ironside did not extend all the way down.)

And for the happy ending, Canute proved an excellent king.